kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The common cold is not a single illness but rather a family of symptoms generated by a multiplicity of viruses, including rhinovirus. There are hundreds of these cold-causing viruses making it impossible to develop enough immunity to stop catching them all.

An allergy is an inappropriate response by the body to a normally harmless invader. Allergies are a relatively new phenomenon. The world’s first appearance in English was in The Journal of the American Medical Association a little over a century ago. An odd statistic is that the richer the country, the more allergies its citizens get and, if both your parents have a particular allergy, there is a 40% chance you will suffer, too.

Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall. Though it usually starts to release pollen with cool nights and warm days in August, it can last into September and October. About 75% of people allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed.

Even if it doesn’t grow where you live, ragweed pollen can travel for hundreds of miles on the wind. For some people who are allergic to ragweed, certain fruits and vegetables, including bananas, melon, and zucchini, can also cause symptoms.

Mold is another fall trigger. You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom, the damp areas in the house, but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding grounds for mold.

Dust mites are common during the humid summer months. They can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall. They can trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.

Drugs target symptoms without correcting underlying causes. The symptoms improve but these drugs do nothing to reduce the number of colds and allergy bouts.  Side effects from these drugs can include drowsiness, constipation, headaches, rapid heartbeat, and sleep problems.

One class of allergy drugs, anticholinergics (drugs that block the action of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine), has even been linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are two ingredients that help prevent colds, flu, and allergic episodes, also lessening the severity and duration of symptoms when they do occur. These boost activity of immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that provides immune defense against viruses and bacteria.

  • Dried yeast fermentate
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL 1505

The immune effects of yeast fermentate were discovered by accident. A company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had been producing a specialized yeast culture when it became apparent that its factory workers, who were exposed to the yeast daily, were taking far fewer sick days than its office workers.

A pilot study showed that, compared to the office staff, the factory personnel had significantly higher levels of secretary IgA. IgA blocks pathogens from penetrating mucosal surfaces. It also increases the activity of natural killer cells, immune cells that can kill cells infected with viruses.

Since this discovery, there have been at least six placebo-controlled clinical trials validating its protection against allergies and colds.

Antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) are the main cause of allergy symptoms. IgE causes the body to release chemicals, such as histamines, that trigger an allergic reaction and produce symptoms that affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, or skin.

In the small pilot study that first showed yeast fermentate’s ability to relieve allergy symptoms, blood levels of IgE steadily increased among placebo recipients as allergy season went into full swing. In the subjects taking the yeast, IgE levels barely changed. This study clearly showed that yeast fermentate calms allergic responses by stabilizing IgE.

Yeast’s ability to help prevent colds and flu comes from a different property. When given a single dose of 500 mg of dried yeast fermentate, volunteers had significant increased activity of natural killer cells within just one hour. These immune cells specifically target and kill cells infected by viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu.

Probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms. A specific strain of probiotic, the bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL 1505, was originally isolated from goat’s milk by scientists in northwestern Argentina.  A series of studies show that it decreased respiratory infections in children. The results were so impressive that the government of Argentina has been proactively providing Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL 1505 to over 300,000 school children annually since 2008.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 298 healthy male and female children between two and five years of age (a population particularly susceptible to respiratory infections) was performed.

Five days a week, the treatment group was given 100 million CFU (colony-forming units) of L. rhamnosus CRL1505 in a yogurt drink. The placebo group received a drink without the probiotic.

After six months, when compared to the placebo group, the children in the probiotic group had experienced:

  • 49% fewer infections
  • 55% fewer cases of cold or flu
  • 46% fewer cases of fever
  • 47% increase in levels of salivary IgA
  • 33% less need for antibiotic use

The treatment group also had 61% fewer cases of tonsillitis and pharyngitis, an infection in the back of the throat.

IgA antibodies are a major part of the immune system. Secreted from mucus membranes in the mouth, nose, and lungs, they bind to respiratory viruses, blocking them from invading human cells and producing symptoms of colds and flu.

Research shows that L rhamnosus CRL 1505 significantly increases levels of secretary IgA, boosting the immune system’s initial ability to fight cold and flu viruses.

A product I recommend is Florassist, by Life Extension, which has both the yeast fermentate and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL 1505.

Other tips for avoiding and managing allergies and colds:

  • Avoid being vitamin D deficient. An analysis of 25 randomized trials on about 11,000 people reported about a 20% lower risk of colds and flu in those who took vitamin D daily or weekly
  • Avoid the all-in-one over-the -counter drugs. If you do not need a fever and pain reducer and a cough suppressant and an expectorant and a nasal decongestant, you are going to end up exposing yourself to drugs and side effects unnecessarily.
  • Watch how much acetaminophen (Tylenol) you take. Taking more than 3,000 milligrams a day over the long term can damage your liver. Look at labels because acetaminophen is in many cough, cold, allergy, pain, and sleep medications that it is easy to end up taking more than you realize.
  • Studies have never actually tested hot soup on people with colds and congestion, but any hot liquid may help clear sinus passages.
  • Take vitamin C. Your body doesn’t store it, so you have to keep replenishing vitamin C daily.

Meyer Lemon

Meyer lemons are named after Frank N. Meyer, an agricultural explorer who came across them in China and brought them back with him to the US in the early 1900s. Meyer lemons are primarily used for ornamental purposes in China and today, Meyer lemons are grown commercially in California, Texas, and Florida. They are a challenge to ship and store commercially, so you might not find them very far from where they were grown.

Meyer lemons are ready for harvest early in the holiday season from Mid-November. They can be found through January in typical Northeast grocery stores. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons.

They are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, lending it a more rounded shape, darker yellow color, and richer fragrance than other lemons. Meyer lemons are generally smaller than regular lemons, with a spherical shape and a thin peel. They tend to be more of a golden color than a bright yellow.

Lemon is assumed to be an acid food because of citric acid but this is surprisingly wrong. Lemon is actually an alkaline food and including it in your diet can help to settle your stomach and help with the PH levels in your stomach. When PH levels in your stomach are off-balance, you can experience stomach pain and problems with digestion.

Like the other members of the citrus family, lemons contain essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals that may help prevent the development of chronic medical problems. Lemons and lemon peel contain a high concentration of pectin, a type of soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber slows your digestion rate and may suppress your appetite while preventing diabetes by stabilizing your blood sugar levels.

Lemons are particularly rich in the flavanones hesperidin and eriocitrin. Hesperidin may aid in keeping your bones strong and lowering your blood lipid level, while eriocitrin could protect your liver from oxidative damage.

Lemons are a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate. They also have a fair amount of calcium and iron.

Meyer lemons have antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Just like regular lemons, Meyer lemons are packed with vitamin C. This is why consuming them on a regular basis can help make your immune system a lot stronger, which then considerably lowers your risk of suffering from upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold and flu.

The vitamin C in Meyer lemons also helps the body to produce more collagen. A type of protein, collagen keeps your skin firm.

Lemon water promotes weight loss by stimulating digestion in the stomach quicker than regular water. It helps to cleanse the stomach and promotes regular bowel movements, especially if you drink it when you first wake up.

How to Buy

The darkest colored Meyer lemons will have the highest nutrient content. Tree-bearing fruits produce nutrients in reaction to sunlight, and a darker, evenly colored fruit indicates more exposure to sunlight.

Avoid fruits that appear wrinkled or have soft spots. it is a sign that they have begun to turn. Nutrient content and flavor profile of turned fruits won’t be as good.

How to Store

Meyer lemons will keep about a week at room temperature, and longer if kept open in the fridge (a closed bag will produce humidity that expedites molding). Freezing the juice or zest will preserve nutrient content and flavor.

How to Cook

The majority of the phytonutrient content in citrus fruits is stored in the white pith of the peel. When using Meyer lemons for zesting or as part of a dressing, grate some of the pith.

Zesting citrus peels can brighten up the flavor of a sugar cookie or pie crust. Meyer lemons can be preserved whole or grated to create herbed salts. Peels can be candied and eaten whole.

Please use organic products, as citrus is typically preserved in a food-grade wax and organic selections may reduce exposure to unknown preserving products.

Creamy Vegan GF Meyer Lemon Bars

Minimalist Baker/ Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

9 Bars



  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup coconut cream (the hardened portion at the top of full-fat coconut milk)
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (2 large lemons yield about  a 1/2 cup)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Meyer lemon zest (1 large lemon yields ~1 heaping Tbsp)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp organic powdered sugar (optional // for topping)


  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)



  1. Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let rest for 1 hour (uncovered). Then drain thoroughly.
  2. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Add oats, almonds, sea salt, and coconut sugar to a high speed blender and mix on high until a fine meal is achieved.
  4. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add maple syrup and melted coconut oil, starting with less and adding more if it’s too dry. Stir with a spoon to combine until a loose dough is formed. You should be able to squeeze the mixture between two fingers and form a dough instead of it crumbling. If too dry, add a bit more melted coconut oil.
  5. Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking pan and spread evenly. Then place parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object, such as a drinking glass, to press down firmly until it’s evenly distributed and well packed.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then increase heat to 375 F and bake for 5-8 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown and there is some browning on the surface. Remove from oven to cool slightly, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
  7. Once cashews are soaked and drained, add to a high speed blender with coconut cream, arrowroot starch, lemon juice, lemon zest, sea salt, and maple syrup. Mix on high until very creamy and smooth.
  8. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. You can add a bit more Meyer lemon zest and maple syrup. It should be very lemony, and not overly sweet.
  9. Pour filling over the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer. Tap on counter to remove any air bubbles.
  10. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the edges look very slightly dry and the center appears “jiggly” but not liquidy.
  11. Let rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator to let cool completely (uncovered) at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  12. To serve, slice and sift with powdered sugar (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, up to 4 days, though best within the first 2 days.



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