Summer is a great time to start incorporating healthier choices into your life. Longer daylight hours and healthy summer foods can help you add quality lifestyle choices to your daily routine, and benefit your health in the long run.
Berries In Abundance
Summer is the perfect time to pick up fresh berries to add to your daily meals and snacks. Great sources of fiber, berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are nutrient rich and high in antioxidants.
A Little Dirt Never Hurt
Gardening, everything from a big outdoor summer garden to a small indoor potted herb plant is a great way to decrease stress. Stress experts agree that even just putting your hands in soil has a calming and grounding effect. Working with soil and plants seems to remove the overstimulation of high-energy, overwhelming daily life, and is a very good singular-focus activity to step away from things that stress you out. Not to mention, gardening is a great calorie burner!
Go Outside To Play
Trade a gym day for an outdoor workout, or if the gym already isn’t on your agenda, just add a few hours of outdoor play time to your week. Longer daylight hours are great for incorporating outdoor fun like family backyard volleyball games, swimming, hiking, bike rides and any other outdoor activity that gets your heart pumping!
Ok, this can be done any time of year, and we could all stand to be better about it (85% of us don’t do it daily like we should) And did you know that such a simple thing like flossing daily and good oral hygiene actually improves your body’s ability to defend against other intrusive bacteria elsewhere?
Resist the urge to stay up later with the longer summer days. Its healthiest to stay close to your standard sleep schedule and be sure to get a quality 7-8 hours per night. That way you can wake refreshed to continue adding more healthy activities to your days!
Now that we are in September and kids are back to school, it can mean back to getting colds for many families. Colder weather allows for the easy spread of germs, and often families with young children find themselves suffering the most.
Battling the Common Cold
It is that time of year again where kids are all huddled together and play indoors close together. The risk of contacting others who are infected with a virus becomes greater. They are coughing and sneezing spreading around micro-organisms that then become airborne. When inhaled, they find a way to infect the respiratory system and cause the classic symptoms of a cold. Once these kids bring it home then the parents, siblings, and even grandparents may not be able to avoid the cold or flu virus.
By strengthening your families’ immune system you can fight back to keep the colds and flu away.
- “Eat your vegetables!” Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts promote immune function supporting the immune system. On the other side of the spectrum consuming a diet high in sugar can actually promote bacterial growth and overwhelm the immune system.
- We have all heard to take our vitamin C. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that individuals who consumed gold kiwi fruit, which is high in vitamin C, experienced reduced severity and duration of the common cold. The authors found that gold kiwi fruit is particularly helpful in raising the vitamin C levels in the blood, suggesting vitamin C may confer protection from upper respiratory tract infection.
- Yogurt can also provide a multitude of benefits to the immune system. Elderly individuals who consumed yogurt fermented with the common probiotic Lactobactillus bulgaricus were shown to have augmented natural killer cell activity and reduced risk of catching a cold. Yogurt is also beneficial for children and may help give the entire family a much-needed immune system boost.
- One of the most important ways to stop the spread of viruses and prevent the common cold is proper hygiene in the form of regular hand washing. Scientists in Finland found that regular hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub was linked to less illness.
- “Coughing etiquette” is also important in reducing the spread of viruses. A sneeze or cough can be a great launch pad for germs. By coughing or sneezing into our elbow or sleeve we can prevent microbes from accumulating on the hand, which may go on to open a door or shake someone’s hand.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is one of the most effective supplements in reducing influenza in children. Researchers in Tokyo found that regular supplementation of 1,200 IU of Vitamin D per day in school-aged children significantly reduced the occurrence of influenza A.
- Another key ingredient is garlic. Garlic is shown to prevent the attack by the common cold virus. Those who supplemented with garlic daily recovered faster if infected and have fewer sick days. Regular intake of 600 to 1,200 mg of aged garlic daily can give immune-boosting benefits.
- Zinc – A recent meta-analysis published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that zinc supplementation greatly shortens the duration of colds. Regular supplementation of zinc during the fall and winter months has shown to be helpful for added immune benefits. Zinc lozenges may also help provide soothing relief for sore throats and painful coughs.
- We know exercise is good for us and the link has been confirmed by researchers. When it comes to exercise and immune function, a little goes a long way. Any light exercise that gets the family off the couch and active can have tremendous benefit. Published in the International Journal of Yoga, researchers reported that regular practice of yoga and meditation could regulate cytokine levels, which in turn could translate into better immune responses during stress.
Mind and mood boosting hobbies and activities
- Engaging in mind and mood-boosting hobbies and activities can also enhance immune function. A number of scientific articles report the positive benefits of laughter.
- Reading funny books and stories
- A humorous movie
Being sick with a cold during the fall and winter months is all too familiar for most families. Preventing the common cold requires effort by all family members. By taking a few simple steps and practicing good hygiene, you and your family can stop the spread of viruses, and possibly shorten the duration of a cold by taking supplements. Stay one step ahead this season and boost your immune system.
Guest blog post by Lori McKnight, B.A., busy mom and wife who enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and has been a health and wellness advocate for many years.
With daylight savings coming up this weekend, its a great time to assess your sleep schedule and decide what changes to make so you can get more sleep. Too little sleep may lead to weight gain and may be linked to depression, heart health and other health issues.
We know sleep is important. Yet many Americans are still bragging about their sleep deprivation like it is a competition to see who can get by fewer zzzzzzs. However, getting by on too little sleep can make you groggy, grouchy, interfere with your ability to focus and make you generally less effective during the day. Plus, insufficient sleep is also tied to a number of diseases and conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.
How much sleep do you need?
So how much is enough? According to the CDC, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night but kids need more.
Tips for better sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
- Be sure your bedroom is like a cave: quiet, dark and cool
- Use your bed for sleeping only, not surfing the internet, watching TV or reading
- Remove all gadgets with lights on them from your bedroom. Even those little LED lights can interrupt sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and intense exercise before bed as all can interfere with sleep (caffeine should be avoided several hours prior to exercise).
If you are one of the many people who suffer from insomnia, there are several treatment options you should consider. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about your sleep concerns. Some have found that taking a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement with magnesium at bedtime does lead to a better night’s sleep.