Tag: immune health
As you know, we unequivocally love our vegetables here at Mark’s Daily Apple. Powerhouses of nutrients and antioxidant action, they’re the backbone of a good Primal Blueprint diet. But the issue of nightshades has come up a few times recently.
What are nightshades?
Nightshades are vegetables that find their roots in the Solanaceae family of plants, including a host of reputable spices and vegetables including:
potatoes (yes, we know, not so reputable)
peppers (including bell peppers & those of the spicy variety)
Tabasco sauce, et al.
(Black pepper and sweet potatoes are not nightshades.)
Turns out, we have a lot of wannabe detectives in our midst! Our last post on which old wives’ tales were in fact true got such a great response we figured we’d give you 10 more to add to your repertoire!
Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC) released a report suggesting that cases of flu had peaked in recent weeks.
But rather than go crazy and hole up in your house until the flu season passes, we suggest you follow these tried and true tips for avoiding – and recovering from – the flu.
It’s the season for scrubbing, soaping and sanitizing. After all, no one exactly enjoys getting stuck at home miserable with the latest cold or flu strain making its way through all humankind. But is this obsession with absolute cleanliness really the best way to keep ourselves healthy?
We certainly wouldn’t argue with the positives of basic sanitation, and we even agree that washing your hands at strategic points of the day (following restroom use, please) isn’t a bad idea. The fact remains, however, that we live in a sea of germs throughout the year. Viruses, bacteria are everywhere, and they’re generally supposed to be. The chain of life didn’t evolve in a bucket of Lysol.
Our obsession with sanitization, we would argue, is another classic example of self-imposed paradox. The fact is, frequent washing and use of sanitizers end up stripping our skin of healthy oils that actually serve as an external barrier and defense against pathogens. In the most brutal weeks of winter, people often find themselves with rough, even cracked skin, which then becomes an open sewer for every germ it encounters.
We like to keep informed on all the latest health and fitness updates, and that includes not just the “hard news” out there – research studies, government policy reports, industry (i.e. Big Pharma, Big Agra, etc.) “developments.” It also means following (and often reveling in) other contrary voices out there who are doing the good work of spreading sensical health consciousness and exposing disturbing health trends and conflicts of interest that should give us all pause. Whether we find ourselves cheering them on, formulating our rebuttals, or scratching our heads in bewilderment, we always relish some good food for thought. We thought you would too.
Yes, they do. However, understand that these natural cold and flu remedies are not really “curing” anything. If you see a product claiming anything along those lines, that is a red flag. But what many of these products do – and homeopathic remedies do not fall into this category as they’re completely worthless – is simply boost your immune system with vitamins and sometimes additional minerals or phytonutrients. In fact, many of them are not unlike a potent multivitamin. The studies on “curing” colds with natural remedies are inconclusive, but studies have shown time and again that vitamins like C, the B-complex, and many other supplemental nutrients absolutely have immuno-strengthening properties. That’s why I recommend always taking steps to boost your immune system on a daily basis, whether you’re sick or not. Don’t wait until you feel the first itch of a sniffly nose to begin boosting your immune system. Prevent what you can before you even get it.
A couple of you have emailed me about natural cold and flu treatments since we published the post earlier this week about cold medications possibly being harmful for children. Convenient timing: WebMD has a handy list that caught my eye. There are some smart tips which I’ll touch on briefly here. I’d also like for you all to please add in any relevant tips you happen to recommend. And while I’m at it, before we all head out for the weekend I want to thank you for being such a terrific group. Your diverse and thoughtful comments, criticisms, and links add value to every single post at our ever-growing health community. And your emails really do make my day. While I can’t always respond, I do read every single one. So, thank you.
And it fits in a vase! (Sorry, John.) Echinacea, or purple coneflower, was widely panned after a rock-solid controlled study proved its inefficacy in 2005.
You can put away your Puffs: echinacea is the toast of the sniffle set again.
In a meta-analysis of fourteen studies and a whole bunch of people (okay, 1,630 for those who like numbers), scientists found that echinacea does, in fact, reduce both cold infection rates (by 58%) and duration (by 1.44 days).
There are three different parts to the echinacea plant (you know, leaf, stem, flower…) This does appear to make a difference in effectiveness. There are also three different species of echinacea, and there are three different substances in the plant that are thought to be the active ingredient.
There are 800 different echinacea products made from these three different parts and/or three different species and/or three different extracts, and they come in teas, drops, powders and pills. Good luck trying each one – my advice is to be a princess (or prince) and buy the best. You only get a cold a few times a year (I hope), so spend the extra cash and you’re likely to get a better product. Or check out online customer reviews at sites like Epinions.
The reason why echinacea does…and doesn’t…work:
There are over 200 different cold viruses. That’s why you always catch the common cold and that’s why there’s no cure. Echinacea seems to be less effective on induced colds (scientists use rhinovirus to induce a cold).
The great thing is that whether or not you take echinacea, your body will develop immunity to any cold virus that infects you. The not-so-great thing is that after you get your first one, you still have 199 or so to go. But, since the average person gets between 2 and 4 colds a year, by the time you’re about 50, there shouldn’t be many more to go. Instead, you can concentrate on building up immunity to every flu virus in existence. Isn’t that awesome?
Jill Doughtie Flickr Photo CC
Psst…and we all know what Mark would recommend: eat right, work out, reduce stress, and you’ll have a better immune system!
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What does echinacea tea taste like? I don’t know, but I bet it would be great in the Fuming Fuji mug! 😉
[tags] echinacea, cold remedies [/tags]
Junior apple Lance asks:
“Hey, Mark, what’s the deal with working out when you are sick? Is it true that exercise is safe if you have a cold, but bad if you have the flu?”
There are some general rules to follow, but in my opinion, the best thing to do is to trust your instincts. Sometimes when you’re sick you don’t have severe symptoms, but you feel fatigued and weak nevertheless. Other times you may be so symptomatic you’re virtually a stockholder in Kleenex, yet you’re physically peppy enough to function. Often the sniffly, frog-in-the-throat cold symptoms come as you’re nearly healed, so at this point, it’s fine and healthy to exercise. The funny thing is that this is usually the point when we really notice our illness; but by this point, the virus is already well under attack by your immune system.
Energy is a subtle thing; pay attention to how it moves in your body. There’s no benefit to a heart-pumping, calorie-burning workout if your tissues and organs are depleted of their energy; this will only drain you further. My advice? If your heart’s just not in it – if you just can’t “get into” the workout, it’s probably not the best idea to push it. On the other hand, if you simply feel a little crummy, a mild workout like a walk in the fresh air can actually speed your recovery dramatically (be sure to shower and nap afterwards to stimulate healing).
Bottom line: pay heed to that instinct!
Here are general guidelines:
If your symptoms are mostly “in your head” (sniffles, headache, sore throat) it’s usually fine to exercise. Caveats: have a terrible headache, fever or brain fog? Stay in bed.
If your symptoms are closer to the “business end” (nausea and other unpleasantries) do not work out under any circumstances. You need rest and fluids and possibly a trip to the doc. Caveats: if you’ve got “the shakes” from jet lag or too much partying, a workout will actually do you good, though it definitely won’t be fun.
If your muscles are a bit achy, a gentle swim or a walk can help. Caveats: if your bones ache or if you feel stiff, don’t attempt exercise – your organs and acid production are trying desperately to cope with whatever bug has invaded your system, so lie low, amigo.
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[tags]exercise, sickness, working out, immune system, cold symptoms, depleted energy, recovery, illness[/tags]
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Okay, okay, we admit it. We think health is fun and worth arguing, talking and laughing about endlessly.
Everyone’s Favorite Superbug
The flu (actually an umbrella nickname of sorts for several variant influenza viruses) is developing resistance to drugs. Though no natural method can completely prevent your risk of flu, there are plenty of preventive measures that do help:
– fresh garlic daily
– plenty of vitamin C
– practicing good hygiene (wash those hands!)
– echinacea and zinc in flu season
– a daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in flu season
What are your suggestions, Apples? How do you avoid the flu? Talk it up!
This Is Stublog’s Flickr Photo
Mammograms: A Good Idea?
The debate is rekindled: are mammograms more harmful than helpful? Be sure to catch the latest research out today.
News flash: Life Is Really, Really Hard!
Is your doctor telling you you’re depressed? Maybe life is just hard and it’s okay to feel down about it! Check out this provocative news piece to see what we’re talking about.
Note: while we are not psychologists around here (and if you are, we’d love your perspective about why we may be buzzing up the wrong orchid), we think one could make a compelling argument that the personal fix-it movement is itself stressful for many people. Where do you draw the line between dealing with past issues and being convinced you need “fixing”? How do we draw the line between genuine depression or unresolved issues and simply feeling a normal response to life’s hardships? What do you all think? Are we depressed, or is life just tough?
Between a rock and a hard place…
This is Abenafe’s Flickr Photo