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Posts Tagged ‘probiotics’

Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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yogurt container

You’ve probably noticed the recent increase in fermented foods found in the Natural Food section of your favorite grocery store.  Specialty shops are brimming with expensive gourmet food items such as organic yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi touting the benefit of fermented foods.  Categorized as “probiotics”, these foods contain live active cultures that are beneficial for health.  But did you know that all foods containing non-digestible carbohydrates are actually fermented in the body and produce similar health benefits?  These foods contain fibers that are fermentable in the colon and are categorized as “prebiotics”, offering  health benefits similar to those provided by probiotics.  These foods are commonly found in most households and include beans, bananas, wheat bran, asparagus, unrefined oats, and barley.

Although fermented foods have been around for centuries, scientists have renewed interest in the impact on health of a diet which includes a combination of prebiotics and probiotics.  While some individuals may have difficulty digesting certain foods containing non-digestible carbohydrates, studies have shown that people who maintain a healthy gut through diet may have a stronger immune system, reduction in colorectal cancer, and improved bowel function.

So what can you do to ensure you eat the right foods to maintain a healthy gut without spending a fortune?

  • Try cooking with dried beans.  Soak beans before cooking, changing the water once or twice while they soak.  Use fresh water for cooking the beans and rinse after cooking.
  • Try soups and side dishes filled with a good amount of prebiotics including asparagus, onion, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, sliced berries and bananas.
  • Enjoy products made with 100% whole wheat flour. Sprinkle raw wheat bran on cereals and in soups or stews.

Preserving intestinal well-being starts with a balance of intestinal flora.  By eating a diet rich in pre- and probiotics, you’ll feed the intestinal microbiota that help maintain a healthy gut.    

Livestrong.com, What Do Probiotics Do For Your Body? http://www.livestrong.com/article/418612-what-do-probiotics-do-for-your-body/

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Prebiotics and Probiotics:  The Dynamic Duo, http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/prebiotics-and-probiotics-the-dynamic-duoSources

Dry Bean Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 4

Written by:  Jennifer Even, MEd, RD, LD, Extension Educator, OSU Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region.

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If you pay much attention to health and nutrition news, you’ve probably heard about probiotics.  But for those of you who aren’t familiar with probiotics, here is a basic primer.

Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria in foods that we commonly consume.  The bacteria pass into our digestive tract and promote health by helping digest our food, synthesizing vitamin K, and maintaining the immune system. Although research is still being done, some studies have also shown that probiotics may help regluate inflammation and decrease the incidence of colitis and  inflammatory bowel disease.

Healthy bacteria, or microflora, are frequently found in yogurt and fermented foods such as kefir, buttermilk and sauerkraut.  The most common microbes used as probiotics include lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.  However, some yeasts and bacilli are also used in probiotics.  Since our intestines contain several different species of bacteria, many people believe supplementing that bacteria will help form new colonies of microflora that further benefits health.  In contrast, prebiotics are not bacteria but are typically non-digestible carbohydrates such as soy beans, raw oats, or unrefined wheat which help stimulate the growth of bacteria in the gut that is also beneficial to health.

In addition to fermented dairy/food products, live probiotic cultures are also available in a tablet, capsule, or powder form.  Be sure to check with your medical professional before purchasing a probiotic .   Products vary in quality and purity, as with any supplement.  Check with your physician or the manufacturer for research to support any health claims made by the company.

Source:  Department of Public Affairs, Children’s Hospital, Boston

Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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