Tasty & Healthy recipes to prepare at home for best nutrition - Persona

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Orange Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

During the winter season, I always seem to be reaching for a warm cup of hot chocolate, hot latte, or hot matcha. Sometimes we just want a little snack to go with these yummy drinks! What better way than to make some biscotti to dip into our warm drinks? This orange cranberry pistachio biscotti will be a great recipe to please people with multiple food restrictions, it’s both vegan and gluten-free!

 

I like to choose ingredients that will fuel me and provide important nutrients, even with sweet treats like this! Not only does it taste amazing, but also supports your health as well. Let’s highlight some of these ingredients:

 

Ingredient Highlights

 

Cranberries

    • As most of us know, cranberries are a great way to support urinary tract health. The polyphenols in cranberries can also support healthy aging! (1) They’re full of antioxidants and vitamins to nourish our bodies. (2)
    • You can view our cranberry supplement here.

 

Sweet Potato

    • Sweet potatoes are packed with quercetin which helps with heart health and maintaining a healthy inflammatory response. (3) They are also rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and carotenoids.
    • You can view our quercetin and antioxidant supplements here.

 

Oat Flour

    • Oats have higher amounts of protein, phytochemicals and fiber. (4) Oat flour also contains no gluten which is a great choice for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease. (4)

 

Orange Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2.5 hours

Yield: 20-25 Biscotti

Allergens: Gluten-Free, Lactose-free, Vegan, Oil-free

 

Ingredients:

  • 5C gluten-free AP flour
  • .5 C oat Flour
  • .5C almond butter
  • .5 C cane sugar
  • .5 C pureed sweet potato (+extra ¼ c)
  • Pinch of salt
  • .5C pistachio
  • .5C dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest
  • Melted dark chocolate if desired

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F

2. Mix the almond butter, cane sugar, sweet potato, and orange zest, make sure they are thoroughly combined.

3. Sift together the AP flour, oat flour, and salt.

4. Combine the wet mixture with the dry flour mixture until well mixed.

5. Fold in the dried cranberries and pistachios until evenly mixed.

6. Add more sweet potato puree if it’s too dry and crumbly.

7. Split the dough in half and shape each half into a long thin log.

8. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.

9. Place the dough onto the sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or just until it is a nice golden brown.

10. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet about 30 minutes.

11. Cut the loaf into desired size, usually about ¾ inch.

12. Rotate the biscotti onto the side so the inside of the biscotti is facing up. Bake these for 15 minutes on each side.

13. Allow the biscotti to cool about (about 30 minutes)

14. If you would like to add a dark chocolate coating, you can melt dark chocolate and dip these in.

 

Storage:

  • You can store these in an airtight container for 3-4 days or 1 month in the freezer. Easy to reheat and enjoy with a warm cup of hot cocoa.

References:

  1. Harkins K. What’s the use of cranberry juice? Age Ageing 2000;29:9-12.
  2. Howell AB, Vorsa N, Foo LY, et al. Inhibition of the Adherence of P-Fimbriated Escherichia coli to Uroepithelial-Cell Surfaces by Proanthocyanidin Extracts from Cranberries (letter). N Engl J Med 1998;339:1085-6.
  3. Mohanraj, R., & Sivasankar, S. (2014). Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam)-A valuable medicinal food: A review. Journal of medicinal food17(7), 733-741
  4. ChauhaN, D., Kumar, K., Kumar, S., & Kumar, H. (2018). Effect of incorporation of oat flour on nutritional and organoleptic characteristics of bread and noodles. Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science Journal6(1), 148-156.
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Holiday Chocolate Peppermint Espresso Martini Bark

“Hayley the Dietitian, what’s your favorite holiday recipe?” (If you didn’t get that reference, stop what you’re doing and go watch Elf). Anything with chocolate and peppermint screams the holiday season to me. Add in some espresso and little liquor and now it’s a holiday party.

I think we could all agree, we are all in need of a little extra cheer this holiday season. This Dark Chocolate Peppermint Espresso MARTINI Bark, yes, I said martini, is a guaranteed way to add some holiday joy to your day!

 

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Espresso Martini Bark

Ingredients

½ cup crushed dark chocolate covered espresso beans

½ cup crushed candy canes

2 dark chocolate bars

2 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

2 oz’s of Vodka

1 oz of Kahlua

Sea Salt

Parchment Paper

 

Directions

  1. Soak the espresso beans in 1 oz of Vodka and 1 oz of Kahula for about 2-3 hours in the fridge.
  2. Soak the crushed canes in 1 oz Vodka for about 2-3 hours in the fridge.
  3. Once the espresso beans and crushed candy canes have finished soaking strain the liquid over a fine-mesh sieve and a cup below the sieve. It’s important to get most of the liquid out of the espresso beans and candy canes as liquor does not freeze, the bark may not form properly if you do not strain it completely.
  4. Save the liquid, you’ll use this to make a peppermint espresso martini.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate bars with coconut oil and vanilla in the microwave for about 1 minute, stir, and then return to the microwave for another minute. You may need to do more and less depending on your microwave wattage.
  6. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate onto the baking pan, spreading evenly. Top with the crushed espresso beans and crushed candy canes. Sprinkle with sea salt and freeze for 1-2 hours until frozen.
  7. While the bark is freezing, use the leftover liquid from soaking the espresso and candy canes to make a martini. Combine the liquid with 1 oz of espresso in a shaker glass full of ice, shake, and strain over a martini glass.
  8. Once frozen, break the bark apart, turn on some holiday tunes and enjoy with your martini!

 

*Note you can make this recipe without the alcohol simply skip to step 5 of the recipe.

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Your Ultimate Immunity Health Guide: Supplements, Nutrition, Sleep and More

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.

While the world battles against Covid-19, maintaining a great immune system has become a constant struggle and also a top priority for almost everybody across the globe. Several health companies have come up with products – whether herbal or medicinal, that claim to keep this virus at bay. How much of their claim is true? Only time will tell! But until then, it is our primary job to do the best we can; to protect ourselves. While you are doing your absolute best, Persona is here to help you do better! Here are some great supplements you can take, to support your natural immunity.

 

  1. Immune Support: This is an amazing blend of astragalus root extract, Andrographis and Reishi Mushrooms. A combination of these 3 powerful herbs not only promotes immunity at a cellular level, but also provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to this supplement. Taking our Immune Support consistently also helps maintain a harmonious balance of the organs and systems in our bodies.

 

  1. Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: This is an essential vitamin, which means that our bodies do not produce it. This gives us more reason to make sure we nourish our bodies with Vitamin C regularly. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps our body’s defense mechanism by supporting the functions of our immune system (1). Along with immunity, regular consumption of Vitamin C has also been shown to reduce wound healing (2), provide collagen support and improve our oral health.

 

  1. Fermented Ginseng: An extremely diverse supplement, Ginseng is an adaptogen that helps relieve our bodies from physical, mental and emotional stress. But most importantly, Ginseng has been shown to maintain an equilibrium of the immune system and enhances our resistance to illness (3). The enzyme used by us is the fermented form of Korean Ginseng, which works much faster than the other kinds of ginseng.

 

  1. Antioxidant: Antioxidants have been well known in the world of nutrition as the agents that act as barriers for environmental toxins. Our Antioxidant supplement contains a powerful blend of essential vitamins and minerals that helps improve our overall immunity and support a healthy inflammatory response in the body. Not only that, this supplement also supports cardiovascular, brain and skin health.

 

  1. Quercetin Plus: Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid), which is present in fruits and vegetables like onions, broccoli, apples, berries, grapes. This supplement is widely known for its properties to stimulate the immune system and it’s strong anti-inflammatory capacities (4), which might help reduce inflammation in the body, kill cancer cells, balance blood sugar and support a healthy heart.

 

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 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. (6) 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. (5)

 

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. (6) 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. (6) 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. (6)

 

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. (15). 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.

Foods to boost your immune system

However, it’s still important to keep your immune system strong and healthy by supporting it with nutrient-dense, whole foods and supplements. Did you know that many foods, spices, and herbs can boost your immune system and help protect against colds, flus, and viruses?

Garlic, mushrooms, oregano, fermented foods, leafy green vegetables, green tea, citrus fruits, and raw honey are just a few superfoods that can strengthen your immune system to ward off illness.

 

Garlic

Garlic and its health benefits have been used for centuries as it has a variety of valuable effects for the immune and cardiovascular system, as well as providing anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial support. Garlic works by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammatory cytokines, which are released by the immune system.

Garlic is a wonderful ingredient to keep in the kitchen to spruce up any dish, spread, or salad dressing. When using garlic in your cooking, it’s best to chop it and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to boost the nutritional properties and its benefits. Garlic is in the sulfur family and letting it rest allows the enzymes to be activated, which are inactivated when heating it immediately after cooking it.

 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been studied for years for their immune support benefits including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and more. Similar to garlic, mushrooms can also modulate cytokine activity increasing production of beneficial T-helper cells.

Not only do mushrooms boost the immune system but they also help reduce inflammation. Even though mushrooms taste delicious raw, cooking them increases the antioxidant activity. With B vitamins, zinc, and selenium, they are great sources of antioxidants and a healthy food to add to your diet.

Fermented foods provide numerous benefits that are loaded with probiotics, which support gut health and immunity. Adding fermented foods like refrigerated sauerkraut or kimchi to your food, once it’s been cooked is a great way to add spice, a salty component (instead of adding salt), and a nutritional punch to your dish. In addition, chopped herbs, including oregano spice up a dish with great flavor, health benefits, and boosts your immune system.

 

Sleep and Immunity: How They Affect One Another

Sleep is an important process that regulates the body’s physiological processes and promotes recovery. During an illness, sleep patterns commonly change and can lead to reduced, disrupted, or even improved sleep.18 Besides the obvious that we feel tired when we do not sleep enough, other physiological processes are also negatively affected in the body. When the immune system is stimulated, an inflammatory response is triggered, and sleep duration usually increases.18  Other symptoms of fatigue, poor mood, increased sensitivity to pain, and decreased appetite follow as a response from the central nervous system.18 Although not very fun, these symptoms can actually help begin the healing process in the body to conserve energy and instead promote recovery.18

 

What Happens if We are Not Sleeping Enough?

The immune response is regulated by our sleep cycle, and inflammatory mediators can increase when sleep is decreased.18 The duration and quality of sleep are linked to the body’s response to inflammation. Therefore, increased sleep loss can weaken the body’s immune system which makes us more susceptible to infection.18

 

What Does the Research Say?

Cytokines are proteins secreted by cells of the immune system, and they help regulate immunity.19,20 In cases of sleep loss related to insomnia, alcoholism, stress, and during a period of aging, pro-inflammatory cytokines were enhanced, meaning the body had an increased response to inflammation.19  Hormone levels such as cortisol (plays an important role in the body’s response to stress) also fluctuated in the morning after sleep loss.19 Sleep not only impacts acute infection (cold, flu, etc.) but also is involved the body’s response to allergies and more chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and other forms of chronic pain.19 Addressing the issue of sleep is very important in the treatment of these issues.

How Much Sleep Do We Need to Boost Our Immune System?

We all know that it is ideal to sleep 7-8 hours per night, and this continues to be true to best support the body’s immune system.21 If you are not able to hit the goal of 8 hours, naps can be beneficial to help boost immunity.21 A thirty-minute nap in the morning or evening (or both!) can still benefit the body’s immune system and make-up for missed sleep by reversing some of the negative effects that result from sleep deprivation.21  

 

Tips to Improve Sleep

Creating a “sleep routine” can be very beneficial to improve sleep quality. Just as you have your routine in the morning, establish a couple simple steps that help you wind down for the night. One important step could be to try to stay off your phone directly before bed and even consider putting it in a separate room at night so that it is not a distraction. The main goal is to lower stress, wind down, and create and environment and mindset for restful sleep. Some ideas could include meditation, prayer, stretching, listening to calm music, or even making some decaffeinated tea. Sleep supplements can also be beneficial to help promote a restful state and ensure good sleep. Quality sleep is so important and implementing a few simple steps can make a huge difference in your overall health and immunity!

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.

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.22

Some Vitamin D may be found in dietary sources like Cod Liver Oil, egg yolks, and butter.  However, most of our Vitamin D is synthesized in a chemical reaction within the body which requires our skin (especially upper torso, arms, and face) to be exposed to sunlight.

 

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.23 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.24 Increased production of T cells may help to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cells and decrease the production of inflammatory cells.This may help the body fight against infections and foreign invaders. 24

Recent research has shown that Vitamin D supplementation may also be helpful in preventing, treating, or managing symptoms of numerous other disease states, such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, asthma, burn therapy, Celiac disease, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), epilepsy, high blood pressure, low back pain, tension and migraine headaches, diabetes and diabetic neuropathies, alcohol withdrawal, skin disorders (acne, eczema, vitiligo), Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  It may also help in maintaining healthy immune function during cold and flu season, or in instances where you may be exposed to a number of unfamiliar pathogens, such as during a hospital stay.

An exciting new study conducted in Boston and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition went back and looked at the medical records of 2135 adult patients admitted to two Boston-area teaching hospitals from 1993-2010 (Quraishi S A, 2013 October).  All of these patients had had their blood levels of Vitamin D checked before they were admitted to the hospital.  They were then followed to see if they developed a common hospital-acquired blood infection during their stay.  The patients who entered the hospital with low blood levels of Vitamin D had a significantly higher incidence of contracting the hospital-acquired blood infection.  The incidence of infection dropped significantly for patients who had adequate Vitamin D levels at the time they were admitted to the hospital.

Obviously, further study is needed, but the implications here could be far-reaching and encouraging: maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D could give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off all sorts of insidious infections.  If it could be helpful to people in a weakened hospital state to fight off a hospital-borne bacterial blood infection, imagine what kind of boost it could give you in fighting off illnesses in your everyday life.

 

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.

Some Additional Tips To Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally

Ok, here we go!  Simple tips to get your body working and feeling great! Don’t be overwhelmed by your day to day, you can nails these easy steps that will make all the difference.  In 2014, get a wee bit selfish and make time to take care of yourself!  If you do not take the time to care and nurture yourself, who will? Simple solutions that truly increase and boost immunity, energy and all the “feel good” chemicals in your body.

  1. Reach For It!  Yep, you read it right, reach and stretch to increase energy and to get your brain and body boosted.  Practicing a daily dose of yoga will increase your overall energy, focus and ability to learn new things.
  2. Take a Walk Already! Stop putting it off, grab your shoes and go!  A brisk walk does wonders for energy, mood, and overall well-being.
  3. Eat Your Breakfast.  Eating a healthy protein dense meal early in the morning does wonders for energy and mood.  If you fuel early, your body will respond with vim and vigor.
  4. Hop on the Scale.  Don’t be afraid, hopping on the scale will clue you in to where you need to be in terms of activity and activity increases energy! Seeing those numbers will prompt you to exercise and to make healthy choices.
  5. Ban the Couch!  After work make it routine to NOT sit on the couch. Sitting zaps energy and that is the last thing anyone needs after a work day of sitting. Place books on your couch to remind you that you do not need to sit.  Go outside.  Run, jump rope, bike, stroll or jog.  All activity increases energy and boots stress to the curb.
  6. Meditate! Close your eyes and just breathe! Meditating for 5 – 20 minutes a day will clear your brain, decrease anxiety and increase energy.
  7. De-Clutter.  Cleaning house and getting organized makes us feel good and boosts our energy. Having a de-cluttered space gives satisfaction, peace, and room to play.  So go ahead and make your home an “Om” home!
  8. Take a “Selfie”.  Grab your camera and get real.  The motivation created from looking at ourselves honestly and making goals for what we want to become produces a drive that increases our energy.  When we make goals and have a plan it is great to become “gung-ho” and we are more likely to stay active and committed to daily exercise.  Daily exercise increases energy!!!
  9. Take a nap.  A little cat nap will replenish the body, mind and spirit and will give the added boost needed to get through the day. No caffeine needed, just a comfy place to lay down and zone out!
  10. Eat Healthy Food!  Talk about an energy boost, practicing a healthy diet rich in plants and protein will catapult your energy to the next level.  Ditch the processed crap and get going with real, whole and energy-providing foods! Drink plenty of fluids every day and add a probiotic to your daily routine. Good immunity starts in the gut, and there’s nothing like a good probiotic to benefit your intestine.

 

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.

Although, doing all of this may sound a little challenging and time constraining on a regular basis. But think about the importance of your health and family, who you support every day! If you take good care of your body, your body will thank you by taking good care of you in return.

References:

 

  1. Anita Carr and Silvia Maggini. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, Nov 2017.
  2. Katherine J Desneves,  Bree E Todorovic, Ann Cassar, Timothy C Crowe. Treatment With Supplementary Arginine, Vitamin C and Zinc in Patients With Pressure Ulcers : A Randomized Controlled Trial. National Library of Medicine. Dec;24(6):979-87.doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2005.06.011. Clinical Nutrition 2005 Nov 15.
  3. Soowon Kang and Hyeyoung Min. Ginseng, The Immunity Boost : The Effects of Panax Ginseng On Immune System. J Ginseng Res. 2012 Oct; 36(4): 354–368
  4. Jiri Mlcek, Tinde Jurikova, Sona Srovankova, Jiri Sochor. Molecules. May 2016; 21(5) : 623.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Nutrition and Immunity. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/. Published July 23, 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Arreola R, Quintero-fabián S, López-roa RI, et al. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. Available at: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/9749/health-benefits-of-garlic/. Accessed May 10, 2020.
  17. Comeau DC, Wei CH, Islamaj doğan R, Lu Z. PMC text mining subset in BioC: about three million full-text articles and growing. Bioinformatics. 2019;35(18):3533-3535. Available at: http://http//www.medicaldaily.com/health-benefits-mushrooms-best-way-cook-your-fungi-order-reap-most-nutrients-417631. Accessed May 10, 2020.
  18. Asif N, Iqbal R, Nazir CF. Human immune system during sleep. Am J Clin Exp Immunol. 2017;6(6):92-96. Published 2017 Dec 20.2
  19. Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(3):1325-1380. doi:10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
  20. Ibarra-Coronado, E., Pantaleón-Martínez, A., Velazquéz-Moctezuma, J., Prospéro-García, O., Méndez-Díaz, M., Pérez-Tapia, M., Pavón, L. and Morales-Montor, J., 2015. The Bidirectional Relationship Between Sleep And Immunity Against Infections.
  21. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T. and Haack, M., 2019. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk In Health And Disease | Physiological Reviews. [online] Journals.physiology.org. Available at: <https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00010.2018> [Accessed 21 September 2020].
  22. 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/
  23. 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.
  24. 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
  25. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine 2011: 59:881-886.
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The Basics of Collagen

Type I? Type II? Marine? Bovine? Powder? Capsule? Are you deciding which type of collagen to take or playing a round of go-fish? With the multitude of collagen products on the market, it’s easy to get bogged down in the semantics not knowing which collagen is best for you or what collagen even is. Fear not! We’re breaking down the basics of the different types and sources of collagen to help you understand the science.

 

What is collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein that acts as the main structural component of connective tissue within the human body. Normal growth and development are dependent on the proper formation of collagen.1

 

Characterization of Collagen

Collagen is characterized by a specific sequence of amino acids. Every type of collagen has glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline in the sequence, however, the rest of the sequence can contain an array of additional amino acids. To date, 29 different types of collagens have been identified.1 The most popular forms of collagen are Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV. Type I, II, and III are fibril-forming collagens, they allow the shape and form of tissues to be defined and maintained.1 Type I collagen is the most abundant and major collagen of bone, tendons, skin, and ligaments. Type II collagen accounts for 80% of cartilage, cartilage is the bendable material found in joints, bone, spine, ears, lungs, and nose.1 Type III collagen occurs with Type I mainly in the elastic tissues, which is the connective tissue of the dermis of the skin or the middle portion of the skin, lung and blood vessels.1 Type IV collagen is a network forming collagen, this collagen forms a network within the basement membrane of the skin or the thin layer between the dermis (middle portion of the skin) and epidermis (the outer portion of the skin).1

 

Collagen Sources

Since collagen is a structural component of connective tissue, it is only found in animals. Collagen is mainly sourced from bovine (Type I and III), chicken cartilage (Type II), or from marine sources such as fish scales or skin (Type I). Marine collagen is often touted as being the superior collagen due to its enhanced bioavailability.

Due to the different functions of the types of collagen within the body, it is plausible to believe supplementing with one type or form of collagen may produce greater health benefits. However, the research is unclear regarding whether one type of collagen is better than another.

 

The Benefits

The body’s collagen naturally declines with age. As the formation of collagen is diminished the skin loses its strength and elasticity resulting in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and the skin may become drier and thinner.2 Other factors contributing to the loss of collagen include exposure to sunlight, smoking, pollution, alcohol abuse and nutrient deficiencies.2 Supplementing with collagen may help to combat the natural aging and degradation process of collagen. Several clinical studies have been completed showing improved skin elasticity, reduced signs of aging, and overall skin health with collagen supplementation.3

Another potential benefit of collagen supplementation is joint health. It is hypothesized collagen supplements may protect against the onset of joint pain via T cell regulation to the area of inflammation or damage.4 T cells regulate or suppress other cells within the immune system.4 The proposed mechanism is that T regulatory cells produce anti-inflammatory signaling proteins that stimulate bone-building cells to produce cartilage.4 You can think of this mechanism like dominos, one action stimulates the action of another action.

 

Takeaway

If you are looking for a little extra support in the skin or joint department, collagen may a good option for you to try. However, more research is needed to determine the specific mechanism of action collagen supplementation has within the human body. Additionally, it’s difficult to determine where exactly the collagen you supplement with will be used within the body. While it would be fantastic to take collagen specifically for skin health, the body has a way of prioritizing its needs. Once ingested and absorbed collagen may become a part of the body’s amino acid pool and be used at the body’s discretion.

References:

  1. Collagens – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/collagens.
  2. Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
  3. Vollmer DL, West VA, Lephart ED. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(10):3059. Published 2018 Oct 7. doi:10.3390/ijms19103059
  4. Lugo, J.P., Saiyed, Z.M. & Lane, N.E. Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J 15, 14 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0130-8
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The Basics of Disease and Well-Being

Now, more than ever, people are wondering how they can maintain or improve their health to prevent disease. Whether you currently experience disease yourself, have experienced it in the past, know a loved one with a disease or have lost loved ones to disease, it’s safe to say that all of us in some capacity, have experience with it. So, what are diseases and why is good health so important? Well, the latter is self-explanatory – no one wants to be diagnosed with a disease and we all want to maintain our health to live long lives, but what are they specifically and what can we do to ward off poor health?

 

What is it?

 

Disease is defined in the dictionary as “a condition of the living [human]…or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” (16) There are 2 main categories of disease: chronic and acute. Chronic diseases are conditions that last 1+ years and require ongoing medical treatment. They can also be defined as conditions that limit activities of daily living. (7) Acute diseases are illnesses or conditions that have a rapid onset and last a shorter period and are usually caused by viruses or infections. They can also represent short term conditions such as required hospitalization after an accident. (8)

 

We’ll focus on the prevention of chronic diseases

 

In the United States today, chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer account for most of the health issues, according to the CDC. Many of these diseases are preventable as they are linked to lifestyle choices such as lack of physical exercise, excessive alcohol use, unhealthy diets and tobacco use. According to the CDC and World Health Organization chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability and death in the US and by 2020, two-thirds of all disease will be from lifestyle choices. (4) The 3 top major chronic diseases recognized by the CDC are diabetes, cancer and heart disease and stroke. Other chronic diseases include obesity, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, epilepsy and tooth decay. The major risk factors for these diseases recognized by the CDC include tobacco use, poor diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use. (7)

 

What happens in the body when disease occurs?

 

While diseases have many etiologies and can be influenced by factors outside our control such as genetic predisposition, about 70% of diseases in the US are caused by lifestyle factors. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body no longer recognizes the insulin hormone, or the pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is needed to control blood sugar levels in the body. Without insulin being produced or recognized blood sugar levels go uncontrolled which can have dangerous consequences. Cancer, in general, occurs when there is unchecked cell division and growth although there are numerous types with different behaviors of spread and treatments. (10) Heart disease encompasses many different heart conditions, but the most common is when there is a decreased blood flow to the heart which can lead to a heart attack. This can occur due to plaque buildup in the arteries. (11)

 

How Is It Prevented?

 

There are 3 types of prevention when it comes to diseases: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary prevention is defined as intervening before health effects occur. This action is taken before a disease is present. This can include things like getting vaccinated and changing lifestyle habits to mitigate risk. Secondary prevention also takes place before a disease is present, but it includes regular screenings to identify a disease in the early stages of it. Examples include mammograms or regular blood draws. Tertiary prevention is when the disease is already present and includes management to stop or slow progression. This can include chemotherapy, additional screenings or surgeries. (17)

 

Primary prevention for the most common chronic diseases: taking action & mitigating risk

 

Factors such as age, genetics, family history, carcinogen exposure, environmental factors and race among others are outside of our control and all may have an influence on disease development. Since these are uncontrollable let’s focus on what we can control:

 

  1. Exercise: Aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity or 15-30 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day. Your total minutes of exercise per week should equal 150. (9) Your risk of developing diabetes is higher when your activity is low. Physical activity helps to maintain your weight, makes your body more sensitive to insulin and uses glucose as energy. (9) Studies have shown that those who engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week also have a reduced cancer risk. (14) Exercise also increases and supports cardiovascular health which can reduce heart disease and stroke risk.
  2. Eat Healthy and manage weight: Focus on a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and dairy. Overweight and obesity have been linked to at least 13 different types of cancer. (15) Eating a diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and dairy helps to manage weight and gives your body plenty of antioxidants and nutrients to maintain health and reduce risk.
  3. Avoid or reduce smoking: Avoiding smoking or tobacco use entirely is ideal, but reducing use can also have health benefits. Smoking and tobacco use has been clearly linked to certain kinds of cancer so it’s best to completely avoid or find a solution that works for you by working with your healthcare provider.
  4. Avoid or reduce alcohol consumption: Alcohol has been linked to many different types of cancer such as breast, kidney, liver and colon among others. Women should only consume 1 drink per day and men should only consume 2 drinks per day to follow the dietary guidelines. (12) Find a solution that works for you and work with your healthcare provider on ways to reduce alcohol consumption.

 

Disease prevention is extremely complex as there is no one size fits all approach and there are many factors outside of our control. While we can only control so much, there are many choices people have that can help mitigate their risk. Since no one can entirely prevent disease the best route of action is to prioritize your health through activities and choices that make you feel fulfilled such as finding an exercise you love or ways to incorporate healthy foods into your diet.

References:

  1. Scully JL. What is a disease?. EMBO Rep. 2004;5(7):650-653. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400195
  2. Campbell EJ, Scadding JG, Roberts RS. The concept of disease. Br Med J. 1979;2(6193):757-762. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.6193.757
  3. Franz, MS, RDN, LDN, M., 2020. Nutrition, Inflammation, And Disease. [online] Todaysdietitian.com. Available at: <https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020314p44.shtml> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  4. Retelny, RDN, LDN, V., 2020. Using Food As Lifestyle Medicine – Today’s Dietitian Magazine. [online] Todaysdietitian.com. Available at: <https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1217p36.shtml> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  5. The Nutrition Source. 2020. Disease Prevention. [online] Available at: <https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  6. who.int. 2020. WHO EMRO | Health Promotion And Disease Prevention Through Population-Based Interventions, Including Action To Address Social Determinants And Health Inequity | Public Health Functions | About WHO. [online] Available at: <http://www.emro.who.int/about-who/public-health-functions/health-promotion-disease-prevention.html> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  7. gov. 2020. About Chronic Diseases | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  8. 2020. Acute VS Chronic Diseases – Healthy Aging Blog | NCOA. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncoa.org/blog/chronic-versus-acute-disease/> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  9. Mayo Clinic. 2020. Type 2 Diabetes – Symptoms And Causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193#:~:text=Type%202%20diabetes%20develops%20when,seem%20to%20be%20contributing%20factors.> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  10. org. 2020. What Is Cancer?. [online] Available at: <https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/what-is-cancer.html> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Heart Disease Resources | Cdc.Gov. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  12. gov. 2020. Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn The Facts | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  13. Mayo Clinic. 2020. 7 Healthy Habits That Can Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  14. Net. 2020. Physical Activity And Cancer Risk. [online] Available at: <https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/physical-activity-and-cancer-risk> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  15. gov. 2020. Poor Nutrition | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/nutrition.htm> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  16. Merriam-webster.com. 2020. Definition Of DISEASE. [online] Available at: <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disease> [Accessed 28 November 2020].
  17. gov. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/pictureofamerica/pdfs/picture_of_america_prevention.pdf> [Accessed 28 November 2020].

 

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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.

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

Some Vitamin D may be found in dietary sources like Cod Liver Oil, egg yolks, and butter.  However, most of our Vitamin D is synthesized in a chemical reaction within the body which requires our skin (especially upper torso, arms, and face) to be exposed to sunlight.

 

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

Recent research has shown that Vitamin D supplementation may also be helpful in preventing, treating, or managing symptoms of numerous other disease states, such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, asthma, burn therapy, Celiac disease, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), epilepsy, high blood pressure, low back pain, tension and migraine headaches, diabetes and diabetic neuropathies, alcohol withdrawal, skin disorders (acne, eczema, vitiligo), Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  It may also help in maintaining healthy immune function during cold and flu season, or in instances where you may be exposed to a number of unfamiliar pathogens, such as during a hospital stay.

An exciting new study conducted in Boston and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition went back and looked at the medical records of 2135 adult patients admitted to two Boston-area teaching hospitals from 1993-2010 (Quraishi S A, 2013 October).  All of these patients had had their blood levels of Vitamin D checked before they were admitted to the hospital.  They were then followed to see if they developed a common hospital-acquired blood infection during their stay.  The patients who entered the hospital with low blood levels of Vitamin D had a significantly higher incidence of contracting the hospital-acquired blood infection.  The incidence of infection dropped significantly for patients who had adequate Vitamin D levels at the time they were admitted to the hospital.

Obviously, further study is needed, but the implications here could be far-reaching and encouraging: maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D could give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off all sorts of insidious infections.  If it could be helpful to people in a weakened hospital state to fight off a hospital-borne bacterial blood infection, imagine what kind of boost it could give you in fighting off illnesses in your everyday life.

 

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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