5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system can help you to fight off cancer, deal with the side effects of treatment and lower the risk of recurrence. 

But to do so effectively requires a comprehensive strategy that will provide your immune system with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise can negatively impact your immune system and impede its ability to defend against illness.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

 

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

      2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens

Supplements that support the immune system help to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria. Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

As our gut houses a large part of our immunity, it is very important that we make sure we give it some love as well. Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils* such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender all support gut health and can support our immune system.

*Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

  1. Exercise. It improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better

So get up and get moving.  Go for a walk.  Do some stretching.  Shimmy on the dance floor.  Do whatever you enjoy to get your muscles flexing and your heart pumping.

  1. Implement stress management techniques

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed to help the immune system function. So find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

Here are some tips for you to help you improve your sleep:

  • Deal with your stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room and no sound distraction. Our immune system loves the chill!
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.

 

So with these strategies forming your template, design your plan and work each and every day to strengthen your immune system.

 

 

10 Tips For Healthier BBQing

Summertime and outdoor cooking are a memory making duo!

And with the Long Weekend upon us, it is likely that grilling is a part of the plan.

But eating food prepared by cooking over an open flame can expose you to carcinogens.

When you expose your meat and fish to high heat and open flames it creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs). And the smoke that results from fat that drips and burns on the grill contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both of these chemicals have been linked to various types of cancer.

So, my intention is not to be a buzz kill here but to give you some tips to help you reduce the formation of these chemicals and keep you healthy!

10 Tips For Healthier BBQing

  1. Clean any char that has built up on your grill before you start cooking
  2. Lower the temperature and cook for a longer period of time
  3. Choose leaner cuts of meat
  4. Grill small portions. This reduces the time on the grill
  5. Remove skin and fat to reduce the dripping that leads to fire flares
  6. Avoid placing your food directly over the fire
  7. Grill on cedar planks
  8. Have a spray bottle filled with water handy to douse fire flare-ups
  9. Include fruits and veggies! BBQing isn’t just for meat.  In fact some of my favourite grilled food has nothing to do with meat at all.  You can grill all kinds of veggies on the grill.  And for desert how about grilled pineapple with cinnamon (a family favourite). Or grilled peaches.  Just yummy! 

10. Marinate your food and include heaps of herbs. This ups the flavour and  limits the formation of carcinogens. Studies have found that adding herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil, mint and thyme to beef reduces the formation of HCAs

 

 

To help you along with this last point, here are some ingredients that you can mix and match to create a tasty marinade that you can use for your next shindig!

Marinade Mix and Matching Ingredients

Oils:

Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Oil

Citrus:

Lemon, Lime, Orange

Seasonings:

Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt, Black Pepper,
Cayenne Pepper, Smoked Paprika

Fresh Things:

Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Chives, Oregano

**Mix well the ingredients of choice and marinade for at least one hour


References

Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet

Marinades Reduce Heterocyclic Amines from Primitive Food Preparation Techniques

https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2010-07/marinades-reduce-heterocyclic-amines-primitive-food-preparation-techniques

To Block The Carcinogens, Add A Touch Of Rosemary When Grilling Meats

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080521184129.htm

 

 

 

hot peppers

Why Do Hot Peppers Bring the Heat?

There are three basic groups of peppers: bell, sweet, and hot. People all over the world eat them in one form or another.  Some eat for them the flavour, some eat them for the challenge and many for a combination of the two.

I am going to focus here on the hot variety and just why they are so.

Peppers are hot because they contain a chemical called capsaicin and related chemicals called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin acts by binding with nerve receptors generally used to transmit heat and heat-related pain in the body. The higher the capsaicin content the hotter the pepper.

Scoville Heat Unit

In 1912 a chemist named Wilbur Scoville invented a scale to measure the heat of peppers.  To this day pepper heat is measured in the Scoville Heat Unit.  Bell and sweet peppers have zero Scoville units since they have no capsaicin. Jalepeno peppers measure from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units and the pepper that I mistakenly planted this year, the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper or ghost pepper, which holds the distinction of being the world’s hottest chili pepper, measures 1,001,304 Scoville.

Back to capsaicin. It’s a flavourless and odourless substance found on the inside flesh of peppers. The experience of heat happens when the chemical binds to receptors that are made to respond to pain and heat in the throat and mouth. This tricks the brain into thinking that your mouth is on fire, causing your body to fight the “heat” by boosting your metabolism (increasing circulation) and cooling via perspiration.

After the brain gets this heat alert it sends out the cooling troops to neutralize and remove the heat.  These troops work to increased circulation by initiating cooling perspiration and reactions like a runny nose and teary eyes.

Myth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the seeds so removing them minimizes the heat.

Truth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds.

The seeds may be coated with some of the capsaicin because they are in contact with the rib.  But the seeds themselves don’t actually contain any heat.

The ribs contain a good deal of the capsaicin heat but the flesh itself contains a good amount of heat as well.

So why can some people beat the heat while others suffer the fire?

There are 3 reasons proposed to answer this question.

1. Less Capsaicin Detecting Receptors

This theory states that some people inherit fewer of the capsaicin-detecting receptors that line your mouth and throat, making them less sensitive to hot peppers.

2. Training our heat receptors

An associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, William Phillips, pointed out that people in some parts of the world such as Mexico or India naturally have higher tolerance for spicy food because they begin eating them at a very young age.

This receptor training desensitizes a person to capsaicin over time so they actually perceive less burn from capsaicin.

3. Thrill Seekers Love the Burn

This is interesting.  There was a  study done in 2012 that showed sensation-seeking individuals are more likely to like spicy food. The researchers found that people who are more open to new experiences and enjoy thrill-based activities, think roller coaster and rock climbing, tend to enjoy spicy food even if the immediate sensation is unpleasant.

Nadia Byrnes, one of the researchers stated that “Biologically, spice creates a sensation in the mouth that the brain interprets as burning or being on fire. When your body realizes there’s no real danger, it begins to interpret the sensation as a ‘thrill’ similar to gambling or riding roller coasters.”

Why are peppers healthy?

Hot peppers are healthy and here is why:

  • Capsaicin
    On top of being “hot,” capsaicin has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic.
  • Vitamins
    Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants like vitamin A and also B-complex vitamins like vitamin B-6 and B-1.
  • Minerals
    Chillies have a good amount of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

There are countless ways to incorporate hot peppers in to your diet. Your first decision however is to determine what types of peppers pack just the right amount of heat for you.

Hot Pepper Oil

Here is a handy dandy way to use hot peppers.

Is it a recipe?  Not sure but here is how it goes.

In a glass jar with a lid (I use 125ml one) cut up a a few peppers (I use 2-3 different types usually) enough to fill about half of the jar.

Fill the jar with a very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil making sure all pepper are covered. Put the lid on the jar and let it sit for at least one day before using it.

This condiment is great on just so many dishes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Microbiome Testing: Another Marker Of Your Health

Guest Post Article By:

Richard Lin
Founder / CEO
www.thryveinside.com

 

As our “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Yet, the precursor to all disease is inflammation. Since our immune system is responsible for inflammation, there must be a tie between our gut health and our immune system. Well, there is! In fact, up to 80% of our immune cells reside in our gut. That’s why the key to a strong immune system is to improve your gut health!

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There are many triggers that set off an immune response in our system. Perhaps none are greater than our food sources. Many of the foods we eat are deficient in nutrients. They are fried in unhealthy fats, preserved with artificial ingredients, and sweetened with refined sugars. 

Many of these foods are made of ingredients that our healthy bacteria don’t enjoy. Therefore, solid food particles and artificial molecules remain in the body. So, our immune system kicks in to eliminate these potential hazards by causing inflammation. Once the threat is eliminated from the system, inflammation ceases. All is merry again.

Unfortunately, our round-the-clock diets have evolved to include a lot of inflammatory foods. From GMOs to increased sensitivity towards allergens to the use of pesticides, our food supplies set us up for a lifetime of inflammation. 

How Chronic Inflammation Ruins Gut Health

Our body is composed of trillions of microbes that range from bacteria to fungi to viruses. We depend on our gut bacteria to help keep a lot of these other microbes in check. All the while, we also depend on our gut bacteria to break down food, help create energy, and boost nutrient absorption. That’s a lot of burdens!

For our gut bacteria to work optimally, we must feed them a diet rich in fiber. Unfortunately, a vast majority of us don’t get enough fiber. So, over the course of this lifetime, we end up starving out our healthy bacteria.

Even worse, the immune system doesn’t have an ally that can help modulate inflammation. In turn, inflammation becomes chronic. As a result, immune cells and beneficial gut bacteria start to die off. 

Without healthy gut bacteria, the body is susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal attacks. When this happens, we can develop a litany of life-threatening illnesses, including cancer. 

How to Improve Gut Health and Immune System

Everyone’s body is different. Therefore, we all have different ratios of gut bacteria in the body. The key to fixing your gut health and immune system is to get a gut health test kit.

Microbiome testing company, Thryve, sends you everything you need to collect a sample from your toilet paper safely and mail it to their laboratory. Their specialists will analyze your DNA and give you an in-depth report of bacteria living in your gut.

Even better, they offer custom probiotics to help bring balance to your system. In turn, your immune system will have the backup necessary to help control chronic inflammation that can cause many chronic life-threatening conditions, including cancer. 

 

Apps to Help Lessen Anxiety and Stress

I have witnessed countless acts of kindness throughout this difficult time including wonderful trainers and gyms offering ways for us to keep physically active and motivated while staying home.

But along with taking care of our physical needs we must also nourish our mental self.

There are many strategies that we can employ.  One arena to play in are the many apps that have been developed for just this purpose.

There really are so many terrific apps available to help us strengthen and maintain our mental health but I want to highlight 3 that I use personally.

𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗵𝗶𝗳𝘁

Developed by Anxiety Canada, Mind Shift is an app that is designed to help you cope with mild to moderate anxiety aiming to change how you think about anxiety.

It is based on proven scientific strategies helping you to engage in healthy thinking. You check in each day to track your anxiety and work with tools in the app.

This is a free app.

𝗖𝗮𝗹𝗺

In 2017 Calm was named iPhone App of the Year. Calm is a wonderful app for everyone including those experiencing stress and anxiety.  The App offers daily Calm sessions and guides you through meditations, sleep stories and breathing programs.

There is a free version and a paid version.

𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗲 𝗛𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗝𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹

Daily recording of gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and improve mood.

As the Gratitude Happiness Journal app description states:

the app was built out of a personal need to cope with anxiety & depression

This app offers unlimited journal entries and affirmations.

There is a Pro version but I have been using the free one and I love it!


RECIPE

Ashwagandha Milk Tea

(I have published this recipe before and have had many positive feedbacks from it)

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is an Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb.  An adaptogen helps to bring balance and stabiliziation. Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-lowering effects.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Ashwagandha Powder
  • 1 date
  • 10 Goji Berries
  • 4-5 cardamom buds

Directions:

  1. Add milk, water, Ashwagandha powder, date and Goji Berries to a small saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Once reduced to about half strain in to a teacup, add cardamon buds and enjoy!