A Daily soda Ups Diabetes

19 Sep

A Daily Soda Ups Diabetes Risk

 

If you’re like many people in this country, you might think limiting yourself to one soda a day can’t be that harmful. But based on a recently released study, downing a daily soda boosts your diabetes risk.

This huge study, which involved more than 28,000 people in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, found that drinking just one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soft drink a day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 percent. (Diabetologia, doi:10.1007/s00125-013-2899-8) A similar North American study in 2010 showed that consuming a daily soda increased the risk of developing diabetes by 25 percent. (Diabetes Care 10;33:2477–2483)

Fake Sugar Just as Bad

And just in case it crossed your mind, artificially sweetened soft drinks come with their own list of serious health side effects including headaches, memory loss, and an increased risk of developing cancerous tumors. Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to increase cravings for sweets, which can lead to a higher consumption of sugary and refined carbohydrate foods. Clearly, substituting artificially sweetened drinks for sugar-sweetened ones isn’t the answer. Drinking water is.

One of the biggest hidden threats to our health is the consumption of all forms of sugar. In addition to its detrimental effects on the body’s proper pH balance, a major problem stemming from sugar consumption has to do with a chemical process called glycation.

In simplest terms, glycation refers to the combination of a sugar and a protein molecule. Most everyone has seen the effects of glycation in the kitchen. During baking, sugar combines with certain amino acids in grain proteins. This chemical reaction causes bread and pastries to turn brown. The same reaction also occurs when meats are glazed and coffee is roasted.

Cut Back on Sugar

I’m not talking about just the white granules we all keep out on the counter, either. Sugars of all types are being added to processed foods. In general, the easiest way to cut back on refined sugars is to read food labels and make sure any form of sugar is not one of the first four or five ingredients on the label. Look specifically for:

  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • High-fructose corn syrup

If you do buy processed foods, choose those with at least a few grams of fiber. This will help slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.

Reducing your diabetes risk by dropping the daily soft drink seems like a no-brainer to me. I hope it is for you and your loved ones, too.

Now It’s Your Turn: How often do you drink soda?

Dr. Williams

 

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

17 Sep

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

 

It’s no secret that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. But did you know that most of these fatalities occur without warning in individuals who are seemingly healthy? Sudden cardiac death kills approximately 325,000 Americans every year and claims more lives than automobile accidents, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, diabetes, and breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer combined! That’s why it’s important to know what measures are effective at preventing sudden cardiac death.

What Is Sudden Cardiac Death?

Sudden cardiac deaths are not massive heart attacks as they are often described. Rather, they are severe, abrupt, and usually fatal rhythm disturbances that interrupt the heartbeat. The heart goes into ventricular fibrillation and cannot pump blood. If it is not defibrillated with an electrical charge or thump on the chest, the brain quickly succumbs from lack of oxygen and death occurs within three to four minutes.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which you see in airports, schools, and other public places, are medical devices for preventing sudden cardiac death and are designed for emergency use by inexperienced laypeople. To me, they’re simply a reminder that sudden cardiac death is a rhythm disturbance and that you need to protect yourself. Fortunately, preventing sudden cardiac death is possible with two safe and inexpensive nutritional supplements.

Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death With Magnesium…

It’s well known that cardiovascular deaths, including sudden cardiac deaths, occur far less frequently in areas that have hard water, which contains lots of minerals, compared to areas with soft water, which is relatively mineral free. British researchers took a close look at this data and narrowed the protective effects to one specific mineral: magnesium.

Magnesium is a viable option for preventing sudden cardiac death because it plays key roles in several aspects of cardiovascular health, and deficiencies are linked to an increased risk of hypertension, heart attack, heart failure, and death. Subpar levels also promote electrical instability in the heart and are associated with a variety of rhythm disturbances, including ventricular arrhythmia and sudden cardiac arrest.

Harvard researchers published a study in which they followed more than 88,000 women who were initially free of heart disease for an average of 26 years. They compared the magnesium intake and blood levels of the women who died of sudden cardiac arrest with those of a control group and found that a high blood level of this mineral reduced risk of sudden cardiac death by 41 percent. Other large studies have found similar associations with men, showing that low magnesium status is an important predictor of sudden cardiac death and that increasing intake reduces risk.

Unfortunately, nearly half of all Americans and two-thirds of teens and people over age 70 don’t even get the RDA of 300–400 mg of magnesium. With paltry numbers like these, it’s no wonder sudden cardiac death kills so many. That’s why Dr. Whitaker believes that everyone, regardless of health status, should take supplemental magnesium.

Dr. Whitaker recommends taking 500–1,000 mg per day. If you have an absorption problem, diabetes, or take diuretics or tetracycline antibiotics—all of which may reduce magnesium status—Dr. Whitaker suggests you increase your magnesium dose to 1,500 mg. (Be aware that high doses may cause loose stools; this can be eliminated by reducing your dose.)

…And Fish Oil

Omega-3 fats also have broad cardiovascular benefits. Studies published as early as 1980 demonstrate that the Inuit people in Greenland and other populations that eat a lot of omega-3–rich fish have a lower incidence of death from heart disease. We now know that this is due in large part to the effects of these essential fatty acids on the heart’s electrical activity—they stabilize cardiac rhythm and reduce risk of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia.

The protective effects of supplemental fish oil against sudden cardiac death have been demonstrated in numerous clinical trials involving both patients with a recent history of heart attack and healthy people. Its importance is underscored in a paper by Harvard professor Dariush Mozaffarian: “Because more than one-half of all CHD [coronary heart disease] deaths and two-thirds of SCD [sudden cardiac deaths] occur among individuals without recognized heart disease, modest consumption of fish or fish oil…should be among the first-line treatments for prevention….”

Dr. Whitaker recommends taking a minimum of 2–4 g of high-quality fish oil per day. People with heart disease and other cardiovascular concerns should take 4–8 g daily.

Additional Measures for Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

If you’re at very high risk of sudden cardiac death, your cardiologist may recommend an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Do your homework before consenting. A 2011 review of the records of 11,107 patients who received ICDs suggests that nearly a quarter of them were inappropriately implanted. Like all expensive cardiovascular procedures, such as bypass and angioplasty, a primary motive on the physician’s part may well be money. In any case, if you do opt for an ICD, you should still be taking supplemental magnesium and fish oil. It’s far better to prevent arrhythmias, instead of waiting for your ICD to kick in.

Although sudden cardiac death may appear to be a random event that could happen to anyone at any time, as you can see that is not the case. Take these suggestions to heart, do what you can to protect yourself, and enjoy better health and a longer life.

Now it’s your turn: Are you are taking any of these measures for preventing sudden cardiac death?

The Guarantee of Vitamin D

15 Sep

The Guarantee of Vitamin D

 

Numerous studies and the epidemiological trends over recent years support the theory that people need significantly more vitamin D than has been commonly accepted. A University of Toronto study involving 796 women between the ages of 18 and 35 showed that the generally recommended amounts of vitamin D for women are too low to offer any benefit. According to Reinhold Vieth and his colleagues, any amount of daily vitamin D intake under 800 IU wasn’t enough to prevent a vitamin D deficiency.

Despite this information and more, the US Food and Nutrition board for osteoporosis-related matters still recommends only 400 IU per day for women under the age of 50.

The evidence for increased Vitamin D continues to grow, but, for some reason, it also continues to be ignored. You already know the important role it plays in building and maintaining a strong immune system, and vitamin D levels also are linked to more than just proper bone growth and strength. Some of the most common health ailments today can be directly linked to inadequate vitamin D levels.

Heart Disease and Diabetes

Heart disease continues to reign as the number-one killer in this country. Although dozens of factors are involved in developing heart disease, excess sugar consumption and the inability to regulate blood sugar levels properly are undoubtedly two of the major contributing factors. Studies have now shown that low vitamin D levels decrease insulin levels and increase insulin resistance, both of which are associated with diabetes and subsequent cardiovascular problems.

I’ve also reported how the incidence of diabetes in children has been skyrocketing over the last couple of decades. Lower vitamin D levels have now been found to be one of the contributing factors.

Cancer

Numerous studies have found a direct association between low vitamin D levels and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and the skin.

Arthritis

Studies have now shown that a lower-than-optimal level of vitamin D contributes to degenerative arthritis (the “wear and tear” form of arthritis) in the hip and the knee.

Since you know adequate levels of vitamin D are also essential for proper immune system response, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that vitamin D deficiencies are also associated with such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis and even multiple sclerosis.

Depression

Sunlight exposure is a necessary requirement for vitamin D production in the body, and is also necessary for proper mood health. However, with the fear of skin cancer and wrinkling, tanning or even getting sun exposure has become taboo. The result is that depression is becoming more and more commonplace.

The problem is that, even under normal circumstances, it would be difficult for many people to get enough sun exposure to avoid depression in most of the Northern and Northeastern US cities. Only during a few summer months are there enough UV-B rays reaching those areas to allow for proper vitamin D production. (The three main forms of UV, or ultraviolet, radiation from the sun are UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-B rays are the ones we need to produce vitamin D naturally, but they are also the ones that can produce sunburn and tanning.)

Even when UV-B rays are adequate, most people now either slather on the sunscreen or avoid the sun altogether. Any sunscreen with a protective factor of 8 or more will block almost all of the UV-B rays from reaching the skin.

The ironic thing about all of this is that the incidence of skin cancer has more to do with consuming the wrong fats (too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s) than it does with exposure to the sun. Until the general public understands this fact, skin cancer problems will continue to increase, which will in turn cause even more fear of sunlight exposure and more depression. This whole situation has gotten way out of control. Because of the fats we’re now eating and our fear of sunlight, it’s becoming necessary to supplement our diets with vitamin D. But in the natural scheme of things, our bodies can manufacture enough vitamin D when given regular exposure to sunlight.

Obesity

Decreased vitamin D levels result in less production and secretion of the hormone leptin. Leptin is one of the primary hormones involved in fat storage and weight loss. Millions of dollars are now being spent on trying to duplicate these effects by artificially increasing levels of leptin in the body or turning it into a weight-loss drug. The simple answer, of course, is to ensure you’re producing and/or receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D.

On a very interesting, related note, researchers appear to have found a connection between bulimic dieting behavior, binge-eating, and light. Individuals with these characteristics apparently prefer to eat in dim or more subdued light compared to individuals without such problems.

Obviously, this information is still being researched and analyzed, but, based on what we know about vitamin D and leptin levels, it certainly may be more than just a simple coincidence. If you’re concerned about losing weight or have the above problems, there would certainly be no harm in opening the shades and turning up the lights at mealtime. The connection between light, our body’s biological clock (or circadian rhythm), and our health is one that has always been a big interest of mine. Our relationship with light may seem primitive, but it is one of our most basic connections to our environment. Vitamin D is only one of the links in this connection. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) from fish oils, flax, and other grains, along with our ability to assimilate EFAs from our diet, provide another link.

You Don’t Need the Government’s Permission to Increase Your Vitamin D

When you look at the increasing incidence of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, et cetera, it becomes obvious that most government agencies and health organizations are far too slow in changing or modifying their recommendations. I think much of the problem stems from bureaucracy and, oftentimes, politics.

For example, there’s now a huge market for drugs to treat osteoporosis, and I seriously doubt that anyone developing or selling these drugs would really want the problem to be solved through diet. Even though osteoporosis and associated hip fractures have become a major problem in this country, the regulating authorities continue to recommend a daily dose of 400 IU of vitamin D. They are way behind the times. Just don’t let your supplement be behind the times. Make sure you’re getting 2,000 to 5,000 IU a day. Don’t get worried about that much causing an overdose. Although various foods do contain vitamin D, unless you’re taking something like cod-liver oil, you won’t be getting much vitamin D. Milk is fortified with 10 micrograms per quart, which works out to about 400 IU per quart or 100 IU per each eight-ounce glass.

Make a point to get outside regularly and enjoy the sunshine, without the sunscreen. There’s no need to overdo it and get sunburned. Once your skin turns red, vitamin D production will stop anyway. Twenty minutes a day is all someone with fair skin needs to get enough vitamin D during the summertime. If your skin is darker, you’ll need more sunlight exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D. And always keep in mind that, in addition to helping produce vitamin D, sunlight exposure can help regulate your biological clock, fight depression, and possibly even help you to control your appetite and lose weight. As time goes on, we’ll undoubtedly learn dozens more reasons why people weren’t made to live underground, in a cave, or in a dark house or office.

Dr. Williams.

The Benefits of Zinc: Essential for Optimal Health

12 Sep

The Benefits of Zinc: Essential for Optimal Health

 

Although it’s not as widely discussed as other vitamins and minerals, zinc is essential for health and well-being. Adequate levels of this trace mineral are necessary for optimal immune function, vision, prostate health, and skin health. Other benefits of zinc include its roles in wound healing, learning and memory, and proper functioning of many hormones, including thymus hormones, insulin, growth hormone, and sex hormones.

Unfortunately, marginal zinc deficiencies are quite common, and are reflected by an increased susceptibility to infection, poor wound healing, decreased sense of taste or smell, and skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Pregnancy and lactation also increase the need for zinc, as do certain medications, alcohol use, vegetarian diets, and a high intake of calcium and fiber.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the varied benefits of zinc.

Benefits of Zinc: Optimal Immune Function

Vitamin C is usually the first supplement people reach for when they want to boost their immune health. However, you may want to think zinc. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people ages 55–87 who took 45 mg of zinc daily for a year had significantly fewer infections and markedly lower levels of oxidative stress than participants who took a placebo.

Zinc is also protective against cancer. Women who supplemented with zinc for a decade or more had half the risk of developing breast cancer as women who did not take supplements. This may be due in part to zinc’s unique ability to ameliorate the carcinogenic effects of cadmium, a heavy metal found in cigarette smoke, shellfish, and grains.

Zinc for the Common Cold

Speaking of optimal immune function, some studies have found that zinc can reduce a cold’s length and severity, while others have declared it to be ineffective. Fortunately, two recent meta-analyses help confirm that treating the common cold is among the many benefits of zinc.

Finnish researchers analyzed all of the placebo-controlled trials examining the effects of zinc supplements on colds and found that in the trials using daily doses of 75 mg or more, the duration of symptoms was reduced by an average of 42 percent.

Likewise, a Cochrane review of 15 trials found that cold duration and severity were reduced if zinc was taken within the first 24 hours of symptom onset. What’s more, the same review found that daily, 10–15 mg doses of zinc taken for five months or longer actually helped prevent colds in children.

At the first sign of a cold, I suggest you start taking 75 mg of zinc daily. You can get this amount through a combination of a daily multivitamin and other targeted supplements that contain zinc. And if you’re susceptible to colds, take extra zinc (adults 30 mg, children 10–15 mg daily) before the season begins.

Zinc for Wound Healing

One of the lesser known benefits of zinc is its ability to heal wounds. Zinc interacts with platelets in blood clotting and aids protein synthesis and cell growth. Plus, it tends to accumulate around wounds, where cell division takes place more vigorously, particularly during the initial week of wound healing. Studies have shown that high doses of zinc speed healing following trauma, including surgery, burns, and wounds.

Zinc and Sense of Smell

Anosmia, the inability to detect odors, can be caused by a deficiency of zinc. Infections are known to deplete the body’s stores of this mineral, which may explain why our sense of smell is sometimes impaired after a cold or flu. Note that zinc nasal sprays are not recommended; though they have been shown to reduce cold severity, the spray formulations have also been linked with anosmia.

How to Reap the Benefits of Zinc

The best food source of zinc, by far, is oysters. Other good sources are pumpkin seeds, ginger root, nuts, and whole grains. For general health, I suggest that everyone take a minimum of 30 mg of zinc daily, balanced with 2 mg of copper. Even at high doses, zinc is safe, as illustrated in another large clinical trial involving daily doses of 80 mg. Compared to the participants who took no zinc, those who supplemented with 80 mg per day had a 27 percent reduction in total mortality.

Now it’s your turn: Have you heard of any of these health benefits of zinc before?

Five Tips for Safe and Effective Exercise

10 Sep

 

Five Tips for Safe and Effective Exercise

You’re probably familiar with most of the benefits of regular exercise, and in the past, I’ve shared some suggestions on how to stick with an exercise program. Now I want to share some tips to help ensure you engage in safe and effective exercise, so you get the most out of your workouts.

Exercise Tip #1: Warm-up Your Muscles With Dynamic Stretching

Most people think that warm-up exercises involve stretching the various muscles and holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. That’s what we learned in gym class, and it’s what we’ve been doing ever since. But scientific research reveals that this kind of static stretching actually makes the muscles weaker, an effect that can last up to 30 minutes and increase risk of injury.

The new trend is dynamic stretching, which uses movement to warm up the muscles, dilate the blood vessels, increase range of motion, and get the body ready for safe and effective exercise. Dynamic stretches may include walking lunges, arm circles, and high leg kicks, as well as sports-specific movements.

Static stretching after a workout, as practiced in yoga or simply done periodically during the day to relieve muscle tightness, is beneficial. However, pre-workout warm-ups are not recommended.

Exercise Tip #2: Correct Vitamin D Deficiencies

We’ve known for years that vitamin D deficiencies are linked with muscle weakness, easy fatiguing, heaviness in the legs, and increased risk of falls in older people. More recent research suggests that this vitamin affects strength, balance, and exercise capacity across all age groups. In fact, several professional sports teams are now testing their players and supplementing those who have low vitamin D blood levels. Robust levels of vitamin D have also been shown to improve muscle recovery after intense exercise.

Exercise Tip #3: Don’t Discount Diet’s Role in Safe and Effective Exercise

Even if you are exercising to burn fat and lose weight, it is important to conserve and build muscle, too, and this requires protein. So make sure you get adequate amounts of high-quality protein in your diet.

Exercise Tip #4: Supplement With Antioxidants

For safe and effective exercise, you need to ensure your body has enough antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, to counteract the free radicals that are produced during physical activity. The best way to do this is by taking a quality daily multivitamin and supplementing with individual nutrients, if necessary.

Exercise Tip #5: Support Your Joints

A common misconception is that safe and effective exercise is difficult for people with joint problems. The truth is that exercise is actually beneficial for all joints—even “unhealthy” ones. If your joints could use some extra support, I suggest taking supplements for joint health that will also help make being active easier.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have an exercise tip that you’d like to share?

Spirulina Helps Hepatitis C Patients

8 Sep

Spirulina Helps Hepatitis C Patients

 

Hepatitis C kills more than 10,000 people a year in this country. More than 180 million individuals are infected worldwide, including 4 million in the US. It is the nation’s leading cause of liver failure, liver cancer, and liver transplantation.

Typically, hepatitis C treatment entails a 48-week program of antiviral medications. Early treatment results in about a 40 percent cure rate, but in advanced cases, that drops to around 20 percent. And the treatment is fraught with numerous contraindications and severe side effects.

Over 25 percent of hepatitis C patients typically discontinue treatment because of the side effects. Treatment requires weekly injections, daily oral dosing, and frequent blood tests and doctor’s visits. It is also too costly for most people in developing countries, so doctors elsewhere are constantly searching for more affordable and effective alternatives. Recently, researchers have found that spirulina, a blue-green algae, can be used to effectively treat chronic hepatitis C viral infections.

A Hep C Treatment From the Sea

Doctors in Egypt decided to test spirulina because it is safe, available as a supplement, and has been shown to exhibit immune-stimulating and antiviral activities in humans. (Int Immunopharmacol 02;2(4):423–434) (Antiviral Res 02;56(3):279–285) In this double-blind study, patients were given a total of 1,500 mg of dry spirulina powder a day, divided into three 500 mg doses.

The trial lasted for six months. At the end of that period, of the 30 patients on spirulina, four (13.3 percent) had no detectable hepatitis C virus and two (6.7 percent) had a very significant decrease of their viral load. (BMC Gastroenterol 12;12:32)

Spirulina, at least at the dosage given, isn’t some miracle, slam-dunk cure for hepatitis C. But the fact that 13 percent were considered cured and there was a significant improvement in an additional 6.7 percent is remarkable.

Spirulina

If I could take only one supplement or nutrient daily, my choice would be spirulina. This primitive plant belongs to the group of blue-green algae, and it grows naturally in certain lakes in northern Africa, Peru, and Mexico. Spirulina was a dietary staple as far back as the Aztec civilization, but it has been extensively researched only in the past 35 years. It could be one of the best survival foods we have, and warrants inclusion in everyone’s daily diet. Here’ why:

  • Spirulina contains all eight essential amino acids. (An “essential” amino acid cannot be manufactured by the body, but can be used by the body to manufacture other amino acids.)
  • Spirulina is lower in fat and provides more usable protein (the kind properly digested and assimilated by the body) than virtually all other protein sources, including meats, milk, eggs, and tofu.
  • Spirulina contains the highest known levels of vitamin B12 and is particularly beneficial for mental function and alleviating depression

Bonus Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina is totally safe, free of side effects, and relatively inexpensive. If it were patentable, I’m sure there would be dozens of additional studies trying to figure out if better results could be achieved with higher dosages, or if there were ways to improve the results.

I am particularly fond of spirulina and have been taking it for years. In addition to its attributes mentioned here, spirulina is an excellent source of a complete protein (it contains all the essential amino acids). It also contains essential fatty acids, carotenoids (pigments), vitamins, and dozens of minerals. And researchers have found that one of spirulina’s pigments, phycocyanin, possesses anti-inflammatory properties similar to some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Spirulina has been recognized in many civilizations as a complete food or something that contains almost everything you need to live on.  For a maintenance dosage, take 750 to 1,000 mg per day.

Now It’s Your Turn: Have you ever tried spirulina?

Dr. Williams

Healthy Aging and Improved Longetivity

3 Sep

 

Leaving behind the bright years of youth and entering a quieter, more mature phase in life often prompts the question: How can I preserve my youth and extend my life? For answers to this question we might consult the teachings of Li Qing Yun.

According to the 1933 obituary for Li Qing Yun in Time Magazine, he lived from 1736 until 1933. While this improbably long life span has become the stuff of legend, for arguments’ sake, let us acknowledge that this man managed to live to a ripe old age.

How did he live so long? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide guidance to understand what Li Qing Yun found essential to leading a long and healthy life. Let us examine the meaning behind his response when asked about his longevity: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon, and sleep like a dog.”

Nurture Your Emotional Health by Keeping a Quiet Heart
What does it mean to “keep a quiet heart” from the perspective of acupuncture and Oriental medicine?
The energy of the heart organ system is related to the element of fire. Fires can burn out of control, just as emotions can. Unchecked emotions and stress directly affect the heart. Common signs relating to disharmony of the heart include palpitations, insomnia and general anxiety. When the heart is in balance, joy is the natural state, and intimate relationships happen with ease. A person with a balanced, quiet heart can live a longer life than one whose heart is in a state of disharmony.

How can acupuncture and Oriental medicine help you achieve a “quiet heart” for improved health and longer life? The point Pericardium 6, known as Neiguan or Inner Pass, can provide relief from anxiety, sea sickness, nausea and light-headedness. You can use acupressure by pressing on this point to calm anxiety and reduce nausea. Turn your wrist palm-side up and starting at the wrist crease, find the two tendons in the center of your arm. Once you find them, place three fingers down starting from the wrist crease. At the other end of your three fingers lies the point. Press firmly with the thumb until you feel relief.

Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Awareness by Sitting Like a Tortoise
Meditation is of primary importance to health and longevity. Sitting and meditating as a daily practice is, effectively, sitting like a tortoise. A quiet, yet active practice, meditation requires mental stamina and strong will power and cultivates self-awareness.

By sitting for daily meditation practice, you can better let go of fears and accept the inevitable changes which occur internally as you age, and also in the outside world. The acceptance you gain through meditation includes the acceptance of your own mortality.

The kidney organ system is associated with will power and the emotion of fear. Through meditation you can cultivate the will power required to sit still, and also develop the personal strength of will necessary to confront the ceaseless thoughts and emotions of the mind. Because the kidney system relates to fear, one of the best ways to strengthen it is to successfully confront your fears and work through them.

As we grow older we see signs of declining kidney energy or deficient kidney Qi. In Oriental medicine, Qi refers to the life energy that flows through your body. Sometimes this life energy, or Qi, can become stuck or deficient in certain areas. Some of the more common signs of deficient kidney Qi include weak lower back muscles and knees, deafness, incontinence and forgetfulness–conditions that are often associated with aging.

Increase Vitality by Walking Spritely like a Pigeon
What does it mean to “walk spritely like a pigeon”? The spirited gait of a pigeon gives the impression of vitality. The pigeon is very aware of its environment and ready to move or fly at a moment’s notice. The spritely quality of the pigeon’s mobility represents the energy of the liver organ system. The force a seed needs to sprout and break through the earth as it grows in the spring is a great analogy for the energy of the liver system as spring brings about new growth and new life.

From an acupuncture and Oriental medicine perspective, for greater vitality you need a healthy liver system. It is believed that any situation that constrains or frustrates a person will consequently injure the person’s liver. In order for an aging person to remain healthy and creative, the body and mind must stay active. You must engage in new activities so that creativity and curiosity can flow freely and easily as you move through life.

Release Worries and Restore Energy by Sleeping like a Dog
What does it mean to “sleep like a dog”? A dog falls asleep easily and sleeps very deeply, awaking fully restored. Regular, restorative sleep is a key to feeling young, healthy and vital. In order to sleep deeply and easily like a dog, the body and mind must willingly power down.

It can be very challenging in today’s busy world to let go of your daily worries and thoughts in order to sink into deep, restorative sleep. Therapies are available to help address sleep issues you may be experiencing so you can get better rest.

Make a point of going to bed early and waking early to help regulate your sleep schedule. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine considers every hour of sleep you get before midnight to count double. So, try to go to bed as early as possible, and make sure the room where you sleep is quiet and serene to improve your chances of sleeping deeply.

If your sleep is peaceful and you wake feeling refreshed, this indicates your heart is balanced, your kidneys are strong and your liver energy flows freely. The more nights you have during which you sleep like a dog, the younger you will look and feel.

A healthy mind and body need not decline with age. Prevention of age-related cognitive and physical issues involves safeguarding the yin, yang, and jing (adrenals, hormone balance, and genetic endowments) throughout your life span by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoiding toxins, keeping harmony in your environment and relationships, and maintaining balanced activity and rest.

Christina Sarlo http://www.christinasarlo.com

13 Types of Sjogren’s Fatigue

1 Sep

13 Types

Basic fatigue
1. This is the inherent fatigue that I attribute to the inflammatory, autoimmune nature of Sjögren’s. It’s with me all the time. It differs from normal fatigue in that you don’t have to do anything to deserve it. It can vary from day to day but is always there. For me, there appears to be a correlation between this kind of fatigue and sed rate (ESR). When one goes up, so does the other. I don’t know how often this phenomenon occurs. I could also call this my baseline fatigue, which fluctuates and gets better or worse. All of the following are superimposed on this basic fatigue.

Rebound fatigue
2. If I push myself too far and ignore the cues my body is sending me to stop and rest, my body will fight back. When I do more than I should, the result is an immobilizing fatigue. It comes on after the fact, i.e., do too much one day and feel it the next. If I push myself today, I very likely will have to cancel everything tomorrow. An extended period of doing more than I should will almost certainly cause a flare.

Sudden fatigue
3. This ‘crumple and fold’ phenomenon makes me resemble a piece of laundry. It comes on suddenly, and I have to stop whatever I’m doing and just sit down (as soon as I can). It can happen anywhere, at any time. It is the kind of fatigue that makes me shut off the computer in mid-sentence. It is visible to those who are observant and know what to look for, even though I make gargantuan efforts to disguise the fact that it is happening.

Weather related fatigue
4. Not everyone has this particular talent, but I can tell that the barometric pressure is dropping while the sky remains blue and cloudless. I feel a sweeping wave, a malaise, that sometimes lifts just after the rain or snow has started. Likewise, I know when a weather front is moving away, even while torrents of water are falling from the sky. I feel a lightening in my body and begin to have more energy. This kind of fatigue is accompanied by an increase in muscle aches and joint pain.

Molten lead phenomenon
5. This fatigue is present when I open my eyes in the morning and know that it is going to be a particularly bad day. It feels as if someone has poured molten lead in my head and on all my limbs while I slept. My muscles and joints hurt, and doing anything is like walking with heavy weights. It is often associated with increased symptoms of fibromyalgia and sometimes helped by heat and massage.

Tired-wired
6.Tired-wired is a feeling that comes from certain medications, such as prednisone, too much caffeine, or too much excitement or perhaps it is just a function of Sjögren’s. My body is tired but my mind wants to keep going and won’t let my body rest.

Flare-related fatigue
7. Flare-related fatigue is an unpredictable state of increased fatigue that can last for days or weeks. It may be caused by an increase in disease activity or an undetected infection. If the latter, it either resolves on its own, or eventually presents other signs and symptoms that can be diagnosed. Additional rest is essential to deal with this kind of fatigue, but rest alone will not necessarily improve it or make it go away. Once a flare begins, it is impossible to predict where it will go or how long it will last.

Fatigue induced by other physical conditions
8. Fatigue related to other physical causes, such as thyroid problems or anemia superimposed on Sjögren’s. This kind of fatigue makes you feel that you are climbing a steep hill when you are really walking on level ground. It resolves once the underlying organic condition is diagnosed and treated. Thyroid problems and anemia are both common among Sjögren’s patients, but many other kinds of fatigue may be superimposed.

Fatigue that impairs concentration
9. Fatigue that impairs concentration precludes thought, makes me too tired to talk, think or read. Fatigue robs me of memory and encloses me in a fog of cotton wool so thick I can’t find my way out until the fog miraculously lifts. For me, brain fog goes hand-in-hand with other kinds of pernicious fatigue.

Stress, distress, anxiety or depression
10. Stress, distress, anxiety or depression all can create a leaden kind of emotional fatigue that can be as exhausting as one due to physical causes. Although some people do not associate their increased fatigue with emotional states, many are aware of the effects of increased anxiety and depression, even if they cannot control what they feel. Intense emotion is very draining. Stress, anxiety and depression all are known to disrupt sleep.

Fatigue that comes from not sleeping well
11. Some people with Sjögren’s have trouble both getting to sleep and staying asleep. Some wake up in the morning feeling as if they had never slept at all. Many aspects of Sjögren’s affect sleep: being too dry, in too much pain or malaise; multiple trips to the bathroom, the need for water or to put in eye ointment all deter a good sleep. Lack of restorative sleep increases fatigue.

And two new ones:
Fatigue that comes with normal aging
12. I’m old enough for Medicare now and my friends are more tired too, although they seem to be able to do two or three or even four times what I can do on any given day. In fact, the gap between what they can do and what I can do just seems to be growing, despite my best efforts. It’s been a long time since I tried to keep up, but it still hurts that I can’t.

Chronic Illness Fatigue
13. Fatigue that comes from a chronic illness that just won’t quit. We’ve all heard the expression “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and that phrase truly captures what many of us feel. I would take it one step further. There’s a fatigue that comes with the uncertainty of a chronic disease. It’s a debilitating fatigue born of never knowing what will come next. The chronicity of Sjögren’s can wear me down and I have to make special attempts not to let it. When these attempts don’t work, I wait a while and try to find something else that distracts me from my illness.

It’s difficult to explain the unnatural quality and intensity of this fatigue to someone whose only experience has been with what is normal. We’re not talking about the same stuff. It’s apples and artichokes. Sjögren’s fatigue is pervasive. It assaults everything I do. There isn’t a part of my life that hasn’t been touched by it. It is there even on my happiest days.

Because people don’t understand, it’s often misinterpreted. “Is it depression?” a health care professional who didn’t know much about Sjögren’s asked me. I tensed. Was he saying it was all in my head? I began to get angry but then gave him the benefit of the doubt. I put my first reaction aside and decided he was trying to understand. I was relating something outside his frame of reference, and he was attempting to find a point with which he could identify.

When you describe Sjögren’s fatigue to someone who has never experienced it, you are asking him or her to think outside the box. You want them to understand an experience that is common to those who have Sjögren’s and many other autoimmune diseases but rare otherwise. Perhaps their first reaction will be negation or denial. While it’s always difficult to encounter expressions of disbelief, it is not uncommon.  I tried to see it as an opportunity to educate.

“No,” I said to the doctor who asked about depression, “think of it as a never-ending flu that varies in intensity but never goes away.” He grimaced.

Terri Rumpf Ph.d

What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

29 Aug

Sjögren’s is a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. Today, as many as four million Americans are living with this disease.

Although the hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

With upwards of 4,000,000 Americans suffering from Sjögren’s, it is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders. Nine out of 10 patients are women.

About half of the time Sjögren’s occurs alone, and the other half it occurs in the presence of another autoimmune connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma.

Sjögren’s is a systemic disease, affecting the entire body. Symptoms may remain steady, worsen, or, uncommonly, go into remission. While some people experience mild discomfort, others suffer debilitating symptoms that greatly impair their functioning. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important — they may prevent serious complications and greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.

Since symptoms of Sjögren’s mimic other conditions and diseases, Sjögren’s can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed. On average, it takes nearly 4.7 years to receive a diagnosis of Sjögren’s. Patients need to remember to be pro-active in talking with their physicians and dentists about their symptoms and potential treatment options.

Since the disease was first identified in 1933 by Dr. Henrik Sjögren, it has been proven to affect virtually every racial and ethnic group. General awareness about Sjögren’s is still lacking and increased professional awareness is needed to help expedite new diagnoses and treatment options.

<iframesrc=”//player.vimeo.com/video/16671907″ width=”500″ height=”375″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreenmozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>

Sjögren’s Syndrome: A Place To Begin from Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation on Vimeo.

As anyone with Sjögren’s knows, many things can exacerbate the discomfort of dryness, while there are other factors that can either soothe the dryness or advance a condition of moisture that can prevent it.

Here are things you can do on a day-to-day basis that can alleviate your symptoms and help you feel and look better.

The Dos:

  • Do Exercise
    Regular exercise unquestionably does all sorts of good things for us. The main medical benefit is perhaps the power to decrease inflammation, which it does through the release of endorphins. For that reason, exercise contributes to the health of the ocular surface. Regular exercise- at least 20 minutes of exercise that increases your heart rate 5x a week- is highly recommended for dry eye sufferers.
  • Do Take Showers
    A hot bath can be a relaxing indulgence, but the steam tends to rise away from you. It’s much better to be upright in a shower, with the steam coming at you constantly. Moreover, whether you intend it or not, water from the shower head or bouncing off your body, splatters into your eyes and literally cleans them out.
  • Do Catch some Zzzzzzs
    I cannot emphasize enough how important getting as much sleep as possible is  to mitigating the discomfort of dry eye. A deep sleep, replenishes the tear film and soothes the ocular surface.
  • Do Drink Water
    You should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. That’s water- plain and simple- not sodas, sugary juices or artificially flavored drinks. Water is needed by all of the body’s organs- by the skin, the kidneys, the liver, the heart and the eyes as well.
  • Do Keep up with Friends & Family
    There is increasing evidence that social interaction is as good for us as exercise, a good night’s sleep or eating natural food. It is also a fact that the smile you wear while you’re happy with friends can actually reduce the exposure of the ocular surface.

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t get Stressed
    Stress can affect many other factors that have a direct impact on dry eye: sleep, your blink rate, and even what you eat. All of that leads to the kind of inflammation that can exacerbate a range of ailments, including a dry eye disorder. There are many different kinds of stress and there are many ways to manage it. Find the way that works for you, and learn as best you can to keep stress at a minimum.
  • Don’t work your eyes too long
    Perhaps the most important thing to avoid if you suffer from dry eye is a long stretch of consecutive visual tasking. Whether it’s working at a computer, watching television or reading- break up the time you spend doing it.
  • Don’t Smoke, Drink Alcohol or Caffeine
    Smoke, alcohol and caffeine all dehydrate the body, including the eyes. Be aware of what these activities are doing to your dry eye, and try to reduce the frequency or eliminate all three if you can.

Sjogren’s Foundation

Top Treatments for Sinus Infections

27 Aug

 

Top Treatments for Sinus Infections

Did you know that sinus infections are almost always caused by a virus? And regardless of the fact that studies show that antibiotics work no better than placebos for this condition, one in five antibiotics is still prescribed for sinusitis. In addition to being useless treatments for sinus infections, this over prescription of antibiotics is contributing to a host of other health problems, from nausea and yeast infections to deadly super-bugs.

But if drugs don’t work as treatments for sinus infections, what does? Let’s start with prevention.

Humming to Ward Off Sinus Infections

Are you one of those people who hums as you go about your day? In addition to filling the air with song, you may also be warding off sinus infections. Healthy sinuses rely on good ventilation and adequate levels of nitric oxide (NO), which is produced in the sinuses and airways and acts as an antimicrobial agent against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Several studies have found that, compared to quiet exhalation, humming increases air flow through the nasal passages and produces a 15-fold increase in exhaled NO. As a result, humming on a regular basis may protect against and help relieve sinus infections.

It may sound crazy, but if you’re one of the 37 million Americans who suffers with headaches, pain, pressure, congestion, and other signs of sinus infections, therapeutic humming is certainly worth trying. (Low, sustained, frequent humming that creates vibration appears to be most effective.) Dr. Whitaker also recommend it for people with asthma, allergies, and other conditions that are marked by reduced respiratory NO levels.

SOS for Sinuses

But what if you already have a sinus infection? Enter my favorite supplement solution: Sinupret. This unique supplement is designed to treat inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis) and the bronchioles (bronchitis). It contains just five herbs—gentian root, primrose flowers, elder flowers, common sorrel herb, and shop vervain wort—but there’s something about this combo that really works.

First, Sinupret normalizes mucus secretion and viscosity. It thins the mucus that clogs up the sinuses and lungs and allows it to properly drain, which is why it’s so good at clearing up congestion, a common symptom of sinus infections. Conversely, because it promotes normal mucus flow, it also “turns down the faucet” for people with excessive sinus drainage.

Second, it has potent anti-inflammatory activity, so it reduces tissue swelling, thereby opening the nasal passageways and airways in the lungs and making breathing easier. This is an important mechanism, for many diseases of the airways, including asthma and allergies, are exacerbated by inflammation. Sinupret simply tones it down.

Finally, Sinupret has antiviral effects that inhibit the spread of flu- and cold-causing viruses. And it has immunomodulating effects, meaning it gives the immune system a boost. All in all, this makes for one powerful product. Look for Sinupret in health food stores or online and use as directed.

Saline: A Simple Solution for Sinus Infections

Another option to relieve sinusitis and a stuffy nose is to irrigate your nasal passages with saline solution. The most basic nasal irrigation involves a mixture of salt and lukewarm water (¼ teaspoon of salt per eight ounces of water), held in the cupped palm of your hand and “snorted” up into one nostril while blocking off the other. Just tip your head back slightly and allow the solution to flow through the nasal cavity, then out of the other nostril. This may also be done with a bulb syringe, neti pot (a small, teapot-like device), or a squeeze bottle made especially for this purpose. (A good brand available in drugstores is NeilMed.) Repeat a few times in both nostrils over the sink or in the shower, as it can get messy.

Boost Your Immune System With IV Nutrients

The above solutions for sinus infections are all well and good, but if you really want to give your immune system a boost, you should seriously consider intravenous (IV) nutrients.

When nutrients such as vitamin C are administered intravenously—directly into the bloodstream—they bypass the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, allowing for better absorption and greater potency. Unlike large doses of oral vitamin C, which can cause loose stools, IV vitamin C has no effect on the GI tract whatsoever, so it promotes much higher blood levels. To put this into perspective, 10 g of IV vitamin C raises serum levels of this nutrient 25 times higher than the same dose taken orally.

 

Now it’s your turn: What treatments for sinus infections have you tried?

 

Dr. Whitaker

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