Can you take measures to make elements of your immune system stronger? What if you improve your diet? Can you make other lifestyle changes to try to create better immunity?
The immune system is precisely that, a system. It requires balance and harmony to work well. There is still much to be learned about the interconnectedness of the immune system and its response.
What we do know is that the human body always works optimally when in homeostasis. The body requires nutrients to attain this balance and diet is where they come from. Logically, if we work to balance all aspects of our bodies such as our blood sugar, stress levels, hormones, how much sleep we get and how many macro and micro nutrients we consume in our diets, we set ourselves up to be the healthiest versions of ourselves. The immune system can in turn become stronger.
Nutrition and Immune Function
An area of active research is how the immune system functions as the body ages. Researchers believe that the aging process somehow leads to a reduction of immune response capability, which in turn contributes to more infections, more inflammatory diseases, and more cancer. As life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so too has the incidence of age-related conditions. Coincidentally the elderly tend to eat less and as a result often lack nutrients in their diets. This is an example of how nutrition may indirectly weaken the immune system via diminished nutrient intake.
Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Whether the increased rate of disease is caused by malnutrition's effect on the immune system is not certain. But we can certainly deduce that it is possible.
Malnourishment can happen right here in our own backyards as well, among the more affluent and middle class. Burgers, fries and white flour have the same effect on the body whether you are living in poverty or wealth. They lack the nutrients that make building blocks for a robust and healthy immune system.
Without adequate nutrition, the immune system is clearly deprived of the components needed to generate an effective immune response. Human malnutrition is usually a complex syndrome of multiple nutrient deficiencies.
Vitamins and Minerals
There is certainly evidence that certain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and good bacteria can support and strengthen certain elements of the immune system. Some of include Vitamin A, E, C, D, Selenium, Zinc, B6, Omega 3 oils and Lactobacillus.
These vitamins and minerals are commonly found in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, essential fats, lean meats and some dairy products. Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement brings health benefits including supporting the immune system, however getting your nourishment from organic whole foods remains the best option.
Below is a list of vitamins and minerals, as well as top sources of foods where you can find them. Be sure to include a variety of these foods in your daily nutrition plan for immune system boosting.
Selenium: Some studies have suggested that people with low selenium levels are at greater risk of bladder, breast, colon, rectum, lung, and prostate cancers. Dietary selenium is essential for an optimum immune response, although the mechanisms of this requirement are not always fully understood. (Found in; Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, bran; oat or rice, pork chops, oysters, liver, lobster, shrimp, caviar).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Helps produce Series 1 and Series 3 prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatory agents. Excessive inflammation in cells can lead to asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis and headaches as well as autoimmune disease. (Found in; flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables. The omega-3 derivatives EPA and DHA are found in high fat, cold water fish such as albacore tuna, sardines, Atlantic halibut and salmon, Coho, pink and King salmon, Pacific and Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, and lake trout).
Lactobacillus GG: has been associated with positive effects on the immune system such as increased cytokine, phagocytic activity (the ones that eat the dead cells and bacteria!) and antibody production. Supplementation is a good option. (Culturelle is a good brand)
Vitamin A: Plays a role in infection and maintaining mucosal surfaces by influencing certain subcategories of T cells and B cells and cytokines. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired immunity and increased risk of infectious disease. (Found in: dried apricots, cantaloupe, sweet potato, squash, liver, carrots, lettuce)
Vitamin B6: Several studies have suggested that a vitamin B6 deficiency can depress aspects of the immune response, such as lymphocytes' ability to mature and spin off into various types of T and B cells. Supplementing with moderate doses to address the deficiency restores immune function, but mega doses don't produce additional benefits. (Found in: pork tenderloin, molasses, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, garlic, liver, bananas)
Vitamin C: Is especially required for the functioning of the phagocytes and T-lymphocytes. The major role of vitamin C is the protection of the immune cells against free radicals formed during the interaction of the immune cells with harmful microorganisms. (Found in: Oranges, cantaloupe, red peppers, kiwi, papaya, strawberries)
Vitamin D: Triggers and arms the body's T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defences and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system—T cells—will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. (Found in: Shitake mushrooms, salmon, catfish, soymilk, milk, sardines, eggs, "sunshine.")
Vitamin E: Is an antioxidant, meaning it neutralizes harmful free radical molecules in your body that are associated with cell damage. It also bolsters your immune system, allowing you to effectively fight off infections by bacteria or viruses. (Found in: Sunflower, safflower and wheat germ oil, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, kale, spinach and broccoli).
Zinc: A trace element essential for cells of the immune system. Zinc deficiency affects the ability of T cells and other immune cells to function as they should. Deficiency has been shown to impair cellular mediators of innate immunity such as phagocytosis and natural killer cell activity. Caution: while it's important to have sufficient zinc in your diet (15-25 mg per day), too much zinc can inhibit the function of the immune system. (Found in: wheat germ, oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, watermelon, dark chocolate/cocoa, peanuts, crab).
If you would like more information about improving your immune system and living a healthier lifestyle, please contact me.
Well, if it has anything to do with improving your health, losing weight and getting toned, I have the perfect solution! I have partnered with a phenomenal company that offers only high-quality, natural, no-compromise products. I am so excited about this wellness program. Making healthy choices and eating clean has never been so simple. I used to spend hours shopping and preparing food to get in my six small meals a day and I would advise my clients to do the same. Getting just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables used to be such a challenge. Nutrition is 80% of your fitness. That is a huge percentage. When you feed your body the right nutrients, it will respond by giving you more strength and vitality while reducing stress, fatigue and excess weight. Instead of starving yourself, counting calories or going on some fad diet that never lasts, try getting good nutrition while losing the weight you want to lose. The key to getting healthy and toned, losing weight and keeping it off is to find something that is convenient and that you can stick with for the rest of your life. But, even if you don’t need to lose weight, you still need to give your body the nutrition it needs in order to live a quality life free of illness and disease. Please contact me for more information on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
That is a question that I never gave much thought until my 17 year old son was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare blood disease, that was unheard of 50 years ago. Why? Well, I started investigating and what I found out was quite astonishing. First of all, toxins exist all around us. After WWII, they didn't really know what to do with all the chemical warfare, so it ended up in agriculture and industry which means the air we breathe is toxic. Furthermore, the top soil used to plant crops has been saturated with pesticides and herbicides to the point that our ecosystem and the microorganisms that should exist have been virtually destroyed. Since the microorganisms play a vital role in providing nutrients to our plants and vegetables, we are obviously not getting the nutrients we need from our food. In fact, studies show that one would have to eat 43 bowls of spinach today to get the equivalent of the nutrients in one bowl of spinach about 50 years ago. So, even if we ate all the servings of vegetables and fruit recommended (and who really does?) we still wouldn't get all the nutrients our bodies need to function correctly. To make matters worse, cows and chickens in the US are being shot up with hormones and antibiotics, which unfortunately, end up in our bodies. So, what can we do? It's not really a question of what we can do . It's a matter of what we must do to cleanse our cells of toxins and feed our body the nutrients it needs so that we can live a healthy, quality life. If you are reading this blog and you are serious about your health and well being and/or want to maintain a healthy weight, please contact me for more information.
The old adage that women who are pregnant should kick back with their feet up is certainly outdated. WebMD states, “In the not-so-distant past, women were urged to cut down on or even avoid exercise during pregnancy. Today we know differently. Not only is it OK to participate in fitness activities during pregnancy, doing so can have a positive impact on both baby and mom.” Granted, if you’ve never exercised a day in your life and you become pregnant then suddenly decide to dive in, there are certainly precautions you should take. Of course, talk to you doctor. He will let you know your limitations. Then, if feasible, hire a certified trainer. Preferably one who exercised while pregnant. If you are healthy and your doctor approves, there are many modifications for just about any physical activity you would like to try with the exception of horseback riding, skiing, sky-diving, rock-climbing“you get my drift. Use your common sense and listen to your body. I taught yoga, Pilates, cycle, step and muscle conditioning, took Crossfit, ran and swam up until the day I delivered. And, I felt absolutely wonderful and had an easy delivery and recovery. My son is almost 3 months and I only have about 3 more lbs. to lose to be back to my original weight. Thanks to exercise and the right nutritional program. There are also studies that the baby’s brain activity increases when the mom exercises. So, no matter what your fitness level while pregnant, discuss exercise with your doctor and start moving your body!
I am taking public speaking at Lamar and I had to speak on an national issue that needed a solution so I chose childhood obesity. Here's my speech: "Has anyone seen the movie “Wall-e”? It’s funny to watch. But, if we’re not careful, we will all be confined to a robotic chair doing everything virtually and not being to pick ourselves up if we fall from lack of physical activity and poor eating habits! Children are our future. Even if you don’t have kids now, chances are, you will. Let’s start thinking ahead by creating habits that will last! Working in the fitness industry, I have seen the effects of physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. I will explain how we can make a difference in the health of our nation by creating healthy habits. We’ll start by looking at the effects of obesity and ways we can eat more nutritious food. letsmove.gov shares that over the past 3 decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. If we don't solve this problem, 1/3 of children born after 2000 will have diabetes or chronic obesity-related health problem like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, or asthma.” As stated earlier, the children are our future so this affects us all. According to BMC Public health, the rise in the obesity is due to environmental changes, such as easy access to large portions of energy- dense foods…” So, if parents control the type of food their children are consuming by limiting fast food and buying healthier food to cook at home, obesity in children will decline. James Rouse of helpcurechildobesity.com states to first take the child to a doctor to make sure there are no health issues other than poor nutrition. If the child is obese strictly due to eating the wrong foods, it is time to change their lifestyle. RN & PhD Barbara Polivka states that parents agree that schools should educate children on nutrition, get rid vending machines and make low-calorie meals available. If schools still do not provide healthy meals, parents can send a healthy lunch with their child. The other aspect is to become more active as a family. The authors of www.letsmove.gov wrote that with healthy eating, physical activity can prevent the 3 leading causes of death; heart disease, cancer, and stroke. They also stated that children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to obtain a healthy weight. Journaled by authors Hills, Okely and Baur, “Failure to provide activity opportunities will increase the likelihood that the children of today will live less healthy (and possibly shorter) lives than their parents.” It has to start with the parent. Children are easily influenced by their parent’s habits. They need to see a role model that not only talks the talk but also walks the walk like scheduling time for exercise in everyday activities. Biomed Central says the parent’s role in childhood obesity should include increasing levels of physical activity. Get them moving at school. Most schools offer PE and athletics classes such as track, football & volleyball. After school activities like dance, gymnastics & baseball are also available in most communities. Families can get active together by riding bikes, walking, playing softball, basketball, tennis, or swimming. Be creative! Keep it simple and fun! So, as you can see, parents can play a vital role in fighting the obesity epidemic. In conclusion, As Michelle Obama put it. "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake." How do you want to see the future of our nation? Dying of disease and suffering economically from medical bills or alive, fit and free to live a healthy life by incorporating healthy eating and physical activity.My hope is that we will all look toward the future and health of our nation by implementing a plan of action to become more physically fit and to pass on our healthy habits to our children!"
Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno… The kids love this one!
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook ground turkey, venison or extra lean hamburger meat, carrots, onion and garlic until browned. Add chicken or vegetable stock, tomatoes, pasta and basil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking dish with a light coating of cooking spray. Turn pasta mixture into baking dish. Press down lightly with the back of a spoon.
Sprinkle with cheese, if using. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.
1 lb. lean ground turkey, venison, or extra lean hamburger meat
2 cups of shredded sweet carrots
1 sm onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil, optional
1 26 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cp low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
8 oz brown-rice penne (or other whole-grain pasta)
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
½ cp shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese, optional
So, here we are again, a new year, a chance to start fresh, lose weight, gain strength, and get healthy. Well, I propose we make it a new life resolution. Instead of going on a diet that you know you won’t stick to or starving yourself (which is never a good idea), killing yourself with excessive cardio without strength training, core work, or stretching; let's focus on eating healthy by incorporating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats in place of junk food and include a balance of cardio, muscle conditioning, core work, balance and flexibility into your training. Making lifelong habits and establishing realistic goals that you know you will stick to and feel good about is absolutely the best route to take. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to that healthy lifestyle you have always desired. If you feel overwhelmed, and are not sure exactly where to start, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.
Strength training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, endurance, and size of muscles. There are many different methods of strength training, the most common being the use of gravity or elastic/hydraulic forces to oppose muscle contraction. When properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being, including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength and toughness, improved joint function, reduction in injury, increased bone density, an increase in metabolism, improved cardiac function, and elevated HDL (good) cholesterol. Training commonly uses the technique of progressively increasing the force output of the muscle through incremental increases of weight, elastic tension or other resistance, and uses a variety of exercises and types of equipment to target specific muscle groups. Strength training is primarily an anaerobic activity, although some have adapted it to provide the benefits of aerobic exercise through circuit training.
You do not need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength training. A well-designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:
- Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments)—This increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
- Increased muscle mass—Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 25, largely due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Enhanced quality of life—As general strength increases, the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries, working in the garden) will be less taxing.
The Core Curriculum
Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all the major muscle groups. Neglecting certain groups can lead to strength imbalances and postural difficulties. A certified fitness professional can help you develop a safe, effective program.
You may also wish to consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength-training program. One set of eight to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue, is usually sufficient. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistance with a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is effective.
When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress.
An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that you’ll likely experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone right from the start of your program. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.
Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts.
Vary Your Program
Machines and free weights are effective tools for strength training, and a combination of the two is generally recommended. Utilizing both machines and free weights provides exercise variety, which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety not only reduces boredom, but also provides subtle exercise differences that will enhance progress.
The benefits of strength training are no longer in question. Research continues to demonstrate that strength training increases both muscle and bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. A safe strength-training program combined with cardiovascular and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a total fitness program.
This recipe was given to me by one of my clients. It calls for a cp of sugar, but I substituted with splenda and sugar-free jello. Delicious!! Thanks, Crystal!
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 apple, diced
1 orange, peeled
1 lg box of sugar free red jello (cherry or strawberry are best)
1 cup splenda
2 cups of boiling water
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 cp chopped pecans
In a food processor, blend first 3 ingredients. Pour into a bowl with pecans and pineapple. Add jello and splenda to boiling water. Pour jello over fruit and nut mixture. Stir all ingredients and let set up in fidge all night. Enjoy!
Try this recipe on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze for lunch or dinner the following week on days that are too hectic to cook. I would suggest investing in a vacumn food sealer so that you will always have access to a healthy low carb meal. Place chicken pieces in large baking dish. Sprinkle with pepper and oregano. Lay onion, mushrooms, and celery on top of chicken pieces. Pour in 1/2 cup of water to cover bottom of dish. Spread tomatoes over chicken, and top with sprinkles of basil and parsley. Bake at 325 degrees for two hours or until chicken is done. Serves six.
2 whole skinned chickens, cut up and trimmed
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 red onion, sliced
1 c sliced mushrooms
4 celery stalks, cut in 1/2 in pieces
1/2 c water
8 tomatoes, diced
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley