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Lyme Disease in the Age of COVID-19

As much of the world has been focusing on the COVID pandemic, many of us are sitting at home for many more hours than we are used to.  We’ve been given this unique opportunity to go outside and visit nature regularly. It’s a good way to combat cabin fever, remain physically active and care for our emotional needs during these times of worry and uncertainty.  

Every day I witness the streets around my home being filled with neighbors I rarely see, families on walks together, kids on skateboards and scooters.  It’s a busy scene for a usually quiet town, and as I try and look for the positive things during these times, this is a beautiful one to witness: that we are all walking more, being with our families and breathing in fresh air.  

Given all the fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, as an Integrative Physician with a focus on Lyme Disease in my medical practice, I felt compelled to share critical information so that you don’t get Lyme.  This information is useful, even if you’ve had Lyme before, or have it now, you don’t want to get it again! (And if you are struggling with chronic Lyme, I have some ideas for you, too)

Deer ticks are transmitters of various diseases in our area including Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasmosis, Relapsing Fever and Powassan virus.  This is not just a cause for concern in the spring and summer as conventional thinking goes. Their activity is dependent on the weather. With climate change afoot I see cases all year round.  Most people think ticks are killed off by freezing temperature but in fact, they just go through a stasis period. When the right conditions come about, they reanimate and come to life again.  

Here are some simple things to keep in mind as we approach high season for tick-borne illnesses:

  1. Temperatures: Deer ticks can be active in temperatures above 32-35 degrees when the ground is thawed and not covered in snow.  This is now. Don’t let your guard down just because you still need a down coat.
  2. Location: It’s common knowledge that ticks are found in the woods or specifically in shrubs, leaf litter, rock walls.  However I’ve had many patients get lyme disease from just being on sunny lawn. We are ground zero for Lyme disease, expect the rules to bend and that it’s easier to transmit traditionally thought.
  3. Family Pets: I’ve had patients who have been outside only on concrete and had Lyme disease.  We forget that our animals can bring ticks into the home. They should be checked regularly.  I believe that pets that get treated with medications like Frontline may tend to protect the animal but they make it more likely for a tick not to attach to them but to someone at home. 

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Against Ticks 

  1. Tick Checks: If you are out in nature make sure you make it a routine to check yourself over.  Oftentimes we are good at checking our children but we forgo ourselves in the interests of time.  I’ve been guilty of that, too.
  2. Deer Fencing: This is incredibly helpful if you are able to have one on your property but it’s not foolproof as smaller animals can bring in ticks. The transmission rates can be reduced by 83-97%.
  3. Clothing: I avoid the use of more toxic insect repellants like permethrin BUT I do like the manufacturers that have bound the permethrin into the clothing fiber.  I do not believe this is absorbed into the body and it can last up to 70 washings and still remain effective. Socks are some of the easiest ways to bring protection into your daily life but other garments such as a hat (since ticks are hard to find on the scalp) are great ideas as well.  Of course you can dress yourself head to toe in clothing and tuck your pants into your socks but who wants to do this when it’s hot. I need my tank top and some vitamin D! 

You’ve Been Bitten by a Tick – What Should You Do? 

While knowledge and prevention can go a long way, ticks are tiny and omnipresent.  Here’s what to do if you find you’ve been bitten by a tick.  

  1. Having the right tools at home or travel when you need them is imperative.  There are many companies that make a tiny portable collection kit complete with tweezers, magnifying glass, picture identification guides and a specimen container. 
    If you are concerned about transmission you should keep the tick and bring it to your doctor for testing.  Most doctors, however, test only for Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme) but they don’t look for the other tick-borne infections.  I advise patients to use a company in Pennsylvania called Tick Checks where you send it in directly and have your tick checked for a multitude of pathogens with results in less than 48 hours.
  2. While there are no clinical studies that support the use of topical essential oils after a tick bite, I would still recommend the topical application of clove, cinnamon bark or oregano oil based on in-vitro studies of their activity against Borrelia infections.  It certainly can’t hurt.
  3. Once you get bitten there is no great test to detect early Lyme disease.  Traditional methods become accurate 4-6 weeks after the bite. There are controversial tests that can be done but it’s a gray area where you have to make decisions on treatment based on the clinical scenario. 
  4. After a delay of 3-30 days, be on the lookout for Erythema migrans (EM) rash (Bullseye rash) which can begin at the site of a tick bite, although many people do not have a rash at all. Over the next 4-6 weeks look for symptoms of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash. See your doctor should you experience any of these symptoms. 

You Have Chronic Lyme – Concerns about COVID

Dr Yee has been treating chronic Lyme for two decades using an Integrative approach that is especially critical during the COVID pandemic as people with Lyme often have a compromised immune system.  Each person with Lyme needs a personalized approach that includes:

  1. Supporting the immune system 
  2. Assessing the best antibiotic regimen
  3. Integrating or replacing antibiotics with herbal protocols
  4. Protecting the gut during antibiotic treatment
  5. Other options for testing and treatment that your conventional lyme doc might not  know about.
  6. Checking aggressively for other tick infections that might have been missed.

If you have Lyme Disease and would like to see Dr Yee, she is now accepting new patients via Telemedicine.  CLICK HERE to set up a call and learn more about how Dr. Yee can help.  

Pamela Yee, MD is an Integrative Physician at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY where she creates highly personalized treatment plans for each of her patients. Dr. Yee has a special interest in integrative cancer care, immune disorders, and lyme disease. She lives in Nyack NY where she and her husband manage their own organic micro-farm.

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Surviving and Thriving on a “Quarantine Diet”

Our lives have all been powerfully disrupted in the past few weeks. All signs indicate that they will remain so for at least the near future, and the adaptations can be exhausting!  Access to food and household needs, both in person and online, can be a lesson in frustration. For those of us who rely on a healthy, whole foods diet for optimal health, or may have dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy, the search can be both harder and longer. As a Functional Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, I can really relate.  If we choose not to stock up on pasta, rice and dry cereal, what are the options?

Here’s what I recommend: 

YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND

  •   Stock your freezer as full as you can with unprocessed foods, including animal protein, vegetables and fruits- minimize processed boxed items which take up extra room. 
  •   Prep the items before you freeze them- for example, cook multiple chickens and cut the meat off the bone, and cut up fresh veggies, removing any parts you will not use before freezing to maximize space. 
  •   Freeze eggs! Drop individual eggs in sections of an ice cube tray. Once frozen you can store in a safe freezer bag such as https://www.green-n-pack.com/. If separating whites and yolks, add some salt to the yolk before freezing

PACK THE PANTRY

We want to maximize the nutrient density of the items we are storing. Although I haven’t officially calculated the protein or zinc per square inch ratio, these suggestions should keep your cabinets rich in foods that keep you healthy and satisfied. 

  •   While others are clearing the grocery aisles of white flour, don’t forget that nuts and seeds, their butters and ground meal are powerhouses of nutrition in small packages. Go heavy on these items. 
  •   Canned or dehydrated vegetables can last a long time. In addition to the usual carrots and peas, add some seaweed, jackfruit (it has a meat-like texture), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and pumpkin puree. Forager is one of many companies that make a variety of veggie chips. Boxed or homemade vegetable soups like tomato, carrot or squash can round out the assortment. 
  •   Dried fruits are another space-saving option to pack in the nutrients. Buy organic versions without added sugar. You can make your own trial mix or purchase a ready to eat option as well. 
  •   If canned tuna is in low supply, select canned salmon. It is better to rotate tuna and salmon anyway. Choose wild or pole caught options when buying fish. 
  •   Don’t forget legumes! Beans are rich in protein, fiber, and a variety of important nutrients. The dried versions are more cost and space friendly than cans, but either will work. Lentil chips, Brami snacking beans and Biena roasted chickpeas add textural variety to your choices. 
  •   Think like a cowboy and stock up on jerkies and meat sticks (like CHOMPS and PRIMAL ) which have a long shelf life. 
  •   Energy bars like EPIC, RX  and Lara are made with only real foods, and only a few of them. 
  •   Forget wheat pasta- bean pasta is readily available online and in many stores- try fiber and protein rich Explore Asian Mung Bean pasta, Banza chickpea pasta or Tolerant varieties which are organic and free of all major allergens. 
  •   Who needs rice when you can grab up some quinoa and buckwheat? Richer in protein and fiber, gluten free and not sold out! 
  •   Keep spirulina and nutritional yeast nearby.  Just a spoonful of spirulina  adds protein, iron and potassium, while nutritional yeast contains B vitamins and has a great cheesy taste. 
  •   Make sure you have herbs and spices on hand. Stressful times tax our immune systems and we can use these ingredients to add more than flavor.  Cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, oregano and rosemary contain compounds that boost our immunity, reduce inflammation and help kill germs. 
  •   My go-to ready-to-drink shake is from Orgain. Organic, tasty and comes in a dairy and vegan option.

SCHEDULE DELIVERY

Many grocery chains are scheduling deliveries two weeks out, and stock varies widely.

  •   Neighborhood shops may be able to meet your needs more quickly, and allow you to help the local economy. Call your local merchant and see what they offer.
  •   Sign up for a subscription service and you will know you have a steady supply of nourishing options coming straight to your door. Some of my favorites include:

o   Misfits Market supplies healthy, high quality produce at lower cost. It also reduces food waste!  (Use code COOKME-BB6IJG)

o   Walden Local Foods ships in the Northeast and supplies a wide variety grass-fed or cage free proteins (use the link to get some free eggs and bacon)

o   Butcher Box  delivers a variety of grass-fed, organic free range proteins directly to your door. 

o   Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ offers conventional and organic plans, which can be customized to your liking

In troubled times, nutrition becomes even more essential to support our immune system, modulate stress and keep us physically and emotionally resilient. Quarantine does not have to mean compromising on our well-being.

 

 

Vicki Kobliner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with over 20 years of expertise applying a Functional Nutrition approach to the care of children and adults. She utilized her wealth of experience with both traditional and integrative modalities, incorporating the power of food, herbs and targeted nutrition support for both prevention of and healing from both acute and chronic illnesses.    Vicki sees pediatric patients and their families at Blum Center for Health, and has extensive experience in addressing a wide variety of childhood illnesses.

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Updated Supplement Recommendations for the Coronavirus Pandemic

By the team at Blum Center for Health:
Susan S. Blum, MD, MPH; Pamela Yee, MD; Elizabeth Greig MSN, FNP 

As the days turn into weeks, we are learning more and more about how this virus behaves, and what we might do to support our immune system to better protect ourselves.  From a Functional/Integrative medicine perspective, thus far we have been focusing on nutrients and herbs that have been well studied, in general, for their ability to support, modify or boost the immune system.  I have been talking and writing extensively on helping people to choose the right supplements.

Today, there is new information that I want to share with you.  Based on what we have learned about the behavior of this novel coronavirus, and in consultation with my team at Blum Center for Health, I am updating our recommendations. 

Here is your update on supplements (updated as of 4.3.20):

NEW INFO:  ACE receptors:  We have learned that this virus uses the ACE receptor on cells to gain entry.  This led to alarm bells in the Integrative Medicine community because we have read that one of the many actions of Vitamins D could be to increase the number of ACE receptors on the cells.  HOWEVER, now, after reading the most recent studies on this topic, it appears that what’s more important is the level of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE 2) in the blood, and NOT the amount of receptors.  And since Vitamin D might help reduce the levels of ACE 2 (a good thing), it appears that the concern about ACE receptors is a thing of the past and we can safely take our usual doses of Vitamin D.

Cytokine storm:  When the virus gets going in your body, it can sometimes create something called a cytokine storm, which is when your immune system reacts vigorously and releases an enormous amount of chemicals (cytokines) and free radicals to destroy the virus. There is concern that in some people, among other things, the cytokine storm contributes to the lung damage that we hear about.  We have been reading about the possibility that some immune boosting vitamins might make the cytokine storm worse.  Many of you have been contacting us, asking for guidance on this.

  1. First, we must state that there are no studies that prove that any of the below supplements contribute to a cytokine storm.
  2. The Arizona University Department of Integrative medicine has made the recommendation, based on their understanding of how these supplements function, to stop the below vitamins and supplements if you develop symptoms of infection or a positive test because they could theoretically contribute to this cytokine storm.  
    • AU Integrative medicine recommends you stop taking these vitamins if you get sick. We share this with you because without knowing for sure, it is best to be cautious and follow these guidelines:  
      1. Elderberry
      2. Echinacea
      3. Larch Arabinogalactan
    • Everything else is considered safe to take, including:  
      • Zinc 
      • Vitamin C 
      • Astragalus
      • Andrographis
      • NAC
  • Mushroom extracts
    • We are having a debate about mushroom extracts because in general we recommend them for their support of the immune system and there really is no evidence that they would be harmful if you got the coronavirus.
    • Therefore, we still recommend you take the mushroom supplements that your provider has given you.  Best to choose only those that have the name of the mushrooms themselves on the ingredient list.


      NEW INFORMATION ADDED 4.3.20:
        

      • Supplements that decrease NLRP3 Inflammasone, can possibly help during cytokine storm:
        1. Curcumin:  500 – 1500 mg daily for prevention, double dose if you get sick.
        2. Melatonin:  1-3 mg daily for prevention, double dose if you get sick.
        3. Vitamin C continues to be great here:  2000 – 3000 mg for prevention, at least 6000 mg if you get sick.  Take as much as you can tolerate without digestive issues. 
      • Food that reduces the Inflammasone:
        1. Quercitin in apples and onions
        2. Oranges, parsley, celery, nuts and berries
        3. EGCG in green tea

PUTTING THIS TOGETHER

  • Supplements:  
    • Stick with Zinc (30 mg), Vitamin C (3 grams), and a probiotic, which you can continue even if you get sick.  There are reports from China about using high dose Vitamin C for treatment, and it seems reasonable to continue to recommend going up to 6 grams daily or more if you get sick (and can tolerate it; it can cause loose stools).
    • Stay on your usual dose of Vitamin A and D, but don’t add extra high doses.  
    • The jury is out on echinacea, elderberry and Larch arabinogalactans.  As of today (updated 3.23.20), probably best to avoid if you get sick until we have more clarity on these.  Stay tuned.
    • One more note:  if you develop a fever, consider not taking any fever suppressing medication because fever helps kill the virus.  However, it is dangerous to let your fever go over 103, and so if you need it, consider taking Tylenol (Acetominophen) instead of ibuprofen (Advil).  It appears that ibuprofen may make things worse. This is another area that is rapidly evolving, and if you can’t find Tylenol in the stores, you should speak to your doctor about other options.
  • Here are the things you should STILL DO for risk reduction:
    • Good gut health: which means lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species. 
    • Balanced stress hormones: Get a good night’s sleep and don’t overwork yourself during flu season. Stress harms your ability to fight viruses.  Practice some form of mediation daily. Melissa, Blum Center’s Health Coachwrote a great blog with tips for managing stress during this time. 
    • Eat foods that are good for your immune system: Avoid processed foods and focus on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies, which boost the detox system in your liver.

Sending prayers and good wishes for you and all of us to stay safe and well during this challenging time.  I will be having a weekly LIVE webinar every Friday at 11 am EST to answer questions. Sign up here.

 

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10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Out of nowhere we’ve been blindsided. Two months ago we never could have imagined the Coronavirus pandemic that is literally bringing the world to a halt. 

We want you to be safe. We want your loved ones to be safe.  And when you stay safe, you help the greater community stay safe, too.

And besides everything you can do physically to ensure safety — washing your hands repeatedly and staying at home as much as humanly possible (yes, isolating) — you must also give your stress response a break. Seriously. Your immune system depends on it.

One of the common threads of Dr. Susan Blum’s books, The Immune System Recovery Plan and Healing Arthritis, and in all our clinical work at Blum Center for Health is this: Stress damages the immune system.

In order to keep your immune system strong, you must employ strategies to minimize the effects of stress.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Create News Blackout Periods — Constantly scrolling, listening to the radio or watching television puts your body on unrelenting periods of high alert. Put in place a news plan. When will you consume your news? I recommend once in the morning and once in the evening for no more than 60 minutes. During the rest of the day, shut off the notifications on your phone, turn off the television and stream podcasts and music that makes you feel good. 

Use Social Media Wisely — Your feed is inundated with COVID19 related news — some of it accurate, some of it false, much of it alarmist, and you likely have friends and family that are in pure panic mode. Perhaps you need to mute a few people, but more than likely you need to step away. Just as I’ve suggested News Blackout Periods, do the same with social media. No, you don’t need it to stay connected to people.  You know who your friends and family are — reach out to them the old fashioned way — call them!

Reframe Your Worries — Here’s an example: My mom is 87 and lives with me. I’m doing everything I can to minimize her exposure. And, my father-in-law is in assisted living — while the building has been closed to visitors for a week, we received notification that someone who visited a resident has since tested positive. I’m a worrier. But, every time I start to feel myself getting worked up, imagining worst case scenarios, feeling that too-familiar constriction in my chest, tingling arms,  combined with swallow breathing, or most likely, holding my breath, I ask myself: “Does my worry change anything in this moment? Is there anything that I can change that would alleviate the worry?” If the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, then I shift my thinking to: “What are my blessings in this moment?” My mom is fine, I’m doing everything I can to keep her safe. My father-in-law is okay. There are no reported cases at his home, and they’ve been closed to visitors for a week. I’m grateful for the sunny day. I’m grateful for the food in my fridge. I’m grateful for an internet connection so that I can stay in touch with my family and friends.

Get Out in Nature — Take a walk. Research shows that walking in nature has a calming effect on your immune system. Take one long walk, or you can take several mini walks throughout the day. 

Breathe — If you’re already meditating, awesome! Now is a great time to deepen your practice. If you’ve been “too busy” to start meditating, well … opportunity knocks! This is the perfect time to get started.  Use an app like Headspace or Calm, and start with 10 minutes a day. There is clear evidence that a mindfulness practice reduces stress, promotes healthier bodies, including taking care of your immune system, and over time, teaches you how to respond to stressors rather than react to them. That comes in pretty darn handy in times like this!

Choose Movies and TV Shows Wisely — Watching disaster movies, action movies and Debbie Downer dramas and documentaries are probably not the way to go right now. Your brain and your body absorb all the negativity, elevating your stress response — not only in the moment, but it fuels your worries and plays a role in disrupted sleep. Choose uplifting, fun, funny shows to watch. I bet you have a list!

Use the Time to Nest — When was the last time you were told to stay home? I mean, were you ever told to stay home? Yes, it’s a very worrying time, but you can also look at the bright side. What projects do you have that have been on the back burner for when you have  more time? Clean out closets, organize your home office, spring clean, get out the clothes that need mending, make your space feel homey and light. You might even try some aromatherapy — use your diffuser, if you have one, or light candles (preferably soy-based, rather than paraffin).

Have Fun with Homesteading — What do I mean? Bake from scratch, include your kids in cooking meals, try some new kitchen skills, like sprouting beans or preserving lemons. Or maybe there’s an InstaPot recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Now’s the time!

Connect with Friends and Family via Video (or Telephone) — Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from your friends and family. In fact, with nearly everybody at home, it couldn’t be easier to connect with those you love. Use video to make lunch dates or connect in the evening rather than watching television. Do you have older people in your life that aren’t comfortable with technology? A good ole phone call will make their day (and likely yours too.)

Eat Real Food — During times of stress many people lean on packaged foods, and sugary, empty calorie foods — these deplete your immune system! Focus on antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits — at least half your plate at every meal — healthy fats, like avocado, wild caught salmon, nuts and seeds; and whole grains, like gluten-free oats, wild rice and quinoa. Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein.

What are some of the ways you reduce stress during trying times? Share them. We’d love to hear.

Wondering what else you can do?

Read Dr. Blum’s blog post: Tips for Boosting Your Immunity 

Check out Dr. Yee’s Fire Cider Brew to help boost your immune system. 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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{Recipe} Dr. Yee’s Fire Cider Brew

First, hand sanitizer became liquid gold. Then toilet paper, another commodity whose worth has skyrocketed all in an effort for people to feel safe and well-stocked.  Now, herbal and nutraceutical solutions for improved immunity have also flown off the shelves of health food stores. Finding them online has proven to be just as difficult.  Everything is BACKORDERED.  

In every single conversation I’ve had with patients these past few weeks, everyone wants to know what they can do to improve how well their immune system can prevent infection.   Recently, Dr Susan Blum had given her tips to boost immunity, and it’s a great start. If you are having a hard time procuring any of these products, read on for what I do personally to boost my immune system. 

For years, I have been taking a simple regimen of medicinal mushrooms at high doses. This year, long before coronavirus became the prevailing thought in each and everyone minds, I added a tablespoon of fire brewed apple cider vinegar to my regimen each evening and I have to say it has been extremely effective.  Granted, this is a “N-of-1” anecdotal report, but I feel quite strongly about it.  

Apple cider vinegar has been used as one of most common home remedies for a wide variety of health conditions from reflux to yeast infections to sunburns.  There is some pre-clinical data showing its efficacy as an anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent but there is no hard clinical proof here. Typically I don’t recommend things without some level of evidence but here we are – empty shelves and backordered items.  It’s been working for me and its dirt cheap! 

You can find locally crafted concoctions of Fire Cider in health food stores and farmers markets but I like to make it at home.  Try this recipe while you are home social distancing and in a few short weeks you’ll have your own Fire Cider brew to boost your immunity as we get back to normalcy.  Wishing you good health! 

Recipe: Fire Cider Brew

(adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
  • ½ cup or more fresh chopped onions
  • ¼ cup or more chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup or more grated ginger
  • 1 Tbs Turmeric 
  • 2-3 Tbs Honey
  • Chopped fresh or dried cayenne pepper ‘to taste’. Can be whole or powdered. 

Directions: 

  1. Place herbs in a half-gallon canning jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least three to four inches. Cover tightly with a tight fitting lid.
  2. Place jar in a warm place and let it sit for three to four weeks. Best to shake every day.  
  3. After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs, and reserve the liquid.
  4. Add honey ‘to taste’. Warm the honey first so it mixes in well. 
  5. Rebottle and enjoy! Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry. 
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Tips for Boosting Your Immunity

My anti-viral approach is to help you build a strong immune foundation so that you boost your immunity and don’t get sick from any virus. A strong immune system is the basis for staying healthy in general and should be a year-round strategy…not just during flu season or when there is a threat of a novel previously unknown virus. This is, by far, the best prevention and protection!

Good gut health: which means lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species. If you are taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors -stop- because this alters your gut flora in a negative way.

Balanced stress hormones: Get a good night’s sleep to boost your immunity and don’t overwork yourself during flu season. Stress harms your ability to fight viruses.

Eat foods that are good for your immune system: Avoid processed foods and focus on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies, which boost the detox system in your liver.

Take your vitamins! Here are some important ones you will need:

a. Vitamin D 2000 iu/day minimum. The dose is based on your blood levels, so if you havelow vitamin D you will need more.

b. Vitamin A retinyl palmitate 5000 iu/day. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not take morethan 5000 iu/day of this kind of Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate).

c. Zinc 30 mg/day.

d. Vitamin C 3-4000 mg/day as an immune booster. 1-2000 mg/day is good for general prevention.

Additional supplements to consider to boost your immunity:

a. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC):  One of my favorites for preventing cold and flu. NAC is widely used in the medical community for a number of conditions , and has terrific clinical data that shows it to be helpful for patients with chronic respiratory illnesses ( and so it is very useful for support treating respiratory viral illnesses). It also converts to Glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant.  I usually recommend 900 milligram capsules or tablets – start with one twice daily and increase to two twice daily if needed. Pharmanac, a Canadian brand that comes in an effervescent form is easy to take as a fizzy drink – even for children!

b. Whey Protein Powder is high in immunoglobulins that boost your immune system. For a non-dairy alternative, try SBI Protect powder from Orthomolecular, packed with immunoglobulins

c. Herbs like Elderberry, Echinacea, Astragalus, and Beta Glucan (mushroom extracts). We love Immunoberry Liquid from Designs for Health, which is a potent and convenient blend of these. 1 dropper each day in your shake, or in a little water, is all you need for ongoing protection. We also love Immune Builder from Mushroom Science: 2 daily for prevention. Both of these supplement doses can be doubled or tripled if you are concerned that you had exposure or feel you have early symptoms of a viral illness.

Lastly, make sure to wash your hands multiple times a day — especially before you eat, and after exposure to public transportation like riding the subway.

 

The items listed are available for purchase from our office, or from our online store:

https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/blumcenter

 

Susan Blum, MD, MPH an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been treating, healing and preventing chronic diseases for nearly two decades. A Preventive Medicine and Chronic Disease Specialist, Dr. Blum is the Founder and Director of Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, New York, where she leads a multi-specialty team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nutritionists and health coaches, all providing cutting edge Functional and Integrative Medicine services.

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I Had My Brain Mapped: Here’s What Happened

For years I’ve struggled with migraines. Diagnosed at 4-years old, I can’t really remember ever being completely headache-free. You might be thinking, “Of course you feel fatigued. Who wouldn’t?”

But, it’s a little more complicated than that. I also had a few concussions as a martial artist, and in sports, like flag football. Perhaps most notably, I had a traumatic brain injury in my 20s when I was hit by a car on my bicycle — yes, a life-changing event. I’ve also had viral meningitis and Lyme disease twice — two more migraine triggers.

In the last year, I started wondering, “Is all of this affecting the way my brain works? Is it just one thing, or is it some combination of these potential brain-affecting ailments? How can I tease all of this apart?”

In comes Field, a wellness team currently located at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY, that offers brain optimization, or in their own words, “Much like computer software, you can think of brainwaves as code that we can train, tweak and reprogram.” 

They claim that by mapping the brain, actually seeing how the brain responds to stimuli (or lack of stimuli), they can help people rewire the brain to respond or fire differently. The treatment particularly helps people with ADD/ADHD, depression, concussions, stress/anxiety, PTSD/trauma, even insomnia.

Could this be the answer to my headaches? It certainly peaked my interest. 

I decided to give it a try.

Prior to my initial assessment appointment I filled out a questionnaire — basically, a brain health history. I elaborated on my reasons for the appointment, and although I was a bit nervous to have electrodes — electrocephalography (EEG) — attached to my head (this is my brain after all!), I felt reassured that they knew what they were doing.

On the day of my appointment I sat in a beautiful slightly reclined chair — I figured it was a way to get me to relax a bit. Co-founder Devon White sat behind a bank of computer screens, and Kitty Boyle, the technician, placed a space-age cap on my head and attached the electrodes to capture my brain’s activity. They explained everything that would happen. So far, so good.

Kitty instructed me to close my eyes and relax. I could hear the white noise of the computer working, a few whispers between Devon and Kitty and then, “Melissa, try not to blink.” Did you know that you can blink with your eyes closed? Evidently I blink a lot!

This first assessment probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but it seemed longer. Trying not to blink took a lot of concentration.

The second assessment was the same as the first — only this time, eyes open. And again, no blinking. 

The third assessment was math-related — counting down from 1,000 by 7s to see how my brain was firing when given a task.

And lastly, Devon and Kitty did a Traumatic Brain Injury Assessment to determine the impact of the injury.

Once all the data was in, all my brain images flashed up on the wall in front of me. Sitting in the comfy chair, it kind of felt like a movie screening — only it was all about me. I was so eager, and even though the assessment was in real time, the anticipation was palpable. What’s going on in there?

Devon and Kitty walked me through all the data. We looked at all the brain waves — gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta. They took the time to explain what these meant in relation to my assessment. We looked at the Mental Math EEG and the Traumatic Brain Injury Discriminant Analysis.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I have a beautiful, fast-firing, high functioning brain. Phew!
  • One thing that popped out is that I have lots of activity at F7 — the front left of my brain — in fact, it never seems to turn off unless I’m keeping it busy with an activity. It makes me hyper alert — and it can make me exhausted if I can’t turn it off. This is so true! Now that it has been brought into my awareness, I’m noticing it all the time. During meditation, when I’m trying to fall asleep, when I just rest with my eyes closed. My brain NEVER gets quiet!
  • There is a pronounced lack of activity in the T4 region — the right temple. This could be the area of my Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • Lastly, there was a TBI, but the great news is: it’s effect is minimal. Hooray!

Devon and Kitty recommended neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that focuses on the brain and its firing patterns. It utilizes real-time displays (EEG) of brain activity — in order to teach self-regulation of brain function. 

Here is what they recommended:

  • We would increase alpha waves while my eyes are closed in order to help facilitate daydreaming and quiet down my brain that never stops firing.
  • Give theta to T4 in order to take down headaches.
  • Use neurofeedback to find plasticity in the part of my brain that isn’t firing and discover if this is indeed residue from my TBI.

So, I’m going to give it a try! I’m hopeful and optimistic. And, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Interested in learning more about brain-mapping? Contact my friend Devon, at Field. 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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4 Foods to Avoid Right Now if You Have Joint Pain

You suffer from joint pain. You may have an official diagnosis of arthritis, or you may suspect you have arthritis. Either way, if you’ve visited your doctor for relief, you’ve likely been told to take anti-inflammatories and to “live with it.”

That’s exactly what happened to me when a sports medicine doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis in my left knee. 

What most conventional doctors won’t tell you is: One of the most important influences on reducing pain is the food you eat.

Why don’t they address diet? 

Research shows that conventionally trained doctors only receive 21 hours of nutrition in the required curricula of United States medical schools. 

Here’s what Functional Medicine tells us: Arthritis — whether it’s autoimmune or osteoarthritis — is an inflammatory condition that can be treated through food, healing the gut, and mitigating the effects of stress.

That’s why Dr. Susan Blum wrote her bestselling book, Healing Arthritis. Since its release she has helped thousands of people learn that arthritis is NOT inevitable, and that by following her 3-step Arthritis Protocol, arthritis sufferers will be on the road to living a pain-free life.

The first step is to remove foods that cause arthritis pain and flares. Not all the foods on this list will cause you flares. But, by removing all of them at once at the start of the experiment, you can add them back one-by-one to learn which foods might be causing you pain.  Our comprehensive elimination diets remove more foods than these 4, but we have found these are the worst offenders and so we suggest you start here. Remove these foods for 3 weeks before reintroducing them, to give the experiment time to work.

4 Foods to Avoid if you Have Joint Pain

Sugar Research demonstrates that sugar is highly inflammatory, and is correlated with arthritis.  And because it is in so many foods, and because you are exposed to it daily, you may not make the connection between your pain and this highly addictive substance. When your blood sugar is high, it directly causes inflammation by stimulating your immune cells to release inflammatory molecules that travel throughout your body, causing damage and irritation in your tissues and joints. To eat a low-sugar diet, eliminate all white flour and processed sugar from your diet, high sugar fruit, fruit juices and dried fruit. This is one of the most important steps you can take toward good health.

Eating this way should be a permanent change. 

Nightshades — These contain a chemical called solanine, which can cause inflammation and joint pain in arthritis sufferers. Avoid tomatoes, white potatoes, all peppers, eggplants, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, chili powder and goji berries.

Gluten — Found in everything from bread to pasta, gluten, (a protein found in wheat), is very hard to digest and can damage the gut lining leading to a “leaky gut”. When partially digested gluten particles get into your bloodstream through this leaky gut, you can develop an immune reaction that can cause vague symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, inflammation, and particularly relevant to you, achiness in muscles and joints. Some people also have more obvious digestive symptoms like gas and bloating.  This is called gluten sensitivity and is different than celiac disease. Gluten reactions can also trigger autoimmunity in body.

Dairy — You may think we remove dairy because of lactose intolerance. However, food sensitivities are caused by the proteins in milk called casein and whey, not by lactose, which is the milk sugar that many people think is the primary cause of their stomach pain. Dairy causes other symptoms that go beyond the stomach — congestion, sinusitis, postnasal drip, and ear infections. Dairy also contributes to a general inflammatory response that can result in …. Joint pain.

In addition to these foods, some people are also sensitive to corn, soy, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, dyes and preservatives, or high histamine foods, such as  shellfish and cured meats. Removing all of these as part of a comprehensive elimination diet would be the next step if removing sugar, gluten, dairy and night shades doesn’t help you feel better.

Rather than trying to figure it out by yourself, I highly recommend following Dr. Blum’s Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis, which eliminates known arthritis triggers for a period of time, and then reintroduces them in a methodical way to create your personal nutrition plan. You can learn more about it in Healing Arthritis, or join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge.

The good news is: There are also foods that help heal joint pain!

Your grocery cart should include:

  • Antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep, colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries.
  • Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
  • Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
  • Fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have an autoimmune disease).
  • Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation. 

Wondering about the other two steps of Dr. Blum’s 3-Step Arthritis Protocol? 

  • Step 1 is all about the Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis and very specific research-supported anti-arthritis supplements. This is all about quick pain reduction.
  • Step 2 is healing the gut — there is documented connection between the digestive tract and joint pain. We heal the gut, further reduce inflammation and continue to decrease arthritis symptoms.
  • And, Step 3 tackles the most overlooked source of joint pain: stress. Step 3 also helps you continue to heal long after the program is over.  We call it “finish what you started”! Address all three and you’ll be well on your way to living pain-free again.

The great thing is you don’t have to do this alone!

If you want someone with you every step of the way, if you love the power of community, please consider joining me and Dr. Blum for the Healing Arthritis Challenge. Dr. Blum will teach you LIVE the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Show Me More

Oh, and what about my arthritis symptoms? The right food, the right supplements, the right type of movement, and continued stress management has me up and running (yes, literally running!) again.

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

 

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Try Our Joint-Healthy, Body-Loving Winter Reboot Buddha Bowl

Now that the holidays are behind us, you might be feeling all the holiday cheer has left you feeling, well, a little less cheery. If you ate a little too much, if you drank a little more than usual, you might be experiencing bloating, headaches and even creaky joints. Not to worry! Here’s our nutritious, comforting Buddha Bowl to the rescue.

Chock full of wintery goodness, this recipe will not only soothe your soul, but will also leaving you feeling nurtured and full. What could be better on a cold wintery night?

One of my favorite things about this bowl is how adaptable it is. Add your favorite vegetables or beans. (I often add pre-cooked lentils that I find in the produce section of the grocery store. Super easy!) You might want to add some other toppings. Here are some of my favorites: hummus, cilantro chutney, avocado, microgreens. Yum!

While we’re on the topic of joint-healthy food … Save The Date!  Dr. Susan Blum, our pioneering Functional Medicine doctor and author of Healing Arthritis, will be leading a FREE 1-hour Masterclass: How to Heal Your Joint Pain in 3 Easy Steps on Tuesday, January 21st at 8pm. Join Now!

Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce (serves 6)

  • 2 cups of cubed winter squash
  • 1 pint mushrooms, washed and trimmed
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and cubed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1¾ cup water
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1½ Tbsp sesame seeds 
  • 12 Tbsp roasted walnuts 

Optional: sprouts, minced avocado, cilantro, toasted nori strips

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

  1. Toss the squash with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and lay out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with mushrooms and beets, keeping them separate. Roast in the oven until fork tender (time will vary for each vegetable). 
  2. Add the quinoa, water and a pinch of salt to a small pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. When the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and recover for 10-15 minutes. 

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat and add the onions. Without stirring, let the onions brown or caramelize. Stir the onions and continue to cook on a low heat, about 10 minutes. 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together Lemon Tahini Sauce (recipe follows) ingredients. 
  2. To serve, place ½ cup quinoa in a bowl and add the onions as well as each vegetable around the quinoa. Garnish with your desired toppings and drizzle the tahini sauce on top. 

Lemon Tahini Sauce (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • ¾ cup hot water 
  • ½ cup tahini 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 
  • 2 tsp grated ginger 
  • 2 tsp honey 
  • ¼ tsp salt  
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water. Add the tahini, lemon, ginger, honey and salt, and whisk until smooth and pourable. 

If you want to start the new decade (Yikes! 2020!) taking control of your arthritis to live a pain-free life, attend Dr. Blum’s FREE 1-hour Masterclass: How to Heal Your Joint Pain in 3 Easy Steps on Tuesday, January 21st at 8pm. It is the only time this year she will be leading this class.  Join Now!

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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Eat Your Greens Detox Soup

Calling all vegetable lovers! This detox soup is great if you want to keep your body in balance, especially during the holiday season!

It’s packed with detoxifying and immune-boosting ingredients like cruciferous and root vegetables that keep nutrition, fiber and flavor high on your list. Turmeric and ginger lend anti- inflammatory support, while seaweed tops this warming soup off with a dose of natural minerals.

Make ahead of time and consume for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s sure to keep healthy eating on track.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sliced cremini or white button mushrooms 1 cup chopped carrots

2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1-3 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth
2 large nori seaweed sheets, cut into 1-inch strips
2 cups torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the mushrooms, carrots and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and sate for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 1-2 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the nori and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

 

About Blum Center Chef Heidi Thweatt

Heidi Thweatt is a professional Chef with two Holistic Culinary Arts Degrees, one focusing on wellness and food as medicine received from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, and the other in plant-based foods, obtained from Living Light International in California.  Heidi teaches that healthy eating is a lifestyle, and her recipes and menu plans embrace this energy. Her mantra has become No Deprivation! She is dedicated to infusing delicious with nutritious all while supporting each individuals lifestyle with food everyone can count on.  View Heidi’s upcoming classes at Blum Center or contact us about her menu planning services.