News And Educational Articles

Allergies

There are four different types of allergic, or hypersensitivity, reactions and most common type is called a Type I response.  In this type of reaction, when a person is first exposed to an allergen, several cells of the immune system start a cascade of reactions.  The Th2 type of T helper cells (or lymphocytes) present the allergen to B cells, which then produce IgE antibodies.  These IgE antibodies attach strongly to receptors on basophils and mast cells, two other types of immune cells, sensitizing them to future exposures.

When the person contacts the allergen again, the interaction between the allergen and the IgE antibodies on the mast cells and basophils stimulates these cells to release chemicals that intensify the inflammatory response causing allergy symptoms.  Eosinophils, another type of white blood cell, are stimulated later in the process and release chemicals that further activate mast cells; this can increase and continue the inflammatory response even without additional exposures to the allergen.

Treatments

There are many treatment options for allergies that stabilize the mast cells and basophils so they can’t release the inflammatory chemicals, including vitamin C and Quercetin.  I feel the more important treatment goal is to shift the immune system balance away from the Th2 helper cells to the Th1 helper cells.  This will reduce the initial step in the allergic response and improve other aspects of health.  The Th1 helper cells are better able to fight bacteria and viruses and detect and destroy cancer cells; the Th2 helper cells are also implicated in many other diseases besides allergies, including asthma and some types of auto-immune diseases.  However, Th2 helper cells, basophils, and eosinophils aren’t all bad; antibodies are one way the body fights infections and eosinophils are important in killing parasites.

The body produces many different chemicals to signal which type of immunity (Th1 or Th2) should be stimulated, and these chemicals can be influenced by many dietary and lifestyle factors.  The three most common factors that significantly increase Th2 are:

  • faulty digestion, leading to absorption of partially digested and unusable proteins, which increases the antibody immune response;
  • white sugar, which directly weakens the functioning of immune cells, and weakens resistance to all infections; and
  • trans-fatty and omega-6 acids, found in most heated and processed vegetable oils (e.g., soybean, safflower, corn, sunflower, and canola oil) and foods.  The trans-fatty acids weaken killer-T cell activity.  Vegetable oils are acceptable IF they are cold or expeller pressed oils, and stored in the dark.

Other factors to avoid include chronic infections, Candida (yeast), Streptococcus thermophilus (commonly found in yogurt), asbestos, heavy metals, pesticides, tobacco, alcohol, steroids, stress, negative emotions, sedentary lifestyle, lack of water, low body temperature, chronic insomnia, and weight lifting to excess.

There are also many factors that increase the Th1 immunity, including:

Probiotics change the Th2-Th1 balance of the immune system to re-establish the normal immune tolerance, in other words, the immune system knows what to respond to (i.e., bacterial infection) and what not to respond to (i.e., food).  This is the same mechanism as allergy shots.  It will take a longer time to re-establish this immune tolerance if it wasn’t initially created as a child, and symptom reduction can take up to 3 months.

Continued use of a probiotic is necessary because the entire surface of the upper intestines replaces itself every 72 hours and the colon replaces itself every 12 days.  These new surfaces need to be recolonized because the bacteria are lost with the cell shedding; there will be a loss of colonization over time if there is no replenishing.  There are different forms of probiotics and the most important factors are that the organisms are alive and are in the correct balance and amounts of the Bifidus and Lactobacillus bacteria.  For example, much higher levels are needed after antibiotics because Lactobacillus and Bifidus are highly sensitive to broad-spectrum antibiotics.  Antibiotics can eliminate 90% of these beneficial flora, allowing pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and yeast to increase.  Many probiotics also contain fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which is a soluble fiber.  FOS can cause gas for some patients, which is an indicator of a bacterial imbalance in the intestines because pathogenic bacteria produce gas when they encounter FOS.  Gas will decrease as the balance changes back to the beneficial bacterial types because Lactobacillus and Bifidus produce acid in the presence of FOS, not gas.

For babies, breast feeding decreases incidence of allergies by establishing the correct balance of Bifidus and Lactobacillus bacteria.  In breast fed babies, Bifidus accounts for 95% intestinal bacteria by 7 days and 97% by 19 weeks; formula-fed babies have only 22% by 7 days and only 77% at 19 weeks.  Without probiotic supplementation, formula-fed babies never reach the levels of Bifidus seen in breast-fed babies.  Supplementation of probiotic in babies should focus on higher levels of Bifidus than Lactobacillus and can start at birth to support healthy levels from breast-feeding and supplement formula feeding.

Omega-3 Fatty acids are found in all cold water fish, especially salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, and trout, with lesser amounts in dark-green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables and algae.

Oleic acids are best found in cold or expeller pressed extra virgin olive oil.  Secondary choices include hazelnut or filbert oil (or the whole nuts), green and ripe olives, and almonds.  Coconut oil can be used alternately with the other beneficial oils, especially for cooking.

Green foods, including spirulina and chlorella, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed for detoxification and optimum nutrition.

Digestive enzymes break up proteins into usable amino acids and levels can be increased with supplemental enzymes and/or pancreatic support.  Apple cider vinegar stimulates hydrochloric acid, which is required to digest protein and activate enzymes. Eating slowly to allow natural salivary enzymes to work and eating only when hungry will also support good digestion. B vitamins are also required to support hydrochloric acid production and magnesium is required by the pancreas to produce enzymes to digest proteins.  Both B vitamins and magnesium are also necessary for proper adrenal functioning.  L-glutamine is an amino acid that serves as the major fuel for the cells of the intestines and is necessary for intestinal immunity.  Chronic infections can also shift immunity toward Th2 and create an additional burden for the immune system, so investigating and treating chronic infections, especially in the digestive tract, is another key step.

DHEA is one of the adrenal hormones and the precursor to estrogen and testosterone.  DHEA  stimulates the Th1 immune chemicals, which indicates that an adrenal imbalance (exhaustion or overstimulation) may actually cause an immune imbalance.  Therefore, knowing your adrenal status and using appropriate adrenal support, including DHEA if you are deficient, is an essential part of balancing the immune system.  Many of the most common adrenal support treatments, such as licorice and ginseng, also have their own beneficial effects on immunity.

Glutathione acts as an antioxidant and is essential for balancing the Th1 and Th2 immune states.

Sunlight, water, touch, positive attitude, and acupuncture also have a positive effect on immunity.

 

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Simple Home Treatments to Help Depression

DIET:

  • Eat nutrient-rich foods that will provide you energy and the building blocks to make the hormones and neurotransmitters you need.  Processed foods are empty calories that create inflammation and increase toxicity.
  • Drink enough water, which means half of your body weight in ounces of WATER (E.g. a 100 pound person would drink 50 ounces of water).

DIGESTION:

  • Create a “meal time”.
  • Slow down when you eat and chew each bite 31 times before you swallow so you can taste and savor your food.
  • Sit at the table, turn off the TV and listen to music.
  • Create a calm environment that allows your body to receive the nourishment and take it in.

HYDROTHERAPY:

  • Alternate hot and cold water in your shower.  Do 3 minutes of hot water and 30 seconds to 1 minute of cool to cold water (but not so cold that you’re freezing).  You can alternate this as many times as you want during your shower.  Just make sure to always end on cold.  This is an easy hydrotherapy treatment that helps with elimination and gets your energy moving!

BREATH:

  • Pay attention to your breathing.  Put your hand on your lower abdomen. Does your hand rise when you inhale? Are you expanding your abdomen slowly as you inhale and allowing air out as you exhale? Is your breathing slow and rhythmic?
  • Check in with your breath when you feel particularly tired, stuck, or disconnected from yourself or others.  Take a few slow, deep breaths.

MOVEMENT:

  • In Chinese medicine, depression is often caused by stagnation, so get yourself moving when you’re feeling down.  Take a brisk walk outside, put on some favorite music and dance around the living room, do some yoga, T’ai Chi, or Qi Gong, or even just shake your body wherever you are.

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL:

  • Your thinking is a very powerful tool.  Use it to create affirmations that are meaningful for you.  Write them down and post them around your house, car, or office- anywhere you will see them.  For example: “I am lovable, loving, and loved.” “I feel calm and centered within myself.”
  • Find ways to connect in your community.  Make a list of things you enjoy or are good at, and volunteer.  You’ll help others with your unique skills and gifts while you are spending time with others doing something that is meaningful to you.
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Ten Tips for Staying Healthy Through Cold and Flu Season

  1. Get regular sleep. The body repairs and renews itself during sleep and the immune system has a chance to do its best work during rest.  Extra sleep at the beginning on a cold or flu can be key in shortening its severity and/or duration. Warming socks (see reverse page) are a great way to boost immunity and get extra sleep!
  2. Reduce stress.  Cortisol, the hormone released under stress, has many effects, including dampening the immune system’s response.  This effect is why people tend to get sick after a stressful event or with an increase in stress.  Use whatever methods work for you, including exercise, meditation, friends, art, and try new things.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise comes in many different forms and you need to use one that works for you.  Exercise can relieve stress and improve circulation and mood.   (Don’t push yourself in outdoor activities if the weather is particularly bad.)
  4. Reduce exposure to air pollution.  This may mean quitting smoking or avoiding smoke.  Cigarette smoke is particularly hard on the lungs and the chemicals in smoke impair immunity and are another burden for the body to detoxify. You may also want to check your house for mold and other indoor air pollutants, or try washing out your nose and sinuses with a Neti pot to reduce buildup of irritants and allergens.
  5. Breathe into your abdomen with your diaphragm.  Deep, rhythmic breathing puts your nervous system into a restful state, which will reduce stress, improve immunity, and provide greater mental clarity.
  6. Limit dairy, wheat, junk foods, and sugar.  These foods in particular cause mucus production and depress immunity.  A whole foods diet is your best bet, especially with warm, cooked foods as the weather gets colder.
  7. Take a high quality probiotic.  Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the intestines that provide one of your first lines of defense and a huge portion of immunity.  Make sure the product has lots of live bacteria.
  8. Maintain proper elimination.  Proper elimination will reduce the toxin buildup, and is supported by drinking enough water every day and eating whole foods rich in fiber.  Proper elimination also includes letting go of mental stressors, old emotions, and the household clutter.
  9. Do daily shower hydrotherapy.  End your shower with a cool spray starting with your extremities and ending with your torso.  This will invigorate you and boost your circulation.
  10. Resolve old grief and let go of old attachments.  Grief is the emotion associated with the lung, and unresolved or unexpressed sadness can block the lungs energetically, which can lead to less than optimal physical functioning.  Grief also depresses immunity physically through connections among emotions, the nervous system, and the immune system.
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Changing Your Response To Stress

People often feel stressed by situations or events over which they feel they have no control, and many times, people do not have control over external circumstances.  However, they can develop control over their emotional responses, thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors, which are usually the determining factors in whether a person experiences a situation as stressful or not.  If a person believes a situation is stressful or an event brings up emotions of fear or anxiety, this person’s stress level will increase.  Because the experience of stress is related to a person’s perception, identifying and changing a person’s responses to stressful situations, rather than focusing on all of the external circumstances that can’t be controlled or changed, can reduce their level of stress.

In The Courage to Heal, authors Ellen Bass and Laura Davis describe the process of changing old behavior patterns and emotional responses in seven steps:

  1. Become aware of the behavior you want to change.  It is much easier to make change when you know exactly what it is you want to change.  Being specific allows you to focus and take action to address those particular issues.  Everyone wants to reduce the stress in their lives but the actions people need to take to achieve that goal can be very different depending on the sources or stress and the ways people handle and respond to those stressors.
  2. Examine the reasons you developed that behavior to begin with.  By understanding why you started a behavior pattern or the source of an emotional response, you may be able to recognize the need that behavior or response was filling.  By recognizing this need, you can then find healthier ways of meeting that need.  When your needs are met in healthy ways, you will probably not perceive as many situations as stressful because you will have better resources to be able to cope with your stress.
  3. Have compassion for what you’ve done in the past.  Even if you didn’t make the wisest, healthiest choices in the past, you made the best choices you could for those circumstances, which have most likely led to the responses to stress you have now.  Recognize that you can make better choices for yourself and learn how to respond to previously stressful situations in healthier ways.  Everyone continues to learn and learning healthier behaviors now doesn’t mean that previous patterns were wrong or bad-they just don’t serving you any more.
  4. Find new ways to meet your needs.  By meeting your needs in the healthiest ways for you, you will have greater resources to reduce your stress and will probably not perceive previously stressful events in the same way.  Meeting your need in healthy ways will also help you to make the best choices for yourself to maintain your health when there are stressful times.
  5. Get support. The environment in which you live and work will affect your ability to make as well as maintain your changes.  You are trying to learn new ways of being that will lead you to less stressful responses when difficulties arise.  Learning these new patterns can be difficult and the process will be easier and more enjoyable, and the changes will be more likely to last if you have support along the way.
  6. Make several tries. Changing oneself doesn’t happen overnight, and the everyday, small steps will take you to your goal, even though it may not seem like you are making much progress.  Remember that you are learning about yourself and making changes from within, which takes time.
  7. Be persistent. When you are learning new behaviors, you may fall back into old patterns the first time you are challenged with a stressful event.  The important thing to keep in mind is that you are trying.  Just like no child learns to ride a bike after one lesson, you will probably not respond using your new patterns perfectly the first time you try to use them.  In these situations, remind yourself of all the other new things you’ve learned in your life, which took time to learn, and which you also finally mastered.  Just as with those things, you can learn how you respond to stress and make healthier choices.  Keep in mind that at some point, these new patterns will come naturally and reward yourself every time you handle your stress a little better.

Ellen Bass and Laura. Davis. The Courage to Heal. Harper & Row Publishers:New York, 1988.

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Warming Socks

Warming socks are best done right before getting into bed.  They work by promoting circulation of blood and lymph through the body and reflexively open and relax the upper part of the body.  They are very good for boosting immunity at the beginning of or during a cold, relieving headaches, opening clogged sinuses, and creating overall relaxation in the body.

  1. Put a pair of thin cotton socks in some cold water in the sink.
  2. While your socks are soaking, soak your feet for 3 minutes in a hot foot bath, or get them warm in a hot shower.  If your cotton socks will come above your ankles, get your feet and lower legs warm.
  3. Dry your feet well.
  4. Wring out the socks very well.  You want them cold, not wet.
  5. Put the thin cotton socks on over your warm, dry feet.
  6. Put a pair of heavy socks (wool works well) on over the cotton socks.
  7. Get into bed.
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Ten Tips for Beating Stress with Your Children

Children experience stress just as adults do, and sometimes have a harder time dealing with it because they may not understand the situation as well or have well-developed coping skills.  They may act out or develop physical symptoms, such as upset stomachs, unexplained pains, or poor sleep.  Naturopathic medicine has many tools for helping children cope with and understand stress, and helping your children deal with stress early on will be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

1. Get regular sleep. Being well rested will make it easier for children to think clearly and feel less overwhelmed.  If sleep gets disrupted by stress, try a hot bath, relaxing music, calming herbal tea, or warming socks (see reverse page) before bed.

2. Exercise regularly. Exercise comes in many different forms and children can benefit from both relaxing forms, like yoga, as well as aerobic forms, that help them to get out frustration.  Try both and see which type or combination suits your child best.

3. Breathe into your abdomen with your diaphragm.  Deep, rhythmic breathing puts the nervous system into a restful state, which will reduce stress, improve immunity, and provide greater mental clarity.  This type of breathing is especially effective when combined with meditation.  Teaching your child to breathe deeply while upset will help to calm him/her down faster and communicate to you what he/she is feeling.

4. Healing touch.  We all like massage and children are no exception.  Touch is very healing- it creates relaxation, supports immunity, detoxifies, and reconnects us to our bodies. Healing touch can immediately reduce stress to break the stress-response cycle where feeling stressed out generates more stress.  A back rub before bed can also help sleep.

5. Limit dairy, junk foods, and sugar.  Stress is hard on the body, and these foods don’t provide a growing body with the nutrition it needs.  Sugar may give an energy burst at first, but causes energy crashes later.  A whole foods diet is your best bet, especially with warm, cooked foods as the weather gets colder. Make sure your children eat breakfast and have snacks and enough protein during the day!

6. Drink enough water.  The body and brain are made up primarily of water and when you are feeling “fried” from stress, there’s a good chance, you’re dehydrated.  Dehydration can also cause fatigue, so give your children water before a sugary snack.  A good rule of thumb is to drink the number of ounces of water equal to one half your body weight, as measured in pounds (e.g., a 50 pound child needs 25 ounces of water every day).

7. Take extra B vitamins.  B vitamins are essential to many enzyme reactions and systems.  Stress depletes B vitamins and being deficient in B vitamins will make it even harder for you to handle stress.  Food sources of B vitamins include seeds, legumes, meat, eggs, many dark green vegetables, yeast, and many whole grains.  A B-complex is the best supplement to ensure the correct balance among all the individual B vitamins.

8. Talk to your children.  Often misbehaving is a way of getting attention or trying to express an unresolved emotion.  Giving your children time to express themselves and tell you what they are feeling will help to forge a strong family bond, let your children know you are there for them, and help them deal better with stress.

9. Give your children creative outlets.  Sometimes children are better at expressing themselves through pictures rather than words.  Find out what creative activities your children enjoy and set aside time for them to create and to talk about their projects.

10. Have down time through the day.  It is easy to go through a whole day without taking a break, but this will only increase stress.  It is very easy to over schedule the day, especially with busy families.  Make sure your children have some quiet time to read or play to help them relax and unwind.

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Ten Tips for Beating Stress

1. Get regular sleep. Being well rested will make it easier for you to think clearly and feel less overwhelmed.  If sleep gets disrupted by stress, try a hot bath, relaxing music, calming herbal tea, or warming socks* before bed.

2. Exercise regularly. Exercise comes in many different forms and not all forms are stress-relieving for everyone.  You need to use one that works for you, whether it is aerobic, meditative, or a combination.

3. Breathe into your abdomen with your diaphragm.  Deep, rhythmic breathing puts your nervous system into a restful state, which will reduce stress, improve immunity, and provide greater mental clarity.  This type of breathing is especially effective when combined with meditation.

4. Get massage or acupuncture.  Touch is very healing- it creates relaxation, supports immunity, detoxifies, and reconnects us to our bodies. Massage or acupuncture can immediately reduce stress to break the stress-response cycle where feeling stressed out generates more stress.  Acupuncture is also very effective for restoring sleep.

5. Limit dairy, junk foods, and sugar.  Stress is hard on the body, and these foods don’t provide your body with the nutrition it needs.  Sugar may give you an energy burst at first, but causes energy crashes later.  A whole foods diet is your best bet, especially with warm, cooked foods as the weather gets colder. Make sure to eat breakfast!

6. Drink enough water.  Your body and brain are made up primarily of water and when you are feeling “fried” from stress, there’s a good chance, you’re dehydrated.  Dehydration can also cause fatigue, so before you reach for a cup of coffee, have a glass of water, and then see if you still want the coffee.

7. Take extra B vitamins.  B vitamins are essential to many enzyme reactions and systems.  Stress depletes B vitamins and being deficient in B vitamins will make it even harder for you to handle stress.  Food sources of B vitamins include seeds, legumes, meat, eggs, many dark green vegetables, yeast, and many whole grains.  A B-complex is the best supplement to ensure the correct balance among all the individual B vitamins.

8. Do daily shower hydrotherapy.  End your shower with a cool spray starting with your extremities and ending with your torso.  This will invigorate you and boost your circulation.

9. Give yourself creative outlets.  This doesn’t have to mean painting the next Mona Lisa- it should be something you enjoy and for however much time you can give.  Stress tends to tighten things up, so try more free-form styles (try fingerpaints or crayons on big pieces of paper), and just let yourself express without worrying about the finished product. Also try keeping a journal by your bed and write at the end of the day to let go of thoughts that might keep you awake.  Try starting your day with journaling to release fears or concerns you have for the day- you may find yourself coming up with creative solutions through free-writing.

10. Take breaks through the day.  It is easy to go for hours without taking a break, but this will only increase the stress of your day.  Set timers to remind you to take a break- even if it is only for a few minutes to get up and stretch or walk around.  Sometimes we need reminders that the world will not end if we take a 5 minute break.  You’ll be able to come back feeling more refreshed, especially if you can get outside.

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Antibiotics

Antibiotics are truly one of the double-edged swords in medicine.  While they have saved many lives from bacterial infections, antibiotics have also been implicated in the development of bacterial mutations to create drug-resistant species.  In 2003, approximatlely 20 percent of invasice Streptococcus pneumoniae were resistant to penicillin, and most of these strains also showed resistance to other antibiotics; 42 percent of them are also resistant to erythromycin.  These resistant species are associated with more invasive and untreatable infections, especially as we use more broad-spectrum antibiotics.  Broad-spectrum antibiotics also kill the good bacteria normally found in the intestine, which can lead to overgrowth of yeast and other pathogenic bacteria, further weakening natural immunity.

There are also many conditions where antibiotics are traditionally given but don’t change the course of disease.  For example, an acute ear infection needs to be differentiated from simply having fluid behind the ear drum.  Fluid may occur as part of a viral infection or before or after an ear infection, but by itself, does not warrant or respond to antibiotics.  Antibiotics are also not effective in cases of simple acute bronchitis.  Obviously using antibiotics needs to evaluated differently in high-risk patients, such as infants, the elderly, or patients with other significant diseases or physical or laboratory findings.

While physicians need be more aware of using antibiotics judiciously, patients can also help prevent increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics.  Many of us have been conditioned to only feel like we’ve gotten “treatment” if we leave the doctor’s office with a medicine or prescription.  However, if you are dealing with a viral, and not bacterial, infection, there are no prescription drugs your doctor can give you to actually kill the virus in most cases.  While none of us like to have a cold, most viral respiratory infections only last 10 to 14 days, and there are many non-antibiotic treatment options for symptom relief.  Also discuss additional testing or examination to differentiate viral from bacterial infections.  For example, most sore throats are caused by viruses and Strep throat can be easily identified by a throat swab and culture.  While a simple bronchitis does not respond well to antibiotics, a prescription may be warranted if testing indicates that the cough is actually due to pneumonia.

Do not take antibiotics for viral infections– they don’t work unless you have also developed a bacterial infection.  This is typically rare in the general population, and the antibiotics will kill the bacteria but not the virus.

Specific antibiotics to which a particular bacteria is actually susceptible can also be identified.  While this testing may delay treatment for a day, it means that you will be given the antibiotic that will actually work on the infection you have, rather than possibly trying multiple rounds of prescriptions before the effective one is identified.  If you are given a course of antibiotics, you need to finish the prescription, even if you are already starting to feel better.  If you only take part of the prescription, you may have killed off the weaker bacteria, but the stronger ones will continue to survive and reproduce.

To avoid needing antibiotics, general good health is obviously key.   There are also many things you can do at the onset of an infection or for symptom relief, including additional probiotic, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and extra rest.

 

 

© Kimberly Hindman, 2006

 

 

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Heart Disease

Both men and women can be at risk for cardiovascular disease, which is becoming a major cause of death and debility in our country.  While it is the number one killer of women every year, men have a greater risk of heart attack than women and tend to have attacks earlier in life.  There are several risk factors that you can control to improve your heart health.  Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in theUS, and is a major cause of both heart disease and stroke.  This risk applies to people exposed to second-hand smoke, and increases dramatically in women who smoke and use birth control pills.

High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.  According to the American Heart Association, normal blood pressure is 120/80 and truly high blood pressure is at or above 140/90.   Values in between may be considered “prehypertension”, but need to be evaluated on an individual basis.

Several other risk factors tend to cluster together.  People with a sedentary lifestyle tend to also be overweight and develop high cholesterol and/or diabetes.  While weight management is a huge part of heart health, fad diets that offer dramatic weight loss in a short period of time are actually more stressful on the heart than weight loss that is slower, consistent, and based on sustainable and healthy life choices.  Excessive alcohol consumption can increase obesity, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and risk of cancer, heart failure, and stroke.

Cholesterol levels should also be maintained at heart healthy levels.  Total cholesterol should be less than 200, but be wary of dropping it too low.  Cholesterol is essential to the structure of cell membranes, and very low levels can also cause health problems.  A high HDL is heart protective, and a low HDL is a greater risk factor for women than men.  The higher the HDL is, the more protection it provides, and values should be above 55.  High LDL can increase risk, even if the total cholesterol level is less than 200.  LDL should be less than 100, as should triglycerides.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for women; women with diabetes have two to six times the risk for heart disease than women without diabetes, and the risk of stroke also significantly increases.

Stress also has a big impact on heart disease.  The impact may be related to the changes in hormone levels and blood pressure under stress, but there may be a separate emotional aspect; people under stress rarely feel the joy that is the natural emotion of a healthy heart.

Another factor that is receiving more attention is the role that mercury toxicity plays in increasing heart disease risk.

So how can you improve your heart health?  The answers lie in many of the basic treatment guidelines: stop smoking; move every day; eat a balanced diet with lots of healthy fats and essential fatty acids; use apple cider vinegar to reduce LDL and triglycerides; and use probiotics and castor oil packs to improve liver function and cholesterol processing and production.  It is also important to find the cause of high blood pressure and to manage or reduce stress as much as possible.  Find sources of joy in everyday life.  Treatment for mercury, especially if there are other symptoms of mercury toxicity, can also eliminate an underlying risk factor.

 

© Kimberly Hindman, 2006

 

 

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Allergies and the T cell balance

Allergies occur when there is an antigen-antibody reaction.  Antigens can include foods (often proteins), dust, mold, animal dander, pollen, smoke, and petroleum or chemical fumes.  During the first exposure to an antigen, type 2 T helper cells (Th2) of the immune system stimulate B cells to produce IgE antibodies, which attach to mast cells, sensitizing them.  On subsequent exposures, the antigens attach to the sensitized mast cells, which release inflammatory chemicals, including histamine.

Because of this antibody stimulation, a constantly Th2 dominant immune state is considered to be a more allergic and reactive state.  Type 1 T helper cells (Th1), on the other hand, stimulate other immune cells, such as CD4 T cells, killer T cells, natural killer cells, and macrophages.  Being in a Th1 dominant immune state directs killer T-cells to attack microorganisms and abnormal cells at the sites of infection, kills specific fungi, viruses, and bacteria, stimulates natural killer cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes to kill cancer cells.  Th1 cells also inhibit the production of IgE antibodies, reducing allergies.

Treating allergies includes reducing the body’s overall toxic load, eliminating exposure to antigens, and promoting Th1 activity.  Several simple dietary factors can strongly influence the immune system’s state and increase Th1 immunity.

 

Omega-3 Fatty acids improve cellular immunity, and lipid balance.  They are found in all cold water fish, especially salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut, and trout, with lesser amounts in dark-green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables and algae.

 

Oleic acids increase IgA antibody (the first defense antibody found on mucus membranes), and are found in cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, hazelnut or filbert oil (or the whole nuts), green and ripe olives, and almonds.

 

Vitamin A also increases IgA and is found in cod liver oil, cooked carrots, squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes/yams (any yellow/orange vegetable).

 

Vitamin E induces natural killer cell function and acts as an antioxidant.

 

Garlic activates natural killer cells and T-cell function.

 

Silica reduces excess IgG antibody, which improves natural killer cell function and improves the integrity of the skin and mucus membranes.  It is found in cooked oatmeal or millet, and the herb horsetail.

 

Glutathione acts as an antioxidant and removes toxins from inside cells.  It is increased by alpha lipoic acid, selenium, and the amino acids N-acetyl cysteine, L-cysteine, and L-glutamine.  Good quality sources of protein can supply many of these amino acids through the diet.

 

Most of immune system receptor sites are actually in our intestines so digestion really matters when it comes to immunity!  Digestive enzymes, naturally found in fresh ginger root, raw pineapple, and kiwi fruit, break up proteins into usable amino acids.  Apple cider vinegar stimulates hydrochloric acid, which is required to digest protein and activate enzymes.

 

A healthy balance of intestinal flora decreases IgE antibody production and all Th2 factors, and increases the anti-tumor activity in macrophages. However, one species of intestinal flora, streptococcus thermophilus, promotes Th2, and is widely used in the making of commercial yogurt.

 

Sunlight, water, exercise, touch, positive attitude, and acupuncture also increase Th1.

 

The three most common factors that increase Th2 are faulty digestion, leading to absorption of partially digested and unusable proteins, which increases the antibody immune response;  white sugar, which directly weakens the functioning of macrophages and natural killer cells, and weakens systemic resistance to all infections; and trans-fatty and omega-6 acids, found in most heated and processed vegetable oils, and foods.  The trans-fatty acids weaken killer-T cell activity.

 

Other factors that increase Th2, and therefore, allergies, include heavy metals, pesticides, tobacco, alcohol, steroids, stress, negative emotions, sedentary lifestyle, lack of water,  and chronic insomnia.

 

 

© Kimberly Hindman, 2006

 

 

 

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