Christmas foods have a bit of a bad wrap! (Please forgive the pun.) Too many mince pies, mulled wine (and all the other drinks), servings from the cheese platter and candy canes leave many of us stuffed, sluggish and soooooo not looking forward to dieting in January. But many traditional Christmas foods are incredibly nutritious. We invite you to fill up on these superfoods this year and enjoy the less healthy treats in moderation.
- Turkey is a feel-good superfood. It’s high in protein, vitamins B6 and B12, potassium and zinc. Remove the skin and it’s low in fat too. And it’s a serotonin booster (the feel-good hormone) because it’s high in the amino acid tryptophan. (Just go easy on the gravy!)
- Smoked Salmon is a fantastic source of protein, Omega-3s and Vitamin D. It’s also high in (good) fat and salt, but it’s a healthy enough indulgence on Christmas Day.
- Prawns/ Shrimp are low in fat and high in copper, zinc, and selenium (important for healthy hair and nails.) Maybe blend up your own healthy dipping source with low-fat natural yoghurt, lime, and coriander to maximise the goodness.
Every nut has a slightly different nutritional profile, but between them, a handful of nuts bring a host of vitamins, fibre, and good fats. Admittedly, roasted and salted, or candied, they become more of a treat and less of a superfood. Why not add them to stuffing, sprinkle over salads or roast your own gently to control the process?
You might think you don’t like Brussel Sprouts, but that’s probably because you haven’t had them blanched and then lightly fried (in a healthy oil) with sage and chestnuts. The good news is that this cooking method leaves them tasting much better than the overly boiled sprouts you might have tried before, but also preserves their high Vitamin C content. They’re also high in fibre, folic acid, and potassium.
Carrots and Roasted Parsnip round out the traditional Christmas meal, bringing yet more fibre, folic acid, Vitamin C, and manganese to the table. If a cooler meal is more your thing Superfood salads incorporating Figs and Cranberries could stand in for the vegetables. (Check out the Mason Jar salad technique for preparation ahead of time.)
Desserts and treats featuring Cinnamon and Nutmeg will be packed with minerals including potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and thiamin. And Dried Fruits while calorific still count towards your five a day. (Maybe replace the sugar for monk fruit or another natural sweetener if you’re baking yourself so as not to undo all the good the fruit and spices are doing.)
Add a Clementine to the Christmas stockings and you have a super-food packed traditional Christmas menu.
We wish you a very happy, healthy Christmas!
Matthews, L. (2015). Twelve Days of Christmas Super Food. [Online] Available at https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/christmas-super-foods. Accessed on 20/10/2022.
BBC Good Food. (n.d.) Brussel sprouts with chestnuts & sage recipe. [Online] Available at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/brussels-sprouts-chestnuts-sage. Accessed on 20/10/2022.
Along with the colder weather, winter also brings an increase in colds, flus, and other infectious diseases. Respiratory illnesses are at particularly higher levels than normally seen this time of year. Respiratory tract infections are infections of part of the body that affect breathing, sinuses, throat, airway, and lungs. Prevention is a great way to avoid the suffering coupled with acquiring one of these seasonal illnesses and that involves strengthening our defences, namely, ensuring we have a well functioning immune system. Thankfully, a little know polysaccharide (carbohydrate molecule) called Beta-Glucans which can be found in high concentrations in mushrooms, can be a very helpful tool in helping us avoid illness and respiratory tract infections.
What are beta-glucans?
Beta-glucans are a type of fiber found in the cell walls of certain yeasts, bacteria, fungi, algae, plants like oats, barley, wheat, rye, and mushrooms. Beta-glucans are a unique family of fibres that are biologically active, meaning they go beyond providing nutritional value and can impact body function. In the case of beta-glucans, they can positively impact immune function.
How do beta-glucans affect or immune system?
Beta-Glucans are believed to stimulate the immune system, modulating humoral and cellular immunity, and thereby have beneficial effects in fighting infectious diseases, such as bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic diseases. Beta-Glucans can stimulate specific receptors involved in immunoregulation. They improve the body’s immune system defence against foreign invaders by enhancing the ability of key immune cells such as macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer cells. They also increase in production of salivary immunoglobulins, and improve in mucosal immunity in our airways and digestive tract.
They achieve this through their unique molecular structure which allows interaction with several cell surface receptors such as complement receptor 3 (CR3; CD11b/CD18), lactosylceramide, selected scavenger receptors, and dectin-1 (betaGR).Additionally, beta-glucans have high levels of antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress on the body as well as improve digestion and elimination through its fibre content and positive impact on healthy strains of intestinal bacteria.
What does the research say about beta-glucans effects on respiratory tract infections?
Several studies looking at children as young as 3 years of age show significant reduction in recurrent respiratory tract infections (RRTIs), and respiratory diseases such as laryngitis, common cold, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Beta-glucans have also been demonstrated to reduce upper respiratory tract infections and fatigue in marathon runners and high to moderately stressed adults.
Using beta-glucans in a preventative way may decrease the frequency of various forms of respiratory tract infection, support protective immune mechanisms, and possibly provide other beneficial effects such as increased well-being, decreased sick days and reduction in medication or antibiotic use.
Where to find Beta-glucans?
Not all supplements are created equal, and this couldn’t be more true for mushroom supplements.
The therapeutic polysaccharides in mushrooms (beta glucans) are found inside indigestible cell walls (made of chitin). Only when properly extracted can they maintain their structural integrity and be concentrated to therapeutically useful levels.
An extract is critical to guarantee bioavailability and to create the potency needed for therapeutic effectiveness. The bulk of the mushroom supplements available in the U.S. and Canada are ground up mushrooms (un-extracted), put in capsules or tinctures. These supplements are significantly less potent than extracts used in clinical research needed to achieve a therapeutic response. Therefore, it is important to find mushroom supplements that have used the appropriate methods of extraction and are ideally not grown on grains, such as brown rice, which is common. A good quality health food store should have plenty of options to choose from. Additionally, mushroom fruiting body extracts offer a more potent and higher quality product than mycelium extracts. Concentrated fruiting body extracts contain more bioactive levels of beta-glucans and a wider array of nutritional components compared to the mycelium.
Best mushrooms for beta-glucans
• Lions Mane
• Turkey Tail
• Harmonic Arts
• Four Sigmatic
• Host Defense
• Hybrid Herbs
Written by: Jared Cox
Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606. PMID: 17895634.
Talbott S., Talbott J. Effect of β 1,3/1,6 glucan on upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and mood state in marathon athletes. J. Sport Sci. Med. 2009;8:509–515.
Bashir KMI, Choi JS. Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Sep 5;18(9):1906. doi: 10.3390/ijms18091906. PMID: 28872611; PMCID: PMC5618555.
Talbott, S. and Talbott, J., 2010. Beta 1, 3/1, 6 glucan decreases upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and improves psychological well-being in moderate to highly-stressed subjects. Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech, 21(1), pp.21-24
Vetvicka V, Richter J, Svozil V, Rajnohová Dobiášová L, Král V. Placebo-driven clinical trials of yeast-derived β-(1-3) glucan in children with chronic respiratory problems. Ann Transl Med. 2013 Oct;1(3):26. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305- 5839.2013.07.01. PMID: 25332970; PMCID: PMC4200675.
Richter J, Svozil V, Král V, Rajnohová Dobiášová L, Stiborová I, Vetvicka V. Clinical trials of yeast-derived β-(1,3) glucan in children: effects on innate immunity. Ann Transl Med. 2014 Feb;2(2):15. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305- 5839.2014.02.01. PMID: 25332991; PMCID: PMC4202474.
Richter J, Svozil V, Král V, Rajnohová Dobiášová L, Vetvicka V. β-glucan affects mucosal immunity in children with chronic respiratory problems under physical stress: clinical trials. Ann Transl Med. 2015 Mar;3(4):52. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2015.03.20. PMID: 25861607; PMCID: PMC4381477.
Jesenak M, Majtan J, Rennerova Z, Kyselovic J, Banovcin P, Hrubisko M. Immunomodulatory effect of pleuran (βglucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) in children with recurrent respiratory tract infections. Int Immunopharmacol. 2013 Feb;15(2):395-9. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2012.11.020. Epub 2012 Dec 20. PMID: 23261366.
Grau, J.S., Sirvent, L.P., Ingles, M.M. and Urgell, M.R., 2015. Beta-glucans from Pleurotus ostreatus for prevention of recurrent respiratory tract infections. Acta Pediatrica Espanola, 73, pp.186-93.
You may have heard the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. When it comes to mental health and your wellbeing, self-care can be vital to help you recharge and take time out for yourself and your needs. If you’re constantly giving to other people, you risk burning out. Small, regular acts of self-care can have a significant impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Today we’re bringing you 4 self-care tips to help you recharge.
Sleep as self-care
Prioritise quality sleep as an act of self-care. Adults need on average between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Getting good quality sleep is vital for our mental and physical health.
Try to create a sleep routine and go to bed at roughly the same time every night. You might want to create a little sleep ritual to help you fall asleep easily. Make your bedroom a sleep haven, keep it tidy and get the lighting right for sleep. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, so if that’s you, limit your caffeine consumption after 3pm.
It can be tempting to stay up late binge-watching a new TV series, or scrolling on your phone; however, it’s a good idea to limit exposure to screens and blue-light leading into bedtime. Instead, you could have a meditation or relaxation ritual, maybe read a book or write in a journal, or even create a skin-care routine to help you wind down.
Hydrating for good health
Staying hydrated is a simple and effective daily act of self-care. We all know that we should drink more water for our health. Our bodies need water to survive – we can’t store it or produce it. Water has so many health benefits:
- Improves mental clarity, helps brain function and increases your focus
- Aids digestion by carrying nutrients and minerals through the body
- Keeps your joints supple and lubricated
- Promote healthy, hydrated skin
- Helps to flush toxins from your vital organs
Most people need to drink around 8-10 glasses of water per day (that’s around 2-2.5L). Keep your drink bottle or glass of water handy throughout the day to ensure you are staying hydrated for your health and wellbeing.
Exercise for wellbeing and mental health
Exercise for self-care improves your mental health and wellbeing. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people worldwide live with a mental health disorder.
Research has proven that regular exercise has a positive impact on mental health:
- reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
- releases chemicals including endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood
- improves mental clarity by increasing blood flow to the brain
There are so many ways to incorporate exercise in your day: a daily walk, an early morning home yoga session, workout at the park, stretching after a long day, an exercise class or power walk with a friend.
Investing in exercise as self-care has so many positive returns. Sometimes it feels as though we don’t have the energy to exercise. We forget that exercise invigorates our minds and bodies. When it comes to exercise for self-care, we get back so much more than what we put in!
If you need some advice on prioritising your health and wellbeing, we’re here to help you to live your best life! Give us a call on (416) 546-4887 or email us at [email protected] to book an appointment.
Cholesterol comes in many forms, in the past some where labeled as bad and others as good. This is not a correct way of looking at them, cholesterol is an essential fat that is required for normal body functions. It is produced by the liver and is needed to build cells, helps in fat digestion, but most of all it is required building block for most hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and vitamin D).
Cholesterol travels through the body with the aid of a substances called lipoproteins. HDL (high density lipoprotein) carries the fat from the arteries to the liver where it is then removed from the body, hence HDL was named the “good” cholesterol as it removed fat from the body. Whereas, LDL (low density lipoprotein) carries it through the bloodstream where clots may form, and was named the “bad” cholesterol. There is also VLDL, which transforms LDL.
We now measure the total cholesterol and compare the totals, as ratios between HDL and LDL determine risk factors for heart disease. We also check sizes of HDL as larger particles are better for health outcomes.
What causes high LDL? Obesity, binge eating, chronic stress, high blood pressure, hypothyroid, insulin resistance, kidney disease, pregnancy, genetics, age and sex.
There are so many factors that can influence your cholesterol numbers therefore testing for more than just lipids is important to find the root cause. Therefore we test, liver, kidneys, hormones, glucose/insulin, and thyroid.
There are some severe symptoms you should look out for and should seek immediate medical interventions: shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, frequent leg pains, poor circulation.
Do not wait for these symptoms to arise, prevention is key.
Book an appointment with Dr. Matthew Pace, Naturopathic Doctor to get your blood work up done. Find
out your levels and determine your risks for heart disease.
Getting bored of the food you eat day in, day out, week after week?! Well lucky for you we have some suggestions for you to help spice up your shopping list and keep you healthy into the festive period (where we’re all likely to pig out and indulge on chocolate, desserts, and cake… and chocolate… and cake… what’s that? We’ve already said chocolate and cake once? So sorry, we can’t quite hear you through all the chocolate and cake!)
- Truffles: OK stay with us. Everyone knows truffles are pretty pricey! We don’t dispute that, but they are starting to become more readily available. And they taste GREAT! We appreciate they are a type of fungus, which might put a lot of people off, but seriously, you should give this little golden nugget a try if you can. Considered a complete source of protein and boasting a host of other health benefits (including having antioxidant, antibacterial, and anticancer properties), this is a must for your shopping list at some point. Black truffles are the most affordable kind, but there are various types on the market. Not sure you want to spend the money? Try a truffle oil first (much more affordable) to see if it sets your tastebuds alight.
- Spirulina: Most commonly sold in powder form, spirulina (an algae) is considered by many to be the most nutrient rich food on the planet. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, protein (another source of a complete protein) and iron. You can enjoy this one mixed with just water or added to your morning smoothie. Get ready for the green!!
- Hemp seeds: Don’t be alarmed. Yes, hemp seeds come from a cannabis plant, but rest assured they won’t leave you feeling paranoid or have brain altering effects. They are a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, have antioxidant properties, and are great for the brain, heart and skin. Simply sprinkle over yoghurt, breakfast cereals or salads.
- Insects: By no means a commonly consumed food in a western diet, insects have been consumed in many cultures across the world for centuries. If you can see past the fact you are eating a creepy crawly, these crunchy treats are full of protein and are a nutritious alternative to many meats. And are considerably more sustainable. Go on… give them a go. We hear crickets and mealworm are particularly good options if you’re adventurous (just do your research before picking up bugs willy nilly).
- Dark chocolate: Okay, on a more serious note – this one we know you can find in your local supermarket. We know there is a good chance you have tried dark chocolate at some point in your life, but considering the silly season is nearly upon us, we couldn’t resist. And there is no denying, dark chocolate trumps it’s milk and white counterparts in every possible way. Cacao seeds (used to make dark chocolate) have incredibly high antioxidant properties. This year, give yourself a healthier treat and choose the dark side. We don’t think you’ll ever go back!
So, there you have it. Five (or should we say, four?) foods you should definitely try this festive season. Enjoy a healthy Christmas this year and you’ll be starting the New Year feeling great!
Merry Xmas everyone!!
- Healthline. 2018. 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Truffles. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/truffles. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Healthline. 2018. 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-spirulina. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Medical News Today. 2018. Health benefits of hemp seeds. [Online]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323037. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Payne, C. et al. 2016. Are edible insects more or less ‘healthy’ than commonly consumed meats? A comparison using two nutrient profiling models developed to combat over- and undernutrition. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70. 285-291. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4781901/pdf/ejcn2015149a.pdf
- Crozier, S. et al. 2011. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chemistry Central Journal. 5 (5). Available from: https://bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5#citeas
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals, health care workers, nurses, doctors, emergency responders and many others have been overwhelmed and under a great deal of stress. They’ve required our cooperation to limit the spread of Covid-19, prevent unnecessary deaths and to reduce the burden on our health system.
The foremost method of limiting this burden so far has involved social distancing, self-isolation, wearing masks, hand washing and sanitizing surfaces. All of which are valid and important to avoid contact and infection from the virus. But as Covid-19 variants continue to arise and evade vaccination efficacy, it is becoming clear that this virus may be around longer than we would all hope. Is there anything we can do that will reduce our chances of a serious, medical attention requiring, infection and allow us to get back to normalcy?
My hope with this post is to empower and give individuals a more active role in containing the virus and controlling their health by, first, showing the mechanisms of a viral infection and, second, the many ways lifestyle and dietary choices can help or hinder our response to it.
How does a virus work?
The mechanisms of viral infection.
- Implantation of virus at the portal of entry (in the case of COVID-19 this implantation occurs at the mucus membranes found within the mouth, nose and eyes. Specifically the ACE-2 receptors on the epithelial cells of these tissues. 1
- After the virus has implanted, it will begin to replicate
- Then the virus will spread to target organs (COVID-19 seems to affect the lower respiratory tract however there may also be multi-organ involvement. 2
- The virus then begins shedding into the environment and potentially infecting others.3 (For COVID-19 two modes for transmission exist – direct and indirect. The direct method includes transmission via respiratory droplets and aerosols when a person coughs, sneezes, shouts or talks. Indirect modes include transmission via fomites4 (picking up the virus from inanimate objects)
- Transmission through inanimate surfaces appears to be very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes directly on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 hours). 5
- Outdoor risk of transmission of Covid-19 is very low. Research continues to suggest that the vast majority of transmission happens in indoor spaces; recent reviews considering data from several countries found very little evidence of outdoor transmission for SARS-CoV-2, influenza or other respiratory viruses.6,7
There are three factors that affect a virus’ ability to infect and a person and make them sick.
- Accessibility of virus to tissue, (How prevalent is the virus in our environment)
- Cellular susceptibility to virus multiplication, and
- Virus susceptibility to host defences. 3
Lockdowns, social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks, prevents our contact with the virus and reduces our risk of encountering the virus.
But what happens if we do encounter the virus? Is there a way to make our cells less susceptible to viral hijacking or ensuring our host defences (immune system) protects us more effectively?
It turns out that through our lifestyle and dietary choices we have a great deal of control in ensuring a COVID-19 infection doesn’t result in serious or critical outcome. 8
Covid-19 infection can present in a spectrum ranging from mild, moderate to severe illness. In severe cases of COVID-19 the respiratory distress comes not just from how the virus harms the infected, but from an exaggerated response of the individuals own immune system. The pneumonia which accompanies COVID-19 is not directly caused by the virus but rather through fibrosis caused by runaway cytokine storms within the respiratory system. 9
What is a cytokine storm?
Cytokines are a group of proteins that provide intercellular signaling and communication, which controls cell proliferation and differentiation alongside immune and inflammatory responses. The immune system, under normal circumstances, will respond to a pathogen with a regulated and proportionate amount of cytokines to remove the pathogen and restore homeostasis.
Failures in the body’s own feedback and regulatory processes are responsible for excessive cytokine production and can result in systemic damage that often outstrips the benefit from a ‘typical’ immune response. 8
The leading cause of death in patients infected with Covid-19 is acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. It is now known that several proinflammatory cytokines will contribute to the occurrence of ARDS. 10
Risk factors for a severe infection
Poor nutritional status as well as pre-existing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity, and various other diseases that compromise immune function can increase the likelihood of a severe and fatal infection from Covid-19.
These diseases are characterized by systemic inflammation, leaving an individual pre-inflamed prior to viral infection. The inflammation caused by infection from the virus combined with this systemic inflammation can make a severe and medical attention requiring reaction more likely. 11
How to maintain a healthy well-functioning immune system
The good news is, adoption of healthy lifestyle, and dietary habits can have a considerable effect on improving nutrition status, reducing inflammation and preventing and even improving pre-existing conditions which can consequently safeguard us from severe viral infections.
Vaccines also appear to be more effective in individuals who fall into the normal/healthy body mass index (BMI) range for their body weight and height. 12
Below are some easy and effective strategies.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet
There is nothing complex or new about an anti-inflammatory diet. You don’t need to eat a variety of expensive and exotic superfoods or take a briefcase full of supplements. An anti-inflammatory diet is simply choosing whole foods consisting of whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, healthy fats and oils, good quality protein sources, and small amounts of healthy treats. This combined with reducing consumption of refined and processed foods, including highly
processed sugar laden foods and beverages, processed meats, refined oils and deep-fried foods will be a huge step in the right direction.
A good example is found in this anti-inflammatory food pyramid.
Reduce your consumption of sugar
Poor blood sugar control, not only in people with diabetes, worsens the prognosis and increases the seriousness of COVID-19 infection.
- because a spike in blood sugar is accompanied by a large increase in inflammatory mediators.
- glycosylation – a process that can be caused by a spike in blood sugar, is needed by the virus to link onto a cellular receptor – this can favor the cellular intrusion of Covid-19, leading to higher severity of symptoms experienced.
Individuals with well-regulated blood sugar (like those who regularly exercise and eat plenty of whole vegetables and fruits) are less likely to have high levels of inflammation and reduced binding capacity for the virus. 13
Supplement with Vitamin D
Two separate systematic reviews looking at the effects of vitamin D and Covid-19 show that a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased severity and complications from Covid-19 infection and that optimal levels can reduce inflammatory markers and the negative immunomodul
ation of the inflammatory cytokine storm caused by COVID-19. Both studies recommend acquiring optimal blood levels of vitamin D through supplementation and/or sunlight exposure in order to reduce the severity of Covid-19 infection.14, 15
Make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3
There are various benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and taking it as a supplement might be associated with the prevention of the viral entry by changing the composition of fats in the membrane of our cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA, perform their role by being incorporated in the cell membrane and affecting the clumping of toll-like receptors and thus preventing signals that activate nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) a regulator of innate immunity, and help to reduce the complications of COVID-19 by producing fewer pro-inflammatory mediators.16 17
Being physically inactive greatly increases the risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes, including greater risk of hospitalization, admission to the ICU, and death for adults compared to individuals constantly meeting physical activity guidelines. 18
Respiratory viral infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, cause a systemic inflammatory response that places increased demand and substantial burden on the cardiopulmonary system.
Regular use of exercise positively affects the cardiorespiratory system allowing for greater cardiopulmonary capacity to deal with a respiratory infection and has been shown to diminish the risk for adverse outcomes. Routine exercise has also been shown to improve immune function, reduce the risk of respiratory infections and lower chronic low-grade inflammation. 19
The benefits to exercise don’t stop there. Exercise also helps you;
- Sleep better 20
- Manage blood sugar more effectively 21
- Reduce chronic pain 22
- Reduce the risk of dementia 23
Exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym and lifting weights or going to spin class three times a week. Exercise in its most sustainable form can be doing any form of physical activity that you enjoy, such as dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming, cleaning, playing with kids or any kind of hobby that gets you moving.
Try meditating or start a gratitude journal.
In a time where our immune systems need to be functioning optimally the news and information being given by media outlets and our government institutions has been a driver for fear, stress and included instructions (social isolation) that are known to, unfortunately, reduce immune function.24
Meditation, visualization and gratitude practices can be extremely helpful at reducing the stress and fear associated with a global pandemic as well as help combat the negative effects of social isolation.
The isolation caused by repeated and prolonged lockdowns are an unfortunate consequence of the medical community’s strategy to control the virus. Fortunately the negative immune system effects of loneliness and isolation have been proven to be improved by specific meditative practices.25
Meditation has been shown to counteract at least 60% of the inflammatory mechanisms that COVID-19 triggers. This could lower the likelihood and severity of the body’s inflammatory load, diminishing the damage the body takes and accelerating the clearing of the virus.26
Improving the resilience and recovery rates of the sick in quarantine reduces the duration of their stay in the hospital and improving the immune efficiency of the healthy in isolation can reduce their likelihood of requiring hospitalization in the first place.
There are many helpful mediation/visualization apps and programs to be discovered – check out a couple of the options below
Get enough sleep
Sleep provides essential support to the immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defense that features strong innate and adaptive immunity.
Sleep plays a role in promoting inflammatory homeostasis through its effects on several inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines. Prolonged sleep deficiency can lead to chronic, systemic low-grade inflammation and is associated with inflammatory diseases, like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and neurodegeneration.27
Immune function works in a synergistic manner with our circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycles, where differentiated immune cells with immediate functions, peak during the wake period and undifferentiated or less differentiated cells peak during the night, when the more slowly evolving adaptive immune response is initiated.28
Implementing new behaviours and changing dietary patterns can be challenging, so start out small. Many small changes can amount to a big shift in your wellbeing.
If you would like more information on how to implement these strategies or have a health concern, contact Beachealth today.
Written by: Jared Cox
- Lu C wei, Liu X fen, Jia Z fang. 2019-nCoV transmission through the ocular surface must not be ignored. Lancet. 2020;395(10224). doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30313-5
- Gavriatopoulou M, Korompoki E, Fotiou D, et al. Organ-specific manifestations of COVID-19 infection. Clin Exp Med. 2020;20(4). doi:10.1007/s10238-020-00648-x
- Samuel Baron MF and TA. Viral Pathogenesis. Med Microbiol Bookshelf ID NBK8149. Published online 1996.
- Harrison AG, Lin T, Wang P. Mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Pathogenesis. Trends Immunol. 2020;41(12). doi:10.1016/j.it.2020.10.004
- Goldman E. Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(8). doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30561-2
- Bulfone TC, Malekinejad M, Rutherford GW, Razani N. Outdoor Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Other Respiratory Viruses: A Systematic Review. J Infect Dis. 2021;223(4). doi:10.1093/infdis/jiaa742
- Weed M, Foad A. Protocol for a rapid scoping review of evidence of outdoor transmission of COVID-19. medRxiv. Published online 2020. doi:10.1101/2020.08.07.20170373
- Arena R, Bond S, Calvo IR, et al. Shelter from the cytokine storm: Healthy living is a vital preventative strategy in the COVID-19 era. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. Published online June 2021. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2021.06.008
- Cascella M, Rajnik M, Cuomo A, Dulebohn SC, Di Napoli R. Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19) – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.; 2020.
- Ye Q, Wang B, Mao J. The pathogenesis and treatment of the `Cytokine Storm’ in COVID-19. J Infect. 2020;80(6). doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.03.037
- Zabetakis I, Lordan R, Norton C, Tsoupras A. Covid-19: The inflammation link and the role of nutrition in potential mitigation. Nutrients. 2020;12(5). doi:10.3390/nu12051466
- Painter SD, Ovsyannikova IG, Poland GA. The weight of obesity on the human immune response to vaccination. Vaccine. 2015;33(36). doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.06.101
- Ceriello A. Hyperglycemia and the worse prognosis of COVID-19. Why a fast blood glucose control should be mandatory. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2020;163. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2020.108186
- Pereira M, Dantas Damascena A, Galvão Azevedo LM, de Almeida Oliveira T, da Mota Santana J. Vitamin D deficiency aggravates COVID-19: systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Published online 2020. doi:10.1080/10408398.2020.1841090
- Yisak H, Ewunetei A, Kefale B, et al. Effects of vitamin d on covid-19 infection and prognosis: A systematic review. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2021;14. doi:10.2147/RMHP.S291584
- Hathaway D, Pandav K, Patel M, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids and COVID-19: A comprehensive review. Infect Chemother. 2020;52(4). doi:10.3947/IC.2020.52.4.478
- Hariharan A, Hakeem AR, Radhakrishnan S, Reddy MS, Rela M. The Role and Therapeutic Potential of NF-kappa-B Pathway in Severe COVID-19 Patients. Inflammopharmacology. 2021;29(1). doi:10.1007/s10787-020-00773-9
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Looking to start 2021 with a clean slate? This blog isn’t about setting resolutions (although we can always help you do that if you desire), but rather giving you some tips on how to start the new year with a fresh body. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is very accurate. The Christmas break is notoriously full of rich, indulgent food, too much alcohol and not enough moving! Our bodies can cope with this for a short period, but long-term it begins to dislike us. Here’s how to clean-up and give your body the chance it deserves to be its best, for you.
Tips for cleaning-up your act
The following tips are just some of many pieces of advice we could give you to clean-up your act and start feeling alive again:
1. Eat foods rich in antioxidants
This is a great way to start helping your insides detox. All of those sugary, fatty foods, soft drinks, alcohol and sleepless nights over the festive period will have left your body with a build-up of toxins. Now you need to rid your body of those toxins to begin feeling normal again. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals are a great way to increase your antioxidant intake. In particular, try to eat foods rich in the following vitamins and minerals to clean out the system:
• Vitamin A: Liver, kidney, oily fish (e.g. mackerel), carrots, red capsicum, tomatoes, spinach
• Vitamin C: Chilies, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, guava, mangoes, papaya
• Vitamin E: Almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn and wheatgerm oil
• Copper: Nuts, cereals, meat and organ meats (i.e. liver and kidney)
• Zinc: Lamb, shellfish, leafy green and root vegetables, milk, eggs, whole grains
• Selenium: Brazil nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, meat and organ meats (examples above)
2. Drink water, water, and more water!
Water is life-giving. Without it, we die within 3 days (depending on the person). That’s a pretty scary thought. Our bodies are also somewhere between 60-70% water, and they rely on us to replenish our water stores regularly and daily. All of the internal chemical processes that occur in our bodies (without us even knowing they are happening) require water for them to occur. When the body is low on water, these internal processes begin to struggle, and we begin to feel pretty terrible. Water is purifying for the body and it’s a pivotal part of any clean-up or detox (whatever you want to call it). We don’t think we need to give you any more reasons for drinking lots of water every day, so get to it. To help the system a bit more, reduce the amount of caffeinated, alcoholic and sugary soft drinks you are consuming and try to concentrate on just water. Your body will love you for it.
3. Exercise daily
What better way to purify the body than literally sweating it all out!? Get into an exercise routine for the new year, or just pick up where you left off if you slumped a bit over Christmas. If you’re not a fan of jogging, running or weight, then try a walk a day. A stroll in the park surrounded by lots of trees and fresh air is great for the mind, body and soul.
We don’t want to overload you with stuff to try, so we’ll leave it there for now. Give some or all of these a go and come and let us know how you feel after a few weeks. We think you’ll love the results!
Happy New Year! Oh… and now would be a great time to come see us for a new year full body check!
Weight loss: the larger picture
For every 5 points on the BMI scale above 22.5-25 BMI you have a 30% increased chance of mortality. That means if you have a BMI of 35-40 you only have a 60% chance of reaching the age of 70. This is due to all the comorbidities associated with obesity. The most common associated complications include: Type 2 Diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, joint degeneration, fatty liver, high blood pressure, acid reflux, incontinence, depression and gout. The OMA has listed 57 comorbidities of obesity.
Here’s the most common situation for my weight loss patients: a patient sits across from me and I ask them “What brings you in today?” and they reply “My doctor told me to lose weight”. Unfortunately, they are then left to figure out how to lose the weight, which is a big feat on its own. Not only are you trying to do one of the most difficult things: lose weight! But you are also trying to navigate the expanse of literature on weight loss. Which diet?… Which exercises? And far too often people just give up.
What I want to tell you is that each person is different! What worked for your bestfriend may not work for you. There are so many other factors to weight loss that these diets and plans do not account for. Here are some other important factors we need to look at when wanting to lose weight:
- Sleep – a good night of sleep causes 25% less cravings and you will be 25% less hungry. Sleep allows your body to reset all the hormones associated with weight including insulin, leptin, growth hormone and cortisol. Good sleep consists of getting enough sleep, creating a sleep routine and getting the right kind of sleep.
- Stress – did you know hidden infections, blood sugars imbalances, food intolerances, nutrient deficiencies and gut bacterial imbalances are all chronic stressors on the body. When you think of stress, most people think of the perceived stress, such as a busy lifestyle. There are so many other things that will cause stress in our body and have negative impacts on pathways that will cause weight issues.
- Insulin resistance – insulin is necessary in the storage of sugars, and these stores are necessary for times of fasting. Insulin resistance is when the body no longer recognizes insulin and we then start to produce a lot of insulin. When we have too much insulin, fat gets trapped!
- Thyroid – the thyroid hormones regulate your metabolize, someone who produces less of these hormones will have a slower metabolism and will burn calories slower therefore will start to put weight on or may have issues losing weight
- Food sensitivities – intolerances to food unlike allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, inflammation in the gut is one of the most common, this inflammation can cause you to improperly digest food, it also starts an immune response where the body recognize food particles as a foe and attacks it causing stress in the body and stress makes it harder to lose weight
This is just a short list, there are so many other factors that can play into weight loss issues, but these are the most common after diet and exercise. Your Naturopathic Doctor does an extensive intake to go over all the potential factors that are preventing you from losing weight. They will send you for pertinent lab work and then make a personalized plan with you which may include dietary/lifestyle changes, herbs/supplements and potentially acupuncture.
By Dr. Matthew Pace, N.D.
Inflammation: The Silent Killer
Inflammation is the bodies response to damage from infections, injuries and toxins. When one of these damages the body, the inflammation process is initiated and the immune system releases antibodies and other chemicals in an attempt to heal the body. This is acute inflammation and is what most think of as inflammation; Hot, Red, Pain, Swelling.
What happens when this does not resolve? When either the body cannot heal itself or when the root cause is not removed. We get chronic inflammation, and the effects on the body may surprise you!
Chronic inflammation may be caused by poor diet, smoking, chronic stress, lack of sleep, Autoimmune disease or untreated acute inflammation
In Chronic Inflammation we may not see the usual symptoms of hot, red, pain and swelling. More common symptoms are fatigue, insomnia, anxiety/depression, GI issues, weight issues, frequent infections, fever, sores and pain.
These symptoms may not be affecting your activities of daily living but long standing inflammation may contribute to other major diseases: cancer, diabetes, arthritis, IBD, allergies, COPD, alzheimer’s, kidney and cardiovascular disease. These are more serious complications and further investigation is required.
We can test for Chronic inflammation, your Naturopathic doctor can refer you for blood tests that can diagnose inflammation and determine the impact the inflammation has had on the body. This may include CBC, hsCRP, ESR, thyroid panel and fasting insulin/glucose to start. Autoimmune markers, glucose challenge and other organ health labs may also be added. If there is a correlation to food a Food Sensitivity IgG test may also be requisitioned.
Once the root cause of the inflammation is determined a treatment plan can be formed and may include the following: high fiber/low glycemic diet, supplements (curcumin, fish oils, glutamine, probiotics, magnesium, zinc), and exercise.
A Naturopathic Doctor can guide you through the investigation of inflammation and then design a personalized plan to prevent the development of several diseases that are linked to inflammation.
Written by: Dr. Matthew Pace, N.D
Reference: Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/