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 5 Tips for Healthier Joints 

Physical activity, a healthy diet, and good posture can help you stay healthy and keep your joints healthy, too. Persona dietitian, Emily Navarro, breaks it down: 

 

1) Maintain a healthy weight  

Carrying a few extra pounds puts stress on your joints. In fact, losing just one pound of weight removes four pounds of pressure from your knees. In other words, shedding ten pounds will take 40 pounds of pressure off your knees.  

Joint health benefits of a healthy weight:  

  • Reduces pressure on your joints 
  • Helps ease pain 
  • Reduces inflammation 
  • Preserves cartilage

 

2) Keep moving  

When your joints ache, exercise might feel like the last thing you want to do. The truth is, staying active actually helps ease joint stiffness, reduces pain, and strengthens the muscles that support your joints. Take it slow and protect your joints with low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, yoga, cycling, or strength training.  

Joint health benefits of physical activity:  

  • Reduces joint stiffness 
  • Eases discomfort 
  • Keeps joints strong and flexible 
  • Weight maintenance 

 

 

3) Practice good posture 

When you sit still at a computer, do repetitive motions, or lift heavy objects you can strain the joints in your neck, back, hands and wrists. Practice good posture to reduce stress on your joints and muscles.  

Tips for good posture:  

  • Sit upright, lift your chest and relax your shoulders. 
  • When you sit in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor with your hips bent at a 90-degree angle.  
  • Change positions often and get up to move or stretch at least twice an hour 
  • Adjust your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is ator slightly below, eye level. 
  • Position your keyboard and mouse level with your elbows.  

 

 

4) Stay Hydrated 

You are made of mostly water. Every cell, organ, and tissue in your body needs water to function properly, including your joints. Water helps lubricate and cushion the connective tissues that make up your joints. And just like a wet sponge, hydrated cartilage is softer and more flexible which reduces friction and pain.  

The amount of water you need varies based on your size, weight, activity level, and gender. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women generally need about 11.5 cups of water a day and men should aim for 15.5 cups.   

Tips to stay hydrated: 

  • Drink full glass of water in the morning while you wait for your coffee to brew.  
  • Keep a water bottle within reach at all times, even when you are at home. 
  • Add a slice of cucumber, frozen berries, or a sprig of fresh herbs to water or unsweetened tea for a hint of flavor without added sugar. 
  • Eat foods with a high-water content, like raw vegetables and fruit.  
  • Cut back on alcohol. When you do imbibe, drink in moderation and have plenty of water to counteract the effects. 

 

 

5) Eat a healthy diet 

Eating well is not only great for overall health and wellnessit can support joint health and reduce inflammation too. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts and beans with minimal amounts of processed foods and saturated fat can slow joint destruction, reduce pain, and ease pressure on your joints by helping maintain a healthy weight. 

Tips for a healthy diet:  

  • Aim for five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Add a handful of spinach to smoothies, snack on cut veggies with hummus, and fill half your plate with produce.  
  • Eat lean proteins like chicken, fish, beans, Greek yogurt, and eggs to support strong muscles. 
  • Eat seafood twice per week. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout are high in omega-3s which help reduce inflammation. 
  • Go meatless once a week. Swap meat for plant-based sources of protein like beans and lentils. 
  • Cut back on processed foods. Replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea and replace packaged snacks with whole foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  

What’s the deal with nightshade vegetables 

Nightshades are a family of vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes that some consider to be culprits for joint discomfort. These vegetables offer plenty of health benefits and there is no evidence that nightshades are to blame. Still, some people report relief when they avoid them. Track how you feel after eating these vegetables, if you feel discomfort, consider eliminating them for a few weeks then add them back slowly to see if your symptoms are related. 

 

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Supplements for Joint Pain

Whether you are a boomer recovering from a knee replacement, exercise enthused millennial, or sufferer from chronic aches and pains, no one is immune to joint pain. The dreaded dull ache, stiffness, and or burning sensation is less than ideal for anyone. What can you do to help combat and overcome joint pain? Aside from making sure your body has ample time to properly rest and recover, supplementation may help. While we should always strive to consume our daily nutrients in whole food forms, sometimes we just need a little something extra. This is where supplementation is beneficial; supplements may help to provide you with an added nutrient boost to address a specific concern.

 

The Best Supplement

Let’s face it, the number of supplements available now is almost as confusing as picking out a brand of granola bars. The options are limitless and overwhelming. Everyone is unique and may have a different form of joint pain therefore there is truly no “best supplement”. Luckily, there are a variety of different supplements that may meet the specific joint concern you are seeking to address.

 

Wobenzym®

Wobenzym® is a form of systemic enzyme therapy that helps to support and maintain healthy joint function. Wobenzym® may aid in the temporary relief of aches and pains and may help with muscle soreness and muscle recovery. Wobenzym® may be as effective as pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents in reducing pain and improving function in individuals with osteoarthritis.1

UC-II ®

UC-II ® is a patented blend of type II collagen derived from the sternum of chicken cartilage. Type II collagen may help to promote joint health and flexibility. UC-II ® may be beneficial for individuals with a milder form of arthritic conditions.

Bosweilla

Bosweilla is a native plant of India. It is tapped for its gummy substance which contains essential oils, gum, and terpenoids. The terpenoids contain bosweillic acids which may help to support a healthy inflammatory response. In addition to helping with joint health and tissue repair, Bosweilla may also help with respiratory health.

MSM

MSM is created in a cycle between plankton, ozone, and sunlight. It is also naturally present in vegetables, fruits, and grains. MSM may improve flexibility and reduce pain and swelling in the joints by helping the body maintain a healthy inflammatory response. MSM may be beneficial for individuals who experience joint and muscle soreness as a result of strenuous physical activity.

 

Take home message

There is truly no best supplement, as there is no one size fits all approach to wellness. We are all unique and have different needs. What works for you, might not work for someone else. Before beginning any new supplement regimen, it is important to determine the specific concern you are seeking to address or benefit from you. Feeling overwhelmed with the options? You can get started with our personalized assessment to get recommended supplements designed specifically for you. https://www.personanutrition.com/advisor/

References:

  1. Bolten WW, Glade MJ, Raum S, Ritz BW. The Safety and Efficacy of an Enzyme Combination in Managing Knee Osteoarthritis Pain in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Arthritis. 2015;2015:1-7. doi:10.1155/2015/251521.
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The Do’s and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting

As intermittent fasting becomes more and more popular, have you ever wondered why it seems everyone follows it a little differently? Intermittent fasting can in fact vary in the way that it is practiced and can be modified to best fit your lifestyle. However, there are some important tips to remember to ensure you are following it properly.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not necessarily a “diet” but more so a way of eating. Intermittent fasting is defined as rotating between periods of fasting where you consume no food or any form of calories and periods of feeding where you consume food.1 Individuals can follow the fasting portion in a variety of different ways. Alternate day fasting involves fasting for an entire day and eating normally for an entire day. Another method is the 5:2 fast which consists of restricting calories for two days and eating normally for the other five days. The other option is to eat following a time-restricted schedule.

Time-restricted fasting is the most common form of intermittent fasting, and it involves spending a certain amount of time each day in a window of fasting and eating. Common fasting and eating windows include a fasting window of 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours and a fasting window of 14 hours and an eating window of 10 hours.2

 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is continually being researched and may have several benefits as it pertains to weight loss, improving health parameters, and longevity.3 Intermittent fasting can be a beneficial tool for weight loss as it may be easier to maintain a calorie deficit while still feeling satiated. Intermittent fasting can also help to improve insulin sensitivity, which means the body can use glucose more effectively.3 Intermittent fasting may also play a role in aging as some evidence suggests reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (as the two are closely related) and can even help to preserve memory.3

Does it seem too good to be true? With the seemingly endless benefits, who wouldn’t want to follow intermittent fasting? It does take discipline and may not be the best fit for all lifestyles. Here are some key points to keep in mind when intermittent fasting:

Do:

  1. Continue to consume around the same amount of calories as you would if you were not fasting. The goal with intermittent fasting is not to slash your calorie count and completely skip meals, but instead to shorten the time frame in which you are consuming these calories.
  2. Plan meals that are nutrient-dense to provide you with the energy that you need to thrive. After fasting for 14-16 hours, it is crucial that the first meal you consume contains high-quality protein and healthy fats to nourish your body properly.
  3. Consume plenty of water and feel free to incorporate any zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and unsweetened tea into your diet. Be mindful not to add any cream, milk, or sweeteners to coffee and tea as these do contain calories and can break your fast.
  4. Wait to take your supplements with your first meal. Supplements are best absorbed when taken with food as many vitamins and minerals are fat-soluble and need dietary fat for best absorption.
  5. If you do want to workout shortly before breaking your fast, consider supplementing with a BCAA which can help maintain lean body mass.

 

Don’t:

  1. Begin intermittent fasting too quickly. It is okay if you want to try a longer feeding window and a shorter fasting time before transitioning to the more traditional fasting time periods of 14/10 or 16/8.
  2. Be careful not to eat such a large meal when first breaking your fast for the day. This can contribute to digestive discomfort and may make it difficult to consume the rest of your meals throughout the day.
  3. Do not follow intermittent fasting or any sort of time-restricted eating if you have any history of or currently have disordered eating, an eating disorder, hormonal irregularities, or are trying to get pregnant.
  4. Do not complete a vigorous workout hours before breaking your fast. It is important to fuel yourself properly around your workouts and waiting too long to eat can leave you feeling extremely fatigued.
  5. Do not wait to take medications if you must take them at a specific time of the day with food. Please discuss with your doctor if you take prescription medications or have any other health conditions that may impact your ability to intermittent fast.
  6. Do not continue to follow this way of eating if it does not benefit you. Intermittent fasting should only be a diet tool that can positively benefit your life, and it results in any negative side effects, continuous fatigue, or impacts your relationship with food, it is likely not beneficial for you.

 

Take-Home Message

Intermittent fasting is not the answer to all your health concerns. It is not a magical way of eating that makes you lose weight overnight. Intermittent fasting may be a useful approach to aid in weight loss efforts or improve your overall health. If you are in good physical health and you have a healthy relationship with food, feel free to try it and see if intermittent fasting can benefit you!

References:

  1. Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/. Published May 22, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020.
  2. Grant M. Tinsley, Paul M. La Bounty, Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue 10, October 2015, Pages 661–674, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuv041
  3. Harvie M, Howell A. Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects-A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence. Behav Sci (Basel). 2017;7(1):4. Published 2017 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/bs7010004
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All About the Mediterranean Diet

How many times haven’t we gone on a diet and quit shortly after because it was just too intense and restrictive? I may have the solution for you; the Mediterranean Diet.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet was designed to mimic the traditional eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea which include France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In the past decades’ researchers noticed a higher life expectancy in the countries bordering the sea. After many research studies, it became evident that those countries were doing something different to promote longevity. A study conducted on a Greek population compared the eating habits of two groups and it was found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a lower mortality rate in terms of preventable diseases. (2)

There is no cookie-cutter meal plan for this diet as the typical diet does vary between those countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It does, however, focus on specific food groups, these include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds legumes, olive oil, and fish.

 

Who is it for and why should we do it?

As with any other diet, you should consult with your health care team or a registered dietitian to be sure that it is right for you. This diet can be incredibly beneficial for those with chronic diseases or a predisposition, but that is not to say that a healthy young adult should adopt the diet, quite on the contrary, they may avoid many health issues down the line if they start to take care of themselves now.

There is abundant research that the diet can be beneficial to support and prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. (5,6)

 

What to eat

You will want to focus on whole foods; by this, I mean foods found in nature, often time, consisting of minimal additive ingredients.

Fruits and Vegetables, like most diets, are all fair game! These gifts from nature are packed with vitamins and minerals which are essential for every function in your body, and they also contain fiber. Fiber is a component of carbohydrates that our bodies can not digest but oddly enough they support our digestion tremendously.

Whole Grains are exactly as described in the name, grains that are whole. Refined grains like white rice for example, only contain the endosperm which is why it’s a lot softer and easier to chew. Whole grains are mainly recognized for their fiber content, but they also contain many essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. Brown rice, whole wheat breads, and oatmeal are some examples.

Legumes are a fancy umbrella term for foods like beans and lentils. These foods are fine carbohydrates, but they also provide a good amount of protein.

Fish and Seafood provide lean protein, unlike many other sources of animal protein, they are low in fat. Take a look at 5 other benefits here.

Poultry is another lean protein source. It also contains a few B Vitamins and minerals.

Eggs contain many nutrients and have a good balance of protein and fat.

Nuts and Seeds have a high content of fat, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Unlike many refined and processed oils, they contain healthy fats, they are also a good source of protein.

Olive Oil is a great source of monounsaturated fat which is again better than refined oils. Olive Oil has many other health benefits. For example, it includes choline, and research shows that it supports many functions in our body including those in the heart and brain. (3)

Did someone say chocolate? Yes! Dark chocolate and even wine are seen in the Mediterranean diet. This is because of their high content of antioxidants, which can help fight stress to the body leading to chronic disease.

Here is a recipe from Dietitian, Angie Kuhn you may want to try: Heart Health Mediterranean Bowl

 

What to avoid

On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid highly processed foods. This includes added sugars, foods high in saturated and trans fat. Staying away from prepackaged food would be ideal, quite the opposite of whole foods these often contain many ingredients that can work against your goals.

 

Why this diet instead of others?

This diet is easily one of my favorites to recommend to clients and customers looking to improve their health through nutrition. I can’t say that this diet is superior to others or is the magic solution, but it sure has plenty of research to back it up. And best of all, this diet is enjoyable! I am not a huge fan of restrictive or fad diets, those diets are often a temporary solution, you may see quick results but what we should look for is a long-term sustainable diet that we can make a lifestyle. Often, we fall into a cycle of trying new restrictive diets which get us nowhere. (4)

I am not saying that other diets won’t work for you, everybody is different, but it will take work and sacrifice. When considering any diet it’s important to not only think of the effect it will play long term in your health, but also the quality of life it will provide. With this diet, you are free to combine delicious nutrient-dense foods and even pair it with a glass of wine and dark chocolate for dessert.

 

References:

  1. Trichopoulou A, Costacou T, Bamia C, Trichopoulos D. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and survival in a Greek population. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(26):2599-2608.
  2. Tosti V, Bertozzi B, Fontana L. Health benefits of the mediterranean diet: metabolic and molecular mechanisms. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018;73(3):318-326.
  3. Zeisel SH, da Costa K-A. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):615-623.
  4. Yannakoulia M, Kontogianni M, Scarmeas N. Cognitive health and Mediterranean diet: just diet or lifestyle pattern? Ageing Res Rev. 2015;20:74-78.
  5. D’Alessandro A, De Pergola G. The Mediterranean Diet: its definition and evaluation of a priori dietary indexes in primary cardiovascular prevention. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018;69(6):647-659.
  6. Georgoulis M, Kontogianni MD, Yiannakouris N. Mediterranean diet and diabetes: prevention and treatment. Nutrients. 2014;6(4):1406-1423.
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The Connection Between Vitamin D and Immunity

With the world in a global health pandemic, cold and flu season approaching, and the changing seasons, immunity is at the forefront of most of our minds. Vitamin D has been gaining popularity for its proposed benefits in terms of immune health. But does the science support the claims regarding vitamin D and immunity?

 

Vitamin D

To understand the role of Vitamin D within the immune system we must first understand exactly what Vitamin D is. Vitamin D is one of four fat-soluble vitamins, meaning it is absorbed and transported through the body in fat globules. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body within cells and tissues. Since fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, there is an upper limit (UL) for them. The UL is the maximum daily amount an individual can consume without causing adverse health effects. The UL for Vitamin D is 4000 IU for adults.

Vitamin D has two forms, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is typically man-made and added to foods or supplements. While Vitamin D3 is the natural form, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”; we can naturally synthesize Vitamin D3 from the sunlight when it hits our skin. About 10-15 minutes of sun exposure multiple times per week is sufficient for adequate Vitamin D3 absorption. However, several factors can hinder the absorption of Vitamin D3 such as skin color, time of day, UV strength, season, geographic location, and use of sunscreen. Despite the ability to naturally obtain Vitamin D from the sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency remains quite prevalent among the world’s population, especially in the winter months and northern hemisphere.1

 

The role of the Immune System

Vitamin D is most widely known for its role in the formation and maintenance of normal bones and the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. However, over 50 genes are be known to regulated by Vitamin D, most of which are unrelated to mineral metabolism.2 Emerging research shows the role and importance of Vitamin D within the immune system.

The proposed role of Vitamin D within the immune system is its ability to stimulate a greater production of T cells.3 Increased production of T cells may help to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cells and decrease the production of inflammatory cells.4 This may help the body fight against infections and foreign invaders. 3

 

The COVID Connection

Several studies have found a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and testing positive for COVID–19. Given the role of Vitamin D in the immune system, it is plausible to associate a Vitamin D deficiency with a decreased immune system possibly increasing the susceptibility to illness. However, further research is needed to determine the role of Vitamin D in the prevention and treat of COVID-19.

 

Take home message

There is much to learn about the role of Vitamin D within the immune system. Adequate amounts of Vitamin D may help to promote a healthy immune system. The recommended amount of Vitamin D an adult should consume daily is 600 IU. Supplementing with the active form of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) may help to provide you with an adequate amount of Vitamin D to help prevent nutritional deficiencies from occurring if you are at risk. Remember, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, there is a risk for toxicity with intakes greater than 4000 IU per day.

References:

 

  1. Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, et al. Vitamin D Deficiency. [Updated 2020 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/
  2. Omdahl JL, Morris HA, May BK. Hydroxylase enzymes of the vitamin D pathway: expression, function, and regulation. Annu Rev Nutr. 2002;22:139-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.22.120501.150216. Epub 2002 Jan 4. PMID: 12055341.
  3. Louise Saul, Iris Mair, Alasdair Ivens, Pamela Brown, Kay Samuel, John D. M. Campbell, Daniel Y. Soong, Nadine Kamenjarin, Richard J. Mellanby. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 Restrains CD4 T Cell Priming Ability of CD11c Dendritic Cells by Upregulating Expression of CD31. Frontiers in Immunology, 2019; 10 DOI: 3389/fimmu.2019.00600
  4. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine 2011: 59:881-886.
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How Antioxidants Work Their Magic

You’ve probably heard of antioxidants before, and maybe even named dropped them yourself, but have you ever stopped to think about what antioxidants are and how they benefit you? In the spirit of 2020, let’s start with the bad news first- free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that are naturally produced in your body as a normal byproduct of cellular metabolism. If that is a lot to digest, think of a free radical as the unstable partner you may have dated in high school. Full of energy, very compelling, and a bit destructive in nature. As your body digests food and conducts other metabolic processes that allow you to go about your day, it is producing free radicals. If you do things like exercise, breathe in air pollution, or experience stress, more of these unstable molecules will be produced. These external sources of free radicals are important because an excess can cause damage to your cells.

Before you sell your treadmill on eBay and move to a cabin in the woods, know that some free radical production is actually good and necessary for cell development and protection (I bet your destructive high school partner had some redeeming qualities too). What becomes harmful to your cells is prolonged, excess levels of free radicals. This damage can play a role in the development of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, cancer, aging, cataract, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease (1).

Ok, so here is the good news; it turns out that, as a result of billions of years of evolution, our bodies are very smart and pretty good at keeping us alive. Thus, we have a way to protect our cells from being overrun by free radical damage.

Enter, the antioxidant.

If we are continuing the relationship analogy, antioxidants are your dependable people-pleasers that you would probably take home to meet your parents. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and turn them into stable molecules. This, in turn, protects your cells from damage that might be caused by excess free radicals. Your body produces antioxidants naturally (some examples are Coq10, melatonin, and lipoic acid) but other sources of antioxidants need to be provided through food or supplements (like vitamin E, C, and carotenoids).

So how can I protect my cells?!

The wrong conclusion to make from this antioxidant science/relationship lesson is that if antioxidants are good, more is better. Loading up on all the antioxidant elixirs likely won’t help prevent any disease. There is also evidence that too much of an individual antioxidant (like vitamin E) can increase your risk for disease (2). The best advice has and always will be: eat your fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and most importantly, a variety of them. Observational studies have found a relationship between the number of servings of fruits and vegetables people consumed and their disease risk (2). So next time you’re looking for something to snack on, throw in something crunchy and colorful. Do that enough times and it may just prolong your life!

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/

(2) https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth

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What is Systemic Enzyme Therapy?

Enzymes are important compounds that are required to complete many processes in the body. Enzymes are unique because they work as catalysts to assist in chemical reactions. You can imagine enzymes as a counselor mediating a conversation between two individuals. They help turn one compound into another. You may be familiar with this process if you have ever heard of digestive enzymes. Enzymes are produced by the digestive system to break down the food you eat. You actually have enzymes in your mouth right now! The small salivary glands in your mouth produce enzyme-rich saliva to help properly digest the chicken salad you just had for lunch.

 

Enzymes aren’t just used for digestion, however. Certain types of enzymes can also be used to positively impact the inflammation process in the body. When proteolytic enzymes are taken orally to support inflammation rather than digestion, they are part of something called Systemic Enzyme Therapy (SET). Proteolytic enzymes were first widely used as a treatment in Germany in the 1960s.1 For many years, proteolytic enzymes, also referred to as proteinases (enzymes that work to break down proteins) have been recommended to support pain and inflammation related to musculoskeletal issues, arthritis, and surgery recovery.2,3 These proteolytic enzymes are taken on an empty stomach, allowing them to pass freely through the stomach without taking a pit stop to work on breaking down food. Then, they are absorbed in the small intestine where they are allowed to work in body fluids and tissues.4

 

In a very complicated biochemical process, proteolytic enzymes encourage the body to maintain healthy inflammatory processes, possibly by increasing the release of reactive oxygen species (a type of free radical) from white blood cells.1,4 A study in 2016 found that Systemic Enzyme Therapy had significant effects on fatigue, muscle soreness, and muscle damage in male athletes. In addition, SET also encouraged a reduction in inflammatory markers.4

 

In the 1940s, one of the most well-studied enzyme therapy supplements called Wobenzym originated in Germany.6 Wobenzym contains a mix of many enzymes like papain, bromelain, trypsin, and the flavonoid, rutin. Rutin is an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress during times of inflammation in the body.4 Studies show that when compared to a pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory, Wobenzym was just as effective in relieving pain and improving joint function in individuals with degenerative joint disease. In addition, Wobenzym reduced the need to use pain killers and presented fewer side effects. For individuals suffering from muscle soreness following a difficult workout, have a muscle-related injury, or have joint issues, trying enzyme therapy may be a good option.

 

Interested in trying Persona’s supplements or want to add Wobenzym to your pack? Take our online assessment or speak to a Nutritionist online.

References:

  1. Proteolytic enzymes. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/proteolytic-enzymes. Updated May 17, 2019. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  2. Paradis M, Couture P, Gigleux I, et al. Impact of systemic enzyme supplementation on low-grade inflammation in humans. Pharma Nutrition. 2015;3(3):83-88.
  3. Barrett AJ, McDonald JK. Nomenclature: protease, proteinase and peptidase. Biochem J. 1986;237(3):935. doi:10.1042/bj2370935
  4. Marzin T, Lorkowski G, Reule C, et al. Effects of a systemic enzyme therapy in healthy active adults after exhaustive eccentric exercise: a randomised, two-stage, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017;2(1):e000191. Published 2017 Mar 12. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000191
  5. Reactive oxygen species. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/reactive-oxygen-species. Accessed June 29, 2020.
  6. Über Wobenzym. Wobenzym. https://www.wobenzym.de/ueber-wobenzym/. Accessed June 29, 2020.
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Health Benefits of Astaxanthin

Protecting our health is a priority for us right now, and many of us are finding ways to boost our immune system and to stay healthy. Some of us have been adding high-antioxidant foods and supplements to our diet, and if you haven’t already added astaxanthin to your routine, there is a list of reasons why you should start!

What is it? Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) is a naturally occurring deep, red-colored carotenoid with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support our health in numerous ways. You may be familiar with carotenoids as providing fruits and vegetables their bright shades of red, orange, and yellow; astaxanthin is found primarily in microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis), but also in salmon, shrimp, lobster, crab and other organisms, and is responsible for their red tones.

 

Antioxidant

Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is able to integrate itself into every cell, tissue and organ in the body, therefore is found to provide greater antioxidant protection compared to other carotenoids.  Its antioxidant activity also has the capacity to be 6000 times more effective than that of vitamin C, more than 800 times of CoQ10, and 550 times that of vitamin E at neutralizing free radicals.

 

Immune Health

Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin helps strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It can be converted into vitamin A, which plays a significant role in promoting the appropriate function of our immune response, and with its high antioxidant properties, it truly stands out within the list of immune-boosting antioxidants.

 

Eye and Brain Health

Since it is a fat-soluble antioxidant, it can help support in keeping our eyes and central nervous system healthy. It has the ability to cross through the blood-retinal and blood-brain barrier to help reduce the risk of inflammatory-related damage that can lead to conditions such as eye fatigue, cataracts, macular degeneration, dementia or neurological disorders.

 

Heart Health

There is growing research with the potential of astaxanthin and heart health; the high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help prevent oxidation of fats and protein in the body and may help protect arterial wall health as well.

 

Physical Activity

For the athletes and fitness gurus, astaxanthin may provide benefits for improved physical activity. Research suggests it helps support with the recovery of muscles by fighting free radicals and reducing muscle soreness, while enhancing endurance, strength and energy levels.

 

Skin Health

This amazing antioxidant also helps support skin health as well. Astaxanthin helps reduce damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and helps protect and support healthy skin cell function by improving skin moisture levels and elasticity while reducing wrinkles and spots.

Overall, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with reasons to include in your diet. This healthful antioxidant though cannot be produced by the body naturally though, so to gain all of its glorious benefits, we need to add some wild salmon and shrimp to the diet regularly or obtain it through a supplement!

References:

  1. Naguib YM. Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Apr;48(4):1150-4. doi: 10.1021/jf991106k. PMID: 10775364.
  2. Davinelli S, Nielsen ME, Scapagnini G. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):522. Published 2018 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/nu10040522
  3. Fassett RG, Coombes JS. Astaxanthin in cardiovascular health and disease. Molecules. 2012 Feb 20;17(2):2030-48. doi: 10.3390/molecules17022030. PMID: 22349894; PMCID: PMC6268807.
  4. Giannaccare G, Pellegrini M, Senni C, Bernabei F, Scorcia V, Cicero AFG. Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights. Mar Drugs. 2020;18(5):239. Published 2020 May 1. doi:10.3390/md18050239
  5. Liu X, Osawa T. Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food. Forum Nutr. 2009;61:129-135. doi: 10.1159/000212745. Epub 2009 Apr 7. PMID: 19367117.
  6. Zhang ZW, Xu XC, Liu T, Yuan S. Mitochondrion-Permeable Antioxidants to Treat ROS-Burst-Mediated Acute Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:6859523. doi:10.1155/2016/6859523
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Does Nutrition Impact the Immunity?

We’ve all heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but is there actually some truth to this and if so, how does this work? Well, to be fair, you do need much more than just an apple to be healthy and to stay out of the doctor’s office, but the overall theme here is that a nutritious diet can keep you healthy for longer and that is true! But what is the actual science behind this concept? How does your nutritional intake really impact your health and more specifically, your immune function? We will explore how nutrition affects you on a cellular level, but first, we have some important questions to answer about immunity below.

 

Why is immunity important and how does it work?

 

Well, the first question is simple: immunity keeps us healthy and allows our body to fend off pathogens that could otherwise wreak havoc on our bodies or at worst, end our life. The answer to the second question is not so simple: to answer that question fully we may need to write a 5,000 page book on the topic because that is how complex and sophisticated the immune system is! Although a lot is known about the immune system, to this day researchers and scientists are still rigorously working to understand the immune response in its’ full capacity. For now, we won’t focus on the unknowns, but rather the knowns about the immune system. Having a basic understanding of immunity will help us understand specifically how nutrition impacts its’ ability to function properly.

 

Your immune system is comprised of 3 different layers: The first is physical which includes barriers, both internal and external. These include your skin and the epithelial lining of your GI tract and your respiratory tract. (2) The second layer is biochemical which is made of secretions and gastric acids. The third layer of immune protection comes from the cellular level such as B cells, T cells, antibodies and granulocytes to name a few (2). All of these layers work in conjunction together as either an innate response or an adaptive response. These are the 2 main branches of the immune system in terms of function. The innate system is the first and immediate response to a threat to our body. The innate system uses phagocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, mast cells and dendritic cells to function. (1) This response is immediate which is important in addressing pathogens right away, but it is not specialized which is where the adaptive system shines. The adaptive system, as you may guess, adapts over time to different pathogens. This system recognizes pathogens, learns them and remembers them for future use so that if the pathogen invades your body again your immune system will know how to protect you. The adaptive immune system uses T cells and B cells to mediate the immune response (8) Nonetheless, both systems are imperative for a healthy immune response.

 

Why is nutrition important?

 

The relation to immunity and nutrition has been clearly established in the sense that the immune response is compromised when nutrition is not adequate. This can lead to an increased chance that you will develop an infection or illness. (2) An overall healthy diet is important for immune function, but more specifically is the importance of caloric intake, micronutrients and gut health.

 

When you think of a difficult workout you are going to embark on, you usually consider what you have eaten for the day and evaluate if what you have eaten is going to be enough for you to have a successful workout- your immune function is no different! When getting ready to “gear up” to address infection, your body must have proper nutrition to carry out all of the complex functions it needs to address the infection or illness properly. When your immune system is activated it requires a much higher need for energy for optimal function. Proper nutrition during times of infection or illness allows for your cells to function at their highest capacity on the cellular level, increasing the likelihood that your body will be able to properly address and eliminate the pathogen or threat to your body. Without proper nutrition your immune response will not be as strong as it requires which can lead to longer recovery times and ongoing infection and illness. (1)

 

Not only is your immune system impacted by the amount of calories you consume, but the type of calories and foods you consume matters just as much! Micronutrients have been widely known to have a positive influence on health and be necessary for the prevention of disease. Regardless of your age, it has been established that Vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, beta carotene, iron, selenium and zinc all have an imperative role in immunity. (2) Examples of how specific micronutrient deficiencies can alter the response of the immune system can be seen with zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C can increase the likelihood of developing infections like pneumonia due to the absence of the antioxidant effects addressing the oxidative stress the infection is causing. A zinc deficiency can lead to a reduction of lymphocytes, one of the main immune cells, and it can also increase inflammation and oxidative stress. This is due to its’ effect on cytokine production, an important component of modulation of the immune response. (2) A deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to a reduction or alteration of function for macrophages, T cells, B cells and neutrophils; all important cells that assist in immune function. Evidence suggests that supplementation for these specific examples of micronutrients discussed can improve outcomes and immune response. (2)

 

The bacteria in your gut have a strong influence on your immunity as they are closely linked together. The gut microbiome is so complex that researchers are having a hard time making exact conclusions on how the gut microbiome is related to immunity, but we do know that there is a link and it is important to consider when discussing nutrition and immune function.

 

The epithelial walls of our gut serve as one of the layers of immunity that we discussed earlier. This is considered part of the physical and biochemical aspects of our immunity. Our gut is filled with trillions of bacteria, some good and some bad, however, we need to have an abundance of good bacteria to act as a first-line defense of foreign pathogens that may enter our body and to eliminate them appropriately without doing us much harm. If you do not have a healthy gut microbiome you may develop leaky gut syndrome; a condition that may lead to outside pathogens entering you fully instead of being eliminated through your digestive tract- this may lead to immune responses such as inflammation and other diseases. (11). Focusing on fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha can help replenish the good bacteria in your gut due to their probiotic content. Supplementation with a daily probiotic can also help replenish the good bacteria in your gut.

 

Overall, we can see how important nutrition is for our immune function! The best thing to remember is that there is no one food that is going to be the key to preventing disease and supporting your immune system. It’s important to focus on a wide range of foods full of different nutrients! Be sure to get plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables throughout your day and consider supplementation if you are not meeting your needs through diet alone.

References:

  1. Childs CE, Calder PC, Miles EA. Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/. Published August 16, 2019. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  2. Maggini S, Pierre A, Calder PC. Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212925/. Published October 17, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  3. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Nutrition and Immune Responses: What Do We Know? Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230970/. Published January 1, 1999. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  4. Nutrition and Immunity. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/. Published July 23, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  5. How does the immune system work? InformedHealth.org [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/. Published April 23, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  6. Klemm Rby S. Support Your Health With Nutrition. EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  7. Belkaid Y, Hand TW. Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/. Published March 27, 2014. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  8. Alberts B. The Adaptive Immune System. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21070/. Published January 1, 1970. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  9. Fields H. The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  10. Zanteson L. Gut Health and Immunity – It’s All About the Good Bacteria That Can Help Fight Disease. Today’s Dietitian. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p58.shtml. Published 2012. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  11. Mu Q, Kirby J, Reilly CM, Luo XM. Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in immunology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/. Published May 23, 2017. Accessed October 6, 2020.

 

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11 Self-Care Tips Every Parent Needs For 2021

By: Daphne Oz, author, cohost of FOX’s MasterChef Junior and The Dish on Oz airing Wednesdays on The Dr. Oz Show, Mom Brain podcaster and nutrition ambassador for Persona Nutrition

 

Let’s cut right to the chase: this year has been nuts. As we all adjust to life in the wake of a pandemic and so much that is unknown, one thing has stood firm to me: we have to look for bright spots of self-reliance where we can find it. Taking good care of ourselves and our loved ones consistently is key to giving ourselves the best possible defenses and the most resilient mind, bodies and spirit to take on each new day. Here are my top 10 + 1 (because we all deserve a bonus) self-care tips that should be on every parent’s radar heading into 2021.

 

Let kids guide the way.

We take care of our kids all the time, but they actually love having a chance to take care of you! Let them think of a fun way to help you — it could be as simple as a foot rub, fixing you some tea or a little light meal if they’re old enough to handle that safely! It makes them feel so good to be kind and thoughtful in ways that are manageable (yay for raising good humans!) — and it’s an added bonus of wonderful time together for you both. It’s also a great way to start to get your kids familiar with self-care for themselves. Their lives can be stressful sometimes too, and it’s never too early to start reinforcing the ways they will find resilience and happiness long term.

 

No more all or nothing.

Start with something! We steal our own joy and psych ourselves out of doing good things for ourselves all the time by telling ourselves we have to work out for the hour or it’s not worth it. Splurging on a cookie “ruins” a whole day of healthy eating. The home organization project we are desperate for keeps getting put off because we only have time for one room (or one closet) at a time. Everything major starts somewhere small. Don’t be afraid to take the first step that leads to the first ten steps that leads to the future of health, balance and positivity we all crave.

 

Vegetables for breakfast!

It’s a thing. I love doing scrambles with tons of sautéed veggies that I crack an egg or two into and scramble together for a deliciously filling, savory breakfast. Especially in colder months, make way for a warm bowl of deliciously fragrant soups, sautéed veggies, even leftover braises earlier in the day and set yourself up for healthy eating success with stable blood sugar (slow release carbs, protein and healthy fats!) rather than the usual breakfast carb overload.

 

Replace old bad habits with something that feels good.

As humans, we’re typically fans of old habits and the status quo — even if it isn’t really working for us (witness: my disorganized bedroom, grocery shopping while hungry, etc). Try to embrace the fact that whatever is comfortable about old habits that don’t serve us are easier to overcome when we fill the void with something that feels good! That positive emotional association will make it easier to stick with a new habit through the adjustment period, so try some radical shifts towards a habit that serves you.

An example: I was really sick of my overflowing inbox. Opening and reading emails, then marking them unread to come back to later, then beating myself up and feeling exhausted every time I open my inbox and see it crammed full of things I thought I had addressed is the vicious cycle I fell into over and over. A never ending to do list that anyone with my email can constantly add to and that I turned into chaos! So I adopted (at my husband John’s — master of efficiency — suggestion) two new habits and one radical shift:

 

  • Habit #1: I only open my email when I have a dedicated amount of time to read and respond to emails, 15-30 minutes seems to be the magic number for me to get through a bunch uninterrupted and feel maximally productive.
  • Habit #2, no more reading and marking mail as unread to return to. Instead, I mark items that need follow up as “flagged” and move on to filter through other quick replies if that’s all I have physical or emotional time for at that moment. My flagged inbox is much easier to return to when I have more time to devote to a thoughtful response without having to filter through new and old requests mixed together.
  • And my radical shift? I had some emails languish in my inbox for…months. Like, many months. And if I haven’t replied to them in that long and there isn’t a follow up, I decided to cut my losses and start fresh. I marked them all as read and moved on with my life with an empty and newly populating inbox that I actually have a strategy for tackling now. Believe me, it was horribly nerve-wracking the first couple weeks because I felt so guilty for never replying. But the great feeling of knowing I was responding to the important new items in a timely way and the healthy brain space of not feeling like I was behind the eight ball every time I checked my email has felt so good, that I know there’s no going back!

 

Schedule 5 minutes to yourself every couple hours.

Call them your sanity breaks. Don’t use the time to go online or scroll social media. Just sit and check in with yourself, or take a walk around the block, or run the stairs, or do squats, or take your vitamins (I love Persona’s personalized vitamin packs that I simply tear from the pack and take when I have my 5 minutes of me time). It’s important to get clarity on where you are in your day. How you feel after certain interactions, activities or behaviors so you can figure out what you would ideally have more (or less of) in your day.

 

Get familiar with your slow cooker.

We’ve all been eating at home more than ever before. And with all the demands on our time, everyone loves a fast meal that comes together effortlessly. But there is something extra luxurious about the way flavors blend and food turns rich (even while keeping it light!) when it has cooked for a long time. The best part is, you can add all the ingredients — chicken and spices, beef and vegetables, beans and tomatoes for vegetarian chili — before you head to work (or your home office), and dinner is ready to go when you step into your kitchen!

 

Go to bed early.

Ugh, this is my least favorite on the list because I am such a night owl. But my eating, my energy, my general outlook is always so much better when I get to sleep before 10pm. It sets your body’s natural rhythms up for success and means you’re not running on fumes all day — which is usually the fastest way to send us running for more caffeine, more sugar, more stimulus of every kind that we just don’t need to look, feel or function our best.

 

Extra loving.

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s tremendous gratitude for the people in our lives whom we love — and who love us. We crave that connection and constancy, and especially when so much around us feels turbulent and trying. Connect physically whenever you can! There’s a reason babies thrive from being skin to skin. Being together soothes us on so many levels. It might still be challenging to be together in person, but take time to call or Zoom, write letters, reach out. And give a little love to yourself, too! A smile in the mirror, some positive self-affirmations in the shower or in the car…little (easy, manageable) but consistency is the key.

 

Get it delivered!

The social distancing that has ensued the past eight months has opened my eyes to the surprise, delight and convenience of delivery! There are so many wonderful companies who have shifted their business models – large big box brands and numerous local retail owners – to offer delivery or curbside pickup. So, give it a try to make life a little simpler. It can be for your groceries, home office and school supplies, a new cozy loungewear set, kids activity boxes and even your daily vitamin packs (Persona is delivered to your door every 28 days so it’s one less thing to worry about!).

 

Move your body and spend at least 15 minutes sweating every day.

Sweating is how we detox, release tension and get stronger — mentally, emotionally, and yes physically. It doesn’t have to be an hour in the gym. It could be running stairs, or walking to check off your errands, or 15 minutes of sun salutations, or jump rope and pushups in your bedroom. My days always feel more productive when I start them with a commitment to taking this time for my body and mind.

 

Say YES to homemade.

I never, ever feel satisfied by store-bought candy or dessert — it’s always gone too fast, too saccharin, too “almost-good-but-not-quite-there”. Homemade dessert, on the other hand, has variety! It’s layered, its customized, and most of all, it’s real! Whether its classic chocolate chip cookies, a sweet-tart plum tart, seven layer cake, ice cream, millionaire’s short bread, banana bread (SO. MUCH. BANANA BREAD!), or just glorious pure and salty dark chocolate drizzled over berries, homemade dessert and baked goods are worth the work, and the work means you won’t indulge more often than it counts. Treat yourself with foods so good they’re worth the wait and fuel your resolve to take good care of your body the rest of the time.

 

I hope at least a few of these easy self-care tips ring true for you. They’ve made a big difference in my family’s life, and I hope they will help you navigate every day with a little more energy, ease and positivity as you set your sights on the New Year. Remember to start small and start today — and stay well!

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