- The Gut houses approximately 70% of the body’s immune system.
- About 100 trillion diverse microorganisms live in the Gut.
- Human genes to organismal genes are about 23 HG to 3000 OG.
- The organism’s functions influence a person’s fitness, phenotype, and health.
- The gut-microbes collectively communicate with the brian influencing protein metabolism, the nervous system function, and especially mental health.
Key takeaways - It has been found that an unhealthy gut influences many autoimmune and chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Treat your gut well with proper nutrition for optimal health outcomes.
Vitamin D, Covid-19, & More
Vitamin D plays a role in both natural and acquired immunity. In addition, helps regulate calcium and phosphorus for bones and muscles and is indirectly involved in many other functions of the body. Vitamin D is actually a hormone not a vitamin but is fat soluble meaning stored in the fat and better process with good fat containing foods. Vitamin D is limited in food sources and is mostly obtained through the sun. It is recommended, because of our limited outside lifestyle, that supplementation can be used after a blood test to evaluate your active level.
Vitamin D External Pathway: Sun (ultraviolet B) > Skin (D2) > Liver (inactive D) > Kidney (active D) or Ingested vitamin D (processed in the small intestines) is absorbed through our lymph system then to the venous blood (1).
Things that affect vitamin D levels: Sun exposure, skin color, fat tissue, kidney health, liver health, G.I. changes (gastric bypass), or age.
Vitamin D deficiency is common and can be associated with many problems:
Weight gain, wakefulness (Sleep), depression, cardiovascular, autoimmune disease, and some cancers to name a few.
In a systematic review, it was found that persons with low vitamin D levels were at higher risk for COVID-19 infections (2).
(1). Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The "sunshine" vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Apr;3(2):118-26. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506. PMID: 22629085; PMCID: PMC3356951.
(2). Teshome A, Adane A, Girma B, Mekonnen ZA. The Impact of Vitamin D Level on COVID-19 Infection: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Public Health. 2021 Mar 5;9:624559. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.624559. PMID: 33748066; PMCID: PMC7973108.
Herbs & Nutrition
- Turmeric - Anti-inflammatory and depression. It contains flavonoids, iron, niacin, potassium, and zinc
- Basil - Antioxidant an anti-inflammatory. It contains vitamin A, K, calcium, iron, and manganese.
- Black pepper - Helps mediate the absorption of iron and beta-carotene
- Cinnamon - Lowers blood sugar. It contains iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Eat the Rainbow
It’s simply eating a variety of whole fruits and whole vegetables ranging in all colors from purple cabbage to a yellow pair.
- The human gut microbiome requires a variety of nutrients to function properly. Including various fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, herbs, spices, and grains that help maintain the metabolizing process needed for a properly functioning body.
- A varying diet will ensure the body receives adequate amounts of fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, iron, and vitamins A and C to name a few.
- Many people assume a diet of vegetables and fruit alone can cause a lack or excess of one or more macro-nutrients such as proteins; however, this is completely untrue.
- Different vegetables and fruits vary in the quantity of macronutrients and micronutrients but they all have their role in building the body’s health.
Some older adults refer to a “pill mill” as a place where people receive pills but no cure. The words alone remit a cadence of repetitive hopelessness. One may ask, how can Americans have so much freedom but somehow missed the bus for top-tier healthcare. Unfortunately, it’s quite complicated and hovers around pharmaceuticals, finances, and industry.
People have to get past expecting a quick fix, surgery, or pill to miraculously put everything back in place. In the past, practitioners have been reluctant to focus on diet and nutrition possibly due to lack of formal nutritional training or concern about patient willingness to make changes. Patients can no longer depend on the healthcare system to be solely responsible for their health and well-being. It is imperative that people become knowledgeable and involved past just being obedient in taking medication. In the recent pandemic, the key takeaways were chronic illness of obesity and hypertension had some of the highest death rates from Covid. Companies raced to produce vaccinations and treatment for Covid; however, no campaigns or laws were made to reduce the obesity, diabetes, or hypertension epidemic. To put things in perspective of pills and shots versus diet and nutrition - Obesity affects 19% of children and 42% of adults; Moreover, obesity costs the US health care system $147 billion a year (CDC, 2021).
The answer is …
It is obvious that pills and shots alone are not the answer. Conventional medicine should be used where it is appropriate and temporary if possible. Unfortunately, the temporary status is clearly seen when medication is stopped such as blood pressure medication or blood sugar medication, levels skyrocket to a new normal high. Good news! We are not hopeless and there are answers. The bigger question is are we willing as individuals to take actionable steps for change. Health without a doubt, starts at home with proper nutrition, stress-reduction, and exercise. Even the person that has already been diagnosed with a chronic illness still can achieve better health outcomes and less pills.
According to the American heart Association (2018), persons are considered to have resistant hypertension when they have the following:
- Hypertension despite the concurrent use of 3 antihypertensive drug classes.
- The three or more medications are administered at maximum or maximally tolerated daily doses.
- Patients meeting goal blood pressure parameters on 4 or more medications are considered to have resistant hypertension.
- “White coat” phenomenon has been excluded by monitoring home blood pressures that are above goal.
- Sleep Apnea - Increases stress hormones due to oxygen starvation causing high blood throughout the day.
Healthcare providers response:
- Identify contributing lifestyle factors (nutrition, alcohol, smoking)
- Detect other drugs that may interfere with blood pressure medication.
- Causes of secondary hypertension (sleep apnea and endocrine problems)
- Assessment organ damage (kidney failure, heart failure).
The examples listed in () are not all inclusive.
What should you do:
- Limit Salt to 2000-2400 mg daily (FYI:1 serving of spaghetti sauce 500 mg)
- Achieve 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
- Weight loss: At least 5-7 % of current weight to start
- Exercise: 150 minutes per week for adults
- Lifestyle diet: Whole food plant-based (WFPBD), mediterranean diet, Dash diet (Remove saturated fats, Hidden salt, boxed/canned items)
- Hypertension: Blood pressure greater than 130/80.
- Antihypertensive: Against or a lowering high blood pressure.
- Antihypertensive drug classes: Calcium channel blocker (“pine”), angiotensin-renin blocker (“artans”) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (“pril”) or angiotensin receptor blocker), and a diuretic (“Water-pill”).
A Health coach can assist you with meeting these achievable lifestyle changes and getting your blood pressure to goal. Even in people diagnosed with secondary causes of hypertension can better their outcomes with the strategic plan.