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Archive for September, 2016

cell phone and kids

It used to be warnings about cell phone safety were deemed conspiracy theory or quack science. Not anymore — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends limiting cell phone use for children based on a large government study linking cancer with cell phone radiation.

The study found exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the rates of highly malignant heart and brain cancer in rodents. In other words, cell phones caused cancer in these animals.

The cells affected in the research animals are the same cells in humans that develop into cancers in adult cell phone users.

These results were alarming enough to prompt the AAP to warn parents to limit children’s exposure to cell phones and wireless devices.

The study also showed cell phones damaged DNA in brain cells.

Children susceptible to cell phone cancer risk

The risks for cell phone cancer damage are believed to be higher for children than adults.

Children have thinner skulls, which makes it easier for cell phone radiation to penetrate and absorb into a child’s brain. Children’s nervous systems are also not fully developed and thus more sensitive to damage.

As a result of this information, the AAP warns adults not to keep cell phones on or near their body and that a child’s exposure should be limited or avoided.

How to reduce cell phone cancer risk

Sadly, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without cell phones these days, despite the risks.

The AAP suggests the following ideas to reduce cancer risk in both adults and children:

  • Choose text messaging as much as possible, and for calls, use speaker mode or hands-free kits.
  • Hold the cell phone at least an inch away from your head.
  • Keep calls short.
  • Do not carry your phone against your body. The amount of radiation you absorb that way may be at an unsafe level.
  • To watch a movie on your phone or tablet, download it first and switch to airplane mode to view. This will help you avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • A weaker cell signal means more radiation because the phone has to work harder. Wait until you have a stronger signal before using your phone or tablet.
  • Avoid making calls in areas where the phone has to work harder for a signal through metal, such as in cars, elevators, trains, and buses.
  • Do not let a child use a cell phone as a toy or for teething.

Cell phone cancer risks little known

Fortunately, cell phone cancer risks are now being legitimized through new research, thus increasing awareness.

For more advice about general cancer prevention through nutrition and lifestyle, contact my office.

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sugar industry buys studies copy

Nutrition experts recommend women consume less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, a day of added sugar (9 teaspoons for men). Yet the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons a day! And that doesn’t even include fruit juice, a known sugar bomb.

How did we allow ourselves to stray so far? Powerful lobbyists with deep pockets played a big role in our overly lax boundaries with a substance that is tanking the world’s developed nations.

Recent findings show that 50 years ago the sugar industry quietly paid for research to blame fat for heart disease and minimize sugar’s role.

(Of course, now we know that the highly inflammatory effects of excess sugar are a major contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.)

Unfortunately, the propaganda campaign didn’t stop 50 years ago; it’s still going strong today.

Sickly sweet sales and marketing

For instance, a grape-juice funded study shows grape juice is good for brain function, despite it packing a whopping 36 grams of sugar per cup, more than what a person should consume in an entire day. Sugar is so degenerative to the brain that scientists now call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.

Coca-cola spent more than $130 million dollars to fund research essentially saying exercise is more important than diet in the weight loss battle. While exercise is indeed important, how you fuel your body is equally important. We’ll assume Coca-Cola did not fund the studies showing a link between the obesity epidemic and soda consumption in the United States.

And, in a brazen show of hubris, the National Confectioner’s Association funded research that concluded children who eat candy weigh less than those who don’t. Despite being naysaid by one of its own scientists, the study nevertheless went on to be published in a respected journal.

Although food giants can buy their way into scientific journals, investigative journalists find these studies are poorly designed, incomplete, and only highlight the positives while ignoring the negatives. Because the average journalist is not trained in how to discern good research from bad, bad studies get ample press.

To spotlight these problems, one science writer conducted a hoax study that concluded eating chocolate causes weight loss and watched the media play it up.

Can you believe science? Yes, be mindful of fads

Does that mean you can’t believe any science? No, plenty of good research is still happening.

The trick is to ferret out the nutritional guidelines based on hundreds of solid studies and read the headline grabbers (chocolate linked with weight loss) with healthy skepticism.

At the end of the day, some nutritional truisms have held fast over the years:

  • Eat lots of different vegetables every day
  • Eat a whole foods diet (avoid processed foods)
  • Avoid or minimize sugars, junk foods, sodas, and juices
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Avoid the foods to which you are sensitive (gluten and dairy are common ones)
  • Exercise daily
  • Cultivate positive experiences, habits, and thoughts

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histamines and natural relief copy

If you dread allergy season, then you know what it’s like to suffer from itchy skin, red eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.

Likewise, you may react to certain foods with hives, headaches, nasal congestion, skin problems, a racing heart, or irritability.

What is the common denominator in both scenarios? Histamines.

While many people just give up and suffer, some natural compounds can bring relief. To understand why these natural remedies work, it’s helpful to understand a bit about histamines.

What are histamines?

Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins, also known as antigens.

When the antigen comes into contact with the body, the immune system registers it as an intruder and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies cause a release of histamine into your bloodstream, where they can build up with repeated exposure and increase sensitivity.

Histamines are found in many common foods, especially those aged or fermented, such as aged cheese, red wine, and sauerkraut, and also in foods such as eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and some seasonings.

The bright side is that there are a number of natural ways to ease your suffering, whether it’s from seasonal allergies or high-histamine foods.

First — Lower overall inflammation in the body

Before looking at natural antihistamines, it’s important to first address a functional medicine foundation: adopting a diet and lifestyle to lower overall inflammation.

This includes removing foods to which are intolerant (gluten and dairy are most common), stabilizing blood sugar, repairing intestinal permeability, managing low thyroid function and hormone imbalances, and addressing chronic stressors, such as sleep deprivation, over training, toxic exposures, junk food, excess alcohol, and many more.

Quercetin — nature’s Benadryl with Hashimoto’s

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

It also gives both short-term relief and long-term gut repair so you’re you less susceptible to allergies.

Nettles

Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine that naturally blocks histamine production. It can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the most effective option.

Butterbur

The European herb butterbur has been shown to rival leading OTC drugs in reducing histamine reactions. It’s an anti-inflammatory properties also reduces spasms in smooth muscle and relaxes swollen nasal membranes.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen is a fruit extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit histamine release.

Ginger

This Asian medicinal plant has been shown to inhibit histamine production.

Ask me about natural antihistamine relief 

These are just a few of the many compounds effective in reducing histamine reactions. You can benefit from the synergistic effect of these compounds working together in product formulations that combine them.

If you have seasonal allergies or react to foods, contact my office. I can help you determine the source of your symptoms and get you on the path to feeling better.

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fasting for better health

Extended fasting during the night fast may lower your risk of breast cancer or improve your prognosis. Fasting has also been shown to decrease the risk for other types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed 11 years of data from non-diabetic breast cancer patients, with surprising results.

The women who fasted less than 13 hours per night showed a 36 percent increase in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who fasted for 13 or more hours per night.

In other words, going at least 13 hours between between dinner and breakfast is associated with a lower risk of cancer.

The study looked at daily sleep and dietary habits, serum blood sugar and inflammation markers (hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein), and the recurrence of cancer and breast tumors.

Longer fasting for better sleep and less disease risk

The study showed that each two-hour increase in fasting time made for longer nights of sleep. This is important not only because it helps people feel better, but also because it points to a healthier sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm  An imbalanced circadian rhythm increases cancer risk, including breast cancer, along with numerous other chronic diseases.

Each two-hour increase in fasting time also reduced blood sugar and systemic inflammation, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and other diseases.

The longer nighttime fasters showed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made in the liver that increases with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

Got low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue? Then a bedtime snack may be appropriate

While the new research makes a strong case for extended nighttime fasting, long fasts may be detrimental to those with low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue.

In these cases, allowing blood sugar to drop too low through fasting can cause a series of negative hormonal consequences that result in insomnia, mood issues, fatigue, and poor brain function.

If you wake up anxious at 3 or 4 a.m., you may be a victim of low blood sugar and need to eat a little protein to fall back asleep. Eating a little bit before bed can also help prevent those all-too-early wakeup calls. You also need to follow a diet during the day that stabilizes blood sugar.

Eating a healthy blood sugar diet over time may help you stabilize your blood sugar to the point that you can comfortably adopt the extended nighttime fast.

A simple, non-medical strategy for reducing cancer and disease risk

These findings suggest that simply extending the time between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours may be a simple, non-medical strategy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and chronic disease.

If you have questions or concerns about nighttime fasting, sleep habits, blood sugar balancing, or disease prevention, please contact my office.

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func med view birth control

If you take birth control pills, it’s important to understand how oral contraceptives can affect your hormone balancing, your liver, your thyroid, and your brain. This functional medicine viewpoint can help you make an informed decision about contraception, or give you insight into buffering potential consequences.

Birth control pills flood the body with an unnatural amount of hormones that are also synthetic. This can imbalance the body in a number of ways.

Your body’s hormone balance depends on finely nuanced communication between the brain and the hormone glands. The brain determines how much hormone the glands should produce based on hormone activity in the body.

When you introduce hormones into the body, this tells the brain the body has plenty of hormone. As a result, the “feedback loop” of communication between the brain and the hormone glands slows down or becomes dormant, lowering the body’s natural production. This may create symptoms or problems when the time comes to go off the pill.

Functional medicine view of birth control and the liver

Excess hormones can stress the liver as it must break down those hormones for elimination. Chronically overburdening the liver causes it to become sluggish and congested, increasing the risk for inflammation, high cholesterol, and poor immune function.

Also, when the liver cannot properly detoxify estrogen, the hormone goes back into the bloodstream in a more toxic form, raising the risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, cervical dysplasia, and endometrial cancer..

Functional medicine support of liver detoxification may include the use of compounds such as dandelion extract and milk thistle extract to help mitigate these effects.

Oral contraception and methylation

Taking birth control pills can result in depletion of methyl donors. Methylation is a liver detoxification process in which a methyl group, which is a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms, essentially tags a toxic compound so that the body can eliminate it.

About 20 percent of the population are already slow methylators. Taking birth control pills can compound this problem, making it more difficult to detoxify environmental compounds. Methylation defects have also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Functional medicine view of birth control and the brain

Depleting methyl donors can also lead to lower serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “well being” neurotransmitter that prevents depression, and healthy methylation activity is necessary for sufficient serotonin.

Compounds that can support methylation include methyl B12, P-5-P, MSM, and trimethylglycine. Compounds that support serotonin activity include 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.

Birth control pills and the thyroid

Elevated estrogen from birth control pills can cause symptoms of low thyroid function by hindering conversion in the liver of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the usable form (T3).

Elevated estrogen can also create too many thyroid-binding proteins, which prevent thyroid hormones from getting into cells. Both these mechanisms can cause symptoms of low thyroid activity, or hypothyroidism.

Functional medicine risks of birth control pills

The more publicized risks of oral contraceptives include heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism, however these risks are recognized as being minimal.

The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you, but simply to educate you in the ways birth control pills can affect your health so you can make an informed decision or understand how you may be able to mitigate their effects.

Although certain nutritional compounds may be helpful, it’s also important to use an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle approach to optimize the function of your body and reduce risks.

Ask my office for more advice on healthy hormone function.

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