Saturday, April 3, 2010

7 Eating Tips to Promote a Stress-Free, Healthy Immune System

7 Eating Tips to Promote a Stress-Free, Healthy Immune System

Tip # 1:Color Your Plate Like A Box of Crayolas:
The substance that gives foods (fruits and vegetables) their color are called phytochemicals. Many consider these phytonutrients (e.g., bio-flavinoids) essential in helping to fight cancer.

Tip # 2:Antioxidants
Most phytochemicals are known to have antioxidant activity. There is much talk today about antioxidants.

Here is the simple low-down on Anti-oxidants and Free Radicals.

Free Radicals are oxygen molecules with an extra electron.
We breathe these in all the time.

Physically speaking, this electron configuration causes damage to the following:

1. Cell membranes (allowing things to go in that shouldn't enter, and things to leave that should stay)

2. They are thought to be associated with the development of cancer and heart disease, perhaps other diseases as well.

Antioxidants come to the rescue by destroying Free Radicals.

The four major antioxidants are:

1. Beta Carotine (a precursor to Vitamin A)
2. Vitamin C
3. Vitamin E
4. The mineral, Selenium

Antioxidants are found largely in fruits and vegetables.

Tip # 3:Drink Water
Most Americans are walking around dehydrated. We simply don't drink enough water!

Many beverages we do drink (coffee, tea, sodas, etc.) act as diuretics, meaning they increase urination, thus tipping the scales toward dehydration.

Here is the bottom-line message about being hydrated:
Water helps flush out waste products and toxins throughout the body. Dehydration will compromise this process, hence not flushing things out as they should be.

How much water is enough per day?

Well, the recommendation is the proverbial eight 8 oz glasses per day, but considering this recommendation when comparing a 120 lb woman and a 289 lb man working in the same office reveals it's only a guide.

Experts suggest the best indication of being hydrated is near-clear urine (dark urine may be a sign of dehydration).

Tip # 4:Herbs and Spices
Before processed foods and fast food restaurants, the majority of people cooked their meals at home. In each kitchen it was not uncommon to find a spice rack containing fresh spices and herbs grown in the backyard garden. (FYI: Salt is not an herb).

Backyard gardens contained herb plants like Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Cilantro, Oregano, Garlic, and many others.

These spices and herbs were not only added for taste, they had an added health benefit (essential oils of herbs enhance the immune system).

We now know that the leaves, stems, and roots of these plants contain phytochemicals such as bio-flavinoids and antioxidants.

By now most people have heard of Echinacea, but there are several mushrooms (Shitake, Maitake and Reishi) that are known to enhance the immune system as well.

Astragulus is also well recognized to boost white blood cells and of course Milk Thistle is known to help cleanse the liver of toxins.

Most men today know the benefits of Saw Palmetto.

Feverfew is recognized as a remedy for migraines and it is a well known fact that garlic helps reduce cholesterol levels.

Herbalists will also tell you that many herbs are known for their anti-microbial abilities (to reduce colds and flues).

Tip # 5:Fiber
Current estimates suggest that Americans eat about 9 grams of fiber a day if that. The World Health Organization suggests that each person consume 30-40 grams of fiber a day.

Just to review:
Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.).

It is a compound in carbohydrates that is not digestible. We simply don't have the enzymes to break this stuff down.

As such, it acts like a broom in that it sweeps out both the small and large intestine, carrying with it things like fat molecules (which is why fiber is said to lower cholesterol) and even some toxins that haven't made their way into the blood stream.

Tip # 6:Omega 3's
Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils are essential fatty acids. This means that your body cannot produce them internally and they must be obtained from outside sources.

We have an imbalance in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), in that our diet is overloaded with Omega 6's (vegetable oils) and severely lacking in Omega 3's.

It is important to know that Omega 6 oils tend to cause inflammation by stimulating the immune system response which leads to a lowering of immunity to real threats (e.g. viruses, bacteria, etc.).

Sources of Omega 3's include cold-water fish (e.g. Salmon, Cod, Tuna) flax seed oil, walnuts, and a few other foods.

Why are Omega 3's so important?
Well for starters, these healthy fats acts as anti-inflammatory agents. They are also essential for brain cells and we know how important this is.

Sources of Omega 3's include cold-water fish (e.g. Salmon, Cod, Tuna) flax seed oil, walnuts, and a few other foods.

Research now suggests that Omega 3 oils may also help prevent cancer.

Tip # 7:About Vitamins:
B-Complex is known as the "Stress Vitamin"
Because many of the B-vitamins are used to assist metabolic processes for energy production (fight or flight), the B-complex is widely known as "the stress vitamin."

You can walk into any store and find bottles in the vitamin section labeled "Stress Vitamins: B-Complex" (note: if you read the label, most likely you will see Vitamin C as well).

These are the water-soluble vitamins, and in this case, what you don't need your body, in all its great wisdom, will eliminate as excess.

Excess B-complex in the urine looks like a laser light show. The urine is florescent yellow, green or orange. If you happen to note this, the thought should occur to you that you are flushing down the drain the vitamins you recently purchased.

While we all need the B-complex vitamin, start with small does that are proven to be bioavailable (easily absorbed).

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