Posted on

9 Easy Ways To Boost Your Health This Summer

When it comes to summer health care we often hear about the need to apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses to protect our eyes, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

But the longer days of sunlight and warm weather create an opportunity to buoy our health in ways that impact our lives well into the Fall. Check out these summer health tips to deepen and expand the health of your body, mind and spirit.

9 Easy Ways To Boost Your Health This Summer

  1. Enjoy Summer’s Seasonal Bounty – Oh, the ecstasy of summer foods! Cherries, watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, corn, arugula, rhubarb, melon, berries — it is a feasting bonanza. Take a walk through any farmer’s market and delight in all the produce summer has to offer. Get it while you can!
  2. Deepen The Spiritual Awakening of Spring — We commonly “Spring Clean” our lives, cleaning out the cobwebs physically, mentally and spiritually with greater attention toward renewal. Deepen this “awakening.” For instance, did you declutter any part of your home? Think about the emotional and mental impact this had and delve into how incorporating a “no-clutter” attitude, replete with loving every item in your home, amplifies your overall wellbeing. Or, did you perhaps “Spring Clean” your body? Think about how well you felt after the cleanse and consider adapting a cleanse-like mentality to your everyday nutrition.
  3. Take Advantage of the Weather — In other words … be outside every moment you can! Don’t sleep away your weekends. Get up, get active, and enjoy every moment of the gift of long warm days.
  4. Try Something New — It’s a great time of the year to try out an abundance of activities. Landscape painting, trapeze school, any number of outdoor sports (have you always wanted to know how to play lacrosse? Join a summer beginner’s league.), surfing, bicycle touring, or whale watching. Make a list and go!
  5. Slow Down — Summer is chock full of delights for the senses. Meander through a botanical garden, plant an herb garden (even on your window sill!), or enjoy your local farmer’s market or take a sunrise walk before the hustle bustle of the day starts. See, smell, taste and the joys of summer. Take the time to notice the seasonal changes from day to day.
  6. Experience Nature — Research shows that walking in green spaces reduces stress and increases calm, creativity and productivity. But beyond the health benefits connecting with nature allows us to connect with the Earth. It serves as a reminder of our joined destiny, our interdependence, that we are connected to the trees, the plants and all the little creatures big and small that share it with us.
  7. Relax and Breathe — Create the time to hang out in a hammock, sit on a beach, find a shady spot under a tree in your favorite park and mindfully breathe. There’s something about summer that makes it particularly easy to cultivate a breathing practice. Breathe, stretch, read, write — all great ways to spread your wings, find your voice and connect to your source.
  8. Visit A Farm — Farms are aflutter with life! Baby animals, growing plants — visiting a farm gives us an opportunity to connect with our life source! We are accustomed to food arriving on our plate without giving thought (or thanks!) to its origin. When we become aware on a conscious level, our relationship to the food we eat changes. We slow down and appreciate all the work that went into the food we are about to consumer.
  9. Volunteer — With so many hours of daylight it’s a great time of the year to volunteer out of doors. Walking trails, nature trails, community gardens, farms, and conservancy organizations would all welcome your help. Meet other like-minded people, give back to your community and experience the boost in mood and wellbeing that service provides.

What summer health tips would you add to this list? Let us know!

Are you feeling the effects of too much summer fun — weekends full of parties, BBQ’s and cocktails? At about midway through July many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. Join our 10-Day HealMyGut Summer Reboot — it’s exactly what you need to bring your intestinal flora back into balance. Relief is on the way! (And, it’s on special for the month of July!) Get the Special Price 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.

Posted on

Is Summer Eating Making you Feel Heavy, Bloated and Blah?

Summer is full of fun — parties, BBQ’s, cocktails — and about midway through July many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. It’s an easy time of the year to slowly, or for some, not so slowly, slide back into old ways.

For some, (like me!) you have a hamburger bun and three days later think, “Well, I had a hamburger bun and nothing happened so I’ll eat another one today.” Before you know it hamburger buns and white bread become the norm.

Or, for some, you eat the hamburger bun,  feel like a complete failure and go right back to your old way of eating.

(By the way, this is exactly why we created the 10-Day HealMyGut Summer Reboot for the month of July. We know how hard it is to stay on track and this will reset your system and make the rest of the summer easy as pie. Learn more and get the limited time offer)

Here’s the good news: It is possible to navigate summer eating fun AND stay on track with health goals.

The trick is to rewire the way we think about summer eating and to understand that making healthy choices begins WAY BEFORE the actual event.

Think about it: How possible is it to show up at your best friend’s BBQ — full of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, cold slaw, macaroni salad, cheeses, charcuterie, baguette, beer, cocktails, and pie — and think that you will only eat salad? Not likely! In fact, I would say impossible.

Besides, what fun would a BBQ be if you only ate salad?

On the other end of the spectrum, who wants to over-indulge on everything and then feel crappy physically and feel crappy about themselves?

The great news is that there is a way to find a middle ground to enjoy these food events, and even indulge, without a food hangover, shame, guilt and defeat.

10 Ways to Enjoy Summer Eating Without the Side Dish of Guilt

  1. Eat throughout the day — This goes for everyday, of course, but this is particularly problematic during the summer. Many people skip meals, or skimp on meals, thinking they will “save up” for the event —this backfires every single time. We end up eating more then we would have had we nourished and fueled our body during the day. When we skimp on nourishment our blood sugar drops and our body goes into starvation mode. We end up not only over-eating, but also eating foods we probably would not have found so tempting.
  2. Stock Your Fridge with seasonal foods and partake in extra servings of fruit and veggies leading up to the event. I find it helpful to have an extra smoothie or a green juice. Not only is it nourishing but it serves as a reminder that you are committed to treating your body with love and care.
  3. Exercise first thing in the morning — even if it’s just a walk. It revs your metabolism, reinforces healthy habits and sets a healthy tone to the day.
  4. Visualize yourself at the event — Let’s say you know you are going to a beach wedding in two weeks. Don’t wait until the last minute and start fretting about food. Every morning sit silently and envision yourself at the reception. Visualize yourself having fun, feeling great in your clothes. Visualize yourself being choosy when you take hors doerves. See yourself asking for fish and filling your plate with healthy, delicious food. See yourself having just a few bites of cake with a generous helping of berries. In other words … PRIME YOUR BRAIN!
  5. Plan in advance, Part 1: — Going to a BBQ and not sure what the pitfalls will be? Call or email your friend and ask what she/he will be serving.
  6. Plan in advance, Part 2: — Ensure there will be something you like to eat? BRING IT!
  7. Place everything you eat ON A PLATE — Eating mindlessly out of the potato chip bowl is a recipe for disaster.
  8. Plan for alcohol in advance — Planning on two drinks? Sip slowly and drink a full glass of water between drinks. Pace yourself and drink with awareness.
  9. Be aware of your surroundings — Are you eating because you are choosing to eat OR are you eating because you are mirroring someone else’s eating?
  10. Walk away! — If you feel like you are unhappy with the choices you are making …. walk away. Cognitive psychology demonstrates that when we change our environment we disrupt the behavior and can change the behavior in that moment. For instance, can’t stay out of the potato chip bowl? Grab a friend and go for a walk.

Lastly, have fun! Summertime is all about fun. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and eat all the summer produce you can before it’s gone — watermelon, peaches, berries, green beans, sugar snap peas — load up before it’s sweet potato time!

Looking for a quick way to reset the gut? Try our HealMyGut Summer Reboot to bring your intestinal flora to a state of robust health and diversity. Relief is on the way! Get Our Special Summer Reboot

 

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. You can learn more about coaching with Melissa Here

 

Posted on

Hashi-toxins: The Link Between Pesticides and Hashimoto’s

By Jill Grunewald

If you’re someone who keeps your finger on the pulse of holistic health and wellness, you’re likely doing so many of the “right” things: tending to your gut health and microbiome, eating nutrient-dense foods and minimizing processed foods, sleuthing out food sensitivities, eating organic as often as your pocketbook will allow, taking the right supplements, hydrating, exercising, and cooking at home as much as possible.

All of these factors are important for overall health and taming the inflammation that the science has shown can lead to degenerative disease—and they’re also, not surprisingly, important for thyroid and immune health. In fact, many are able to manage their Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism) and other autoimmune conditions simply by heeding the above.

Yet another important consideration is environmental toxins. I know, it’s a broad term—and one that overwhelms many. Unfortunately, all of us are victim of a modern world where chemicals abound. There’s no way around it. And when the amount of incoming toxins exceeds the outgo, our “body burden” increases, affecting our health on multiple levels including our hormones, immune system, respiratory system, and cognitive function.

The good news is that there are ways to mitigate the inflow of any environmental toxin (offense is your best defense), but there are also simple ways to support our glands of detoxification (see below) so that these chemicals don’t rule the roost and we don’t end up living life with our “toxin goggles” on.

As far as pesticides go, the benefits of eating a chemical-free diet—whether it’s “organic” or simply “sustainably-grown”—are vast and beyond the scope of this article. It’s indisputable that they’re chemicals. But there’s been a significant “campaign” attempting to convince us that they’re not harmful chemicals.

I don’t believe that every morsel of food that passes our lips needs to be organic and as the saying goes, “The dose makes the poison.” But know that “a little here, a little there” can increase your toxic body burden, slow thyroid function, and affect how our immune system functions.

Highlight: Your Thyroid

One of the primary reasons that pesticides (including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and nematicides) are so impactful to our endocrine system is that many of them interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism. Dr. Mark Hyman states, “One of the most important factors that lead to hypothyroidism is exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, which act as hormone or endocrine disruptors and interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function.”

The list of pesticides commonly administered to crops is dizzying, but methyl iodide, for example, is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin and is associated with thyroid abnormalities. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women exposed to the pesticides aldrin, DDT, and lindane were at much greater risk of developing thyroid disease.

Another significant source of pesticides that many don’t consider is toxic lawn care chemicals, which are often tracked into homes from our shoes. (If you’re a golfer or live with one, know that golf courses contain some of the most toxic turf known.)

Pesticides also interfere with thyroid hormone conversion, interrupting our ability to convert T4 (our “storage closet” thyroid hormone) into T3 (the more bio-available “big daddy”). One of the issues with taking thyroid hormone replacement, while often warranted, is that some are unable to convert T4 into T3.

Pesticides are also considered xenoestrogens, the synthetic compounds that mimic estrogen. Xeno means “foreign” or “outside the body.” Among other issues, xenoestrogens set the stage for an increasingly common condition known as estrogen dominance (ED). (ED is somewhat of a loose term and doesn’t always mean that there’s excess estrogen—for women, you can be estrogen dominant simply by having too little progesterone. EDs don’t just affect women, by the way. For men, it can show up as aggression, decreased sex drive, or male breasts.)

Additionally, pesticides contain bromine, a well-known endocrine disruptor. Bromine is a halide that competes for the same thyroid gland receptors that uptake iodine, which inhibits thyroid hormone production and can result in hypothyroidism.

Highlight: Your Immune System

The association between pesticides and the immune system is robust. Remember, pesticides are xenoestrogens. Dr. Susan Blum states, “You need to know about [xenoestrogens] because they play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases. A group of researchers from the University of Milan conducted a review of all the studies looking at the role of environmental estrogens and autoimmunity. Over and over, they found a positive association between exposure to different agricultural chemical pesticides and [autoimmune diseases].

“We know that estrogen affects the immune system, because all immune cells have estrogen receptors and these hormones also encourage your immune cells to begin to make too many antibodies. The role of estrogens in autoimmune diseases has been well studied.

“… every chemical you are exposed to adds to your toxic load. Having a high toxic load makes it harder for your liver to handle pesticides and environmental estrogens, toxins that we know will affect your immune system.”

How to Reduce Your Toxic Load

Keep in mind, the recommendations below can apply to most any environmental toxin, whether it’s heavy metals, plastics, antibiotics and hormones in meat and dairy, flame retardants, and toxins in home cleaning supplies and skincare/cosmetics.

Firstly, I realize it’s not feasible for everyone to eat all organic/sustainable all the time. Do the best you can. If you can’t afford to go completely organic, avoid the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the foods shown to have the highest levels of pesticides. For more information on the “Dirty Dozen” (and the “Clean 15”), visit the Environmental Working Group.

Our bodies have six built-in detox mechanisms: lungs, skin, kidneys, colon, lymph, and liver. Once we slow the onslaught of toxins entering our bodies and also support these systems on an ongoing basis, we’re better able to rid ourselves of the toxins already present.

  1.     For lungs, simply breathe, deeply and fully, on a regular basis. Overall, try to avoid shallow breathing. Additionally, high quality oils (coconut, olive, and avocado) and dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard, kale, watercress, collard greens, arugula, etc.) help to support the lungs and cleanse our respiratory filtration system.
  2. For skin, dry brushing and sweating (via exercise or sitting in a sauna—or both) are two of the best detox strategies. Antioxidant-rich, free-radical fighting foods from a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables also help to keep our skin breathing. Quality oils are also helpful, as are bone broth and chlorophyll-containing foods like dark leafy greens, including cilantro, parsley, and sprouts.
  3. The kidneys filter our blood—more than 48 gallons of it daily. And what’s the best way to support our kidneys? Drink water. Get plenty of it and make sure it’s clean and filtered. Kidney-supportive foods include cranberries, blueberries, lemon, beets, sea vegetables, and spinach.
  4. It’s critical that your colon is working optimally. If waste backs up in your bowels, toxins can be reabsorbed into the body. Daily fiber helps to keep our trains running smoothly—if constipation is an issue, supplemental fiber may be in order. Some experts claim that fiber is the most clinically important deficiency in our diet. Fiber-rich foods include true whole grains (vs. processed grains/flour), vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  5. The lymphatic system is a head to toe network of organs, nodes, ducts, and vessels that transport lymph fluid. It removes waste from every cell in our body while helping to regulate our immune system. One of the biggest contributors to lymph stagnation is dehydration. Other strategies for keeping things flowing are dry brushing, sipping warm water throughout the day, and drinking warm water with fresh lemon juice first thing in the morning. Sitting in a sauna and exercising also helps.
  6.  Ah, the liver. Another “big daddy.” It’s a giant filter and next to our skin, is our largest gland of detoxification. Not only does it filter toxins from food, water, pharmaceuticals (including supplemental hormones), air, and what our skin comes into contact with, but it also helps with thyroid hormone conversion (T4 to T3).

Dr. Susan Blum states, “Think of your detox system as a little engine that is inside every cell, with the biggest engine in the liver.”

Gentle liver support includes:

  •   Drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning
  •   Choosing herbs (via teas, foods, or supplements) like dandelion, nettles, milk thistle, and turmeric
  •   Getting plenty of fiber
  •   Choosing DIM-rich foods (diindolylmethane) found primarily in the cruciferous vegetable family: cabbage, kale, broccoli,      Brussels sprouts, etc. (You don’t have to worry about these foods slowing your thyroid function.)
  •   Other liver-supportive foods include garlic, walnuts, grapefruit, avocado, dark leafy greens, beets, olive oil, coconut oil, apples, and apple cider vinegar.

Remember, offense is your best defense. It’s not only important to be mindful of where toxins live and how to best avoid them, but also to support your glands and organs of detoxification. It doesn’t have to be complicated—and as you can see, some of the most delicious whole foods can give toxins the heave ho. Get these foods regularly and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Jill Grunewald, HNC, FMCHC, is a functional nutrition and hormone coach and best selling author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

Posted on

Protecting Your Skin from the Inside Out

It’s no secret that the summer sun takes a toll on our skin. Of course, it’s important to wear sunscreen, protect your skin and eyes, take cooler showers, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (a little more on that later!).

But did you know that what you put on your plate is as important as what you put on your skin?

In fact, your food choices affects your skin at the cellular level, and since skin is your largest organ, you want to pay close attention to the foods you eat to support and protect your skin.

Here are some of our favorite summer foods to help protect your skin and give you a healthy glow:

Blackberries, Blueberries and Strawberries  — Packed with antioxidants, researchers¹ have found these three fruits in particular protect the skin from free-radicals that damage skin cells. Berries have the added benefit of being a superfood and, in fact, help with weight loss and sugar cravings.

Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel — Omega-3 Fatty Acids are one of the keys to healthy skin. Our bodies do not produce these “essential fatty acids” — we only get them from the foods we eat. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, which hold in water. The stronger the barrier, the better your cell walls will hold moisture — resulting in, yes, hydrated, plumper, and younger-looking skin.

Avocado — Avocados are full of healthy fat, vitamins C and A. Add them to just about anything — they enhance your complexion and fight aging skin. Pass the guacamole please!

Spinach, Kale, (as well as all dark leafy veggies), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Cantaloupe — Yes, the dark leafy veggies and the orange veggies and fruits are loaded with beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. These powerful antioxidants improve skin color, reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging — particularly damage by the sun, pollution and smoking.

Eggs and Tuna — Some people’s bodies have a hard time converting beta carotene into vitamin A. Get some of your vitamin A directly from the source with eggs and tuna. (Tip: Be sure to buy skipjack tuna as albacore and regular tuna tend to be high in mercury.)

Bell Pepper, Papaya, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries, Pineapple, Oranges, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Dark Leafy Greens — These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of vitamin C. Usually equated with cold relief, vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, a protein that provides the framework for our skin and gives it elasticity and strength.

Watermelon and Tomatoes — These fruits are two of the best sources of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes watermelon and tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. (Tip: Your body best absorbs lycopene when tomatoes are cooked.)

Sesame seeds — These tiny powerhouses are chock full of good stuff for the skin. They have a high concentration of copper, a trace mineral with anti-inflammatory properties, and a necessary component of collagen production. They also pack in zinc, another essential mineral for producing collagen, and selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps protect the skin from sun damage and maintain firmness and elasticity.

And last but not least ….

Water, water and more water — About 60% of your body is made up of water so it makes sense that water would play an important role in your body’s function. Think about a houseplant … what happens when you don’t give it enough water? The leaves start to droop, and ultimately without proper hydration they start to discolor and dry up. Same with our skin and as the largest organ in our body it needs water — anywhere between 4-10 cups, depending on your climate, activity level and what works best for you.

You can also get an extra dose of antioxidants with our Multivitamin with Antioxidants. This is a great way to combat the toll of summer fun — protect your skin with antioxidants and fill in the nutritional gaps left from typical summer eating!  Get it 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.

 

 

Resources:

 

  1. Huang W, Zhang H, Liu W, et al. Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing. Journal of Zhejiang University. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274736/.
Posted on

Flu Season Isn’t Over Yet: Keep Your Immune System Strong Through the Spring!

At this time of the year many patients ask me how can they enhance their immune system.  The truth is that our immune systems are designed to work just fine if we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough rest.  However, if you find yourself getting sick with an upper respiratory infection (URI) there are some herbs and supplements that can shorten the duration of symptoms.  They work best if taken at the very first sign of a URI, and stopping them when those symptoms clear.

7 Supplements for Immune Health

Elderberry : Elderberry has both antiviral and antibacterial effects. Research suggests its efficacy — even against the H1N1 virus. Four tablespoons of the elderberry fruit syrup Sambucol daily for three days, has been shown to reduce symptoms of fever and muscle ache by about 50 percent. For kids, reduce the dosage to one tablespoon twice a day.

Medicinal Mushrooms: Mushrooms have been shown to work against bacteria, viruses and some forms of detrimental mold. They contain polysaccharides, a component of cells that can prevent bacterial growth in the laboratory setting. I have my patients keep on hand a product known as Mycommunity, which is a blend of 17 fungi types.

Zinc: You want to make sure you’re taking a good multivitamin with zinc – 15 milligrams is generally thought to be a good amount for maintenance, but you can go up to 30 daily.  Zinc glycinate and zinc gluconate are usually well tolerated, and start with 10 milligrams as these are least likely to give you stomach upset. Otherwise, take as directed on the package.

Andrographis:  Andrographis — sold under the name Kold Kare — is an herb widely used in Ayurveda, the traditional form of medicine in India. When started within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, it can improve symptoms of the common cold.

American Ginseng: There are various forms of ginseng and some may be beneficial if used early in the onset of cold symptoms. Some evidence suggests that taking 200 milligrams twice daily of the American ginseng extract CVT-E002 (brand Cold-fX) during influenza season may decrease the risk of developing URIs, and seems to reduce both the severity and the duration of symptoms. Another combination ginseng product called Kan Jang, which contains Siberian ginseng and Andrographis, may also prove effective.

South African Geranium: A number of studies have shown that extracts of the South African geranium can be helpful in reducing symptoms of bronchitis, sore throat, sinusitis and the common cold. Both children and adults tolerate it well. These products are usually readily available in your local health food store, marketed under the brand name Umcka.

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.  It also helps to keep the immune system in its best condition for warding off illness. It can be helpful with coughs, cold, runny noses – it also converts to Glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant.  I usually recommend 900 milligram tablets – start with one twice daily and increase to two twice daily as needed. Pharmanac, a Canadian brand that comes in an effervescent form is easy to take as a fizzy drink – even for children!

My thoughts on immune enhancement:

If you wanted to take something throughout season that will help to keep you healthy, I’d recommend Vitamin D.  It is essential for immune health, and our levels often drop during the winter months because we get less sun exposure. A large study performed in elderly adults at Yale University suggests that even patients with low-normal levels of Vitamin D are more prone to URI’s than patients with higher levels. Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, so try at least 2000 iu of vitamin D3 – and include a good quality fish oil, as it will give you an additional D boost but will also serve as  a great antioxidant. One that has at least 1,400mg EFA/925 DHA is a good dose to be used twice daily in patients with underlying asthma and allergies as well.

As in with any supplement, be cautious in taking with medicines, or other herbs or supplements.  Ginseng can interact with medicines for diabetes. Fish oils can cause blood thinning. And if you have allergies or are on medications, please check with your doctor first before adding any new her or supplement.  All of these products must be avoided if you are on medications or other herbal supplements that thin the blood.

I’m here on Thursdays if you need more advice or have chronic sinus or ENT issues – happy to see you for a consultation!

Live in our neighborhood and need help with chronic sinus or ENT issues?  Make an appointment with Dr. Gereau. She will address your concerns and develop an integrative plan that focuses on holistic, high-impact treatments. To make an appointment, call 914-652-7800.

Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as sleep apnea, headaches, allergies and chronic sinusitis.  

Posted on

Here’s the One Easy Solution to Your Food Allergies

For many people with food allergies, completely avoiding problem foods isn’t easy or even practical. Accidental exposures happen and, as we’ve seen recently in the press, can lead to dangerous and sometimes lethal consequences.  

Sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) for foods, otherwise known as SLIT, can help both adults and children safely build tolerance in case an accidental exposure to allergens occurs. For some, it can help them enjoy many foods that once caused reactions.  

While it is common knowledge that shots can be helpful for patients with  environmental allergies, SLIT is not as widely recognized in the United States. Just as shots work by injecting tiny amounts of the tree, dust, or pollen that you are allergic to, SLIT works by giving that same substance as a drop placed under the tongue. The amount is enough to prime the immune system to stop reacting to the substance, yet is below the level that triggers an allergic reaction.  

Allergy drops are safe and effective as treatment for both environmental and food allergies.  They have been used in the US and Europe for over 50 years.

6 Common Questions About Allergy Drops:

How does sublingual immunotherapy for food allergies work?

All forms of immunotherapy work in the same way – by giving you small amounts of allergen so that your body learns to tolerate them without having reactions.

What food allergies can be treated with sublingual immunotherapy?

The most common food allergies that are treated with sublingual immunotherapy are the usual culprits –  egg, milk, corn, yeast, wheat, soy, peanut and shellfish, but more than 100 different foods can be treated if needed.   Your doctor formulates a special prescription of drops for you – you then take these 3 times daily to impart what is known as “tolerance”.  This gives your body the ability to be exposed to the food without reacting.

How are food allergies diagnosed and what tests are performed?

Diagnosing food allergies starts by observing symptoms when troublesome foods are included in a person’s diet.  Runny nose, mouth itching, or skin rashes can occur with food or environmental allergies.   Other symptoms, though, such as upset stomach, fatigue and loose stools are more specific to foods.   There are a number of ways to test for these allergies, and determine the level to which your body is reacting to the allergen. Special blood tests reveal the level to which your body is reacting – and the drops are formulated specifically for your unique level of reactivity to those specific allergens.

What about my seasonal allergies?

It’s always important to treat environmental allergies either first, or relatedly. Environmental allergies are much more common than food allergies, and the symptoms are often confused. Also, once environmental allergies are more under control, the body could become less reactive to foods, and thus you can treat fewer allergens, or perhaps not treat the foods at all.  If you begin immunotherapy for environmental allergies and aren’t seeing results after three to six months, you may consider asking about food allergy testing and treatment.

How long does it take to see results?

Studies show that improvements in immune tolerance begin within days, while more permanent changes require more than a year of treatment. The length of treatment depends on the severity of your allergies and how compliant you are in taking the prescribed treatment. For mild to moderate allergies, a common treatment length is three to five years; more severe food allergy cases can take longer.

What is the end goal for the patient treated with sublingual immunotherapy for food allergy?

The goal of sublingual immunotherapy treatment for food allergy will vary by individual. If you have mild to moderate allergies, it may be possible to reintroduce allergic foods into your diet. If you have severe and life-threatening allergies, the goal is to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction to an accidental exposure.

Live in our neighborhood?  Join Dr. Gereau for a free community talk, A Novel Approach to Treating Food Allergies.  Come fInd out more about allergy drops and if they are right for you and your family.  Sign up here.  

Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as sleep apnea, headaches, allergies and chronic sinusitis.  Make an appointment with Dr. Gereau.

Posted on

10 Ways Women Can Reduce Holiday Stress

Fact: Holiday stress is disproportionately felt by women.

Why? Because women do the holiday “heavy lifting.” According to research by the American Psychological Association (APA), women shoulder the majority of the family burden for shopping and holiday celebrations (think cooking and cleaning), and they feel particular stress from the time crunch of getting it all done.

Many women during the holidays put stress management practices, such as daily meditation, yoga or walks, on hold while cramming too much into too little and turning to comfort foods as a way to cope. This leads to arthritis flares, increased symptoms of autoimmune disorders, such as fatigue and chronic pain, increased anxiety and depression and for some, weight gain.

Here’s how holiday stress impacts women, according to the APA study:

  • 44% of women report that their stress increases during the holidays
  • 69% of women feel stress from a lack of money
  • 51% of women feel pressure to give or get gifts
  • 69% of women feel stress from a lack of time
  • 41% of men strongly agree that they feel like they can relax during the holidays while only 27% of women feel this way
  • 41% of women eat for comfort during the holidays
  • Women are twice as likely to report that they cook, shop for food, and clean.

Many women also struggle with the stress created by the double shift of work and family of responsibilities. The worries of weight gain, the stress of so many social commitments (another holiday party?), family, friends, and the ever-shrinking bank account can all build up to feel like one giant pressure cooker. After all, food is always around, and with all the running around to get stuff done women will drop their fitness routines in order to just sit for a while.

“Women in particular need to be mindful that their responsibilities may have more stressful consequences than they realize, and that they are reacting to the stress in unhealthful ways, like eating and not permitting themselves to relax,” according to the APA.

Ladies, it’s time to bring down the holiday stress level several notches!

10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress & Create a Healthier, Happier Holiday:

  • Take a daily walk with no phone, no agenda. Unplug from the world. Twenty minutes every morning makes a huge difference in how you face the day.
  • Stick to your routine and schedule your priorities first. Do you usually workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Go to your book club on Thursday evenings? Do something special on Friday nights? Go! Put these on your calendar in pen!
  • Cut down on emotional eating. Identify exactly what you’re feeling before you take the first bite. Are you hungry? thirsty? tired? stressed? sad? happy? Give it a name, and then choose to eat it. Choose each bite. It takes the “power” away from the food.
  • Say “No.” We go overboard to please others. Accept the commitments you want. Period.
  • Ask for help and delegate. Accustomed to doing it all? Most of the people in your life are accustomed to you doing it all too, and most likely, they don’t realize you need help. They aren’t mind readers. Ask for help, and be ready to assign a task.
  • Create a nightly tranquil self-care routine rather than plopping in front of the television. Consider taking a hot bath, and surround yourself with fragrant candles and your favorite music. You might even “unplug” from all electronics. Gasp, I know!
  • Simplify — ask yourself, “How can I make this easier?”
  • Downsize meals — consider less dishes, or host a community meal where everyone brings their favorite dish. This creates inclusion and connectedness.
  • Reduce gifting — Set boundaries and limits early, and stick to them. Decide for whom you are buying presents, and decide on a quantity. When we give with overabundance to the people in our lives we desensitize them to the meaning of the gifts.
  • Simplify plans with close friends Save the holiday get-together for after New Year’s. For now, get together for coffee as a respite from the holiday flurry.

In essence, what all of this means is slow down, enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays, and most of all fill your holiday with joy, love, gratitude and merriment. There’s much to celebrate — including a less-stressed you!

Resource: Greenberg, Quinlin & Rosner, 2006. Holiday Stress Report. American Psychological Association.

Looking for a Detox Recovery Plan after the New Year? If you live in our neighborhood, join me in a dynamic group detox that will not only detox your body, but will also renew your spirit and help dissolve any negative thinking. Join us. I can’t wait to meet you! Learn More and Sign Up

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.

Posted on

Curcumin – the Anti-Inflammation Wonder Herb

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary herb that is an amazing medicinal multi-tasker! It has a bright yellow/orange hue that gives curry its vibrant color. A member of the ginger family, turmeric contains many compounds including several in the curcumin family. Curcumins are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer properties.

Despite that curcumin has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries, it is only more recently that interest has caught on in the U.S. Luckily for all of us, the enormous potential of curcumin has resulted in a growing body of research to help us understand how it works and which scenarios it works best in. Currently there are ongoing studies looking at arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease treatment, colon cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, to name just a few.

Cooking with turmeric is an easy and healthy way to benefit from curcumins. It adds a delicious color and flavor to dishes. Turmeric tea is another excellent way to enjoy this powerful herb.  It does seem, however, that the doses needed to get full medicinal effect are much higher than one could ever get in a helping of your favorite curry. Although I always encourage people to get their nutrition from food before supplements, this is one case where taking a curcumin supplement does much more for you than simply cooking with it.

How to use Curcumin Medicinally

Arthritis

In the case of arthritis, curcumin works by neutralizing free radicals as well as by inhibiting pain and inflammation. In fact, it suppresses multiple inflammatory chemical messengers that the body makes.  It does this by inhibiting several enzymes along the inflammation cascade, the very same enzymes that ibuprofen and naproxen block.

And research supports this. A well designed study of 367 arthritis patients found it to be as effective as the traditional anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen with fewer side effects1.  Additionally, curcumin has been found to decrease substance P in nerve cells which is an additional way that in can improve pain in all kinds of arthritis.A typical dose would be 500mg taken 1-3 times a day.  

PMS

As a gynecologist I am always looking for ways to help women manage their period problems. For the same reason that curcumin helps arthritis, it is logical that it would be helpful for pain associated with menstrual cramps. One prospective randomized trial of 70 women with PMS showed that 100mg taken twice a day for 10 days starting one week before menses reduced PMS scores by 59% compared to just 14% in placebo group. Effects were seen for all three symptom categories: physical, behavioral, and emotional2. What’s nice about this study is that the authors used a relatively low dose compared to other applications. Lower doses mean fewer potential side effects.

Ulcerative Colitis

Curcumin’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects and limited absorption from the GI tract make it an excellent agent to treat inflammation in the gut. There are ongoing studies looking at curcumin as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. One such study of 89 people with ulcerative colitis found that when in remission, those who took 1,000mg curcumin twice a day for six months, along with their regular medicine, had lower relapse rates than those who took placebo.3

Cancer

From a cancer perspective, curcumin has the ability to alter gene transcription and actually stop cell growth, known as apoptosis. Its anti-cancer properties are also thought to come from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It has been studied and used for prevention or treatment of colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, lung cancer.  Interestingly, there are also studies to suggest that whole turmeric has anti-cancer properties beyond curcumin extracts alone.4

Things to Know:

Because curcumin is not well absorbed by itself you will need to use a preparation that has been specially formulated so that your body can digest it. Many supplement preparations have black pepper, also known as bioperine, added to it which improves intestinal absorption by about 1000%. There is some concern that pepper is irritating to the GI lining which might be problematic. Alternatively, some brands have specially formulated the herb in a delivery system that optimizes absorption.

Dr. Blum’s non-GMO Super Curcumin, available in our online store, is formulated with super-absorbable sunflower lecithin so that you will reap the benefits of every milligram. See it Now

Who Should Not Take Curcumin

Curcumin is usually well tolerated but can lead to GI upset if taken in high doses and could cause an allergic reaction. People with gallbladder obstruction should avoid curcumin because it can cause the gallbladder to contract. This can be helpful for some kinds of digestion, but could make things worse if you have a gallstone blockage. Additionally, patients with gastric ulcers should avoid curcumin. Patients on blood thinners should be careful with curcumin. Always tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any herbs.  I don’t recommend curcumin supplements in pregnancy due to lack of safety data.

Do You Suffer With Arthritis?

Are you ready to live a pain-free life? Whether you suffer with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s or arthritis, Dr. Blum can help you!

In her new book, Healing Arthritis, Dr. Blum presents 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. Get The Book Now

Resources:

  1.  Kuptniratsaikul V et al Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8. Efficacy and safety of curcum domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study.
  2.  Khayat S et al Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):318-24  Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  3. Hanai H, et al  Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Dec;4(12):1502-6   Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  4.  Devassy JG, et al  Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue 3, 1 March 2015, Pages 155–165.  Curcumin and cancer: barriers to obtaining a health claim

 

Posted on

5 Easy Ways To Survive the Thanksgiving Food Fest

Gobble, gobble, indeed! According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Whoa! That’s more than double the average person eats on a regular day. That’s pretty shocking.

This is particularly problematic for people with autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s, or those who contend with joint pain, reflux or food sensitivities. Underlying conditions almost always flare! Sometimes immediately, sometimes up to two days later.

Why, oh why, do we do that to ourselves?

Of course, you hear the stories of family drama, but it seems to run much deeper than that. It’s as if Thanksgiving has become an overeating contact sport. We start preparing in advance and even start bemoaning the after-effects of too much food well before the actual event. We act as if eating until bursting point is expected and completely out of our control. And just like a football game, Thanksgiving comes replete with the after-game commentary and play-by-play.

We also tend to do what we’ve always done. Overeating on Thanksgiving, in essence, has become a habit!

The great news is: You can change that script. It is entirely possible to indulge in all of Thanksgiving’s deliciousness AND feel satiated, content and even full, WITHOUT having to resort to elastic-waisted pants for a few days.

5 Easy Ways To Survive the Thanksgiving Food Fest

Eat Throughout The Day — Often we approach Thanksgiving thinking that we will forgo food during the day in order to partake more heartily during the main event. Big mistake! In fact, when we skip meals we generally eat more. Choose small, filling meals. For breakfast, have a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with berries and nuts. For lunch, have coconut milk kefir with nuts and fruit, or avocado toast — think slow-digesting carb with a healthy fat and protein. It will stabilize your blood sugar, keep you satiated, and set you up for a healthy Thanksgiving meal.

Skip the Snacks — One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving is the home-cooked meal. Mindlessly eating chips, store-bought white breads, and other processed foods, not only is unhealthy and stimulates your appetite, but it’s also not tasty. Stick with real food — fruits and crudite are great choices for healthy snacking.

Forgo The Impulse to Mirror Other People’s Eating — How often do you reach for food when you see someone else eating? Right. Me too. It takes awareness. Every time you start to reach for something at the hors d’oeuvre table, ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for this?” If it’s because someone else is eating, pick up a glass of sparkling water instead.

Eat Your Veggies! — Rather than filling your plate with everything on the table, start with a plateful of salad and vegetables. Most Thanksgiving meals have salad, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and other delicious but overlooked vegetables. Start with them instead of making them an afterthought. Once you’ve enjoyed your veggies, then take a little bit of everything else. In fact, switch your plates. Use the dinner plate for the salad and vegetables, and the salad plate for turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Slow Down! — Put down your utensils between bites, sip water between bites, and focus on connecting with those around you rather focusing on the food in front of you. Take the time to appreciate your food, smell it, look at it, and savor it.

Oh, and give yourself permission to leave food on your plate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Do you have a hard time staying on track during the holidays? Or, does holiday stress overwhelm you? Consider working with a Health Coach (hey, I’m one!) who will help you create a stress-free holiday survival plan and stick with it. Learn more about CoachMe.

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.

Posted on

Improve Your Sleep and Improve Your Life

A good night of sleep – seems like the simplest thing, yes? Almost a right  – shouldn’t everyone sleep like a baby?

While this appears to be true, we know that even babies don’t always sleep well. And for some, a full evening of rest is an elusive thing. According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, nearly 9 million Americans have used prescription sleep aides in the last month.1 That study also found that more women than men use them, and their use is greater in the 50 and older age group.

Sleep disorders can significantly impact one’s work and home life – and your health. Snoring and sleep apnea are the Number One medical cause of relationship and marriage break-ups. Prolonged sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.  Chronic fatigue that results from sleep issues can keep one from being at their best and contributes to poor work performance.

Is Your Sleep Disturbance Chronic or Acute?

Sleep can be disordered for a number of reasons. Some can’t fall asleep or stay asleep – this is known as insomnia. Everyone at sometime in their life will not sleep due to an acute condition – a problematic day at work, racing mind, or maybe just too much coffee close to bedtime. These times are short and self-limited. Chronic insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling asleep 3 nights a week, for 3 months or longer. Insomnia can be “co-morbid” – due to a medical condition that is known to cause sleep issues. Both psychiatric and medical conditions can cause this to happen, as can a host of medications.

So, no, it’s not all in your head, and as you well know, if you’ve ever had trouble sleeping – wishing it away won’t work. While there is no definitive test for insomnia, the diagnosis usually involves an inventory of sleep-related medical questions, a sleep log, and blood work or sleep testing. Thus, visiting a sleep professional is essential to getting the right diagnosis and proper help.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

For some, falling asleep easily is actually the sign of a sleep issue. Long-standing fatigue can make one fall asleep inappropriately – as a passenger in a car, in the theatre, or at your desk when it’s expected you will be alert and productive. In this case, the problem is poor quality sleep. It could be that you are frequently awakened by something known as “apnea.”

An apnea is a cessation or pause in the breath – the cause for this is either in the central nervous system, or because the airway is unable to stay open enough to allow you to sleep. The body reflexively awakens you when your airway closes off – a protective response that wakes us up enough to breathe. Humans of all ages have some degree of apnea during sleep – and it is usually a combination of “central” and “obstructive.” But., when it becomes excessive and sleep becomes fragmented, there is a bigger problem.

Despite common belief, you don’t have to be obese to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, OSA in and of itself can lead to insulin resistance and cause or promote obesity. OSA occurs in up to 10% of children of various weights and sizes and is the most common sleep disorder in children. We often observe that if we get children to breathe better at night, they gain weight, become more productive at school, and behavior and learning issues sometimes disappear.

There are definitive tests for apnea. While going to a sleep lab was once the gold-standard way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, most insurance companies now prefer in home sleep testing. A doctor who is familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of sleep can easily order such testing. It has to be interpreted by a sleep specialist, and recommendations are made how best to get treated. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is one way to treat obstructive apnea, and continues to be recommended for the most severe cases. But there are an array of other treatments, which the doctor will discuss with you when reviewing the results.

What You Can Do to Help Yourself, Your Child or Loved One Sleep Better

Try to get enough of sleep every night The American Sleep Foundation recommends at least 7 hours of sleep nightly.

Establish a consistent bedtime and stick to it The body does respond to a circadian rhythm that once broken is difficult to re-establish. That is as true of shift workers as it is of children. Try to go to sleep and awaken at about the same time every day. 

Exercise consistently, but not close to bedtime — Exercise is important for sleep as it decreases arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms all of which are beneficial for sleeping. There is also a drop in body temperature after exercise – which helps you get sleepy.  Vigorous activity too close to bedtime will cause arousal, though, so make sure you have a gap of at least a few hours between activity and lights out.

Maintain good sleep hygiene – Limit screen time close to bedtime and give your body a period of time to wind down. Also don’t pick up your mobile or turn on your computer should you awaken in the middle of the night. This is not the time for catching up on your emails! Make sure your little ones don’t take their iPads and cellphones to bed. Make their rooms a sleep-only zone, so that homework and other activities occur outside of the sleeping space.

Be sure to have a comfortable bed and sleep position — Don’t expect your body to adapt to the wrong mattress and pillow. This will only worsen aberrant musculoskeletal feedback to the central nervous system – and make your sleep less restful.

Supplements for Better Sleep

In addition to the behavioral techniques, there are herbal remedies and supplements that can naturally help you get better sleep. It’s hard to know which one your body will respond to, and we recommend trying each one for 2-3 weeks before giving up and moving on to the next one.

Magnesium – This is one of the most important minerals for your sleep, muscle relaxation and mental health. Clinical studies have shown that magnesium improves insomnia, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. Can be taken by mouth, put into a warm bath (Epsom Salts), or rubbed on the skin as a cream or oil.  We recommend an absorbable form of magnesium, like magnesium glycinate, instead of magnesium citrate which can cause loose stool (and in fact is used to treat constipation).

Melatonin – This hormone is produced by your body in response to light to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin can also help reflux – a condition that often occurs alongside obstructive sleep apnea. It should be used in small amounts, starting with 1 mg and perhaps increasing to 2, then 3 mg over a few weeks if you don’t feel it’s helping.  Take it about an hour prior to bedtime.

Valerian –This amino acid increases the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. As such, it does what prescribed sleep aids like Xanax and Valium do – only without the associated risks. We love blends of valerian, passionflower and lemon balm, all combined. At Blum Center we use Myocalm PM.

L-Theanine – Well known as an anxiolytic, L-Theanine not only helps produce a state of calm, but has been shown to aid overall sleep quality.

Live in our area and want to sleep better? Join Dr. Gereau and special guest Dr. Brad Gilden for their FREE community talk, Sleep: The Essential Pathway to Optimum Health on Monday, September 25th at 7pm. The discussion and demonstration will include sleep position, posture, the importance of nasal breathing and stress management. You will walk away with 7 strategies to improve your sleep immediately. Join Us! Sign Up 

Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as sleep apnea, headaches, allergies and chronic sinusitis.

The Blum Center is teaming up with Elite Health Services to provide patients suffering from sleep disturbances with a natural and holistic solution to improving breathing and sleep-related problems. Elite Health Services located in Greenwich and Westport CT provides hands on manual physical therapy to improve postural and mechanical limitations that may be depriving you of a restful night sleep. Elite’s team of physical therapists and performance specialists are at the forefront of collaborating with your medical team to solve your sleep dilemma.  

 

 

Reference: 

NCHS Data Brief. 2013 Aug;(127):1-8.