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July 2018

Tips for Finding Relief During Horrible Allergy Seasons

If you’re planning to travel this summer, you may end up in a location with high pollen counts. These tiny little particles can become lodged in your nose, throat and eyes, triggering common symptoms associated with allergies, including itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing, headaches, diarrhea and runny nose. You should plan your family trips carefully with the help of a naturopathic care physician.

Seasonal Allergies Increase

The amount of people struggling with seasonal allergies is increasing, along with the severity of the symptoms. Remember, allergies is nothing but an over-reaction of your immune system to particles that aren’t harmful. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there has been a rapid increase over the past 15 years, bringing allergic rhinitis cases up to 10 to 16 percent of the American adult population. This costs the healthcare system around $18 billion every year.

So far, there aren’t any solid reasons for the increase in allergies. However, there are various steps and techniques naturopathic family care professionals recommend.

Get Allergy Testing

Are you sure why you’re having allergic-like reactions? Some people mistake allergy symptoms for a cold or virus. One way to know for sure is to go to a naturopathic center to have allergy testing performed. This will help identify the triggers of the symptoms. At this point, you can consider natural allergy treatment, such as SLIT. This is a non-invasive method that can help gradually diminish your allergies.

Try Salt Water

The allergy medications sold in stores can leave you foggy-brained and drowsy, making them a non-popular choice for many people. Most naturopathic doctors don’t recommend over-the-counter drugs because they just cover up the symptoms. Salt water is an alternative you can try. A saline nasal rinse can help clarify your nasal membranes of pollen and other particles. You can also gargle with salt water to help alleviate your sore throat. This should be done once or twice daily to reduce congestion.

Take Off Your Shoes

When you get home from work or school, it’s a good idea to remove your shoes and clothing near the door. This will help to reduce the amount of pollen and other airborne contaminants that enter your home. Keep a hamper near the door, so you can have a place to put your outdoor clothes.

How To Know If Your Child Is Suffering From A Seasonal Allergy

You may have noticed that your child tends to fall ill during a particular season every month. Or you may suspect an allergy but not be sure of it. If you know what to look for, it will help you get one step closer to helping your kid deal with it better and possibly preventing certain allergies. If you know what has caused the problem, simple things like cleaning your air conditioner or washing your linens more often could help cut down the allergens in your home.

Common Allergens to Look Out for

While a lot of kids do get affected by the pollen in the air during the spring, many of them also react to indoor allergens during the fall. So it can be a little difficult to pinpoint what is causing the problem. For example, dust is one of the leading causes of an allergy. Dust is made of tiny dust mites along with pollen, mold and a number of other fine particles that can affect a lot of people. The fur of animals like dogs and cats may not agree with some children while others may react to certain materials used in clothing or toys. Many different foods cause reactions in kids and bacterial enzymes used in cleaning products may also bring out allergic reactions.

When to Suspect an Allergy and Common Symptoms

Some allergies are very easy to detect because your child may noticeably react to a particular substance or in particular conditions. But some of them can be a lot more subtle, making it difficult for a person to pinpoint the allergen. However, there are certain signs or symptoms that you should look out for. If they keep occurring in a certain place or at a certain time, keep our eye out for a common factor that may help you figure out what your son or daughter is allergic to. These are the common signs:

• Sneezing or sniffling
• A runny nose
• Rubbing of the nose frequently
• Continuous clearing of the throat
• Itchy or runny eyes

Visiting the Pediatrician

Tackling your child’s allergies will require the help of your pediatrician. Since this is an on-going process and needs to be given attention to every year, it is best that you work with your pediatrician in order to diagnose what your child is allergic to and then try to control the symptoms. The pediatrician may prescribe certain medication like decongestants, nasal sprays or anti-histamines. In certain cases they may also send you to an allergy specialist if they feel that your kid requires some form of special treatment.

Things to Know About Drug and Alcohol Detoxification

Making a decision to seek treatment for addiction to drug or alcohol, and then sticking to it is very difficult. A great deal of courage and grit is required to accept the fact that one needs treatment for attaining sobriety. Detoxification, which helps remove the toxins from the body accumulated for years due to continuous drug and alcohol abuse, is the first step toward the recovery process.

However, many people have preconceived notions about detox that might be deceiving. One needs to understand that a successful recovery is a grim affair without detox. Listed below are some of the facts that an individual needs to know about the detoxification process:

  1. Drug and alcohol detox is the first part of the treatment process: Just by opting for a drug or alcohol detox does not make you sober. A comprehensive treatment follows detoxification that includes therapies, medications, counselling, and alternative treatments, etc. Detox helps to free the body of all the harmful toxins accumulated due to the prolonged abuse of a drug or alcohol and also helps manage difficult withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Detox must be completed before starting the next part of treatment: The body should be free of all the toxins before a comprehensive process of therapies and medications can be administered to a patient.
  3. Detox should be done under a medically controlled setting: Quitting the substance of abuse without any medical supervision can have adverse consequences. Detox must be carried out in a clinically controlled setting, under the supervision of medical professionals who are able to handle the painful withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Undergoing detox is not easy: The process of detox is not easy. The body will crave for the substance during the process and there will be withdrawal symptoms. However, doctors are well equipped to handle such situations and a focused mind can help a patient come out of the agony of drug abstinence.
  5. Detox length is not same for all: The detox length is not the same for all. It will depend on the severity of the condition, the type of drug or alcohol consumed, his/her ability to overcome the withdrawal symptoms or any other mental health condition, etc.
  6. Relapse after detox can increase dependence: One should try to avoid drugs after detox because relapse will only increase dependence on the drug. In fact, seeking detox treatment from clinically supervised treatment centers helps in relapse prevention and prepares the body for a holistic treatment.

Benefits of detox

Detox is the first and an indispensable part of the recovery process because it frees the mind and body of drug and alcohol dependence. As the body gets rid of the toxins, an individual regains control over his behavior and the body slowly starts to heal from the acute exploitation by the drugs or alcohol. Patients regain their brain chemistries with their health getting back on track. The risks associated with drug or alcohol addiction start minimizing once the body is cleansed.

It is, however, true that detox is not the first and last step of a recovery process. It needs to be followed by proper therapies, medications and other alternative treatments, like yoga, meditation or exercise, which can help an individual thwart the ill effects of long-time drug or alcohol indulgence.

Detoxifying Carcinogens in Smokers Through Watercress Extract

Watercress extract can be a potent detoxifier for smokers, according to a recent study. If taken multiple times a day, it has the ability to detoxify carcinogens produced in the body due to prolonged cigarette use. Watercress is an aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial plant that is one of the oldest leafy vegetables consumed by humans.

In a phase-II clinical trial presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in New Orleans in April 2016, researchers of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC Cancer Center stated that watercress hinders the activation of a tobacco-derived carcinogen in smokers.

The trial also showed that all the environmental toxicants and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke can be detoxified by using the watercress extract. The effect of the extract is particularly stronger in people who lack the genes engaged in processing carcinogens.

Cigarette smokers are more prone to develop lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is linked with about 90 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States. Moreover, people who smoke 15 to 30 cigarettes are more susceptible to developing lung cancer in comparison to non-smokers. Even smoking a few cigarettes occasionally increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Watercress extracts reduce activation of carcinogen in smokers

The researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial among 82 cigarette smokers who were divided into two groups. One group was administered 10 milligrams of watercress extract mixed in 1 milliliter of olive oil four times a day for a week and the other group received a placebo. After this, each of the two groups had a one-week “wash-out” period where they did not take anything. After a week, the groups replaced their intakes so that those getting placebo took the watercress extract and vice versa. However, all the participants continued with their smoking habits throughout the trial.

The researchers noticed that within a week of the administration of watercress extract, there was a 7.7 percent decrease in the activation of a carcinogen called nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone. Moreover, it also increased detoxification of benzene by 24.6 percent and acrolein by 15.1 percent. The researchers, however, noted that there was no effect on crotonaldehyde. All these elements are actively found in cigarette smoke.

Smokers who lacked the two genes involved in processing carcinogens saw an even bigger benefit of taking the watercress extract for detoxification. Benzene was detoxified by 95.4 percent, acrolein by 32.7 percent and crotonaldehyde by 29.8 percent.

Watercress extract can help prevent lung cancer among smokers

Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the UPCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Science and an epidemiologist with the Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, said, “Nicotine is very addictive, and quitting can take time and multiple relapses. Having a tolerable, nontoxic treatment, like watercress extract, that can protect smokers against cancer would be an incredibly valuable tool in our cancer-fighting arsenal.”

However, he and his team recommended a phase-III trial among a larger group of people so that it can be recommended for smokers. He also said that consuming cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress and broccoli, were good for health but they were unlikely to have the same impact as the extract.

Eat Your Way to Heart Health

The frustrating thing is, heart disease is entirely preventable, yet I have met countless people who seem to think it is just something you “get.” Although most will admit they could have eaten healthier or exercised a tad bit more, they perceive it to be mostly out of their control. This perception is not entirely their fault, however. Some doctors barely even mention diet or exercise (although some do, or refer to RDs, and kudos to them). In most cases, meds are dispensed and symptoms are monitored.

But that’s why I’m here. I’m here to tell you that number one, heart disease is preventable and reversible. Number two, there are a plethora of healthy foods you can eat to “treat” yourself to better health. Let’s visit a few categories.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are heart healthy fats. They help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce overall inflammation in the body. Whenever there is inflammation there is a higher likelihood of oxidized LDL being deposited in the arteries. We need to keep LDL at healthy levels and decrease inflammation in the body. Omega 3 fats can help us do that. Where do we find them? Unfortunately Omega 3s are not prolific in the food supply, but there are some great foods rich in Omega 3s that you can start incorporating in your diet. Examples include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, grass fed beef, and plant based foods such as walnuts, flaxseed, and soy.

Other Healthy Fats

Besides Omega 3s, there are other healthy fats that make up a heart healthy diet. Unsaturated fats, such as those from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are great for the heart. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats aren’t all that bad either. In fact, coconut oil, butter and eggs can be heart healthy choices as well, provided they are in moderation and part of a diet that avoids or limits refined carbohydrates. While in research we have seen saturated fats cause increases in LDL cholesterol, it’s actually diets high in refined carbohydrates (sweets, bread, pasta, etc) that lead to the dangerous, atherogenic type of LDL cholesterol that leads to heart disease. I’d prefer you give up the pastries before you give up the butter.

Fiber

We all know fiber is healthy, but it is especially helpful for heart disease, especially when it replaces refined carbohydrates in the diet. One particular fiber, soluble fiber, is known for its ability to lower LDL cholesterol, but all fiber is helpful. High fiber foods are all of the whole grains and plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Foods that are specifically high in soluble fiber include nuts/seeds, oats, buckwheat, apples, pears, soy and legumes. Eat more of these foods. Eat less refined carbohydrates, especially those high in sugar.

Antioxidants

Antioxidant rich foods are wonderful! Think of those plant based foods that are vibrant in color and full of flavor. That color and distinct taste are often a result of the phytochemicals, aka antioxidants. What do these antioxidants do for you? They help scavange free radicals so they aren’t left to do damage to your arteries or other organs. They essentially neutralize them. Since inflammation in the body tends to increase free radicals, antixodants are very important for heart disease. Good food choices? Colorful berries (think blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc), grapes, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, all types of vegetables, green tea, and even coffee. But this list is certainly not exhaustive. All plant foods have some sort of antioxidant component (and many of them work synergistically together), so eat a wide variety of plant based foods and you can’t go wrong.

Lean Protein

Protein is obviously an essential part of our diet. While higher fat meats aren’t necessarily unhealthy if part of a balanced diet, they can lead to weight gain which is not what you want if at risk for heart disease. Lean protein therefore is ideal because it’s not typically excessive in calories and helps keep your blood glucose stable, thereby helping you maintain a healthy weight. Make sure to have some sort of protein source with each meal. Healthy options include lean chicken, pork, grass fed beef, seafood, organic soy/tofu, low sugar dairy products and nuts/seeds.

There we go. Those are the key components of a heart healthy diet. If you focus on the foods in these groups while simultaneously cutting out the refined carbohydrates (namely sugar), you will be on a good path towards better health. Seems easy enough, right?

But what if it’s not? As with most things on the internet, including this article, words on paper don’t exactly translate to actions at home. I totally get it. I can read all day about accounting on the internet but I’m not one who gets those concepts on my own. I need help, hence I have a book keeper! The same goes for diet. Don’t be ashamed if you have more questions. That’s why us Registered Dietitians are here.

The beauty of a visit with an RD is that we get to sit down with you for an hour (and sometimes even longer) to discuss and create the best diet for YOU. Unlike in a doctor’s office, you have time to ask all your questions and receive lengthy feedback. Often people are confused as to where to start, what are appropriate portion sizes, what are some good meal ideas, etc. We can walk through this with you and create a plan that will work for you and your lifestyle. While some are afraid, thinking of us as the “food police,” we should be though of instead as the “food guidance counselor.” We are not here to judge, just to guide. We might suggest new diet options and new lifestyle goals, but always alongside you and with your complete agreement.

Please, if you have or are at risk for heart disease, incorporate these foods mentioned above. If you have never seen an RD before, I highly recommend finding one in your area. Maybe it’s just a one time visit, but at least you will get tailored advice and guidance to ensure you are doing things the right way. Eating shouldn’t be rocket science, but in our day and time it’s starting to become that way. Take charge of your health and let’s together reduce the incidence of heart disease in this country.