Did you know that your body may be more prone to developing cold sores or shingles during the winter? Learn about the factors that influence this and the nutrients that can help from Amanda Williams, MPH.
InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey, Ph.
It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season and harvest season. We identify pumpkins with really nice things, like this beautiful time of year. We also identify pumpkins with desserts and holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. It’s a lot of fun, but the question is: are pumpkins healthy?†
The health benefits of pumpkins
Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks and pumpkin ice cream, you don’t think of those as health foods. But pumpkin itself is pretty healthy. It’s a member of the cucurbit family because they’re a variety of squash. This family includes pumpkins, melons and cucumbers. There are a lot of healthy things in pumpkins. For instance, it’s orange. That’s due to beta carotene. Beta carotene is good for your vision, immune system, thyroid gland, skin and hormone regulation.†
The beauty of beta carotene is that it is, very slowly and in a very controlled fashion, converted into Vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A has a lot of benefits in the body. We’re in cough and cold season and on top of that we still have COVID hanging around. Vitamin A was originally called the “anti-infective vitamin.” Vitamin A is needed to make your skin, which serves as a barrier for the outside environment, keeping viruses, bacteria, yeasts, molds and parasites out of the body.†
Vitamin A is also needed by your mucosal cells. These are very important cells that line your respiratory tract, digestive tract and urinary tract. One form of Vitamin A called retinoic acid is produced by the immune cells in these tissues. This allows these cells to capture infectious organisms like viruses and bacteria and present them to our T-cells, which call in the troops to destroy the infectious organism.†
Pumpkins also have a lot of fiber and a lot of potassium. These make it very healthy because it’s also low in calories, low in salt and doesn’t have cholesterol.†
Supporting immune health
There are other things in pumpkin that are good for your immune system. There’s Vitamin C, which you need for chemotaxis and respiratory burst. If somebody sneezes on you with COVID-19 or the flu, your immune cells have to travel to the site of the infection to kill the virus before you get sick. That’s called chemotaxis. Your immune cells soak up the available Vitamin C so they can travel to the site of the infection. Then there’s respiratory burst, when your immune cells release their chemical arsenal to kill the infection. That requires Vitamin C also.†
You’re also getting Vitamin E. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are both in the lipid layer surrounding your immune cells. If you lack these nutrients, your immune cells don’t work because they get damaged by their own chemical arsenal. Your immune system works better when it has the nutrients you get from eating pumpkins or even sweet potatoes or carrots.†
We don’t sell pumpkins at InViteⓇ Health, but we do have this delicious powder called Oranges HxⓇ. That has a lot of very high quality fruits and vegetables, including tangerines, nectarines, melons and pumpkin seed powder. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with sterols that help you lower your cholesterol. Oranges HxⓇ provides fiber, potassium, natural beta carotene and all the things you find in pumpkins and it’s very easy to mix into liquids.†
In this episode, Jerry Hickey, Ph. discusses the powerful vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in pumpkins. He details the important benefits of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and more and also provides a recommendation for a supplement that includes pumpkin seeds as one of its potent ingredients.†
- What are carotenoids?
- The importance of T-cells
- Additional benefits of Vitamin A
Thank you for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting www.invitehealth.com/podcast. Make sure you subscribe and leave us a review! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at InViteⓇ Health today. We’ll see you next time on another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.
What is it about cold weather that makes us more susceptible to coming down with the common cold? Let’s ensure your immune system is ready to fend off anything that can cause damage, especially during the winter.
As the temperature starts to drop, many can experience symptoms that can cause confusion and maybe even panic. Here’s what you need to know.
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
In previous episodes, I have discussed Vitamin C and its benefit in the support of numerous factors, including brain and heart health. On today’s episode, we are going to be discussing Vitamin C and its benefit for vision health and the common cold. Let’s talk science.
Vitamin C And Cataracts
Cataracts are very common. This is a clouding-over of the lens of the eye. The lens of your eye focuses light, which normally produces a very sharp, clear image on your retina. With age, the lens of your eye loses its flexibility and thickens. There is also a large amount of oxidative damage occurring from blue light, sunshine, cigarette smoke and pollution. This damages the lens of your eye and contributes to cataracts.
Your eyes super-concentrate Vitamin C. In fact, in the fluids of the eye, the concentration of Vitamin C is 15-20 times higher than in your blood plasma. So, a drop in the level of Vitamin C in the eye, may cause an increase in the severity of cataract production and a higher risk of developing cataracts. Here are some more stats:
- Cataract risk starts to increase at the age of 40
- About 50% of Americans have cataracts by the time they turn 75 years old
- About 70% of Americans have cataracts by the time they turn 80 years old (seven out of 10 people develop cataracts by the time they are 80 years old)
A meta-analysis of existing, high-quality studies was performed to discuss the link between Vitamin C and cataracts. Researchers actually looked at the blood plasma levels and found that higher plasma levels of Vitamin C are strongly connected with a reduced risk of developing cataracts. This is important, but these are studies that are actually looking at blood levels – the plasma concentration of specific nutrients – and not just a questionnaire about nutrition or dietary intake.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
This is the leading cause of blindness in aging people. In the back of the eye is the coroid body that contain blood vessels, which feeds and nourishes your retina. There is a protective substance in front of the retina called your macular tissue. It kind of works like a catchers mitt, keeping harmful things away from your retina. With age, nutrients that build up your macular tissue are not absorbed well. The macular tissue starts to thin and is not as robust. Now, factors like blue light are easily penetrating into the back of the eye.
When you have enough nutrients in your blood serum like Vitamin C, Zinc and Lutein, they can help build a robust, thick filter (macular tissue) that helps to filter out these harmful substances, like blue light.
But, where do you get exposed to blue light? There are a few common places that you may even be looking at right now – your computer screen, cell phone, high-definition TVs, and video games. A population-based cohort study from the Netherlands looked at people 55 years old and older and found that the participants that had a lot of Vitamin C in their diet (but also zinc, beta-carotene and vitamin E) it lead to a reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin C and The Common Cold
In a previous episode, we discussed Vitamin C for the immune system and how important immune cells that get to the site of an infection require Vitamin C for activation. These immune cells also require Vitamin C to kill the infection. If you are lacking Vitamin C, not enough of these cells are functioning at an adequate enough level to protect you from a virus.
Researchers have found, in very active people, Vitamin C (when taken prophylactically, or before you get a cold) that it can help reduce the symptoms and the duration. This includes runners, body builders, soldiers, skiers, and dancers or for those who live in harsher and colder environments. Vitamin C, when taken prophylactically at about 250mg to 1000mg per day was also found to reduce the incidence of getting a cold by 50%. The same was found in the general population. Studies have shown that daily supplementation of Vitamin C, means fewer colds, shorter duration, and milder symptoms for the general population.
Questions about Vitamin C? Do you currently take a Vitamin C supplement and have seen a benefit or difference in your incidences of getting sick? Leave us a comment below to join the discussion!
Thank you for tuning in to the Invite Health Podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting www.invitehealth.com/podcast. Make sure you subscribe and leave us a review! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at Invite Health today. We’ll see you next time on another episode of the Invite Health Podcast.