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Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Despite glycine being the simplest amino acid, it has many impressive functions in the body; not only is it found in most protein type foods, but is technically made by the body albeit in small amounts. Nevertheless growing evidence indicates that we are still deficient in this amino acid and supplementation has a plethora of health benefits.

In this blog we take a comprehensive look at glycine’s health properties and examine the mounting evidence that points towards supplementing with 10g per day not only for skin health, but just about every area of health. (1)

All humans are glycine deficient

Glycine should be classed as essential since we are deficient in glycine by around 10g per day, but due to the small amounts the body makes, it is classed as non- essential.

ANTIOXIDANT & DETOXIFICATION

When we usually think of antioxidants, the vitamins C and E usually spring to mind. What most people don’t realise is that our endogenous (made by the body) antioxidant system plays the master role in protecting the cells including the mitochondria (the energy plants of the cells) from oxidative damage via free radicals.

Of these endogenous antioxidants, glutathione is probably the most protective, and is found in every bodily system.

Glutathione production
Glutathione is made from 3 amino acids, namely glutamate, cysteine and glycine, but importantly scientific studies have demonstrated that glycine levels are the primary factor in glutathione production. Without sufficient glycine being available, the body will excrete the precursor amino acids. Interestingly vegans and vegetarians excrete around 80% more of these amino acids than meat eating people, which indicates that non-meat eaters have less ability to complete the process of glutathione synthesis. (2)

Glycine Increases production of glutathione, while reducing oxidative stress, thus protecting all tissue systems from damage. (3)

Further glycine enhances the antioxidant response by increasing the production of pyruvate in the liver, which is a powerful free radical scavenger

Nrf2 signalling
The internal antioxidant system of the body is able to respond at different levels depending on the needs at a particular time, often mediated by Nrf2 signalling. Many studies have demonstrated the up-regulation of Nrf2 by glycine supplementation. (4)

Glycine reduces the toxic effects of dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium and lead on the kidneys and liver, and a study demonstrated glycine’s ability to impressively lower the accumulation of lead in bones as well as completely reverse liver damage associated with lead poisoning. Please note that excess lead in the bones as a primary cause of bone cancers. (5)

Further study examining the effects of glycine on cadmium toxicity showed a significant reduction in the inflammatory response. (6)

Study researchers concluded by saying, “Our findings support the immense role of glycine as an antioxidant”. (7)

Glycine’s role in detoxification

We previously discussed glycine’s detoxification attributes via Nrf2 signalling and increase glutathione synthesis; interestingly glycine also possesses its own detoxification pathway.

Glycine can bind to many toxins and their metabolites, rendering these toxic byproducts relatively harmless and more water soluble allowing easier excretion via the urine. (8,9)

Glycine “detoxes” glyphosate (Roundup®); glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the World and carries an extensive list of health damaging attributes. Fortunately glycine found in our innovative Skin+Beyond product effectively detoxifies it.


Further glycine is a key amino acid in bile production, the other being taurine. Made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, bile is needed for the breakdown of dietary fats. Further the production of bile acids is glycine dependent, while the bile acid cycle also functions as one of the body’s main detox pathways. (10)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Glycine suppresses the activation of different types of inflammatory cells including macrophages and neutrophils. A key mode of action glycine exerts is the modulation of the expression of the master inflammatory regulator, nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB) in many cells. (11)

COLLAGEN & ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

One in every three amino acids that make up collagen is glycine, which represents the rate limiting factor for collagen synthesis due to the fact that blood plasma levels are well under the required amounts as established by researchers.

Further collagen comprises one third of bodily protein, and with every third amino acid being glycine in the collagen matrix, this makes glycine the most abundant amino acid.

Taking 10g of glycine per day should increase collagen production by 200%

There are two other key amino acids required for collagen synthesis, namely proline and hydroxyproline. Fortunately these two amino acids tend to be optimal in blood plasma for collagen synthesis contrary to glycine levels which we have established are well below their optimal levels. Hence supplementing with 10g of glycine per day has proven to improve collagen synthesis by 200%. (12)

Glycine versus collagen

Some of the most obvious signs of the ageing process are attributed to the collagen rebuilding process losing its efficiency as we get older. In fact by the time we reach 25, the breakdown of collagen begins to overtake collagen renewal that manifests in wrinkles, sagging skin, lack of skin tone as well as an increased risk of joint problems including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

To date the majority of anti-ageing research has focused on the internal and external uses of collagen peptides or gelatine hydrolysates since these materials have been isolated mainly from animal connective tissue and contain significant amounts of glycine. However as intuitive as it may seem, consuming collagen does not equal anywhere close to that collagen being available to the body mainly for 2 reasons;

  • When that collagen is broken down by the digestive tract in order to access the amino acids to be re-synthesised into collagen, but these amino acids can be used to make other amino acids that are needed in the body, so due to a complex hierarchical structure, they can be diverted for other needs
  • The amount of glycine metabolised from collagen hydrolysate or gelatine is insufficient for optimal collagen synthesis (13) eg. 10g of collagen in supplements provides only 2.5g of collagen and as we alluded to above the body will not use it all.

Although there have been positive results demonstrated in collagen or gelatine studies mainly due to the glycine component in the products, adding 10g of glycine per day would deliver many of the reported benefits from collagen or gelatine supplementation, but more effectively and less expensive.

Again glycine is the key amino acid in elastin synthesis since the other ones are abundant in the body.

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

A key player in the process of ageing are advanced glycation end products or AGEs, that are formed when glucose reacts with proteins that become damaged and produce toxic metabolites. These AGEs play a huge role in the gradual breakdown of collagen as we age, which leads to a loss of elasticity in connective tissues including skin and joints and vascular tissue in the lungs, heart and brain.

This process becomes particularly exacerbated in people with high blood glucose levels that are associated with high carb diets and as seen in diabetics where these AGEs trigger a highly damaging cycle of inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to many degenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s, cataracts, heart disease and kidney problems. (14) It’s not coincidental that diabetics suffer from the aforementioned conditions more than non-diabetics.

Fortunately glycine has demonstrated significant efficacy in reducing levels of glycation in diabetic rodents, in turn lowering the associated inflammation and oxidative stress. These improvements were also seen in the hearts of rats supplemented with glycine. (15)

Further glycine has demonstrated protective effects in the eyes, preventing cataracts and glycation induced damage of the lens proteins. (16)

SKIN

Glycine’s many skin boosting attributes are afforded by its glutathione, collagen and elastin boosting attributes and other modes of action:

Antioxidant
Glycine is a key amino acid in glutathione synthesis; glutathione is the master antioxidant that protects skin cells and their mitochondria (energy plants) from free radical and oxidative stress damage. It has even been postulated to be the rate limiting amino acid for glutathione production. (17)

“Detoxification”
Glycine “detoxes” Roundup®, a pervasive and highly toxic herbicide that takes up residence in connective tissues e.g. skin, gut, joints, and further destroys the gut microbiome, in turn causing body wide inflammation that affects the skin via the gut-skin axis. (18)

Protecting the gut from inflammatory insults will keep inflammation in check that can prevent damage to the dermis and epidermis layers of skin.

Collagen & Elastin
Glycine boasts collagen and elastin synthesis properties; in a 2018 study by Spanish researchers, it was found be boost collagen levels better than collagen, and is the rate limiting factor for collagen production. (19)

Anti-glycative
Glycine exhibits anti-glycative properties that protects collagen and elastin in skin from damage. (20)

Anti-inflammatory
Glycine protects the gut barrier, and its immune functions, as well as boosting microbial numbers, in turn preventing inflammation and potential leaky gut that can impact the skin negatively via the gut-skin axis. (21)

In fact glycine shows potent anti-inflammatory attributes in preventing and ameliorating bodily wide inflammation or chronic inflammation, and that includes skin. (22)

Immunity
Glycine displays immune protection, and this includes protecting the extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly made from collagen and elastin from invading pathogens e.g. viruses that decrease collagen and elastin synthesis and degrade these key skin proteins. (23)

Further the glutathione boosting ability of glycine also improves immunity via redox balancing and detoxification Glutathione can even prevent the inflammatory storm that causes organ failure in covid patients.
 
How do these qualities of glycine improve skin health?

  • Glycine’s glutathione boosting properties helps protect all layers of skin from free radical induced oxidative stress, in turn protecting the skin barrier, keeping skin hydrated and plump giving a brighter, healthier looking complexion.
  • Better hyaluronic acid (HLA) in the dermis that boosts HLA in both dermal and epidermal layers, keeping skin hydrated, stretchy and flexible, in turn reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Better collagen and elastin synthesis via glycine makes skin more elastic and firmer with less lines, wrinkles and sagging; further glycine (and pomegranate extract) protects the breakdown of collagen and elastin via glycation
  • Overall protection of skin from breakdown via the potent anti-inflammatory activity of glycine in protecting the gut, keeping inflammation in check that can damage the skin via the gut-skin axis

MUSCLE

Glycine being the key amino acid in collagen offers strength and structure to all connective tissues including muscle.

Glycine also aids muscle conservation in many common scenarios including ageing, poor diet and lack of nutrients, and stressful conditions e.g. cancer. (24)

Sarcopenia the loss of muscle mass and strength affects 1% to 30% of the general population, but is evident in about 40% of people with gut and digestive conditions e.g. including inflammatory bowel disease and cirrhosis. (25)

See under “Gut & Digestion” that discusses how glycine improves gut health and digestion, in turn alleviating gut induced sarcopenia.

NB See pomegranate blog on how pomegranate extract prevents and reverses sarcopenia.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Mounting evidence is showing that glycine exerts a protective effect on heart disease. (26)

Various studies compared different amino acids to how they affected cardiovascular events, and concluded that high intakes of certain amino acids demonstrate cardio protection; these include arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histadine, leucine and tyrosine. Researchers concluded that the aforementioned amino acids were associated with a 74% decrease in cardiovascular events. (27)

Further optimum glycine levels reduce the risk of acute myocardial infarction as well as correlating with a healthy lipid and anti-inflammatory profile in blood plasma.

One of glycine’s key mechanisms lies in the activation of glycine gated chloride channels found on numerous cell lines including liver cells, macrophages, lymphocytes, platelets, heart cells, and endothelial cells that also reside in arterial walls.

Glycine has been discovered to possess the following attributes; anti-inflammatory, immune modulator, cytoprotective, platelets stabilising and anti-angiogenesis effects in rat models. (28)

Further glycine demonstrates efficacy as a blood thinning therapeutic, but without the dangerous side effects that aspirin can cause:

  • A reduction in platelet aggregation or stickiness
  • An increase in bleeding time
  • An improvement in microcirculation
  • A reduction in inflammation

Hence the reason why researchers are saying in relation to heart disease, stroke and sudden death that;

Glycine supplementation in the diet represents an effective prevention mechanism in relation to diseases involving platelet aggregation and thrombosis. (29)

Glycine is a sweet heart
Part of the ageing process includes a reduction in heart function with associated arterial stiffening and reduced blood flow.

Further due to mitochondrial dysfunction in older hearts, the breakdown of fats becomes impaired, leaving glucose as the primary fuel source. Impressively glycine helps restore some of the hearts youthful function.

In a recent study using older mice, supplementation of glycine combined with N-acetylcysteine was shown to enhance many aspects of heart function as well as stimulate gene expression and energy production in heart mitochondria more akin to younger subjects. Further the heart cells regained their fat burning ability, which N-acetylcysteine did not offer on its own. (30)

Please read about our other key ingredient, pomegranate extract that positively impacts multiple mechanisms of heart function and health, so much so it’s often referred to as “the heart fruit.”

Cholesterol
Improved blood levels of glycine offer improved blood fat status and better inflammatory markers including reduced C-reactive protein scores, higher LDL and lower triglycerides. (31)

The increased production of triglyceride rich LDL in the liver is a feature of people who suffer from metabolic syndrome. A 2012 study showed that glycine can normalise the production of triglycerides from the liver and it is thought that this effect is achieved through glycine’s influence on the central nervous system, in turn normalising level signalling. (32)

A further study demonstrated that rats with metabolic syndrome when fed a diet of 1% glycine experienced lower body weight, lower fat percentage, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides or blood fats, lower appetite and fat storage hormones e.g. leptin and insulin and lower total fat composition. (33)

BRAIN

Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter and modulates neuronal activity, and its main activity is related to the inhibition of different brain regions. (34)

Glycine is also present in the spinal-cord and brainstem, acting as an inhibitory brain chemical using its own system of receptors that are ubiquitous across the whole nervous system, playing key roles in brain development. (35)

Ischemic stroke inflict damage to the brain via excitatory of the glutamate NMDA receptors combined with oxidative stress. Hence the reason why glycine’s neuroprotective and antioxidant attributes makes it a credible option for post stroke recovery. Several trials in Russia observed that giving 1g to 2g of glycine per day sublingual within 6 hours of a stroke for 5 days reduced oxidative stress and stabilised brain chemicals, reducing mortality within 30 days of the stroke. (36)

More recently a study found that glycine has the ability to protect neurons from death subsequent to a haemorrhagic stroke. (37)                    

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL

Glycine exhibits a range of psych disorders including:

Improving sleep  
Glycine has been demonstrated to improve sleep without interfering with the circadian clock or major sleep-wake hormones. Taking glycine before bedtime proved both subjective and objective sleep, and further sleep deprived study participants given glycine before bedtime showed better daytime performance than the control group. (38)

OCD
Glycine may have potential in alleviating OCD behaviour although the evidence is very scant. There was a documented study carried out in 2010 using a 22 year old who was put on high dose glycine for 5 years, where a substantial reduction in symptoms was observed. (39)

Schizophrenia
The potential of glycine in neurological conditions as a recent field of study, nevertheless the last few years has discovered that psychosis patients show abnormal levels of glycine and glutamate in the brain, coupled with the discovery that heavy alcohol users have shown an inverse relationship between brain glycine levels and the number of heavy drinking days.

Schizophrenia subjects have experienced a reduction in symptoms by using glycine. (40)

IMMUNITY

Glycine protects the gut mucosal barrier from damage and inflammation, which affects immune cells in the gut. (41) Further glycine protects the extracellular matrix from pathogens that cause damage to collagen and elastin, key components of all connective tissues. (42)

METABOLIC

Glycine has demonstrated its ability to influence multiple pathways that are implicated in the development of metabolic syndrome highlighting its potential use in preventing and treating metabolic type disorders such as obesity and type II diabetes.

Plasma levels of glycine are commonly found to be lower in patients with obesity and type II diabetes, and supplementing with glycine has demonstrated a range of anti-diabetic effects including the stimulation of insulin release. Further there is evidence that glycine binds to glucose, in turn reducing levels of glucose in the blood. (43)

Glycine positively influences many metabolic pathways
Glycine exerts an inhibitory effect on oxidative stress (see red in the diagram above), liver glucose production and food intake as well as enhancing (see green in the diagram above) hormonal and immune responses, methylation, improving detoxification and supporting mitochondrial function. (44)

Supplementing with glycine in obese mice has demonstrated better glucose tolerance and triglyceride (blood fats) levels, in turn helping to prevent body weight gain, fatty liver and associated information. Similar results were observed in rats given a high fat and sugar diet supplemented with glycine as well as added glycine were protected from liver damage.

Glycine also normalises blood glucose, fat metabolism and lowers inflammation. A study involving 60 adults with metabolic syndrome showed that dosing with 15g of glycine per day showed significant decreases in markers of oxidative stress accompanied by appreciable reductions in systolic blood pressure. (45)

NAFLD
Glycine exhibits protective effects on the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as demonstrated in a study where rats given glycine showed reduced harm from the effects of a high sugar diet as evidenced by improved liver markers, reduced oxidative stress and reduced the fat in the liver compared to non-glycine fed rats. (46)

Anti-diabetic

In a 2002 study supplementing with 5g of glycine per day improved both insulin response and glucose tolerance; healthy subjects showed more than a 50% reduction in blood glucose after taking glycine with food without changing insulin response.

In a further animal study rats with diabetes were given glycine for 6 months showed lower levels of glucose, lower total cholesterol, lower triacylglycerol and less glycation damaged
haemoglobin. (47)

A 3 month trial using type II diabetic patients, administering 5g of glycine per day showed an appreciable decrease in HbA1C and pro-inflammatory markers as well as an increase in IFN-gamma.

Rodent studies have recently shown that adding high glycine as a supplement reduce the negative effects of a high sugar diet, boosted mitochondrial function in the liver and normalise blood pressure and triglycerides (blood fats) as well as insulin, thus preventing an accumulation of abdominal fat. Further observations included improved glutathione (the body’s most powerful antioxidant) status, a lowering of oxidative stress and normalisation of vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) that improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. (48)

Further glycine protected rats from diabetic cataracts via ant-glycative and antioxidant activity. (49)

GUT & DIGESTION

Glycine receptors are found on the intestinal lining, and when glycine is present, the receptors release a hormone called glycogen-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that creates many positive effects including lipid oxidation or fat burning for energy production in the liver and fullness signalling that reduces appetite.

Expression of glycine receptors has also been demonstrated to boost the mucosal barrier, protect against gut inflammation, oxidative stress and they plethora of toxins via different mechanisms, including enhanced synthesis of glutathione (the body’s most potent antioxidant). Further in a rodent study, glycine demonstrated protective properties in rat intestines in chemically induced colitis. (50)

Furthermore glycine has been demonstrated in a piglets study to be relevant in the development of the intestines, and that low levels of glycine and the lumen of the small intestine correlated with gut dysfunction. (51)

Gastric ulcers

Glycine supplementation has been demonstrated to protect the stomach from tissue injury and alcohol induced ulceration. The study results led researchers to conclude that glycine demonstrates impressive anti-ulcer and cytoprotective properties. (52)

Alcohol
Glycine shows protection from alcohol damage in the liver, lowers blood alcohol levels and reduces the levels of triglycerides (blood fatty acids) in the brain and liver as a result of alcohol toxicity.

Leaky gut and endotoxins
Glycine exerts protective effects against leaky gut, and in reducing or preventing gut toxins escaping through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream. Glycine can bind to these protein type toxins, thus dampening the inflammatory response caused by them. (53)

Although there is no specific research on glycine’s ability to prevent or reduce autoimmune conditions, by reducing or preventing leaky gut, you are in effect achieving this positive outcome. Leaky gut is the hallmark of autoimmunity. (54)

JOINTS & BONE

The ageing process depletes collagen that becomes more difficult to replace, and this is even more pronounced in arthritis sufferers where 40% of over 65s are affected. In these sufferers regeneration of damaged cartilage requires considerable collagen synthesis with recent research studies demonstrating that this is limited by the availability of glycine.

Dietary glycine is simply inadequate to rebuild collagen at the rates required to prevent loss and damage, and hence the need for glycine supplementation for collagen synthesis. (55)

Further bone is 30% collagen, hence the importance of collagen to bone density and health.

Tendon injuries difficult to treat due to less blood supply compared to other connective tissues. However study data demonstrates that glycine supplementation may be an effective treatment for subjects with inflammatory injuries in tendons including the Achilles, and other connective tissue damage and inflammatory conditions. (56)

In a more recent study analysis, it has been demonstrated that tenocytes, the primary tendon cells involved in tissue repair, respond positively to glycine by improving the remodelling process. (57)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

Glycine boosts athletic performance in various ways. (58)

Since blood levels of glycine peak rapidly after consuming, this categorises glycine as a “rapid protein” for exercise recovery. For this reason glycine should be taken straight after exercise to start the repair remodelling process of tendons, ligaments and joints by maximising collagen synthesis. (59)

Glycine’s effect on joints and bone make injury recovery quicker and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

LIFESPAN

In a rodent study, researchers found that supplementing them with glycine led to a increase in lifespan of 5%; what’s even more interesting here is that the similar 5% increase and lifespan can be achieved through a diet low in methionine. (60)

 Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate has multiple modes of action influencing various bodily systems; hence the reason pomegranate, in particular the standardised extract offers a plethora of health benefits; recognising the potential of this remarkable fruit led to the creation of Skin+Beyond.

The following blog will showcase the therapeutic modes of action and benefits pomegranate extract (PE) has to offer. Backed up by over 3,000 studies on PubMed. PE exhibits many attributes including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, mitophagy (regeneration of cellular parts), autophagy, skin protection, hormone and gene regulation.

NB Patented, pomegranate extract (PE) is different to the fruit since it contains the key compounds linked to health in standardized amounts, mainly from the inedible peel.

ANTIOXIDANT

PE contains potent antioxidants, namely punicalagins that are not only unique to pomegranate, but possess powerful bioactive free radical scavenging properties, with Pomella® standardised to 30% punicalagins. (1)

PE upregulates Nrf2 activity, an important mediator of antioxidant signalling during inflammation by boosting antioxidant enzymes e.g. superoxide dismutase. (2)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Inflammation is the key driver of all ageing processes and not just skin, mediated at every stage of disease progression by nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB), the master inflammatory pathway.

Punicalagins found in PE not only demonstrate potent anti-oxidant activity, but anti- inflammatory by suppressing the master inflammatory pathway, NF-κB that is implicated in every chronic disease including skin ageing, cancers, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to name a few. (3)

PREBIOTIC

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent prebiotic properties that not only boosts gut health, but all areas of health.

PE polyphenols are converted into Urolithin-A by gut microbes. (4) This novel anti-ageing postbiotic improves mitophagy, the regeneration of the mitochondria or energy plants of the cells. (5) See under “Mitophagy” below.

PE polyphenols, especially punicalagins that are unique to pomegranate have put Urolithin- A in the higher echelons of health compounds with wide ranging benefits including skin, gut, joints, muscle, heart, brain, exercise performance and longevity to name a few.

Further PE via prebiotic action boosts akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic strain that protects the gut barrier from inflammatory damage and exerts weightloss, anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties as well as protecting the digestive tract from inflammatory/immune disorders e.g. IBD, Crohn’s. (6)

MITOPHAGY

Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root to most if not all conditions of ageing. (7)

Due to age and/or poor lifestyle factors, the mitochondria (energy plants of the cells) are not replaced or regenerated via mitophagy, causing a reduced output of cellular energy (ATP) and more free radicals. Combined they lead to ageing of different bodily systems e.g. skin, joints, heart, brain, muscle, immune etc.

Mitophagy represents a new paradigm in anti-ageing, courtesy of Urolithin-A and transcription factor EB, that is metabolized (in the gut) and upregulated respectively via pomegranate polyphenols. By optimising mitophagy, you are essentially giving your engine (mitochondria) a tune up that runs the car (body) better with less exhaust emissions (free radicals in cells).

AUTOPHAGY

Similar to mitophagy, but this clearing and recycling process involves other parts of the cells that have become senescent or aged, including toxic and damaged aggregated proteins that are the hallmarks of neurodegeneration.

Autophagy plays an important role when it comes to ageing and longevity. As a person ages, autophagy decreases, which can lead to a build-up of cellular junk parts that hamper normal cellular functioning, and cause inflammation and mitochondrial damage.

Transcription factor EB (TFEB) regulates autophagy. (8) See directly below.

TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR EB (TFEB)

Pomegranate extract or PE also shows a separate mechanism of improving or rebooting mitophagy by activating the gene regulator, Transcription Factor EB (TFEB) independent of the gut postbiotic, Urolithin-A. Singapore researchers made this remarkable finding in 2019. (9)

TFEB has widespread implications for health including neuroprotection, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory attributes. (10)

In fact improved expression of TFEB via pomegranate balances the immune response so effectively that it has been linked to the prevention of sepsis, a significant finding since sepsis has been implicated in 20% of global deaths. (11)

TFEB has been referred to as the master regulator of mitophagy (12) and autophagy. (13)

COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

PE protects dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) from UV damage similar to MitoQ, a £60 per month super antioxidant. This potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory activity gives PE the ability to boost collagen and elastin synthesis. (14)

NB Dermal fibroblasts provide the machinery for dermal hyaluronic acid or HA synthesis and should be the key priority in targeting skin hydration. Importantly HA from creams and ingestible formats is cleared quickly and degraded from the dermis. (15)

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

Glycation is a process caused by free radicals from stimuli such as UV light and sugars reacting with proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs); these AGEs damage keratin, collagen and elastin in connective tissues e.g. skin, joints, vascular system (heart, brain), resulting in premature ageing. In fact glycation is a major issue for diabetics. (16)

Pomegranate especially in the patented Pomella® extract form, is a natural AGE product inhibitor and anti-inflammatory agent, showing great potential as an anti-glycative agent, thus slowing the progression this damaging process. (17)

SKIN

Pomegranate offers so many mechanisms of action on skin health that it genuinely offers “All in one skin solution” that is 100% natural including the following:

Antioxidant

PE and specifically Pomella® exerts potent, synergistic effects on protecting keratinocytes from free radical induced oxidative damage. (18)

PE protects the collagen and elastin producing cells, the dermal fibroblasts from DNA damage caused by free radicals, specifically the DNA of mitochondria that generate cellular energy, the lifeforce of all bodily systems including skin.

Skin ageing researchers in the UK, made a remarkable finding when PE compared well to MitoQ, a patented super antioxidant when protecting against UV induced damage. Further PE has many other therapeutic properties other than antioxidant. (19)

NB This was an inferior pomegranate product, and PE has many more attributes than just antioxidant.

Further antioxidant action of PE bioactives prevent glycation that damages keratinocytes and alters ceramide (fats) production in the epidermis, and damages the collagen and elastin structures in the dermis and the extracellular matrix. (20)

Anti-inflammatory

The key polyphenol unique to PE, punicalagins exerts potent anti-inflammatory attributes on via the inhibition of NF-κB, TFEB upregulation and courtesy of its gut metabolite, Urolithin-A Inflammation drives more free radicals and oxidative stress, leading to damage to epidermis and dermis layers of skin. (21)

Prebiotic

PE also boosts skin barrier integrity via the prebiotic action in the gut that influences the skin via the gut-skin axis. It does this by making Urolithin-A that exerts gut barrier protection, which is anti-inflammatory, in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (22)

Further PE boosts the novel probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that also exerts gut barrier protection, that is anti-inflammatory in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (23)

Mitophagy

PE improves mitophagy via the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and upregulation of the gene expressor, transcription factor EB (TFEB). Both keratinocytes (keratin) and dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin) benefit from regenerating their mitochondria or energy plants via the mitophagy process that declines with age and/or poor lifestyle. (24)

Autophagy

If senescent cells and aggregated proteins are not cleared in the ECM due to a breakdown in autophagy, mitochondrial damage will result, thus effecting collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid synthesis.

Autophagy plays a key role in the health of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts, thus optimising keratin, collagen and elastin production. (25)

Fortunately pomegranate extract or PE via the upregulation of transcription factor EB (TFEB) stimulates autophagy. (26)

Collagen and Elastin Synthesis

Pomegranate extract or PE boosts collagen synthesis by protecting the dermal fibroblasts from oxidative damage and improving mitophagy. This amazing finding has only come to light recently and it represents a paradigm shift in bodily ageing. This study showed in relation to skin urolithin A increased type 1 collagen expression and reduced MMP-1 expression. (27)

NB MMP-1 is largely responsible for collagen and elastin degradation along with glycation.

Anti-Glycative

PE prevents and slows glycation, a process caused by environmental stimuli e.g. UV rays and where sugar in the form of circulating glucose reacts with proteins, in turn forming advanced glycation end products or AGEs that damage the collagen matrix in skin as well as other areas such as joints; PE inhibits glycation significantly. (28)

PE and its polyphenols have been shown to prevent methylglyoxal (MGO) induced DNA damage of keratin producing cells (keratinocytes), and boost collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the extracellular matrix. (29)

NB Damage to keratin via AGE products also affects the structure and production of ceramides. Although PE does not directly boost ceramide production, it indirectly does and the niacinamide in Skin+Beyond boosts ceramide synthesis by 34%. (30)

This in turn helps to retain moisture and skin barrier integrity, thus maintaining firmness and protecting skin from environmental insults that cause inflammation and associated damage.

How do these qualities of PE improve skin health?

Please note there may be references to other extracts, but they have the same amounts of the key bioactive compounds e.g. 30% punicalagins.

  • PE boosts water content by +51% in the stratum corneum, and +40% increase in skin hydration overall since PE boosts the production of hyaluronic acid that has impressive water retention properties (31)
  • Pomegranate boosts hyaluronic acid (HA) in the extracellular matrix by 50%, and prevents cross Cross linkages prevent removal of damaged collagen (32)

NB The extracellular matrix or ECM that makes up over 70% of the skin, is the key player in repairing and regenerating the skin. (33)

  • PE reduces wrinkle volume or depth by -26% and skin roughness by -31% (34)
  • PE boosts blood microcirculation by reducing blood vessel permeability; this increases nutrient, water and oxygen delivery to the skin layers, in turn improving radiance (35)
  • PE reduces the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation and inhibits tyrosinase to decrease melanogenesis, reducing both melanocytes and melanosomes (36)
  • PE can be helpful for severe cases of acne, especially when it’s inflammatory driven evidenced by papules and pustules. By reducing inflammation in the gut via S+B prebiotic action, you will alleviate all inflammatory linked skin conditions (37)
  • PE protects against free radicals and oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors e.g. UV sunlight, pollution and toxins (38)
  • PE improves skin tone and reduces dark spots and blemishes (39)
  • Pomegranate extract also has been proven to boost hair health; the researchers found better hair strength, increased hair density and thickness, and an improved speed of hair growth in the participants (40)

HORMONE

Pomegranate extract or PE promotes hormone health since it contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant kingdom; hence the reason it is a boon for postmenopausal women; further PE boosts healthy estrogen in younger women, and prevents xenoestrogens (toxic metabolites) from chemicals and other products e.g. plastics

Pomegranate extract or PE offers postmenopausal protection from osteoporosis, heart disease, moods and hormone cancers e.g. breast; these benefits extend to all women. (41)

MUSCLE

Longevity is very dependent on the amount of muscle you have! Sarcopenia is a muscle wasting condition that accelerates over 40, and is central to chronic decline and early

mortality. Believe it or not muscle wastage is linked to cognitive decline and even dementia. (42)

Pomegranate extract or PE makes Urolithin-A in the gut, which boosts mitophagy that prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in preventing chronic decline and improving longevity. (43)

Further Urolithin-A actually boosts NAD+ levels and upregulates the sirtuin-1 gene in skeletal muscle. NAD+ is a crucial co-factor in cellular energy production or ATP in the mitochondria.(44)

NB The sirtuin-1 gene is central to longevity, and NAD+ is often referred to as “The biggest discovery in regenerative medicine” or “The secret of life and anti-ageing”. Importantly niacinamide, another ingredient in Skin+Beyond is an effective precursor for making NAD+. No need for expensive NR and NMN precursors.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Pomegranate is often referred to as “The heart fruit” due to its positive effect on multiple factors that lead to heart disease and stroke. effective multiple mechanisms of action, including the reduction of arterial plaque by 36% in one year and that includes the carotid arteries supplying the brain with blood, in turn preventing and reducing the risk of stroke as well as heart attack. (45)

There is no such thing as bad cholesterol; oxidized cholesterol (oxLDL), a key factor in heart disease, is when LDL becomes oxidised or damaged due to inflammation from poor lifestyle. A further study showed a 59% reduction in oxidised cholesterol (oxLDL), a more accurate predictor of arteriosclerosis and associated heart attacks compared to LDL cholesterol. Further the study showed: (46)

  • 130% increase in antioxidant capacity
  • 21% reduction in systolic blood pressure
  • 39% improvement in arterial plaque in one year

BRAIN

Due to various stimuli e.g. toxins, infections, gut inflammation (gut-brain axis), neurons come under assault via oxidative stress, inflammation and free radicals. Resultant neuroinflammation results from overstimulated microglia, the immune cells of the brain and key protectors of neurons. (47)

Pomegranate extract or PE has been demonstrated in a recent study to control (balance) microglia activation and dampen neuroinflammation, in turn protecting brain cells from further damage in an Alzheimer’s model. (48)

Further autophagy helps clear these toxic, aggregated proteins. When autophagy is dysfunctional in microglia, phagocytosis (clearing damaged cells and toxic proteins) breaks down and neuroinflammation ensues, leading to neurodegeneration.

Autophagy is boosted by the upregulation of Transcription Factor EB or TFEB (49), which in turn is upregulated by pomegranate extract or PE polyphenols as identified by researchers from Singapore in 2019. (50)

Another key factor in the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration is mitochondrial dysfunction. Caused by environmental stimuli induced oxidative stress and inflammation, and the breakdown in mitophagy system that removes and regenerates the damaged mitochondria, the energy plants of the cells. (51)

Pomegranate upregulates or boosts mitophagy via the production of the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and the upregulation of the gene expresser, TFEB. Further the pomegranate metabolite, Urolithin-A exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect neurons and their mitochondria (energy plants), in turn preventing the chronic microglia response (overreaction) that causes neuroinflammation, protein aggregate formation, and potential neuronal damage and loss. (52,53)

Glycation plays a role in the formation of amyloid protein aggregates, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, and further amyloid proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients show evidence of glycation. This is significant when you consider that pomegranate prevents and retards glycation (see under “Anti-glycative”) and prevents the formation of amyloid plaques or deposits via microglial inhibition and autophagy as discussed here.

Interestingly the researchers in this study concluded that oxidative stress causes both

glycation and amyloid protein formation, and therefore effective treatment strategies could include antioxidants, and in particular polyphenols that are well studied for proven for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes. (54)

The gut-brain connection

It’s often overlooked that the gut and brain are dependent on each other for optimum health via the gut-brain axis making the gut microbiome a key player not only in preventing neurodegenerative and mental health conditions; hence the reason the gut is often referred to as “The second brain”. (55)

When the good to bad microbes in the gut become imbalanced known as gut dysbiosis, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response that migrates to the brain via the vagus nerve and in the case of gut barrier damage via the bloodstream.

If gut dysbiosis and associated gut inflammation is left unchecked, the intestinal barrier can be breached, often referred to as leaky gut syndrome, in turn allowing microbes, undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream. This prompts a chronic immune response and inevitable autoimmunity that causes a plethora of disease states e.g. irritable bowel disease Crohn’s, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, MS, MND, Alzheimer’s.

The prebiotic activity of PE has three mechanisms of action:

  • The gut metabolite, Urolithin-A protects the gut from inflammation and damage, which in turn prevents neurological and psychiatric problems via the gut-brain axis or leaky gut (56)
  • PE boosts the numbers of akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic that protects the gut barrier, in turn preventing damage and resultant inflammation and gut barrier permeability that causes brain inflammation (57)
  • Boosting of probiotic numbers including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria family strains keeps a healthy balance of good to bad microbes (58)

IMMUNITY

Pomegranate improves immunity via multiple mechanisms of action. Mitophagy (via Urolithin-A and TFEB) or the regeneration of mitochondria to prevent uncontrolled immune responses such as chronic inflammatory chemical release and excess immune cell activation. The key is a balanced response to threats. (59)

Gut health equals immune health since 70% of immune cells are made in the gut. The potent prebiotic activity of PE promotes gut health. (60) See above under “Brain”.

Further PE upregulates TFEB that in turn improves immune health, so much so it has been shown to prevent sepsis, a pervasive condition due to imbalanced immune response, that can be deadly. (61)

GUT & DIGESTION

Prebiotic action of pomegranate polyphenols as outlined above under “Brain” protect both the gut and beyond the gut into the digestive tract; worthy of special note is the novel gut microbe akkermansia muciniphila (AKKM) boosted by pomegranate polyphenols. (62)

AKKM consumes mucin in the gut wall, in turn releasing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that protects the digestive tract including the colon from inflammatory disorders (IBD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s) and cancers including colon. (63)

METABOLIC HEALTH

Pomegranate improves metabolic health by exhibiting cardiovascular (See under “Cardiovascular”), anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. It does so via a range of modes of action e.g. anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic. However rising star in metabolic health is the exciting probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that is boosted by pomegranate polyphenols and exerts its metabolic enhancing attributes through its actions in the gut and digestive tract. (64), (65)

JOINTS

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts multiple modes of action on preventing and improving joint and bone disorders.

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) in joints and bone from free radical induced oxidative damage. (66)

PE boosts collagen synthesis and inhibits collagen and elastin degrading enzymes (MMPs), in turn boosting and protecting the health of joints and bone. Further PE exhibits ant- glycative properties, in turn protecting connective tissue from this other degrading process affecting connective tissues. (6768)

PE upregulates the gene encoder, transcription factor EB or TFEB that improves mitophagy (similar to Urolithin-A) and autophagy, in turn protecting joints and bones from degenerative disorders including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. (69)

Further pomegranate contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant World; post- menopausal women are low in oestrogen, which is also linked to joint and bone conditions. (70,71)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

As well as the joint and bone promoting properties of PE (See under “Joints”); PE has potent sports performance and recovery attributes. (72)

LIFESPAN

The pomegranate gut metabolite Urolithin-A promotes NAD+ and Sirt-1 gene expression, both linked to increased muscle mass and increased lifespan. (73)

Further Urolithin-A prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in longevity. Hence the reason Urolithin-A also increased the lifespan of c. elegans worms. (74)

CANCER

Pomegranate extract or PE demonstrates potent anti-cancer activity in many cancers including breast, colon, prostate, skin and lung. (75)

Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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The Key Advantages of Cold Water Swimming

The Key Advantages of Cold Water Swimming

Engaging in cold water immersion isn't just a thrilling and enjoyable pastime; it also presents many remarkable health benefits.

Numerous swimmers have embraced the practice of open water swiming during the winter season due to its potential health advantages.

If you're hesitant about taking the plunge into icy waters, consider how cold water swimming can enhance both your physical and mental well-being.

Unveiling the Health Perks of Cold Water Swimming

In this section, we'll delve into the extensively documented and scientifically substantiated health advantages that cold water swimming offers.

Continue reading to discover how this revitalising activity can improve your physical and mental health.

1. Fortifies Immune Function

Several studies have underscored the remarkable impacts of cold water on the immune system. When you immerse yourself in cold water, your body temperature drops significantly, prompting your white blood cells to become more active. This drop in temperature boosts your white blood cell count, fortifying your immune system's resilience. An adaptable immune system is better equipped to ward off illnesses, which is why dedicated cold water enthusiasts often experience better health.

2. Uplifts Mood Through Endorphin Release

Cold water swimming triggers the release of endorphins, those "feel-good" hormones. These endorphins enhance your overall sense of well-being and happiness. You may wonder how braving the initial discomfort of cold water can lead to greater happiness, but it's the endorphins that come to the rescue. They are released in response to discomfort, making it more tolerable. So, if you persevere through the initial chill of cold water, you'll be rewarded with an improved mood. The bracing cold water stimulates your body to produce even more endorphins, further enhancing the experience.

3. Accelerates Metabolism and Supports Weight Management

Cold water immersion can aid in weight management by boosting your metabolism. As your body temperature drops in response to the cold water, your heart rate increases to maintain warmth, resulting in calorie expenditure. Scientific research consistently shows that you burn more calories when swimming in cold water compared to warmer water. Outdoor swims in glacial lakes or rivers can help you shed pounds more effectively than swimming in a heated indoor pool. Just remember to fuel your body and control your appetite to avoid swimming on an empty stomach. An added benefit is that outdoor swimming is often cost-free, eliminating the need for an expensive gym membership.

4. Alleviates Menopause Symptoms

Menopause often brings unwelcome symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, reduced libido, memory lapses, and hot flashes. While we've already discussed how cold water immersion can boost libido and reduce anxiety, it's worth noting that cold water submersion can also alleviate migraines. Women experiencing menopause have reported significant improvements in their lives after regular cold water dips. If you're grappling with menopause symptoms, consider exploring this topic further.

5. Enhances Circulation

Cold water swimming can significantly improve circulation by driving blood to the surface of your veins, capillaries, and arteries. While it might be intimidating initially, your body gradually adapts to the cold, reducing discomfort over time. Enhanced circulation benefits individuals of all ages, especially during colder months. Coping with harsh winters becomes easier and less of a health risk. We encourage individuals of any age to explore open water swimming due to its undeniable health advantages.

6. A Comprehensive Body Workout

Whether you prefer a leisurely dip or an intense workout, cold water swimming offers versatility. Many swimmers opt for open lakes, rivers, or the sea to expend energy and warm up in cold water. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise that enhances endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. It helps you shed excess weight, build muscle tone, and elevate overall body health. All of this while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow adventure seekers. If you're concerned about the initial shock of cold water, consider investing in a wetsuit.

Summary

This article has explored the myriad health benefits of cold water immersion. Similar to any form of exercise, it leaves you feeling rejuvenated, thanks to the surge in dopamine levels. Open water swimming is gaining popularity across all age groups, as people discover the allure of taking a dip in colder, polar regions.

Whether you're aiming to improve your health or simply testing your mettle, cold water immersion is a gratifying hobby. Always prioritise safety measures when venturing into ice-cold waters to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Guest post submitted by Cold Water Swim, the ultimate resource for all things related to cold water swimming! https://www.coldwaterswim.co.uk/

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.



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Fungi for Health - How Medicinal Mushrooms Can Improve Your Wellbeing

Fungi for Health - How Medicinal Mushrooms Can Improve Your Wellbeing

In a world where natural remedies are gaining momentum,

…ancient healing practices are making a remarkable comeback.

Medicinal mushrooms, a group of fungi with a rich history in traditional medicine across cultures, are gaining renewed attention in the modern world of holistic health.

These extraordinary fungi, distinct from ordinary culinary mushrooms, have been used for centuries in ancient healing practices.

Today, they’ve become the focus of a wide range of scientific research.

Sparking a surge of interest in their potential health benefits.

From immune-boosting Reishi to cognitive-enhancing Lion's Mane, and endurance-improving Cordyceps,

…each medicinal mushroom offers unique health-promoting properties.

As researchers unravel the bioactive compounds hidden within these fungi, a new wave of evidence is emerging.

Supporting the role of functional foods in enhancing wellbeing.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the captivating world of medicinal mushrooms,

…blending their historical significance with the latest scientific findings.

To showcase how these remarkable organisms can improve overall well-being.

Paving the way for a path of better living and vitality.

Exploring the World of Medicinal Mushrooms

The kingdom of fungi offers a treasure trove of medicinal mushrooms, each providing a unique set of health benefits. Among the most notable players in this realm are Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, and Shiitake. Let's take a closer look at these remarkable fungi and the potential advantages they bring to the table.

●     Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Known as the "Mushroom of Immortality," Reishi has a revered place in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This woody fungus boasts a complex array of bioactive compounds, including beta-glucans, triterpenoids, and polysaccharides. These compounds are believed to fortify the immune system, regulate inflammation, and promote relaxation. Making Reishi a popular choice for combatting stress and supporting overall well-being.

●     Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

Growing on birch trees in cold climates, Chaga is packed with antioxidants, melanin, and betulinic acid. These constituents contribute to Chaga's ability to scavenge free radicals, promoting cellular health and skin vitality. Additionally, Chaga is believed to support the immune system and provide natural energy. Making it an excellent choice for those seeking a healthful boost in their daily lives.

●     Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps, often associated with its host caterpillar in the wild, contains various bioactive compounds like cordycepin and polysaccharides. These compounds are thought to enhance endurance, improve athletic performance, and support respiratory health. As a natural adaptogen, Cordyceps helps the body adapt to stress. Making it an appealing choice for athletes and those embracing an active lifestyle.

●     Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

With its striking appearance resembling a lion's mane, this mushroom has captured attention for its potential cognitive benefits. Lion's Mane contains erinacines and hericenones, compounds believed to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production, which is essential for brain health and cognitive function. It’s often sought after for its potential neuroprotective effects and support for mental clarity.

●     Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

Among the most popular culinary mushrooms, Shiitake also offers an array of health benefits. It contains lentinan, a potent beta-glucan, and other compounds that are believed to support cardiovascular health, help regulate cholesterol levels, and contribute to overall immune support. Shiitake mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses, boasting a wide array of nutrients, making them a fantastic complement to any diet.

It’s important to source your fungi from reputable and reliable suppliers. Because mushrooms have the unique ability to absorb and concentrate substances from their environment, it's essential to choose high-quality mushrooms that have been cultivated in controlled conditions or responsibly harvested from pristine environments.

Learn more: The Healing Power of Mushrooms

4 Key Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

1. Immune-Boosting Properties of Mushrooms

One of the most remarkable and well-known benefits of medicinal mushrooms is their ability to bolster the immune system. Mushrooms like Reishi, and Shiitake contain a class of compounds known as beta-glucans. These beta-glucans stimulate various immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, helping the body recognize and fight against potential pathogens. By enhancing the immune response, these mushrooms can aid in preventing and combating infections, reducing the frequency and severity of colds, flu, and other common illnesses. Regular consumption of immune-boosting mushrooms may contribute to overall immune resilience, particularly in individuals with weakened or compromised immune systems.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Mushrooms

Chronic inflammation is a common factor in various chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. Medicinal mushrooms, particularly Reishi and Chaga, have shown promising anti-inflammatory effects. The triterpenoids and polysaccharides found in these mushrooms help regulate the body's inflammatory response, mitigating excessive inflammation that can lead to tissue damage. By promoting a balanced inflammatory state, these mushrooms may offer potential benefits for managing inflammatory conditions and reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation.

3. Adaptogenic Properties of Mushrooms

Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and maintain equilibrium. Cordyceps and Reishi are well-known adaptogenic mushrooms that can support the body's ability to cope with physical, mental, and emotional stress. They help regulate the production of stress hormones like cortisol, preventing an exaggerated stress response. By promoting a balanced stress response, adaptogenic mushrooms may enhance resilience, increase energy levels, and improve overall well-being. Regular consumption of these mushrooms may be particularly beneficial for individuals facing chronic stress or those seeking support for better stress management.

4. Longevity-Promoting Properties of Mushrooms

In addition to their immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects, some medicinal mushrooms have been associated with longevity-promoting properties. Reishi, often referred to as the "Mushroom of Immortality," has been revered for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its potential to promote a long and healthy life. Studies have shown that the antioxidant and anti-aging compounds in Reishi, such as triterpenoids and ganoderic acids, may help protect cells from oxidative damage and slow down the aging process. Similarly, Lion's Mane, with its potential to support brain health and cognitive function, may contribute to better mental clarity and cognitive longevity.

Learn more: Medicinal Mushrooms - The Natural Way to Boost Your Immune System

In Conclusion

Medicinal mushrooms offer a diverse range of health benefits, from immune-boosting properties to cognitive enhancement and stress management. Incorporating these natural remedies into your wellness routine provides a holistic and complementary approach to traditional medicine, with fewer side effects and better tolerance. By embracing the wisdom of ancient healing practices and the insights of modern scientific research, we have the opportunity to improve our overall well-being and tap into nature's pharmacy.

Written by Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Medicinal Mushrooms - The Natural Way to Boost Your Immune System

Medicinal Mushrooms - The Natural Way to Boost Your Immune System

Having a strong immune system is worth its price in gold.


In fact, if you don’t have a strong immune system, then all the money in the world won’t help you.


It’s all about taking care of your health and wellbeing daily.


Even when life throws you a curveball.

It’s all too easy to follow the crowd and indulge in junk food and unhealthy snacks.


Especially if you’re not feeling up to looking after yourself.


Ironically, it’s at those moments when you feel low that you should be taking better care of yourself.


Bit by bit, your nutritional reserves diminish and then before you know it,

 …your tank is empty.


The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect our bodies from harmful pathogens and maintain overall health.


While we often associate a healthy immune system with lifestyle factors like a balanced diet and regular exercise,


 …the role of certain natural substances, such as medicinal mushrooms, in supporting immune function is gaining attention.


In this article, we will explore the fascinating relationship between mushrooms and the immune system.


Delving into the various ways mushrooms can positively impact our body's defense mechanisms.

What are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Mushrooms have long been cherished as gourmet cuisine worldwide, prized for their unique taste and subtle flavors. However, recent research has discovered that mushrooms are more than a culinary delight. They possess an array of bioactive compounds with remarkable biological properties, turning them into miniature pharmaceutical factories. While mushrooms have a rich history in Oriental medicine, contemporary studies are only now catching up. We now have scientific evidence to support their effects on promoting good health and vitality.


Mushrooms have gained recognition as a source of nutraceuticals, offering benefits such as antioxidative, anticancer, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties. Ongoing research aims to harness the potential of mushrooms as new generation "biotherapeutics," paving the way for their use in pharmaceutical and therapeutic applications. Mushrooms are a  valuable source of diverse bioactive compounds and they play a promising role in enhancing human well-being.


Related: 5 Useful Gadgets That Help Promote Wellness

Supporting Overall Wellness with Mushrooms

 A robust immune system is not only important for fending off infections but also for promoting overall wellness. Medicinal mushrooms have been associated with various health benefits beyond immune system support. Such as, their potential anticancer properties, cardiovascular benefits, and stress reduction capabilities. These aspects also contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system. Understanding the broader impact of medicinal mushrooms on our well-being will underscore their significance as natural allies in supporting overall health.


Stress impacts all areas of our lives. In one study 77% of volunteers said that stress affects their physical health and 73% said that stress impacts their mental health. Stress also affects our ability to have a good night's sleep. The good news is that some mushrooms, such as reishi and cordyceps, have adaptogenic properties, meaning they can help the body adapt to stress and promote overall well-being. These mushrooms have been traditionally used to support the body's response to stress and enhance resilience. Incorporating adaptogenic mushrooms into our routine may aid in managing stress and promoting a sense of calm.


Related: Can Eating Green Vegetables Help to Reduce Stress?

Activation of Immune Cells

When our body gets hurt or attacked by germs, our immune system tries to protect us by causing inflammation. It's a natural response, but sometimes our body needs help to calm down the inflammation. Certain things like not having enough antioxidants, vitamins, or getting older can make it harder for our body to stop the inflammation. That's where mushrooms come in! Mushrooms contain special molecules that can help reduce inflammation. Such as polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and vitamins that fight inflammation and keep us healthy. Mushrooms can definitely be considered superfoods.


One of the key ways mushrooms influence the immune system is by stimulating the activity of various immune cells. Certain polysaccharides can activate immune cells such as natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. NK cells are activated when mushrooms are ingested by stimulating cell surface activity. This activity is thought to be responsible for the anti-viral properties of mushrooms. Additionally, consuming mushrooms has been found to boost several immune responses and functions. For example the molecules β-Glucans, found in mushrooms, play a pivotal role in immunomodulation.


Related: Immune System Boosters: How to Nurture Better Immunity

Potential Therapeutic Applications of Mushrooms

Beyond their general immune-boosting effects, mushrooms have shown promise in various therapeutic applications. The last decade has witnessed the overwhelming interest of western research in the pharmaceutical potential of mushrooms. A number of anti-tumour agents have been identified in various strains of mushrooms. These include enzymes, phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, folates and organic acids. Polysaccharides are the best known and most potent mushroom-derived substances with anti-tumor and immune boosting properties.


Both mushrooms and blue green algae (like Spirulina) contain a specific molecule that’s not created in the human body. This molecule is called L-Ergothioneine (EGT) and is considered to be “the last undiscovered vitamin.” Mushrooms are particularly high in EGT, which is a powerful antioxidant. Making it particularly useful in combating oxidative stress related diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, depression, and memory loss.


Related: Metabolic Syndrome Study: Hydrogen Rich Water Reduces Oxidative Stress

Precautions and considerations

While medicinal mushrooms are generally considered safe, they can interact with certain medications or cause allergic reactions in some people. If you feel you may fit into these categories, then it’s a good idea to speak with a  healthcare professional before starting a new supplement regimen.

In Conclusion

Having a strong immune system is truly invaluable. Mushrooms offer a natural and holistic way to support our immune system and overall wellness. They’re not only delicious but also packed with bioactive compounds that can positively impact our health. From being a powerhouse of antioxidants to promoting cardiovascular health, enhancing brain function, supporting digestion, reducing stress, and aiding in weight management, mushrooms have a lot to offer. Why not embrace the natural power of mushrooms to make them a valuable addition to your daily life.


Written by Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach and personal development.


Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.



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Boost your Health with the Best Quercetin Supplements in the UK

Boost your Health with the Best Quercetin Supplements in the UK

Are you looking for a natural way to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, or ease allergy symptoms?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

You may have heard about quercetin,

… a flavonoid that’s found in many fruits and vegetables, such as apples, onions, and citrus fruits.

Quercetin has been touted for its many health benefits.

Including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.

However, getting enough quercetin from your diet alone can be challenging.

That’s why many people turn to quercetin supplements, to boost levels of quercetin in the body.

In this article, we'll explore the various forms of quercetin supplements available on the market.

As well as their potential benefits and drawbacks,

…and answer some common questions about how to take them.

So, whether you're new to quercetin or looking to optimise your supplementation routine, read on to learn more about the many benefits of quercetin.

What does quercetin do for zinc?

One of quercetin’s most interesting properties is that it can help improve the absorption and utilisation of zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in biological processes. Such as immune function, wound healing, and protein synthesis. Quercetin can bind to zinc ions and form a complex that’s more easily absorbed by the body. In addition, quercetin can also help prevent the breakdown and excretion of zinc, which can lead to higher levels of zinc in the bloodstream.

Some studies have shown that this combination may be particularly effective in reducing the severity and duration of respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu. Especially when the supplement contains vitamin C and other bioflavinoids. If you're looking to support your immune system or improve your health, adding a quercetin and zinc supplement to your daily routine may be worth considering. Just be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medication.

Learn more: Depressed, Low Immunity, Acne or Cold Sores? You Might Need Zinc

What is the best form of quercetin to take?

When it comes to quercetin supplements, there are several forms available on the market, including quercetin dihydrate, quercetin glucoside, and quercetin aglycone. Each form has its own unique properties and benefits, so it's a good idea to choose the one that's best suited for your needs.

  • Quercetin dihydrate is the most commonly available form of quercetin and is often used in research studies. It's a stable form of quercetin that’s relatively inexpensive and easy to find in supplement form.

  • Quercetin glucoside, on the other hand, is a form of quercetin that’s bound to a glucose molecule. This form is typically found in fruits and vegetables and is thought to be more easily absorbed by the body than quercetin dihydrate.

  • Quercetin aglycone, also known as quercetin “free form,” is a form of quercetin that is not bound to any other molecule. This form is believed to be the most bioavailable and potent form of quercetin, but it can be more expensive and harder to find in supplement form.

Learn more: Unlock the Power of Quercetin: Discover the Amazing Benefits for Your Health

9 Potential health  benefits of quercetin

Here are 9 of the key health benefits of including more quercetin in your lifestyle routine, backed by science:

  1. Acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. One of the main causes of ill health in our society is toxic stress. Whether this be from our own cells creating free radicals, or by consuming products containing toxins. Making antioxidants a key tool in our health regime to boost wellness.
  2. May have anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The majority of chronic illnesses are caused in part by inflammation. Making anti-inflammatory products powerful in boosting longevity and health.
  3. Can inhibit histamine release, making it potentially useful for allergy relief. When combined with vitamin C, quercetin is a great tool to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract. Additionally, it can be used to reduce symptoms of allergies.
  4. May have antiviral properties, helping to fight infections. By boosting immune health, and reducing free radicals we allow our bodies to naturally fight off illness.
  5. Can improve immune system function and balance. Our immune system is a powerful part of the body. Allowing us to fight off any potentially harmful compounds.
  6. May have neuroprotective effects, potentially protecting against cognitive decline. Studies have shown that quercetin can boost brain health and increase cognitive abilities, like learning and memory..
  7. Can help to regulate blood pressure and improve heart health. Some studies have found a significant reduction in blood pressure with the consumption of quercetin.
  8. May have potential anticancer effects, though more research is needed in this area. Some studies have found that quercetin can inhibit tumour growth.
  9. May have hepatoprotective effects, potentially protecting against liver damage and disease.

Learn more: Immune System Boosters: How to Nurture Better Immunity

Is it OK to take quercetin daily?

Many people are interested in taking quercetin supplements to support their overall health and wellbeing. The good news is that quercetin is generally considered safe for most people to take daily as a dietary supplement. However, as with any supplement, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting quercetin supplementation, especially if you have any underlying health conditions, are pregnant or taking any medication.

While quercetin is generally safe, some people may initially experience mild side effects such as headache, stomach upset, or tingling in the arms and legs. These side effects are typically mild and go away on their own. Additionally, it's important to follow the recommended dosage instructions on the label of your quercetin supplement. Taking too much quercetin can potentially cause more serious side effects, such as kidney damage or liver toxicity. As a general rule, it's best to start with a low dose and gradually increase over time if needed.

How much quercetin should I take for immunity?

Quercetin has been shown to have immune-boosting properties, which is why many people are interested in taking it. However, the amount of quercetin that's needed to support immunity can vary depending on a number of factors, such as age, weight, and overall health status. As a general rule, most studies on quercetin have used doses in the range of 500-1000 mg per day for immune support. For most people, we suggest 1-2 300mg capsules per day.

Learn more: What is Immunity: The Six Types of Immunity and Immune Memory

In Conclusion

Quercetin is a natural plant compound with a variety of potential health benefits. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, some studies suggest that it may help to support immunity, reduce inflammation, and in turn, protect against chronic disease. If you're considering taking a quercetin supplement, it's important to choose a high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer.

Look for a supplement that contains a pure form of quercetin, and avoid products that contain unnecessary fillers or nasty additives. The addition of vitamin C can boost the effects of quercetin. Overall, while quercetin may not be a magic bullet for health and wellness, it's a promising natural compound that could be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle. By incorporating quercetin-rich foods into your diet and considering a high-quality quercetin supplement, you can support your overall health and wellbeing.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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The Benefits of Quercetin: Allergy Prevention & Relief

The Benefits of Quercetin: Allergy Prevention & Relief

Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis, or peanut allergies?

Do you rely on traditional antihistamine medications to relieve your symptoms?

Or perhaps you’ve been searching for a natural way to reduce your allergies.

If so, you may be interested in learning about an alternative approach to allergy prevention and relief.

Quercetin is a natural compound found in some fruits and vegetables,

It’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties,

… making it a promising option for those seeking a natural alternative to traditional antihistamine medication.

In this article, we'll explore the potential benefits of quercetin, how it works, and what the research says about its effectiveness for allergy prevention and relief.

Is quercetin a good antihistamine?

Quercetin is a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties found in many fruits, vegetables, and dietary supplements. Some research suggests that quercetin may be effective in reducing inflammation and histamine release, making it a promising alternative to traditional antihistamine medications for allergy prevention and relief.

Quercetin works by inhibiting the release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds in the body. Histamine is a chemical produced by the body in response to an allergen, such as pollen or dust, and is responsible for allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and swelling. By reducing the release of histamine, quercetin can help alleviate these symptoms.

Related: How to Fight Hay Fever with Natural Antihistamines

Comparison to traditional antihistamine medications

Traditional antihistamine medications, such as loratadine or cetirizine, work by blocking the action of histamine after it’s been released in the body. While effective in reducing allergy symptoms, these medications can also cause drowsiness, dry mouth, and other side effects. Quercetin, on the other hand, is a natural compound that’s generally well-tolerated and has fewer side effects than traditional antihistamines. Rather than simply blocking the histamine action, quercetin can also reduce congestion, and swelling associated with the allergic reaction.

Several studies have investigated the potential of quercetin as an antihistamine for allergy prevention and relief. One study published in the journal Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research found that quercetin supplementation significantly reduced nasal congestion and itching in patients with seasonal allergies. Another study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology found that quercetin reduced the production of inflammatory compounds in the relaxed the airways of mice with allergic asthma. These studies suggest that quercetin may be an effective alternative to traditional antihistamines for allergy prevention and relief.

Related: Asthma & Allergies - How Getting Properly Hydrated Could Help

Your quick guide to using quercetin for allergies

Step 1: Consult with your healthcare provider

Before starting any new supplement regimen, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking any medication that may interact with quercetin.

Step 2: Choose a reputable brand

Since quercetin supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it's essential to choose a reputable brand that has been third-party tested for purity and potency. Additionally ensure that there are no hidden fillers or nasties.

Step 3: Follow the recommended dosage

The recommended dosage of quercetin supplements varies depending on the brand, but generally, a daily dose of 500-1000mg is recommended for allergy relief. It's important to follow the recommended dosage and not exceed the maximum daily dose, as excessive consumption of quercetin supplements may cause side effects.

Step 4: Take with food

Quercetin supplements are best taken with food to aid in absorption and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.

Step 5: Be consistent and patient

It may take some time for quercetin supplements to start working, so be patient and consistent with your supplement regimen. It's recommended to take quercetin supplements for at least 4-6 weeks before assessing their effectiveness.

Step 6: Monitor for side effects

While quercetin supplements are generally considered safe for most people, some may experience mild side effects such as headache, upset stomach, or rash. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue use and consult with your healthcare provider.

By following these simple steps, you can effectively incorporate quercetin supplements into your allergy prevention and relief regimen.

Related: 7 Natural Solutions for Hay Fever and Allergic Rhinitis

Does quercetin affect the brain?

Quercetin has been studied for its potential effects on the brain, and there’s some evidence to suggest that it may have neuroprotective properties. Specifically, research has shown that quercetin may help to protect brain cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, which are two factors that can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In addition to its potential neuroprotective effects, quercetin may also have cognitive-enhancing properties. Some studies have suggested that quercetin may improve memory and learning ability in both animals and humans. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of quercetin on brain function and cognition.

Related: Nutrition for the Brain: What to Eat for Brain Function, Mood

Is quercetin hard on the liver?

There’s limited research on the potential effects of quercetin on the liver. However, some studies have suggested that quercetin may have hepatoprotective (liver-protecting) properties and could potentially be beneficial for individuals with liver damage or disease. For example, one study in rats found that quercetin supplementation helped to protect against liver damage caused by toxic chemicals. Additionally, another study in mice showed that quercetin supplementation improved liver function and reduced inflammation in animals with liver disease.

While these findings suggest that quercetin may have beneficial effects on the liver, it's important to note that excessive consumption of quercetin supplements may cause side effects such as headache, upset stomach, or rash. Furthermore, individuals with liver disease should consult with their healthcare provider before taking any new supplements, as they may interact with medication or even exacerbate liver damage in some cases.

Learn more: Top Vitamins and Nutrients for Healthy Liver and Kidney Function

In conclusion

Quercetin has been shown to have potential benefits for allergy relief due to its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of quercetin on allergies, it could be worth trying for those who are seeking natural remedies for their allergy symptoms. Overall, quercetin may be a promising natural option for those seeking relief from allergies.

Written by Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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The Healing Power of Mushrooms

The Healing Power of Mushrooms

Mushrooms have long been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

In recent years, medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, lion's mane, chaga, shiitake, and cordyceps,

…have become increasingly popular for their potential health benefits.

Researchers have found that these medicinal mushrooms (MM) may help with a wide range of health problems, like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and problems with the immune system

Modern pharmacological research backs up a lot of what our ancestors knew about mushrooms.

Specifically, the fact that mushrooms can be used as medicine,

…because of their antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties.

They’re also popularly used as functional foods.

These are foods that can be enjoyed knowing that they have additional health benefits.

The medicinal benefits are due to the nutrient dense properties of mushrooms.

They provide high quantities of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

This article is a summary of the many ways that mushrooms are good for human health. 

As well as our top five medicinal mushrooms that you might want to add into your daily routine.

Let’s dive in.

Are Mushrooms Really Good for You?

 Researchers have found that medicinal mushrooms help people deal with the stress and pressure of modern life by boosting both the basic and secondary immune responses of the body. More than 5,000 species of mushrooms have been found all over the world, and about 2000 of them are known to be edible. A lot of the species have not yet been looked at to see if they could be used as medicines or supplements. In other reports, researchers mention that there are actually 12,000 different types of mushrooms in the world. Mushrooms have been used in medicine since the Neolithic and Palaeolithic eras.


Medicinal mushrooms (MM) are large fungi that are used in the form of extracts or powder to prevent, or treat a number of diseases and/or to make a healthy diet more balanced. Even though mushrooms are actually fungi, they are called "vegetables" when it comes to food. They are also commonly used to replace meat in meatless dishes. That’s because they take on the flavours of the dish and some mushrooms are naturally umami. Which means they are savoury and have a hearty, meaty flavour.

 Learn more: A Guide to Mushrooms: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Best Types

An Exciting New Discovery

Scientists have discovered a compound found in mushrooms, specifically lion’s mane, that can improve memory by making nerves grow faster. A recent study published by The University of Queensland, suggests that a compound found in a type of mushroom called Lion's Mane may have potential benefits for cognitive health. The study found that consuming Lion's Mane extract led to improvements in cognitive function, such as better scores on a cognitive assessment and increased concentration levels.


 Additionally, researchers found that the extract may have a positive impact on the development of nerve cells in the brain, potentially contributing to the brain's ability to regenerate and repair itself. The findings suggest that Lion's Mane extract may have potential as a natural supplement for cognitive health, but further research is needed to fully understand its benefits. Dr. Lee, co-author of the paper concluded “This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory.”

 Related: Load up on trace minerals — They’re essential to avoid weak bones, a decreased immune system and many other health problems!

Our Top 5 Medicinal Mushrooms (MM)

 1.   Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushrooms  have long been used in the Orient to boost immune health.  There are three main benefits that have been proven by science: boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, getting rid of fatigue, depression and reducing chronic stress levels. Reishi mushrooms might also be good for your heart and help you control your blood sugar and restore healthy cholesterol levels.

2.   Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinus edodes)

In addition to being a fantastic source of umami flavour, dried shiitake mushrooms can be used as a meat substitute because they contain nearly all of the same amino acids as meat. That's why these mushrooms are so great for vegetarians and vegans. Further, the beta-glucans, sterols, and eritadenine in shiitake mushrooms may aid in controlling blood sugar and reducing cholesterol. In one study 52 young adults consumed 5-10 g of shiitake mushrooms daily. Resulting in improved gut immunity, and lowered markers for inflammation.

3.   Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

Lion’s mane mushrooms get their name from the shaggy mane-like appearance. Animal studies show that the lion's mane mushroom can boost the immune system. It does this by making the intestinal immune system work harder. This system protects the body from pathogens that enter the gut through the nose or the mouth. These effects may be caused in part by positive changes in gut bacteria that boost the immune system. In 2012, a study found that giving mice a lethal dose of Salmonella bacteria and then giving them a daily supplement of lion's mane extract made them live almost four times longer.

4.   Chaga Mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus)

A group of Japanese scientists used chaga to treat mice with lung cancer. Over the course of 3 weeks, the mice were given 6 mg of chaga per day. The results showed that the size of tumours went down by 60%, and the number of nodules in metastatic mice went down by 25%. In an interesting twist, the study also showed that the mice's immune systems improved. Because of the chaga doses, the body temperature of older mice went up, but the body temperature of mice that had tumours put in after the trial stayed the same. The immune system works better when the body's temperature stays high or stays the same. This suggests that chaga can help the immune system as a whole.

5.   Cordyceps Mushroom (Ophiocordyceps)

Cordyceps mushrooms contain many bioactive compounds that can boost the immune system. Including nucleosides, sterols, flavonoids, cyclic peptides, phenolic, bioxanthracenes, polyketides, and alkaloids. In clinical studies cordyceps mushrooms have been shown to have other pharmacological effects like anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-aging, hypocholesterolemic, hypotensive, vasorelaxation, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, and kidney protection.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating medicinal mushrooms into your diet may be a great way to boost your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you're looking to improve your immune system, reduce inflammation, or enhance cognitive function, a medicinal mushroom blend could help. While buying individual mushrooms can be expensive and time-consuming, a high-quality medicinal mushroom blend can provide you with the benefits of multiple mushrooms in one convenient supplement. When purchasing a blend, be sure to choose a reputable brand that uses high-quality ingredients. By adding a medicinal mushroom blend to your daily routine, you may be able to experience the numerous health benefits that these incredible fungi have to offer. So why not give it a try and see how it can enhance your overall health and wellbeing?

Written by Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.




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Fish Oil capsules arranged in the shape of a fish

All a little bit fishy? Let’s find out if fish oils really help the immune system…

Do Fish Oils Really Help the Immune System?

Fish oils have been a popular dietary supplement for quite some time now. Their rich omega-3 content is most commonly associated with having a positive effect on brain functioning and better heart health.

However, recently they have also been found to boost the immune system and prevent disease by reducing inflammation.

They’re also a great way to get those all-important omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, especially if you aren’t fond of eating fish.

In this article, we’ll discuss the relationship between fish oils and the immune system to find out if there’s anything fishy or if it's all plain sailing.

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What Vitamins Should You Take to Boost Your Immune System?

What Vitamins Should You Take to Boost Your Immune System?

As the days get shorter, it’s a good time to think about health.

Why? Because as winter hits, your body naturally goes into detox mode which can manifest as a cold or flu.

Instead of stumbling toward the colder winter months, planning to detox and boost your immune system ahead of time is wise. 

Although there are many supplements that can help boost your immune system, you also need to crowd out any unhealthy lifestyle habits

People are obsessed with the idea of fighting off illness, but I see things a different way. If you provide your body with the nutrients and enzymes it needs, it will naturally be protected from infection. This means going through your habits and deciding which ones support you and which don’t.

Additionally, making sure you consume enough antioxidants like vitamin C can help your body detox free radicals, toxins and pathogens. 

If you’d like to learn how to boost your immune system naturally, you’ve come to the right place. 

A New Take on Regular Exercise

A lack of exercise can stagnate your immune system and body overall.

Movement helps your lymphatic system (responsible for removing all of the waste from your body) function properly. This is also known by many as white blood cells.

Modern sedentary lifestyles or simply the fact that we no longer travel about to different places can begin to impact your health. We need to learn to move more and sit down less. 

If you haven’t managed yet, now is the perfect time to find ways to move in the new normal. This might be going for regular walks, starting a yoga practice, or going cycling. Whatever suits you.

Interestingly, recent research is challenging the 150 minutes of exercise per week rule. They found that it’s better to move around for 12 minutes every hour if you’re sitting still for work to keep the blood and lymph flowing. 

RelatedHow Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

Green Vegetables for the Win

Scientific research has discovered that green vegetables, in all forms, help your immune system function better.

In one 2011 study published in the journal Cell, mice were fed a vegetable-deficient diet for two to three weeks. The result? 70-80% of the immune cells known as intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) vanished. Seriously depleting the immune system.

In another study published in 2013, leafy greens were found to boost immune function by enhancing the quality and production of cells in the gut lining.

These cells (known as ILCs) have been found to protect the body from so-called “bad” bacteria. Helping maintain a healthy environment in the intestinal tract.

This is done by genes that generate immune cells when exposed to the compounds in leafy green vegetables. 

RelatedImmune System Boosters: How to Nurture Better Immunity

5 Powerful Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System

We are complex beings, and no vitamins work in isolation. However, some supplements help boost the immune system to fight infection.

Here are 5 of the top vitamins to boost your immune system (best taken as part of a healthy lifestyle routine):

Vitamin C

If there were just one vitamin that you could take to cleanse your body and boost your immune system, it would be vitamin C.

A lack of vitamin C can result in the development of illness. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin to consume daily because your body cannot produce it.

Although you can get vitamin C from your diet, many modern farming practices deplete the soil of nutrients. Therefore the plants don’t produce enough vitamin C or other nutrients, for that matter. 

Foods rich in vitamin C include organic bell pepper, spinach, kale, oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi.

Zinc

Another powerful vitamin that you should be consuming daily is zinc.

Zinc is required for growth in larger quantities during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

Zinc is necessary to make proteins and DNA, as well as helping the immune system fight off pathogens. 

Foods rich in zinc include organic nuts, (sprouted) seeds and grains, oats, and tofu.

Glutathione/glutamine

An often overlooked nutrient for detoxification and immunity is glutathione, despite it being one of the most critical antioxidant molecules.

Glutamine is a precursor for glutathione. In many cases, people choose to take glutamine so that their bodies can generate adequate amounts of glutathione.

Cell damage can occur when there are inadequate levels of glutathione in the body. This can be exacerbated by liver damage, as glutathione is produced in the liver.

Both glutathione and glutamine can reduce oxidative stress damage. 

Foods rich in glutamine include organic lentils, cabbage, spinach, tofu, beans, peas, and beets.

Vitamin B6

A deficiency of vitamin B6 can impair immune responses. Vitamin B6 deficiency is common in women of childbrearing age and also the elderly.

Vitamin B6 is a micronutrient that’s required for a wide range of body functions, such as the nervous system and metabolism.

Vitamin B6 influences the immune system, and supplementation has been shown to recover an impaired immune system in mouse models. 

Foods rich in vitamin B6 include organic peanuts, wheat germ, soya beans, bananas, and oats. 

Vitamin E

Omega 3 fatty acids form much of the protective membrane of our cells, and vitamin E can protect these membranes.

Vitamin E has been shown to boost immune responses in both humans and animals. It’s important to note that there are different forms of vitamin E, and they all have different effects on immune cells. 

Foods rich in vitamin E include organic wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, beet greens, red bell peppers, and pumpkin.

RelatedDoes Drinking Water Help Boost Your Immune System?

Conclusion

While some specific vitamins and minerals can help boost your immune system, there’s no shortcut to health.

Which is to say that a wide range of nutrients must be consumed via your diet to create a healthy immune system. At the same time, there are some key nutrients like vitamin C that work to cleanse your body of toxins and boost immune health.

Instead of focusing solely on fighting off infection, it’s better to focus on creating a healthy internal environment. 

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Evaluating New Research on Cesarean C-section & Microbiome

Having a c-section is often a matter of emergency. And so, once mother and baby are out of the operating room, the last thing you want to hear is that a c-section permanently impacts your baby's wellbeing.

For some time now, the health community has been discussing the lack of diversity in the microbiome of infants born by cesarean section.

If a baby is delivered naturally, its intestinal microbiota is already colonised by bacteria and microorganisms. Whereas if a baby is born via c-section, they are said to have gut dysbiosis, which might permanently harm microbiome development.

Interestingly, new research has been published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe that helps us understand more about this process.

Previously, it was believed that babies born via c-section would have an impaired immune system later in life. But the latest research paints a different picture.

One of a more steady developmental trajectory for gut ecosystem development. Rather than the microbiota being permanently impacted by a c-section, there’s a gradual maturation of the gut ecosystem.

The good news is that once the baby reaches five years of age, their gut microbiota has largely normalised.

Bacteria and microbes in the gut are continually evolving, growing and changing. The new research sheds light on a more understandable unfolding of the internal terrain.

How Does a C-section Affect The Microbiome?

As we learn more about the microbiome, we’re dispelling myths. Such as the suggestion that c-section babies are always more likely to develop allergies or obesity.

We now know that a c-section alters the internal microbiome of the baby because they don’t gather the microbes from their mother the same way that they would during a natural birth.

In a UK study of 596 babies born in hospital, researchers compared fecal samples from c-section and vaginal birth.

Finding that initially 80 percent of c-section babies had hospital acquired bacteria, compared with 50 percent of vaginally born babies. 

Similarly to the study I mentioned above, the differences largely disappeared by 9 months. The researchers warn that “We don’t know the long-term consequences of these findings.”

What we do know is that it’s not simply the vaginal birth process that populates the gut microbiota.

By taking samples from both mothers and babies, the researchers were surprised to find that the microbes seemed to be coming from the mother’s gut rather than from the vagina during delivery. 

RelatedThe Most Beneficial Bacteria

Vaginal Seeding & Microbiome Swab

Since we’ve all become fascinated by the microbiome, many bizarre practices have become popular, such as fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) and vaginal seeding. 

The idea is that you can take a microbiome from another person and implant it in the anus or the mouth. FMT has been found to cure people suffering with bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

Vaginal seeding has gained popularity because of the information that has been released regarding the stunted microbiome of a c-section baby. 

The idea is that the baby should have received its first dose of microbes as it passed through the birth canal. Vaginal seeding is when a swab is taken from the mother’s vagina before a c-section.

The swab is then wiped over the baby’s mouth or face. This practice is intended to help populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes.

New research has discovered the faecal samples of both mothers and babies were similar, even in c-sections; rendering the bizarre practice of vaginal seeding more or less pointless. 

Related: Microbiome Health: The Right Environment, The Right Microbial Strains

Do C-section Babies Have Weaker Immune Systems?

Some studies have concluded that birth by cesarean section could impair a baby’s immune system.

The microbes in your gut impact how well your immune system functions, therefore gut dysbiosis due to c-section makes sense – kind of.

Although the gut microbiome of a baby born via c-section differs from a baby born naturally, this difference doesn’t last for long

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause and effect of a weakened immune system, but some studies have suggested that babies born via c-section have weaker immune systems.

“It could be that the immune system of these children is set on a different path early on,” suggests Paul Wilmes, Associate Professor of Systems Ecology at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg.

“We now want to further investigate this link mechanistically and find ways by which we might replace the lacking maternal bacterial strains in caesarean-born babies, e.g. by administering probiotics.”

RelatedShining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Restoring the Normal Microbiota of Cesarean-section Infants

Although the microbiome of a c-section baby differs from those who had a natural birth, it has been found to balance out naturally by the age of 5.

Additionally, breastfeeding helps propagate the beneficial gut bacteria populations.

The question remains – do C-section babies need probiotics? As with most things in life, it’s an individual choice.

The gut microbiome is unique for everyone, and the rate that the microbes populate can vary depending on environment, genome, gender and multiple other factors. 

It’s thought that babies are born with a sterile gut, only to be populated by breast milk, food and their surrounding environment.

If you feel that your baby needs probiotics, the good news is that research has shown that even premature babies can tolerate probiotics.

Alongside breastfeeding, probiotics can populate the gut with health-promoting bacteria.

There are four main strains of probiotics; Lactobacillus, Bifdobacterium, Streptococcus, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

However, research is limited in the effects of each specific strain on children and infants. 

RelatedProbiotics for Women Benefits: Hormone Balance, Menopause, UTIs

In Conclusion

As with many scientific findings, we’re continually learning more about the microbiome and how it’s impacted during childbirth.

What we know for sure is that the microbiome of babies born via c-section is not as well developed as those born naturally. We also know that many strains of bacteria are transmitted via the gut of the mother, suggesting that we might not be born so sterile after all.

The good news is that even if a baby is born via c-section, the latest scientific evidence is showing that their microbiome will develop overtime, aligning with their peers who were born naturally. 

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Does Drinking Water Help Boost Your Immune System?

Does Drinking Water Help Boost Your Immune System?

Can Drinking Water Help Boost your Immune System?

Did you know that you lose one cup of water per day just by breathing, and six cups of water is lost daily from urination?

Drinking water is a key component of building a healthy body. A build-up of toxins from any source can be worsened with dehydration.

Toxins from your environment or from metabolic processes all put a burden on your immune system. This makes it difficult for your body to fight off any pathogens that you might be exposed to.

A lack of water leads to your immune system becoming static and stuck, meaning it can’t be activated when it’s needed.

Immune cells are normally fairly dormant and spring into action when there’s some sort of immune challenge.

In this article, we’ll consider whether drinking water boosts your immune system; and look at six key ways water can impact your immune system. Plus, seven immediate ways to boost your immune system today. Let’s dive in…

Can Drinking Water Really Boost Your Immune System?

Yes, it sure can!

Drinking water is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to boost your immune system.

Water helps your kidneys rid your body of harmful substances in the form of urine. Plus, your vital organs need copious amounts of water to do their job effectively.

Water is also used to help your lungs release CO2. Care should be taken to drink extra water when pregnant, breastfeeding, in warm weather, or when exercising.

Did you know that you should be producing approximately six cups of urine per day? If you’re producing less, it could be a sign of kidney damage that should be checked out.

People with kidney problems can find it hard to urinate and need to restrict water intake, especially when receiving kidney dialysis.

RelatedThe Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water


6 Immune System Benefits of Drinking Water

One of the cornerstones of health is drinking lots of high-quality water. Below I outline six of the myriad of health benefits of drinking water, related to immune health.

1) Waste Removal

There are three ways that your body excretes waste. These are urination, defecation, and sweating. Water is essential for all three processes to function efficiently.

2) Prevents Dehydration

An obvious (but critical) benefit of water is the prevention of dehydration. Dehydration is prevalent when your body is ill with a fever.

3) Aids in Digestion

The whole process of digestion, nutrient absorption, and excretion is facilitated by water. Regulating water intake ensures that the immune system functions properly.

4) Brain Health

73% of the water in your body is contained in your brain. Hydration relies on both water and electrolytes to allow adequate absorption. Good brain health also fuels healthy choices. Your brain simply works better when it’s hydrated.

5) Heart Health

Your heart works for you day and night, and the whole process relies on adequate water intake. Dehydration lowers the amount of blood that flows through the heart, resulting in thick blood. One study found that both men and women who drank at least five glasses of water per day halved their risk of dying of coronary heart disease.

6) Regulates Body Temperature

When you’re unwell, you’ll likely run a fever. At this point, you’ll need to up your water intake. Sweating requires water and is the main way your body temperature is regulated. Sweating has many immune system benefits from heavy metal detoxification to bacterial cleansing.

RelatedViktor Schauberger, Living Water and Lessons from Nature

5 Immediate Steps to Boost Your Immune System

Get Quality Sleep

It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters, you also need to be vigilant about the quality of your sleep.

When asleep, and no longer active, various cleaning-up processes are activated. Your brain cells shrink and water is released from your spinal cord to cleanse the brain, a process known as your brain’s washing machine.

Additionally, inflammatory cytokines are released when you’re asleep to signal that it’s time to heal and cleanse.

Practice Meditation

Meditation has been proven to calm the nervous system, making life easier and boosting your immune system. Chronic stress and depression can inhibit immune cell activation, lowering your immune response.

As such, meditation, which has been proven to reduce stress and soothe the nervous system, can help boost immunity.

Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are filled with antioxidants that help rid your body of free radicals and toxins. They also contain a panoply of nutrients that boost your immune system.

The best fruits and vegetables to go for are packed with vitamins C, B6, and vitamin E, the top nutrients that you should be looking for to boost your immune system.

Foods rich in these nutrients include:

• Foods Bursting with Vitamin C

Citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts all contain high levels of vitamin C.

• Vitamin E Rich Foods

Pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, almonds, peanut butter, and red bell peppers all contain high levels of vitamin E

• Whole Foods Filled with Vitamin B6

Avocados, quinoa, chestnuts, oranges, tahini, banana, pistachio nuts, spring greens, and nutritional yeast are some great examples of foods high in vitamin B6.

Drink more water

Water is one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your immune system fast.

Your body is 60-70% water and requires at least 6-8 cups of water per day to stay hydrated and healthy. In saying that, everyone is unique.

Water also helps remove waste, and as such is great for cleansing and boosting your immune system.

• Take Your Vitamins

Vitamin deficiencies can lead to the development of disease. Therefore, it’s important that you top up your fuel reserves of vitamins. A daily multivitamin is a great place to start.

Also, having your nutritional status checked annually can spot problems before they develop into symptoms.

Many diseases are characterised by a vitamin deficiency. Vitamin D is implicit in your immune response, so if you live in an area that has long winter months, a vitamin D supplement is a good idea.

RelatedTop 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System


 The Bottom Line

Water is vital for all systems of your body to function. Any imbalances in these systems can lead to the development of disease.

Water is the lubricant (alongside lipids) that allows your body to function effectively. A lack of water can result in a toxic body that’s blocked and unable to flow naturally, meaning you can’t excrete waste and as such disease becomes inevitable.

Ensuring adequate water intake is the main component in boosting your immune system, and in turn, improving overall health and well-being.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Shining a Light on the Immune System Microbe Connection

Every day we’re finding out more about how the body works. A lot of old myths and faulty science has been overturned. Such as your DNA being fixed and solely responsible for the onset of disease.

We now know that our body is made up of trillions of microbes, that outweigh your DNA by a factor of 10 to one.

This information has been vigorously explored, thanks to the hugely funded NIH Human Microbiome Project (HMP). A ten-year multi-phase research project exploring the interactions between humans and the bacteria that reside in your gut (your microbiome).

In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between your immune system and your gut. Revealing the connections, how your gut microbes fight infection, and ten steps you can take to clean out your gut to boost immune health today.

Gut Bacteria (Microbes) and the Immune System Connection


A whopping 70% of your immune system resides in the gut. So it’s no surprise that the gut plays a major role in the immune system.

Other than your lungs, your gut is perpetually filled with dangerous pathogens like bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, and toxins. Alongside nutritious food.

Both the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and the mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) are paramount to the immune systems functioning smoothly. Cleansing out bad bacteria, and viruses so that the good bacteria can proliferate. 

There is a complex dual-action relationship between gut microbes and our immune system. That I’ll get into later in this article.

The two forms of immune activity are adaptive and innate. Innate immunity is essential as a front line response, while the secondary immune system, the adaptive immune system, takes up to 10 days to come online, so to speak.

The type of food you eat directly affects your microbiota. Plant-based foods act as prebiotics (nutrition) for your good bacteria, while processed foods can cause inflammation and wipe out the beneficial bacteria. Due to lack of nourishment. 

RelatedHow to Use the Best of Nature to Balance Your Microbiome and Improve Immunity

Do All Diseases Start in the Gut?


The interaction between microbiota and immunity in health and disease is essential for wellbeing. While not all diseases start in the gut, the main illnesses plaguing our modern world – diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease – all start in the gut.

Leaky gut (gut permeability) and gut inflammation hinder the work of your mighty microbes. Opening the door to a wide range of metabolic disorders

Learn moreWhy Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprehensive Guide

A Few “Special” Gut Microbes


Although we’re yet to pinpoint the exact cause for inflammatory bowel disease, research done in the 2000s revealed an interesting fact.

Harry Sokol, a gastroenterologist at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris, examined the DNA of the diseased intestines of a few people suffering from IBD. Instead of finding a pathogen or exact microbe that was causing the disease, he found the complete opposite. A specific bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was suspiciously absent.

Prompting the question: could one good microbe heal the gut?

Sokol then carried out an experiment on mice. He placed the bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, into mice with intestinal inflammation and found that the microbe protected the mice from IBD.

He then mixed F. prausnitzii with human immune cells in a test tube. The result was a strong anti-inflammatory response.

Sokol isn’t the only one to identify specific microbes that are important for balancing the immune system and gut health. Other microbes that have been isolated as beneficial to the immune system include enterococcus faecium, lactobacillus plantarum, and lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Learn more3 Key Factors for Improved Gut  Health

Keystone Species in Modern Disease

A question that haunts the modern scientist is, why is the modern population so prone to inflammatory diseases and allergies, even though they are free of infectious agents?

One conclusion is that microbiome diversity is the key. This theory came about due to studies of indigenous people and how their microbiome differs from those in the industrialised world. The conclusion was that a loss of diversity leads to disease. 

This loss of diversity is thought to come about due to antibiotic use, hyper sanitisation, and the standard Western diet. When compared to the ecosystem, there are what’s known as “keystone species,” that carry out a pivotal role in the functioning of that ecosystem. An example of this is: elephants who knock down trees in the African savannah. Thus providing grazing for many other species.

Perhaps important microbes or microbial communities are keystone species for our gut? Meaning that a loss of diversity could quite possibly trigger a cascade of other problems. 

RelatedAnxiety and Gut Problems: A Closer Look at the Gut-Brain Axis

Dual Action, How the Gut Microbiome Prevents Infection


The gut microbial community plays a vital role in your immune system. Why doesn’t your body attack gut bacteria? Simply put, the immune system has a symbiotic relationship with the microbes in your gut.

When your gut is populated with the right kinds of bacteria, this relationship with the immune system flourishes. However, many people in the west have a lack of diversity and good bacteria in the gut. Leading to inflammation and infection.  

The way it works is that the microbes can either directly prevent a pathogen and/or regulate your immune system.

Interestingly, some microbes actually secrete antibacterial substances called “bacteriocins”. Recent studies have identified 170 species of bacteria that can secrete bacteriocins.

RelatedTop 5 Vitamins to Boost the Immune System

10 Ways to Clean Out Your Gut


Science is now proving that our myriad of lifestyle illnesses can be reversed with a simple change in daily habits. Especially your eating habits.

Ditching the Western diet is the first step. Interestingly, if you like to drink alcohol, one glass of red wine has been shown to support good bacteria. While other types of alcohol will harm your gut.

Here are some easy ways to help your gut clean out:

  • Water flush
  • Colon cleanse
  • Take a high-quality probiotic supplement
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise for 30 mins a day
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • Drink kombucha
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners 
  • Avoid antibacterial toothpaste, cleaners and mouthwash

The Bottom Line

The microbes in your gut play a major role in immunity. Your gut microbiome is continually adapting in accordance with your lifestyle. For this reason, you can significantly boost your immune system by simply taking care of your gut. Why not start with a few of the steps to clean out your gut outlined above?

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Supplements for protection from 5G and EMF radiation

How to Support the Body’s Immune Response with Omega-3

How to Support the Body’s Immune Response with Omega-3

One of the best ways to enhance overall health is to boost your immune system, by following a healthy lifestyle. This can mean distinctly different things to each individual.

Eating a balanced diet bursting with colour and whole foods is a great first step. Also consuming foods that have immune-boosting ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin D and essential fatty acids.

We’ve known that essential fatty acids (a.k.a omega-3s, EFAs or n-3 PUFAs) boost your immune system for the past 50 years. However, because there was previously no way to test for omega-3 deficiency, the research went largely unnoticed – until recently.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and the immune system. Exploring recent scientific research to discover why and how omega-3s boost the immune system.

We'll also look at evidence-based health benefits of omega-3s and where they come from.

Omega-3s – The Basic Building Blocks of Cell Membranes


Omega-3s offer many health-promoting benefits including boosting heart health; this is widely known.

More recently researchers have been looking into using fatty acids to prevent or treat inflammatory and immune diseases.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are the basic building blocks of cell membranes.

They are considered “essential” because they cannot be created in the body and must be consumed in the diet.

N-3 PUFAs are made up of a kind of fat known as a lipid, more specifically “phospholipids”. Lipids are molecules that have poor solubility in water.

The lipid-solubility of a cell membrane influences how easily particles can permeate the cell wall. Because the cell (or plasma) membrane separates the interior of a cell from its surrounding environment.

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids strengthens the cell walls. This includes the membranes of your immune cells.

RelatedProven Scientific Benefits of Combining Omega-3 & Vitamin B

Which Omega-3 is Best? (Omega-3 Purity)


There’s no doubt about it, omega 3 fatty acids are great for overall health.

However, you must make sure that you look for the purest products available.

Contaminants from the environment can be absorbed by fish. These include heavy metals, chemicals, and microplastics.

For this reason, care should be taken to find foods and supplements that are free from contaminants and toxins.

Omega-3 fatty acids are susceptible to oxidation and should be carefully handled and stored to ensure that their beneficial properties are kept intact.

The bioavailability of omega-3s is highest when the source is pure and the producer takes great care to test for contaminants.

The good news is that if you are vegan or vegetarian, you don’t have to worry about fish absorbing toxins. Instead, you can eat the plants that fish consume directly.

Rather than eating the nutrients filtered through fish, you can choose to consume omega-3 rich algae.

Your immune system is your body’s defence system, tasked with fighting off foreign particles that enter your body and ensuring all systems function smoothly.

The immune system also has its own memory, that it uses to ward off pathogens that it’s experienced in the past.

Learn moreHow Toxic Is Your Fish Oil? The Case for Clean Supplements

Does Omega 3 Increase White Blood Cells?

Hundreds of research papers have now been published that demonstrate the relationship between omega-3s and the immune system.

We know that the structural components of omega-3s – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – can suppress inflammation. Additionally, researchers have explored other functions of omega-3 and the immune system.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology found that DHA- and EPA-rich oils enhance the function of B cells. B cells are a type of white blood cell used to fight pathogens and ward off disease. Meaning your white blood cells may not be increased, but they will be powered up if you consume omega-3s.  Your immune cell membranes structurally change when fatty acids are consumed.

Scientists use the term “Lipid rafts” to describe the cellular membrane. Scientists have now found that omega-3 fatty acids can help rebuild the cell membrane (or lipid rafts) in T-cells (immune cells). Allowing us to further understand the underlying mechanisms whereby omega-3s can strengthen your immune cells.

How Omega-3s Help Your Body Eliminate Pathogens


A type of white blood cell called a “macrophage” plays an important role in eliminating pathogens from your body.

They are like tiny Pac Men, going through your body and detecting alien invaders. After a pathogen is found, the macrophage recruits immune cells from both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

They also ingest foreign materials, a process that is aided by omega-3s. With their immune defence system on high alert, your body can mount an effective immune response.

Omega-3 fatty acids alter macrophage function by producing cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins that can communicate between lipid layers. Omega-3s also aid in the production of chemokines that attract immune cells to an infected area.

Boosted macrophage activity from omega-3 fatty acids happens because of changes in gene regulation. In the immune system, the main changes are due to the DHA component of omega-3s.

Macrophages can also be activated to promote tissue repair after viruses and pathogens are eliminated.

RelatedFish Oil for Autism: Could EPA, DHA Benefit Autism & ADHD?

Six Sources of Omega-3s (Plus Recommended Daily Dose)

Fish is the most common source of omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet. 71% of omega 3 fatty acids come from fish, while just 36% is from cereal products.

Vegetables, seeds and nuts are another sources of omega-3s, but they are not normally consumed in high enough quantities.

Currently, the recommended daily dose of omega-3 is 1.1g.

Here’s a question: why do people say that fish is a good source of omega-3s?

The truth is, it’s not the fish – rather it’s what they eat.

Fish eat algae that contain high levels of EPA and DHASeafish often contains high levels of mercury and should be avoided.

Instead, look for more sustainable, small species fish such as anchovies.

The six sources of omega 3 are:

  • Algae
  • Seaweed (undaria pinnatifida, also known as wakame)
  • Fish
  • Cereal
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Vegetables

Related6 Foods High in Omega-3, and Why You Should Eat More

Conclusion

As you can see, omega-3 fatty acids play a pivotal role in your immune system.

By strengthening cell walls, helping macrophages consume pathogens and creating a strong immune response in the presence of a virus, pathogen or bacterial invasion, omega-3s help to upregulate our natural immunity and keep us fighting fit.

Sadly, most people in the developed world consume just 10% of the recommended daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Which is nowhere enough to support optimal immune function.

Supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil is an indubitably good way of upping your intake of fatty acids and avoiding the pitfalls of deficiency.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Worried About Cold and Flu Season? These 8 Things Can Help

Worried About Cold and Flu Season? These 8 Things Can Help

Worried About Cold and Flu Season? These 8 Things Can Help

Autumn is here and with it the inevitable onset of the cold and flu season. The flu tends to peak around December and wane from February/March. You can catch a cold all year round, but it does appear to be more prevalent during the cold months.

Research suggests that the flu virus thrives in colder, dry weather – having said that, it can also survive in more humid climates, so scientists are still not entirely sure how the cold and flu viruses behave in the environment. It does appear, though, that cold air affects our nasal passages, slowing down mucus clearance, which is the first line of defence when it comes to upper respiratory tract infections.

Viruses like the common cold and flu, along with any inhaled bacteria, are caught by your nasal mucus. It's then swallowed, with any infection getting destroyed by your stomach acid. Colder air can impede this process

. In addition to the climate, our lifestyles are different during autumn and winter, increasing susceptibility to colds and flu. We aren't exposed to enough sunlight to boost our vitamin D and strengthen immunity. We also shut ourselves in, closing windows, while sharing the same circulating air as infected people.

If you always get ill during winter, or you'd like to protect yourself as much as you can, there are natural ways you can fend off colds and flu and shorten their duration should you become ill.

Here are 8 natural ways to defend yourself against colds and flu.

1) Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated


Maintaining healthy practices in day-to-day life, all year round, is the best overall defence for any illness, including colds and flu.

One thing we should all be doing is ensuring we are drinking enough water.

Even mild dehydration can cause symptoms like tiredness and headaches, so imagine the health impact of consistently not drinking enough.

You need water. Without it, you cannot live. It assists every single function in your body and keeps your immune system strong. Water is necessary for transporting nutrients and oxygen to each one of your cells while also keeping them clean and flushing out toxins. 

Dehydration may increase your chances of getting colds and flu and may also make you more prone to a blocked nose and sore throat.

Adequate rehydration is essential if you are ill, to help you fight off a virus. Symptoms like fever, coughing, diarrhoea and a lack of appetite can all contribute to dehydration, so it’s imperative to replenish fluids if you are ill.

Water hydrates the mucous membranes in your nose, preventing germs from reaching your lungs. It can help to ease nasal irritation and regulate your body temperature

So, to reduce your risk of colds and flu, or any other illness for that matter, aim to drink around two litres of water per day. Avoid caffeinated drinks and hydrate with an extra glass or two of water if you do.

Drink more if you are exercising. If you become ill, monitor how much you are drinking to ensure you’re getting enough fluids and take some electrolytes, providing you with essential minerals to help you to hydrate more effectively.

2) Take a vitamin D supplement


Vitamin D plays an essential role in your immune response and helps protect you from illness. Healthy levels can help defend against colds, the flu and other respiratory infections. 

As part of a healthy lifestyle, get out in the sunshine as much as you can during the summer months. Expose as much of your skin as possible, for short bursts, without sunscreen (but be safe and cover up before you start to burn).

The darker your skin, the longer you need to bare it to the sun.

Once we get to autumn and right the way through to spring, it’s advisable to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement. It’s also a good idea to supplement in the summer if you don’t get out in the sun very much. 

Some research shows that while taking a vitamin D supplement can protect against colds and flu, it’s most effective in people whose levels are low. It’s thought to work by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides (natural antibiotic-like substances) in the lungs.

If you often suffer from winter colds or are worried about the flu, it may be worth getting your levels checked by your doctor in case they are low as it could make you more susceptible to illness. The NHS also sell vitamin D test packs.

Public Health England recommends children from the age of one year, and adults should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (400 IU) during autumn and winter.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the safe upper limit for daily vitamin D supplementation in adults is 4,000 IU. That said, some studies have found that daily doses of 10,000 IU are well tolerated in adults.

In light of COVID-19, some researchers and doctors have formed an international alliance to encourage governments to increase the daily vitamin D recommendations to 4,000IU as they believe it would reduce COVID hospitalisations. More on that here.  

For more information on vitamin D, how to get enough and how it protects your lungs and boosts immunity, click here.

3) Take regular, moderate exercise

Intense exercise can lead to immunosuppression, which may cause an increased risk of infection. It also has the potential to damage your protective gut lining, causing a leaky gut, alter your gut microbiome and the way you metabolise food.

With over 70% of your immune system stemming from your GI tract, this can also negatively impact immunity. 

On the other hand, moderate exercise can boost immunity and may help to down-regulate excessive inflammation within the respiratory tract, aiding in the activation of innate antiviral immunity. It releases feel-good hormones, lifting mental-emotional wellbeing and helps to reduce blood pressure and the risk of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Brisk walking is an excellent example of moderate exercise. Research shows that it can help to protect you from colds and flu and aid more swift recovery.

According to Harvard Medical School, a study with over 1,000 adults found that those who walked for 20 minutes or more every day, five days a week, had 43% less sick days than those who exercised once weekly or less.

If the regular walkers did become ill, their symptoms were milder and were over more quickly.

You can enhance the walking effect by striding out into nature which is known to increase strength and vitality, raise immunity, reduce inflammation and relieve stress.

Other examples of moderate exercise are cycling no more than 10 to 12 miles per hour, leisurely swimming, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, or light jogging.

4) Get plenty of sleep 


Over time, poor sleep can have a considerably negative impact on your health and wellbeing.

Depression, high blood pressure, cognitive impairment, neurodegenerative diseases and increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes are just some of the conditions linked to sleep loss. It may also shorten your lifespan.

Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to colds and flu. Lowered immunity means that you may also take longer to recover.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you struggle with insomnia or find it hard to get to sleep, you may benefit from these sleep techniques or taking a sleep supplement.

5) Stock up on zinc


Zinc activates your immune system, fights infection and reduces inflammation. It can help to lessen the symptoms of a cold while shortening its duration. 

Eating a balanced diet is essential for a healthy immune system, and many foods are rich in zinc. We don’t store it and need to replenish zinc regularly, so stock up on these foods every day to help support your immunity:

  • Grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, and chicken legs.
  • Oysters and other seafood.
  • Pumpkin, sesame, hemp seeds and almonds.
  • Legumes, eggs, quinoa, brown rice and oats. 

The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews recommends that adults take a daily dose of 75mg for the duration of a cold.

If you are not ill but would like to take a daily supplement, in the UK, the daily RNI for zinc is 7mg for women and 9.5mg for men aged 19 to 50 years.

Make sure you don’t overdose, as too much zinc can inhibit copper absorption!

6) Eat lots of vitamin C foods


Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight infection. Research is conflicted, with some showing that it may not prevent a cold.

But a study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that higher vitamin C levels from eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of respiratory infection.

Research also shows that vitamin C does shorten the duration of a cold. 

The pooling of data from several trials indicates that very active people like athletes, marathon runners or soldiers may benefit from vitamin C supplements as it could cut the risk of catching a cold by half. 

For full immune system benefits, you need to eat vitamin C foods daily, not just if you become ill. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables should provide healthy amounts of vitamin C, but you may also benefit from supplementing should you become unwell.  

Vitamin C foods include bell peppers, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries and other berries, papaya, oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes and green peas.

7) Relax, unwind, destress


Our minds and bodies are so closely linked, and it’s gradually becoming more accepted that emotions and illness are connected.

Stress has a marked effect on immunity and reduces your body’s ability to fight infection. Also, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like excessively drinking, comfort eating, or smoking.

If you’re anxious, stressed out or depressed, you may not sleep as well, and your gut health can also suffer. All these things affect immunity.

Not everyone is aware of how stressed they are, but their body may be responding to it nonetheless. So, as part of a healthy living plan, it’s essential to look after your mental and emotional wellbeing as a matter of course.

What you eat can help to buffer the negative physical impact of stress, as well as balance and uplift your moods. Adequate exercise and getting good sleep are also essential for managing any adverse physical and mental effects. 

Conscious lifestyle decisions and choices can also make a significant difference. For instance, how often do you think about what makes you feel truly joyful and happy?

And how often do you work on how to bring more of that into your life? It doesn’t have to be bells and whistles; you can get immense pleasure from the smallest of things. But whatever it is, seeking out and acting out whatever brings you joy can be a powerful stress shifter.

The connections you make are important too. Keeping good company and spending time with uplifting people can create positive feelings and shift your perspective in a good way.

Regular relaxation practices and techniques are also great stress relievers. Try deep breathing, muscle relaxation, Tai Chi, meditation, stretching, yoga, mindfulness, mindful movement, self-massage or visualisation.

You can also start a new hobby, get into gardening, read a good book or take up painting – the list goes on. Just find what works for you and do it regularly. 

For more articles on how to relieve stress, click here.

8) Drink bone broth

As part of a healthy, balanced diet, try a daily cup of bone broth. It can help repair damage to your gut lining and encourage the healthy growth of gut bacteria, easing inflammation and improving immunity. 

Research shows that chicken broth reduces inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, helping to clear the nasal passages and lessening the severity of colds.

Bone broth is also packed full of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that can boost and feed your immune system while helping to keep you hydrated

There are plenty of 24-hour bone broth recipes online. Just be sure to use organic bones as you don’t want to take in any of the toxins the bone marrow or bones have absorbed from non-organic rearing methods.

These include routine exposure to antibiotics, toxic chemicals like pesticides and insecticides and growth-stimulating hormones. It’s also beneficial to add vinegar to the broth while cooking to leech the valuable collagen and minerals from the bones.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits and other whole foods daily to get all the nutrients you need for a robust immune system.

It’s not just about vitamin C and zinc. You need a well-rounded intake of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients if you want to be well. 

Don’t forget to drink enough water, either. It can boost immunity, flush out toxins, ease cold and flu symptoms and help you to fight a virus should you become ill. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food, so it’s advisable to take a supplement, at least during autumn and winter.

But staying healthy to ward off colds and flu isn’t just about what you eat, it’s also about making sensible lifestyle choices. Getting enough sleep, managing your stress levels and taking regular, moderate exercise are all critical components too. 

So for good health this autumn and winter, you know what to do!

By Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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four people walking

The Benefits of Walking for Heart and Immune Health

The Benefits of Walking for Heart and Immune Health

Want a healthy heart and to avoid colds and flu? Walk.

Walking is a very underrated and brilliant form of exercise. It's cheap, easy and suitable for all ages. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a decent waterproof, and off you trot.

Taking time out for a brisk, daily stroll can benefit your health in a multitude of ways, from a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke to enhancing your mental and emotional wellbeing. Read below for nine ways walking can radically improve your health and wellbeing.

Oh, and aim to do at least 30 minutes every day – breaking it into smaller chunks if you haven't got the time to do it all in one go.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Daily Walk

If you want to get the most out of your daily walk, there are several things you can do to turn it into more of a workout…

1) Pick up your pace to speed up your heart rate.

2) Before you set off, warm up and get your blood flowing to all the muscles you’ll be working. Loosen up with some lunges, gently stretch your inner thighs, quads and hip flexors, and do some leg swings.

3) Set yourself challenges, regularly increasing your walking time and distance.

4) Alternate your speed throughout your walk. Go at a normal pace for a few minutes, then pick a spot in the distance and walk at a faster speed until you reach it – pushing up your heart rate, being only able to talk in short bursts. Repeat as many times as you like.

Keep the periods short at first (one or two minutes) and work your way up as your fitness improves. 

5) When it comes to active walking, work those arms, moving them with intent. Keep the movement as fluid as possible, making sure your shoulders and neck are relaxed. Lightly close your fists and position your arms at a right angle, moving them naturally, front to back like a pendulum.

Use your elbows to guide the movement and move your arms rhythmically to propel your stride – opposite arm to leg, i.e. right foot forward with right arm back, and left arm forward.

6) Pick a walk where you cover different terrains and go uphill – your body has to work harder.

7) Be aware of your posture, lengthen your spine and walk tall, engaging your tummy muscles without holding them too tightly. Breathe deeply, tensing them more as you exhale. Evenly distribute your weight across both feet. 

8) Learn the Nordic walking technique; it burns more calories, tones the upper and lower body at the same time and utilises 90% of the skeletal muscles. It can be helpful for shoulder, neck and back issues and reduces pressure on the joints and knees.

9) Add stairs into your walking routine.

10) Walk to music with a fast beat to keep your pace up.

11) Don’t forget to stretch at the end!

9 Health Benefits of a Daily Stroll

1) Boosts immunity and protects against colds and flu

 Vigorous walking can help protect you from colds and flu, and if you do get ill, it may not last as long.

According to Harvard Medical School, a study with over 1,000 adults found that those who walked for 20 minutes or more every day, five days a week, had 43% less sick days than those who exercised once weekly or less.

If the regular walkers did become ill, their symptoms were milder and were over more quickly.

2) Walking may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s

A study published in 2011 found that frequent walking may slow cognitive decline in healthy adults, those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s patients.

In this ongoing 20-year study with 462 adults (a mixture of healthy and cognitively impaired individuals, and people with Alzheimer’s), at the 10-year mark, researchers noted that walking five miles per week protects the brain structure – particularly in the key learning and memory centres of the brain.

The study also found that those with Alzheimer’s and MCI had a slower decline in memory loss over five years.

RelatedSix Ways to Help Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

3) It may reduce the risk of breast cancer

In an extensive 17-year study by the American Cancer Society of over of 73,000 postmenopausal women, data suggests that an hour or more a day of walking lowers breast cancer risk by 14%. The results were gathered from 47% of women in the study who reported that walking was their only form of exercise and compared to women walking only three hours or less a week.

According to the researchers, walking also protects women at higher risk of breast cancer for reasons such as using hormone supplements or being overweight.

4) A daily walk can improve sleep

A 4-week randomised controlled trial published by the National Sleep Foundation enrolled 59 male and female participants and measured their daily steps using Fitbits. The patients self-reported their sleep quality and duration daily, both before, during and after the study. Active walking minutes were positively reflected in the sleep quality (but not the length).

Women who took more steps had a better night’s sleep than those who did less. For both sexes, on the days where they were more active than usual, an improvement in both sleep quality and duration was noted

Another 4-week walking intervention study carried out on 429 people in the Japanese workplace, also had positive results. The walking target was 10,000 steps per day.

During the trial, participants who already had regular exercise habits reported improved sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), quality and duration. In those who had no exercise regimen to begin with, the improvement in all aspects of their sleep was even more marked. 

5) Supports joints and reduces arthritic pain

Many studies support the role of regular walking for reducing joint pain.

Research shows that arthritic patients who take daily walks have increased confidence, less depression, health distress and pain.

Walking can improve circulation and strengthen muscles. The movement of walking helps joint fluid to circulate, getting oxygen and valuable nutrients to the joints like the knees and hips where they are desperately needed.

According to Harvard Health, walking five to six miles a week may even prevent the onset of arthritis. 

6) Improves heart health

It’s common knowledge that any form of aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

In 2009, researchers looked at studies done between 1954 and 2007 on walking and coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention. Pooled data from the 11 studies that met the inclusion criteria indicated that around 30 minutes of walking per day for five days a week was associated with a 19% reduced risk of CHD.

It was discovered that CHD risk decreases as walking increases, and the researchers suggested that walking should be prescribed as a preventative for the general population. 

According to Harvard Health, another report pooling findings from several well-performed studies showed that walking reduced cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying by 32%.

Applicable to both men and women, positive results showed at just 5.5 miles per week at a moderate pace of two miles per hour. The faster the speed and longer the walk, the greater the heart health benefits.

7) Balance blood sugar, reduce sugar cravings and reduce diabetes risk

According to a small study published by the American Diabetes Association, 15-minute bouts of moderate post-meal walking can improve 24-hour glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose tolerance. It was found that while both were effective, there were better blood glucose results from 15-minute post-meal bursts compared to a single 45-minute walk during the day. 

Research shows that walking can reduce chocolate cravings in healthy people, and another small study tested this theory on 47 overweight sugary-snack consumers.

After three days abstaining from chocolate, the participants were then asked not to eat, drink (except water) or exercise for two hours before each assessment. The assessments were performed on separate days, seven days apart. They involved either walking for 15 minutes or sitting passively, with no conversation or stimulation, in the laboratory for 15 minutes.

After completing these tasks, their stress levels were measured when unwrapping and handling sweet sugary snacks of their choice for 30 seconds.

Researchers found that short bouts of walking reduced sugar cravings in the overweight participants compared to the passive sitting. So, when you get the urge to eat sugary snacks, taking a short brisk walk could be enough to curb the desire.

It could also be a valuable tool when it comes to breaking the habit of reaching for sugary snacks when stressed or when in the presence of chocolate and treats. 

8) It’s an excellent energy booster and mood enhancer

Like any form of exercise, walking boosts your energy by improving circulation and oxygenating your body. Being active is very beneficial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. It helps to reduce the risk of depression, eases anxiety, improves your mood and helps to reduce the symptoms of depression.

If you can walk in nature, it enhances the effects, as getting out into green open spaces can increase your strength and vitality. Being in nature raises immunity, reduces inflammation and relieves stress.

Related5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Nature Therapy

9) Increases longevity

The American Cancer Society has found that even a little walking can lower mortality risk. In the study, researchers examined data from 140,000 people with an average age of 69. They found that even participants who walked for less than two hours a week had a lower death risk than those who didn’t exercise at all.

Those who met the American Cancer Society recommendations (by walking) of 150 minutes moderate exercise or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity had a 20% lower mortality risk.

The most marked results showed in the prevention of respiratory disease-related deaths (more than six hours of walking per week was associated with a 35% lower risk). Cardiovascular mortality was also significantly lower among walkers.

Conclusion

Walking is one of the most versatile forms of exercise. It’s suitable for all ages, and you can do it almost anywhere – no expensive gym membership required!

It can have a profound effect on your overall health and wellbeing and can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression. It can also improve symptoms of all of these.

Taking a daily walk can uplift your mood, help slow the progression of cognitive decline and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer. If you’re struggling to sleep, incorporating a daily walk, even on top of your regular exercise regimen, could be the difference between a good or bad night’s rest. 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the road. 

This article is by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Gut Health is Vital for Immunity: A Comprhensive Guide

Your gut lining, from head to tail, contributes to a whopping 70-80% of your immune system. So, one of the most important things you can do to power your immunity and maintain a healthy body and mind is to look after your digestive health.

You have a collection of gut microbiota as unique to you as your fingerprints. It includes at least 1,000 different species of bacteria, good and bad, with more than 3 million genes, weighing up to 2kg. And some experts now consider this colony of microbiota to be an organ in its own right.

As well as safeguarding immunity, these fantastic microorganisms perform many functions that are crucial to your health like aiding digestion, absorbing nutrients, vitamin production, protection from harmful microbes and maintaining gut integrity.

Healthy microbiota isn't just about balanced gut bacteria; our digestive tract houses fungi and viruses too. When balanced correctly, they all help to protect you from acute illness and chronic disease. It doesn't take much to upset the balance either, so it's essential to be aware of how you are feeding and fertilising your gut bacteria.

A wholesome, fresh food diet and other healthy lifestyle activities cultivate fertile soil for your gut bacteria to thrive. Poor food and lifestyle choices have the opposite effect leading to digestive issues, toxicity, inflammation and illness. Without gut homeostasis, more harmful microbial strains increase, creating a two-fold problem.

Firstly, your gut health suffers, impeding digestion, increasing toxins, causing intestinal inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients – not good for your immunity and wellbeing.

Secondly, this causes weakening of the mucosal lining and tight junctions of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), allowing toxic compounds to leak into your bloodstream and body where they are not supposed to be. The result is systemic inflammation.

All this leaves you more susceptible to bacterial and viral infection, and at an increased risk of allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's and chronic fatigue, mood disorders, dementia and Alzheimer's. It can also lead to obesity and other chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Never underestimate the importance of your gut health. Look after it, and it will look after you!

Communication between your gut and immune cells


70–80% of your immunity stems from your gut which houses immune cells. Your intestinal microbiota assimilates anything that comes into your digestive tract, working mutually with your immune system to modify your metabolism, immunity and infection response. 

From the moment you are born, your innate immune system and microbiota work synergistically and develop together, promoting a finely tuned immune response that builds your resilience to pathogens, protecting you from infection and disease

Metabolites are small molecules that drive significant biological activities like energy conversion, cell signalling and oxygenation. Gut microbiota generates a considerable amount of these.

Your immune system monitors these metabolites and adjusts physiological processes accordingly. 

Things start to unravel when the delicate microbial balance is disrupted, for example via poor diet or medication, causing an overgrowth of harmful microbes (known as dysbiosis).

This disturbs metabolite production, and significantly impacts immune cell signalling and messaging to tissues and organs. 

Furthermore, dysbiosis can lead to a weakening of the gut wall, allowing harmful endotoxins and foreign compounds to leak into your bloodstream, causing disease.

As time goes on, you might experience weak immunity, increased susceptibility to infection, systemic inflammation, obesity, chronic illness and disease and organ dysfunction.

Leaky gut and inflammation


Persistent low-level systemic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression. 

As mentioned above, disruption to the intricate balance of healthy microbiota can lead to impaired immune signalling and cause a weakening of the tight junctions in the gut lining (known as leaky gut).

These junctions are essential for controlling what is allowed into your bloodstream (nutrients) and what is not (toxins). If these junctions loosen up, it opens the flood gates for harmful compounds to leak out of your gut and into your body.

Once toxins start circulating, it triggers an immune response causing inflammation. Acute inflammation is a natural immune response designed to control infection.

But if nothing is done to fix the problem, the immune system keeps the inflammation going and it becomes chronic. Consequently, serious health issues develop over time.

Autoimmunity is when your immune system becomes confused and mistakenly attacks your body. Leaky gut can also be a precursor to autoimmune diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Hashimoto’s.

Poor gut health and malnutrition

A healthy gut ensures you get maximum nutrient absorption from your diet, keeping your body functioning optimally and your immunity strong. Research shows that poor nourishment and deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E as well as zinc, selenium iron, copper and folate can impair the immune response.

Without the antioxidants and nutritional value they provide, you’re more susceptible to infection of all kinds.

Malabsorption leads to malnutrition, and it’s not uncommon for someone suffering from obesity to be malnourished. Without the right balance of gut microbes, you can feel fatigued as you are unable to get enough energy from your food.

Immune activities require a lot of energy; without enough, your immunity suffers.

The gut-brain connection


Prolonged stress and depression can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to acute illness like colds and coughs and also chronic disease. 

Unlike any other organs in your body, both your brain and gut have their own nervous system, and the gut is often referred to as the second brain or gut-brain axis.

Your microbiota produces neurotransmitters and hormones associated with mood and stress, much more than your brain. For example, around 90% of your serotonin production, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter and chemical messenger associated with depression, occurs in your gut. 

Your brain and gut use the vagus nerve to communicate with each other and send signals. Dysbiosis, leaky gut, IBS, IBD and other digestive disturbance can reduce vagus nerve function

It can turn into a vicious cycle as gut inflammation leads to stress, anxiety and depression, and these conditions cause an overgrowth of more harmful bacteria (dysbiosis). 

So, as well as managing stress levels and looking after your mental health directly, your gut must be balanced for a happy brain.

Gut health and Covid-19


Although less is known about it, there is also talk of a gut-lung axis (GLA) and how the crosstalk between your gut and lungs can maintain and shape your immune response, changing the course of respiratory diseases. 

Like the gut-brain axis, one affects the other, with viral respiratory infections disturbing the gut microbiota and vice versa.

Researchers acknowledge that balanced bacteria are essential to maintain the intense dialogue between the gut and lungs, improving resilience to acute lung infections (Covid), COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis. 

Researchers also recognise that gut microbiota diversity and the role it plays in immunity can diminish in old age and that the elderly are more susceptible to Covid-19 fatality.

Eating to improve this is essential as part of a Covid-19 prevention plan, certainly in older and immune-compromised people.

However, considering how prevalent impaired gut function is (ask a nutritional therapist), it seems like this is a good action plan for anyone wishing to protect themselves against coronavirus.

7 ways to protect and strengthen your gut

 

1) Diet

A poor diet, low in nutrients and high in processed foods causes inflammation as junk foods contain trans fats, sugar, unhealthy oils, excessive salt, refined carbohydrates and other harmful ingredients. Eating like this is damaging to your gut microbiota. 

So, there’s no getting around it – if you want to be well and encourage good gut health, you have to nourish yourself with proper nutrition.

Sure, we all like to enjoy life and do a little bit of what’s not good for us now and then – but the trick is to strike a balance and eat real, nutritious, non processed, non-junk, non-pre-prepared, non-takeaway food most of the time. 

Think of it in terms of percentage – for at least 80% of the time, eat wholesome, nutritious foods. Your brain, body, mind and gut eat up all the good stuff and love it.

The best diet for you and your gut health is a fibre-rich and diverse array of brightly coloured and green vegetables and fruit. The more varied, the more you encourage a thriving assortment of gut microbiota.

Added to this, eat whole grains (brown bread, pasta, rice as opposed to white – non-gluten if you prefer), healthy protein (beans, legumes, fish, lean meat), healthy fats (avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil), and plenty of fresh herbs and spices.

Avoid sugar as much as possible, and stay hydrated. This will provide a solid foundation for all your gut microbiota to thrive.

It’s also essential to include pre and probiotic foods daily which encourages new gut bacteria and fortifies the good stuff that’s already there.

It’s fair to say that once you start eating in this way for the majority of the time, you’ll begin to crave more of what’s right for you and less of what’s bad. It may be hard to imagine, but you’d be surprised at how your taste buds and needs will naturally change over time.

2) Take supplements to nurture a healthy gut environment

It’s not always appropriate to take probiotics, as depending on the gut issues you have, they may need to be addressed first and to rest and repair before the probiotics can have any real impact.

Probiotics can also exacerbate some gut conditions, so if you have a significant problem, it’s best to seek the advice of a nutritional therapist, naturopath or functional medicine practitioner to find out what’s really going on and take the best course of action. 

That said, for the rest of us, taking probiotics can be very beneficial for improving gut health. But it’s not just about taking probiotics; there are other aspects to maintaining the right environment for a healthy balance of microbiota.

Progurt is a supplement range that covers many of these, from cultivating a healthy PH and electrolyte balance to improving nutrient flow. 

To find out more about creating the right gut environment and other useful supplements, read this

3) Taking care of your mental wellbeing

Poor mental health takes its toll on your gut health and immunity. As previously mentioned, you must have a healthy balance of gut microbiota for your gut-brain axis to work effectively. Added to which, stress, anxiety and depression can negatively affect this, so it’s a double-edged sword. 

Taking the time to focus on your mental and emotional wellbeing is essential for the health of both your body and brain.

Research supports the use of stress-reducing interventions for improving gastrointestinal symptoms, including IBS. These include the practice of mindfulness, meditation and yoga as well as hypnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques like deep breathing

If you regularly struggle with stress or anxiety, find ways to alleviate the strain. This could be any of the above or simple things like being in nature, spending quality time with friends and loved ones, journaling or writing a daily gratitude diary, finding a hobby, getting involved in your community, and exercising. 

The list goes on, but find the most effective forms of stress relief for you. This article might help

4) Sleep 

There is also a sleep-gut connection, and one affects the other. When your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted through poor sleep, it can disturb your gut microbiota.

Aim for seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep per night and if you suffer from sleep issues.

5) Drink plenty of water

We literally can’t survive without water, and our bodies need it for every single thing from cell, organ and brain function, to joint lubrication and oxygen transportation. 

Your gut also needs adequate hydration to move food through your intestines easily. Without it, you can become constipated, food and toxins build-up in your GI tract, and your delicate microbial balance suffers.

Water helps food breakdown, creates saliva which aids digestion, hydrates the mucosal lining of your gut and softens stools making them easier to pass. 

Make sure you stay hydrated, preferably with water but herbal teas also count. Read here for some helpful hydration tips. 

6) Don’t take unnecessary medication

If you want your gut microbiota to thrive, it’s vital to swerve non-prescription medication as much as possible and seek natural alternatives. Any drugs can significantly affect your gut health.

For example, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Nurofen and ibuprofen, are known to impact the diversity of gut microbiome severely. They can cause leaky gut and are responsible for over 50% of bleeding stomach ulcers. 

Antibiotics are also well known for destroying healthy gut bacteria, inhibiting our immunity and ability to fight infection. Even for a healthy person, it can also take up to a year for gut microbiome to recover post-antibiotic use.

Researchers fear that some of these harmful changes could be permanent.

7) Exercise

Too much vigorous exercise can be harmful to your gut microbes, but regular moderate exercise and movement can help to shift undigested food through your GI tract.

Make sure you get up and move at frequent intervals throughout your day.

Conclusion

As you can see, your gut health impacts your immunity in several ways. If you want to stay as healthy as possible, reducing your risk of acute infections and chronic disease, you have to nurture and cultivate a diverse and robust range of gut microbiota.

It isn’t just about gut bacteria – a finely-tuned balance of bacteria, viruses and fungi are what’s needed, and they all need to be protected. 

Have you been living with digestive issues for some time, or are you concerned that you have serious gut health issues? An accredited nutritional therapist, naturopath or functional medicine practitioner can give you the best advice and create an achievable, tailor-made plan to suit your needs.

If necessary, they can also provide the most up to date and accurate testing to help decipher what is really going on with you. 

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

 

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How Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

How Vitamin D Cuts Flu Risk, Protects Lungs & Boosts Immunity

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone which you naturally generate through sun exposure. So it’s a good idea to get out in the summer sunshine as much as you can, showing as much skin as possible (around 80%). If enough of you is exposed, you can produce between 10,000 to 25,000 IU from the time you bare your skin until just before it turns pink! Just make sure you do it without using sunscreen which inhibits the process.

There are two types of vitamin D – D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is found to be less effective at increasing vitamin D levels than D3. So D3 is the type to go for when it comes to optimising the vitamin D levels in your blood.

Why do I need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for:

  • Improving immune function
  • Maintaining healthy teeth and bones
  • Supporting brain and nervous system health
  • Regulating insulin levels and preventing type 2 diabetes
  • Sustaining lung function and cardiovascular health
  • Influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development 
  • Improving mental health and protecting against cognitive decline
  • Weight management

What are the causes of vitamin D inadequacy or deficiency?

1) Inadequate exposure to sunlight

Most of us don’t expose enough of our skin to sunlight often enough, or for long enough to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Even when it’s sunny, most of us will wear long sleeves when going out for a walk or run.

2) Your skin type may increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency

People with darker skin have a higher melanin content which slows vitamin D synthesis compared to light-skinned individuals. As absorbing and synthesising vitamin D from sun exposure is essential, the darker your skin, the longer you need to bare yourself to sunlight.

Research shows that people with a naturally darker skin tone need three to five times longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as those with lighter skin.

3) Wearing sunscreen inhibits your absorption of vitamin D

As previously described, suncream inhibits your intake of vitamin D. Get as much of your body directly into the sun (minus suncream) for a few minutes until just before your skin goes pink. Then cover up or apply a natural, organic sunscreen that is free from chemicals, hormone disruptors and carcinogens.

Adults should try to get into the sun daily from late March through to the end of September, preferably between 11 a.m and 3 p.m. to encourage adequate vitamin D levels.

Cancer Research has some tips on how to protect yourself in the sun. Guidance for babies and children is provided on the NHS website.

4) Obesity and patients with fat malabsorption syndromes are less able to absorb vitamin D.

5) A wide variety of medications including anticonvulsants and medicine to treat AIDS and HIV increase the risk of deficiency.

6) Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form

Whether it’s due to ageing or you suffer from chronic kidney disease, impaired kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, increasing the risk of deficiency.

7) Digestive issues, including Crohn’s and celiac disease, can affect your ability to absorb vitamin D from food or supplements.

8) Older adults are also at a higher risk of vitamin D inadequacy or deficiency as their skin can’t synthesise vitamin D as efficiently. They are also more likely to spend time indoors, and their dietary intake is most likely lacking.

9) Breastfed infants

Breast milk is naturally not high enough in vitamin D unless the mother is supplementing and has high levels which can be passed onto the baby.

UK guidelines recommend that breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D even if the mother is also taking a vitamin D supplement.

Related: How to Get Vitamin D Levels Up Fast

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to reduced immunity and regular bouts of infection or illness. It can also cause tiredness and fatigue, impaired wound healing, muscle, bone and back pain, low mood and hair loss. 

Chronic deficiency can cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, skin problems, infections, neurological and cardiovascular conditions, pregnancy complications and an increased risk of cancer including those of the breast, prostate, and colon.

It’s hard to get enough vitamin D through foods alone, but some do contain small amounts. Mushrooms and most fortified foods contain vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is found in salmon, sardines and other fish, cod liver oil, red meat, liver, full-fat butter and eggs.

Why, when & how should I take a vitamin D supplement?

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, it can be hard to maintain adequate vitamin D levels through sun exposure. There are many other contributory factors too, like your skin tone, the time of day you go out, how much of your skin gets bared to the sun, and the time of year.

For this reason, it’s hard to determine precisely how much time someone should spend in the sun: it varies from person to person.

One way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D is to take a daily supplement, particularly from the beginning of autumn right the way through to the spring. At this time of year, there is less sunshine, and the angles of the sun’s rays are steep, which blocks UVB rays. 

The NHS recommends that during the autumn and winter months, babies up to the age of one year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (between 300 to 400 IU per day). Children from the age of one year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (400 IU per day).

This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the safe upper limit for daily vitamin D supplementation in adults is 4,000 IU. That said, some studies have found that daily doses of 10,000 IU are well tolerated in adults – this is also the No Observable Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) according to the Institute of Medicine.

Vitamin D toxicity can occur when extremely high doses are taken. But it’s best to err on the side of caution, and while an adult have no trouble handling 4,000 IU a day, taking a maintenance dose of 1,000 IU is a good start. 

If you’re worried your levels are low, it’s best to get them checked by your GP, or you can buy a testing kit. You can tailor your vitamin D intake from this point.

FYI – Without vitamins D3 and K2, calcium can’t do its job effectively. So, it’s best to take your vitamin D along with a vitamin K2 supplement as this helps to balance the calcium in your body, encouraging stronger bones.

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption, while vitamin K2 amalgamates the calcium into your bones.

3 reasons to take a regular dose of vitamin D

As mentioned above, vitamin D is essential for many reasons. But the following three reasons are very topical in light of the current climate and Covid-19.

1) Boosts immunity

Frequent infections and autoimmunity are associated with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D modulates both your innate and adaptive immune responses and your immune cells have vitamin D receptors that synthesise and respond to vitamin D. It may contribute to healthy cell replication and can help to balance the inflammatory response (excessive and prolonged inflammation is often at the root of chronic diseases).

2) Helps protect against flu and respiratory infections

Some studies show that vitamin D supplementation can protect against acute colds and flu and other respiratory infections. The most substantial effects appear to be in those who have the lowest levels, and it is most effective when supplements are taken on a daily or weekly basis. It’s thought to work by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides (natural antibiotic-like substances) in the lungs. And, of course, colds and flu are most prevalent during the winter months when our exposure to sunshine is less, and vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

3) Protects your lungs

As previously mentioned, vitamin D is thought to boost antimicrobial peptides in the lungs. Researchers have also linked vitamin D supplementation to a reduced risk of COPD flare-ups (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The most marked effects were observed in patients who had lower levels. It appears that vitamin D works by increasing protection against respiratory viruses as well as reducing excess inflammation. This may also help to explain vitamin D’s protective effect on asthma attacks.

Low vitamin D levels are linked to asthma attacks in children and adults. In a Cochrane review of seven studies involving 435 children, and two studies including 658 adults, researchers found that giving a vitamin D supplement (alongside asthma medication) reduced the risk of severe asthma attacks requiring hospital admission by half. Supplementation also reduced the rate of asthma attacks needing steroid medication.

Conclusion

Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is essential for a well-functioning immune system, strong teeth and bones, heart and lung function, cognitive health, the nervous system, and cold and flu prevention during winter.

It is also needed to help protect against certain cancers, including colon, prostate and breast cancer, and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

It’s best to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement from the beginning of autumn through to the spring and get adequate exposure during the summer months.

To ensure healthy levels, you can take a daily supplement, continuing all year round if you are an older adult, tend to cover up or not go out in the sun, have darker skin and not enough sun exposure or are overweight. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby should be taking a supplement even if you are.

Also, if you have compromised kidney function or are taking regular medication, you may need to take daily vitamin D. Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

For healthy bones, it’s best to take vitamins D3 and K2 together.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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