Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

3 Tips for Staying Healthy at Home

By Charlotte Meier

While you may not like to consider the possibility that your home could make you and your family sick, there is a very good chance that it is, especially if your family members have eye, nose, and throat irritation, congestion, or a rash that dissipates an hour or two after leaving home. While older homes typically have more materials that cause illness, newer homes also may be responsible for making you sick. Below, we share a few tips for helping you and your family stay healthy at home.

1. Get a home inspection

One of the first steps you should take to ensure that you reside in a healthy home is to schedule a home inspection with a certified inspector. Professional home inspectors examine both the exterior and interior of the home and check the electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems, the home’s structure, and the paint and other finish elements. Inspectors also look for evidence of pests and rodents. If the inspector finds a major issue, he will suggest inspections by specialists who can give a more detailed report on the problems.

The home inspection will guide you toward repairs that you can make to solve any problems the inspector uncovers. For example, the inspector may have discovered that there is lead-based paint in your home. If the paint is in good condition and the surface of the paint hasn’t been broken, your family’s health is not in serious danger. But, if the lead paint is deteriorating, flaking, or leaving lead dust, your family is at increased risk of lead poisoning.

If you do have lead paint, immediately clean up paint chips, clean your child’s play areas, and dust on a regular basis. Do not wear shoes in your home, and contact a certified lead abatement contractor immediately, because painting over lead paint does not eliminate the problem. These certified contractors will either remove the paint, seal it, or enclose it safely. If you need assistance in finding a certified lead professional, contact the National Lead

Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.

2. Test for radon

As many as 20,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by radon; in fact, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Testing is the only way to determine the radon levels in your home, and you can purchase a radon test kit online or at a home improvement store. Be sure to follow the instructions in the kit carefully and to test in the lowest lived-in level of your home. Keep in mind that for the test to be most effective, you need to maintain closed-house conditions for 12 hours before the test and during the duration of the test.

If you discover that your home has radon levels over 4 pCi/L, the EPA’s recommended action level for radon exposure, you should take steps to reduce it to acceptable levels as soon as possible. DIY repairs to reduce radon levels include sealing gas entry points, using natural ventilation, burning a candle, and turning on ceiling fans. For higher levels of radon, use a fan with a positive ion generator.

3. Avoid carpeting and engineered wood products

If you are building or remodeling, or if you are looking for materials to remove from your home to improve your family’s health, avoid carpeting and engineered wood products. Carpeting may be soft, but most wall-to-wall carpeting manufactured outside of the U.S. is synthetic; it’s materials put toxins that have been linked to cancer, nerve damage, respiratory issues, and immune system damage into your home.

Engineered wood products are manufactured with glue, and the adhesives and bonding agents emit pollutants such as formaldehyde into the air inside your home. Many cabinets, furniture, wall paneling, and kitchen counters are constructed with these wood products, so it is much better for your family’s health if you purchase natural, solid wood products that contain significantly fewer, if any, chemicals.

It is possible that your home is making you and your family sick. If you have even the slightest inkling that your home is not as healthy as you’d like, you should follow the tips we have suggested here. You may just find that your family stays healthy if you make corrections to your home.

Wherever You Shop: Say NO to GMO Foods!

Wherever You Shop: Say NO to GMO Foods!

From farmer’s markets to grocery stores, to shop with confidence about avoiding GMO foods you need to shop smarter. Here’s how:

When in doubt, Go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs. Look for the USDA Organic Seal on labels for produce as well as meat, dairy, eggs and fish.

Look for the non-GMO Project logo.

This third-party verification means the food has been tested for GMOs. Look for the colorful butterfly and plant logo on the label.

Check for a grocery chain’s organic line. Some grocers, like Whole Foods have their own organic and non-GMO products.

Look at the PLU Code on produce. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, your first choice should be those labeled with a five-digit PLU that begins with a “9,” which indicates the food is certified organic. Produce items containing a four-digit PLU are considered “conventional” – not technically GMO, but may still contain pesticides and other toxic residues. If the PLU begins with an “8,” avoid it.

Avoid “at-risk” ingredients. The five most prevalent GMO crops are corn, canola, soy, cottonseed and sugar beets. These are also typically added to packaged foods as corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents, thickeners and other ingredients. Choose organic or non-GMO verified.

The most common “genetically-tinkered-with” crops are:

  • Corn (especially sweet corn)
  • Hawaiian papaya
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow summer squash
  • Edamame (soy)
  • Sugar – unless you are buying pure cane sugar, expect a GM variety of beet sugar.
  • Artificial sweeteners are likely derived from GM sources

Go Bulk. Dry grains, beans, nuts and seeds are typically non-GMO (exceptions listed above).

 

References

  • SustainablePulse. “GM Crops Now Banned in 38 Countries Worldwide.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/10/22/gm-crops-now-banned-in-36-countries-worldwide-sustainable-pulse-research/#.Vuq4yRIrJE4
  • Non-GMO Shopping Guide. “Tips For Avoiding GMO’s.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/tips-for-avoiding-gmos.html
  • Non-GMO Product Verification & Information. Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://www.nongmoproject.org
  • Food Matters. “6 Easy Ways to Avoid GMO Products.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-easy-ways-to-avoid-gmos
  • Organic Consumers Association. “An Interview with Jeffrey Smith on GM Food Safety.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/interview-jeffrey-smith-gm-food-safety
  • Medicine Talk Blog. “What You Really Need to Know About GMOs: Interview with Jeffrey Smith.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://medicinetalk.org/blog/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-gmos-interview-with-jeffrey-smith/
  • Non-GMO Shopping Tips. http://action.responsibletechnology.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7044
  • Environmental Working Group. “EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GMOs.” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://www.ewg.org/research/shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-gmos
  • Environmental Working Group. “Are You Looking For The “9” When You Buy Produce?” Date Accessed: Feb 1, 2015. http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2009/09/are-you-looking-9-when-you-buy-produce
Soothe Emotional Angst with Motherwort

Soothe Emotional Angst with Motherwort

A plant in the mint family, Motherwort gets its name from its ancient use: helping women who had a tendency to “over-mother” and thus experienced more stress, and less joy, in their maternal role. Today, throughout Europe and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s used as a medicinal herb to treat emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression. It also helps ease symptoms of menstrual distress, as well as physical and emotional exhaustion.

Motherwort can be prepared as a tea, tincture, or in capsule form. Depending on the the type of preparation, it can have a rather bitter taste and an odor some may find unpleasant. However, for many users, it becomes an “acquired taste” and the benefits outweigh any bitterness.

Motherwort has the ability to calm without causing drowsiness, and it has medicinal effects on circulation and heart rate. Because it can thin the blood, this herb should be used carefully and under the guidance of a qualified herbalist or natural health practitioner.

In our practice we use Motherwort to address the symptoms of  hyperthyroidism, benign irregular heart beat (racing heart), emotional and mental tensions, anxiety and spasms. It is also effective in addressing the hot flashes and mental tension so commonly occurring in perimenopause.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you decide if motherwort is right for you. In her practice, she uses lifestyle modification and natural remedies to address the root cause of your medical symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

 

References

  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (2015.) p.191-192. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.
  • NatureGate.com “Motherwort.” Accessed on July 3, 2016: http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/motherwort
  • NDHealthFacts.com “Leonurus cardiaca.” Accessed on July 3, 2016: http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/motherwort
  • Hoffmann, D. Medicinal Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Healing Art Press 2003. http://www.pdfarchive.info/pdf/H/Ho/Hoffmann_David_-_Medical_herbalism.pdf pp. 501, 502, 509, 514-517.
  • Murray, M. “Hypertension” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 174), 1475-1485.
  • Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. “Plants and the Heart” in National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. 100-101.
  • Mars, Bridgitte & Fiedler, Chrystle. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 2015.), 189.
GMOs in Your Food: The Facts You Need to Know

GMOs in Your Food: The Facts You Need to Know

Did you know that FDA doesn’t even test genetically modified foods to make sure they’re good for you? According to them, it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure their GMO products are safe.

If you’ve paid even a little attention to food industry news, you know there’s huge concern over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in our food supply. It’s estimated that more than half of America’s processed grocery products contain gene-altered ingredients. Since at least the 1990’s we’ve been consuming genetically modified enzymes primarily in breads, cheeses, sodas, and beers. Today, the primary genetically modified (GM) food crops are corn, soybeans, and potatoes.

What does all of this really mean? Is there a real threat to health? Won’t GM crops help us feed a planet with dwindling resources?

It’s easy to get confused by arguments from both sides of the proverbial fence. We hope our basic, 5-point primer on GM foods helps you become a more informed consumer:

GE or GMO: What’s the Difference?

“Genetically Engineered” (GE) and GMO are used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Confusion arises because the USDA defines a GMO as an organism produced through any type of genetic modification.

Genetically engineering food is different from the way plant breeders make selections for plant traits between two cultivars. When a plant breeder (organic or conventional) selects a trait like disease resistance found in one plant and uses that trait to enhance another plant, that creates a hybrid. In this case, the plant breeder has encouraged the same kind of selections that might occur in nature. Breeders also monitor the plants for effects on specific characteristics including quality, nutrient density, and productivity. This is the true application of the term “genetically modifying organisms”.

A GE crop is one in which a single gene or combinations of genes from one organism are artificially forced into the DNA of another organism (a crop). Essentially, the natural boundary between two species is broken in order to create a new life form (i.e., foods) with more desirable traits.

For example, to get cold-weather hardy tomatoes, you can splice the DNA from salmon, which has those genetic features and transfer it into the tomato. This yields a larger crop when the weather is less than favorable. What is the problem with it? Tomatoes would never naturally contain those fishy genes.

But far more than fish genes are being spliced into crops. According to Jeffrey Smith, President of the Institute for Responsible Technology, “GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola, have had foreign genes, such as bacteria and viruses forced into their DNA. These have never been in the human food supply.”

Therein lies the problem with food that has been genetically modified outside of nature’s boundaries: The genetics of a plant, not only affect its color, taste, yield and nutrient quality, they likely affect the way that food goes to work in the human body.

In the interest of larger crop yields, profits for big biotech companies, and claims that GM foods will ‘feed the world,’ we have no proof that these foods are safe and no data to indicate the short or long-term effects on human health. And, people are still starving around the world.

“Even if the transgene itself is not dangerous or toxic, it could upset complex biochemical networks and create new bioactive compounds or change the concentrations of those normally present. In addition, the properties in proteins may change in a new chemical environment because they may fold in new ways. Further, the potential toxic or carcinogenic effects could have substantial latency periods.”- The Need for Greater Regulation and Control of Genetic Engineering: A Statement by Scientists Concerned About Trends in the New Biotechnology (1995)

What are the Health Concerns of GMO Food?

GM foods do not undergo regulated testing in the United States. Much of what we know comes from independent scientists conducting animal studies (and the so-called unbiased studies from big biotech). However, scientists and politicians in other countries believe the threat to health is real-GE/GM crop cultivation is now banned by 38 countries worldwide (28 in Europe).

Medical professionals claim there are health effects potentially linked to eating these foods. In her article for the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Martha R. Herbert, a pediatric neurologist wrote: “Today the vast majority of foods in supermarkets contain genetically modified substances whose effects on our health are unknown. As a medical doctor, I can assure you that no one in the medical profession would attempt to perform experiments on human subjects without their consent… Yet manufacturers of genetically altered foods are exposing us to one of the largest uncontrolled experiments in modern history.”

Potential Health Effects:

  • Introduction of new antigens into crops could result in increased rates of allergies and allergy-related health conditions.
  • Bacteria in our guts could pick up antibiotic-resistant genes found in many GM foods that have been spliced with antibiotics.
  • Animal studies indicate GM foods may cause toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, pancreas or reproductive system.
  • Animal studies show that DNA from the food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.
  • The risks to children and fetuses may be greater because their digestive and neurological systems are not fully developed.

 

Why are food genetics being manipulated?

There are two primary traits that have been added to crops: herbicide tolerance, which lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it, and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These outcomes have no proven health benefit to humans, There is, however, economic benefit for biotech companies like Monsanto, which develops (and owns the patent to) the weed-killer that farmers use on crops and we use in gardens (e.g., Roundup aka glyphosate). The company has been accused of everything from hiding research on the real health effects of glyphosate used on crops around the world to knowingly producing products that threaten biodiversity and cause cancer.

To date, six bio-tech giants are actively lobbying against the U.S. public’s demand for GMO labeling on foods. And yet, legislators continue to protect citizens as demonstrated by California’s recent decision requiring Monsanto to label Roundup as carcinogenic.

 

Stay Informed!

Resources for learning more about GMOs, Monsanto, and health implications are listed below.

 

References

  • Endelman, R. “The Difference between GE and GMO.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://thedelicioustruth.blogspot.com/2012/03/difference-between-terms-ge-and-gmo.html
  • Herbert, Martha. “Feasting on the Unknown: Being Exposed To One Of The Largest Uncontrolled Experiments In History.” Chicago Tribune (Sep 3, 2000). http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2000-09-03/news/0009030374_1_genetically-modified-new-proteins
  • Institute of Functional Medicine online. “Genetically Modified Foods 20 Years On: Still No Labeling and Minimal Safety Testing.” https://www.functionalmedicine.org/home/Focus_On/Genetically_Modified_Foods/
  • Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia (1995) p.18. Quoted in “Why the Genetic Engineering of Our Food Offends Principles of Most Religions.” In reference to the quote form A Statement by Scientists Concerned About Trends in the New Biotechnology, As cited at PBS.org “Should we Grow GM Crops?” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/exist/arguments.html
  • SustainablePulse. “GM Crops Now Banned in 38 Countries Worldwide.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/10/22/gm-crops-now-banned-in-36-countries-worldwide-sustainable-pulse-research/#.Vq-sA8cwfL8
  • InstituteforResponsibleTechnology.org. “Health Risks of GMO Foods.” Accessed on Feb 7, 2016. http://responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education/health-risks/
  • Artemis, D. & Arvanitoyannis, I. “Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods.” Crit Rev Health Sci & Nutrition. (2002) 49:2, 164-175. DOI:10.1080/10408390701855993. Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701855993
  • PBS.org. “Genetically Modified Foods.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/pov/hybrid/genetically-modified-foods/
  • Medicine Talk Blog. “What You Really Need to Know About GMOs: Interview with Jeffrey Smith.” http://medicinetalk.org/blog/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-gmos-interview-with-jeffrey-smi th/
  • Environmental Working Group. “EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GMO Food.” Accessed on Feb 2, 2016. http://www.ewg.org/research/shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-gmos
  • GMO Free-Europe. Map of GMO-free Regions Worldwide. Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions.html
  • Food Matters. “6 Easy Ways to Avoid GMO Products.” Accessed on Feb 8, 2016. http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/6-easy-ways-to-avoid-gmos
Nurture Your Child's Emotional Intelligence

Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

We want the best for our children. From the moment they’re born, we look for ways to stimulate learning potential and strengthen their IQ (Intelligence Quotient). While studies differ on whether we can actually enhance IQ, they concur that we can – and should – support Emotional Intelligence/Quotient (EQ). Doing so not only improves a child’s ability to learn, it provides tools for managing emotions and developing coping skills that result in healthy self-esteem and good decision-making.

EQ is defined as the ability to identify and manage emotions, as well as having regard for the emotions of others. People with high EQ exhibit leadership skills and are typically excellent team members. Of course we want our children to have a high EQ. However, with our busy adult lives and our child’s organized play, we seem to be ignoring its importance. Today, nearly one in five children has an emotional disorder such as anxiety, depression, or behavioral conduct problems.

According to Dr. Gerald Newmark, founder of the Children’s Project, “[It is vital] to create a positive atmosphere in which family members interact with each other in ways that make everyone feel respected, important, accepted, and secure.” In doing so, “we can become a powerful force for developing emotionally healthy and high-achieving children and families.”

Try incorporating these strategies into your family’s routine:

Model Coping Skills. Children learn by observing you. Research shows this begins in the prenatal period, when developing babies sense maternal stress. When your anxiety levels get high, don’t just muddle on. Take time out. Do something just for you. This kind of self-awareness models emotional health and shows children how to cope with stress.

Solve Problems Together. Whether it’s kids who don’t want to get out of bed for school or an epic struggle around chores, open communication is the best way to reduce tension. Talk with your kids about what’s important to your family and why. Invite them to offer solutions.

Listen to Your Kids. Too often adults view kids’ problems as insignificant or silly. But our children see themselves as real people with real problems. Ask them about their challenges and concerns. When children feel heard, they feel validated and that builds trust between them and you.

Express Gratitude. Acknowledge the good things in your life; this steers focus away from negative events and gives new perspective to tough situations. Keep a family journal, or during mealtime have each person express what she or he is grateful for that day.

Honor a Child’s Spirit. Children can experience profound moments that shape their lives in enduring ways. It can be a moment of wonder (seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time) or an awareness of their own inner wisdom (an ‘a-ha’ moment). It can be moments in which children ask big questions about life. Set aside time to discover and discuss these experiences. They can become cornerstones in a child’s evolving sense of themselves and an awareness of something greater than the material world.

 

References:
  • Firestone, L. “7 Tips to raising an Emotionally Healthy Child.” Psychology Today website. Accessed on April 8, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201211/7-tips-raising-emotionally-healthy-child
  • The Children’s Project.com Extensive Resources on “Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools & Communities.” Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://emotionallyhealthychildren.org/resources/ –also see: Family Meetings: http://emotionallyhealthychildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Family_Meetings.pdf
  • CDC 24/7. “Children’s Mental Health Surveillance Report – U.S. 2005-2011.” Accessed on April 11, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/features/childrensmentalhealth/
  • Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. Online resources accessed April 9, 2016. http://www.danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/
  • Kamrath, S. “Happy Healthy Child: A Holistic Approach – An Interview with Bruce Lipton.” (2012). Brucelipton.com Accessed on April 11, 2016. https://www.brucelipton.com/resource/article/happy-healthy-child-holistic-approach
  • KidsHealth.com Resources for Understanding Children’s Emotions & Behavior. Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/emotions/
  • MedlinePlus.com “Stress in Childhood.” Accessed on April 8, 2016. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002059.htm
  • Walton, Alice G., “How Parent’s Stress Can Hurt a Child, From the Inside Out.” Forbes online. July 25, 2012. Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/07/25/how-parents-stress-can-hurt-a-child-from-the-inside-out/#74c7a4ff13f8
  • Repetti, R. L.,Taylor, S.E., et al., “Risky families: Family social environments and the mental and physical health of offspring.” Psychological Bulletin (Mar 2002).128(2), 330-366. Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.128.2.330
  • Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Family Tools for Nurturing Children’s Social Emotional Development. Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/family.html
  • ChildSpiritInstitute.com Global Resources and Network on Children’s Spiritual Life and Wellbeing. http://childspirit.org/about/overview/
  • Blanchard, L.T. et al., “Emotional, Developmental, and Behavioral Health of American Children and Their Families: A Report From the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health.” Pediatrics (June 2006). 117(6). Accessed on April 8, 2016. PDF available: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/6/e1202.short
  • Association for Psychological Science Online. “Change in Mother’s Mental State Can Influence her Baby’s Development Before and After Birth.” Accessed on April 11, 2016. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/a-fetus-can-sense-moms-psychological-state.html
  • American Psychological Association. Identifying signs of stress in your children and teens. Available at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-children.aspx. Accessed on April 8, 2016.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. “Tips to Promote Social-Emotional Health among Young Children.” Accessed on April 8, 2016. http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/docs/se-tips-care-providers.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=OHS+Children+Mental+Health+Awareness+Day+-+May&utm_content=OHS+Children+Mental+Health+Awareness+Day+-+May+CID_0dc7d994ec2c0e19e5900739f723c066&utm_source=CM%20Eblast&utm_term=Tips%20to%20Promote%20Social-Emotional%20Health%20Among%20Young%20Children
Zinc and Your Health

Zinc and Your Health

Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has an important role in the workings of the muscular system, reproductive systems in both men and women, and proper insulin and thyroid function. Zinc is a catalyst for the vitality of the skin and wound healing. However, zinc is probably best known for supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Several studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms. Studies also show that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children. New studies are also looking at how the body uses zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve the treatment of celiac disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The two best forms are zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate. According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It’s best to first consult with your wellness practitioner before taking zinc. Men always require more zinc than women, mostly because zinc participates in production of testosterone and sperm.

Some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency could be frequent colds, decrease testosterone level or low mobility of sperm. One of the most peculiar symptoms is lack of smell and taste. In my office I offer a “taste test for zinc deficiency”. It involves taking a sip of concentrated zinc water and holding it in the mouth for 10-15 seconds. If it tastes like water to you, then you are deficient. If you identify somewhat tart taste, you probably barely making it. The reaction of person with sufficient amount of zinc in the body would be detecting a clear metal taste. Trust me, only few of people passed this test, majority of are deficient in zinc for many reasons. One of them, is that zinc, like no other element, participate in toxic metal detoxification. As you know, we all have exposure and demands on zinc are high.

In my practice I always try to use “food as medicine”. Here are the foods that are high in zinc and if you eat them regularly, you need for supplementation could be reduced. The top 5 are: oysters, beef and lamb meat, wheat germ, spinach and pumpkin seeds.

Eat away and be healthy! Don’t hesitate to our practice if you need advice or looking for guidance to address chronic medical conditions or optimize your health.

Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health

Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health

Adults and children alike are spending more time awake late at night to study, work, or have fun. All those late nights may be negatively effecting us. More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health.

Most of what we know about sleep and health comes from studies of what happens to the mind and body when we don’t sleep enough, or at all. In animal and human studies, living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 8 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.

While We Are Sleeping…

Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.

While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormone cleanses the liver, builds muscle, breaks down fat, and helps normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren’t getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which is has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. Lack of sleep interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics (e.g., some of us really are night owls). Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

Your bed is for sleep and sex only. Regular sex can improve sleep quality so don’t use your time between the sheets to deal with daily hassles–take that outside of the bedroom (or record in a journal). If you don’t feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy, then, go back to bed.

Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This entrains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.

Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance. A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72°). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality due to suppression of melatonin production.

Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulates hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Also, exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.

Eat a Light, Last Meal of the Day. A light dinner eaten 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on toast, Greek yogurt with sugar-free granola, or cheese and crackers. My favorite is almond butter and crispy apple. Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.

Are You Sleep Deprived? Here are some symptoms of sleep deprivation:

Daytime drowsiness; fatigue

Poor memory; difficulty concentrating

Changes in appetite

Difficulty dealing with stress

Irritability

Muscle tension; impaired vision

Increase in accidents or clumsiness

You don’t have to pull “all-nighters” to become sleep deprived. A sleep debt of just 1-2 hours a few nights a week can affect your health and performance. To become fully well-rested and regain energy after a sleep debt, get an extra hour of sleep each night for one week.

If you experience any of the following the signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your healthcare provider about natural approaches to getting your sleep back on track.

References
  • Harvard Health. Sleep: What’s in it for You? http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health
  • Strickgold, R. “Sleep on It!” Scientific American. October 2015. 313(4): pp. 52-57.
  • Brondel, L., Romer, M., Nougues, P., Touyarou, P., and Davenne, D. 2010. Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91 (6): 1550-1559.
  • National Sleep Foundation. 2009. How much sleep do we really need? http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.
  • Chang, A., et al., Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec 2014). 112:4, 1232-1237. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232.full.pdf
  • Harvard Health. Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences
  • Van Cauter, E. & Knutson, KL. “Sleep and the Epidemic of Obesity in Children and Adults.” European Jl of Endocrinology. 59(1) pp. S59-S66. http://www.eje-online.org/content/159/suppl_1/S59.short
  • Rechtschaffen, A. & Bergmann, BM. “Sleep Deprivation in the Rat: Update of the 1989 Paper.” Sleep. 2002. 25(1): pp. 18-24. http://www.journalsleep.org/Articles/250104.pdf
  • Knutson KL, et al. Role of Sleep Duration and Quality in the Risk and Severity of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006 Sep 18; 166(16):1768.
  • Gottlieb DJ, et al. Association of Sleep Time with Diabetes Mellitus and Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2005 Apr 25; 165(8): 863.
  • King, CR et al. Short Sleep Duration and Incident Coronary Artery Calcification, JAMA, 2008: 300(24): 2859-2866. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19109114
  • Opp, MR, et al. Neural-Immune Interactions in the Regulation of Sleep, Front Biosci. 2003 May 1;8:d768-79.
  • Cohen S, et al. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, Arch of Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12; 169 (1):62-67.
  • Colten, HR & Altevogt, BM, eds. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press 2006: 3. “Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
  • Spiegel K, et al. Impact of Sleep Debt on Metabolic and Endocrine Function, Lancet. 1999 Oct 23: 354(9188): 1435-9.
  • Zeng, Yawen et al. “Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being.” Current Signal Transduction Therapy 9.3 (2014): 148–155. PMC. Web. 16 Oct. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440346/
  • Figueiro M, Bierman A, Plitnick B, Rea M. “Preliminary evidence that both blue and red light can induce alertness at night.” BMC Neuroscience. 2009;10(1):105.
  • National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Depression & Anxiety https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/the-complex-relationship-between-sleep-depression-anxiety
  • National Institutes of Health: Signs and Symptoms of Problem Sleepiness http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/signs
What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

While discussion of poop is probably not a hot topic in your household, in our home it is the most important topic of discussion. “Honey,how was your poop today? Did you have a good one?” Jokes aside, composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health. Did you know the features of fecal matter–such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), pancreatitis, and cancer.

To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart (see attached picture and diagnosed yourself). The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid–as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.

5 BMs that Require Medical Attention (Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs).

Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.

Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.

White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.

Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.

Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.

How Often Should You Go?

How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. For most people, daily BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).

How Low Should You Go?

There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers–they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.

You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P8L0r4JVpo

Resources

Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015.

Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.

Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.

Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.