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A Personal Journey With Autoimmune Disease

The human immune system is a myriad of organs (and organisms) that protect us from harmful bacteria, fungi, toxins, and viruses found in the environment. Some of the organs that comprise it include the lymph nodes, bone marrow, tonsils, the spleen, and gut bacteria – think of it as a college football program working to get to the playoffs at the end of the season. Your spleen is the quarterback, your lymph system is the Athletic Director, your gut bacteria are the defensive line, and so on. The season is life as you know it, and the playoffs symbolize making it through this holiday flu season (or Coronavirus pandemic) unscathed. To accomplish this, the quarterback must play well, the Athletic Director must invest in the program and the defensive line must hit the weight room; you get the picture. Our immunity from the outside world is a product of several complex biological mechanisms working in unison for pageantry on Saturdays (every day). As we grow through our lives and are exposed to internal and external stress, our immune system is put to the test. In some people, about 23 million Americans, their immune system malfunctions under this stress and attacks the tissues of the body causing disease. When this confusion occurs, it is called autoimmune disease.

 

Autoimmune diseases manifest as Type 1 diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Chron’s disease, Celiac, Alopecia Areata, and more. Companies stack millions of dollars each year marketing remedies that may result in little improvement or yield side effects. But what if there was hope for the damage caused by these inflammatory diseases?

 

For example, a 2018 study I read from Augusta University, published in The Journal of Immunology, outlined how baking soda acts within the body to support inflammation that can result from autoimmune diseases. The study shows that drinking baking soda mixed in water could potentially promote a healthy immune response by the spleen and encourages cells that reduce inflammation throughout the body. Researchers explained how it’s not exactly a mechanism of flipping a switch on or off but instead influencing the body to shift from a pro-inflammatory state to an anti-inflammatory one. This conversion of proinflammatory cells to anti-inflammatory cells might prevent the body from attacking its own tissues. Imagine your quarterback who is having a mid-season slump and giving him a potion that ignites his peak performance to finish the season with fervor. Reaching the playoffs now doesn’t seem as farfetched. This is what happened to me.

 

In 2015, I was enjoying some quiet months after graduating from college, which was a stressful endeavor for me, and I noticed a circular spot of hair missing on my beard. I didn’t think much of it at the time. After all, I was enjoying the downtime, feeling healthier than ever, and looking forward to starting my career in laboratory science. In the coming weeks, I noticed another spot missing from my beard. Once I started noticing spots on my arms, legs, and scalp, panic ensued. I began to reach out to my friends in the medical field and was quickly informed that I had Alopecia Areata and there was nothing to be done about it. Well, I could take steroids and other drugs that would work for a short time to grow my hair back, but the list of side effects was two miles long and I had no guarantees they would even work. At one point in 2017, I had almost no hair on my body, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and only a small ribbon of hair that wrapped around the back of my scalp.

 

Needless to say: I. Felt. Sick.

I mean, I was fine as far as my vital signs and typical physiological functions are concerned, but I just felt sick. What was I to do? My drug choices could only be taken for a brief period and there was a chance they might not do the trick. I had reached a new low and was legitimately concerned for my long-term health.

 

Then I remembered that someone once told me, “nothing can give you everlasting happiness because you already have it.”

 

I thought to myself, “What if this were true for nutrition and healing the body?”

 

I was convinced that humans are healing machines and I became determined to find solutions. If I were to heal, I had to become my own biggest cheerleader. I reflected on my lifestyle and what things needed change. After all, I spent several years studying under the author of Physiological Ecology and the take-home message from all that time was, “you are what you eat.” In the early days of my impassioned investigation, I figured that my wires got crossed somewhere between poor diet and the sleepless nights of cramming for exams (or the celebrations thereafter), and naturally, my immune system just gave way to the stress. I had persuaded myself that I could promote healing with sound nutrition and good dieting practices.

 

Hm, what would that even mean?

I spent the last 4 years studying about the human body but had no idea where to begin fixing my own.

 

After several years of trying a variety of diets and scouring the internet for information, I found a practice that began to work for me. Hungry to keep pressing forward, I came across the article about baking soda and autoimmune disease. I thought to myself, “It’s $2…why not try it?” I tried everything else it seemed, so I decided to give it a shot. Now, keep in mind that in the interim from when I was diagnosed with Alopecia to when I found the baking soda, I had made several lifestyle changes to reduce chronic inflammation in my life. I was getting 8 hours of sleep regularly, I incorporated a mindfulness practice, I stopped drinking alcohol, I ate a strictly plant-based diet (fish sometimes), and was even Intermittent Fasting 6 days a week. I started taking baking soda in June of 2018 and behold, by August, my hair began growing back!

 

It was remarkable, my hair was growing back all over my body and down the middle of my head (but not the sides). I embraced the hair growth on my scalp by sculpting a pretty sweet fauxhawk and honoring it by digging out a few of my old Blink 182 CDs; it was truly a fun time of healing. The hair on the sides of my scalp eventually filled in and my eyebrows regrew slightly. I couldn’t have been happier. Disclaimer: it is the nature of Alopecia Areata for hair to regrow as spontaneously as it departed, but I’m convinced that my lifestyle changes were the key.

 

I became comfortable with my hair regrowth and eventually phased out taking the baking soda altogether. I was still strict on my diet and spiritual practices, but the baking soda was a thing of the past. When I started a new job and the Coronavirus pandemic hit, I found myself experiencing the same stress that I felt when I was finishing up my degree. As sure as the day is long, the dreaded spots reappeared on my scalp. I quickly remembered the reprieve I experienced from the baking soda last time and began to incorporate it into my diet again. After about 2 months, my hair stopped falling out and began to regrow in spots. As for life now, instead of waiting until it’s 4th & Inches and the game is on the line, I just incorporate a small amount of baking soda with water into my daily practice and enjoy life with my autoimmune symptoms greatly reduced.

 

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

References:

  1. Fuhrman, J., & Sparrow, N. (2011). Super immunity. HarperCollins.
  2. Karasov, W. H., & del Rio, C. M. (2007). Physiological ecology: how animals process energy, nutrients, and toxins. Princeton University Press.
  3. O’Connor, P., 2018. Oral NaHCO3 Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells. The Journal of Immunology, 200(10), pp.3568-3586.
  4. Sonnenburg, J., & Sonnenburg, E. (2016). The good gut: Taking control of your weight, your mood, and your long-term health. Penguin Books.
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Preparing the Family’s Immunity for a New, and Different School Year

The back to school season has started and before we sharpen pencils or sit in front of our virtual class, families everywhere are paying extra attention to their household’s health. Like any year, the first few weeks of school offer a stew of germs, but this year’s pandemic changes the way we think about our offensive and defensive health. So, here’s what you need to know to aid in your family’s immune health.

 

Fun Fact: The Real Season for Immunity

We are accustomed to thinking there are distinct seasons for things. There’s Back to School season when kids across the globe head back to school for in-person instruction (how things have changed!). There’s the season of new starts and resolutions that are marked by the beginning of January. And, there’s cold and flu season that is triggered by cooler weather, the end of the 12-month calendar and everything people can do to boost their immunity. Many people don’t realize their bodies are equipped with a unique immune system that needs to be optimized all. year. long!

 

A well-functioning immune system recognizes a foreign substance such as a virus, how it multiplies and works hard to eliminate the things that don’t belong. A weakened immune system may fail to recognize an intruder or fall short in eliminating it.

 

Immunity and Nutrition

The strength of your immune system depends, in part, on what you eat – all year long. A diet that contains optimal amounts of the protective nutrients, such as vitamin C, iron, and zinc, helps maintain a strong immune system. If you do become sick, the symptoms are typically less severe and you should recover quicker than someone whose immune system is weakened by inadequate nutritional supplies (1).

 

Colorful fruits and vegetables are sources of the antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C.  The antioxidants work together to optimize the immune response and to help fend off infection, colds, and flu bugs (2). Ample intake of beta carotene-rich foods, such as carrots, apricots, and broccoli, also maintains the skin (don’t forget, skin is the body’s largest organ!) and mucous linings in the nose and lungs, which are the body’s first line of defense against germs. Most people don’t get enough of these foods and would do well to double or even triple current intake to at least 8, and preferably 10, servings daily. Simple ways to add more in your diet:

 

  • For a treat, top low-fat ice cream with a cup of thawed blueberries.
  • As a snack, dunk baby carrots in peanut butter or red pepper slices in hummus.

 

The minerals, including iron, selenium, copper, and zinc, also are involved in immunity. And don’t forget garlic! Compounds in garlic inhibit the growth of germs and might stimulate the immune system (3, 4) Although no optimal dose has been identified, including two or more cloves in the daily diet might turn on your immune system without turning off your comrades.

 

Studies have found that a low-fat diet stimulates the immune system, while typical American diets high in saturated fat might increase a person’s susceptibility to infection and disease (5). So, cut back on fat by limiting fatty cuts of meat, switch to low-fat dairy products, and use healthy, better-for-you fats, such as olive oil, in moderation.

 

Finally, certain healthy bacteria in some yogurts and kefir, including Lactobacillus and Bifidum, reduce the number of colds a person gets in a season, as well as the severity and duration (6). Skip the fancy high-sugar yogurts and choose plain, nonfat yogurt or kefir with active cultures.

 

Put this plan into practice with these simple solutions:

  • For breakfast, serve oatmeal cooked in low-fat milk and topped with berries along with a glass of orange juice.
  • For lunch, try a black bean burrito with baby spinach and salsa, bottled water, and fresh kiwi dunked in yogurt flavored with shredded orange peel, poppy seeds and cinnamon.
  • For dinner, choose grilled salmon, then heap the plate with steamed vegetables, a spinach salad, and/or baked sweet potatoes.

 

Diet doesn’t work alone. You and your family need to:

  1. Get quality sleep: Inadequate sleep is linked to a compromised immune system. It also increases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Most kids need at least 9 to 11 hours a night, while adults need 7 to 9 hours.
  2. Turn to personalized nutrition: Fill in nutritional gaps on the days when your family doesn’t eat perfectly with personalized vitamin and mineral supplements that are made just for your body and lifestyle.
  3. Exercise regularly: Moderate daily exercise boosts immune cell function. Get the kids to unplug and head outside for a 30-minute bike ride or brisk walk in between virtual learning sessions.
  4. Lather up: Encourage everyone in the family to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.
  5. Laugh with friends: Socializing is important for mental health, and laughter as part of that social scene boosts immunity, lowers stress, and is important for everyone’s sanity!

 

These are small steps to take throughout the year, not just as back-to-school season sets in. Your immune system will thank you!

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm. Accessed September 8, 2020.
  2. Amir Aslani B, Ghobadi S. Studies on oxidants and antioxidants with a brief glance at their relevance to the immune system. Life Sci. 2016;146:163-173. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2016.01.014
  3. Ried K. Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Individuals, Regulates Serum Cholesterol, and Stimulates Immunity: An Updated Meta-analysis and Review. J Nutr. 2016;146(2):389S-396S.
  4. Statovci D, Aguilera M, MacSharry J, Melgar S. The Impact of Western Diet and Nutrients on the Microbiota and Immune Response at Mucosal Interfaces. Front Immunol. 2017;8:838. Published 2017 Jul 28.
  5. Cândido FG, Valente FX, Grześkowiak ŁM, Moreira APB, Rocha DMUP, Alfenas RCG. Impact of dietary fat on gut microbiota and low-grade systemic inflammation: mechanisms and clinical implications on obesity. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018;69(2):125-143.
  6. Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and immune health. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011;27(6):496-501.
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Healthy Ways to Press Pause on the Aging Process

We all know one thing about aging: it’s inevitable. However, some seem to be doing it much better than others; what are their secrets?

Today, the population of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly. According to the United States Census Bureau population projections, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.1

Aging is a natural process. Our energy gets lower, our muscles get weaker, our eyesight is strained, our memory isn’t what it used to be, we are less flexible and more exhausted. The good news is that we can slow down the aging process by controlling many of the physical effects of the aging process. By practicing healthy aging, we may also be able to prevent some health problems.

 

Ways to Practice Healthy Aging

 

Healthy Eating and Drinking

As you age, your dietary needs may change. Your body may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. A healthy balanced diet helps in aging gracefully. A healthy eating plan includes:

  • Eating foods that are full of nutrients without a lot of extra calories. This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds. Listed below are a few nutrient-dense foods with associated health benefits:
    1. Berries – loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
    2. Fish – (salmon/sardines) contains Omega-3’s that provide for a healthy heart
    3. Yogurt – provides calcium to maintain healthy bone density and probiotics that help regulate digestion
    4. Tomatoes – contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant
    5. Nuts – a great source of Omega-3’s, fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats
  • Avoiding processed and packaged foods, unhealthy fats, and empty calories, such as foods like chips, candy, baked goods, soft drinks, and alcohol
  • Eating foods that are low in cholesterol and fat
  • Staying hydrated by drinking enough liquids

 

It is important to note that supplements are a great way to get adequate amounts of nutrients we can’t get with diet alone. Persona Nutrition can help you find supplements to help support healthy aging. A quick assessment can provide you with personalized vitamin and supplement recommendations based on your health and lifestyle needs.

 

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is important at every age. If we stay active in our daily activities and with our daily exercise, we need to rest. Sleep is the time when our muscles, organs, and brain repair themselves. It is helpful to wake and sleep on schedule every day. By having a regular schedule and bedtime routine, your internal body clock can stay in sync, so you get the sleep you need. If you are having trouble falling asleep, practice these tips:

  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark
  • Power down the electronics
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening
  • Don’t nap longer than 20 minutes during the day

 

Engage Your Brain

Studies have shown that learning new things can help slow cognitive decline. Continue to challenge your mind as you age by reading, learning new things, and switching up your routine.

 

Stay Socially Connected with Your Family, Community or Group of Friends

Meaningful relationships and a strong social network can improve mental and physical well-being. It is important to stay socially connected to prevent loneliness. Staying socially connected can be as simple as

  • Enjoying dinner with family and friends and sharing highlights from your day
  • Volunteering in your community – a great way to meet new friends
  • Don’t forget about our furry friends! Pets have been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods experienced by their caretakers

 

Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the most important things that you can do for your health. It can lower your risk of several different types of cancer, certain lung diseases, and heart disease.

 

Be Physically Active: Move More, Sit Less Throughout the Day

Being active can help you prevent, delay, and manage chronic diseases; improve balance and stamina; reduce the risk of falls; and improve brain health. The key to staying active as you age is finding exercises you enjoy. Try to incorporate exercises that improve cardiovascular health, balance, and muscular strength. Aim for moderate physical activity 30 minutes every day. If that is too much, break it up into shorter periods. Plan a strengthening activity (yes, carrying groceries counts) at least two days a week. Make sure you participate in activities and hobbies that you enjoy.

 

Maintain Regular Health Screenings

Schedule regular doctor’s visits and health screenings and make sure you are vaccinated each cold and flu season.

 

We can’t stop the aging clock, but we can control how we age and improve how we feel. Following these tips can help you stay healthy as you age. Improvements made in your 30s, 40s, and 50s can lead to a stronger and healthier YOU in your 60s, 70s, and 80s. It’s never too late to start taking care of your health, surrounding yourself with people you love, and doing things that bring you joy.

References:

  1. Mather M, Scommegna P, Kilduff L. Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States. Population Reference Bureau. https://www.prb.org/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet/. Published July 15, 2019. Accessed August 31, 2020.
  2. 6 Tips for Healthy Aging. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/healthy-aging.htm. Published September 20, 2019. Accessed August 31, 2020.
  1. Santos-Longhurst A. 13 Tips for Aging Gracefully with Exercise, Diet, and Wellness. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/aging-gracefully. Published June 18, 2019. Accessed August 31. 2020.
  2. Healthy Aging. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/healthyaging.html. Published May 5, 2020. Accessed August 31, 2020.
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Birth Control Pills and Supplement Use

As a woman’s priorities, goals, and personal situations evolve throughout her life, so will her perspective on her sexual and reproductive health. For most women, this will include decisions on the use of contraception. Hormone combination oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, have been a very popular choice among women looking to prevent pregnancy ever since their introduction in the 1960s. Most recent statistics indicate that 80% of women have used “the pill” to prevent pregnancy at some point in their life.1

 

How do birth control pills work?

Healthcare providers use birth control pills are used to treat a variety of conditions from acne to endometriosis, however their primary design is to prevent pregnancy. While there is a variety of options on the market, the traditional birth control pill consists of a combination with two synthetic hormones that copy natural female hormones, estrogen and progestin. Raising hormone levels disrupts a woman’s natural cycle and prevents pregnancy by:

  • Stopping the release of an egg from one of the ovaries for fertilization2,3
  • Thickening mucous at the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the womb 2,3
  • Thinning the lining of the womb making it unfavorable for pregnancy 2,3

 

Should I avoid taking supplements with my birth control?

There are some supplements that may change the way your body processes the hormones present in your birth control pills. Since your body depends on these hormones reaching a certain level to be effective at preventing pregnancy, anything that might reduce hormone levels could potentially change effectiveness. For example, St. John’s Wort, a supplement commonly used for mood, may speed up the breakdown of estrogen by the liver.4 On the other hand, a supplement that may slow down the breakdown of estrogen could make hormone levels higher than expected increasing the likelihood a woman may experience side effects with her medication.5

 

Feeling imbalanced?

Some women feel the need to try and balance their natural hormone production while taking birth control pills. However, this feeling of hormone imbalance is more likely due to side effects of your medication. Side effects are most common at the beginning of a new hormone regimen and usually disappear once your body adjusts to therapy. Lingering side effects of birth control pills are usually due to an inappropriate dose of hormone. Below are some examples of side effects that could occur due to too much or too little estrogen or progestin in your birth control. 2,3

 

Side effects of estrogens 2,3

Side effects of progestins 2,3

Too much estrogen

Too little estrogen

Too much progestin

Too little progestin

Nausea, bloating,  breast tenderness, headache Breakthrough bleeding (early in your cycle) Increased appetite, weight gain, fatigue, changes in mood Breakthrough bleeding (late in your cycle)

 

It is estimated that almost 65% of women who stop their birth control do so because of unwanted side effects.1 If you are continuing to experience bothersome side effects after a few months of therapy, then you should talk to your healthcare provider. It may be necessary to adjust the dose of your medication or change to a different hormone combination. Consider keeping a diary of your symptoms in order to help your healthcare provider determine which changes best suit your individual needs.

 

Which supplements should I take with my birth control?

While it is not necessary to take supplements to balance your hormones while using birth control pills, it may be a good idea to supplement some vitamins and nutrients if your diet is lacking. Current evidence shows that women using birth control pills long term may have lower levels of several B vitamins (especially folate), magnesium, and zinc.6,7 Generally most women can avoid these deficiencies with a well-balanced diet. However, if your diet doesn’t consist of vitamin and mineral rich fruits and vegetables, you may benefit from the addition of a good multivitamin.8 Persona’s online personal assessment is a great tool to determine if you are meeting all your nutritional needs. By answering questions regarding your lifestyle, diet, and listing your medications, like birth control, you receive personalized recommendations tailored to you.

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

References:

  1. National Center for Health Statistics. 2015–2017 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG): Key Statistics. Hyattsville, MD. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/key_statistics_2015_2017.htm. Accessed August 31, 2020.
  2. Hatcher RA, Trussell J, Nelson AL, et al. Contraceptive Technology: 20thRevised Edition. New York, NY: Ardent Media, Inc., 2011
  3. Wright, K.P., Johnson, J.V. (2008). Evaluation of extended and continuous use oral contraceptives. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management; 4(5): 905-911.
  4. Zhang N, Shon J, Kim MJ, et al. Role of CYP3A in Oral Contraceptives Clearance. Clin Transl Sci. 2018;11(3):251–260.
  5. van Duursen MBM. Modulation of estrogen synthesis and metabolism by phytoestrogens in vitroand the implications for women’s health. Toxicol Res (Camb). 2017;6(6):772-794.
  6. Mohn ES, Kern HJ, Saltzman E, Mitmesser SH, McKay DL. Evidence of Drug-Nutrient Interactions with Chronic Use of Commonly Prescribed Medications: An Update. Pharmaceutics. 2018;10(1):36. Published 2018 Mar 20.
  7. Palmery M, Saraceno A, Vaiarelli A, Carlomagno G. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17(13):1804-1813.
  8. Mooij PN, Thomas CM, Doesburg WH, Eskes TK. Multivitamin supplementation in oral contraceptive users. Contraception 1991;44:277-88.
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Tips to Strengthen Immunity with Dr. Michael Roizen Featured on the LIVE with Kelly and Ryan show

We understand immunity is top of mind for many individuals and our Medical Advisory Board, including the chair of our board, Michael Roizen, M.D., Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of What to Eat When, is fielding numerous questions about simple ways to strengthen immunity throughout the day.

 

Dr. Roizen shared his tips for boosting immunity on the LIVE with Kelly and Ryan show, which aired on Monday, August 24, 2020.

 

Watch the segment now to get an expert’s point of view and a better understanding of how the body’s immune system works and how it depends on sleep, nutrition, exercise and stress management to be optimized, so you stay protected.

 

Watch Now.

 

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Top Three Misconceptions About Weight Loss

The rise of diet culture and social media has created the perfect storm of confusing and often misinformed nutrition advice. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stuck in your own health journey. I’m here to help you sort through the madness. I wrapped up the most common weight loss misconceptions that I encounter as a nutritionist and looked at what the science says about each of them.

 

Misconception #1:  A low carb diet will help you burn fat and lose weight

The Theory

A lot of fads are based on actual science that has become over-generalized or exaggerated. Low carb diets are no exception. Carbohydrates trigger an increase in insulin. Insulin cues your body to store fat. In theory, swapping higher carb foods for lower carb ones and keeping your calories the same would reduce fat store cues, increase calories burned, and result in weight loss. However, clinical trials comparing different low carb diets have found that weight loss is more dependent on total calorie intake than avoiding any one food group (1). One study found that very lower carbohydrate diets may be more favorable than high carb diets when it comes to weight maintenance (2).

Should you try it?

There’s no need to go low carb if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle or make you feel good. The biggest driver of weight loss appears to be a calorie deficit—taking in fewer calories than you burn—low-carb diets probably aren’t your most effective strategy. In fact, very low-carb diets like keto or Atkins may even hurt your health. Diets around 50-55% carbohydrate seem to be a safe option.

 

Misconception #2: You should be intermittent fasting

The Theory

There are a lot of ways to go about intermittent fasting, but in general, it includes a small window of time in which you can eat whatever you like (usually 8 hours) followed by a period of fasting (usually 16 hours). There is a lot of emerging research on this topic, most looking at the overweight and obese populations who have used alternate-day fasting. This means the participants cut their calories down to 25% below their break-even point for a day, then returned to their regular diet the next. Many studies found that IF is effective for weight loss but the results weren’t as clear when compared with other calorie-restricted diets (3). Overall, it seems the benefits came more from the overall drop in calories than the schedule itself. In other words: It’s about how many calories you take in, not when you eat them.

Should you try it?

There’s more to be learned on this topic, but for now, it’s not clear how intermittent fasting compares to other ways of cutting calories. If you’ve set a weight-loss goal, your best option is probably to eat a healthy, lower-calorie diet on a schedule that works for you.

 

Misconception #3: You need to buy “health” foods to lose weight

The Theory

I have counseled a lot of people who tell me that eating healthy is too expensive and rightly so. The supermarket can be an overwhelming place. The reality is you don’t need pricey products to achieve your health and weight-loss goals. Conventional produce—ordinary, everyday fruits and vegetables—can get you there just as well. In fact, some foods labeled “healthy”, notably gluten-free products, can be higher in calories than their regular counterparts.

Should I try it?

There are a lot of reasons to buy organic produce, but weight loss isn’t’ one of them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store, try and shop in the order that you would construct a meal. I like to start with some produce and fresh herbs, select a grain like brown rice or pasta, a lean protein, and then think about the sauces and seasonings.

 

The take-away

Remember, there are loads of ways to support your health goals and weight loss may or may not need to be a part of that. Diets seem to work in the short term- but in the long run, most people end up gaining weight back or gaining even more weight than when they started their diet. A balanced nutrient-dense diet is still the best nutrition advice out there.  The single most important factor for following through with your health goal? Adherence. The best diet is the one you can stick to.

References:

(1) Ebbeling Cara B, Feldman Henry A, Klein Gloria L, Wong Julia M W, Bielak Lisa, Stelz Sarah K et al. Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance: randomized trial BMJ 2018; 363-583

(2) Freire, R. Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets. Nutrition 2020; (69) 110549. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2019.07.001

(3) Megan A McCrory, Ayla C. Shaw, Joy A. Lee. Energy and Nutrient Timing for weight control: Does Timing of Ingestion Matter? Endocrinol. Metab. Clin. N. Am. 2016;(45) 689–718. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2016.04.017

(4) Stephanie Welton, Robert Minty, Teresa O’Driscoll, Hannah Willms, Denise Poirier, Sharen Madden and Len Kelly. Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss. Canadian Family Physician February 2020; (2) 117-125.

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Is there a Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Low-fat? Sugar-free? Gluten-free? Paleo? These are just a few of the many diets abundant in the world today. These diets may claim rapid weight loss and amazing health benefits when you restrict certain food groups, but this restriction may result in the loss of critical nutrients vital to your health.

 

The Truth

If a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The truth is there is no single best diet for weight loss. We are all unique and have different needs. What works for you might not work for someone else. But, what we do know is true is that lifestyle modifications are key to achieving and maintaining your health goals.

One beneficial lifestyle modification is the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet consistently ranks in the U.S. News and Worlds Reports as the best overall diet.1  The Mediterranean Diet is considered the best because it is not your typical diet. It is an eating pattern focusing on realistic lifestyle modifications which can be maintained throughout your life.1

 

The Basics of the Mediterranean Diet

The foundation of the Mediterranean style eating pattern is the lifestyle change. Meals are meant to be savored and enjoyed with friends and family. Daily physical activity is encouraged.

The eating pattern emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy and red wine.2 It emphasizes plant-based protein sources and incorporates animal proteins in smaller amounts with fatty fish being the preferred source.2  

 

The Benefits

Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, and antioxidants which help to protect our cells from damage promoting optimal health. Whole grains and legumes are high in fiber which helps to keep us full and satisfied. Nuts, seeds and olive oils are rich in monounsaturated fats which help to lower LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol associated with heart disease. Fatty fish like salmon is rich in Omega-3 Fatty that help the heart beat at a steady rhythm, help to lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.

Research has proven following a Mediterranean style eating pattern can lower the incidence and risk of developing of cardiovascular disease.3,4 Emerging research even indicates the Mediterranean diet can be an effective approach to improving cognitive function and health.5

What does the research have to say about the benefits of weight loss? One systematic review compared the long-term weight loss results of the Mediterranean diet, low-fat diet, low-carb diet and the American Diabetes Association diet.6 The researchers found that individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet had a greater amount of weight loss than individuals who followed a low-fat diet but similar results for comparator diets.6

Why follow this diet for weight loss if it has similar results of comparator diets? What makes this diet so beneficial is that it’s not centered on the deprivation of certain nutrients. The focus of the Mediterranean diet is about eating a variety of whole foods while being mindful of portion sizes. There is no rule book or one size fits all approach to following the Mediterranean diet. You have the power to choose which foods you want to incorporate into your lifestyle to optimize your overall well-being.

 

Strategies for Success

  • Choose vegetables as the foundation of your meals.
  • Add plant-based sources of protein like beans into your meals.
  • Switch to whole grains.
  • Incorporate fatty fish like salmon and sardines at least twice a week to reap the heart healthy benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds daily.
  • Use Olive Oil as your primary cooking oil.
  • Use spices and herbs to flavor your meals.
  • Be mindful of your portions.
  • Incorporate more physical activity throughout the day

 

Remember

Before beginning any new diet or lifestyle change ask yourself this: “Is this sustainable long term and will I be happy to doing this?” If the answer is no, then you may want to rethink it.

 

 

Mediterranean Diet Grocery Guide

Fruits Berries, Peaches, Grapes, Melon, Oranges, Pineapples, Apples, Cherries, Pomegranates, Tomato
Vegetables Broccoli, Spinach, Romaine, Beets, Carrots, Squash, Zucchini, Onions, Mushrooms, Peppers, Cauliflower
Protein Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Scallops, Anchovies, Sardines, Cod, Chicken, Turkey, Eggs, Lean beef
Grains Brown Rice, Quinoa, Bulgur, Popcorn, Oats, Farro, Tegg, Sorghum, Buckwheat, Rye, Whole grain pasta and flours
Spices and Herbs Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Pepper, Turmeric, Dill, Chives, Mint, Cinnamon
Seeds Flax, Chia, Pumpkin, Hemp, Sunflower
Nuts Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia, Pine nuts, Hazelnuts
Legumes Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Lima Beans, Pinto Beans, Lentils, Edamame, Peas, Navy Beans
Dairy Greek Yogurt, Feta Cheese, Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Goat Cheese, Milk
Oils Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Oil, Flaxseed Oil

 

These are just a few of the many options of whole foods you can incorporate into a Mediterranean style eating pattern!

 

 

 

References:

  1. S. News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/mediterranean-diet.
  2. Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/. Published May 22, 2019. Accessed August 25, 2020.
  3. Ahmad S, Moorthy MV, Demler OV, Hu FB, Ridker PM, Chasman DI, Mora S. Assessment of Risk Factors and Biomarkers Associated With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women Consuming a Mediterranean Diet. JAMA Network Open. 2018 Dec 7;1(8):e185708-.
  4. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas MI, Corella D, Arós F, Gómez-Gracia E, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Fiol M, Lapetra J, Lamuela-Raventos RM. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. New England Journal of Medicine. 2018 Jun 13
  5. Aridi YS, Walker JL, Wright OR. The association between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and cognitive health: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2017 Jun 28;9(7):674.
  6. Mancini JG, Filion KB, Atallah R, Eisenberg MJ. Systematic Review of the Mediterranean Diet for Long-Term Weight Loss. The American Journal of Medicine. 2016;129(4). doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.11.028.
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The Mighty Mitochondria

A cellular biology breakdown

Mammalian cells are called eukaryote cells. This means each cell contains a central nucleus surrounded by its own membrane, the nuclear membrane — which is where the genetic material is housed. In addition to a nucleus, eukaryotes cells also contain organelles that have a specialized function. This is also surrounded by its own membrane, a plasma membrane. The mitochondria is an organelle with the amazing function of producing power—essentially the power plant of the cell. The mitochondria looks like a cell within a cell and actually even has its own genetic material separate from the genetic material of the nucleus. This mighty little organelle is tubular shaped and converts our metabolites (breakdown products) from food and oxygen into usable energy for our cells. This conversion of food and oxygen into energy is cellular metabolism.  The usable energy produced by mitochondria is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Carbohydrates, fat and protein are broken down into ATP which the cell then uses for its physiological and biochemical functions, like movement, growth, repair, and basic upkeep.

There is both anaerobic (without oxygen) and aerobic metabolism (with oxygen). For the sake of simplicity, we will only be discussing aerobic metabolism. The mitochondria needs oxygen to function optimally and produce energy (ATP). Without ATP the cell will die. This is a simplification of an elaborately evolved system of energy production and life. The mitochondria needs additional help to produce the necessary energy for the life of our cells. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) provides this help. An optimal level of NAD is vital for this aerobic metabolism to occur. NAD is called a cofactor, a necessary component for a biological pathway to occur or move forward.

So, we now know the mitochondria is the center for energy production and without adequate food and oxygen the cell can die because ATP can only be produced with the proper metabolites. With such a vital role it makes sense that any dysfunction of the mitochondria would lead to serious detrimental effects in the human body. Diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, neurologic diseases, genetic disorders and aging are associated with mitochondria dysfunction. A decrease in mitochondrial number and function does accompany aging.

 

How can we improve mitochondrial function?

Aerobic exercise increases oxygen uptake and thus cellular respiration. The more oxygen the mitochondria takes in the more energy it can produce providing there are also enough nutrients from food to drive the production of ATP. When the mitochondria are working in the presence of increased oxygen flow, the machinery inside the mitochondria also increases as needed (increased demand results in increased machinery within the mitochondria). Since the mitochondria has its own genetic material, it can independently build new equipment for greater energy production… remember, it is a power plant. With resistance training, mitochondria are also increased in number, to handle the increased demands for energy and oxygen by the working muscle.

With age, there is a decline in health and function leading to mental fog, skin laxity, muscle weakness and atrophy, a decrease in muscle strength, and decreased cardiovascular vigor. Researchers believe this may be related to a dysfunction in mitochondria or a decrease in necessary cofactors which help drive metabolic pathways forward. Thus, there appears to be an aging-related decline in mitochondrial number and function.  NAD is one such molecule that has been shown to decrease pretty dramatically with age. Since NAD is so important to the mitochondria’s production of ATP, supplementing with NAD will at least provide a necessary component (cofactor) to help increase energy production.

To summarize: Aging may be related to a decrease in energy metabolism involving mitochondria and the necessary cofactors involved in energy metabolism.

 

What can I do to support the aging process?

Exercise: Increase in oxygen intake, aerobic exercise will help improve function and number of mitochondria. To take this further, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is even more effective in increasing density and function of mitochondria in muscle. Additionally, NAD levels are increased in skeletal muscle with HIIT. Remember, supply and demand…when the muscle has more demand for oxygen and energy, the mighty mitochondria will build more machinery. Exercise increases blood flow to the tissues being trained…this is called angiogenesis. Increase blood flow to the cells and increase number of mitochondria and increase levels of the cofactor to energy production (NAD) results in more energy and vigor.

NAD: We know that a key player within the mitochondria is NAD. Strength training has been shown to increase NAD levels in skeletal muscle in aging men. Since aging dramatically decreases levels of NAD, it makes sense that supplementation may help slow down the aging process and the unfortunate consequences of aging. Our supplement, Tru Niagen contains the patented ingredient NIAGEN®, a specialized form of Vitamin B3 that is clinically proven to increase NAD levels. Niagen is a more effective NAD booster than other forms of B3.

Balanced diet: A healthy balanced diet to provide the necessary components for energy production is vital for healthy functioning mitochondria and thus overall cellular health. Supplements are a great way to get adequate amounts of those nutrients we can’t get with diet alone.

References:

Eluamai, A., Brooks, K. Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Mitochondrial DNA and Aging. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness. 2013; 11 (1) 1-5

Liana Roberts Stein and Shin-ichiro Imai. The dynamic regulation of NAD metabolism in mitochondria. Trends Endocrinol Metabolism. 2012; Sep; 23(9): 420–428.

Lundby, C., Jacobs, R.A. Adaptations of Skeletal Muscle Mitochondria to Exercise Training. Experimental Physiology. 2016; 101 (1), 17-22

Michelle F. Goody & Clarissa A. Henry. A need for NAD+ in muscle development, homeostasis, and aging. Skeletal Muscle. 2018; volume 8, Article number: 9

Roldan M. de Guia,  Marianne Agerholm,  Thomas S. Nielsen, Leslie A. Consitt, Ditte Søgaard, Jørn W. Helge,  Steen Larsen, Josef Brandauer,  Joseph A. Houmard,  and Jonas T. Treebak. Aerobic and resistance exercise training reverses age‐dependent decline in NAD+ salvage capacity in human skeletal muscle. Physiological Reports. 2019; Jun; 7(12): e14139.

 

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My 6 Favorite Nutrition Hacks for Moms

Authored by Daphne Oz, MasterChef Junior television host and host for The Dish on Oz, Mom Brain podcaster and mom of four.

 

Becoming a first-time mom is the most exciting, rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done. We are indeed superwomen, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about taking care of ourselves. Compromising our health means compromising the love and care everyone around us gets – you deserve to feel great, too!

I’m juggling my television hosting gigs on MasterChef Junior and The Dish on Oz, recording my podcast Mom Brain (have a listen next time you want a buddy in your ear to keep you company on this wild parenting journey), and handling my kids’ needs as well as my husband’s and my own. I know I don’t always get it right and I learn something new every day, but there are a couple habits I have developed that have helped me keep my energy up, make time for the moments that matter, and enjoy the ride! Here are a few of my favorite hacks to help keep our personal wellness top of mind so we can continue to take on anything motherhood throws at us! (Or up on us, for that matter.)

 

  1. Have A Plan – Creating a plan adds more structure and lets us maximize our day so we have more time to be (and be present) with our kids. It also lets us make better decisions – or at least guide those decisions – using our rational brains, as opposed to when we’re fried, frazzled, or having to guess on the fly.

 

When it comes to preparing meals, planning can also help ensure the types of food we end up consuming are nutrient-rich foods we need, not just what’s super convenient. The easiest way I know how to do this is by keeping my pantry stocked with healthy essentials – grains and legumes, whole grain or alternative flour pastas, quality condiments, etc., so fast meals are ready to go and the only thing I might need to shop for is fresh produce or protein, which keeps me feeling inspired by what’s in season and looks great at the market today.

 

Another way I meal plan is by “eating a rainbow.” This can sound a little gimmicky, but it really helps make it easier to ensure you’re eating a variety of good, live enzyme-loaded food that’s going to help you feel better on the inside and look better on the outside. Have your family help brainstorm red foods for Monday (radishes, beets), orange foods for Tuesday (carrots, bell peppers), etc. Then, pick one or two of those foods to feature in your meals. It doesn’t have to be a strain on your normal meal plans, just a fun way to highlight the healthy options all around you.

 

  1. Cook Ahead of Time – I do the bulk of my cooking for things that take some time – grains, legumes, roasts, etc. – on Sunday night, and then look for ways to reuse throughout the week. I also make sure to do “two of everything” – e.g. I will roast two chickens at a time, or two trays of veggies, or bake two lasagnas. That way, we have one fresh to enjoy and one to use for great leftovers or freeze for later, but both are cooked at the same time.

 

Another tip is to look for proteins you can marinate ahead of time and have ready to go. Chicken breasts can be tossed with olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs or yogurt, citrus zest and curry powder and kept overnight in the refrigerator to be roasted or grilled the next evening. This step saves you time and adds tons of flavor. You can also easily shred and add leftovers to tacos or quesadillas that can be garnished with avocado, salsa and other family favorites. Consider swapping sour cream for low-fat Greek yogurt (no sugar added) and whole grain or alternative flour tortillas for traditional ones.

 

  1. Customization is Key – I refuse to prepare individual meals for each member of my family because I would never leave the kitchen! Since my kids are still small and spice-averse, I often do end up making them their own version of a meal, and then juicing it up for my husband and me. Usually, I start with the same base protein and a tray of roasted or steamed veggies and then use different sauces and toppings to customize for taste. The kids love their ketchup and sweet barbecue sauce. John and I love fresh, herby toppings, spicy chile oil, or a sweet and tangy mustard sauce. This way, I can make one recipe work for my family without sacrificing individual preferences.

 

My kids love to eat quinoa – I’ll go with it! It might have something to do with the fact I love to drizzle it with olive oil, feta cheese and salt, or throw in some plumped up raisins with almond milk and honey for a little bit of a sweeter take. It’s such a versatile grain and the texture is easy to chew so they like it with lots of things – even mixed with scrambled eggs and veggies like a healthier veggie fried rice (adults love this, too)! Since quinoa is a complete protein that acts like a grain, it’s a great way to satisfy picky eaters while giving them tons of essential nutrients they need.

 

One other trick I’ve found: kids love to dip! You can also cut down on cooking time by placing a whole cookie sheet filled with roasted veggies and tofu tossed with a little olive oil and seasoning in the oven. When you serve, give your kids individual dipping sauces to suit their tastes and let them go to town!

 

  1. Cut Through the Confusion – Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to get the recommended daily servings of 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit per day, even if you only had your own meals to worry about. People always ask which supplements I use because the rows and rows of one-size-fits-all vitamins at the pharmacy or grocery store can feel overwhelming and who even knows if you’re picking up the right bottle?

 

Something I’m loving these days is Persona Nutrition. I took Persona’s free personalized nutrition assessment to uncover exactly what my specific body needs driven by my unique health history and goals (it also accounts for any medications you might be taking to prevent any adverse drug-nutrient side effects). Their team of doctors and nutritionists are on hand to answer any questions you might have, and they are a great resource to help ensure that your personalized plan can be easily customized for specific diets and/or allergies, activity level, pregnancy or breastfeeding, fertility, and a whole slew of other needs or concerns. They even help you figure out when to take your vitamins to let your body get the most out of them. But the best part is that they ship your personalized Persona vitamin packs right to your door every 28 days, making daily nutrition even more convenient. I love the fact that I can take my daily pack with me and tuck it in my purse without ever having to worry I’ve forgotten one of my essentials. I love this “no more, no less” approach to taking the highest quality supplements based on what my body actually needs – it’s one less thing to worry about.

 

  1. Stock Up on Healthy Fats – Not only do good fats add delicious flavor to your cooking, they are also essential to ensure healthy heart, eye and brain function. You may have heard about “essential fatty acids” – they’re essential because our bodies cannot make them, so we have to get them from our diets. Some classic sources are things like avocados, olive oil and nuts, which contain ALA omega-3 or fatty fish (think salmon and sardines) or a vegetarian source like algae which contain long-chain omega-3s, like DHA and EPA. Did you know that fish aren’t the original source of DHA and EPA omega-3s? It’s the algae in their diet that makes them a rich source of these healthy fats!

 

Not only does healthy fat offer fuel and flavor, it also fills you up! I love keeping a small bag of nuts and seeds in my purse or diaper bag to make it easy for me to snack well on the go. I sprinkle hemp hearts onto reduced fat yogurt with some fruit for a fast breakfast or snack. I love cut veggies with protein packed hummus or bean dip with a drizzle of olive oil. And, I always make sure to have some homemade salad dressing on hand in the fridge so a salad is easy to pull together (I’m a big believer in eating greens at every meal to improve digestion and flood your body with cleansing and energizing phytonutrients). Mashing avocado it onto some crackers or over arugula, herbs, lemon juice and salt makes for a deliciously easy, filling bite.

 

  1. Make Your Kids Proud to Be Good Eaters – We have a rule in our family right now that “big kids try everything once.” I set out a meal family style and let my older kids serve themselves so they can feel in control. I don’t fight with them as long as they try a bite of everything. It took a little getting used to, but now I see that they are really proud of themselves when they experiment and try something they didn’t think they would like. I noticed that they’re starting to love some of those foods now, too which is the best part!

I hope these ideas provide a nutritional boost for you and your family. You deserve to feel great! The most important trick when it comes to food and nutrition is to keep it easy and fun, and do what works for your family.  For more of what I love and use, follow me at @DaphneOz on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I’d love to hear about your experience if you try any of these tips, so please tag m

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Summer 2020 – Staying Healthy on the Go with 8 Tips

By Harry Oken, M.D., practicing internist in Columbia, Maryland, medical advisory board member for Persona Nutrition; Dr. Oken is an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of the new book BOOM: Boost Our Own Metabolism.

 

I receive several questions a day from patients, friends and family who are curious about what they can do to minimize their risk of getting sick while traveling. Given the current environment in the United States, travel is only advised if absolutely necessary.  Always refer to your local government for travel advisories and restrictions.   If you need to travel, there are ways to travel safer to help mitigate risks.

 

Tip 1: Cover, wash, repeat.

Always wear your face mask and decontaminate it daily. Be sure to wash your hands before and after eating. It’s better to use antibacterial soap instead of gel hand sanitizers. However, if you don’t have the option for soap and water, you should use what you have available.

 

Tip 2: Use hydrogen peroxide to clean your mask.

Clean your facemask regularly. An easy way to decontaminate is to spray it with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for several hours until it dries. I do not recommend spraying the mask with a disinfectant as prolonged exposure of residue buildup on your skin can be harmful. The vapors may be irritating.

 

Tip 3: Consider new ways to stay.

Rest and relaxation are essential parts of our health and summer vacations are a way for many families to unwind. Though, I hope more people will keep social distancing in mind as they make summer travel plans. Renting recreational vehicles that can be decontaminated or camping outside in the wilderness are smarter things to do right now, instead of going to hotels and resorts. I also recommend travelers bring their own travel kits that include cleaning supplies.

 

Tip 4: Be mindful of what you’re eating.

It’s important to make healthy decisions about what you’re eating when you travel. For instance, select peeled vegetables and fruit instead of unpeeled, and cooked meat instead of uncooked, unless you feel 100 percent confident in the food preparation. Ask for drinks without ice.

 

Tip 5: Watch what you touch.  

If you are going to any public space including airports, subways, and train stations, minimize your touches in common areas. This also applies to transportation such as rideshares, taxis, etc., again be conscious of what you touch and wash your hands frequently. On public transportation, use antibacterial/antiviral wipes to clean your area; this includes the seat, tray table, armrests and headrest. After you finish wiping these surfaces, wash or sanitize your hands.

 

Tip 6: Get easy nutrients on-the-go.

Adequate nutrition while you travel can be especially tricky. Nutrition research points to the use of some dietary supplements to help support overall health and wellness, especially for those who aren’t getting at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. For instance, if you have a slight deficiency in vitamin D, you may be more susceptible to contracting influenza according to a study published in the BMJ. Curcumin is another nutrient that supports health and may have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

 

I always advise people to speak with their doctor before starting a dietary supplement program or turn to a personalized nutrition company that cross-references vitamin and supplement recommendations against any prescription medications you may be taking. One personalized program that offers this feature is Persona Nutrition. Persona offers vitamin D3, curcumin as well as several other nutrients that can support your immune system all year long. The company organizes its vitamins and supplements into biodegradable daily packs, which are delivered directly to your doorstep – eliminating your need to visit a store or pharmacy in-person, and they are easy to pack in your luggage, handbag or briefcase.

 

Tip 7: Get plenty of Zzzs.

Be sure you’re getting ample sleep. Sleep is extremely important as it refreshes the immune system. The length of sleep is variable per person, but typically the sweet spot is between 6-8 hours. It is also beneficial to try to go to sleep and wake at similar times every day. If you’re sleep depleted, you’re much more likely to get a viral infection.

 

Tip 8: Practice watchful waiting.

What happens if you become ill while you’re on the move?

 

If you’re sick, be sure to quarantine yourself. Take measures to minimize your contact with people. If you must be around people, of course, wear your facemask. And then even still, if you are sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth with your elbow. For minor symptoms, I usually practice “watchful waiting” and follow the same procedures if I have a common cold. If your symptoms worsen, contact your health care practitioner right away to discuss the next steps.

 

We are living in an entirely new world with lots of uncertainties. It is possible to travel safely as long as you are careful.

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