Boosting Immunity While Breastfeeding: Vitamins and Their Safety

Boosting Immunity While Breastfeeding: Vitamins and Their Safety

  • November 30, 2020

Staying healthy is critical for both you and your baby, especially during cold and flu season. Boosting immunity by eating nutritious food is a great place to start.

But sometimes (OK, all the time!), life gets hectic, and eating is something you do between nursing, work, and caring for other kids.

To fill the gaps, a lot of breastfeeding folks consider taking immune-boosting supplements in addition to their daily postnatal multivitamin.

But is that safe?

Here’s what you need to know about boosting immunity with supplements while pregnant.

Taking a multivitamin while breastfeeding is something your doctor will likely discuss with you during a prenatal visit or your 6-week checkup.

Since many people continue taking their prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding, most of the key nutrients needed during the postpartum period are already covered.

That said, there are some essential nutrients breastfeeding moms should make sure they are getting daily. According to Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN in Santa Monica, California, if you’re breastfeeding, you should focus on the following essential nutrients:

  • calcium
  • folic acid
  • iodine
  • iron
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • DHA — docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fat

Looking for the right postnatal vitamin?

Healthline

To help boost immunity, check the label of your multivitamin for vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, probiotics, and zinc.

Some immune-boosting supplements also contain echinacea and elderberry, but according to the National Library of Medicine’s Drug and Lactation Database, no data exists on the safety and efficacy of elderberry or echinacea in nursing mothers or infants.

In addition to a multivitamin or additional supplements, making healthy food choices can also boost your nutrient intake. Mary Gollan, RD, a certified lactation consultant on the team at Preg Appetit!, recommends that breastfeeding moms follow these dietary guidelines when preparing a meal:

  • 1/2 plate fruits and veggies
  • 1/2 cup whole grains
  • 3 ounces lean protein
  • dairy at every meal

To help with energy and keep you producing milk, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend breastfeeding moms eat about 450 to 500 extra calories a day. Generally speaking, for most women this equates to about 2,500 calories per day.

Whether or not you should take supplements is a conversation you need to have with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says if you follow a restrictive diet, you may not get adequate nutrients through food, which increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

With that in mind, Ross says that supplementing with certain immune-boosting supplements, in addition to a multivitamin, is safe as long as you take a well-established brand that delivers safe dosages.

The key is not to exceed the recommended daily amount and to only take supplements that are proven safe to consume while breastfeeding.

Moreover, Rachel Borton, PhD, director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Online Program and assistant professor of nursing at Bradley University, reminds us that each mom and baby has a unique individual health history.

Because of this, you cannot assume that every over-the-counter supplement is safe to consume, since breastfeeding moms will also be sharing the supplements through their breast milk with the infant.

“There are some supplements that mothers want to avoid (for their own health safety or for milk production effects), and their provider will have the best knowledge as to what is appropriate for both mom and baby,” Borton says.

An important note

Below, we dive into the details about specific immunity boosters. Keep in mind that if you’re taking a prenatal or postnatal vitamin, you need to account for the dosage in that multivitamin when knowing how much is safe to consume in a secondary supplement.

Healthline

  • Safety: Yes, vitamin C is safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Amount: 120 milligrams (mg) is the daily recommended amount for people who are breastfeeding.
  • How it helps boost immunity: You need vitamin C for the growth and repair of all tissues. According to clinical research, vitamin C may decrease how long you experience cold symptoms.
  • Remember this: Most vitamin C supplements will contain more than the recommended amount for breastfeeding people. Always check with your doctor before taking a vitamin C supplement.
  • Consider shopping for: Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C.

  • Safety: Yes, vitamin D is safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Amount: 600 IU (international units) is the daily recommended amount for people who are breastfeeding. That said, “Getting your vitamin D level checked is important in knowing how much supplementation is necessary,” according to Ross. Your doctor may recommend a different amount of supplementation daily, based on your blood test results.
  • How it helps boost immunity: Vitamin D helps your immune system function properly. And some research says it may help lower the risk of acute respiratory infections, especially in people who are deficient.
  • Consider shopping for: Garden of Life Vitamin D3

  • Safety: Yes, vitamin B complex is safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Amount: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) varies by B vitamin. Here is the RDA for consumption daily during lactation, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
    • B1 (thiamine): 1.4 mg
    • B2 (riboflavin): 1.6 mg
    • B3 (niacin): 17 mg NE (niacin equivalents)
    • B5 (pantothenic acid): 7 mg
    • B6 (pyridoxine): 2.0 mg
    • B7 (biotin): 35 micrograms (mcg)
    • B9 (folic acid): 600 mcg DFE (dietary folate equivalents)
    • B12 (cobalamin): 2.8 mcg
  • How it helps boost immunity: The B vitamins are the building blocks of a healthy body, so they help you maintain overall good health. They work together to help keep energy levels up and boost the body’s defense system against germs.
  • Consider shopping for: Garden of Life Raw B-Complex or Integrative Therapeutics Active B-Complex. Most vitamin B complex supplements will contain more than the RDA for lactation. Always check with your doctor before taking a vitamin B supplement.

  • Safety: More reliable medical studies are needed to make recommendations on the dosing and how it can potentially affect a breastfeeding baby. There’s not enough evidence to determine safety for breastfeeding moms — some medical studies say it’s safe while others say it should be avoided. Check with your doctor before taking echinacea.
  • Amount: There are no dosage recommendations for echinacea while breastfeeding.
  • How it helps boost immunity: Echinacea may help boost your immune system by combating infections and viruses. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), echinacea may slightly reduce your chances of catching a cold.

  • Safety: Yes, probiotics are safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Amount: Probiotic supplements contain a wide variety of microorganisms and amounts. You’ll see the number of colony forming units (CFU) listed on supplement labels. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian for the safe amount to take while breastfeeding.
  • How it helps boost immunity: “When it comes to breastfeeding, we know that breast milk contains healthy probiotics that are passed onto the baby that help strengthen the gut flora that can protect against infections and helps their developing immune response,” Ross says.
  • Consider shopping for: Jetson Probiotics Immunity. Ross says this product provides probiotics that can help strengthen your immune system and help reduce your chance of getting colds and upper respiratory infections. Also consider Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily Prenatal.

  • Safety: Like echinacea, Ross says elderberry is also controversial to take while breastfeeding. Some medical studies say it’s safe, while others say it should be avoided. More reliable medical studies are needed to make recommendations on the dosing and how it can potentially affect a breastfeeding baby. There’s not enough evidence to determine safety of elderberry for breastfeeding moms. Check with your doctor before taking elderberry.
  • Amount: There are no dosage recommendations for elderberry while breastfeeding.
  • How it helps boost immunity: According to the NIH, elderberry may relieve symptoms of the flu or other upper respiratory infections. One 2016 study found that elderberry may reduce the duration of a cold and reduce cold symptoms.

  • Safety: Yes, zinc is safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Amount: 12 mg is the daily recommended amount for breastfeeding moms. The NIH says the tolerable upper limit for adults is 40 mg.
  • How it helps boost immunity: Zinc can help the immune system fight off viruses and bacteria, according to the NIH.
  • Consider shopping for: Garden of Life Raw Zinc, suggests Ross. It’s important to note that while this product is below the upper limit for adults, it contains more zinc than is recommended during breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor before adding extra zinc to your multivitamin.

Ross says dietary supplements like Airborne and Emergen-C are not recommended while breastfeeding since adequate medical studies have not been performed to show their effectiveness and safety.

“The amount of vitamin C in Emergen-C exceeds the recommended dose for breastfeeding moms,” she adds.

If you’re concerned about getting sick, Ross says it’s probably best to take a probiotic and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to help prevent illness while breastfeeding.

Taking immune-boosting supplements while breastfeeding can provide health benefits to both mom and baby. At a minimum, you should take a postnatal multivitamin or a product that includes the necessary nutrients for breastfeeding.

If you want to take additional supplements, check for safety, and make sure you are not exceeding the daily recommended dose. But before you take any supplements while breastfeeding, make sure to talk with your doctor.

How to naturally boost your immune system during cold and flu season - National

How to naturally boost your immune system during cold and flu season – National

  • November 30, 2020

The cold and flu season is right around the corner and this year with an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic added to the mix, our immune systems are guarding up.

Wellness expert Kyle Buchanan checked in with The Morning Show to share some natural ways to support the immune system.

Read more:
‘Exceptionally low’ — Canada’s flu season drops amid coronavirus restrictions

Buchanan’s personal favourite is berries as they contain polyphenols.

“They are plant chemicals that help support our immune system,” he said.

They are also a great source of antioxidants such as fibre and vitamin C.

While he recommends natural berries, he also approves the tasty, chewable vitamin C products.

Story continues below advertisement

His next hack is also a tasty one: garlic.

“Garlic is your immune friend. It has antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties,” he said.

Read more:
How to treat itchy, dry skin this winter

However, he says it is important to chop, peel and let the garlic sit for about 20 minutes to activate its beneficial components.

Another nutrient to help maintain the immune system when in action is zinc, he said. It can be found in poultry and oysters.

“One of my favourite zinc-rich snacks are pumpkin seeds,” he said.

One study found that 100 grams of pumpkin seeds contain 7.99 milligrams of zinc and 9.76 milligrams of iron.

It is critical to choose the right supplements for a healthy immune system. He recommends soft gel vitamin D, oregano oil and mushroom complex capsules.

Read more:
What does vitamin D have to do with COVID-19? A doctor answers our questions

Mushroom complex helps in supporting immunity, energy production and increasing your body’s resilience to stress, he said.

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“Both stress and lack of sleep have a depressing effect on your immunity,” he says.


Click to play video 'Building up your immune system this winter'







Building up your immune system this winter


Building up your immune system this winter – Nov 10, 2020

“Your immune system does so much for us. So, it’s important that we nourish it, so it can help us,” he said.

To learn more about boosting your immune system this flu season, watch the full video above.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

15 Immune-Boosting Foods to Protect Yourself in Times of COVID-19

15 Immune-Boosting Foods to Protect Yourself in Times of COVID-19

  • November 30, 2020

This winter, to have a stronger immune response to the invaders (especially viruses that enter your lungs, blood cells and wreak havoc and cause inflammation) you need to eat a diet high in plant-based foods. Doctors have begun recommending to all their patients that they switch to a mostly plant-based diet, especially those in the highest risk groups for the coronavirus: Overweight, diabetic, over 60, and male. One doctor urges all his patients to eat mostly fruit and vegetables and stay away from inflammation-causing meat, dairy, and processed food, in light of the surge in cases of COVID-19.

Your immune system’s response is the only thing that can fight COVID. All other therapies doctors can offer are in support of your immune system, to help it mounts its defense. If your system is weak or overtaxed with other existing conditions, including obesity or diabetes, it can over-react, creating the dreaded “cytokine storm” of inflammation that leads to a cascade of complications that make it harder for your body to self-regulate as it attempts to create antibodies to the virus (essentially molecules that recognize the virus as invaders and deploy cells that fight and destroy the invaders).

You can protect your Immunity by eating foods that give it the armaments it needs. Immunity is built when your body has to fight off everything from everyday aging to viral outsiders and infections. And the building blocks of your immunity are helped by the micronutrients in your food, such as antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, and nothing delivers those better than fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts and seeds.

The flip side is also true, that studies show a diet high in red meat and processed foods can increase the inflammation in your body, and in the case of COVID-19, inflammation is the enemy. Patients who do the worst when confronted with this virus are those who are overweight, have chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, or are otherwise immune-compromised. The goal: Eat more fruist and vegetables, less meat and dairy and keep inflammation low.

Here are the foods that are shown to fight inflammation and boost immunity. Eat them now for a stronger immune system, whether you are dealing with COVID-19 or another potential disease that requires your body to be healthier now and for months and years to come. Inflammation on a cellular level is a factor in almost every disease known to man. To be healthier, meaning to build cells that are able to function without being bombarded from toxins, oxidization, infection, and internal destruction, opting for more servings of plant-based foods is your best bet. Here are the 15 foods that will add protection to your immune system.

15 Immune-Boosting Foods to Eat On Repeat in a Time of COVID-19

These foods are known to supercharge your immune system, which is your body’s defense against infection and illness. It works by recognizing cells that make up your body and will fight off anything unfamiliar. It destroys germs (bacteria and viruses) and parasites. Eat these to bolster your white blood cells and the supporting teams that keep them ready for battle. Healthline compiled the list and The Beet added even more research to bolster the facts.

1. Citrus Fruits to Get Vitamin C, Important for Your Cells and Healing

Your body does not produce vitamin C, which means you need to get it daily to have enough to create healthy collagen (the building blocks for your skin and healing). Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient found in leafy greens and citrus, especially grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and clementines. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.

How much do you need a day: The recommended daily amount to shoot for is 65 to 90 milligrams a day, which is the equivalent of one small glass of orange juice or eating a whole grapefruit. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to get your fill.

2. Red Peppers Contain Twice the Amount of Vitamin C as an Orange

Want even more vitamin C, add red bell peppers to your salad or pasta sauce. One medium-sized red bell pepper contains 152 milligrams of vitamin C, or enough to fulfill your RDA.

Peppers are also a great source of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A (retinol). Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, your mucous membranes and your immune system. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy, as well. One cooked pepper has 19 percent of your daily recommended amount of beta carotene.

How much beta carotene do you need a day: You should try to get 75 to 180 micrograms a day which is the equivalent of one medium bell pepper a day. But a red pepper has more than two and a half times your RDA for vitamin C so eat them all winter long.

Broccoli may be the most super of superfoods on the planet. It’s rich in vitamins A and C as well as E. The phytochemicals in it are great for arming and strengthening your immune system.

Broccoli is a good source of lutein, a powerful antioxidant, and sulforaphane, another potent antioxidant. It contains additional nutrients, including some magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.  The key to keeping its powerful nutrients intact and ready for helping the body’s immune response is to cook it as little as possible — or even eat it raw.

Lutein is one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids and is found in high quantities in green leafy veggies such as spinach and kale.

There’s another thing you need to know about broccoli, and why it’s important to not overcook it. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a gas that is a killer to a bug in the garden–and in the body. Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich compound found in several cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, cabbage, and kale, but broccoli delivers the most. When a bug bites into the stalk, leaf, or flowering bud of the plant it releases this sulfuric gas that kills the invaders, thereby protecting the plant. This is the same agent that gives broccoli that sulfuric smell when you cook it, so don’t overcook it since you’d rather all of that end up in your body than in the kitchen air. Cook it too much and the gas escapes into your kitchen, so if you want to keep it in the plant, and delivered it to your body, lightly steam the green and add it to your meal barely cooked through.

How much lutein should you eat in a day: There is no RDA for lutein, but experts say get at least 6 milligrams.

4. Garlic, Eaten By the Clove, or Add It to Sauces, Soups and Everything

Garlic isn’t just a great flavor-enhancer, it’s essential for your health. Ancient humans valued garlic as an infection fighter, which is why so much of our traditional diets include it as a first ingredient (making pasta sauce for instance). Value it and use it liberally for fighting infections.

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties are tied to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Allicin is thought to improve your immune cells’ ability to fight off colds and flu, and viruses of all kinds. (Smelling more garlic on the subway? It could be smart coronavirus management.) Garlic also has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties thought to fight off infections.

How much should you eat in a day: The optimal amount of garlic to eat is more than most of us can fathom: Two to three cloves a day. While that may not be doable, realistically, some people take garlic supplements to get 300-mg dried garlic in a powdered tablet.

Andrijana Bozic on Unsplash

5. Spinach Contains Vitamin K and Vitamin A, Which Help Your Body Fight Off Infection

Spinach is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Not only does spinach deliver immune-boosting vitamin C but it also contains vitamins K, vitamin A, as well as vitamins B2, B6, and E. It is also full of manganese, folate, copper, and calcium, and is considered nature’s multivitamin, packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, which can help your body’s natural defenses fight off infection.

How much should you eat in a day: Get one serving (about a cup) a day, as a side with dinner or in a salad for lunch. Keep frozen or fresh spinach on hand and add it to everything: Smoothies and scrambles. Like broccoli, you get the most out of spinach when it’s not overcooked, so just steam it to slightly wilt it to make sure it retains its nutrients. Raw is fine too, but a little bit of cooking allows you to better absorb the vitamin A and releases the other nutrients (slightly “injuring” a plant by heating it or chopping it causes it to release life-saving compounds, which you benefit from). Check out some spinach recipes here.

6. Ginger is a Power Player for Immunity and Digestion

Ginger is another ingredient that has super properties when it comes to fighting off illness. It has been shown to decrease inflammation, which can help if you get swollen glands or a sore throat or any inflammatory ailment.

Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger, is a relative of capsaicin, can be used in sweet or spicy dishes. It has been found to alleviate pain and fight nausea, which is the reason ginger ale was given for upset stomachs, back when it contained actual ginger. Now few store-bought formulations do. Make your own ginger tea. Gingerol is responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

How much should you eat a day: Most recommendations land on 3–4 grams of ginger extract a day, or up to four cups of ginger tea, but no more than 1 gram a day if you are pregnant. Some studies have linked high dosages to an increased risk of miscarriage.

7. Kale or Other Dark Leafy Greens, Wilted but Not Over-Cooked for Best Results

Like spinach, kale is a hero green. It is not only packed with vitamin C but also antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which give your immune system the healthy boost it needs to fight off invaders.

Don’t overcook your deep leafy greens, since the more you cook them the less active the antioxidants will become, and you want them to be just hot enough to get released, but not overly cooked to get destroyed.  If you eat kale raw or lightly steamed, you’ll keep more of the nutrients intact.

How much should you eat a day: Aim for 1 cup fresh kale or 1/2 cup cooked per day, but this is the right moment to try the raw or slightly wilted approach. Order warm or wilted kale salad when you go out, or make it yourself with olive oil, pine nuts, and vegan parm.

8.  Almonds for Vitamin E and Healthy Fat. Pop Them Like Candy

Vitamin E in almonds will help ward off colds and flu and is key to your immune system humming along. It’s a fat-soluble molecule, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed, so nuts are the perfect package for E to make it into your system.

How much should you eat in a day:  A half-cup serving, or 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides almost 100 percent of your RDA of vitamin E. Almonds are great for you but they don’t come with a  “free” pass, since 1/4 cup is a serving and has 162 calories, so double that for your RDA and you’re eating about 325 calories. Throw them into smoothies instead.

9. Turmeric Has Curcumin Which Fights Inflammation, Put it In Your Tea or Smoothie

If you ever feel healthier for eating curry, it is probably because of the Tumeric, which is an ingredient that gives it its burnt orange color. But this highly pigmented spice is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. The ingredient curcumin has been found to decrease muscle soreness after a hard workout. How it helps immunity? decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.

Tumeric bolsters the immune system by stimulating antibody formation and people with auto-immune diseases are told by their doctors to take 500 mg of curcumin daily to reduce inflammation and stave off soreness.

How much should you eat in a day: Try adding extra Tumeric to your diet during periods of stress or during flu season. Or take 500-2,000 mg of curcumin to help fight inflammation and power up your immune system.

10. Green Tea Has EGCG, a Powerful Immune Booster. Sip this Instead of Coffee

Whether you prefer green tea or black tea, you will benefit from the compounds called flavonoids, powerful antioxidants. Green tea has high levels of EGCG, (epigallocatechin gallate) another hard-working antioxidant.

EGCG is known to boost immune function, and originally all tea leaves contain this anti-oxidant, but when black tea is fermented it deactivates most of the EGCG. Green tea is steamed so the EGCG is still active when you drink it.

Green tea also contains L-theanine, an anti-oxidant which appears to help in the production of T-cells in your body, the killer ����L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.

How much green tea should you drink in a day: The optimal amount is three to five cups in a day, but most people won’t get to that level. Any amount is better than nothing. Swap out a usual beverage daily for green tea could improve your health.

11. Papaya for Vitamin B. This Tropical Fruit Keeps You Vacation-Healthy All Year Round

Papaya delivers over twice your recommended daily amount of vitamin C in one fruit — though you’re likely to eat a few slices on a salad or in a smoothie. It also contains an enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects — and inflammation is one factor in most illnesses, so avoiding it can help your body fight off bacterial infections like sinusitis.

Papayas contain potassium, vitamin B, and folate, which is a powerful cell rebuilder. Exactly how folic acid works to build immunity is linked to its role in protein synthesis, and researchers think that any mechanism in which cells proliferate can be affected (which is why it’s critical for pregnant women). People who are folate-deficient have compromised immune systems.

How much folate should you eat a day: Whether you are pregnant or not, folate (vitamin B9) is a great vitamin to keep your cells healthy and strong. The recommendation is 400 micrograms a day, or get it from legumes, spinach, papayas, and avocados.

12. Kiwis, a Vitamin Powerhouse that Contains Vitamin K, C and Potassium

When you think of anti-oxidants, you should think of fruits that grow in the sun, since their vitamin pack comes from having to fight off the oxidation of the strong rays that beat down on them in the tropics. Kiwis are a great example. They are full of folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.

These vitamins in combination work in the body to build healthy cells, fight infection and keep your immune system humming along. Vitamin K deficiency is rare but when people don’t have enough they suffer from weak bones and compromised immune systems. The inflammation system in the body is also dependent on vitamin K, especially your killer T cells that mobilize and fight cancer and other diseases.

How much should you eat in a day: Vitamin K is one of the unsung heroes of the body. Women should get 90 micrograms a day, and men should have 120 micrograms.

13. Sunflower Seeds Contain Vitamin E:  Sprinkle on Salads or Eat as a Snack

Most seeds are chock-o-block with nutrients since they give the plant its healthy start. But sunflower seeds are especially healthy since they provide phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B-6 as well as vitamin E. Your immune system needs vitamin E to function at full throttle. You can also get vitamin E from avocados and spinach and broccoli.

How much should you eat in a day: Anywhere from 1 ounce (30 grams) per day to a healthy handful is considered healthy, but because they are high in sodium you might want to refrain from eating the entire bag. The raw seeds have 204 calories per quarter cup.

14. Miso in Soup or Paste to Add to Your Soups and Salad Dressings

You’ve had miso soup at your favorite Japanese restaurant and perhaps even thought: “This tastes incredibly healthy! If a bit salty.” Both thoughts are true. Miso is a fermented paste that adds a salty umami flavor to many Japanese dishes and soup. Most miso is made in Japan, where the ingredient has been used since the eighth century.

Miso needs no preparation and adds a touch of saltiness to soups, marinades, and dressings. Some people credit miso as a factor in Japanese longevity. Japan has more centenarians per capita of the population than anywhere else in the world – and Japan has one of the lowest rates of obesity.

The nutrients in miso — which is a soybean paste that has been fermented with salt and a koji starter — boosts immune system function by delivering healthy probiotics to the gut, making your microbiome healthier. How does Miso benefit your immune system?  It is a “sirt” food, which are foods that contain high levels of ‘sirtuins’ or proteins that regulate cells and activate metabolism. A diet high in sirts is believed to lead to weight loss, increased wellness, and longevity.

How much should you eat in a day: Researchers believe that consuming one bowl of miso soup per day, as is the tradition in Japan, lowers the risks of breast cancer. Other than its high sodium content there is no reason to stay away from miso with all its varied health benefits. We say cheers to that.

15. Blueberries, Strawberries and Raspberries

In a day that starts with wearing your mask, nothing helps your body fight off infection better than a smoothie or bowl full of berries, especially those that are super-colorful and contain antioxidants that give the fruit their vibrant color.

Blueberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which specifically help boost your immune system and fight off systemic stress of any kind including toxins. In a recent study, researchers found that flavonoids play an essential role in your respiratory tract’s immune defense system, especially timely in light of COVID-19, which attacks the lungs first in many cases. People who eat a diet rich in flavonoids are less likely to get sick from an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold than those who don’t eat berries regularly.

How much should you eat: Get one cup of berries a day in a smoothie or bowl, as a snack or dessert. Your body will thank you and the calories burn slowly so you can eat them and not worry about a spike in blood sugar since the fiber in the fruit helps your body regulate blood sugar. As one doctor told us: No one ever got fat on fruit.

StreetInsider.com

Health Addiction Functional Supplements Provide Perfect Harmony Between Body and Mind to Optimize Health and Wellbeing

  • November 30, 2020

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PALM BEACH, FL, Nov. 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mexico’s first functional nutritionist, Nathaly Marcus, plans to bring her holistic health philosophy and the high-quality dietary supplements she has developed to America. 

Functional nutrition, which is holistic health, science-based approach to overall health, looks at the entire body, and how the environment affects it.

“Your health is an everyday routine,” said Marcus, founder and nutritionist for Health Addiction, a wellness company in Mexico City. “As a functional nutritionist, I tell my patients that dietary supplements and new lifestyle habits can add years to your life and improve the quality of your life.”

Marcus said Health Addiction has developed supplements aimed at improving the quality of life.

“Health Addiction supplements take a holistic approach to your nutritional needs,” Marcus said. “Our supplements deal with aging challenges, the immune system, weight, joint care, and gut health.

“We want people to feel healthier and younger by boosting their immune system, losing weight, taking care of their joints, and improving their gut health, which are keys to better health,” she said.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything in the past eight months, it is how precious our health is,” Marcus said. “For the past 100 years, every generation seems more concerned about their health than their parents or grandparents. The pandemic has forced us to think about our health even more.”

Marcus said Health Addiction functional supplements are developed with the right balance of ingredients and dosage.

“We have spent years in research and development to achieve the right nutrient combination,” she said.

Marcus and Health Addiction have a proven track record.

As Mexico’s first functional nutritionist, Marcus trains other nutritionists, coaches, and doctors about functional medicine’s benefits. She has four clinics, and this year created the Institute for Health, Mind, and Body online.

Health Addiction plans to introduce eight popular functional supplements to American consumers:

  • ESSENTIAL 5 addresses the five most important health pillars: nervous system, gut health, immune system, and cardiovascular system. It also provides an energy boost.
  • GLOW PACK helps regenerate and build healthy, radiant skin, hair, and nails.
  • PRE + PROBIOTIC COMPLETE FORMULA helps regenerate the gut system and support the immune system.
  • THERMO BURN MAX is a unique fat burner formula for weight loss.
  • GUT BALANCE optimizes gut function, decreases gut inflammation, and improves nutrient absorption.
  • SPORT COLLAGEN BOOSTER promotes ligament and joint elasticity and structure.
  • SPIRULINA + CHLORELLA + MORINGA COMPLEX helps detoxify the body, support the immune system, and promote cell regeneration.
  • GASTRO 360 optimizes proper gut function and aids in heartburn, colitis, nausea and, acid reflux problems.

“We have a track record of treating, healing, and supporting our patients,” Marcus said. “Our functional supplements only have ingredients in them that will help them. At Health Addiction, we only include ingredients if they have a specific purpose.”

For more information, please visit Health Addiction online.

 

Robert Grant
Health Addiction
(561) 421-3045
pr@nutrapr.com

Source: Health Addiction

Immune-Boosting Delicious Recipes for Pregnancy During Covid-19

Immune-Boosting Delicious Recipes for Pregnancy During Covid-19

  • November 30, 2020

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today more than ever, building strong immune systems is important for everyone, particularly expecting mothers. We are all cooking and eating at home more than ever before due to Covid-19. Pregnant women are a greater risk for complications related to Covid-19, so dining at home is even more important for them. Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, an award-winning nutrition-cookbook by Catherine Jones and perinatal nutritionist, Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD, offers moms-to-be 150 nutrient-dense, immune-boosting, delicious recipes to help.

Immune-boosting nutrients, that have numerous other benefits as well, include zinc (meats and legumes), selenium (chia seeds and seafood), iron (red meats and iron-fortified breakfast cereals), folate (lentils and asparagus), vitamins A (sweet potatoes), B6 (poultry and oats), C (citrus fruits and broccoli), D (egg yolks and fortified milk, plus sun exposure), and E (sunflower seeds and almonds). These essential nutrients help the immune system by working as an antioxidant to protect healthy cells, supporting growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies.

Eating for Pregnancy incorporates these powerful nutrients to make menu planning and cooking a snap for all eating preferences and gestational diabetes. Delicious, easy-to-make recipes that are designed to boost your immune system include: Good Morning Sunshine Smoothie Bowl, Awesome Chicken Burgers, Sweet Potato Rounds, Salmon with Artichoke-Olive Tapenade, and Favorite Broccoli Slaw.  

Patience has never been a bigger virtue than now. While we all wait for healthier days to come, maintaining a healthy lifestyle includes safe exercises, cooking at home, and taking the proper precautions is the best path forward.

“This is the ultimate pregnancy book… I wish I would have had this book when I went through my pregnancies… A must-have for yourself, your sister, relative, neighbor, or even the perfect reading material while waiting at the doctor’s office!”―San Francisco Review of Books, Rachel Dehning

“[Jones, Hudson, and Knight] bring a wealth of expertise to the project… [This book is] like a warm conversation with a knowledgeable friend.”―Kirkus Review

“Impressively comprehensive, thoughtfully informative, exceptionally ‘user friendly’ in organization, and deftly well presented throughout, [Eating for Pregnancy] is an ideal gift for anyone expecting a child.”―Midwest Book Reviews

“[A] fantastic, one-stop, nutritional guide for all expectant mothers that also lays the foundation for overall healthy nutrition beyond pregnancy [with an] abundance of recipes that contain wonderful ingredients and nutritional information… Well done!”―Feathered Quill Book Review

“The recipes not only look delicious, but are artfully organized into stages of pregnancy, as well as postpartum… Eating for Pregnancy presents information on nutrition in pregnancy in a well-balanced way, focusing on sourcing nutrients from a whole-food diet.”―Midwifery

“[E]very page I flipped to made me say “yum!”… The nutritional and medical information is easy to follow and grasp. The recipes are also appealing to non-pregnant people. This should appeal to those with partners and other children, so that everyone gets fed and gets fed well.”―Kate Sissons, Katesissons.com, Doula, Yoga & Educator

“[A]n incredible resource… I highly recommend using Eating for Pregnancy throughout your pregnancy to keep your body as healthy as possible.”―A Life in Labor

“[W]ell-thought-out and comprehensive… This is a great resource chock full of recipes and guidance for pregnant women. I will definitely be recommending this book to my clients.”

―Nancy Mae, MA, MS, Author, Coach & Creator of the Energetic Fertility Method

Eating for Pregnancy: Your Essential Month-by-Month Nutrition Guide and Cookbook is the ultimate no-nonsense nutrition guide and cookbook for moms-to-be. Eating for Pregnancy is available for sale on Amazon. To learn more, go to: http://www.catherinejonescookbooks.com 

Contact:
Kelsey at Book Publicity Services  
[email protected] 
(805) 807-9027

SOURCE Book Publicity Services

Eat and Drink Smart to Help Fend Off Cold and Flu Season – Pasadena Weekendr

Eat and Drink Smart to Help Fend Off Cold and Flu Season – Pasadena Weekendr

  • November 30, 2020

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s no secret that a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can deliver important vitamins and nutrients for better health, but many of your favorite foods can actually help support your immune system, too.

In addition to precautions like avoiding people who are sick and washing your hands often, you can influence your immune system through what you eat and drink.

Stay hydrated. Keeping well hydrated can be difficult during the winter months, especially if you spend most of your time indoors. A warm drink like this flavorful Orange Spiced Tea provides a strong dose of vitamin C along with a delicious dose of hydration.

Keep the produce going strong. Fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies often come to mind during warmer months, but produce like citrus, leafy greens and root vegetables are plentiful during cold and flu season, too.

“Consuming the whole fruit is the best way to ensure you gain the maximum nutritional benefit,” Dr. Poonam Desai said. “When speaking with patients, I recommend seeking nutrients like vitamin C from whole food sources, rather than supplements, especially with a vitamin C-rich fruit like California oranges.”

Get a natural boost of vitamins. Vitamins A and C, found in fresh citrus, are two key nutrients that support your body’s natural line of defense, your immune system. Just one orange offers 90% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C, and California Navel oranges are in their peak season – just in time for the height of cold and flu season.

Get inspired with more ideas to boost your immune system with essential vitamins and nutrients at californiacitrusgrowers.com.

5 Ways to Get More Vitamin C

  • Pick heavy fruit. When shopping for citrus, choose fruit that smells fresh and feels heavy for its size. The heavier the orange, the juicer it’s likely to be.
  • Explore versatility. Fresh citrus like California Navel oranges make a nutritious addition to sweet and savory dishes, beverages, cocktails, sauces and more.
  • Use the whole fruit. Reduce food waste by consuming the flesh, juice, zest and peel. Try squeezing juice and grating zest into a smoothie, using orange segments for a vibrant salad or combining diced Navels with red onion, cilantro and jalapenos for a zesty salsa.
  • Retain vitamin C content. Vitamin C is water soluble, so to retain as much as possible, eat citrus fresh, avoid overcooking and use minimal amounts of water.
  • Refrigerate for longer shelf life. Keep your citrus fresh longer by storing it in the refrigerator at a temperature below 42 F. To get the most juice out of the orange, bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Orange Spiced Tea

Recipe courtesy of California Citrus Growers

6          cups water

1          clove cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6          tea bags

1          cup California Navel orange juice

1/2       cup white sugar

2          tablespoons lemon juice

1          slice California Navel orange

Bring water and cinnamon to boil; let cinnamon dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags; soak at least 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.

In separate pan, bring orange juice, sugar and lemon juice to boil. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pour juice mixture into spiced tea.

Garnish with orange slice and serve hot.



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New Immune Max Mints from Enzymedica Use Innovative Technology to Deliver Unique Immune Supporting Probiotic Strain in a Great Tasting Quick Melt Mint

New Immune Max Mints from Enzymedica Use Innovative Technology to Deliver Unique Immune Supporting Probiotic Strain in a Great Tasting Quick Melt Mint

  • November 30, 2020
mints, candy, probiotics, new supplements, immunity, immune system

These new mints dissolve in the mouth to deliver 12 billion cells of HK Lactobacillus plantarum L-137, a unique probiotic strain that is clinically studied to support immune and respiratory health.*

Enzymedica®, a Florida-based company that produces high quality natural digestive products, announces the launch of its innovative Immune Max™ Immuno-Biotic Defense Mints. These great tasting and refreshing mints dissolve in the mouth to deliver 12 billion cells of HK Lactobacillus plantarum L-137, also known as of Immuno-LP20®, a unique probiotic strain that is clinically studied to support immune and respiratory health.* Stress and fatigue can easily lower immunity, and this formula helps boost the immune and digestive systems by increasing natural killer T-cell activity, which are on the front lines to help protect against seasonal threats.*

The probiotic strain L-137 was originally discovered by Japanese immunologists, working at the prestigious Medical Institute of Bioregulation at Kyushu University, who were testing new substances to improve key markers for immune health. By fermenting fish with lactic acid bacteria to create Narezushi, a precursor to modern sushi, the scientists were able to isolate a novel lactic acid bacterium. It became known as probiotic L-137 and it demonstrated beneficial immune boosting properties, made even more robust through a heat-treatment process that converts the strain to HK L-137. *

The heat-treatment process that converts L-137 to HK L-137 locks the structure of the bacterial cells to their shape at the highest point of activity. This allows the beneficial bacterial cells to work in a human’s gastric acid, while also promoting the ability for the probiotic bacterial cells to interact with immune cells in the intestine.* The beneficial properties of HK L-137 are most associated with Lipoteichoic acids, components of the cell wall of the probiotic bacterium. These acids provide nutrition for the body’s immune system by boosting the production of interleukin-12, a substance secreted by immune cells that strengthens the body’s overall immune defense system. *

Following its initial discovery, human clinical studies have demonstrated that HK L-137 benefits the immune system, respiratory health, and overall quality of life.* Each package of Enzymedica’s Immune Max Mints contains 30 fast-acting quick melt mints for $19.99 and can be purchased at https://enzymedica.com/products/immune-max-immuno-biotic-defense-mints?variant=32531305889841.

About Enzymedica

Enzymedica is a Florida-based, natural digestive health company since 1998 that sells to over 30,000 stores worldwide and online. Its top-selling enzyme brand is No. 1 in America. In addition to high quality products, Enzymedica also is dedicated to its People & Planet initiative, which is a core pillar within the company’s mission – to leave a legacy that will make the world a better place. The company has received more than 50 industry awards including multiple Better Nutrition Magazine’s People’s Choice Awards, many Best of Supplements Awards and numerous VITY and Nexty Awards. Visit https://enzymedica.com/ for more information.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Media Contact

Ria Romano, Partner

RPR Public Relations, Inc.

Tel. 786-290-6413

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immunity boosting foods, proteins for immunity, nutrients for immunity, foods for immune system, coronavirus, winter foods, winter diet

5 proteins and nutrients to add to your diet during winter to boost immunity

  • November 30, 2020

The winter season is upon us, and most people are prone to falling ill through common cold, fever, cough, or other seasonal illnesses. With the pandemic continuing its onslaught, strengthening your immune system to stay safe and evade the risk of falling ill during the season is paramount. Boosting immunity is something that seems complex but can be done by making simple yet highly effective alterations to our lifestyles, such as incorporating more proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients in our diet. Also Read – Benefits of Pearl Millet: Include bajra in your diet to rev up your immunity

Proteins And Other Nutrients For Immunity

The immune system consists of a diverse group of cells that perform immunity-enhancing functions throughout the body. Eating a balanced diet, supplementing, exercising, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, ensuring personal hygiene, living a stress-free life, and getting adequate sleep are all key factors that help build your immune system. Superfoods and supplements which are believed to be nutritionally dense contain a variety of nutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can benefit your immunity as well as overall health. Also Read – Foods that should not be given to kids during winters

As the world prepares itself to take on the winter coupled with the raging pandemic, there are some strategies to fortify your immune system. That said, you can include these 5 proteins and nutrients in your daily meals to do just that. Also Read – 5 surprising dietary sources of vitamin C

Nuts and Seeds

Rich in protein and zinc, nuts and seeds are the perfect choices when it comes to warding off illnesses such as cold, cough, and the flu. Besides this, they also serve as healthy snack options. Add a handful of nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc. to your daily breakfast cereals or smoothie bowls, and you’re all set to power through the day.

Lentils

A wonderful source of dietary fibre, iron, zinc, potassium, niacin, and folate, one cup of lentils contains approximately 18 grams of protein. Lentils can be consumed in any form – be it in the form of soup, adding them to your salads, or even simply as a snack as they are both healthy and delicious. You can also include lentils such as chickpeas, kidney beans, moong dal, etc., with rice or chapatis for a perfectly balanced meal during the winter season.

Ginger

A staple in every Indian household, incorporating ginger into our daily meals/drinks has been an age-old concept. Not only is it naturally warming, but it also acts as a decongestant and helps with digestion. Ideal for cold, cough, flu, or a sore throat, ginger is the perfect immunity booster, especially during the winter season. You can add it to your cup of tea or include it in your meal.

Cinnamon

Great for your gut and immune system, cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Additionally, it is also immensely beneficial in protecting your heart health and can work wonders for your immunity when consumed in small quantities. The next time you make yourself a cup of hot chocolate or tea, try sprinkling a pinch of cinnamon to it for added flavour and better health. But, ensure you do not consume an excess of it as this can become counterproductive.

Oranges

Sometimes referred to as the winter fruit, oranges are rich in Vitamin-C, which helps ward off cold, cough, and other seasonal illnesses. Furthermore, oranges are an excellent immunity booster. You could also include other Vitamin-C-rich foods such as lime, tomatoes, and peppers in your meals.

The aforementioned foods are those that are easily available and often are staples in every kitchen. Simply including them in your everyday diet can go a long way in bolstering your immune system and give you good health in the long run.

Inputs by Mr.Vipen Jain, CEO and Co-Founder, Fitspire

Published : November 30, 2020 7:57 pm


Study: Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19. Image Credit: Tatjana Baibakova / Shutterstock

Healthy diet plays vital role in warding off COVID-19

  • November 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread globally, with over 62.26 million people infected. With the rapid spread of its causative agent, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), it is crucial to determine ways to prevent infection.

The immune system protects the host from pathogenic organisms, including viruses, bacterial, fungi, and parasites. To deal with a broad range of threats, the immune system has evolved to include many specialized cell types that communicate and work in tandem to fight off infections.

Since the immune system is active in carrying out surveillance throughout the day, it needs adequate nutrients. Several vitamins and trace elements have been shown to reduce the risk of infections.

A researcher at the School of Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, explored nutrition’s role in boosting the immune system to combat COVID-19 infection.

The study published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health highlights the importance of nutrition in boosting the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

Study: Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19. Image Credit: Tatjana Baibakova / Shutterstock

The immune system

The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. It keeps a record of every pathogen it has ever encountered to recognize and kill it if it enters the body again.

Immunological memory refers to the immune system’s ability to quickly recognize an antigen that the body has previously encountered and initiated a corresponding immune response.

Many factors could alter the body’s immune response. Aging can be tied to a loss of immune system competence, called immunosenescence.

Immunosenescence is characterized by reduced immune cells, including T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, dendritic cells, neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, and natural killer cells.

One factor associated with immunosenescence is a reduction of immune cells from the bone marrow, where these cells come from. All these processes that occur in old age could predispose older people to more severe COVID-19.

Obesity is also tied to a reduced immune response. Usually, obese people experience impairments in the activity of helper T lymphocytes, cytotoxic T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. They also have reduced antibody and interferon-gamma (IFN-y) production. This predisposes them to develop severe COVID-19.

Also, obese people may have a poorer response to vaccination. Obesity has also been linked to increased blood concentrations of many inflammatory mediators, a state of chronic low-grade inflammation. When infected, the immune system may mount an excessive inflammatory response like a cytokine storm, making them vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

Nutrition and immunity

The immune system functions at all times, but specific cells become activated by the presence of pathogens. The activation leads to a marked increase in the immune system’s demand for energy-yielding substrates, including fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids.

Some nutrients, such as vitamin A and D, are direct regulators of the gene expression in immune cells. They play essential roles in the maturation, differentiation, and responsiveness of immune cells.

Antioxidants also play critical roles in protecting the body against oxidative stress. Classic antioxidant vitamins include vitamin C and E, including antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase.

Hence, keeping the body well-nourished is crucial to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Good nutrition provides an environment where the immune system can respond quickly and appropriately to infection. Meanwhile, nutrient deficiency makes the body and the immune system unable to work correctly.

In a nutshell, keeping the body nourished with vitamins and minerals is essential in the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In some cases, even if a person gets infected, the body’s immune system can readily fight off the pathogen, reducing the risk of developing severe illness.

Vitamin A, B6, folate, C, D, and E, including trace elements like zinc, copper, iron, and selenium, have been demonstrated to play key roles in supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of infections.

“It would seem prudent for individuals to consume sufficient amounts of essential nutrients to support their immune system to help them to deal with pathogens should they become infected,” the researchers explained.


“Consumption of a diet of diverse and varied plant-based and animal-based foods that are consistent with current healthy eating guidelines would be best to support the immune system,” they encouraged.

The immune system, like all other body systems, needs the right fuel if it is to function efficiently.

Food that boost your immunity

  • November 29, 2020

It is not that immune-healthy people do not fall sick. They do but they recover quickly

The immune system, like all other body systems, needs the right fuel if it is to function efficiently.


Hena Nafis
  |  


  |  
Published 30.11.20, 01:44 AM


The word ‘immunity’ is a much-used one in 2020. Recovery during the ongoing pandemic is much dependant on one’s immune system. The idea of boosting your immune system is appealing, but is it even possible to strengthen your immune system to cope with something like Covid-19? Let’s get our defence right.

What is immunity?

In simple words, immunity is our body’s natural defence system, which protects us from invasions by foreign substances. There are special mechanisms in place, which can destroy foreign substances, like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite; before they multiply and cause illness. The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals. The main parts of the immune system are white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, the bone marrow and even the gut wall.

Two sub–systems of the immune system

The innate immune system or Natural Immunity: You are born with this and it is genetically determined. It’s your first line of defense from pathogens that try to enter the body, achieved through protective barriers, such as phagocytic cells, natural killer cells, mucus, stomach acids, enzymes and so on. All these mechanisms are present prior to exposure to infectious agents. The main job of this is to fight harmful substances and germs that enter the body through the skin or digestive system.

The adaptive immune system or Acquired Immunity: You develop this when your body is exposed to microbes or chemicals released by microbes. This system makes antibodies and uses them to specifically fight certain germs that the body has previously come in contact with. It has two categories.

Active immunity: It arises when the body’s own cells produce and remain able to produce antibodies following an attack of a disease or deliberate stimulation. Antibodies are manufactured specifically to deal with different diseases as they are encountered. Passive immunity: The production of immunity by artificial means by injecting ready-made antibodies. Babies have passive immunity conferred by antibodies from the maternal blood and colostrums to common disease for several weeks after birth.

Who is at risk?

All of us are at some risk from infection every day of our lives. However, some of us need to take particular care to keep our immune system working at its best. You are more prone to infection if you are:

◙ Recovering from any kind of illness.

◙ Work in a place where you interact with a lot people, such as schools, hospitals, call centres, banks as you are more likely to be exposed to various infections.

◙ The elderly.

◙ Children.

◙ If you are taking medications which suppress the immune system, like corticosteroids or anticancer drugs.

◙ Have poor health.

Balanced or Bolstered

The layman is faced with an onslaught of information (and misinformation) and wide range of products to boost immunity. However, the very concept of boosting immunity is unscientific and dangerously misleading. The only evidence-based approach to boost immunity is vaccination.

One must appreciate that your immune system, like most other things in life, need to function in a state of balance, neither more nor less. If it gets weak and sluggish, it can make you more prone to frequent infections, fatigue, headache and so on. Sometimes, if this group of special cells, tissues, and organs get overactive, you may end up with conditions like allergies, eczema and asthma. Or if your immune system gets hyper-excited and it starts to attack your body instead of protecting it, you can end up suffering from autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, if one tries to boost immunity in the absence of infection, he may experience inflammation in the body such as redness, soreness and pain.

Our approach should be to protect our immune system and make it function efficiently and try to exclude lifestyle factors that weakens it instead of boosting it.

Factors which reduce resistance and increase susceptibility to infections

◙ Overeating

◙ Obesity

◙ Lack of physical activity

◙ Lack of sleep

◙ Chronic stress

◙ Smoking

◙ Alcohol consumption

◙ Anger

◙ Engaging in arguments

◙ Strong sunlight

◙ Exposure to smoky atmospheres

◙ Taking antibiotics regularly

Varied diet

Out of fear of contracting the virus, many of us have been rummaging around for superfoods or vitamin supplements that are believed to boost immunity. Vitamin C supplements, lemon water, concoctions made of various spices, hot beverages like green tea or tea with honey are popular choices. Our immune system is complex and is controlled by an ideal balance of many factors, not just diet, and especially not by any one specific food or nutrient.

The immune system, like all other body systems, needs the right fuel if it is to function efficiently. Malnutrition can impair the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies. It can be caused due to insufficient calorie intake resulting from reduced macronutrient intake such as protein. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also enfeeble our immunity. Suppressed, weakened immunity is common in later life, due to high incidence of undernutrition, protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies amongst the elderly. However, one must note that these markers of malnourishment are commonplace in the younger lot as well.

Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is necessary for the health and function of all living cells, including immune cells. It is unlikely that individual foods offer special protection. So eat different varieties and colours of food, this is the best way to prevent nutrient deficiencies. The body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. Nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include protein, vitamin A, C, D, E, zinc, selenium and iron.

Betacarotene: It is converted into vitamin A in the body. It helps protect the immune system from the action of damaging free radical molecules. Vitamin A strengthens the skin inside and out, and therefore acts as a first line of defence and keep viruses and bacteria out of the body.

Sources: It is found in high concentration in yellow and orange fruits such as mango, papaya, watermelon, melon, apricot, sweet potato, carrot, red and yellow peppers.

Vitamin C: It stimulates our immunity by its ability to increase antibody production and speed the rate at which immune cells mature. Viruses cannot survive in a vitamin C-rich environment, making it an incredible antiviral agent. However, mega doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disturbances. The US Food and Nutrition Board recommended a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for vitamin C of two grams daily.

Sources: Fruits like orange, sweet lime, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberry and Indian gooseberry (amla). Guava has more vitamin C than the orange, making them excellent source of the vitamin. Vegetables such as bell pepper, cabbage, broccoli, tomato, cauliflower also contain it.

Vitamin D: It enhances the function of immune cells including macrophages and T-cells that protect your body against pathogens. Deficiency of vitamin D can increase risk of respiratory infections.

Sources: Fatty fish like salmon, sardine, egg yolk, mushroom, fortified products such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals and orange juice.

Vitamin E: It is a powerful antioxidant and can protect immune cells from oxidative damage. In vitamin E deficiency, most of the immune parameters show a downward trend, which increases the risk of infectious disease. It is an important nutrient for maintaining the immune system, especially in the elderly.

Sources: Sunflower seeds, almond, spinach, avocado, squash, olive oil, broccoli.

Selenium: It keeps your immune system healthy. Deficiency of selenium has been shown to harm immune cell function and may lead to slower immune response.

Sources: Oyster, tuna, egg, sunflower seeds, chicken and shiitake mushroom.

Zinc: It is a crucial nutrient for the production and function of immune cells. Low levels of zinc have been shown to weaken the immune system.

Sources: Oyster, beef, lamb, shrimp, green peas, egg yolk, whole grain, peanuts, almond, cashew, pumpkin and flaxseeds, ginger root.

Taking a daily multivitamin is probably a good idea to stay healthy if you eat poorly, you are vegetarian or vegan. But taking mega doses of a single vitamin or supplement has not been proven to help the immune system.

What you should do if you are already fighting an infection

◙ Increase your liquid intake.

◙ Eat light. Avoid greasy oil and sugary foods.

◙ Make sure you get enough protein, which is needed to build up immune cells.

◙l If you have mucus-related infection, avoid dairy products with the exception of yoghurt.

◙ Add ginger to tea and consume four to six cloves of garlic.

◙ Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and betacarotene.

◙ Add zinc supplement.

It is not that immune-healthy people do not fall sick. They do but they recover quickly. So, if you don’t want to suffer, adopt a healthy lifestyle for an efficient immune system.

Gut-friendly

A high-fibre plant-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes appear to support the growth and maintenance of beneficial microbes, such as probiotics and prebiotics in the gut. The gut is a major site of immune activity and the production of antimicrobial proteins.

Healthy bacteria found in your gut is also used to stimulate the development of T-cells, responsible for distinguishing your body’s cells and tissue from potentially harmful pathogens and toxins. When there is an imbalance in your gut, such as an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it can confuse your immune system, causing it to start attacking your own cells leading to inflammation or leaky gut syndrome.

◙ Probiotic foods: Yoghurt, buttermilk, natural cheeses, pickles, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi and miso.

◙ Prebiotic foods: Garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, banana, artichoke and seaweed.

Regular exercise

Physical activity may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like obesity and diabetes. Both these conditions have been linked to lower immune response. It also lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. It can also help you manage stress better, which will inadvertently improve your immunity. Exercise contribute to general well-being and therefore to a healthy immune system.

Restorative sleep

Lack of sleep has a profound effect on the immune system. While we sleep, a type of cytokine is released which can fight infection. Inadequate sleep reduces the amount of these cytokines in our bodies and can even lower other immune cells. Sleep debt cannot be compensated with naps or sleeping longer during weekends. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults, and children need eight to 14 hours, depending on their age. But not just any sleep will suffice, you need restorative sleep for efficient immune function.

Calm mind

Chronic mental stress makes us prone to illness and disease. Stress triggers our brain to send signals to the endocrine system to release an array of hormones which severely depresses our immunity. The body’s ability to fight antigens are reduced for it lowers the number of lymphocytes and action of white blood cells. Reduce your levels of stress by engaging in regular physical activity, spending time with family, meditation or a visit to the spa.

Hena Nafis is a consultant nutritionist and the owner of nutrition and lifestyle clinic Nutrience, and the health cafe, Eat Good Food. You can follower her on Facebook and Instagram @officialhenanafis

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