Integrative Medicine Blog

An Ounce of Prevention

Holly J. Niles MS, CNS, LDN Sunday, October 09, 2016
Istock prevention

See below for a yummy butternut squash and sweet potato soup!

Benjamin Franklin wisely said, an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In today’s language we would call him an early adopter. He was already thinking the way an integrative or functional medicine practitioner thinks. In Functional medicine, we talk about upstream influences on health and well-being. That means we look for patterns, lifestyle habits, genetics, test results and other factors that have the potential to create an imbalance in the body. We all agree in all forms of life that catching something in its early stages makes it so much easier to handle. The body is designed to inform us when we are out of balance at the beginning stages. It’s so easy to ignore signs like fatigue, low energy, poor sleep, or minor digestive issues as no big deal. Sometimes that can be true but many times we see a pattern where the body starts by whispering to us, then talking to us, and finally yelling at us to pay attention. Nobody can feel great when we eat poorly, get little sleep, or are under a great deal of stress. We can count on our body to let us know when things are not working. As we move into the holiday season of many celebrations, events, parties and indulgent foods, now is the time to plan how we want to take care of ourselves so we don’t end up getting sick and run down the new year. From my clinical experience, I believe many of the cold and flus that come in the winter are a result of patients getting run down in the holiday season.

Tips for taking care of yourself in the spirit of prevention:

1.Don’t get over hungry or go to a party hungry- this will lead to bad decision-making! Keep protein-based snacks on hand like nuts and seeds, nitrate free jerky, unsweetened yogurt, apple with organic peanut butter, KIND bars-nuts and spices variety. That way when you arrive to your event you can make good choices.

2.Plan ahead to have a well-chosen treat. It’s not realistic to think that through the course of the entire holiday season you won’t eat some treats. However, often the things we eat don’t really taste amazing or we often don’t even remember eating them. By planning ahead can decide when you’ll have a special dessert, or a glass of wine or particular food that you truly love.

3.Think ahead about how you want to feel in the new year. New Year’s Day is traditionally the time of resolutions that often include diet and exercise improvements. By creating your intention in the fall of how you want to move through the holidays, January will become a time of refining rather than starting over

Most things in life are about creating balance and the body naturally looks to find balance. The good news is by supporting lifestyle habits like food and exercise we help the body stay in balance and prevent small things from growing into big things. Make a choice to take care of yourself the best way possible!

Here is a delicious Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe:

Prep time 20 mins

Cook time 25 mins

Total time 45 mins

Serves: 4-6


1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (5-6 cups)

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1 cup)

1 green apple, peeled, cored, and cubed

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

½ cup light coconut milk

1 teaspoon sea salt

optional toppings: pepitas and radish sprouts


1. Heat coconut oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add onion to pot and cook until translucent (5-7 minutes).

2. Add in the butternut squash, sweet potato, apple, vegetable broth, cinnamon, curry powder, ginger, and nutmeg. Gently stir.

3. Turn up the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until veggies are fork-tender. Turn off heat.

4. Using an immersion blender, begin to pureé the soup, adding in the coconut milk and sea salt after a few minutes. (be patient as it will take 5-8 minutes to get your soup silky smooth depending on the strength of your immersion blender).

5. Serve warm and topped with pepitas and radish sprouts, if desired.

6. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Adapted from: