Time to Get Ready for Spring Allergy Season

Spring_allergiesJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN
 

Spring is definitely in the air! Those of us who were bogged down by snow and bitter cold this winter are happily looking forward to sighting the first brave little flowers popping up through the still icy ground. Seasonal allergy sufferers, however, are not looking forward to the release of billions of tiny spring pollens that can bring on sneezing, coughing, congestion, sniffles, itchiness, breathing problems and other disagreeable symptoms. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen season can begin as early as February and last through October depending on what’s blooming where you reside. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, which affects 40 to 60 million Americans, occurs when the immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment, such as airborne mold spores and pollens from trees (spring), grasses (summer) and weeds (fall).  

Allergic reactions are annoying, but otherwise normal, immune responses to substances that are usually not harmful, including pollen, mold, pet dander and dust mites. In sensitive individuals, the immune system views allergens as invaders and responds by unleashing antibodies, histamines and other compounds, which leads to localized inflammation, irritation and discomfort. Although generally a temporary condition, allergy symptoms can be very unpleasant and can disrupt sleep and daily activities.

Allergic triggers differ for each person and once you know that you have spring allergies, it pays to be proactive. OTC therapies such as antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops, or nasal sprays should be initiated at least 2 weeks before the likely onset of symptoms. These medications will treat allergy symptoms but will not address the root cause. Inflammation, once developed, reduces the chances that these treatments will do much to alleviate the discomfort. Swollen tissues can block nasal passages and limit drainage from the sinuses, which can often result in a sinus infection.

Unfortunately, spring 2015 is expected to be a particularly severe pollen season due to the extreme amount of snow and precipitation this past winter. All the more reason to be prepared even if you have not experienced allergies in the past, as allergies tend to be hereditary and can unexpectedly develop at any time or any age. While it is likely improbable that you can eliminate all seasonal allergy triggers, the following tips may help to reduce or partly eliminate them:

  • Try natural herbal remedies to relieve allergy induced symptoms. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, acts as an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory and aids in preventing histamine release. Capsaicin, found in chili peppers and cayenne, helps to reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. Swiss clinical trials found the plant extract butterbur was as effective as OTC antihistamines in easing airway inflammation. Bromelain, a plant enzyme, is sometimes used to curb inflammation after sinus surgery to reduce swelling and improve breathing. NAC aids in thinning mucus, allowing for improved clearing of respiratory airways. A few drops of eucalyptus oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, can be added to a bowl of steaming water to supercharge inhalation, aiding in opening sinus and nasal passages. Hot peppermint tea has both decongestant and expectorant properties.
  • Replenishing your intestinal system with healthy microbiota through probiotic-rich foods or a probiotic supplement will aid in strengthening the immune system, especially when antibiotics are prescribed for a sinus or respiratory infection. Avoiding sugar laden foods and refined carbohydrates, which feed harmful microbiota, will help to support the immune system and protect against inflammation.  
  • An overall healthy and well balanced diet may be helpful in controlling or eliminating symptoms. Research suggests that certain foods may help fight allergies by controlling underlying inflammation or dilating air passages. Following an anti-inflammatory diet reduces overall swelling and fluid accumulation in tissues, which can assist in healing, detoxification and reduction of allergic symptoms.
  • Irrigating daily with a saline nasal rinse to clean and clear nasal passages decreases sinus inflammation and rinses away pollen. This can be done at any time of year and is especially helpful before and during allergy season, as it aids in eliminating symptoms and helps to protect sinus membranes.
  • Addressing stress, hormone imbalance and food sensitivities can also help to alleviate allergic reactions. High levels of stress can lead to imbalanced cortisol levels, which may negatively affect immune system function.  
  • Consider acupuncture as a proactive measure to correct underlying imbalances that allow symptoms to develop. Acupuncture may also help to reduce symptoms that have already flared. Ongoing treatment throughout the season may be necessary to keep symptoms under control.
  • Yoga is a natural stress reducer. Stress promotes inflammation, which intensifies allergic responses. Yoga breathing techniques may also help to open stuffy or clogged nasal passages.

As much as possible, limit your pollen exposure. Keep windows and doors closed and, if feasible, stay indoors between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. when pollen counts are highest. Tracking pollen counts listed online or in your local newspaper can help you plan outdoor activities accordingly.   Dry, sunny days will have higher pollen counts than colder, rainy days. Pollen can settle on your hair or clothing so wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help. Be sure to change clothes and shower before bed after spending time outdoors. Pets can also bring pollens indoors, so bathe them frequently and try to keep them out of your bed to reduce further exposure. As much as we might not want to take the time to do it, spring cleaning your home can help remove pollen that can come in through open doors or windows or can be brought indoors on your shoes and clothes. Installing a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your vacuum or air conditioning unit also helps to remove microscopic irritants.

Popular supplements for season allergy support include:

Natural D-HistNatural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular – This popular formula provides optimal seasonal allergy support with a targeted blend of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, enzymes and botanicals, which actively promote healthy nasal and sinus passages for those with elevated histamine and respiratory irritation. Contains quercetin, stinging nettles, vitamin C, bromelain and NAC. Non-drowsy, gluten and soy free formula.   D-Hist Jr children’s formula also available.
 
 
HistaEze
 HistaEze™ by Designs for Health – This synergistic blend of nutrients provides natural support to help balance the immune response during allergy season. With vitamin C, quercetin and nettles, this formula also supplies a patented and clinically researched Ayurvedic herb known for its immunomodulating ability. Gluten, soy and dairy free, non-GMO vegetarian formula.
 
 
MucoStop™
MucoStop™ by Enzymedica – This blend of proteolytic enzymes assists with seasonal allergies by reducing the effects of histamine-induced inflammation, supporting normal mucus function and promoting natural antihistamine qualities. Gluten, soy and dairy free, non-GMO vegan formula.
 
 
 
MSM powderMSM Powder by Pure Encapsulations – This highly pure and effective anti-inflammatory acts as an immunomodulator, supporting respiratory function by eliminating free radicals, detoxifying cells and flushing out allergens. Gluten and soy free, non-GMO vegetarian formula.
 
 
References:
Seasonal Allergies. http://www.pdrhealth.com/diseases/seasonal-allergies
Allergic Rhinitis. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis
Beat Spring Allergies – Naturally. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/natural-remedies-spring-allergies
 

 

Featured Brand – Now Foods (30% OFF!)

NowSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

Family owned and operated since 1968, Now® Foods was founded on the philosophy that good health should be affordable and available to everyone. As a respected advocate of the natural foods industry, award-winning manufacturer Now® Foods is committed to developing and providing supplements and products of the highest quality to empower people to live healthier lives. Product development is based on published research and clinical trials and all products are manufactured under strict GMPs guidelines, assuring products meet or exceed expectations of efficacy in support of good health.

All raw materials are tested for purity, potency and identity and all products are formulated by a team of well qualified, experienced and dedicated scientists, nutritionists, chemists, microbiologists and discount_now_foodstechnicians. The staff’s combined expertise comprises many years of experience in the development and testing of safe and effective natural products using top quality ingredients. All products are guaranteed to be free of excipients, heavy metals, pesticides, hormones and additives. Now® is committed to providing dietary supplements formulated with non-GMO key ingredients and is actively pursuing non-GMO verification status on additional products.

Quercetin with BromelainQuercetin with Bromelain – Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid, supports healthy histamine levels and a healthy immune response. Bromelain, a pineapple enzyme, supports healthy immune system function. This powerful combination provides immunomodulating benefits that aid in the management of seasonal allergy discomfort. Gluten, soy and dairy free vegetarian formula.
 
Acacia Fiber Organic Powder
 
Acacia Fiber - This gentle, highly soluble fiber powder mixes instantly with any liquid in support of intestinal health. 100% USDA certified organic and no added ingredients. Soy, gluten and dairy free, vegan formula.
 
 
MSM Powder
MSM Powder – This natural form of organic sulfur aids in the formation and maintenance of body tissues, including connective tissue such as cartilage. Tested to contain a minimum of 99.7% purity. No additional ingredients. Gluten, soy and dairy free vegan formula.
 
 
 
 Flush-Free Niacin 250 mgFlush-Free Niacin 250 mg – Niacin, or vitamin B3, is essential for digestive and nervous system health and aids in the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels. This stable formulation of niacin and inositol is specifically designed to reduce the flushing often associated with niacin supplementation. Gluten, soy and dairy free vegetarian formula.
 
 
C-1000 (Buffered C)
 Vitamin C-1000 Sustained Release – Well known for its antioxidant properties, C-1000 provides a potent, sustained release dosage of vitamin C along with rose hips for superior absorption. Gluten, soy and dairy free vegan formula.

Age Related Memory Loss or Something More Serious?

AlzheimersSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

Along with the publication of the book Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and the subsequent movie, comes a unique understanding of the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. When, at age 50, Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, we learn about her struggle to maintain her health, her memories, her profession, and the life she has worked so hard to build. We realize how terrifying this disease is for Alice, the family who cherishes her and the colleagues who highly respect her. If nothing else, the book has brought Alzheimer’s out of the closet and onto center stage. Currently, more than 5 million Americans aged 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible and progressive brain disease that destroys memory, language skills, and the ability to think, reason and live independently. As the U.S. population ages, it is estimated that 13.5 million people will have Alzheimer’s by the year 2050. Over two-thirds of these people will be women.  

While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood, we do know that Alzheimer’s develops over a long period of time. Researchers believe that the causes of Alzheimer’s may include a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. According to the National Institute on Aging, toxic damage to the brain begins up to a decade before noticeable symptoms develop. While we know that healthy brain neurons are critical to bodily processes, we don’t yet know why abnormal clumps, known as plaques and tangles, develop and spread throughout the brain or why neurons themselves lose the ability to function and communicate and eventually begin to die. As the most common cause of dementia among our older population, many view the loss of memory, reasoning, thinking and the ability to negotiate life’s daily challenges and activities as a normal part of aging.

It is thought that age related changes, such as inflammation, free radical damage and mitochondrial dysfunction, may damage neurons and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. While memory problems are often one of the first warning signs of cognitive loss, according to the Alzheimer’s Association there are other warning signs and symptoms. Some will develop a condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in which there are memory problems beyond what is considered normal. Many with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer’s. Here are some of the differences between the early warning signs of the disease and typical age-related changes:

  • Warning: Memory loss, especially recent memory, that disrupts the normal flow of life, such as forgetting appointments, important dates or events. Typical: Changes might include forgetting names but recalling them later.
  • Warning: The inability to work with numbers or follow recipes. Typical: Occasional error when balancing a bank statement.
  • Warning: Confusion with time or place. Typical: Forgetting what day it is but remembering later.
  • Warning: Trouble following a conversation and struggling with vocabulary. Typical: Occasional trouble finding the right word.
  • Warning: Poor decision making skills or forgetting about personal hygiene. Typical: Once in a while making a bad decision.
  • Warning: Personality changes such as confusion, depression, anxiousness or fear. Typical: Occasional irritability when routine is disrupted.
  • Warning: Isolation from social activities, hobbies or prior favorite activities. Typical: Taking an occasional time out from obligations.

If it all sounds depressing, take heart. Scientists have developed a cognitive test that can help determine if memory impairments are a result of the normal aging process or are due to very mild Alzheimer’s. While Alzheimer’s is most often diagnosed when the disease has already substantially progressed, cognitive testing is helpful for early treatment recommendations. Although not a cure, early treatment can help preserve function for a period of time. Medications that regulate neurotransmitters may also help for a time. Researchers at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York are currently testing a new drug treatment that may slow the progression of the disease and help preserve precious memories. Additionally, ongoing clinical trials are studying interventions that include cognitive training, physical activity, antioxidants and very importantly, nutrition.

There are also associations between cognitive decline and other age related diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and especially diabetes. Currently, we know that a healthy eating plan, such as the Mediterranean diet, physical activity, social engagement and mentally stimulating activities can all support healthy aging. Newer research suggests that good nutrition and other healthy lifestyle factors, such as frequent exercise and not smoking, have long lasting effects on overall health and wellbeing and may help to reduce the risk of developing cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

References:
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp
Alzheimer’s Disease.  http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/alzheimers_disease_fact_sheet_1.pdf
Diabetes and cognitive decline.  http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_diabetes.pdf
Cognitive test can differentiate between Alzheimer’s and normal aging. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520123515.htm

Featured Product – Rescue® Remedy by Bach Flower

bachSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

Born in England in 1886, Dr. Edward Bach studied medicine at University College Hospital in London and went on to obtain a Diploma in Public Health at Cambridge University. After many years of working as a surgeon, casualty medical officer, bacteriologist and immunology researcher, he developed an interest in homeopathy and began to develop alternative therapies. His quiet dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine led to new herbal remedies that addressed illness as a disharmony between the mind and the body. Through great personal suffering and sacrifice, Dr. Bach completed his life’s work and unfortunately passed away at the age of 50 years. To this day, his world renowned Bach Flower Essences aid in the relief of emotional and physical distress to allow the body to unblock and access its own natural healing potential. His system of 38 Flower Remedies have been a trusted name for more than 80 years and are safe for both people and pets of all ages.

Rescue Remedy
Rescue® Remedy – Likely the most well known of all Bach Flower Essences, Rescue Remedy provides calm during a crisis, trauma or stressful situation. Rescue Remedy is designed to help deal with immediate problems and can be used anytime there is a need for a calming influence.
 
 
 
Rescue® Remedy Pet
Rescue® Remedy Pet – Add 2 drops of this alcohol-free essence to your pet’s water bowl to relieve anxiety, fear or trauma. This product provides appropriate relief when your pet has a fear of thunder, is showing signs of distress or has been through a traumatic situation. Safe, gentle, alcohol-free, veterinarian approved formula.  
 
 
Rescue Remedy Sleep
Rescue® Remedy Sleep – For those occasional sleepless nights, this product provides natural and fast acting relief that calms a restless mind and reduces repetitive thoughts and stress-related insomnia. Awake refreshed after a night of restorative sleep with this non-habit forming remedy.
 
 
 
Rescue® Remedy Kids
 
Rescue® Remedy Kids – This alcohol-free formula made just for kids helps children deal with everyday stressors, anxious situations or big life changes such as the loss of a family pet. Safe, natural, non-drowsy formula.
 
 
 Rescue Energy
Rescue® Energy – Stimulant-free Rescue Energy improves the body’s ability to handle stress and strengthens the natural energy reserves. Key active ingredients give you a needed energy boost especially during times of mental or physical exhaustion.
 
 
 
Rescue Cream
Rescue® Cream – This quick absorbing, intensive moisturizer helps to soothe and heal dry, irritated or damaged skin and is especially beneficial for external traumas, rashes, bruises, cuts, sprains and diaper rash. Rescue® Remedy Gel provides soothing relief for aches and pains and muscle soreness or stiffness.
 

Food Addiction- Is It a Real Thing?

food_addicationJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN
 
 

The scientific community has yet to reach a consensus on whether food addition is or is not an eating disorder. Many studies suggest that food and drug addictions have much in common, particularly in the way they affect the pleasure and control centers of the brain. In 2009, Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity developed a twenty-five point questionnaire designed to assess food addiction and identify those at high risk of substance dependence on highly processed, high fat and high sugar foods. Food addiction symptoms include loss of control, increased tolerance, and withdrawal, along with the presence of clinically significant impairment or distress. If you are wondering whether your pizza, chocolate and ice cream cravings are signs of addictive behavior, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I continue to eat certain foods even though I am no longer hungry?
  • Am I aware of significant emotional connections to the food I am craving?
  • Do I continue to increase the amount of certain foods I am eating to receive the same pleasurable effects?
  • Does my behavior with respect to food cause me significant distress, guilt or self-loathing?
  • Does my desire for certain foods increase when I cut down or stop eating them?
  • When I eat certain foods, do I consume more than I planned?
  • Do I feel sluggish and fatigued as a result of overeating?

In this case, “certain” foods refers to these and any other similar foods:

  • Sweets, including candy, cookies, ice cream, chocolate or artificial sweeteners
  • Starches, and refined carbohydrates including white bread, pasta and white rice
  • Salty snacks, including chips, pretzels and crackers
  • Sugary drinks, including sodas, energy drinks and other sweetened drinks
  • Fats, including bacon, burgers and fries

According to the National Institutes of Health, research has shown that there are neurobiological and behavioral similarities between substance dependence and excess consumption of highly processed foods. These findings suggest that food addiction may play a role in obesity and eating disorders. Certain diets can lead to neurochemical changes within the brain that are similar to changes seen in those with chemically dependent addictions, including alcohol, nicotine and cocaine addiction. Simply put, just as alcoholism is a result of chemical dependency on alcohol, obesity may be a consequence of an underlying chemical dependency on certain foods.

Like other pleasurable behaviors, eating can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel good brain neurotransmitter. This chemical reward increases the likelihood that the associated action will eventually become habitual, as neurochemical patterns can make the behavior hard to ignore. Many studies have shown the connection between excessive food intake and a shortage of dopamine receptors in the brains of obese people. It is unclear whether a dearth of dopamine receptors is the cause or effect of overeating. However, it is clear that similar to other addictions, an increase of dopamine-inducing substances is necessary to reach an equivalent level of neurochemical reward.

A second biological explanation for food addiction may be that beta-endorphins, the brain chemicals that produce a “natural high,” are reported to produce a more intense sense of wellbeing when cravings for sugar, simple carbs and fats come into play. According to Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., author of the book The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program, when a sugar addict attempts to decrease sugar consumption, they can experience withdrawal symptoms and may feel cranky, irritable and out of sorts. As the beta-endorphin receptors scream for relief, which may be as close as a nearby sugar sweetened beverage, the physical dependence on sugar is reinforced.

In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous, sugar in the form of candy and chocolate was recommended for sober alcoholics to help stop the physical cravings of substance withdrawal. Many alcoholics soon found themselves binge eating sweets as their sugar cravings spiraled out of control. These sugar cravings or addictions actually led to a higher failure of sobriety. As the medical community now understands, sugar can create a mildly addictive reaction, which can affect brain chemistry in the same way that alcohol does. Statistics show that the success rate for sobriety increases with good nutrition and abstinence from sugar and simple carbohydrates. Actually, when you consider the two primary ingredients of alcohol are sugar and refined grains, these results are not all that surprising.

Not all obesity is caused by food addiction. Although not officially accepted by the medical community, food addiction does appear to be a medical problem fully supported by scientific research. As reported by Cynthia Buffington, Ph.D., many collaborative studies support brain chemistry as a primary factor in the etiology of food addiction. Separating overeaters from their primary binge foods is the first step towards wellness. Eventually cravings are reduced or lessened to the point where they are no longer overpowering. As the body begins to detoxify, emotional support is also necessary to enable long term success and recovery. Like other recovering addicts, food addicts who are actively working on recovery must accept that recovery work will likely be ongoing for life. It appears a case can be made for all of us to eliminate these certain health destructive foods in support of our own overall wellness, longevity and quality of life.

PGX DailyPGX Daily by Bioclinic Naturals – PGX aids in supporting healthy glucose and cholesterol levels already within the normal range, improves insulin sensitivity and contributes to healthy glucose metabolism by lowering the glycemic index of meals. This clinically studied formula provides a highly purified fiber complex that aids in reducing appetite, food intake and cravings. Gluten, dairy and yeast free formula.
 
Cinnamon with Chromium Picolinate
 
Cinnamon with Chromium Picolinate by PhysioLogics – This clinically supported synergistic blend aids sugar and fat metabolism, along with the healthy metabolism of other macronutrients. Gluten, soy and dairy free formula.
 
 
 
Lipoic Acid 150 mg
Lipoic Acid 150 mg by Vital Nutrients – This product supports healthy blood glucose levels already within the normal range, helps turn glucose into energy and provides powerful fat and water soluble antioxidant support. Lipoic acid supports healthy vision and nerve function and provides potent liver detoxification support.
 
 
References:
The role of food addiction in clinical research.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21492090
Yale Food Addiction Scale.  http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/addiction/foodaddictionscale09.pdf
Physical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review. http://foodaddictioninstitute.org/scientific-research/physical-craving-and-food-addiction-a-scientific-review/
Food for Thought: Obesity and Addiction. http://www.brainfacts.org/across-the-lifespan/diet-and-exercise/articles/2012/food-for-thought-obesity-and-addiction/
Science of Food Addiction.  http://foodaddiction.com/resources/science-of-food-addiction/
 

SIBO – Causes and Concerns

siboSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO is increasingly recognized as a cause of malabsorption and is often associated with a long list of other underlying illnesses, including leaky gut, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, celiac disease, diabetes and many other health issues and conditions. SIBO is a chronic bacterial infection resulting from the colonization of multiple strains of bacteria that normally inhabit the colon but have atypically inhabited the small intestine, an area not meant for such high amounts of bacteria. Less commonly, SIBO may also result from dysbiosis, an imbalance of the otherwise normal bacteria of the small intestine. As symptoms are similar in other conditions, SIBO is often challenging to diagnose. This bacterial overgrowth may produce symptoms of malabsorption of nutrients, nausea, bloating, weight loss, abnormal bowel movements, inflammation, and increased permeability of the intestinal wall. When the intestinal wall is compromised, large protein molecules can escape into the blood stream, potentially resulting in food sensitivities or allergies, generalized inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

Relatively few bacteria actually live in the small intestine, as compared with the large intestine or colon. These essential microbiota aid in digesting food and absorbing nutrients, help protect against the colonization of invading pathogens and produce important nutrients and vitamins such as short chain fatty acids, biotin, folate and vitamin K. They also help to maintain the normal muscular activity or motility that keeps intestinal contents moving through the system. With SIBO, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies can develop over time as these bacteria decrease proper fat absorption. This can lead to deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins A and D. As some of their favorite nutrients are iron and B12, SIBO bacteria deprive the body of these important nutrients, often resulting in anemia. The bacteria themselves produce excess gas and wreak havoc with our elimination system and can also enter our bloodstreams, which can cause chronic fatigue and body pain and create an undue burden on the liver. High amounts of excess acids excreted by the bacteria can cause neurological and cognitive issues.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics designed to stay in the intestines are generally effective in relieving SIBO symptoms, although repeat courses are often required as relapse is not unusual. A two week elemental diet that deprives the bacteria of a food source while still providing nutrition is an alternative to antibiotic treatment reserved for the most severe cases. The best first line of defense may be probiotics, which have beneficial effects on intestinal microbiota. The helpful effects of probiotics, including immune, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory support, have been shown to have encouraging outcomes in the management of SIBO. Barring complications, probiotic therapy often results in individuals becoming symptom free.

Generally, the strategy for treatment of SIBO includes reducing the bacteria, healing the intestinal lining and preventing relapse. Dietary treatments aimed at starving the bacteria can have a significant impact. As the bacteria primarily eat fermentable carbohydrates, such as starches, grains, soluble fibers, sugars and prebiotics, it is recommended these foods be avoided for a minimum of one to three months to allow the intestinal lining time to repair. The recommended SIBO diet is progressive. Initially, all foods must be cooked, including fruits. As the intestines heal, the SIBO specific diet of proteins, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, lactose-free dairy, fruits, nuts and seeds is preferable and has a high success rate if strictly followed for an indefinite period of time. Daily exposure to even small amounts of sugars and starches can negatively affect the microbial environment.

Although the prevalence of SIBO in the general population is unknown, many feel it may be substantially underdiagnosed. Any illness that affects the body’s defense mechanism is a risk factor for SIBO. A diagnosis of SIBO should be considered in cases of complex nonspecific complaints of abdominal discomfort, bloating, maldigestion, weight loss or malabsorption. Additionally, any underlying causes, including vitamin, mineral and nutrient deficiencies, must be recognized and treated.

Apex Energetics provides research-based, high quality formulations developed by well qualified experts in the fields of conventional western medicine, traditional eastern medicine, complementary and holistic approaches. The following products from Apex Energetics are scientifically designed to support intestinal health:

Sibotica (K-97) (HEAT SENSITIVE)
Sibotica™ (K-97) - This probiotic contains 15 billion friendly bacteria in an acid resistant capsule specifically designed to pass through the stomach and target the small intestines and support the intestinal mucosal barrier.
 
 
 
ClearVite-GL (K-95)ClearVite-GL™ (K-95) – This product is designed for gastrointestinal and metabolic support. The formula includes hypoallergenic nutrients, amino acids, and minerals and is ideal for those who require a low carbohydrate content. This product does not contain protein or sugars.
 
 
Repairvite-SE (K-98)RepairVite-SE ™ (K-98) – This product offers targeted intestinal support with a limited amount of ingredients for those with certain dietary restrictions. The high quality selective blend includes enzymes, L-glutamine and zinc carnosine to support intestinal cell metabolism and the intestinal microbial environment.
 
EnzymixPro (K-99)
 
EnzymixPro™ (K-99) - This product incorporates a proprietary blend of specific enzymes that aid in the digestion of sugars, starches, fibers, proteins and fats and is designed to support the gastrointestinal system.
 
 
Enterovite (K-100)
 
Enterovite (K-100) – Designed for those with sensitivities or those who require additional intestinal support, this product contains nutrients and a proprietary blend of short chain fatty acids that play important roles in intestinal microbial balance and function.
 
 
 
References:
SIBO – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.  http://www.siboinfo.com/elemental-formula.html
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).  http://www.medicinenet.com/small_intestinal_bacterial_overgrowth_sibo/page3.htm
Nutritional Consequences of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Online. http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/medicine/divisions/digestive-health/clinical-care/nutrition-support-team/nutrition-articles/DiBaiseArticle.pdf

Featured Brand – HERBTHEORY

herbtheorySusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

Professional Supplement Center is pleased to announce the addition of HERBTHEORY, a line of high quality, effective herbal supplements. All of their synergistic formulations are made with non-GMO, sustainable, and eco-friendly, globally sourced ingredients along with wild crafted herbs and whenever possible, powerful organic ingredients. Manufactured to the highest standards, their clinically studied formulas are designed for proven results to provide health and wellness solutions and maintain proper nutrition. Based in Southern California, HERBTHEORY combines modern technology with an East meets West philosophy to create safe and natural herbal alternatives with a goal of achieving specific results.

All products are gluten, soy, egg and dairy free, vegan, and are Non-GMO Project Verified. All ingredients are wild crafted and globally sourced and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Stress & Sleep
 
Stress & Sleep – This clinically studied formula contains wild crafted herbs and a proprietary herbal blend to help reduce stress by supporting relaxation and relieving occasional sleep difficulties.
 
 
 
Urinary Tract
Urinary Tract - This product provides support for healthy urinary tract function and contains globally sourced, clinically studied ingredients including hibiscus flower extract and a proprietary herbal blend.  
 
 
 
Kidney Care
 
Kidney Care – This product provides a proprietary herbal blend to promote healthy kidney function and support the kidney cleansing function.
 
 
 
Prostate Health
 
Prostate Health – This herbal formula supports healthy prostate function and assists normal urine flow.
 
 
 
 
Heart & LDL
 
 Heart and LDL – Olive extract and a proprietary herbal blend provide antioxidant support for optimal heart health and helps to protect the oxidation of LDL.

 

 

Kidney Disease – Are You At Risk?

kidney_monthJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN
 

While low on our radar screens, the kidneys are very important organs that play a huge role in our overall health. If you think you are not at risk for kidney disease, think again. The fact is that one in ten adults in the U.S., equating to 20 million people, currently have kidney disease, and studies show that more than half of middle aged adults are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) at some point during their lifetime. CKD is a relatively common and life threatening illness that slowly damages the kidneys over a period of years and often goes undetected until an advanced diagnosis is made.

One in three adults with diabetes and one in five adults with high blood pressure have kidney disease, making these two conditions the leading causes of CKD. Other risk factors include heart disease, aging, obesity, congenital abnormalities and a family history of kidney disease. Smoking and alcohol consumption can cause high blood pressure, increasing the risk for developing kidney disease. Additionally, pharmaceutical and OTC drugs can damage the kidneys if taken incorrectly. The warning signs of kidney disease include high blood pressure, blood or protein in the urine, more frequent or difficult urination, excess waste such as creatinine and blood urea nitrogen in the blood, puffiness around the eyes and swelling of the face, hands, abdomen and feet.

Why is healthy kidney function so critical? Many of us know that the kidneys produce urine, a highly complex and life sustaining body function that is necessary to remove waste products. These hard working organs filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes! In addition to filtering the blood and removing waste, the kidneys are responsible for regulating the body’s fluid levels, balancing pH and electrolyte levels, controlling blood pressure and calcium metabolism, generating an active form of vitamin D and producing hormones that stimulate red blood cell production.

It’s safe to say that most of us would rather prevent kidney disease than treat it once it occurs. Simple urine and blood tests can tell you how well your kidneys are functioning. Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent CKD progression. With end stage kidney failure, 85 -90% of kidney function is lost, necessitating dialysis. Dialysis treatment filters wastes and water from the blood to help control blood pressure and maintain a safer level of chemicals in the blood. However, this life saving therapy can be challenging and costly. In cases of acute kidney failure, such as caused by an injury, severe dehydration or a serious illness, dialysis may only be needed for a short period of time to aid in kidney recovery. CKD necessitates dialysis for the remainder of one’s life and eventually the need for a kidney transplant is inevitable. While there are many obstacles to having a kidney transplant, including cost, long waiting lists for a healthy kidney and finding a well-matched donor, some will find they are not considered a good candidate and are therefore ineligible for a kidney transplant.  

As always, prevention is the key to good health. As we age, we may need to pay more attention to our lifestyle habits. Our lives, as well as our quality of life, may very well depend upon healthy living strategies. The National Kidney Foundation provides the following recommendations that everyone can and should do to maintain optimal kidney function and promote overall wellness. Additionally, for those who may already have CKD, the foundation recommends consuming protein in moderation, avoiding NSAID painkillers, and taking steps to lower blood pressure and control blood sugar levels, especially if diabetes is a factor.

  • If you smoke, quit
  • Drink water to stay well hydrated
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Follow a balanced heart healthy diet
  • Watch your overall sodium consumption
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink alcohol in moderation if at all
  • Monitor cholesterol levels
  • Get an annual physical
  • Know your family health history

Products that support kidney health include:

Renagen™ DTX by MetagenicsRenagen DTX - This product supplies a specific blend of nutritional factors and traditionally used herbs to promote healthy kidney detoxification and provide antioxidant protection. Gluten free, Non-GMO formula.

 

 Argizyme™ by Biotics ResearchArgizyme - This product is designed to support normal kidney and bladder function with a unique, proprietary blend of botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and organ supporting ingredients. Gluten and dairy free formula.
 
 
 
UriCare® by Himalaya Herbal HealthcareUriCare - This clinically studied proprietary herbal formula provides soothing support for the urinary tract, promotes the normal filtration efforts of the kidneys, provides antioxidant protection and supports normal bladder muscle contraction and relaxation. This synergistically complete formula is gluten and additive free and is safe for long term use.
 
 Kidney Korrect™ by Designs for HealthKidney Korrect - This comprehensive kidney support formula contains a patented blend of kidney protective botanicals shown to improve kidney function and reduce kidney damage due conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.
 
 
 
References:
Why Are the Kidneys So Important?  https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk
Keep Your Kidneys Healthy. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2013/Feature1
At Risk for Kidney Disease? http://nkdep.nih.gov/learn/are-you-at-risk.shtml
About Your Kidneys.  http://www.kidneyfund.org/are-you-at-risk/about-kidneys/

Featured Brand – Enzymedica

enzymedicaSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

If you are looking to maintain or improve your digestive health, Enzymedica has a supplement for you. Dedicated to providing exceptional enzyme-based supplements, Enzymedica provides cutting-edge therapeutic formulations by utilizing a proven and exclusive technology that blends multiple strains of enzymes for superior potency. All foods require enzymes to extract the vitamins, minerals and other vital nutrients they contain to enable them to be utilized by the body for rebuilding and healing, creating energy and supporting biological processes.

As we age, our bodies produce fewer of the enzymes necessary for healthy digestion. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can result in improved digestion, less abdominal stress and greater assimilation of nutrients. Reducing the stress on the digestive system results in more energy made available to other systems responsible for overall health including the immune, cardiovascular, endocrine and nervous systems.

All of Enzymedica’s 100% vegetarian enzyme supplements are renowned for their quality and purity and are internationally recognized for their high level of enzyme activity. Their cGMP Certified formulas are verified by in-house and third party analytical testing. No fillers, excipients or GMO ingredients are ever utilized.  All formulas are gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO and suitable for vegetarians.

Digest Gold™ W/ATProDigest Gold™ W/ATPro – This high potency formula offers optimal digestive support and assists in the digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and soluble and insoluble fiber. Digest Gold™ is an excellent choice for those who wish to fully benefit from the nutritional content of their food, those who may be lipase deficient or those who have health issues not necessarily associated with digestion.
 Digest Gold™ Plus Probiotics
Digest Gold™ + Probiotics – This product offers the convenience of high potency digestive enzymes in combination with guaranteed delivery of active probiotic cultures. TherActive™ specially coated probiotics and delivery system ensures these healthy bacteria are delivered into the intestinal tract for maximum benefit.
 
 GlutenEase™
 GlutenEase – Specifically formulated for those with gluten or
casein intolerance, this product provides assistance in digestion and assimilation of the offending proteins, assists in normalizing the inflammatory response to the gluten peptide and proactively supports the digestive system.
 
 Acid Soothe™
Acid Soothe – Formulated to soothe gastrointestinal distress and discomfort, Acid Soothe™ provides pure and beneficial plant enzymes and botanicals to promote absorption of nutrients, protect and strengthen the stomach mucosa and support the maintenance of digestive health.

 

Shining the Light on Electrolytes

electrolytesJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN
 

Electrolytes. Most of us have heard of them. But what are they and why is it so important to keep them balanced? Electrolytes are formed when minerals or salts dissolve in fluid, causing them to separate into positively and negatively charged ions, thereby creating an electrically conductive solution. As a result of their ability to conduct electrical charges, electrolytes are able to regulate fluid distribution in the body, a very important role in our superhighway of cells, tissues, organs and fluid that thrive in homeostasis. In order to function normally, the body must maintain constant fluid levels in the blood, the cells and the areas around the cells. Electrolytes regulate heart beat, nerve and muscle function, blood volume and pH levels, blood pressure, and our body’s hydration level.

Electrolyte levels are kept constant by the kidneys and by the release of certain adrenal and kidney hormones. Specialized kidney cells monitor the amounts of sodium, potassium and water in the blood stream, while these specific hormones are released to keep electrolyte balance within the narrow range of normal limits. To maintain fluid balance, the body actively moves electrolytes in and out of cells. Electrolytes can become imbalanced when one loses a large amount of fluid quickly. This can occur as result of illness, disease, excessive sweating, serious injuries and dehydration or over-hydration. The most common imbalances are excessive or insufficient levels of sodium, magnesium or potassium.

When electrolyte balance is disturbed, disorders may develop. Signs may include irregular heartbeat, blood pressure changes, muscle spasms, convulsions, fatigue or weakness. Since electrolyte balance is basically determined by our food and water consumption, proper nutrition is essential. A well-balanced diet will generally supply an adequate amount of electrolytes. Colorful fruits and vegetables are naturally high in electrolytes, especially calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. Electrolytes found in our bodies include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate and hydrogen carbonate and all have specific roles.  

Sodium – Most often found in the blood plasma, sodium plays a significant role in water level regulation and balance in the body. So much so that wherever sodium goes, water follows. The kidneys help maintain balance by filtering excess sodium from the blood and adjusting the amount excreted in urine. Most of us get more than enough sodium from added salts in our diets. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and to fluid buildup in those who have less than optimal organ function.

Potassium – Found concentrated within the cells, potassium is essential for the electrical impulses that allow for brain and muscle function. Potassium aids in muscle building, helps control pH balance and is necessary for the electrical activity of the heart. Too little potassium can cause weak muscles and abnormal heart beat. Too much can result in poor kidney function.

Calcium – Necessary to promote strong bones and teeth, calcium aids communication between the brain and the body. It regulates muscle contraction including heart beat and aids normal blood clotting. Calcium also plays a role in hormone and enzyme release. Signs of deficiency can include muscle cramps, minor tingling or numbness in the fingers, lethargy and osteoporosis. Excessive calcium can result in loss of appetite, kidney toxicity and irregular heartbeat.

Magnesium – Required for over 300 metabolic processes, magnesium aids in muscle contraction and relaxation, maintains energy levels and sustains heart and blood vessel health. Together with calcium, magnesium supports healthy bones and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Symptoms of deficiency may include insomnia, constipation, high blood pressure, fatigue or muscle spasms. While it’s unusual to have excess magnesium, symptoms can include muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, very low blood pressure or breathing difficulties.

Bicarbonate – This important electrolyte keeps the acid-base levels of the body in balance. Bicarbonate aids in buffering the acids that build up in the body as normal byproducts of metabolism. A low blood level of bicarbonate can result in metabolic acidosis, which means the body is too acidic. A high blood level indicates metabolic alkalosis, in which the body is too alkaline. When the body is too acidic, proper digestion is negatively affected and may result in lowered immune function, hormonal imbalances, and poor nutrient absorption. Normal body pH is slightly alkaline. The body makes constant adjustments in tissue and fluid pH in order to maintain homeostasis.

Maintaining electrolyte balance is one more good reason to eat a healthy, natural diet. Eating a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits and drinking plenty of water daily will aid the body in maintaining homeostasis and functioning properly. Sports drinks are great for replacing electrolytes after a tough workout, but remember they do contain a fair amount of sugar. Don’t drink them as a casual beverage, rather save them for rehydration after a minimum of one hour of physical activity, to rehydrate during illness or anytime you have excessive perspiration. Remember to rehydrate with water according to your thirst and consider sports drinks during high-intensity and long-duration exercise.  

Great products for rehydration and electrolyte replacement include:

Endura Lemon-Lime
 Endura® Lemon Lime by Metagenics provides a unique blend of electrolyte minerals formulated to provide energy and promote electrolyte absorption. This gluten free, vegetarian, Non-GMO formulation is naturally flavored and contains no artificial sweeteners. Also available in natural orange flavor.
 
 
 
Electrolyte Synergy
Electrolyte Synergy™ by Designs for Health provides a complete, balanced electrolyte formula to aid in the promotion of optimal hydration, exercise recovery and energy production.
 
 
Electro-pH Complex (K-86)
 
Electro-pH™ Complex (K-86) by Apex Energetics provides key minerals for fluid electrolyte balance support. Natural vanilla flavor.
 
 
 
Electrolyte/Energy Formula
 
Electrolyte/Energy Formula by Pure Encapsulations helps to replenish electrolytes lost during exertion, aids in retaining hydration and supports physical and mental stamina. Natural lemon-lime flavor.
 
 
 
References:
Electrolytes. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/electrolytes/page11_em.htm#bicarbonate_hco3
What are electrolytes?
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php
Electrolytes.
http://www.medicinenet.com/electrolytes/article.htm
What Are Body Electrolytes.
http://www.disabled-world.com/health/electrolytes.php