2020 was certainly a time of stress, helping our immune systems is important always. But now is certainly a good time to give it a little extra support. Tips that help us do just that were shared by Debbie Klein, a registered and licensed dietitian, at the last quarterly meeting of Churchill Community Coalition.
Many of us have seen more empty alcohol bottles in our trash than usual, and most of us have been hitting the cupboards and fridge more. It is quite likely that hit has not been to increase our intake of veggies and fruits. Often, we snack on less than healthy items. With it cold outside, we are stuck inside – and man do those comfort foods taste even better!
An often-overlooked component of healthy eating and stress reduction is maintaining healthy digestion. Klein shared the importance of gut health, stating, “Eighty-five percent of immune function takes place in the gut. It’s the 2nd brain of the body.” Keeping that in mind, a tip that can help support the gut is to take probiotics. These live microorganisms are found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt and buttermilk. Klein suggests that you look for multi-strain and live/active when checking the label on foods. There are many good yogurts on the market; two that Klein recommended were Nancy’s and Stoneyfield. Some other sources for gut support are found in Kombucha and Keefer. It may take a bit to get used to the flavor but hang in there. Know that you are helping that very important organ that will then help you out. Probiotics are also available in capsule form. You can check with your doctor to help find the best fit for you.
With today’s hectic schedules and the distance and time from the field to the table, good nutrition is often difficult for many. For these reasons, Klein recommends regularly taking a good multi-vitamin with minerals. Other vitamins that support the immune system are Vitamin D, Zinc (too much can cause a copper deficiency), selenium, Vitamin C, fish oils, and iron. It is best to talk with a health care professional to evaluate dosages and the effects that may be specific to you.
A healthy balanced diet must also include an adequate amount of hydration. That hydration can be found in many ways. A few examples are good ol’ water, flavored drinks (no – not sugary drinks), coffee, teas, and watery soups. Some fruits and vegetables have a higher water content, but the amount that one would need to eat to gain a benefit does not make it a countable source.
As one plans their meals around the ‘Plate Method’ (¼ protein, ½ vegetables/fruit, ¼ starch) to support a healthier you, don’t forget about exercise and sleep. No matter how busy your day is, fit at least 11 minutes into the day for a brisk walk or a jog around the house. And as the day comes to a close, remember to head to the bedroom for a night’s rest of at least seven hours. Now that all of that is in your schedule, don’t forget that consistency is the last (and very important) part of all good health ideas. If we don’t do it regularly, we won’t see/feel the benefit.
The Churchill Community Coalition is made up of over 50 community partners who have come together to address the needs of Churchill County -