5 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick Right Now, According to a Nutrition Expert

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick Right Now, According to a Nutrition Expert

  • January 19, 2021

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 Failspecializes 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.

sweet and ripe mandarines (tangerines) with leaves
Shutterstock

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.

Be sure to check out 5 Foods High in This Vitamin That Can Help Protect You From COVID-19 for tips on which foods are the richest sources of the antioxidant.

vitamin d
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“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.”

RELATED: 5 Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency You Should Never Ignore

zinc
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“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.

Elderberry gummies

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 News that 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.

magnesium
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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.

Now, be sure to read These Vitamins May Help Prevent COVID, Study Finds.

Ways to Strengthen immune system

Best ways to naturally strengthen your immune system

  • January 16, 2021

Amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, a stronger emphasis has been put on our health and wellbeing. While there are tons of ways to care for your health, building your immune system is a great way to start adopting a healthy lifestyle. Boosting your immune system will effectively reduce your risk of developing health conditions, such as diabetes and several others.

If you are among the masses, who are proactively searching for ways to protect their health and wellbeing, understanding your health insurance is essential. Even ex-pats living abroad should compare deals with the best Global Health Insurance Companies to find insurance that suits their pockets and meets their healthcare needs.

While there’s no doubt that health insurance is crucial, we have listed the best natural ways how you can strengthen your immune system to enjoy improved overall health.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

We often overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep. When considering the general chaos and stress of daily work and personal matters, quality sleep is often a far off luxury for most of us. However, there some simple ways that you can naturally enhance the quality of your sleep.

Quality Sleep
Woman sleeping on the Bed | Image credit: @all_who_wander/Unsplash

Natural sleep remedies such as lavender aromatherapy and various relaxing supplements are a great way to help combat insomnia and sleeplessness. What’s more, adjusting your sleep routine to adopt healthy habits such as; avoiding caffeine, only eating light meals, and restricting your screen time can also help you wind down with a lot more ease.

Create A Healthy Eating Plan

Your diet has a notable impact on your immune system and your overall health. While fast foods and convenience meals may lure us in as practical food solutions, processed foods, and unhealthy options can increase your chance of developing diabetes and even various cancer types. Switching up your eating plan to cut out unhealthy foods. And start including healthy organic options will support your immune system as well as your quality of life.

Healthy Eating Plan
A person Holding A plate of food | Image credit: Buenosia Carol/Pexels

The benefits of eating healthy include an improved mood, enhanced energy levels, better sleep quality, and several other attractive lifestyle advantages. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a nagging effort either, as there are several informative meal planning guides online that will help you prep your meals and cut down your food preparation time dramatically.

Adopt Active Lifestyle Habits

Physical activity is extremely beneficial in building and strengthening the immune system. While you don’t have to spend all your time at the local gym. Even half an hour of exercise each day can truly transform your life. Exercise will boost your immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your sleep quality, and enhance brain functions and your general mood.

Regular Excercise
A Young Exercising | Image credit: Jonathan Borba/Pexels

If you are just getting started, it is best to gradually introduce exercise routines to your day, as strenuous workouts are not entirely suitable for beginners. You could start with a morning run or even a few push-ups and sit-ups each day until your body is prepared for more extreme workouts.

Stick To Water

Sugary drinks can decay your teeth, cause gum disease, negatively affect your mood, and weaken your immune system. We all know staying hydrated is essential, although choosing water over sugary drinks and caffeine drinks is a great decision that will massively benefit your health.

Drink Water
A glass of water in hand | Image credit: cottonbro/Pexels

Clean water will help flush out your system by helping your kidneys clean your body. Even though you can enjoy some other beverages, it is best to restrict the intake of unhealthy choices and stick to water as much as possible. Because dehydration can increase your risk of developing an illness, staying hydrated should be a daily top priority for everyone.

Manage Stress And Anxiety

Millions of people worldwide suffer from crippling chronic stress and generalized anxiety disorders on a daily basis. Protecting your mental health is just as important as supporting your immune system. While everyone endured some level of stress, stress is well known for its ability to negatively affect the immune system.

Food Supplement
A person holding a tablet in hand | Image credit: Polina Tankilevitch/Pexels

Developing skills to manage stress and anxiety will benefit your immune system, overall health, and your everyday quality of life. You may find that natural remedies for stress and anxiety are far safer than commercial medications as they list far fewer side effects. However, it is still best to use natural stress and anxiety remedies under your healthcare practitioner’s expert guidance.

Choose Supplements With Care

There are a few natural supplements out there that can help you strengthen your immune system and stay clear of illnesses such as the flu and others. Vitamin C supplements are likely the most popular option for supplements to build a more robust immune system.

Food Supplement
A person holding a tablet in hand | Image credit: Polina Tankilevitch/Pexels

However, vitamin D, zinc, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic supplements can also support your immune system and enhance your overall health and wellbeing. When opting for supplements to boost your immune system, it is best to choose one supplement that has been third party tested. Vitamin C and D are the most popular options, and when considering how effective these supplements are, they may be the better choice.

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Six ways to support your gut and immune system this winter

  • January 15, 2021

A healthy gut is key for overall health and affects so much more than just our digestion. With links to mental health, heart health, sleep, skin conditions and more, it’s no wonder the gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’.

And did you know the health of your gut can also have a big impact on your immune function?

“Around 70% of your immune system is actually located in your gastrointestinal tract” says Corin Sadler, nutritionist at Higher Nature (highernature.com). “This means they are very closely linked and, in many ways, one in the same.

“So a healthy gut, filled with diverse bacteria, can be our best weapon in fighting off illnesses.” So, what can you do to help keep your gut in good shape this winter?

1. Get more fibre in your diet 

Are you getting enough dietary fibre? (iStock/PA)
Are you getting enough dietary fibre? (iStock/PA)

“A diet that’s high in fibre is key for good gut function,” explains Sadler. “Fibre helps with our digestion and supports a healthy gut microbiome, as it ‘feeds’ our good bacteria to help it thrive.” We generally don’t eat enough fibre, particularly if we’re consuming a lot of processed foods. The average intake is 17.2g a day for women and 20.1g a day for men, falling short of the recommended average intake for adults of 30g per day.

To boost your fibre intake, Sadler recommends adding a diverse range of plant-based sources to your daily menu, such as different fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses, as well as healthy cereals, wholegrain bread, pasta and brown rice. Keep things interesting and diverse by mixing up your high fibre foods each day. Look for foods containing high levels of prebiotic fibre too, such as leeks, asparagus and bananas.

2. Take live bacteria daily 

Live bacteria is sometimes believed to help ‘restore’ the balance of good bacteria in your gut. “When there’s an imbalance of bad and good bacteria in our body, this can impact our overall health.” Sadler explains.

Live yoghurt, kefir and fermented foods and drinks are among popular options. There are also probiotic supplements (although supplements should always be secondary to a healthy, varied diet). Sadler recommends daily probiotics such as Higher Nature’s Pro-Intensive Extra (highernature.com), and suggests looking for one that contains 20 billion live organisms per dose and a variety of bacteria strains that work harmoniously to support the natural environment of the gut.

3. Increase your step count 

Daily walks can help to keep your gut healthy too (iStock/PA)
Daily walks can help to keep your gut healthy too (iStock/PA)

Getting regular exercise is also linked to better gut health. “We all know exercise is good for almost everything, and this includes our gut health” Sadler explains.

“A 2017 study found exercise is linked to increased diversity of gut bacteria, which is key for a healthy microbiome. And while more research is needed into this area to prove exactly why exercise is beneficial for the gut, the good news is that even gentle exercise, like walking and yoga, can help.” 

4. Eat ginger 

Stock up on fresh ginger (iStock/PA)
Stock up on fresh ginger (iStock/PA)

Ginger doesn’t just taste great when whizzed in a healthy green juice, it also packs some pretty impressive gut health benefits.

Formulate Health (formulatehealth.com) pharmacist Mina Khan explains: “Ginger reduces nausea caused by gut problems and stimulates the digestive system, which helps keep you regular and maintain a healthy gut.

“What’s more, ginger has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for sufferers of IBS. From ginger tea, to using it in stir-frys and curries, there are so many possibilities when it comes to this wonderful spice.” 

5. Cut down on artificial sweeteners 

“Artificial sweeteners found in soft drinks may be harmful to gut bacteria and ‘damage’ the health of our microbiome,” Sadler says. “This includes aspartame, which is found in diet soft drinks.

“While these diet soft drinks are often the preferred choice for the health-conscious, research has found that toxins are released when gut bacteria is exposed to the sweeteners.

“Cutting down on drinks with artificial sweeteners – in exchange for naturally flavoured water, with fresh lemon, lime or cucumber – where possible, is much better for our gut health,” she adds.

6. Take steps to manage stress 

It’s a stressful time for many of us right now (iStock/PA)
It’s a stressful time for many of us right now (iStock/PA)

It’s a worrying time for lots of us right now, but being mindful of managing our stress levels can really make a difference.

“Stress can activate a negative chain reaction in the body, including the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can change the balance of good bacteria in the gut, affecting communication pathways between the gut and the brain,” says Sadler.

“Stress can also affect our digestion and the movement of food through the gut. For some people, it can speed digestion up and for others it can slow it right down, which can result in a host of different gut issues, from bloating and constipation to diarrhoea.” There are loads of things that can help offset stress, exercise or moving our bodies being one of the biggest. Fresh air, watching a comedy, putting your phone on silent and cooking a nourishing meal – every little helps.

10 Natural Ways to Detox and Boost Your Immunity at Home

10 Natural Ways to Detox and Boost Your Immunity at Home

  • January 14, 2021

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:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. Raisins*

(*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

  1. Avocado
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onion
  5. Papaya
  6. Frozen sweet peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew
  15. Kiwi

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.


Shop Vital Plan Pure Chlorella

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.”)
  • Consult the EWG’s list of safe and effective products for guarding against coronavirus.

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:

  • USDA Organic
  • EWG Verified
  • Made Safe
  • NSF/ANSI 305
  • 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:

  • Areca palm
  • Lady palm
  • Bamboo palm
  • Rubber plant
  • Dracaena
  • English ivy
  • Dwarf date palm
  • Ficus
  • Boston fern
  • Peace lily

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.

Reposted with permission from Vital Plan.

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Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System

  • January 13, 2021

Many of us are genuinely interested in knowing ways by which we can improve our immune systems. Overall, the immune system on its own can handle a host of disease-causing pathogens. However, there are some instances in which the immune system is going to fail and a pathogen can penetrate the system and lead to illnesses and the person becomes sick. Many are concerned about if anything can be done to boost the immune system. 

The concept of boosting your immune system is a good one but can be tricky in execution. This is because the immune system itself is a collection of different systems and not just an individual entity. For the immune system to function properly there is a need for proper balance. It is a very complicated system and one that researchers are still trying everything possible to unravel. 

 That said, some other steps can be taken for you to boost your immune system. The very first step to take in this regard is to ensure that you adopt a healthy lifestyle. It is good for you to adhere to good health protocols as outlined by health professionals and this is the most effective move you can make to ensure that you are always healthy and your immune system is in good status at all times. 

Adhering to excellent health guidelines means that you do not smoke things like tobacco but that is not all. You must also consume a diet that has a lot of vegetables and fruits. There is also the need for regular exercises and you must make sure that you keep your weight under control. For those who drink alcohol, it is also important to ensure that the quantities remain moderate. 

There is also a need to sleep properly for about seven hours daily while also keeping stress to the barest minimum. Another effective step here include the prevention of infection, you should make sure that you wash your hands regularly and also cook substances like food properly before consumption. 

 There also some products that claim they can assist you to support or boost your immunity. Well, the thing here is that you should not proceed to take any of these products without getting due consultation done with your physician. This is because some of the products marketed are not what they claim to be and you may end up harming yourself if you do not get professional advice on how to go about it. 

 Our immune system becomes reduced in capability as we age and that explains why infections and diseases like cancer are more observed in older citizens. The elderly are even more likely to suffer from certain conditions or even die from them. However, what is clear is that they can also benefit greatly from the steps that have been outlined above. Ensuring that your immune system remains in top shape means that you will be able to remain healthy for as long as possible. Taking vaccines is also one way by which one can properly boost the immune system. To shop for immune boosting medicines and health products check out https://www.pricepropharmacy.com/products/

7 practical ways to be more grateful this year

7 practical ways to be more grateful this year

  • January 9, 2021

Science suggests that practising gratitude and actively trying to be more grateful every day can make us mentally and physically healthier. It can help us be happier, less anxious and boost our immune systems.

One study, by scientists at the University of California, found that people aged between eight and 80 who consistently practice gratitude enjoy a number of physical benefits, including better sleep, a stronger immune system and less daily aches and pains.

They benefit mentally too, feeling more joyful and optimistic. They were also found to be kinder to others and more helpful, generous and compassionate. Finally, grateful people were found to feel less isolated and lonely.

Remember… Gratitude is about acknowledging and giving credit to small everyday objects, activities and emotions, as well as big life events and achievements. It’s about not taking smaller details for granted and finding joy in the seemingly mundane, like a cup of tea, a houseplant or local walk.

Why is gratitude so good for us?

One of the University of California scientists, Robert Emmons, lists the reasons why gratitude is so beneficial. He says:

  1. “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions.”
  2. “Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret — emotions that can destroy our happiness.”
  3. “Grateful people are more stress resistant.”
  4. “Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.”
    1. In conclusion, being grateful and actively seeking things to be grateful for makes us, our lives and our outlooks more positive. This, in turn, has benefits on our mental and physical health.

      there is always something to be grateful for

      Cn0raGetty Images

      How to practise gratitude and be more grateful

      So, how can we make 2021 the year we are all more grateful? Here are seven practical ways to practise gratitude every day…

      1. Keep a gratitude diary

      Keeping a gratitude diary is an easy way to carve out 10 mins of your day to be actively grateful. Slot it into your routine whenever suits you best time-wise or when you are most in need of a positive boost. Some choose to fill in their diary – which normally consists of writing a short list of the things you are grateful for that day – in the morning to kick start the day, or just before bed to summarise it. Some diaries, if you choose to buy an official one, will ask you to reflect in both the morning and the evening.

      “I started a gratitude journal during a period of anxiety to help me focus on something positive, as opposed to how on edge I felt. Every day before going to sleep, I’d write down three things I was grateful for that day, however big or small,” says Country Living journalist Emma-Louise Pritchard.

      “At first, I thought the idea was a bit gushy but, after a few days, I found it really helped. I looked forward to writing my little list and found myself looking for things to put on it throughout the day – like a particularly yummy meal, a funny conversation with a friend or an hour of sunshine. It pivoted my thoughts and gave me a more positive outlook. Even on anxious days when I could have easily gone to bed feeling dismal, I realised I was always able to find a couple of things, however small, that had made that day a little easier.”

      2. Multitask less

      Being grateful for actions, activities and feelings comes hand in hand with mindfulness. We can’t truly appreciate something if we aren’t experiencing it fully. Try to do one activity at a time, like eating a meal without watching TV or talking on the phone at the same time. You’ll be more appreciative of that meal.

      3. Take daily walks

      Go on a daily walk and make it your mission to find everything you like and appreciate about it. That could include the weather, the views or the people/shops/houses you pass on route. It could be the way you feel on your walk that day, the comfy jumper you’re wearing or even the fact that you motivated yourself to get out and walk in the first place. You can walk anywhere – country, town, park, garden, residential street or nature reserve.

      4. Say thank you to someone every day

      Do you say ‘thank you’ enough? You probably thank people for the sake of being polite, like cashiers or shop assistants, but what about all the other people who contribute to your life? Try thanking people more regularly – be it the refuse collector, your best friend, your partner, colleague or even yourself.

      5. Find the silver lining in everything

      When something happens and your default reaction is a negative one, try your hardest to find some kind of silver lining in that situation, however small. Is it raining? At least the garden will get a good drink. Do you have to spend more time at home? At least you have somewhere to call ‘home’. Has a pet sadly passed away? Focus on remembering the joyous times you spent with them.

      This method, of course, might not apply to every situation but it’s a good thought process to practice when you are ready.

      6. Be grateful to strangers

      A smile, a ‘thank you’ or a short conversation can go a long way in spreading joy and gratitude from person to person. Be the one to help make gratitude contagious this year.

      7. Stop looking for distractions

      In a world where we are constantly stimulated, be it by the TV, our phones, social media or working from home, it can be helpful to remember that there’s nothing wrong with the mundane and ordinary. Even simple silence should be appreciated.

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    3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

    3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

    • January 9, 2021

    While maintaining a high-functioning immune system is always important, nowadays, it really seems to take on an added level of importance. A global pandemic is a scary event to deal with, and having a strong immune system––along with socially distancing and wearing a mask––is your best line of defense.

    Of course, knowing exactly how to give your immune system the boost it needs is a little more complicated than putting back a couple glasses of OJ––but that’s a start. While staying active and fit is extremely helpful, you can still strengthen your immunity without breaking a sweat––or even opening your eyes, for that matter. Begin with incorporating these three simple changes into your life to give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy and safe, during flu season and beyond.

    Get Plenty of Sleep

    Don't be this guy.
    Don’t be this guy. Shutterstock

    16 hours should be more than enough time to complete everything you need to do in a single day. Those other eight hours? Your body needs those for rest and recovery. Not only does getting a full eight hours of sleep help you feel clear and focused for the next day, but it also gives your immune system time to reboot and recharge. Countless studies have correlated sleep and improved immune function.

    In one such study, the scientists were able to focus on T-cells––which contribute to the body’s immune response by identifying and directly killing infected host cells, as well as activating other immune cells in the process. The scientists found that getting sleep was directly linked with improved T-cell function. 

    Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work,” said study co-author Luciana Besedovsky.

    While everyone is a little different, most scientists suggest getting between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. But don’t overdo it either, as oversleeping has been proven to do more harm than good.

    Eat a Colorful Diet

    Opt for a colorful diet.
    Opt for a colorful diet. Shutterstock

    If you find yourself waiting in line at the fast food drive-thru on a regular basis, you should probably reconsider your dietary choices. It may be a cliché, but it’s accurate: “You are what you eat”. So if you are filling your gut with a double cheeseburger, large fries and chocolate shake, the only thing you are satisfying is your taste buds.

    While you can always splurge for the occasional burger, pizza or hot wings––you need to keep it in moderation. Give your immune system the tools it needs to fight infection by ensuring your diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables––specifically immune-boosting foods like citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger and leafy greens.

    As a simple rule of thumb, eat a colorful diet. Vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables are generally the richest in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

    Take Vitamins to Help Your Immune System

    Vitamins and supplements are a good way to avoid deficiencies.
    Vitamins and supplements are a good way to avoid deficiencies. Shutterstock

    While its always best to get your nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat, taking vitamins and supplements is certainly not a bad idea. While there is no magic pill or vitamin that’s proven to totally protect you from getting sick, they help in areas where your diet may be lacking.

    For example, micronutrient deficiencies can have a negative impact on your immune response. And with our busy lives, you’re probably not paying too much attention to which micronutrients you might be skimping out on. To cover your bases, start by taking a daily multivitamin that will contain trace amounts of most micronutrients.

    Additionally, three immune-boosting vitamins worth taking are vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc. While everyone knows about the benefits of vitamin C in fighting infection, it’s also important to recognize the role vitamin D and Zinc play.

    While we normally get our Vitamin D from the sun, that’s harder to do during winter. And with studies showing that  low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a greater risk of developing respiratory conditions, a vitamin D supplement is a good idea. Zinc is another great immune fighter and studies have shown that increased concentrations of zinc can inhibit the replication of viruses.

    Lastly, remember that taking a super dose of any one vitamin will not give you “super-immunity.” Instead, focus on avoiding nutrient deficiencies in any one area, eating healthy and getting plenty of Zs.


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    Expert Speak: Easy Ways To Boost Immunity This Season

    Expert Speak: Easy Ways To Boost Immunity This Season

    • January 5, 2021
    Immunity

    Boosting one’s immunity during such unprecedented times is more critical than ever before.

    Immunity

    Image: Shutterstock

    Now with the cold winter months upon us, there are more chances of falling sick, given that our bodies are more prone to common illnesses. Therefore, it is important to have a robust immune system. A fortified immunity means that our bodies have an innate resilience and a lower risk of falling sick.

    These simple measures can help in strengthening your immunity and keeping things in order.

    Get Enough Sleep

    Immunity

    Image: Shutterstock

    Sleep and immunity go hand in hand. For an efficient immune system, getting enough sleep is of paramount importance. Make sleep a priority. It’s the time when the body restores and regenerates itself. A minimum of six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is essential and vital for the body’s development.

    Maintain A Routine

    Maintain A Routine

    Image: Shutterstock

    Our bodies love routine. Align yourself with the natural rhythms of nature. Try to go to bed the same time everyday and wake up at the same time, as a healthy circadian rhythm is a key to good health. Try having all your meals around the same time. It helps in stabilising moods, keeps digestion on track and contributes to overall well-being.

    Consume Immunity-Boosting Foods

    Consume Immunity-Boosting Foods

    Image: Shutterstock

    ‘You are what you eat’. Nutrients from the food that we consume are imperative to our immune system and our bodily functions as well. Try to include more immunity-boosting foods in our diet. Focus on eating foods that are natural, seasonal and locally-grown for a wholesome diet. Have more leafy vegetables, greens, legumes. Include superfoods and vitamin C rich ingredients in your daily diet.

    Exercise Regularly

    Exercise Regularly

    Image: Shutterstock

    Walk, jog, run, do some yoga, or invest time in any physical activity. Focus on having an active lifestyle, no matter how busy or lazy you get. Any movement helps. Try doing it regularly as consistency is key. Your body will definitely thank you in the long run!

    Manage Your Stress

    Manage Your Stress

    Image: Shutterstock

    Stress affects the body, mind, and your overall health. Indulge in activities that help you manage your stress. It could be your favourite hobby, meditation, journaling or any self-care activity.

    Speak to a mental health professional if you find that you need help with managing your mental health. Make unwinding and relaxing a constant in your life. Consistently taking care of yourself is the best way to support your body’s overall immunity and health. 

    Also read: New Year Challenge – Vinyasa Yoga For Confidence And Strength

    5 easy ways to boost your health and wellbeing in 2021

    5 easy ways to boost your health and wellbeing in 2021

    • January 2, 2021

    Add some extra protein to your diet

    Protein is essential to help maintain muscle strength as we age, and adding protein shakes to your diet is a great way to boost your intake without having to worry about cooking. Protein shakes can help keep you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day, and may help you to burn fat, if you’re looking to lose weight.

    You can purchase protein powders in a range of flavours and brands from the Sassy Marketplace, and they all claim to provide different benefits to your health and wellbeing. For example, the keto-fit plant protein may assist with putting your body into the ketosis stage and in turn burn fat. To see what protein powder options are available, click here.

    Switch to a healthy sweet alternative

    Going on a health kick doesn’t mean you have to get rid of sweet treats all together – you can simply choose the healthier option.

    There’s such thing as a healthy hot chocolate and believe it or not, it’s packed full of goodness, including turmeric. Unlike your regular hot chocolate, it’s made from a combination of turmeric, cacao, cinnamon, coconut sugar powder and black pepper. It might sound like a strange mix, but it’s sure to beat that sugar craving, while also supporting your health and wellbeing. Plus, you won’t be beating yourself up afterwards for “cheating” your diet and ruining your hard work.

    Meanwhile, if you’re after something filling and delicious for breakfast during this hot summer, you can’t go past a probiotic breakfast smoothie, especially one that’s chocolate flavoured. It combines pea protein and chia for a complete plant-based protein source, plus ground oats for a low GI, high-fibre boost and five billion probiotics per serve to assist with healthy digestion. The powder is naturally flavoured and there are no artificial sweeteners used to create that delicious taste.

    Support your gut health with probiotics

    We’ve long-known that enriching our bodies with the right nutrients and supplements can help keep our immune system as its strongest. But you may not know that our gut health is closely connected to the health of our immune system.

    In fact, according to nutrition scientist Dr Joanna McMillan, as we get older 70 to 80 per cent of our immune system is actually in the gut, because the gut and the skin is where we get most contact with the outside world. One of the easiest ways to foster a healthy gut is by consuming probiotics, which are live micro-organisms that improve and restore existing micro-organisms living in the digestive system.

    Major brands including Nature’s Way, Naturopathica and Bioglan provide a range of probiotic options with varying levels of live bacteria to support the digestive system. For example, the Nature’s Way Restore Probiotic is ideal for everyday use because it aims to relieve discomfort and support bowel regularity and immune system health, as well as restore gut flora after you’ve used antibiotics.

    Meanwhile, Naturopathica GastroHealth DigestAid Dairy is designed specifically for people with lactose intolerance. It contains the lactase enzyme to help to breakdown lactose into more easily digested sugars and the probiotic bifidobacterium lactis to relieve digestive discomfort and maintain the balance of good bacteria. It also contains gentian root which helps to stimulate digestion and relieve symptoms of indigestion.

    You can browse the probiotics and many more products to support gut health on the Sassy Marketplace.

    Take care of aching joints with turmeric

    It’s hard to really embrace life when you’re suffering from aching joints caused by osteoarthritis. You can’t run around with the grandkids easily, or even go for a casual stroll without experiencing a bit of pain. Unfortunately, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there’s about 2.2 million people in Australia living with this painful condition.

    Thankfully, there are ways to help. Researchers from the University of Tasmania found that the use of turmeric helped to reduce pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis. If you suffer from this condition and are keen to try turmeric yourself, there are a number of popular turmeric products available on the Sassy Marketplace. The Joint Relief capsules are a new product on the market that have been scientifically formulated, tested and proven to help with inflammation, oxidation and pain relief. It’s recommended you start with one capsule per day (preferably with a meal), and if you have no side effects you can increase your dosage to up to four tablets a day.

    IMPORTANT INFO We write about products and services we think you might like and may receive payment if you click on the links in this article or go on to make a purchase. 
    IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

    Healthy ways to improve immunity – AgriNews

    Healthy ways to improve immunity – AgriNews

    • January 1, 2021

    As we go into the winter months and illness chances increase, what can I do to boost my immune system?

    Your question is on the minds of many consumers, as more people have been reaching for vitamin supplements and seeking out healthy foods to improve their immune system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In fact, 77% of consumers say they want to eat healthier to boost their immunity during the pandemic, according to a study by Archer Daniels Midland, a Chicago-based food-processing company.

    Building and maintaining a healthy immune system starts with focusing on good nutrition, said Beth Stefura, a family and consumer sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension.

    “Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system,” she writes in Live Well and Boost Your Immune System, a blog post at the Live Healthy Live Well website.

    “Eat well by choosing nutrient-rich foods,” she adds.

    The site, which can be found at livehealthyosu.com, is a free information resource that offers science-based consumer information and insights. It’s written by OSU Extension educators and specialists in family and consumer sciences who promote health and wellness.

    In the blog post, Stefura lists multiple foods that can help boost your immune system, including foods rich in:

    • Vitamin D, which plays a wide variety of roles in boosting the immune system, including helping the body absorb calcium, which builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Your muscles, nerves, the immune system and many other bodily functions all require vitamin D to do their jobs properly. Good food sources of vitamin D include fortified milk and fortified orange juice; fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel; eggs and egg yolks; mushrooms; beef liver; cheese; and fortified breakfast cereals.

    • Vitamin C, which is essential for the growth and repair of tissue throughout the body. Good food sources of vitamin C include kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, berries, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, mango, nectarine, orange, snow peas, sweet potato and strawberries. Red, green and yellow peppers are also great sources of vitamin C.

    • Beta carotene, which studies suggest may enhance immune cell function and has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection-fighting methods. Good sources of beta carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches and watermelon.

    • Zinc, which helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses and is key to optimal immune function. Foods containing zinc include red meat, seafood, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oysters, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains and some fortified cereals.

    Stefura also says that minimizing your intake of sugar, processed foods and alcohol, as well as managing stress and getting enough sleep is key to boosting your immune system.

    “Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns, including a weakened immune system,” she writes. “Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults, and children need eight to 14 hours depending on their age.”

    Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

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