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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.

Healthy Airline Travel: Part II

TipsForHealthyAirlineTravelPartIIBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Travel should be fun, exciting and enjoyable.  Planning ahead can help you cope with any worries or fears that can accompany your travel plans.  Here are some common problems associated with air travel and tips on how you can manage, overcome or prevent illness and discomfort: 

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a form of disorientation and fatigue caused by abruptly switching to a different sleep/wake schedule.  This occurs when the body’s circadian  (24 hour) clock struggles to adjust its normal rhythms to your new destination. Traveling across time zones creates confusion within the body as sleep patterns are interrupted.  Short term consequences of missed sleep can result in impaired memory and speech functions and an impaired ability to think and process information. 

  • An east-west flight of less than 4 hours may cause stiffness and irritability.  A longer flight may cause varied symptoms of digestive problems, dehydration, headache, disorientation, anxiety, nausea or constipation
  • To minimize jet lag, try shifting your sleep patterns by an hour or two for a few days before your flight and get a good night’s sleep before your trip. 
  • Try to sleep on the plane.  A window seat is a better choice for longer flights as you can prop yourself against the wall and can avoid being disturbed when your seat mates get up.  Here’s where your travel pillow, an eye mask and noise cancelling head phones come in handy. 
  • Once you arrive, exist solely on the local time to quickly realign your circadian clock and  have as normal a day as possible.  If you arrive in the morning, get some daylight and fresh air, try to push through to an early dinner and then get a good night’s sleep.
  • Changes in temperature and eating times can also contribute to travel fatigue. 

Anxiety

Even those without fear of flying can suffer from anxiety regarding travel.  Fatigue and anxiety can wreak havoc on the immune system. 

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as listening  to soothing music, enjoying a good book or watching an in-flight movie. 
  • Try creative visualization.  Imagine yourself at your destination and all the wonderful things you plan to do there. 
  • Cut back on caffeine.  Stay hydrated by drinking water and get plenty of rest before your flight. 
  • Hand over control.  Anxiety is often about needing control and the lack of the ability to have control in certain situations.  The Captain is a professional who wants to arrive as safely as you do and accepting that fact may reduce anxiety. 
  • Scheduling a minimum of 45 minutes for layovers between flights may also help reduce anxiety. 
  • Use the power of distraction.  Bring with you items that will distract from the flight such as crossword puzzles, a good book, or portable games.  Striking up a conversation with your seat partners can help pass the time and keep your mind occupied.
  • Take good care of your body and nutrition.  Physically fit, well-rested people are less likely to suffer bouts of anxiety. 

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life threatening disorder in which blood clots form in the deep veins of the body.  Senior adults, smokers, obese or pregnant persons and people with varicose veins or a history of blood clots are most at risk.  The following exercises can help relieve fatigue, stress and tension and will increase your blood circulation minimizing your health risks.

  • Once the seatbelt restriction is lifted, get up every hour and walk the aisle of the plane to stretch your legs. 
  • Perform in-seat exercises such as slow ankle rolls, gentle head and shoulder rolls, or foot pumps where you lift your heels high while keeping your toes on the floor and then reverse leaving heels on the floor and lifting your toes. 
  • Stretch your arms straight out in front of you, then lift them overhead and reach up into the air for an additional stretch.
  • Lifting one knee at a time and pulling it towards your chest for 15 seconds is another excellent stretch you can do while seated. 
  • In addition, you can do a forward flex by keeping your feet flat on the floor, bending forward from the waist and reaching your hands towards your ankles.

Food and water borne illness:

Experiencing new cuisines and local fare is a big part of traveling.  Use caution when you arrive at your destination.  Not all water and ice is safe to drink so stick with bottled water and other bottled beverages and bypass the ice.

  • Roadside stands and food kiosks may look temping but be cautious.  Raw foods, unrefrigerated foods, undercooked foods, unpeeled fruit, or unpasteurized dairy can all cause gastrointestinal problems.  Better to eat in restaurants that have a reputation for safe cooking. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before every meal or snack.  Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.  If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands but may not entirely eliminate them.  Soap, water and 20 seconds of rubbing is the best way to clean your hands. 
  • Take probiotics to keep your healthy intestinal flora flourishing and boost your immune system to defend against harmful bacteria.  
  • Digestive aids can help your body cope with new or unusual foods and can maintain stomach and intestinal comfort by supporting the digestive process. 

Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses and comfortable shoes.  A little planning ahead on your part can ensure your health and comfort.  Here’s hoping you have a safe, healthy and memorable summer! 

Supplemental aids for travelers:

Ortho Biotic by Ortho MolecularTo maintain and encourage the growth of good bacteria in your intestinal tract.  Stress, alcohol, pollutants and foods can all increase harmful bacteria and set the stage for digestive issues and illness.  Taking a probiotic before, during and after air travel can help boost your immune system and reduce your chances of digestive imbalances from foreign microbes.  This is a great probotic for travel as refrigeration is not necessary. 

Digest Gold by Enzymedica –  Formulated to assist with digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.  Changes in your diet while traveling can upset your digestive system.  This product is designed to assist the body in the maximum digestion of nutrients, support energy production and provide immune support.  

End Fatigue Daily Energy B Complex by Integrative Therapeutics –  Ultimate strength B vitamin formula for all day energy.  End Fatigue Daily Energy B Complex features high levels of B12 and other B vitamins for healthy blood, brain and nerve cell function all essential for sustained energy.  This product helps maintain mental alertness when you are experiencing fatigue. 

Buffered Ascorbic Acid by Pure Encapsulations  –  Buffered ascorbic acid combines calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, and potassium ascorbate to create a neutral pH vitamin C.  Vitamin C supports the body’s defense system by enhancing white blood cell function and activity and increasing antibody response.  Vitamin C is a superior antioxidant that helps fight viral and bacterial infections while enhancing immunity. 

Rhodiola (SF755) by Thorne Research –  Rhodiola is an important stress-relieving botanical.   In addition to aiding sleep, Rhodiola can enhance mood and decrease occasional episodes of worry and nervousness, allowing for more efficient functioning under stressful conditions.

 

Essential Nutrients for Kids

Essential Nutrients for KidsBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Good nutrition helps prevent illness and disease and is essential to healthy physical and mental development. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to think of nutritional decisions as health decisions.  Nearly 1 in 3 children in America are now overweight or obese.  And like adults, kids who consistently overeat are at risk for developing the medical problems associated with being overweight, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, breathing and sleeping problems, and even depression. Later in life they are at greater risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. Encouraging your child to make beneficial food choices now will help them develop wholesome eating patterns that can lead to a lifetime of healthier choices.   

It’s not always easy to get kids to eat what’s on their plates.  These strategies improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits:

  • Have regular family meals.  Eating together allows parents and kids to reconnect and catch up on the day’s events.  Kids who sit down to family meals are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables and grains and are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. 
  • Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks.  You control the supply lines, so stock up on fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks such as low-fat yogurt and cheese, whole grain crackers, or nuts.  Limit chips, cookies, candy and sugary drinks but don’t ban them completely.  Serve them occasionally as a special treat.  
  • Be a role model by eating healthy yourself.  Keep a positive approach to food, limit your own portions and don’t overindulge in less nutritious foods.  Kids will follow your lead. 
  • Avoid food battles which means no bargaining or bribing kids to eat everything on their plate.  Provide variety and let your child choose from what you offer.  A growing child’s eating pattern will vary day to day.  Let them decide when they are hungry and when they are full. 
  • Involve kids in the process.  Kids love to help in the kitchen so select age appropriate tasks for them to do.  Let them be involved in occasional meal planning and help them make decisions about what to pack for lunch. 

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principle as nutrition for adults.  In addition to the nutrient dense foods of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, there are vitamins and minerals that all growing children need for growth and development:

Vitamin A  –  Vitamin A  boosts the immune system which fights common infections.  Vitamin A promotes general eye health plus color and night vision.  Make sure your child gets plenty of orange vegetables and fortified milk. 

B Vitamins  –  B complex vitamins are needed for anemia prevention and for energy production and usage.  B vitamins are found in whole grains, fish, chicken, leafy greens, dairy and meat.

Vitamin C –  Vitamin C helps speed healing of cuts and scrapes and helps ward off colds and  fight infections.  Fruits, especially oranges, and green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin D Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption for developing strong bones and teeth.  Foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, cereal and eggs. 

Calcium Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth and can help reduce the chances of developing age related bone disease.  The majority of our lifetime bone mass is built during our pre-teen and teen years.  Low-fat dairy is the best source of calcium in a child’s diet and includes  cheese, milk and yogurt.  Fortified cereals and orange juice are options for those who are lactose intolerant. 

Choline –  An important essential nutrient needed for the central nervous system function and cell growth.  Eggs, fish, meat, broccoli and chicken are good sources. 

IronFor healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body and help keep kids energized.  Iron can be found in fortified foods, beans and lean red meats. 

MagnesiumImportant for energy and healthy heart function.  Look for magnesium in cereals, brown rice and nuts. 

Potassium –  Kids need potassium to support their organs and cells.  Potassium maintains blood pressure, supports the heart and muscle function.  Bananas and low-fat dairy are good sources. 

ZincZinc helps fight viruses and supports the immune system.  Zinc is necessary for growth and development.  Look for zinc in chicken, beans and fortified cereals. 

FiberKids need fiber to aid digestion and prevent constipation.  Offer lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains including high-fiber cereals.

Water – Limit sugar laden fruit juices to breakfast time and give your child the choice of milk or water at other times.  Be sure to provide plenty of water throughout the day and encourage your child to drink up. 

Antioxidants –  Antioxidants help defend against harmful substances that can damage healthy cells.  Almonds, berries, citrus fruits and carrots are some kid friendly foods high in antioxidants. 

Essential fatty acidsChildren require both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids as part of their healthy diet, especially for brain development and eye function.  If your child refuses to eat fish regularly or at all,  supplements made for children containing EPA/DHA are a safe, effective way to give your child’s mental and physical well-being a boost. 

It’s best not to get into a battle of wills at mealtimes.  Try to make breakfast and lunch the priority meals as young children are often tired and less likely to eat well at dinnertime.  Offer a variety of healthy foods and allow your child to be in charge of choosing which items to eat and how much.  Children allowed to make their own decisions at mealtimes are more likely to enjoy their meal and feel good about themselves.  You can feel good also, knowing that you are raising a healthy eater and establishing patterns that will lead to a lifetime of healthy nutrition. 

Nutritional supplements for kids:

Springboard SuperNutes by Ortho Molecular –  Super Nutrients Jr. is a great tasting strawberry-kiwi multivitamin and mineral supplement containing the most important vitamin and mineral components needed for a growing child. Besides having a solid scientific formulation of the highest quality professional-grade vitamins, SuperNutes also contains generous doses of industry leading Albion® minerals, setting SuperNutes in a class by itself when compared with other children’s multivitamins.

ProOmega Junior Minis by Nordic Naturals –  Perfect for ages three and older, these provide the essential fatty acid nutrition for optimal development.  Children find the tiny, pearl-sized soft gels easy to chew, and they enjoy the great-tasting, all-natural strawberry flavor.  With EPA and DHA from purified deep sea fish oil. 

Vital Kids Berry Well Immune Support by Vital Nutrients –  Berry Well is a uniquely concentrated botanical extract formula containing Elderberry Extract.  This formula provides enhanced levels of natural compounds that provide immune system support. Studies have shown that the properties of Elderberry Extract and Arabinogalactan maintain healthy immune function and promote well-being. 

Multigenics Chewable Orange by Metagenics  –  Multigenics chewable is a high quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement with excellent nutrient bioavailability designed especially for children.  This formula provides an essential, comprehensive foundation for optimal health and contains highly absorbable amino acid chelates, ratio-balanced B vitamins, and broad-spectrum antioxidant protection.

Super Immune Space Sprinkles by Douglas Laboratories This product provides support for normal immune function with a specially formulated blend of probiotics in a naturally sweet base.  Super Immune Space Sprinkles change color when sprinkled on food and are designed specifically for children. 

Nordic Omega-3 Fishies by Nordic NaturalsThese easy to chew treats are rich in EPA and DHA for development support of the brain, eyes and the nervous and immune systems.  Delicious tangerine taste for even the pickiest of eaters.  For ages 2 and over. 

Nutri-West Chewable C-500 –  A pleasant tasting tablet ideal for children or for anyone looking for rapid absorption of Vitamin C.  Each naturally flavored tablet supplies 500 mg of Vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid) , 1,000 units of natural beta carotene, citrus bioflavonoids, hesperidin complex, rutin, and acerola.

Little One by Metabolic Maintenance –  A one-per-day multivitamin for children 6 through 12 years of age.  Each capsule contains only the finest ingredients, in the most bioavailable forms, in a very small, easy to swallow capsule.