By Caroline O’Halloran
Masks and hand washing only go so far. To fight off COVID-19, we need to clean from within. So says pre-eminent board-certified Doctor of Naturopathy Lynn Feinman (above) who’s been successfully guiding Main Line clients toward optimum health for 12 years.
“With COVID, a lot of people realize they better get their act together,” she says.
SAVVY sat down with Dr. Lynn to discuss her top tips for disease prevention and better health.
What are signs of a weakened immune system?
Allergies, asthma, frequent colds and viruses, Lyme disease, fatigue, auto-immune and thyroid problems – those are the big ones that show things are starting to break down.
How do you help clients boost their immune systems?
It’s more about helping the immune system regulate itself. Food is the foundation: micronutrient antioxidant support, a plant-based diet, not a lot of sugar or alcohol, making sure you get restorative sleep, getting an optimal level of Vitamin D (which can be tested). If I’m going to be stranded somewhere, Vitamin D is the one vitamin I’m going to take.
What can you do if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19?
If I were starting to show symptoms, I would take Vitamin D and Vitamin C every few hours. There’s no harm in taking extra, especially compared to the unknown dangers of the virus, particularly if you’re immuno-compromised. Natural anti-inflammatories like flavonoids and curcumin can be helpful, too. I have a list I’ll be keeping on hand for my family this winter.
A few of Feinman’s suggested immunity and vitality boosters.
Who stands the best chance of surviving the virus?
Clearly, the healthier you are, the better. Why do some people get really sick with Lyme or HPV and others clear it from their bodies? I help clients find their personal best health quotient. It’s making sure you’re getting good sleep, balanced exercise and that you do get natural sun. In addition to vitamins, I think superfoods such as greens, nuts and seeds are a great benefit to overall inflammatory status. Ultimately, it is about naturopathically supporting health rather than only seeking to kill the germ.
Why might a naturopathic doctor be an especially wise investment during a pandemic?
Prevention is the name of the game. You want to stay out of the hospital during this pandemic. You don’t want to have anything else go wrong. The naturopathic model is about improving vitality. The more vital you are, the less disease. And in general, medications are suppressive. Naturopathy teaches you what your body needs. You don’t want to take a million things. You just want to take the thing you need. It’s about outrunning the bus. When you get run over, you have to go to the hospital. But beforehand, you try to outrun the bus. The modern naturopath uses food, nutrition, diet, herbs, homeopathy and lifestyle. It considers the whole person.
What’s the Number One thing people don’t understand about their health?
That we can deeply influence our health status and overall well-being. We can impact and improve any disease state, but especially our immune health, digestion, hormonal health and emotional balance. Our health is our responsibility.
What’s the most common mistake women make when faced with symptoms of menopause?
Not recognizing our hormonal cycles represent underlying imbalances and damage and that hormonal health is linked to immune health and seeking to “fix” it with hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). We do an in-office assessment and saliva testing for perimenopausal imbalances, then create a customized plan. Diet, supplements and sleep support are key. In 95 percent of cases, we can bring hormones into balance without HRT – there are other ways to cool off the hot flashes.
Does everyone need a detoxifying cleanse – even people with no symptoms?
Yes. Allowing the body short periods of digestive rest and nutrient dense foods to flush the system can benefit everyone. There is so much we are exposed to in foods and the environment.
Can diet really affect our mental health?
Yes! There’s a deep connection between our microbiome (your digestive ecosystem) and mood. We are what we eat. Take care of your microbiome – more prebiotics instead of probiotics – and you’re taking care of your brain and mental health.
What drew you to practice naturopathy?
I’ve always been interested in nutrition and battled to be thin in college – I tried every diet. The turning point for me was when I was diagnosed with Lyme and Hashimoto’s disease and then when I had my own children, there were way too many antibiotics being thrown at me, especially for my son’s ear chronic infections. I pursued homeopathic and naturopathy for them and myself. I went back to school 17 years ago. I thought, ‘I’m going to make myself and my family healthier and if I can do that, I’ll help other people.’
What ever happened with your son’s ear infections?
He was cured in a very short time with homeopathy. He’s a musician today – thank goodness, he didn’t end up losing his hearing.