Archive for October, 2013


Nutrition for the Flu and Cold Season

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The flu season is here. Stay healthy with good nutrition; it’s important to keep your immune system healthy and ready to protect you against germs and viruses. There are specific guidelines for your nutritional regimen that will help boost your immune system.
 
• Protein. A variety of studies have demonstrated that a diet that doesn’t include high-quality protein can result in depletion of immune cells and hinder the ability of the body to make antibodies. High-quality protein sources include seafood, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds.
 
• Vitamin A. Vitamin A supports antibody function and fights infection by promoting healthy skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system. In fact, recent research found a strong connection between vitamin A deficiency and upper respiratory infections. Great sources of Vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, and eggs.
 
• Vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies and boosts the immune system. A powerful antioxidant, it is vital for recovery from infection. Give your system a boost of C with citrus fruits, red bell pepper, strawberries, and tomato juice.
 
• Vitamin E. Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, neutralizes free radicals and may improve immune function. Include vitamin E in your diet with fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils such as sunflower or safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, or spinach.
 
• Zinc. While zinc has received a lot of attention for it’s ability to support immune function, recent studies have shown that too much can actually have a negative effect! Food, with it’s balanced makeup of different nutrients is an excellent source. Zinc is found in Swiss chard, collard greens, and both summer squash and winter squash.
 
• Glutathione. Glutathione has been called the ‘mother of all antioxidants,’ and the ‘body’s most important antioxidant.’ It is a molecule that is found in every cell. Researchers believe it not only an antioxidant, an immune system booster, and a detox agent, it can help your body repair damage from pollution, infection, drugs, poor diet, aging, and more! The good thing is, your body makes it. You can support glutatihone with garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and green tea.
 
Exercise also helps the immune system fight off simple bacterial and viral infections, and don’t forget to drink water! It helps move white blood cells and other immune system cells through body while removing toxins from the blood. Finally, get enough sleep, Sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function, making you more vulnerable to germs and viruses, and harder for you to recover!
 
Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise and get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong! It’s your body’s built-in protector!
 
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Diet and Depression

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Depression affects more than 21 million Americans each year. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States for individuals between the ages 15 and 44. Sudden changes, stress, illness or any of various life events can spur depressions. The good news is that studies show that a healthy diet may significantly reduce the risk of severe depression.
 
Research at the University of Eastern Finland included over 2,000 middle-aged or older men who were tracked for an average of 13 years. They found that those following a healthy diet have a much lower risk for depression. In Spain, scientists from the Universities of Las Palmas and Navarra studied a group of 10,094 individuals over four years, and found that those who followed a classic Mediterranean diet were 30 per cent less likely to develop depression. Researchers from University College, London who studied 3,486 civil servants over five years had the same results. It is thought that while different aspects of the diet may have specific benefits, it is the combined effect of a well-rounded healthy diet that has a biggest impact on mood.
 
In addition to the benefits of a healthy diet, a study by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute that included 265,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71 found that those who consumed over four cans or cups of soda per day were 30 per cent more likely to develop depression, in comparison with those who didn’t drink soda!
 
The Mediterranean diet in the Spanish and British studies consists of legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals, veggies and fish. It is lower in meat; alcohol and dairy consumption is moderate. It uses olive oil rather than butter, which many believe is an important a factor in the reduced risk.
 
It’s important to note that the Finnish study did not use the Mediterranean diet, but found that a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese was also associated with a significantly lower risk for depressive symptoms.
 
You have a cornucopia of options when designing your nutrition regimen, so make it one that you will enjoy! Whichever dietary model you choose to follow, be sure to include plenty of antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals! Keep in mind, junk food, sugar and processed meats may actually increase depressive symptoms!
 
Protect yourself with a trip to your local produce market… you really will be happier!
 
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A Workout a Day …

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We’re all aware of health benefits derived from physical activity. Now, a new study indicates that exercise is as good or better than drugs for some common cardiovascular ailments!
 
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine evaluated 57 randomized studies that involved more than 14,000 patients who had experienced heart attacks or strokes. The purpose of the research was to judge the effect on mortality of exercise and drugs for four common causes of death: prevention of secondary coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, prevention of heart failure, and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. The studies used drugs that are commonly prescribe in specific areas: statins for the prevention of heart disease, blood thinners for stroke victims, diuretics for heart failure, and oral anti-diabetic for pre-diabetes.
 
The results were interesting: no difference was found between patients who took prescribed drugs or those who followed a physical fitness regimen in the mortality rate for secondary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, while exercise programs were actually more effective than medication in stroke prevention! Only in the treatment of heart failure were drugs — antidiuretics — found to be more effective than a physical fitness program.
 
This is great news, but it has a dark side. A new survey from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that included more than 450,000 randomly selected adults ages 18 and older, found that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. It is recommended that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity and muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week. They stated that physical inactivity leads to more than 5 million deaths worldwide each year! It’s a depressing statistic, but it does demonstrate that improving our health is in our hands.
 
One hundred-fifty minutes of exercise a week may sound like too much at first, but remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. It’s best to exercise each day, if your workouts are of moderate-intensity, you can even break them up into three 10-minute walks five days a week!
 
Get on the healthy side of these statistics, get up and move — the health benefits are worth it.
 
Patients with existing health conditions should talk to their doctor before stopping medication or engaging in exercise programs.
 
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Eight Cold Weather Superfoods

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Many of us mark the cooler season with a couple extra pounds around our waists, or a case of the sniffles and a sad goodbye to all the fresh local produce we’ve enjoyed all summer long. The bounty of late fall and winter harvests offers delicious, satisfying superfoods that are just right for cooler weather and offer a cornucopia of tasty delights!
 
• Michigan apples and fresh, sweet natural cider are at your local produce market now! The apple’s amazing array of benefits includes protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and asthma! Apples are harvested from August through November.
 
Brussel sprouts are finally gaining popularity. They have great cholesterol-lowering properties, aid in the prevention of cancer, and have been found to actually improve DNA stability! New research on the the anti-inflammatory nature of many nutrients found in Brussels sprouts and their role the prevention of inflammation-related conditions is currently underway. Keep tuned for any new information about Brussel sprouts and Crohn’s disease, IBD, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. They’re delicious roasted! They’re harvested from September to March.
 
Cauliflower is rich in the B vitamins 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 9. Its high vitamin K content helps reduce inflammation and it offers omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that are also found in salmon and flax seeds, with extremely low caloric overhead! Cauliflower also helps keep your blood flowing to essential organs! It’s harvested from September to June.
 
Parsnips contain dietary fiber, folate, potassium, manganese and vitamins C, E and K. Tender and sweet, parsnips are great roasted or added to soups and stews. Parsnips are harvested from October to April.
 
Pears are a very good source of fiber and a good source of vitamin B2, C, E, copper, and potassium. They also contain a significant amount of pectin, which is a water soluble fiber. In fact, they’re higher in pectin than apples, which aids their ability to lower cholesterol levels and in tone the intestines. Often recommended as a safe fruit to introduce to infants, they’re less likely to produce an negative response than other fruits.
Pears are harvested from August to February.
 
• All varieties of winter squash are excellent, nutrient-rich additions to you cold weather diet. They’re good to excellent sources of beta-carotene, potassium, fiber, vitamin C and several B vitamins. Known to protect against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts, they may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema. Eat roasted with a touch of cinnamon and ginger. Squash is harvested from October to February.
 
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, which helps maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. Rich in vitamins C and E and a great source of beta-carotene, they’re also considered a superior source of fiber, which will help you feel satisfied longer. They’re delicious and simple to prepare, just roast whole with skins on! They’re harvested from September to December.
 
You can maintain good eating habits economically throughout the year by paying attention to seasonal favorites. Our needs and appetites change throughout the yearly cycle. As winter approaches, our bodies use more energy to keep warm, but our basic requirements are the same. Skip the starchy, empty fillers.
 
Make healthy choices, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be able to skip that winter weight gain!
 
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Autumn Bounty: Pumpkins

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Pumpkins are a a symbol of fall, starting in October through Thanksgiving. Their bright orange coloring livens up the browning autumn ; they sit on porches during the end of October and go into pies and breads throughout the winter months. Their orange color also denotes that they are an excellent source the antioxidant beta-carotene, which offers protection against certain cancers and beta-cryptoxanthin, which may decrease the risk of lung cancer in smokers. It’s also a good source of B-complex vitamins — folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin and pantothenic acid — and a rich source of the minerals copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
 
That’s just the beginning of the great health benefits reaped from including pumpkin in your diet!
 
Weight Loss Support. Pumpkin contains three grams of fiber in a one-cup serving with the low overhead of 49 calories, keeping you fuller longer while keeping caloric intake down. A fiber-rich diet helps you eat less, and lose weight.
 
Aid Vision. That same one-cup serving of pumpkin contains 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light. Extra protection for eyesight comes from the carotenoids in pumpkins, which are converted into a form of vitamin A.
 
Energy Booster. Pumpkins is higher in potassium than bananas! Potassium takes on an important role in nerve signal transmission and muscle contraction, both of which are required for physical activity. Both a mineral and electrolyte, potassium promotes healthy body growth while supporting normal heart, digestive and muscular system function.
 
Healthy Immune System. Pumpkins are a solid source of vitamin C. The beta-carotene that your body converts into vitamin A also helps create white blood cells to fight infection. Studies have suggested that vitamin A may even enhance your body’s response to the flu vaccine.
 
Don’t throw out the seeds! They come with great bonuses of their own. They are high in calories, about 559 in 4/10ths of a cup, but they pack a lot of goodness in those calories.
 
• Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and contribut to prostate health for men.
 
• Pumpkin seeds will lift your spirits! The seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is important in production of serotonin. They’ll boost you mood, can fight depression and even help you sleep!
 
• Pumpkin seeds are a the simple way to consume more magnesium. Researchers in France found that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels, and most men can use more! Average daily consumption by men of magnesium is 353 mg daily — 420 mg is the minimum recommended by the USDA.
 
• Pumpkin seeds are a high in zinc, making them great for your skin. Zinc protects your cell membranes, helps maintain collagen, and promotes skin renewal. Zinc is also important in the prevention of osteoporosis.
 
Finally, the latest and greatest pumpkin news may be that the alpha-carotene in pumpkin along with other nutrients actually slows the signs of aging and has been shown to protect against various cancers and cataracts!
 
Pumpkins … a lot more than decoration!
 
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