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Seasonal flu is inevitable. There’s no cure for influenza. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim of the flu. From my more than thirty years of clinical experience, and an exhaustive review of the scientific literature, I believe you can get better faster with fewer symptoms using natural medicines.
A couple of elements for beating the flu stand out more than others. If you get sick, the two essential elements are effectively managing symptoms and shortening the course of illness. You beat the flu by using sensible strategies including natural medicines that lessen the severity of symptoms and speed up recovery time.
It’s also important to understand the six fundamental principles for beating all types of influenza infection. My book Beating the Flu, The Natural Prescription for Surviving Pandemic Influenza and Bird Flu goes into these in detail. Here’s a summary.
Boost Viral Immunity. Enhancing your protection against seasonal flu begins in the fall, well ahead of flu season. Don’t worry. If you haven’t taken measures to boost your immune system, you can start at any time.
One key to viral immunity is getting enough of the trace minerals zinc and selenium. Vitamins A and C are also necessary. However, overdosing on supplements doesn’t create super immunity. In fact, research shows that too much vitamin A can suppress the immune response. And, zinc in excess of 225 mg daily is toxic, causing nausea and vomiting. Even too much vitamin C causes watery diarrhea.
Every element of your immune system has to be just right. Loading up on supplements that overstimulate your system could make things as bad as being deficient. Finding your personal “Goldilocks” zone is the objective. And, remember that the goal is to reduce symptoms and speed recovery, not to knock out the flu bug.
Reduce Viral Load. A virus has one goal. To replicate. Once you’ve been exposed, influenza viruses get into your body and follow a sequence of steps for infection. After entering living cells in your respiratory tract, influenza viruses use genetic material and information in those cells to replicate. Antiviral medications and natural antivirals inhibit viral replication and can also kill some germs, but most are unaffected. But even reducing the number of viruses a little makes it easier for your immune system to do its job.
Manage Fever. Spiking a fever is the natural response of the immune system to infection. However, unmanaged high fever, especially in infants and pregnant women, can cause harm or even death. Start managing fever at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let your temperature get above 102 degrees. Herbs that help manage fever include yarrow and elderberry. Cool baths and sponge baths help. Acetaminophen lowers fever and lessens pain, but overuse can have serious side-effects as well as blunt the immune response.
Reduce inflammation. When out of control, the body’s inflammatory response to infection can cause tissue damage or death. Laboratory tests for inflammation include sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Your white blood cell (WBC) count might be higher or remain normal during infection. Often lymphocytes are lower than normal; while monocytes are higher.
Quercetin, Omega-3 fish oil, and green-lipped mussel extract can help modify inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help. For severe or life-threatening inflammation, you may need steroids. However, according to the 2004 study with MS patients, there is not much difference between the effectiveness of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and prednisone for managing flu symptoms. In my clinical opinion, the best choice is to start with natural medicines and use acetaminophen or ibuprofen only as needed.
Avoid dehydration. Fever and inflammation induce fluid loss. Dehydration makes you feel very tired. Other signs of dehydration include: thirst, dry mouth and lips, scanty dark-colored urine, lightheadedness, and headache. Severe dehydration leads to muscle weakness, rapid heart rate, and fainting. Drink plenty of water. Try diluted juices, and don’t forget chicken soup. Use electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte to prevent dehydration in children. Adults can drink it too. Intravenous fluids may be necessary for severe dehydration.
Take antioxidants. Viruses cause cell and tissue damage that lead to advanced oxidative changes. Antioxidants help your body keep up with the rate of tissue repair during and after the flu. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Drink fresh vegetable juices and herbal teas that are high in polyphenolic compounds. Take antioxidant supplements like vitamin C and zinc.
Should You Get Vaccinated?
Vaccination may help reduce the severity of the flu but does not prevent infection. Depending on the circulating strain, seasonal flu vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year between 10 and 60 percent. For the current Influenza A H3N2 strain, vaccination provides less than 40 percent protection. In people over 65-years, vaccination provides about 25 percent effectiveness. In Australia, where H3N2 hit hard, vaccines were only 10 percent effective.
Influenza viruses travel in groups and change fast. So even a good vaccine match may prove unmatched a few weeks later. So far, no mutations have been detected in the U.S. But, if a variation develops, vaccines will be even less effective. Vaccination can help, but it takes at least two weeks for antibodies to develop and provide protection.
Prevention & Avoidance
Prevention comes first. The best prevention is avoidance. If you don’t get exposed, you won’t get sick. Flu spreads quickly between humans. Washing your hands and wearing a mask helps prevent infection. Wiping surfaces with Clorox helps. Clorox disinfecting wipes work within minutes and kill 99.9% of influenza viruses.
Beating the flu requires a toolkit. It should include supplements and natural medicines, and home healthcare products.
Beating the Flu Toolkit:
Boxes of tissue
Plastic bags to dispose of used tissue
Clorox disinfecting wipes and spray
Vicks VapoRub and cough drops
Saline drops or Neti pot
Immune supportive supplements
Antiviral Herbal medicine
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage fever
Stay home if you’re sick with the flu. Not infecting others is as important as preventing infection for yourself and your family. Charge your iPad or Kindle, or have a good book to read. Get comfy, rest, and drink plenty of fluids.
6 Frontline Supplements to Effectively Boost Immunity for Beating the Flu
Strong antiviral resistance is associated with responsive innate immune signals. People who are most resistant to influenza infection clear the virus quickly. Those whose immune system develops tolerance to influenza have built-in protection from past infections or immunization. These individuals experience less tissue damage and fewer symptoms even though they get sick. The also tend to recover faster.
Micronutrients have major influences on health, including viral immunity, and help your body beat the flu. Frontline support includes a balanced, healthy plant-based diet. It means avoiding immune suppressing activities like overuse of alcohol, smoking, and not getting enough sleep. And, by taking micronutrient supplements for an added advantage in beating the flu.
Studies show that micronutrient deficiencies weaken immunity and increase susceptibility to infection. A 2000 review outlined many ways that micronutrients influence immunity. Deficiencies of micronutrients impair an effective immune response to respiratory infections like influenza.
Essential micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body requires from your diet or obtained from dietary supplements. In my clinical experience, these six supplements are the best for protecting against the flu:
Beta-glucan (as β1,3-D-glucans): Beta-glucans are natural polysaccharides, a type of sugar, produced by yeast and fungi, including mushrooms. It’s a well-known immune modulator that also has antiviral activity.
A Japanese study found that the survival time of mice infected with influenza improved with a black yeast-derived beta-glucan. Another study found similar results utilizing beta-glucan derived from medicinal mushroom powder. The beta-glucan treated mice had a 60% survival rate from lethal influenza infection.
A 2012 study utilizing beta-glucan derived from baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) reduced upper respiratory tract symptoms better than placebo. One of the ways beta-glucan works is to increase levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) that’s necessary for your respiratory tract to prevent invasion by influenza viruses.
Most beta-glucan supplements are derived from baker’s yeast. Others come from black yeast and medicinal mushrooms. From my clinical experience, and supported by the study results, all forms of beta-glucan are useful whether derived from baker’s yeast, as medicinal mushroom powder, or specialized super-food strains from black yeast.
However, quality and activity vary between beta-glucan products. Look for those that provide the percentage of active linkage, the therapeutic portion or content. I recommend a minimum β1,3-D-glucan content of 80%. A purified form (1,3/1,6)-β-D-glucan) is reported to have a slight edge on β1,3-D-glucans.
Vitamin C (as calcium/magnesium/potassium ascorbate): Taking vitamin C reduces cold and flu symptoms. A 1999 study found 85% improvement with 1,000 mg of vitamin C every hour. A 2013 review found that as low as 200 mg of vitamin C daily helped prevent colds and flu, and shortened downtime due to sickness.
When treating the flu, frequent vitamin C dosing is most effective. When dosing every two hours, 250-500 mg is sufficient. Dosages of 1,000 mg or higher can cause diarrhea. So, take higher dosages less frequently. I recommend that my patients take a buffered form because vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is acidic and can irritate the intestine lining.
Zinc (as zinc picolinate of chelated zinc): Zinc deficiency decreases cell-mediated immunity that fends off infections. A 2013 Cochrane review found that 75 mg of zinc taken within 24-hours of the first sign of symptoms can shorten the duration of a cold.
Zinc supplements help reverse thymus gland atrophy associated with immune deficiency during aging. Older people are particularly susceptible to zinc deficiency. Those over 60 years should get 15 mg of zinc daily. During influenza season, increase to 30 mg daily.
Selenium (as selenomethionine or chelated selenium): Like zinc, selenium is trace mineral necessary for effective immunity. A 2017 study found that selenium nanoparticles enhanced the antiviral properties of oseltamivir. Selenium supplementation supports acute cellular immune response to infection.
Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol): People with low vitamin D levels tend to catch a cold and get the flu easily. Those with deficient vitamin D levels (less than 10 mg/dL by a blood test) are the most vulnerable. A 2007 study found that those who took 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 had a 90% reduced risk of getting sick.
To learn your level, test for Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy. You may be at risk if your level is less than 30 mg/dL. I recommend that my patient get their vitamin D level between 70-100 mg/dL.
Herbal Medicine for Early Treatment
At the first sign of flu symptoms, take antiviral herbal medicines. Don’t wait. During our era of a looming pandemic, it’s wise to start sooner than later. Even seasonal flu outbreaks are getting worse.
For mild symptoms and for children use Elderberry. For moderate symptoms in adults use Echinacea. Older children and teens can also take Echinacea but in reduced dosages. When symptoms come on fast and strong, take both Elderberry and Echinacea together.
Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra as Sambucol, or as black elderberry tincture): A 2001 study found that Sambucol inhibits viral replication and has antioxidant effects. A 2016 study found that those who took an elderberry supplement experienced fewer symptoms and got better sooner from viral respiratory symptoms.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustafolia as tincture, or standardized extract in capsules): The medicinal ingredients in Echinacea are soluble in alcohol. That’s why Echinacea tea, a water extract, won’t work. For best results, you have to use Echinacea as a tincture or a standardized extract. Studies have shown, and my clinical experience confirms, that there is no difference between liquid or dry forms. However, the concentration of active constituents in an alcohol tincture is lower than in a standardized extract. To be effective, you have to take more of the tincture. A typical effective dose of the tincture is 1/3 teaspoon taken every two hours.
The active components of Echinacea are alkamides found in at least 33 plant families including the daisy family, of which Echinacea is a member. Alkamides exhibit a range of biological activities including immune boosting and antiviral properties. A standardized Echinacea extract from Italy, Polinacea, contains a specific polysaccharide IDN 5405 shown to improve the immune response to influenza infection.
Bioavailability counts. Though several studies, including a 2014 systematic review of 24 double-blind studies found Echinacea only a 10-20% effective treating symptoms of cold and seasonal flu, I argue that bioavailability and dosage provide the edge needed to beat the flu. To be effective, you have to take enough, but don’t overdose. You also need to dose frequently. During active infection dose every 30-60 minutes.
Get a blood test if you suspect nutrient deficiencies. SpectraCell Laboratories offers a nutritional panel, but requires a licensed doctor’s prescription. You can order individual nutrients on your own through PersonaLabs or AnyLabs, or through my website – drjewilliams.com
The best way to get extra nutrients is to take a multivitamin and mineral, which helps balance high dose individual nutrients making them more effective. Continue immune supportive supplements through cold and flu season from December through April. If you can only get a few, choose Echinacea and Zinc for your beating the flu medicine kit.
Herbal medicines are primarily for treatment. They help reduce symptoms and shorten your sick time. However, some find that daily low-dose Echinacea or Elderberry also have preventive effects.
3 Chinese Medicine Treatments for Beating the Flu
Because influenza is endemic to China, it makes sense that Chinese medicine would have the most experience in treating the flu.
Chinese medicine developed more than 2,500 years ago. Over millennia, traditional doctors gained practical insights about what plants and combinations worked best. But, experience alone isn’t all that matters. Modern science is testing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for the treatment of influenza.
Modern Chinese Medicine
Modern Chinese medicine is in a renaissance. Funding for research is supported by the Chinese government, hospitals, and flows in from private funding. Western countries are also interested in the flu-fighting properties of Chinese herbs. An EU-China consortium of 200 European and Chinese scientists was started in 2009 to work jointly on best practices for herbal medicine research.
Since 2009, the Chinese government established 16 TCM clinical research centers. The aim is to create a better evidence-based model for the use of herbal therapies. The goal is to find ways of integrating modern Western medicine with TCM.
A 2011 guideline paper details Western and traditional Chinese herbal treatment for influenza. The emphasis is on a scientific understanding of influenza infection using Western medical intervention and therapies while integrating TCM formulas.
TCM and the SARS Outbreak
SARS taught us a lot about how a microbe from a family of viruses that causes the common cold can mutate into a fast-spreading killer. Influenza epidemics are in many ways similar. Seasonal flu strains can mutate to pandemic proportions that spread fast and have a high death toll.
Once a pandemic is in motion there is no time to develop a vaccine. We have no choice but to use the best course of treatment and the medicines, including herbal formulas, that we already have. Seasonal flu is different. We know it’s coming.
Clinical studies during influenza epidemics and the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 found that traditional Chinese herbal preparations worked as well as Western antiviral drugs like oseltamivir. But, patients treated with a combination of Chinese and Western medicine did even better. Their fever went down faster, and they got better quicker than with either alone.
The Evidence for Using Chinese Herbs
Chinese herbal formulas have been found to block viral entry into the respiratory system by enhancing mucosal immunity. Chinese herbs inhibit viral shedding and slow replication. They reduce inflammation by suppressing inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-1 alpha. Herbal remedies also have antioxidant effects helping minimize cell damage caused by inflammation.
A Cochrane review of the effectiveness of Chinese herbs for the common cold analyzed 17 trials, involving 3212 subjects. The results found that Chinese herbal medicines can shorten the symptomatic phase.
A 2012 double-blind placebo-controlled study of 327 subjects in Hong Kong found that those who used Western cold medicines including antihistamines, paracetamol, or used decongestant nasal sprays recovered slower than those who took Chinese herbs.
They also found that though traditional Chinese formulas like yin qiao san and jiang fang bai du san – commonly used classical formulas for the flu – didn’t speed recovery, but were significantly helpful in managing symptoms. Based on these results, researchers looked closer.
A 2015 review found that lonicera (jin yin hua) possesses pharmacological effects, including antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antioxidant actions. It seems that lonicera japonica – a type of honeysuckle vine that in some places is considered an invasive species – is also a potent antiviral.
A 2017 animal study found that the intravenous injection of chlorogenic acid (CHA) derived from lonicera inhibited H1N1 and H3N2 influenza by up to 60 percent. Chlorogenic acid is a dietary polyphenol compound that’s produced by many plants, including coffee. Robusta raw coffee beans have up to 10% chlorogenic acid. Green coffee bean extract has about 50% CHA. But, that doesn’t mean that coffee or tea can beat the flu. Even though CHA inhibits influenza viruses in the lab, the body is more complex. It takes a synergistic group of compounds to beat the flu, which is the way Chinese herbal formulas are designed.
3 Chinese Medicinal Formulas to Beat the Flu:
Yin Qiao San – Lonicera/Honeysuckle and Forsythia Formula
Ban Xia Hou Po Tang – Pinellia and Magnolia Formula
Jiang Fang Bai Du San – Schizonepeta and Siler/Ledeboriella Formula, also called Tablet to Overcome Pathogenic Toxins
A 2016 study found that Chinese herbal formulas including yin qiao san and ban xia hou po tang significantly decreased the risk for pneumonia in the study group. Lonicera is one of the active components in yin qiao san but is not contained in ban xia hou po tang, so combining the two worked best.
The Chinese medicine ban xia is prepared from the rhizome of another invasive weed, Pinellia ternata. It treats a productive cough with thin phlegm. Hou po comes from a type of magnolia bark native to the hill country in China. It has anti-inflammatory effects that inhibit tumor necrosis factor beta, a molecule that drives the excess inflammation associated cytokine storm – rapid inflammatory changes in the lungs and other body tissues that cause extreme deterioration and death.
New Year’s Day signifies a new beginning. But is it genuinely new?
Isn’t it more a continuation of one year to another? To make a clean break from the cycle of broken resolutions, why not try something more meaningful this year?
Instead of tricks and patchwork resolutions, why not establish a health strategy; better yet, set upon a life plan that is compatible with your beliefs and goals?
Forget about giving up things. Add positive habits like taking a probiotic daily. Why not consider positive affirmations instead of an expensive gym membership that you won’t use?
Don’t emphasize negatives and generalizations like “I’m too fat so have to lose a lot of weight.”
Don’t set yourself up for defeat. Forget comparison charts. Instead, set your sites on reaching attainable milestones.
Consider how much weight you could gradually lose in 26 weeks. Is it one pound a week? Two pounds every four weeks over 52 weeks? At the end of the next year that’s 24 pounds.
An effective way to make positive change is with affirmations like “I will own my health every day.”
Own Your Health
A personal health code is the way to own your health. How you conduct your life in relationship to your body in health and disease matters. What you do every day matters.
A comprehensive health code includes disease prevention but also takes in wellness, fitness, and reproductive health. It embraces the daily details of how you live including dietary choices, what nutritional supplements you take, how much time you devote to exercise, and how long and well you sleep. It looks at the big picture including spiritual practices and healthy aging.
A personal health code embraces your nutritional philosophy. Are you a vegetarian, vegan, cooked or raw foodie, adopt a paleo diet, or a healthy omnivore? Do you follow a traditional Chinese or another ethnic diet? Do you avoid gluten and GMO foods? Eat all organic? Raise your vegetables or buy local?
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop at what you eat and how much you exercise. It also includes healthy consumer choices. Do you shop for clothing made from sustainable fabrics sewn in fair trade factories? Do you take nutritional supplements and where do you buy them? Are they pharmaceutical grade? Do you buy fresh vegetables and eggs from a farmer’s market?
Your health code puts movement as a priority. What is your choice of fitness activity? Are you committed to the yogi lifestyle including Ayurveda philosophy, or someone who includes yoga postures into a stretching plan? Do you walk or hike? Are your exercise sessions short or long? Are the intense bursts of interval training your thing? Do you practice martial arts, swim, lift weights at the gym, run on a treadmill or jog in a park?
What is your approach to health care? Do you read self-help health books? Are the authors genuine experts in their field? Do you believe in annual medical checkups or avoid conventional medicine except for major emergencies? Do you consider your naturopath or acupuncturist as your primary doctor? Do you get IV vitamin infusions?
Health is a system of checks and balances. You cannot control every aspect of your health, but you can make a significant difference in your health and how well you age by having a plan.
Jump-Start Your New Year’s Health Goals With Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations help rewire your nervous system to align with your body’s healing capacity. They affirm your values like faith, health, family, nature, and career.
Your personal health code might include some of these 12 affirmations:
I honor and respect my mind and body, my most valuable assets.
I assume responsibility for my health and wellness.
I live in a manner that supports my health and happiness, and that of my family and others.
I make healthy choices even when under stress.
I only eat real food, fresh and organic, and locally grown when possible.
I take nutritional supplements to correct underlying deficiencies or support and optimize health, including healthy aging.
I recognize the value of activity and exercise daily, and get up and regularly move during the workday.
I keep a lean body mass with well-toned muscles and the appropriate fat-to-muscle ratio.
I maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) for my height.
I do not abuse alcohol or tobacco, or any other drug.
I track my health markers regularly, including ordering blood tests.
I discuss corrective options with my doctor and take an active part in her suggestions.
Affirmations are crucial to the success of your resolutions. But, initiating the right motivation is also necessary.
Engage the Magic of Purpose & Motivation
In practical terms, motivation comes from within. But you can also be inspired by the achievements of others. Reading inspirational books help. Taking motivations workshops help. But these external methods are temporary. Change requires repeated behavioral rewiring. A trained psychologist or coach can help keep you on track.
Psychologists define motivation in the following ways:
An internal or external drive that prompts action.
The ability to initiate and persist toward a chosen objective.
Investing 100% of your time, effort, energy, and focus on your goal.
Being able to pursue change in the face of obstacles, boredom, fatigue, stress, and distractions.
The determination to resist ingrained and unhealthy patterns and habits.
Doing everything you can, and rallying every resource to make the changes you want in your life.
Are you motivated enough to see your New Year’s goal through to completion? Of course, you are. Release the magic locked into a driving purpose and the energy created by powerful motivation.
Set A Bare Minimum You Can’t Break
I don’t believe that we can exercise our way out of the harmful effects of an unhealthy diet. But exercise, like a healthy diet, is essential to creating and maintaining wellness.
A lot of people don’t like spending hours at the gym. But, many do. Most gyms offer more than weight and cardio equipment. They also have yoga instructions and other types of exercise classes. Some do better in group classes. Others make progress on their own. What’s your best way to stay engaged?
With the busyness of everyday life, it becomes all too easy to blow off exercise. But I recognize that being sedentary is dangerous, so I make time for mindful movement every single day.
When I don’t have time, which is nearly always, I have my bare minimum. Ten minutes of stretching, light weights, balancing, and I finish with five minutes of mindful awareness in the form of an ancient Chinese exercise called Qi Gong.
To make lasting change, to get darn good at anything, requires consistency over time. And it doesn’t have to be hours a day. Change happens in increments. You may benefit even if you devote only ten to fifteen minutes every day to move.
Last Thoughts on Your Personal Health Code
Make it personal. It’s your life and your health. You’re worth it.
Find inspiration in others and tips from fitness experts, but in the end, you have to do the work.
Set aside enough time to plan your New Year right. Make time from January 1 through 5 to craft the best personal health code ever.
Make a list. But, your personal health code is not just a list of “do not” and “avoid this.” It’s not about resolutions you won’t keep. It’s a decisive, proactive approach to life and health.
A good starting point includes life-affirming principles, daily affirmations, and staying motivated through the rest of the year. To be effective, it can’t be generic. It has to be personal. What’s your health code?
Every year, 9.7 million women take birth control pills (BCPs), hormonal contraception. About 12 percent of women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer. In 2017, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed.
What’s the connection between estrogen and breast cancer? Is there a link between BCP and breast cancer?
The New England Journal of Medicine study found a higher risk for breast cancer in women who used hormonal contraception, “birth control pills.”
What’s even more troubling is that women who used BCPs for more than five years, the increased risk persisted even after they stopped.
A 2013 study found that having used synthetic estrogens not only increased a woman’s risk for breast cancer but that increased risk can be passed on to their daughters.
Four factors link hormone use to cancer: (1) use of synthetic estradiol and progesterone, (2) use of high dose estradiol, (3) the level of estradiol in the blood, and (4) how long a woman uses synthetic hormone BCPs.
BCPs contain ethinylestradiol (EE), a synthetic estrogen. Some also include progestin, a synthetic progesterone. There are many types of progestins including levonorgestrel, norethindrone, desogestrel, and norgestrel.
Progesterone can also increase cancer risk. Women who used intrauterine devices that release progestin, a synthetic progesterone, had a 21 percent increased cancer risk.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Increases Risk for Ovarian Cancer
Does HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer? Is there a difference between bio-identical and synthetic estrogens?
Women over 50 who use HRT with synthetic hormones for more than five years have a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Synthetic hormones (ethinylestradiol and progestins: levonorgestrel, norethindrone, desogestrel, and norgestrel) are stronger and absorb more readily than bioidenticals. Quicker absorption rapidly increases estrogen and progesterone levels in the blood. Often, they push hormone levels too high. The longer a woman uses hormone therapy, the greater her cancer risk. But, high estradiol and progesterone levels also increase the chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Women who had a complete hysterectomy cannot get uterine or ovarian cancer, but they are still vulnerable for developing breast cancer.
Other factors compound cancer risk in women who use long term hormone therapies. Cancer risk is higher in overweight women. Cancer is more likely in those who drink alcohol and take hormones, than those who are of average weight and don’t drink or rarely use alcohol.
No Balance with Synthetic Hormone Therapy
When it comes to synthetic hormone replacement, there is no delicate balance. Synthetic hormones increase the risk for cancer. The longer you use them, the higher your risk. Women who use BCPs for more than ten years have an even higher risk.
EE is toxic to the body. When taken orally, it’s absorbed in the intestinal tract and travels directly to the liver. This “first pass” effect in the liver removes 99 percent of the EE. The liver is good at what it does, but processing man-made pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic hormones that have no place in the natural biology of a woman’s body, can trigger liver toxicity. It can also increase the risk for gallstones.
Mostly younger women take BCPs. Doctors rarely discuss the risks of synthetic hormone contraception with their patients. And, doctors now prescribe low-dose birth control to ease the symptoms associated with hormone imbalances related to perimenopause. However, I do not advise BCP use in women over 45 years.
If you use BCPs, or take hormone replacement therapy, get semi-annual blood testing for liver enzymes. It’s wise to also test hormone your levels, including estradiol, progesterone, FSH, and sex-binding hormone.
If you use BCPs or HRT, get your hormones tested at least once a year. Hormone testing is done with standard blood testing and is usually covered by health insurance. Saliva testing is also available through ZRT Laboratory or others like the DutchTest from Precision Analytical.
There is a difference between blood and saliva hormone testing. Serum estradiol tests measure the total circulating amount of 17 beta-estradiol in your blood. Saliva tests measure the amount of “free” estradiol. Free hormone levels are not attached to carrier proteins. Supposedly, free hormone levels are a better way to determine hormone activity in the tissue. But free estradiol is also measured in serum from a blood test.
Though salivary testing has come a long way since first introduced in the 1980s, I still prefer to use total and free estradiol levels in a blood test for my patients.
Aim at keeping your estradiol and progesterone levels within physiological ranges. Remember that it’s high estradiol, sometimes called the estrogen dominant effect, that over time increases cancer risk. The average range for postmenopausal serum estradiol is less than 6.0 to 54.7 pg/mL. In my clinical practice, I consider an estradiol level over 64.0 pg/mL too high for women on HRT.
My nature cure mentor, Dr. Bernard Jensen, was right. All disease starts in the gut.
Science is proving that there is a link between gut endotoxins and chronic inflammatory diseases. Patients with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s improve when they have less gut permeability, lower endotoxin load, and normalized inflammatory biomarkers like C-reactive protein (CRP).
But the gut microbiome is an exceptionally complex environment. Is there an element common to the microbiome of patients with all these chronic diseases?
A Common Gut Biomarker Is Associated with Chronic Inflammation
The first clue came in 2006 when Phillippe Langella discovered the anti-inflammatory properties of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Dr. Langella is a renowned microbiota researcher and director of Micalis in France, a company dedicated to understanding gut ecology.
Is F. prausnitzii the common biomarker of intestinal health? Does F. prausnitzii deficiency cause chronic inflammation?
Low levels of F. prausnitzii in the gut found with a stool test is associated with many common diseases including Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, asthma, eczema, mood disorders, and obesity. Chronic inflammation is a common element of all of these conditions.
One of the most abundant bacteria in the human gut is F. prausnitzii. It’s a member of the Firmicutes phylum, one of the largest and most important groups of resident gut bacteria.
Microbial imbalance in the gut composition leads to dysbiosis. When too many harmful bacteria outnumber positive ones, dysbiosis sets the stage for chronic disease.
Selected Benefits of F. prausnitzii:
Source of energy for maintaining intestinal health
Helps protect against glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes
Produces short-chain fatty acid butyrate necessary to prevent leaky gut
Supports mucosal immunity
Unfortunately, a single F. prausnitzii probiotic is not available. But, judging by the strength of the research since 2006, look for next-generation probiotics including F. prausnitzii.
Prebiotics remain the best way to support your colonies of F. prausnitzii. But remember that oat and wheat bran are often used in prebiotic formulas, as is corn starch. You cannot take these fibers if on a lectin-free or gluten-free diet, or experience allergic sensitivity to corn, oats, or wheat.
Legumes like lentils, lima beans, and even garden peas support healthy intestinal flora. However, remember that legumes contain lectins. If you’re lectin-sensitive, beans and peas need to be well-cooked.
Prebiotics That Support F. prausnitzii:
Arabinoxylan oligosaccharides (AXOS)
Arabinoxylan supports the gut microbiome and protects F. prausnitzii. However, most commercial arabinoxylan comes from wheat bran. Instead, choose the Japanese form Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound (RBAC) made from rice bran and Shitake mushroom extract.
Other ways to support F. prausnitzii include modified fasting, and taking vitamin B2 (riboflavin), calcium d-Glucarate, and grape seed extract.
A 2015 study found that the probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 supports healthy F. prausnitzii populations. Marketed as Ganaden BC30, this probiotic survives the trip from mouth to gut 100 times better than most other probiotics30.
The large intestine is devoid of light and oxygen. Yet, bacteria thrive on energy from food remains and prebiotics. Researchers found that F. prausnitzii organisms are highly sensitive to even small amounts of oxygen. Adding the antioxidant supplements glutathione and cysteine to prebiotics help protect F. prausnitzii from oxidative damage.
Supplement Prebiotics to Support F. prausnitzii:
F. prausnitzii is the common biomarker of intestinal health. F. prausnitzii deficiency is associated with dysbiosis. Improving F. prausnitzii status with diet, prebiotics and nutritional supplements help restore gut imbalances and lower systemic inflammation.
We’re in the era of genomics. And, it’s easy to get a blueprint of your microbiome. Laboratory companies are selling gut microbiome screening tests on the internet direct to the consumer without a doctor’s prescription. But is it time for you to get your gut microbiome tested?
A January 2017 Consumer Reports write up advises to skip gut screening tests. But, my research and clinical experience suggest otherwise. The science and technology are excellent, and results are accurate. For example, uBiome has six issued patents and 73 others pending. Their advisory team of MDs and PhDs have published 20 scientific papers about gene sequencing.
The gut microbiome is an exciting field. It’s a crossway between conventional medicine and functional medicine.
Gut Microbiome Imbalances: A Pathway to Health or Illness
Our gut microbiome shapes our health, immunity, and metabolism. Microbial transformations occur in our colon that makes us who we are, affect our energy and mood, and defend us from infections and cancer.
Gastrointestinal disorders begin in the mouth. The food we eat ends in the gut as food for our microbes and benefits for us.
But not getting enough fiber, eating refined foods, overeating fast foods, packaged foods, and not consuming enough green vegetables are factors that affect the gut’s microbiome and our health. Improper cooking is another reason. Certain foods like dried bean have to be cooked a long time to break down inflammatory lectins. Otherwise, they cause gas and bloating. As can gluten sensitivity and milk allergy.
Many other factors contribute to gut imbalances, including aging.
As we age, our stomach lining atrophies. The cells that secrete gastric acid produce less hydrochloric acid. Low acidic levels allow Helicobacter pylori and other pathogenic bacteria to thrive.
Too many bad bugs trigger inflammation causing gastritis. They overflow the stomach into the small intestine causing fermentation. Too many bacteria can cause small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) associated with bloating and belly pain. Patients with SIBO complain that they look five months pregnant.
In the large intestine, microbiome imbalance is termed dysbiosis, describing an unhealthy shift in the gut microbiome composition. Chronic dysbiosis is considered a cause of IBS, autoimmune disorders, mood changes, weight gain, metabolic disorders, CFS, and colon cancer.
But, it’s not only a question of too many bugs. Gut bacteria imbalances count.
One of the most common imbalances is the ratio of Firmicutes species, making up most of the number of bacteria in the gut, and Bacteroides. The F/B ratio measure in a stool sample provides a gauge of overall gut imbalance.
In chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as older people, the F/B ratio tends to be low.
A 2009 study found that the F/B ratio changes with age. But is aging the only factor causing altered F/B ratio? Studies in Europe found that the F/B ratio was different between countries. This research suggests either a genetic variation or a dietary difference, or both.
A 2014 study confirmed that microbiome imbalances occur during aging but found that diet was the primary factor in determining gut bacteria. The most common decline was in Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium.
Besides diet and aging, other causes of gut microbiome imbalance include sedentary lifestyle, high stress, excessive alcohol intake, and gut-damaging medications like antibiotics and ibuprofen.
Specialized Gut Flora Matter
Specialized gut bacteria like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (also called Fusobacterium prausnitzii) a member of the Firmicutes phylum, play critical roles in health and disease. Higher levels of F. prausnitzii are associated with health. Lower levels of illness. This common bacterium produces butyrate and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) necessary to maintain the gut lining. Low F. prausnitzii levels contribute to leaky gut, chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, and the whole-body symptoms associated with CFS like fibromyalgia pain.
Restoring Your Microbiota
Nutraceuticals or functional foods including prebiotics, probiotics, polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, and polyphenols, help modulate the intestinal microbiota.
Viscous fiber in food has health benefits, but few functional fiber preparations are both practical and palatable. For my patients, I recommend the new viscous fiber supplement PolyGlycopleX (PGX). It’s an evidence-based functional food that beats old-fashioned fiber supplements like psyllium husks that can be hard on the intestines.
Five Ways to Restore Your Microbiome:
Take a viscous fiber supplement.
Avoid gluten and lectin-containing foods.
Take probiotics that emphasize the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Take a digestive enzyme containing betaine hydrochloride and pancreatic enzymes with every meal to support digestion.
Take hypoallergenic prebiotics to support growth of beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Symbiotics
Probiotics are live microorganism supplements. To be effective, enough have to reach the intestine in an active state. You have to take amounts in the billions of units, and you need ones that are alive and active.
Most health food marketplaces offer many probiotic products found in the refrigerated section. Choose those containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, bifidobacteria species, strains of Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
A prebiotic is a natural ingredient that helps change the composition and activity of the microflora environment to benefit wellbeing and health. The most common prebiotics are inulin-type fructans, including fermentable chicory fructans. Some prebiotics contains corn and may cause allergic reactions to those sensitive to corn.
Synergistic combinations of probiotics and prebiotics are called synbiotics. One hypoallergenic synbiotic that I recommended to my patients is Microbiome Plus+. Another is HLC Synbiotic Intensive from Pharmax.
Several research reviews have summarized the benefits associated with probiotic supplements for older adults. Typical benefits include increased levels of bifidobacteria, improved bowel function with less constipation, enhanced innate immunity, and reduced inflammation.
How Probiotics and Prebiotics Benefit the Body
Improve digestive health
Improve nutrient absorption
Help prevent cancer
Increase calcium absorption
Some probiotics can reduce diarrhea caused by antibiotic use or overgrowth of potentially pathogenic strains of bacteria. Saccharomyces boulardii, a strain of yeast, which significantly reduces the incidence of Clostridium difficile-associated colitis.
What to Look for In a Microbiome Test
You can now test your gut microbiome without a doctor’s prescription. Look for ones that are evidence-based, easy to use, and affordable.
DayTwo (Israel) is different from the others because it analyzes your microbiome to assess blood sugar response to foods predicting which ones are best for you.
When looking for the right microbiome test, I recommend the following three guidelines:
A diversity score. Beside individual flora, the lab should provide an overall diversity score. Low diversity is associated with illness.
Test for key flora. Tests should check for important populations of flora including Lactobacillus, Bifidus, Firmicutes, Bacteroides, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
An F/B ratio. The lab should calculate the ratio and present it in an easy to read manner on the test report. A low F/B ration is associated with illness.
Expert interpretation is always the key factor in any medical laboratory test. Learning on your own requires lots of reading and endless hours on the internet. A good lab will provide a Q&A brochure with your report. Some offer consulting services for an additional fee.
You might even find that a doctor experienced in microbiome testing is a valuable ally in your quest to regain your health, to prevent disease and stay well, and for ridiculously healthy aging.
Coffee is a classic superfood. A superfood is a food or drink with health benefits beyond normal dietary sources. Superfoods tend to be high in antioxidants, especially polyphenols that are plant compounds with health promoting and disease preventive properties. Coffee contains hundreds of natural compounds. Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol in coffee that some researchers believe can help you live longer.
The 21st-century buzz is this 5,000-year-old energy drink stimulates and heals. But is coffee good or is it bad for your health? The real answer is complex.
No doubt about it, coffee is a super food. It stimulates and nourishes. Natural coffee beans contain over 1,000 aromatic compounds.
Coffee is especially rich in phenolic compounds. The most abundant of coffee’s health-promoting phenolics is chlorogenic acid, which accounts for 12 percent of the weight of dry green coffee beans. Other coffee acids include aliphatic and quinic acids.
Coffee’s reputation as an acidic food comes from the idea that these phenolic acids tip the body’s pH balance.
Coffee beans also contain oils, plus some peptides and free amino acids, and alkaloids like trigonelline that researchers found slows down the spread of invasive cancers. Trigonelline may help manage diabetes and has weight loss benefits. It also prevents the bacteria Streptococcus mutans from adhering to tooth enamel, one of the principal causes of dental decay. During roasting, trigonelline converts to niacin, vitamin B3. A single cup of coffee can contain between 10-40 milligrams of niacin.
What Is the Optimal Daily Dose of Caffeine?
One cup of fresh-brewed coffee contains between 100 to 130 milligrams or more of caffeine. A Starbucks coffee has up to 300 milligrams of caffeine. Some types of coffee preparations have less caffeine than others. An espresso has much less, about 65 milligrams.
Even decaf has some caffeine. Decaf is required to be 97.5% caffeine free to be considered decaffeinated, but the amount varies a lot. On average, you get between 5 to 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup of decaf.
There’s no consensus about the optimal amount of caffeine needed to get the health benefits without risks. A regular-sized cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. Three cups per day is the average caffeine consumption in the U.S., which is about 300 mg. Health experts suggest that 400 mg is the maximum dose per day. Pushing your caffeine consumption past 500 mg can cause rapid heart rate, tremors, and insomnia. Ten times that amount – 5,000 mg – is considered toxic and potentially lethal.
Research evidence suggests that 250 milligrams of caffeine daily creates no health risks. A reasonable goal aims for high-quality coffee in moderate amounts consistently during the day, not quantity. When you abuse caffeine, bad things can happen.
A good rule is to consume caffeine the ways it’s drunk in traditional coffee cultures. Cubans drink a lot of coffee, but in tiny cups and throughout the day. Middle Eastern cultures drink coffee in the same way: small cups of intense flavored and highly aromatic coffee.
Is the Caffeine in Energy Drinks Different from Coffee?
Americans, never satisfied with just a little wake-up, have gone crazy with caffeine. Turbocharged caffeinated energy drinks are taking a toll on our health. At least 13 deaths from sudden heart failure are associated with popular energy boosting products, and emergency room visits related to energy drinks skyrocketed by 15 times since 2005.
The amount of caffeine in energy shots and caffeinated colas varies a lot. A can of Coca-Cola has about 35 mg. Dr. Pepper delivers 41 mg. Caffeine-laden colas also come with a lot of sugar, except for the ones with artificial sweeteners, which carry other health risks.
Energy shots pack more caffeine than colas. 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength has no sugar but provides 200 milligrams of caffeine in 2 fluid ounces. Rockstar double strength packs 80 milligrams. Red Bull has 83 milligrams. Monster Energy tops the pack with 86 milligrams per can.
The caffeine in energy drinks and colas is manufactured from urea, a nitrogen-rich chemical. The caffeine in coffee is created in the plant under the sun while growing on a tree. The main difference between natural and synthetic caffeine is that natural caffeine as found in coffee and tea come with a bundle of other healthy compounds that you won’t find in energy shots.
Does Drinking Coffee Make Your Body Acidic?
Some worry that coffee is too acidic. But is it?
The average pH of brewed coffee is about 5, which is slightly acidic. But, coffee is less acidic than a glass of orange juice with a pH of 3.3-4.2. Coffee can sometimes upset your stomach, but this is not due to its acids, many of which are healthy for you. Other compounds found in coffee may be the cause of indigestion.
What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee?
New research shows that freshly made coffee from whole beans can lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, lower blood pressure, and prevent diabetes, and even help weight loss. Scientists are finding that it’s two powerful antioxidants, and both are acids, that provide coffee’s health benefits.
Chlorogenic and caffeic acids are antioxidants that help beat cancer and prevent other degenerative diseases. Researchers found that women who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing estrogen receptor-related breast cancer. A 2017 study found that drinking more than three espressos a day reduced prostate cancer by 53 percent. Italian men, the subjects in the study, drink on average 600 cups of coffee every year.
Compounds in coffee may also shield the liver from cancer-causing chemicals. A Japanese study that included 240,000 people, found that those who drank several cups of coffee every day had fifty percent less chance of developing liver cancer.
20 Proven Benefits of Coffee:
Helps prevent stroke by improving blood flow in the brain.
May reduce blood pressure.
Improves antioxidant capacity.
Improves nitric oxide levels.
Protects against developing type II diabetes.
Reduces risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Helps improve movement symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.
Lowers the risk of liver cancer.
Protects against heart failure.
Reduces pain intensity.
Promotes weight loss.
Improves mood and guards against depression.
Protects against developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Helps jolt your workouts.
Lowers risk for developing Multiple Sclerosis.
Lowers risk for prostate and bladder cancer.
Lowers risk for endometrial cancer.
Lowers risk for breast cancer.
Slows cognitive decline.
Protects against DNA damage.
Longevity Benefits of Coffee
Chlorogenic acid and other polyphenols in coffee lower the risk for disease associated with aging. Large observational studies found that lifelong coffee drinking significantly reduces the risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Coffee drinking helps prevent diabetes, a primary cause of accelerated aging.
A 2017 study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that coffee drinkers outlived those who abstained. Because the longevity benefits lie in the polyphenols, decaf worked equally as well as. To get longevity benefits, researchers found that six cups of coffee per day was the average among participants.
What Are the Risks of Coffee Drinking?
There is great chemistry in every cup of natural organic coffee, but there are also risks of drinking too much.
Coffee is a mild diuretic and may cause frequent urination, but not everyone has this annoying effect. In fact, current research does not consider coffee dehydrating.
Too much caffeine may aggravate symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. However, new research found that it might be good for prostate health. A Harvard School of Public Health study found that men with lower risk for prostate cancer drank a lot of coffee.
Caffeine can trigger headaches, but also can have the opposite effect. Migraine sufferers know that a strong cup of coffee can sometimes halt an attack. Experts do not believe that coffee directly causes headaches. Caffeine mitigates pain. Commercial preparations with aspirin or acetaminophen and other pain drugs add caffeine for quick action pain relief. However, some people who are sensitive to caffeine report that coffee triggers headaches. Caffeine sensitive individuals should not take pain relievers that have added caffeine in them.
Doctors used to believe that coffee caused high blood pressure. Research based on caffeine-laden Colas found that blood pressure went up, so it was assumed that coffee would also spike blood pressure. According to a European study, caffeinated energy shots significantly raise blood pressure. And, newer research shows that coffee may help lower blood pressure. It seems that reasonable amounts of coffee drinking do not cause a spike in blood pressure. However, in some individuals who are caffeine sensitive blood pressures could rise.
You can cruise all day with a little caffeine but drinking coffee in the afternoon and evening disrupts your body clock. It takes six hours for your body to eliminate caffeine. Drinking more than 500 milligrams of caffeine or drinking coffee in the evening causes insomnia for most people.
Do Benefits Outweigh Risks?
All the good news does not mean that you should power up to four, or even six or more cups of coffee a day. Instead, consider coffee as a healing medicine and super food. Like green tea or pomegranate juice, coffee is best drunk in small doses every day over extended periods of time.
Coffee is integral to the American lifestyle. We are a fast-paced, high-powered, stressed-out nation of over-achievers, and many would like to keep it that way.
Coffee is not just a morning wake up drink; it’s one of Nature’s health miracles. Enjoy, but consume responsibly. Find your personal caffeine balance.
A few years ago, I designed several menu planners for alternative dinner meals for the Holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.
For the Christmas and New Year Menu, I worked with a raw food and vegan chef, Diana Stovelaar.
So in this post, you’ll find the links to those great menu planners. Enjoy! And please let us know your comments below.
The menus include shopping lists and several cooked and raw recipes that can be designed for a dinner party.
You can try the entire menu, or just select a few healthy alternatives to add to your current dinner plans.
Keep in mind that the menus are interchangeable. I don’t see why you couldn’t use the New Year Menu for Thanksgiving, for example! However, you’ll probably find the Christmas menu the most in spirit for Thanksgiving.
Click on the links below to download the planners:
Influenza experts predict a severe flu season for 2017-2018. Learn the best natural ways to protect yourself and your family against increasingly stronger influenza viruses.
Influenza viruses incubate in South China and Southeast Asia. First infections occur in China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asian. Influenza infection then spreads to Australia and other countries across the Southern Hemisphere before heading to North America and Europe.
In 2017-2018, the main flu strains are influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B.
Australia reported high levels of H3N2 with 98,000 cases. That was more than double the rate of previous years. Most deaths were in nursing homes, but healthy adults were also affected.
By the end of October 2017, levels of influenza in South America trended lower. Infectious disease experts guess that we’re in a quiet phase before flu outbreaks impact North America. But, they could be wrong.
Flu Vaccine Update
Seasonal flu vaccines take about two weeks to protect against the flu.
Because this year’s flu is expected to be stronger than previous years, experts at the Baylor College of Medicine recommend that everyone over age 65 get vaccinated. Some doctors even recommend higher dose vaccines.
Flu trivalent vaccines inoculate with three strains of influenza virus. But, this year’s vaccines are quadrivalent – containing four different strains. Quadrivalent vaccines include two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
No vaccine is 100 percent effective. But, if you get sick, there’s a good chance your case won’t be as severe. Immunology is not magic.
Those Who Shouldn’t Get Flu Vaccines:
Children under six months.
Those with severe allergies to previous flu vaccines.
Those with allergies to ingredients in the vaccine, including gelatin or antibiotics.
There is also the problem of repeat vaccination with the same strain. This year’s Northern Hemisphere flu shot contains the same H3N2 virus as for last year’s. But researchers found that H3 influenza A viruses already mutated in the Southern Hemisphere. So, the repeat vaccination effect may work against you for this winter’s flu season.
Bird Flu Update
This year’s H7N9 bird flu is the deadliest since first detected in 2013.
The current strain of bird flu mutated into a stronger, drug-resistant form. So far, it’s killing mostly chickens. However, earlier this year, China reported to the World Health Organization 759 cases of human infection with 281 deaths. That’s close to a 40% mortality rate. This is unheard of in recent years.
By September 2017, there were 1,558 confirmed cases of bird flu worldwide. The CDC published a statement on this new type of influenza A(H7N9). Among all viruses followed since 2013, this year’s bird flu is the worst and has the highest potential to go pandemic.
Protect Against the Flu Naturally
Since we can’t stop influenza viruses from replicating and traveling around the world, and vaccination and antiviral drugs have limited effect, natural medicines can help.
Flu is highly contagious. It spreads in the air from person to person. The best prevention is to avoid infection.
Tips to Avoid Infection:
Wear a mask
Wash your hands
Don’t linger around people sneezing and coughing
Wipe down surfaces
Natural Medicines for Strong Immunity
Flu vaccines never exactly match current influenza viral infections. So, even if you get vaccinated, natural medicines can help reduce the severity of illness. Natural immune boosters help prevent cold and flu and can shorten the time that you are sick.
Additionally, the next best thing to protect you and your family from the flu is to keep informed. Influenza viruses travel fast and mutate rapidly. Know what your up against, and how prevalent infection rates are in your area throughout flu season.
Wishing all the best of health for the upcoming 2018 flu season.
For a more in-depth view of self-health care for the flu, look for my book Beating the Flu.
It’s a rather shocking observation that health gurus that those who write diet books and give advice on how to live healthy longer appear to live shorter lives than the average person.
They seem to be beaten only by rock stars, who have an average life expectancy of 42 years old for American rock stars, and 35 for European ones!
This is not based on any scientific data, so it may not well be true. However, it’s an interesting discussion that leads to important questions.
Some Examples of Health Experts Who Died Younger Than You Would Expect:
Michel Montignac, a very famous Frenchman who promoted a healthy diet based on the concept of the glycemic index, died at 66 of cancer. He was the inspiration behind the “South Beach Diet.”
Dr. Atkins, probably the most famous diet guru in the world (who weighed 258 lbs at 6 feet tall), died after spending 9 days in a coma at the age of 72 from a slip on the ice. The medical examiner noted that in his health files he had previously suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. As no autopsy was performed, it cannot be confirmed if any of these previous ailments affected his inability to recover from his fatal injury.
Paavo Airola, author of “How to Get Well” and led the juice fasting and natural health movement in the 70’s and 80’s, died of a stroke at the age of 64.
Tina Leigh, health coach and author of The Balanced Raw cookbook, died at 38 after surgery to remove breast implants she’d gotten at age 21. Of course, this wasn’t because of her diet, but came as a shock to her fans.
James Fixx, who started the jogging craze in the late 70’s, diet at 52 from a heart attack — while jogging.
Roy Waldorf who was a longevity expert and wrote the book “The 120-Year Diet” died in 2004 at age 79. Not that bad, but nowhere close to the target age he projected.
Nathan Pritikin, one of the most prolific authors on the low fat diet, committed suicide as his body was overtaken by leukemia at age 69. To his credit, his leukemia was diagnosed before his heart disease, which he cured through diet changes. We can reasonably say that he lived longer because of his diet.
Ross Horne, his student, claimed that Mr. Pritikin would have lived longer if he had embraced the fruitarian diet that Ross promoted. He himself died of cancer, although well into his 80’s.
T.C. Fry, leader of the Natural Hygiene and fruitarian movement, died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 70.
Robert E. Kwalski, who wrote the famous book “The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure,” died at the age of 65 of a pulmonary aneurysm.
George Oshawa, who literally invented the macrobiotic diet (which actually means “the way of long life”) passed of lung cancer at the age of 73.
Adele Davis, who pioneered the concept of healthy eating, which unfortunately involved drinking a lot of milk, died at the age of 70 of cancer.
Of course, it would be wrong to say that ALL diet gurus die young. That’s not true, but many of them did.
Good Examples of Health Experts Who Lived Longer Than Average:
Paul Bragg died at 81. Although it was widely claimed by his family that he died from a surfing accident, apparently cause of death was a heart attack.
Norman Walker, juicing and raw food guru, died at 99 (and not at 118 years old as was previously claimed).
Jack Lalanne, who was more a fitness than a diet guru, died at the age of 96 from pneumonia.
Does This Mean Anything?
The fact many health gurus don’t live significantly longer than the average life expectancy, and in many cases live shorter lives, doesn’t in itself mean anything revolutionary.
People are fallible. Health gurus can be mistaken. More importantly… health gurus are human just like you and me!
And as I’ve discovered the hard way: not every health problem can be prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle!
Some health gurus practiced what they preached most of the time, some did part of the time, and others didn’t practice their teachings at all.
In some cases these inconsistencies didn’t prevent them from living a long life. For instance, Paul Bragg who used to enjoy an occasional burger at his favorite Honolulu restaurant.
Others, like T.C. Fry, struggled to apply their strict teachings in their own lives, yet lived longer than what their doctors had predicted (T.C. Fry was desperately sick and ready to die in his forties based on his doctor’s opinion).
Some gurus tried to give immortality a shot, like Roy Waldorf, and practiced calorie restriction, only to live slightly longer than the average male life expectancy.
Some diet gurus pretended to have the solution to weight loss, but were themselves overweight when they died (let’s not name names here).
Maybe it’s too much pressure to be a high-profile health guru. People expect you to be perfect all the time. Maybe some health gurus would have changed their minds about a few things they got wrong, but to maintain their image they refused to admit to others and themselves that their program did not work and that they needed to try something else.
Maybe the type of person who writes diet books — mostly men — tend to be a certain overachiever type, bringing to their lives a certain stress that would not have occurred otherwise.
Or it could be that many diet gurus start with poor health in the first place, and then get motivated to find a solution and write a book about it.
The fact that some diet gurus die young should not lead us to the conclusion that all diet advice is bad.
Although some of the alternative health advice is questionable, a lot of it is common sense based on science. And we would be fools to ignore it, even though it may not save us from every illness.
Some good advice includes:
Eating a plant-based diet, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
Avoiding refined fats, oils, and carbohydrates.
Eating whole foods as they come from Nature
Exercising on a regular basis
Practicing some form of stress-management technique (like meditation)
Avoiding foods that you’re personally sensitive to
Other Things Are Not Black and White.
For example, there’s a debate as to whether a completely vegan diet is better than one that contains a small percentage of animal products.
Some people also feel best on an all-raw diet, although there’s not definite science to say that it’s absolutely the best diet for everybody.
Ultimately, it’s up to YOU to become your own diet guru.
It’s important not to fall into cynicism, and start to believe that nobody is right and that all diet advice is bad. Of course, no one is absolutely right but it’s logical to believe that certain people may be closer to the truth than others.
If a diet guru dies of an illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their advice is wrong. It could mean that they didn’t practice it, or that it wasn’t enough to prevent their illness.
On the other hand, if a diet guru looks fit and healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually healthy on the inside! Or that they’ll live a long life. Ultimately, only large-scale studies on populations, backed by solid scientific data, can give us a clue as to what is actually going on.
In The Bourne Legacy, Aaron Cross was the last member of a secret government program whose operatives were genetically altered. Cross relied on performance-enhancing blue pills (and they were not Viagra) called “chems.” With their help, he crossed the Canadian Rockies in record time.
When the movie came out in 2012, performance-enhancing drugs were already old news to scientists, professional athletes, and superspies. Research was already underway on compound GW501516.
But in 2007, GlaxoSmithKline shelved GW501516 because of the high incidence of cancers in mice used for the studies.
The drug went underground. Professional athletes used it, even though on the list of banned substances. So far, there are no anecdotal or documented cases of athletes developing cancer from taking generic 516.
And it didn’t stop other pharmaceutical companies from finding other compounds that did the same thing. Mitobridge is one company that picked up the research for a drug that safely boosts human metabolism.
The incentive was that 516 mimics the benefits of exercise increasing endurance as much as 70 percent. It helps burn fat and increases healthy brown fat. Other health benefits include better glucose control, lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and higher protective HDL. It could also help speed recovery after a heart attack.
Compound 516 is nearly a sure thing. Or is it?
The science behind exercise enhancing drugs targets mitochondria, the energy-producing living structures inside cells that produce energy and maintain cellular health.
Mitochondria have a genome separate from cells. Though our mitochondrial DNA makes up a small part of our overall DNA, it does a lot of work. Mitochondrial function is linked to metabolism, aging, and performance.
Compound 516 targets PPAR gene receptors in mitochondria. Scientists believe these are the body’s fat-burning switches.
In the future, compounds like 516 could have life-enhancing benefits for astronauts enduring extended space travel. It’s not surprising that the U.S. Department of Defense invests heavily in exercise pill research that influence muscle metabolism. The Bourne movies implied the enhancement effects of these drugs.
But, the journey from discovery to market takes years. No wonder there is a thriving underground trade. Compound GW501516 is also known as GW-501, 516 and GSK-516, and as Endurobol and Cardarine.
A lot of hope is riding on exercise pills. For those who can’t exercise due to sedentary jobs like long-distance truck drivers and people with physical disabilities, a blue exercise pill could prevent debility and lower cardiovascular disease risk. 516 could become the gold standard for staying healthy in a post-modern world with no time to exercise.
Natural Ways to Enhance Your Mitochondria
Besides new drugs like 516 and supplements, other ways to boost mitochondria and maintain critical ATP production include intermittent fasting, eating fatty acids (as found in fish, seeds and nuts, and avocados), and exercise.
Boosting NAD+ also improves mitochondria function. A 2016 study found that taking nicotinamide riboside, the precursor to NAD+, enhanced stem cell function. More viable stem cells speed healing, stimulate tissue repair, and increase lifespan.
Another mitochondria enhancer is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ acts as a growth factor, capable of increasing the number of mitochondria within cells. A 2013 study found that PQQ influences energy metabolism. It also reduces inflammation including lowering C-reactive protein, a marker for increased cardiovascular disease risk.
Other supplements that protect mitochondria function include L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10.
The biological processes associated with exercise are complex and remain mysterious. However, scientists know that exercise activates compounds in the body, like 516, which induces thermogenesis that triggers fat burning and enhances endurance.
“Eating alone will not keep a man well, he must also take exercise. For food and exercise work together to produce health.” Hippocrates 400 BC
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