Monday, October 19, 2009

Give yourself an Immune Boost!



It is officially Flu season, and although most of us will be unaffected by the H1N1 virus, some of us may still catch Seasonal Influenza. Now is the time to support our fighting immune cells working over time during the colder months. There are natural ways to help shorten the course of a viral infection or bacterial infection in our bodies. *NOTE: No advice herein should replace the advice of a physician; every body is different and any symptoms should be assessed by a medical doctor.

"There is no substitute for Clinical Judgement." -Dr Anne Schuchat CDC Director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Think of your immune system as an extremely intricate, intelligent, and efficient defense system. Let's helps strengthen it and give our bodies a fighting chance!



  • Moderate Exercise: Besides boosting the production of macrophages, exercise also helps release hormones and endorphins which increase circulation and reduce cortisol and other free radicals caused by stress. Regular, consistent exercise contributes to proper immune function. But be careful, over-working your body can have the opposite effect and slightly lower our immunity.
  • Fluids: The immune response involves millions of cells, tissues, and organs communicating and working together to fight off invading Antigens. Drinking plenty of water and fluids guarantees that these cells can function properly--We need hydration at the cellular level! Dehydration is also a very serious complication that can cause rapid decline especially in children and the elderly already suffering from the flu or bacterial infection. Stay Hydrated!
  • Nutrition: Eating well and getting our nutrients from our food is key! Nutrients from food are easily assimilated by our bodies; but taking a vitamin supplement if you have a busy lifestyle is also recommended. Here is a list of foods/nutrients that help boost immunity:

-Vitamin C: Think outside the Orange this season, and also
reach for the tropical fruits like guava, mango and papaya, berries, as well as
leafy greens. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting vitamin,
but we have to ingest a continuous supply throughout the day as it is water
soluble and excretes through the urine.

-Carotenoids: Another group of
infection-fighting antioxidants is alpha, beta, and gamma carotene which our
bodies convert into Vitamin A/retinol. These are fat soluble provitamins and care must
be taken to avoid an overdose. Carrots, spinach, bell peppers, apricots, sweet
potatoes and other yummy veggies contain carotenoids.

-Vitamin E: A fat-soluble antioxidant in the "Top-Three,"
Vitamin E, or tocopherol, also helps boost our immune cells
and is just as important as Vitamin C! Vitamin E is stored in our bodies, so if
you eat enough Vitamin E through your diet, a supplement may not be necessary.
Find Vitamin E in spinach, leafy greens, asparagus, olives, seeds, nuts, and
oils.

-Garlic: My favorite way to add flavor and fighting power to
a dish! Think of it as muscles for your immune cells. Garlic is a heart-friendly
natural antibiotic and antioxidant. Whether you roast it, sauté it, or eat it raw,
Garlic is a must during cold season!

-Bioflavonoids: Phytonutrients help protect
our immune cells from environmental agents, pollutants, and debris like a
protective shield. Phytonutrients can be found in a wide variety
of fruits and vegetables. Make sure to eat a wide range of colors for the most
nutrients throughout the day.

-Selenium: Selenium is essential to good health and proper
immune function! Selenium binds to proteins to make selenoproteins, powerful antioxidant enzymes.
Plant foods are the number once source of selenium: Brazil nuts, mushrooms,
asparagus, spinach and many other fruits and veggies contain selenium.

-Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A daily dose of flax oil could help
boost your phagocytes (white blood cells that eat up invaders). Adding flax meal
to baked goods or morning oatmeal can help supply the Omega 3's our bodies need.

-Zinc: Getting plenty of Zinc also helps production of
helper T cells! Beans are rich in Zinc, as well as many Fall veggies like
gourds, pumpkin/pumpkin seeds, and squash.

Many wholesome foods are naturally rich in all of these nutrients! Although
there are dangers associated with overdosing on some minerals and fat-soluble
vitamins, remember that it is VERY difficult if not impossible to overdose on
vitamins you eat in your food! If you're otherwise healthy and eat well, you may
not need a multi-vitamin at all!


  • Preventative Measures: Routine hand-washing is especially important in children, who may come in direct contact with harmful bacteria or viruses. Thorough washing with warm soapy water will help reduce risk of transferring those microbes to their mouths, eyes, or noses. Covering a cough or sneeze is also very important to stop the spreading of germs to those we love.
  • Alternative "Cures": Now is not the time to fall for Internet Scams regarding our health. Please be careful what you read and go directly to authoritative sources on these serious issues. The FDA has been investigating serious fraudulent sites claiming to have "natural" or "alternative" cures. I would personally never trust fly-by-night websites selling some new product!

Although it is not scientifically proven that lifestyle changes can significantly improve your very complex immune system, I believe the mind and body are extremely powerful! The whole body organism requires balance and harmony along with nutrients and exercise to function optimally. Decreasing stress, eating well, exercising and practicing preventative measures will definitely improve your odds of fighting off an infection this season.

Stay Healthy! Stay informed! And Eat a Rainbow of Colors Each Day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Traditional Recipes Easily Vegan-ized!

Think you can't live without your traditional homestyle meals? As the weather begins to cool down and we layer on the clothes, let's not layer on the FAT with all the Holiday foods! I've put a healthy spin on dishes we all love!
Here is a list of recipes I will vegan-ize in my Vegan Cooking Classes this Fall! **I know I missed a lot of great ones, so leave me a comment with your favorite dish!**



Breakfast:
-Eggs Benedict
-Eggs Florentine
-Egg Scramble
-Cafe Latte
-Pumpkin Muffins



Lunch/Snacks:
-Wraps
-Sandwiches
-Cream Soups (Broccoli/Squash)
-Salad Dressings
-Mac 'n Cheez
-Quesadillas
-Stuffed Mushrooms

-Cookies
-Cupcakes
-Ice Cream


Dinner
-Spaghetti & 'Meat'balls
-Lasagna
-Stir-fry
-'Beef' Stew


Ethnic:
-Lumpia/Egg Rolls
-Chorizo
-'Chicken' Curry
-Hummus
-'Pollo' con Mole
-Arroz con 'Pollo'
-Fajitas
-Paella
-Frijoles Refritos
-Sushi
-Udon
-Yakisoba
-Stir fry


...And so many more!


Fill out my contact form to register for classes! Be a semi-homemade vegan vixen! Ladies, we can make our meat loving men switch to healthier eating at least a few times a week! Lower your cholesterol, stabilize blood pressure, naturally achieve a healthy weight, radiate with a healthy glow, and WOW all your dinner party guests this season!


Leave a comment here if you have a recipe suggestion and I will do my best to "vegan-ize" it! My first class will be the Asian-inspired class! Look for my November Newsletter/Calendar in the next few weeks!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How about a PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH?




This month, we find Pink Ribbons everywhere--from the grocery store to the football field. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to promoting awareness and dialogue on the disease that is becoming easier to detect and treat.




With all this talk about our Healthcare System, I propose we all do our part to educate ourselves on the BEST form of Healthcare. It is called PREVENTION. We must all take responsibility for our bodies, and educate our children on eating well, exercising, and how to practice healthy living! In addition to the preventable communicable diseases, such as Hepatitis and Polio, this is a list of major diseases which are also preventable in most cases:

  • Cancer


  • Atherosclerosis (thinning of arterial walls due to buildup of plaque resulting in High Blood Pressure)


  • Obesity


  • Diabetes


  • Diseases associated with Nutritional Deficiencies or overload (Scurvy, Rickets, Osteoporosis)


  • Mental Disorders


  • Osteoporosis


  • Macular Degeneration


  • Coronary Heart Disease

There are simple ways to Prevent health problems and diseases. Here are some of my Prevention Tips:

  1. Take control of your lives. Welcome "change" into your life--try not to place a political partisan label on your Health! Quitting Smoking, Controlling your food-portions, Eating more fruits and vegetables, Drinking more filtered water, and Exercising regularly are just a few places to start.


  2. Read labels and question everything. Don't trust Buzz Words like "Natural," "Healthy," "Wholesome," unless you actually read the label. For example, Cocaine is "Natural" and is not exactly good for you! And what is "healthy" for some, may not be "healthy" to a Diabetic or someone with Celiac disease. Decide for yourself whether a package of food is "Wholesome" or not by reading the ingredients. My rule is: the less handling or processing a food item has seen before reaching my plate, the better!


  3. Stop in to see your doctor once a year! There are millions of cancer patients who are now healthy, thanks to a regular screening.


  4. Identify unhealthy habits in your life and quit cold turkey. Overeating, drinking too much, lack of sleep, smoking, or even negative thoughts can decrease our immunity to certain ailments!


  5. If a former meat lover like me can go Vegan overnight and never look back: anyone can go Vegan once or twice a week! Meat and Seafood just isn't the same as it used to be, so go Green in the kitchen--try it out! Benefits I have seen since becoming Vegan: glowing skin, improved digestive system, stable blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved body image, mental clarity, and more positive view on life.


  6. Analyze everything in your home for carcinogens! Do you cook on nonstick cookware, do you spray pesticides around your children or garden, do you microwave plastics, do you eat non-organic soft fruits and vegetables? (See http://karinnaz.blogspot.com/2009/07/shopping-green.html and my Eco Savvy post for more info!)



Prevention is key! It is never too late to start turning back the clock and reversing damage we've already done.




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