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Top 10 Best Immune System Boosters

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“The immune system is a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.  Quite a number of researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, herbal supplements, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. Although interesting results are emerging, thus far they can only be considered preliminary (Harvard Health Publishing).”

During our world pandemic due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) we all must take preventative cautionary steps to maintain optimal health and reduce the spread of the virus.  We have been advised to practice social distancing and stay home. But what else can we do? The next most important step is to maintain a healthy immune system.

 

Adopting healthy behaviors are your first line of defense for a strong immune system

Tip 1: Live Tobacco Free

If you already live a tobacco-free lifestyle you are doing yourself a gigantic health favor.  And if you use tobacco there are resources to help you reduce your intake and ultimately kick the habit.   Visit the Mayo Clinic’s Smoking Cessation Guide. Check out Healthline’s List of Products to help you quit.  Email us admin@bkomplete.com to learn more about our Tobacco Cessation Program.

Tip 2: Eat a Diet Rich in Nutrients

Eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in added sugar, saturated and trans saturated fat.  But, what does that mean to eat exactly?  No stress, we have you covered! Check out our Meal Prep Guide, Healthy Hydration Hacks, What are Pre and ProBiotics, What Foods to Eat in the Winter and What Foods to Eat in the SummerStill not sure?  No problem, email us at admin@bkomplete.com to schedule your nutrition and wellness consult. This is how we can help you learn more about which foods to eat.

Tip 3: Exercise Regularly

In addition to eating  more nutrient-rich foods, it is also important to get regular exercise. That equals at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity and at least 2 instances per week of muscle training for all major muscle groups.  But we know the biggest barrier to exercise is time. Now that many of us are working from home we have gained back the time it took for our commute to the office.  Use that extra time to add physical activity into your day. You will feel great and reduce your stress! Not sure how to exercise at home? Check out this Home Gym 101 article on body weight exercises you can do at home.  You can also visit Fitness Blender on YouTube for hundreds of free exercise routines.   

Tip 4: Maintain a Healthy Weight

 A healthy body weight does NOT mean the lowest body weight.  At B.Komplete we never recommend restrictive diets.  A healthy body weight philosophy means that you have accepted your body and you are practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Body acceptance includes mindful eating, frequent exercise, self compassion, and healthcare prevention. One important measure rather than your weight is your waist circumference.  Elevated waist circumferences can be a predictor for heart issues. The goal for waist circumference is less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men. Another measure is your body fat percentage. While this can range significantly you can visit Healthline for more information.

Tip 5: Control Your Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure impacts roughly 1 in 3 Americans.  This puts us at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.  But the good news is, by following the guidance of your healthcare team you can control your blood pressure. The first defense is practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors (all of the items on this list). This should be practiced in combination with taking prescribed blood pressure medication.  If you are unsure what your blood pressure is, order a blood pressure cuff to use at home.  

Tip 6: Drink in Moderation

If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.  In times of stress alcohol may seem even more inviting.  But practicing moderation is the key for your success. For men the recommendation is no more than 2 drinks per day. And for women the recommendation is no more than 1 drink per day.  A standard drink is generally equal to 1-12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1 – 1.5 ounces of liquor.  And watch out for drinks with a lot of added sugar and make sure that you hydrate well before, during and after intake of alcohol. 

Tip 7: Get Adequate Sleep

“Adequate” sleep generally means 7 – 9 hours per night of restful slumber for most adults.  If this sounds like a dream you may need to work on your sleep health. Because getting enough sleep does more than give you energy. It also helps to boost your immune system and benefits your metabolism.  Learn more from Healthy People

Tip 8: Take Steps to Avoid Infection and Protect Your Immune System

This means washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.  Hand washing has always been our first life of defense against infection.  And with the pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19)public health organizations are providing as much guidance as possible on the proper way to wash your handsSafe food handling has always been paramount to reduce our risk for food borne illness.  For instance, cooking meat to the proper temperature, not using the same cutting board for meat and produce, and storing food properly are just a few basic practices.  Learn more from the USDA on keeping food safe.  

Tip 9: Get Regular Healthcare Prevention Screenings

Get regular healthcare prevention screenings for people in your age group and risk category.  This means visiting your primary care physician at least annually and getting your blood measured. This also means getting your preventative dental exams, cancer screenings, eye exams and meeting with your  B.Komplete Registered Dietitian for your preventative wellness visits.  Learn more about the frequency of various healthcare prevention exams from the Cleveland Clinic

Virtual Counseling

Tip 10: Manage Your Stress

We are facing great uncertainty, illness, and economic challenges with the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, stress is higher than everSome of our go-to tips for managing stress include breath exercises, practicing meditation and mindfulness, engaging in physical activity, laughing, and practicing gratitude.  Learn more about some of our go-to stress reduction ideas here

If you enjoyed this post please share with your family, friends and colleagues.  Because the more we can do to support our immune system and stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the better our world will be.  

Nutrition and Food

What are Pre and Probiotics?

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Many of us have heard the word “probiotics.” In fact, many of us would even be able to associate probiotics with our gut or stomach. But what do they do? How do they help our stomach and digestion, and what the heck are prebiotics?

Probiotics are live bacterial cultures that help to keep our gut healthy.  Probiotics help with digestion, absorption of nutrients, and immune function.   Probiotics are found in fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi.   Probiotics can also be found in dairy products such as yogurt.  One reason why we are encouraged to eat more yogurt, (how many of us have watched Activia commercials with Jamie Lee Curtis?) and certain soft, fermented cheese. Probiotics are now being manufactured into supplement form.  

Prebiotics are fiber, that basically work as a ‘fertilizer’ for the probiotics. Meaning, while the probiotics, or “good bacteria,” is working it’s way into the gut, prebiotics are helping the probiotics multiply, grow, and improve the amount of good bacteria in the gut. Interestingly, the body doesn’t digest prebiotics. It simply utilizes them to propagate probiotics in the digestive system.

Although both pre and probiotics work together to improve gut health, they are not found in the same foods. If you’re looking to add both to your diet without utilizing food sources, both can be found in supplement form.  However, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists’ on the B.Komplete Team strongly recommend food first – before supplements.  Dietary supplements are not tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration like medications. And the probiotic strains in the supplements may not be specific for the condition you’re looking to treat.  Always tell your Physician what you are doing that may affect your health, and schedule an appointment with a RDN on our team.

Foods Rich in Probiotics

Yogurt: is the number one source of probiotics. However, this only applies if the label says “active live cultures.” Any pasteurization or sterilization can kill the bacteria and then there’s no good bacteria.

Sauerkraut: Also known as lacto-fermented cabbage. When unpasteurized, contains Lactobacillus bacteria (good bacteria). In this state, it contains more probiotics than yogurt.

Miso Soup: A very popular item on a Japanese restaurant menu, this soup is made with miso paste, an Asian seasoning made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans, barley, brown rice and several other grains with a fungus, Aspergillus oryzae.  Miso is a healthy, probiotic food that helps support digestion by adding beneficial microorganisms to your digestive tract.

Kefir: Similar to yogurt, there’s kefir, a fermented and cultured beverage, with a characteristic tart taste. For those with a dairy intolerance, kefir can be a good choice. Interestingly enough, a study done by Ohio State University, found that drinking kefir can reduce gas and bloating brought on by lactose consumption by almost 70%.

Pickles: Cucumbers that have been “pickled” in a solution of salt and water, using their own lactic acid bacteria, they are left to ferment, which turns them sour and a source of probiotics. Pickles are a good source of vitamin K too, although they are high in sodium, something to watch out for.

Foods Rich in Prebiotics

Asparagus: Great source of prebiotics with roughly 5% fiber by weight.  Check out this delicious recipe for asparagus salad or this recipe for an asparagus frittata

Legumes:  A great sources of protein and iron. Common legumes include; lentils, kidneys, and chickpeas. Legumes have the right amount of fiber to boost healthy gut flora.

Jerusalem Artichoke: Interestingly, Jerusalem artichoke has nothing to do with artichoke, with the exception of its heart’s flavor. Jerusalem artichoke is loaded with prebiotics as well as potassium and iron.  And they are easy to prepare!

Bananas: A convenient food, that has fiber and potassium.  

Oats: Healthy grains with the added bonus of prebiotics. Oats contain beta-glucan fiber, which is what increases healthy gut bacteria, as well as antioxidants, which means they have anti-inflammatory effects.

How Much Do You Need?

At present, the verdict is out on exactly how much we need to consume, however some of the regulatory and scientific groups have put forward, per day figures of:

  • Dietary fiber: 25-38 grams

If you are not used to eating a diet that is rich in fiber, start slowly.  Try adding 1 new food each day for a week that provides a good source of fiber.  You can gradually increase each week.  

We truly hope this blog post was helpful, and inspires you to add a source of pre and/or probiotic fiber into your daily food plan.  Here at B.Komplete we believe in a healthy and balanced approach to eating.  Let us know in the comment section what you try!