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Optimize Your Immune System

Your immune system is a defense system you have to fight infection. There are many lifestyle  factors that can strengthen or weaken your immune response.

Factors that weaken your immunity:

  • Inadequate sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive exercise (more than 90 minutes daily with no rest days)
  • Antibiotic use
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Imbalanced gut microbiota
  • Certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer
  • Nutrient deficiencies (over time, even a slight deficiency in one nutrient can weaken
    your immune system)

immune system

Although there are foods that are helpful for your immune system there is no one “super food”. An eating plan that supports immunity consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy and whole grains. Food contains naturally occurring substances that protect health, and nutrients are better absorbed from food compared to supplements. As the Greek physician Hippocrates quoted “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. However, supplements may be necessary based on medical conditions, surgical history or dietary patterns.

10 Nutrients that support immunity:

1. Probiotics.
Probiotics may inhibit growth of pathogens, modulate immune response and reduce risk of respiratory infections. Good food sources include fermented foods such as yogurt, aged cheese, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut. It may be difficult to get the probiotics you need from food therefore a supplement may be beneficial.

2. Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is involved in the production of a protein that kills infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. A vitamin D deficiency impairs immunity and increases the risk of developing viral infections. Food sources include fortified milk, egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Many people are deficient in vitamin D and require a supplement.

3. Vitamin C.
This vitamin supports immune function and may prevent upper respiratory tract infections. It is found in oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale. If you are eating fruits and vegetables on a daily basis you probably do not need to take it as a supplement. Taking vitamin C supplements in large dosages is not helpful since the body is not able to absorb large amounts at one time.

4. Zinc.
Zinc is needed to activate immune cells and may shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold. A deficiency may weaken immune function and increase risk of infections. Zinc is found in beef, chicken, pork, mushrooms and seafood. When you start to feel sick it may be beneficial to take a zinc supplement.

5. Protein.
Protein is the building block for all tissues in the body including immune system cells. Protein can be found in many foods such as milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. You should aim to consume protein at every meal.

6. Quercetin.
Quercetin has been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. It can be found in black tea, onions, kale, broccoli, oranges, apples and blueberries.

7. Allicin.
Whole garlic has a compound called alliin. When alliin is crushed or chewed it changes into allicin. Allicin helps your immune system fight germs by strengthening the disease fighting response of white blood cells when they encounter viruses.

8. Beta Carotene.
Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A which is essential for immunity to help antibodies respond to toxins and foreign substances. Sources of beta carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, mangos, apricots, spinach, kale, broccoli and squash. Vitamin A from supplements can be tricky because excessive vitamin A can be dangerous. However, you never have to worry about toxicity from foods.

9. Ginger.
Ginger has antimicrobial, antibiotic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.  Here is a recipe to mix together to drink if you feel you might be getting a cold:

  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch of cayenne

10. Water.
It is important to stay well hydrated to enable mucous membranes in nasal passages to stay moist to help prevent illness. Dehydration results in cracks in nasal passages that enable a virus to enter your body.

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It is suggested to consult with a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist prior to any purchase. I can  offer this service to you remotely via my Telehealth platform!

Health and Weight Management During Menopause

The hormonal changes of menopause can result in mood swings, urinary incontinence, hot flashes and osteoporosis.  It can also lead to weight gain.  Excess body weight can result in cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, type 2 diabetes, and cancer such as breast, colon and endometrial cancer.  However, being attentive to healthy eating and exercise behaviors will help prevent what many women struggle with. Continue reading

Hints to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and family.  However, gatherings often lead to unwanted pounds.  How will you handle the challenge the holiday season brings with a hectic schedule and endless choices of high calorie foods?  The good news is that there are strategies that can help to control stress and keep your weight on track. Continue reading

Bone Health

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Fat Loss and Spot Reduction

body fatSpot reduction is the attempt to lose body fat from a specific area of the body by doing exercises that target the area of interest.  Although exercises performed for a particular body part will result in an increase in strength in that area, it is not possible to target fat loss to one specific location.  Another misconception is that you can turn body fat into muscle.  Muscle and fat are two different types of tissues and you can not turn one into the other.  Participation in an appropriate weight management program will result in a decrease in subcutaneous body fat and an increase in muscle tissue.  An acceptable range of body fat is 14-24% for men and 21-31% for women. Continue reading

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet fad has been around since 1975 and became popular again in 1985 and 2002. This diet is also called the Paleolithic diet, the stone age diet and the caveman diet. During the Paleolithic era (a time that ended about 12,000 years ago) the only foods that were available were those that can be hunted, fished or gathered; meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits and berries. Continue reading

Getting In Shape After Pregnancy

If you are pregnant you may be wondering how it is possible getting in shape after pregnancy is  over especially if you gained more than what was recommended. This can lead to feelings of discouragement as pregnancy continues but there are things you can do to facilitate post-partum weight loss. Continue reading

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

We all know that smoking can result in an increased risk of disease such as cancer and heart disease but did you know that sitting for too much time can also have a profound effect on your health?  Sitting can result in not only postural changes but an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Continue reading