Tag Archives: Hydration

Too Many Sick Bodies

18 Dec

Hello All,

Currently, I have 5 clients that are currently dealing or they have already been infected with the flu. So, because everybody seems to know the “usual prescription” of chicken soup, vitamin C, reduce stress, etc., I did some research and came up with this article from one of my favorite websites, the Vitamin D Council. Here is some advice for you and your family.

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/infections-and-autoimmunity/influenza/

Influenza Patient friendly summary

 Artistic rendition of influenza virus.

Influenza is a viral infection of the lungs. There are many symptoms:

  • fever
  • body aches and muscle pain
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • dry cough
  • runny nose
  • dry or sore throat

The lining around the lungs may become inflamed. This can lead to bacterial pneumonia.

Risk factors

Influenza is most common in winter, a time when:

  • Solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) doses are low.
  • The weather is cold. This prevents white blood cells from reaching the lining of the respiratory tract and fighting the virus.
  • The humidity is low. Dry air allows the virus to live longer outside of the body.

Sunlight exposure and influenza risk

 Influenza is more common in winter, when reduced sunlight causes vitamin D levels to fall.

Influenza rates peak in winter. There is less solar UVB light in winter, especially in areas farther from the equator. Thus, vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

Vitamin D and influenza

Vitamin D from sunlight or supplements reduces the risk of influenza.

Two randomized controlled trials found reduced incidence of influenza for those taking higher doses of vitamin D. A study involving African-American postmenopausal women in New York found a 60% reduced risk of colds and influenza for those taking 800 IU/d vitamin D3 and 90% reduced risk for those taking 2000 IU/d.

Another study in Japan, involving school children taking 1200 IU/d vitamin D3 vs. 200 IU/d, found a 67% reduction in Type A influenza, but no effect for Type B influenza. Type A influenza includes H1N1 varieties, which was the type involved in the 1918-19 pandemic influenza and the 2009 “swine flu” infections.

According to an observational study, vitamin D provides protection against influenza. This occurs when vitamin D levels in the blood are more than 38 ng/mL (95 nmol/L).

How vitamin D works

To enhance the body’s immune system, vitamin D:

  • Produces cathelicidin and defensins—These proteins have antiviral effects to combat viruses.
  • Reduces inflammation—As a result, body temperature does not rise as much, and the lining of the lungs is less disturbed. This makes it harder for bacteria to give rise to pneumonia.

Prevention

High levels of vitamin D may prevent or lower the risk of influenza. Vitamin D may also reduce symptoms of influenza and reduce the risk of developing pneumonia following influenza. Vaccines strengthen the body’s ability to fight infection. Therefore, combining high levels of vitamin D and anti-influenza vaccines provide the best protection.

Vitamin D

Based on several studies, raising vitamin D blood levels to 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/l) may reduce the risk of influenza. For most people, this involves taking 1000–5000 international units (IU) (25–125 mcg)/day of vitamin D during the influenza season.

Treatment

On average, 2000-5000 IU/day vitamin D3 may provide protection against influenza. Vitamin D3, the true form of vitamin D, is produced in the skin. Larger doses of vitamin D taken for a short time strengthen the immune system. This allows the body to fight infection.

Need to know more? Read on with our detailed evidence summary on Influenza.

FIT Buddies Take 5

29 May

 

Coach Jen’s class shows us how to Take 5–simple strategies to stay healthy and happy. Watch the video. It will definitely be worth your time.

Just in case you forgot, here’s the 5!

Take 1 Eat Well

Take 2 Move Around

Take 3 Drink Water

Take 4 Sleep

Take 5 Have Fun

We love what Coach Jen is doing with the FIT Buddies program. What’s more, the life habits she is helping to form in her kids are applicable to all of us.

So Take 5, and be ready to follow the lead of our FIT Buddies!

Probiotics and Their Uses

9 Mar

Probiotics are a group of live microorganisms and yeasts that may beneficially affect the body by improving the balance of microflora (i.e. bacteria that are naturally occurring in the small and large intestine, mouth and vagina). The scope of this article will focus on the benefits of probiotics for a healthy and balanced digestive system.

Thus far, scientists suggest that a healthy human digestive tract contains about fourteen various genus of microorganisms, making a grand total of approximately 400 types of bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt) is the best known. However, there are other species of Lactobacillus that have also been shown to be beneficial, such as L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. casei and L. bulgaricus.

The Function of Microbes in the GI Tract
The gastrointestinal tract of animals represents a complex ecosystem in which a delicate balance exists between the intestinal microflora and the host. The host and microflora live in a synergistic environment – the host providing a comfortable environment for the microbes to survive while the microbes thrive and produce beneficial metabolic byproducts that aid the host’s GI tract and immune system. This synergistic relationship begins to develop while we are babies, starting at delivery and continuing during breastfeeding and receiving kisses from family and friends.

The inhabitation of microbes in a developing GI tract has been hypothesized to not only be important in the neonatal period and during infancy, but also in an individual’s health throughout life. The small intestine is lined with lymph nodes that support our immune system. The byproducts and metabolites of the intestinal microflora developed during infancy are important for maturation of the immune system, the development of normal intestinal form and structure, and to maintain a chronic and immunologically balanced inflammatory response. The microflora reinforce the barrier function of the intestinal lining, helping to prevent the attachment of pathogenic microorganisms and the entry of allergens.

Some members of the microflora may contribute to the body’s requirements for certain vitamins, including biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin B12.  Alteration of the microbial flora of the intestine, which may occur with the use of antibiotics, disease, and aging, can negatively affect its beneficial role. This is where the potential benefits of supplementing with probiotics may help to balance or re-balance what has been destroyed.

When to Use Probiotics
If you believe that probiotics may be beneficial for your condition, but you do not know what to look for on a product’s label, here is what the current research suggests:

Diarrhea
Among the probiotics, only S. boulardii, Enterococcus faecium and Lactobacillus species have been useful in preventing antibiotic-related diarrhea. S. boulardii appears to be the most superior form of treatment when diarrhea is caused by Clostridium difficile, a bacterium often associated with antibiotic related diarrhea. The results of some early studies suggest that probiotics found in yogurt may help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics. However, more studies are needed to confirm that yogurt is effective. To offer benefits, the yogurt must contain active cultures.

Anti-Inflammatory for GI Conditions
Because of a reduced fecal concentration of various probiotics in individuals with active ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, active pouchitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome, researchers have noted that probiotics may be beneficial for individuals with these conditions. However, thus far, the
results have been inconclusive and more research is needed.

Allergies
Some lactic acid bacteria, including L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. casei and L. bulgaricus, have demonstrated immuno-regulatory effects that may help protect against some allergic disorders. There is some evidence that some of these probiotic strains can reduce the intestinal inflammation associated with some food allergies, including cow’s milk allergies among babies.  Research has shown that breastfed infants given Lactobacillus significantly improved atopic dermatitis or eczema, compared with infants not exposed to this probiotic.

Anti-Carcinogenic
There are in vitro studies, as well as animal and some preliminary human studies suggesting that some probiotics can bind and inactivate some carcinogens, which can directly inhibit the growth of some tumors and inhibit bacteria that may convert pre-carcinogens into carcinogens.  L. acidophilus and L. casei have exhibited the latter activity in human volunteers. There is some preliminary evidence that L. casei may have reduced the recurrence of bladder tumors in human studies, although confirmatory trials are needed.  Animal work has suggested that some lactic-acid bacteria may help protect against colon cancer.  Again, more research is needed.

Summary
The effectiveness of probiotics is dependent upon their ability to survive in the acidic stomach environment and the alkaline conditions in the upper small intestine, as well as their ability to adhere to the intestinal lining and to colonize in the colon.  Some probiotics, such as L. casei, L. rhamnosus, and L. plantarum, are better able to colonize than others.  A major problem is that there are many probiotic products available, and not all of them have been tested for every potential treatment listed above. These products contain various Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains and combinations of probiotics and prebiotics. Additionally, typical doses of probiotics range from one to ten billion colony-forming units (CFU) a few times a week.  Because of the inconclusive data of probiotics, the optimal number of CFU’s for a healthy GI tract is unknown. Trial-and-error may be needed to find the most beneficial dose, but there is very little risk in overdosing.  Usually probiotics are well-tolerated, unless you have a prior condition that may warrant caution.  Discuss the use of probiotics with your physician or healthcare provider.  The animal and in vitro studies continually show there may be more benefits of probiotics to help with the delicate balance of our bodies.

Mindfulness During the Holidays

6 Nov

The season for gluttony has begun and as your resident fitness experts, we want to encourage you to enjoy it.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the earth’s bounty and be grateful that we live in a world of plenty, not to feel guilty about a piece of pumpkin pie.  The December holidays, along with Thanksgiving, are a time when after all the pre-holiday hustle and bustle, people typically sit down to share a meal together, which we know benefits overall health and well being (allthingsfit 8/10/10).  It’s also a time when routine is disrupted, and stress escalates. Social engagements surrounding food and libations are plentiful and taking care of one’s self is more easily overlooked.

In the interest of simplifying at least part of the holiday season, and hopefully maximizing your experience of this festive time of year, here is list of tips and reminders that might come in handy.

•   Get good sleep – never underestimate the impact of good rest on mood and efficiency.  Although 11 p.m. might seem like the only time you can prepare this or wrap that, getting good sleep will improve your stamina. You might find tasks take less time to accomplish and you enjoy doing them more.  Additionally, you will have more energy to keep up with the next day and the day after that.

•    Stay hydrated – regular consumption of water is not only good for overall health, it also increases your sensation of fullness making you less inclined to reach for whatever goodies might cross your path.  Carry a water bottle with you when you are out and about.

•   Enjoy the goodies – rather than thinking of I can’t have this, and I shouldn’t have that, go ahead and have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Not every day and not at every opportunity, but rather taste mindfully.  Savor the taste, hold it on your tongue, imagine tasting whatever it is for the first time and think about how you would describe it.  Much like a new article of clothing or a gadget you look forward to owning, holiday treats are worth indulging in, but should be special and not taken for granted.

•    Look out for your own best interests – keep quick, healthy snacks on hand and around the house.  It’s impossible to experience the months of November and December without feeling more rushed than normal, so plan for it.  Keep a bag of nuts and some beef jerky in the car.  Keep the house stocked with fruit and cut veggies so you can grab something on the fly.  Package leftovers in individual containers so you have ‘one pot’ meals readily available.  If you are bringing a dish to a gathering, make it something you will feel good about eating as you can safely bet someone else will bring treats.  If you are heading to an open house or cocktail party, be sure to have something to eat before heading out.

•    Remove the food or remove yourself from it – the longer food is available the more likely you are to eat it.  While most people enjoy sitting around the table and enjoying company, most do not enjoy the discomfort of overeating.  Clear the food off the table or move the gathering to another room.

•    Ensure that the good food is REALLY good – seek out heritage, organic and/or sustainably raised turkey.  Not only are these birds more flavorful, they are better for you.  You can find a local supplier by visiting (http://www.eatwellguide.org/search/advanced/).  In my experience, you can typically order locally from Whole Foods and Mollie Stone.  Whenever possible, stick to local, seasonal produce.  If you belong to a CSA, you can typically request extra items but beware that even the farmers may take a little time off so you may have to place your order early.  Mountain View and California Ave farmer’s markets are year round but go early the week of a holiday as they get crowded fast.

•    Lighten it up – not by using low calorie substitutes, but by utilizing nutrient dense alternatives.  As a substitute for traditional mashed potatoes, try cauliflower mash.  Or breadless stuffing made with vegetables, squash and/or beans.  Serve crudités with appetizers and fresh fruit with dessert.

•   Take time out – as easy as it is to get swept up in the excitement, the key to maximizing enjoyment of the holidays is to take a few moments for you to reflect and relax.  Go for a walk, sit by yourself in a quiet room, take a few deep breaths . . . whatever you do, don’t let the holidays pass by in a flurry of events and activities – enjoy the connections you have with others (which is believed to be central to longevity), savor the delights of the season and take time to truly be grateful for the gifts in your life. This may be the best gift you can give to yourself. The expression of gratitude is believed to be vital to the quest for happiness.

What to Do When Dining Out

4 Jun

Due to consumer demand and society’s health consciousness, restaurants are feeling pressure to offer healthier food alternatives, such as more flavorful salads, low-carbohydrate meals, and low-fat dishes. Some restaurants are even going as far as providing  the calories and fat grams of their menu items for their customers. The alternative meal options and nutrient data are always helpful and should be utilized when trying to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Some restaurants are still not providing healthy food options despite the demand.  It is even more challenging when traveling to maintain health conscious diet. So,  you the consumer must try to find menu items to fit your healthy lifestyle. Here are several suggestions for eating on-the-go:

Restaurant Eating

  • Select foods that are steamed, garden fresh, broiled, boiled, baked, roasted, poached or lightly sautéed or stir-fried.
  • Avoid fried foods (so, no fried chicken, tortillas, French fries, onion rings, hamburgers, etc.). Although these items are very appetizing, they are also very calorie dense, high in fat and low in nutrients since the frying process destroys whatever was once beneficial in the food.
  • Grilled fish is always better than grilled chicken, and both are always better than grilled beef. But, be careful of dishes smothered with a sauce, based with butter or cream. Ask for either no sauce or have it on the side.
  • Take the skin off of the chicken, turkey or duck before eating it.
  • Substitute fried side-orders (i.e. French fries or potato chips) and mashed potatoes, which are usually made with cream or butter, for mixed veggies, broccoli, or green beans. If the meal already comes with vegetables, then order extra.
  • Ask the server if a restaurant’s veggies are steamed, baked and/or layered in butter and oil. Request no butter or oil be used by the chef.
  • If you find that you do not know the number of calories in a meal, then ask your server for a To-Go box or Doggy-bag. When the meal is delivered to your table, take half and save it for later. Close the container and get it out of sight. You will be much less likely to overeat if it is not in front of you.
  • Always order a salad with the dressing on the side. You will save yourself hundreds of calories if you delicately dip your fork into the dressing. Or, better yet, do not use any dressing at all. However, if you must add a little extra flavor to your salad ask for balsamic vinegar or a lemon wedge to squeeze over your salad.
  • If a dish shows up with butter, gravy, mayo or a “mayo-like” dressing on it, scrape it off.
  • For a beverage, drink water (add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime for favor), diet soda, or even 6 oz of dry white wine with seltzer (50 calories).
  • For dessert (if you must) try to avoid getting a whole dessert for yourself. Most desserts are prepared for more than one person. Share with somebody, and do not feel you need to finish it. Remember, the restaurant is not interested in your physique or your health, but rather your money. Which is more important to you?
  • Plain sherbet or gelato are much lower in calories (no sauce or fruit syrups added).
  • Instead dessert, try a latte, coffee or tea (no added sugar).

Trying to satisfy the kids appetites and maintain a healthy lifestyle can certainly be a challenge. However, flavorful, healthy options are available when you look for them. Plan your meals according to where you might be traveling, and remember when you say no to a particular food, you say yes to yourself.