Is Your Waist Circumference Sabotaging Your Immune System?

This week I’m talking about something called Central Adiposity, or the more fancy term being “Belly Fat”.

Why is this important?  

Well, just like high blood pressure, obesity has an inflammatory component which means it can interfere with the immune response and vice versa.

In a review published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2012), researchers stated:

Obesity, like other states of malnutrition, is known to impair the immune function, altering leukocyte counts as well as cell-mediated immune responses. In addition, evidence has arisen that an altered immune function contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. 

When we’re carrying extra weight, especially around the middle, it shifts our biology out of balance because fat cells release pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines.

In other words, fat cells are a living breathing thing. They’re not stagnant that just sit there and do nothing!

They’re actually endocrine cells because of their ability to secrete hormones and influence cells in other parts of the body, that in many cases, can lead to further weight gain.

Sorry, not exactly the rosiest of scenarios but it’s important that I tell it as it is!

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The Chillaxing Smoothie

I’m calling this the “chillaxing smoothie” because it’s filled with relaxing and health enhancing minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and gut-friendly fibre.

Perfect for a tired and weary … and somewhat frazzled shift worker ⏰ 😴!

Bananas 🍌, celery and beetroot all contain potassium – a mineral which helps to lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease by maintaining fluid balance by way of enhancing urinary excretion of sodium.

We want to avoid too much sodium (found hidden in the majority of processed foods), as it draws water into the bloodstream, raising blood volume and thereby blood pressure.

Whole, real foods really are our medicine!

1/4 – 1/2 beetroot
1 x banana
1 x celery stick
250ml of milk of choice
3 x spoons yoghurt

Enjoy!

Audra x

Reducing High Blood Pressure to Support the Immune System.

Last week I chatted briefly about a condition called metabolic syndrome (MetS), and how it’s inflammatory effects can alter the normal functioning of lymphatic tissues involved in the immune response.

Now there are 5 risk factors that fall under the banner of metabolic syndrome, but in today’s post, I’m going to concentrate on High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension.

First and foremost, something to keep in mind is that high blood pressure is an inflammatory disease that impairs immune function.  That being said, a compromised immune system also leads to inflammation, so it works both ways.

When the immune response becomes dysregulated, it causes the sympathetic nervous system (a fancy way to describe our ‘fight or flight’ stress response), to go into overdrive. This raises our heart rate and blood pressure (which is fine in the short term), but over the long-term, can lead to oxidative damage causing arterial stiffening and hardening of the arteries.

Picture a rusty pipe and this is pretty much what oxidative damage does to our inner piping, so definitely something we want to avoid!

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Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Immunity

Something which is not often spoken about when it comes to immune function, is how our body composition can play a role in its ability to function at its optimum.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as a cluster of conditions comprising of:

– excess abdominal weight
– high blood pressure
– elevated blood glucose levels
– high levels of triglycerides, and
– low levels of high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol 

A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (MetS) if they have at least three of these five conditions.

Sadly this is becoming more and more prevalent both here in Australia, and overseas – also raising the risks of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Quite simply, metabolic syndrome has become a global epidemic (Saklayen 2018) – be it a very silent one.

What’s important to understand is that metabolic syndrome (MetS) negatively affects immune function, and does so by altering normal functioning of lymphatic tissues due to high levels of inflammation.

These lymphatic tissues include white blood cells (leukocytes), bone marrow, the thymus gland, spleen and lymph nodes.

So stay tuned, as over the next few weeks I’m going to share some tips and tricks on how to address all 5 of these MetS risk factors, because many people who work outside normal working hours … AKA shift workers ⏰, often present with at least 3-4 of them.

Audra x

Needing Help With Sugar Cravings?

The other day it was raining ☔️ here in my hometown of Brisbane, so I thought what better way than to experiment in the kitchen!

Now given the majority of shift workers experience “hangry” moments thanks to blood sugar dysregulation as a result of sleep disruption, I wanted to come up with a recipe that would help to keep sugar cravings at bay.

Meet Mr Macadamia Nut Hummus– the perfect sugar craving antidote whether you’re on an early shift, late shift, night shift or heaven forbid a “normal” shift – lol

Macadamia nuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fats to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and are a great source of magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, vitamins B1, B3 & E, phosphorus and zinc.

Chickpeas are packed with gut-friendly fibre which help to stabilise blood sugar levels (and fend off those “hangry” cravings), as well as making them great for insulin-resistant individuals or diabetics. Health conditions which are becoming increasingly common in those who work 24/7.

In addition, chickpeas are a great source of protein and contain minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.

What’s in it?

  • 2/3 cup roasted macadamias
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Handful of parsley

How to make it?

Throw everything into a food processor for 10-15 seconds (I like a chunky consistency), or longer until smooth.

Store in a container to bring into work to have with crackers or veggie sticks and share with workmates (maybe?!) It’s also delicious as a base on sourdough toast topped with eggs, mushrooms and/or roasted tomatoes!

Enjoy,

Audra x