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

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Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, relationships

Anger, laughter and your immune system

 

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It has been said that one minute of anger weakens your immune system for four to five hours, while one minute of laughter boosts your immune system for over twenty-four hours.   I’ve read these statements several different places recently; I believe scientists are on to something.

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Think about it for a minute.  When something or someone angers you, your blood pressure rises, your heart races, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach.  I know I do.  But did you realize that the sick feeling you get can manifest into something more sinister if it persists?  The sick feeling spreads throughout your body, causing stress on all of your organs.  It has been scientifically proven that stress has been linked to many health conditions and disease states.

Conversely, after a good laugh, you feel great and stress or tension is relieved, improving your mood, your outlook, and even your physical appearance!  I posted an article about the scientific benefits of laughter a while back.  Yesterday, when chatting with a dear friend,  I was reminded how anger can cause stress; inspiration for today’s post.

If you find yourself in any relationship that evokes prolonged and unresolvable anger, angst, tension, stress, or sadness, move on and let it go before you cause any permanent damage to your health!

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Posted in health and wellness, lorieb.com

Living with Food Allergies

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Food allergies can be a pain (literally) to live with.  Some are much more severe than others, with the most severe allergies, called anaphylactic, potentially fatal.  Allergic reactions vary from mild skin rash, slight cough, or itchy throat, to stomach cramps and diarrhea, to heart failure, complete throat/airway obstruction, or unconsciousness.

Common to all allergic reactions is the fact that our immune systems treat the allergen as a foreign substance.  Our immune systems are designed to protect us, so when such a foreign and potentially dangerous substance (called an allergen)is identified, the body goes into attack mode.

In the case of an anaphylactic reaction, the immune system produces massive amounts of histamines which cause the muscles in the lungs to contract, blood vessels to dilate and heart muscle to overwork to a point of heart failure.

A non-anaphylactic, but potentially just as painful, reaction results when the allergen results in the production of antibodies that are deposited in many organs throughout the body.   This is called a CHRONIC reaction, meaning not acute.  This buildup of anibodies takes years to accumulate, so reactions are often hard to diagnose and identify.  Symptoms can mimic asthma, arthritis, high cholesterol and more.  My WHEAT allergy is this chronic, yet painful and unhealthy type of food allergy.

There are many misconceptions of wheat and gluten allergies as well as other gastrointestinal disorders.  Here are some of the important facts:

  • People allegic to wheat and or gluten can and do have anaphylactic reactions as described above.
  • It is a protein in the wheat that is the culprit in wheat allergies.  Gluten is one of, but not the only protein found in wheat that can cause allergic reactions.  So if you are allergic to wheat you do not have to be allergic to gluten, but if you are allergic to gluten, you are allergic to wheat.
  • Gluten is present in wheat, barley and rye.  Semolina, spelt and kamut are less common types of wheat that contain gluten.
  • Oats do not contain gluten, but most products that contain oats have the possiblity of cross contamination from gluten within the grains listed above.  For this reason, people that suffer from celiac disease or a gluten allergy often avoid oats too.
  • Celiac disease results when the allergic reaction to gluten happens within the small intestine.  Most people are aware that celiac disease causes digstive problems such as bloating, gas and diarrhea, but are unaware that edema, fatigue and anemia are common symptoms as well.  Diagnosis is made from a biopsy of the small intestine.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) causes similar symptoms to celiac disease and chronic food allergies but affects the large intestine.  It is often caused by a bacterial imbalance within the digestive system, and can often be treated with a probiotic.
  • Crohn’s disease causes intermittent patches of inflammation between normal patches within the whole gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but predominantly the lower small intestine and upper large intestine (colon).  The inflammation can extend through the layers of the intestines into surrounding mesentery (tissue)  The cause of Crohn’s disease is suspected to be related to an overactive immune system.
  • Ulcerative Colitis usually starts in the rectum and extends upward into the large intestine.  It only involves the inner lining of the intestine and is more localized (not patchy) than Crohns.  Although diet and stress aggravate UC, the exact cause is still unknown, but also thought to be linked to the immune system of its victims.

 

 

Many people not diagnosed with a gluten or wheat allergy have chosen to eliminate those substances from their diets because they believe that fewer carbohydrates in their diet can result in a  healthier lifestyle.   As suspected by many doubters, this decision may turn out to be temporary  like many other fad diets that have come and gone.

If you suffer from the symptoms common to the conditions listed above and cannot control them with your diet, seek advice from your doctor.  Why people choose to eliminate wheat and gluten from their diets does not matter if their lives are improved.

Unfortunately, for many of us, it is not an option.

Posted in food

Foods that Boost our Immune Systems

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To ensure optimal health, everyone, especially pregnant women, should look to proper nutrition and exercise.   To do so, we must be aware of what foods we eat as many are better than others at promoting a healthy immune system to ward off possible pathogens that may affect us.   As well as drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day, we can add the following foods to our daily diets to promote a healthy immune system.

Sweet Potatoes

Like other orange-colored vegetables, sweet potatoes contain beta carotene which is turned into vitamin A in our bodies.  Vitamin A is important in the production of connective tissue which is primarily what our skin is made up of.  Since our skin is the first line of defense protecting the rest of our bodies from viruses and bacteria that could harm us, the vitamin A derived from sweet potatoes keeps our skin healthy.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are known to increase the production and activity of our white blood cells.  Since our white blood cells are what fights off infection in our bodies, more aggressive white cells and an increased production of them means less chance of bacterial or viral infections.  Shitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms are considered the best at producing white blood cells.  Add them to pizza, pasta sauces, eggs, soups and more.

Beef

The mineral zinc is found in large quantities in beef.  Zinc is necessary in the development of our white blood cells, an important component in our immune systems that recognizes and destroys pathogens like viruses and bacteria from our bodies.  Even a mild zinc deficiency can increase the risk of infection drastically.

Yogurt

The active but harmless bacterial cultures in yogurt called probiotics keep germs that we do get exposed to from settling in our stomachs and intestines.   These germs do not get a chance to settle and grow stronger because the probiotics in yogurt cause our food to move through our bodies faster.  Any infections we may encounter will therefore be much less severe with fewer symptoms and a quicker recovery.

Oats and Barley

These well-known grains contain beta glucan fiber which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant roles in boosting our immune systems.  The increased fiber in our diet from these grains also helps move food, as well as any pathogens encountered, through our systems faster, resulting in fewer infections.  Oats and barley are present in many cereals and breads.

Tea

Both black and green teas are known to contain L-thianine, an amino acid that produces interferon which in turn fights viruses.  Since these teas are made with water, they also provide an increased boost to the immune systems because adequate water consumption is essential to flushing our systems of viral and bacterial pathogens.

Keeping our immune systems working well is crucial for everyone, but especially important for pregnant women.  In the third trimester of pregnancy a woman’s immune system is naturally suppressed so that the fetus will not be recognized as a foreign object and rejected.  It is therefore imperative that a pregnant woman keep her immune system in peak condition by eating the proper foods throughout the pregnancy.

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