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Support your immune system in 5 simple ways

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Support Your Immune System in 5 Simple Ways

(Family Features) Catching a cold or getting the flu can happen any time of year, but the height of cold and flu season requires extra precaution. Flu activity often increases in the fall and peaks between December and January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Staying completely healthy throughout cold and flu season can’t be guaranteed, but, along with following guidance from your health care provider, dietary and lifestyle changes can help optimize your immune system and well-being.

Eat Healthfully
Eating a healthy diet is essential for optimizing your immune system. Many experts recommend consuming whole foods and plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes as well as whole grains. These foods contain beneficial plant compounds linked to health benefits in humans. Consider one prime example, fresh grapes, and how they may support immune health.

  • At the most basic level, healthy cells are the foundation of good health. Natural grape compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols, help protect the health and function of the body’s cells.
  • Studies suggest some grape compounds – resveratrol and certain flavonoids – may positively influence immune function.
  • Additional studies show adding heart-healthy grapes to your daily diet can help support brain, colon and skin health. Maintaining healthy bodily systems is essential to defending against illnesses.
  • Grapes are a good source of vitamin K, which may help support lung health.

An easy way to incorporate healthy foods into your diet is with simple recipes like this Immune-Boosting Green Grape Smoothie that contains additional nutritious ingredients that support immune health like spinach, walnuts and Greek yogurt.

Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is important for staying hydrated, which helps your immune system by keeping the body’s defenses functioning properly. In addition to water, you can increase hydration by eating foods with high water content like Grapes from California, which contain about 82% water.

Exercise Regularly
Getting your blood pumping with a little exercise can help improve immune response and reduce inflammation, according to a scientific review from the “Journal of Sport and Health Science.” Look toward aerobic activities like moderate-intensity walking, jogging and biking to increase the heart rate and encourage circulation of immune cells.

Practice Good Hygiene
You can protect yourself and others at the same time by taking preventive measures, like practicing good hygiene, to avoid spreading germs. At the most basic level, limit contact with others who are sick, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and wash your hands using soap and water.

Manage Stress
Stress can have a negative impact on many aspects of your health and wellness, including limiting your body’s ability to fight off infection. You can lower stress by practicing deep breathing or meditation and developing good habits like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. For late night snacking urges, choose foods such as grapes that are a natural source of melatonin, a compound which helps regulate sleep cycles. Talking with someone you trust, whether it’s a friend, family member or mental health professional, can help relieve stress as well.

Find more immunity-boosting recipes by visiting GrapesFromCalifornia.com.

Immune-Boosting Green Grape Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

  • 1          cup green Grapes from California, chilled
  • 2 1/2    ounces baby spinach
  • 1/3       cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4       cup fresh orange juice
  • 1          cube (1/2 inch) peeled fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons prepared minced ginger
  • 1          tablespoon walnut pieces
  1. In blender, blend grapes, spinach, yogurt, orange juice, ginger and walnuts until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.

Nutritional information per serving: 280 calories; 12 g protein; 46 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat (23% calories from fat); 1.5 g saturated fat (5% calories from saturated fat); 10 mg cholesterol; 110 mg sodium; 4 g fiber.
SOURCE:
California Table Grape Commission

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HEALTHY LIVING

Staying safe during summer vacations: 5 tips for traveling with health conditions

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(Family Features) From staycations and road trips to Caribbean getaways and coastal cruises, summertime offers the chance to escape and unwind with a much needed (and deserved) vacation. However, for people living with health conditions like heart disease or stroke, leaving home can pose special challenges.

As travel season takes shape, the experts at the American Heart Association – celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all – recommends a few important tips to ease on-the-go woes.

“As we look forward to summer, many people will be traveling to spend treasured time with family and friends, or maybe just to enjoy some relaxation on the beach,” said Gladys Velarde, M.D., FAHA, professor of medicine and national volunteer with the American Heart Association. “It’s not always that simple for people who have chronic health conditions that require multiple medications or special medical equipment. There are also considerations for how to maintain your health and not put yourself at increased risk.”

Velarde said that doesn’t mean travel is off limits if you have a chronic health condition. A little planning and preparation can reduce stress and prepare you for your next big adventure.

Check In with Your Health Care Provider
Speak with your primary care physician or specialist about your travel plans and any special considerations related to your health. He or she can offer guidance on any restrictions or precautions you should keep in mind. Carry a list of all medications, including dosages and pharmacy information. Also consider carrying a copy of key medical records and a list of phone numbers, including your doctors and emergency contacts.

Manage Your Medications
Ensure medications are clearly labeled and that you’ve packed enough to last the entire trip. If you’re traveling across time zones, enlist your health care provider to help adjust medication schedules. Some medications require refrigeration; research how to pack them appropriately for airport security and make sure you’ll have a refrigerator in your lodging.

Plan for Transportation
Whether you’re traveling by plane, bus, train, cruise ship or other means, it’s paramount to plan ahead for special medical equipment. For example, if you use a wheelchair, walker or other assistance for getting around, you may need to check in with the travel company to find out how to properly transport your devices.

Master the Airport
During this especially busy travel season, planning ahead can make the airport experience easier. If you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, you may need to go through a special security screening. Walking through a crowded terminal can take its toll, so consider requesting a wheelchair or courtesy cart to get to your gate when booking your ticket.

Long flights may increase your risk for blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Consider wearing compression socks and walk around the cabin while it’s safe and allowed to help improve your circulation.

Know the Signs
While it’s always important to know the signs of heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest, it’s particularly critical while away from home. If you or someone you’re with experience symptoms, call 911. Many airports even offer kiosks where you can learn Hands-Only CPR while waiting for your flight.

“Every individual’s condition is unique, and you’ll want to tailor your travel plans to your specific needs,” Velarde said. “By taking a little time now to plan and prepare, your vacation can be just what the doctor ordered to help you unwind and recharge.”

Learn more about healthy traveling at Heart.org.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Treatment options to help overcome knee pain for sports enthusiasts

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(Family Features) Millions of people experience chronic pain, with knee pain among the most common. Athletes and active adults know the impact activities like running and skiing can have on their knees, but when chronic knee pain makes it difficult to do those activities, or even day-to-day tasks like walking up the stairs, people may often face challenges.

According to the journal “Cartilage,” unlike other tissues, cartilage does not repair itself and, without proper treatment, can worsen over time and become more difficult to treat. However, options like FDA-approved knee cartilage repair surgery MACI (autologous cultured chondrocytes on porcine collagen membrane) uses a patient’s cells to help repair cartilage defects and may help alleviate knee pain.

“Sports-related pain should be evaluated quickly, especially when it’s difficult to put weight on the knee, swelling occurs or there is restricted range of motion,” said Dr. Alexander Meininger, orthopedic surgeon and MACI consultant.

Justin Keys, a former patient of Meininger and outdoor enthusiast, knows that the long-term outcomes of knee cartilage surgery can be worth the short-term sacrifices. After several injuries, including an ACL injury, Keys struggled with most activities except walking on flat, paved surfaces. After consulting with Meininger, Keys chose knee cartilage repair to help get back to his active lifestyle.

Keys considered whether to manage the injury as-is or choose MACI and undergo rehabilitation to potentially get back to his favorite activities in the future. He knew he could no longer use short-term relief methods and had to address his pain with a treatment to help provide lasting relief.

For athletes like Keys who want to fix knee pain, it’s important to consider these steps:

Discuss Options with Your Doctor
Patients should talk to their doctors and undergo an MRI to help assess the internal structures of the knee.Meininger recommends patients and their doctors discuss options forlong-term knee restoration health, preserving function for future decades and recognizing the short-term sacrifice.

Set Yourself Up for Success
Experts like Meininger suggest patients take steps ahead of surgery to help their recovery.

“The important thing is to be as fit as possible and use the preseason months to undergo surgery and rehab,” Meininger said.

Patients can take steps to prep their home for recovery, which may include:

  • Bringing necessities down from hard-to-reach shelves
  • Moving furniture to ensure clear pathways
  • Installing shower safety handles to minimize potential falls

The Road to Rehab and Recovery
Rehabilitation takes time and everyone’s experience is unique. It can be as much of a mental challenge as it is physical. Committing to a physical therapy regime, staying hydrated and eating well are important aspects to support recovery. Patients should talk to their doctors with questions and before starting any exercises.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Do not use if you are allergic to antibiotics such as gentamicin or materials from cow or pig; have severe osteoarthritis of the knee, other severe inflammatory conditions, infections or inflammation in the bone joint and other surrounding tissue or blood clotting conditions; had knee surgery in the past 6 months, not including surgery for obtaining a cartilage biopsy or a surgical procedure to prepare your knee for a MACI implant; or cannot follow a rehabilitation program post-surgery.

MACI is used for the repair of symptomatic cartilage damage of the adult knee. Conditions that existed before your surgery, including meniscus tears, joint or ligament instability or alignment problems should be evaluated and treated before or at the same time as the MACI implant. MACI is not recommended if you are pregnant. MACI has not been studied in patients younger than 18 or over 55 years of age. Common side effects include joint pain, tendonitis, back pain, joint swelling and joint effusion. More serious side effects include joint pain, cartilage or meniscus injury, treatment failure and osteoarthritis. See Full Prescribing Information for more information.

Find more information by visiting MACI.com.

*Testimonials by MACI patient and paid Vericel consultant

Photo courtesy of Justin Keys (man on bike)

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (knee brace)


SOURCE:
MACI

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HEALTHY LIVING

Fueling those summer adventures

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(Family Features) Summer is the time to get outside and remember the importance of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed as a family. Encouraging children at an early age to participate in outdoor exploration can help foster lifelong skills.

For example, research published in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health” found associations between nature exposure and improved cognitive function, brain activity, blood pressure, mental health, physical activity and sleep. What’s more, kids who play and take part in outdoor adventures learn skills like problem solving, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians.

However, for many families with little ones, this summer might be their first foray into activities like exploring playgrounds or enjoying backyard campouts.

Opportunities to be more active outdoors bring obvious benefits. With that in mind, it’s important that families embark on these activities with the proper fuel.

All the energy kids burn playing outdoors and taking on new adventures can work up an appetite, making it an opportune time to introduce new foods. It might even be a little one’s first time trying seasonal fruits and veggies that can help nourish family playtime.

“A healthy curiosity and freedom to explore are essential ingredients for successful adventures, but fueling all of that fun is equally important,” said Sarah Smith-Simpson, PhD, principal food scientist at Gerber. “Kids need well-balanced nutrition from a variety of sources to fuel their summertime play.”

Ensure your family is ready to make memories and enjoy the exciting adventures ahead with these tips from Smith-Simpson:

Get Colorful with Fruits and Veggies
Serving a rainbow of colors with an assortment of fruits and veggies means nutrient-rich snacks that are equal parts flavorful and fun. One of the best parts about fruits is they’re easily transportable to bring along for warm days exploring a nearby park. They’re perfect for a quick snack on the go – just cut them according to your child’s age and developmental stage to avoid hazards like choking then pack them in a small cooler to keep from spoiling. For preschool-age children, a variety of fresh produce can help them practice color recognition while enjoying favorite flavors. Stocking your refrigerator and pantry with apples, oranges, bananas, green and purple grapes, blueberries, blackberries and more allows children to explore a world of nutrition with bright colors that catch their attention.

Pack Plenty and a Variety of Snacks
It’s the time of year when infants and young children need extra fuel for playtime, making it important for parents to offer a variety of nutritious foods and flavors. A key part of inspiring exploration in young children begins with nutrient-rich snacks that help fuel their adventures. Introducing diverse foods can help expand palates and provides a wide range of nutrients to support the entire family.

When introducing foods into a child’s diet, consistency is key. Experts say babies may need to try a new food up to 10 times before they like it. With a variety of Clean Label Project-certified snacks, Gerber offers solutions you can incorporate into little ones’ diets and bring along for family fun. Some snacks to consider for ages 12 months and over are toddler pouches in Apple Mango Strawberry and Banana Blueberry. For babies in the crawling stage, consider Lil’ Crunchies Mild Cheddar snacks.

Hydrate on the Go
Avoid dehydration by ensuring you’re bringing enough water for the entire family on all your summertime trips, whether they’re around the block or across the country. Use refillable bottles for mom and dad, and for little ones, be sure to pack non-spill sippy cups for toddlers that help avoid messes. Fill a larger container with clean water from home you can use to refill everyone’s cups, bottles and canteens to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Find more family-friendly resources, including recipe ideas, meal planning tips and guidance on age-appropriate food introductions, at gerber.com/parenttalk.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
Gerber

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