Tag Archives: Immune system

Avoiding the Common Cold and Flu

It’s that time of year again.  Cold and flu season is upon us.  Fortunately there are things that can be done to avoid getting the cold and flu outside of getting that nasty flu shot.

It all starts with diet

Perhaps the best things you can do is eat a healthy diet.  A diet filled with high quality protein, healthy fats and brightly colored vegetables and fruits is a great way to keep your immune system functioning at its best.  Remember, your immune system depends on what you put into your body for fuel.  Junk in = junk out!

Control stress

In times of stress the body goes into fight or flight mode.  This means it is trying to survive and survive right now. When you are under stress your body views the immune system as unimportant.  Because your body is trying to survive in the short term it begins to shift energy away from long term systems like the immune system.  Your body is not concerned with that cold you might get two weeks from now if it doesn’t think it will survive today or tomorrow.  Do your best to manage your stress so that your immune system can stay as potent as possible.

Exercise

You will see this over and over again in my posts.  Exercise is good for everything!  Exercising stimulates immune function in our bodies by facilitating immune cells that go after viruses.  Plus, there are many other benefits to exercise.  Its importance cannot be over stated.  There is one caveat to this; do not over exercise.  This will shift your body into that fight or flight scenario discussed above and will have the opposite effect your are desiring.  Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise 3-4 times per week is adequate.

Supplements

Listed below are helpful immune boosting supplements that you can use to ward off the cold or flu this season.  You should always buy the highest quality supplements that you can.  All supplements are not created equal! The company that I like to use is a company called Metagenics. They have superior quality control and prove their formulations through research.  Their products are safe and effective.

Vitamin D

D3 1000 is vitamin D in a highly absorbable form.  Vitamin D is known to boost immune function and it has been shown that people who have the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood are at the highest risk of illness.  I recommend 2,000-4,oooIU per day.  D3 1000 is 1,000IU per tablet.  You may order this supplement from Metagenics though my online store here. Simply register and begin shopping!

ImmuCore

ImmuCore is designed to enhance the  activities of macrophages, natural killer cells, and T cell subsets.  These cells are the cells in your immune system that will fight the fight!  It contains vitamin C, zinc, selenium and a proprietary blend of immune boosting herbs.  Click here to purchase.

Kaprex AI

Kaprex AI contains a small amount of vitamin D as well as zinc and selenium.  Its major ingredient is a complex derived from hops (yes, those hops) that has been shown to have hugely beneficial effects on the immune system and inflammation.  Click here to purchase.

How To Purchase

You may purchase these supplements many places online.  You do not have to buy them from me but you may.  If you would like to here is how to order them.

You may click one of the links in the above paragraphs at the end of each description or you may click the link to our online store under our blog roll on the right hand side of your screen.  Once you’re there register your name and begin shopping.  They will be shipped straight to you, usually arriving in 1-2 business days.

If you have any questions please let us know!

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What’s all the hype over wheat and milk allergies anyway?

Wheat.

Image via Wikipedia

Wheat and milk are staples in most Americans’ diets.  The dairy and grain industry like it that way to be certain.  But what exactly is all the hype over eliminating these potential allergens from our diets?  And is there really any research to support all of our concerns?

Well, in one word, yes.  The short explanation of why is that both wheat and dairy are extremely prevalent in our diets.  Wheat consumption in this country is quite high – about 137 pounds per year per person.  Dairy consumption is even higher with 605 pounds consumed per year per person!  The high amounts of these in our diets leads to high levels of exposure and, therefore, higher levels of allergies and sensitivities.  What exactly do these substances do to our bodies?  This is a good question and to properly answer it we will have to break down both wheat and dairy a little further.

Wheat

Saying that a person is allergic to wheat is actually a bit inaccurate.  What people are allergic or sensitive to is the protein in wheat called gluten.  Gluten is also found in rye, oats and barley to name a few.  This protein is allergenic for good reason.  In many people it is incompletely broken down in our gut and is absorbed in a format that the body cannot recognize or use.  When this happens the immune system kicks in and there’s your allergy.  Most of the time proteins are broken down into their individual amino acids.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  If we take several amino acids and hook them together we get something called a peptide.  If we take several of those peptides and hook them together we get our protein.  The body must do this in reverse order if you will when it digests our foods – protein to peptides to amino acids.  If this does not occur properly your body may absorb the peptides.  The problem with this is that the body cannot recognize the peptides as useful and actually sees them as an invader.  Invaders must be destroyed and our army (the immune system) takes over and destroys these peptides but leaves us with the after effects.  A gluten allergy causes many of the traditional allergy symptoms:

  • Swelling, itching or irritation of the mouth or throat
  • Hives, itchy rash or swelling of the skin
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis

In children, changes in behavior might also be seen.  This happens because the undigested gluten peptide is known to circulate in the blood and bind to receptors in the brain altering behavior.  It is a complex cascade of events but many parents have noticed significant improvements at school and at home after eliminating gluten from their child’s diet.

Gluten is also the offender in people who have celiac disease.  Celiac disease and gluten allergy or sensitivity are two separate entities.  Celiac disease is a chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten.  Abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea and maldigestion are the signs and symptoms.  While celiac disease involves an immune system response, it’s a more complex food reaction than a food allergy.

Dairy

Dairy allergies can be just as problematic.  They often cause the same signs and symptoms as a gluten allergy.  The main problem comes from the protein in milk called casein.  Casein has the same issues with under digestion as gluten.  When the break down is incomplete, allergies result.  New research seems to point to the type of casein that is present in most Americans’ diets.  There are many types of casein and the difference is only the order in which the amino acids are arranged.  That order, however, seems to be critical for developing allergies.  Most milk consumed in this country is called A1 milk.  A1 stands for the type of casein in the milk.  This is the most prevalent type of casein in our milk supply.  This is the case because almost all of our cows in this country are of European decent and genetically they produce the A1 casein.  Cows of African or Asian decent produce a different kind of casein called A2.  This type of casein has not been linked to allergies as has the A1 variety.  If you or your child are allergic to milk, options are available.  Goat’s milk is a great option.  It contains casein but it contains the A2 version.  It is a great option for people suffering with milk allergies.

I must touch on lactose intolerance for a moment.  Lactose is the sugar present in milk.  Being lactose intolerant is not a milk allergy.  Lactose intolerance stems from an enzymatic deficiency.  The lactase enzyme is not present to break down the sugar in the milk.  The immune system is not involved and therefore it is not an allergy.  The symptoms include gas, bloating and diarrhea.

In my practice I often see people who have undiagnosed allergies.  They can cause many disturbing symptoms and by eliminating the offending foods people often feel much better.  If you suspect a milk or a wheat allergy the gold standard for testing is an elimination diet.  In this you completely eliminate anything from the diet that might contain wheat or milk, for instance.  I have people avoid it for 3 weeks and then reintroduce the offending foods in full force to see if there’s a change.  You must add them back in at a high level so there can be no mistake as to whether it affects you.  Also, be sure to eliminate either wheat or dairy, not both at the same time.  That way you’ll be sure you’ve found the right (or wrong!) food for you.  Blood tests that test whether your immune system has reacted to wheat and dairy are also available and stool tests work as well.

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