Posted in exercise, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, nutrition

Making Good Choices in the Time of COVID-19

This informative article was originally posted on the Pyure Organic blog Sweet Talk and ties in nicely with a recent post of mine. It has been adapted for a guest post here:

At the peak of the pandemic, there were new guidelines seemingly every day to help us stay safe and lower our risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. Today, the advice is clear. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and keep your distance from others. 

There are other ways you can make healthy choices beyond virus prevention: changes to your diet, exercise and mindset. These lifestyle changes may not completely prevent your risk of catching coronavirus, but they can boost your immune system, help keep your spirits high and make your body stronger for whatever life throws at you. Here are some simple changes you can make to stay fit and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. 

Focus on good nutrition

There are many reputable research studies that have found a link between a well-balanced diet and a strong immune system. As we head into winter, flu season is right around the corner; pandemic aside, it’s useful to start building healthy nutrients into your diet so your body is ready to ward off everything from the common cold to COVID-19. Here are some simple changes you can make to your diet. 

Switch to sugar alternatives

We know sugar can have negative consequences for our long-term health and is a contributing factor for diabetes and obesity. But some studies have shown that sugar can also decrease the effectiveness of white blood cells – a critical part of our immune system that fights infection. Eating lots of sugar can actually decrease your body’s ability to ward off the bad stuff. 

That doesn’t mean you should stop production on all that quarantine comfort baking! There are plenty of better-for-you sugar alternatives that can make your tasty treats even better. Stevia is one sugar alternative that we love – and Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Stevia is a sweetener that rates a zero on the glycemic index (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie and free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners. Check out some of our favorite recipes that use Pyure Organic Stevia for some healthier at-home baking inspiration.

Add in a few supplements

In addition to cutting out the bad stuff, you can also add in some minerals and probiotics to make your immune system even stronger – and able to fight off threats. We get most of these minerals through eating a balanced diet, but many of us are deficient in the so-called “Big Four” that help our immune system: 

  • Zinc: This mineral is critical for the development and function of immune cells, yet 79% of us are deficient in zinc. Studies have shown that “80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.” 
  • Magnesium: This so-called “master mineral” is involved in processes like producing energy and building important proteins like your DNA. Your body needs magnesium to function properly, and most people should aim to take 200–400 mg per day. 
  • Selenium: This mineral acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation in the body and improve immunity. You can get selenium through foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms.
  • Iodine: This mineral boosts your thyroid gland, which produces hormones that directly impact your immune system. Too much iodine can be a bad thing, so be sure to consult with a doctor before adding in an iodine supplement.

The more proactive you can be about building a healthy immune system, the better! Luckily, many of these minerals can be found by adding some new ingredients to your grocery list.

Eat your leafy greens

Feeding your body with the good stuff is an easy way to keep out the bad stuff. We’ve all heard that citrus is full of Vitamin C and can help ward off the common cold – these foods can also make a big difference in your health: 

  • Red bell peppers: These veggies contain almost 3 times as much Vitamin C as a Florida orange. 
  • Broccoli: It’s packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and many other antioxidants.
  • Spinach: rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene
  • Plain yogurt: Look for the unsweetened kind, which is packed with Vitamin D to help regulate the immune system (and add a little Pyure on top to make it taste great!). 
  • Kiwi: These little green guys are high in folate, potassium, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.

These are just a few foods that are great additions to your diet – there are many more out there that can give your immune system a little extra power. 

Stay active, even at home

With many gyms closed and workout classes canceled, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active – but every little bit counts. “Inactivity is an important risk factor similar to high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol,” reports the American Society for Nutrition

Regular physical activity supports your immune system and your mental health (more on that in a minute). It’s also a big part of protecting your health from long-term, chronic issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. 

If you’re not sure where to start with an at-home workout, think about what it is you would like to improve. Do you want stronger arms? Better flexibility? More aerobic capacity? From there, you can find a workout plan that works for you. Aim for 15 to 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise and build from there. Check out YouTube and Instagram for free at-home yoga classes, circuit workouts and bodyweight strength-training to keep your routine varied and interesting.

Don’t ignore your mental health

Mental stress can put your body in physical distress, as anxiety takes a big toll on the body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of your mental health. “Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system,” says the National Institute of Health. Many of us are juggling working from home, caring for family and many other parts of life, but getting a good night’s sleep – that’s seven to eight hours for adults – should be a priority. 

There’s also evidence to support the idea that meditation can improve your immune system. Meditation can not only improve your sleep, but it can also help you manage stress and anxiety. Take 10 minutes out of your day to do some deep breathing, relax and calm down your nervous system. Your body will thank you!

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

With a second wave of the Covid-19 virus leasing its germs upon us in this pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep our immune systems as healthy as possible as we head into colder weather.

My gardening business keeps me (very) physically active during the summer months, and I soak up lots of vitamin D, both important requirements for keeping our immune systems functioning at their best.

However, during the (too) long winter months here in Canada I spend my days freelance writing which does absolutely nothing for my physical activity or vitamin D levels. Instead of working in the sunshine and fresh air, digging, lugging plants and soil, I am indoors, sitting in a comfortable chair with my laptop.

Netflix movies are also more tempting on cold winter evenings, accompanied by a glass of wine and snacks of course.

When I was sick last February, we were just coming off a miserably cold and icy winter, meaning my immune system was probably at a low from lack of physical activity and vitamin D. My consumption of junk food was enjoying a winter high too.

I know it is hard to be motivated in our winter months to get outside, but I plan to keep reminding myself to do so this coming winter. Perhaps scheduling a morning walk with like minded neighbours is called for.

I won’t pretend I will completely avoid the high carb comfort foods, but I can limit them. Continuing my healthy practice of a hydrating and nutrient-packed green smoothie every morning into my gardening off-season should help too.

Posted in health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

Boost Your Immune System

This is a guest post by Amber Theuer, originally posted at iveeapp.com. Very appropriate these days as we battle COVID-19, 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System gives you pointers on how to keep yourself protected.

Imagine your immune system as your body’s defense mechanism. Typically, it does a remarkable job of protecting you against invadersーmicroorganisms that cause disease. However, at times, the immune system falls short, letting an invader in, resulting in illness.

To ensure your immune system is able to perform, it’s important you make choices that strengthen it – even before you’re sick. Here are 5 ways to boost your immunity, ensuring you can remain healthy (in all seasons!).

1. Get Enough Sleep

Studies have shown that sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory force on immune functions. It’s not uncommon for work and the daily callings of life to get in the way of a good night’s. However, without proper rest, your body produces fewer cytokines, proteins that target infection and inflammation. During sleep, your body both produces and releases cytokines – so get your recommended seven to nine hours in order to achieve optimal health!   

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

It’s common knowledge that a well-balanced diet is important. Studies say that optimal nutrition for the best immunological outcomes would be nutrition which supports the functions of immune cells allowing them to initiate effective responses against pathogens. Immunity begins largely with what you eat. So, eat a diet rich in fresh fruits, veggies, grains, and lean proteins – and be liberal with anti-inflammatory foods like citrus, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and turmeric

3. Minimize Stress 

 Stress induces the production of cortisol, which in small amounts can limit inflammation and boost immunity. However, prolonged exposure to cortisol causes further inflammation, as the body becomes accustomed to its presence in the blood. In addition, stress reduces the body’s lymphocytes, white blood cells that combat infection. Limiting stress is plays a major role in fighting illness. While it may seem impossible, there are a number of simple ways to reduce stress – such as yoga, meditation, and exercise.

4. Exercise Regularly

Not only does exercise decrease stress, but it also improves defense activity and metabolic health, which in turn, positively affects the immune system. While the recommended amount of exercise varies per person, a good starting point is 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week.

5. Stay Hydrated

 As Larry Kenney, Phd, a professor of physiology and kinesiology at Penn State puts it, “Hydration is important because the body is comprised mostly of water, and the proper balance between water and electrolytes in our bodies really determines how most of our system function, including nerves and muscles.”  Not sure how much water to consume? Given your age and weight, this hydration calculator shows how much water you should drink per day.  

Through healthy lifestyle choices, you can build your immunity over time. That being said, IV drips are an effective way to quickly give your system a boost. If you are not receiving an adequate amount of nutrients through diet and supplements, your immune system can suffer. Unlike oral nutrient intake, IV drips deliver vitamins and minerals directly to your bloodstream.

With IV drips, nutrients bypass the digestive tract, meaning that you receive their effect almost instantly at a much higher absorption rate. Plus, as mentioned earlier, your body needs fluids – especially when trying to fight off illness. IV drips deliver the hydration your cells require to function at their peak. 

There is no denying that a properly functioning immune system begins with simple healthy lifestyle choices. IV drips can act as an auxiliary measure in boosting immunity. Whether you need some added support or want to take precautionary steps in fighting illness, IV drips can be a great option for enhancing immune health.

Getting an IV drip has never been easier. In no time, your immune system will be on the fast track to functioning at its best. 

COVID alert: Ivee will reopen in New York sometime in July

Photo Source

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com, science

Altruism is Important, Especially in Crisis

This video is fascinating. (I think)  Have you noticed how some people “step up to the plate” in crisis, while others shrink into the background, not wanting to get their hands dirty, so to speak?

I sure have thought about it over the years, but have lots of questions…

Birds of a Feather

Do birds of a feather flock together?  Are altruists drawn to each other, or do opposites attract? Is altruism a personality trait or due to a component of your brain?  Are they one in the same?  Some personality traits appear to be genetic, but are they merely learned behaviour?  So many questions.

Can we Change?

If you are not altruistic, can you become so?  If so, how?  By hanging out with other altruists or are there mental exercises to train your brain?  Vice versa, if you are an altruist, can you become less so if you surround yourself with less altruistic people? Or just frustrated?

One good thing about this pandemic we are gripped by is that it has forced (many of) us to be more introspective. Forced to accept change, we should be realizing by now that the most valuable things in life are not material, but connections with other people.

Who, not what, do you miss the most?

photo credit

Posted in gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.ca

Gardens4u and Gardens4me

I am so excited!  Ontario’s premier Doug Ford has announced landscapers can start back to work starting today, May 4th.  That means Gardens4u is officially opened for the season.  It has been a long time coming, but I am grateful we landscapers are included in the first step of reopening the economy that is getting decimated by COVID-19.

While I was waiting for this to happen (the re-opening) I worked (with the help of my hubby) exclusively on my own gardens.  They are probably in the best shape they have ever been this early in the season, except maybe for the spring my son got married.

When my gardens and pond were all cleaned up, ready for summer, I got extra creative and painted a Gardens4me sign on the gateway to my gardens.

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I have been keeping up with my planks in preparation for this day, now if Mother Nature would only cooperate, all would be good. At least in my (bubble) world.

Posted in food allergies, gluten-free, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

You are what you eat, I am living proof

I know this saying is old, but it has become increasingly clear to me recently.  Way back in 2011 I was diagnosed with an allergy to wheat.  Since then I have avoided anything that contained wheat.  It wasn’t easy, but I have grown accustomed to it.  So apparently has my body.

In December of 2018 my husband and I tried out the keto diet as one of our sons was doing it and we were on vacation with him and his family.  After a few weeks of experimenting with that, we altered the strict keto version to what I call a “modified keto.”  We consume lots of fats, but the good, omega 3 kind.  We don’t restrict vegetables or fruits, AKA the good carbs. We avoid processed foods that contain lots of sugar and preservatives, and consume lots of protein, but stick to the lean and non processed variety.

In March of this year, those good habits flew out the window with the arrival of COVID-19 isolation recommendations.  Feeling sorry for ourselves (missing our kids and grandkids) or bored, or both, we began the slippery slope to snacking and TV binging.

When Easter festivities were cancelled due to social distancing measures, I still cooked a big dinner and baked delicious goodies, but divvied (most of) it up and dropped off care packages and Easter baskets to our sons’ respective doorsteps for their families to enjoy.  Usually when I bake for family gatherings I include one or two gluten free varieties.  Not this year, unfortunately for me.  Instead I snacked on the wheat laden goodies, limiting myself to half a cookie per day to avoid the stomach problems associated with my wheat allergy.

Shortly after Easter the goodies were gone from our home, but the bumps on my scalp, one of the pre-wheat allergy diagnosis symptoms, were back.   As was the bloating, fatigue and general lethargy, not to mention a few extra pounds. All the things I had worked so hard to eliminate!

If that doesn’t prove “you are what you eat” I don’t know what does.

Photo by Trang Doan, via Pexels

 

 

 

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

COVID-19 Timeline

Another COVID-19 post… sorry folks, but as an analytical person I prefer and appreciate information in a visual and structural format.  If you do as well, keep reading…

This timeline, written by Stephanie Parker, chronicles the spread of this lethal virus into a pandemic that has shut down our planet.  Starting with a warning from Dr Li in Wuhan on December 30, to the present (April 23rd).  Four months of facts and details.

It is not behind us yet; unfortunately, the timeline continues to grow.  Just how far no one really knows.  Economists and those struggling financially are hoping the world re-opens soon, but scientists are sceptical and hesitant.  In the meantime, we are all holding our breaths and doing what we can to get through this.

One of the things that bothers me about this pandemic, far behind the economic destruction, is the judgement and negativity it has spawned.  Hopefully that too will come to an end soon.

Feature image from Pixabay

 

Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com, rant

Bill Maher on Virus Shaming

Bill Maher hits the nail on the head!!  My blog has been saturated with posts related to COVID-19 lately.  This video sums them all up pretty well…

Other than the fact that the Spanish flu didn’t start in Spain, the points Maher makes are all valid.  History buffs know that as Spain was one of the neutral European countries in WW1, their (uncensored) media were the first to report the ravages of the virus that was killing off millions.

Posted in lorieb.wordpress.com

Happy Birthday to Me

While my 60th will not go down as my most exciting birthday celebration, it will be memorable.  Instead of celebrating in a traditional, non-social distancing manner with family and friends, it will be a quiet day.  As I am writing this, Mother Nature has decided to participate; it is snowing! No, No, No, snow is not invited to this party!

I do have a few wishes though, not quite as many as the candles that would have been on my cake.  Admittedly (sadly, but understandably) they are all COVID-19 related.

I wish:

  • for the safe arrival of my 5th grandchild next week (I had a dream last night that he was born on my birthday lol), that his name will have nothing to do with COVID, and that I will be able to hold him soon
  • that my family and friends continue to be symptom-free
  • that I can snuggle, hug and visit with my grandchildren soon
  • for a vaccine to eradicate COVID-19, accessible to everyone around the world.
  • that the self appointed virus police would mind their own business if the actions of others are not hurting anyone
  • that my gardening business, deemed unessential, will get back on track soon
  • that the world will learn something from these times.  Friends, family and good health are far more important than material things.  Medical staff, first responders and other  services designated as essential are the unsung (and underpaid) heroes.  Sports figures and entertainers, on the other hand, the ones who earn megabucks in comparison to essential workers, are not as essential as we (or they) think they are.

In lieu of (non-essential) birthday gifts, I have created a fundraiser to collect donations towards one of the businesses I do freelance writing for.   I realize it is a difficult time financially for many people.  If you can manage a donation, awesome, and thanks. If you cannot, grant my last wish within the list above.

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Posted in current events, health and wellness, lorieb.wordpress.com

Virus Vigilantes

Are the vigilantes coming out in this COVID-19 virus crisis driving you crazy?  They are me.  While some people are rising to the top in their creativity and helpfulness during these trying times, others are looking for ways to judge and incriminate others.

If we should practice one positive thing out of this mess, it should be to refrain from being judgemental.  Every family situation is different, often requiring a variation in coping mechanisms.  Not to mention the social distancing rules are very ambiguous, open to interpretation.

Some ridiculous examples I have heard of people calling in by-law officers to impose fines:

  • a father kicking a soccer ball around with his young son on a soccer field
  • a woman not able to celebrate her birthday whose friends and family drove down her street waving and singing happy birthday, from their cars while she stood in her doorway
  • a 14 year old boy, shooting hoops by himself.  Yes he was at the edge of a park, but well away from any play structure or other people
  • walking a dog across an empty soccer field or park

These vigilantes are getting way out of control.  As are the by-law officers that have tapped into their overbearing and controlling personalities.  Are we going to resort to beating people soon if they don’t comply to the murky social distancing rules?  In a democratic society, policing people into complying to senseless rules is not effective.

While blatant disregard for public safety is not recommended or condoned, judgemental squealers and snitch lines are over the top, sometimes unconstitutional.

Find something better and more creative to do people!