Hypertension: Celery contains potassium, which counters the harmful effects of sodium
“Celery stalk salt content is low, and you also get fibre, magnesium and potassium to help regulate your blood pressure, as well,” notes Cleveland Clinic.
Foods that are rich in potassium are particularly important in managing high blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Sodium, which is found in salt, raises your blood pressure, but the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.
“Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure,” explains the AHA.
HIGH blood pressure doesn’t produce symptoms so the only way to keep it in check is to make healthy lifestyle decisions. Eating a healthy diet is a surefire way to reverse high blood pressure and no diet would be complete without this green snack.
High blood pressure is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Over time, this causes your blood vessels to lose their elasticity, restricting the amount of blood that flows through them. Restricting the supply of blood to your heart is particularly concerning because it can trigger a heart attack.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure does not usually have any symptoms, so the only way to find out if you have it is to get your blood pressure checked.
According to the NHS, blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own blood pressure monitor.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures.
Systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out – is the top number and diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats – is the bottom number.
“High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home) – or 150/90mmHg or higher (or an average of 145/85mmHg at home) if you’re over the age of 80,” explains the health body.
If the test determines that your blood pressure is too high, you must make healthy lifestyle decisions to lower it.
Overhauling your diet plays a key role and a robust body of evidence can point you to the most heart-healthy items.
According to research, snacking on celery can help to combat high blood pressure.
your physician before using this exercise equipment or beginning any exercise program.” It’s a well-intended message designed to be responsible and keep people safe.
But scientists called for public warnings with exactly the opposite message at a satellite symposium that was organized by the American Society for Nutrition on Friday, April 25. The event, sponsored by Herbalife Nutrition Institute, took place at Experimental Biology in San Diego.
Endocrinologist Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, reminded that a sedentary lifestyle has disastrous pathologic consequences. He said that, combined with obesity, physical inactivity leads to abdominal adiposity, visceral fat, chronic systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Underlining the consequence of protein breakdown due to physical inactivity, Dr. Heber counseled that the muscle loss and a subsequent drop in resting metabolic rate puts the U.S. population at risk of widespread sarcopenic obesity. Muscle burns 30 Kcals per kilogram versus fat’s only 6 Kcals per kilogram, he reminds.
Former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Richard Carmona said that the problems of getting people to do more for their health wasn’t a matter of needing more knowledge or authority. “It’s getting people to listen,” he said. “Where we have failed is really in the translation. We need better translators of science.”
Sharing some of his 2002-2006 term experiences, Dr. Carmona illustrated how obesity was burdensome to the country by ways of high costs — and even to national security. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, he said a lot of the people affected had low health literacy, were obese, and had several medical conditions related to obesity such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. These issues exacerbated the tragic event.
“Obesity doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” he said. “Health care is really sick care and it’s driven by obesity.”
University of Colorado Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine James Hill, Ph.D., said regular physical activity of an hour or more daily was one of the behaviors that has shown to be key in leading to long-term weight management success, according to the National Weight Control Registry of which he co-founded. The registry follows more than 6,000 formerly obese people who have lost weight and kept it off permanently.
But the reason physical activity is important had little to do with burned calories, he explained. “In my opinion,” he said, “the important point is that it helps our bodies operate in the way they’re meant to operate.”
Hill said once physical activity reaches a specific threshold it has a way of adjusting the body’s appetite according to energy expenditure. Showing a figure modified from the work of Jean Mayer and colleagues, he illustrated the concept of the physical activity threshold explaining that to the left of the bar was an unregulated zone and to the right there was a regulated zone.
“Our biology works best at high level of physical activity. Energy expenditure is driving the bus,” he said. “But most of us are left of the bar.”
Most now includes 88.9 percent of the world population in 122 countries, according to professor of epidemiology and kinesiology Bill Kohl, Ph.D., of University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education.
In July 2012, Kohl reported conclusions in The Lancet that one out of three (31.1 percent) adults didn’t meet physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week, that men were more active than women, that inactivity increases with age, that inactivity is higher in high-income countries. In addition, he found that four out of five (80.3 percent) adolescents didn’t meet guidelines of 60 minutes per day and that boys were more active than girls.
Throughout the world, Kohl said, overall physical activity is declining rapidly. He cited research of Timothy Church and colleagues, as well as a review paper by Shu Wen Ng and Barry Popkin, showing that one of the major reasons had to do with drastically declining from occupational physical activity.
“I submit to you that this isn’t just a weight loss problem,” he said. “It’s a pandemic. If the number of people in the world that were physically inactive were smoking, we’d be up in arms. We should be up in arms.”
How much physical activity should one do to gain an impact? There’s a dose-response effect, according to John Jakicic, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh department of health and physical activity.
Based on his prior research and from Goodpaster et al and Slentz et al (and unpublished data he shared), he said that the higher level of physical activity one has, the greater the body weight change, the greater impact on visceral adiposity, and greater reduction of HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin).
Rather than put up warnings about exercise, he said, why not put up a new cautionary statement: “Physical inactivity has been shown to be associated with increased mortality, morbidity, and lower quality of life. Please consult with your physician if you decide not to engage in regular periods of daily physical activity.”
Dr. Julian Alvarez Garcia of University of Alicante (Spain), reminded that exercise is a “very complex phenomenon.” Athletes, for example, will often time nutrition before, during, or after exercise to fuel specific adaptations such as for weight loss, endurance, or strength.
Moving what he called “a step beyond energetics,” Dr. Garcia suggests that a different mindset be used when eating. We shouldn’t think of nutrition as feeding exercise, but “feeding adaptation,” he said.
Scrolling through social media, reading your favorite magazine, or visiting popular websites exposes you to endless information about nutrition and health — most of which is incorrect. Even qualified health professionals, including doctors and dietitians, are to blame for spreading misinformation about nutrition to the public, adding to the confusion.
Here are 20 of the biggest myths related to nutrition, and why these antiquated beliefs need to be put to rest.
Though creating a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you take in is the most important factor when it comes to weight loss, it’s not the only thing that matters. Relying solely on calorie intake doesn’t account for the large number of variables that may prevent someone from losing weight, even when on a very low calorie diet. This concept also fails to emphasize the importance of sustainability and diet quality for weight loss.This can lead to choosing low calorie, nutrient-poor foods like rice cakes and egg whites over higher calorie, nutrient-dense foods like avocados and whole eggs, which isn’t the best for overall health.
Millie- Meeting your calorie needs (1800 to 2000 calories a day) from healthy foods that truly meet your nutrient needs is the ONLY way to lose weight. Exercise or caloric restriction does not work
Though this antiquated and incorrect theory is slowly being put to rest, many people still fear high fat foods and follow low fat diets in the hopes that cutting their fat intake will benefit their overall health.
Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Plus, low fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, and may lead to an increase in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels, which are known risk factors for heart disease.
What’s more, diets that are higher in fat have been proven just as effective — or even more so — than low fat diets when it comes to encouraging weight loss.
Of course, extremes in either direction, whether it be a very low fat or very high fat diet, may harm your health, especially when diet quality is poor.
Millie- I completely disagree with what they say about this. It takes 3 balanced meals a day to meet your nutrient needs.
Eating frequent meals throughout the day is not the best way to promote weight loss. Research shows that a regular meal pattern may be best for health.
The rising interest in low calorie, low carb, sugar-free foods has led to an increase in products that contain non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS). While it’s clear that a diet high in added sugar significantly increases disease risk, intake of NNS can also lead to negative health outcomes.
For example, NNS intake may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by leading to negative shifts in gut bacteria and promoting blood sugar dysregulation. What’s more, regular NNS intake is associated with overall unhealthy lifestyle patterns (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Although macro coaches may lead you to believe that the ratio of macronutrients in your diet is all that matters when it comes to weight loss and overall health, this narrow-minded take on nutrition is missing the bigger picture.
While tweaking macro ratios can benefit health in many ways, the most important factor in any diet is the quality of the foods you eat.
Though it may be possible to lose weight by eating nothing but highly processed foods and protein shakes, focusing solely on macronutrients discounts how eating certain foods can either increase or decrease metabolic health, disease risk, lifespan, and vitality.
Millie- Your diet needs to be totally made of of real food, not products. If it needs a label or comes in a box, don’t eat it. Only real food, healthy fats, high quality animal proteins and lots of vegetables and salads should be included every day.
Often labeled as “unhealthy” by those in the nutrition world, white potatoes are restricted by many people wanting to lose weight or improve their overall health. While eating too much of any food — including white potatoes — can lead to weight gain, these starchy tubers are highly nutritious and can be included as part of a healthy diet. White potatoes are an excellent source of many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Plus, they’re more filling than other carb sources like rice and pasta (which are empty calories and contain almost no nutrition and are very hard to digest), and can help you feel more satisfied after meals. Just remember to enjoy potatoes baked or roasted, not fried ( not true- potatoes fried in vegetable oils are horrible for you, because heated vegetable oils are highly toxic and inflammatory) . Fry occasionally in duck or beef fat, they taste amazing!!
Take a trip to your local grocery store and you’ll find a variety of products labeled “diet,” “light,” “low fat,” and “fat-free.” While these products are tempting to those wanting to shed excess body fat, they’re typically an unhealthy choice.
Research has shown that many low fat and diet items contain much more added sugar and salt than their regular-fat counterparts. It’s best to forgo these products and instead enjoy ghee daily, and nut butters. Low fat and diet foods are typically high in sugar and salt. Unaltered higher fat alternatives are often a healthier choice.
While focusing on consuming a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet is the most essential component of health, supplements — when used correctly and in the right form — can be beneficial in many ways.
For many, especially those with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, as well as those who take common medications like statins, proton pump inhibitors, birth control, and antidiabetic medications, taking specific supplements can significantly affect their health. For example, supplementing with magnesium and B vitamins has been shown to benefit those with type 2 diabetes by enhancing blood sugar and reducing heart disease risk factors and diabetes-related complications.
Those on restrictive diets, people with genetic mutations like methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), people over the age of 50, and pregnant or breastfeeding women are other examples of populations that may benefit from taking specific supplements.
While reducing calorie intake can indeed boost weight loss, cutting calories too low can lead to metabolic adaptations and long-term health consequences. Going on a very low calorie diet leads to a reduction in metabolic rate, increased feelings of hunger, and alterations in fullness hormones. This makes long-term weight maintenance difficult. This is why studies have shown that low calorie dieters rarely succeed in keeping excess weight off in the long term.
Obesity is associated with many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, certain cancers, and even early death. Still, reducing your disease risk does not mean you have to be skinny. What’s most important is consuming a nutritious diet and maintaining an active lifestyle, as these behaviors often improve your body weight and body fat percentage.
Many people are told to pop calcium supplements to keep their skeletal system healthy. However, current research has shown that supplementing with calcium may do more harm than good. For example, some studies have linked calcium supplements to an increased risk of heart disease. Additionally, research shows that they don’t reduce the risk of fracture or osteoporosis.
If you’re concerned about your calcium intake, it’s best to focus on dietary sources of calcium like full fat salmon, sardines, green leafy vegetables, and seeds..especially sesame seeds.
Millie – Although medical professionals commonly prescribe calcium supplements, current research shows that these supplements may do more harm than good. Taking more calcium causes you to leach it from the bones.
Many people struggle with getting adequate dietary fiber, which is why fiber supplements are so popular. But dry fiber can harm the colon. High fiber whole foods like vegetables and fruit contain nutrients and plant compounds that work synergistically to promote your health, and they can’t be replaced by fiber supplements.
Certain juices and smoothies are highly nutritious. For example, a nutrient-dense smoothie or freshly made juice composed primarily of non-starchy vegetables can be a great way to increase your vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake.
Yet, it’s important to know that most juices and smoothies sold at stores are loaded with sugar and calories. When consumed in excess, they can promote weight gain and other health issues like tooth decay and blood sugar dysregulation
Probiotics are amongst the most popular dietary supplements on the market. However, practitioners generally overprescribed them, and research has demonstrated that some people may not benefit from probiotics like others do.
Not only are some people’s digestive systems resistant to probiotic colonization, but introducing probiotics through supplements may lead to negative changes in their gut bacteria.
Plus, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine related to probiotic use can lead to bloating, gas, and other adverse side effects.
Additionally, some studies show that probiotic treatment following a course of antibiotics may delay the natural reconstitution of normal gut bacteria.
Millie- eating healthy foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, help your gut grow and maintain health gut flora.
There’s no need to obsess over your calorie intake and track every morsel of food that passes your lips to lose weight.
Although food tracking can be a useful tool when trying to lose excess body fat, it’s not right for everyone.
What’s more, being overly preoccupied with food by tracking calories has been associated with an increased risk of disordered eating tendencies. Although tracking calories may help some people lose weight, it’s not necessary for everyone and may lead to disordered eating tendencies.
Cholesterol-rich foods have gotten a bad rap thanks to misconceptions about how dietary cholesterol affects heart health.
While some people are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol than others, overall, nutrient-dense, cholesterol-rich foods can be included in a healthy diet. In fact, including cholesterol-rich, nutritious foods like eggs in your diet boosts health by enhancing feelings of fullness and providing important nutrients that other foods lack.
Just as fat has been blamed for promoting weight gain and heart disease, carbs have been shunned by many people over fears that consuming this macronutrient will cause obesity, diabetes, and other adverse health effects. In reality, eating a moderate amount of nutritious carbs that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like starchy root vegetables, ancient grains, and legumes will likely benefit your health — not harm it.
For example, dietary patterns that contain a balanced mix of high fiber carbs mainly from produce, healthy fats, and proteins, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been associated with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.
Millie- Fruits and vegetables are calorically 95% carbs. BUT, they are not empty carbs. It’s the processed carbs that are bad for you, cookies, pasta, cakes, sugars.
The bottom line – The nutrition world is rife with misinformation, leading to public confusion, mistrust of health professionals, and poor dietary choices.
This, coupled with the fact that nutrition science is constantly changing, makes it no wonder that most people have a warped view of what constitutes a healthy diet.
Although these nutrition myths are likely here to stay, educating yourself by separating fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition can help you feel more empowered to develop a nutritious and sustainable dietary pattern that works for your individual needs.
FYI_ Coffee has the same properties, is high in antioxidants and is a great antidepressant!!
Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and premature death in general, with each additional cup of green tea a day associated with a 4-percent lower mortality risk. So, perhaps “drinking several cups of tea daily can keep the doctor away,” as well as the mortician—but what about cancer?
As I discuss in my video Can Green Tea Help Prevent Cancer, there is “growing evidence from laboratory, epidemiologic [population], and human intervention studies that tea can exert beneficial disease-preventive effects” and, further, may actually “slow cancer progression.” Let’s review some of that evidence.
Not only do those who drink a lot of tea appear to live longer than those who drink less, as you can see at 0:49 in my video, drinking lots of tea may also delay the onset of cancer. At 0:56 in my video, you can see a table titled “Average age at cancer onset and daily green tea consumption.” The green tea intake is measured in Japanese tea cups, which only contain a half a cup, so the highest category in the table is actually greater than or equal to five full cups of tea, not ten as it appears in the table. Women who did get cancer appeared to get it seven years later if they had been drinking lots of tea compared to those who had consumed less. Men, however, had a three-year delay in cancer onset if they had consumed more than five full cups of green tea daily, the difference potentially “due to higher tobacco consumption by males.”
Green tea may be able to interfere with each of the stages of cancer formation: the initiation of the first cancer cell, promotion into a tumor, and then subsequent progression and spread, as you can see at 1:24 in my video. Cancer is often initiated when a free radical oxidizes our DNA, causing a mutation, but, as you can see at 1:44 in my video, we can get a nice “spike of antioxidant power” of our bloodstream within 40 minutes of drinking green tea. “This increase may, in turn, lower oxidative damage to DNA and so decrease risk of cancer.”
Furthermore, in terms of genoprotective effects—that is, protecting our genes—pre-existing oxidation-induced DNA damage was lower after drinking green tea, suggesting consumption can boost DNA repair as well. We didn’t know for certain, however…until now.
There is a DNA-repair enzyme in our body called OGG1. As you can see at 2:15 in my video, within one hour of drinking a single cup of green tea, we can boost OGG1’s activity, and after a week of tea drinking, we can boost it even higher. So, “regular intake of green tea has additional benefits in the prevention and/or repair of DNA damage.” In fact, tea is so DNA-protective it can be used for sperm storage for fresh samples until they can be properly refrigerated.
What’s more, tea is so anti-inflammatory it can be used for pain control as a mouthwash after wisdom tooth surgery, as you can see at 2:41 in my video. In terms of controlling cancer growth, at a dose of green tea compounds that would make it into our organs after drinking six cups of tea, it can cause cancer cells to commit suicide—apoptosis (programmed cell death)—while leaving normal cells alone. There are a number of chemotherapy agents that can kill cancer through brute force, but that can make normal cells vulnerable, too. So, “[g]reen tea appears to be potentially an ideal agent for [cancer] prevention”: little or no adverse side-effects, efficacious for multiple cancers at achievable dose levels, and able to be taken orally. We have a sense of how it works—how it stops cancer cells from growing and causing them to kill off themselves—and it’s cheap and has a history of safe, acceptable use. But, all of this was based on in-vitro studies in a test tube. “It needs to be evaluated in human trials,” concluded the researchers. Indeed, what happens when we give green tea to people with cancer? Does it help?
Tea consumption may reduce the risk of getting oral cancer. Not only may the consumption of tea boost the antioxidant power of our bloodstream within minutes and decrease the amount of free-radical DNA damage throughout our systems over time, but it can also increase the antioxidant power of our saliva and decrease the DNA damage within the inner cheek cells of smokers, though not as much as stopping smoking all together. You can see several graphs and tables showing these findings in the first 35 seconds of my video Can Green Tea Help Treat Cancer?.
Might this help precancerous oral lesions from turning into cancerous oral lesions? More than 100,000 people develop oral cancer annually worldwide, with a five-year overall survival rate of less than the flip of a coin. Oral cancer frequently arises from precancerous lesions in the mouth, each having a few percent chance of turning cancerous every year. Can green tea help?
Fifty-nine patients with precancerous oral lesions were randomized into either a tea group, in which capsules of powdered tea extract were given and their lesions were painted with green tea powder, or a control group, who essentially got sugar pills and their lesions painted with nothing but glycerin. As you can see at 1:23 in my video, within six months, lesions in 11 out of the 29 in the tea group shrunk, compared to only 3 of 30 in the placebo group. “The results indicate that tea treatment can improve the clinical manifestations of the oral lesions.”
The most important question, though, is whether the tea treatment prevented the lesions from turning cancerous. Because the trial only lasted a few months, the researchers couldn’t tell. When they scraped some cells off of the lesions, however, there was a significant drop in DNA-damaged cells within three months in the treatment groups, suggesting that things were going in the right direction, as you can see at 1:46 in my video. Ideally, we’d have a longer study to see if they ended up with less cancer and one that just used swallowed tea components, since most people don’t finger-paint with tea in their mouths. And, we got just that.
As you can see at 2:15 in my video, there were the same extraordinary clinical results with some precancerous lesions shrinking away. What’s more, the study lasted long enough to see if fewer people actually got cancer. The answer? There was just as much new cancer in the green tea group as the placebo group. So, the tea treatment resulted in a higher response rate, as the lesions looked better, but there was no improvement in cancer-free survival.
These studies were done on mostly smokers and former smokers. What about lung cancer? As you can see at 2:46 in my video, population studies suggest tea may be protective, but let’s put it to the test. Seventeen patients with advanced lung cancer were given up to the equivalent of 30 cups of green tea a day, but “[n]o objective responses were seen.” In a study of 49 cancer patients, 21 of whom had lung cancer, the subjects received between 4 and 25 cups worth of green tea compounds a day. Once again, no benefits were found. The only benefit green tea may be able to offer lung cancer patients is to help lessen the burns from the radiation treatments when applied on the skin. Indeed, green tea compresses may be able to shorten the duration of the burns, as you can see at 3:21 in my video.
The protective effects of green tea applied topically were also seen in precancerous cervical lesions, where the twice-a-day direct application of a green tea ointment showed a beneficial response in nearly three-quarters of the patients, compared to only about 10 percent in the untreated control group, which is consistent with the benefits of green tea compounds on cervical cancer cells in a petri dish. When women were given green tea extract pills to take, however, they didn’t seem to help.
I talked about the potential benefit of green tea wraps for skin cancer in Treating Gorlin Syndrome with Green Tea, but is there any other cancer where green tea can come into direct contact? Yes. Colon cancer, which grows from the inner surface of the colon that comes into contact with food and drink. As you can see at 4:13 in my video, in the colon, tea compounds are fermented by our good gut bacteria into compounds like 3,4DHPA, which appears to wipe out colon cancer cells, while leaving normal colon cells relatively intact in vitro. So one hundred thirty-six patients with a history of polyps were randomized to get green tea extract pills or not. Now, this study was done in Japan, where drinking green tea is commonplace, so, effectively, this was comparing those who drank three cups of green tea a day to subjects who drank four daily cups. A year later on colonoscopy, the added-green tea group had only half the polyp recurrence and the polyps that did grow were 25 percent smaller. With such exciting findings, why hasn’t a larger follow-up study been done? Perhaps due to the difficulty “in raising funds” for the study, “because green tea is a beverage but not a pharmaceutical.”
There is good news. Thanks to a major cancer charity in Germany, researchers are currently recruiting for the largest green tea cancer trial to date, in which more than 2,000 patients will be randomized. I look forward to presenting the results to you when they come in.
Avoid dairy and gluten containing foods, exercise and stop smoking..
First it’s important to understand how the virus attacks our lungs. When people are infected, the virus travels to the mucus membranes and then the lungs. To control the infection, the body responds with inflammation in the lungs. And this inflammation prevents the lungs from being able to oxygenate the blood and remove carbon dioxide, which leads the patient to gasp for air and suffer more serious illness.
But there are things you can do to improve respiratory health, just by changing a few lifestyle factors, according to Dr. Robert Eitches, an allergist and immunologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Enhancing your respiratory health doesn’t prevent you from getting infected, he said. But it does have benefits that may reduce the severity of the illness if you are infected, and therefore your exposure to the virus.
Here’s how you can strengthen your body’s respiratory capacity so that if you do get infected with coronavirus, the chances of serious illness may be lower.
Reduce excess mucus buildup
“Mucus is naturally occurring in our bodies, and it provides a very important function to maintain good health in our respiratory tract,” Steele said. “It helps to capture [allergens, bacteria and viruses].”
In our respiratory tract, we have little hairs called cilia that move those threats out of our tract. We swallow the majority of mucus, Steele said, but when we have things that irritate our nasal passages, we can produce too much mucus and be unable to clear it. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and blocks oxygen from entering and leaving the pathways of the lungs.
We also have mucus in our lungs. People with asthma produce too much mucus, which can predispose them to blockages and inflammation in their airways, Steele said.
There may be a connection between diet and mucus buildup. “Some people believe that inflammatory foods such as milk and wheat increase mucus production,” Eitches said. “Another school of thought that I have seen to work both anecdotally with my patients and with myself is eating spicy foods.”
Spicy foods that have capsaicin — chiles, jalapenos, cayenne, hot sauce — can thin mucus and allow it to be coughed out.
Exercise can improve respiratory capacity, or breathing ability. Alveoli are tiny, balloon-shaped air sacs arranged in clusters throughout the lungs. They’re integral to the respiratory system, as they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the bloodstream.
When a person is sedentary, Steele said, that results in a phenomenon called “atelectasis,” when the lung sacs don’t have enough air and collapse slightly. To improve the lung sac capacity, people have to “breathe against resistance,” he added.
“You can think of it like a partially deflated balloon,” he suggested. “And what’s the way that you keep the air inside a balloon? You tie a knot in it to increase the resistance, so the air has to work harder to get out.”
By breathing against resistance when exercising, you’re “actually helping to expand and keep open the air sacs” in your lungs, Steele said.
In addition to cardio, yoga and stretching, breathing exercises such as pursed lip breathing and deep yogic nasal breathing can help and are easy to do wherever you are, Eitches suggested. Pursed lip breathing is when you take in a deep breath with your mouth, close your lips, then exhale through them as if you’re blowing up a balloon. There are similar benefits from deep yogic nasal breathing as you filter the air through your nose.
Improving your lung function means “you would be less likely to hit a critically low lung function state, which would in turn cause you to not be able to oxygenate your blood,” Eitches said.
“Respirators essentially breathe for you to try to push open your airways. These exercises will teach you how to fight off the respiratory side effects [of Covid-19] on your own.”
Additionally, Steele said, exercise decreases inflammation in the body and can reduce the occurrence of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a serious complication in some patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
One of the most important steps to improving your respiratory health is avoiding anything that impairs lung function, such as smoking cigarettes and vaping, Eitches said.
Smoking and vaping cause irritation in the lung airways that leads to permanent, adverse effects on lung function by destroying lung tissue where air exchange occurs.
“Smoke is composed of small particles; when inhaled, the particles get stuck in the lungs,” Eitches said. “This begins a vicious cycle of permanent lung damage.”
Both activities can also suppress the immune system, which you need to be able to help fight infections.
Dr. Ryan Steele, an allergist-immunologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, cautioned against smoking marijuana, too.
Many candles have metal wicks, which are vaporized along with smoke and can cause similar lung damage.
Taking steps to improve respiratory health is another tool to add to one’s prevention kit, as we weather the pandemic and anticipate another possible wave in the fall.
“The stronger your baseline health, the stronger your body will be to fight off infections,” Eitches said. “It’s like having the appropriate ammunition to fight a war.”
CNN’s Brian Fung and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.
COVID-19 is proving to be a disease of the immune system. This could, in theory, be controlled.
Note from Millie– I posted yesterday about working to improve your immune system. Never have we been more acutely aware of how important this is. Americans are, for the most part, unhealthy. Eventually each of this will have this virus. How strongly it effects each of us is based on what shape our immune system is. If you are even 10 pounds overweight, you are malnourished. I urge you to take this time to make those changes which will help you repair your gut, where all disease begins.
This article reinforces what I am saying…
The COVID-19 crash comes suddenly. In early March, the 37-year-old writer F. T. Kola began to feel mildly ill, with a fever and body aches. To be safe, she isolated herself at home in San Francisco. Life continued apace for a week, until one day she tried to load her dishwasher and felt strangely exhausted.
Her doctor recommended that she go to Stanford University’s drive-through coronavirus testing site. “I remember waiting in my car, and the doctors in their intense [protective equipment] coming towards me like a scene out of Contagion,” she told me when we spoke for The Atlantic’s podcast Social Distance. “I felt like I was a biohazard—and I was.” The doctors stuck a long swab into the back of her nose and sent her home to await results.
Lying in bed that night, she began to shake, overtaken by the most intense chills of her life. “My teeth were chattering so hard that I was really afraid they would break,” she said. Then she started to hallucinate. “I thought I was holding a very big spoon for some reason, and I kept thinking, Where am I going to put my spoon down?”
An ambulance raced her to the hospital, where she spent three days in the ICU, before being moved to a newly created coronavirus-only ward. Sometimes she barely felt sick at all, and other times she felt on the verge of death. But after two weeks in the hospital, she walked out. Now, as the death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to more than 150,000 people globally, Kola has flashes of guilt and disbelief: “Why did my lungs make it through this? Why did I go home? Why am I okay now?”
COVID-19 is, in many ways, proving to be a disease of uncertainty. According to a new study from Italy, some 43 percent of people with the virus have no symptoms. Among those who do develop symptoms, it is common to feel sick in uncomfortable but familiar ways—congestion, fever, aches, and general malaise. Many people start to feel a little bit better. Then, for many, comes a dramatic tipping point. “Some people really fall off the cliff, and we don’t have good predictors of who it’s going to happen to,” Stephen Thomas, the chair of infectious diseases at Upstate University Hospital, told me. Those people will become short of breath, their heart racing and mind detached from reality. They experience organ failure and spend weeks in the ICU, if they survive at all.
Meanwhile, many others simply keep feeling better and eventually totally recover. Kola’s friend Karan Mahajan, an author based in Providence, Rhode Island, contracted the virus at almost the same time she did. In stark contrast to Kola, he said, “My case ended up feeling like a mild flu that lasted for two weeks. And then it faded after that.”
Listen to James Hamblin interview Kola and Mahajan on an episode of Social Distance, The Atlantic’s podcast about life in the pandemic:
“There’s a big difference in how people handle this virus,” says Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Global Communicable Diseases at Northwestern University. “It’s very unusual. None of this variability really fits with any other diseases we’re used to dealing with.”
This degree of uncertainty has less to do with the virus itself than how our bodies respond to it. As Murphy puts it, when doctors see this sort of variation in disease severity, “that’s not the virus; that’s the host.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, people around the world have heard the message that older and chronically ill people are most likely to die from COVID-19. But that is far from a complete picture of who is at risk of life-threatening disease. Understanding exactly how and why some people get so sick while others feel almost nothing will be the key to treatment.
Hope has been put in drugs that attempt to slow the replication of the virus—those currently in clinical trials like remdesivir, ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine. But with the flu and most other viral diseases, antiviral medications are often effective only early in the disease. Once the virus has spread widely within our body, our own immune system becomes the thing that more urgently threatens to kill us. That response cannot be fully controlled. But it can be modulated and improved.
One of the common, perplexing experiences of COVID-19 is the loss of smell—and, then, taste. “Eating pizza was like eating cardboard,” Mahajan told me. Any common cold that causes congestion can alter these sensations to some degree. But a near-total breakdown of taste and smell is happening with coronavirus infections even in the absence of other symptoms.
Jonathan Aviv, an ear, nose, and throat doctor based in New York, told me he has seen a surge in young people coming to him with a sudden inability to taste. He’s unsure what to tell them about what’s going on. “The non-scary scenario is that the inflammatory effect of the infection is temporarily altering the function of the olfactory nerve,” he said. “The scarier possibility is that the virus is attacking the nerve itself.” Viruses that attack nerves can cause long-term impairment, and could affect other parts of the nervous system. The coronavirus has already been reported to precipitate inflammation in the brain that leads to permanent damage.
Though SARS-CoV-2 (the new coronavirus) isn’t reported to invade the brain and spine directly, its predecessor SARS-CoV seems to have that capacity. If nerve cells are spared by the new virus, they would be among the few that are. When the coronavirus attaches to cells, it hooks on and breaks through, then starts to replicate. It does so especially well in the cells of the nasopharynx and down into the lungs, but is also known to act on the cells of the liver, bowels, and heart. The virus spreads around the body for days or weeks in a sort of stealth mode, taking over host cells while evading the immune response. It can take a week or two for the body to fully recognize the extent to which it has been overwhelmed. At this point, its reaction is often not calm and measured. The immune system goes into a hyperreactive state, pulling all available alarms to mobilize the body’s defense mechanisms. This is when people suddenly crash.
Bootsie Plunkett, a 61-year-old retiree in New Jersey with diabetes and lupus, described it to me as suffocating. We met in February, taping a TV show, and she was her typically ebullient self. A few weeks later, she developed a fever. It lasted for about two weeks, as did the body aches. She stayed at home with what she presumed was COVID-19. Then, as if out of nowhere, she was gasping for air. Her husband raced her to the hospital, and she began to slump over in the front seat. When they made it to the hospital, her blood-oxygen level was just 79 percent, well below the point when people typically require aggressive breathing support.
Such a quick decline—especially in the later stages of an infectious disease—seems to result from the immune response suddenly kicking into overdrive. The condition tends to be dire. Half of the patients with COVID-19 who end up in the intensive-care unit at New York–Presbyterian Hospital stay for 20 days, according to Pamela Sutton-Wallace, the regional chief operating officer. (In normal times, the national average is 3.3 days). Many of these patients arrive at the hospital in near-critical condition, with their blood tests showing soaring levels of inflammatory markers. One that seems to be especially predictive of a person’s fate is a protein known as D-dimer. Doctors in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, have found that a fourfold increase in D-dimer is a strong predictor of mortality, suggesting in a recent paper that the test “could be an early and helpful marker” of who is entering the dangerous phases.
These and other markers are often signs of a highly fatal immune-system process known as a cytokine storm, explains Randy Cron, the director of rheumatology at Children’s of Alabama, in Birmingham. A cytokine is a short-lived signaling molecule that the body can release to activate inflammation in an attempt to contain and eradicate a virus. In a cytokine storm, the immune system floods the body with these molecules, essentially sounding a fire alarm that continues even after the firefighters and ambulances have arrived.
At this point, the priority for doctors shifts from hoping that a person’s immune system can fight off the virus to trying to tamp down the immune response so it doesn’t kill the person or cause permanent organ damage. As Cron puts it, “If you see a cytokine storm, you have to treat it.” But treating any infection by impeding the immune system is always treacherous. It is never ideal to let up on a virus that can directly kill our cells. The challenge is striking a balance where neither the cytokine storm nor the infection runs rampant.
Cron and other researchers believe such a balance is possible. Cytokine storms are not unique to COVID-19. The same basic process happens in response to other viruses, such as dengue and Ebola, as well as influenza and other coronaviruses. It is life-threatening and difficult to treat, but not beyond the potential for mitigation.
At Johns Hopkins University, the biomedical engineer Joshua Vogelstein and his colleagues have been trying to identify patterns among people who have survived cytokine storms and people who haven’t. One correlation the team noticed was that people taking the drug tamsulosin (sold as Flomax, to treat urinary retention) seemed to fare well. Vogelstein is unsure why. Cytokine storms do trigger the release of hormones such as dopamine and adrenaline, which tamsulosin can partially block. The team is launching a clinical trial to see if the approach is of any help.
One of the more promising approaches is blocking cytokines themselves—once they’ve already been released into the blood. A popular target is one type of cytokine known as interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is known to peak at the height of respiratory failure. Benjamin Lebwohl, director of research at Columbia University’s Celiac Disease Center, says that people with immune conditions like celiac and inflammatory bowel disease may be at higher risk of severe cases of COVID-19. But he’s hopeful that medications that inhibit IL-6 or other cytokines could pare back the unhelpful responses while leaving others intact. Other researchers have seen promising preliminary results, and clinical trials are ongoing.
If interleukin inhibitors end up playing a significant role in treating very sick people, though, we would run out. These medicines (which go by names such as tocilizumab and ruxolitinib, reading like a good draw in Scrabble) fall into a class known as “biologics.” They are traditionally used in rare cases and tend to be very expensive, sometimes costing people with immune conditions about $18,000 a year. Based on price and the short supply, Cron says, “my guess is we’re going to rely on corticosteroids at the end of the day. Because it’s what we have.”
That is a controversial opinion. Corticosteroids (colloquially known as “steroids,” though they are of the adrenal rather than reproductive sort), can act as an emergency brake on the immune system. Their broad, sweeping action means that steroids involve more side effects than targeting one specific cytokine. Typically, a person on steroids has a higher risk of contracting another dangerous infection, and early evidence on the utility of steroids in treating COVID-19, in studies from the outbreak in China, was mixed. But some doctors are now using them to good effect. Last week, the Infectious Diseases Society of America issued guidelines on steroids, recommending them in the context of a clinical trial when the disease reaches the level of acute respiratory distress. They may have helped Plunkett, the 61-year-old from New Jersey. After three days on corticosteroids, she left the ICU—without ever being intubated.
Deciding on the precise method of modulating the immune response—the exact drug, dose, and timing—is ideally informed by carefully monitoring patients before they are critically ill. People at risk of a storm could be monitored closely throughout their illness, and offered treatment immediately when signs begin to show. That could mean detecting the markers in a person’s blood before the process sends her into hallucinations—before her oxygen level fell at all.
In typical circumstances in the United States and other industrialized nations, patients would be urged to go to the hospital sooner rather than later. But right now, to avoid catastrophic strain on an already overburdened health-care system, people are told to avoid the hospital until they feel short of breath. For those who do become critically ill and arrive at the ER in respiratory failure, health-care workers are then behind the ball. Given those circumstances, the daily basics of maintaining overall health and the best possible immune response become especially important.
The official line from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has been that “high-risk” people are older and those with chronic medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. But that has proven to be a limited approximation of who will bear the burden of this disease most severely. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first official report on who has been hospitalized for COVID-19. It found that Latinos and African Americans have died at significantly higher rates than white Americans. In Chicago, more than half of the people who have tested positive, and nearly 60 percent of those who have died, were African American. They make up less than one-third of the city’s population. Similar patterns are playing out across the country: Rates of death and severe disease are several times higher among racial minorities and people of low socioeconomic status.
These disparities are beginning to be acknowledged at high levels, but often as though they are just another one of the mysteries of the coronavirus. At a White House briefing last week, Vice President Mike Pence said his team was looking into “the unique impact that we’re seeing reported on African Americans from the coronavirus.” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has noted that “we are not going to solve the issues of health disparities this month or next month. This is something we should commit ourselves for years to do.”
While America’s deepest health disparities absolutely would require generations to undo, the country still could address many gaps right now. Variation in immune responses between people is due to much more than age or chronic disease. The immune system is a function of the communities that brought us up and the environments with which we interact every day. Its foundation is laid by genetics and early-life exposure to the world around us—from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Its response varies on the basis of income, housing, jobs, and access to health care.
The people who get the most severely sick from COVID-19 will sometimes be unpredictable, but in many cases, they will not. They will be the same people who get sick from most every other cause. Cytokines like IL-6 can be elevated by a single night of bad sleep. Over the course of a lifetime, the effects of daily and hourly stressors accumulate. Ultimately, people who are unable to take time off of work when sick—or who don’t have a comfortable and quiet home, or who lack access to good food and clean air—are likely to bear the burden of severe disease.
Much is yet unknown about specific cytokines and their roles in disease. But the likelihood of disease in general is not so mysterious. Often, it’s a matter of what societies choose to tolerate. America has empty hotels while people sleep in parking lots. We are destroying food while people go hungry. We are allowing individuals to endure the physiological stresses of financial catastrophe while bailing out corporations. With the coronavirus, we do not have vulnerable populations so much as we have vulnerabilities as a population. Our immune system is not strong.
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We are home for now, eating too much bored. What a great time to think about making those lifestyle changes we’ve been meaning to make. Many people say they are cooking more,, many are ordering take-out. This is perfect timing to make changes.
So, you ask, what is the first thing I should do? Most Americans have damage to the ling of the stomach. A look at all of the digestive aids in the drug store will tell you that we need help. But using Tums, probiotics, prebiotics are problematic. Common antacids can lead to 20% increase of risk of heart disease, prebiotics and probiotics can cause brain fog and can lead to excess growth of bacteria in the lower intestine.
So how do you get started? Begin by slowly weaning yourself off dairy over a couple of weeks. This way the detox from it will not be so heavy. Start minimizing flour products, and gluten containing products. Start adding a salad to lunch and dinner, in addition to a protein source and several vegetables. Lean heavily on sweet potatoes as they are extremely healthy. Make sure to get plenty of green leafy vegetables as they are crucial for gut health.
What you will notice is that within a week or so you start to feel better, you sleep better, you have more energy. The only foods that have vitamins and minerals, enzymes, and phytochemicals are fruits and vegetables, live foods. These are the foods you need for adequate gut health. Foods that are hard to digest are hard on the stomach and harm the epithelial cells which leads to leaky gut. Truthfully most Americans have leaky gut.
So a great looking dinner would be a sweet potato some kind of green leafy vegetable, about 5 oz of protein leaning towards seafood and eggs. Begin or end with a small salad. be careful about the salad dressings you use as every single one in the grocery store has soy oil, you want oil and vinegar using extra virgin olive oil.
It’s fine to have coffee in the morning, two eggs cooked anyway you like with a big bowl of fruit is a great breakfast. add a smoothie at some point during the day.
Remember you need 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day to meet your nutrient needs. Taking in adequate calories and nutrition allows you to return to having a normal appetite as well as allowing your body to release weight that you have in excess.
It really is that simple, just return to eating mostly real foods. If the food you’re eating needs a label then it’s going to have chemicals and things in it that you do not need. You should be able to look at the food you’re eating and know exactly what it is. Return to eating the way our great-grandparents ate, mostly all real food.
You will begin to repair the gut and have much more energy.
Start here. work on this for a few weeks. If you need more help I offer nutrition coaching either in person after the virus is over, or in the meantime I do video conferencing.
The novel coronavirus strain COVID-19 has been spreading quickly and infecting people so rapidly, that it is now formally a world-wide pandemic. Like other virus strains, it causes ailments ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndrome.
The goal shared by billions of people across the globe is to limit the infections. At the societal level, reducing physical interaction in normally busy hubs reduces transmission between people. Additionally, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself – by boosting your immunity.
The immune system
The immune system is the body’s defense complex, protecting against disease. It is comprised of a multi-level biological infrastructure designed to detect a broad range of pathogens, such as viruses, distinguishing them from the body’s healthy tissue. Once identified, the immune system works to neutralize these pathogens.
Building and sustaining a strong immune system is an ongoing endeavor; there is no silver bullet. Here are suggestions for boosting your immunity.
Foods rich in nutrients
Unsurprisingly, the same foods that will help you lose weight, feel healthy, and look great, are the ones that will help your body against toxic pathogens.
There is no single food or diet that has been shown to cure or prevent disease, but malnutrition can impair your ability to fight off illness and infection. By malnutrition, we are referring to a lack of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients.
The best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to regularly consume copious amounts of produce. Fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of phytochemicals that are extremely beneficial in disease prevention.
Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of carotenoids that boost the activity of the white blood cells called lymphocytes. If you can’t find fresh produce, opt for frozen, and even canned. In any case, make dark leafy greens a priority.
A word about garlic. As any food lover can test, garlic is tasty and healthy. Additionally, it possesses antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that garlic can inhibit some flu viruses. however, there is no evidence right now that garlic can help prevent the coronavirus.
Food with zinc
Zinc is a mineral with anti-viral properties. A laboratory study demonstrated its ability to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses such as COVID-19 in cells.
Furthermore, zinc can ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold.
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11mg for men, and 8mg for women (12mg if pregnant).
Food sources of zinc include:
- Meat – beef, pork (30-40% of the daily value (DV)
- Chicken (20% DV)
- Shellfish – oysters (200% DV) , crab (60%), mussels and shrimp (10-15%)
- Eggs (5% per egg)
- Milk (9% per cup) and cheese
- Potatoes (9% for a large potato)
- Cashews (15% per 1-ounce serving)
- Seeds – hemp (30%), pumpkin, and sesame seeds
- Legumes (12% )
- Avocado (12% per medium avocado)
What about supplements?
Supplements are being promoted like crazy by marketers hoping to make a quick buck from panicked consumers. When people are afraid, they they can easily be convinced that supplements prevent or treat disease.
When it comes to coronavirus (COVID-19) and other flu-like diseases, there is no proof that supplements actually work.
That being said, some supplement may have a limited benefit:
- Vitamin C
- Zinc lozenges (see above)
- Vitamin D
- Elderberry extract
- Garlic supplements
Vitamin C protects the immune system and helps to fight off infections. Vitamin C is most bioavailable when consumed from whole foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwi, etc.
Zinc lozenges can reduce the severity and duration of colds caused by viruses. This means that even if you have contracted a virus such as COVID-19, there can be a mitigating effect on the respiratory disease that develops in the upper airway.
Vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of a respiratory infection from flu-like viruses in people who start out deficient. There is no study pertaining to coronavirus, but if you are low on vitamin D levels despite eating foods with vitamin D, consider supplementing.
Hydrate with water
Drinking water throughout the day may help boost your immunity. Staying hydrated helps the body eliminate toxins naturally through urination. It helps the cells take in nutrients and remove waste.
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Consumption of alcohol reduces the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Alcohol disrupts immune pathways thus impairing the body’s ability to defend against infection.
Excessive alcohol consumption leads to adverse immune-related health effects such as increased susceptibility to pneumonia and acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS).
Smoking slowly kills your lungs. Need we add more?
Regular exercise, even mild, has been shown to boost the immune system. You don’t need to do much more than take a 30-minute walk. A study conducted on elderly people who regularly exercised found that they had immune systems comparable to people decades younger than them
Sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on the immune system. Our modern lifestyle has led to a decrease in quality sleep time, and it has been taking its toll on society. The exact mechanisms are an area of active investigation.
If you can add just one extra hour of sleep a night, your body will be better prepared to handle whatever is thrown at it the next day.
Pro tip: leave your phone and tablet devices out of the bedroom.
Find ways to de-stress
Just like sleep-deprivation, stress has become a hallmark of modern living. Stress compromises the effectiveness of the immune system. The negative emotional response to perceived stress leads to hormonal and other changes that weaken immune function.
While easier said than done, there are several things you can do to reduce stress. Some were mentioned above. Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely beneficial. So is exercise. Walking counts. If you can get out to a park or a place with green and trees, even better.
Hygiene is critical
We are all familiar with standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection:
- regularly wash your hands. Do this with intention, spending at least 30 seconds fully lathering your digits and all the way up to your wrists.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.
- Clean off dirty surfaces.
Social distancing and the need for human connections
If you don’t want to get infected, stay awy from infected people. This is hard to do when the incubation time of the coronavirus is up to 2 weeks. This means people don’t know they are carrying the virus, they are out in public, and infecting others.
This is why so many events have been canceled, why schools are closing, and why many people have started working from home.
While social distancing makes sense, it sure is great that we have digital social networks that help us feel close. Make sure to stay connected with friends, family, and loved ones. We humans are social animals.
Boosting immunity with the Fooducate app
In your Fooducate app settings, turn the “Boost my immune system” option on. Foods that you look up will include information about their contribution to improving immunity.
- Carr, et al – Vitamin C and Immune Function. – Nutrients, 2013
- Thomas, et al – Vitamin C and immunity: an assessment of the evidence. – Clin Exp Immunol. 1978
- Sharma, et al – Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview – Indian J Clin Biochem., 2013
- Velthuis, et al – Zn(2+) inhibits coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity in vitro and zinc ionophores block the replication of these viruses in cell culture. – PLoS Pathog. 2010
- Aranow – Vitamin D and the immune system. – J Investig Med. 2011
- Wintergerst, et al – Immune-Enhancing Role of Vitamin C and Zinc and Effect on Clinical Conditions – Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2006
- Bnaventura, et a – Zinc and its role in immunity and inflammation – Autoimmunity Reviews, 2015
- Ried – Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Individuals, Regulates Serum Cholesterol, and Stimulates Immunity: An Updated Meta-analysis and Review – The Journal of Nutrition, 2016
- Tsai , et al – Antiviral properties of garlic: in vitro effects on influenza B, herpes simplex and coxsackie viruses – Planta Med 1985
- Sarkar, et al – Alcohol and the Immune System – Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (ARCR) , 2015
- Fernanded et al – Exercise, immunity, and aging – Aging Clinical and Experimental Research – Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 2014
- Bollinger, et al – Sleep, Immunity, and Circadian Clocks: A Mechanistic Model – Gerontology, 2010
- Cohen – Psychological Stress, Immunity, and Upper Respiratory Infections – Current Directions in Psychological Science – 1996
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The health benefits of drinking coffee never seem to end.
Measured by how much people spend on it, coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. In America, the amount of coffee consumed each day is greater than the combined total amount of teas, juices, and soft drinks.
Coffee, however, isn’t a guilty pleasure; it’s a superfood that reduces your risk of serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s, as well as a host of minor afflictions, including constipation and premature ejaculation.
Most important of all, it’s now clear that coffee drinkers are less likely to get cancer than people who drink other beverages, including tea.
Just to be clear, coffee can’t repair your DNA directly, so it’s in no way a cure for cancer. But scientists now know that coffee does reduce cellular damage, including mutations to your DNA that otherwise might lead to cancer.
For example, a meta-analysis of 500 academic papers conducted at UCLA found that coffee had a “strong and consistent protective association” with liver cancer and cancer of the uterus, and a “borderline protective” association with colorectal cancer.
Similarly, a study of 43,000 Norwegians found “a positive association between coffee drinking and risk of lung cancer.” Meanwhile, the Gifu University School of Medicine found coffee had “inhibitory effects on chemical carcinogenesis.”
The effect of coffee on each individual varies according to that person’s specific DNA. Because of this, there exist some unfortunate people in this world whose systems, sadly, can’t process caffeine and must therefore avoid coffee.
On the brighter side, though, some individuals are on the other end of the scale and thus receive outsize benefits. I suspect, or at least hope, that people who write online columns for business magazines fall into this category.
Walking, gardening, swimming, dancing and other leisurely activities may prevent brain shrinkage in older adults, a new study finds.
To examine the association between physical activity and brain aging, researchers from Columbia University assessed activity levels of older adults and analyzed the quality of their brains via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
They found that those who were more active had larger brain volumes than their inactive counterparts, indicating that physical activity may help to slow brain volume loss, said Dr. Yian Gu, study author and assistant professor of neurological sciences at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Shrinkage of the brain typically starts around the age of 60 or 70 years, slowing processing and cognitive functions.
“Our results add to the evidence that more physical activity is linked to larger brain volume in older people,” said Gu, speaking about the research she’s presenting at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in April.
“It also builds on evidence that moving your body more often throughout one’s life may protect against loss of brain volume.”
The activity level of more than 1,500 older adults with an average age of 74 was measured according to calories the researchers thought they burned by performing activities they self-reported engaging in within the last two weeks. They also measured the frequency, duration and intensity of the participants’ activities.
The activities were separated by three different categories: vigorous (aerobic dancing, jogging, playing handball), moderate (bicycling, swimming, hiking, playing tennis), and light (walking, dancing, calisthenics, golfing, bowling, gardening, horseback riding). Adults were then separated into three groups judging by people who had the least to the most activity.
MRI scans measured their brain volume and the volumes of their gray matter, white matter and white matter hyperintensity.
Gray matter of the brain is the cerebral cortex, which controls sensations and functions such as speech, thinking and memory. Beneath the cerebral cortex is the white matter, which coordinates communication between different brain regions. White matter hyperintensities are signs of damage to the white matter, which are common in older adults, according to a 2019 study.
Judging by the MRI scans, the adults who engaged in the highest levels of activity had 1.4% more total brain volume than those who were inactive, which was the equivalent of slowing brain aging by about four years, the report said.
“Brain volume is one marker of success, along with cognitive test performance and daily function,” said Dr. Richard Marottoli, medical director of the Dorothy Adler Geriatric Assessment Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who wasn’t part of the study.
One limitation of the study was that information on physical activity relied on a participant’s ability to remember how often and how long they were active. And the study found an association between activity and brain volume, but not a causal relationship.
“However, there’s no apparent downside to incorporating these activities in our daily routine until we have more definitive evidence, and there may be other benefits as well, such as cardiovascular health,” Marottoli said. “[The findings] add to an expanding body of evidence that a variety of things under our control may have beneficial effects on cognition.”
If larger brain volume is a result of activity, it could have generated from biological processes including growth of nervous tissue, anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise and strengthening of synaptic plasticity, which contributes to learning and memory, Gu said.
Brain shrinkage can stem from degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and diseases of the nervous system, which can result from multiple insults such as inflammation and oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, Gu said. Free radicals are unstable molecules from environmental sources such as cigarette smoke or pesticides that can damage the body’s cells.
Other causes of brain aging include stress, because of the high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and brain injury induced by stroke events.
To foster brain health, Marotttoli said older adults can identify a mix of low, medium and high intensity activities they can safely enjoy and incorporate into their regular routine, increasing the likelihood they’ll be able to maintain them on a long-term basis.
In a recent study by the same authors, using the same study population, physical activity was associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“Given the close relationship between brain atrophy and cognitive decline or dementia risk, it will be very interesting to formally test in future studies whether the protective role of physical activity on cognition or reducing dementia risk is indeed through slowing” undesirable changes of the brain such as shrinkage or pathological changes, Gu said.
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