Dr. Leslie Batten
Naturopathic Physician

(p) 503.860.4338 | (f) 866.561.8033

Musings of a Portland Naturopathic Physician

The ABCs of Health

I was excited that the editor of the SE Examiner asked me to write one more article, this one focusing on how to stay healthy with the changing seasons. I decided to take an ABC approach.


Changing seasons doesn’t mean having to get sick. Yes, the days are shorter, colder, and rainier. Colds, flus, and upper respiratory infections abound. But you can stay healthy.

Here are the ABCs of staying healthy this fall and winter.

Vitamin A...it’s not just for the eyes! It's also a great vitamin to protect you against both bacteria and viruses. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, kale, pumpkin, carrots, and liver are all excellent sources of this vitamin.

The B vitamins support your metabolism, enhance your immune and nervous system functions, and promote cell growth. Dark leafy green vegetables, beans (kidney, lentil, garbanzo), brown rice, eggs, yogurt, and meats all supply B vitamins.

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, protecting the body against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic inflammatory diseases, and diabetes. It is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during infections. Rose hips (as a tea), black currants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and liver all supply vitamin C.

Vitamin D3 is made in our skin when it sunlight shines on it. If you get a lot of sun exposure during the summer, your fat stores it for use when there's less sun. It enhances your immunity to help you fight infections. During the darker months, eat foods like salmon, sardines, tuna, whole eggs, and beef liver.

Exercise can be bit more challenging during the Pacific Northwest's rainy seasons, but it doesn’t rain every day! Go for walks, ride your bike, do what makes you happy, but do it.

Fresh air. Take a lunch-time or after-dinner stroll.  If it's raining, bring an umbrella.

Greens. Eat your greens!

Happiness. The happier your outlook on life, the healthier you are.

Immunity. You will be exposed to cold and flu viruses, and maybe other diseases, too. If your immune system is strong enough, it will kill them before they make you sick. White blood cells travel throughout the body, identifying identifying foreign invaders, and destroying them. Your immune system counts on you to keep it strong. Good nutrition, exercise, and sleep all help build it up. Exposure to harmless germs keeps it tuned and fit. Excessive use of antimicrobial products can make your environment too clean for your own good and can breed resistant germs.

Junk food is precisely that: junk.

Keep your head and neck covered when it's cold and windy out.

Live, laugh, love.

Make time for friends and family.

Nutrition. It really does come down to what you put in your mouth.

Organic meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products are free of pesticides and herbicides.

Party responsibly. Overindulgence leaves you vulnerable to disease.

Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Your body will thank you. Those around you will thank you, too.

Regular meals. It's easier to eat good food and balanced nutrition in a regular meal than in a snack.

Soap and water are the best for washing your hands.

Tidy up your flower beds and raised gardens or find other ways to expose yourself to dirt. The harmless germs in dirt keep your body's immune system tuned and ready to fight off harmful germs.

Use an umbrella. Just because it's raining doesn't mean you can't go outside and get some fresh air. Many native Portlanders don't own one, or care to be seen with one. That's fine, show the Californians you can go out in the rain without one.

Variety is the spice of life. Try a new vegetable for dinner tonight.

Water, water, water. Every cell needs water. And you have trillions of cells!!

Xenoestrogens are chemicals that act like female hormones in the body. They are found in many plastics, some sunscreens, and other consumer products. Make sure your water bottle and other plastics you use to store food and beverages are free of Bisphenol A (BPA).

Younger is how you'll feel when you're healthy!

Get your Zzzz's. Sleep is important to health. Lack of sleep depresses your immune system.

Have a healthy, happy, sniffle-free fall!

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         What is a Naturopathic Physician?
         "I Have Cancer"
         Take Back Your Health
         The ABCs of Health
         I'll Bite
         Health...The Absence of Disease?