Water is necessary for our survival. About 60% of the human body is composed of water.
Water serves many purposes in the body including:
It serves as a vital nutrient to the life of every cell
Helps deliver oxygen and nutrients all over the body
Regulates our internal body temperature through sweating and respiration
Helps metabolize carbohydrates and proteins from food
Flushes waste through urination, sweating, and bowel movements
Acts as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
Dehydration can lead to a number of serious conditions such as: kidney failure, seizures, shock, and death. But how much water do we actually need to prevent dehydration?
Water requirements are highly dependent upon the individual for factors such as exercise, environment, overall health, pregnancy, and medical conditions (i.e. kidney or heart disease), can all influence your exact needs. You have probably heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” While this is a good starting point for healthy individuals, it may not be enough for some or it may be too much for others.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men & 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends a total of:
13 cups (about 3 liters) of fluid for men
9 cups (a little over 2 liters) of fluid for women
10 cups of water daily for pregnant women
12 cups a day for breastfeeding women.
You may notice that both of these recommendations are higher than the recommended 8 cups a day. The reason is because they include fluids from all other beverages, such as tea, coffee, and juice, and foods such as soup and produce. Vegetables and fruits (cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, citrus, berries), have a high water content and can help you stay hydrated. While caffeine in coffee and tea can make you pee more frequently, the water from these beverages still leads to a net positive contribution to total fluid consumption. Juice, sports drinks, coffee drinks, and smoothies are packed with sugar, so be mindful of those calories when counting them toward your fluid needs. Water is calorie-free.
It is certainly harder to track your water intake when you count foods in the mix so to know if you are truly meeting your fluid needs, check your urine. The darker the urine = the more water and fluid you need. The clearer it is = the more you are hydrating properly.
Staying healthy is more important now than ever as we learn to navigate through our new reality. Nourishing our bodies with healthy food not only helps us fight infection, but it also helps us: manage our weight, prevent disease, gain energy, and promote longevity.
I am so excited to share these five healthy recipes with you. Not only are they delicious, but the ingredients and spices were carefully and purposefully selected for their containment of specific nutrients that help support a healthy immune system. Every dish hits the 7 major immune boosting nutrients: Vitamins A, C, D, E, probiotics, zinc. Not to mention spices, such as garlic and turmeric, are utilized for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The main dish includes: Salmon & Vegetable Skewers with a Nonfat Greek Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce. Side dishes include: Quinoa & Spinach, Cucumber, Tomato, & Avocado Salad with a Garlic, Lemon, & Olive Oil Dressing. For dessert, you have an antioxidant packed fruit salad.
This meal is not full of immune boosting nutrients, but it is perfectly balanced as it includes foods from all five food groups. If you are vegetarian, you can always substitute tofu for salmon. If you are vegan, you can substitute the nonfat Greek yogurt with a non-dairy yogurt substitute.
I recommend batch cooking the salad, quinoa, and fruit salad to save yourself time later on in the week with meal prep.
I would love to hear your comments if you try any of the recipes. Happy cooking : )
Salmon & Vegetable Skewers with Nonfat Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4 people
Wooden skewers (any length)
1 pound of fresh salmon (remove the skin and bones)
1 medium zucchini or squash
2 bell peppers (choose a variety)
4 Tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Pepper to taste (optional)
8 oz. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
½ medium cucumber
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
10 mint leaves
Food safe gloves
Submerge the wooden skewers in ice cold water. Set a timer for 30 minutes
Pour 8 oz of nonfat Greek yogurt into a bowl.
Peel ½ a medium cucumber. Grate it using the largest-sized blades. Then squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can until the pieces feel dry. Set it aside.
Chiffonade 10 mint leaves by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them up, then making small cuts with a knife.
Combine the cucumber, mint, 2 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ tsp minced fresh garlic, and ¼ tsp kosher salt in the yogurt. Mix well until the contents are evenly distributed. Store in the refrigerator until use.
Remove the skin and bones from the salmon using deboning tweezers. Carefully cut the salmon into 1” in cubes. The pieces need to be large enough to put through the wooden skewer. 1 pound of salmon yields roughly 25-30 1” pieces.
Chop the zucchini and bell peppers into 1” pieces and place them into a bowl.
Combine 4 Tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil, ¼ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp paprika, and ½ tsp Kosher salt into a bowl and mix with a spoon.
Put on food safe gloves to avoid staining your hands, clothes, linens, and surfaces.
Pour the marinade over the zucchini and bell peppers and using your hands, ensure it evenly coats all of the contents in the bowl. Next, carefully add your salmon into the bowl and coat each piece with the marinade.
Remove wooden skewers from ice cold water.
Assemble your skewers as desired.
Turn the stove top on medium heat. Place the assembled skewers on the grill pan. Grill each side of the salmon for 1-2 min/side or until fully cooked. There are a total of 4 sides. The salmon should be a bright pink color when fully cooked. Let the pieces cool before serving.
Substitute salmon for extra-firm tofu or skinless, boneless chicken breast.
If you are vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to dairy, you can substitute the nonfat Greek yogurt for a non-dairy yogurt.
You can cook the skewers in the oven instead of grill them. Set the oven at 350 degrees and cook for 15 minutes, making sure to rotate them so that all sides of the salmon are cooked.
You can also BBQ them.
Use any extra mint leaves to make spa water.
Spinach, Avocado, Tomato, & Cucumber Salad with a Garlic, Lemon, & Olive Oil Dressing
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 people
8 cups of baby spinach
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (about 16 pieces) (halved)
1 medium avocado
½ medium cucumber
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
In a mason jar, combine ¾ cup olive oil with ¼ cup lemon juice. Add 2 garlic cloves, ¼ tsp pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Shake everything together and store it in the refrigerator.
Place 8 cups of spinach in a bowl.
Cut the 1 cup of tomatoes in half, chop ½ of a cucumber, and cut up 1 medium avocado. Add the tomato, cucumber, and avocado in the bowl. Set aside.
Double up on the recipe to sneak in more vegetables or to have as leftovers.
You can substitute baby spinach for kale, baby spring mix, or chopped romaine.
If you suffer from kidney stones, substitute the spinach for one of the options above
To cut the avocado, hold each end with your hands. Slide the knife directly in the center and rotate the avocado until your knife has made its way around the entire thing. Use your hands to rotate it open and remove the pit.
You can add any extra herbs or spices to the dressing (rosemary, thyme, oregano) for added flavor
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 people
⅔ cup of dry quinoa (any color)
1 ⅓ cups of water
Optional: pour ⅔ cup of dry quinoa into a fine mesh colander and rinse under running water for at least 30 seconds and drain well. This step helps remove any bitterness
Combine ⅔ cup quinoa and 1 ⅓ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat for 10-20 minutes, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Remove the quinoa from the heat. Let it steam on the stovetop for an additional 5 minutes keeping the lid on. This step gives the quinoa time to pop open, so it’s nice and fluffy.
You can substitute the quinoa with a whole-grain option such as: brown rice, buckwheat, farro, amaranth, etc.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4 people
2 cartons of raspberries
1 carton of blueberries
1 carton of blackberries
Rinse and dry all of the berries. Combine them in a large bowl.
Peel the cuties, ensuring you remove any fibrous pieces.
Add cuties to your bowl and mix the fruit together.
You can substitute any of the berries for a different berry of your choice.
Cuties can be substituted for oranges or grapefruit slices
These recipes were developed and are owned by Melody Sayers, MS, RDN, NASM-CPT. They cannot be published or adapted without permission from the owner. Reposting or sharing must include an acknowledgement of the original recipe owner @elevateyourplate. Please contact email@example.com to be granted permission access for republishing or adaptation.
Did you know that potassium is listed as a “nutrient of public health concern” in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? ⠀ Potassium is an essential mineral that has many functions in the body including: helping with muscle contraction, regulating fluid balance in and out of cells, supporting proper nerve transmission, and promoting kidney function. Potassium also plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure by limiting the effects of sodium as well as helps prevent against bone loss. ⠀ Have you ever experienced muscle cramping, kidney stones, high blood pressure, or bone loss? Eating potassium-rich foods can help with that. ⠀ Adults ages 19+ need 2,600-3,400 milligrams/day (depending on gender, pregnancy, or breastfeeding). Potassium-rich foods include: apricots, lentils, squash, potatoes, kidney beans, soybeans, bananas, avocados, dairy milk, yogurt, cooked spinach, raw carrots, cooked broccoli, chicken breast, and salmon.
Self-care is defined as the: “practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” With all of life’s craziness, we often forget to prioritize our own self. When this happens, we feel trapped, overwhelmed, and consumed with negative energy. ⠀ Self-care involves actively clearing out your mental and physical spaces so that you have time to do the things that you enjoy most. These “things” vary among each individual and no “thing” is better than the other. ⠀ It is okay to be selfish and take the time to slip away from the world to decompress, stabilize, relax, think, ponder, cry, laugh, write, breathe, move, sing, or dance. It is amazing what you can discover within you once all of the background noise disappears. ⠀ Remember that you only get one body, so take the time needed to invest in it and love it. Self-care will always be the best care! ⠀ Comment ⬇️and share something that you do for self-care.
Much like fruit, bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Not one piece of fruit is superior to the other for they both provide the same exact nutrients. So why can’t we see body image in the same manner?
I am a big advocate of body positivity and learning to love the skin you are in. ⠀ As both a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer, I get asked by people all the time to help them “look” a certain way, whether this means looking thinner or being more muscularly defined. However, being more esthetically pleasing to conform with societal standards doesn’t always = healthier. ⠀ By fighting to be these “perfect” body types, your mental health may be compromised, you may be eliminating key nutrients from the diet, your labs may be too high or too low, you may be more at risk for getting injured, and your mental health may suffer. ⠀ Instead of focusing on trying to be a certain number on the scale or trying to fit into a certain size of clothes, focus on balancing your diet with healthy foods, getting more movement in your day, enjoying foods in moderation, and preventing and managing disease. Celebrate your small wins on the daily, for these will add up later in a major way. ⠀ It is better to strive for a realistic body weight with perfect labs, perfect blood pressure, and zero signs of pre-diabetes, rather than be “thinner”, with multiple nutrient deficiencies, hair loss, and a broken bone. ⠀ Every BODY is beautiful, but it is up to you to nourish it with tender, love, and care. A healthy outside, starts with a healthy inside. ⠀ Comment ⬇️ with something you love about your body.
To minimize your risk of exposure, make a list of everything you need before you head out to the store. Not only will this save you time, it will also help save you money by avoiding impulse purchases. There are several available apps, which can help make the grocery list process much easier than that old paper and pen method. Some of the top-rated apps include: AnyList, Yummly, Grocery IQ, ListEase, Target Cartwheel, and OurGroceries. Apps, such as AnyList and OurGroceries, allow you to link all of your family members under one account. This helps streamline the grocery shopping list process so that everyone can add any necessary items at their leisure and in real-time. Additionally, several apps help organize groceries by category (i.e. dairy, frozen food, produce, etc.) and contain bonus features such as: a built-in cost analysis tool, nutrition scores of food items, and recipe ideas.
Tip 2: Be a Believer in the Freezer
It is no secret that fresh produce spoils faster than frozen, but did you know that frozen produce is actually more nutritious than the fresh alternatives? When fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested, they are often picked before they are ripe. This allows time for them to fully ripen during transportation. However, they are not given ample time to develop a full range of vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants. In the U.S., produce may spend anywhere from three days to several weeks in transit before arriving at a distribution center, an additional 1–3 days on display in the supermarket, and up to 7 days in our homes before being eaten. Certain vitamins and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, begin to decline immediately after harvesting. The longer these produce items are exposed to oxygen, the faster their nutritional value declines.
Freezing methods help preserve important nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. When produce is being harvested to be frozen, they are picked at the peak time of ripeness, at their greatest nutrient density, and then flash frozen under a nitrogen atmosphere. Exposing fruits and vegetables to nitrogen helps preserve nutrients, which differs greatly from oxygen which breaks nutrients down. Unlike fruit, vegetables are blanched prior to freezing, which helps prevent discoloration, browning, and loss of flavor. The high heat involved in the blanching process can cause up to a 50% loss of Vitamin C. However, because these vegetables are already being harvested at their peak, this helps to offset any nutrients that are lost during blanching. Therefore, frozen options rank higher nutritionally when compared to commercially fresh produce.
When purchasing frozen produce, choose varieties that are free from added sodium, sauce, or sugar. Do not boil frozen vegetables or expose them to high temperatures, as it will decrease the nutritional value, particularly of Vitamin C. Instead, steam, roast, sauté, grill, or microwave them. Frozen vegetables cost a great deal less than fresh, making your wallet happy.
Tip 3: You CAN Do It
Canned vegetables, protein, and fruit serve as acceptable alternatives when fresh items are limited in their availability. Not only are they more shelf stable than fresh foods, but they are also more affordable. When purchasing canned beans or vegetables, ensure to buy the low sodium or “no salt added” versions. If you are unable to find these versions, you can empty the can into a colander and run it under water to remove any excess salt prior to preparation. For canned fish, purchase the varieties packed in water instead of oil. For canned fruit, purchase fruit packed in 100% fruit juice instead of the versions packed in sugary syrups. Do not be afraid to experiment with recipes using canned good items in place of fresh foods.
Tip 4: Whole Grain is the Name of the Game
Eating a diet rich in whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. Whole grains are packed with fiber, which helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, while also keeping our digestive system functioning properly. Fiber helps us stay full for a longer period of time, which is useful for managing weight. In addition to fiber, whole grains also contain important nutrients such as: protein, fiber, B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin), and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Healthy options include brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, farro, millet, sorghum, 100% whole wheat bread, Triscuit crackers, Ak Mak crackers, corn tortillas, 100% whole wheat pasta, oatmeal (plain), and air-popped popcorn (plain). Not only are these foods important for your health, but they are also shelf stable. This makes them a perfect addition to your shopping list during a time when trips to the grocery store are less frequent. Items such as brown rice and quinoa can be purchased in both microwavable and frozen pouches, reducing cook and prep time. When selecting these items, be sure they are free of added sodium or sauces. You can extend the shelf life of items such as 100% whole wheat bread, bread, and corn tortillas, by placing them in the freezer.
Tip #5: Embrace Plant-Based
It seems as though animal protein such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, and eggs are hard to come by these days when grocery shopping. Instead of waiting it out, incorporate more plant-based protein products into your diet. Plant-based protein such as nuts, seeds, tofu, edamame, nut butters, lentils, beans, and some grains such as quinoa and amaranth, are packed with fiber, calcium, and many other important vitamins and minerals. They are also free of cholesterol and contain virtually no saturated fat.
When grocery shopping during a pandemic, it is important to remind yourself to be flexible. The store may not carry your usual brand during this time, so do your best to select something similar. Remember to only take what you will actually use and respect the needs of others, particularly the immunocompromised and elderly. Items can always be placed in the freezer to extend shelf life and reduce unnecessary trips to the market. Stay healthy and happy shopping!
As people around the world cope with the coronavirus pandemic, we find ourselves asking whether there are any particular foods we can eat to boost our body’s natural defense system. While regular hand washing and self-isolating have now become part of our daily routines, there are several key nutrients we can focus on, which support a strong and healthy immune system.
Amino acids (the building block of protein), play an important role in immune response by activating the “killer” cells that destroy bacteria and harmful cells
Amino acids regulate the production of antibodies, which are proteins in the blood that bind to specific invaders, such as germs, viruses, or tumor cells. Without antibodies, bacteria and viruses would be free to multiply in the body
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA):
Adults 18+ years: 0.8 grams/kg body weight
More is needed during pregnancy, lactation, illness, sports, and advanced age
Plant-based (missing 1 or more essential amino acid): Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, lentils
Protein supplements are generally not needed because most Americans consume more than the RDA
Ensure you eat a variety of protein sources from the options listed above
Our bodies cannot make the vitamin; therefore, we must obtain it from food
Serves as an antioxidant that fights against free radicals in the body
Stimulates white blood cells at the site of infection and enhances microbial killing
Helps prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease, promote healthy aging, and prevent and treat respiratory and full-body infections
Vitamin C intake cannot prevent a common cold; however, some evidence shows that doses of >200 mg/day may decrease the length or severity of symptoms by >1 day. Taking Vitamin C after symptoms begin does not appear to be beneficial
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
Men 19+ years of age: 90 milligrams
Women 19+ years of age: 75 milligrams
Dietary Sources of Vitamin C:
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, red/yellow bell peppers, papaya, strawberries, berries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli, cherries, guavas, spinach, kale, kiwis
Make sure to look at the labels of Vitamin C boosting products such as: Emergen-C, Ester-C, and Airborne. They often contain syrups, added sugar, dyes, and other additives
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning the body does not store it. This is particularly important for those who overload on supplements, for the body will just excrete any excess via the urine
Always ensure you obtain Vitamin C through food sources first, before resorting to a supplement
Live microorganisms or “good” bacteria that support a healthy microbiome
Inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms in the GI tract, neutralize toxins, produce cytokines(messenger molecules that help immune cells work together against an infection)
A 2015 evaluation of 12 studies with 3,720 total participants found that people taking probiotics may have fewer and shorter upper respiratory infections. However, the quality of evidence was low. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have the strongest antiviral activity against respiratory viruses, particularly influenza virus type A
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
More research is needed on the recommended dosage, however 1 – 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU)— the amount contained in a capsule or two — can be safely taken several days per week
Dietary Sources of Probiotics:
Cultured dairy products such as yogurt and fermented foods such as: kimchi, kombucha (a fermented tea), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), miso (a fermented soybean-based paste), and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Always ensure you obtain probiotics through food sources first, before resorting to a supplement
Supplements can be found in different forms. Ensure the supplement has a variety of bacterial strains and does not include any additives
A fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system healthy
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which protects cells from free radical damage
Involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA):
Men 18+ years of age: 900 micrograms
Women 18+ years of age: 700 micrograms
Dietary Sources of Vitamin A:
Sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, apricots, mangoes
Always ensure you obtain Vitamin E through food sources first, before resorting to a supplement
A fat-soluble vitamin naturally produced in the body via sun exposure
Can help reduce the risk of acute respiratory infections, including colds and flu, particularly among people who are severely deficient or those with little exposure to sunlight
Immune cells (B and T cells) from multiple autoimmune diseases appear to respond well to Vitamin D
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA):
Adults 19-70 years of age: 600 IU
Adults 71+ years of age: 800 IU
Upper limit: 4,000 IU/day
Dietary Sources of Vitamin D: there are very limited food sources of Vitamin D, so it is important to incorporate them as frequently as possible
Fatty fish such as: salmon, tuna, mackerel, swordfish, cod liver oil, dairy (choose non-fat options): milk, yogurt, cheese, beef liver, mushrooms exposed to UV light for at least 10 minutes, and fortified non-dairy milks and 100% orange juice
Vitamin D is made from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. Spend 10-30 minutes in the sun daily without sunscreen, then immediately apply sunscreen. The best time of day to get sun is midday 10AM-3PM
At nutritional doses Vitamins D2 and D3 are equivalent, but at higher doses Vitamin D2 is less potent. If you need purchase a supplement, choose Vitamin D3
Always ensure you obtain Vitamin D through food sources first, before resorting to a supplement
A mineral that helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses
There is no evidence that zinc doses >100 mg/day leads to better treatment of the cold. However, taking zinc at the beginning of a cold may shorten its duration
Zinc is best absorbed from animal sources. Foods such as whole-grains and legumes have phytates, which bind to zinc and inhibit its absorption
Aside from vegetarians and vegans, most Americans get enough zinc in their diet
Supplements may interfere with certain medications and could cause side effects such as loss of taste
Long-term zinc consumption over 40 mg/day for adults can result in copper deficiency
Always ensure you obtain zinc through food sources first, before resorting to a supplement
Other nutrients that support a healthy immune response include: Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, copper, folate, selenium, and iron. Several herbs have also been linked to an increased immune response including: ginger, ginseng, elderberry, turmeric, and garlic. In addition to eating a diet rich in the immune-supporting nutrients listed above, ensure you sleep 7-9 hours a night and keep your stress levels to a minimum. By following these recommendations, you can help reinforce your body’s fight against infection and foreign invaders.