Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.

If you find yourself waking regularly during the night, flag it with your GP so they can consider any possible underlying causes.’ Photo by Kubkoo / Getty Images.

You land in your body with a start, or else it slowly comes into groggy focus: either way it’s night-time, but you are now awake. Why? Alice Gregory, a psychology professor at Goldsmiths, University of London and the author of Nodding Off, says it’s quite normal to wake up during the night.

After dropping off, we move through different stages of sleep, a cycle that takes the average adult about 90 minutes to complete and speeds up towards morning.

“The night is also punctuated by brief awakenings,” says Gregory. “Typically, people return to sleep without realising that they had ever been awake.” But sometimes we might at least be more aware of it, or pulled entirely awake. Reasons range from the fairly obvious (being too hot or cold, needing the loo, having a nightmare, a crying baby) to the medical (disordered breathing such as sleep apnea, or nocturia: excessive night-time urination).

Waking up during the night does not necessarily mean you have insomnia, which, says Gregory, is diagnosed alongside other criteria such as the frequency of this occurrence and how long it has been happening. “If you find yourself waking regularly during the night, certainly flag this with your GP so they can consider any possible underlying causes.”

Still, sleep deprivation takes its own toll, from irritability and reduced focus in the short term, to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. If you do find yourself regularly waking up without any apparent reason – what can you do about it?

“It’s a misconception that we sleep the night through – nobody ever does,” says the sleep coach Katie Fischer. Waking as much as five or seven times a night is not necessarily a cause for concern – the most important thing is how you feel when you get up. “In the morning, do you feel refreshed, or groggy and unable to function, 30 minutes after waking?”

If there is nothing to suggest an underlying medical issue, Fischer will look at the bigger picture with a patient. “It’s really important to know if they have children. Do they have a partner who snores, or works shifts?” she says. “They might not have their own sleep issues but they might be sleeping next to someone who does.”

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, even for people suffering from sleep apnoea (although that should be treated by a specialist). It is hackneyed to point the finger at caffeine, but people tend to underestimate how long its effects can last – Fischer says to stop consuming it by 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. Water intake during the day is also a factor: “Even going to bed mildly dehydrated can disrupt our sleep.”

Similarly, although people commonly turn to alcohol to help them fall asleep – Fischer says one in 10 use it as a sleep aid – it has a disruptive effect beyond the initial crash, causing spikes in blood sugar and cortisol levels. Diet can function in the same way, with “anti-sleep foods” that are high in sugar or cause flatulence or heartburn (such as broccoli and cabbage).

A “pro-sleep” bedtime snack is a small amount of complex carbohydrates and protein, such as wholegrain cereal with milk, or toast with peanut butter, says Fischer. An “anti-inflammatory” diet favouring fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and healthy fats (and limiting processed foods, red meats and alcohol) has been shown to improve sleep apnea.

As for exercise, although being active during the day aids sleep, anything strenuous is to be avoided before bedtime. A lot of advice for preventing night-time “awakenings” falls under the umbrella of what has come to be known as “good sleep hygiene”: restrict the bedroom to sleep and sex, ban screens emitting blue light, keep to regular bedtimes and so on.

Our bedrooms – even our beds – have come to double as home cinemas, offices, “a dining room, maybe,” says the sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor. “You would be amazed at how significant that is for sleep. You’re training to associate your bed with wakefulness.” For that reason, if you do struggle to fall back asleep on waking up during the night, the advice is to get up for a bit. “Don’t just lie there – it’s counterproductive.”

So, too, is looking at the clock, especially if it doubles as your phone. “As soon as your brain has registered that it’s 2 a.m., you convince yourself that that’s your lot,” says Taylor. Such worry loops might be waking you up in the first place.

For many of us, bedtime might be our first opportunity of the day to be alone with our thoughts, she says. “It’s connected to waking in the night because, if we haven’t had any processing time during the day, it’s the first time we stop and just be.” Managing stress and anxiety during waking hours and learning how to relax body and mind are key to a good night’s sleep – but ironically, fixating on getting your full eight hours can make it harder to achieve. “You get this awful self-fulfilling prophecy that’s quite hard to break,” says Fischer.

A mindset change may be what’s needed. “People might have this belief that they are a ‘bad sleeper’ and there is nothing that they can do about it. Sometimes it’s about changing people’s perceptions of what good sleep looks like.” Taylor says she “really cannot bear” fitness trackers, which monitor sleep, for focusing people’s minds on often inaccurate data. It is wrong to assume that you must sleep through the night, every night, she says. “We all have blips in our sleep – it’s never going to be that you sleep brilliantly all the time.”

But accepting that – even as you lie awake, hours before dawn – might be the first step towards it.

By: Elle Hunt The Guardian

Source: Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.

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Related contents:

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7 Enticing Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Pixel Stories/Stocksy United

Welcome to Fresh Food Fast, your source for creative, accessible recipes and nutrition tips to make eating healthier just a little bit easier — and more fun! Chia seeds may be small, but they’re incredibly rich in nutrients. A staple in the ancient Aztec and Maya diets, these seeds have been touted for their health benefits for centuries.

The antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds may promote heart health, support strong bones, and improve blood sugar management (1Trusted Source).

What’s more, chia seeds are versatile and can be used in many recipes. Personally, I embrace their gel-like consistency by mixing them with liquid and making chia pudding. Here are 7 health benefits of chia seeds, all supported by science.

1. Highly nutritious

Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica L. They’re believed to be native to Central America (1Trusted Source).

Historically, Aztec and Mayan civilizations used the seeds in their diets, as well as for medicinal purposes, religious rituals, and cosmetics. Today, people all over the world enjoy chia seeds (2Trusted Source).

Ancient civilizations viewed chia seeds as highly nutritious — a belief that’s backed by modern science. In fact, just 1 ounce (28 grams or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains (3Trusted Source):

  • calories: 138
  • protein: 4.7 grams
  • fat: 8.7 grams
  • alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
  • carbs: 11.9 grams
  • fiber: 9.8 grams
  • calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • iron: 12% of the DV
  • magnesium: 23% of the DV
  • phosphorus: 20% of the DV
  • zinc: 12% of the DV
  • vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV
  • vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV

This nutritional profile is particularly impressive considering that it’s for just a single serving of about two tablespoons.Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are highly nutritious. They’re packed with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients.

2. Loaded with antioxidants

Chia seeds are also an excellent source of antioxidants (1Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Antioxidants not only protect the sensitive fats in chia seeds from going rancid but also benefit human health by neutralizing reactive molecules known as free radicals, which can damage cell compounds if they build up in your body (1Trusted Source).

For example, free radical damage contributes to aging and diseases like cancer (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

The specific antioxidants in chia seeds include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These may all have protective effects on your heart and liver, as well as anticancer properties (1Trusted Source).

For example, chlorogenic acid may help lower blood pressure, while caffeic acid has anti-inflammatory effects (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).Chia seeds are high in antioxidants. These compounds help protect the seed’s delicate fats while also offering health benefits to humans.

3. May support weight loss

The fiber and protein in chia seeds may benefit those trying to lose weight. One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds has close to 10 grams of dietary fiber. That means they’re a whopping 35% fiber by weight (3Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Although research on this topic is mixed, some studies suggest that eating fiber may play a role in preventing overweight and obesity (11).Additionally, the protein in chia seeds could help reduce appetite and food intake.

One study in 24 participants found that eating 0.33 ounces (7 grams) or 0.5 ounces (14 grams) of chia seeds mixed with yogurt for breakfast increased feelings of fullness and reduced food intake in the short term compared with eating chia-free yogurt (12Trusted Source).

Even so, studies examining the effectiveness of chia seeds for weight loss have observed mixed results.

In an older study from 2009 involving 90 people with overweight, consuming 50 grams of chia seed supplements per day for 12 weeks did not affect body weight or health markers like blood pressure and inflammation markers (13Trusted Source).

In contrast, a 6-month study involving 77 people with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes eating a reduced-calorie diet found that those who took chia seeds daily experienced significantly greater weight loss than those who received a placebo (14Trusted Source).

Though adding chia seeds to your diet is unlikely to cause weight loss on its own, it may be a useful addition to a balanced, nutritious diet if you’re trying to lose weight.Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, both of which have been shown to aid weight loss. However, studies on chia seeds and weight loss have provided mixed results.

4. May lower your risk of heart disease

Given that chia seeds are high in fiber and omega-3s, consuming them may reduce your risk of heart disease.Soluble fiber, the kind primarily found in chia seeds, can help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. In turn, this can reduce your risk of heart disease (15Trusted Source).

Consuming ALA, the omega-3 fatty acid in chia seeds, has also been linked to decreased heart disease risk (16Trusted Source).Still, studies specifically examining the connection between chia seeds and heart health have had inconclusive results.Some rat studies have shown that chia seeds can lower certain heart disease risk factors, including high triglyceride and oxidative stress levels (17, 18).

A few human studies found that chia seed supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).Overall, chia seeds may benefit heart health, but more research is needed.Chia seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease, likely due to the fiber and ALA they contain. However, more human research is needed.

5. Contain many important bone nutrients

Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health, including:

Many observational studies suggest that getting enough of these nutrients is important for maintaining good bone mineral density, an indicator of bone strength (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

In addition, ALA in chia seeds may play a role in bone health. Observational studies have found that consuming this nutrient could also be associated with increased bone mineral density (23Trusted Source).Therefore, it’s possible that regularly eating chia seeds could help keep your bones strong.

One animal study found that rats who received chia seeds daily for about 13 months had increased bone mineral content compared with a control group. The authors concluded that ALA may have contributed to this benefit (24Trusted Source).

However, besides animal studies, a limited number of studies have explored this topic, specifically. Ultimately, more human research is needed.Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and ALA. All of these nutrients have been linked to improved bone mineral density.

6. May reduce blood sugar levels

Consuming chia seeds may help with blood sugar regulation, possibly due to their fiber content and other beneficial compounds.People with diabetes may experience high blood sugar levels. Consistently high fasting blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of several complications, including heart disease (25Trusted Source).

Promisingly, animal studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity. This might help stabilize blood sugar levels after meals (26, 1Trusted Source).Research in humans is sparse, but some older studies have shown promising results.

In particular, older research from 2010 and 2013 suggests that eating bread containing chia seeds helps lower post-meal rises in blood sugar among healthy adults, compared with eating bread without chia seeds (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source). Nevertheless, more research is needed to learn more about the connection between these nutritious seeds and blood sugar regulation.Animal studies suggest that chia seeds may help with blood sugar management, but more human research is needed.

7. Easy to incorporate into your diet

Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. They taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.You don’t need to grind, cook, or otherwise prepare them, making them a handy addition to recipes.

They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, or added to oatmeal, pudding, smoothies, and baked goods. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables, or rice dishes. Plus, they work wonders in homemade fritters as a binding agent.

Given their ability to absorb water and fat, you can use them to thicken sauces and as an egg substitute. They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.

The seeds appear to be well tolerated. Still, if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, you might experience digestive side effects like bloating or diarrhea if you eat too many seeds in one sitting.

A common dosage recommendation is 0.7 ounces (20 grams or about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds twice per day. Remember to drink plenty of water to prevent any digestive side effects.Chia seeds are easy to prepare and often used as an egg substitute and added to oatmeal or smoothies.

The bottom line

Chia seeds are not only rich in minerals, omega-3 fat, antioxidants, and fiber but also easy to prepare.Studies suggest that they have various health benefits, ranging from weight loss to a reduced risk of heart disease. However, more research involving humans is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.

If you want to reap the possible benefits of chia seeds, consider incorporating them into your diet. They’re a great addition to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods, and more.

By Kris Gunnars, BSc and Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD — Medically reviewed by Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, MBA, CSCS — Updated on April 12, 2022

Source: Chia Seeds: 7 Health Benefits

Related contents:

Dunn C (25 May 2015). “Is chia the next quinoa?”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2016.Cheryl Kaiser, Matt Ernst (February 2016). “Chia” (PDF). University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Center for Crop Diversification Crop Profile. Retrieved 13 February 2016.

Coates, Wayne; Ayerza, Ricardo (1998). “Commercial production of chia in Northwestern Argentina”. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. 75 (10): 1417–1420. doi:10.1007/s11746-998-0192-7. S2CID 95974159.Coates, Wayne; Ricardo Ayerza (1996). “Production potential of chia in northwestern Argentina”. Industrial Crops and Products. 5 (3): 229–233. doi:10.1016/0926-6690(96)89454-4.

Ayerza (h), Ricardo; Wayne Coates (2009). “Influence of environment on growing period and yield, protein, oil and α-linolenic content of three chia (Salvia hispanica L.) selections”. Industrial Crops and Products. 30 (2): 321–324. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2009.03.009. ISSN 0926-6690.Cahill, Joseph P. (2003). “Ethnobotany of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. (Lamiaceae)”. Economic Botany. 57 (4): 604–618.

doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2003)057[0604:EOCSHL]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 35611803.Kintzios, Spiridon E. (2000). Sage: The Genus Salvia. CRC Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-90-5823-005-8.Stephanie Strom (23 November 2012). “30 Years After Chia Pets, Seeds Hit Food Aisles”. The New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2012. Whole and ground chia seeds are being added to fruit drinks, snack foods and cereals and sold on their own to be baked into cookies and sprinkled on yogurt. …

(h), Ricardo Ayerza (1 September 1995). “Oil content and fatty acid composition of chia (Salvia hispanica L.) from five northwestern locations in Argentina”. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. 72 (9): 1079–1081. doi:10.1007/BF02660727. ISSN 0003-021X. S2CID 84621038.USDA SR-21 Nutrient Data (2010). “Nutrition facts for dried chia seeds, one ounce”. Conde Nast, Nutrition Data.

“Chewing Chia Packs A Super Punch”. NPR. Retrieved 18 October 2012.Costantini, Lara; Lea Lukšič; Romina Molinari; Ivan Kreft; Giovanni Bonafaccia; Laura Manzi; Nicolò Merendino (2014). “Development of gluten-free bread using tartary buckwheat and chia flour rich in flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids as ingredients”. Food Chemistry. 165: 232–240. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.05.095. ISSN 0308-8146. PMID 25038671.

Borneo R, Aguirre A, León AE (2010). “Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as egg or oil replacer in cake formulations”. J Am Diet Assoc. 110 (6): 946–9. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.011. PMID 20497788.“Chia Seeds”. The Nutrition Source. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

“Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 of 20 December 2017 establishing the Union list of novel foods in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council on Novel Foods”. Eur-Lex. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2021.“Entering the European market for chia seeds”. Centre for the Promotion of Imports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands. 18 January 2021.

Ulbricht C, et al. (2009). “Chia (Salvia hispanica): a systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration”. Rev Recent Clin Trials. 4 (3): 168–74. doi:10.2174/157488709789957709. PMID 20028328.de Souza Ferreira C, et al. (2015). “Effect of chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) consumption on cardiovascular risk factors in humans: a systematic review”. Nutr Hosp. 32 (5): 1909–18. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9394. PMID 26545644.

“A second apparently pre-Columbian cultivation area is known in southern Honduras and Nicaragua.”Jamboonsri, Watchareewan; Phillips, Timothy D.; Geneve, Robert L.; Cahill, Joseph P.; Hildebrand, David F. (2011). “Extending the range of an ancient crop, Salvia hispanica L.—a new ω3 source”. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 59 (2): 171–178. doi:10.1007/s10722-011-9673-x. S2CID 14751137.

Owen Edwards (December 2007). “Chia pet”. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 30 July 2018.“About Chia Pets, Joe Pedot, Joseph Enterprises, Chia Pet”. 25 June 2020. Archived from the original on 25 June 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2021.

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World’s Largest Insect Protein Farm Signals Future Of Food Supply

Black soldier flies never eat as adults, so they must binge-eat while they are still larvae (shown). ... [+]Getty

The frontier of the agriculture industry is about to take a big step closer to going mainstream. Chicago-based food processing company Archer Daniels Midland ADM -1.1% (ADM) and InnovaFeed, a French firm that makes insect protein for animal feed, plan to begin building what will be the world’s largest insect protein facility in 2021 in the city of Decatur in central Illinois.

The partnership between ADM, a $28 billion giant, and the startup InnovaFeed amounts to a vote of confidence in a nascent industry that could one day play a key role in the global agriculture sector.

“I’m in awe. If they can pull this off, it will be magnificent,” said Jeffrey Tomberlin, a professor and entomologist at Texas A&M University who has done pioneering research on insect protein. “This facility will be several times bigger than anything else in the world,” Tomberlin said.

ADM and InnovaFeed plan to grow and harvest billions of an extraordinary insect called black soldier fly, whose larvae consume prodigious quantities of organic material and convert it into nutrient-rich protein that can then be sold as animal feed. ADM and InnovaFeed aim to produce up to 60,000 metric tons of animal feed protein per year, plus 20,000 metric tons of oils for poultry and swine rations and 400,000 tons of fertilizer.

Black soldier fly larvae will eat just about anything organic — including non-compostable food waste bound for landfills — and produce hundreds of times more protein per acre than traditional animal feed sources. The new plant will give ADM and InnovaFeed a foothold in the burgeoning market for sustainably sourced food at a time when consumers’ environmental awareness is growing.

The plant would be a major step toward mainstreaming the insect protein industry, which aims to feed farm animals and aquaculture not corn, soybeans or fishmeal — common types of animal feed — but instead black soldier fly larvae and other grubs.

If widely scaled-up, this would mean vastly reducing the carbon footprint and land requirements of farm animals, especially those raised for slaughter. For every kilogram of meat they produce, cows and sheep require around eight kilograms of grains, pigs require about four kilograms and chickens need 1.6 kilograms, according to one estimate. Growing that much grain requires intensive use of land and water.

The process for efficiently cultivating black soldier flies wasn’t well understood until the early 2000s — a big reason why the insect protein industry today remains small, consisting almost entirely of startups, including many in Europe, according to Tomberlin, the Texas A&M professor. InnovaFeed, itself only a few years old, runs the current world’s largest facility, in Nesle, France. The new Decatur facility will produce around four times as much animal feed per year.

Early backers see great potential as demand for sustainably sourced food continues to grow. More than half of U.S. consumers say they want sustainable food, according to a 2019 survey by the International Food Information Council, a nonprofit. Three out of five people in the U.K. are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly food options, according to a survey of 1,000 people by professional services firm GHD released in November.

The success of plant-based meat companies this year, such as Impossible Foods, has raised hopes of shrinking the agriculture sector’s carbon footprint: the food industry is responsible for one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The black soldier flies at the new facility, which will be run by InnovaFeed, will gorge themselves on various corn products that ADM already produces at its Decatur facilities. Normally, these corn products would undergo several rounds of additional processing before finally being transported to an end customer, explained Sapna Sanders, InnovaFeed’s Project Director for North America, in an interview.

“We’re able to avoid all those energy-intensive steps,” Sanders said.

The arrangement suits both. ADM gets to avoid the expense and hassle of further processing its corn products. InnovaFeed gets to produce and sell its animal feed, oils and fertilizer to a range of customers. One of its contracts is with the food and drink behemoth Cargill, the second-largest private company in America.

In the future, black soldier fly larvae inside commercial facilities might be doing even more environmental heavy lifting — by eating up the mountains of food scraps and other human food leftovers otherwise headed for landfills.

Roughly one-third of all the food produced in the world for human consumption each year, 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted, according to the U.N. Much of that ends up in landfills, where it can’t naturally biodegrade and ends up belching methane, a greenhouse gas dozens of times stronger than CO2.

Part of the reason so much food winds up in landfills is that there aren’t any convenient alternatives, especially for waste that isn’t compostable. But black soldier flies would be happy to eat up all this landfill-bound waste: researchers have found they gladly eat even foods that can’t be composted. (They appear to be uninterested in hair and bones, however.)

Bringing down the costs

The biggest obstacle to scaling the insect protein industry up further is cost. Insect protein is still more expensive as an animal feed product than, for example, fishmeal, or the parts of fish caught by commercial fishing companies that are not consumed by humans (such as offal or bones). Tomberlin has estimated that it will take five or so more years for insect protein to be cost-competitive with traditional animal feed sources, although the industry is still too young to know how far and quickly costs will fall.

The U.S. may not be the first to get there. Compared to Europe, the U.S. government has shown relatively little interest in helping the nascent industry get a leg up, Tomberlin said. Yet even more than Europe, China appears most interested in getting the insect protein industry to commercial scale, he said. It already has some of the largest and most efficient black soldier fly facilities in the world and is intensively innovating, according to Tomberlin.

Nevertheless, that one of America’s largest food companies sees commercial value in insect protein is perhaps a sign that a widespread role for it at the heart of the agriculture sector is perhaps not too far away.

Correction: An earlier photo that accompanied this story pictured another type of larvae, not black soldier fly larvae, as captioned.

I cover the energy industry, focusing on climate and green tech. Formerly I covered oil markets for commodities publication Argus Media. My writing has appeared in The Economist, among

Source: World’s Largest Insect Protein Farm Signals Future Of Food Supply

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What Is Creatine? Understanding Its Benefits And Side Effects

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A lot of creatine experts are sick of the way we talk about creatine. Some are tired of cotton candy-flavored energy drinks hawking “super creatine” on neon cans, protein bars infused with the supplement, social media posts confusing creatine with steroids. Others are tired of the slew of “before and after” TikToks in which trim young men show off bulging muscles after a handful of weeks taking the supplement, or women display rippling abs they attribute only to the powder.

“I don’t know why people make up things about this particular supplement,” said Jose Antonio, an associate professor of health and human performance at Nova Southeastern University in Florida who has studied creatine. The world of creatine is rife with misinformation, he said, in spite of the large — and growing — body of evidence that the supplement can improve short bursts of athletic performance and enhance muscle mass.

Is the powder a miracle workout supplement, or is the hype overblown? Here’s what to know.

Creatine is formed in the body from compounds similar to amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. It serves as a type of fuel for your skeletal muscles, and can promote muscle growth when paired with exercise. It’s produced in the liver and kidneys, but you likely get creatine through your diet, too — red meat, fish and chicken contain it.

Throughout the day, your body naturally replenishes creatine in your muscles, but supplements can help “top up the tank,” said Eric Rawson, a health, nutrition and exercise science professor at Messiah University in Pennsylvania.

Creatine monohydrate — the form of creatine typically found in commercial powders — has been rigorously studied. “There’s probably more data on creatine monohydrate than any other supplement in existence,” Dr. Antonio said.

Creatine has specific, focused benefits for exercisers. The supplement can power you through short bursts of activity, like lifting a weight or dashing through a short race. If you’re in the middle of a Peloton workout, for instance, you might be able to increase your speed for a sprint, said David Creel, an exercise physiologist and a psychologist and dietitian in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

But the effect is usually small. Creatine makes the most sense for certain competitive athletes eager for a split-second advantage, said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at N.Y.U. Langone Health. “For your average gym-goer, someone who’s a cyclist, someone who plays soccer on the weekends — they don’t need this,” she said.

Scientists have studied creatine and exercise performance since the early ‘90s. A recent review of 35 studies found that creatine supplementation, combined with resistance training, increased lean body mass — the body’s weight, minus fat — by more than two pounds in adults, regardless of age. The difference is small, but significant, although men reported higher gains than women. Vegetarians and vegans are more likely to have a larger response to the supplements, since they don’t get as much creatine in their diets, Dr. Rawson said.

Creatine may provide a small boost in muscle mass, but “whether it’s a 2 or 3 or 4 percent gain, no dietary supplements compare to proper training and sleep and nutrition habits,” Dr. Rawson said. Still, the increase could have a notable effect on older adults in particular, he said. “A very, very small improvement in strength could be the difference between a fall and not a fall.”

And emerging research suggests that creatine could have cognitive benefits, potentially enhancing memory and attenuating symptoms of concussions or traumatic brain injuries, although that data is much more limited than studies on creatine and muscular fitness.

“There really doesn’t appear to be any major hazards to it, which is kind of unique for a supplement,” said Dr. Creel. People who take the supplement, especially in large quantities, might experience some gastrointestinal distress, said Ms. Heller. People may also bloat or experience weight gain.

There are some claims floating around social media that creatine causes hair loss, but doctors said there was not significant research to verify that. And you won’t get any kind of high from creatine — it’s not like the jolt of energy you get from downing an espresso, Dr. Creel said.

The supplement is popular with teenagers, but there isn’t data on prolonged long-term use, especially in people who are still growing, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance, who studies supplements. Out of an abundance of caution, he suggested that teens refrain from using the supplement.

As with any supplement, you should talk to your primary care doctor before you start taking creatine. And just like other dietary supplements you can pull off the shelves, creatine is not tested by the Food and Drug Administration, said Dr. Cohen. That means there’s no guarantee that a powder you’re buying actually contains the amount of creatine it claims, or even any at all. The Department of Defense’s Operation Supplement Safety program recommends four third-party companies that test and evaluate dietary supplements, which you can use to ensure you’re really getting creatine. 

You should also stick with the recommended dose, which is usually around three to five grams per day. There isn’t substantial data for how long people can safely take the supplement beyond five years.It’s also important to come up with specific goals before taking the supplement, Dr. Cohen said, and to determine what the pill or powder could actually help you achieve — keeping in mind that it’s not a guaranteed ticket to building muscle. “People think creatine’s a steroid,” Dr. Antonio said. “That’s like saying water is fire.”

Source: What is Creatine? Understanding its Benefits and Side Effects – The New York Times

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Critics to Creatine:

Creatine was first identified in 1832 when Michel Eugène Chevreul isolated it from the basified water-extract of skeletal muscle. He later named the crystallized precipitate after the Greek word for meat, κρέας (kreas). In 1928, creatine was shown to exist in equilibrium with creatinine.[3] Studies in the 1920s showed that consumption of large amounts of creatine did not result in its excretion. This result pointed to the ability of the body to store creatine, which in turn suggested its use as a dietary supplement.[4]

In 1912, Harvard University researchers Otto Folin and Willey Glover Denis found evidence that ingesting creatine can dramatically boost the creatine content of the muscle.[5][non-primary source needed] In the late 1920s, after finding that the intramuscular stores of creatine can be increased by ingesting creatine in larger than normal amounts, scientists discovered phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate), and determined that creatine is a key player in the metabolism of skeletal muscle. The substance creatine is naturally formed in vertebrates.[6]

The discovery of phosphocreatine[7][8] was reported in 1927.[9][10][8] In the 1960s, creatine kinase (CK) was shown to phosphorylate ADP using phosphocreatine (PCr) to generate ATP. It follows that ATP, not PCr is directly consumed in muscle contraction. CK uses creatine to “buffer” the ATP/ADP ratio.[11]

While creatine’s influence on physical performance has been well documented since the early twentieth century, it came into public view following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. An August 7, 1992 article in The Times reported that Linford Christie, the gold medal winner at 100 meters, had used creatine before the Olympics. An article in Bodybuilding Monthly named Sally Gunnell, who was the gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, as another creatine user. In addition, The Times also noted that 100 meter hurdler Colin Jackson began taking creatine before the Olympics.

At the time, low-potency creatine supplements were available in Britain, but creatine supplements designed for strength enhancement were not commercially available until 1993 when a company called Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) introduced the compound to the sports nutrition market under the name Phosphagen.[14] Research performed thereafter demonstrated that the consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates in conjunction with creatine increases creatine muscle stores.

Creatine is a naturally occurring non-protein compound and the primary constituent of phosphocreatine, which is used to regenerate ATP within the cell. 95% of the human body’s total creatine and phosphocreatine stores are found in skeletal muscle, while the remainder is distributed in the blood, brain, testes, and other tissues. The typical creatine content of skeletal muscle (as both creatine and phosphocreatine) is 120 mmol per kilogram of dry muscle mass, but can reach up to 160 mmol/kg through supplementation.

Approximately 1–2% of intramuscular creatine is degraded per day and an individual would need about 1–3 grams of creatine per day to maintain average (unsupplemented) creatine storage.[18][19][20] An omnivorous diet provides roughly half of this value, with the remainder synthesized in the liver and kidneys.

Creatine is not an essential nutrient. It is an amino acid derivative, naturally produced in the human body from the amino acids glycine and arginine, with an additional requirement for S-Adenosyl methionine (a derivative of methionine) to catalyze the transformation of guanidinoacetate to creatine. In the first step of the biosynthesis, the enzyme arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT, EC:2.1.4.1) mediates the reaction of glycine and arginine to form guanidinoacetate.

This product is then methylated by guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT, EC:2.1.1.2), using S-adenosyl methionine as the methyl donor. Creatine itself can be phosphorylated by creatine kinase to form phosphocreatine, which is used as an energy buffer in skeletal muscles and the brain. A cyclic form of creatine, called creatinine, exists in equilibrium with its tautomer and with creatine.

Related contents:

Moss, Michael (2014-01-28). “A Look Inside the Protein Bar”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-19.Campbell, Bill; Kreider, Richard B.; Ziegenfuss, Tim; La Bounty, Paul; Roberts, Mike; Burke, Darren; Landis, Jamie; Lopez, Hector; Antonio, Jose (2007-09-26). “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 4: 8. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-8. ISSN 1550-2783. PMC 2117006. PMID 17908291.

Phillips, Stuart M. (July 2004). “Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports”. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.). 20 (7–8): 689–695. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.009. ISSN 0899-9007. PMID 15212752.Kurtis, Frank; Kamal, Patel; Gregory, Lopez; Bill, Willis (2017-07-19). “Whey Protein Research Analysis”. Examine.com.Kurtis, Frank; Kamal, Patel; Gregory, Lopez; Bill, Willis (2017-04-29). “Casein Protein Research Analysis”. Examine.com.

Rathod, Vaidehi (April 14, 2020). “Be vegan and have your protein too”. UTC Scholar.“Nutrition Bars: Healthy or Hype?”. WebMD. Retrieved 2017-08-19.MD, Robert H. Shmerling (2015-12-15). “Are protein bars really just candy bars in disguise? – Harvard Health Blog”. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 2017-08-19.“How much protein do I need every day?”. Examine.com. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2017-08-19.

Lemon, P. W.; Proctor, D. N. (November 1991). “Protein intake and athletic performance”. Sports Medicine. 12 (5): 313–325. doi:10.2165/00007256-199112050-00004. ISSN 0112-1642. PMID 1763249. S2CID 9632893.Phillips, Stuart M. (July 2004). “Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports”. Nutrition. 20 (7–8): 689–695. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.009. ISSN 0899-9007. PMID 15212752.

Mettler, Samuel; Mitchell, Nigel; Tipton, Kevin D. (February 2010). “Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 42 (2): 326–337. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181b2ef8e. ISSN 1530-0315. PMID 19927027. Cannan RK, Shore A (1928). “The creatine-creatinine equilibrium. The apparent dissociation constants of creatine and creatinine”. The Biochemical Journal. 22 (4): 920–9. doi:10.1042/bj0220920. PMC 1252207. PMID 16744118.

Volek JS, Ballard KD, Forsythe CE (2008). “Overview of Creatine Metabolism”. In Stout JR, Antonio J, Kalman E (eds.). Essentials of Creatine in Sports and Health. Humana. pp. 1–23. ISBN 978-1-59745-573-2.Folin O, Denis W (1912). “Protein metabolism from the standpoint of blood and tissue analysis”. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 12 (1): 141–61. doi:10.1016/S0021-9258(18)88723-3. Archived from the original on 3 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.

Brosnan JT, da Silva RP, Brosnan ME (May 2011). “The metabolic burden of creatine synthesis”. Amino Acids. 40 (5): 1325–31. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0853-y. PMID 21387089. S2CID 8293857.Saks V (2007). Molecular system bioenergetics: energy for life. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. p. 2. ISBN 978-3-527-31787-5.Ochoa S (1989). Sherman EJ, National Academy of Sciences (eds.). David Nachmansohn. Biographical Memoirs. Vol. 58. National Academies Press. pp. 357–404. ISBN 978-0-309-03938-3.

Eggleton P, Eggleton GP (1927). “The Inorganic Phosphate and a Labile Form of Organic Phosphate in the Gastrocnemius of the Frog”. The Biochemical Journal. 21 (1): 190–5. doi:10.1042/bj0210190. PMC 1251888. PMID 16743804.Fiske CH, Subbarow Y (April 1927). “The nature of the ‘inorganic phosphate’ in voluntary muscle”. Science. 65 (1686): 401–3. Bibcode:1927Sci….65..401F. doi:10.1126/science.65.1686.401. PMID 17807679.

Wallimann T (2007). “Introduction – Creatine: Cheap Ergogenic Supplement with Great Potential for Health and Disease”. In Salomons GS, Wyss M (eds.). Creatine and Creatine Kinase in Health and Disease. Springer. pp. 1–16. ISBN 978-1-4020-6486-9.“Supplement muscles in on the market”. National Review of Medicine. 30 July 2004. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2011.

Passwater RA (2005). Creatine. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-87983-868-3. Archived from the original on 19 June 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2018.Stoppani J (May 2004). Creatine new and improved: recent high-tech advances have made creatine even more powerful. Here’s how you can take full advantage of this super supplement. Muscle & Fitness. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2010.

Green AL, Hultman E, Macdonald IA, Sewell DA, Greenhaff PL (November 1996). “Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans”. The American Journal of Physiology. 271 (5 Pt 1): E821-6. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.1996.271.5.E821. PMID 8944667.Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A (July 2012). “Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update”.

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9 (1): 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMC 3407788. PMID 22817979. Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet.

“The role of dietary creatine”. Amino Acids. 48 (8): 1785–91. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2188-1. PMID 26874700. S2CID 3700484. The daily requirement of a 70-kg male for creatine is about 2 g; up to half of this may be obtained from a typical omnivorous diet, with the remainder being synthesized in the body … More than 90% of the body’s creatine and phosphocreatine is present in muscle

Hultman E, Söderlund K, Timmons JA, Cederblad G, Greenhaff PL (July 1996). “Muscle creatine loading in men”. Journal of Applied Physiology. 81 (1): 232–7. doi:10.1152/jappl.1996.81.1.232. PMID 8828669.Balsom PD, Söderlund K, Ekblom B (October 1994). “Creatine in humans with special reference to creatine supplementation”. Sports Medicine. 18 (4): 268–80. doi:10.2165/00007256-199418040-00005. PMID 7817065. S2CID 23929060.

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Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, Ziegenfuss TN, Wildman R, Collins R, et al. (2017). “International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 14: 18. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z. PMC 5469049. PMID 28615996.

Spillane M, Schoch R, Cooke M, Harvey T, Greenwood M, Kreider R, Willoughby DS (February 2009). “The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 6 (1): 6. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-6. PMC 2649889. PMID 19228401.

Wallimann T, Tokarska-Schlattner M, Schlattner U (May 2011). “The creatine kinase system and pleiotropic effects of creatine”. Amino Acids. 40 (5): 1271–96. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0877-3. PMC 3080659. PMID 21448658..T. Wallimann, M. Tokarska-Schlattner, D. Neumann u. a.: The Phosphocreatine Circuit: Molecular and Cellular Physiology of Creatine Kinases, Sensitivity to Free Radicals, and Enhancement by Creatine Supplementation. In: Molecular System Bioenergetics: Energy for Life. 22. November 2007. doi:10.1002/9783527621095.ch7C

Hespel P, Eijnde BO, Derave W, Richter EA (2001). “Creatine supplementation: exploring the role of the creatine kinase/phosphocreatine system in human muscle”. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. 26 Suppl: S79-102. doi:10.1139/h2001-045. PMID 11897886.“L-Arginine:Glycine Amidinotransferase”. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2010.

Braissant O, Henry H, Béard E, Uldry J (May 2011). “Creatine deficiency syndromes and the importance of creatine synthesis in the brain” (PDF). Amino Acids. 40 (5): 1315–24. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0852-z. PMID 21390529. S2CID 13755292. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2019.Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Parise G, Candow DG, Mahoney D, Tarnopolsky M (November 2003).

Benton D, Donohoe R (April 2011). “The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores”. The British Journal of Nutrition. 105 (7): 1100–5. doi:10.1017/S0007114510004733. PMID 21118604.Lukaszuk JM, Robertson RJ, Arch JE, Moore GE, Yaw KM, Kelley DE, et al. Effect of Creatine Supplementation and a Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian Diet on Muscle Creatine Concentration. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 2002;12:336–48.

https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSNEM.12.3.336 Archived 19 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine.Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Parise G, Candow DG, Mahoney D, Tarnopolsky M. Effect of Creatine and Weight Training on Muscle Creatine and Performance in Vegetarians. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2003;35:1946–55. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.MSS.0000093614.17517.79 Archived 19 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine.

Blancquaert L, Baguet A, Bex T, Volkaert A, Everaert I, Delanghe J, et al. Changing to a vegetarian diet reduces the body creatine pool in omnivorous women, but appears not to affect carnitine and carnosine homeostasis: a randomised trial. The British Journal of Nutrition 2018;119:759–70. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000711451800017X Archived 19 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine.

Watt KKO, Garnham AP, Snow RJ. Skeletal muscle total creatine content and creatine transporter gene expression in vegetarians prior to and following creatine supplementation. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 2004;14:517–31. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSNEM.14.5.517 Archived 19 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine.

Yazigi Solis M, de Salles Painelli V, Artioli GG, Roschel H, Otaduy MC, Gualano B. Brain creatine depletion in vegetarians? A cross-sectional 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) study. The British Journal of Nutrition 2014;111:1272–4. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114513003802 Archived 19 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine.

Solis MY, Artioli GG, Otaduy MCG, Leite C da C, Arruda W, Veiga RR, et al. Effect of age, diet, and tissue type on PCr response to creatine supplementation. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md : 1985) 2017;123:407–14. https://doi.org/10.1152/JAPPLPHYSIOL.00248.2017/ASSET/IMAGES/LARGE/ZDG0081722660005.JPEG.

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Hanna-El-Daher L, Braissant O (August 2016). “Creatine synthesis and exchanges between brain cells: What can be learned from human creatine deficiencies and various experimental models?”. Amino Acids. 48 (8): 1877–95. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2189-0. PMID 26861125. S2CID 3675631.Bender A, Klopstock T (August 2016). “Creatine for neuroprotection in neurodegenerative disease: end of story?”. Amino Acids. 48 (8): 1929–40. doi:10.1007/s00726-015-2165-0. PMID 26748651. S2CID 2349130.

Kreider RB (February 2003). “Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations”. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 244 (1–2): 89–94. doi:10.1023/A:1022465203458. PMID 12701815. S2CID 35050122.Greenhaff PL, Casey A, Short AH, Harris R, Soderlund K, Hultman E (May 1993). “Influence of oral creatine supplementation of muscle torque during repeated bouts of maximal voluntary exercise in man”. Clinical Science. 84 (5): 565–71. doi:10.1042/cs0840565. PMID 8504634.

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8 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Immune System, According to Experts

Your immune system is your main line of defense against illness, so it only makes sense that you’d want to keep it in top shape. That’s especially true during cold and flu season—and with continued outbreaks of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping the country.

You’re born with your immune system and everyone’s is slightly different, but there are certain things you can do to try to bolster it, says Julia Blank, M.D., family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. “Maintaining a healthy immune system requires that you take good care of your body,” she says.

How does the immune system work, exactly?

Your immune system is actually made up of “multiple layers of defense,” Dr. Blank says. This includes physical barriers like your skin, cilia (tiny, hair-like structures) that line your airways, and specialized cells that recognize and attack foreign substances like viruses and bacteria, she explains.

“Some of these immune cells are nonspecific and destroy anything that appears foreign. Other cells produce antibodies that recognize and target protein markers (called antigens) on the surface of germs,” Dr. Blank says.

Your immune system also has the ability to recognize pathogens you’ve come into contact with before and mount a quick response. “This is why we don’t usually get sick after being exposed to a germ we’ve already encountered and fought off in the past,” Dr. Blank says.

How to Boost Your Immune System

There are a few science-backed approaches you can take to boost your immune system, most of which are recommended for overall wellness:

1. Keep your alcohol intake in check.

High alcohol intake has been shown to suppress immune function,” says Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Plus, booze “can be dehydrating, and hydration is really important for protecting yourself from illness.” When you’re dehydrated, your cells aren’t able to function at their optimal level—and that can open up the door for you to get sick, Cording explains.

If you don’t want to cut out booze completely, sip in moderation. That means having up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

2. Reduce your stress levels.

Stress seems harmless enough once you get over whatever it is you’re anxious about, but studies show it can “compromise or suppress the immune system and make us more vulnerable to infection,” Dr. Blank says.

Specifically, research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which can boost inflammation, a precursor to many diseases, in your body. Chronic stress may also interfere with the infection-fighting ability of your white blood cells, making you more susceptible to contracting illnesses. (Can’t unwind? Check out these science-backed ways to relieve stress.)

3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Putting a rainbow of fruits and vegetables on your plate can do your immune system a solid, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. “Fruits and veggies help arm your body with antioxidants it needs to fight oxidative stress, which includes contracting a sickness, in your body,” she says.

Not sure how much you need? The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people who eat 2,000 calories a day have 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables a day. Some solid options: leafy greens, bell peppers,citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and berries.

4. Load up on vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays an important role in supporting the immune system by helping your body produce antibodies, which can then fight illness, Cording says.

“Active vitamin D gets sent to different areas of your body, including your bones, intestines, colon, brain, and immune cells, where it binds with the receptors on these cells and ultimately turns them on,” adds Warren.

The kicker: Most people don’t get enough of it. Your body primarily produces vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays (it’s called the sunshine vitamin for a reason!), but you can also load up on vitamin-D rich foods to boost your intake, including fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms, eggs (don’t skip the yolk), and fortified foods, Cording says. If you suspect your vitamin D intake is low and would like to take a supplement, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she can do a blood test to determine the appropriate dosage for you.

5. Prioritize sleep.

Spending more time snoozing is key, Dr. Blank confirms. “Getting enough sleep helps our bodies recover from everyday stress—both physical and mental—and promotes better functioning of our immune system,” she says.

When you don’t get enough shut-eye, your body may decrease the production of protective proteins called cytokines, which your immune response needs more of when it’s dealing with an infection or inflammation while under stress.

So just how much sleep are we talking about? The National Sleep Foundation says adults up to age 64 should snooze between seven and nine hours per night for, while adults 65 and up should aim between seven and eight hours. (Tossing and turning? Check out our full guide on how to sleep better every night.)

6. Wash your hands often.

Washing your hands regularly will help keep viruses and bacteria away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, which can do your immune system a solid, Dr. Blank says. “This reduces the variety and number of germs we are exposed to and keeps our immune system from getting overwhelmed,” she explains.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or the amount of time it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

7. Keep up with a regular exercise routine.

Being physically active can help keep pathogens out of your lungs and airways, according to the National Library of Medicine, which can minimize your odds of getting a cold, the flu, or other illnesses. Exercise can also give antibodies and white blood cells a boost, causing them to circulate more widely throughout your body, where they might detect illnesses better than they would if you didn’t get moving.

8. Finally, quit smoking if you haven’t already.

You already know smoking is bad for your health in so many ways, but it can also wreak havoc and “cause direct damage” to parts of your immune system, Dr. Blank says.

For example, smoking immobilizes cilia, the hair-like structures in your airways that help “sweep” out bacteria. “These cilia form the first line of defense against respiratory infections,” Dr. Blank says. When they’re immobilized, germs have “much easier access” to your lungs, she explains. Cue the coughing and sneezing.

Adopting certain lifestyle habits can strengthen your immune system. Of course, you can do everything right and still get sick. But doing your best to boost your immune system now means your body will be that much more prepared for tackling whatever bugs may come your way later.

By: Korin Miller

Source: 8 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Immune System, According to Experts

Critics by: Carol DerSarkissian

You may have noticed you’re more likely to catch a cold or other infection when you’re not getting enough sleep. Studies help bear out that well-rested people who received the flu vaccine developed stronger protection against the illness. Not getting enough sleep can lead to higher levels of a stress hormone. It may also lead to more inflammation in your body.

Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system, it’s clear that getting enough – usually 7 to 9 hours for an adult – is key for good health. Try to get regular, moderate exercise, like a daily 30-minute walk. It can help your immune system fight infection. If you don’t exercise regularly, you’re more likely to get colds, for example, than someone who does. Exercise can also boost your body’s feel-good chemicals and help you sleep better. Both of those are good for your immune system.

Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks. Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Go for a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Other foods particularly good for your immune system include fresh garlic, which may help fight viruses and bacteria, and old-fashioned chicken soup. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, a bowl of chicken soup can help you get well faster, one study shows. Some mushroom varieties — such as shiitake — may also help your immune system.

Everyone has some stress; it’s part of life. If stress drags on for a long time, it makes you more vulnerable to illness, from colds to serious diseases. Chronic stress exposes your body to a steady stream of stress hormones that suppress the immune system. You may not be able to get rid of your stress, but you can get better at managing it.

  • Learn to meditate.
  • Slow down.
  • Connect with other people.
  • Work out to blow off steam.

Counseling is a big help, too. Easing stress lowers levels of a stress hormone. It also helps you sleep better, which improves immune function. People who meditate regularly may have healthier immune system responses, some studies show. In one experiment, people who meditated over an 8-week period made more antibodies to a flu vaccine than people who didn’t meditate. And they still showed an increased immune system response 4 months later.

Having strong relationships and a good social network is good for you. People who feel connected to friends – whether it’s a few close friends or a large group – have stronger immunity than those who feel alone, studies show. In one study, lonely freshmen had a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine than those who felt connected to others. Although there are many other things that affect your health, making meaningful connections with people is always a good idea.

Laughing is good for you. It curbs the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Just anticipating a funny event can have a positive effect on your immune system. In one study, men were told 3 days in advance that they were going to watch a funny video. Their levels of stress hormones dropped.

.

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TubePal                        https://jvz6.com/c/202927/379863/
Tubeserp                        https://jvz3.com/c/202927/370472
TubeTargeter                   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377211
TV Boss Fire                https://jvz6.com/c/202927/379480/
Ultrafunnels A.I                 https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381129/
VIADZ Ad Template                    https://jvz4.com/c/202927/379307/
Vidcentric                             https://jvz4.com/c/202927/376095
Viddeyo                                https://jvz6.com/c/202927/382326/
Videevolve                       https://jvz4.com/c/202927/381011/
Video Games                            https://jvz3.com/c/202927/184902/
VideoEnginePro                https://jvz2.com/c/202927/372916
VideoGameSuite                     https://jvz3.com/c/202927/366537/
VideoRobot Enterprise                https://jvz8.com/c/202927/291061
VidKreate                        https://jvz6.com/c/202927/386029/
VidMingo                           https://jvz6.com/c/202927/378359/
VidSnatcher                           https://jvz3.com/c/202927/342585
VidVoicer                      https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379983/
Vidzura                       https://jvz4.com/c/202927/385754/
Viral dash                            https://jvz6.com/c/202927/375959
VirtualReel                       https://jvz8.com/c/202927/376849
Vocalic                    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/383848/
VoiceBuddy                      https://jvz1.com/c/202927/342854
WebCop                         https://jvz4.com/c/202927/378683/
Webinarkit                       https://jvz3.com/c/202927/383937/
Webprimo                   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379455/   Website Builder
WordPress Mastery                       https://jvz1.com/c/202927/386249/
WOW Backgrounds                      https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381615/
WowBackgraounds                       https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381556/
WP GDPR                                https://jvz8.com/c/202927/299907
WP Simulator                    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/46987/
writing job                                  https://jvz8.com/c/202927/213027
XBrain Forex                           https://jvz3.com/c/202927/372305/
XFUNNELS                         https://jvz2.com/c/202927/310335
Xinemax                    https://jvz1.com/c/202927/381749/
YoDrive                    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/384700/
Your 3DPal                https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381685/
YTSuite                       https://jvzoo.com/c/202927/381179
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