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    Nutrition

    Can nutrition strengthen your immune system?

    Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
    Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

    If you are someone who is into health and fitness, the title of this blog comes as no surprise to you. Maybe you didn’t always know how important nutrition is to your overall health, but you learned, and you understand the benefits of eating a healthy diet.

    Fast forward to the first quarter of 2020, where we found ourselves in a global pandemic. The coronavirus spread quickly through densely populated areas. It seemed to hit specific populations, mostly those with older people and people with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even Deborah Birx, M.D, stated that “having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know is particularly damaging to those individuals.” And this is why taking care of your health should be a top priority in your life. Health is true, wealth.

    Will eating a healthy diet provide you with a robust immune system? Most of us will answer yes, but what do the experts say? A paper in the journal, Nutrients discusses this very subject:

    Often missing in public health discussions around immunity and infection are nutritional strategies to support optimal function of the immune system. This is surprising, given that the importance that nutrition plays in immune function is well established. Several vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; and trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper, play important and complementary roles in supporting both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Deficiencies or suboptimal status in micronutrients negatively affect immune function and can decrease resistance to infections (Calder, et all, 2020).

    Well, there you go. When you provide your body with nutritious foods, you give your immune system the best defense against any virus or bacteria infection. Where to start? How about this quick breakfast smoothie to help get you fueled and ready for the day while providing micronutrients to help support your body’s natural defense system.

    Immune boosting smoothie

    Immune Boosting Smoothie

    Ingredients:
    1 cup of frozen mixed berries.
    1 handful of spinach.
    1 tbs of almond butter
    1 tbs cacao powder
    1 scoop of protein powder of your choice. I like Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder in vanilla
    A drop or two of NuNaturals Liquid Alcohol-Free Stevia to taste
    1 cup of almond milk, plus a splash of water if needed for blending
    Blend and enjoy.

    How are these ingredients beneficial to your immune system? Let’s take a look.

    • Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants that protect your cells. They are also low on the glycemic index, so they won’t spike your blood sugar.
    • Spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals such as A, C, K1, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Plus, it blends easily into smoothies with no ‘greens’ taste.
    • Almond butter contains monounsaturated fat that helps reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Since fat contains nine calories per gram, if you are trying to lose weight, eat this spread in moderation.
    • Unsweetened cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation.
    • Egg white protein powder is a good source of protein that has low saturated fat and cholesterol. I like this form of protein powder as I have sinus issues with whey.
    • Stevia a sweet alternative to sugar and can keep blood glucose in check after a meal.
    • Almond milk is a tasty alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy, plus, it’s low in calories. Most of the benefits found in almond milk such as vitamins D and E are added by the manufacture to create a more nutritious beverage.

    I will say that this smoothie does need a slight boost of sweetener, and while stevia doesn’t boast any supernatural vitamin powers, it certainly won’t spike your insulin. I’m sure you can play around and find different sweeteners to your taste, such as honey or coconut sugar.

    So will this smoothie take care of all your nutritional needs for your immune system? Well, wouldn’t that be easy? Make sure you are eating at the very least 80% healthy foods reserving 20% for sweets and fast food. Hey, we aren’t all perfect, and enjoying all foods creates a better life experience.

    Cheers to good health!
    Monica.

    Reference:
    Calder, P.C.; Carr, A.C.; Gombart, A.F.; Eggersdorfer, M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients 202012, 1181.

  • Nutrition

    Tropical Smoothie

    One morning, I was looking in my freezer and noticed that I was running low on frozen fruit. I didn’t have a whole lot of items to make a smoothie. Sure, I could have thrown the leftovers into a blender and made a decent smoothie, but I’m all about an appealing smoothie color and a brown smoothie (even though it may taste good) just won’t do.

    So I looked at my ingredients: coconut milk, a Cara Cara orange, a frozen banana, and frozen pineapple. Well, those ingredients sound like a tropical smoothie in the making!

    Tropical smoothie ingredients

    Once you try a Cara Cara orange, you probably won’t go back to a naval orange. These red flesh oranges are sweet without the acidic bite of a naval orange. I cut mine into segments and squeezed the remaining juicy core into the coconut milk.

    The exact measurements can vary, but as long as you have the same ingredients, the smoothie will be tasty.

    Tropical Smoothie Ingredients:
    1 cup of coconut milk
    1 Cara Cara orange cut into segments, squeeze remaining orange into milk
    1 to 3/4 cup frozen banana
    1/2 cup of frozen pineapple

    I use canned Dole pineapple. I open the can and pour the juice into a glass to save for drinking or another smoothie, then I freeze the pineapple chunks in a plastic bag. I love fresh pineapple, but it’s difficult to buy a ripe one. Pineapples are often picked too early and sadly they do not ripen after they are picked.

    Now for the good stuff: Nutritional Boosts!

    Nutritional Boosts - collagen, xct oil, maca, protein powder

    The additional boosters that you can add to your smoothie are endless. You can add ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds and a variety of protein powders. It really depends on your current nutritional needs.

    My current nutritional needs are protein, collagen, hormone balance, and feeling full until lunchtime. So let me review the items that I am currently adding to my smoothie.

    Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides:
    This supplement saved my fingernails. For some reason, perhaps age, I was experiencing splitting and peeling fingernails. This was quite horrific to me and the more strengthening and repairing nail polish I purchased and used on my nails, the worse it got. After researching the benefits of collagen, I found that collagen powder is good for hair, skin, and nails so I began adding it to my smoothies. Within a month, I noticed that my nails were stronger. Today, my nails grow strong and I haven’t had any splitting or peeling.

    Bulletproof XCT oil:
    The beauty of adding fat to a smoothie is that it will keep you full until lunchtime. You don’t need to buy this particular oil. Coconut oil works too, as well as, a slice or two of avocado. Even a nut butter like almond butter will add enough fat to keep your tummy satisfied until noon.

    Navitas Maca Powder:
    Maca powder has quite a few benefits such as increasing fertility, reducing blood pressure, and improving mood. I use maca in smoothies for hormone balance, especially night sweats associated with menopause.

    Jay Robb Vanilla Egg White Protein:
    After discovering that I’m allergic to dairy, whey protein is not an option for me anymore. I was a little leery on buying an egg white protein powder. Will it taste like eggs? And the answer is, no it does not taste like eggs. It simply tastes like vanilla protein powder. I also use bone broth protein powder by Ancient Nutrition and I like it as well.

    The final result:

    A perfectly delicious and nutritious tropical smoothie that will make you smile.

    Tropical Smoothie - Delish!

    I hope you try this tropical smoothie and if you do, let me know in the comments below.

    Monica.