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Dr. Leo Galland and son Jonathan Galland.
Stay Well During the Holidays
By Dr. Leo Galland, M.D., and Jonathan Galland
CBN.com Colder weather, more time spent indoors, and indulging in food and drink make staying healthy a real challenge this time of year. It’s now peak influenza (flu) season, which continues until April. Millions of North Americans face getting the flu, and millions more will be sidelined or made miserable by the common cold. Waiting until you get sick to do something about your health is not a plan. You can start right now to take steps that can greatly improve your ability to stay healthy for the holidays.
The first step in reducing the risk of contracting the flu is going to the doctor. Why? Because according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC): “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.” Seek your doctor’s advice on whether vaccination is right for you.
The crucial next step is building your body’s immune system. The typical North American diet is high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy fats, and lacking in fruits and vegetables. These eating habits fail to supply the body with adequate nutrition to truly support immunity. Numerous studies have found that vitamins and minerals improve immune function. In addition, restricting unhealthy dietary fat is critical for building resistance, because these fats diminish your body’s natural defenses against infection.
Our book The Fat Resistance Diet has the nutritional science that explains healthy and unhealthy fats, and the practical information needed to overhaul your eating habits. Delicious examples of foods that contain healthy fats are walnuts, salmon, and extra-virgin olive oil. You can make the switch to a nutrient-rich diet to build your immune system by visiting www.fatresistancediet.com for a free sneak preview of recipes and meal plans.
The specific nutrients with the most profound effects on immune function are the omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are found in flax seed and in fish, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and iron. These nutrients are deficient in the typical American eating style. We designed The Fat Resistance Diet to supply excellent food sources of these immune boosting nutrients. These include vibrant green, red, and orange vegetables, delicious nuts and seeds, fresh seafood, whole eggs, and poultry. Fresh herbs such as basil and vegetables like garlic and scallions add robust flavor to the recipes and also add their own infection-fighting properties.
A high intake of vegetables increases the consumption of a group of natural chemicals called saponins, which have immune-stimulating and antibiotic effects. In plants, saponins seem to function as natural antibiotics, protecting the plant against microbial parasites. In humans, they may thwart cancer and ward off infection. Saponins are most highly concentrated in soybeans, chickpeas, bean sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes and oats. Our list of Fat Resistance superfoods is available at www.fatresistancediet.com
Taking steps to stay healthy is worth a little extra effort, considering that as a result of the flu, each year on average in the United States, 15-60 million people get sick, 200,000 people are hospitalized, and 36,000 people die.
Flu symptoms may include the following:
- High fever
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle Aches
- Sore Throat
- Stuffy or Runny Nose
- Upset stomach such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
The flu can worsen chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. Complications of the flu may include pneumonia, dehydration, and sinus and ear infections.
How can you catch the flu? Flu is spread through contact with germs from an infected person coughing or sneezing, or from touching surfaces contaminated with those germs. Avoid transmission of the germs and help reduce the spread of flu by practicing these simple steps:
- Wash your hands often.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home when sick.
- Avoid close contact with others when sick.
In addition to seeing a doctor, practicing these hygienic steps, and following an immune-building lifestyle like The Fat Resistance Diet, you should pay attention to these areas of importance to help build maximum immunity.
Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and for strong immune function as well. If you live in the northern United States or Canada or use sun block regularly, your vitamin D levels will start to decline in late October, weakening immune function in winter. Most people need to supplement their diets with about 800 IU/day of vitamin D3 to maintain vitamin D levels until the summer, in addition to the vitamin D obtained from eating oily fish like salmon.
Scientists have known for years that major and minor life stresses interfere with immune function and contribute to disease. Stressful life events increase your susceptibility to several types of infections, from the common cold to tuberculosis, and to autoimmune disorders in which your body's immune system attacks its own cells. Research done at Harvard and at Ohio State University found that college examinations cause a measurable decline in immune function that may last for several weeks. Although you may not be able to control all the stressors in your life, there are many steps you can take to build your immune resistance in the face of stress. Prayer, supportive social relationships, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, and immune-boosting nutrients can keep you from becoming a victim of stress.
Regular aerobic exercise, about 30 minutes a day, has been shown to improve immune function and decrease the incidence of common viral infections. Most Americans decrease their physical activity as the weather turns cold. Increase your activity by following the exercise guidelines in Chapter 7 of The Fat Resistance Diet, not only for weight control but also for supporting your immune system.
Your sleep is an active time during which your body restores itself. Sleep deprivation of experimental animals increases susceptibility to viral and bacterial infection, and in humans, insomnia reduces activity of natural killer cells, your main defense against viral infection. The natural sleep requirement of adults varies from as little as six to as much as ten hours per day, with most people needing seven to nine hours, preferably without interruption.
Nourish Yourself with Healthy Snacks, Beverages, and Desserts
The barrage of sweets, pastries, and alcohol that you’re faced with through the New Year is a major health challenge. Don’t be a victim. The Fat Resistance Diet is loaded with delicious desserts, snacks, and beverages that are rich in the omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals your immune system needs for optimal function. We designed our Fat Resistance treats to help you get more nutrition all day long. When going out, be prepared with some healthy snacks. Pack up omega-3 and protein-rich walnuts so you can stave off hunger and avoid sugary snacks. Take along a bottle of vegetable juice so you won’t succumb to unhealthy sodas while out. Add a scoop of Slim Greens for extra nutritional fuel for your shopping trip.
In addition to these basic principles, there are two herbal products we use in our family in the wintertime:
Studies indicate that daily use of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium root extract) through the winter months may help to decrease the development of respiratory symptoms.
Isatis Formula is a traditional Chinese formula that contains seven herbs with immune stimulating and anti-inflammatory actions.
We wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season. Further information about adopting a healthy lifestyle is available at www.fatresistancediet.com.
Copyright © Renaissance Workshops Ltd. Used by permission.
Dr. Leo Galland is a board-certified internist who is internationally recognized as a leader in nutritional medicine. He has written several dozen scientific papers, textbook chapters, and three highly acclaimed popular books, The Fat Resistance Diet, Power Healing and Superimmunity for Kids.
Jonathan Galland, co-creator of The Fat Resistance Diet, is a health writer and speaker who writes a weekly column for Carib News and is frequently interviewed on national radio shows including Martha Stewart Living.
This article is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice or counseling, the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, the creation of a physician-patient relationship, or an endorsement, recommendation, or sponsorship of any third party product or service by the sender or the sender's affiliates, agents, employees, or service providers. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.
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