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5 Simple Steps to Boost Your Immune System Now

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(BPT) – Whether it’s battling the rampant germs of cold and flu season or maintaining wellness throughout the year, the immune system is your main line of defense. In order to feel good as often as possible – and recover quickly when you don’t – it’s important to keep your immune system strong.

“The immune system is the part of the body that monitors both internal and external environments,” says Dr. Chris Oswald, certified nutrition specialist and chiropractor in Hudson, Wisconsin. “It’s important to understand that both too much immune response and too little immune response, including inflammation, is not good, so maintaining that happy medium is the name of the game.”

To achieve that “happy medium,” Dr. Oswald recommends incorporating five simple steps into your daily routine:

Support natural sleep cycles

“Sleep is the time when our bodies repair and rejuvenate, so it is something to not be taken lightly,” Dr. Oswald says. “Generally speaking, the older we are the less sleep we need, but for adults 7-9 hours is usually the sweet spot.”

He says a good way to know if you are sleeping well is if you fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying down and you are able to wake at approximately the same time every day without an alarm clock.

“It is also very important to maintain regular hours as our body’s circadian rhythms do not like to be disrupted,” he adds.

Eat fermented and unprocessed foods

Dr. Oswald says the body’s microbiome health has a huge impact on the immune system. The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract, creating a mini-ecosystem.

“Every bite of food we eat impacts microbiome balance, so it is important to eat foods that promote its health,” he says. “I like fermented foods and foods that are minimally processed or as close to their form in nature as possible. When the wrong foods are eaten, certain microbiota are able to ‘gain strength’ and offset the health promoting benefits of other more beneficial organisms.”

He adds that dietary fiber is also very important to maintaining the health of the microbiome. Additionally, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA help boost the immune system.

Use supplements to support digestive health

“The digestive tract is a barrier to the outside world which selectively allows molecules to pass through,” says Dr. Oswald. This is why a healthy gut is a big part of overall health – it filters out the bad while keeping in the good.

Eating plenty of probiotics in foods like yogurt and kefir helps maintain digestive health, but it can be difficult for the average person to get enough to make an impact. “Supporting digestive health with a comprehensive probiotic supplement such as Nordic Naturals Nordic Flora Probiotic Daily is a great foundational health strategy for everyone,” Dr. Oswald says.

Move your body

“Higher levels of fitness are definitely associated with improved immune function,” says Dr. Oswald. He recommends high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you alternate short periods of intense exercise with brief rest periods.

“I like people to choose any activity they like and have a nice gentle 5 minute warm-up followed by up to six 100 percent work intervals for 30 seconds with 60 seconds of rest,” he says. “Once complete with the circuit, a five minute cool down completes your workout in 19 minutes or less.”

Embrace mindfulness and meditate

Dr. Oswald says both acute and chronic stress have an effect on the immune system, which can potentially decrease your resistance to illness. One easy way to combat stress is to try to meditate every day.

“Meditation is a very powerful option and I firmly believe that all should find some way of increasing mindfulness,” he says. “It is important to remember that meditation is different for everyone.”

Meditation can be sitting quietly with eyes closed, staring at a flame, walking in the woods, etc. Try something that feels right to you that allows you to relax and be mindful of the present.

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Top 12 Foods to Avoid in the Morning

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A lot of people believe that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” This is true, but of course, all other meals are important too. However, breakfast has a special function – it kick-starts your metabolism. A great breakfast will provide you with the right amount of energy and must also satisfy your hunger. Although people aren’t usually hungry when they wake up in the morning, it’s imperative that they don’t skip this meal. It will help control one’s blood sugar, and it has the potential to help a person start the day off right.

Of course, merely eating breakfast isn’t good enough. People need to choose the right foods to eat in the morning to have enough energy for the rest of the day. Usually, a great breakfast involves protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These can be acquired from whole, unprocessed foods. There are also some foods to avoid in the morning. Some of these foods may surprise you as they are the “common” breakfast options. Here are the top 12 foods to avoid in the morning:

Bagels

Bagel has always been an energy booster for people on the go. It will make one feel full, not wanting to eat for some period. Not all bagels are “unhealthy.” People who want to eat bagels for breakfast should choose those which are made from whole wheat as they offer more beneficial nutrients.

Opting for whole wheat bagels is important because they are a great source of dietary fiber, some protein, and several important minerals. Whole wheat bagels have become an integral part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

Breakfast bars (protein or granola)
Don’t depend too much on commercial breakfast bars because, most often than not, these are filled sugars and chemicals. Advertised protein and granola bars are tempting but consuming them as a go-getter for breakfast will most likely make a person hungry even before mid-day. Might as well munch on a real candy bar. When looking at the ingredients on a granola bar, people are surprised at its high levels of sugar, honey, and corn syrup and this does not even include the sugars found in chocolate chips and other flavors. Furthermore, they contain no proteins, and they lack fiber.

People who have early starts every morning, need to change their eating habits, especially if they have been accustomed to breakfast bars that are loaded with unhealthy contents. The breakfast of granola bars shows that a person isn’t on a low-carbohydrate diet. Avoid sugar-loaded bars. Instead, switch to some whole-wheat bread, spread some sugar-free peanut butter on them. That by itself is an easy, healthy breakfast!

Cereals with little or no fiber
Not all cereals are that healthy. Most of them are high in sugar and carbohydrates but lacking in fiber. Such contents may cause the blood sugar to shoot up, then just quickly drop and this would leave one to experience before-noon-moodiness and cravings. A person can prevent such predicaments by choosing cereals with lower sugars and contain some fiber. One can even further raise the fiber content of breakfast by adding some berries, wheat germ, some flaxseeds or even sliced almonds.

Choose breakfast cereals based on their nutrient contents. The health-conscious people always read the box labels to determine their contents. Cereals in boxes are processed products and may contain unhealthy elements like sugars, artificial colorings, with little cereals. These can all contribute to increasing the risk of heart diseases, obesity, and other health issues.

It doesn’t mean that people should totally abstain from cereals, just choose those that have fewer sugars, no additives, made from organic grains and with high-fiber contents. Make breakfast exciting by adding berries, nuts, and seeds to the healthy cereal chosen.

Donuts and muffins

Traditional doughnuts are very popular breakfast items with ingredients that are all to be avoided. They are carb-circles, deep fried in oil and powdered with sugar plus some sprinkles to just add more “insults to injury.” Having them as a special treat is allowable but not as regular breakfast food. But if a person must indulge himself, at least couple the doughnut with some healthy fat or protein, maybe some nuts or a hard-boiled egg.

Muffins may look cute, innocent and appealing. But all these are just a front for muffins are cakes in disguise, packing calories more than one realizes. But if a person has that uncontrollable urge to eat muffins, eat just a half of it and pair it with some protein. Try Greek yogurt, it tastes good and is healthy. To save time on morning rush-hours, make a healthy batch of muffins, store it in the refrigerator and defrost one for breakfast when in a hurry.

Fast food sandwiches and pastries
Don’t be too sold on breakfast sandwiches from drive-thru eateries. Nutrition-wise, these foods may contain proteins, carbs, and some vegetables but often, the meat is greasy and processed, the bread is white, and mostly there is no fiber content. Without the latter, food craving will be happening sooner than a person thinks.

Burgers-on-the-go in the morning should also be avoided. Burger patties are not necessarily unhealthy, but that depends on how they are made. Those without preservatives will do you good. But what goes with the burgers like white bread, mayonnaise, and other additives will do you harm. Not to mention the greasy potatoes chips or French fries or onion rings that go on the side.

Pastries like donuts, Danishes, and Pop-tarts are also not recommended for morning meals. These are made from refined white flour with no whole grains involved. Besides, they contain tons of sugar that will cause your blood sugar to elevate, then crash and will be leaving a person hungrier much sooner.

Find substitutes for these foods for breakfast that are healthier. A simple egg and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread is a filling option. If possible and it is, make the sandwich from home. It isn’t that hard.

Fruit juice
Fruit juices are a popular item for dieters. They will help people lose those extra pounds, and they’re a refresher for hunger pangs. But beware of packed juices available in stores because most of them have been sweetened and they contain less actual juice. The high sugar contents can be risky for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Juice alone will not suffice to constitute a meal. Some proteins and healthy fats are essential, even when going on a diet.

People can be more innovative when taking natural fruit juices in the morning. Using a blender, try sneaking in some greens like kale, celery, carrots, and spinach. People are often amazed at how good this will taste. Aside from this drink, one will still need a supplement of some protein and healthy fats. Otherwise, the craving for food will happen early before lunch.

Toast with butter or jam
What people spread on their whole wheat bread should also is alarming. Butter substitutes have proliferated in the market and consumers need be warned that many of these spreadable contain unhealthy compounds like trans fats. This is a synthetic fat that can do much damage like raising bad cholesterol, lowering good cholesterol and increasing the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. Don’t use substitutes. If a person wants butter, sparingly spread the real one on whole wheat slices. Or to make butter more substantial, make a vegetable omelet.

Toast topped with margarine spread seems like an ideal breakfast since it does not contain saturated fats or sugar. That is a misconception on two fronts. First, on the toast. The flour used in making bread is refined and contains very little nutrients and fiber. Because of this property, consuming them will spike the blood sugar levels very quickly. A sudden elevation of this level will lead to feelings of hunger which will make a person eat more for the next meal.

Second, on the margarine. This spread contains trans fats, the worst and most unhealthy type of fat anyone can eat. These fats are created by manufacturers by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to mimic the appearance of saturated fats. Studies have shown that saturated fats do not cause harm but trans fats will. There are massive amounts of evidence that they are very inflammatory and can increase your risk of heart diseases.

Kids tend to gravitate towards sweet spreads on their bread for their early meal. This isn’t helping either for the health conscious as jams are loaded with sugars. Instead, let them have eggs on their toast, which by the way should be multi-grain bread.

Pancakes and waffles

There are no more temptations about having pancakes and waffles for breakfast. It has become part of the daily morning meal and sadly, our culture. Pancakes and waffles are made with flour, eggs, milk, and sugar. Even though these foods may contain proteins, basically they are made from plain wheat flour which contributes to insulin resistance and obesity.

But that is not the worst of it. When served, both pancakes and waffles are topped with a heavy syrup made from corn. That combination will contribute to a major sugar crash. But people need not veer from the standard. When having pancakes or waffles for breakfast, use the real all-natural maple syrup. It may be more expensive but health-wise, it will be worth it. Greek yogurt can also be added to pancake recipes for an additional dose of protein.

Smoothies from the store
An average individual would rather pick a smoothie than a green juice drink for the obvious reason that a smoothie is sweet. But do consider what goes into a smoothie aside from the sugar load. Some of them even contain ice cream or full-fat milk. When so, the smoothie becomes a misnomer as this concoction should be called a milkshake. To get all the benefits of a good smoothie, make them at home. Use blended fruits and veggies and for protein, some Greek yogurt.

Sweetened, flavored or light yogurt
An ideal breakfast will be some Greek yogurt with fresh fruits. It’s easy to make and super healthy. Make this breakfast at home as the ingredients are readily available at the grocer. Do not buy packed ones in stores as they usually contain preservatives, artificial flavorings, and lots of sugar.

People have different choices of yogurt: light, sweetened or flavored. Light seems to be the best choice but not necessarily. Many packaged yogurts may be low in calorie content but can be high in artificial sweeteners and chemicals. This is true with the flavored kind. Just be consistent health-wise. Choose plain Greek yogurt. They contain protein that will keep a person fuller longer, and there are no sugar additives.

Not all yogurts, by the way, are good. The flavored ones are not recommended because they can pack as much sugar as that Danish cinnamon roll one was smart enough to avoid. Instead, go for the plain low-fat yogurt or even full-fat. Either one has been shown to be good for a healthy diet. In case a person prefers some sweetness, just add honey, maple syrup or fruits.

Uncooked vegetables
There are no doubt veggies are an important part of the diet but sadly, not in the morning. Eating them on an empty stomach may result in stomach pain. Furthermore, the amino acids present in them can lead to flatulence, heartburn, and can even irritate the linings of the stomach. Tomatoes especially should be avoided in the morning. Their high-concentration of tannic acid will increase the stomach acidity which can lead to gastric ulcers.

Processed Meats

Processed meats are the worse and most harmful type of meat. Studies have shown that just 1.8 ounces of processed meat can increase your risk of heart disease by as much as 42%. Eating processed meats should be done on special occasions and in limited portions. Serve them as condiments or appetizers but never the main course. If in case, the urge to indulge is strong, just be sure the other breakfast foods are all made with healthy ingredients.

We all know these processed villains, and they include sausages, hams, bacon, salami, bologna, and more. They all contain nitrates, a chemical that has been linked to colorectal cancer. Next time, at the deli or grocer, check the meat’s labels to be sure that nitrates were not used in its manufacturing. Foods with nitrates should be off your breakfast table. Foods without, enjoy but in moderation.

Final words
How a person starts, his day will depend on what he will have for breakfast. Eating healthy will make anyone feel positive. First, choose foods that will keep the body full until lunchtime, without any cravings in between. Avoid foods that are devoid of nutrients. Juices or some health drink are not sufficient to sustain your morning. Proteins and fats should also be part of the daily breakfast regimen.

Most people consider breakfast being the most important meal of the day. What better way to make it so by eating the right foods. Eating the wrong ones will sabotage the entire day. When one feels hungry way before lunchtime or feels tired and lethargic at midday or eating more than one usually does at lunch, then that person isn’t eating the right foods to start his day.

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Poor Women in Philippines More Susceptible to Sexually Transmitted Diseases—PIDS Study

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Women living in poverty in the Philippines are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/AIDS than those from rich households. This is according to a recent study released by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Using data from the 2008 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey administered by the then National Statistics Office, PIDS Research Fellow Michael Abrigo found that about 41 percent of poor females aged 15 to 24 years are at risk of getting infected with STDs, compared to only 22 percent of females from well-off families.

Abrigo said this can be attributed to the low level of awareness about STDs among poor female young adults in the country. Recent records of the Department of Health show that there are 9,217 listed cases of HIV/AIDS from January to October last year while the total reported cases from January 2010 to May 2017 is at 40,388.

Contrary to claims that mandatory comprehensive sex education in school is likely to lead to earlier sexual initiation and higher rate of sexual activity among young adults, Abrigo’s study showed that implementing sex education programs in schools results to better sexual behaviors. Specifically, it delays sexual initiation, limits sexual activity, and increases the use of condoms among some groups in the population.

Also, the study found that increasing knowledge on HIV/AIDS may rake in substantial savings for the government in the long run.

“Focusing on the poor population by increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge could lead to a decrease in at-risk population by 1.1 percentage points or about 2 to 3 percent. This can translate to an annual total cost savings of about USD 0.5 million (Php 25.35 million) to USD 5.8 million (Php 294.13 million),” Abrigo explained in his paper.

To prevent and minimize the spread of the disease, the author urged government to make sexuality and reproductive health information more accessible in the Philippines especially to the young adult population through social and mainstream media. He also proposed administration’s support to family planning programs under the country’s Reproductive Health Law.

Earlier last year, the Supreme Court lifted the two-year-old temporary restraining order that covered several contraceptive products, following the findings of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declaring these drugs as non-abortifacient.

“The reclassifying of these contraceptives as non-abortive products by the FDA and lifting of the TRO by the Supreme Court are welcome developments in the full implementation of the RH law,” said Abrigo.

www.pids.gov.ph

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DOH Remains on Code Blue for ‘Oplan Mayon’

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Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said the health department remains on Code Blue alert due to “Oplan: Mayon Operations,” and had set up round-the-clock medical stations offering free consultations in every evacuation site.

The DOH on Friday reported its heightened and sustained efforts in assisting nearby communities around Mayon volcano in Albay province as it continues to exhibit seismic unrest, lava fountaining and summit explosions prompting authorities to extend the Danger Zone to 8 kilometers radius.

Earlier, the DOH Central Office ordered a quick release fund of Php5 million to DOH Bicol Region to finance various activities relative to immediate response needs in affected areas and nearby towns.

Meanwhile, a Rapid Health Assessment Team composed of 326 doctors, nurses and midwives has been deployed since January 13 in the several evacuation sites including Camalig, Guinobatan, Daraga, Tabaco City, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Legazpi City and Ligao City, Albay.

Presently, a total of 35,436 evacuees are housed in different evacuation centers.

The DOH Bicol Region has allocated funds and still has over Php6 million worth of assorted medicines and commodities in stock at their warehouse, as declared by Bicol Regional Director Dr. Napoleon Arevalo.

Fast lanes are also in place in DOH hospitals particularly Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital and Bicol Medical Center. They are also tasked to augment health workers and adopt evacuation centers to provide medical assistance in case there are emerging health conditions needing medical attention.

“We are advising affected residents in the area to minimize exposure to ash by staying indoors as much as possible, wear protective covers (dust masks, goggles, wet towels etc.) against volcanic ashes, keep doors and windows closed and observe road safety measures” Duque said.

The health chief also added that persons suffering from bronchitis, emphysema or asthma should take extra precaution against exposure to volcanic ash as they are more prone to health problems.

To date, the eruption has now affected a total of 83,533 families or 56 barangays in the affected municipalities/cities. Of these numbers, 17,490 displaced families or 66,442 individuals are currently accommodated in 67 evacuation centers.

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DOH Exec Highlights Value of Vigilance, Caution vs Dengue

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III highlighted the value of always being vigilant and cautious as effective means to avoid contracting dengue infection.

Duque said that if early symptoms of dengue are neglected, it can lead to more serious complications including macro hemorrhages or bleeding of the brain. Excessive bleeding will cause the water in the body to drain, causing heart inflammation, kidney damage, encephalopathy, and continuous drop in platelet counts. By then, it is too late to save the patient.

“Given this fact, there is a need for parents to be alert. We need to guard our children. We need to increase the time we dedicate to our children,” Duque stressed during the Provincial Dengue Summit held at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center.

The DOH exec also cited that with or without the Dengvaxia vaccine, the threat of dengue is permanent in the lives of every Filipino, thus, prevention is the ultimate solution to eradicate the said virus.

“When we say prevention, we mean health promotion and disease prevention. We must be healthy. We must not abuse our bodies because those who contract dengue infection are usually those with weak immune system, like those who have indiscriminate dietary intake or those who lack vitamins and minerals. That is why it is necessary for us to strengthen our immune system so we can have resistance against this deadly disease,” the secretary said.

Duque also shared that we cannot simply rely on the dengue immunization program against dengue since it has low protection rate of only about 60% on the average.

“Aside from the vaccine, we must follow the 4S: seek early consultation; search and destroy; self-protective measures; and say yes to selective fogging (or fogging only when there is a community outbreak),” he added.

Duque furthered that since dengue has grossed its seasonality, DOH has made their campaign against dengue an all year round instead of being a seasonal campaign.

In closing, he called on the public to bond together and establish a clear communication and coordination with the DOH, the Department of Education and local government units in order to succeed in our campaign against dengue. (CLJD/MJLS-PIA 3)

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