Tag Archives: asthma

Summer Allergy Season Is Here

SummerAllergySeasonBy Susan Brown

Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide.  In the United States alone, seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 to 50 million people.  Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, scientists are predicting a robust summer allergy season possibly due to climate change.  Seasonal changes, considerable amounts of precipitation, and historically high levels of carbon dioxide all nourish pollen producing trees, grasses, and plants and encourage the growth of molds and fungi.  Pollen counts are expected to continue to increase by as much as 30% by 2020 and may double by 2040.  It’s becoming apparent that warmer spring temperatures are leading to declines in snow cover and are impacting the biological clocks of plants, leading to earlier, longer, and more intense allergy seasons and more potent allergens. 

That’s bad news for people with asthma and allergy sensitivities, as symptoms are expected to be severe.  “Warmer temperatures and carbon dioxide are like fertilizer for many plants that produce allergens,” said Lew Ziska, a research plant physiologist at the United States Department of Agriculture. “Given how many people already have respiratory problems like asthma, a longer, more intense allergy season can be a real public health concern.”

Seasonal allergic reactions are a sign that your immune system is working overtime.  Typically, allergic reactions do not happen the first time one comes into contact with an allergen, something that is usually harmless like pollen, dust mites or mold.  With additional exposure, immune systems develop sensitivities to allergens, and once recognized and memorized, react by releasing antibodies. These antibodies, known as immunoglobulin E., travel to cells that release histamines and other chemicals, resulting in irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane linings of your nose, sinuses, ears, throat and lungs. 

Symptoms of seasonal allergies can include:

  • Sinus pain and pressure
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing, wheezing, coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, throat, and palate
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Watery eyes
  • General miserable feeling

A single ragweed plant may release as many as 1 million grains of pollen each day and can be carried by the wind for many miles.  Mold spores, which grow outdoors in fields and on dead leaves, are almost impossible to avoid and can outnumber pollen grains even at the height of pollen season.  Avoiding exposure to irritants and allergens is not always possible or practical.  While it’s difficult to escape pollen and molds, there are some ways to at least lessen exposure:

  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning both at home and in the car, if possible.  Change or clean air conditioning filters monthly. 
  • Avoid using window fans that can pull pollen indoors.
  • Use of an indoor dehumidifier may help reduce dust mites and mold.
  • Cleaning regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum will remove dust mites and other allergens and prevent their escape back into the air. 
  • Wash linens and pillowcases a minimum of once each week in hot water to kill mites.
  • Invest in dust mite barriers and covers for mattresses and pillows. 
  • Dust your home frequently and wash or dispose of the dust cloth. 
  • Humid bathrooms and basements are perfect mold environments.  Clean them often, especially around faucets, sinks and shower heads. 
  • Limit outdoor time between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen and mold counts are highest. 
  • Pay attention to pollen counts by subscribing to email alerts available from the National Allergy Bureau (NAB). 
  • Wear a pollen filtering mask when gardening, mowing or raking or anytime you plan to spend an extended time outdoors. 
  • Remove shoes and outdoor clothing as soon as possible to avoid bringing outdoor allergens indoors. 
  • Shower immediately and wash your hair after spending time outdoors. 
  •  Use of over the counter antihistamines, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays can help relieve symptoms especially when used preemptively before symptoms appear.  The majority of seasonal allergy medications work best at preventing symptoms from developing, and reducing the severity of symptoms that do appear. 
  • Use of a Neti Pot to rinse away allergens and flush the sinuses has been found to be a mild and effective way to treat symptoms. 
  • Quercetin, a natural plant-derived compound helps to stabilize mast cells and prevent the release of histamines. 
  • Stinging Nettle in freeze dried form is noted for providing seasonal support for the  sinus and respiratory systems. 
  • Butterbur is considered a natural alternative to antihistamines and may help maintain balanced seasonal immune responses.

“By planning ahead, people with allergies can still enjoy outdoor events,” said Dr. Myron Zitt, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).   

Products for allergy support:

Natural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular –  This top selling product is formulated for maximum effectiveness, with carefully selected dosages of critical natural components to provide optimal support for nasal and sinus passageways.  Contains quercetin, stinging nettles leaf, bromelain and NAC.

D-Hist Jr. by Ortho Molecular –  Seasonal  support for children with the same natural ingredients as the adult formula.  Natural lemon-lime flavor. 

Activated Quercetin by Source Naturals –  A unique bioflavonoid derived from plant sources, quercetin has been shown to inhibit histamine release.

Nasal Rinse Cup by Banyan Botanicals –  This Neti Pot is designed for ease of use to provide soothing relief for nasal dryness, gently remove excess mucus, and rinse away dust, pollen and other irritants. Crafted from sturdy, lead-free ceramic and coated with food-grade sealant glaze.  Dishwasher safe.

Sinus Rinse Premixed Packets by NeilMed –  Contains 100 premixed packets of pH balanced sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate mixture (USP grade, natural ingredients, isotonic, preservative & iodine free).  Use with Nasal Rinse Cup for allergy and sinus relief. 

SinuClenz by Physician’s Strength –  Sinus nasal spray with a cleansing formula containing wild oil of oregano, bay leaf, clove bud oil, sea salt and spring water. 

Stinging Nettles Freeze Dried by Planetary HerbalsFor herbal respiratory support.  Premium nettles have been freeze-dried to preserve the potency of the active constituents in the plant’s stinging hairs and leaves.  This process ensures that Freeze-Dried Stinging Nettles will deliver all the benefits inherent in the nettle plant.

The Standard American Diet – Time For a Revamp

SADBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of numerous processed carbohydrates, processed meat products, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrates, preservatives and maybe a few fruits and vegetables.  Many of the foods in the typical American diet have been refined and processed to the point where there are virtually no nutrients, fiber, or vitamins and minerals remaining.   Eating these types of foods puts you on the fast track to being overfed and undernourished and threatens your good health as well. 

Dietary and lifestyle factors in the U.S. are responsible for death rates that exceed most other Westernized countries.  Primary preventable causes of death include smoking, hypertension, obesity, high blood glucose levels, high levels of LDL cholesterol and other dietary risk factors.  An unhealthy diet combined with inactivity is considered a major risk factor in premature, preventable death or serious disability.  Coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic liver disease and diabetes are all influenced by diet.  Critical dietary factors associated with these conditions include foods that are too low in fiber and too high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

To give you a reference point as to just how bad the SAD is, fully 65% of American adults are categorized as overweight or obese and American children are close behind.  Children and teenagers in America eat a diet largely filled with empty calories and subsist on sugary breakfast cereals, sweetened fruit drinks, white bread, chicken nuggets, french fries and a variety of cookies, candies and snacks.  None of these foods provide nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development and all contribute to a lifelong addiction to sugar, fat and salt.  American kids drink more sweetened soft drinks than milk.  As a result, children today are at risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis and depression.  Unfortunately, our diets and our children’s diets as well are seriously lacking in fiber, calcium, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 

In America, there is a fast food restaurant on virtually every corner.  One in four Americans visit a fast food restaurant every day and we spend $110 billion per year on fast foods. These foods are inexpensive, easily accessible and tasty.  They are also loaded with calories, unhealthy fats, high sodium levels and are highly addictive.  Taste is the number one factor influencing our food choices.  Food manufacturers market foods that taste good rather than foods that have nutritional value. 

In America, we have access to the most abundant and consistent food supply in the world.  We have knowledge of our nutritional needs and we know foods we consume impact our health.  Yet, we still struggle to eat the healthy foods we need to maintain health and that decrease our risks for diet related diseases.  Here are some very good reasons why Americans need to take a better look at their diets and make the changes necessary to improve and maintain our health:

  • We rely too heavily on meats.  While beef and pork and dark meat poultry are good sources of protein, they are also loaded with saturated fats which can contribute to coronary artery disease and increased stroke risk. 
  • We consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates.  Eating too many refined and processed convenience foods, such as white bread, pasta, deserts, bagels or tortillas, can cause chronically elevated blood glucose levels which can contribute to diabetes and obesity
  • Trans fats may be of value to manufacturers but they are of no value to you.  In fact, they are detrimental to your health.  Trans fats are made from oils infused with hydrogen that make the product stable and extend the shelf life.  Like saturated fats, trans fats can elevate LDL cholesterol levels and promote heart disease
  • We lack the proper amounts of dietary fiber.  Dietary fiber helps speed digestion and absorption of nutrients and assists in elimination of waste.  Fiber helps you to feel full and helps prevent overeating.  Fiber can assist in lowering LDL cholesterol and glucose levels in the bloodstream. 
  • Soft drinks contribute to the unhealthy diet trend.  Soda is loaded with empty calories and high fructose corn syrup.  Recent studies show that drinking even one soda per day increases your risk for obesity and diabetes.  According to studies, children who start drinking soda at an early age also follow diets that are low in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  Children who drank milk were more likely to follow a healthful diet. 
  • High fructose corn syrup is omnipresent.  In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid.   Manufacturers prefer high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because it is affordable and satisfies our sweet tooth.  HFCS is not found anywhere in corn.  Corn kernels undergo a series of mechanical processes, chemical reactions, high velocity spinnings and the introductions of different enzymes that turn corn into a clear goopy liquid that is roughly as sweet as sugar.   High fructose corn syrup raises blood sugar levels quickly.  It has no nutritional value and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 
  • We eat the wrong types of fats.  It’s time to re-evaluate the low-fat diet.  What matters is the type of fat you eat.  Good fats such as monosaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3’s are a major source of energy and are important for growth, development, weight management and disease prevention.  Commercial low-fat foods  often have a very high sugar content, so with the rise of low-fat processed foods, we have seen a spike in obesity, heart disease and other health related conditions. 
  • We consume many more calories than are needed to maintain optimal weight.   Twenty five years ago, we consumed roughly 1,850 calories daily.  With the advent of super sizing and gargantuan proportions, we can easily consume 2,000 calories in one meal, the equivalent of a full day’s caloric need.  Today’s daily caloric intake can add up to a weight gain of 30 extra pounds per year.
  • The average American eats about 100 pounds of sugar or high fructose corn syrup every year.  One hundred years ago the average American ate less than one pound annually.  This significant increase in sugar consumption directly relates to the increase in obesity, heart disease, cancer, decreased immune function and type 2 diabetes. 
  •  A diet high in sodium is considered a factor in the development of high blood pressure.  Sodium is an important mineral and electrolyte necessary for many bodily functions.  Along with potassium, sodium plays a crucial role in blood pressure regulation.  Approximately 85% of Americans consume sodium in amounts that far exceed the daily maximum recommended levels.  Reducing sodium intake while blood pressure is still normal may decrease the risk for hypertension later in life. 

It’s time Americans started thinking about the foods they are putting into their bodies and how those foods affect their health.  An unhealthy diet is one of the simplest things to change in order to improve your overall health.  Start by skipping the interior aisles of the grocery store that are filled with convenience foods and snacks.  Instead, concentrate on the outer aisles of the store where the more nutritious fresh food is located.  To make smart food choices quickly and easily, compare nutrition facts on food labels and be aware of portion sizes on packages.  Stay within your daily caloric needs and get the most nutrients out of the calories you do consume by choosing nutritionally rich foods.  Opt for a more prudent diet filled with greater amounts of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy.  Health or disease?  It’s your choice.  Choose wisely. 

Here are some supplements to assist you on your journey to improved nutritional health: 

DigestZyme by Transformation Enzyme  is designed to assist the body in maximum digestion of nutrients, production of energy, and immune system support.  This unique formula is the perfect introduction to digestive enzymes, supporting immune system health by encouraging more complete digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for increased absorption and availability of nutrients.

Biomega-3 by Biotics Research  is an all natural marine lipid concentrate derived from anchovies and sardines sourced following the strict standards of the European Union. This concentrated supplement supplies 1400 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per serving, including 740 mg EPA and 460 mg of DHA, beneficial compounds for brain, cardiovascular and dermal functioning, and down-regulation of pro-inflammatory mediators.

UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics  As a nutraceutical,  this product is formulated to complement dietary recommendations to promote gastrointestinal and immune health.  This formula is designed to encourage growth of beneficial bacteria and support healthy immune function, intestinal integrity, and healthy digestive function.