The Health Up Newsletter
Created Bi-Weekly by Teri Yunus
Health Up With Teri Health & Wellness Coaching

JANUARY 11, 2024 | ISSUE 168

Immune Resilience
Our habits play a critical role in our immune function.

The supplement industry makes a killing on products said to improve our immunity. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business. This is especially true during the winter months when all kinds of germs are floating about. Some of the most important factors are easily overlooked when we are considering ways to boost our immunity. Immune resilience is a holistic approach that embodies diet, lifestyle, stress management, blood sugar and more.
We often overlook our sleep habits when it comes to immunity. Who knew how we sleep can affect how our body fights off infection? It’s a big player. Poor sleep habits lead to all kinds of issues in our bodies…immunity suppression being just one of them. The causes of poor sleep vary greatly. One thing you may not be aware of is how blood sugar can affect our quality of sleep. You may have heard or read about intermittent fasting, and it can be a great strategy for some. But like just about everything, not good for all. Insulin resistance can lead to an inability to process sugar in our bodies and can result in low blood sugar in the night. This may account for awakening at 3 or 4am abruptly. When our blood sugar drops low, our body signals us to eat food. If this is happening to you, consider looking at when you ate last, what you ate last, and if it’s possible that you are not getting enough nutrition to get you through the night. This is not a common problem. Many of us can go a long time without food but it is something to review if your sleep is poor.
Circadian rhythm (our sleep-wake cycle) also plays a role in immune resilience. It is our internal clock that guides us on when to go to bed for sleep and when to start our day. It can lead to waking up without an alarm clock once we establish our rhythm of waking up at the same time every day. The biggest mistake people make is staying up too late and throwing off their rhythm. This leads to poor sleep patterns and compromises immunity. To boost immunity, going to bed at the same time and early enough to wake up without an alarm is critical. Light exposure helps us wake up. This is why you may have heard to turn off devices with screens an hour or more before attempting sleep. There are alarm clocks that turn on a soft light if you must wake up in the dark. You can also put a closet light or bathroom light on a timer which may trigger gentle wakefulness.
Diet is a major factor in immune resilience. Eating a diverse plant-based diet is ideal but for those who eat animal foods, diversifying the plants you include in your diet helps greatly. Our gut microbiome has a significant role in our immune function. What we put in our mouths determines the health of our gut microbiome. Sadly, the Western diet (Standard American Diet, AKA SAD) contains inflammatory foods, such as high sugar and dairy foods. Ultra-processed foods have become the norm and they are significantly inflammatory. Our diet is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and these are the foods that feed our good gut bacteria and promote better immunity. I once heard an analogy that we wouldn’t put oil in the gas tank of our cars and expect a smooth-running engine. The same goes for our bodies. Our bodies are designed, quite brilliantly, to heal and can do so only in the correct environment.
Glutathione is known as the body’s master antioxidant. You can guess where we get much of our glutathione…yes, you are correct, our food. This valuable antioxidant plays a vital role in protecting us from viruses, inflammation, and autoimmunity. It’s a big deal. Levels decline naturally with age, stress, poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins, and chronic infections. Supplements may be useful. One that is a precursor to the development of glutathione is n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). Check your source to know that you are getting a quality product, as there is little to no oversight on the supplemental industry. Foods are your best bet, especially as we age. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower, along with turmeric, avocado, okra, and almonds contain higher amounts of glutathione. Radishes, spinach, garlic, and onion are great as well. Mushrooms are a great option for our immune system too. Foods that contain vitamin C are excellent as well. Let’s not forget green tea (choose organic if possible), as it too, plays a role in better immunity. Ready to take it to the next level? Read the article below. 
Regular exercise (without over-exercising) boosts immunity. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. Even simple walking is helpful if done routinely. Socializing is a fun way to boost immunity. Laughter is good medicine. Spending time with people you enjoy is a natural high. Practicing mindfulness…being present in the moment and cultivating positivity have shown to be valuable tools when it comes to overall health. Deep breathing and looking for the gifts in all situations shifts from negativity to a more positive outlook. This can be challenging but there is always something good. It may be hiding behind the stuff that is right up in our face.
Bottom line is that there is so much we can do for our own health. Relying on expensive supplements or our doctors to fix all our issues is not necessary. You have the power to create better health. We are our own best health care provider! It starts with our habits. What we do everyday creates our health status. So today I challenge you to take a look at your habits and see what small changes you can make. Then every week do an evaluation and tweak it a bit. Small changes create big results. 

Matcha green tea
The next level of tea drinking!

Many of us know the health benefits of green tea. These include lowering blood pressure, improving blood lipids (cholesterol), stabilizing immune cells, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking two to three cups of green tea daily is associated with a 44% reduced risk of developing colon cancer. What some of us may not be aware of is the next level when it comes to green tea…Matcha!
Matcha powdered green tea was invented in China about a thousand years ago and then transplanted to Japan. Matcha is whole leaves of tea milled into fine powder. Knowing the benefits of green tea itself, eating the entire plant, is even better. There are several amplified benefits from doing so. Here are a few:
Cognitive Benefits – Powerful antioxidants called catechins help to prevent and treat many chronic conditions. There is a growing body of evidence that green tea can boost cognition, improve memory and focus, elevate mood, and even protect the brain from disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These catechins detoxify and combat free radicals, preventing premature aging.
Supports Weight Loss – Drinking matcha regularly can increase our metabolism and help burn fat more efficiently. This is no quick fix…one doesn’t exist. But regular use of matcha green tea can help support weight loss by helping us feel more satisfied. Those same catechins called epigallocathecin-3-gallate (ECCG) that improve cognition also increases a gut hormone that makes us feel full.
Boosts Immune Function – Catching a theme here? It’s cold and flu season (you know…winter). Boosting our immunity right now is super helpful in keeping us healthy and productive. Matcha strengthens the immune system to limit the invasion of viruses, bacteria, and other unwanted guests. Matcha contains a nice list of vitamins and minerals essential in keeping us healthy: vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2 and B3, magnesium, zinc, selenium, to name a few. Matcha contains 10 times more antioxidants than other green tea so it wins when it comes to boosting immunity.
Matcha also has been proven beneficial for our skin. It’s an excellent detoxifier that also promotes healing. Research has demonstrated that drinking matcha regularly is a great way to lower cholesterol. Those higher amounts of antioxidants have proven to affect multiple areas in our body. Lowering cholesterol helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Matcha also has been implicated in reducing depression and anxiety, along with boosting mood. These powerful antioxidants are beneficial in so many ways; it truly is magnificent.
Not much of a tea drinker? That’s okay. You can simply add a teaspoon or two of matcha to your favorite beverage to reap the benefits. It can be a bit bitter so you may notice that some brands include sweeteners to offset the bitterness. It is an acquired taste plain, though. So if you’d rather skip the sweetener part, read your label and choose carefully. As with all foods and beverages, choosing organic as much as possible is your best bet. This is especially true when using a product on a regular basis. Keep the toxins down so your matcha can focus on repairing all the other things.

what is a wfpb lifestyle all about?
And what can it do for me?

What seems like it may be the next big thing, whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating, has been around for hundreds of years. This was the eating style of most people in the early days of civilization. Only kings and queens could afford to eat the lavish foods that ultimately led to their demise. Think about the drawings of kings that you have seen. Most were rotund men and queens were plump as well. Eating a diet high in animal protein caused weight gain and disease. The healthiest people were the paupers who grew their own gardens and worked in them!
Food was scarce in those days. This is no longer true. Now food is available to most of us 24 hours a day. Often it is highly processed with little nutritional value. We are marketed to incessantly and confused by the information that is available. Harry Truman said it best, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”
A whole food, plant-based diet is made up of real food – beans and legumes, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and nuts. Absent from this way of eating are animal products including meat, fish, and dairy, added oils, added sugar and salt. Highly processed foods are avoided too. For those eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), this sounds like a huge change. Often, due to our busy lives, we rely on convenience foods and, unfortunately, these food items are responsible for the poor health of our nation.
Eating real food has many benefits! Let’s start with energy…who needs that? These foods fight disease and, in many cases, can reverse disease! Living longer is something many of us strive for. How about REALLY living longer…not dying longer. Eating this way can improve your quality of life so that you can enjoy a longer life. These foods are also associated with improved mental health and physical strength.
Humans are habit formers. We can create new habits that may seem so far out of our comfort zone that it can be shocking how much we CAN change when we are willing to consider new possibilities. Health coaching can be the support you need to open up those possibilities and discover that YOU HAVE THE POWER to change your health destiny. Consider hiring a coach to help you along the way.

Vegged Out Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
This soup is so warm and comforting and so healthy for you. Look for the immunity building ingredients. 
  • 5 green onions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced (slice dark parts and set aside for later)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 14 oz vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste (optional)
Heat a large stainless-steel saucepan over medium high heat. Add white and light green parts of green onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft. Add water as needed to prevent sticking. Stir in cumin and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and juice, broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in salt and cayenne pepper, if using. Top each serving with dark green onion tops.
Additions – I add a can of vegetarian refried black beans to consistency, a yellow onion (I always add more than the recipe calls for…onion is a superfood) and a bag of frozen corn. I double this recipe and freeze half. A dollop of cashew cream on top finishes it nicely. 

did you know
To get the highest value of nutrients from your raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or kale), chop it about 40 minutes before you plan to cook it. This allows for the best quality and quantity of health promoting enzymes to be released. 

Food for Thought
I am adding a new feature that I think will be interesting for you all. Dr. Michael Greger released his “How Not to Age” book recently and it is jam-packed (like all of his books!) with facts that can help us to slow the aging process and feel great until our last breath. For the next several weeks, I will share little tidbits that I am reading. I strongly encourage all my readers to look for Dr. Greger's books. They are based on scientific evidence and worth their weight in gold (in my humble opinion). :)
AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme that acts as a sensor similar to a fuel gauge. It is known as the master energy sensor and the fat controller for the body. Chapter one in the book delves into this deeply. Here are tips to boost this anti-aging pathway. At each meal, consider:
  • reducing consumption of saturated fat (concentrated in meat, dairy, and desserts)
  • increasing consumption of fiber (concentrated in legumes and whole grains)
  • taking each of the following:
    • 2 teaspoons of barberries
    • a dash of ground black cumin
    • ¾ cup hibiscus tea mixed with lemon verbena tea
    • 2 teaspoons of vinegar (though NEVER straight, sprinkle on food or dilute in the tea)
Catch my Health Tip Tuesday video on Facebook on Tuesdays to hear my health tip for the week!
Share with your friends and family. Sharing and commenting along with liking or loving <3 increases the exposure so more people can become aware of the value of healthful living.

“The groundwork for all happiness is good health.”
--Leigh Hunt


what small step will you take this week?
Lots of love from Teri