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Spice of Life

Have you ever eaten anything spicy? Something that makes your nose burn and your eyes water? Would you eat more spicy foods if I told you that they are actually good for your health? According to Lu Qi, MD, PhD, a professor at Harvard Medical school, they are. In fact, “if you eat more spicy food, it’s better for your health and lowers the risk for mortality, especially as it relates to cancer and heart disease.

Participants who ate spicy foods such as chili peppers once or twice a week were 10 percent less likely to die during the study period compared to those who ate such foods less than once a week. Eating spicy foods on a near-daily basis lowered the risk further.

Fresh chili peppers were specifically linked to lower risks of dying of cancer, heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes. Compounds in peppers have been shown to fight inflammation.

Peppers are also good sources of cancer-fighting vitamin C.

 

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MTHFR Gene Mutation

“I believe the MTHFR gene mutation is a highly significant public health problem that is completely ignored. Yet, millions are suffering from pulmonary embolisms, addictions, fibromyalgia, miscarriages, schizophrenia, severe depression, cancer and autism to name a few.”

Dr. Ben Lynch

What is MTHFR?

MTHFR is an abbreviation for the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene and the enzyme that it produces. The MTHFR enzyme is responsible for allowing the body to properly break down and use B vitamins. If the gene is healthy, it produces a healthy enzyme and there are no problems. However, if the gene is mutated, the enzyme does not function properly.

Symptoms and Conditions

Dr. Ben Lynch’s research on MTHFR has revealed many health conditions that can be caused by this genetic mutation. Along with the conditions listed above, Dr. Lynch has found that the gene mutation can also be responsible for common conditions like:

  • Autism
  • Miscarriages
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Various types of cancer

For a full list of related conditions, click here

How do you know if this gene mutation is affecting your and your family’s health?

MTHFR mutation is found through a blood test. Testing can be ordered through Dr. Lynch at on his website or through your doctor’s office.

Treatment

Based on the conditions related to this genetic mutation, you can imagine that discovering and treating it early on can prevent complicated health issues and improve your overall health. Dr. Lynch’s protocol for treatment of the genetic mutation includes:

  • Dietary changes like eliminating gluten and dairy
  • High-quality nutritional supplements like Methylfolate, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin B12
  • General lifestyle changes to eliminate environmental toxins, like cooking with an electric stove

If you have questions about the MTHFR gene and enzyme, talk with your doctor about symptoms, screening, and treatment.

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What Strain of Probiotics best fits you?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

A combination of a poor diet, medications, stress, environmental toxins and chemicals wreak havoc on our digestive tracts. Our bodies thrive with a constant influx of probiotics to replenish the gut and counteract these negative effects. Probiotics add friendly bacteria to your digestive system, improving absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Improved absorption means good digestion, which allows your body to get the most nutritional value from the foods you eat and helps to regulate your digestive system.

There are two main types of Probiotics that have a number of subgroups that do an array of helpful things for the body, ranging from boosting the immune system to helping stop diarrhea!

Benefits of Probiotics

  1. Decrease of potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms
  2. Reduction of gastro-intestinal discomfort
  3. Strengthening of the immune system
  4. Improvement of the skin’s function
  5. Improvement of bowel regularity
  6. Strengthening of the resistance to cedar pollen allergens
  7. Decrease in body pathogens
  8. Reduction of flatulence and bloating
  9. Protection of DNA
  10. Protection of proteins and lipids from oxidative damage
  11. Maintaining of individual intestinal micro biota in subjects receiving antibiotic treatment.

LACTOBACILLI

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (LGG)

A very well studied and popular strain used in eczema, asthma, and other allergies through its immune modulating activity.  Also used in treatment of diarrhea.  In families where eczema or other types of allergies are common, supplementation can decrease this risk by up to 50% when taken by mothers during pregnancy and given to babies during the 1st 6 months of life.

Lactobacillus casei

Characteristics – gram-positive

Found – human intestine and mouth

Produces a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme known as amylase, which is essentially the begining process of digestion for all foods. Without amylase, food could literally pass right through you.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Characteristics – gram-positive, non-spore forming, homofermentative (fermenting sugars into lactic acid), catalase-negative rod

Found – human intestinal tract and mouth

It is also found in some traditional fermented milks and probiotic foods, providing lactase activity which facilitates the digestion of lactose (milk sugar).  A well-known strain used for general well being, strong immune system and following antibiotic treatment. It overall keeps the intestines clean and boosts the immune system.

Lactobacillus plantarum

Characteristics – gram-positive, non-spore forming, homofermentative rod.

It frequently occurs spontaneously in most lactic-acid fermented plant-based foods such as sauerkraut.  This species is often used as a starter culture in many food products.

Therapeutically it helps to reduce bloating, flatulence, GIT inflammation and pain, and is found in most IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) formulas.  It regulates systemic inflammation by inhibiting excessive prodction of cytokines (inflammatory proteins).

BIFIDOBACTERIA

Bifidobacterium lactis

Characteristics – gram-positive, non-spore forming, anaerobic, pleomorphic

Found – human intestines throughout life, dominant in the large intestine

A common strain in children and adults that restores normal flora in the digestive system after antibiotic use.  It helps to inhibit the growth of unwanted micro-organisms and yeasts, reduces bloating and improves constipation.

Bifidobacterium breve

Characteristics – non-motile, anaerobic strain with rod-shaped branches.

Found – human large intestine

It produces acetic and lactic acids by fermenting sugars in the digestive tract.  It has the ability to digest a large variety of molecules and can compete very effectively with other microbes once it is established.  This explains why it is such a good strain to inhibit E. coli.

Bifidobacterium longum

Found – human intestines and one of the most important inhabitants of the human body

It ferments sugars into lactic acid which lowers the pH in the intestines.

 

For more detailed information on Probiotics and why certain strains are different and why we need to take specific strains to assist in out bodies health, please visit http://www.alternativemedicine.com/alternative-medicine/features/probiotics to learn more!

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How stay healthy this winter and avoid the sniffles

The best way to stay healthy this winter is through the use of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Probiotics and Honey.

Health Benefits:

Vitamin C- Found in oranges, strawberries, broccoli and even Brussels sprouts, has 7 main health benefits;

  1. Helps to fight infection, maintain your teeth and bones health and help the body heal wounds faster.
  2. Help fight against the common cold as it serves as an effective antihistamine that will lessen the unpleasant effects of the common cold, including inflammation, stuffy nose and aches.
  3. Vitamin C is a powerful and effective antioxidant. These antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals that cause oxidative stress.  Excessive oxidative stress can cause both heart disease and stroke, and is associated with many different types of cancer, including lung, mouth, throat, colon, stomach and esophagus.
  4. Can lower high blood pressure  and therefore lower the chance of cardiovascular disease.
  5. Along with lowering your blood pressure, vitamin C ensures proper dilation of blood vessels, which can prevent such diseases as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and congestive heart failure
  6. Vitamin C drastically lowers your blood lead level. Studies have shown that lead toxicity can lead to behavioral and developmental problems, such as learning disabilities and lowered IQ. Adults can suffer from kidney damage and high blood pressure.
  7. A higher intake of vitamin C has been shown to fight cataracts by increasing the amount of blood flow to the eye.

 

Vitamin D- The main way to acquire Vitamin D is through the use of the Sun. Here are 4 reasons why Vitamin D is important;

  1. Helps the intestines absorb nutrients that in turn helps the bones and immune system become stronger
  2. Vitamin D prevents osteomalacia and rickets. Osteomalacia causes weakness of the muscular system and brittle bones. Rickets is a skeletal deformity seen mostly in children.
  3. Provides a calcium balance
  4. Regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension, relieves body aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms, reduces respiratory infections, helps in differentiation of the cells, aids in insulin secretion, helps fight depression, improves overall skin health by reducing wrinkles, makes skin soft, strong, and smooth, and improves cardiovascular strength by providing a protective lining for the blood vessels.

For more information on Vitamin D and why it is important to acquire enough Vitamin D, please read over a previous blog called, “What is Vitamin D, and Why do we need it?”

 

Probiotics- Are live bacteria and yeast that are good for the digestive system, they help move food along. There are 2 main types of Probiotics;

  1. Lactobacillus -this is the most common type of probiotic, normally found in yogurts or fermented foods. Its main use is to help people who cant digest the sugar in milk, or more commonly known as lactose. It can also help regulate bowel movements, especially diarrhea.
  2. Bifidobacterium -this can also be found in certain dairy products but this one more specifically helps with IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

 

Honey- Not only does honey taste good on toast, but it has many other uses;

  • Reduce cough and throat irritation
  • Can be useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea.
  • Some varieties of honey possess large amounts of friendly bacteria. This includes up to 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria.

 

There are many more health benefits connected to these 4 that I have listed, but there are also many more foods and Vitamins that have a positive effect on your body! Do some research and make your body a happy place to live in 🙂

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Have you taken the steps to protect yourself from Measles?

I’m sure most of you have heard about the recent outbreak of measles in California at Disney Land. So far on record there have been 59 cases just since the start of 2015. In 14 states there have been a total of 84 people infected. Those are some staggering numbers for only the first 28 days of the new year. CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is issuing Health Advisories to state Health Departments to urge people to get the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine to protect themselves and people they come in contact with. If we don’t protect ourselves then we may see a repeat of last year where the number of cases reached 644 in 27 states.

What is Measles? 

Measles is a highly infectious, airborne virus that typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreading downward to the rest of the body.

The most common way Measles is spread is through sneezing or coughing. Once Measles comes in contact with a surface or person than that virus can live for up to 2 hours. That means that if you are around a person who has contracted the virus, that you will have a 90% chance of contracting it as well if you are not properly protected through the use of the MMR vaccine. If you are not protected, then wash your hands constantly and keep your hands away from your face. Once you have the Measles, you are contagious for 4 days BEFORE the rash appears and 4 days AFTER.

MMR Vaccine 

In order for the vaccine to properly work and protect you from potential outbreaks is to have 2 doses. The first dose has a 78% effectiveness, but the second will put you at 99%. Even if you don’t like vaccines, i highly recommend getting the MMR vaccine especially if you are in an area that has cases reported because Measles can spread fast and hit hard.

 

For more information about what is going on and how you can protect yourself and your child(ren) please visit the CDC website at www.cdc.com and talk to your doctor!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is defined as a type of depression that relates to the changing of seasons. Most commonly SAD takes effect in the beginning of Fall and ends at the end of Winter. Less often SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a sub type of Major Depression where the only difference is that SAD only comes and goes with the seasons. It is not something that can be taken lightly, so if you or anyone else you know exhibits signs of major depression that only lasts for a couple months then they or you could have SAD and should talk to your Doctor so proper next steps can be taken. It is important that certain signs and symptoms are ruled out first; for instance, in young children abuse and separation anxiety should be considered and in adolescents, substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

Symptoms: Understand what happens so you can be prepared

Fall and Winter SAD

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness/ Low energy
  • Problems getting along with others
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy feelings in the arms and legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Spring and Summer SAD

  • Depression
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Agitation or Anxiety

 

What puts you more at Risk?

  1. Being Female – Women may be more susceptible to be diagnosed with SAD, but Men are more likely to have more severe symptoms.
  2. Age – The younger a person is the higher the risk of them having winter SAD. Therefore as you age, the risk of being diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, especially Winter SAD, goes down.
  3. Genetics – Depression very often runs in a family. Let your Doctor know, Watch for the Symptoms and Don’t Suffer Alone.
  4. Having Depression – Since SAD is a part of Major Depression, having SAD along with Depression can be dangerous if not treated properly.
  5. Distance from the Equator – SAD is more common in people who live farther from the Equator. It is believed that this may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter months and longer days during the summer months.

 

3 Major Treatments

  1.  Light Therapy or Phototherapy – There are a number of different ways to get the extra light needed without exposing yourself to extra UV rays. The main ways, come in the form of light boxes, visors or lamps. It is recommend that you sit in front of the light or at least have the light facing towards you for 15 mins to 1 1/2 hours a day. So sit and enjoy a nice book, watch your favorite show or wake up to the light to start your day off right. Now, some minor side effects if exposed for too long or if you look into the light, are; eye strain, headache, fatigue, irritability and insomnia.
  2. Psychotherapy – Talk it out. Find a therapist, a doctor or even a good friend that you can fully trust and tell everything. If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder it is important that you don’t hold anything inside and try to fight it yourself, that can be very destructive. So, if you know anyone who shows signs of depression, be a friend and either lend an ear or advice about someone else for them to talk to.  Having someone to talk to can not only lower stress, something that can make depression symptoms worse, but a therapist can help the person learn to cope and identify and change the negative thoughts and feelings that come with SAD.
  3. Medication – There are a number of different antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) that a person with SAD can take but always check with your Doctor first because they know your medical history and how your body will react to certain drugs. In most cases medication is used in conjunction with either light therapy or psychotherapy, or both.

 

If medications are not the answer, then here are some At Home Remedies that can be tried;

  • I know its winter, but take a walk when the sun is high in the sky. Bundle up and take your kids. Go sledding! Go on an adventure! Exercise can be just as helpful as the sun, so try to spend at least 30 min outside everyday.
  • Go some place warm. Take a vacation! Look into going somewhere with longer days so you can expose yourself to as much sun and light as possible. If all else fails, move. Why be cold in the winter, have to drive on slippery roads and be unhappy, when you can be sitting by the ocean with your feet in the water soaking up the suns rays!
  • Make your home a happy light place. Paint the walls a bright sunny color, trim the trees around the windows, let the sun in! Make your home feel like summer in the winter! Winter doesn’t have to be dreary and cold, it can be walks in a winter wonderland, warm fires surrounded by blankets while drinking hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Winter is a time for families, so get together, keep warm and try to think happy thoughts surrounded by people who you love and who loves you.

 

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What is Vitamin D, and Why do we need it?

Vitamin D is;

  • A fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium
  • Primarily needed for bone growth and bone remodeling
  • Modulates neuromuscular and immune function
  • Reduces inflammation

There are 3 main ways to get an appropriate intake of Vitamin D;

  1. Sunlight – is a way for your body to intake Vitamin D3. So put out a lawn chair and soak up those rays! Winter is a harder time for most people to enjoy sunlight due to both the cold and having to bundle up, so if you don’t think you are getting your Vitamin D through Sunlight, there are other ways to make up for that loss.
  2. Food – Eating fish and certain animal products you are ingesting Vitamin D3. When eating certain vegetables, like mushrooms,  your body is ingesting Vitamin D2
  3. Supplements – These are to be taken if you or your Doctor think you are deficient in Vitamin D. These supplements come in both Vitamin D2 and D3

Who is at risk for being Vitamin D deficient?

  • Brestfed infants
  • older adults
  • People with limited sun exposure
  • People with dark skin
  • People with fat malabsorption
  • People who are obese or have undergone gastric bypass surgery

What happens when we don’t get enough Vitamin D?

  • Children – Have a higher chance of Rickets. Rickets is the softening and weakening of the bones. Thankfully since most milk these days have Vitamin D added there is a less chance for children to acquire this problem. In saying that, that doesn’t mean your milk does, so please check and make sure your children are getting the proper amount of Vitamin D in their diet. Add more yogurt, fish, mushrooms and certain Vitamin D rich cereals and juices.
  • Adults – Inadequate amounts of Vitamin D can cause oste0malacia, causing bone pain and weakness which can lead to fractures, especially in the elderly.

Low Vitamin D levels can also increase the risk of Various Cancers, Cardiovascular disease, Autoimmune diseases like Scoliosis, Dementia, Diabetes and Glucose intolerance

For more information regarding Vitmain D and how much you and your family need visit www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/archives/2010/08-august.htm. Or you can always go to CDC website and type Vitamin D in the search bar.

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What can you do to protect your Teen driver?

Teens aged 16-19 are proven to be the most at risk drivers. Not only are they just starting out, but they haven’t yet grasped the know how to defensively drive. They sit behind the wheel and think they are invincible. How do i know this? I was a teenager once too and only by trial and error did i managed to learn how to drive safely. Thankfully those errors didn’t cost me my life or anyone else.

So who is most at risk in this age group? 

  • Males— In 2011, twice as many males were in fatal crashes than females. That doesn’t however mean that females can use that excuse to be reckless!
  •  Teens driving with other Teens— Having any other teen in the car can pose as a huge distraction! Trying to keep track of the other cars on the road is hard enough at that age! By adding more teens, that is only upping the chance that they will be distracted more and therefore upping the chance of an accident.  Please don’t let your child ride with other children until you are positive they know what they are doing to at least some extent. No teen is perfect, but lets not let them endanger anyone else life until you know they wont endanger their own.
  • Newly licensed Teens— How exciting! They now have the freedom to go anywhere they want! Don’t let this over excitement distract them from remembering the rules of the road. Driving may be new and exciting but it is also dangerous if they are not careful. It can be very overwhelming for a new driver to not only keep track of where they are driving, but also where the other cars are driving. With proper instruction and limitations, any teen can learn how to drive properly and therefore make the road a safe place for anyone who may be driving.

What can be done to prevent teen accidents? 

  • Seat belts— they may seem insignificant to some teens but that little belt can be the difference between flying through the windshield and getting rope burn on their neck.
  • DON’T DRINK and DRIVE!— They may not be 21 but teens always find a way to get alcohol. I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is for a teen to drink and then think he/she can not only drive themselves home, but their friends as well. Please if they wont listen to you and decide to drink at least keep an open relationship with them and have them call you verses them trying to drive themselves.
  • Graduated Licensing Systems (GLS)— It may cost money now, but it will save you money in the long run! It has been proven that by having your teen take one of these courses, their chances for getting into fatal accidents goes down by 38-40%. Plus, this course puts necessary limitations on what your new driver can and cant do, which could save their life or others.

Eight Danger Zones

These are the leading causes of teen accidents

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Diving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

There is no need to make your child wait until they are no longer a teen before they  can receive their license. That wouldn’t make much of a difference. Teens will make driving mistakes just like adults will make driving mistakes, the only difference is that teens need adults to help them not make the same mistakes. As an adult or parent it is your responsibility to ensure that your teen gets as much help and training possible to make him/her safe for the road. By making teens and adults aware we are one step closer to lowering the statistics and making it possible for your teen to get home safe at night.

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