If you’re looking for some simple tips to improve your immune system, watch this short introductory video on Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute’s 9 Lifestyle Medicine pillars to improve your immune system.
This video was produced for an AARP/RLMI video series on 6 Steps (of the 9 pillars) to Support a Healthy Immune System (Tuesdays, July 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17, 24 from 5-5:45 pm EST).
The 9 Lifestyle Medicine pillars are low tech and inexpensive. They include Plant-Based Nutrition, Purpose, Joy, Activity, Enjoying Nature, Managing Stress, Relationships, Avoiding Toxins and Restful Sleep.
By adopting these pillars, you may be able to lose weight, lower cholesterol, reverse Type 2 diabetes, increase energy, and improve sleep more easily.
Watch the RLMI Healthy Immune Function Introduction below.
“Jumpstarting Health with a 15-Day Whole-Food Plant-Based Program” was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine on April 8, 2021 by Dr. Susan Friedman, MD, MPH, Dr. Ted Barnett, MD, FACLM, Carol Hee Barnett, PhD, JD., Robert Franki, MA, Bruce Pollock, MBA and Beth Garver Beha, MS, CAS.
The 15-Day Jumpstart was developed as an evidence-based, affordable, standardized, replicable and scalable program, designed to demonstrate quickly to patients that changing what they eat can improve their health. The program was designed using the principles of the Self-Determination Theory of motivation and personality. Patients were instructed to eat an Esselstyn-compliant, whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Of the 389 participants in the program from September 2018 – February 2020, average weight loss was 5.8 pounds (7.3 for those whose BMI was > 30), average systolic blood pressure drop was 6.8 points (16.8 points for those with systolic blood pressure > 140), average drop in cholesterol was 26 points (44 points for those with a cholesterol > 200), average drop in LDL was 19 points (33 points for those with an LDL > 100), and average drop in fasting blood sugar was 5.1 points (28.4 points for those starting in the diabetic range); p-value was <0.005 for fasting blood sugar and < 0.001 for all other comparisons. A 15-day program that helps patients adopt an Esselstyn-style WFPB diet, through education, individualized medical feedback, social support, and facilitated small group work, rapidly improves health.
This is the perfect Passover or Easter dinner dish. It’s easy to make, affordable, filling and healthy. I used a mix of orange sweet potatoes (3#) and Murasaki sweet potatoes (3#).
Murasaki sweet potatoes are fairly new to the market. They are grown primarily in California, and originally developed by the Louisiana State University’s Sweet Potato Research Station. They were released to growers in 2008. Their name comes from the Japanese word for purple, which is the color of their skin. The inner flesh is yellowy white. They have a flavor redolent of sweet and nutty, and are broad-spectrum resistant to disease. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, and a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. They also contain calcium, protein, iron, and amino acids.
I purchase Murasaki sweet potatoes at Trader Joes’s in a 3# bag for $3.99. Murasaki are my absolute favorite potatoes, because they are so versatile.
6# total – regular sweet potatoes and Murasaki sweet potatoes or a mix. Yams work too.
Wash potatoes. Scrub any dirt off, if necessary.
Peel the bad parts off of the potatoes and discard.
Line a large baking/cookie sheet with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Place potatoes on cooking sheet with mat or parchment paper. Pierce each sweet potato a few times with a fork (to prevent bursting).
Bake at 425 for 40 minutes on the center rack in the oven.
Test with a fork to verify they are fully cooked. They will be soft in the middle.
National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the primary trade association for dietitians (licensed by states as RDN’s or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists). During the month of March, “everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.” https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month
The Academy encourages you to “personalize your plate.” Three of the four elements of this initiative are things anyone on a whole-food plant-based diet could benefit from: Cook & Prep, Meal Planning, and Vary your Diet. (The 4th, “Visit an RDN,” is only needed in certain circumstances, and in this context is sort of like having your barber recommend a haircut.)
“A good first step is to review your current diet. Make a list of foods that you regularly eat, paying special attention to vegetarian foods that you like. Next, aim to incorporate these foods — along with a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans — into your eating plan. A good way to include vegetables, for example, is to add them to the foods you already enjoy, such as pasta or rice dishes.” AND
“Plan meals around whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. This ensures a variety and balance of nutrients, including fiber, protein and health-promoting phytochemicals. … Use fresh and dried herbs and spices for extra flavor. Mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, hummus and fresh salsa are flavorful condiments.” AND
“It is a myth that vegetarians can’t get enough protein in their diets. Vegetarians easily can meet their protein needs when they eat a variety of plant proteins and get enough calories. Plant proteins can provide all the essential amino acids that your body needs. Whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts are good sources of protein. Eating a variety of different plant proteins each day helps your body store and use protein.” [Remember, these are licensed dietitians talking.]
Please leave aside the Academy’s advice on using oils (they say some are healthier than others). Rochester Lifestyle Medicine recommends that you eliminate oils from your diet on any whole-food plant-based diet. There is no need for oil; it adds empty calories (lots of them), can cause inflammation, and predisposes you to insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes.
Finally, this is great advice from the handout:
“Pick up a vegetarian cookbook or search the internet for vegetarian recipes and meal ideas, and explore vegetarian foods from various global cuisines. While American cuisine can be meat-focused, it’s easy to find ample vegetarian options on many Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern menus. The supermarket is a good place to find vegetarian ingredients and ready-to-eat meatless foods from around the world.” Just keep out the oil, and exclude high-fat plant foods if you are on Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute’s Jumpstart: https://rochesterlifestylemedicine.org/about-jumpstart/
“Lifestyle Medicine in the Midst of a Pandemic,” authored by RLMI Board of Directors, Susan M. Friedman, MD, MPH, Carol Hee Barnett, PhD, JD, and Ted D. Barnett, MD, was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Here is an excerpt from the paper’s abstract:
“Patients with chronic conditions are at higher risk of complications and mortality if they get COVID-19. Approximately half of American adults have at least 1 condition that increases their risk of complications if they become infected. The medical and public health communities need to send a clear message about the impact of lifestyle on health, particularly in the time of this pandemic. We need to communicate with patients and the public, to let them know how rapidly major lifestyle changes can improve health. This communication is urgent; the timeline for self-care and lifestyle medicine interventions has been telescoped, so that chronic diseases are now acute risk factors.”