The flu is running rampant but you don’t need to be a victim of it. Basic good nutrition with plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit will do wonders, but a few key supplements with anti-viral and bacteriocidal properties can keep you germ free. Tried and true: Vitamin C 300-1000 mg/day. This old favorite has been shown to shorten the duration of a cold and even significantly decreased the length of hospital stay due to pneumonia. Newcomer: NAC or N-acetyl cysteine 500-1000 mg/day. NAC boosts the cell’s ability to recycle glutathione, a large anti-oxidant that protects the cell. In addition, NAC reduces virus replication and can reduce the severity of symptoms, and speed recovery if you do get the flu. Take 500 mg/day throughout cold and flu season for prevention. If you opt out of a preventive strategy, begin NAC as soon as you feel symptoms. You only have 48 hours to stop a virus from replicating and running its course. Sunshine in a bottle: Vitamin D3 1000-2000 IU/day. Vitamin D3 is a big player when it comes to your immune system. Ask your doctor to check your blood levels of Vitamin D to determine your best dose. Maintain blood levels between 50-70 ng/ml for the best disease prevention. Personal favorite: Quick Defense by Gaia. 1-2 capsules every 6-8 hours, up to 48 hours. Echinacea, andrographis and elderberry pack a punch against viruses. Again, the key is beginning this supplement at the first sign of illness. I’m often asked, what supplements do you take? There are two main brands I recommend and then several others for particular supplements like calcium (Nature’s Plus) and Quick Defense above. You can use the links below to access my favorite supplements!
Considering the intestinal tractis a major port of entry to the body, it makes sense that our intestines control a vast majority of our health. Food, water, medicines, germs, herbicides, pesticides, and anything else we chance to swallow is assessed, and either allowed entry or denied. That’s because about 70% of our immune function is directed from the gastrointestinal lining where specialized immune cells lie. If the immune cells deem something unhealthy for us, it can create stress on the intestinal tissue and result in inflammation. This inflammation can range from mild irritation to full-blown destruction of the intestinal lining as happens with ulcers and in celiac disease. This inflammation can impair our immune function and can even affect our moods and ability to deal with stress. That’s because the intestines make more serotonin than our brains. Hence, the gut is often referred to as the second brain. Inflammation in the intestines can be caused by disruption of gut serotonin, a food or food additives, bacteria, viruses, stress, or the myriad of chemicals we ingest as medication, supplements, herbicide, pesticide, food colorings, well, you get the picture. So to protect this vital system responsible for absorbing all the good stuff while keeping out the bad stuff, we need beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria or probiotics, protect the intestinal lining by creating a film or barrier, thereby helping to support our immune system and maintain good serotonin levels, too. Probiotics help reduce inflammation by neutralizing toxic substances, bad bacteria and viruses so our immune systems don’t bear the entire burden. Think of probiotics as your local law enforcement and border patrol and the immune cells as Navy Seals. You wouldn’t activate your Seal Team on a daily basis because they are too specialized and cost the system too much. You want local law enforcement,with the broader set of skills to handle the lower level security issues and save your Seal Team for big stuff like fighting cancer cells. By doing this you also spare the intestinal lining from using up too much serotonin. Probiotics seem to protect the intestinal storage of this vital hormone that allows us to feel happy and well. Research has shown that women given a probiotic were less effected by stressful stimuli. Children with autism and ADHD often have improvements in behavior when they are supported with probiotics. Simple ways to improve gut health is to get more fiber and reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Fiber helps keep our intestinal tract moving and is also food for beneficial bacteria. And as often happens in nature, the byproducts created by bacterial digestion of fiber, provides vital nutrients for our intestinal cells. Overindulging in sugar can overstimulate growth of bad bacteria and yeast that may then crowd out healthy bacteria. Sugars also feed cancer cells, making kicking the sugar habit one of the most powerful ways to fight cancer.It’s important to include good sources of healthy bacteria in your diet such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kim chee, or a probiotic supplement. Fermented foods have been prepared by having beneficial bacteria added to them and eating these foods can help maintain good levels of healthy bacteria in your intestines. However, a course of antibiotics, stress or gastrointestinal disease can make it more difficult to restore or maintain healthy amounts of the good bacteria. In this case a probiotic supplement may be the best choice. Your gut depends on you to provide what it needs to keep your body and brain healthy. So don’t delay in taking the first steps to better gut health. Both of your brains will thank you!
Nutrition Muse |
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Since completing Dr. Andrew Weil’s Environmental Nutrition class, I am convinced more than ever that getting your greens on is a good start, but detoxification should include reducing your exposure to toxins so there is less for the liver to do. When you stop eating processed food, you dramatically reduce your exposure to a variety of chemicals that have no nutritional value and must be removed from the body. Supplements or medications can also increase the body burden of toxins that the liver then needs to make water soluble and the kidney needs to filter and put into your urine. Add to that, things we have less control over…environmental exposures. Air pollution, herbicide, pesticide, mercury, BPA, lotions, makeup, cleaning products, flame and water resistant coatings among others are inhaled or absorbed and your liver and kidneys can end up with a lot of work to do. When the detoxification system in the body is overloaded, toxins are circulating in the body for a longer period of time, increasing inflammation, free radicals, and raising your risk of disease. So while you are cleaning up your diet, consider evaluating your supplements, how they interact with your medication, and minimize other exposures. For help with your diet, supplements or other concerns about detoxification, you can contact me via the form below. Another great place to start is by viewing Forks Over Knives a wonderful documentary about the power of food to change your health. Make it a great weekend and eat something green![contact-form] [contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /] [contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /] [contact-field label=”Comment” type=”textarea” required=”true” /] [/contact-form]
Greens are the most overlooked, under eaten and nutrient packed foods. Leafy greens contain many antioxidants, folic acid and the most not talked about
molecule, the methyl group. This small combo of carbon and hydrogen is the driver of detoxification. And what’s the big deal with all this detoxification? Well, detoxification is a very important part of your metabolism, and particularly important in cancer prevention. Your body detoxifies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So declaring it a detox day, week or month is not always accomplishing what you might think it is unless you provide the body these very important methyl groups. Dark leafy greens like romaine, kale, chard, parsley, spinach, red and green lettuce, mustard, collard, radicchio and others, contain this molecule that the liver needs to add to anything it is trying to make water soluble. Vitamins, hormones, byproducts of metabolism and aging, pollutants and other toxins must be made water soluble before the kidney can put them into the urine to remove them from the body. By adding a methyl group to a fat soluble toxin or metabolite, the liver makes it water soluble and the kidney completes the detoxification cycle. Helping the liver do it’s job, reduces free radicals which damage DNA and accelerate aging, it helps estrogen be metabolized in a healthier way and so reduces breast and prostate cancer risk, and keeps the immune system at it’s best to fight off big stuff and not be overloaded with so many unnecessary tasks that an unhealthy diet creates. So get your greens on…grab a green juice, have a spinach salad, roast some kale, put some parsley in your soup! Need more inspiration? Visit www.101cookbooks.com for delicious vegetable recipes like The Greenest Salad or try Dr. Andrew Weil’s True Food Kitchen Cookbook for a plethora of whole food recipes.
When you think about your life, what do you really want? This is a good video on dialing in what you really want to experience in your life. How does it relate to nutrition? How you approach a fundamental part of your health like the food you eat is a direct reflection of how you are currently living your life. Take a good look at what you eat in a 24 hour period. Write it down. Look at when and what you eat and how it could be better. Then take 1 action to to make that happen today. Studies show by changing one single habit to a healthier habit, it can have broad implications for improving many other aspects of your life as well. Would you like to be more thoughtful about your life? Start with what you eat.