Tag Archives: allergies

How I Healed my immune system & quit getting sick. Part One

This is the first in an 8-part journey toward a healthier immune system and a healthier you. Getting healthy was what led me to go back to school to become a certified health coach. I love helping people see that it doesn’t have to be complicated, and they don’t have to change everything at once. Focus on a couple of small things a month and, one step at a time, you’ll begin to ache less, have more energy, be more focused … and your immune system will be doing a happy dance!

In my experience, no one journey is the same. Test ideas and if they don’t work, we can look for another solution.

Part One: I Fed the Critters in My Gut the Food They Thrive On

I used to have horrible allergies and caught colds and bronchitis regularly. I’ve even had pneumonia a few times. Now? I can’t remember when the last cold was, but it didn’t sink into my chest leaving me gasping for air, coughing, wheezing, sweating one minute and chills the next. And, it was gone in two days!

Allergies? I occasionally get itchy eyes and sneeze, but no wheezing or asthma in years! The eye thing tends to happen when one of my neighbors uses fabric softener sheets. I still have issues with perfumes and chemicals, but I don’t think that’s an over-reactive immune system, rather a healthy one … it knows those chemicals are bad for us!

Add in to crowd out! The founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal, has taught this concept since 1992, long before the explosion of interest in wellness went mainstream. That’s where I went to school and learned the concept.

Americans really do love junk food and that makes it hard to stick to a healthy plan. Everywhere you look there’s a decadent photograph of unhealthy food!

So, instead of changing everything at once, choose to go slow and start by adding in one thing that’s good for you. You might try adding in an apple. (I love a good Gala!) Think about how happy you’ll make your body when you toss in the thousands of eensy teensy micronutrients in that apple … I guarantee you’re not getting them in your multivitamin!

Want to take it to the next level? Eat a handful of nuts with the apple. Whoa! Now, you’ve created an amazing burst of nutrition the likes of which have been unknown to your cells! Clean protein! Healthy fat! Fiber!!! Your microbiome will be feasting!

Microbiome is the term for the trillions of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live in your gut. Keep in mind that there is a well-orchestrated balance of good guys and bad guys in your microbiome. The good guys love the nutrients and fiber from plants, and we want a LOT of the good guys!

Overly processed and chemically-laden foods (artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and a ton of other additives) do NOT support healthy gut flora.

How does this impact your immune system? Your gut, and its critters, is the seat of your immune system’s soul. By feeding it with clean, real food you are making your immune system happy by supporting the good guys and challenging the bad ones.

A happy immune system is much more likely to step up and do its job of recognizing and destroying intruders. Rather than focus on ‘boosting’ your immune system, it’s helpful to think of it as bringing into balance. You don’t want an over- or under-reactive immune system. In one case it unleashes a defense system that attacks your own healthy cells (autoimmune), pollen or peanuts (for example). In the case of an under-reactive system, not much of a defense is launched and we catch colds, bronchitis, strep, pneumonia, etc.

Back to ‘adding in.’ Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key. Different varieties of plants feed different critters. Some might like the hundreds or thousands of nutrients in an apple and others the nutrients in strawberries or blueberries. Spinach might feed one type, while celery feeds another. The fiber in raspberries may be the perfect food for that little guy in the corner.

Here are some ideas for how to add in good food:

  • Have a tray of veggies with dip out on the table while preparing dinner. It’s the only thing you and the family can munch on before dinner.  Have celery and carrot sticks, cauliflower and broccoli, cherry tomatoes and radishes already washed and sliced. You can also have dips such as guacamole or salsa … even ranch.
  • When you cook at home more often you control the quality of ingredients. Notice I said more, not exclusively.
  • If you don’t know how to cook, try borrowing a kid’s cookbook from the library. They have great basics! Chop! Chop! is a great magazine that is designed for families to learn how to cook healthy foods. Check it out! chopchopfamily.org
  • Try the nuts and fruit above instead of a candy bar. I know the feeling when the vending machine starts calling my name … having raisins and nuts nearby can make all the difference whether it’s in your desk drawer, purse, or the console of your car.
  • A quick run through the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and salad is a better choice than burgers or tacos from a fast food restaurant. Try adding something you’ve never eaten before to the salad. Oh, come on … Just put a bit on the side!

So much of the time, articles about eating healthy remark on how expensive it can be. It’s true that a burrito from Amy’s is more expensive than a Hot Pocket, but when you learn how to prepare simple things yourself, you cut the cost drastically.

Beans and whole grains are cheap. Buy organic from the dirty dozen list and buy the clean fifteen conventionally. Be aware that the list changes from year to year, so check back occasionally.

Give your immune system the nutrition it needs by adding in something healthy every week or month and crowding out the things that disrupt it. You will be on the way to creating the next best version of yourself … All painlessly and one step at a time!

If you’d like more ideas on how to add in the good stuff and crowd out the bad, check out my book, No Kale Required: Healthy Eating Ideas for the Rest of Us.

If you’d like to arrange a free health conversation, click here, or fill out the contact me at the top of the page.

If you like what you see, please share. THANKS!!

Step-by-Step: Your Journey to Better Health & Weight Loss

Today marks the beginning of a new series: Step-by-Step: Your Journey to Better Health & Weight Loss.

Your Journey





Many of you don’t know my story, so I’ll recap it here. I decided to get healthy in 2009 when I lost my health insurance. I was 58 years old and hadn’t been without insurance EVER before! Instead of totally freaking out (well, I did that for a few days) I decided that I’d just get healthy. This was the beginning of my journey.

I knew that the basics of better health including moving more, eliminating red meat, eating more fruits and veggies would reduce weight and improve blood pressure and cholesterol. So, that’s what I did. I knew that I would burn out if I started all at once, so I began slow and steady.

It wasn’t too bad, but after a few months I decided to stop eating chicken since I was totally eating a ton of fried chicken instead of red meat (not the best alternative). Later on I thought that dairy might not be a great choice for me, so I decided to take it out of my diet as well.

The results? I lost 35 pounds, my blood pressure went to normal. I reduced my cholesterol and got off statins. But, some surprising things happened that I didn’t expect … I thought they were pretty miraculous: I lost my asthma and my allergies. Yep. Gone. I had been using an inhaler and was on an inhaled steroid for the asthma. I haven’t used any since 2010.

To control my itchy eyes and sneezing fits, I took Zyrtec™ every day from the time it was created (I’m guessing 10 years at least). Before that I took Allegra for several years. One day I didn’t take anything. Nothing happened. I didn’t take anything the next day. Nothing happened. I haven’t taken a Zyrtec™ since then (2010). I didn’t even know that was possible!

These miracles, at least to me they’re miracles, are what inspired me to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach by graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. But, enough about my journey, let’s get you started on yours!

This series is about steps. It’s about habits. It’s about choosing to make several small changes over time with the goal of building a healthy and fit lifestyle.

This isn’t a daytrip or even a weekend excursion. This is a journey that will last your entire life. That doesn’t mean you will be devoting all of your time to studying healthy lifestyle choices, but it does mean that you will be adjusting your food, exercise and the things that provide for an enjoyable journey as life’s inevitable changes occur.

I’m assuming that you want to improve your health, gain energy, happiness, possibly lose weight, and that you want to spend far less time and money on doctors, hospitals and medications. That being said, lifestyle is the key and discovering how to change behaviors is an important factor in achieving your goal/s.

Each person is different. Each person will choose different steps. It is entirely up to you. I am giving you the tools you need to succeed at the changes you decide to make. You see, my goal is not to change you into something you’re not. I will encourage you to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet and reduce the amount of meat because that’s what the research shows is most effective at preventing, improving and/or curing disease. That is very different than trying to get you to become a vegan or vegetarian.

While I reserve the right to change course during this series, I see it unfolding in a manner that gives you support in making changes and further along moves into specific steps (or changes) that would be beneficial goals for most people.

Since attitude about change is the biggest factor in success, I encourage you to begin your journey by watching this fun, informative TED Talk by Shawn Achor. I actually encourage you to bookmark it and go back to it whenever you start thinking negative thoughts while struggling to maintain some of your choices.

So, I hope you will begin this journey … It’s not my journey, it’s yours and it could be the most important journey you’ve ever gone on.

Nancy Oglesby
The Practical Health Coach

Mad About Monday – New Shoes!

Last week I went to the running store here in KC and finally bought a pair of shoes that were appropriate for my feet. I’ve known for years that I should be doing this, but never quite: a) found the time, b) wanted to spend the money.

The shoes I was wearing were, of course, exactly the wrong kind … I pronated in a totally different direction than the shoe; oops! What a difference a decision to listen makes! My feet don’t ache and either do my quads; all because I’m now properly pronated … or unpronated … something!

Listening doesn’t just make sense in regard to buying good shoes; it’s a good idea to listen to what your body is trying to tell you about the choices you’re making, from food to shoes, supplements to mattresses.

Some people are really good at listening and others aren’t. This is where a Certified Health Coach comes in. We are trained to hear what your body is saying. If you ache, don’t sleep well, can’t seem to lose weight and/or are suffering from allergies, a chronic disease, fibromyalgia or fatigue, and can’t seem to find relief, consider hiring a Health Coach. We can help!

For more information, visit my website at http://www.HealthWorksKC.com.

Self-Care Saturday – Decisions, Decisions.

Do you have a difficult decision to make? Do you think you have all the information you need? If so, take the time to meditate, pray and/or journal about it. If the decision doesn’t come, sit quietly and listen for the answer. And if you don’t have all the information, it’s probably time to get it.

Putting off the tough decisions isn’t good for our health. Stress levels kick up and stay up as we nibble at the edges of the issue. High levels of cortisol wreak havoc on our blood sugar, and we wonder why we’re gaining weight … that’s it! We are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, inflammatory issues (think arthritis, allergies, asthma) and just plain getting sick because our immune system is compromised.

So, even though it’s not pleasant … work on coming to terms with those tough decisions. Your health depends on it.