Woodford Files: On Bolstering Our Immunity; Keeping Kidneys Strong & Healthy; Free Vit. D

The year 2020 has been a tough slog so far. And if epidemiologists are to be believed, there’s more pandemic pain to come in the dark months ahead. But I think there’s a better way to look at things, a way that is more empowering. And that involves some basic natural laws:

1) The most important player in this pandemic is our human immune system – made up of a living, breathing population of microbes and bacteria that stands guard over our health 24 hours a day.

2) Certain strategies work beautifully to strengthen these immune defenses, and others work to weaken them. Figuring out the difference between the two is key.

One country that has begin to figure it out is Scotland, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced a plan to supply free vitamin D to citizens. On October 28, The Sunday Times reported that “The most vulnerable Scots are to be given free vitamin D supplements to help to boost their immune system. People who have been shielding are to be sent a four-month supply to compensate for a lack of natural sunlight.” And now Boris Johnson is considering the same thing for sun-starved citizens in England. Find out more in our News & Notes section this month.

In the spirit of folklore medicine, this month we bring you an updated feature by holistic nutritionist Julie Daniluk entitled: “Fragrant Spices Bring Heat and Medicine to Winter Kitchens.” Here we see how food and drink can work as medicine – from ginger tea for soothing a sore throat, to turmeric milk for easing congestion, to cinnamon for improving blood sugar balance (important because diabetes and metabolic syndrome are two co-morbidities that increase the risk of death from COVID-19).

And the humble horseradish is getting star treatment by herbalist Carol Little in this issue as she explains its ability to kill infections, fight germs, and clear sinuses.

After a short hiatus, Kim Elkington is back on board this month with advice on using these dark times to do our shadow work and feel our way into a brighter future. She also includes a wonderful piece of Indigenous wisdom from a Hopi elder.

With so much focus on the coronavirus these days, it’s easy to forget that our hard-working glands and organs are in need of constant care and attention. Canada’s favorite holistic physician, Dr. Zoltan Rona, returns this month to remind us to keep our kidneys strong and healthy. He has created a wonderful guide to preventing and treating kidney disease, which explains which foods and herbs work to heal the kidneys, and which ones work to harm. This will be of great interest to the thousands of Canadians who suffer from chronic kidney problems, especially our seniors.

In closing, if I were to pack a bag of wellness essentials to take on a winter adventure this year, my top choices would be:

– probiotics to feed my gut bacteria;

– vitamins C, D, and a multimineral with zinc and selenium for resistance to germs;

– hydrogen peroxide to carry in my purse as a safe disinfectant;

– a sturdy pair of walking boots so I can go daily to the parks and ravines for a brisk walk in the oxygen-rich air.

Those with the most resilient immune systems will survive this pandemic and many more. So let’s get on with the task of building up our reserves of immune power and experience great health regardless of whether we’re exposed to the latest flu bugs or not.

Julia Woodford, Editor, Vitality magazine

Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the Expo website In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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