Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

There was a great article recently on livestrong.com discussing foods that can boost your immune system.  Even though we’re coming into spring, I find that tons of people around me are still wheezing, sneezing and fighting colds and germs.  The timing of learning how to select/consume foods that will increase your ability to resist the nasties that are in the air, on the handles, etc. is perfect!  Read the article below or go to the slide show at:

And for the tasty treat segment of this post, I would like to recommend that you make a healthy immune shake for yourself by combining in your blender 1 cup of ice cubes, 1 scoop of your favorite protein shake, 1 tablespoon of organic locally-grown honey, one container of fat-free yogurt, and toss in some fresh strawberries and cantaloupe chunks!  Drink it right after your workout or as your breakfast shake.  You could also add in ½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, but be sure to keep your sugar and calorie intake in check. 

Be healthy and blessed,

Fruit-on-the-bottom, plain, or stirred, yogurt is a great source of good bacteria called probiotics. These healthy bacteria have been all the rage and we’ve all gotten the memo of its importance when it comes to digestion. But, what does it have to do with not catching a bug? About 70% of our body’s immune system response is found in our GI tract and because our gut is on the front lines when it comes to contact with external bacteria, it’s important to keep our gut healthy to keep us healthy overall.

Folklore tells us garlic keeps vampires away but what about scaring off the common cold? One small clinical trial found that in a study of 146 subjects, individuals who received a garlic supplement daily for 12 weeks reported fewer days of illness. Although the results of the study were subjective, it may not hurt to add an extra bulb or two to tonight’s dinner dish.

As you can imagine, our skin is one of the most important lines of defense, protecting our insides from the outside world. It’s crucial to keep our skin healthy and vitamin A (found in carrots) plays an important role in this. Aside from supporting the physical barrier, vitamin A acts as an immune enhancer internally as well and a deficiency of this vitamin can weaken our immune system, increasing risk of infection. So how much do we need? For adults, a range of 700 – 900 micrograms is recommended. Other sources of vitamin A include: kale, broccoli, squash, cantaloupe, apricots, fish and sweet potatoes.

Black Tea
Hot tea is a common cold time staple because it’s soothing on the throat, but there may be more benefit to this than originally thought. Black tea contains a small amino acid called L-theanine, which may help to support the immune system. A small study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found an increase in interferon, which helps to fight infection in subjects who drank five cups of black tea each day. Another benefit? Hydration is crucial when you’re feeling down so tea, juice, and water are all great fluid options.

Cashews are so much more than just a delicious snack; they’re also a good source of zinc and when zinc levels are down, your immune system is down. Your body needs zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes, which help the immune system respond to infection and act as a first line of defense in attacking infected cells. Other good sources of zinc include: beef, chicken, fortified cereals, crab, and beans.

There may be some truth to the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples contain quercetin, a compound found in plant foods, which has been shown to help reduce illness rates in athletes who are undergoing heavy training. Other quercetin-containing foods include: onions, red wine, tea, grapes, strawberries, and kale

Although fresh strawberries are typically a spring or summertime food, frozen strawberries can be enjoyed in colder climates during the cold and flu season as well. We often think of oranges but strawberries are equally a good source of vitamin C, which plays an important role in supporting the immune system, to help the body fight infection. Cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, tomatoes, green and red peppers also contain vitamin C.

Similar to zinc, an iron deficiency can lead to low immune function which increases the risk of infection and getting sick. On the same note, too much iron can actually hinder the immune system, so overdoing what do you any favors either. So how much do you need? The Recommended Daily Allowance for adult men is 8mg and women, 18mg. For women over the age of 50 years, intake should be reduced to 8mg. Other sources of iron include: red meat, turkey, tofu, fortified cereals and lentils.

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