Category Archives: Nutrition

Battling viral infections like COVID-19: The micronutrients you need to support your immune system

The world as we know it has changed due to the sudden onslaught of a viral infection, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing economies to a standstill and keeping us in our homes for an unprecedented period. This new reality we are facing has made us more conscious of our habits, and it is crucial now more than ever to be diligent with proactive efforts on health and safety.

Diseases and viral infections may not always discriminate on who it will infect. Several public health practices to help reduce the spread of infection are important to follow. Supporting the immune system with adequate nutrition is another important and a parallel way to help reduce the risk and impact of virus infections.

In an effort to further inform the public of the benefits of nutrients, an independent review was made on the global scientific evidence regarding the roles of nutrients in support of immune response, including response against viral infections. The study was composed of a panel of experts, invited by Prof. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Ph.D, Professor for Healthy Ageing at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. He is active as a member of the Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and has authored numerous publications in the fields of vitamins, innovation in nutritional ingredients, reviewer for a variety of journals and associate editor of the “International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research”.

The research findings show a strong relation in the role of specific nutrients in supporting immune health in reducing the risk, duration, and severity of viral infections. The supplementation of nutrients on top of a well-balanced diet may help lower the risk of infection, and may play a role in faster recovery.  

With restrictions on mobility and physical distancing slowly being eased, here are ways on how you can further support your immune system to fight against the risk of a viral infection. 

Key nutrients include Vitamin A, C, D, Zinc, and Omega-3 fatty acid

The expert panel confirms that nutrients work together to support an effective immune system and reduce the risk of viral infections, including respiratory tract infections. These include the vitamins A, C, D, Zinc, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. For optimal results, it is desirable to ensure the intake of adequate amounts to help support the immune system.

Deficiencies or low status in nutrients have the potential to negatively affect the body’s immune function and may therefore decrease resistance to infections. As supported by COVID-19 data, it is the elderly that are especially vulnerable, because they have relatively weaker immune systems, may suffer from comorbidities and nutritional frailty, and therefore often do not have an inadequate intake and uptake of the essential nutrients.

Oranges, fish, and meat to keep the doctors away

While there are ways to naturally consume the necessary nutrients with a healthy and well-balanced diet, nutritional supplements are a convenient and efficient way to assure adequate intake, help eliminate gaps in nutrition, and add support to the immune system.

For a strong immune system, an intake of 200 – 500 mg/day of Vitamin C is recommended for healthy people. This can be achieved by eating three oranges or two kiwi fruits every day or by taking a supplement. Vitamin C requirements change depending on the health status of a person, and an intake of 1 – 2 g per day is helpful for people who are sick.

Vitamin D is also effective in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections. Studies have shown that an intake of 2000 IU daily is optimal. Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, if it is difficult to eat 2-3 portions of fatty fish per week to achieve the recommended amount, a supplement of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) amounting to 250 mg a day would be a good alternative.

Zinc, while not stored in the body, is found in most of the meat we consume. Foods rich in Zinc are crab, beef, pork, and chicken, vegetables such as mushrooms and kale; chickpeas, lentils, and beans are also very good sources of Zinc, with the recommended intake of 8-11 μg a day.

It is good to note that while nutritional supplementation will not necessarily prevent infections or cure the infection, it may help decrease the risk of falling ill, symptoms, and the duration, plus help in facilitating recovery. Therefore, a resilient immune defense is important to help reduce the risk or manage the implications of viral infections. To learn more about the study, you may refer to the following:

Calder PC, Carr AC, Gombart AF, Eggersdorfer M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):1181. Published 2020 Apr 23. doi:10.3390/nu12041181

Convincing Kids To Eat Their Veggies

Eating vegetables is never a kids favorite thing. But with this important food group containing tons of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it is something our kids can’t go without. For some kids, they have nutrition gaps so large that a doctor may even recommend taking daily supplements to keep them healthy. Authority Reports can help to compare the different brands of supplements to ensure your child is getting the best. However, if you are still set on getting your kids to eat their veggies, try our tips and tricks for getting them to love their vegetables.

Photo by Trang Doan from Pexels

Use Segmented Plates

One study done in a preschool split children into two groups during lunch time. The first group used segmented plates, with places for every food group. Each segment also had a picture of which food should go there. The other group used plain white plates. Children were allowed to serve themselves from family style bowls of the various lunch dishes. After three days, the groups switched which plates they ate off of. At the end of the study, it was found that when kids used plain plates they ate an average of only around 20 grams of vegetables, or the equivalent of three baby carrots. Eating off the segmented plates with pictures, however, caused the amount of eaten vegetables to go up to more than 28 grams, an increase of nearly 40%!

Blend Them Up

If you’ve tried everything and your kids won’t touch any vegetable, no matter what, try blending them up and hiding them in other recipes. Offer an apple and banana smoothie for dessert, with some hidden carrot. Or blend up peppers and onions into a soupy mixture and pour it into tomato sauce for pasta. Your kids will start getting the nutrients they need, without knowing they’re eating veggies. Once you’ve introduced these new vegetables through these new recipes, slowly start to share your “secret ingredients” with your kids. Once they realize they’ve been eating vegetables for a long time, they will be more open to trying new things.

Institute A Must Try Policy

This could be great not just for vegetables, but for anything! When sitting down to dinner, if there is something new on the table, whether a new recipe, a new vegetable, or just a new sauce for pasta, don’t accept an automatic “I don’t like it” from you children. Explain to them that they should always try everything offered. If afterwards, they still truly do not like it, then accept their taste preferences and allow them to make another choice. By having this policy that they should try everything, it opens them up to be a less picky eater in the rest of their life as well.

Follow Your Own Example

If you are telling kids to eat more vegetables or to try new foods, you should also be willing to do the same. This starts even earlier than you think! One study showed that women who ate green vegetables while pregnant often had children who liked green vegetables more than those who did not have mothers that ate greens during pregnancy. Even once your kids are born, introduce them to vegetables early, and make sure they see you eating vegetables as well.

Eating The Rainbow

We all know getting our kids to eat their vegetables is difficult. So, instead of fighting with them, make it fun. Both fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow, so if you kids are into competitions, see who can eat more natural colors. Red strawberries, an orange orange, yellow peppers, green spinach, blueberries, and purple carrots are all great ways to add fun to your food. Remember, this doesn’t count for things like blue gummy worms or purple lollipops! Each color of fruits and vegetables offer different needed vitamins and minerals, so this trick can really help make vegetables fun for your kids!

Overall, eating should be a fun experience, no matter what food you are tasting. By following these tips and tricks, you can turn eating vegetables from a chore into fun! After just a few new vegetables, soon you’ll see that your child is asking for veggies all on their own!

Flaxseed: More Powerful Than You Might Have Realized!!

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Flax is one of the oldest fiber crops in the world and is known to have been cultivated in both ancient Egypt and China; however the use of flaxseeds in everyday cooking has fallen away in many cultures today even though their health benefits have been known for centuries. In fact in the 8th Century, Charlemagne was so convinced of the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws to ensure his loyal subjects ate them!

And the reason for these health benefits is because flaxseed, also known as linseed, is high in:

  • Vitamins and minerals, including most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese
  • Both soluble and insoluble fibers
  • Phytochemicals, including many powerful antioxidants such as lignans. And because it’s a plant, it’s actually one of the lignin sources around!
  • Flaxseed is a mega-source of the plant version of omega-3, which is the ‘street name’ for alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), containing about 50% ALA. This makes it about 5 times more rich in ALA than canola and walnut oil which are the next highest sources

Grown in Central Asia, North America and Europe flax can be found in most conventional and health food stores in whole, ground or oil form. And while buying the whole form is best for preserving those natural fatty acids, they should be ground before eating as whole seeds may not always be digested properly. However the best way to get the highest amount of ALA is by consuming flaxseed oil which is obtained through cold pressing the seeds.

Besides flaxseed there are, of course, also other ways to stay healthy and take good care of yourself. This wonderful crop works in diverse areas, but if you want to ensure you’re not missing any important element or vitamin, sometimes it proves worthy to invest in professional supplements. If you’re afraid they might be too expensive, there’s nothing to worry about – there’s plenty of special offers online you can use. You may use a Kohl’s coupon or find some Kohl’s printable coupons and you’re in for the lowest prices.

Speaking of Flaxseed benefits, they are numerous, but the most relevant ones include the following:
They lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Flaxseed contains a soble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol, working towards preventing the buildup of plaque that clogs arteries and leads to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. It is believed that fiber lowers blood sugar levels, an important thing for Type 2 diabetics to monitor.
Reduce bone loss
Diabetic rats were fed flaxseed as part of a clinical study and the results showed a delay in bone loss due to the fatty acids it contains.
Helps with weight management
You may want to munch some flax about thirty minutes before meals because it expands when ingested, meaning that you feel fuller and can control your appetite.
Improve digestive health
Flax is a high source of fiber meaning that it can help your digestion stay regular and relieve constipation
Increase immunity
Preliminary research has suggested that flaxseed may help relieve autoimmune and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus thanks to its high concentration of ALA that is known to decrease inflammation.
Fight cancer
Based on its high concentration of lignans which are believed to inhibit the growth of tumors, studies are showing that flaxseed may be effective in fighting cancer, although this mainly applies to colon and breast cancer.

Incorporating flaxseed in your diet is not at all difficult and there are hundreds of ways to add it to every meal. So if you want to get the most out of every meal, boost its nutritional profile by finding a way to include flaxseed. And if you need some inspiration then search online because there are literally hundreds of recipes and suggestions just sitting there!

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