Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to protect your skin this summer...

Skin cancer statistics are everywhere and sunscreen advertisements have new restrictions this year.  These restrictions include testing for sunscreens labeled as broad spectrum and doing away with label terms such as "sweat-proof", "water-proof", and "sun-block". In addition sunblocks can no longer state that they have over 50 SPF or that they can protect for over two hours without application since heat exposure from sun will deactivate the active ingredients. Everyone knows that you need to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from burning in the sun and thus from skin cancer, however many don't know that studies have shown that medium sun exposure without burning will actually DECREASE your risk of melanoma, a specific kind of skin cancer. Here's a chart of skin cancer trends in the US over the years. 

There are two different types of sun rays to protect yourself from, UVA and UVB. UVA makes up about 95% of sun rays throughout the day and causes damage to the underlying skin layers. It is also thought to be the culprit for premature aging. UVB rays are responsible for helping your skin to produce the Vitamin D your body needs but they are usually low in the morning and evening but high at midday. But at any part of the day UVA rays are at high levels and usually constant so you have to be careful about getting your Vitamin D.

So what's the big deal about Vitamin D? Vitamin D supports your cardiovascular, bone, teeth, and immune system health. It also promotes healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in memory loss and learning disorders and many other health conditions. Read more here. In order to make sure you're getting enough Vitamin D you need these key ingredients: magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, zinc, and boron. If you don't have enough it may put you at risk for Vitamin D deficiency or disuse of Vitamin D in your body.

Many people rely on sunscreen to help combat damaging rays, however they don't realize that there are plenty of chemicals in the formulas they are applying on their skin and if they aren't getting sun exposure without sunscreen they can be blocking 99% of their natural vitamin D production. Many of these chemicals in sunscreen have been linked to cancers and other damaging health concerns. For example, octyl methoxycinnamate or OMC has been found to kill the cells of mice even at low levels while butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane has also shown toxic properties. Check your sunscreen labels for methoxy formulas, parabens, any form of salicyclates, or any form of benzone. These are questionable ingredients that can cause harm to your skin, coral reefs, and our water system.

 So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer while making sure you're getting the Vitamin D you need?

1) Get 10-30 minutes of sunlight exposure without sunscreen two to three time per week in order for your skin to get exposure to produce vitamin D. Start out aiming for 10 minutes if you have pale or easy burning skin or in the beginning of summer. Aim for 30 if you have darker or olive colored skin that takes awhile to burn.

2) Check the label on your sunscreen even if it says its "natural" and make sure to apply it regularly while outside. Check labels for methoxy formulas, parabens, any form of salicyclates, or any form of benzone which can cause damage to your skin. Safe alternatives include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

3) Try to stay in the shade when the sun is directly overhead as the rays are most powerful at this point and can cause damage even if you're wearing sunscreen.

4) Wear wide brimmed hats and clothing that covers a lot of skin if you're going to be outside for a long period of time so that you can limit your skin and sunscreen exposure. White has long been toted to help to reflect rays however if the weave is open and you can see light through it the protection will be lacking.

5) Store sunscreen in a cool place as heat or sun exposure to the bottle may actually deactivate the ingredients and make it less effective.

6) Read the lables on your pills as many can increase the effects of UVA rays. Many medications such as ibruprofen, naproxen, certain antibiotics, birth control, and diuretics can cause your skin to burn easier. If you need a pain killer opt for a natural alternative such as Pain-X.

7) Don't forget to protect your pets! Make sure they stay in the shade and have plenty of water. Also look for symptoms of sunburn such as redness or tenderness of skin and cracking on the ears or loss of fur.

Note: If you do get burned, safe and effective ways to cool the skin after a burn include cool water, witch hazel, and aloe vera gel. There are aerosols and sprays available if your skin does burn and is hard to touch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't underestimate this power packed fruit!

Many of us enjoyed an extra long weekend and were able to remember those that sacrificed their lives in an effort to protect our country and our rights. I want to extend my gratitude for those that fought and served in the  military and those currently still enlisted. I also know many of us probably aren't fully awake today so I'm going to make this post short and simple today.

This powerful fruit is often taken for granted among many more colorful and exotic fruit in the supermarket aisles these days. Just one cup of this fruit packs only 46 calories, 20% of your daily value of vitamin C, 17% of vitamin A, and a good amount of potassium and lycopene for lower blood pressure and lower rates of heart disease. Lycopene is also a great antioxidant that can help to keep cholesterol from sticking to your blood vessel walls and reducing inflammation associated with asthma, arthritis, and even reduce your risk for colon cancer. This fruit is also packed with citrulline and arginine which has been shown to further help lower blood pressure, prevent erectile dysfunction, and also help lower insulin sensitivity associated with syndrome X and diabetes.

So what is this mega fruit? Watermelon! :) This fruit is related to cantalope, squash, and pumpkin and originated in Africa and also found a cultivational home in Egypt where water was scarce in the hot sun. This fruit is also home in China and now in Russia where most commercial watermelon is grown and even used to make a potent wine.

A single slice of watermelon is very juicy and has an extremely high water content  of 92% to help you cool off on a hot day while enjoying the other health benefits associated with daily fruit intake. Eating fruit on a daily basis has been shown to help keep your body's pH at a healthy level which can help keep the body functioning at an optimum level, reduce inflammation, and even ensure that healing happens in a timely manner.

A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men eating lycopene rich foods such as watermelon and tomatoes in addition to drinking green tea were found to have an approximately 80% reduced rate of prostate cancer. In this study 130 prostate cancer patients in 274 hospitals were studied and it was found that those drinking the most green tea had an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer while those eating lycopene rich fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava had an 82% reduced risk. Click here for more.

Another study in the Archives of Ophthalmology found that those eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day had a lower rate of age-related macular degeneration which is responsible for vision loss in older adults. Three servings can lower your risk 36% compared to those eating 1.5 servings of fruit or less each day. Read more here.

So here's some healthy tips to enjoy some watermelon and its many health benefits:

1) When shopping for watermelon look for a creamy yellow spot which would indicate it was allowed to fully ripen before being picked,  a uniform shape indicating good growing conditions, and a heavy melon which indicated juicy slices for all to enjoy.

2) Store an uncut watermelon at room temperature to raise levels of lycopene by 20%.

3) Need some ideas to incorporate it into summer?

  • Have a seed spitting contest with your child.
  • Try tossing some slices into a pitcher of water to get a hint of flavor.
  • For a summer spritzer, blend some watermelon with a spoonful of honey, a splash of lemon or lime, and     some seltzer water.
  • Use watermelon in place of tomatoes in salad and add some feta cheese for another tasty alternative.
  • Mix diced watermelon and cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapelo pepper, and a splash of lime for a spin on salsa.
  • Grill it for 5 minutes after brushing with olive oil and sprinkling on fresh sea salt and freshly cracked ground pepper.
  • Blend watermelon together with cantalope and kiwi for a cool soup that will do ya good on a warm day.
  • Save those seeds and toast them with a sprinkle of spices for a healthy bite of fiber, protein, and magnesium.

Check out some more recipes here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is the answer to use more chemicals on our food?

Genetically modified (GMO) foods have been in use in the United States for almost twenty years and are a substantial part of the crops that we consume on a daily basis. They were originally created to increase farmer's crop yield so that we could feed more people including world wide use for those with food shortages. They were also created to have a tolerance to pesticides and a resistance against cold, disease, and draught conditions. Moreover scientists have also been working on discovering a way in which to place vaccines inside of crops so they could be shipped overseas while not having the special storage considerations needed for many vaccines.  When they were first introduced, it was discussed that there was potential for harmful human side effects, environmental factors such as disturbances to wild life and insect populations, and super weeds and gene spreading to non GMO crops resulting from cross breeding.

So what are GMO foods?
The genetic code for many of our crops including corn, soybeans, tomatoes, canola, papaya, zucchini, rice and cotton have been broken apart by scientists and a small portion of genetic code from another species such as fish, soil bacteria, and even other plants are inserted in the crop's gene. This results in the crop having certain characteristics that are wanted such as no bruising in tomatoes, common crop disease resistance, or pesticide tolerance. Check out the video below for more information.
How prevalent are GMO foods?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 94% of all US soybeans, 88% of corn, and 90% of cotton. Read more here.

Have they helped?
Numerous studies have shown that in fact crop yields have NOT INCREASED. The tolerance and resistance have held, but the environment and the potentials we were trying to protect against have adapted and mutated.

How did they propose to prevent this?
Long term studies on human side effects, environmental side effects, and sterile crops to prevent cross breeding.

Did any of this come true?
In the US there are three different agencies that are regulating these products including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The EPA is responsible for monitoring the environment, the USDA is responsible for finding out if its safe to grow, and the FDA whether its safe to eat. The FDA has ruled that GMO food is substantially equivalent to unmodified "natural" food and thus does not need to be regulated. What do they mean by substantially equivalent? They mean that the GMO food or food product has the same use and characteristics of earlier food that has passed FDA standards or that the different characteristics is as safe as the previous food with no new safety issues and thus NO ADDITIONAL SAFETY INSPECTIONS ARE REQUIRED. 

Monsanto, the GMO mega company with ties to the pharmaceutical industry as well, in an open letter from Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro to Rockefeller Foundation President Gordon Conway that it would not pursue technology to render seeds sterile. 

What is the big deal?
Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a world authority on plant lectins, did some research on GMO potato plants and rats. He found that those that ingested the GMO potatoes had significant weight changes and immune response changes. The Rowett Institute also announced the study findings on the GMO jackbean plant with ConA and the toxic effects that it produced. Independent environmental studies have found effects on monarch butterfly caterpillar deaths after eating GMO soybeans as well as other studies finding toxic and other harmful environmental effects. Critics have attempted to discredit these studies and say the science and experiments used to obtain these results were flawed.

The controversy and pressure has also led Gerber baby food to stop using GMO corn and soy in their baby food. Many other companies have also felt pressure and a few months ago Kashi food was also targeted for using GMO in their "all natural" products. They are still feeling the pressure from that one!

Many crops of farmers not using GMO crops have been cross contaminated and there are now the super weeds that are pesticide resistant. They are further contributing to a decreased crop yield. The solution is now to use more pesticides and herbicides and multiple types of pesticides to our food to protect us. The agricultural industry is also pushing for deregulation of 2,4-D, the highly toxic chemical component formerly used in Agent Orange in the Vietnam War that was responsible for the maiming or death of 400,000 people and the birth defects of 500,000 children born after the war. Read more here.

What can you do?
1) Talk to your legislators and voice your concerns.
2) Do research on the companies you are buying your products from and read labels. 
3) Buy organic. It can make a difference in your life and your families.
4) Start a vegetable garden at home with organic seeds.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

These harmful substances are building up in your brain right now...

These substances are found everywhere in your environment including your food, batteries, alloys, the dyes in your clothing, and even your cosmetic and beauty products. Over time they build up in your body which can cause a number of symptoms such as lowering mental capacity, fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia, and also symptoms associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Are you or your family at risk?

These substances are heavy metals such as lead, iron, copper, and manganese. They are commonly found in fruits and vegetables and are required "trace" elements that are essential for body function. The problem stems from the fact that many Americans are being over dosed due to environmental and lifestyle factors. Many of these heavy metals are found in the multivitamins we are putting into our body to boost our health!

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, there are three that we have the right to be most concerned about: arsenic, lead, and mercury. But others such as aluminum and iron are also very common in our environment and can also lead to problems in development and body function as well.

Arsenic is released by smelting of alloys and also the manufacture of chemicals and glass. This metal is contaminating the ground water of over 70 countries including the US! In 2008, a study in the southeastern counties of Michigan investigated low to moderate arsenic exposure through groundwater and 23 disease processes such as cancer, diabetes, circulatory and respiratory disease, and kidney or liver disease. Their findings showed increased mortality rates for men and women for all circulatory diseases, cerebrovascular disease, type II diabetes, and kidney disease. Read more here.

Lead is a neurotoxic that can be stored in your soft tissues and your bones and can be absorbed through ingestion or inhalation. It can damage the nervous system including your brain and in excessive amounts can cause blood disorders and delay puberty in girls. Click here for a study.  Long term exposure has been linked to kidney disease, abdominal pain, weakness in the hands, increased blood pressure, anemia, miscarriage, reduced fertility in males, and even poor immune response. According to Roberts, lead poisoning is the most common heavy metal toxicity in children and exposure is most commonly through ingestion of lead based materials, soil, dust, and contaminated food or water.

Mercury can be found almost everywhere in your environment from the food we eat (fish especially), dental fillings, cosmetic products, and the vaccines we are injecting into our children. Mercury can be inhaled, ingested, and even absorbed through the skin. Mercury can cross the blood-brain-barrier to be stored in the brain which can cause many of the same symptoms of lead poisoning as it is also a neurotoxin.

What can you do to reduce your exposure and clear your body?

1) Get tested. A blood test alone is not enough as these harmful substances can also be stored in the brain and other soft tissues. Get your blood, hair, and urine tested. Visit your doctor or find a Natural Health Office that can run these tests.

2) Detoxify your body. Chelation therapy and thorough body cleanses may help to reduce the levels in your body.

3) Be proactive and load up your body with anti-oxidants to prevent further exposure. Vitamin C is a great source and many anti-oxidants can be found in dark fruits such as blueberries, grapes, and pomegranates. Many of our bodies are starved for anti-oxidants and a helpful way to ensure your body has what it needs is through the Vitamin C Calibration.

4) Get in the sauna. Saunas are a great way for your body to get rid of toxins through the most direct method: sweat from your skin. A dry low temperature sauna is best and make sure to shower right after you are done to rinse the metals so they cannot be reabsorbed.

5) Limit your mercury intake through fish. Avoid albacore tuna as it has three times the mercury as light tuna. Here's a calculator to determine how much tuna you can eat each week safely. If you're eating fatty fish such as mackerel, swordfish, or shark you're already taking in a lot of mercury so cutback on other seafood that week.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This type of sugar can lead to cancer and decreased brain function...

Since 1972 when this sugar was mass produced the rate of consumption has gone up by 3000% according to the USDA. This sugar is also responsible for the increased obesity and type II diabetes rates in the US and has been linked to metabolic syndrome, autism, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and even elevated triglycerides.This sugar is not only 6 times sweeter than sugar but your pancreas must work much harder to metabolize this sugar over that obtained from sugar cane.

This sugar is called high fructose corn syrup. I'm sure you've seen the commercials touting that your body can't tell the difference, but guess who paid for that commercial. That's right the CORN INDUSTRY, who's profits come from the sale of the same high fructose corn syrup. The corn industry is also in the process of changing its name on food labels to corn syrup in an effort to escape the bad press circulating on "high fructose corn syrup". Name changes are rare, but the FDA has allowed them in the past from low erucic acid rapeseed oil, prunes, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) to canola oil, dried plums, and 25 different names including natural flavoring, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, caseinate, and gelatin. This name change could make reading food labels and picking healthy options for your family even harder.

The New York Health Department is starting a movement to decrease the sugar consumption of their state from soda and other sugary drinks specifically. Here's their most recent commercial campaign below:
After the creation of high fructose corn sugar in 1957, it took about 20 years before a low cost refining option was discovered to make it readily available to food makers and consumers. In the United States, consumption rate in 1972 was 1.2 pounds of sugar per year, in 1999 it had ballooned to 63 pounds per year, and with recent press and awareness the consumption has dropped to 35 pounds in 2010. These numbers are troubling because this is 3 times or more the amount of high fructose corn syrup used in other parts of the world that have not had the massive sugar replacement. Coca Cola switched their product from processed cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup in 1984, but only in the US and Canada. In Japan consumption of HFCS accounts for only 1/4 of all sweetener consumption while in Europe there is a production quota to limit the intake of HFCS.

Harmful side effects from high fructose corn syrup have been in the news for years and new studies are being funded for researchers to further delve into the effects of this highly processed additive in our food. Researchers from the University of California have found that pancreatic cancer cells have a particular liking for highly processed fructose and grow at a much more rapid rate when exposed to processed fructose over glucose. The fructose in fruits is not implicated in this study because the enzymes in your body begin to break  it down as soon as it enters your mouth into glucose for easy metabolism. Read more here.  These University of California researchers have also done another study where they took two groups of volunteers and fed them a strict diet of either high levels of glucose or fructose. After 10 weeks, testing revealed that the fructose group had produced new fat cells around their heart, liver, and other digestive organs and also showed signs of abnormalities in food processing linked with heart disease and diabetes. Weight gain rates were similar but the researchers claimed they thought weight gain in the long run. So how does fructose do all that in 10 weeks??? Fructose bypasses the digestive process that breaks down most sugars and travels straight to the liver to cause a variety of reactions including metabolic changes that cause the body from burning fat normally. Check it out here.

Princeton researchers have done two separate studies on the effects of HFCS on rats. The first extended the  long term weight hypothesis of the researchers from the University of California in that it studied weight gain among fructose or sugar consuming rats. Rats given water sweetened with fructose in addition to their normal rat chow gained much more weight than their counterparts that were given water sweetened with table sugar. The concentration of sucrose was comparable to that found in commercial soda while the amount of fructose used was only half as that of commercial soda. Their second study looked at long term effects of the high fructose diet and found that the increase in body fat in the fructose group was 48% higher than those eating a normal diet. In addition, there was an not only an increase in weight specifically around the abdomen but there was also elevation of triglycerides and development of a condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome increases risk for multiple health conditions including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Read more here.

In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared that soda should not be offered in schools due to the  high HFCS content. A study from Clinical Epigenetics has linked the obesity epidemic and rising autism rates to HFCS consumption in children siting the loss of zinc and calcium related to HCFS can cause problems with heavy metal elimination and brain or muscle development. Read the full study here.

So what can you do?

1) Read the labels on your food. The ingredients list can be a very confusing study but knowing what is truly in your food can save your family's health.

2) Opt for water over sugary juice or soda. 70% of Americans are dehydrated already and water is the most deficient nutrient in your body. It is needed for every process and function in your body including weight loss, digestion, joint function, and even healing.

3) Avoid sugary drinks and foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. There's no need to put yourself at an unnecessary risk when there's many alternative products that don't have that dangerous additive.

4) Shop at the local natural food store such as Naturally Yours or Essential Wellness Pharmacy for great alternatives or healthier choices.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

These two amino acids can restore your heart rhythm...

More than 850,000 people are hospitalized each year for heart arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is an term used for an irregular rate or rhythm of the heart. A weak or damaged heart may cause or even make an arrhythmia worse and they can be caused from a number of different factors including post-surgical healing, change in heart muscle such as after a heart attack, coronary artery disease, and even electrolyte imbalances in the blood. Arrythmias can range from harmless to serious enough to require surgical insertion of a pacemaker depending on the severity and type of irregularity.
The George Eby Research Center in Texas began looking for nutrient deficiencies that may be causing the arrhythmias such as premature atrial contraction (PAC), premature ventricular contractions (PVC), atrial fibrulation, and sinus rhythm pauses. Both types of premature contractions are often found in healthy older adults which causes the heart to beat before the next heartbeat and thus out of synchronization. Sinuses pauses occur when the sinus node of the heart pauses instead of signaling the heart to contract. This condition can result in pacemaker insertion when the pauses are long.

In their research, they found that taurine and L-arginine were often deficient in individuals suffering from these conditions. Taurine regulates levels of potassium, sodium, and calcium in the blood and tissues, excitability of the myocardium, and protects against free radical damage. L-arginine is a nitric oxide precursor and has an ability to restore normal sinus rhythm. Normal body production of these nutrients declines with age so if you're not getting the required amounts in your diet you may be deficient.

Researchers found that supplementation of 10 to 20 grams of taurine reduced PAC by 50% and prevented all PVC. For those with arrhythmias that didn't respond, an additional 4 to 6 grams of L-arginine was added and resulted in normal cardiac rhythm in those with the remaining PAC and sinus pauses. With continued treatment this normal cardiac rhythm was also maintained.

The first preliminary study also found that niacin deficiency can result in single atrial fibrilations and that supplementation twice a day of 500mg of niacin totally stopped the fibrillation. Here's a link to the preliminary study. Want more information? Read the new and improved full study here.

Here's a link to check out foods high in taurine, L-arginine, and niacin:
Niacin (B3)

You don't have to rely on prescription pills or even surgery to treat heart arrythmias! Many of these prescription medications have harmful side effects and can cause further health risks when used long term. Look into alternative and natural solutions for treatment. Many natural health care offices are able to order the tests necessary to determine if you're deficient in these essential nutrients.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Runny nose and itchy water eyes?

Compliments of Health Media Ventures, INC
Is it that time of year again? Are you suffering from sinus pressure, runny nose, and watery itchy eyes? Do you have allergies that make it hard to get through your day? Are you taking a sinus medicine such as Claritin, Flonase, or even trying to survive with nose sprays or eye drops? Then you need to read this!

Allergies affect nearly 20% of Americans or 1 in 5 are affected by allergies on a yearly basis. Many people rely on over the counter medications to help calm their symptoms but many are reaching for prescription strength allergy medication and even allergy shots. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Research and Development team, allergy treatments cost the US $21 billion on a yearly basis and they are ranked 6th in annual expenditures for chronic conditions. These medications also have side effects such as drowsiness, low libido, increased appetite, altered taste and smell, infertility in women, anxiety, impairment of thinking, depression, and long term health issues such as decreased growth rate in children and cataracts, osteoporosis, and diabetes in adults. What's really troubling is more children are being diagnosed with seasonal allergies every year and many are being put on these medications. 

In 2007 Harvard University released a study citing that sunlight exposure could reduce the onset of allergies and even asthma in children. This study found that low vitamin D levels could be coorelated with allergies and asthma in adults and children. They also found that pregnant women with vitamin D deficiency had a higher incidence of having children with allergies or asthma than those with normal vitamin D levels. 

In October 2009, the Childhood Asthma Management Program Research Group released a study that found that in a group of 1024 children 35% were vitamin D deficienct. Average vitamin D levels were lowest in African Americans and highest in white subjects. They also found a significant coorelation with low vitamin D levels and higher odds of visiting the hospital or ER for allergy symptoms. Here's the study.

Also in 2009, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine analysed the blood of over 6,000 children and found that  9% of children were deficient (less than 15ng/mL of blood) and 61% were vitamin D insufficient (less than 29ng/mL of blood). 70% of children are not getting enough Vitamin D! This study also found that vitamin D was linked with higher risk factors for poor bone health and heart disease including higher PTH levels and lower serum calcium levels, higher blood pressure and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Read more here.

In a second study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a sample of 3,100 children and 3,400 adults they tested IgE (allergy protein markers) and vitamin D levels and found that low vitamin D levels in children were coorelated to higher allergy rates. They tested children with 17 allergens including ragweed, oak, and food allergens like eggs and peanuts. They found that children with less than 15 nanograms per milliliter (Ng/mL) of vitamin D in their blood were a whopping 240 percent more likely to have a peanut allergy than children with 30 Ng/mL of vitamin D or higher, for instance.

A study by The German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents found that in data of over 8,000 unvaccinated and 17,400 vaccinated children in 15 different countries, the vaccinated children had higher rates of disease and sickness. For instance, the allergy rate among vaccinated children was more than double the allergy rate among unvaccinated children. Vaccinated children were also found to be nearlyeight times more prone to developing asthma or chronic bronchitis than were unvaccinated children. While less than 1/2% of unvaccinated children were found to have developed an autoimmune disease while roughly seven percent of vaccinated children developed one.  

So what can you do?

1) Make sure you're getting enough Vitamin D. Get at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight 3 days per week without sunscreen so that your body can make the Vitamin D it needs.Check out the recommendations from the National Institute of Health and get tested if you're in doubt. 

0–12 months*400 IU
(10 mcg)
400 IU
(10 mcg)
1–13 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
14–18 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
19–50 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
51–70 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
>70 years800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)

* Adequate Intake (AI)
2) Eliminate food from your diet that are common allergens. Cow's milk is the most common food allergy in humans and it also causes an increase in mucus production. Studies have shown that food allergies can be an exacerbating factor in asthma cases.

3) Increase consumption of Omega 3 (fish oil such as EPA or DHA) to 3000-4000mg daily. Fish oil can help to reduce inflammation and studies have shown that fish oil supplementation reduces the onset of exercise-induced asthma. A double-blind research study of children who received 300mg of fish oil per day experienced significant improvements of asthma symptoms.

4) Get enough Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and great at reducing inflammatory. A large preliminary study has shown that young children with asthma experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a diet high in fruits rich in vitamin C. Many people aren't getting enough Vitamin C even if they are taking a supplement. Do a vitamin C calibration to determine how much your body really needs. 

5) Look into natural remedies for support. Supplements such as Aller-Aid can help to prevent allergy attacks in 75% of people without the side effects and it can also be used to support tissue to deal with allergy issues. There is also a children's formula called Aller-Aid Jr. If you're suffering from fever, congestion, and fatigue it might be a sinus infection and you can benefit from supplements such as Sine-Aid which is targeted at the common fungal sinus infection that won't respond to antibiotics.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Amazing Chia Seed!

So when you think of Chia I bet you're thinking of a cute terracota planter with green "fur" right?
Well guess what ladies and gentlemen this amazing seed can also be used in your diet to help cut calories, increase your omega-3, antioxidant, and fiber intake for the day, reduce your blood pressure and thin your blood, boost your calcium absorption, and even boost your energy, stamina, and endurance. WOW! That seed sure packs a punch huh? Now I'm not condoning eating the seeds right off your Chia pet, but you should definitely read more and maybe take a trip to the store as well. 

In a study published in Diabetes Care in 2007, chia was found to have a protective effect against heart disease and stroke due to the thinning effect on blood,  shown to lower systolic blood pressure an average of about 6 mm HG, lower high sensitivity C-reactive protein, vonWillebrand factor, A1C, and fibrinogen levels. Here's a link to read the full study.

The Nutritional Science Research Institute in partnership with Dr. David Nieman of Appalachian State University conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy, non-diabetics to determine the effects of chia. They also performed allergenicity and toxicity tests and released their results in 2008. According to their results, Both white and dark chia seeds were found to contain omega 3 fatty acids, plenty of dietary fiber, complete protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, and many antioxidants. They found that the difference between the white and dark chia seeds was the fact that the dark seed contained an additional antioxidant called quercetin. The NSRI also found that Omega 3 Chia contained the highest level of omega 3 than any other food and the highest amount of antioxidants that is possibly greater than blueberries! The additional tests found no toxic levels of chia intake and only 2 of 12 tested with peanut and tree seed allergies showed a low level allergic response to skin prick tests. 

Here's some nutritional facts on Chia seeds, compliments of NSRI.

Serving Size: 15g
*Percent Daily Values based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Amount Per Serving (15g )*( % Daily Values )*
Calories 50; 
Calories from fat 44
Total Fat 4.9 g8
Saturated Fat <0.5g1
Trans Fat 0g
Omega-3 (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) 3g
Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) 1g
Cholesterol 0g0
Sodium <0.5mg0
Carbohydrates Available 0.1g0
Dietary Fiber 6.1g24
Sugars 0g
Protein 3.1g6
Calcium 107mg11
Iron 2.4mg13
Zinc 0.5 mg3
Potassium 105mg3
Magnesium 59mg15
Phosphorus 160mg16

Antioxidants:(antioxidants include myrecetin, quercetin, kaemferol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid)

The Omega 3 Chia oil and bran have signifigant technical data. To view the technical sheets click here to download a PDF showing that data.

Here's a few more reasons to add some Ch-Ch-Chia to your diet!

  1. Chia is easy to digest and doesn't need to be ground like flax to remove its coating. 
  2. Chia is very versatile and can be eaten straight out of the bag, sprinkled on cereal and salad, added to drinks, and even ground to be used in cooking and baking. Try a handful as a snack, sprinkle two tablespoons in your cereal or salad, add 2 teaspoons to your drink, grind and add to baking mix, use in place of oil in recipes, or top the crust of your breads and pies with it while baking.
  3. Chia does have one weird quality that makes it top the charts in benefits and will amaze your kids. When chia is soaked in water it can absorb up to 12 times its weight in water and it will form a gel like coating. This gel like coating is a highly soluable fiber that can help keep you full longer while reducing the occurence of heart burn and GERD, give you an energy boost that will last, stabilizes blood sugar as it breaks down slowly, increases your fiber intake to promote regularity and prevent gastrointestinal diseases, and decreases your fat intake if substituted for oil in baking. (A 9:1 ratio of water to chia can be substituted for oil in baking)
  4. It's very nutritious and contains 3-10 times the healthy oils and 1-2 times the protein of most grains. It also contains boron which encourages and stimulates calcium absorption for healthy bones, teeth, and body function and brags of 3 times more iron than spinach!
  5. Chia has no flavor of its own, so you can add it to anything without any weird flavors or after taste. Also great for the kid factor as children can be hesitant to try new things.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Do you have reflux or heartburn?

Do you have an uncomfortable burning pressure in your chest or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that just won't quit? Are you taking a prescription medication or popping Tums like there's no tomorrow? You're not alone. In fact, 1 in 10 Americans experience this at least once a week.


Many people complain that GERD is due to aging and is normal with pregnancy. Guess what... that's COMPLETELY incorrect! 

As we age our stomach acid production decreases just like our lean muscle mass, our appetite, and the resiliency of our tissues. Our stomach acid pH should be around 1 to 2 if we have enough and the right balance of stomach acid that is needed to break down food efficiently enough to absorb the nutrients from it. However when this acid production slows with age we may have stomach acid pH that resembles more of a 3 or 4. 

So what does this mean for those with heartburn? Well ladies and gentlemen, it means that your stomach is not digesting your food and you aren't absorbing the nutrients your body desperately needs. It also means that your food is rotting in your stomach rather than being digested. This is why belching, bloating, and gas is the most common symptom after eating a meal!

Now what about if you're pregnant? Well you ARE not only eating for two, but in actuality your body needs to absorb enough nutrients for both of you. Which means it needs to digest your food faster and with more acid.Your body naturally speeds up the food breakdown in your stomach and slows down the digestion process through your intestines so you can absorb enough nutrients. So if you're pregnant you could in fact be producing excess acid in your stomach which can be causing heartburn, however its also likely that the pH of that acid may not be low enough to help digest food fast enough. Plus baby is probably pushing your stomach upward and causing some of that excess acid to move upward in the esophagus and add to that the hormone changes going on in your body that cause smooth muscle (like the sphincter at the top of your stomach) to relax and you're almost guaranteed to experience heartburn at one point or another during your pregnancy. 

So what healthy habits can you adopt to help with your heartburn or GERD?

  1. Eat smaller meals throughout the day as this can lessen the amount of food you need to digest at once.
  2. Chew your food thoroughly so its easier for you to digest.
  3. Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn.
  4. Boost your stomach acid pH with herbs and supplements. Cinnamon and ginger are great for helping to stimulate your digestion, however if you've had this problem for awhile talk to a health professional about supplements such as Gastro-Aid
  5. Take a probiotic to help boost the "good" bacteria in your gut so that your food can be digested easier. Here's a great product that has a number of different bacteria strains normally found in your gut called Ultrabiotic and here's a specific product geared for kids that has different strains specifically found in your children's gut Pedia-biotic.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coconut Oil Conga

Does coconut oil make you want to conga? Well it should! Coconut oil has many health benefits to not only make your skin, hair, and body look good but also to help it function better inside too!

Coconut oil has been shown to help with hair and skin care, digestion and metabolism, weight loss, healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, relief from kidney and heart problems, diabetes, cancer, HIV, osteoporosis and healthy bone strength, and even better dental care and increased immunity. According to Dr. Newport it can also be used to help with Alzheimer's disease. Wow, and top that all off with great stress relieving properties and you'll want to kick back with a Pina Colada!

Coconut oil gains its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and soothing properties from its life changing composition. It's made up of 92% saturated fat, wait wait WAIT! Don't go anywhere, keep reading I promise you this gets better. The saturated fatty acids present in coconut oil are primarily medium sized chains of acids, such as lauric, capric, and caprylic acid.

Lauric acid is natural acid produced as an energy source in plants and animals and can be found in human milk, dairy products, nuts, and oils. It has been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties and has also been shown to help with acne. Lauric acid helps to fight off infection by disrupting the lipid membranes of bacteria, viruses, yeast, and even fungus. It has also been shown to help combat helicobacter pylori (linked to stomach ulcers/gastritis)and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Read more about that here.

Capric acid has been linked to regulating insulin levels and decreasing insulin resistance and is even included in some diabetic medication to help with insulin response. According to the EPA this acid safe and has no known toxic dosage. However this acid has also been refined for use as an antimicrobial pesticide in commercial products such as dye, medicine, soaps, etc. and its refined form has been linked to skin, eye, and pulmonary irriation. Want more info?

Caprylic acid is an effective Candida or yeast killer and can also be used to restore proper stomach acid pH for those with gastrointestinal complaints. Our stomach acid should have a pH of around 1 or 2, however people with gastric complaints usually have too high of a pH level which can lead to stomach irritation, yeast overgrowth, and improper digestion. As we age our stomach acid production decreases normally, however many people complain they have reflux because of too much stomach acid when in actuality its because their food cannot be digested because they don't have enough or acidic enough stomach acid to digest their food properly!

So how can you incorporate the benefits of coconut oil into your life? Coconut oil is naturally solid and has a high melting point so if you need it in liquid form for use just place bottle in sun or in warm water. You can also heat a small quantity in a bowl over a flame, but don't microwave it!

1. Warm up the oil to liquid form and massage into scalp to reduce dandruff and dry skin as an a prevention for lice and lice eggs. It is also an excellent conditioner and helps to nourish and regrow damaged hair.

2. Warm up the oil and use on skin as a massage oil or moisturizer. It is also great for preventing wrinkles and sagging skin and can be used in treatment of psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, and other skin infections.

3. Use in place of vegetable oil in cooking for all the internal benefits for heart, digestive, immunity, and bone health. It can also help with thyroid and pancreas function, weight loss, and preventing artherosclerosis. Plus coconut oil is heat stable and much better able to withstand the high temperatures associated with high temperature cooking than olive oil. (Don't cut out other cooking substrates such as butter, dairy, or olive oil as there are benefits with all of these!)\

4. Need some stress relief? Give yourself a scalp and forehead massage with coconut oil to lessen tension and some natural aromatherapy too.

Here's a few tasty recipes to use at home.

Banana Orange Smoothie
Apple Chicken Stir-fry
Coconut Flour Meat Loaf
Coconut Oil Tortillas
Coconut Oil Sauteed Carrots