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Arm Yourself Against Illness

‘Tis the season – the flu season is being heralded all around us. Are you prepared? And how can you arm yourself against illness, be it flu or cold or other form?

Though there’s no guaranteed way to avoid getting sick, supporting your immune system is what I consider the best way (even ahead of vaccines). Here are 7 ways to arm your immune system:

Decrease Stress

Prioritize taking time daily to enjoy relaxing activities such as meditation or listening to music, which reduce physical perception of stress. When experiencing stress, your body releases hormones that can tax your immune system and raise your susceptibility.

Get Out In The Sun

The sun does more for you than raise your Vitamin D levels – it improves your circadian rhythm and lifts your spirits. So get outside, even in the cold. If getting sufficient levels of UVA rays from the sun is difficult in the winter where you live, explore getting a Vitamin D lamp or lightbox. These simulate noontime sunshine and can provide an alternate source of “sunshine.”

Exercise (Or Move) Regularly

Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily will increase your blood circulation and can help strengthen your immune system. Movement helps antibodies and white blood cells move around the body faster so they may detect invaders sooner. Walking outside combines sun and exercise – win!

Eat Purposefully

No single food will fend off a cold or flu but certain nutrients can help protect your body from bacteria, viruses and other germs. Consider these foods:

  • Garlic and ginger – antiviral and antibiotic
  • Wild-caught salmon & cold-water fish – Omega3
  • Pumpkin seeds, grass-fed meat – Zinc
  • Brazil nuts, broccoli, sardines – Selenium
  • Bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, kale, citrus (fruit not juice) – Vitamin C
  • Reduce sugar which depresses the immune system for hours after consumption

Boost Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is crucial for healthy immune function and maintaining a positive mood in the winter. Therefore, have your blood vitamin D level tested and supplement it if your level is below 30 nanograms per milliliter.

Drink More Water

Hydration is key to whole-body health. Every system in your body needs adequate water to function properly. It’s not just liquids your body needs – water or herbal teas provide hydration.

Prioritize Restful Sleep

Clinical study has demonstrated that several days of partial sleep deprivation has significant detrimental effects on immune function. Adults should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while those with a compromised immune system should get even more.

You can’t expect your immune system to function well if you don’t support it with the right building blocks. A vaccination won’t cover you if you are skimping in the other areas. Rather, it will initially depress your immune system.

So take a cue from the airline safety briefing and put your oxygen mask on first.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

Circadian Rhythm in Humans

Circadian Rhythm in Humans

Did you celebrate on Saturday when the time change gave you an extra hour of sleep? I hope you actually slept rather than using that time to work, play, or do anything else.

I’ve written often about the value of sleep for our wellness. Losing (or gaining) an hour of sleep can happen more than in the fall or the spring. It can happen when your schedule gets overwhelmed, or you work shifts. It’s the circadian rhythm everyone talks about.

Science and Your Sleep Rhythm

Science is constantly learning more about the body, and more recently has discovered that each of our cells also has its own clock. Never saw that in your high school biology text, did you?

To optimize your health, it is important to pay attention to and honor our built-in patterns of waking, sleeping and eating, commonly referred to as our circadian rhythm. This rhythm affects the core function of your body as it rises and falls at certain times of the day. For example, growth hormone production usually rises at night while you are sleeping. If your stomach is not full of food at that time, the growth hormone will help to repair your stomach lining.

Circadian Rhythm Tips

To leverage these daily rhythms, we just have to do a few things — sleep at the right time, eat at the right time, and get a little bright light during daytime. Let’s look at these areas more closely.

Sleeping less than 6 hours a night limits your body’s ability to heal and restore after the day’s demands. Studies have also shown that this shortened sleep dramatically increases the risk of insulin resistance, which is at the core of many chronic diseases. Shift workers, who are often deprived of regular sleep, are more likely to develop insulin resistance, leading to diabetes and more.

Effective sleep is influenced by your body’s production of melatonin, which is heavily controlled by light exposure. In the days of candles and lanterns, lights used at night did not interfere with melatonin. Today’s electronics, LED and fluorescent lighting emits a blue light that does. Solution? You can either change your light sources in areas that you frequent in the evening, or you can wear blue-filtering eyeglasses at night.

Circadian Rhythm and Eating

Circadian rhythm in humans is also impacted by your mealtimes. Just like many cleanout functions occur in your brain during deep sleep, our other organs need downtime. Your digestive system has a Migrating Motor Complex that acts something like a street sweeper, cleaning through your intestinal tract when you give it time between meals and don’t snack frequently. If you have constipation, this MMC doesn’t function; and if you eat every couple of hours, it also doesn’t engage.

In time-restricted feeding trials, it has been discovered that mice whose feeding are restricted to a window of 8-12 hours are protected from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, systemic inflammation and a host of other diseases. In order for your digestive system to benefit from circadian rhythm, fast for at least 12 hours a day. This could be comprised of fasting for 3 hours before bedtime, 8 hours of sleep, and fasting an hour when you wake to allow your melatonin to level off.

How Can I Help You?

How can you keep rhythm with your circadian rhythm? Just like you would dance – one step at a time. You won’t change things suddenly, but small changes, step by step, can restore your rhythm and help you flow into wellness. Let’s chat and see how we can help you feel better!

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

5 Ways to Ditch the Brain Fog

Ever have those days where you can’t seem to think straight? It can feel like your brain is actually foggy, and you can’t get to your thoughts. Fatigue often accompanies brain fog — including feeling easily irritated, forgetting things or having trouble learning new things, feeling unmotivated, anxious, lacking concentration and even insomnia. Frustrating, and the good news is you can do a lot to clear the fog in your head.

Here are a few tweaks you can start implementing: Read more

Arm Yourself to Fight Illness!

We all know someone who has been sick in the past month – perhaps you, a family member, or a friend. The media is touting this as an especially bad flu season. What should you do to protect yourself?

Despite all the encouragement to get the flu shot, I do not recommend that as your primary strategy. The flu shot can actually hinder your immune system, as it comes with a nasty dose of mercury that is dangerous to your body. Read more

Simple Truths for Wellness

Keep It SimpleAs January comes to a close, how would you evaluate this first month of 2017? Were you, like so many others, working to improve your health by losing weight and changing your food habits? How is that going? Don’t beat yourself up. Let’s regroup and simplify.

I have written frequently about food choices and I’m not going to rehash that subject here. What I do want to emphasize is what I call eating hygiene – as simple as HOW you eat. Read more

Ditch Resolutions and Diets!

brand new endingThe first days of a new year! You have a clean page on the calendar and 12 months ahead of you. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Here we are five days into 2016 … are you still on track with them?

New Year’s resolutions seem to carry a connotation of short-term failure with them. I often hear people joking about the resolution that lasted mere days – or hours. Why is that? I have a few theories: Read more

Five Ways That Gratitude Nourishes Life

GratefulThe Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching and thoughts are turning to how many will gather, what to include in the menu and counting our blessings. I would like to suggest, however, that you not wait for a holiday to practice gratitude, but begin to cultivate it as a daily practice.

Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous! Read more