With cold a flu season upon us, I like to tell people that it’s good to get a cold at least once a year. When I say this, people give me an “Are you crazy?” look. It may sound crazy but science actually supports me. It is important for our immune system to mount a response to cold antigens. So when we get a cold, this results in symptoms, which allows us to build immunity to these antigens. When you get sick, your immune system undergoes a tune-up by stimulating immune mechanisms, which are necessary to keep us healthy. It is important for the body to be challenged so it can undergo tune-ups and ultimately, can detect foreign invaders and cellular degeneration.
Proper immune function is necessary to protect us from autoimmune disorders, allergies and to prevent major illnesses and cancer. Think of your immune system like your car – it is necessary for regular oil changes and tune-ups to keep your car functioning smoothly and efficiently.
Even so, no one likes to be down and out for too long and some of the bugs floating around are pretty nasty. By focusing on what you can do to support your immune system, you can get back to life without major interruptions after you’ve caught a cold.
IT IS VITAL TO REMEMBER TO REST AND LISTEN TO YOU BODY!!! Supporting your immune system requires rest and slowing down, not just taking supplements.
Below are ideas and supplements you can use for combating illness throughout the winter.
- Get to bed early and get adequate sleep.
- Limit sugar and dairy; completely avoid sugar and dairy when you are sick.
- Exercise regularly to stimulate your immune system.
- Do not push your body too hard when you are sick, but a little exercise will help you recover quickly.
- Take Vitamin D3 daily during the winter.
- Take a higher dosage than the summer, due to the decrease in sunlight, which is necessary for the body to absorb Vitamin D.
- Increase your amount of Vitamin D3 for 2-3 days at the first sign of illness. This will often curb the infection and symptoms, lessening the severity and duration of your illness.
- Gargle with salt water at the first sign of a sore throat. Follow this by gargling with powdered probiotics, which can be swallowed and will re-populate the healthy flora in the mouth.
- Some options are: HMF powder, HMF Replete, Ther-Biotics Complete Powder or ProbioMax Plus DF
- Take a daily dose of probiotics. Remember: a high quality probiotic is very important as not all probiotics are the same. Ask your doctor about what is best for you.
By knowing what to do to, you can be prepared for the winter months and guard yourself and your family against sickness and fatigue.
Dr. Shayla Waddell
It seems counterintuitive but the more we eat many diet foods and beverages, the harder it can be lose and maintain our weight. One of the key culprits is artificial sweeteners. Studies show that artificial sweeteners may confuse the body’s regulatory systems that control hunger. Whenever we eat, our bodies are trained to expect calories, but it’s not getting them when we eat zero-calorie sweeteners. The lack of calories with artificial sweeteners causes us to crave more actually leading us to eat more and pack on the pounds over time. Additionally, since artificial sweeteners are 7,000 times sweeter than natural sugars, they can desensitize our tastes buds. This is problematic because it causes us to want sweeter (higher calorie) foods to satisfy our cravings.
But the problems with artificial sweeteners don’t stop with weight issues. Research is currently showing that long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners is disruptive and damaging to anti-oxidant status in the brain. In particular, aspartame consumption over time can lead to an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, mainly through the mechanism involving the glutathione-dependent system. The effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame on brain function are yet to be fully understood but research has concluded that the metabolites of artificial sweeteners can cause oxidative stress to different regions of the brain. With Alzheimer’s, dementia and neurological conditions on the rise, why take a risk?
If you feel that you need to use a low calorie sweetener, try stevia. It is a very low calorie natural sweetener that does not seem to have the problems associated with Saccharine, Aspartame and Sucralose.
Dr. Shayla Waddell
Cognitive training exercises — or mental exercise — may help prevent cognitive decline in healthy older adults, while evidence for the benefits of pharmacologic substances and exercise is weak, outlines a review published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Mild cognitive impairment (cognitive decline that is more than normal for someone of a specific age) affects 10%-25% of people over age 70. The annual rate of decline to dementia (which is cognitive decline in several areas along with some functional ability) is about 10%. With an aging population, it is estimated that the prevalence of dementia will double to more than 1 million Canadians over the next 25 years.
The authors of this study reviewed 32 randomized controlled trials to provide the latest evidence for physicians and their patients to help manage cognitive decline.
Mental exercise showed benefits in the three clinical trials included in the review. This involved computerized training programs or intensive one-on-one personal cognitive training in memory, reasoning or speed of processing. In one trial, participants had significantly improved memory during 5-year follow-up periods. Another study showed an improvement in auditory memory and attention in a group of seniors who participated in a computerized cognitive training program.
“This review provides some evidence to help clinicians and their patients address what strategies might prevent cognitive decline,” writes Dr. Raza Naqvi, Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Toronto, with coauthors. “Future studies should address the impact of cognitive training on the prevention of cognitive decline, and we encourage researchers to consider easily accessible tools such as crossword puzzles and sudoku that have not been rigorously studied. The studies in this review that assessed cognitive exercises used exercises that were both labour- and resource-intensive, and thus may not be applicable to most patients.”
Although we do rely on pharmaceuticals as part of our integrative approach, we always strive to minimize or eliminate drugs whenever prudent. The information in this new study is one example of why many people are better off with with fewer pharmaceuticals as part of their treatment plan.
Scientists have found that daily use, by older adults, of a drug with strong anticholinergic effects, or a combination of drugs with weak anticholinergic effects, causes memory problems in just 60-90 days. This effect is serious enough to be categorized as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Whether this effect is reversible will be explored in future research. (Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. They include some over-the-counter drugs as sleep aids, relief of bladder leakage, or antihistamines, and some prescription drugs for chronic diseases including hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. MCI is a condition considered not to have a major impact on independent functioning; it does not necessarily lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s.) Strongly anticholinergic drugs were associated with a more than doubling of the risk of MCI. There was no increased risk of dementia. Find out whether your drugs have anticholinergic activity, and to what extent, by visiting the Aging Brain Care website at http://tinyurl.com/dxr8ztw. This study was released early and is now being proofed for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It can be read in full at http://tinyurl.com/cfmbx8r.
Scientists have reported a finding that grapes may protect against the damage to the heart (and possibly other organs) associated with the long-term progression of the disorder known as metabolic syndrome, and that this protection appears to be over and above the simple blood pressure-lowering impact that can come from a diet generally rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. The benefits may be the result of the phytochemicals (naturally occurring antioxidants) switching on a protective process in the genes that specifically reduces damage to the heart muscle. For 90 days, some of the test rodents on a high-fat Western-style diet were fed a mixture of red, green and black grapes reduced to a freeze-dried powder. The grape-enriched diet significantly reduced inflammatory markers throughout the body, especially in liver and abdominal fat tissue; reduced liver, kidney and abdominal fat weight; and increased markers of antioxidant defense, particularly in the liver and kidneys. The research was just released to the Experimental Biology conference in Boston, but has not yet been published or posted.
JUST-RELEASED NATURAL HEALTH STUDY:
Scientists have found that resveratrol, a substance found in red grapes and red wine, appears to protect against hearing loss and cognitive decline. (Nearly 20 percent of North Americans live with some degree of hearing loss, and for the majority, hearing progressively gets worse as they get older. Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, is a red-grape constituent also present in blueberries and peanuts. It is present in white wine and white grapes but at lower concentrations.) The scientists found that laboratory rats would suffer less from the long-term effects of noise-induced hearing loss if they consumed resveratrol before listening to extended periods of loud noise. The researchers focused on the effects of resveratrol on inflammation, the response to injury that is believed to be the cause of many health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, aging and hearing loss. Resveratrol was found to protect against the specific inflammatory processes associated with hearing loss and aging. This study was released early but will not appear in print until a future issue of the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
This article in USA Today indicates that what is in your supplements could be more or could very well be less than you think. According to this latest study, what’s on a supplement label is not necessarily what’s in the bottle.
Researchers who tested vitamin D pills sold in stores found they contained anywhere from 9% to 140% of the doses listed on labels, according to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Though none of the pills was likely to be dangerous, some contained too little of the vitamin to effectively treat someone with a deficiency, the researchers say.
At Acumen Health & Wellness Center, we recommend supplements that are produced by companies that use the highest standards in their manufacturing process. Unlike many over-the-counter supplements, professional nutraceuticals use the highest quality raw materials, minimize fillers and other agents that inhibit absorption (“other ingredients” listed on labels), and use the ‘active’ form of ingredients for optimal utilization by the body.
Two new studies appearing in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences show that vitamin D may be a vital component for the cognitive health of women as they age.
Higher vitamin D dietary intake is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to research conducted by a team led by Cedric Annweiler, MD, PhD, at the Angers University Hospital in France.
Similarly, investigators led by Yelena Slinin, MD, MS, at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis found that low vitamin D levels among older women are associated with higher odds of global cognitive impairment and a higher risk of global cognitive decline.
Slinin’s group based its analysis on 6,257 community-dwelling older women who had vitamin D levels measured during the Study of Osteopathic Fractures and whose cognitive function was tested by the Mini-Mental State Examination and/or Trail Making Test Part B.
Very low levels of vitamin D (less than 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood serum) among older women were associated with higher odds of global cognitive impairment at baseline, and low vitamin D levels (less than 20 nanograms per milliliter) among cognitively-impaired women were associated with a higher risk of incident global cognitive decline, as measured by performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination.
Annweieler’s team’s findings were based on data from 498 community-dwelling women who participated in the Toulouse cohort of the Epidemiology of Osteoporosis study.
Among this population, women who developed Alzheimer’s disease had lower baseline vitamin D intakes (an average of 50.3 micrograms per week) than those who developed other dementias (an average of 63.6 micrograms per week) or no dementia at all (an average of 59.0 micrograms per week).
These reports follow an article published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A earlier this year that found that both men who don’t get enough vitamin D — either from diet, supplements, or sun exposure — may be at increased risk of developing mobility limitations and disability.
Many women experience severe PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) that is debilitating and disruptive to daily life. They are left feeling devastated and need advanced measures to alleviated suffering. When dealing with PMS and PMDD, hormonal imbalances are often the emphasis but more research is supporting the correlation between PMS and PMDD and neurotransmitters.
In the June 2012 edition of Menopause International, UCLA researchers reported their findings on the pathophysiology of PMS and PMDD as it relates to neurotransmitters. Research is showing that both GABA and serotonin are altered or lowered in the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle contributing to PMS and PMDD.
When treating a woman with PMS and PMDD it is important to address nutritional support, lifestyle changes, exercise routines, as well as neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances. Emerging research supports the importance of comprehensive neuroendocrine evaluation that includes an emphasis on GABA and serotonin levels.
Our clinic uses an individual approach to help each woman achieve balance and a sense of peace and wellbeing.