"Dr. Hyman, I've been suffering from seasonal allergies for years," writes this week's house call. "Is there anything that I can do to make these go away or am I doomed forever?"
You are definitely not doomed; however, I do know how miserable seasonal allergies can be, especially in the spring and summer.
Conventional medicine treats seasonal allergies with injections and pills, which unfortunately creates side effects and fails to address the root problem. If you don't address the root cause, then the allergies will never go away.
I've seen countless patients arrive complaining about gut issues. Once we fixed their diets and healed their guts, their seasonal allergies also disappeared. When the immune system (60 percent of which is in the gut) is irritated, it reacts to everything—kind of like when you don't get enough sleep everything makes you more irritable.
One patient struggled with allergies, asthma and hives. She almost nearly died twice from anaphylaxis. She arrived in my office on 42 different pills, sprays and inhalers; yet, she still felt awful. These drugs were suppressing and inhibiting her immune function, causing her body to attack everything. None of her doctors had questioned why her immune system was so compromised in the first place. But due to my Functional Medicine approach, that's the first question I asked.
Turned out, she had leaky gut that was triggered by celiac disease, a gluten-related autoimmune disease. Until that point, nobody had actually tested her for this condition. When we eliminated gluten and other dietary allergens, we healed her leaky gut and calmed down her allergies. Thankfully, after six weeks she was able to stop the 42 medications she used daily.
For her and countless other patients, a key strategy involves getting your gut healthy. After all, an unhealthy, inflamed gut can't fight off potential allergens. To do that and eliminate seasonal allergies, I've found these four strategies incredibly helpful:
1. Replace bad with good. An elimination diet becomes the first step for a healthy gut. The simple foundation of Functional Medicine is taking out the bad and putting in the good. Eliminate common toxic triggers like wheat, corn, dairy, soy and alcohol. Eat a whole foods, high-fiber diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients. Avoid anything that contains sugar or trans fats. Focus on eating healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados and omega-3 fats like those found in small fish (sardines, herring, sable, wild-caught salmon). I provide an easy-to-implement plan in my book Eat Fat, Get Thin.
2. Use powerful gut-healing nutrients—including probiotics, which provide good bacteria to improve digestion and reduce inflammation. Other gut-healing nutrients include glutamine, zinc, curcumin and fish oil. I always recommend a high-quality multivitamin. Quercetin (which has anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties) and nettles can also relieve symptoms from allergies. You can find these and other allergy-relieving supplements in my store.
3. Manage stress. A mind-body disconnect can mean being stressed out, wired and tired and can really damage your gut and worsen seasonal allergies. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation every day.
4. Get adequate sleep. Optimal sleep is crucial for gut health and overall health. Research shows inadequate sleep shortens your lifespan and increases inflammation, which can lead to chronic disease. Insufficient sleep can also increase your risk for diabetes through insulin resistance, paving the way for diabesity. Aim for at least eight hours of uninterrupted, deep sleep every night. To help meet that quota, check out my eight simple hacks for a better night's sleep.
Occasionally, I'll have a patient who has tried all these things and still suffers. In those cases, we need to dig a little deeper for other causes such as food additives, pesticides, chemicals and pollution in their environment. You should also check for mold in your home or work—check out this site to learn more.
Also, consider a very important blood test called C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of hidden inflammation in your body. Almost every modern disease is caused by or affected by hidden inflammation, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia, arthritis, autoimmune disease, allergies and digestive disorders.
Chronic inflammation that contributes to seasonal allergies and much more can come from many sources, including:
- A high-sugar, processed-foods diet
- Inflammatory fats like omega 6 fats found in processed vegetable oils and trans fat
- Lack of exercise
- Hidden or chronic infections, such as viruses, bacteria, yeasts or parasites, mold and other environmental allergens
- Toxicity from an overload of environmental toxins
Ultimately, lifestyle choices and how we care for our bodies and souls is not part of our education, values or even our daily planning; yet, these basic skills form the root cause of our happiness and health.
While these principles are disarmingly simple, even the best and brightest people fail to make the connection between how we treat our bodies and how we feel. Most of us never learned how to care for and feed our bodies and souls. A few simple acts implemented into your daily life could change everything, including seasonal allergies.
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By Helen West
Many people find themselves eating late at night, even when they aren't hungry. Nighttime eating can cause you to eat more calories than you need and lead to weight gain.
Here are 10 things you can do to stop eating late in the evening or at night:
1. Identify the Cause
Some people eat most of their food late in the evening or during the night.
To change this habit, you need to identify the cause of the problem.
Nighttime eating may be the result of overly restricted daytime food intake, leading to ravenous hunger at night. It may also be caused by habit or boredom.
In both, people use food to curb emotions such as sadness, anger or frustration and they often eat even when they are not hungry.
Binge eaters also tend to eat very large amounts of food in one sitting and feel out of control while they are eating (6).
On the other hand, people with nighttime eating syndrome tend to graze throughout the evening and wake up during the night to eat, consuming more than 25 percent of their daily calories at night (7, 8).
Both conditions have been linked to obesity, depression and trouble sleeping.
Bottom Line: Nighttime eating can be caused by boredom, hunger, binge eating disorder and nighttime eating syndrome. Identifying the cause will help you take the right steps to solve the problem.
2. Identify Your Triggers
As well as identifying the overall cause of your overeating, you may find it useful to look for a specific pattern of events that usually sets off your eating behavior.
People reach for food for many reasons. If you're not hungry but nonetheless find yourself eating at night, think about what led up to it.
Often you will find you are using food to meet a need that isn't hunger.
Tracking your eating and exercise habits alongside your feelings will help you identify patterns, enabling you to work on breaking any negative cycles of behavior.
Bottom Line: Monitoring your behavior patterns and identifying what triggers you to eat at night will help you break cycles of emotional eating.
3. Use a Routine
If you're overeating because you aren't eating enough during the day, then getting yourself into a routine can help.
Structured eating and sleeping times will help you spread your food intake over the day so that you're less hungry at night.
Getting good sleep is very important when it comes to managing your food intake and weight.
Lack of sleep and short sleep duration have been linked to higher calorie intakes and poor-quality diets. Over a long period of time, poor sleep can increase your risk of obesity and related diseases (14).
Having set times for eating and sleeping can help you separate the two activities, especially if you are prone to waking in the night to eat.
Bottom Line: Having a routine for meal and sleep times can help you break unhealthy cycles of behavior. This can help if you have no appetite during the day or tend to binge at night.
4. Plan Your Meals
As part of your routine, you may also benefit from using a meal plan.
Having a meal plan can also reduce any anxiety about how much you are eating and help you spread your food throughout the day, keeping hunger at bay.
Bottom Line: Planning your meals and snacks can help manage your food intake and stave off hunger.
5. Seek Emotional Support
If you think you may have nighttime eating syndrome or binge eating disorder, then you may want to seek professional help.
A professional can help you identify your triggers and implement a treatment plan.
Creating an emotional support network will also help you find ways to manage negative emotions, which otherwise might lead you to the fridge (22).
Bottom Line: For some people with eating disorders, seeking professional help and support can be key to overcoming problematic eating at night.
Anxiety and stress are two of the most common reasons why people eat when they aren't hungry. However, using food to curb your emotions is a bad idea.
If you notice that you eat when you are anxious or stressed, try to find another way to let go of negative emotions and relax.
Relaxation techniques you may find useful include breathing exercises, meditation, hot baths, yoga, gentle exercise or stretching.
Bottom Line: Instead of eating, try to deal with stress and anxiety using relaxation techniques, gentle exercise or stretching.
7. Eat Regularly Throughout the Day
Overeating at night has been linked to erratic eating patterns that can often be categorized as disordered eating (26).
Eating at planned intervals throughout the day in line with “normal" eating patterns can help keep your blood sugar stable.
It can also help prevent feelings of ravenous hunger, tiredness, irritability or a perceived lack of food, which can lead to a binge (27).
However, it's important to note that results in this area have been mixed.
Bottom Line: Eating regular meals will prevent you from getting too hungry and will help you manage your cravings and food impulses.
8. Include Protein at Every Meal
Different foods can have different effects on your appetite.
If you eat due to hunger, including protein at every meal may help curb your hunger.
It could also help you feel more satisfied throughout the day, stop you from being preoccupied with food and help prevent snacking at night (36).
One study found that eating frequent high-protein meals reduced cravings by 60 percent and cut the desire to eat at night by half (37).
Here is a list of 20 healthy high-protein foods.
Bottom Line: Protein is known to keep you fuller for longer. Including protein at every meal can reduce cravings and nighttime eating.
9. Don't Keep Junk Food in the House
If you are prone to eating high-fat, high-sugar junk food at night, remove it from your house.
If unhealthy snacks aren't within easy reach, you are much less likely to eat them.
Instead, fill your house with healthy food that you enjoy. Then when you have the urge to eat, you won't snack on junk.
Good snack-friendly foods to have available if you get hungry include fruits, berries, plain yogurt and cottage cheese.
These are very filling and probably won't cause you to overeat in the case that you do end up becoming ravenously hungry in the evening.
Bottom Line: Take any unhealthy junk food out of the house. Doing so will stop you from snacking on it throughout the night.
10. Distract Yourself
If you are preoccupied with thoughts of food because you're bored, then find something else you enjoy doing in the evening.
This will help keep your mind occupied.
Finding a new hobby or planning evening activities can help prevent mindless late-night snacking.
Bottom Line: If you are eating out of boredom, then try finding something else you enjoy doing in the evening to keep your mind occupied.
Take Home Message
Nighttime eating has been linked to excess calorie intake, obesity and poor health.
If eating at night is a problem for you, then try the steps above to help you stop.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Terita Heath-Wlaz
Time for a dash of salt on that sheet pan of roasted veggies. What do you reach for? Pink Himalayan crystal salt? Hawaiian red salt? Black lava salt? Or, good old Morton's table salt?
Colorful, exotic sea salts are marketed as minimally-processed, healthful alternatives to refined table salt. But since your individual diet and health influences what you need from salt, it's worth examining the claims and true differences among salts before you choose.
Processing in Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
It's true that sea salt undergoes less processing than table salt; it's produced simply by evaporating water from oceans or salinated lakes. Trace minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium remain in sea salt, altering its texture, flavor and nutritional content in subtle ways.
Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits underground. Manufacturers strip the salt of minerals to yield a uniformly white color, grind it to a fine consistency and add an anti-caking agent like calcium silicate. Finally, most table salts contain added iodine to combat iodine deficiency and goiter.
Many consumers gravitate toward sea salt because of its “close-to-nature" status–and its easy to understand why! We know minimal processing benefits our health when it comes to grains, meats and vegetables, so shouldn't the same be true for salt?
There's more to consider.
The promise of trace minerals in sea salt is alluring, but experts with the American Heart Association note that most minerals in sea salt occur plentifully in other foods. If you eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, you likely already consume plenty of potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients.
By weight, the amount of sodium in sea salt and table salt is roughly equal. That means if you're trying to keep your sodium intake below the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day, use either type of salt in moderation.
Worthy of note: most sodium we ingest doesn't come from the salt we add to food, but from packaged and processed food. The most effective change you can make to reduce sodium intake is to eat fewer processed foods and less restaurant fare.
Dietary iodine added to table salt—but not sea salt—protects the health of your thyroid, which in turn helps regulate your metabolism, heart rate, nervous system and many more functions.
Certain foods supply iodine naturally, including seaweed, fish, yogurt and eggs. If you eat these foods regularly (especially seaweed!), you may be getting the recommended 150 micrograms of iodine your body needs in a day.
If your diet is low in iodine, however (which is common), choosing iodized table salt might act as a good insurance policy for thyroid health.
So, What Should I Choose?
The salt you choose depends on your tastes, nutritional status and diet. If you are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding and you regularly eat iodine-rich foods, you might choose sea salts for their beautiful array of colors, textures and flavors. A little jar of special salt makes a charming gift and if you enjoy eating foods close to their natural state, sea salt can complement your cooking.
But sea salt, unlike table salt, does not supply iodine and its trace minerals probably have little effect on your health. Most importantly, remember that sea salt contains as much sodium as table salt, so whatever you choose, use just a sprinkle!
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By Maggie McCracken
Inverting—positioning your body so that your feet are higher than your heart—holds a number of health benefits. Seniors are especially likely to benefit from inverting, but everyone can enjoy improved circulation, reduced foot and leg swelling, a rush of oxygen to the brain and perhaps even relief from back pain if they include regular inversions in their yoga practice.
By Franziska Spritzler
This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water.
What is Carbonated Water?
Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure.
This produces a bubbly drink that's also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer water and fizzy water.
With the exception of seltzer water, they usually have salt added to improve the taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.
Natural sparkling mineral waters, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different.
These waters are captured naturally from a mineral spring and tend to contain minerals and sulfur compounds. These waters are often carbonated as well.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water is created by combining water with carbon dioxide under pressure. Sodium and other minerals are often added.
Carbonated Water is Acidic
Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that's been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in your mouth as mustard.
The pH of carbonated water is 3–4, which means it's slightly acidic.
However, drinking an acidic beverage like carbonated water does not make your body more acidic.
Your kidneys and lungs remove excess carbon dioxide. This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45, regardless of what you eat or drink.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water is acidic, but your body maintains a stable, slightly alkaline pH no matter what you consume.
Does it Affect Dental Health?
One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its effect on teeth, since the enamel is directly exposed to acid.
There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than still water. Furthermore, it was 100 times less damaging than a sugary soft drink (3).
In one study, carbonated beverages showed strong potential to destroy enamel, but only if they contained sugar. In fact, a non-carbonated sweet beverage (Gatorade) was more harmful than a carbonated sugar-free drink (Diet Coke) (4).
In another study, samples of tooth enamel were placed in various beverages for up to 24 hours. The sugar-sweetened carbonated and non-carbonated beverages resulted in significantly greater enamel loss than diet drinks (5).
Another review of several studies found that the combination of sugar and carbonation may lead to severe dental decay (6).
However, plain sparkling water appears to pose little risk to dental health. It's only the sugary types that are harmful (7).
If you're concerned about dental health, try drinking sparkling water with a meal or rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking it.
Bottom Line: Sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages can erode tooth enamel, but plain carbonated water appears to be relatively harmless.
Does it Affect Digestion?
Carbonated water may benefit digestive health in several ways.
It Can Improve Swallowing Ability
In one study, 16 healthy people were asked to repeatedly swallow different liquids. Carbonated water showed the strongest ability to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing function (9).
Another study showed that the combination of cold temperature and carbonation strengthened these beneficial effects (10).
In a study of 72 people who felt a persistent need to clear their throats, drinking ice-cold carbonated water led to improvement in 63 percent of the subjects. Those who had the most frequent and severe symptoms experienced the greatest benefits (11).
It May Increase Feelings of Fullness
Carbonated water may also help you feel full longer than plain water does.
Sparkling water may help food remain in the first part of the stomach for longer, which can trigger a sensation of fullness (12).
In a controlled study of 19 healthy young women, fullness scores were higher after the participants drank 8 oz (250 ml) of soda water, compared to still water (13).
However, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
It May Help Relieve Constipation
People who experience constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms.
In a two-week study of 40 elderly people who had suffered strokes, average bowel movement frequency nearly doubled in the group that drank carbonated water, compared to the group that drank tap water.
What's more, the participants reported a 58 percent decrease in symptoms (14).
There's also evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain.
One controlled study looked at 21 people with chronic digestive issues. After 15 days, those who drank carbonated water had significant improvements in digestive symptoms, constipation and gallbladder emptying (15).
Bottom Line: Carbonated water has benefits for digestion. It may improve swallowing, increase feelings of fullness and reduce constipation.
Does Carbonated Water Affect Bone Health?
Many people believe that carbonated beverages are bad for bones because of their high acid content. However, research suggests the carbonation isn't to blame.
A large observational study of more than 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water appeared to have no effect on bone health (16).
Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a lot of phosphorus.
The researchers proposed that the cola drinkers may have been consuming too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. This is a potential risk factor for bone loss.
In another study, teen girls who consumed carbonated drinks were found to have lower bone mineral density. This was attributed to those beverages replacing milk in their diet, resulting in inadequate calcium intake (17).
In a controlled study of 18 postmenopausal women, drinking 1 liter (34 ounces) of sodium-rich sparkling water for 8 weeks led to better calcium retention and no negative effects on bone health, compared to drinking plain mineral water (18).
Animal research suggests carbonated water may even improve bone health.
Supplementing the diets of hens with carbonated water for six weeks led to increased leg bone strength, compared to tap water (19).
Bottom Line: Drinking carbonated cola drinks may harm bone health, but plain sparkling water appears to have a neutral or positive effect.
Does it Affect Heart Health?
There's very limited research on how carbonated water affects heart health, but the existing evidence is positive.
In the same group of 18 postmenopausal women from the bone health study, the researchers measured indicators of heart health.
What's more, they also had an increase in HDL (the “good") cholesterol (20).
Additionally, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35 percent lower for those drinking the carbonated water, compared to the control water.
However, since this was only one small study, a lot more research needs to be done before drawing conclusions.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water may have beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. However, this needs to be studied a lot more.
So is Carbonated Water Actually Bad For You?
There is currently no evidence that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you.
It is not really that harmful for dental health and seems to have no effect on bone health.
Interestingly, a carbonated drink may even enhance digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation.
It's also a calorie-free beverage that causes a pleasurable bubbly sensation. Many people prefer it over still water.
There's no reason to give up this beverage if you enjoy it. In fact, it may actually improve your overall health.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Ann Pietrangelo
“If everyone was a healthy weight we could close half the hospitals and get rid of half the doctors," according to Philip Caravella, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. The family physician says obesity and being overweight are the leading causes of serious medical problems.
“The huge costs of medical care and medical insurance could be dramatically reduced if people understood the importance of fitness and normal weight," he said.
So, is It the Diet or is It the Sedentary Lifestyle?
Caravella believes a nutritionally sound diet and exercise are both important for maintaining a healthy weight, but not enough credit is given to exercise.
“Experts focus on diet as the main cause of obesity when it isn't," Caravella said in an interview. He's been studying the cause and effect of obesity for 20 years.
“Nutrition incorporates the building blocks," he explained. “Exercise is the tool to build your body into the fine, precision machine it can be. They are entirely different from each other, yet critical to each other just as cement and steel are the requisites of a well-engineered building. Exercise gives you strength and power. A sound diet provides the building blocks. One without the other will result in a deficient, inadequate body that is full of compromises, weaknesses and potential problems as time goes on. Good exercise yields strength and minimizes the effects of a diet that sometimes is too rich in sugars, carbohydrates and fats and is nutritionally deficient in vitamins and minerals."
Why is Weight Control So Important?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, obesity is often a contributing factor in:
- fertility problems
- sleep apnea and other breathing disorders
- high triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol
- high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke
- type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome
- some types of cancer
When it comes to the nutrition part of the equation, Caravella's advice is simple and will come as no surprise to regular Care2 readers. Our diets should consist of foods that exist in nature. “We've gotten way away from that in modern times because of processed foods, cakes, cookies, etc. We should focus on what lives and grows out in nature, not what our modern diet has morphed into."
He believes that focus on natural foods should start with infants. “Breastfeeding lowers the incidence of obesity and leads to a healthier life all around. We need to change nutrition from the get go. We should give them foods that are natural. If you don't introduce babies to processed foods, they'll have no interest in them."
Exercise is Good for Your State of Mind, Too
In addition to warding off serious health problems, exercise helps increase endurance, promotes good balance and keeps you flexible—all of which help get you through the day at your best.
“Exercise improves general well-being, one's intellect, their sense of purpose, their emotional goodness and dispositions, their sleep patterns and especially their ability to interact with others," according to Caravella. “Fit men and women will have an easier chance of attracting a significant other. People who exercise often will have less anxiety and depression. If they feel great about themselves, they will also feel excellent around others. With good form comes great personal achievement."
What is a Healthy Weight and How Do You Get Started?
To determine your healthy weight goal, you need to evaluate your body mass index (BMI). Dr. Caravella explains how to go about that in his book, Weight No Longer: The Prescription for Amazing Fitness & Living.
If you haven't been exercising regularly, he recommends consulting with your doctor first. Your general health, medications and pre-existing medical problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure must be considered before you start a regular exercise program. If you're going to do it, you want to do it right.
Do you happen to be one of those rare people who never exercises but still manages to maintain a good weight? Well, don't be too quick to pat yourself on the back and call it a day. You still need to exercise to prevent health problems, keep your bones and muscles healthy and boost your emotional well-being.
“All who exercise—regardless of their weight—will enjoy a longer, healthier life; diminishing their chances of developing dementia and arthritic conditions later down the line," said Caravella.
“Exercise fine-tunes our bodies. It prepares us for the unexpected while giving us the ability to participate in nearly any activity that most would find to be enjoyable. Life is worth living when your body is worth having."
I couldn't agree more. We've only got one body to get us through this life and it's worth keeping it in good shape. And once you get used to regular exercise, it's actually hard not to exercise.
If you need a little inspiration, Caravella put it quite succinctly: “We all make compromises. Exercise must never be one of them."
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