What we eat influences our health both in the short and long term. In the short term, our eating habits can influence the body’s ability to resist and fight infection. Healthful diets reduce risk of chronic inflammation and support the gut microbiome and keys in healthy immune function.
How does nutrition impact the function of our immune system?
Changes in our vascular function, improving delivery of crucial nutrients to cells, bone marrow (etc.)
Optimizes the balance between PRO and ANTI-inflammatory responses
A strong immune system essentially allows the immune system to:
More effectively fend off pathogens
More effectively recover if infected
Secondary Effects of Nutrition
Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Disease
Compromised Immune Function
High Risk & Poor Health Outcomes
What Nutrients are Critical for a Well Functioning Immune System?
(Nutrients work in conjunction with one another; are all needed!)
Functional Foods with Possible Health Benefits
Phytochemicals with Anti-Viral Properties (Hint: these come from plants! )
What then is the best diet to protect our health and maintain healthy immune function?
Researchers consistently find a diet rich in whole plant foods that provide a variety of nutrients is one of the best ways to support health. Nutrients from whole plant foods work synergistically with one another. The diets that prevent chronic disease also support our immune system. They are rich in fresh foods, vegetables and fruits, and low in processed foods such as fast food and items high in sugar, oils, and salt. Include abundant amounts of these foods to support your health.
WHOLE PLANT FOODS
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
NUTS, SEEDS, AVOCADO, OLIVES, COLD PRESSED OILS
Let's eat to good health!
For me, fall serves as the perfect opportunity to transition back into healthy habits that may have been lost during the summer months. Here's how to refocus.
STEP 1: UNDERSTAND YOU ARE THE MAGIC BULLET
Many times I see clients in search of a magic bullet. They are looking for the latest diet or protocol, supplement or workout to help them lose weight and/or get in shape.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret though, there is no magic bullet; there's no best diet, supplement, or workout. In fact the magic bullet you've been searching for is looking you right in the mirror --- It's you.
While diets, supplements, and workouts may help you achieve a small part of your goal (let's call it 2%), the real success is achieved by your ability to consistently do the basic habits (the 98%) everyday.
STEP 2: TOP 3 HEALTHY HABITS
At times it may seem like there are a number of habits to focus on, but really there are just 3 to prioritize. They include:
STEP 3: BE CONSISTENT
The final step, which I also view as the most important step, is consistently performing these three habits everyday. The reason consistency is vital to our success is that we want to automate our behavior so that we don't have to think about our decisions. Cook at home or pick up fast food? Workout or sit on the couch with a glass of wine? These behaviors will be automatic toward the healthier default! Additionally the environment will be less likely to trigger or influence our decisions. (Fast food and junk food commercials are great at stimulating cravings.)
Over time, your healthy habits will become stronger and more likely to automatically happen, because it's just what you do. You won't have to agonize about whether you should workout or skip the cocktail because these are things you just don't do. Environmental triggers (i.e. junk food commercials) will also be less influential on your actions.
DEVELOP YOUR PLAN
Plan out what you want to focus on first -- drinking water first thing in the morning? working out everyday at the same time? Start with the easiest habit and go from there. Once you get going, it becomes easier as success in one area will develop success in other areas. You'll feel more confident in your ability to consistently achieve the behavior.
Don't forget if you feel stuck or need help email me! We'll develop a plan and structure to put it all together.
When It Feels Like You're Running through the Saharan Desert... Oh Wait it's Only the Texas Heat #Dehydration #HeatExhaustion
If you live in the southern parts of the U.S., you know how incredibly hot it can be in the summer months. Here in Houston Texas, we easily top out at temps above 100 degrees and with the heat index (i.e. relative humidity + temp), it can feel like 105F (40C) or hotter.
Last week, I learned first hand how brutal the heat can be when I made the not so wise decision to start my long run at 11 am when the heat index climbed to 104F! The plan was simple, run 12mi easy at ~2 minutes slower than marathon goal pace (MGP), with 1 bottle of my usual fuel (UCAN) and electrolytes (The Right Stuff electrolyes). After the first 5 miles though, I ended up having to stop about every mile or so to rest in the shade, drink water, even stoping for a snow cone (YES- a must)!!
The run didn't go as planned, but I learned a few valuable lessons...
BEAT THE HEAT & AVOID THE BONK
1. Adjust your plans and goals. Just because you have a specific plan or set a goal for a run or workout, it doesn't mean you will always achieve it in exactly the way you have it laid out in your mind; and that's ok. I think part of being an athlete at any level, is understanding things don't always go according to your plan, but being flexible and having alternative routes to get you where you want to go is key.
My Adjustments. When I got overheated, I adjusted my plan. I planned on running 12 miles, but had to knock 2 miles off because I was too hot and it was unsafe to continue. My goals also had to change. My goal was to stay within 2 minutes of MGP, but I was overheated and ended up running 2:30 - 3 minutes slower than MGP.
2. Determine your fluid & electrolyte needs. Crucial at any point during the season (hot or cold temps) because hydration plays a huge factor in athletic performance. Being dehydrated hurts performance slowing you down and decreasing your ability to do work. It can negatively affect concentration, mood, reaction times, and leave you fatigued.
Up to 60% of a person's body weight is made of water with 90% being located in blood (plasma). During the summer months, when temps crest above 90F, staying hydrated becomes even more important because loss of fluid from blood plasma strains the cardiovascular system making it harder for your body to pump blood and nutrients to working muscles and your brain.
Hydrate before your outdoor exercise session. Starting 4 hours before your workout, begin hydrating. Remember: Hydration needs are specific to an individual's body weight.
Recovery: Measure your post-run fluid needs. One of the easiest ways to determine how much fluid you need after a workout is to weigh yourself before and after a run. The difference in pre and post run weights is what you need to replace.
Rule of Thumb: For every 1 pound lost, drink 24 oz of fluids. And even if you are not a heavy salt sweater, make sure your recovery drink has sodium- it's the major electrolyte lost in sweat.
3. Prevent Heat Exhaustion. According to the Korey Stinger Institute, "Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related condition observed in athletes to recreational hikers."
It is the inability to continue exercise in the heat due to:
PREVENT HEAT EXHAUSTION
As a Sports Dietitian, I get a lot of questions about what to eat. Some of the most common include:
Through this blog, I'll explore the age old question of what you should eat (*Hint* Food!) and a variety of other health, wellness, and fitness related topics. You'll learn a lot about nutrition and hopefully understand why Nutrition Matters!
Kristin Kabay, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Find your why and you'll find your how.
Kristin is a runner, sports dietitian, and foodie. She's also been plant based for 25 years!