Washing your hands and practising social distancing are practical ways to protect yourself against the Covid-19 virus, but is there anything you can do to help your immune system fight it off if you do come into contact with the virus?
From supplements to the flu vaccine, here’s what works best. •Supplement strategically To be clear, no supplement or vitamin can prevent nor cure infection by the coronavirus. And it’s always best to get essential nutrients primarily from food. However, certain vitamin and mineral supplements can strengthen your immune function. • Vitamin C An essential nutrient, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, unstable molecules known to damage the immune system. • Vitamin E Like vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin E is crucial for maintaining healthy immune function, especially among older people. • Zinc Your body needs this essential mineral to produce certain immune cells. • Omega 3 fatty acids These fats reduce inflammation, which is known to damage immune function. •Eat wholesome foods and drink plenty of water The coronavirus outbreak may affect your routine and increase your stress levels, but don’t let nutrition become an afterthought. Eating an antioxidant-rich, plant-heavy diet is more important than ever. Make vegetables the hero of every meal and snack on fresh fruits. You may have seen social media posts claiming that sipping water regularly prevents you from getting the Covid-19 virus by keeping your mouth and throat moist or by ‘washing’ the virus through your system. There is absolutely no evidence for this. But, drinking plenty of water does help your cells to operate optimally and to eliminate waste, thereby strengthening your immune function. • Get regular exercise Your daily routine may have been upended when the President declared a state of disaster in response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa. But it’s important to keep moving because moderate-intensity exercise mobilises immune cells, helping the body’s defense systems. You may not be able to take your usual exercise class, but you can still take brisk walks, use a skipping rope or explore free online exercise programmes at home. • Don’t skip your flu vaccine While there is a vaccine for the Covid-19, you should still stay up to date with your flu shot this season. The flu vaccine is not effective against this coronavirus, but it will help protect you from the latest strain of the flu, which could weaken your immune system. Because you’re less likely to get the flu if you’ve had your shot, you’ll also be less likely to confuse flu symptoms for symptoms of the coronavirus. Book an appointment for a flu vaccination at a Clicks Clinic by calling 0860 254 257 or visiting Clicks Clinics online. • Stop scrolling and get some sleep When you skimp on sleep, your body produces fewer infection-fighting cells and antibodies. Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night helps to regulate immune function. While you may be feeling anxiety related to the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s tempting to spend lots of time online reading about new developments, it’s important to limit your screen time so that it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. If you suspect you might have the Covid-19 virus, call your healthcare provider. Calling ahead prevents you from spreading or being infected by the coronavirus and allows your healthcare provider to direct you to the right facility. * Source: www.clicks.co.za
Whether you see it splashed across the covers of health magazines or hear about it in your morning fitness class, inflammation is one of the most talked-about topics in the health and wellness space. But with all the information available, figuring out how it applies to you can be overwhelming.
There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic—also known as the good kind and the bad kind. Acute inflammation, the good kind, refers to the body’s natural ability to fight infection or bacteria. When you scrape your knee, your immune system reacts by sending white blood cells to the area, enabling your body to heal itself.
Chronic inflammation, the bad kind, occurs when your immune system is triggered for the wrong reasons, like long-term exposure to irritants, environmental toxins, chemicals, pesticides, and certain foods. Other common causes of inflammation can include a diet high in inflammatory foods and an imbalance of gut bacteria.
In cases of chronic inflammation, your immune system is constantly sending out inflammatory white blood cells because it thinks it’s fighting offenders, essentially putting your body in an ongoing state of emergency. These white blood cells can infiltrate healthy organs and start to cause a slew of issues: plaque buildup in blood vessels that can result in heart disease, weight gain, and obesity; insulin resistance that eventually leads to diabetes; and joint pain and swelling that spur arthritis. Symptoms such as tissue and joint pain, arthritis, puffiness, fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, and digestive disorders can all be signs of chronic inflammation. Fortunately, there are ways to fight it.
Improving your diet to include more whole foods, switching to organic produce when possible, minimizing your exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals, and improving your gut health can all safeguard against inflammation. Note that environmental toxins such as phthalates, parabens, PFAs, PFCs, and chlorine may be present in everyday items like cosmetics, fragrances, plastics, nonstick products, and drinking water, so do a clean-out and replace those products with nontoxic alternatives.
You can also take steps to support gut health, fight inflammation, and boost immunity by taking vitamin D, fish oil, and a probiotic supplement with at least nine different bacterial strains and a CFU of 20 to 50 billion, and swapping out over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for turmeric.
Top Inflammatory Foods
Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, often found in processed foods and high-fructose corn syrup
Artificial trans fats, often found in vegetable and seed oils like grapeseed, canola, and corn, as well as margarine, and shortening
Refined carbohydrates, often found in refined flour, bread, crackers, pasta, cakes, cookies, and sweets
Processed meats like red meat, sausage, bacon, and cold cuts, as well as cheese, mayonnaise, and fried foods, all of which contain toxic AGEs
Omega-3-rich foods: wild-caught fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel), seeds (flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin), and nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds)
Antioxidant-rich foods: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), broccoli, carrots, avocados, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and pomegranate seeds
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spices: parsley and the combination of turmeric and ginger, which decreases inflammation, relieves chronic pain, reduces nausea, and boosts immunity
Healthy fats: avocados, olives, raw nuts and seeds, and high-quality oils, especially avocado, extra-virgin olive, and walnut
Salad Ingredients (serves 3-4)
2-3 cups baby kale
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 cup raw broccoli, finely chopped
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Crispy Salmon Ingredients
2 lbs. wild salmon (cut into 4-8 oz. fillets, skin on)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Ginger-Turmeric Dressing Ingredients
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. grated turmeric (3-inch finger of turmeric)
1 tbsp. grated ginger (1-inch chunk)
2/3 cup olive oil
Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a cast-iron skillet on medium to high heat. While your pan is heating up, dry salmon by patting with a paper towel. Salt the fillets generously, then add to the skillet, flesh side down. Sear for 5-6 minutes without moving the fillets. Flip (they should release easily without sticking) and transfer directly to your oven on broil. Broil for 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate and carefully remove the skins. Arrange salad bed, beginning with baby kale and finely chopped broccoli, then top with crispy salmon fillets. Garnish with sliced avocado, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and parsley. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and pour over salad.
Anti-Inflammatory Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 tbsp. ginger (1-inch cube)
1 tbsp. turmeric (3-inch finger)
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. hemp seeds
1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until thick and creamy.
Vaccines are one of the health measures that have provided the greatest benefit to humanity. They have made it possible to prevent diseases responsible for major epidemics throughout history, such as smallpox.
Just over a year ago, COVID-19 was added to this list. Today we need vaccination again to be able to stop the spread of the coronavirus and regain normalcy.
Available vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing the disease. However, the magnitude and quality of the immune response to vaccines varies considerably between individuals.
They are several factors that can influence in response to a vaccine.
Some refer to individual characteristics, such as age, sex, their genetic information and the presence of other pathologies (such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, both linked to alterations in the immune system).
But, in addition, our immune response to vaccines can vary depending on daily practices in our day to day.
What habits can improve our immune response after vaccination?
One of the key factors to promote the proper functioning of our immune system is sleeping a sufficient number of hours, as well as controlling our stress level.
Correct sleep hygiene allows to properly maintain biorhythms that control the production of hormones that regulate the function of the immune system, such as melatonin.
This hormone is produced during the night and its administration has been linked to lymphocyte survival and increased antibody production.
In fact, several studies have shown how insufficient sleep hours, both in the days before and after vaccination, can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
Stressful situations promote the release of hormones that suppress immune function, like cortisol, and are associated with a decreased response to vaccination.
Alternatively, activities that provide us satisfaction, such as sports or social relationships, favor the release of hormones that stimulate the immune system, such as endorphins.
Consistent with this idea, individuals who regularly exercise moderately and in a positive mood at the time of vaccination develop an increased response of antibodies and other immune response-enhancing molecules (such as cytokines).
Our immune response to vaccines can vary depending on our daily practices. (Photo: Getty Images)
The importance of eating well
Another crucial aspect to improve the effectiveness of a vaccine is to have an optimal nutritional status. There are several nutrients whose link with the immune system has been scientifically proven.
This is the case of vitamin C and folic acid, both with an important role in the production of effective molecules against infection.
Also the creation of collagen, which contributes to the maintenance of our natural barriers against pathogens.
However, studies suggest that isolated nutrient deficiencies appear to have little impact on response to vaccines, whereas a balanced diet, with a balanced supply of energy, seems to be key to strengthening the immune system.
In fact, people with high body mass indexes, and even obese, have lower production of antibodies, T lymphocytes and cytokines after vaccination.
It is also worth considering the relationship between the gut microbiota and responses to vaccines.
The microbiota associated with the intestinal tract plays key roles in protecting against the invasion of pathogenic microbes and regulating the immune system.
This microbiota is home to millions of microorganisms, mainly bacteria from the Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes groups.
The composition of said microbiota is relatively stable, and under normal conditions it presents a greater abundance of Firmicutes, which is associated with a greater antibody response.
A balanced diet, with a balanced intake of energy, seems to be key to strengthening the immune system. (Photo: Getty Images)
Antibiotics, tobacco and alcohol
However, some circumstances, such as the existence of some pathology, changes in diet or the use of antibiotics, can produce alterations in the microbiota that affect our response to vaccination.
In these situations, the consumption of probiotics that restore balance in our intestinal microbiota has shown potentially beneficial effects on the response to vaccination, although it seems to vary according to the bacteria used, the dose or the duration of administration.
Finally, tobacco use directly alters our line of defense in the respiratory mucosa, and has been associated with lower antibody production after receiving vaccines.
Likewise, excessive alcohol consumption has an undesirable immunosuppressive effect when we receive a vaccine; Furthermore, alcohol can alter the composition of our intestinal microbiota and the immune cells present there, favoring the entry of pathogens into our body.
The immune response to vaccination is variable in the population.
Some of the factors that can influence it correspond to daily habits that affect our immune status, and knowing them can help us to modify them in order to boost our immune system so that it responds effectively when we get vaccinated.
* Patricia López Suarez is a professor at the toImmunology Area of the University of Oviedo. This artThe article originally appeared on The Conversation. You can read the original version here.
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What are the 5 types of antibodies and how do they protect our body?
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“Detox” is a term that wellness gurus and food manufacturers love to throw around.
Detox salads? Check. Detox juices? Check. Detox meal delivery programs that cost more than your car payment? CHECK. Here’s the lowdown on whether you should throw down the $$$ for detoxing foods.
Detoxing foods 101
Can you use foods for detoxifying?
You don’t need to take special supplements or eat specific foods to detox your body. You have organs (like your liver) that are specifically designed to remove toxins.
But some foods are important components of a balanced diet that will help keep your detoxification system healthy.
What are the best detoxing foods?
There aren’t specific “detoxing foods,” but food is important to your natural detoxification systems.
Some foods, such as these, contain enzymes involved in detoxification:
How can you detox your body?
In addition to eating a balanced diet, you can support your body’s natural detoxification systems by:
Take a minute to appreciate just how amazing your bod actually is. You prob get exposed to toxic stuff a lot: air pollution, medication, mimosas. Your body works hard to get rid of all these toxins. It detoxes you. (If only it worked on exes.)
Your body’s detoxification system involves multiple organs, including your liver, kidneys, lungs, and intestines. Enzymes found in these areas break down and neutralize toxins. Then, they help you excrete those toxins through your pee, poop, and sweat.
“Detoxing foods” can’t replace your natural systems
Unless you have a medical condition that affects this detoxification system, your body most likely has you covered (even if you’re not living your healthiest life).
And if your body does have issues detoxing itself, that’s not something a kale salad can fix.
For example, most of your body’s detoxification processes take place in the cells of your liver. Folks with liver disease could experience the buildup of circulating toxins such as ammonia. Sometimes doctors will recommend strategies like avoiding alcohol or losing weight, but serious cases can require medication and surgery.
Habits like smoking, misusing drugs and alcohol, and eating lots of ultra-processed foods can overwhelm your body to some extent, which is why these habits have been linked to an increased risk of some health conditions or even death.
The bottom line? It’s your diet and lifestyle as a whole, not individual foods, that can make a big difference in your detoxification system.
OK, now that you understand food isn’t a cure-all for detoxing your bod, here’s how to choose foods that can support your natural systems.
Eat foods that promote detox-friendly enzymes
Detoxification involves certain types of enzymes. Some research suggests that foods and other compounds may help support these enzymes.
For example, garlic, rosemary, chicory, and broccoli may help induce certain enzymes in the CYP2 family that help metabolize things like drugs and pesticides.
Cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and cauliflower), citrus fruits, and resveratrol (a compound found in red grapes and berries) have been shown to induce UGT enzymes. These play an important role in eliminating toxins from your body through your pee and poop.
A bunch of nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, can help keep your body (including the many parts and pathways involved in detoxification) working at its best.
But lots of factors, including your age and sex, affect how your body responds to various foods and nutrients. Whatworks for other people might not work the same way for you.
There’s no evidence that any one food or group of foods can magically eliminate all toxins from your bod. (That’s impossible, BTW.) Research does suggest that a healthy diet can keep your natural detoxification system in great shape, though.
And there are plenty of other #evidence-based tips on how to support your overall health and your body’s natural detoxification pathways:
Load up on fruits and veggies. Not only is a diet rich in fruits and veggies associated with benefits like reduced disease risk and a healthy body weight, but fruits and veggies also contain nutrients and compounds that help support detoxification pathways.
Eat enough protein. Interestingly, some eating plans advertised as supporting detoxification are lacking in protein, a nutrient necessary for the enzymatic reactions crucial to detoxification. Just say no to juice cleanses.
Limit or avoid smoking, drinking, and drugs. Avoiding tobacco products, excessive drinking, and other drug use when possible can help you stay healthy and support the organs involved in detoxification.
Move your body.Exercise = sweat, and sweating is important for detoxification. Some research suggests that exercise can help cells detoxify harmful compounds more effectively.
Work on your gut health. Detoxification enzymes reside in your intestines. Eating plenty of fiber, limiting ultra-processed foods, and managing stress can help you maintain a healthy gut.
Sweat it out. There’s some promising research on saunas and detoxification. Studies suggest that regular sauna use may enhance the excretion of toxicants through sweat.
Stay hydrated. In case you needed another reason to drink that water: Staying hydrated is super important for the detoxification process, including digestion and the functioning of enzymes involved in detoxification.
Try out fasting. Fasting triggers the production of detoxification enzymes and helps cells clean out old material, which helps them stay healthy and function at their best. But it’s def not necessary to fast to support detoxification. If you want to try it out, start with a mellow type of IF like the 16:8 method.
Even though it may be super tempting to try out a powder, supplement, or cleanse that comes with claims of “detoxing” your bod, there’s no evidence that any diet or specific supplement is more effective than a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet and an overall healthy lifestyle.
Why it might seem like a detox diet is “working”
If your typical diet consists of ultra-processed foods, sugary sodas, and lots of cocktails, doing a 10-day “detox” diet that’s rich in fruits and veggies will prob have you feeling like a new person.
But consistency is really what your bod craves. A 10-day “detox” isn’t doing much for your overall health if you go right back to your old ways on day 11.
Nourishing your body with healthy foods and exercising on the reg are the best ways to support your detoxification system. (But limiting your exposure to toxins like tobacco products and alcohol is also helpful.)
Unless you have a medical condition that affects your natural detoxification system, your body already has you covered. And even if you do live with one of those condition (such as liver disease), it’s best to work with a doctor for treatment.
Don’t get caught up in the “detox” hype.
Do this: Follow a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods and limit your exposure to toxicants (like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs). This can absolutely involve eating certain foods that may help support detoxification enzymes, such as cruciferous veggies, citrus fruits, fish, and garlic.
Not this: Buy a $400 weeklong detox meal delivery service.
As we are still battling out the second wave of the deadly coronavirus, dietician, Gauri Anand, shares with us a diet plan with few tips to recover from the Covid infection at a faster pace. Find out more.
Good nutrition is the most important for maintaining good health, particularly at this point of time when the immune system is facing difficulty and is in a weaker state after being contaminated with the deadliest coronavirus.
When the body is fighting an infection, it naturally needs more energy and fluids, hence it is crucial to charge your immune system with the right amount of nutrients than the body usually requires. You must adhere to a strict diet and a healthy lifestyle, especially if you have recently recovered from COVID-19.
There are so many food items that can accelerate the recovery process. Coronavirus is known to affect your immune system extremely, so it is important to get your immunity back by consuming the right food items. Here are a few of them are listed below as shared by a dietician, Gauri Anand.
A good portion of fruits and vegetables
They are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Include all fruits and vegetables like apple, banana, oranges, palak, methi and other leafy vegetables in your diet. People who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as part of their natural diet have better inborn immunity, and they will be able to fight the infection in a much better way.
Covid can severely dehydrate the body. So, it’s evident that you rehydrate your body when you are recovering from Covid by having 8-10 glasses of water every day. Water is definitely the best choice, but you can also consume other drinks like fruit juices and vegetable juices that contain water. Set a target for yourself to drink two jugs of water each day and remember soups, supplement drinks and milk are also highly beneficial. You can also have healthy smoothies.
Lots of protein food
Consume 75-85 grams of protein every day. Protein intake remains the most important through all phases during an illness to protect the body against muscle loss and to repair the damage done to the muscles and tissues. Protein boosts the immune system in the most effective way. They also provide energy to help a patient overcome post-COVID weakness. You can add lentils, whole grains, dairy products, soy products, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds to your diet to combat the deadly coronavirus.
Immunity booster drinks
You can add herbal drinks to your morning routine for boosting your immunity. This can include kadha, herbal tea, green tea and lemon tea.
Here are some suggestions to combat the post Covid fatigue:
Yes, we know that exercising can be difficult when you’re in the recovery phase because your body must be weak. But you need to start with just 15 minutes of workout and you can gradually increase the time. The exercises can be a mix of Yoga and brisk walk post meals.
Healthy eating routine
To speed up the recovery, you need to start having a nutrient and supplement rich meal regimen. You can include foods in your diet that are packed with protein like paneer, tofu, eggs, and green vegetables, fibre rich food to compensate for the lost appetite. Try to have foods that are cooked and simple to process for the body.
Lookout for any alarming signals
If the fatigue does not improve or even if it’s a bad headache, it is essential to keep a note of signs that your body may not be approving of something. In such a case, always consult a doctor.
Slow down and stay calm
There is no rush to get back to your normal routine right after you test negative. Spend time with yourself and listen to what your body is trying to communicate. Small steps will help you to transition to your old everyday routine and be healthy again.
Body+Soul has enlisted the experts to reveal their top 15 tips to help you prepare and protect yourself once the mercury plummets.
#1 Eat the rainbow
It’s understandable if you’re feeling even more concerned than usual about getting sick this winter, says Melbourne-based GP Dr Preeya Alexander, since “symptoms like a runny nose and cough require a COVID swab and even more time off work given that the advice is to stay home if you’re unwell”.
“Uncontrolled stress can negatively impact the immune system,” she tells Body+Soul. “So if you’re feeling stressed, up the exercise, reduce caffeine and introduce meditation.” And make sure you prioritise shut-eye. “Sleep is crucial in supporting the immune system.”
A change in season often means a change in the state of your skin. In winter, the most common complaints are dryness and dehydration. Body+Soul beauty editor Kelsey Ferencak credits three hydrating heroes for keeping skin happy at this time of year: humectants, emollients and occlusives.
“Humectants work to attract and transport water into the skin; think hyaluronic acid, which can help to bind up to 1000 times its weight in water, and glycerine,” she says. “Emollients, which can be found in ingredients such as jojoba oil and vitamin E, are light oils that sink into the skin and work to replace its natural oils. They help to bind cells back together for soft, smooth skin.”
And occlusives, which include oils, butters and squalane, “form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture loss, and mimic the skin’s natural lipid barrier to help protect against temperature changes, wind and external irritants”. However, she adds, you need to take note of the order in which you apply them: always start with a humectant, followed by an emollient, and seal with an occlusive.
#3 Online workouts
Finding it impossible to muster the motivation for that 6am workout? Thanks to last year’s lockdowns, there are more at-home video-streaming workout options than ever before, so the hardest thing is choosing one, says Ben Lucas, director of Sydney fitness studio Flow Athletic.
“Try an online program that gives you access to a lot of variety on demand so you can train how you like, whenever you like.”
#4 Gut health
A strong immune system is essential to preventing colds and flu, but naturopath and nutritionist Belinda Kirkpatrick says it’s also important to consider your gut health.
“With approximately 80 per cent of your immune system living in your gut, it’s crucial to balance the bacteria of the gastrointestinal microbiome to reduce inflammation and fight disease,” she tells Body+Soul. The solution? She advises loading up on “immune-boosting nutrients and vitamins, zinc, iron and protein”.
Fewer hours of daylight, commuting in the dark and a decrease in social occasions such as backyard barbecues and outdoor picnics raise your risk of the seasonal blues. As psychologist Jacqui Manning tells Body+Soul: “The main difficulties people can experience in winter are low mood or feeling sad – there’s even a type of depression called SAD [seasonal affective disorder] – along with a lack of motivation, increased lethargy and increased mental fogginess.”
To counteract this, Manning recommends heading outside on sunny days. “Go into direct sunlight for at least 10-15 minutes. Sunlight can boost vitamin D levels, which can help improve your mood.”
Like your skin, your hair can suffer from dehydration and dryness as a result of artificial heating and hot showers. John Pulitano, creative director and co-owner of Sydney salon Headcase Hair, advises adapting your shampoo and conditioner routine to suit the season. “Opt for something more moisturising, [as well as introducing] a pre-shampoo oil treatment as a way to add extra nourishment to the hair during winter,” he tells Body+Soul.
“Try using a moisture protective barrier leave-in balm [or including] a scalp scrub into your routine.” And wrapping a hot towel around your head post-shower will help to lock in the treatment’s goodness, he adds.
#7 Set a goal
The kilos can easily creep on during the winter months, so to keep your exercise routine chugging along, Lucas recommends “organising your workout schedule and putting it in your diary – keep it as you would any other meeting”. Being held accountable and working towards a goal can also help you to stay on track, he explains. “Sign up to an event like a fun run or obstacle course, which are often held in spring. It gives you something to train for – and a date to be ready by.”
#8 Flu shot
Get your flu shot – and soon. Alexander says now is the ideal time to get it. That way, she adds, “You’re protected for the peak months – usually July and August – [because] the immune response from the vaccine tends to wane after three to four months.”
It’s not just the skin on your face that’s affected by the cold – the scalp, body, lips, and even nails and cuticles can become irritated, sensitive, red or brittle, too. “Keep shower lengths short and the temperature just warm as you can suck moisture from your skin when the water is piping hot,” warns Ferencak.
“And avoid using harsh soaps and astringent products that can dry out your skin.” When you’re heading outside, apply some lip balm to stop your lips from becoming chapped and sore.
#10 Winter warmers
If you start craving hearty, hot food the minute you don your coat, Kirkpatrick says to go for it. But before you reach for the pizza and wedges, take note: she’s saying yes to “warming and nourishing soups, curries and stews”.
These types of dishes have the added benefit of boosting your intake of fibre-rich veg, particularly those that are in season such as sweet potato, eggplant and cauliflower, she says, adding that you should limit the refined sugars and carbohydrates in your diet, and pack meals with legumes, whole grains and zinc-rich lean or red meat, eggs, beans, lentils, oysters and nuts instead. “[Zinc is] an immune-boosting mineral that helps fight off invading bacteria and viruses.”
#11 Squats, push ups and planks
No time for a full workout? Lucas says you can still get the key muscle groups working by doing some squats and push-ups and holding a plank. “Plank is an isometric exercise that’s awesome for your core,” he adds. “You can do it on your hands or elbows – just make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders to ensure it works your core rather than your neck.”
#12 Support immunity
Children. Daycare. Bugs. Repeat. It’s a never-ending loop, and at this time of year in particular, it’s vital to be supporting little immune systems. “Preschoolers contract about six to 12 viral infections per year,” Alexander tells Body+Soul.
There are no quick fixes, so she advises focusing “on the evidence-based lifestyle stuff, like getting enough sleep, keeping active and eating plenty of fruit and veg”. It’s also important to remember that children aged over six months can get the flu vaccine.
#13 Time for a trim
Dull and lacklustre locks weighing you down? Book in for a trim to keep those brittle ends in check, and ask for a nourishing hair treatment while you’re there. “Regular trims help to keep end- and mid-lengths looking clean and fresh, and stop any major damage from occurring,” Pulitano tells Body+Soul.
“A colour gloss creates a barrier from the cold elements, acting as a beautiful protective, shiny-mirror glaze over the hair, as colour tends to become flat during the colder months.”
While a glass of cold water may sound unappealing in winter, dehydration is prevalent during these months, so don’t forget to drink up. “Staying hydrated is essential for maximising physical performance, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, aiding digestion and more,” Kirkpatrick explains. Prefer something warming?
Herbal teas not only help to hydrate, they can also give your immune system a boost. Kirkpatrick recommends brews with ginger, lemon, rosehip or echinacea.
Manning says you can protect your mental health day to day by practising self-care strategies. She recommends deep breathing – “breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven, and exhale for eight” – and getting into nature. “Looking at the sky or a tree for a few minutes will slow your breathing down,” she explains. Also, keep in mind that in the same way certain animals hibernate in colder climates, our bodies need to adjust to this time of year.
“Our natural rhythms are in tune with our surroundings, so don’t expect too much from yourself.”
Ever entered a room and then wondered why? You know you went in for something, but was it to grab your keys, or your headphones, or to turn off the lights? You remember soon enough, but the momentary blip raises a concern: Are you losing your memory? Is it already lost?
Relax for a second, and remember this: You can prevent this from happening.
Science used to think of brain functions, like memory, as semi-mystical processes that were out of our control. Forgetfulness and cognitive decline was accepted as a natural part of aging. Today, we know neither is true. Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll be grabbing grand prizes on Jeopardy! in your golden years, there are plenty of easy, even fun, things you can do to prevent memory loss. Read on to discover Eat This, Not That! Health’s top 21, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn’t Know It.
Good news, java junkies: Your daily habit can be good for your brain. Several studies have shown that caffeine has a positive effect on memory—and the benefits are most pronounced in the people of middle age and over 65. Memory peaks in the morning and declines over the day, but research published in the journal Psychological Science found that older adults who drank two cups of coffee didn’t suffer this “time-of-day” effect.
The Rx: Drink up. Just don’t exceed 300mg of caffeine a day, which is about three cups of drip coffee.
You knew that physical activity was good for your heart, but did you realize it can literally pump up your brain? Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise actually increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory storage.
The Rx:The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, like jogging or swimming.
Just as physical exercise helps keep your body fit, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape—and might keep memory loss at bay.
The Rx: Read or do crossword puzzles. Play cards or computer games. Volunteer at a local charity or school. Take different routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument.
We’re learning more all the time about the far-reaching effects depression can have on our health, from increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease to impairing memory. A study published in the journal Neurology found that people with symptoms of depression had worse episodic memory, a smaller brain volume, and a larger number of vascular lesions. “With as many as 25 percent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems,” said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, Ph.D., MS, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.
The Rx: If you’re experiencing chronic sadness, low mood or a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy, talk to your doctor.
Hanging out with friends can count as a workout for your brain. According to a University of Michigan study, spending just 10 minutes talking with a friend can yield significant improvements in memory and overall cognitive ability.
The Rx: Call or Skype with relatives and friends. Go to the gym. Take classes. Just don’t spend too much time on social media like Facebook: That’s correlated with a higher risk of depression.
Relax more. If you don’t learn to let some things go, you might lose your memory. Researchers at the University of Iowa have linked the stress hormone cortisol to short-term memory loss in older adults.
The Rx: Mindfulness, meditation, unplugging from social media and TV, and regular physical exercise are all very effective at reducing stress.
During sleep, the body heals and recharges itself. The brain, in particular, flushes away toxins, which researchers found lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s. Another study, published in the journal Neuroscience, found that people who were taught specific finger movements (like hitting piano keys) were better able to recall them after 12 hours of rest. “When you’re asleep, it seems as though you are shifting memory to more efficient storage regions within the brain,” said study author Matthew Walker, Ph.D., of the BIDMC’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory.
The Rx: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults of every age get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly—no more, no less. Oversleeping has been correlated with a higher risk of dementia.
A poor diet won’t just add to your waistline—it can detract from your memory. A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology found that unhealthy eating habits can impact brain health. “People are eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little-to-no exercise,” said study author Nicholas Cherbuin, head of the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the Australian National University. “We’ve found strong evidence that people’s unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise for sustained periods of time puts them at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes and significant declines in brain function, such as dementia and brain shrinkage.”
The Rx: Keep your weight in a healthy range—your heart and blood pressure will benefit too. What specific diet has been correlated with better brain health? Read on to find out.
How’s this for a seductive proposition: Oysters are a rich source of zinc, which improves working memory among middle-aged and the elderly, according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
The Rx: Indulge in oysters every now and again. Other foods high in zinc include eggs, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
The sour breakfast staple of yesteryear has only a sweet effect on your brain. Why? It’s high in folic acid. Research published in The Lancet found that study subjects who consumed more folic acid had “significantly better” memory, information processing speed and sensorimotor speed than a group taking a placebo.
The Rx: Add a half-grapefruit to your meal. One caveat: Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with some types of medication. Talk to your doctor. He might advise a multivitamin instead. Other foods that are high in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, other citrus fruits, beans (particularly black-eyed peas), avocados and bananas.
Chilling out can keep your memory intact. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that college students who did 45-minute meditation sessions four times a week scored 60 points higher on the GRE’s verbal exam after just two weeks.
The Rx: How do you practice mindfulness? It’s the groundwork of meditation: Sit in a quiet place, breathe slowly, and concentrate on what you’re thinking and feeling in the present moment. (Here’s a quick guide.)
It’s time to join the millennials in ordering avocado toast: A 2017 study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that monounsaturated fatty acids — like those found in avocados — may improve organizational function in the brain, potentially boosting memory retention.
The Rx: Add avocado to your diet, but don’t overindulge: Nutritionists say one-quarter of an avocado equals one serving. Other foods rich in beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids include almonds, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter, and olive oil.
Here’s a good excuse to revisit the high human drama of Monopoly and Risk: Researchers at the Université Bordeaux Ségalen and the Institute for European Expertise in Physiology found that adult patients who regularly played board games were 15 percent less likely to develop dementia than their non-game-playing peers, and they experienced less depression as well.
The Rx: Get playing. The researchers said bingo and card games count too.
Add this spice to your life ASAP. A study published in PLoS One reveal that mice fed cinnamon extract exhibited fewer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory and cognitive issues, than a control group.
The Rx: Top oatmeal with cinnamon, stir it into your coffee or sprinkle it onto whole-grain toast.
Just like cinnamon, dark chocolate has been correlated with a healthier brain. A 2018 study at Loma Linda University found that eating just one serving of dark chocolate could boost memory, cognition, the immune system and mood.
The Rx: Treat yourself to a few squares of dark chocolate regularly. Look for a bar that’s at least 80 percent cacao.
Here’s another reason to eat your greens (and all other colors of the rainbow): A 2018 study published in the journal Neurology surveyed 28,000 men; those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were the least likely to develop poor thinking skills. “Scientists speculated that the antioxidants and bioactive substances — such as vitamins A, B, C, and E; carotenoids; flavonoids; and polyphenols — found in fruit and vegetables may reduce brain oxidative stress, which in effect may prevent age-related brain dysfunction like memory loss,” says Harvard Medical School.
The Rx: At the grocery store, see red first. Resveratrol, a pigment found in red fruit, like apples, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes, has been linked to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk by researchers at Georgetown University, potentially boosting memory.
Foods high in saturated fat aren’t just bad for your heart—they also tax the brain. Why? They boosting your blood cholesterol level, which forms sticky plaques in arteries. The same process that can lead to a heart attack seems to gum up the neurological works as well. In a study published in the journal Annals of Neurology, study participants who ate the most saturated fats from foods such as red meat and butter performed worse on tests of thinking and memory than those who ate the least saturated fat.
The Rx: An excellent diet for your brain and heart is the Mediterranean diet — lots of fruits and vegetables, plus fish, whole grains, legumes, nuts and healthy fats like olive oil.
If you haven’t permanently stubbed out the cigarettes yet, this might convince you: People who’ve quit smoking have better memory than their still-smoking peers. That’s the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of Alcohol & Drug Dependence. Researchers think the same toxins that damage the lungs can harm areas of the brain dedicated to memory.
The Rx: If you need help quitting, see your doctor. Don’t switch to smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes.
Junk food can turn your mind to mush. Eating highly refined carbohydrates—like white bread, bagels, cookies and sugar-sweetened beverages—and foods high in added sugar can lead to high blood sugar, which has been linked to memory loss and dementia.
The Rx: Choose foods made with whole grains, exercise and avoid empty calories to keep your blood sugar, and memory, in check.
Turns out mom was right—too much TV will rot your brain. A study published in the journal Brain and Cognition found that, for each hour a person between the ages of 40 and 59 spends watching TV, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 1.3 percent.
The Rx: Turn off the tube more often. Socializing and getting physical exercise will boost your brain health too.
Booze is a potent neurotoxin that has damaging effects on the brain. Researchers have found that chronic binge drinking can damage the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is crucial to memory.
The Rx: Experts say women should limit themselves to one drink a day, and men to two. After age 65, men should downsize to a solo drink too. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.
Check the thermometer. Immune health is hotter than ever.
Concerns about personal health reached a fever pitch during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people gained a heightened awareness, while many others started paying attention to immune health for the first time.
But, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a trend or a result of a crisis. Although there isn’t anything that will fully protect you from illness, there are practices that can be implemented as part of a daily routine. Boosting immunity isn’t easy. It just requires commitment.
Immune health isn’t purely physical. It is linked to mental stability more than most realize. Sleep is perhaps the most important factor. In fact, inadequate sleep increases your chances of getting sick. Develop patterns to find regular, uninterrupted time to sleep and simply relax. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages adults to get seven or more hours of sleep each night. Teens and infants need even more. Avoid screen time before bed or use a sleep mask. For trouble relaxing, Jason Freskos incorporates activities to manage stress as part of his nightly routine. Meditation, yoga, or journaling are all positive ways to wind down for the evening.
Exercise is another method to alleviate stress and work out negative energies. And, it doesn’t have to be overly intense to be effective. Even moderate exercise can boost your immune system by promoting a healthy turnover of cell growth and reducing inflammation. Moderate exercise includes walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, or riding a bike. According to The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, people should shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Be conscious of what you’re putting into your body. Limit sugars and stay hydrated. Both are just overall good health practices. Healthy fats, like salmon, speed up your body’s response time when fighting pathogens. Olive oil has been proven to decrease heart disease and diabetes. Yogurt and other fermented foods are great on your plate as well. These contain probiotics, which support digestive health. Finally, fruits, vegetables, and legumes should round out your diet. These whole plant-based foods are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.
With most schools back to seminormal operations across the country — that is, in-person classes with standard COVID-19 precautions) — families have to think about how to keep everyone safe at home and in their respective day-time environments.
If you’re a parent concerned about the fact that Zoom school is ending, take the advice of these seasoned health care professionals, who share 13 ways to optimize your own immune system and your kids’.
1. Follow local public health guidelines
First and foremost, keep up with standard COVID-19 precautions. Your community has guidelines in place for a reason, and following them will help you keep yourself and your kids — and others — as healthy as possible.
2. Get your vaccine as soon as possible
The best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to get vaccinated against the disease. With vaccine doses now widely available, this is one simple step you can take to protect yourself and your family.
3. Make sure your kids are up-to-date on routine vaccines
Children under the age of 16 aren’t yet cleared to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but as a parent, you can make sure they’re current on all of their other routine vaccinations, including the flu shot. This ensures their immunity isn’t compromised due to the presence of another pathogen.
4. Continue with regular health appointments
Dr. Emily Hu, chief medical officer at Evernow, says she’s dismayed at how many people decided to forgo regular health appointments and check-ups during the pandemic. She and her children kept up with their normal appointments, and because of that, Hu feels she was able to keep her family as healthy as possible.
If you haven’t had a physical in over a year, now may be the time to do so. Yearly physicals are the best way to catch early signs of disease and adjust your lifestyle or medications accordingly.
For now, getting some fresh air certainly can’t hurt.
6. Daily physical activity
Exercise is one super simple thing you can do to enhance the functioning of your immune system. It doesn’t have to be structured or boring — get outside with your kids for a round of kickball or go on a family walk. Just 30 minutes of light activity each day can make a big difference.
7. Get enough sleep
“There are some fairly simple things that you (and your kids) can do to keep your immune system in its best shape,” says Dr. Kim Boyd, HealthQuarters medical advisor. “To start, getting adequate sleep is very important for optimal immune function. Studies have shown that people who don’t get adequate sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus.”
8. Address stress levels
Stress increases the body’s hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol over time impair our immune response, Boyd says. “Interestingly, the immune implications of stress go beyond just an increased likelihood of becoming ill,” she says. Prolonged stress also impacts your ability to develop antibodies after getting a vaccination, according to several studies.
“The good news is that stress-reducing interventions that anyone can do, even youngsters, have been shown to help immunity,” she adds. Techniques like basic mindfulness, meditation, journaling and making time for rest can all help.
9. Minimize sugar intake
Sugar is an inflammatory agent. Reducing your sugar intake and that of your kids can reduce overall inflammation, Kreps says, thus improving general health. Chronic overconsumption of sugar can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation, which leads to a number of diseases. Not only that, but doctors say eating too much sugar can temporarily weaken your immune system.
10. Evaluate caffeine consumption
If you overdo it on the caffeine, you might be unknowingly impairing your immune system. Caffeine raises cortisol levels, and prolonged cortisol imbalances can negatively affect your immune system.
A mild amount of caffeine can actually benefit your immunity, and drinks like tea and coffee contain high amounts of antioxidants. Just remember, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.
11. Reduce alcohol consumption
Like sugar, alcohol is a major contributor to inflammation. Drinking alcohol suppresses your immune system both by causing inflammation and by directly affecting the immune cells in many different organs. For example, alcohol damages immune cells in the lungs that, when healthy, clear out pathogens from airways.
12. Eat plenty of antioxidants
Fill your plates with antioxidant-rich foods, such as leafy greens, berries, cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli, and various spices. Antioxidants combat oxidative stress in your body, a key function in your body’s fight to stay healthy.
While it’s great to be taking steps to support kids’ immune systems, it’s also extremely important for parents to take care of themselves in order to help avoid kids ultimately being exposed by adults, says Amy Beckley, co-founder of Proov.
“Sure, kids will get exposed to things — and this is often healthy for building the immune system — but in some cases, it’s not so great,” Beckley says. As an obvious example, parents don’t want to give their kids the flu or COVID-19.
Parents can support their immune system by keeping all of the above tips in mind, especially following COVID-19 precautions, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
In the Philippines, the leading causes of death among women are heart disease and cancer. However, the third leading culprit in claiming the lives of women may surprise many—and that is pneumonia.
With people all over the world living under the Covid-19 pandemic for over a year now, it is important for the threat of pneumonia to be taken seriously as well. While symptoms can include cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing, pneumonia is far from a simple flu.
As Covid-19 is a respiratory illness, studies have shown that pneumonia is one of the most common diseases associated with contracting Covid-19. The effects of Covid-19 pneumonia can be quite severe, ranging from fluid accumulation in the lungs, difficulties taking in oxygen or expelling carbon dioxide from the body, and lung damage due to inflammation.
What can women do to prevent the onset of pneumonia? One way is to boost your immune system—the body’s natural line of defense against bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. However, the immune system is precisely what it is—a system—and different steps must be taken to ensure it functions as best as it can.
Fortunately, a lot of general healthy living strategies have been seen to help boost immunity. Here are a ew little tips, tricks, and lifestyle changes you can do to strengthen your immunity:
Eat a balanced diet
A healthy, balanced diet composed of fruits and vegetables plays a vital role in staying well. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are high in vitamin C, which are key to fighting infections. On the other hand, vegetables such as broccoli are packed with antioxidants to help immune responses, while treats like yogurt can be a good source of vitamin D to help boost the body’s natural defense against diseases.
In the South East Asian region, the Philippines has the 4th highest smoking prevalence rate among female adults, and the highest among female youth. Numerous studies have established the harmful effects smoking has on the body, particularly the lungs. Further studies have also revealed that both male and female habitual smokers who smoke 20 cigarettes daily were almost three times more likely to catch pneumonia than non-smokers.
Wash your hands
Keeping your hands clean is one of the simplest yet most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. Hand washing with soap has been proven to help prevent the spread of the flu, pneumonia, and other major illnesses.
Studies have shown that regular exercise is beneficial for immune function. The short-term benefits of exercise include helping the body locate pathogens, and in the long term, regular exercise slows down changes to the immune system that occur with aging—possibly reducing the risk of getting infected by a serious disease.
Get vaccinated against pneumonia
Aside from making these lifestyle changes, doctors also recommend getting vaccinated against pneumonia. Vaccines work by introducing antigens into the body, for the immune system learns to recognize the invading bacteria and produce antibodies, for them to remember in the future.
Much like a diet plan, or a commitment to fitness, getting vaccinated is one of many measures that works together to ensure your immunity functions at its best. By keeping yourself healthy, not only do you have more strength and energy to work on your goals, but also to enjoy the fruits of your labor with your loved ones.
Take #AShotForEveryJuan and help yourself and others stay healthy.