The start of a new year is often coupled with self-reflection and the desire to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, but this year prioritizing health takes on greater meaning as people look to boost their immune system and prevent illnesses. Holistic health and immunity against common colds go hand in hand – according to U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, healthy individuals should make sure to maintain their immune system to lower the incidence of infection, lessen severity of symptoms, shorten duration of colds, which suggests that regular supplementation could be encouraged for preventing and treating their colds. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., nutrition expert and author of Why Diets Fail, provides recommendations to boost immunity through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and supplementation which can easily be incorporated into one’s daily health and wellness routine.
1. Go outside to enjoy Vitamin D. A quick walk during the day can do wonders for the body, especially when the sun is shining. Make sure to apply SPF and head outside for 10-30 minutes per day to take advantage of the sun’s natural form of Vitamin D as this vitamin helps protect against common colds and can decrease inflammation. Can’t go outside? Not too many foods contain vitamin D naturally, but salmon and white mushrooms are some options to try. Also, try to include Vitamin D-fortified food products in your diet, like milks, cheeses, and cereals.
2. Power up your Zinc intake. Zinc helps build the innate immune system and shorten the duration of colds. Macrophages and other white blood cells that attack pathogens need zinc to function at full capacity. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins makes an easy-to take and highly potent Zinc supplement that contains 15mg of Zinc and 270mg of Vitamin C.
3. Magnesium does it all, especially when about 300mg is consumed per day. There’s evidence that magnesium plays a major role in brain function, sleep regulation, and emotional stability. The mineral contains calming properties while activating your parasympathetic nervous system and can be found naturally in leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and milk. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins fuses together this essential mineral with a tropical citrus flavor into a yummy gummy with 165mg of magnesium that can be supplemented into the diet.
As if the new COVID-19 strain wasn’t enough of a stressor, it’s also high time for the flu and common cold, which means it’s all the more important to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Thankfully, there are several ways you can do this naturally—and on a daily basis.
Nicole Avena, Ph.D., nutrition expert and author of Why Diets Fail, specializes in functional nutrition and holistic health. Here, she shares five tricks you can employ to best prepare your immune system for illness this winter through diet and supplements alone. And after, be sure to read The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
This one’s a no-brainer, right? We all know vitamin C is crucial for combatting the common cold, in addition to myriad other viruses, but do you know why? Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage in white blood cells—as well as in other important immune cells—so that they can function optimally, says Avena. Essentially, the antioxidant builds a strong barrier around these cells so that environmental pathogens and pollutants don’t weaken or destroy them.
If you already have a cold, Avena suggests aiming for consuming anywhere between 1 and 2 grams (1,000-2,000 milligrams) of Vitamin C per day—which can be attained through a high-powered supplement. If you don’t have a cold, the recommended dietary allowance of the vitamin for women 19 years and older is 75 milligrams and for men, it’s 90 milligrams.
“A quick walk during the day can do wonders for the body, especially when the sun is shining,” says Avena. “Make sure to apply SPF and head outside for 10 to 30 minutes per day to take advantage of the sun’s natural form of Vitamin D, as this vitamin helps protect against common colds and can decrease inflammation.”
Of course, you could always reap the health benefits of vitamin D3 from a supplement, but making it a point to go outside also gets you some exercise—which is ideal to do every day. There are a few foods you can source the vitamin from, as well, but they aren’t many options.
“Vitamin D can be tough to get from foods since fewer foods naturally contain it,” Avena explains. “Salmon is one source that can be good. Also, many dairy products and cereals are fortified with Vitamin D, so check the label and opt for those.”
“Vitamin C and zinc are cofactors that help your cellular immune system work better,” Brittany Busse, MD, associate medical director at WorkCare told Eat This, Not That! in another article. The vitamin and the mineral work in tandem to support the immune system, which can shorten the duration of the common cold.
“Macrophages and other white blood cells that attack pathogens need zinc to function at full capacity,” says Avena. You can source zinc naturally from oysters, pumpkin seeds, crab meat, and beef or you can get your daily dose by way of a supplement. Avena suggests trying vitafusion’s zinc gummy vitamin.
You’ve probably heard mixed reviews about Elderberry in 2020. At the beginning of the pandemic, Elderberry was believed to play a role in spurring what’s called a cytokine storm, however, more recently, experts have come out to say that isn’t necessarily true.
William Schaffner, an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told North Carolina Health Newsthat while taking Elderberry syrup likely won’t prevent COVID-19, it wouldn’t be harmful either. But, taking the supplement as a means to prevent the common cold is a different story.
“The berries and flowers of Elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system and reduce recovery time after a cold or flu by activating the body’s immune response, increasing antibodies, and expanding immune cell production,” says Avena. If you’re not a fan of syrup, opt for Nature Made’s Elderberry gummies.
In fact, you should be getting at least 300 milligrams of the mineral every single day.
“There’s evidence that magnesium plays a major role in brain function, sleep regulation, and emotional stability,” says Avena. “The mineral contains calming properties while activating your parasympathetic nervous system and can be found naturally in leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and milk.”
Many foods offer magnesium, which may make attaining the recommended dietary allowance through diet alone a bit easier. One ounce of dry, roasted almonds provides 80 milligrams of magnesium, for example, and one cup of soymilk offers just over 60 milligrams of the mineral.
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The start of a new year is often coupled with self-reflection and the desire to adopt healthy lifestyle choices, but this year prioritizing health takes on greater meaning as people look to boost their immune system and prevent illnesses. Holistic health and immunity against common colds go hand in hand – according to U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, healthy individuals should make sure to maintain their immune system to lower the incidence of infection, lessen severity of symptoms, shorten duration of colds, which suggests that regular supplementation could be encouraged for preventing and treating their colds. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., nutrition expert and author of Why Diets Fail, provides recommendations to boost immunity through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and supplementation which can easily be incorporated into one’s daily health and wellness routine.
“This year, functional nutrition and holistic health will be big whether it is using food as medicine or making diet and lifestyle changes for preventative wellness and increased immunity,” says Avena. “Depending on what those goals are, whether it’s fitness improvement or stress reduction, nutritional solutions are available through various foods, vitamins, and supplements that can specifically assist in attaining both holistic health and immune system support.”
Below, Dr. Avena recommends ways to support the immune system and reveals how nutrients play a role in immune system functionality and mood regulation.
Consume 1 to 2 grams of Vitamin C per day to reduce duration and severity of common colds. This antioxidant protects against oxidative damage in white blood cells and other important immune cells so that they can function optimally, assuring a strong barrier against environmental pathogens and pollutants. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and more.
Go outside to enjoy Vitamin D. A quick walk during the day can do wonders for the body, especially when the sun is shining. Make sure to apply SPF and head outside for 10-30 minutes per day to take advantage of the sun’s natural form of Vitamin D as this vitamin helps protect against common colds and can decrease inflammation. Can’t go outside? Not too many foods contain vitamin D naturally, but salmon and white mushrooms are some options to try. Also, try to include Vitamin D-fortified food products in your diet, like milks, cheeses, and cereals.
Power up your Zinc intake. Zinc helps build the innate immune system and shorten the duration of colds. Macrophages and other white blood cells that attack pathogens need zinc to function at full capacity. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins makes an easy-to take and highly potent Zinc supplement that contains 15mg of Zinc and 270mg of Vitamin C.
Consider Elderberry as a natural remedy for the cold and flu. The berries and flowers of Elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system and reduce recovery time after a cold or flu by activating the body’s immune response, increasing antibodies, and expanding immune cell production. Elderberries are safe to ingest when cooked, and can be used in many forms including syrup, tea, tincture, pill, gummies, and lozenges.
Magnesium does it all, especially when about 300mg is consumed per day. There’s evidence that magnesium plays a major role in brain function, sleep regulation, and emotional stability. The mineral contains calming properties while activating your parasympathetic nervous system and can be found naturally in leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and milk. vitafusion Gummy Vitamins fuses together this essential mineral with a delicious tropical Citrus flavor into a yummy gummy with 165mg of magnesium.
“It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or changing your diet in a drastic way. Holistic health is a preventative measure and while specific goals can be important benchmarks to make – implementing health and lifestyle routines that are manageable and promote overall wellness can help you achieve your goals while also making lasting changes to your overall wellness,” adds Avena.
Toxins enter the body through what we eat, drink, breathe in, and process in any way. Once inside, toxins overtax our immune system and detoxification system and leave us more vulnerable to illness — not ideal during cold and flu season, and especially not this year during a pandemic — and make us age a little faster, too.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do from the comfort of your own home to keep toxins out of your body, flush them out of your system faster, and boost your immunity all at the same time, says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of Vital Plan. He shares his top 10 strategies below.
1. Source Your Food Wisely
Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce, and instead reach for fresh food from natural sources. Aim to make vegetables more than 50% of your daily diet — their fiber is a great natural binder, and they’re full of beneficial phytochemicals — and minimize your red meat consumption.
Also, whenever practical, choose organic over conventional products. That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists:
The Dirty Dozen:
(*While raisins aren’t technically a fresh food, the EWG found that they are “one of the dirtiest produce commodities on the market — and even some organic raisins are contaminated.”)
The Clean Fifteen
Frozen sweet peas
2. Consider Detoxifying and Immune-Boosting Herbs
There are a number of herbs and natural ingredients that can help support detoxification and immune health. Here are the ones at the top of Dr. Rawls’ list:
Chlorella: This nutrient-rich freshwater algae binds to toxins so they can be eliminated from your body more efficiently. Chlorella works particularly well for withdrawing heavy metals. Pure chlorella can be purchased in the form of bulk powder, tablets, or capsules.
Milk Thistle: It’s been used for thousands of years to support a healthy liver, the primary organ responsible for detoxification.
Dandelion: Known to help support liver function, research suggests dandelion helps promote the body’s natural detoxification and elimination processes.
Bitters:Bitter flavors are important to digestion — they stimulate the release of the saliva, enzymes, and bile that help break down your food. Include bitter herbs and foods in each meal, or take a botanical extract that blends bitter herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, and gentian root
Reishi mushroom: An extensively studied adaptogenic mushroom, reishi has exceptional immunomodulating and antiviral properties. It helps normalize inflammatory cytokines and promotes healthy immune response against threatening microbes.
Rhodiola: Another adaptogen, rhodiola improves stress tolerance by reducing fatigue, supporting energy levels, and improving tissue oxygenation.
Turmeric: This popular spice is well loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Shilajit: An herbo-mineral adaptogen, shilajit has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine for longevity and strength. It’s also an immunomodulator with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Gotu Kola: Best known for improving memory and mood, gotu kola is also great for promoting a normal response to inflammation, balancing stress hormones, and supporting circulation.
Vital Plan is a certified B Corporation — one of only eight supplement companies recognized for achieving the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. If you make a purchase using the link above, EcoWatch may earn a commission.
3. Filter Your Water
Much of America’s tap water has been shown to contain pollutants, so filtering what comes out of your kitchen sink is smart. To be sure you’re using a filter that does the trick, keep these guidelines in mind:
Look for a filter certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
Choose one that removes the contaminants in your water (check your local drinking water quality report to see what’s present).
Change your water filters on time.
4. Choose Safe and Effective Cleaning Supplies
When buying household cleaning products, don’t bring home chemicals that could harm your health more than some of the microbes you’re trying to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work safely; here are some ways to shop wisely:
Look for the Green Seal, Ecologo, or Safer Choice (EPA) seals.
Opt for fragrance-free options.
Avoid triclosan and quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats.” (One tactic is to choose products that don’t advertise as “antibacterial.”)
5. Opt for Non-Toxic Beauty and Personal Care Products
There are a lot of claims made on beauty and self-care products these days, but words alone, like “natural,” “organic,” “non-toxic,” “clean,” “green,” and “eco-friendly,” don’t mean a thing — they aren’t backed by any sort of regulatory or certification processes. Instead, to find non-toxic products you trust, you have to do a little research.
Start by checking reputable ratings databases like Skin Deep (EWG) and Think Dirty. Another good bet: Look for reliable third-party certifications on products labels, including:
Natural Products Association Certified
Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care
6. Get Outside
One more reason to get outdoors beyond combatting cabin fever: The air in natural environments is generally much cleaner than indoor air. For one, outdoor air contains ⅔ less carbon dioxide, high levels of which negatively affect our productivity, sleep, and more.
Forest air in particular contains phytoncides, organic compounds emitted by trees and plants that have been shown to boost our immune system function, plus plants in general help neutralize toxic substances in the air. Forests, open spaces, and open water are also rich in negative ions, which reduce inflammation.
So take your pick of natural environs, and get out there as often as possible — while still maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, of course.
7. Bring Nature Indoors
Plants are natural air purifiers, so bringing some plants indoors can help clear the air in your home. Here’s a list of the top 10 air-purifying plants to consider:
Dwarf date palm
8. Drive Less, Move More
Staying off the roads decreases air pollution, and the fact that many of us are driving less these days is noticeably improving air quality. If your commute is on hold, try to translate some of your usual travel time into getting more physical activity, or sneak in more movement between other normal routines.
Exercise improves circulation, oxygenates your tissues, and enhances the work of the lymphatic system through muscle contractions — all of which make it easier to move toxins out of your body.
9. Practice Forgiveness
Through the practice of gratitude, we stay centered and in the present moment. This allows us to move through situations from our heart. Take time to forgive someone or yourself for things in the past. When we forgive, we expand and open up to endless possibilities.
10. Quit a Bad Habit
Are you a smoker? Pack rat? Chronically sleep-deprived? In a bad relationship? Toxins come into our lives in many forms. Consider if you’re participating in any unhealthy patterns or holding onto anything that no longer serves you, and then find a way to limit those things in your life.
Dr. Rawls is a licensed medical doctor in North Carolina and a leading expert in integrative health. He has extensive training in alternative therapies, and is the Medical Director of Vital Plan, a holistic health and herbal supplement company in Raleigh, NC.
Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Vitabiotics, Fitness & Nutrition Expert is here to tell you all about immunity-boosting foods. Check it out
People are always more likely to get sick during the winter months, whether it is the threat of the common cold or the flu season, and now the novel coronavirus, sickness looms during the colder months. This is why it is extremely important for people to strengthen their immune defences during the winter. Thankfully, there is an array of winter foods that can help our bodies fight off infections and illness.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin A. They can keep the body stay warm while the high concentration of antioxidants, vitamin A and C, and minerals like iron and potassium can help fight off chronic diseases, reverse signs of ageing and even detoxify the body. One should consume sweet potatoes in salads, soups and cooked or stir-fried vegetables as part of a regular winter diet.
Jaggery is a super food that stimulates digestive enzymes and improves digestion because it helps to reduce acidity, bloating and gas. Jaggery also has a mild laxative effect which helps tackle constipation. Eating jaggery also helps to fight cough, cold, flu and other ailments that commonly occur in winter.
Berries are a great source of Vitamin C, an essential vitamin to support a healthy immune system. They contain antioxidants that can help to keep the immune system strong and can help to fight off respiratory infections that are common during the winter cold. Research has found that berries have antibacterial properties as well as anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects, which is why they should be a staple part of one’s diet during the winter months.
Dark greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are wonderful additions to a diet. Leafy greens are high in Vitamins A, C and several antioxidants and this helps to naturally reduce inflammation that stems from running and heavy workouts.
Amla or Indian Gooseberry is another seasonal yet super nutritious food available during the winters. Amla contains about five times the vitamin C present in oranges. Hence, it is a great immunity booster and detoxing food.
Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring are excellent sources of the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which can help to reduce inflammation and activate certain immune cells. Fatty fish are also natural sources of zinc, selenium, and one of the few natural food sources of Vitamin D.
Eating a well-balanced diet is not the cure to ailments and disease, but it certainly helps to support the body’s immune system and boost overall energy levels. Nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids are known for their powerful impact on the immune system.
With the pandemic still in full force combined with cold and flu season, trying to make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape is likely top of mind.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but adding in some vitamin C to your diet for good measure will help, too. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, supports the immune system and helps your body use the iron you get from food.
What is vitamin C?
First, let’s take a look at exactly what vitamin C is.
“Vitamin C is a plant-derived antioxidant that’s found predominantly in veggies and fruit,” explains Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN Head of Nutrition & Wellness at WW (Weight Watchers). “This class of compounds helps to support overall immune function and general well-being by protecting your body’s healthy cells from damage.”
The body also uses vitamin C to make collagen which is a springy type of connective tissue that makes up parts of your body and helps to heal wounds. “ If you don’t get enough or no vitamin C for weeks, you can get scurvy, a condition causing fatigue, gum inflammation and bleeding, joint pain, and poor wound healing,” adds Brenda Braslow, RD.“The daily recommended allowance for adult men is 90 mg per day and 75 mg per day for adult women,” she says.
The benefits of vitamin C
A diet that has the recommended amount of vitamin C can help prevent disease as we age. “Over time, a diet that provides antioxidants, including vitamin C, from plant foods can help to promote healthy cell function, and therefore, help to decrease risk of chronic disease on the whole,” says London. “Vitamin C helps protect vision by inhibiting the progression of cataracts and macular degeneration, it increases resistance to infection, colds, flu, and more,” explains Elizabeth Somer, MS, RDN,and Personal Nutrition Medical Advisory Board Member. She adds that vitamin C can also regulate cholesterol production, help lower blood pressure, and is important in the formation of the stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
There are all kinds of varieties of vitamin supplements in the pharmacy, but are they worth taking? “Most people get adequate vitamin C through their diet. Taking a daily multivitamin can also provide a little additional vitamin C, often about 100 mg per supplement, so an additional high dose vitamin C supplement is not necessary,” says Braslow. London agrees, adding that unless a physician has recommended it for the treatment of a medical condition, then adding in supplements will have little to no benefit. “Vitamin C belongs to a class of vitamins that are water soluble, meaning what your body can’t use, you’ll excrete through the urinary tract as well as your GI tract.”
Below, you’ll find a list of the very best dietitian-recommended vitamin C foods.
Best vitamin C foods
Braslow says 1 medium purple plum has 6 mg of vitamin C. It’s also rich in potassium, vitamin E and the antioxidant lutein.
¼ cup chopped green chili peppers has 91 mg of vitamin C, according to Barslow.
Sweet yellow peppers
The vitamin C content of sweet or bell peppers increases as they mature. “What makes this so great for those of us trying to eat more food sources of vitamin C is that it’s a perfect ingredient and condiment, but also easily adapted to be a snack in its own right,” says London. Just one-half cup of yellow peppers provides 137 mg of vitamin C.
“A half cup of sweet, sliced red peppers arguably has the mostvitamin C of any vegetable or fruit,” says London. She adds that it’s the perfect ingredient or condiment that can be adapted into a snack. “One half cup of peppers will provide up to 95 mg.”
Green bell peppers
One ounce of sauteed peppers provides up to 49.5 mg of Vitamin C.
Oranges or orange juice
One medium-sized orange provides up to 70mg of vitamin C which is 78% of the daily value. A mandarin orange has 24 mg. Start your day off with a glass of orange juice. Braslow says drinking 6 ounces of orange juice has 93 mg of vitamin C.
Braslow says half of a medium guava provides 63 mg of vitamin C. Guava fruit is also a great source of fiber.
“One teaspoon of dried thyme has 1 mg vitamin C,” says Braslow. Even just sprinkling a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme over your meal adds up to 7 mg of vitamin C to your diet.
Two tablespoons of fresh parsley contain 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended daily value.
A half cup of cooked spinach has 9 mg of vitamin C. There are a variety of spinach options including savoy spinach, flat spinach, and semi-savoy spinach.
“60% of the daily value for vitamin C per ½ cup, cooked serving of kale is up to four times what you’ll get from spinach,” says London. She suggests including it when sauteing, as a swap for romaine lettuce in sandwiches, or as part of a hearty winter soup.
“One medium kiwi packs 70% of the daily value for vitamin C,” says London. “ It’s a tasty and slightly-surprising addition to breakfast parfaits or eaten sliced as part of a snack.”
“One cup of broccoli packs up to 220% of the daily value for the nutrient and is easy to cook quickly in a saute pan with a little bit of garlic and olive oil or butter,” says London.
According to London, a ½ cup of cooked brussels sprouts packs 48 mg of vitamin C, which is about 53% of the daily value. “These are a great choice this time of year since you can drizzle olive oil and stick ‘em on a sheet pan for roasting. I’m also loving Brussels sprouts in the air-fryer.”
London says one way to shake things up and get your water and vitamin C in is to add lemons to your drink. “Per half cup, lemon juice will provide more than half of the DV for vitamin C and it also adds tangy tartness to an otherwise unflavored sparkling beverage.”
“All cruciferous veggies provide some vitamin C,” says London. Bok Choy is also rich in Vitamin K.
“Fresh or frozen, strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and provide up to 50% of the daily value for the nutrient per half cup,” says London. She suggests using it as a topping with plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt or as part of a dessert. You can also use it as a simple, lower-sugar swap for jelly on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C and are easy to incorporate, from canned tomatoes used in sauce or stew to fresh tomatoes thrown into a quick chopped salad,” suggests London. She says one cup of cherry tomatoes packs up to 30% of your daily value of vitamin C.
Snap peas, as well as sugar snap peas, are a great source of vitamin C, providing 100% of the daily value in just 3.5 ounces.
Celebrity interviews, recipes and health tips delivered to your inbox.
A cup of cubed cantaloupe contains over 200 mg of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
“A medium baked potato will provide about 30% of the daily value and is another go-to staple that’s easy to add as a side dish to meals, or, my personal favorite, as a quick and easy weeknight dinner of loaded baked potatoes with black beans, tomatoes, scallions, part-skim cheese, greek yogurt, and hot sauce,” says London. Braslow adds that you shouldn’t throw away the peel, which is packed with nutrients!
“A half cup of cooked cauliflower packs up to 1/3 of your [daily value] for vitamin C, and it’s easy to incorporate now more than ever in the form of frozen, pre-prepped cauliflower rice, which you can find in your produce aisle at your local grocery store, or in the freezer aisle, making it that much easier to add to instant-rice to slowly introduce veggies into more meals and snacks,” says London.
Half a grapefruit contains 44 mg of the recommended daily value.
Pineapples are rich in vitamin C, providing 131% of the daily recommendation.
Mangoes are naturally high in vitamin C and beta-carotene.One cup of sliced mango provides 60.1 mg of vitamin C.
Food plays a vital role in ensuring we get all essential nutrients to stay healthy and dairy foods, especially milk not only contains the essential nutrients but includes vitamins and most importantly protein. (Photo source: IE)
By Dr.Dharini Krishnan,
Good health, today, is perhaps one of the topmost focused areas for most of us. While washing hands, daily exercise and a good hygiene routine will minimise the chance of falling ill, the best way to stay healthy is to maintain a good immune system.
Food and healthy immune system
Food plays a vital role in ensuring we get all essential nutrients to stay healthy and dairy foods, especially milk not only contains the essential nutrients but includes vitamins and most importantly protein. Our body requires protein because it aids in generating white blood cells (WBC) which further help in forming the antibodies that fight infections from within. Furthermore, proteins are of two kinds – high biological value and low biological value. Dairy products such as milk, curd and paneer are an easy and affordable way to add high biological value proteins to our diet.
Milk is also an incredible source of vitamin D, B12, magnesium, zinc and thiamine that contribute heavily to immunity building. It is potassium rich and helps in keeping blood pressure in check, diminishing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is also rich in other nutrients like Vitamin A that is significant in promoting healthy skin. All nine essential amino acids – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine – necessary for principal functioning of the body are present in milk. In India, milk is readily available at our doorstep, and consuming only 400-500 ml regularly is enough to add a substantial helping of protein to our everyday meals and building immunity.
However, the main challenge when it comes to milk is that the awareness of daily protein requirements in people differs from city to city. According to the Godrej Jersey South India Protein Gap Study, 80% of consumers surveyed are aware of the importance of protein, but a glaring 68% are unaware of the daily requirement. Quantity of protein differs from individual to individual based on their weight and their activity. For a person weighing between 55 to 70kgs, an average of 55-70 grams of protein would be adequate.
Toned milk or full cream milk?
Many people are of the opinion that milk leads to weight gain due to its high fat content consumption. Godrej Jersey’s South India Protein Gap Report states 48% consumers believe that milk causes weight gain. It is therefore important to know that there are many variants available in the market today such as toned milk (With less fat), full cream milk (high fat), skimmed milk (with 0% fat) etc. and one can also choose the type of milk to extract its benefits according to their choice.
Given that the high biological value proteins come from dairy products such as milk, curd or paneer and proteins helps in fighting the infection by creating antibodies against the infection, adults who are conscious of weight gain can also include dairy products other than milk.
Dairy has always been a fundamental part of most people’s diets due to its robust benefits. And currently, it is even more crucial to shield and boost our immune systems to stay safe and healthy.
The author is a Registered Dietician (RD) with a Doctorate in Science (PhD) and practising as a consultant dietician. Views expressed are the author’s own.
Green tea can help with weight loss by boosting your metabolism, helping you get more out of your workout, and functioning as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.
The best way to drink green tea for weight loss is by brewing true green tea leaves and drinking the tea without any added sugar.
You can drink 3 to 4 cups of green tea per day, and drinking it before a workout may be especially helpful for weight loss.
When people are trying to lose weight, they usually focus on what to cut out of their diet. But adding green tea to your diet can be an easy, healthy addition to your weight loss journey.
While green tea may help you shed pounds, you should check with your doctor to see whether losing weight is a healthy option for you. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, then it may be worth it to try this antioxidant-rich beverage.
Here’s why green tea can help with weight loss.
Green tea may help boost metabolism
Green tea can boost metabolism because it contains caffeine. This allows you to burn more calories and helps with weight loss. “The stimulant properties of the caffeine increase the oxidation rate within the cell’s metabolism which …. increases the calories we burn,” says Hunnes.
In a small 2008 study, researchers gave obese participants either green tea or a placebo over the course of 12 weeks. The participants did not change their activity level or diets. After 12 weeks, those who had green tea lost 7.3 pounds more than those who had the placebo, and burned 183.38 calories more with their resting energy expenditure.
Green tea can help you get more out of your workout
The caffeine in green tea is responsible for this benefit. Caffeine has been shown to enhance performance in athletes when consumed close to competition, says Emily Monfiletto, RD, senior registered dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine. This is because caffeine can make you feel like you are exerting yourself less than you really are and help reduce exercise-related pain, says Monfiletto.
Aside from enhancing performance, green tea may also help you burn more fat during a workout. In a small 2008 study, men were given green tea extract before working out. Their fat burning rate was 17% higher than those who received a placebo.
Green tea is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a good idea to cut back on sugary drinks. Hunnes says green tea can have zero calories from fat if you don’t add sugar to it, and you will get nutrients like antioxidants that you wouldn’t get from drinking soda.
Green tea can also give you more sustained energy, without a crash, opposed to sugary drinks. If you replace sugary drinks with green tea, then you will be cutting back on a significant amount of calories over time, which can help result in weight loss.
“One can of soda typically contains 150 calories. Simply brewed green tea without anything added has negligible calories, so every can of soda that you replace in a day with green tea or any other calorie-free beverage, you would save 150 calories every serving,” says Monfiletto.
How to consume green tea for weight loss
Hunnes says the best way to drink green tea for weight loss is by drinking it brewed either hot or cold, without any added sugar.
You should use authentic green tea made from true green tea leaves. It should say this on the label. Hunnes says herbal teas are usually not made from true tea leaves, so you may want to stay away from those.
There are different varieties of green tea, such as sencha, matcha, and jasmine. They all offer great health benefits. They originate from the same plant, but there are differences in how they are processed, Monfiletto says.
Regardless of the type of green tea, the suggested amount is three to four cups of green tea a day, and there isn’t necessarily a “best” time to consume it, Hunnes says.
However, Monfiletto says if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to avoid drinking it in the afternoon and evenings so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. She says the absolute maximum consumption of green tea should be nine or ten cups a day, based on safe caffeine limits.
Green tea alone likely won’t be a major factor in your weight loss, but it may help make a small difference, especially if you are replacing sugary beverages with this healthy alternative.
To experience the most significant weight loss results, you will also need to make changes to your overall diet and activity level – and green tea might just give you the boost that you need to get going.
The pandemic and other factors in 2020 have not only changed the way consumers relate to food but also how they evaluate their food choices and perceive nutrition in general.
With unprecedented access to research-based information as well as new technological tools, consumers are better understanding the connection between nutrition and wellness, leading to greater personalization of their diets.
According to Texas A&M AgriLife experts, these and other trends in nutrition will continue through 2021 and beyond.
More of that good home cooking
One of the more positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increase in the number of people cooking meals at home, said Odessa Keenan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program coordinator for the agency’s Dinner Tonight initiative, Bryan-College Station.
“For the majority of 2020, people have mostly had to stay at home and have generally been unable to enjoy their favorite restaurants unless it’s for takeout,” Keenan said. “As a result, more people have begun — or returned to — cooking at home. And while this trend began mainly out of necessity, it will likely continue because people have found it to be an enjoyable experience.”
Keenan said home meal preparation allows people to personalize their food choices, is generally healthier and less expensive, saves travel time and makes it easier to watch calories.
“Preparing meals and dining at home also helps with family bonding and creates a more intimate experience than taking the family to a crowded restaurant,” Keenan said. “Not only that, cooking with the family helps teach kids an important skill and can help them create healthier eating habits.”
Keenan said home cooking also allows the flexibility of choosing more healthful ingredients for making meals with fewer calories, saturated fats and sugars.
“As people have become more concerned with their health and more aware of the connection between nutrition and well-being, they are now more focused on preparing healthier meals for themselves and their families,” she said. “This is a trend that has been growing and we expect to continue through 2021 and beyond.”
Keenan said to help provide busy families with quick, healthy and cost-effective recipes that are also tasty, AgriLife Extension developed the Dinner Tonight program. The program provides free recipes and offers free weekly video demonstrations on food preparation techniques, nutrition topics, menu planning and healthy living.
“In recent years, consumers have been eager for more transparency related to the foods they eat and beverages they drink,” she said. “They want to know where and how their food is grown — and what, if any, alterations are made to a product before it gets to their table.”
Seguin-Fowler said consumers look for brands they can trust to deliver a high-quality, consistent, safe experience that meets their personal nutritional needs and preferences.
“Consumers will continue to be more specific about what types of food and products they feel will provide them with safe and nutritious options,” she said. “People are increasingly curious and knowledgeable about ingredients and nutritional content, as well as where their foods come from.”
Seguin-Fowler also noted that shortages of some foods and other food access challenges during the pandemic have drawn consumer attention to alternative food choices.
“People have discovered new foods or have found alternatives to the foods they typically purchase,” she said. “In some instances, they may have decided these foods were as good as or better than their regular choices.”
Greater focus on foods that support the immune system
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made consumers more aware of the importance of nutrition in a healthy immune system.
“Eating a healthy diet is one way to support a healthy immune system,” said Jenna Anding, Ph.D. professor and AgriLife Extension specialist in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Science. “There are many nutrients that benefit the immune system and overall health.”
For example, Anding said the protein found in lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas and nuts can help support the immune system. “So does vitamin A, which is found in carrots, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, apricots and other foods fortified with vitamin A such as milk,” she said. “The same goes for vitamin C, which you get from citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers and tomatoes.”
Anding also noted that vitamin E, which is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter and avocados, works as an antioxidant and can also help support immune function. Zinc, found in poultry, seafood, lean meats, milk, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts, also supports the immune system and plays a role in wound healing.
“These are just some of the nutrients that can play a role in supporting a healthy immune system,” she said. “Other beneficial nutrients include vitamins B6, B12 and folate as well as minerals such as copper, selenium and iron.”
Anding noted the best way to obtain these nutrients is through food.
“No single nutrient is going to protect you from illness,” Anding said. “Choose a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. And check with a registered dietitian or your health care provider before taking any nutritional supplements.”
Vegetarian diets focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which usually leads to a higher intake of dietary fiber and reduced intake of saturated fat.
The commonality among all vegetarian diets is that they eliminate meat, poultry, and fish, but there is variation regarding eggs and dairy products.
People who are pre-diabetic, at high risk for heart disease, or those who have hypertension, may especially benefit from a vegetarian diet.
The vegetarian diet is a popular way of eating thanks to growing research on the health and environmental benefits of reducing meat, as well as concern for animal welfare.
Though the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras was an early proponent of going meatless, humans were probably eating more wild plants than animals for the majority of history, long before the advent of agriculture.
Today, researchers agree that a vegetarian diet can be inherently healthy because it encourages eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans – all of which are chock-full of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.
Though just because a vegetarian diet is healthy, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy diet to start or follow long-term. Especially if you’re used to eating meat multiple times a day.
So if you’re interested in giving vegetarianism a try, here’s a 7-day vegetarian meal plan to try – as well as some additional insight into the benefits and potential drawbacks of this popular diet.
7-day vegetarian meal plan
The commonality among all vegetarian diets is that they eliminate meat, poultry, and fish. However, there is some variation:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products
Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but not eggs
Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy
Vegans eat neither eggs nor dairy
If you’re just starting a vegetarian diet, registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist Jenna Gorham recommends the following 7-day meal plan. Make sure to adjust portion sizes to your own caloric needs.
Breakfast: Whole-grain cereal with berries and oat milk Lunch: Hearty buddha bowl with whole grains, greens, roasted or raw veggies, and dressing or sauce
Snack: Fruit and veggie smoothie
Dinner: Black bean enchiladas
Breakfast: Overnight oats with fresh fruit
Lunch: Avocado toast on whole-wheat bread
Snack: Hummus and crudités
Dinner: Spicy peanut lettuce wraps filled with baked tofu, roasted cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers
Breakfast: Yogurt parfait with berries and grain-free muesli
Lunch: Hummus and veggies in a pita pocket
Snack: Fruit and nut trail mix
Dinner: Kale and squash salad with turmeric dressing
Breakfast: Tofu scramble with nutritional yeast, veggies, and hot sauce
Lunch: Lentil soup
Snack: Crunchy roasted broad beans
Dinner: Vegetarian lasagna
Breakfast: Protein smoothie bowl with fruit and veggies, milled flaxseed, and plant-based protein powder, topped with chopped nuts
Lunch: Falafel platter with tahini sauce and salad
Snack: Sliced apples and peanut butter Dinner: Black bean burrito
Breakfast: 2-ingredient banana pancakes made with mashed banana and eggs (add cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste)
Lunch: Veggie burger with a side of baked sweet potato “fries”
Snack: Peanut butter oat-based energy bites with flaxseed and coconut
Dinner: Vegetarian chili
Breakfast: Two sprouted grain frozen waffles with peanut butter and banana
Lunch: Lentil stuffed peppers
Snack: Cashew yogurt
Dinner: Lemon basil pasta with white beans, chopped cherry tomatoes, and garlic
Health benefits of a vegetarian diet
Research suggests that there are numerous advantages to going vegetarian.
“Vegetarians tend to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, and more Vitamins C and E, folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals,” says Michelle Zive, a registered dietitian and NASM-certified nutrition coach.
“This means vegetarians are more likely to have lower total and bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index, all of which are associated with longevity and a decreased risk for many chronic diseases,” says Zive.
Studies have shown that vegetarians tend to have an overall better quality diet, and a higher intake of key nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium.
Here are just some of the specific benefits that can come from going meatless.
Most notably, a 2012 review found that following a vegetarian diet was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease which may, in part, be due to what a 2014 review found: Vegetarian diets were associated with lower blood pressure. Weight loss and maintenance
Studies show that vegetarians have a lower BMI than meat-eaters and, when combined with a calorie-restricted plan, a vegetarian diet can lead to more weight loss than those which include meat.
One of the reasons why vegetarianism may result in weight loss is that vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, beans, and other staples of this diet are high in fiber, which can help keep you feeling full for longer. These staples are also usually lower in calories per serving than fatty meat and dairy products.
However, Zive says that vegetarianism does not necessarily guarantee weight loss.
“Nuts, seeds, cheese, and dairy are all high in calories since they are high in fat,” she says. “The key is to watch portion sizes, and in the case of eating dairy, look for low-fat and nonfat options. But watch out for low-fat options that are high in sugar.”
Chronic inflammation has been linked to symptoms like weight gain, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, and GI issues, as well as an increased risk of cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
According to Gorham, a vegetarian diet can help to decrease inflammation as it often results in a higher intake of anti-inflammatory foods, such as green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts, and lower consumption of inflammatory foods like red and processed meats which are high in saturated fat. A 2017 review found that following a vegetarian diet for at least two years was associated with less inflammation, however this finding is still only beneficial in theory and requires further direct research.
Current research on the link between vegetarianism and cancer is limited to observational studies, so scientists have yet to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. Still, some research has indicated that vegetarian diets may be related to a lower risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer.
While a vegetarian diet is considered healthy for most people, it’s important to eat a wide variety of produce, legumes, and grains to minimize your risk of any nutritional deficiencies – and opt for fortified foods when necessary, particularly if you’re eliminating eggs or dairy products.
In order to reap the most rewards from this diet, experts caution against eating a lot of highly processed foods and advise choosing whole foods whenever possible.
“Before starting any new diet or eating pattern, consult with your registered dietitian or healthcare professional so they can look at your individual nutrition needs and make recommendations that fit for you,” adds Gorham.