Research has found that excess weight increases our chances of developing conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer to many muscle, joint, and nerve problems. In fact, a new study found that overweight individuals even have a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If the number on your scale is putting a frown on your face (or numbness in your hand), check out this infographic for some helpful tips! 👉 https://bit.ly/3iQm27G
Here we go again. In my May 2014 blog (still available in the blog list) we discussed the new omega “discovery”. So, get ready for all the health attributes for the new buzz word in the vitamin marketplace, “POLYPHENOLS”! Polyphenols are a subset of a larger group of “PHYTOCHEMICALS” (compounds that are in plant-based foods and some animal-based foods). They are commonly referred to as antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, polyphenols, organosulfides, etc. Polyphenols can improve digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases. After 50 yrs. of observing and studying food chemistry beware of overly priced isolates. There are 4,000-25,000 phytochemicals (depending which authority one quotes) of which a few of them (150) have been identified as well as their importance. For example, anthocyanins, astaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, resveratrol (blueberries, grapes, veggies, etc.) are the most researched; quercetin being the latest as it relates to the immune system. They exist in an “orderly complex matrix” of 1,000’s of other unknown factors in our food not as an overly concentrated isolate (alone). Many articles researched warn of hazards associated with isolated forms and always recommended healthy choices of “FOODS”, what a concept. For many who are unable to eat consciously, supplementation is a viable alternative but must be from food concentrates. If one observes animals in the wild, they are not eating isolates. Just some “Food for Thought”.
Good news: A recent study concluded that the majority of migraine headache patients who implement mindfulness-based stress reduction have significantly fewer headache days (>50% fewer days). 🧘Check out this infographic to learn more about mindfulness-based stress reduction. https://bit.ly/3ey26Et
One of my patient’s inquired “if Niacin (B3) helps with hair health?” Well, yes and maybe no….Niacin is one of several “scientifically documented nutrients” that contribute to overall hair health, but it doesn’t end there! First, one MUST have proper circulation to the hair follicles in our scalp…then nutrients can feed these hair cells to do their job–grow hair. Hair is 88-90% protein- best gotten from fatty fish (salmon, sardines), grain-fed beef. eggs, beans. etc.. Next, Vit D, Zinc, Copper, Inositol, Biotin (Vit H: part of the B-complex family), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Niacin(B3) have all demonstrated some influence with hair texture, growth, graying, etc. So, if you go to a pharmacy, health food store or “on-line” you will find numerous products that I refer to as “designer supplements” (products developed based on the most up to date “guaranteed new discovery” for health). Buyer Beware- food is the basis of “nourishing” your body (hair cells -all cells). When I was 23, my first introduction to “Food Supplmentation” was Nutritional Yeast for healthy hair. I have been taking it regularly for the past 40+yrs. Initially, I did not know why this person told me to do it until the late 70’s when it was reported in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “hair health was found to be related to a Copper deficiency”. I looked at my can of Brewer’s Yeast and I was surprised to see that Copper, as well as many other hair related nutrients, were part of that food source. It was very high in protein, Biotin, Inositol, Niacin, B5, Zinc, etc….that’s when I realized that Food should be my supplementation form not the “miracle cure of the moment”.
In this video, Dr. Fiscella compares the old-school weightlifting approach to the newer model of athletic training. Looking to get in shape with fewer injuries in the new year? Check out the full 9min video!
The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against external invaders: bacteria, viruses, parasites and more. To address a wide array of intricate microorganisms, the immune system’s response has to be equally as complex. But an extensive amount of research has been done over the years on the various inner workings of the immune system. These findings often point to nutrition as a way to support the immune system and reach optimal functioning.
Why Nutrition Is Important for the Immune Response
Nutrition is important for a healthy immune response because, like other systems of the body, immune organs, tissues and cells need energy to complete their assigned functions. Nutrients provide that energy. Nutrients also provide support for the immune system in the form of:
Reduced risk of infection
Antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin; essential meaning the body cannot produce it in ample amounts on its own. Exposure to sunlight is typically the way an average person accesses this micronutrient, as ultraviolet rays stimulate vitamin D synthesis from within the body.
Dietary vitamin D sources include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, mushrooms and some fortified foods. Vitamin D is also a common ingredient in nutritional supplements.
Vitamin D is associated with calcium absorption and bone health, and it is also important for immune support. This is especially true for boosting the innate immune system (also known as the nonspecific immune response or the “first line of defense”), which aids in the prevention of common colds and influenza during peak infection months (i.e., “flu season”).1
Poor vitamin D status has long been understood to correlate with increased risk of contracting the infectious illness, but supplementation has yielded mixed results on reducing risk overall. A recent meta-analysis has shown that vitamin D supplementation is effective and safe to support acute respiratory concerns.2
Zinc is an essential mineral associated with immune barrier support in the innate immune system.1 Suboptimal zinc levels are associated with dysfunction in immune cells, potentially increasing the risk of infectious disease and other conditions. Physical barriers in the immune response are often characterized by mucus production and mucosal membrane integrity. Zinc is also associated with other immune support mechanisms, such as:
Inhibition of rhinovirus replication, a microbe commonly responsible for the common cold
Promotion of antigen presentation for the adaptive (specific) immune response
Support of lymphocyte maturation and differentiation
Zinc is found in oysters and other types of seafood, red meat and poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and other foods. Phytates in whole-grain bread, cereal, legumes and other foods bind zinc and prevent it from being absorbed, limiting its bioavailability from these foods.3
Echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea) produce bioactive compounds called alkylamides that, along with other constituents found in echinacea, have been shown to support the innate immune response. Echinacea’s support of immunity comes from a variety of actions:
Maturation of dendritic cells
Increase in phagocytic activity and macrophage activity
Increase in natural killer cell activity
Balance of inflammatory response by inhibiting the “cytokine storm”
Studies also associate echinacea with reduced duration and severity of colds and upper respiratory infections, as well as the alleviation of symptoms associated with these conditions.4-5
A variety of medicinal mushrooms have long been associated with both innate and adaptive immune support, specifically in the form of promoting cytokine and cytokine receptor function; as well as the activation of important immune cells thanks to beta-glucans produced by many mushroom species. Medicinal mushrooms of particular immune importance include: maitake, turkey tail, shiitake, reishi and cordyceps.
Why Lifestyle Is Important for the Immune Response
Lifestyle factors in addition to diet, such as sleep habits, stress management and physical activity, also have an impact on the health of the immune system. A lifestyle balanced with healthy choices from all aspects of activity can maximize the efficacy of the immune system and minimize the risk of infection.
Sleep: People normally feel “good” after a night of restful sleep because sleep is the body’s chance to recuperate after a day of physical and mental stress. A good night’s sleep prepares the body for another day, and that includes the immune system, which has to stay on alert for external threats. Healthy sleep is important for optimal immune function, specifically the homeostatic balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory compounds that keeps inflammation initiation and resolution in equilibrium.
Stress: Management of stress is important for immune health because excessive or chronic stress can wear down the body over time. Like inflammation, acute physiological stress that has a definitive beginning and end is a normal part of the body’s response to life. But when stress (or inflammation) becomes chronic, the body may experience a perpetual state of strain.
Specifically for chronic stress, there is an issue with excessive cortisol production. Cortisol is an important hormone for acute states of stress, such as avoiding a fender-bender in bumper-to-bumper traffic or answering an important question when called on at school or work. But when cortisol production continues indefinitely as a result of chronic stress, it can have negative repercussions that suppress the immune system and prevent it from responding to infections effectively.
Healthy stress management is beneficial for whole-body health, which includes the immune system.
A wholistic approach is vital to maximize the protective capabilities of the immune system. Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary components – as well as lifestyle factors like healthy sleep, stress management and exercise habits – are all important steps toward supporting the immune system’s natural mechanisms to keep the body healthy.
Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-care for common colds: the pivotal role of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea in three main immune interactive clusters (physical barriers, innate and adaptive immunity) involved during an episode of common colds-practical advice on dosages and on the time to take these nutrients/botanicals in order to prevent or treat common colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2018:5813095.
Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data BMJ, 2017;356:i6583.
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
Block KI, Mead MN. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther, 2003;2(3):247-67.
Jawad R, Schoop A, Suter P, et al. Safety and efficacy problem of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evidence-Based Compl Alt Med, 2012:841315.