Are We Over-Complicating Our Health?

If there’s one thing that’s really hit home over the last 12-months it’s this.

Taken from an excerpt from the book ’Blue Zones – 9 Lessons for Living Longer, From The People Who Have Lived The Longest’ by Dan Buettner.

Without a shadow of a doubt, our lifestyles are the chief determinant in how long we live.

The daily, weekly, monthly and yearly accumulation of behaviours including what we eat, watch, read, whom we hang out with all the way to how much we move … all play an instrumental role in how healthy we are right now.

These things are pretty much common sense – yet astonishingly, have been completely missing from all public health care policies worldwide at a time when its been needed the most.

But let’s face it. There have been a truckload of inconsistencies over the last 11-months.

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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