Monthly Archives: November 2013
It’s that time of year again, sniffles, colds, maybe even a full blown flu that lasts a week or two. And with the holidays approaching, the assaults on your immune system are legion, and they’re on their way.
- Vitamin D- Some speculate that lower levels of sun exposure, and dropping levels of vitamin D may weaken the immune system.
- Indoors- Whatever microbes that attack you will linger around indoors instead of being blown away by the wind or fried by UV light.
- Other People- Being indoors a lot also means being around other people and their pathogenic microbes. Holiday gatherings intensify this.
- Test your levels and supplement if needed. Or, take a tropical vacation and get some winter sun!
- Keep your distance from other people, wash your hands a lot, and don’t touch your face. Hand sanitizer helps. Most cold and flu viruses enter via your face. Old news, for sure, but it works.
But Most Important is to Strengthen Your Immune System
I have a problem with the germ theory of disease. If it were purely about germs, we would all be sick all the time because we are always surrounded by germs. The most important part of all this is a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system should be able to handle the viruses and bacteria that surround us, since we all evolved together.
How do you maximize your immune system?
Skip the vitamin C, and read Dr. Fuhrman’s excellent book, Super Immunity.
This book is a fantastic exploration of how nutrition and diet can affect the immune system in two very important ways: cancer prevention, and communicable diseases. Tgose seem like very different subjects, but they are related becasue the immune system not only keeps away colds and flu, but also destroys cancer cells before they can develop into tumors and metastasize into something really scary.
How Diet Affects Immunity
Here Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Certainly, the exposure to the virus and its multiplication within our body is at the core of viral infections. However, though it is not generally recognized, the virus adapts itself to the host (our body) and becomes dangerous and multiplies as a result of the host’s disease promoting environment, created by nutritional inadequacy. ( Super Immunity, p. 29)
So a healthy diet creates a healthy immune system, and viruses will struggle and fail to get a grip within your body.
Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-Virus Prescription:
A clever mnemonic:
- G- greens (spinach, chard, kale etc.)
- B- beans (legumes, peas and lentils)
- O- onions (all onion types and garlic)
- M- mushrooms (all types)
- B- berries
- S- seeds
The Super Immunity protocol is to incorporate as many of these ingredients in as many meals as possible. Occasionally, I’ve been able to put them all in one dish, but the berries are usually the tricky one to include. But we know that these nutrients are stored in the body, so if you got them all in over the course of a day, imagine what immune system power you’d have!
Work with it Wednesdays will be devoted to testing out some of the book’s recipes over at The Training Table. Check ’em out.
An Edible Education
They say that for children, it may take 10 or even 20 trials with a certain food before one acquires a taste for it. I think this applies to adults as well. I suppose it depends on where you live what sorts of foods and tastes you become accustomed to. Thai and Indian children grow up liking curry, American kids, not so much. There are a number of different foods that took some time for me to finally appreciate. Some were foods that were just foreign to me because of how I grew up. A couple were all around me, but some reason it took years to finally understand what all the fuss was about.
Here Are My Top 5 Most Difficult Foods:
- Cooked Greens– Growing up, the only leafy green I ever ate was spinach, which was usually buried in a casserole. Otherwise, the only greens I ate were in salads. I suppose if I was from the South, I would understand cooked collards, but I never had those until much later. Because of the bitterness, it took some practice to like cooked kale, collards, or to even learn what chard is. Now, I love me some greens, even though I don’t (yet) wear a kale t-shirt.
- Beets– Another vegetable that I didn’t grow up on, except occasionally in canned form. Never quite sure what they were about. They have a funky, earthy, yet subtly sweet taste that is just plain confusing. Now I like them a lot, but I’m still not quite sure what to with them. I do know that juicing them makes me faster!
- Winter Squash– Like beets, this vegetable has a strange, not quite vegetable taste. They’re a little sweet, but not strongly so, and rather mushy when cooked. It took me awhile to like these, a little less for their counterpart, sweet potatoes and yams. Now, except for needing a battle axe to prep them I love them.
- Turnips and Rutabagas– These vegetables, espeically rutabagas, were a part of my childhood, as my mother loved them. Growing up in North Dakota, root vegetables were a big deal for her, but the bitter taste of these two put me off for a long time. It was only after I learned to like bitter greens that I realized these were good.
- Avocados– Growing up in California, I was surrounded by Mexican cuisine, and avocados were worshipped like they were their own food group. I didn’t get it for a long time. Where other tasted “creamy,” I tasted “greasy.” No thanks. Somehow, I finally got let into the club, and now like any true Californian, I adore avocados.
What I have realized is that just because something tastes weird at first, doesn’t mean it’s no good, or that I will never like it. So now I actively seek out new and strange tastes to see what else I can find. Variety of foods means a more complete profile of nutrients and phytochemicals. This is also good news for anyone trying to escape the toxic Standard American diet but just can’t used to taste of less processed, healthy food. Your tastes can change, you are not locked in for life, although it may require some patience.Since I stretched out and learned to appreciate leafy greens in order to get their health benefits, I can now try some newer, stranger things. Currently I’m excited about nopales cactus paddles and bitter melon.
What else is there to try?
What about you? What took time to appreciate? Anything that you still can’t handle, no matter what?
Found this on Yahoo while traversing the on-ramp to the information superhighway:
Diet Guru Failures
Of course my favorite punching bag, Atkins is there, but so are Jim Fixx and Nathan Pritikin. It makes sense that some of the real wacky fad diet folk didn’t have great health, what about those who really did show the benefits of a healthy lifestyle?
Fixx played a huge role in getting Americans off the couch and exercising. It was not long ago that doctors recommended against exercise, which seems ridiculous these days. Then again, doctors used to advocate cigarettes. Fixx himself was a poster child for lifestyle transformation going from an obese smoker to a marathoner, and then showed others how to do it for themselves. Unfortunately, Fixx thought smoking was the real demon, and that if he lost weight and gained fitness he was healthy. He never really changed his diet away from the Standard American Diet. As far as I know, he thought that if he had cardiovascular FITNESS he was HEALTHY. Unfortunately he found out the hard way that fit does not mean healthy. The converse is also true. You can also be quite healthy without being very fit. Unfortunately, the nay sayers went bananas with this and used it to justify their couch potato ways, unhealthy lifestyle, and leave it all to genetics, absconding all personal responsibility.
The Jim Fixx Lesson:
A healthy lifestyle requires some attention, and consists of more than one factor. You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.
Here is another example that confounds people. Nathan Pritikin was ahead of his time, just as Fixx was. He hacked his own health when he was diagnosed with heart disease. With the mind of an engineer, he researched heart disease, determined what caused it, created a solution, and tried it on himself. He cured his own heart disease, then began teaching other people at his health centers. Throughout the 1970s he demonstrated amazing health improvement for thousands of people. With that success, was he lauded? Of course not. Like Fixx he was ridiculed. His death likewise is used as criticism. While his heart disease was gone, as shown by his autopsy, his suicide from terminable leukemia is used by the critics as evidence that he was wrong.
The Nathan Pritikin Lesson:
Pritikin combined healthy diet and exercise to eliminate heart disease, so he was way ahead of Fixx. Unfortunately, not everything can be cured with lifestyle, and there may be some new things to learn. A good reminder to those of us to realize that our healthy lifestyle may not be a panacea.
Regardless of whatever the real cause of Atkins’ death was, the man was not healthy. He peddled weight loss books despite the fact that he was seriously overweight. It’s pretty clear he had heart disease, whether or not that killed him. Why people still revere him, or pursue any similar diet or lifestyle is beyond me.
It’s important to see what the people behind any advice look like. If they stand behind what they advocate, are the results good enough to copy? At the same time, we need to be realistic about what lifestyle can actually do. We have really good information, but the full story has yet to be told.
What do you think about diet and health gurus? Was somebody missing from the list? Do they walk their talk? Should they be judged?