Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

It’s already February…and the Groundhog did NOT see his shadow, which apparently means we only have 6 more weeks of winter. BUT…cold and flu season is still in full swing. This is the time of year to continue to eat those foods that help boost your immune system, especially when someone that sits right next to you at work is sneezing and coughing! According to Dr. William Boisvert, an expert in nutrition and immunity, “Poor diet is the biggest cause of a weakened immune system in healthy individuals.” Think about it…. the people you know that always seem to be sick….what do they eat on a regular basis?..…hmmmm.

Ok, so here’s a new word to add to your vocabulary –PHYTONUTRIENT.  “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals that help protect them from germs, fungi, and bugs.  When we eat phytonutrients, they help prevent disease and boost our immunity!
I bet you are dying to know which foods contain lots of these delicious phytonutrients! Here’s what you should add to your grocery list:

GRAPEFRUIT, especially ruby red! They contain a very important phytonutrient called lycopene, which has also been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer! (If you are taking certain medications please make sure to check the labels for a grapefruit caution. Sometimes grapefruit can block the body’s ability to break down certain drugs)

CAULIFLOWER has a phytonutrient called glucosinolate, which actually helps prevent cancer! It also has choline which helps keep your cells functioning properly and helps keep bacteria safely confined in your gut.

CARROTS are full of a phytonutrient called beta carotene. It’s job is to support our mucus membranes, which line the respiratory and intestinal tracts, making it harder for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Cool! Other orange foods like SQUASH, SWEET POTATOES, and CANTALOUPE are full of beta carotene which your body turns into Vitamin A. That’s a good thing because vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, which helps keep our skin healthy and strong. This is important because even our skin plays a major role in protecting us from bacteria and viruses!

Other foods that help boost your immune system:

MUSHROOMS and  LEAN BEEF are full of zinc, and people who don’t have enough zinc in their diet tend to have fewer white blood cells, which isn’t good for your immune system! Those cells circulate in the blood so they can be transported to where an infection develops. We have an average of 7,000 white blood cells per micro liter of blood-WOW!

GARLIC contains allicin, which helps fight infection by clearing away toxins and germs. It also helps those white blood cells do their job.

YOGURT is full of GOOD bacteria that helps fight off BAD bacteria in your system. Our intestinal tract is home to trillions of good bacteria that help keep harmful germs from invading. When you are sick and take antibiotics, you are killing off some of those good bacteria, which is why most of the time taking antibiotics coincides with diarrhea!  One of my favorite yogurt options is called Kefir, a fermented milk. It’s like a “drinking-style” yogurt, but it has even MORE beneficial bacteria than regular yogurt does. It actually helps keep your colon clean and is easier to digest than yogurt! (I buy cases of it at Costco and always have it on hand for my daughter and is great for a quick breakfast or late afternoon snack!)

KALE is a SUPERSTAR vegetable! It has very high levels of Vitamin A, C, and K.  Vitamin K is amazing…it can reduce your overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, it helps with normal blood clotting, and bone health too. Kale is also rich in a phytonnutrient called lutien, which protects you from cataracts. Kale has tons of antioxidants, which help eliminate free radicals that damage your body’s cells. We’ll talk about those crazy free radicals in detail some other time! :) Here is one of my favorite recipes for kale…

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tsp seasoned salt or sea salt

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, foil, or one of those silicone baking mats.
*Pull or cut the kale leaves away from the thick stems, rinse and tear the leaves into large pieces. Put into a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. I toss it all with my hands so the pieces are evenly coated.
*Spread the leaves on the baking sheets and bake 10-15 min until the edges of the leaves are browned but not burned and the leaf pieces are crispy.
MMMM I love this recipe, it satisfies my craving for that crunchy salty chip and gives me lots of nutrients! And yes, my 3 yr old eats them too!

Have a Healthy Week!

DISCLAIMER: Delia is not a Doctor, Nutritionist, or Registered Dietitian. She is simply a person dedicated to eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle. She loves to help and inspire others to do the same!

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