30 Jul

Boost your immunity with sunshine

By Jenny Gann – Loveland, Colorado … What day did God create the sun? The fourth day: He created it specifically before animals and humans. Was this by chance, or was there a purpose? He created the light on the first day, and he created plants before the sun, so he could have created animals and humans before the sun. However, I believe that the sun was created before animals and humans because we were designed to need the sun.

Did you know Colorado has almost 300 days of sunshine a year? Colorado is actually the sixth sunniest state in the United States. So, does enjoying all of this sunshine have any health benefits? Yes, it does have quite a few in fact.

Many of you have heard of the “sunshine vitamin” known as Vitamin D. Humans obtain most of their Vitamin D from sun exposure. Although you can obtain some Vitamin D from foods, the amount found in certain sea-foods, beef products, and egg yolks is insignificant compared to the quantity of Vitamin D our bodies require. Thankfully, God had a plan for this when he created us, so we did not have to eat animal products. Vitamin D is one of only two vitamins our body can actually produce itself. All it needs is a bit of sunshine. Just 10-30 minutes of sunshine per day provides your body with sufficient levels of Vitamin D. The amount of time you need is dependent on how sensitive your skin is to the sun. If you burn your skin, you have gotten too much, but those with darker skin may need a longer time for their skin to absorb the sunshine it needs to produce Vitamin D. It takes sun exposure equivalent to half the time it takes for your skin to burn for your body to produce sufficient Vitamin D for the day. You also absorb the sun best through skin that does not get as much light exposure.

How does Vitamin D help us? Why do we need it? Many people associate Vitamin D with bone health and that is very true. Vitamin D is responsible for absorbing calcium from our intestinal tracts and transporting it to our bones to create hard bones. However, Vitamin D also plays a very important role in our immune health.

Vitamin D mobilizes our bodies’ T cells which are our bodies defense against germs; they destroy infected cells in our bodies keeping us healthy. You can think of them like a cat stalking prey. They sit and wait for their prey and then pounce on it, killing it. However, in order to do this, they have to mobilize. A cat who moves very slowly will not get the prey and T cells that move slowly will not get to the infected cells to destroy them. Here is where Vitamin D comes into play. Vitamin D keeps T cells moving faster so they can get to more infected cells quicker resulting in more death of infected cells and a healthier body.

Another great benefit of the sun is improved mood. Exposure to the sun increases your body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that gives your brain the signal, ‘don’t worry, be happy.’ It provides a feel-good message to your brain and this boosts your mood.

There are also direct correlations between mood and health. People who are ‘happier’ by and large tend to be healthier with less illnesses. So do your body a favor and enjoy some time with the Son in the sun today!

–Jenny Gann, RN, OTR/L is Campion Academy Nurse; photo supplied

16 Jul

Boost your immunity: Tips from Campion’s nurse

By Jenny Gann – Loveland, Colorado … ‘You are what you eat’ is a phrase we toss around to encourage someone to eat healthier. But have you really thought about it? Does the food and drink we consume really affect our health, or is this just an old adage that is outdated and not true?

Health is on the forefront of many people’s thoughts due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that seven percent of Google searches are related to a health topic. The most common topic searched is boosting one’s immune system. So, if it is true that we are what we eat, what do I need to eat to make myself healthier?

Searching the research databases and the internet one common theme emerges regarding foods that boost one’s immune system: they are all plant based. Not one food listed, on any site, is processed. Also, if you look at the nutritional makeup of plant-based foods, they are inherently low in fat. So, a low-fat, plant-based diet will boost your immune system and help prevent you from getting sick. An interesting study looked at vegetarians versus non-vegetarians and their levels of white blood cells. The body requires white blood cells to make antibodies against bacteria and viruses. So, the higher your white blood cell count, the better your body will be at fighting against invading bacteria and viruses, and the less sick you will be. The study showed that those who ate a vegetarian diet had significantly higher white blood cell counts as compared to non-vegetarians.

Unfortunately, our society bombards us with advertisements for foods that are not low-fat and plant-based. Companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing unhealthy, ultra-processed, high-calorie and high-fat foods. One of the most common means used to sway you is through commercials. Fifty percent of commercials are promoting ultra-processed foods. How do these ultra-processed foods affect your body?

One common element of all ultra-processed foods is that they are high in sugar. Sugar has a negative effect on your immune system. Sugar acts like a stun gun on your body’s cells. It stuns them into a cell coma, and they do not do their jobs. So those oh so important white blood cells we talked about that fight off bacteria and viruses, well, they are out of commission after consuming high-sugar foods and drinks. So now your body’s defenses are gone, and the intruders have free reign to take over your body and make you sick. The effect of sugar on the cells can last for several hours. So, if you are consuming high-sugar foods or drinks several times a day, you are keeping your white blood cells in a permanent coma and they never have the chance to do their job to fight off the intruding bacteria and viruses and you get sick.

So, does what you eat make a difference in your health? I’d say the research is pretty strong supporting a diet that is low in sugar and processed foods and high in plant-based foods.

–Jenny Gann, RN, OTR/L is Campion Academy’s nurse; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski