Filed under: Nutrition
It’s that time of year again. The cold and flu season. I can tell because I’m starting to see signs for flu shots everywhere I go.
This is a worry for any family especially if you have young children and elderly. I recently read an article in the Washington Post by Carolyn Butler with some practical tips on how to increase the bodies immune function.
“It can be a challenge to boost immunity in this situation, it is possible, says Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “People tend to . . . take special supplements figuring, ‘That will protect me,’ ” he says. “Well, no, your body is what you have to work on: You need to get your organ in perfect shape to be able to defend itself, because the normal body is well adapted to do that.”
“Experts agree that getting yourself into shape starts with good, balanced nutrition. That means avoiding processed foods, red meat and saturated fats; not overeating; and consuming produce and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, says Mullin, who is also a nutritionist.”
“It’s interesting that in the fall, root vegetables like yams and carrots, which are all very rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants, which play a huge role in immunity, come up in our diet,” he explains. “If you focus on eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, you’ll get all of the immune-boosting vitamins and minerals you need without having to think about supplements.” He adds that a wide variety of mushrooms, including shitakes and even plain old white buttons, have also been proven to improve immune function. And since, according to Mullin, it has now been firmly established that the gut is the center of immunity, he suggests regularly eating yogurt with probiotics, which help maintain healthy gut flora.”
“In addition to urging people to eat their way to an optimal defense against colds, viruses and the like, NYU’s Tierno, the author of “The Secret Life of Germs,” offers these tips, which he says are all backed by research:
– Get moving. Sedentary people are more likely than others to become ill. Exercise — even just a half-hour to an hour of walking — has been shown to keep you functioning and to boost immunity.
– Stay rested. It’s essential to get enough sleep — ideally 7 1/2 to nine hours — because proper rest helps the body repair injuries caused by stress, illness and invading organisms such as viruses.
– Don’t stress. Stress hormones can make you more susceptible to infection. So try not to get worked up over that resurgent rush-hour traffic and focus on maintaining a less confrontational and low-stress lifestyle.
– Look on the bright side. Optimistic people tend to have a better immune response.
– Drink up. If you feel a cold coming on, consume plenty of fluids. This helps keep your organ systems functioning optimally and is very important for proper immune response.
– Avoid germs. Many people don’t follow basic rules of hygiene. Tierno said it’s important to wash or sanitize your hands frequently — such as after using that germy shared pen at the supermarket — and to steer clear of coughing, sneezing or otherwise obviously ill people.
– Get a flu shot. This is one of the simplest means of staying well, particularly for the very young, for older people and for those whose immune systems are compromised.
“And what about supplements? While drugstore shelves are filled with a plethora of powders and products touting their immune-boosting benefits, the evidence on effectiveness is decidedly lacking.”
“There’s all types of stuff out there, but even for patients who do have quite significant suppression of the immune system from cancer or HIV, really no pharmacologic means have ever been successful in stimulating the immune system,” says physician David Parenti, an infectious-diseases expert at the George Washington University Medical Center, who doesn’t “think that high doses of any vitamins or other immune stimulants are necessary.”
Tierno does recommend taking around 2,000 to 3,000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D daily. But for the most part, claims about immune-boosting products “are bunk, because if you practice all of these diet and lifestyle rules you are going to be getting enough amino acids and vitamins already,” explains Tierney, who says he hasn’t been sick in more than five years.
This excerpt was taken from the September 7 issue of the Washington Post, Article by Carolyn Butler, titled Diet, exercise, rest, flu shots can help boost the immune system.
September 9, 2010
This past Spring the Environmental Working Group published a revised list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. These rankings are based on USDA-tested levels of chemical residues that remain on conventionally raised fruits and vegetables versus organically raised fruits and vegetables. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetables with the highest chemical residues while the Clean 15 lists conventionally raised fruits and vegetables with the lowest amounts of chemical residues.
As I read through the list of the Clean 15, I was surprised by some of the items listed there, such as the asparagus. Asparagus spears grow so quickly that insects are unable to eat them before they are harvested. Who knew?
I have to remind myself that eating fruits and vegetables is the best option for my family whether they are conventionally or organically raised. Sometimes I have to make decisions based on what my budget allows.
7. Bell Peppers
12. Imported Grapes
The Clean 15
3. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwi Fruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon
July 9, 2010
The first day of summer has come and gone. For most of us it marks the beginning of hot days, warm nights and trying to stay cool. While the heat can get us down there are many things about this warm season to look forward to such as peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, watermelons, pomegranates, peppers, squash and tomatoes. These fruits and vegetables are brimming with cancer fighting nutrients called carotenoids which protect us with an internal sunscreen. A study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition showed that a combination of antioxidants such as lycopene (found in watermelon and tomatoes) and beta-carotene (found in orange and red produce) can prevent UV damage. Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the need for sunscreen but it does help.
June 25, 2010
I feel good when I am eating an avocado because I know I am doing something healthy for my body. Some people will tell you that avocados are bad for you because of the high fat content. This is not true. They are high in fat, but it is the heart healthy kind that lowers cholesterol. They are loaded with nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. Now you can enjoy that guacamole, guilt free.
Avocados have an interesting history. They originated in Mexico and were brought to the U.S. 1871. The word avocado is a blending of the Spanish word aguacate and the Aztec word ahuacati. There are 7 varieties of avocado grown in California, with the most popular being the Hass.
Ideas on how to use avocados:
- Mashed up on toast.
- Baby food: Blend with a small amount of juice or water for a smooth consistency.
- In salads, on sandwiches, in tacos, on burgers, sliced thin on crackers.
When avocados are ripe they should give gently when squeezed. Make sure they are not too soft or squishy. To keep sliced avocados from browning sprinkle with lime or lemon juice.
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder & 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup salsa (I like Trader Joes Salsa Autentica or Embassa Tomato Salsa)
Mash avocados in a medium bowl using a fork or potato masher. (I use a fork because I like a chunky consistency.) Stir in lime juice, garlic powder, salt and salsa.
Get some chips and dig in.
June 11, 2010
Have you ever noticed how inedible some fruits and vegetables look? I can’t help but think, what possessed that first human to want to try and eat those strange looking items. Who was the first person to try an avocado? What was it about the shiny, bumpy skin or the green, squishy insides that made someone take a chance and put it in their mouth, chew and swallow? I don’t know who that person was but I’m glad they took that chance. The avocado, for it’s strange appearance and texture is delectable, loaded with nutrients and has a fascinating history.
The inside of an avocado has a buttery like texture. One of the ways I eat an avocado is to mash it up in a bowl with a fork, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and spread it on my toasted english muffin. The flavor of an avocado is delicate and creamy with an undertone of nuttiness. They can be used in multiple dishes such as soup, as a sandwich spread and even frosting.
In Brazil, avocados are added to ice cream and the Philippines, they are even blended with milk and sugar for an avocado smoothy. Another name for the avocado is Alligator Pear.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my article on avocados.
June 8, 2010
I have been reading about food and the differences between organic fruits and vegetables as well as grass fed beef vs. grain fed. After doing all this reading I decided to make some changes to our diet and it has been an expensive modification. An easy way to put more money in your pocket is to plant a garden.
My garden is in the front of my house. I have a dwarf Navel orange tree, a dwarf Meyer lemon tree, three tomato plants, three squash plants, two red bell peppers, two jalapeno, green beans and various herbs. It is rewarding to go out to my garden and pick my own produce. I feel like I’m getting paid and in a way I am, I’m not spending money to buy those items at the grocery store.
If space is an issue tuck some tomato plants in amongst your flowers. All tomatoes require is full sun. They are an easy plant to grow and the flavor of a fresh picked tomato is worth the small effort it takes to plant it.
If you have any questions about starting a small garden leave comments and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
May 7, 2010
This is a continuation from my previous post on Greens and Beets.
Helpful hint: Add cooked greens to scrambled eggs for a nutrient packed breakfast. Spinach can be added directly to the eggs as they are being scrambled. Since the spinach leaves are tender they don’t require as much cooking as the greens. You can also add some grated parmesan or bacon bits. This is a hearty, healthy breakfast.
Since this post is titled Beets and Greens I suppose I should share my “new” beet recipe. I thought I was so clever in coming up with this recipe but when I went to look at one of my cookbooks to get some ideas on wording, there it was, “Beets with Blue Cheese”. I have added a few changes. This recipe was adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.
Roasted Beets with Blue Cheese
3-4 Medium sized beets, greens removed(save beet greens and prepare as you would other greens)
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 Tablespoons Onion or Shallot, chopped fine
1 clove garlic minced/chopped fine or pressed through a garlic press
3 Tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel beets and cut into cubes the size of dice. Spread beets out evenly on a cookie sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoon olive oil. Move the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Put cookie sheet in the oven and roast until a fork inserts easily into the beets, about 20 minutes.
While beets are roasting in the oven heat additional tablespoon of olive oil in a 8 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until golden brown. Quickly add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Mix together roasted beets and caramelized onions in a serving dish. Add blue cheese crumbles. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
March 19, 2010
A salad would seem to some to be an insignificant, boring side dish and depending on the type of lettuce and dressing used, of little nutritional value. With the addition of a few ingredients, a simple salad can be a powerhouse of health. Start with the following:
Leafy greens such as baby romaine, arugula and chard are excellent sources of magnesium, potassium and folate(vitamin B).
Red onions are full of antioxidants. According to research from by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of food science,Cornell University, “Onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids in the human diet,” Liu points out. “And flavonoid consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Flavonoids are not only anti-cancer but also are known to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory.” This research was published in the 2004 October issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Vinegar for weight loss? Current research suggests that vinegar may help a person lose weight. In a study conducted by Tomoo Kondo and other researchers,one group of mice was given acetic acid(vinegar) and another group was given water via a stomach tube. Analysts found that the mice that received the vinegar gained 10% less body fat than those mice that were given only water. Both were fed a high-fat diet. “Findings suggest that vinegar turns on genes that produce proteins that help the body break down fats. Such an action helps prevent fat buildup in body, and thwarts weight gain”. This study was published in the July 8, 2009 issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
No longer is salad a sad excuse for a side dish but the superhero of the meal.
February 15, 2010
My husband and sixteen year old daughter are forever bickering about her food choices. As she approaches adulthood we want to make sure that she understands that what she chooses now can impact her later. If you think like my husband and I do about your children’s food choices let me offer you this bit of hope.
According to an article in the March/April 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, children from the ages of twelve to eighteen benefitted from regular family meals together. “Researcher Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, PhD, RD, LD, states, “These findings suggest that having regular family meals during the transition from early to middle adolescence positively impacts the development of healthful eating behaviors for youth. Findings from the current analysis, in conjunction with similar findings from a longitudinal analysis of older adolescents transitioning to young adulthood, strongly suggest that regular family meals have long-term nutritional benefits…The importance of incorporating shared mealtime experiences on a consistent basis during this key developmental period should be emphasized to parents, health care providers, and educators.”
As parents it’s nice to know we’re doing something right.
The article is “Are Family Meal Patterns Associated with Overall Diet Quality during the Transition from Early to Middle Adolescence?” by Teri L. Burgess-Champoux, PhD, RD, LD; Nicole Larson, PhD, MPH, RD; Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD; Peter J. Hannan, MStat; and Mary Story, PhD, RD. It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 41, Issue 2 (March/April 2009) published by Elsevier.
February 1, 2010
After all those holiday parties and high calorie eating it is tough to resist the desire to continue over eat. One practical tip I have learned is to eat smaller meals through out the day. For example, in the morning I’ll have a piece of toast with an egg. About 2 hours later I’ll have a mid morning snack such as apples with peanut butter, cottage cheese or dried fruits and nuts. This way I’m not ravenous when lunchtime comes around and I make better choices regarding what I eat and how much. Another useful suggestion is to package dried fruits and nuts in small baggies to take with you when you’re out and about. Consequently, you won’t be tempted to stop for fast food.
FromTheFarm.com has a variety of options for healthy snacks. Here they are:
Walnuts: rich in Omega 3
All Natural Fruit Bars: 100% all-natural. Contains two servings of fruit and is gluten, dairy, wheat and nut free! No preservatives or additives. Comes in 4 flavors: Marionberry Blueberry, Marionberry Strawberry, Marionberry and Marionberry with Dark Chocolate. These are the consistency of a thick fruit leather. Convenient for after sports snack, on backpacking trips, pocket or purse. My favorites are the Marionberry and the Marionberrry with dark chocolate.
January 4, 2010