How to Prevent Inguinal Hernia
With knowledge about inguinal hernia anatomy, you can understand what you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place. What you should understand is that you cannot do much about the congenital defect that increases your risk for developing inguinal hernia. Here are some steps you can take to keep things under control.
You should be active and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the exercise you can or cannot do in your condition.
You should work with a healthcare provider to help you make a diet plan. There is no set plan for any one person. Depending on location, and sleep patterns, and medication, each person needs a personalized healthcare plan. As always though, be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that contain dietary fiber.
It is important to prevent straining and constipation to avoid making your hernias worse. Properly taking the correct supplements is important.
Avoid heavy lifting as much as possible. If you really need to do some lifting, bend from your knees. Never bend from your waist or you will end up making things worse.
You need to avoid smoking because it will cause a chronic cough that can aggravate an inguinal hernia.
You need to bear in mind that when you have inguinal hernias, you cannot correct this situation with a supportive garment designed to keep hernias in place. You should wear it though if your doctor has asked you to wear it for a short time before your surgery.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dir. Personalized Healthcare and Preventative Medicine
Prostate Cancer Test Saves Lives, Risks Remain
Men who get a controversial blood test that looks for signs of prostate cancer appear to have a reduced risk of death from the malignancy, according to a new analysis by an international group of researchers.
The analysis re-examined data from two earlier studies that had led experts to recommend against routine use of the test, which measures levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
“The trials taken together indicate there is an important benefit,” said Ruth Etzioni, who is the senior author of the analysis from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
A flaw of the earlier trials is that some men who were assigned to a no-screening group actually did get the PSA test on their own, making it difficult to identify differences between the screening group and the no-screening group.
The unclear results – and the risk that the blood tests could lead to unnecessary biopsies and treatments – led the government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to recommend against PSA screening.
The new analysis attempts to clear up the confusion by reexamining the data in computer models, to account for the men who got PSA tests when they weren’t supposed to. Etzioni’s team compared men in the two trials based on the intensity of screening they received.
In one of the trials, PSA testing was tied to a 25 percent to 31 percent reduced risk of death from prostate cancer, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the other trial, PSA testing was tied to a 27 percent to 32 percent reduced risk of death from prostate cancer, they found.
Etzioni said the new results don’t mean all men should be screened for prostate cancer.
In the U.S., about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, but most men with the slow-growing cancer won’t die from it.
As a result, it’s often reasonable to monitor prostate cancers instead of treating them, since the side effects of treatment – which can include incontinence and impotence – may be more harmful than helpful.
In a proposed update to its recommendation, the USPSTF suggests that men ages 55 to 69 should be able to decide if they want PSA testing based on a discussion with their doctors about the possible benefits and risks, such as biopsies and unneeded treatment.
“This finding confirms or reinforces what everybody has been moving to over the last 5 to 8 years,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “There is some benefit to prostate cancer screening and there are some harms associated with it.”
Brawley, who wasn’t involved in the new analysis, told Reuters Health that the benefits of screening are becoming more apparent as doctors move away from aggressively treating all prostate cancers and instead decide to monitor the many that will likely never advance and cause death.
In an editorial published with the new analysis, Dr. Andrew Vickers of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City identified ways to help ensure the benefits of prostate cancer screening outweigh the harms.
For example, he advises shared decision-making between doctors and patients, carefully selecting which men to biopsy and not screening elderly men, who are unlikely to benefit.
“The controversy about PSA-based screening should no longer be whether it can do good but whether we can change our behavior so that it does more good than harm,” wrote Vickers.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers
Like other diseases this too may originate in the Gut
New research suggests additional evidence that Parkinson’s disease may originate in the gut.
Though experts called the findings preliminary, Swedish scientists found that patients whose main trunk of the vagus nerve — which extends from the brain stem to the abdomen — was removed were markedly less likely to develop the movement disorder than others who didn’t have the surgery. The patients were followed for at least five years.
The study authors said the findings suggest Parkinson’s may start in the gut and spread to the brain through the vagus nerve, which helps control unconscious body processes such as heart rate and digestion.
“We were not largely surprised, as other research has also shown evidence for a link between the gut and Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Dr. Karin Wirdefeldt. She’s an associate professor of medical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
“Our findings are in line with other research in the field, although evidence is scarce,” she added. “Further research is needed.”
A progressive, incurable disorder, Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 1 million Americans, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. Stemming from the brain’s lack of production of the chemical dopamine, its symptoms include trembling, stiffness, slow movement and poor balance.
Using data from national registers in Sweden, Wirdefeldt and her colleagues compared 9,430 people who underwent vagotomy surgery — which removes the main trunk or branches of the vagus nerve to treat ulcers — to more than 377,000 from the general population over a 40-year period.
In those with so-called “selective vagotomy,” in which only some branches of the vagus nerve were removed, the difference in Parkinson’s rates was not statistically significant. But that changed for those who underwent a “truncal vagotomy,” in which the main trunk of the vagus nerve was removed.
The 19 people who underwent truncal vagotomy at least five years prior were 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who didn’t have the surgery and had been followed for five years.
The results were adjusted for other factors, such as diabetes, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the researchers said.
Only an association, rather than a cause-and-effect link, was found between vagus nerve surgery and Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s experts who weren’t involved in the new research said much more evidence is needed to confirm the link, though they praised the study.
“The link is not strong,” said Dr. Olga Waln, a neurologist at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. “They did an outstanding job on the study and analyzed a large database, but… I don’t think the conclusions are very convincing.”
Waln acknowledged the difficulty of designing such a study, because few patients undergo surgery to remove portions of their vagus nerve.
“But what the authors found definitely requires attention from scientists, because if we can somehow confirm the disease starts in the intestines… it could give hope to patients,” she said.
James Beck, chief scientific officer of the National Parkinson Foundation, also classified the new findings as “not definitive.”
“But it’s interesting that this connection [between the gut and Parkinson’s] seems to be persisting,” Beck said. “It’s not causal, but it underscores something potentially going on in the gut and how that may influence Parkinson’s disease.”
The possibility of preventing Parkinson’s “is a long way off” and will require more firmly identifying factors that cause it, Beck noted.
“Research like this spur further thought as people try to crack this nut of what is the cause of Parkinson’s disease… or perhaps many causes,” he said.
The study was published online April 26 in the journal Neurology.
If you have anyone in your family who has Parkinson’s Disease, please contact us for help with turning this diseases around, or preventing you and your family from developing it.
Health and Wellness Associates
What is Wrong With America’s Children
In America, our children are getting sicker and sicker. Here are the facts about children living in the United States.
1 in 3 children are overweight
1 in 5 children are obese
1 in 6 children have a learning disability
1 in 11 children have asthma
1 in 68 children have autism
1 in 423 boys have autism
1 in 10 children have ADHD
1 in 20 children have food allergies
1 in 2 children have a chronic illness
This should alarm everyone. Every one of these problems concerns intake of chemicals that the body can not utilize or diffuse.
Please give us a call to help eliminate chemical intake from you and your families diet. These problerms start when you are pregnant, and they are not filtered out if you breastfeed.
Health and Wellness Associates
5 Most Common STDs In Women:
How To Spot Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cause infertility in at least 24,000 women each year in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). These unacknowledged health issues can be very serious. For example, untreated syphilis in pregnant women causes infant death in up to 40 percent of all cases. It’s important to recognize the signs of an STD so that you can treat the infection before it becomes a health risk. Here are the most common STDs among women.
The rate of infection of chlamydia among women is more than two and a half times the rate among men. Most people with chlamydia have no symptoms, but it can lead to serious health problems like infertility. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for treatment. But even if you’ve been treated for chlamydia in the past, you can get the infection again.
Gonorrhea is similar to chlamydia in that women are more often affected than men. But, unlike the former, many more people with gonorrhea stay undiagnosed. Signs of the infection include painful urination and white, yellow, or green discharge.
Gonorrhea treatment involves two different antibiotics, but without medical care women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease.
Genital herpes is more common in women than men, but it affects a whopping 20 percent of teens and adults. There is no cure for herpes. But your doctor can prescribe medicines that help prevent and ease the pain and shorten outbreaks — which is when it’s more likely to spread.
Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV)
HPV is the most common STD among both genders, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly every sexually active man and woman will contract at least one strain of HPV throughout their lifetime.
Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. If untreated, women are the ones at risk. The virus is the main cause of cervical cancer.
It can take up to 90 days after exposure to syphilis, an infection caused by bacteria, for symptoms to appear. As previously stated, untreated syphilis in a mother is a serious life risk for an unborn baby. The STD can be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
Last year, the rate of syphilis diagnosis actually decreased 21 percent among women, but increased 1.3 percent in males.
When it comes to unprotected sex, women naturally bear more of the consequences than men. Certainly, a man will never become pregnant after sex without a condom, but a woman also might bear, disproportionately, the consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). Consider a few sobering facts: untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women each year in the U.S. alone. You may be astonished to learn as well that untreated syphilis in pregnant women causes infant death in up to 40 percent of all cases. Finally, when it comes to untreated chlamydia, men suffer neither symptoms nor ill effects most of the time, while women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease which might lead to reproductive system damage.
So why are women impacted by STDs differently than men? A few key reasons go a long way to explaining feminine vulnerability:
One/ For many common STDs — including chlamydia and gonorrhea — women are less likely to show symptoms compared to men and when symptoms do occur, they may appear to go away even though the infection remains. More importantly, men find it easier to notice symptoms because they signs are so obvious — an unusual discharge, for example. Since women experience a whole range of natural discharges, all of them quite normal, they find it much more difficult to distinguish when an abnormal one appears.
Two/ Not only is the vagina a suitably moist environment where bacteria may easily flourish, but its lining is exceedingly more delicate and thinner than the skin of a penis. This natural fragility means viruses find it easier to penetrate.
Three/ Women have visibility issues. Notably, it’s harder for a woman to see a genital ulcer (from syphilis, say, or herpes) because they could occur only inside her vagina and not on the surface of her genitalia. Meanwhile, it’s difficult for a man to miss seeing a sore making its debut on his penis.
Four/ Finally, everyday sexually transmitted infections wreak havoc on a woman’s more gentle system while causing no problems in men. Along with chlamydia, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is contracted by both men and women frequently. However this common virus does not lead to serious (if any) health problems for most men while it is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. The fairer sex has been dealt an unequal hand.
So what’s a woman to do? In a phrase: protect yourself.
See your doctor, but more importantly talk to your doctor. There’s no shame in asking to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and this is true whether your visit is with your primary care physician or your ob/gyn. If you haven’t already been given one, you might want to ask for the HPV vaccine.
Don’t stop here, though. Once you get a sense of a partner’s sexual history, go all the way and ask about STDs, especially if he or she has been around the block a few times. Make it a joke, if you have to, but simply ask: Ever been tested for STDs?
Finally, and yes we’ve saved the best for last, use condoms. Imperfect though they may be, they offer a good deal of protection against STIs and pregnancy. You’re never perfectly safe, and sadly, even long-term boyfriends (and husbands) have been known to spread disease to their partners. It’s always worth it, knowing you’ve done your best at self-protection.
Health and Wellness Associates
Can Daily Aspirin Lower Cancer Death Risk?
Millions of Americans take low-dose aspirin every day for heart health. In doing so, they may also slightly lower their risk of dying from several cancers, a large new study suggests.
Researchers found that among more than 130,000 U.S. adults, those who regularly used aspirin were 7 percent to 11 percent less likely to die of cancer over the next few decades.
The risks of dying from colon, breast, prostate and — for men — lung cancer were all lower among regular aspirin users, compared to non-users, the findings showed.
The findings add to evidence that aspirin has cancer-fighting abilities, the researchers said. But they also stressed that people should not start popping a daily aspirin in the hopes of avoiding cancer.
There is strong evidence, from research in general, that low-dose aspirin may lower the risk of colon cancer, said Dr. Ernest Hawk, a professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) already recommends that certain older adults consider taking low-dose aspirin to curb their risk of colon cancer — as well as heart disease.
Specifically, the task force suggests that people in their 50s and 60s talk to their doctor about whether the benefits of daily aspirin outweigh the risks. The USPSTF is an independent medical panel that advises the federal government.
For one, he said, aspirin has risks, such as stomach bleeding and hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. So people need to discuss those potential harms with their doctor.
Plus, even within the 50-to-69 age group, not everyone stands to benefit from aspirin to the same degree. The task force recommends that low-dose aspirin (typically 81 milligrams a day) be considered only for people at increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.
Yin Cao, the lead researcher on the new study, agreed that people should not start using aspirin without talking to their doctor.
She said her findings “add evidence to support the USPSTF recommendation on colon cancer.”
But research has been more mixed regarding breast, prostate and lung cancers. And, the new findings don’t prove that aspirin use prevents those diseases, said Cao, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.
The study included more than 130,000 U.S. health professionals who were followed for up to 32 years. They were asked about their aspirin use at the outset, and again every two years.
Nearly 13,000 study participants died of cancer over the next few decades. But the risks were somewhat lower for regular aspirin users, the study authors said.
The biggest difference was seen with colon cancer: Aspirin users were about 30 percent less likely to die of the disease.
In addition, women who used aspirin were 11 percent less likely to die of breast cancer, while men showed a 23 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer and a 14 percent lower risk of lung cancer death.
However, Hawk said, the findings can only point to correlations. “It’s always possible that aspirin use is a surrogate for a healthy lifestyle, in general,” he said.
Cao said her team tried to account for other lifestyle and health factors. But she agreed the findings don’t prove cause and effect.
Another issue is that no one knows how much aspirin is needed to see a benefit — or how long it takes to kick in, said Dr. Robin Mendelsohn.
“Many of the studies in colorectal cancer,” she said, “indicate that it takes many years to see a decrease in cancers [with aspirin use].”
Cao was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. The results should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Health and Wellness Associates
Vitamin D Is More Effective Than Flu Vaccine, Study Says
Conventional health authorities claim getting a flu shot each year is the best way to ward off influenza. But where’s the actual science backing up that claim?
If you’ve repeatedly fallen for this annual propaganda campaign, you may be surprised to find the medical literature suggests vitamin D may actually be a FAR more effective strategy, and the evidence for this goes back at least a decade.
Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, was one of the first to introduce the idea that vitamin D deficiency may actually be an underlying CAUSE of influenza.
His hypothesis1 was initially published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006.2 It was subsequently followed up with another study published in the Virology Journal in 2008.3
The following year, the largest nationally representative study4 of its kind to date discovered that people with the lowest vitamin D levels indeed reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu. In conclusion, lead author Dr. Adit Ginde stated:
“The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency.”
Vitamin D Works Better Than Flu Vaccine
Since then, a number of studies have come to similar conclusions. Most recently, a scientific review5,6 of 25 randomized controlled trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation boosts immunity and cuts rates of cold and flu.
Overall, the studies included nearly 11,000 individuals from more than a dozen countries. As reported by Time Magazine:7
“… people who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were less likely to report acute respiratory infections, like influenza or the common cold, than those who did not …
For people with the most significant vitamin D deficiencies (blood levels below 10 [ng/mL]), taking a supplement cut their risk of respiratory infection in half.
People with higher vitamin D levels also saw a small reduction in risk: about 10 percent, which is about equal to the protective effect of the injectable flu vaccine, the researchers say.”
Like Cannell before them, the researchers believe vitamin D offers protection by increasing antimicrobial peptides in your lungs, and that “[t]his may be one reason why colds and flus are most common in the winter, when sunlight exposure (and therefore the body’s natural vitamin D production) is at its lowest …”8
According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.9 Another statistic showing vitamin D is a more effective strategy than flu vaccine is the “number needed to treat” (NNT).
Overall, one person would be spared from influenza for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement , whereas 40 people have to receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent one case of the flu.
Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. In other words, if you’re vitamin D deficient to begin with, vitamin D supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine.
Please know that you can not take Vitamin D alone.
Optimizing Vitamin D May Be Your Best Defense Against Influenza
In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available. Your diet also plays a significant role of course, as it lays the foundation for good immune function.
A high-sugar diet is a sure-fire way to diminish your body’s innate ability to fight off infections of all kinds by radically impairing the functioning of your immune system.
However, I do not agree that fortifying more processed foods with vitamin D is the best solution, although I realize it could potentially have a more widespread impact among people who remain unaware of the beneficial health effects of sunlight in general.
I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is only recommended in cases when you simply cannot obtain sufficient amounts of sensible sun exposure.
It’s also important to point out that, contrary to what’s reported by most mainstream media, including NPR report above, most people cannot optimize their vitamin D levels by getting the recommended 600 IUs of vitamin D from fortified foods. The dose you need really depends on your current blood level of vitamin D.
If it’s very low, you may need 8,000 to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The only way to know how much you need is to get tested at least once or twice each year.
If you’ve been supplementing for some time and your levels are still below 45 ng/mL, you then know you have to increase your dose further. If using an oral supplement, also make sure to boost your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake, as these nutrients help optimize vitamin D levels.
Other Studies Supporting Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Influenza
In a study published in 2010,10 researchers investigated the effect of vitamin D on the incidence of seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study included 430 children, half of which were given 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day while the other half received a placebo.
Overall, children in the treatment group were 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu. According to the authors: “This study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.”
Another study11 published that same year concluded that infection-fighting T-cells need help from vitamin D in order to activate. This is yet another mechanism that helps explain why vitamin D is so effective against infections.
When a T cell recognizes foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, it sends activating signals to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene.
The VDR gene then starts producing a protein that binds vitamin D in the T cell. A downstream effect of this is PLC-gamma1 protein production, which subsequently enables the T cell to fight the infection. At the time, lead researcher Carsten Geisler told Food Consumer:12
“When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or “antenna” known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D. This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.”
With that understanding, it’s no wonder flu shots don’t work. Flu vaccines do absolutely nothing to address the underlying problem of vitamin D deficiency, which is effectively hindering your immune system from working properly.
In fact, flu vaccines tend to deteriorate your immune function, and their side effects can be significant.
‘Gold Standard’ Studies Ignored by Mainstream Media
The gold standard of scientific analysis, the so-called Cochrane Database Review, has also issued several reports between 2006 and 2012, all of which decimate the claim that flu vaccinations are the most effective prevention method available. In 2010, Cochrane published the following bombshell conclusion, which was completely ignored by mainstream media:13
“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. WARNING: This review includes 15 out of 36 trials funded by industry (four had no funding declaration).
An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to the vaccines …”
So, despite the fact that 15 of the 36 studies included were biased by industry interests, they still couldn’t come up with evidence supporting the conventional claim that flu vaccines are the best and most effective prevention available against influenza!
Scientific Reviews Show Vaccinating Children and Elderly Is Ineffective
Cochrane has issued several reports addressing the effectiveness of flu vaccines on infants and the elderly — two groups that tend to be the most targeted by flu vaccine advertising — and all have had negative findings. For children:
- A large-scale, systematic review14 of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children under two. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
- In 2008, another Cochrane review15 again concluded that “little evidence is available” that the flu vaccine is effective for children under the age of two. Even more disturbingly, the authors stated that:
“It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months old in the USA and Canada. If immunization in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.”
- In a 2012 review,16 Cochrane concluded that “in children aged from two years, nasal spray vaccines made from weakened influenza viruses were better at preventing illness caused by the influenza virus than injected vaccines made from the killed virus. Neither type was particularly good at preventing “flu-like illness” caused by other types of viruses. In children under the age of two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.”
The available evidence with regards to protecting the elderly is equally abysmal.
- In 2010, Cochrane concluded that:17 “The available evidence is of poor quality and provides no guidance regarding the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older.”
- Cochrane also reviewed whether or not vaccinating health care workers can help protect the elderly patients with whom they work. In conclusion, the authors stated that:18 “[T]here is no evidence that vaccinating health care workers prevents influenza in elderly residents in long-term care facilities.”
Annual Flu Vaccinations May Raise Risk of More Serious Infections
Other recent studies have shown that with each successive annual flu vaccination, the protection afforded by the vaccine appears to diminish.19, 20 Research published in 2014 concluded that vaccine-induced protection against influenza was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.21 The flu vaccine may also increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections.
Data shows people who received the seasonal flu vaccine in 2008 had twice the risk of getting the H1N1 “swine flu” compared to those who didn’t receive a flu shot.22
Compared to children who do not get an annual flu vaccine, those who receive influenza vaccinations have a three times higher risk of hospitalization due to influenza.23
Research also shows that statin drugs — taken by 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 — may undermine your immune system’s ability to respond to the flu vaccine.24,25,26 When you consider the low efficacy rate of the flu vaccine in any given year, getting vaccinated if you’re on a statin may well be a moot point.
Independent science reviews have also concluded that influenza vaccine does not appear to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.27,28,29,30
Other Foods and Supplements That Send Pathogens Packin’
Besides vitamin D, there are a number of other foods and supplements that can be beneficial for colds and influenza, including the following:
Garlic: Garlic has natural antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal activity and has long been hailed for its immune boosting effects.
The Cochrane Database, which has repeatedly demonstrated that the science in support of the flu vaccine is flimsy at best, has also reviewed studies on alternatives, including garlic.32
Unfortunately, such research is harder to come by, as there’s no financial incentive driving it.
Still, in the singular study identified by the Cochrane group, those who took garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo, and, when they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter — an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group.
While this may not seem overly impressive, it’s still better than the results achieved by the flu drug Tamiflu!
Zinc: A Cochrane Database Review of the medical research on zinc found that when taken within one day of the first symptoms, zinc can cut down the time you have a cold by about 24 hours.
Zinc was also found to greatly reduce the severity of symptoms. Zinc was not recommended for anyone with an underlying health condition, like lowered immune function, asthma or chronic illness.
I do not recommend taking more than 50 mg a day, and I do not recommend taking zinc on a daily basis for preventive purposes as you could easily develop a copper imbalance that way.
Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients.
You can take several grams every hour (use the liposomal form so you don’t get loose stools), till you are better. I never travel without a bottle of our liposomal C.
A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.
Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.
Medicinal mushrooms, such as shiitake, reishi and turkey tail.
Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response.
Olive leaf extract is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.
Vitamin D Is Important for Optimal Health and Disease Prevention Year-Round
In related news, researchers are also homing in on how vitamin D may help protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The video above discusses research33 showing vitamin D extends lifespan in nematode worms by 30 percent and helps slow or even reverse accumulation of beta amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disease and many other chronic diseases. As noted in a recent issue of Orthomolecular Medicine News:34 “Research on the health benefits of vitamin D continues at a rapid pace. There were 4,356 papers published in 2015 with vitamin D in the title or abstract and 4,388 in 2016 …” Among some of the most impactful studies are ones demonstrating:
- Health benefits from sun exposure unrelated to vitamin D production. One recent review concluded benefits of sun exposure includes lower rates of cancer, heart disease, dementia, myopia, macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. My belief is that the majority of these benefits are due to the near-, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths.
According to the author: “The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve [vitamin D] concentrations of 30 ng/mL or higher … and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.” Also, while intermittent sun exposure is associated with higher rates of skin cancer, “the risks of these cancers is dwarfed by the reduced risk of internal cancers from sun exposure,” William Grant, Ph.D. writes.
- Benefits of higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy. Research demonstrates preterm births steadily decrease as vitamin D levels increase among pregnant women. In one study, raising vitamin D blood concentrations from 20 to 40 ng/mL decreased preterm births by 59 percent.
- Reduction in cancer risk from vitamin D supplementation. One pooled analysis showed that women with higher levels of vitamin D had much lower incidence rates of cancer — from a 2 percent per year cancer incidence rate at 18 ng/mL to 0.4 percent at 63 ng/mL.
Overall, maintaining a vitamin D serum level of 45 to 60 ng/mL year-round may be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to safeguard yourself against chronic disease and acute infections. When it comes to seasonal colds and influenza, the rate of protection you get from vitamin D is actually greater than what you’d get from a flu vaccination, and you don’t have to worry about potential side effects either — which in the case of the flu vaccine can be far worse than the original complaint.
While death and complete disability from a flu vaccine may be rare, so is dying from the flu itself. I strongly recommend weighing the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect of the flu vaccine relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed with the flu. Remember, most deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to bacterial pneumonia, and these days, bacterial pneumonia can be effectively treated with advanced medical care and therapies like respirators and parenteral antibiotics.
There are many kinds of Vitamin D, and many have to be taken with another supplement in order for them to work in your system.
If you do not have anyone to ask what healthcare plan is right for you, then call us. We can help with that.
Health and Wellness Associates
Your Heart and Your Head: A Two-Way Conversation
New Brain Health Science
Would it surprise you to learn that your memory and other brain functions are tied to your heart health?
Your body is an intricate system of parts that perform their own jobs but depend on each other to thrive. It makes sense for a lot of body parts to depend on a healthy heart but your cognitive activity might be a less obvious connection.
Studies show that when your heart is healthy, your cognitive abilities can flourish but when your heart is weaker, so too is your mind.
Further investigation is needed for us to understand the whole picture but this insight alone should be further motivation to take action and protect your heart.
What do the studies show so far?
Alzheimer’s Disease and Your Heart
Blood circulation affects your ability to think. Poor circulation can cause symptoms that look like Alzheimer’s. According to Harvard Health Publications, as many as ⅓rd of initially diagnosed dementia and Alzheimer’s cases are actually the result of vascular problems and poor blood flow.
As we know, your heart is responsible for pumping your blood and issues like high cholesterol and clogged arteries can create blood flow problems for your whole cardiovascular system. Turns out, not only could you be at risk for heart disease and stroke, but these issues can also lead to cognitive decline.
While there are certainly other factors at play when it comes to memory loss and the onset of conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, Ornish.com attests that “several conditions known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease—such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol—also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s also have cardiovascular disease, but still most scientists agree that the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is unclear.”
Not only do we not know exactly how or why Alzheimer’s develops, we also don’t have a cure for it. Researchers are confident that it is a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that causes Alzheimer’s.
We might not be able to do anything about our genetic predisposition, but we can do something about our lifestyle choices and environment. It stands to reason that if heart conditions can contribute to cognitive decline, maintaining good heart health should be part of that strategy.
Your Memories, Your Heart
Alzheimer’s isn’t the only cognitive issue that could arise due to heart health concerns. The Women’s Brain Health Initiative referenced a recent study where, “participants with decreased heart function, i.e., a low cardiac index, were two to three times more likely to develop significant memory loss. Given that one out of three participants in the study met the medical definition for low cardiac index, these findings are of great concern. This study marks the first time that cardiac index has been recognized as a risk factor for significant memory loss or dementia.”
As more of these studies are conducted and we understand this connection more intimately, there may be hope for treatment. Once scientists and doctors can map out the cause precisely, it’s much more likely that they will figure out how to prevent or reverse cognitive decline. However, these discoveries could be years, even decades away.
In the meantime, these discoveries are helping us to comprehend how our bodies work so we can take steps to keep our minds sharp.
A two-way conversation
Your brain and your heart are talking. No, not small talk, gossip or debates. It’s more like communicating through signals.
You’re probably aware that your brain sends signals all over your body “telling” your various parts what to do. Research from scientists at HeartMath now suggests that the heart is also able to send signals back to the brain and affect brain function.
One example of this communication at work is your stress response.
HeartMath.org explains: “HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. (This helps explain why we may often act impulsively and unwisely when we’re under stress.) The heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress.”
This is, again, new research. Further studies are required to understand the intricacies of this relationship.
In this example, you can see that your heart’s response to a stress stimulus shuts down your brain. Your heart inhibits your ability to focus, recall information or make new memories. If you’re under a lot of stress, this may be happening on a daily basis. It’s a major indicator of how key the heart/brain connection is to our daily lives.
HOW to protect your heart, to protect your brain
There are many measures you can take to ensure better heart health.
One specific approach encouraged for participants in some of the studies mentioned is outlined by CognitiveTherapeutics.com. This is a 7 step program that promotes a healthy overall lifestyle. They recommend:
Managing Weight Level
Engaging in Physical Activity
Eating a Healthy Diet
Monitoring Blood Pressure Levels
Controlling Cholesterol Levels
Reducing Glucose Levels”
Other sources recommend more specific dietary choices, like reducing meat and dairy consumption and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
When choosing foods for your heart, go for berries, dark-colored vegetables and nuts. These are great sources of antioxidants and other heart-healthy nutrients. Also, consider eating more fish, because it’s high in the omega–3 fatty acids that your heart and brain need.
Other healthy sources of fat to consider supplementing with are seed oils like sunflower or flax.
A lot of the foods that support your heart are also great for your brain and for preventing memory loss, which I’m sure will no longer surprise you. To learn more about these foods, check out my recent post on the subject.
What kinds of additional studies are needed?
More studies need to be done to look at heart health and cognitive function in a wider range of age groups, as well as across racial and socio-economic lines. In addition, longer-term studies involving larger numbers of participants are needed.
What we know for sure
A healthy heart is vital for a long and healthy life. Now we know that you can help to make sure that your mind keeps pace with your body by treating your heart well, too.
Focus on maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Make healthy food choices, stay hydrated and stay active. Also, avoid toxins, like cigarette smoke and other synthetic chemicals.
Other heart-healthy activities are also recommended. Keep your stress levels low by getting plenty of rest — even practice meditation. Surround yourself with love and support by fostering healthy relationships with friends and family. Even having a pet has been shown to benefit heart health.
If you can manage all that, you’ll be on a steady path for preventing illness and encouraging longevity, as well as intellectual and emotional quality of life throughout your later years.
If you need help, call us for a Personalized Health Care Plan that fits your body, your lifestyle and you health.
Health and Wellness Associates
Diverticulitis Prevention: Can You Avoid This Illness?
The best strategy to prevent diverticulitis is to consume a diet with high amounts of fiber. Adequate amounts of fiber in your stool can help prevent constipation, allowing waste to move easily and preventing you from putting pressure on the colon during bowel movements.
Dietary fiber also fuels beneficial bacteria to produce compounds that help regulate your immune function.There are two kinds of fiber in foods, namely soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that makes stools softer and larger, so they can be passed easily through the intestine.
Meanwhile, insoluble fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to stool, which helps move waste through the digestive system. You can get both soluble and insoluble fiber from plant-based foods. To ensure that you’re getting equal amounts of both, you should add a wide variety of fiber-rich foods in your meals.
For example you can take organic psyllium. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and not only promotes healthy digestion, but also heart health, weight control, blood sugar support, and more.
Just three servings of psyllium per day can give you as much as 18 grams of dietary fiber, bringing you closer to the recommended minimum of 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed.
Have a health professional go over your vitamins and supplement intake first before you add anything to it. Taking psyllium along with other supplements can cause you must distress.
Physicians have previously recommended diverticulitis patients to avoid eating nuts, seeds, and popcorn, as they believe these can get lodged in the pouches and cause or worsen the infection.
However, modern research1 found that there’s no evidence linking these foods with diverticular disease, and therefore may be safe to eat.2 Other ways to help prevent diverticulitis – or diverticular disease in general – include:3
- Avoid overconsumption of red meat.
- Avoid foods loaded with unhealthy fats, as they may lead to intestinal blockage and worsen diverticulitis symptoms.
- Get enough regular exercise.
- Drink plenty of liquids, ideally pure clear water. This is especially important if you are consuming a high-fiber diet. Without enough fluids, the fiber will only add bulk to the stool and will not soften it, which may lead to constipation.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of complications from diverticulitis.
- Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as they have been linked to diverticular bleeding.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Some people think that drinking coffee can help their stools to pass, but this is actually a wrong approach. Caffeine is a diuretic that can lead you to lose water in your body, causing stools to harden. Excessive caffeine may also cause your colon muscles to contract, preventing stool from passing through smoothly.4
- Do not delay your bowel movements. This can harden stools and increase the strain on your colon muscles, which can then lead to diverticular disease. You should be having three bowel movements per day to keep a healthy colon.
Diverticulitis Diet: Foods to Eat and What to Avoid
If you have a mild case of diverticulitis, your physician will likely prescribe a specific diet as part of your treatment plan. While it may not completely treat the illness, it can give your digestive system a chance to “rest,” so that it can recover from the infection.
Most physicians will recommend that you consume a high-fiber diet. Fiber softens your stools, allowing them to pass through your intestines and colon more quickly and easily. Some of the best fiber-rich foods include:1, 2
- Vegetables (artichokes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, and broccoli) and vegetable juices
- Fruits, including raspberries, blackberries, pears, apples, and avocados
- Legumes, such as navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and split peas
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur
But in severe diverticulitis cases, switching to a high-fiber diet too soon may not be effective, and may only worsen the symptoms. Instead, your physician will likely recommend a clear liquid diet first.3
Liquids You Can Take for Diverticulitis
Start by eating homemade bone broth, made from lamb, beef, chicken, or fish, and with some cooked vegetables and meat. This will help heal leaky gut syndrome, boost your immune system, and heal the digestive tract.4
Bone broth provides you with easily digestible nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. The gelatinous collagen in bone broth also has amazing curative properties. It is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, hence supporting proper digestion.
Aside from pure and clear water, Ginger tea is another soothing drink that you should add to your diet. Sip on warm ginger tea two to three times daily, as it will help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. This healing food works wonders on your immune and digestive systems.
Other Recommended Foods for Diverticulitis
Once your diverticulitis symptoms have lessened, you can move on to consuming easily digestible foods, ideally grated, steamed, and pureed fruits and vegetables. Avoid those that have tough skins and small seeds that may accumulate in the diverticula sacs. Some of the best choices are carrots, beets, grapes, apples, lettuce, and watercress. You can juice them, but leave out the fibrous areas until your body has adjusted to them.
When you feel better, you can start to add fiber-rich foods, including raw fruits and vegetables and unrefined grains, such as fermented grains, black rice, quinoa, and sprouted lentils, to your diet.
Remember that digestion starts in the mouth, so make it a habit to chew each bite of your food thoroughly, or until it is nearly liquefied. The more you break down the food before it goes to your stomach, the more readily absorbed the nutrients become.5
Food plays a great role in how you manage diverticulitis, so remember to discuss your diet needs and restrictions with your physician. Write down your questions, and make sure that you clarify which foods are safe and which ones are not. You can also ask for a referral to a nutrition specialist who can help you come up with a well-balanced meal plan to alleviate your condition.6
IF you have any questions or concerns about prevention of this disease or any disease please call us.
Health and Wellness Associates
The Best Way to Keep Healthy This Winter
Keep Healthy all Winter Long!
Adults bring their fingers to their faces about 16 times per hour, says Chuck Gerba PhD and professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. His studies have found that as many as 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. That makes hand-washing incredibly important, especially during sick season. In fact, according to Gerba, “Hand washing is the most effective way to reduce your risk of colds and diarrhea, usually by 90 to 50 percent.”
But researchers have been debating the best hand washing techniques for years. Are sanitizers a good idea? Should you dry with a paper towel or a hand dryer. Here are the study-proven techniques and approaches that will guarantee peak protection all winter long.
Soap or Sanitizer?
Bottles of hand sanitizers are everywhere these days, but soap and water may be your best bet when it comes to fighting viruses. In a recent study conducted in a health-care setting, hand sanitizers were linked to a greater risk of noroviruses, a highly infectious virus that causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. In the study, 53 percent of facilities using sanitizers had confirmed outbreaks while only 18 percent of those using soap and water did. The reason? Noroviruses are somewhat more resistant to drying, which is how hand sanitizers work. Hand sanitizers don’t remove dirt as well as soap does. Dirt is Germs!
To send germs packing, run your hands under warm water and scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds, then dry thoroughly.
Rings on – or – off?
Many women tend to take off their rings before washing their hands, thinking they will get their skin cleaner that way. But this strategy can backfire, particularly if the ring is places on a counter in a public bathroom.
Hard surfaces, especially stainless steel, can transmit microbes that cause illnesses. Putting your ring back onto a clean finger can deposit the bugs back onto your skin. Dr. Robart says “I recommend leaving the rings on and moving them slightly to get underneath them when washing.”
It is important to scrub diamond rings especially well, a recent study in the International Journal of Oral Science found that stone settings harbored more germs than simple metal bands.
Paper towels -or- air dry?
If you have a choice between drying with hot air or paper towel, go for the towel. The physical act of drying your hands with a paper towel removes a significant number of germs that remain after washing.
Public bathroom providers prefer air dryers because there is less mess. But as a user, towels are better. Also, I would recommend that you use a towel to open the bathroom door especially on the way out, protecting you from the last few users who did not wash properly.
If a public bathroom offers only air dryers, rub your hands under the dryer vigorously until they feel completely dry, then use a few pieces of toilet paper or Kleenex to grab the door on the way out with.
I wrote about this before, do you remember if children should use hand sanitizers or not?
Health and Wellness Associates