Child vs Adult Immune System!

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Immunity and Survival

Humans are social creatures, often eating for pleasure in group settings. While humans may love and appreciate the process and the feelings associated with eating food, there is little thought about the immune and survival advantages provided by the macro- and micronutrients inherent to food. Children are no strangers to eating for pleasure; sweetness dominates the taste preferences of most. It is paramount to understand the baseline biological processes that promote immune health in children versus adults. How do modern food preferences affect a child’s immune biology?

A child’s basic immunology is imperfect up until approximately the age of five years. Until this point, a child’s immune system has not been adequately trained to respond adaptively via antibodies to invading novel pathogens, leaving them at risk for overwhelming infectious disease. History has shown this truth with excessive death rates in the very young and the very old before the advent of vaccinations and sanitation. However, despite this, the best childhood health outcomes are predicated on providing the immune system with the prerequisite nutrients for optimal function, including breastmilk and diverse, whole food-based nourishment.

The Developing Immune System: Tolerance is Key

From the very beginning of life, a child must learn to tolerate the outside environment through specific immune events where antigen presenting cells differentiate between harmless and harmful particles that enter the body: for example, a peanut protein versus a dust mite protein or a pneumococcal bacterium. In the first two years of life, the immune system is repetitively bombarded with foreign protein antigens until it has seen and responded to all in either a pathogenic or tolerant form, a process called immune priming to tolerance. This is the primary result of the evolutionarily beneficial childhood proclivity toward placing all objects in the mouth after six months of age. The primary food nutrient drivers of tolerance are vitamins A and D, zinc, and fiber.

Child vs. Adult Immune System

In comparison, the average, properly trained adult immune system has fully developed tolerance, rendering it prepared to defend against pathogens at all times until advancing age reduces function of T helper cells and antigen presenting cells.

Children develop fully functional innate immune pathogen sensing and killing systems in place by two years of age. The innate immune system is a sensing system that recognizes patterns of protein fragments that appear dangerous and rapidly mounts a local and deadly response. The innate system deploys pattern recognition receptors all over the child’s body to recognize the abnormal pattern of a pathogen and locally kill it with inflammasomes, neutrophil extracellular traps, macrophages, and more. These dead pathogens are then presented to the adaptive immune system via antigen presenting cells like dendritic cells, Kupffer cells, glial cells, and others. This process uses T cells and B cells to ultimately develop long lasting antibodies and memory to this pathogen, making future encounters less problematic.

The process of innate pathogen killing is much more profound in a child versus an adult, as children have naïve adaptive immunobiology before initial exposure to a pathogen. Consuming the precursor macro- and micronutrients for effective innate immune activity is critical for a child’s health. Once a pathogen has been seen and thwarted, the child’s future pathogen-specific immune response mirrors that of the adult through memory B and T cell activity.

Immunological Fade

Pathogen memory is the key attribute of adaptive immunity that prevents succumbing to a pathogen. The systems that protect a child and young adult begin to fade in late adulthood. This immunological fade can occur in the younger cohort for many of the same reasons as the elderly other than cellular senility based purely on age:

  • Macronutrient excesses drive inflammatory-based immune dysfunction; insulin resistance with excess pro-inflammatory free fatty acids and glucose/fructose concentration gradients driving innate immune and T helper cell dysfunction over time.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies slow protein production, immune cell function, and cell signaling pathways critical to immune regulation; vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper play the greatest roles.
  • Excessive chemical exposures slow cellular protein production, function, and cell signaling pathways critical to immune regulation.
  • Sedentary behaviors drive immune dysregulation at many levels primarily via insulin resistance and metabolic derangements.
  • Dietary and pharmacologically induced intestinal and pulmonary microbiome damage tilt toward an inflammatory phenotype, further reducing immune function.

A modern diet, which includes a large number of processed foods, is a major problem for immune health in both adults and children. Insulin resistance is a primary driver of hyperglycemia, glycation reactions, and hyperlipidemia, and it is mediated by the chronic and excessive consumption of free fatty acids primarily coupled to a sugar gradient of glucose and/or fructose. A classic example would be a fast-food meal: a cheeseburger, French fries, and a 16-ounce soda. The most important variables appear to be frequency and volume of fatty acids and sugars consumed, as chronic consumption may lead to the development of a positive calorie flux.

Over many years, diet-induced chronic metabolic changes usher in a period of immune dysregulation, notably decreasing effective pathogen killing and increasing metabolic disease risk. Inflammation actually reinforces the dietary induced insulin resistance metabolic derangement pathway to repeat itself in a continuous cycle.

The counterweight diet to the highly processed modern diet is the healthy Mediterranean diet which is loaded with whole, minimally processed, natural foods that have little ability to cause insulin resistance and metabolic immune derangements.

Micronutrient insufficiencies occur commonly in modern children and adults. As micronutrients are the cofactors for most cellular enzymatic reactions in the body, the consequences of insufficiency are slowed protein production, deranged immune cell function, and disrupted immune cell signaling pathways critical to immune regulation among others. Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper play the greatest roles. Each of these micronutrients is involved in different and also cooperative events in the immune system. There is a synergy available when micronutrients are consumed as whole foods where iron and vitamin A are found near each other in liver or vitamin E and selenium in nuts. It makes the most evolutionarily and mechanistic sense that humans were meant to maintain immune health via direct synergistic whole food intake.

The greatest difference between the adult and the child’s immune system is the time course by which the above lifestyle behaviors have inflamed and crippled the adult immune system. The ever-present reality that children are now more sedentary, consume more metabolically problematical foods, and are exposed to more chemicals has placed massive negative pressure on their immune health, like an aged adult.

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Chlorophyll Power!

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Chlorophyll is a naturally occurring pigment found in plants. In humans, it provides many health benefits including trapping potential carcinogens, enhancing detoxification pathways, and reducing oxidative stress.

Chlorophyll is a pigment found in plants that is responsible for their vibrant green colors. It is the most abundant plant chemical on earth and is required for plants to absorb sunlight via photosynthesis. Chlorophyll found in plants is fat-soluble, and absorption and bioavailability are low – around five percent.Processing or preparation methods that lead to loss of green color is likely a sign that natural chlorophyll has been degraded. Estimated daily intake of chlorophyll for individuals is approximately 26 to 86 mg, from sources including green leafy vegetables, green tea, and herbs.

The structure of chlorophyll is very similar to the structure of heme, an essential component of oxygen transport in the blood. However, chlorophyll’s porphyrin structure holds a central magnesium molecule instead of iron in heme. This structure is key to many of chlorophyll’s properties and its derivatives. Other metals such as cobalt, copper, and zinc can replace the central magnesium atom, resulting in various chlorophyll derivatives with unique properties. The water-soluble, synthetic form of chlorophyll, called chlorophyllin or sodium copper chlorophyll (SCC), is more stable and soluble with a copper molecule at the center which likely enhances the natural benefits of chlorophyll.

Mechanisms of Action

Chlorophyll has been used as a therapeutic agent from as early as the 1800s for body odors and wound healing. While chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are still utilized to control odors common to elderly individuals, they are also used for anti-cancer, detoxification, and antioxidant purposes.

Anti-cancer activity

Chlorophyllin is able to trap mutagens, compounds that can cause mutations in DNA, which limits their bioavailability and can help preserve DNA structure. Pre-clinical models demonstrate a 40 to 50 percent reduction in DNA damage with chlorophyllin treatment. However, it is unclear how the timing of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin consumption affects the ability to bind mutagens. Studies suggest that sources of chlorophyll must be co-consumed with the potential mutagen not taken before or after, to be effective. Variability in protocols, dose, and the type of mutagen likely contribute to the uncertainty. Chlorophyll also regulates signaling pathways relevant to cancer including downregulating β-catenin, TGF-β, and NF-κB; chlorophyll may also be able to reduce side effects associated with photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment.


Toxins that enter the body are metabolized and excreted through a three-step detoxification process. Toxins are activated (phase I), then conjugated to a compound that increases their water-solubility (phase II) which allows for their excretion (phase III). The steps of detoxification occur simultaneously, so it is important that each phase be in balance with the others to keep detoxification running efficiently to prevent the build-up of highly reactive toxins. Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin can reduce the upregulation of phase I enzymes that occur upon administration of a toxin while also upregulating expression of phase II enzymes. This helps balance activation and conjugation so that activated, reactive toxins do not build up. Chlorophyll has also been shown to promote the excretion of several toxins.

Metabolic health

In a pre-clinical model of obesity, treatment with chlorophyllin greatly improved many markers of metabolic health including hepatic steatosis, insulin resistance, weight gain, and dyslipidemia. Mechanistically, chlorophyllin was able to improve gut dysbiosis by increasing the abundance of beneficial Bacteroides while downregulating Firmicutes in the gut microbiome, along with suppressing both intestinal and systemic inflammation, leading to profound health benefits. Similarly, a chlorophyll-rich spinach extract improved inflammation and glucose tolerance in an obese animal model through modulation of the gut microbiota. The metabolic effects of chlorophyll may be related to its ability to act as a ligand for RXR (retinoid X receptor) which stimulates activity of PPARγ, a regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism.

Oxidative stress

Chlorophyll and derivatives can reduce oxidative stress and resulting damage as well as protect cells by limiting reactive oxygen species (ROS). The antioxidant effects help mitigate consequences of oxidative stress including lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation, and membrane and DNA damage. While chlorophyll and chlorophyllin can be considered biological antioxidants, they are less potent than other dietary antioxidants such as vitamin A and E metabolites. Chlorophyll also interacts with transcription factors involved in regulating oxidative stress and inflammation, including Nrf2 and NF-κB. The ability of chlorophyll to regulate and reduce oxidative stress is critical to many of its biological effects.

Dietary Intake

Dietary intake of chlorophyll varies based on an individual’s dietary consumption of green vegetables as well as a food’s chlorophyll content. Seaweed, matcha tea, and raw, green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are among the foods with the highest content of total chlorophyll. In addition to the benefits of chlorophyll, a diet that contains high amounts of green, leafy vegetables also positively affects health due to the presence of micronutrients and other phytonutrients commonly found in chlorophyll-containing foods. Consumption of green leafy vegetables has been associated with many health benefits including decreased weight gain and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Questions remain about the precise mechanisms of different chlorophyll derivatives and their biological effects. While chlorophyll is considered generally safe, it may be unsafe under certain conditions and can disrupt the metabolism of certain medications. Reports of detrimental effects from high dosages of chlorophyll derivatives include disruptions to homeostasis and the promotion of tumor progression. In order to maximize the health benefits of chlorophyll and avoid potential side effects, prioritize green leafy vegetables as part of a balanced diet.

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Most Common Ayurvedic Herbs!

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Ayurveda is considered one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Its aim is to preserve health and treat disease by promoting balance between humans and their environment using a range of healthy lifestyle practices. Andrographis, Ashwagandha, bacopa, Gotu kola, Holy Basil, shatavari, and turmeric are some of the most commonly used herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic Philosophy

Developed in India, Ayurveda is considered one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Its history goes back to at least 5,000 BC, and its modern-day relevance continues to be utilized worldwide. The literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is “science of life,” and Ayurveda’s aim is to preserve health and treat disease by promoting balance between humans and their environment using a range of healthy lifestyle practices. These practices include the consumption of minimally processed foods and medicinal herbs, alongside sophisticated exercise and detoxification protocols which are aimed at enhancing the body’s capacity to maintain balance amid a variety of stressors.

Fundamental to Ayurvedic practice is a philosophy which recognizes a mutual relationship between humans and nature. Ayurvedic texts have documented over 2,000 plant species, and the prominent use of medicinal and culinary herbs in Ayurveda draws upon India’s incredible biodiversity and an inherent acknowledgment of the energetic components that exist within both people and plants. Herbs are often used together in formulations to address an imbalance of one’s “Doshas” (Vata, Pitta and/or Kapha), which in the Ayurvedic concept of health and disease is necessary for a person to remain in a healthy and balanced state. Additionally, many different methods and forms of herbal preparations are used, and always in conjunction with specific dietary and lifestyle practices.


Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), also known Kalmegh or “King of Bitters” is widely cultivated in India and one of the most extensively mentioned herbs in Ayurvedic texts for its “blood purifying” activity. It is an official plant in the Indian Pharmacopoeia and a component of over 50 percent of herbal formulations mentioned in Ayurveda for the treatment of liver disorders. Andrographis leaves are often used for their bitter, hepatic, and antimicrobial effects which can benefit various types of infectious and inflammatory disorders, especially when associated with fever. The leaf juice or infusion is a household remedy for bowel complaints such as gas, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dyspepsia, dysentery, and during convalescence in both children and adults. Due to its cooling nature, it is preferably given with the addition of warming aromatic herbs, particularly during winter when addressing respiratory or digestive infections.


Sometimes referred to as “Indian Ginseng,” Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) holds a similarly prominent place in Ayurveda as do the Ginsengs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, increasing overall vitality and having rejuvenate effects upon the neuroendocrine system. The name “Ashwagandha” is a combination of the Sanskrit word “ashva,” meaning horse, and “gandha” meaning smell, due to the roots’ strong odor. It is also said that regular consumption of Ashwagandha gives one the strength and virility of a stallion. W. somnifera is included in a category of plants called “Rasayanas” which are commonly compared to the modern understanding of adaptogens. Rasayanas are used to promote health, longevity, and sexual potency by bolstering the body’s defenses against disease and improving its ability to adapt to stress.

Ashwagandha has a multitude of uses and is considered one of the best tonics and restoratives during convalescence and to treat states of deficiency characterized by exhaustion, weight loss, and poor immunity, particularly when aggravated by chronic stress. The powdered root is often used alone or in combination with other herbs, and mixed with milk, water, ghee, or honey. Given before bed it is considered a gentle sedative in chronic insomnia and an important reproductive, immune, and nervous system tonic. It’s regarded as a warming herb with grounding properties that promote mental and emotional well-being when used long-term particularly in those with a vata or kapha-type constitutions.


Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri; commonly called Brahmi) is a creeping marsh plant which grows throughout India and is considered one of the most important nervines used in Ayurveda and the “best rejuvenative for the mind and the heart, which should be kept in every home.”  A well-known modern nootropic, its safety and efficacy has been investigated in various neurological and psychiatric disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, ADHD, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Much current research with Bacopa describes it as a potent neuroprotective, cognitive, and memory enhancer.

A relaxing nervine tonic, Bacopa is often combined with Ashwagandha to aid recovery from stress and exhaustion while calming the heart and relaxing tense musculature. Being energetically cooling, it is thought to help normalize all three Doshic constitutions, but it is also particularly ideal for balancing pitta types. Bacopa leaves and stalks can be prepared in a multitude of ways and administered both topically and internally, but Bacopa is considered most beneficial when macerated or eaten fresh. Consuming a cup of fresh Brahmi tea with honey is considered a helpful aid to enhance yoga or meditation practice.

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) shares some significant similarities with Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) related to its appearance, qualities, and medicinal effects. It is another creeping plant that thrives in marshy habitats, and though both herbs are considered to be brain tonics, Gotu kola is thought to be a milder nervine possessing greater wound healing, connective tissue building, and cleansing diuretic effects. According to one ancient text, taking Gotu kola for one week “improves memory, intellect and imparts a celestial glow to the complexion.” According to the energetic principles of Ayurveda, Gotu Kola is bitter, cooling, and sweet and balancing for all three Doshic constitutions.

As another Rasayana, in Ayurveda Gotu Kola is used to slow brain aging, regenerate neural tissues, and to provide adaptogenic, immunomodulatory, and memory-enhancing effects. While strengthening the adrenals it is also considered a powerful blood-purifier which helps fortify the immune system through cleansing and nourishment. It also has specific use for healing chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, varicose veins, as well as inflammation of the genitourinary tract.

Holy Basil

Commonly known as Tulsi, Holy Basil (Occium sanctum) is an aromatic shrub thought to have originated in India and one of the country’s most sacred plants. Within Ayurveda, it is known as “The Incomparable One” and “The Queen of Herbs” and is revered as an “elixir of life” for both its medicinal and spiritual properties. A Holy Basil plant is kept in many households for its purifying influence on the environment and is thought to simultaneously strengthen one’s compassion, stamina, and immunity.

Holy Basil has a unique combination of pharmacological actions that promote well-being and resilience. Thus, it also fits well with the modern definition of plant adaptogens, helping the body and mind cope with a wide range of chemical, physical, and emotional stressors and restoring physiological and psychological health. Daily consumption in Ayurveda is said to prevent disease, promote general health, and assist in dealing with the stresses of daily life. It is also credited with fostering beauty, intelligence, longevity, and a calm emotional disposition. The aerial parts have a warming, pungent quality which allow it to penetrate deeply into body tissues, also giving it major use as a diaphoretic in colds, influenza, and respiratory concerns.


Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a tall climbing plant found throughout India that is used extensively in Ayurveda as a rejuvenating female tonic. Though it will benefit both sexes, the root is most often given to nourish and cleanse the blood and the female reproductive organs across various life stages from menstruation to menopause. It has particular benefit in those who have had hysterectomies or who are trying to conceive as it is thought to nourish the ovaries, increase fertility, and aid in the production of female sex hormones. It is often recommended in cases of threatened miscarriage, as a galactagogue, and as an aphrodisiac having an ability to deepen one’s devotion.

Shatavari is another Rasayana in Ayurveda, promoting general well-being by increasing a person’s vitality or resistance to stress. It has a cooling, moistening quality thought to nurture various body membranes and secretions such as breast milk and semen, and it acts as an effective emollient and demulcent for dry and inflamed mucus membranes of the respiratory, genitourinary, and gastrointestinal tracts. The root powder is commonly combined in warm milk along with ghee and sweetened with honey. Externally it can be applied as a lubricant for stiff joints, stiff neck, and muscle spasms.


Well known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, in Ayurvedic practice turmeric is similarly used for a multitude of health-enhancing effects. The rhizome has bitter, pungent, and heating properties which are thought to work on all body tissues but particularly the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. It is another herb said to “purify the blood,” promote proper body metabolism, and strengthen the overall energy of the body.

Turmeric is considered a primary herb for improving digestion, helping to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and aiding with the digestion of food – particularly protein. It is also thought to reduce the production and accumulation of toxins and/or pathogenic bacteria within the gut, as well as any inflammation of the gastrointestinal lining (e.g., gastritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease). Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is used in the treatment of a variety of skin problems and musculoskeletal inflammation such as arthritis and wound healing. Turmeric is also said to nourish the heart and protect against cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol and cleansing harmful accumulations from the blood vessel walls. It can be used topically and internally and is frequently combined with honey and/or ghee.

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Embracing Changes in Life!

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Great article below by Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Published June 14, 2022 in The Drive Magazine.

Change is both personal and universal.

Everyone goes through changes and transformations.

We are born. We grow old.

What sets us apart is how we experience change.

1. Personality of Change

How we perceive the world has a significant impact on how we experience change.

Type A vs. Type B

Individuals with a Type A personality experience change differently from individuals with Type B personality.

Type A individuals often experience more difficulty with change because of time urgency and a heightened need to control the situation.

Type A’s don’t have time for change.”

While individuals with a Type B personality are more laid back and relaxed and thus find it easier to go with the flow.  

Optimists vs. Pessimists

Pessimists and optimists also view change through a different lens.

Pessimists perceive change as permanent and a traumatic end to everything.

While optimists are more likely to see change as temporary and an opportunity for new beginnings and growth.

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Can Optimism Be Learned?

2. Circumstances of Change

Another determinant in how we experience change is whether the change was by chance or by choice.

For example, for some people divorce is liberating, while for others it is the end of their world.

The same can be said for the workplace.

The reaction to change will be different for someone who chooses to retire five years early to spend more time with family, in contrast to someone who is laid off abruptly without notice.

It’s not change, it’s the circumstances that surround it.

Anchor Yourself During Rapid Change

3. Fear of Change

We resist change because we fear the unknown.

We never know what’s around the corner and this is made worse when it is a painful change.

As a result, we erect roadblocks and create chaos to slow change down.

This is the illusion of control that is often associated with resistance to change.

Resistance to change comes in many forms including psychological defense mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud:






The problem with resistance to change is that we wear ourselves out and use up all the energy necessary to transform and evolve.

What You Resist Persists

4. Psychology Takeaways

Embracing Change and Moving Forward

Be on the alert for fight-or-flight tendencies during unexpected change. Take it as a sign to slow down.

Create a safe space for open dialogue about change. Use it as an opportunity for ingenuity, creativity, and innovation at work and at home.

Make a list of what remains consistent in times of rapid change and use it as a grounding technique at the start and end of each day.

Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong on the other side of change, imagine all the things that could go right. Including the opportunity to level up and start again.

20 Vegs & Plants with Protein!

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Protein is an important part of a well-balanced diet. Your body utilizes the amino acids of protein as building blocks for the formation of muscles, tissues, bones, blood, and enzymes. While meats are high in protein, many individuals prefer a vegetarian diet. Many plants and vegetables contain the protein your body needs. Here is a list of 20 of them.

20. Edamame

Edamame is at the top of the list of plants that pack a protein punch. Just one cup of cooked edamame can provide 18 grams of protein. Enjoy a simple snack of steamed, salted edamame. Or, try Food Network’s recipe for Spiced Edamame that calls for frozen edamame, chili powder, oregano, and dried red pepper flakes.

19. Tofu

A 3-ounce serving of fried tofu contains around 16 grams of protein. Tofu is made from soy milk and is often a staple of vegetarian diets. Spicy Southern Kitchen has a recipe for Asian Garlic Tofu that uses tofu, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oils, and spices to make a fragrant Asian dish. Serve this entrée with broccoli for even more protein.

18. Almonds

Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per ¼ cup serving. In addition to protein, almonds contain magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. Enjoy a handful of almonds for a crunchy snack or sprinkle them on your salad. A smear of almond butter on apple slices makes a nutritious treat that provides energy and a dose of protein between meals.

17. Avocado

One cup of cubed avocado contains 3 grams of protein. Avocado also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, and is rich in healthy fats. You can mash up an avocado for a tasty morning treat of avocado on whole-wheat toast. Or make a delicious salad using cucumber, tomato, avocado, and quinoa with a lemony vinaigrette.

16. Black Beans

A cup of black beans provides 5 grams of protein. Furthermore, black beans are packed with fiber, which helps keep you feeling full and promotes good digestive health. Sprinkle black beans on top of a salad or whip up a delicious batch of savory black bean soup. You can also make these amazing gluten-free Fudgy Black Bean Brownies.

15. Broccoli

One cup of chopped, raw broccoli contains around 3 grams of protein. Raw broccoli is a great treat when dipped in flavorful hummus. You can also enjoy roasted broccoli by sprinkling it with olive oil and garlic and baking it in the oven. Trisha Yearwood’s Broccoli Salad combines broccoli florets with onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, mayo, and vinegar for a crunchy treat.

14. Brussels Sprouts

You get about 2 grams of protein when you consume ½ cup of Brussels sprouts. These gems also contain vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium. Try Tasty’s recipe for Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts. This recipe calls for Brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, honey, and oil and cooks up in about 20 minutes.

13. Cashews

You can obtain around 5 grams of protein from just ¼ cup of cashews. Nuts also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain health and help lower cholesterol. Delish has a recipe for Stir-Fried Vegetables with Toasted Cashews that tastes even better than takeout. Packed with plant protein, it calls for mushrooms, scallions, cabbage, and broccoli in addition to cashew nuts.

12. Chia Seeds

Just one tablespoonful of chia seeds provides about 3 grams of protein. These little seeds also contain dietary fiber and calcium. Add chia seeds to your morning smoothie for an extra boost of protein. You can also make an overnight chia seed pudding by combining the seeds with the milk of your choice and a dash of honey. This treat can be topped with fruit, nuts, or coconut, or granola.

11. Chickpeas

A one-half cup serving of chickpeas or garbanzo beans can provide 10 grams of protein. These tasty beans are rich in fiber and can be added to soups, salads, or stews. They also taste great blended with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a tasty hummus. Increase the protein value by dipping broccoli in hummus for a healthy snack.

10. Lentils

One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein. These legumes are packed with fiber as well, so they help keep you feeling satisfied. Cookie and Kate has a recipe for Best Lentil Soup, which is packed with lentils, veggies, and plenty of flavor. Collard greens or kale add extra protein and nutrients, while curry powder and cumin deliver a delicious boost of spicy flavor.

9. Lima Beans

Enjoy a ½ cup serving of lima beans, and you will provide your body with 8 grams of protein. Boiled lima beans make a simple yet tasty side dish. You can also combine lima beans with other types of beans to make this Four Bean Salad. Lima beans can also be added to soups and stews for an extra dose of tasty protein.

8. Oatmeal

One cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 6 grams of protein. You can up the protein content by topping your oats with nuts, chia seeds, or Greek yogurt. Whip up a batch of overnight oats by mixing oats with milk and the toppings of your choice.

7. Peanuts

Peanuts and peanut butter also contain protein. A one-half cup serving of peanuts contains about 14 grams of protein. While peanuts contain protein, enjoy them in moderation due to their high-fat content. A few peanuts baked with oats, seeds, other nuts, and dried fruit can make a batch of healthy granola. Peanut butter can up your protein consumption when enjoyed with apple slices or a banana as a nutritious snack.

6. Pumpkin Seeds

A ¼ cup serving of crunchy pumpkin seeds contains around 3 grams of protein. Enjoy these seeds on top of yogurt or oatmeal for a crunchy boost of added protein. When carving your Halloween pumpkin, you can bake up your own batch of roasted pumpkin seeds. Simply wash the seeds to remove any pulp, then mix them with olive oil and spices before roasting in the oven.

5. Spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition, one cup of cooked spinach provides around 5 grams of protein. saute spinach leaves in olive oil with a pinch of garlic for a tasty dose of protein, vitamin K, and vitamin A.

4. Tempeh

If you haven’t heard of tempeh, it is a soybean product popular in Southeast Asia. Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, mixing them with beans or grains, and then shaping them into a cake. Popular with vegans, cooked tempeh provides 16 grams of protein in one 3-ounce serving.

3. Wild Rice

Nutty and chewy, one cup of cooked wild rice provides around 7 grams of protein. You can enjoy wild rice as a pilaf, served with mushrooms as a side dish, or added to soups. For extra protein, combine wild rice with lentils in recipes like this one for  Butternut Squash, Lentil, and Wild Rice Stew.

2. Corn

Corn sometimes gets a bad rap as a vegetable less rich in nutrients. However, a one-half cup serving of cooked sweet corn can provide around 3 grams of protein. Include kernels of corn in soups and stews, or cook them with peas and diced carrots for a nutrient-packed side dish. Of course, nothing beats the taste of a buttery ear of roasted sweet corn in the summertime.

1. Potatoes

Believe it or not, one medium potato contains around 4 grams of protein. Potatoes are a versatile vegetable. You can enjoy them boiled, roasted, mashed, or baked. Food&Wine has a recipe for Potato Salad with Hummus-Yogurt Dressing that takes the protein content up a notch. Or, you can simply slice your potatoes, sprinkle them with olive oil and garlic, and roast them in the oven

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Benefits of Liver Detox!

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The liver is an essential part of your body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate toxins. In this regard, it is like the oil filter in your car. Over time, several factors can make the liver congested and sluggish, and overwhelm its detoxifying ability:

• Poor diet: refined & highly processed foods, fried foods, dairy products, refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, fast food, chemical additives, preservatives, pesticides and artificial sweeteners
• Drugs: medications, smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs
• Environmental pollution: air, water, noise, electromagnetic.
• Poor digestion, especially “leaky gut” syndrome: toxin absorption through gaps in the intestinal wall.

THE EFFECTS OF TOXICITY Your body manages toxins in three progressive stages:

2. Inflammation
3. Isolation & Mutation

Normally, your body deals with toxins by eliminating them. If the toxic burden becomes greater than what your body can handle, toxins become deposited in body tissue and increase free radical production, causing systemic damage and inflammation. Compromised liver function also causes the other organs of elimination (lungs, kidneys, skin and colon) to become overburdened and toxic themselves.

If the toxin load continues and the liver is not allowed to recover, the body will wall off these toxins to separate them from vital tissues. Recent research shows that actual genetic alterations in cells may also occur, leading to mutation and abnormal cell production. The result can be the formation of masses or tumors. This does not a completely explain all cases of cancer, but the idea that body toxicity contributes to most chronic illness is growing in acceptance.


In people with unhealthy liver function, toxins accumulate—especially in fat tissue, the nervous system and brain. These toxins also circulate in the blood and contribute to many long-term health problems: chronic fatigue, muscle, joint and nerve inflammation & pain (e.g. arthritis, fibromyalgia), atherosclerosis, blood sugar imbalance, food and airborne allergies, headaches, skin rash, chemical sensitivity, premenstrual symptoms, poor fat digestion, gastritis, colitis, weight gain, impaired concentration, asthma, decreased mental acuity, and much more.


Over the years, helping hundreds of people through clearing programs, I have seen the potential that liver detoxification has for improving life quality. I generally recommend that people detoxify their liver in the Spring, the season associated with the Liver and Gall Bladder in Oriental medicine.

There are many ways to help the liver decongest and free itself of accumulated toxins. The methods I have found useful include a modified diet, specific herbal and nutritional medicine, light aerobic exercise, Bodywork Therapy and Acupuncture. I also draw on the profound power of inner work—meditation, gratitude, forgiveness, prayer, breathing exercises and journaling.

Meditation: Spend 5-10 minutes, upon arising and before sleep, to focus on your breathing, deeply into the belly. Simply observe thoughts as they come and go, and return your attention to the breath when you notice that your mind has wandered.

Gratitude: Write down five things you are thankful for each day. In the words of Lloyd Meeker, an American teacher of this century, “What’s right with you is the starting point. What’s wrong with you is beside the point.” Thankfulness in all things is a key to mastery. Pay attention to what is already good, true and beautiful in others and yourself.

Forgiveness: Lack of forgiveness — holding grievances or resentment against someone (including yourself) — blocks the flow of life force in the body. In Chinese medicine, the Liver relates specifically to emotions such as anger, frustration and resentment. One of the most powerful and essential healing questions is, “Who have I not forgiven?” Forgiveness is a potent means for healing and restoring the Liver energy, healing your life, and knowing peace.

Breathing Exercises: This can take the form of mild aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming. If you are in at least average health, 30-40 minutes three times a week is a good start. You can also spend ten minutes doing full three-part breaths. Inhale first into your lower abdomen, then the upper abdomen, then the chest. Exhale in the reverse order.

Journaling: Spend time each day to record feelings, not just events. Bring what is true and real for you out on paper, without concern for grammar or spelling. Journaling is a powerful and lifelong tool for self-exploration.

Natural medicine: One of the most powerful liver cleansers is the juice of the grass grown from wheat berries. Wheatgrass juice cleanses and builds the blood, and provides concentrated chlorophyll, magnesium, vitamins and (colloidal) trace minerals. It is the supreme “green superfood,” and can be found at natural food stores. You can buy it fresh from a juice bar, frozen, or juice it yourself. If you suspect that your body is toxic, start out by eating a clean, whole foods diet for a few weeks before starting. One ounce per day is excellent for maintenance, two to three ounces for strong liver cleansing. Read Ann Wigmore’s classic The Wheatgrass Book for more details. If you are interested in taking other supplements for detoxification, consult a licensed health professional to find out what’s specific for your health needs and goals.

Lemon water: An old-time remedy and daily tonic for the liver and gallbladder. Soon after arising, squeeze 1/4 – 1/2 lemon into a glass of warm water, and drink slowly.

Effective liver detoxification is one of our most powerful tools for restoring and maintaining health, vitality and wellness.

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Macrominerals & Trace Minerals!

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Minerals are vital to the health of cells and tissues. One of the most important roles of minerals as micronutrients is as cofactors for enzymes and reactions that are constantly happening in the body.

Minerals serve as cofactors in nearly every cell type and tissue in the body. They help build strong bones and teeth, maintain normal blood glucose levels, and regulate fluid balance, among many other functions. Minerals are uniquely suited to work as cofactors because they can fluctuate between different oxidative states, an important feature of several types of reactions. Consuming adequate levels of minerals ensures proper functioning of hundreds of cellular processes which are essential for healthy metabolism.

While both cofactors and coenzymes help an enzyme or protein function correctly, there are distinct differences between them. Coenzymes are typically organic molecules that bind to the active site of an enzyme and aid in the recruitment of the substrate to begin catalysis. A cofactor, on the other hand, can be organic or inorganic, and does not bind the active site, but rather a different part of the protein, to recruit and facilitate the binding of substrates and aid in catalysis. Cofactors are usually metal ions and increase the rate of a reaction, which is what allows the body to complete all necessary reactions.



Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the human body, with 99 percent found in bones and teeth. Bone tissue is not a stagnant sink for calcium, however. It serves as a dynamic pool from which calcium can be pulled to maintain proper concentrations inside and outside of cells. The one percent of calcium not stored in the skeletal system performs vital functions including transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, activation of several coagulation factors involved in blood clotting, modulation of wound healing, communication between immune cells, insulin secretion from pancreatic beta-cells, and cellular signaling.


Phosphorus is a central regulator of calcium and vitamin D metabolism – and therefore bone health. In addition to being stored in bones, about 15 percent of phosphorus is found elsewhere, including soft tissues and extracellular fluids. Phosphorus plays an important role in energy metabolism, cell structure, and intracellular signaling. It also functions in:

  • Skeletal development
  • Mineral metabolism
  • Cellular signaling including pancreatic insulin secretion, endothelial function, and cell growth
  • Structural components of phospholipids in membranes, DNA and RNA, and ATP
  • Phosphorylation reactions in the body which are critical to signaling and metabolism
  • Enzymatic processes including energy production and oxygenation of tissues
  • Maintaining total body pH


Magnesium is one of the most essential cofactors in the human body and is utilized in over 300 metabolic reactions including protein synthesis, cellular signaling, and blood pressure regulation. One enzyme that utilizes magnesium is the sodium/potassium ATPase. This pump is critical for the healthy functioning of cells and every tissue relies on the actions of sodium-potassium pumps to maintain normal physiologic processes. The active transport of both calcium and potassium in and out of cells is very important for nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and heart function.

Magnesium is also important in blood glucose and insulin regulation, specifically regulating glucose signaling pathways, release of glucose from glycogen, and glucose entry into cells via glucose transporters. Magnesium also provides structural support within cells. It is required for both DNA and RNA synthesis as well as for energy production in the form of ATP. Magnesium deficiency or impairment of magnesium-dependent enzymes has been associated with several disease states including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, seizures, migraine headaches, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease.


The gradient of potassium inside and outside of cells is vital in transmitting cellular signals through the membrane potential. This is accomplished through sodium/potassium ATPase pumps which are expressed throughout cells and control the physiological excitability of cells. This membrane potential coordinates many cellular processes, drives the transmission of nerve impulses, and aids in muscle contraction. Potassium also works in tandem with sodium to maintain proper fluid balance. As potassium is pumped into cells, sodium is pumped out, which water then follows. Potassium also plays a role in calcium balance within the body, although the precise mechanism has not yet been not fully elucidated. Consuming adequate levels of potassium, primarily through a diet high in fruits and vegetables, may be one of the most effective strategies to lower blood pressure (along with decreasing sodium intake). High intake of potassium may also help improve and protect renal function as well as improve glucose control and insulin resistance through potassium-related insulin secretion.


Sodium is most often discussed for its role in affecting blood pressure, and many studies have validated that an increase in dietary sodium results in increased blood pressure. Similar to potassium, sodium is also involved in water balance. High consumption of sodium may induce water retention in the short term, but over a long time, high intake of sodium can cause changes in arteries as well as cause microvascular endothelial inflammation and arterial stiffness which may contribute to cardiovascular disease development.

Sodium also regulates the excretion of calcium from cells via the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. Nearly every cell and tissue contain this protein, and the bi-directional exchange of calcium and sodium is critical for proper cellular signaling and maintenance of proper ion gradients inside and outside the cell. Additionally, these exchangers, as well as the presence of sodium, is important in neurotransmission. Sodium is also involved in the active transport of glucose and amino acids through its role in sodium-glucose cotransporters and sodium-glutamate transporters, respectively. There are several isoforms of sodium-glucose cotransporters expressed in different tissues, and their regulation is complex. The action of sodium-glutamate transporters in the brain is critical for properly functioning neuronal signaling.


Similar to other electrolytes, chloride is part of a system that enables transmission of nerve impulses. It also regulates cell volume, fluid transport, and muscle contraction. Chloride travels through ion channels, and these chloride channels are very diverse in function. They also play a role in disease and are utilized and activated by other ions including calcium, further complicating the relationship between several minerals. The ability of chloride to form acids serves many purposes in the body:

  • In immunity and infection, the formation of hypochlorous acid is a potent antimicrobial agent involved in defense mechanisms
  • In acid-base balance in the body, including inducing metabolic acidosis if chloride is consumed in excess amounts
  • In aiding in digestion and absorption of nutrients through the formation hydrochloric acid in the stomach

Trace minerals


Iron is a tightly regulated mineral in the body and is essential to several important processes in humans. The ability of iron to switch between oxidation states as well as form iron-sulfur clusters is fundamental to its role in oxygen transport and sensing as well as cellular respiration and energy-producing pathways. However, its ability to readily exchange electrons means it can also lead to the formation of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and DNA damage.18,19 Iron is a critical component of both hemoglobin and myoglobin where it facilitates the binding of oxygen, which is then delivered to tissues. Iron containing proteins are also involved in a number of other cellular processes including xenobiotic transformation, the excretion of organic compounds, nucleic acid replication and repair, and cellular signaling. Iron is also a cofactor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and normal brain functioning, and it plays a role in nutritional immunity.


Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral, is required by more than 300 enzymes, and binds to over 2500 proteins – approximately 10 percent of all human proteins. Zinc concentrations inside and outside of the cell are tightly regulated through the actions of the two major zinc transporter families: ZIP and ZnT. These transporters move zinc in opposite directions as required to direct cellular processes and maintain the signaling of stimuli. These transporters are uniquely expressed in different tissues and in response to external signals as well as being localized in different cells and subcellular compartments. Other functions of zinc include:

  • Regulation of bone homeostasis
  • Structural component for proteins involved in blood pressure regulation and DNA repair
  • Antioxidant defense as part of copper/zinc superoxide dismutase
  • Regulation of production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and apoptosis21
  • Improving taste acuity in certain populations
  • Regulation of heme synthesis and DNA/RNA synthesis
  • Reproduction including sperm health and motility
  • Production, storage, and transport of major sex hormones
  • Component of most immunological reactions
  • Redox-neutral replacement of other metals in redox reactions to reduce oxidative burden­


Copper is a component of many enzymes and transcription factors that regulate processes including energy production, cellular proliferation, and oxidation. Copper is also a critical piece of the enzyme Cu-Zn SOD (superoxide dismutase) which neutralizes radical anions, converting them into more stable molecules. If copper is deficient, the activity of this enzyme is limited, leading to oxidative stress. Copper also supports mitochondrial respiration, iron homeostasis, and the development of connective tissue.


Similar to copper and zinc, manganese is an essential component of a superoxide dismutase enzyme (MnSOD) which reduces oxidative stress in cells.27 Manganese is involved in the function of many enzymes including those involved in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, and lipids, collagen formation, hematopoiesis, and immune function. Manganese also affects the absorption and metabolism of other metals including zinc and iron. Manganese has been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, although the exact relationship is not fully understood.


Iodine is primarily found in dairy products, iodized salt, and marine plants. It is vital to the health of the thyroid gland. Low intake of iodine leads to decreased production of thyroid hormone, which in turn causes the thyroid gland to attempt increasing production by increasing in size and release of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland. TSH stimulates growth of the thyroid when it is taken up, leading to further enlargement of the thyroid gland and the development of goiter.28 Additionally, iodine is essential during pregnancy. Before the fetus develops thyroid tissue in the first trimester, it relies on maternal sources; inadequate iodine intake can cause maternal hypothyroidism and consequently irreversible brain damage in the developing fetus.


Selenium is unique from other minerals in that it is incorporated directly into proteins to form selenoproteins. Selenium enhances the immune response through increased production of cytokines and involvement in immunoglobulin production.30 It is also key to many reactions as a component of enzymes including:

  • Glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase, which are involved in glutathione metabolism, redox balance, and oxidative stress27,30
  • Iodothyronine deiodinases, which are involved in the activation and deactivation of thyroid hormones.


Chromium is another mineral that can be found in different oxidation states. However, much less is known about the mechanism of action of chromium than many other minerals and there is no standard biomarker to assess chromium status. Chromium may play a role in regulating carbohydrate and lipid metabolism possibly through the actions of insulin, although studies have often produced conflicting results.

So Minerals are vital cofactors for many reactions and have diverse functions throughout the cells in the body. Altered metabolism of micronutrients due to insufficient intake or ineffective utilization can have profound effects on the body and may lead to health concerns such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.

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Cottage Cheese!

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People looking for healthy snacks have long resorted to eating this nutritious cheese, as it is the perfect cheese for low-fat diets. While there are high-fat versions of cottage cheese available, low-fat options seem to be widely popular. But what exactly is cottage cheese, and is it as nutritious as it seems to be?

Cottage cheese is a mild, soft, and creamy white cheese that is typically considered a fresh cheese since it does not go through the aging process. This tasty cheese comes from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk and can have varying amounts of milk fat, from non-fat to reduced fat and regular. Fortunately, for those with a lactose intolerance, lactose-free cottage cheese is available, as well as whipped and low-sodium versions.

But how nutritious is it? Apparently, very! Cottage cheese has tremendous benefits. For instance, it can help you lose weight, detox your body, and so much more.

Cottage Cheese Benefits

Cottage cheese is very good for you and provides loads of protein, selenium, riboflavin, phosphorus and calcium, to name a few. But protein is the winner, as there are 28 grams in one cup of low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese.

While it may be easier to obtain vitamin B12 through meat products, there are some dairy products that contain a good amount of B12. Cottage cheese is a great example of a dairy product with B12, as it has about a quarter of the recommended daily intake of the vitamin. B12 is essential to proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells, and much more.

B12 also helps lower high homocysteine levels in the blood, especially when combined with folic acid and at times with vitamin B6. This is particularly important, as high levels of homocysteine can become toxic to the body and cause heart problems and neurological issues.

Cottage cheese is high in phosphorus, which when combined with calcium can help build strong bones. A single cup of cottage cheese contains about 138 milligrams of calcium, making cottage cheese a better option for bone building, possibly better than supplements.

Phosphorous also affects how the body stores energy and minimizes muscle pain after workouts by helping repair tissues and cells. Without phosphorus, your body may begin to feel weak and sore, which can result in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Cottage cheese contains large amounts of protein, which, as we all know, can help you lose weight as long as it’s consumed in moderation. It helps keep you full, which helps you eat less and helps with muscle building.

However delightful and beneficial cottage cheese can be, there are precautions you should consider. Cottage cheese may cause kidney problems that can occur when you eat too much protein and it can also raise blood pressure, as it contains salt. So keeping a close eye on the amount you eat is a good idea.

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Vitamins and minerals are essential for maintaining normal body system function and for providing protection from oxidative damage. Selenium acts as a strong antioxidant in addition to a diverse range of other activities conducted in the body. Selenium can be consumed in the diet or in supplemental form.

Selenium Function

Selenium is an essential mineral, and in addition to its role as an antioxidant, selenium is crucial for thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, reproduction, and immune function. Selenium exhibits a wide range of functions across body systems due to its presence in 25 distinct selenoproteins (proteins containing selenium). Selenium has also been identified in five glutathione peroxidase enzymes, which are an integral part of antioxidation. These have been found in the thyroid gland, lining of the lungs and intestines, kidneys, olfactory system, and testes (selenium is also crucial for sperm production and motility).

Some glutathione peroxidases are essential for liver detoxification and other antioxidant functions. In thyroid metabolism, the inactive form of thyroid hormone, thyroxine (T4), is converted to the active form triiodothyronine (T3) by removing an iodine molecule. This reaction is catalyzed by a selenium dependent enzyme.

Selenium and Thyroid Function

There are high concentrations of selenium in the thyroid gland, and many selenoproteins help to regulate thyroid function. Selenium deficiency is thus associated with thyroid dysfunction and related conditions such as autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto thyroiditis) and mild Graves’ disease. Studies find that adequate selenium intake as well as optimally balanced levels of iodine and iron maximize the chance of healthy thyroid function.

Reduced Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

The link between selenium and cardiovascular disease has been studied for decades. As selenoproteins act as enzymes to help to generate DNA and prevent cell damage, they may also minimize inflammation and platelet aggregation by reducing the oxidative modification of lipids, thus ultimately reducing the overall risk for cardiovascular disease. Selenium has also been considered as a biomarker in coronary heart disease.

Sources of Selenium

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements currently recommends a daily intake of 55mcg daily selenium for all people 14 years and older. Brazil nuts, seafood, lentils, beans, chickpeas, broccoli, spinach and organ meats are strong sources of dietary selenium. Just one ounce of Brazil nuts contains approximately 544mcg of selenium, well over the RDA. Some grains and dairy also contain selenium. For plant sources, like grains and Brazil nuts, the selenium levels will vary by region due to the soil concentration of selenium for plant uptake. Selenium is also readily available in mineral supplements.

Those at risk for deficiency include people living in regions with low selenium soil levels, those undergoing kidney dialysis, or people with HIV. Selenium deficiency is associated with male infertility and may also worsen iodine deficiency, increasing cretinism risk in infants.

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Zinc for Healthy Cells!

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Zinc is an essential mineral required for the activation of over 300 enzymes, immune system function, and balancing of oxidative stress. Ensuring adequate intake of zinc through a balanced diet can help avoid the detrimental metabolic effects found in zinc deficient populations, including increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Zinc From Dietary Sources

Zinc is found in a variety of foods, including both animal and plant sources. Oysters contain the most zinc per serving, followed by red meat, crab, and lobster. Whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products also provide zinc. Consumption of a diverse, healthy diet can easily achieve the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc.

The RDAs for zinc are as follows:

  • Children 0-6 months*: 2 mg (*Adequate Intake, not RDA)
  • Children 7 months- 3 years: 3 mg
  • Children 4-8 years: 5 mg
  • Children 9-13 years: 8 mg
  • Males 14+ years: 11 mg
  • Females 14-18 years: 9 mg
  • Females 19+ years: 8 mg
  • Pregnancy 14-18/19+ years: 12 mg/11 mg
  • Lactation 14-18/19+ years: 13 mg/12 mg

Zinc Deficiency

Severe zinc deficiency is rare; mild to moderate deficiency is much more common. Zinc deficiency is the fifth leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the developing world, affecting approximately one-third of the global population.1 Signs of zinc deficiency include growth retardation due to decreased insulin-like growth factor 1, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function, as well as hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, and skin lesions in severe cases.

While most people in developed countries consume adequate zinc, certain groups of people may be at a higher risk of deficiency including people who have had gastrointestinal surgery or suffer from digestive disorders leading to decreased absorption. People who abstain from eating red meats or rely mainly on plant-based foods are also at a higher risk of developing zinc deficiency. Because whole grains and legumes contain phytates, compounds that bind zinc and inhibit its absorption, the bioavailability of zinc from these plant-based foods is lower.

Oral supplements can help fill in gaps in zinc intake, but the bioavailability of zinc varies. Chelation of zinc can aid in its absorption and make the metal less reactive. During chelation, a charged mineral salt, such as zinc chloride, will bind to a charged amino acid to form a more stable, less reactive compound. Zinc bound to aspartate, cysteine, and histidine showed the highest absorption followed by zinc chloride, sulfate, and acetate while zinc oxide demonstrated the lowest bioavailability. However, careful attention should be paid to interactions between zinc and certain medications including some antibiotics and diuretics. Additionally, excessive zinc intake through zinc-containing nasal sprays or denture creams can lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and headaches.

Function of Zinc

Zinc is the second most abundant micronutrient in the body with approximately two to four grams found throughout the body of an adult. Most is found in muscles and bones, but it is present in some amount in all body tissues. Zinc catalyzes the activity of more than 300 enzymes involved in cellular processes including protein structure and folding, cellular proliferation, and synthesis of RNA and DNA. Zinc is also a critical component of zinc finger proteins, which bind to nucleic acids and regulate gene expression. It is necessary for cellular growth, differentiation, and homeostasis as well as connective tissue growth and maintenance. Zinc is also critical for the proper functioning of the immune system.

Zinc is an important nutrient for reproduction; levels are 85 to 90 times higher in semen than in blood. It is involved in several steps of sperm production and required for normal fertilization. Zinc also functions to maintain the lining of reproductive organs and plays a role in the production, storage, and transport of the major sex hormones, including testosterone. Zinc deficiency during the growth phase can affect the development and maturation of the gonads due to hormonal imbalance.

Zinc in Diseases

Because zinc is involved in hundreds of cellular processes and diverse metabolic reactions, alterations in zinc metabolism can have serious consequences and contribute to several chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Zinc in obesity and diabetes

Several studies have found an association between zinc levels and obesity and type 2 diabetes, including significantly reduced blood zinc levels in patients with obesity. Plasma zinc concentrations were also negatively correlated with glycosylated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c) in patients with diabetes, indicating zinc deficiency may contribute to glycemia status and metabolic syndrome. Low zinc levels in obesity are also associated with aggravation of other metabolic disturbances including insulin resistance, inflammation, and dysregulated lipid metabolism, as well as diabetic complications including increased susceptibility to infections and increased oxidative stress. Supplementation with zinc has proven beneficial in improving metabolic measures including total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, as well as leptin levels. Zinc supplementation has also been shown to improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes.

The connections between zinc and metabolic disorders are likely related to zinc’s role in inflammation, oxidative stress, and lipid and glucose metabolism. Zinc may also interfere with leptin production, which helps to regulate energy balance in the body by inhibiting hunger. Loss of leptin or leptin resistance can have serious metabolic consequences including overeating and severe obesity. Zinc is also required for insulin metabolism; insulin is stored in granules with zinc in pancreatic beta-cells. Zinc ions sit at the center of insulin crystal structures and are therefore required for normal function of beta cells and transport of insulin. Zinc also inhibits glucagon secretion in response to high glucose levels, which helps keep glucose metabolism properly regulated.

The role of zinc in age-related macular degeneration

Investigative studies found that the concentrations of zinc were reduced in human eyes that exhibited signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects one-quarter of individuals that are older than 65 years. Zinc deficiency may lead to oxidative stress and consequently retinal damage. In a clinical trial, supplementation with zinc resulted in a 21 percent decreased risk of developing advanced AMD and an 11 percent reduction in the risk of developing vision loss. Because zinc possesses anti-inflammatory properties, as well as reduces levels of inflammatory cytokines, it may help in reducing the risk of developing AMD in older populations.

 Zinc is required in every phase of life to support metabolism throughout the entire body. It is especially important in the activation of enzymes, supporting the immune system, and reducing oxidative stress. Ensuring adequate intake of zinc through a balanced diet will help keep cells healthy and maintain normal metabolic processes.

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