We all know a balanced/varied/colorful diet, frequent hand-washing, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, a flu shot, and maybe a supplement (since it’s hard to eat perfect every day) are the best means of warding off sickness. Whether it’s the dead of winter, and your whole family has the flu, or you just want to shorten that lingering summer cold, there ARE specific nutrients that help fight illnesses. Incorporate the below in your diet on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong all year long OR increase intake when your need to put up your best fight. These items will ultimately be more effective than many over-the-counter medicines!
Celtic Sea Salt
This particular salt is harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France. It is unrefined and contains no chemicals, preservatives or additives. It provides electrolytes, which are especially important for fluid balance when you aren’t feeling well and thus not eating and drinking adequately. Use Celtic salt instead of your current shaker in everyday cooking or seasoning. (Remember to go easy on the sodium if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. If you work out and sweat a lot, you may need to add more sodium to your diet. Always check with your doctor or Registered Dietitian for your personal needs.)
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
This was traditionally used as a disinfectant. It is now found in both the condiment and health supplement aisles of the supermarket. Acids in ACV can improve digestion and deter growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Add 1-2 Tbsp to hot water or tea or use in salad dressing.
This is necessary for growth and repair of tissue in all parts of the body. Lemons are a great source. They help fortify against infection, and have some anti-inflammatory effects as well. Grapefruits, oranges, dark leafy greens, strawberries, and red bell peppers also have a high content of this nutrient.
This aromatic spice is surprisingly a good source of fiber, iron, and calcium. It is rich in antioxidants: One teaspoon contains as much antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half cup of blueberries. Cinnamon acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and it has antimicrobial activity to fight infection.
This soothes a sore throat and may alleviate nighttime coughing as well as over-the-counter cough medicine.
Supplements (ask me to help recommend one for you!) and rich food sources (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) both improve gut health AND decrease the incidence of upper respiratory infections.
Not only does this bowl of hot liquid hydrate and soothe an achy throat, it warms airways, thus loosening mucus to help alleviate coughs and stuffed noses. The protein from the chicken helps build antibodies to that fight infection. Its amino acid cysteine thins mucus as well to decrease symptoms.
This spice is high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory and helps rid the body of toxins.
Garlic and Onion
The active component in garlic called allicin has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also improves healthy gut bacteria. Onions also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.
As mentioned above, hot liquids help hydrate a sick body and ease a sore throat, sneezing, chills, and fatigue. All teas (white, green, black) contain catechins, antioxidants that have been show to decrease the chance of catching the flu and boost overall immunity and metabolism. Adding one cup of chopped anise seeds or 1.5 tsp of fennel seeds to hot water for tea can help alleviate coughs and congestion due to the natural expectorant effects of both types of seeds. Chamomile and ginger teas can ease stomach discomfort and inflammation.
Putting it all together
To pack the most punch, try these combinations:
-Chicken soup made with garlic, onion, turmeric, kale, and bell peppers
-Hot green tea with 1 tbsp AVC, 1 tbsp honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of cinnamon
Feel better soon!!
When it comes to achieving a flat stomach or “six pack,” strength training, abdominal work, and cardiovascular exercise are only part of the must-do’s for toning up your midsection. Those abs will remain hidden unless you’re also eating the right foods (and drinking an optimal amount of water, too). While we should all avoid eating white flour, sugar, and fried and salty foods when trying to lose weight or lean out, incorporating certain foods into your healthy eating plan will help blast belly fat.
*Food suggestions are below, but as with any diet, always consult your physician or Registered Dietitian on your individual health and/or nutrition needs and goals.
Asparagus: Not only is asparagus low in calories and high in fiber, it’s full of filling protein and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains a prebiotic called inulin. which supports digestion and the growth of “good bacteria” in the GI tract to decrease bloating. Enjoy it steamed or roasted a few times a week to experience these benefits.
Cucumber: Another low-calorie. high-fiber veggie, cucumber also has a high water content, which can positively support weight loss (as you’ll see in the “water”
section below). With only 45 calories in one whole cucumber, as part of a healthy meal or snack, it decreases bloating and exhibits anti-inflammatory effects in the GI tract.
Greek Yogurt: Since this thick version of yogurt is strained, it has double the tummy-filling protein while being lower in la than regular yogurt It also contains “good bacteria” or probiotics to aid digestion and decrease bloating. Those with lactose intolerance are often able to tolerate Greek yogurt (unlike other dairy products). Plus, it’s a great source of calcium and slows the body’s production of cortisol, which can increase belly fat.
Good Fats: Olive Oil & Avocado: Both olive oil and avocado are healthy sources of monounsaturated fats. Healthy fats in moderation not only support the feeling of being satiated, they may even help burn more fat while storing less fat in your midsection. They also help control blood sugar and improve overall cholesterol levels, and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to support digestion and a flatter stomach.
Protein: Wild Salmon & Eggs: Salmon is high in Omega 3’s or “good fat.” Both protein and fat take longer to digest in the body, thus helping you feel satiated longer – less hungry = less munching on extra calories. Research has shown that the Omega-3’s found in salmon and other fish may help the body burn, not store, fat. Also, wild salmon has 4x the Vitamin D as farmed salmon. Insufficient consumption of this vitamin (via foods and/or the sun) has been linked to obesity. Eggs are also a great source of protein and Vitamin D. Studies have shown that those who start their day with eggs feel more full and eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Almonds: High in protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat almonds are a great snack to battle cravings and keep you satiated. They lower blood sugar and cholesterol, help reduce the risk of weight gain, decrease weight and body fat and aid in building muscle.
Apple: Apples aren’t just high in water and fiber, they’re also a “slow food” It can take 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that it’s full so by consuming foods that take longer to eat this realization occurs before we overeat. Crunching and chewing keep your mouth busy (and happy!). Apples also keep you feeling full, improve blood sugar and hormone levels, and aid “good” GI bacteria and digestion.
Along with these belly-slimming foods, don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
Water helps with weight loss and a flat stomach a few different ways. First of all, note that 75% of the times you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. So before you reach for a snack, make sure you are well-hydrated Sufficient water intake also prevents dehydration · dehydrated bodies retain water. While water needs vary among individuals (climate, activity level, etc.}, you’ll know you are drinking enough and you’re not dehydrated when your urine is clear or light yellow in color· eight cups a day is just a guideline.
Water also aids in digestion: It moves food through your GI tract to prevent constipation and bloating. But please note, seltzer water can cause increased gas and bloat, so stick to flat water. Try “infused water” by adding cucumber and mint or lemon/lime/grapefruit/orange slices to a glass or pitcher of water to keep it interesting and refreshing!
Along with hot, sunny weather, summer also means increased sweat, salty ocean water, pool chlorine, and tans and sunburns – which all take a toll on your skin. However, the seasonal foods we love to eat can actually help rechiverse the damage and nourish your skin! Try incorporating these foods into your summer meals and snacks:
Water: Water is essential for your skin, digestion, metabolism, hormones, and all of your body’s other systems. It maintains hydration for moist, plump, and blemish-free skin. As a digestive aid, it rids the body of toxins, waste, and impurities while supporting regularity. For a refreshing summer drink, add cucumber and mint or strawberries and citrus fruits to a pitcher of water and keep it refrigerated or in a cooler.
Protein: Protein builds and repairs tissue, and is essential to skin, hormones, enzymes, and the immune system. Your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes protect against oxidative stress. Nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt, turkey slices, low fat cottage cheese, fish, chicken, and lean chicken, turkey, and beef burgers are all great sources of protein.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Foods high in monounsaturated fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, fish oil (omega-3’s, or EPA and DHA), avocado, tarVsour cherries, and blueberries, decrease and prevent inflammation. Avoid saturated and trans fats (found in fried and processed foods) and refined sugars, which increase inflammation.
Lycopene: A Vitamin A precursor, this cartenoid has been shown to decrease UV damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. It’s highly concentrated in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava, and is most bioavailable in heatprocessed or oil-based tomato products like canned tomato juice, tomato paste, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Cocoa/Chocolate: Cocoa contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and can improve skin quality, according to research. Flavonoids increase blood flow and skin oxygen saturation while smoothing skin texture.
Antioxidants: Vitamin C is found in oranges, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach, and papaya. Polyphenols are found in green tea, grape seeds, and pomegranate. These skin antioxidants all fight against free radicals, increase sunscreen efficacy, and help protect skin from UV light and free radical damage.
AVOCADO High in Vitamin E for anti-aging; antioxidants promote clear, glowing skin and healthy hair
OLIVE OIL Healthy fat is anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy skin, and protects against UV rays
ALMONDS High in Vitamin[, and protect against UV rays and free radical cell damage
BRAZIL NUTS One nut meets 100% daily selenium, protects against skin stress, and can improve acne
OMEGA-3s Anti-inflammatory for skin health; found in fatty fish like Salmon
COCONUT OIL High in Vitamin E and antioxidants for great skin and hair; improves digestion and metabolism
FRUITS & VEGGIES
BERRIES High in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber
TOMATOES High in lycopene, decreases UV damage and inflammation; most bioavailable with added oil
CARROTS High in antioxidants like beta carotene (a Vitamin A precursor)
CELERY High in water content and fiber to aid in digestion and help keep you full for weight loss
CUCUMBER High in water; anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits
POMEGRANATE Contains polyphenols, anti-aging skin antioxidants that improve sunscreen efficacy
PINK GRAPEFRUIT High in Vitamin A, carotene, lycopene, and Vitamin C; can help with weight loss and increase metabolism
WATERMELON High in water content, lycopene, Vitamin C, and potassium
RED PEPPERS More Vitamin C than citrus fruits and high in fiber; great for digestion and the skin
Summer Yogurt Parfait
This recipe makes a delicious breakfast, lunch, or even a healthy snack. It’s packed with protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber – sweet, satisfying, fill in , and most important, super for skin!
- 6 oz plain yogurt (Greek or coconut)
- 1/4 cup blueberries and 1/4 cup raspberries
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tbsp shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds or walnuts
- 1 tbsp apple butter or all natural (no sugar added) fruit preserves
Add yogurt to a small bowl or cup. Layer and/or arrange the remaining ingredients, mix as desired, and enjoy!
Many factors are involved in decreased skin quality and aging. Hormone imbalance, inflammation, infections, and free radicals (oxidative stress) are internal mechanisms that can exacerbate skin deterioration and aging. Foods can help us improve skin quality. It is extremely important to start from the inside out. If our skin does not have all necessary fuel (vitamins and minerals), it cannot be in top shape. Ingesting and digesting these nutrients ensure they get into our blood stream and get delivered to our skin.
Fall/Winter Foods for Healthy Skin
PUMPKIN is high in alpha and beta-carotene, which can decrease UV-induced damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
PUMPKIN SEEDS are a good source of zinc, which can help protect against oxidative stress and improve acne. It is used in skin building and repair. It also improves immunity. They are also a source of protein, which is required for tissue, or skin, building and repair.
CRANBERRIES are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, and selenium. Selenium helps protect skin against sun damage and improves skin quality and elasticity. Cranberries are great at fighting acne, since selenium, combined with Vitamins A and E, is a great anti-acne nutrient combination.
BRUSSELS SPOUTS are great sources of Vitamins C and K. Vitamin K helps promote healthy blood and circulation to the skin. It helps heal skin discoloration, improves healing and appearance of scars, fights against skin imperfections and spider veins in the face.
Try this healthy recipe:
Lime Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pumpkin Seeds
(makes 4 side dish servings)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
- 16 ounces Brussels sprouts, halved
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons dried, no sugar added cranberries
- 4 tablespoons roasted, shelled pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer, mixed with dried cranberries. Mist lightly with spray or oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, and mix in lime juice. Sprinkle evenly with pumpkin seeds. Return to oven for 5 minutes, remove, then serve!
Should we wine while we dine? According to recent research, a glass (or two) a day may be more than just fine! Past studies have shown that resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red grape skins and therefore in red wine, helps to promote: anti-aging effects, strong bones, healthier blood vessels in the elderly, cleaner arteries to prevent stroke, lower heart attack risk in men with high blood pressure, killing of cancer cells, decreased ovarian cancer risk, and reduced ulcer-causing bacteria. Even the antioxidants in white wine have been linked to health improvements, including better lung function.
A study conducted in Spain and published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that both red and white wine may lower women’s risk of heart disease. (Prior studies had only observed this effect in men.) After 4 weeks of adding two glasses of wine per day to a heart-healthy diet, the female participants had higher levels of the good (HDL) cholesterol and lower levels of an inflammatory substance (C-reactive protein) in their blood. The red wine showed a more substantial effect than white wine, likely due to its higher level of resveratrol. (Red wine has a higher amount because it is the grape skin that gives the wine its red color—just a Wines 101 tidbit.)
This all great news. . . . So bottoms up right? Not so fast. Wine’s benefits result from moderate consumption, meaning ONLY one to two glasses per day. But if we don’t get a chance to have some wine during the week, we can save it all up for the weekend, right? Absolutely not. Just one bout of binge drinking can do a lot of damage. My clinical nutrition professor in college made sure we’d never forget this fact—during our last class before homecoming weekend, she showed us the up close and personal detailed photos of a fatty liver after one episode of binge-drinking. Allow me to spare you the details by just saying it was not pretty. With that in mind, my advice is that if you already drink in moderation, you can continue to enjoy sipping your favorite vintage. For the above health benefits, consider choosing wine over beer or hard alcohol, and red wine over white wine.
If you do not drink, neither I nor doctors or other health professionals would recommend that you start. Those of you who dislike the taste or can’t tolerate the alcohol need not fret—these benefits may soon be available in an effective pill form! Pharmaceutical companies have been observing the effects of resveratrol-like compounds, which are actually 1,000 times stronger than resveratrol, in animal studies. Since these studies have shown such promise in treating type 2 diabetes and other age-related diseases, researchers highly expect success in future human studies as well. In the meantime, I will rhyme, and remind you that it is fine, to enjoy a bit of wine while you dine!
Food Combos for Optimal Health
Like peanut butter and jelly or chips and salsa, some foods are just meant to go together. But unlike these combos, some foods pair well not just for taste — but for better nutrition.
When specific components in food interact, they have a synergistic effect, producing health-promoting benefits that surpass eating either food alone.
“Each food brings different properties and compounds to the table that, together, pack a bigger punch,” says Robin Barrie Kaiden, a registered dietitian.
If you’re concerned about your prostate health, consider having a bowl of homemade tomato soup with a side of steamed broccoli for lunch.
These vegetables are known for their cancer-fighting properties — and, according to a University of Illinois study funded by American Institute for Cancer Research and the USDA, the broccoli-tomato combo is better at shrinking prostate tumors than when you eat either vegetable alone.
“Scientists currently believe that the two foods contain different compounds that work on separate anticancer pathways, using separate mechanisms to ward off cancer,” Kaiden says.
And cooking your vegetables may be more beneficial than eating them raw. A study published in 2008 in “The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” found that cooking increases the total antioxidant capacity of certain vegetables — including broccoli and tomatoes.
Popeye may have found his strength from simply eating his spinach right out of the can, but you may want to consider having a little vitamin C along with yours.
Your body needs iron — found in dark, leafy greens such as spinach, as well as beans and lean meat — to transport oxygen to your blood cells. But the fact is that the average healthy adult only absorbs about 10 to 15 percent of his dietary iron intake. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption — and eating foods rich in iron and vitamin C together can help your body absorb iron to the max.
Try adding 1/2 cup of bell peppers to a corn and black bean salad, or 1 cup of strawberries to a spinach salad, suggests Barrie.
For a quick boost, squeeze vitamin C-rich lime or lemon juice on your iron sources. Use 3 tsp. of lemon or 4 tsp. of lime juice to aim for 10 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C, suggests Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian and author of “Big Green Cookbook” and the award-winning “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook.”
Jump start your day with a P&P — prebiotic and probiotic — parfait. Layer sliced bananas, cooked oatmeal and Greek yogurt — then drizzle with a little maple syrup or honey.
Prebiotics are indigestible nutrients found in a variety of foods — especially high-fiber foods — and include bananas, oatmeal and honey. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut — and are also found in fermented foods like yogurt. The pairing of the two contributes to healthy digestion and immune function.
According to the National Institutes of Health, when probiotics and prebiotics are mixed together, they form a symbiotic bond. “They have a synergistic relationship because prebiotics feed the probiotics,” says Nancy Clark, a registered dietitian and author of four books geared toward athletes’ nutrition needs, including “Sports Nutrition Guidebook.”
To avoid the post-lunch bloat, include prebiotics and probiotics in your midday meal. Opt for a spinach artichoke dip made with yogurt, chopped spinach and artichoke. Add lemon, garlic, sea salt and pepper to taste — and serve with buckwheat crackers or bread.
For a mineral boost, try snacking on hummus made with fresh garlic and onions spread on a slice of whole grain bread.
A study published in 2010 in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that combining garlic or onions with whole grains may help boost the absorption of iron — which is needed for healthy red blood cells — and zinc, which aids in energy metabolism, immune function and protein synthesis.
According to Kaiden, cysteine, an amino acid found in garlic and onions, increases iron absorption by 70 percent and zinc absorption by 160 percent in whole grains. “After adding 1 to 2 chopped cloves to your recipe, allow it to sit for a few minutes before cooking to maximize your health benefits,” she says.
Toss in fennel for an added boost. It not only has its own anti-cancer properties — fennel also neutralizes garlic breath. Chew on couple of teaspoons after a garlicky meal.