Monthly Archives - December 2016

Whole Foods Spotlight – Brussel Sprouts

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! This week we’ll remind you why you need to add more Brussel sprouts into your diet!

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Oh poor brussel sprouts! Hatred for them amongst most children is even worse than broccoli. However, as our taste buds develop and change many people come to more enjoy the taste of cruciferous vegetables. This is great for one’s health as this family of vegetables offer some excellent nutrition and protection against a host of issues.

As with other cabbage species, brussel sprouts are native to the Mediterranean region and first appeared in northern Europe during the fifth century. Later, in the thirteenth century, brussel sprouts began being cultivated near the city of Brussels in Belgium, where they derived their name.

Brussel sprouts are loaded with important phytonutrients for our health called glucosinolates which are chemical starting points for a range of cancer-protective substance. Specifically four of these glucosinolates found in brussel sprouts (glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin and gluconasturtiin) seem to provide a unique and important combination when it comes to cancer prevention. This along with the fact that their total glucosinolate content tops the charts among that found in mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, cauliflower or broccoli makes the brussel sprout a smart choice to add into one’s diet.

This vegetable is also high in fiber and acts an excellent weapon against constipation. A serving of six contains about 3g of fiber and supports the formation of soft stool, enabling a more comfortable bowel movement. In addition, brussel sprouts are loaded with folic acid, a b vitamin that keeps our blood healthy and prevents anemia. We cannot store folic acid in our bodies and that means we need daily intake. Just one brussel sprout provides enough folic acid for a whole day!

A study conducted by Heinz in 2008 concluded that brussel sprouts are the most hated vegetable in America and a similar poll in Great Britain revealed the same. We hope that knowing some of their powerful medicinal qualities and a few recipes to make them tastier will help encourage you to give them a try!

P.S. The very best way to unleash their powerful nutrients is through steaming. Ironically, it’s this cooking method that is one of the very reasons why people don’t seem to like them. If you want to get all the benefits through steamed brussel sprouts just be sure not to overdo it to the point where they get mushy. For those of you who just can’t handle that steamed taste, never fear, we’ve got links below that just might help you grow a little love for the brussel sprout!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Reduction

Crispy Thai Brussels Sprouts

Beef and Brussels Sprouts Stew

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

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It’s that time of year when many of us are burning the candle at both ends. Sleep deprivation can become something we don’t even realize that we are doing to ourselves. With work, school, parenting and all of the busyness of the holidays you may be feeling exhausted yet still find yourself fighting the urge to sleep. Or the time change, darker days and all there is to do might make you feel like going to bed directly after dinner to catch a few more hours of sleep. You just might want to heed that impulse instead of staying up to play on social media, write one more email or watch one more show because sleep deprivation can do serious harm to both body and mind.

The National Institute of Health reports that the average American adult sleeps less than 7 hours each night. However 8 to 10 hours is the recommendation for optimum function and while those few missed hours might not seem like much, they really add up. Lack of sleep really messes with the mind.

The hippocampus is a moon shaped structure in the frontal lobe. This is the area used when the waking mind encodes or learns new information. Later, while sleeping, this same area “replays” that information to help it stick with us. If you are skipping out on sleep, you are putting your ability to form long-term memories at risk. Scientists are also finding that sleep starved brains are more prone to incorporate false information into memories.

Well rested folks also have highly active temporal lobes, the region of the brain responsible for language processing. Slurring and difficulty enunciating words is a hallmark of sleep deprivation. Wit is also affected as sleep deprivation impacts divergent thinking, necessary for us to switch topics and make connections between thoughts and ideas.

Sleep deprivation also causes a decrease in the neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation and amplifies anticipatory reactions fueling the fire for depression and/or anxiety to set in. Not getting enough sleep also makes us grouches. In a well rested brain, the amygdala which is responsible for emotional processing and the medial prefrontal cortex responsible for regulating feelings are connected and working in unison. When we don’t get enough sleep, that connection is weakened and we are more prone to angry outbursts.

In addition, sleep deprivation is also connected with reduced immunity, frequent colds and infections, weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and impaired motor skills increasing risk of accidents. So listen to your body when it tells you that 8pm is a perfectly reasonable time to go to bed even when the lure of screen time calls. Unplug, unwind and get those extra zzz’s your body craves!

Hydration: Hypertonic, Hypotonic, Isotonic

 

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Hydration for optimum health should be one of our top priorities every day. When recovering from illness, fighting dehydration can prove difficult and too often people turn to sports drinks to supplement. The problem with this is that sports drinks are not well suited for illness recovery. Today we aim to explain different types of hydration for you to better understand what works for your system and what does not.

When talking about hydration, different solutions have differing potency in their ability to draw hydration into the cells of our body. Hypertonic drinks are what we typically refer to as sports drinks. These solutions have a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body and are used by athletes to supplement carbohydrate intake and up muscle glycogen stores. During long distance events, they supplement to meet high energy demands but are not doing much in the way of actual hydration. In fact, it’s recommended that they be used in conjunction with Isotonic drinks (more on that in a bit) to help replace lost fluids.

Hypotonic drinks are also used by athletes who require fluid without a carbohydrate boost, like gymnasts, to quickly replace fluids lost by sweating. They contain a lower concentration of salt and sugar than the human body. However, neither of these types of solutions are going to be helpful for someone who is recovering from illness or someone who wants to get a hydration boost without all of the heavily refined, highly processed sugars.

An Isotonic solution has the same concentrations of sugars and salt found in the human body and for anyone who is in a state of dehydration or whose health is compromised, it is the ideal partner to restore proper levels of hydration. Water follows sodium. The concentration of sodium inside plasma has to be held to within close limits (132-152 mmol/l) for proper functioning of the body and normally, this sodium concentration is controlled by the kidneys. However, in a state of dehydration, water is conserved by not urinating and the sodium regulation cannot work effectively. In a stressed state, such as dehydration, the cells of the intestines are impaired and sodium cannot be effectively absorbed. re:iimmune® is an isotonic clinical strength hydration formula created to help treat mild-moderate dehydration. If you are battling dehydration while recovering from an illness, we hope you’ll set aside the sports drinks and give re:iimmune a try!

#TT – Pine – History and Benefits

Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we’re talking about invigorating pine! 

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Fragrant pine trees have had a long history of use by many cultures, which viewed them as protection against evil spirits. Ancient peoples of Europe thought of the cones as the eyes of the tree, which could see into magical realms. Boughs of pine were brought into homes during the winter solstice and hung above doors in the belief that it would provide protection from spirits of the Underworld. It’s easy to understand how members of the evergreen family, which keep their brilliant green color through the coldest of winters and smell so invigorating, would come to symbolize vitality and longevity.

Pine oil, known for its refreshing, clean, woodsy smell is extracted from the needles of the Pinus sylvestris tree and from ancient to modern times humans have valued its many benefits.

In the Home

Historically, mattresses were stuffed with pine needles to ward off lice and fleas. It also has the ability to remove dangerous molds, bacteria and yeast. It’s one of the most beneficial essential oils to use as a natural home deodorizer as it eliminates bacteria and microbes which lead to contamination and odors. It can even help to destroy toxins in the air which cause colds and the flu. Because it is so great at neutralizing odors, many people put a few drops of pine oil into shoes to keep them smelling fresher.

Respiratory Relief

It’s also fantastic for relieving respiratory ailments. Steam inhalation containing pine oil can help clear congestion and soothe the lungs. Even when not sick or suffering from allergies, many use the oil for it’s refreshing and energy boosting powers.

Muscle Soother

Sufferers of joint pain, muscle aches and arthritis can benefit from the use of pine oil in massage. It’s analgesic properties help reduce pain and it’s an anti-inflammatory agent as well. Always use pine oil with a carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, etc.) and never use undiluted directly on your skin. Be careful to keep pine oil away from your eyes and the inside of your nose so that mucus membranes are not irritated.

Homemade Essential Oil Diffuser Christmas Tree Ornament

Peppermint Pine Headache Salve

Homemade Natural “Pine Sol”

Dry Hair Remedies

 

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Are you feeling those flyaway, dry hair blues? This time of the year can take it’s toll on our bodies and hair is no exception. The lack of moisture in the air can do a number on your strands and scalp, so today we’ve gathered some simple and natural fixes to help give some love to your locks!

Static Stoppers

One of the worst parts of dealing with winter hair is static. It’s annoying to say the least. One way of reducing the amount of static is to gravitate toward natural fibers in your clothing. Cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers aren’t as likely to create static electricity as synthetic fibers like polyester and acrylic. You can also create a hair mist to help moisturize and tame flyaways. Mix rosewater and a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil of your choice (apricot kernel oil or argan oil for example) in a spray bottle and spritz the hair lightly to control, moisturize and add a little shine.

Keep it Cool

We know it feels so good to blast yourself with hot water in the shower when it’s so cold outside but resist that temptation. It’s bad for your skin and can lead to dry hair. Keep the shower temp lukewarm and try a final rinse with cold water, which helps to smooth the cuticles of the hair.

Special Treatments

You don’t have to pay a ton of money to a salon for masks to help moisturize you hair. There are plenty of ingredients right in your kitchen that do a marvelous job at battling dry hair. Here are just a few concoctions to try out. . .

banana (1) + almond oil (1tsp) + avocado (1) = Natural fats soften the strands, moisturize and lock moisture in.

yogurt (½ cup) + honey (½ cup) + 1 tbsp almond oil = Protein promoted growth and lactic acid aids in cleaning the scalp and keeping hair follicles healthy. Honey is wonderfully moisturizing and smells divine.

eggs (2) + apple cider vinegar (½ cup) + castor oil (2 tbsp) = Shine and prevention of hair loss. You might want to add a bit of lavender oil in the mix for a more pleasant smell.

Gut Health/Healthy Mind Connection

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Research into the connection between gut health and the brain has exploded in recent years. Although 100 years ago, Russian immunologist Ellie Metchnikoff put forth the idea that keeping the gut environment healthy could play a part in warding off senility, the push to examine the idea has grown slowly. Research is now expanding rapidly to focus on the role of bacteria in our digestive tract and how what we consume can alter that environment and affect not just digestion and metabolism but brain function as well. Scientists have even begun to call the gut’s nervous system our “second brain”.

We know that intestinal microbes interact with the immune system, which connects to the brain. The gut also releases hormones and neuroactive compounds that travel throughout our blood stream. In fact, our digestive tract forms about 70% of our immune system and contains more neurons than the entire spinal cord!

Here are some of the mental health conditions that scientists are discovering have connections to gut health. . .

Depression/Anxiety

Researchers are focusing on how what’s going on with our gut health may play a role in depression and anxiety. More than ⅓ of people who suffer from depression are also suffering from “leaky gut” where bacteria seeps into the bloodstream due to the permeability of the gut lining. Studies are also showing that prebiotics can have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.

Autism

Research indicates that as many as 9 out of 10 people who are autistic also suffer from “leaky gut” or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and there is growing evidence that intestinal microbes exacerbate and may even cause some of the symptoms of austism.

Parkinson’s

Scientists have found that there is a link between a family of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and the severity of symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. Those patients with high levels of the bacteria also had more difficulty with motor functions such as walking and balance.

For further reading on the connection between gut health and a healthy mind, we’ve provided links to a few more in-depth articles below. . .

The Verge – Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach

Prevention Magazine – Your New Antidepressant Goes Remarkably Well With Blueberries

Scientific American – Gut Bacteria May Play a Role in Autism

Whole Foods Spotlight: Collard Greens

 

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! Bone health booster, collard greens is our focus this week!

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Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale. This family of veggies is known for their cholesterol-lowering abilities and collard greens are the king of the family when it comes to it’s impressive means of binding to bile acids (which are made of cholesterol) in the digestive tract, making it easier for them to be excreted from the body. They are much more effective at this when cooked than when ingested raw.

Collard greens are also a rich source of vitamin K, beneficial for bone health as it helps improve calcium absorption. Which is great because collard greens are also loaded with calcium! Two cups contain over 450 mg of calcium, which is almost 90% of daily recommended intake. They are also high in folate which is one of the B vitamins necessary for red and white blood cell formation in bone marrow. It also assists in converting carbohydrates into energy and producing DNA, so it’s doubly important to increase folate intake during pregnancy, infancy and adolescence, all periods of rapid growth. In addition, collard greens are loaded with choline which assists in good restful sleep, muscle movement and memory. Collard greens also contain thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and potassium.

When purchasing collard greens, you want to look for firm, unwilted, vivid green leaves. Smaller leaves mean tenderness and milder flavor. Be sure to store them in the refrigerator to prevent wilting and bitterness and to minimize loss of nutrients. Collard greens are also relatively easy to grow. Planted in spring and fall, gardeners typically prefer fall plantings as the frost brings out sweetness in the leaves. They need fertile, well drained soil and at least 4 to 5 hours of full sun to bring out their flavor.

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Collard Greens and Sausage

Sweet Potato and Collard Green Frittata

Chicken and Collards Pilau

The Importance of Getting More Good Fats Into Your Diet

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Good fats? Is that an oxymoron? Nope! There are excellent reasons to include fat, at least the right kinds of fat, into your diet. As a culture, we’ve been bombarded over the past few decades with every kind of low-fat, decreased fat, no fat food option the manufacturers of mostly processed foods could come up with. However, at the same time “low-fat” has been all the craze, obesity rates have skyrocketed. A healthy diet should include daily intake of good fats and avoidance of bad fats.

Of the bad fats, the baddest of the bad is trans fat. Trans fats are healthy oils that have been turned into solids to prevent them from becoming rancid through a process called hydrogenation. On a food label, you’d typically see it listed as “partially hydrogenated oil” and it is wise to steer clear. These types of fats increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream leading to heart disease, are a major cause of inflammation and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Saturated fats fall on the in-between scale of “avoid at all cost” bad fat and “get more of this into your diet” good fats. This type of fat is found in red meat, whole milk, cheese and coconut oil. These types of fats can drive up total cholesterol and should be eaten in moderation.

As for good fats, there’s monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, olives and most nuts. During the 1960’s a study called the Seven Countries Study showed that the people of the Mediterranean region had lower rates of heart disease despite the fact that their diets were rich in fat. However, they weren’t using saturated animal fats to cook with as was common in countries with high rates of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats are called “essential fats” because they are required for normal body function such as building cell membranes, blood clotting muscle movement and fighting off inflammation. However they aren’t produced within the body and so it is essential that we get them from food. Doing so, lowers triglycerides and even reduces levels of LDL cholesterol. Good sources include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, sesame seeds and walnuts.

Adding more good fats into your diet also helps you feel fuller longer, balance your mood, fight fatigue, sharpen your memory and decrease joint pain and stiffness!