Boosting the Immune System

The logical thing to do is improve your immunity so that you don’t catch anything in the first place.

Dietary Changes

As far as diet goes, the big three immune-knockers are wheat, cow dairy, and sugar. The real reason winter is known as flu season is probably because of the seasonal foods like cakes, pies, cookies, eggnog, and pastries that are loaded with those.

Wheat

It’s not commonly known that wheat can have adverse effect, but the high gluten levels in modern wheat products is linked to mild or severe allergic reactions in people. These reactions cause intestinal and systemic inflammations. Modern commercial wheat products are not fermented, have extra gluten added, use fast-rise yeast that cannot break down the complex starches in wheat, and come from a species of wheat grain that has far more gluten than what our ancestors originally ate. The info on wheat is out there, for example read this book review on the book Dangerous Grains.

The problem is that Celiac Disease is just the most severe type of reaction to wheat gluten, whereas a lesser condition is more common but tends to go undiagnosed. The condition is known as gluten sensitivity, which leads to symptoms that aren’t obviously linked to gluten being the problem. For instance, if it reduces your immunity and you catch a cold, how likely is it that you would realize that those dinner rolls you had this past weekend did it? So gluten sensitivity, even mild forms of it, is what I’m talking about here. Those with Celiac Disease ought to eliminate gluten entirely, while those with sensitivity can get by with greatly reducing their gluten intake. Please do further research on gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease to know what foods are okay to eat, if you suspect you have either.

If you do have to eat wheat bread, then the two safest types are 1) sprouted wheat bread (like the Ezekiel brand sprouted grains — but avoid the one made with soy beans) and 2) genuine sourdough bread. Real sourdough uses no fast-rise yeast and is given a long rise time in which the starches are broken down by the natural micro-organisms in the sourdough starter. This is closer to the kind of bread eaten before the advent of modern industrial bread making.

Instead of wheat, try going for rice, oats, and in lesser quantities potatoes. Other alternatives to wheat include quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth. Avoid white rice since it has very little nutrition and a high glycemic index (leads to sugar crash). Brown rice is better, provided it’s sprouted first.

Brown rice must be sprouted to eliminate the phytic acid that otherwise binds the minerals and keeps them from absorbing in your body. It’s easy, you just soak the rice a night or two before you cook it. To sprout, follow these instructions. The quickest way is to put long grain rice into a plastic container, fill with room-temperature water, soak for twelve hours, change water, soak for another twelve, then rinse and cook with slightly less water than usual. Lundberg Farms brown basmati rice works well for this. Faster method is to fill with warm water the night before, rinse the next morning, refill with room-temperature water, and then drain and cook that evening.

As for oats, avoid the flavored oatmeal packets, and instead get whole oats in rolled or steel-cut form, then add your own fat/salt/honey. Wheat-free rye breads like pumpernickel are alright, because although they contain gluten it’s less than the equivalent wheat bread. Potatoes are okay in moderation. In reduced quantities or frequency, rye and potatoes are fine as well.

Sugar

Sugar is fine in limited quantities, but beware larger quantities as found in soft drinks, cool-aid, fruit juices, cookies, cakes, and pastries. It’s the sugar crash you get an hour later that really kicks your immune system down. If you are going to do sugar, instead of white refined sugar, first reduce your overall intake of sugar by cutting out soft-drinks and cookies/cakes/pastries, and then use raw/brown sugar, maple sugar, or unpasteurized and unfiltered honey instead.

For non-calorie sweetener alternative there is white stevia powder. Agave nectar is not recommended since it is very high in fructose, which can overload the liver and turn into belly fat. Definitely avoid aspartame, Nutrasweet, Sweet-n-Low, Splenda, Truvia, and all the other artificial junk the chemical companies are trying to ram down our throats because these severely screw with our neurochemistry and/or digestive systems.

Dairy

Cow dairy has several problems: 1) high estrogen content in milk fat (means ovarian cancer for women, breast enlargement in males), 2) pus content from cows with infected udders, 3) lactose sugar which causes intestinal problems for some people, 4) casein protein which not everyone fully digests, causing undigested proteins to circulate in the blood and act as an opium mimicker which screws with brain chemistry and may aggravate autistic and schizophrenic symptoms, 5) pasteurization, which destroys the enzymes that would normally help us digest milk better, and 6) homogenization, which breaks fat globules up into little jagged particles that go rancid more easily. That’s what you get in modern commercial dairy.

If you do cow dairy anyway, then the safest type is organic skim milk. Butter is alright in small quantities, other than the high estrogen levels, so guys don’t go crazy with the butter unless you like a little more weight on your chests. Coconut oil and olive oil are great alternatives to butter. Goat milk and cheese is a decent substitute for regular milk, if you can get used to the goaty taste. Else, there is plain oat/rice milk, just watch out for some having lots of added sugar. Avoid soy milk since it has estrogen-mimickers that will interfere with hormones. Mainly it is cow cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and whole/2%/1% milk that cause the biggest problems. Best to reduce them to condiment-levels, and stick to alternatives for larger quantities.

Here is a list of the top food combinations to avoid, from the most damaging to the least damaging:

Wheat + Dairy + Sugar — Cheese cake, cream-filled donuts, cookies/cakes/pastries with milk, bagels with sweet cream cheese, ice cream with sugar or waffle cone, etc…

Wheat + Sugar — Cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, pies, pancakes, waffles, etc…

Dairy + Sugar — Ice cream, eggnog, flavored yogurt, etc…

Sugar — Soft drinks, fruit juices, candy, milk chocolate, popsicles, especially anything with high fructose corn syrup, etc…

Wheat + Dairy — Pizza, cheese sticks, bread with cheese slice, sandwiches, etc…

Wheat — Bagels, pasta, bread, couscous, etc…

Fatted Dairy — Whole milk, cream cheese, fatty yogurt (even plain), cheese, sour cream, butter, etc…

Non-fat Dairy — Skim milk, nonfat plain yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese, etc…

The top three ought to ideally be eliminated altogether, and the rest used sparingly or in moderation. Everyone has different biology and metabolism, so it takes some fine tuning to settle in on the foods that give you energy. For most people, wheat, dairy, and sugar don’t have to be eliminated completely, just restricted. A little butter, a little cream in coffee, some wheat breading on chicken, and a little sugar added to stews or oatmeal are fine for most people. It’s mainly the larger quantities and combinations of two or three of the wheat, dairy, and sugar, that do a number on the immune system.

It’s also worth reducing caffeine intake since caffeine creates a stress-response in the body (adrenaline and cortisol increase) — anything over 30mg of caffeine per day is getting into health-negative territory, leading to fatigue, headaches, and rapid aging.

The best immune-supporting meals are those with low glycemic index (doesn’t cause sugar crash), that are low in wheat gluten, and have a neutral or alkalizing effect on body pH. Examples include split pea soup, sprouted brown rice fried up in coconut oil, chips and refried beans/guacamole, dark chocolate, soups/stews/chillis, sauerkraut, oatmeal with just a little butter and honey, fruit and nut mixes, apples, salads, fresh meat and fish, sauteed vegetables, and so on. Simple ingredients, minimally processed, maximum nutrient density.

As for supplements and the immune system, the major thing to watch out for is being deficient in zinc, B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Deficiencies in any of those will lower your immune system, therefore read up on deficiency symptoms and compensate as necessary. A good site for getting up to speed on nutrition is http://whfoods.com

And lastly, if you are concerned about the pharmaceuticals, fluoride, and chlorine in your water (which regular filters like Brita or Pur don’t remove), then the alternative is either getting a home Reverse Osmosis system (expensive), a distiller (takes lots of electricity), or cheapest is getting a 3 or 5 gallon water jug and refilling at the grocery store. Water so pure (reverse osmosis or deionized water) can have a de-mineralizing effect, so just add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon No-Salt (potassium chloride) per 3 gallons of water to buffer the water a bit.

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A little bit of exercise can go a long way

Health is Wealth
If you sit on your butt all day and heart rate rarely ever elevates, your overall health will decline.

Your body will become like a stagnant pond versus a clear bubbling stream. Exercise is necessary to oxygenate cells, accelerate the expulsion of accumulated toxins, and flush out your circulatory system.

No, jogging isn’t necessary, nor is exercising so hard that your chest hurts. Just increased breathing and breaking into a light sweat by maintaining elevated heart rate for at least ten minutes per day is enough.

Simple home exercises like pushups, bicycle crunches, barbell movements, and leg lifts or squats (if you don’t have weak knees) do the job. Whatever works.

And most importantly, get enough sleep — every night.

Some people view sleep as something that gets in the way of living, but that’s like saying coming up for air gets in the way of diving. Sleep is when the body repairs itself and charges up with physical and vital energy. If you sacrifice sleep for trivial reasons, you will burn the candle at both ends. Your immune system will suffer for it, you will age faster, get sick more often, have lowered creativity and initiative, get stressed and irritated more easily, and become more zombie-like.

Get the sleep you need to feel your fullest, and take a short nap if you hit an energy slump during the day.

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Bad Lifestyle Choices

Bad-lifestyle

It is easy to sabotage your own health. Without even realizing it, you could be setting yourself up for numerous health problems down the road, simply by making bad lifestyle choices. There are several ways that you could be endangering your health and shortening your lifespan. But those poor health choices can easily be changed, and it is never too late to improve your health.

1. Smoking – Smoking is a highly addictive habit that affects millions of people. The effects of smoking can lead to cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. It can also have long-term negative effects on your throat, your digestive system, your skeletal system, and your skin. And, the smoke that is released from cigarettes can cause great harm to those around you.

2. Poor diet – Both eating too much and eating the wrong types of foods can lead to long-term health problems. Eat too much (meaning having no regard for portion sizes) and you are likely to suffer from hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. Eating the wrong foods (meaning fast foods, high fat snacks, and highly processed foods) can also lead to obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Any of these conditions can cause stroke, heart attack, and death. Stick to natural, fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for the bulk of your diet. “Cheating” once in a while is ok, too!

3. Excessive drinking – Excessive drinking can lead to long-term liver damage, and it can affect your overall physical and mental health. Drinking and driving cannot only injure or kill you, but it can injure or kill others as well. The key to drinking alcohol is moderation, and if you have had even one drink, let someone who has not been drinking drive the car.

4. Not moving your body – Exercise is hard. It takes time. It takes commitment. But it helps you to control your weight, look great, feel strong and limber, have more energy, it lowers your blood pressure, increases your HDL cholesterol (that’s the good one!), and relieves stress. Why wouldn’t you want to do something that will give you all of those things? Walk, jog, swim, play with your kids in the backyard – do something to keep your body moving!

5. Ignoring stress – Some stress is good, it can be a motivator. Too much stress, though, can lead to a whole host of problems if it is ignored: high blood pressure, depression, severe headaches, or digestive problems. Find something that you enjoy doing and that relaxes you: exercising, meditating, gardening, and reading, anything that helps you leave your stress at the door.

6. Not sleeping enough – Not getting enough sleep affects your judgment, your reaction time, and your mood. This can put you and others in danger, and it can affect your professional and personal relationships. Try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

7. Friends – This could be the main reason most people make bad lifestyle choices, friends have a major influence in our lifestyles. Consider a friend who likes to go out and party and drink over the weekends. This can contribute to all of the 6 bad choices as stated above. Make sure your friends support your healthy lifestyle change and are not there to sabotage it.

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Smoking Effects Your Fitness

smokey

Major effects of smoking on the body’s respiratory and circulatory system as follows:

* High levels of carbon monoxide from smoking reduce the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood from the lungs.

* Carbon monoxide in the blood also reduces the amount of oxygen that is released from the blood into the muscles.

* Smoke inhalation has an immediate effect on respiration, increasing airways resistance and therefore reducing the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood.

* Smoking causes chronic (or long-term) swelling of mucous membranes, which also leads to increased airways resistance.

* Smoking increases the heart rate for a given level of exercise.

CARBON MONOXIDE – THE MAIN OFFENDER

Carbon monoxide, the same lethal gas which is released by motor vehicle exhausts, is present in cigarette smoke and is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream. The mechanisms by which it does this are as follows:

* Once it leaves the lungs, oxygen is transported in the blood by attaching to the hemoglobin within red blood cells. Oxygen has a great affinity for hemoglobin. However, carbon monoxide has a much greater affinity (200 to 300 times greater than oxygen) and so binds preferentially to hemoglobin.

* Therefore, as the level of carbon monoxide in the blood increases, the level of oxygen decreases.

* Raised levels of carbon monoxide in the blood also impair the release of oxygen from the blood into the cells. This has a significant effect on heart and other muscle cells where there is a high demand for oxygen.

* Blood levels of carbon monoxide from smoking can also produce distortions of time perception, psycho motor and visual impairment and negative effects on cognitive skill.

* Oxygen is important for the functioning of all energy systems in the body, so any mechanism which interferes with oxygen transport and uptake interferes with energy production and therefore sports performance.

AIRWAYS RESISTANCE

Inhaling cigarette smoke results in airways resistance (narrowing of air passages) in a number of ways:

* Inhalation of smoke from a cigarette can, within seconds, cause a two to three-fold increase in airways resistance, the rate at which air moves in and out of the lungs.

* Smoking also causes chronic swelling of the mucous membranes of the airways, which adds to airways resistance.

* When demand for oxygen is elevated, such as during exercise, this increased resistance is more noticeable. Reduced lung capacity can cause a smaller volume of oxygen to reach the alveoli, resulting in impaired gas exchange and less oxygen in the blood.

* The tar in cigarette smoke adds to airways resistance. This tar coats the lungs, reducing the elasticity of the air sacs and resulting in the absorption of less oxygen into the bloodstream.

* Tar also affects the cleansing mechanism of the lungs, allowing pollutants to remain in the bronchial tubes and lungs. Increased phlegm and coughing, and damage to the cilia (the hair-like projections which “sweep” pollutants out of the airways) are the result.

EFFECTS ON THE HEART

The combined effect of carbon monoxide and increased airways resistance is to cause the heart to work harder in an attempt to compensate for the lack of oxygen reaching the muscles.

The nicotine in cigarette smoke also acts as a stimulant, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, and decreasing the flow of blood through the blood vessels.

EFFECTS ON ENDURANCE

Smoking reduces physical endurance and impedes the improvement in physical performance in smokers compared with non-smokers. It also increases fatigue during and after exercise.

* While exercise training can increase maximal oxygen uptake by up to 20%, smoking can reduce this effect by up to 10%.

* In a recent study adolescents who had smoked for five days had an 8% reduction in endurance time compared to controls.

* Individuals who smoke are less likely to continue in exercise programs.

* A US study of more than 3,000 naval personnel found smoking was detrimental to physical fitness even among relatively young, fit individuals. The study also found smokers have lower physical endurance than non or ex-smokers.

* The same study found those who smoked undertook less physical exercise sessions each week than non or ex-smokers. They also exercised less time per session.

* An earlier US study found that smokers had higher levels of fatigue during both exercise and recovery. The authors believed this increased fatigue may explain why smokers are less likely to participate in regular exercise.

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Why Sleep Is Important

sleep

* It restores the body’s energy.

* It gives the body a chance to repair itself and regenerate.* It helps the brain organize and store memories.

* It may recharge the brain. Adenosine signals the brain when it needs sleep. Adenosine triphospate (ATP) releases energy to fuel reactions. With each burst of energy, ATP loses it triphospate molecule, and the adenosine binds to receptors. Rising levels of adenosine signal the brain it needs rest. Although scientists once thought that caffeine induced alertness by blocking sedating mechanisms in the body, they now know that caffeine blocks the the receptors adenosine binds to.

Amount of sleep needed

Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced. (Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000)

What causes sleep problems?

Psychologists and other scientists who study the causes of sleep disorders have shown that such problems can directly or indirectly be tied to abnormalities in the following systems:

Physiological systems

* Brain and nervous system
* Cardiovascular system
* Metabolic functions
* Immune system

Furthermore, unhealthy conditions, disorders and diseases can also cause sleep problems, including:

* Pathological sleepiness, insomnia and accidents
* Hypertension and elevated cardiovascular risks (MI, stroke)
* Emotional disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
* Obesity; metabolic syndrome and diabetes
* Alcohol and drug abuse
(Dinges, 2004)

Lack of Sleep and the Consequences

Since sleep is responsible for the body’s restorative functions, the lack of sleep can be deleterious upon an individual’s health. The consequences of sleep deprivation can affect the following areas:

* Reduced performance and lack of concentration cause impaired learning.

* Depression. People who are depressed have shorter lengths of REM sleep. It is also a viscous circle. Depression may cause sleep loss and vice-versa.

* Increased mental illness

* Decreased immune system function

* Increased pain perception

* Decreased ability to metabolize glucose and an increased risk of diabetes.

* May trigger the release of stress hormones and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

* An increased risk of breast and colon cancer. Melatonin fights abnormal cell growth, especially in breast cancer and colon cancer. Since melatonin is released at night, less sleep means less melatonin. Thus, a reduced cancer-fighting ability.

* Increased car accidents and occupational accidents

* Increased inflammation

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Natural Muscle Is The Way To Go

BJinjuly

There are various kinds of natural body building muscle regime which will benefit in the long run in many ways. The most important benefit of these regimes is that the muscles of the body are built through the natural process. So there is no fear of side effects and other kinds of health problems. And the muscles of the body also remain firmer and healthier for a longer time as compared to taking steroids. Hence it is best to chose the natural way of building muscles instead of opting for chemicals and drugs which cause the body more harm than good.

A healthy diet and the natural growth of muscles also help the body to develop naturally and hence enhance the immune system of the body to combat various kinds of diseases. It is the most preferred and safest way of building muscles.

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Stress Can Affect Your Workouts

Bruno Training

Can stress really affect your workouts? Many people are not aware of the far-reaching effects of tension and stress on your workouts. Stress has been known to affect human health in the worst possible ways. Now most people believe that regular workouts help reduce the stress level. In some ways this is correct. It is absolutely true that exercising regularly helps you to reduce stress and depression. It is a known fact that those who are suffering from extreme stress level and depression most likely do not lead a healthy lifestyle. Chances are high that they also do not exercise to keep a healthy body. Therefore, it would seem to be a wise decision to advise them to start exercising in order to feel good about themselves.

Now that we are clear on this factor, let’s discuss this concept from an opposite angle and perspective. For example, you are doing regular workouts on daily basis, but suddenly out of the blue, you begin to start experiencing unwanted problems in your personal life. This will definitely affect your will power and make you disoriented in your workouts. Without a clear mind, you will not benefit a lot from your workouts. Sure, your health will not come to a standstill but the stress will affect your ability to focus. Your workouts will be less productive in terms of the results.

How stress can impede your workout progress:

Research has shown that stress does affect athletes who workout regularly. It was noticed that because of stress, an athlete performed under par compared to his normal workout performance. Stress can also decrease your will power to reach your best goals in most situations. In other words, stress can be overpowering to even those who are living a healthy lifestyle. So how do you fight back against the effects of stress on your workout? Well the answer is simple- Workout to outwork stress!

Before your routine workout, you can warm up your mind with the realization that stress has entered your mind. Try to gain focus by thinking positive right before you start your workout. This will help you to completely indulge yourself in the present moment. What that means is to put your problems aside and focus with a positive approach on your workout regime. Eventually you will get back to your personal best workouts and be able to deal with stress outside of your workout time. So the next time you hear about stress effecting workouts, don’t be in for a surprise! Every coin has two sides and just like that, workouts can also be hampered by stress. So don’t let stress control you take control of stress and do not let it impede your work out progress.

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