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The Best Time of Day to Eat Carbs

A carbohydrate is like the internet. It can either help or harm you — it just depends on how and when you consume it.

“You want to find the right balance,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD.

Patton explains why carbs shouldn’t be diet enemy number one and the best time of day to eat them.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap. But they’re one of three essential macronutrients, along with fat and protein.

“Carbohydrates turn into glucose, or sugar, in your body. Your body converts that glucose into energy,” says Patton. “Carbs are your body’s main and preferred energy source.”

“The majority of your carbohydrates should come from natural sources — things that aren’t modified or processed,” says Patton. Examples of healthy carbohydrates include:

  • Grains and starches: Opt for whole-grain options when it comes to bread, cereal, rice and pasta.
  • Legumes: Legumes are also a great source of plant-based protein. These sources include split peas, lentils and beans.
  • Fruit: Patton recommends whole fruit, with its skin intact. “But some fruit is better than no fruit,” she notes. “So, if canned fruit is more accessible or affordable, that’s OK, too. Just get it packed in water or juice and strain it.”
  • Vegetables: These healthy carbs are also full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Veggies rich in carbs include potatoes, corn, root vegetables and squashes.
  • Milk: Milk is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D.

When is the best time to eat carbs?

“Most foods and food groups contain carbohydrates, so you want to find the right balance,” says Patton. “If you’re an average, healthy person, eat some carbs with each of your meals throughout the day.”

But consuming carbs earlier in the day may be better if you:

  • Want to lose weight or improve blood sugar levels: “Most Americans are active early in the day and more sedentary at night,” says Patton. “Having your biggest portion of carbs in the evening can cause a blood sugar spike. Your body then stores the extra glucose that you didn’t use for energy as body fat.”
  • Exercise in the morning: “If you’re exercising in the morning for less than an hour, it’s OK to exercise on an empty stomach and get in the fat-burning zone,” notes Patton. “But if you’re more of an endurance athlete or exercising for more than an hour, you may need a small pre-workout snack. In either case, it’s good to have carbs to help you refuel after.”
  • Have trouble sleeping: “Eating carbs at dinner can affect your sleep if you go to bed while your food is still digesting, especially if you have heartburn.”

To get the energy-fueling benefits, you need to consume the right kind of carbs. Patton says that eating sugary, processed foods can quickly spike your blood sugar. As a result, you may feel hungry just one to two hours later — and eat even more. The same can happen if you eat only carbs and don’t get enough protein and fat.

The best time to eat carbs when you practice intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is eating and fasting during certain windows of time. If you follow this type of eating pattern, Patton says it’s OK to eat carbs throughout your entire window — even if your goal is weight loss or if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic. “But during that eight-hour window, try to control the total amount of carbs you’re eating,” she recommends.

What should your daily carb intake be?

Patton says following the plate method is an easy way to make sure you’re eating the right amount of carbohydrates. Start with a 9-inch plate. Fill half of it with vegetables, one quarter with protein and one quarter with carbs.

If you’re an athlete or physically active, dividing your plate into thirds may better fuel your day.  But Patton recommends keeping macronutrients balanced at every meal. “Your body can only absorb so much protein at once. It processes fuel most efficiently in smaller, more frequent doses. So be consistent throughout the day: Eat three meals and two to three snacks.”

How to eat the right amount of carbs consistently

If your carb-eating habits leave something to be desired, Patton says these tips can get you on the path to a well-balanced diet:

  • Log what you consume: “Some apps can show you what your total percentage of calories from carbs is,” she says. “These apps usually give a visual representation, such as a pie graph, for each of the meals. That way, you can better track your carb consumption.”
  • Go European: “The European style of eating tends to involve consuming your biggest meal at lunch,” notes Patton. “Since many Americans have dinner as their biggest meal, it can be as simple as swapping the two and making dinner your lighter meal.”
  • Indulge in leftovers: “If you keep dinner as your bigger meal, try to eat the protein, vegetable and a smaller portion of the carb,” Patton suggests. “Then pack those leftovers for lunch the next day and have the protein and vegetables with a bigger portion of the carbs.”

Types of coughs: What do they mean?

There are many ways to classify coughs. The simplest way to determine what is causing them and the best treatment is to pay attention to how they sound and how they affect the body.

In this article, we identify the different types of coughs, what causes them, how to treat them, and when to see a doctor.

Dry cough

a man with one of the Types of coughs

Dry coughs commonly follow on from respiratory illnesses, such as colds and the flu. These coughs develop when there is little or no mucus in the throat. A person may feel a tickling sensation in their throat and be unable to stop coughing.

In most cases, the cough goes away on its own. However, there are other causes that people can investigate if a cough becomes chronic:

  • Asthma: Other symptoms include a tight sensation of the chest, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): This is when stomach acid travels up towards the throat, which can trigger a cough.
  • Lung cancer: A cough that is related to lung cancer may coincide with blood in the mucus. It is rare that a cough is due to lung cancer, but if a person is concerned, they should see a doctor.

Treatment

A person can ease the tickling sensation of a dry cough by drinking water, taking a cough drop, or using cough syrup.

Wet cough

People might describe a wet cough as a chesty cough. This cough occurs when a person coughs up mucus or phlegm. Wet coughs are typically due to an infection, such as the flu, the common cold, or a chest infection.

A person with a chest infection may cough up phlegm that contains small amounts of bright red blood. This blood comes from the lungs and is typically nothing to worry about.

If a person finds themselves coughing up blood that is dark and contains food, or what resembles coffee grounds, they should seek medical help.

Some wet coughs can be chronic and may be due to:

  • Bronchiectasis: A condition resulting from mucus pools in small pouches in the lungs that the body is unable to clear.
  • Pneumonia: This is when a bacterial infection causes the tissue on the lungs to become inflamed.
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria infection: This is noncontagious and can be accompanied by tiredness, feeling unwell, and weight loss.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This is a type of lung disease where common symptoms may include shortness of breath and wheezing.

Treatment

Staying hydrated can help a wet cough stay productive and ease the symptoms of a cold. Some people also find relief from over-the-counter (OTC) cough remedies, such as cough drops, chest rubs, and pain relievers.

If a bacterial infection is causing the cough, a person may need antibiotics.

Whooping cough

Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Newborns and people who have not had a vaccination may develop this illness.

A person with whooping cough typically has mild cold or flu-like symptoms, followed by an aggressive and painful cough. People with weak immune systems, such as babies, may struggle to fight the infection or have trouble breathing.

Those with this infection are most likely to pass it on for roughly 2 weeks from when they begin coughing. The best protection against the illness is a whooping cough vaccination.

Treatment

Taking antibiotics early can decrease the severity of whooping cough, so an unvaccinated person should see a doctor as soon as possible if symptoms develop.

Choking

A person may cough if they have a partially blocked airway, and the body tries to get rid of the object. Likewise, a person who eats something large or something that irritates their throat may cough.

It is advisable to call a doctor if coughing persists after a choking episode.

A person who is choking severely will not make a sound when they cough.

Someone who stops coughing and is having trouble breathing may be choking. A person with them should perform the Heimlich maneuver and call 911.

Chronic cough

A chronic cough is a cough that lasts longer than a typical illness, usually 8 weeks or more. These coughs sometimes signal an underlying disease. A person should see a doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Some potential causes of a long-term cough include:

  • an untreated infection or a respiratory virus that lasts longer than usual
  • allergies
  • smoking
  • exposure to irritants such as mold or dust at home or work
  • pneumonia or another lung disease
  • throat or oral cancer
  • swallowing disorders caused by other conditions, including dementia

Coughing in children

Although children can develop the same coughs as adults, some children develop a cough that sounds like a seal barking.

A barking, painful cough usually means a child has croup. The flu or a cold virus typically causes croup, which is common among children younger than 5 years old.

A caregiver should seek emergency help if the child:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is turning blue
  • has severe chest pain
  • develops a fever above 104°F
  • develops a wheezing cough

The symptoms of croup are often worse at night, and treatment at home includes:

  • using a humidifier
  • drinking plenty of warm fluids
  • getting plenty of rest
  • taking OTC medication, such as acetaminophen

A caregiver should not give a child aspirin due to its connection to Reye’s syndrome. Children under 14 years old should not take OTC cough medication, as they can be harmful.

Croup usually lasts for 5–6 days, but the cough can continue for around 2 weeks.

When to see a doctor

Coughs are a common symptom, especially during cold, flu, and allergy season. Most coughs are not serious, but some can be.

Seeing a doctor is advisable if:

  • a person with a cough cannot breathe or catch their breath
  • a chronic cough lasts several weeks
  • a person with a chronic illness, such as COPD, does not get relief with their usual cough treatment
  • a person coughs up blood

Seek prompt emergency care if:

  • a cough gets worse over several days
  • a newborn baby develops a cough and shows signs of respiratory distress

Signs of respiratory distress include:

  • breathing very hard
  • gagging
  • turning blue
  • using the muscles of the ribs to breathe

Summary

Coughing can be scary and may trigger fears of choking, but if a person can cough, they are passing at least some air through their respiratory tract.

In most cases, a cough will clear on its own, although chronic coughs and coughs in young children and unwell seniors warrant prompt treatment.

If a cough sounds bad, it is very painful, or does not go away, people should see a doctor or other healthcare provider.

What is the best diet for osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults in the United States. It develops when the cartilage in the joints breaks down over time.

The condition can affect any joint in the body, but people often notice it in their knees, hands, hips, or spine.

This article will look at which foods people with osteoarthritis should include in their diet and which they should avoid. We also bust some common food myths regarding arthritis.

How can diet help with osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis diet

It is not possible for specific foods or nutritional supplements to cure osteoarthritis, but, according to the Arthritis Foundation, certain diets can improve people’s symptoms.

Some foods have anti-inflammatory capabilities which can help reduce symptoms while other foods may amplify them.

The right diet can help to improve osteoarthritis in the following ways:

Reducing inflammation and preventing damage

A balanced, nutritious diet will give the body the tools it needs to prevent further damage to the joints, which is essential for people with osteoarthritis.

Some foods are known to reduce inflammation in the body, and following an anti-inflammatory diet can improve symptoms. Eating enough antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, may help to prevent further damage to the joints.

Reducing cholesterol

People with osteoarthritis are more likely to have high blood cholesterol, and reducing cholesterol may improve the symptoms of this disease. On the right diet, people can quickly improve their cholesterol levels.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Being overweight can put extra pressure on the joints, and excess fat stores in the body can cause further inflammation. Maintaining a healthy weight can lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Keeping to a healthy weight can be difficult for some people, especially those who have a medical condition that reduces their mobility, such as osteoarthritis. A doctor or dietitian will be able to provide advice.

Eight foods to eat and why

Including specific foods in the diet can strengthen the bones, muscles, and joints and help the body to fight inflammation and disease.

People with osteoarthritis can try adding the following eight foods to their diet to ease their symptoms:

1. Oily fish

Osteoarthritis diet salmon

 

Oily fish contain lots of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats have anti-inflammatory properties so they may benefit people with osteoarthritis.

People with osteoarthritis should aim to eat at least one portion of oily fish per week. Oily fish include:

  • sardines
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • fresh tuna

Those who prefer not to eat fish can take supplements that contain omega-3 instead, such as fish oil, krill oil, or flaxseed oil.

Other sources of omega-3 include chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. These foods can also help to fight inflammation.

2. Oils

In addition to oily fish, some other oils can reduce inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of oleocanthal, which may have similar properties to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Avocado and safflower oils are healthful options and may also help to lower cholesterol.

3. Dairy

Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients increase bone strength, which may improve painful symptoms.

Dairy also contains proteins that can help to build muscle. People who are aiming to manage their weight can choose low-fat options.

4. Dark leafy greens

Dark leafy greens are rich in Vitamin D and stress-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and can also boost the immune system, helping the body to fight off infection.

Dark leafy greens include:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • chard
  • collard greens

5. Broccoli

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which researchers believe could slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

This vegetable is also rich in vitamins K and C, as well as bone-strengthening calcium.

6. Green tea

Polyphenols are antioxidants that experts believe may be able to reduce inflammation and slow the rate of cartilage damage. Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols.

7. Garlic

Scientists believe that a compound called diallyl disulfide that occurs in garlic may work against the enzymes in the body that damage cartilage.

8. Nuts

Nuts are good for the heart and contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which boosts the immune system.

What about the Mediterranean diet?

Studies have suggested that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the inflammation that contributes to the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

As well as helping to reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis, eating a Mediterranean-style diet offers many other health benefits, including weight loss.

Following a Mediterranean diet may also reduce the risk of:

  • heart disease and stroke
  • muscle weakness in older age
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • premature death

The diet consists of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, yogurt, and healthful fats, such as olive oil and nuts.

People can make simple changes to their diet to make it more like the Mediterranean one. These may include:

  • eating high-fiber, starchy foods, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, lentils, and whole-grain bread and pasta
  • eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • including fish in the diet
  • eating less meat
  • choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil
  • selecting wholemeal options over those containing refined flour

Three types of food to avoid and why

Osteoarthritis diet avoid sugar

When someone is living with osteoarthritis, their body is in an inflammatory state.

While foods with anti-inflammatory properties may reduce symptoms, some foods contain substances that actively contribute to this inflammation. It is best to avoid or restrict these dietary choices.

The types of food to avoid are those that include the following:

1. Sugar

Processed sugars can prompt the release of cytokines, which act as inflammatory messengers in the body. The sugars that manufacturers add to sweetened beverages, including soda, sweet tea, flavored coffees, and some juice drinks, are the most likely to worsen inflammatory conditions.

2. Saturated fat

Foods high in saturated fat, such as pizza and red meat, can cause inflammation in the fat tissue. As well as contributing to the risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and other conditions, this can make arthritis inflammation worse.

3. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, and potato chips, fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) oxidants. These can stimulate inflammation in the body.

Busting three arthritis food myths

Many people claim that certain types of food can make osteoarthritis worse, but there is not always scientific evidence to support their theories.

Below, we discuss three common myths:

1. Citrus fruits cause inflammation

Some people believe that they should avoid citrus fruits because the acidity is inflammatory. However, this is not the case. In fact, citrus fruits have anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Grapefruit juice can, however, interact with some medicines that doctors use to treat arthritis. People who are undergoing treatment should check with a doctor before incorporating it into their diet.

2. Avoiding dairy helps with osteoarthritis

There are also claims that avoiding dairy can help with osteoarthritis. Although milk, cheese, and other dairy products can be problematic for some people, these foods can have anti-inflammatory effects in others.

People who have inflammatory symptoms relating to gout may find skimmed and low-fat milk protective against this condition.

An elimination diet can help people to determine whether or not their symptoms improve or worsen with dairy intake.

3. Nightshade vegetables cause inflammation

Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers all contain the chemical solanine, which some blame for arthritis pain. However, the Arthritis Foundation say that there is no scientific evidence for this. Adding these nutritious vegetables to the diet can have many benefits for chronic health conditions.

Takeaway

There is evidence that certain foods and nutrients can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. They do this by fighting inflammation, providing nutrition, and boosting bone, muscle, and immune system function.

People may also benefit from avoiding or restricting foods that contribute to inflammation.

Being overweight or obese places extra pressure on the joints, which can make the symptoms of osteoarthritis worse.

Eating a balanced diet rich in plants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory fats, such as those that the Mediterranean diet includes, can help people living with osteoarthritis to maintain a healthy weight.

This will help to ease symptoms, such as pain and swelling.

What Are the Healthiest Seeds to Eat?

Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of seeds? Dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, says people don’t realize certain seeds have a variety of health benefits.

Hemp seeds, for example, can be a great source of vitamin E.

“Vitamin E is an antioxidant in our body,” says Jamieson-Petonic. “It helps to reduce these free-radicals — these harmful chemicals that can increase our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.”

Healthy seeds to grow on

If you’re not into hemp seeds, there are other types to consider. The following seeds are a good place to start:

  • Hemp.
  • Chia.
  • Sunflower.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Sesame.

Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart healthy. Sesame seeds are high in selenium which is an antioxidant shown to decrease the risk of chronic disease. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol, and help prevent muscle weakness.

What about those ever popular sunflower seeds? If you are looking for an extra boost of vitamin E, sunflower seeds might also do the trick — but you should stick to the unsalted kind.

Does eating unsalted seeds not sound very appealing? An easy way to get seeds into your diet is to sprinkle them on a salad or into your yogurt. You can also bread chicken or eggplant dishes with crushed sesame seeds.

How much is too much?

Like anything else, you should eat seeds in moderation. “One to two tablespoons per day is all you need,” Amy explains. “The other thing that is important about these seeds is they’re usually very high in the good heart healthy fats, but they’re still high in calories.”

3 Reasons Why Beans Can Boost Your Brain Power

The B vitamins are indispensable. They help your cells produce energy and talk to each other and help your body “read” genetic code so you function at your best. They’re also involved in the formation of healthy red blood cells.

“They’re especially valuable to your brain and nervous system, helping make the neurotransmitters that pass signals between nerves,” says integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov, MD.

Since B vitamins are water-soluble, your body can’t store them. That’s why it’s important that you eat food packed with B vitamins on a daily basis.

1. How to get more vitamin B

“You can get B vitamins even if you’re vegan or vegetarian,” says Dr. Todorov. “Beans (legumes), whole grains, fruits and vegetables – especially leafy greens – are really good sources of B vitamins.”

Packed with B vitamins, one small serving of legumes every day is a great place to start, especially if they’re your only protein.

“Unfortunately, legumes are not major part of the American diet, but they’re good for you in so many ways,” says Dr. Todorov. “Legumes, also known as pulses, are a food group that consists of beans, lentils and garbanzo beans. They help you maintain good health because they’re packed with plant-based protein and fiber and can lower your blood sugar and cholesterol.”

One study suggests that frequent consumption of legumes, particularly lentils, in the context of a Mediterranean diet, may provide benefits on type 2 diabetes prevention in older adults who are have a high cardiovascular risk. Moreover, the inclusion of dietary legumes in a diet may be a beneficial weight-loss strategy because it leads to a modest weight-loss effect even when diets are not intended to be calorically restricted.

2. Add beans into your diet

If you shy away from eating beans because they produce gas, give lentils a try because they’re the easiest to cook and tolerate.

To add even more beans into your diet, try lentil soup, chili, bean salad, hummus, or just add beans to your green salad. If you’re a pasta lover, there is a variety of pasta made from soybeans, lentils or black beans available on the market.

“Compared to regular white flour pasta, bean-based pasta is packed with protein, dietary fiber and vitamins,” says Dr. Todorov.

Dr. Todorov suggests adding legumes to:

  • Salads. Toss two or more tablespoons of black beans, chickpeas or green peas (also legumes) into green salads.
  • Soups. Make your own chili using kidney, pinto, black or white beans. Make black bean soup or add any variety of white beans to soups.
  • Snacks. Throw black beans into salsa or dip baby carrots and celery into hummus made with traditional chickpeas or other legumes.
  • Meals. Eat soy foods like tofu or tempeh. Soybeans are legumes and eating soy products mimics beans.

3. A balanced diet is key

For most of us, simply eating a well-rounded diet will provide plenty of vitamin B.

“Devote one-third of your plate to whole grains and legumes and the other two-thirds of your plate to fruits and veggies,” says Dr. Todorov.

Vitamin B12 is an exception from the other B’s. The vast majority of vitamin B12 are found in animal products like fish, meat, eggs, dairy and foods fortified with B vitamins. Although there is very small amount of vitamin B12 in shitake mushrooms and seaweed, vegans are recommended to take vitamin B12 as a supplement.

“Other instances where I look for vitamin B12 deficiency is in patients who had bariatric surgery, take metformin for diabetes management or use antacid medications like ranitidine or omeprazole daily,” says Dr. Todorov.

Older adults are also at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency because as we with age, our intestines lose their ability to absorb B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can present itself with nonspecific symptoms like weakness, irritability, fatigue, cognitive decline and neuropathic pain.

Use caution with supplements

Don’t think you’re getting enough B vitamins from your diet?

“It’s fine to take a multivitamin with vitamin B in it, but don’t take megadoses of B vitamins unless your doctor tells you to,” says Dr. Todorov.

Some people aren’t able to eliminate B vitamins fast enough and a buildup can cause overstimulation or anxiety.

Could Zinc protect against COVID-19?

A review of the evidence on zinc suggests the mineral could have protective effects against COVID-19 by boosting anti-viral immunity and curbing inflammation.

the letters Zn spelled out in pills
New research highlights the importance of zinc for boosting the body’s ability to fight infection.

 

Diet and health have many links, including immune system function. Good nutrition supports the immune system to fight pathogens and helps to avoid chronic inflammation following an infection.

Many people know that vitamin C has significant effects on the immune system. Deficiency in the vitamin has associations with a higher risk of infections, such as pneumonia.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in dietary supplements to support the function of the immune system has intensified. Although no specific food or supplement can prevent a person from contracting COVID-19, certain nutrients can help support the immune system’s function.

A recent review has focused on the benefits of zinc against COVID-19. Zinc is a mineral found in many different food types.

The findings suggest that zinc could have protective effects against COVID-19 by supporting anti-viral immunity and reducing inflammation. A team of researchers at Sechenov University in Moscow, Russia, led the review and published it in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.

An essential mineral

Zinc is an essential mineral with a wide range of roles in the human body, including supporting the function of over 300 enzymes. The body needs zinc to carry out normal metabolism and ensure the proper function of the reproductive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.

Foods high in zinc include animal products, such as meat, shellfish, chicken, and fortified breakfast cereal. However, beans, nuts, and seeds also contain zinc. Phytates in vegetables and grains can reduce the absorption of zinc and, therefore, vegetarians and vegans may need 50% more zinc in their diet.

Deficiency in zinc has associations with delayed growth in children, as well as increased risk of infection. It is also a significant risk factor for the development of pneumonia, which can be a consequence of COVID-19.

“According to the current estimates, the risk of zinc deficiency is observed in more than 1.5 billion people in the world,” explains lead author of the review Prof. Anatoly Skalny, who heads the Laboratory of Molecular Dietetics at Sechenov University.

“Given the crucial role of zinc in regulation of immunity, one can propose that its insufficiency may be considered as a risk factor for infectious diseases.”

– Prof. Anatoly Skalny

Together with colleagues in Russia, Germany, Greece, Norway, and the United States, Professor Skalny put together a review of the scientific evidence on zinc’s role in preventing and treating respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

Zinc and the immune system

Zinc supports the production and maturation of white blood cells, which are the major players in the immune system. There are multiple types of white blood cells, some of which make antibodies, capture and destroy pathogens, and return the immune system to normal after an infection.

Zinc also helps to regulate inflammation. While an inflammatory response is necessary to fight infection, the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines early in the infection is responsible for some of the worst symptoms of COVID-19.

The review describes evidence showing that zinc may have an anti-inflammatory effect in pneumonia, limiting the damage to lung tissue.

For decades, scientists have known that zinc can block the replication of rhinoviruses responsible for respiratory infections in people, including the common cold.

Higher levels of zinc in cells help block the reproduction of rhinoviruses and stimulate interferon alfa production. This signaling molecule prompts nearby cells to initiate their anti-viral defenses.

The review also found evidence specific to coronaviruses. One study showed that zinc blocks the enzyme responsible for replicating the coronavirus that led to the SARS outbreak of 2002.

Connection with chloroquine

Interestingly, chloroquine — which some people suggested as a treatment option early on in the pandemic – increases the cells uptake of zinc, which may underlie some of its positive effects.

A 2020 study showed that when doctors treated patients with zinc and hydroxychloroquine, they discharged more patients, and fewer people died from COVID-19.

However, the paper suggesting that hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine could treat COVID-19 has since been retracted. The latest advice from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using either of these drugs due to the risk of severe side effects.

The researchers also clarify that, although the evidence suggests zinc reduces the risk of respiratory diseases and their complications, there is not enough data to make recommendations regarding zinc intake and COVID-19.

It is also worth noting that consuming excess zinc can have adverse effects, including nausea, loss of appetite, and stomach cramps. Over the long-term, too much zinc has associations with low immunity. The National Institutes of Health provide daily recommended amounts of zinc.

 

Click here to explore the different types of Zinc Supplements available online

Do Sea Salt, Kosher Salt and Pink Salt Beat Table Salt?

Pink Himalayan salt is trending on food blogs. Kosher salt is touted by chefs. Sea salt is everywhere. Are natural salts more nutritious than table salt?

We need some salt every day. This key mineral helps our bodies balance fluids. But we end up getting far more than the recommended amount.

Eating too much salt draws extra fluid into blood vessels. This raises blood pressure and our risks for heart disease and stroke, the world’s two deadliest diseases.

That’s why a 2011 British Medical Journal study demonstrated that substantially reducing salt intake had the potential to save millions of lives.

Eating too much salt can also leave us feeling heavy and bloated.

The appeal of alternatives

Today, many people realize the dangers of salt. So alternatives like sea salt seem tempting. Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater and contains no additives. Manufacturers sprinkle sea salt liberally on chips and pretzels and throw a “natural” claim on the label.  And we’re eating it up — literally.

We’re also paying more for kosher salt and unrefined, colored salt. Like table salt, the coarser kosher salt is mined from salt deposits but rarely contains additives.

Salts that are pink, red, blue or gray reflect trace minerals in the salt deposits where they were mined, from the Himalayan mountains to Hawaiian volcanoes.

What it all means

So…are unrefined or less refined salts better than highly refined table salt?

The short answer is: not much.

No matter where it comes from, salt contains the same amount of sodium chloride. That’s right, the culprit being blamed for so many heart attacks and strokes.

Also, table salt may be more refined, but it’s the only salt with adequate amounts of iodine. You need this nutrient for general health and, especially, thyroid health.

Iodine deficiency can lead to goiter (massive swelling of the thyroid gland). Adding iodine to table salt in 1924 stopped the U.S. epidemic of goiter. Its incidence fell significantly. Now, the rising popularity of sea salt, kosher salt and colored salt has some experts worried that goiter will rear its ugly head again.

How much is too much?

Americans consume an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Yet we should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (it’s even better to stay below 1,500 milligrams a day).

Because 75 percent of the excess sodium in American diets comes from prepared and processed foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking food companies and restaurants to lower their sodium levels over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, here’s what you can do to lower your sodium intake:

  1. Avoid processed foods. Anything that comes in a box or that’s labeled “quick and easy” may be loaded with sodium.
  2. Ask restaurants to hold the salt. When dining out, ask that foods be prepared without adding salt.
  3. Always read labels. Pay special attention to soups and processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs and ham. They’re packed with sodium.
  4. Buy salt-free snacks. Munch on crackers, nuts and other snacks that have no added salt.
  5. Flavor food with herbs. Hold the salt. Herbs won’t raise blood pressure, and many have anti-inflammatory benefits.

4 Big Fat Food Lies: Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

Most of the health and weight loss advice out there is misguided, outdated, and scientifically inaccurate. Don’t let these myths, debated endlessly in the media, create roadblocks for your weight loss and overall health.

Myth 1: All calories are created equal

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right? Wrong. This myth just refuses to die.

The current thinking is that you’ll lose weight by burning more calories than you consume. This calories in-calories out theory vastly oversimplifies the truth. Your body is much more complex than a simple math problem.

When you eat, your food interacts with your biology, a complex system that transforms each bite and tells your cells what to do. This affects your hormones, brain chemistry and metabolism.

Sugar calories cause fat storage and spike hunger. Calories from fat and protein promote fat burning.

You’ll find the highest-quality calories in whole foods, which are lower in calories than processed foods:

  • Quality proteins: Grass-fed animal products, organic eggs, chicken, small wild fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Good fats: Avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut butter and omega-3 fats from fish.
  • Good carbs: Brightly colored vegetables, fruit like wild berries, apples, kiwis
  • Super foods: Chia, hemp seeds and more

Myth 2: Your genetics define you

Conventional wisdom says you’re predisposed to weight gain because of your family history. In other words, you’re heavy because your mom and grandma are heavy. That was the card you drew in the genetic lottery.

But in functional medicine, we do not believe your genetics dictate your future health. We believe food is medicine and information for your cells.

Consider this: Today, about 35 percent of Americans are obese. Yet by 2050, that number will exceed 50 percent.

What accounts for this drastic change? It’s not our genes, which evolve at a snail’s over very long periods of time. It’s that we went from eating about 10 pounds of sugar, per person, per year in 1800 to eating 152 pounds of sugar (plus 146 pounds of flour) per person, per year today.

That amount of sugar and flour will hijack your metabolism, make your weight skyrocket and invite chronic disease.

A number of factors contribute to obesity, but genetics is the least of them. You’ve got more power than you think.

Myth 3: You can out-exercise a bad diet

The belief that you can eat whatever you want and burn calories off with exercise is completely false. When you treat yourself to a sugar-laden smoothie or a “healthy” muffin or suck back Gatorade® after 30 minutes on the treadmill, you’ve set yourself up for failure.

That’s not how the human body works. If you change your diet, you can lose weight. If you exercise and keep your diet the same, you may gain in muscle, endurance, and overall health. But you won’t lose many pounds.

Put it into perspective: To burn off one 20-ounce soda, you’d have to walk four and a half miles. To burn off one super-sized fast food meal, you’d have to run four miles a day for a whole week. If you at one every day, you’d have to run a marathon every day to burn it off.

Yes, exercise is extremely important. But to lose weight and keep it off, you need to couple exercise with a healthy diet, filled with plenty of plant foods, good fats, and protein.

Myth 4: Fat makes you fat

This is a major pet peeve: Fat is not a four-letter word. Eating fat not only doesn’t make you fat, it is critical for health and weight loss.

Dietary fat actually speeds up your metabolism, while sugar slows it down. The right kinds of fat cool down inflammation, while sugar fuels it.

Studies comparing high-fat to high-sugar diets — with the same number of calories — had totally different effects on metabolism. The higher fat diet caused people to burn an extra 300 calories a day. That’s the equivalent of running for an hour (without doing any exercise)!

In studies of animals fed diets with the exact same number of calories, the diets higher in fat and protein led to fat loss and more muscle mass. But the diets low in fat and high in sugar led to more fat deposition and muscle loss.

Yes, stay away from trans fats. But the right fats are the preferred fuel for your cells: extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butter, and coconut oil and butter (both of which contain nutritious medium-chain triglycerides).

These fats will keep you full and lubricate the wheels of your metabolism.

Don’t let the poor advice found in these myths keep you from successful weight loss and vibrant health.

Recommended Read

Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat: And the 101 Truths That Will Save Your Waistline

 

Click here to check the price in Amazon

 

PS: This book is available as a free audiobook. You can listen to it by signing up for an Audible trial in Amazon

 

 

Click here to check out the free Audiobook version by selecting it under ‘Format’

The 5 Worst Breakfast Foods for You

The best breakfast foods give you fuel in the tank for energy that lasts. They boost your metabolism, fight disease and help keep your weight down. The worst breakfast foods do just the opposite. They lead to mid-morning crashes, wreak havoc on your metabolism, encourage disease and can cause weight gain.

Registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD weighs in on the worst breakfast food options.

  1. Doughnut and pastries. Doughnuts will cost you 250 to 550 calories, but the 15 to 30 grams of sugar in each is the real problem. With such a huge amount of sugar in a small package, your body pumps out loads of insulin to try to accommodate. A huge blood sugar spike leads to an even bigger sugar crash. This extreme up-and-down leaves you hungry soon after your breakfast — and you’ll crave even more refined carbs. It’s a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating that starts with the first doughnut.
  2. Sausage biscuit. The sausage biscuit is basically a saturated fat and sodium bomb. The sky-high sodium in the highly processed sausage can make your blood pressure surge. If you have hypertension, it may increase your risk for stroke too. Nitrates and nitrites in sausage have even been linked to increased risk of certain cancers.
  3. Flavored non-dairy creamer. If you think non-dairy creamer is a healthy option, you might want to think again. Many non-dairy creamers simply swap saturated fat for trans fat (check the label for “partially hydrogenated” oil), plus sugar and artificial sweeteners. Trans fat increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by increasing LDL cholesterol. Predictions say decreasing trans fat consumption by even a little bit could help prevent more than 10,000 deaths a year. To perk up your coffee, try unsweetened vanilla almond milk, low-fat milk, vanilla extract or a small amount of chocolate milk instead.
  4. Bright, sugary cereals. Those magically colored kid cereals aren’t such a bright choice. The FDA has noted that food dyes may contribute to hyperactivity in children with ADHD, even if not in other children. The UK and EU has banned food dyes in food manufacturing; perhaps you should ban the fake stuff from your breakfast table. Even if food coloring’s effects aren’t fully understood yet, these cereals are usually loaded with sugar — and empty calories for your little ones.
  5. Loaded bagel. Your body works hard to keep you functioning at night. Don’t thank it with inflammation-causing calories in the form of a bagel loaded with cream cheese or butter. Except for the occasional 100% whole grain bagel thin option, most bagels are 300 to 500 calories worth of starch (about 65 grams of carbohydrates). Slathering on cream cheese or butter adds more calories and saturated fat. Diets high in refined carbohydrates have been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so don’t make bagels loaded with toppings a regular morning meal.