Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Eating Out May Disrupt Your Hormones

When you think of things that throw your hormones out of balance, you probably think of stress, or maybe trans fats or alcohol consumption, or perhaps pollution you breathe. You probably don’t think of a visit to a local restaurant, a dinner out at a nearby bistro or an evening at your favorite pub. But, eating out may be wrecking your hormones more than you realize, according to a new study.

The research, published in the medical journal Environment International, found that eating out in restaurants, cafeterias or other food establishments may be exposing people to increased amounts of the hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates.

Phthalates, pronounced THAL-ates are chemicals that are well-established as hormone disruptors that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, cancer (especially breast cancer), infertility (in both men and women) and obesity. They have been linked to increased androgen levels in both males and females.

Androgens are sometimes called “male hormones” even though both men and women have them. In healthy amounts androgens can help regulate sexual development, libido, hair growth or loss, and other characteristics. However, when we are exposed to chemicals like phthalates they can throw our delicate hormonal balance out of whack.

The researchers examined the diets along with urine samples from 10,253 study participants to determine their exposures to phthalates in food they ate at home compared to food they ate out at a range of establishments. They found that eating out significantly increased peoples’ exposure to the toxic compounds. Some foods like sandwiches or cheeseburgers were found to increase phthalate exposures when eaten out but not when they were eaten at home, which could be a reflection of peoples’ tendency to make certain foods from scratch or use more wholesome ingredients compared to many of the packaged, processed foods that are used in restaurants, replete with all the phthalates and other chemicals found in these foods.

In addition to food sources, phthalates are also prevalent as a coating used in pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs, in shower curtains, vinyl flooring, in cosmetics and body care products, hairspray, in baby care products, as an ingredient in insecticides and in most ingredients that contain “fragrance”—perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, etc.

Phthalates

 

How Can You Reduce Your Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting Phthalates?

There are many ways you can reduce your exposures to these nasty chemicals. Here are a few to help you reduce your risk:

1)     Avoid fast food establishments as most use packaged and processed foods that contain phthalates.
2)     Eat out less often. It takes only minutes in a day to make a quick salad, sandwich or soup for your workday lunch or dinner from scratch with wholesome, unprocessed ingredients.
3)     If you’re going to eat out, choose places that refrain from using frozen and packaged foods or sauces as most of these items contain phthalates. If in doubt, ask. Even many so-called “high end” or fine-dining establishments use packaged sauces that are best avoided.
4)     Avoid scented personal care products, including: hairspray and other hair care products, skin care products, cosmetics, deodorant, body washes, etc. Choose unscented varieties devoid of fragrance and other toxic chemicals.
5)     Use only unscented laundry detergent available at your local health food store. Avoid using fabric softeners which only add a layer of toxic fragrances and hormone disruptors to your body.
6)     Avoid using vinyl-based products as much as possible. While vinyl plank flooring has become popular, it tends to be high in phthalates, and increase your risk of exposure to the toxins.
7)     Choose natural water-repellent shower curtains instead of vinyl ones since the latter tend to contain phthalates.
8)     Choose wooden windows over vinyl ones.
9)     Use only glass containers for food storage, not plastic.
10)   Avoid products that have the #3 recycling symbol on the packaging, since they contain PVC.

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook      April 5, 2018
Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.


Leave a comment

What Are Oxalates?

What is oxalate?
Oxalate is a naturally occurring molecule found in abundance in plants and humans. It’s not a required nutrient for people, and too much can lead to kidney stones.

In plants, oxalate helps to get rid of extra calcium by binding with it. That is why so many high-oxalate foods are from plants. In humans, it may work as a “prebiotic,” feeding good bacteria in the gut.

How does the body process it?
When we eat foods with oxalate, it travels through the digestive tract and passes out in the stool or urine. As it passes through the intestines, oxalate can bind with calcium and be excreted in the stool. However, when too much oxalate continues through to the kidneys, it can lead to kidney stones.

Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common type of kidney stone in the North America. The higher your levels of oxalate, the greater your risk of developing these kinds of kidney stones.

What is a low-oxalate diet?
If you are at high risk for kidney stones, lowering the amount of oxalate that you eat may help reduce this risk.

However, new research indicates that boosting your intake of calcium-rich foods when you eat foods that are high in oxalate may be a better approach than simply eliminating it from the diet. As they digest, oxalate and calcium are more likely to bind together before they get to the kidneys, making it less likely that kidney stones will form.

What causes oxalate buildup?
Foods that are high in vitamin C can increase the body’s oxalate levels. Vitamin C converts to oxalate, and levels over 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day have been shown to increase oxalate levels.

Taking antibiotics, or having a history of digestive disease, can also increase the body’s oxalate levels. The good bacteria in the gut help get rid of oxalate, and when the levels of these bacteria are low, higher amounts of oxalate can be absorbed in the body.

What can reduce oxalate?
Drinking enough fluid each day can help clear kidney stones or even keep them from forming. Spreading liquids throughout the day is ideal. Choosing water over other drinks is preferable.

Getting enough calcium is also helpful. Getting too little calcium can increase the amount of oxalate that gets to the kidneys, which will increase the risk of kidney stones.

Lowering your salt intake can also lower your risk of kidney stones. High-salt diets tend to cause more calcium to be lost in the urine. The more calcium and oxalate in the kidneys, the greater the risk of kidney stones.

How is oxalate measured?
Lists that provide the oxalate content in foods can be confusing. The oxalate levels reported in foods can vary depending on the following factors:

  • when the foods are harvested
  • where they are grown
  • how their oxalate levels were tested

 

oxalates





High-oxalate foods
Foods that are highest in oxalate include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • legumes
  • grains

High-oxalate fruits include:

  • berries
  • kiwis
  • figs
  • purple grapes

Vegetables that contain high levels of oxalate include:

  • rhubarb
  • okra
  • leeks
  • spinach
  • beets
  • Swiss chard

To reduce how much oxalate you get, minimize consumption of:

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • soy products

Some grain products are also high in oxalate, including:

  • bran flakes
  • wheat germ
  • quinoa

The following foods are also high in oxalates:

  • cocoa
  • chocolate
  • tea

High-calcium foods
Increasing your calcium intake when eating foods with oxalate can help lower oxalate levels in the urine. Choose high-calcium dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vegetables can also provide a good amount of calcium. Choose among the following foods to increase your calcium levels:

  • broccoli
  • watercress
  • kale
  • okra

High-calcium legumes that have a fair amount of calcium include:

  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas
  • baked beans
  • navy beans

Fish high in calcium include:

  • sardines with bones
  • whitebait
  • salmon

How to avoid kidney stones
To lower your risk of kidney stones, add a high-calcium food to a meal that contains a food with higher levels of oxalate.

For example, if you add wheat germ to your oatmeal, be sure to add some milk as well. If you are cooking spinach, don’t feel guilty about combining it with pizza or lasagna. If you have a craving for a berry smoothie, add some regular or Greek yogurt to help provide balance.

Article Resources


Leave a comment

Prenatal And Early Childhood Fructose Tied to Asthma in Kids

Grade school kids may be more likely to develop asthma if they consumed lots of drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup or if their mothers drank these beverages often during pregnancy, a recent study suggests.

To assess the connection between childhood asthma, sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers examined data about eating habits from about 1,000 mother-child pairs as well as information on kids’ health, including whether they had an asthma diagnosis by ages 7 to 9.

After accounting for maternal obesity and other factors that can also influence kids’ odds of developing asthma, researchers found that women who consumed the most soda and sugary beverages during pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have a child diagnosed with asthma by mid-childhood than mothers who never or rarely had sodas during pregnancy.

Women who had the most total fructose during pregnancy were 58 percent more likely to have kids with asthma than women who had little to no fructose.

“Previous studies have linked intake of sugary beverages with obesity, and obesity with asthma,” said study co-author Sheryl Rifas-Shiman, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston.

“In addition to influencing asthma through increasing the risk of obesity, we found that sugary beverages and high fructose may influence the risk of asthma not entirely through obesity,” Rifas-Shiman said by email. “This finding suggests that there are additional mechanisms by which sugary beverages and fructose influence asthma risk beyond their effects on obesity.”

What kids ate and drank also mattered. Even after accounting for prenatal exposure to sodas, kids who had the most total fructose in their diets earlier in childhood were 79 percent more likely to develop asthma than children who rarely or never had fructose.

Once researchers also factored in whether children were overweight or obese, kids with the highest fructose consumption were still 77 percent more likely to have asthma.

Mothers who consumed more sugary beverages tended to be heavier and have less income and education than women who generally avoided sodas and sweet drinks. But the connection between sodas, sugary drinks and childhood asthma persisted even after accounting for these factors.

“We don’t know for certain the exact pathways by which sugary beverages and fructose lead to asthma,” Rifas-Shiman said. “We believe at least in part they act by increasing inflammation, which may influence the child’s lung development.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how sodas or sugary drinks might cause asthma.

Another limitation is that researchers relied on women to accurately recall and report on soda consumption for themselves and their young children, which may not always be accurate, researchers note in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Even so, the findings add to the evidence that women should avoid sodas and sugary foods and drinks during pregnancy and also limit these things for their young kids, said Dr. Leda Chatzi, a researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Pregnant women should stay away from sugar sweetened drinks and foods with added sugars,” Chatzi said by email.

“Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to their baby’s growth and development of chronic diseases such as asthma later in life,” Chatzi added. “A healthy dietary pattern during pregnancy contains a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein sources and dairy products.”

 Lisa Rapaport   DECEMBER 18, 2017
SOURCE: bit.ly/2BaEVOI Annals of the American Thoracic Society, online December 8, 2017.    www.reuters.com


1 Comment

Can Man’s Best Friend Chase Away Eczema, Asthma?

Parents of children struggling with eczema or asthma might think that having a dog would only make it harder to control their child’s condition.

But two new studies suggest man’s furry best friend might actually provide some protection against allergic diseases.

The first study contends that having a dog in the house before you’re even born may help keep eczema at bay at least until your toddler years. The skin disorder is marked by dry, extremely itchy patches.

“Eczema is usually the first manifestation of [allergic disease] and eczema can predict the development of other [allergic diseases] as kids grow,” said study author Dr. Gagandeep Cheema, an allergy and immunology fellow at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The researchers analyzed 782 mother-child pairs and collected data on prenatal exposure to dogs, which included days where a dog spent at least one hour inside the home.

When the investigators compared kids with prenatal dog exposure to those without, the risk of eczema was reduced in children of dog households by about half at age 2. The effect appeared to diminish by age 10, but Cheema said the researchers are still gathering data and suggested that finding might eventually change.

The second study looked at living with dogs and the odds of asthma symptoms linked to substances found on the dog, such as bacteria, or the dog’s own allergens. This study included 188 children from Baltimore with the breathing and wheezing disorder. Ninety-two percent were black, and their average age was 10.

Researchers from this study found that the non-allergen substances on the dogs appeared to reduce the need for an asthma inhaler and reduced nighttime symptoms of asthma. On the flip side, exposure to allergen-inducing proteins from dogs seemed to up the odds of inhaler use and nighttime symptoms.

“Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects,” said study author Dr. Po-Yang Tsou, from Johns Hopkins University.

“There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure. However, dog allergen exposure remains a major concern for kids who are allergic to dogs,” Tsou said in a statement.

Dr. Craig Osleeb is a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Northern Westchester Medical Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y. He reviewed both studies and said the research left a lot of questions unanswered.

Osleeb noted that the kids with higher exposure to the dog allergen proteins were the ones that tended to have more symptoms. He said isolating those proteins that caused worse symptoms might be a way to help families with asthmatic children find dogs that may help asthma rather than make it worse, though it’s too soon to tell yet.

Tsou’s study found no protective effect from exposure to cats. The research also didn’t find a benefit from exposure to other common allergens such as dust mites or cockroaches.

Cheema said it’s too soon to say whether or not people should try to increase exposure to dogs to keep allergic diseases at bay.

“I wouldn’t tell anyone to go get a dog. It can be a dangerous thing if people have severe allergies and asthma,” she noted.

But for parents who already have a dog in the home, “it’s definitely fair to say that this and other research has shown that a dog may be protective,” she added.

Cheema said the current theory is that having a dog may expose children to substances that affect their microbiome — the natural mix of bacteria found in the gut.

Both studies were to be presented Friday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual meeting, in Boston. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

By Serena Gordon    HealthDay Reporter    FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017
SOURCES: Gagandeep Cheema, M.D., allergy and immunology fellow, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit; Craig Osleeb, M.D., pediatric allergist and immunologist, Northern Westchester Medical Center, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Oct. 27, 2017, presentation, American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology meeting, Boston
source: www.webmd.com    WebMD News from HealthDay


Leave a comment

9 Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is all the rage in the natural health community.

It is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health.

Many people consider it to be a healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.

Here are 9 health benefits of kefir that are supported by research.

1. Kefir is a Fantastic Source of Many Nutrients

Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made using cow’s milk or goat’s milk.

It is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk.

These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance.

Over a period of 24 hours or so, the microorganisms in the kefir grains multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir.

Then the grains are removed from the liquid, and can be used again.

So basically, kefir is the drink, but kefir grains are the “starter kit” that you use to produce the drink.

Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after eating.

The lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose in the milk into lactic acid, so kefir tastes sour like yogurt, but has a thinner consistency.

A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:

  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Calcium: 20% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA.
  • Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 5% of the RDA.
  • A decent amount of vitamin D.

This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used.

Kefir also contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, including organic acids and peptides that contribute to its health benefits.

Dairy-free versions of kefir can be made with coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids. These will not have the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.

Bottom Line: Kefir is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins.

2. Kefir is a More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt

Some microorganisms can have beneficial effects on health when ingested.

Known as probiotics, these microorganisms can influence health in numerous ways, including digestion, weight management and mental health .

Yogurt is the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, but kefir is actually a much more potent source.

Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source.

Other fermented dairy products are made from far fewer strains, and don’t contain any yeasts.

Bottom Line: Kefir contains about 30 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than other fermented dairy products.

3. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties

Certain probiotics in kefir are believed to protect against infections.

This includes the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir.

Studies show that this probiotic can inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, Helicobacter Pylori and E. coli.

Kefiran, a type of carbohydrate present in kefir, also has antibacterial properties.

Bottom Line: Kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri, and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which can protect against harmful bacteria.

4. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower The Risk of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis (“porous” bones) is characterized by deterioration of bone tissue, and is a massive problem in Western countries.

It is especially common among elderly women, and dramatically raises the risk of fractures.

Ensuring an adequate calcium intake is one of the most effective ways to improve bone health, and slow the progression of osteoporosis.

Kefir made from full-fat dairy is not only a great source of calcium, but also vitamin K2. This nutrient plays a central role in calcium metabolism, and supplementing with it has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by as much as 81% .

Recent animal studies have shown that kefir can increase calcium absorption by bone cells. This leads to improved bone density, which should help prevent fractures.

Bottom Line: Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. In the case of full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2. These nutrients have major benefits for bone health.

5. Kefir May be Protective Against Cancer

Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death.

It occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body, such as a tumor.

The probiotics in fermented dairy products are believed to inhibit tumor growth by reducing formation of carcinogenic compounds, as well as by stimulating the immune system.

This protective role has been demonstrated in several test tube studies.

One study found that kefir extract reduced the number of human breast cancer cells by 56%, compared with only 14% for yogurt extract.

However, take all of this with a grain of salt, as this is far from being proven in living, breathing humans.

Bottom Line: Some test tube and animal studies have shown that kefir can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This has not been studied in people.

6. The Probiotics in it May Help With Various Digestive Problems

Probiotics such as kefir can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut.

This is why they are highly effective for many forms of diarrhea.

There is also a lot of evidence that probiotics and probiotic foods can help with all sorts of digestive problems

This includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, and various others.

For this reason, kefir may be useful if you have problems with digestion.

Bottom Line: Probiotics like kefir can treat several forms of diarrhea. They can also lead to major improvements in various digestive diseases.

7. Kefir is Generally Well Tolerated by People Who Are Lactose Intolerant

Regular dairy foods contain a natural sugar called lactose.

Many people, especially adults, are unable to break down and digest lactose properly. This condition is called lactose intolerance.

The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods (like kefir and yogurt) turn the lactose into lactic acid, so these foods are much lower in lactose than milk.

They also contain enzymes that can help break down the lactose even further.

Because of this, kefir is generally well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance, at least when compared to regular milk.

Also keep in mind that it is possible to make kefir that is 100% lactose free, by using coconut water, fruit juice or some other non-dairy fluid.

Bottom Line: The lactic acid bacteria have already pre-digested the lactose in kefir. People with lactose intolerance can often eat kefir without problems.

8. Kefir May Improve Symptoms of Allergy and Asthma

Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against harmless environmental substances.

People with an over-sensitive immune system are more prone to allergies, which can provoke conditions like asthma.

In animal studies, kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses related to allergy and asthma.

Human studies are need to better explore these effects.

9. Kefir is Easy to Make at Home

The last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.

If you are unsure about the quality of store-bought kefir, then you can easily make it at home yourself.

Combined with some fresh fruit, it makes one of the healthiest and tastiest desserts I have ever come across.

You can buy kefir grains in some health food stores and supermarkets, as well as online.

There are some good blog posts and videos on how to make kefir, but the process is very simple:

  • Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a small jar. The more you use, the faster it will culture.
  • Add around 2 cups of milk, preferably organic or even raw. Milk from grass-fed cows is healthiest. Leave one inch of room at the top of the jar.
  • You can add some full-fat cream if you want the kefir to be thicker.
  • Put the lid on and leave it for 12-36 hours, at room temperature. That’s it.

Once it starts to look clumpy, it is ready. Then you gently strain out the liquid, which leaves behind the original kefir grains.

Now put the grains in a new jar with some milk, and the process starts all over again.

Delicious, nutritious and highly sustainable.

By Joe Leech, Dietitian 


3 Comments

Eczema’s Effects More Than Skin Deep

Itchy skin condition also linked to a number of other ills, skin specialist says

People dealing with the itchy skin condition known as eczema may have other medical conditions to cope with as well, including heart disease, a dermatologist says.

Eczema, which causes dry, red patches of skin and intense itchiness, affects an estimated one-quarter of children in the United States. And, as many as seven million adults also have eczema, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

“Although it affects the skin, eczema is not just skin-deep. This disease can have a serious impact on patients’ quality of life and overall health, both physically and mentally,” Silverberg said.

He’s assistant professor in dermatology, medical social sciences and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

skin-cancer-doctor-seeing-patients

Eczema has been linked to an increased risk of health conditions such as asthma, hay fever, food allergy, obesity and heart disease, Silverberg said.

The reasons for this are unclear. But, the connection may be eczema-related inflammation affecting the entire body, he said. Or, the negative effects of eczema symptoms on sleep and health habits may play a role, he added.

People with eczema also have a higher risk of skin and other infections. And, the frequent intense itching of eczema and its effect on the skin’s appearance may contribute to a greater risk of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, Silverberg said.

Controlling flare-ups of eczema symptoms may help reduce the risk of problems such as sleep disturbance, but heart disease and other conditions may develop due to eczema’s long-term effects on the body, Silverberg said.

That’s why it’s important for treatment to not only improve symptoms in the short-term, but also to manage eczema for the long-term, he said.

By Robert Preidt     HealthDay Reporter     FRIDAY, July 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) 
SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, July 28, 2016
 


Leave a comment

The Health Risks of Sulfur Dioxide in Dried Fruits

Dried fruit can cause respiratory problems if you have sulfite sensitivity.

Sulfur dioxide might not sound good enough to eat, but this food preservative does make its way into a number of edibles, including dried fruits such as raisins, dried apricots and prunes. Sulfur dioxide is one type of sulfite, a preservative whose name might be more familiar. Even a small amount of sulfite can wreak health havoc if you’re sensitive to it. If you have asthma, sulfite sensitivity or sulfite allergy, eating dried fruits might cause serious health problems, including breathing problems, life-threatening allergy-like symptoms or, in rare cases, death.

Sulfites in Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are among the foods highest in sulfites, with raisins and prunes containing between 500 and 2,000 parts per million, Dr. Gregory Möller of the University of Iowa reports. By comparison, wine – a food thought by many to be high in sulfites – contains between 20 and 350 parts per million. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that foods containing more than 10 parts per million of sulfites must list this information on the food label. Countries have different standards for sulfites. The Australian government limits the amount of sulfites in foods to 3,000 ppm, while the British government limits sulfites in food to 2,000 ppm, according to the Food Intolerance Network.

Asthma and Sulfite Sensitivity

If you have asthma, you have a much higher risk of developing a reaction to sulfur dioxide than a person without asthma. By contrast, if you don’t have asthma, you have a very low risk of having sulfite sensitivity, a condition that causes asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, the Cleveland Clinic explains. While only around 1 percent of Americans overall have sulfite sensitivity, between 5 and 10 percent of asthmatics might react to sulfites, the Cleveland Clinic explains. If you eat dried fruit, always have your inhaler and other asthma or allergy medications on hand. Seek immediate attention if you can’t breathe, start wheezing, develop hives, facial swelling or collapse.

dried-fruits

Sulfite Allergy

Sulfites are inorganic salts and don’t contain the proteins that cause true allergic reactions to foods. Fruits themselves do contain a small amount of protein and can cause a true allergic reaction. If you develop asthma-like symptoms, hives, facial swelling or a rash after eating dried fruits, you could have allergy to fruit rather than sulfite sensitivity, although the symptoms might be very similar. A sulfite reaction can cause symptoms very similar to an allergic reaction, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Sulfite-Related Deaths

Approximately 20 known deaths have occurred as a result of severe sulfite sensitivity, according to Möller. Death from sulfite sensitivity occurs from anaphylaxis, a severe sensitivity or allergic reaction that causes collapse of the circulatory system and throat swelling. If you have a severe sulfite sensitivity, ask your doctor to order injectable adrenaline and carry it with you at all times.

Avoiding Sulfite in Dried Fruit

To avoid sulfites in dried fruit, choose organic brands that don’t use preservatives including sulfur dioxide, in their produce. Organic dried fruits won’t last as long as fruits containing preservatives, but freezing fruit will extend its shelf life, according to National Geographic.

References 
University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sulfites: Separating Fact from Fiction
Food Intolerance Network: Dangers of Dried Fruit
University of Iowa: Food Intolerance and Metabolic Disorders
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Sulfite-Induced Asthma
Cleveland Clinic: Sulfite Sensitivity
National Geographic: About Organic Dried Fruit


by Sharon Perkins , Demand Media

About the Author
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley “Dummies” series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.


Leave a comment

The Meds That Up Your Heart Attack Risk By 60%

By MARYGRACE TAYLOR    NOVEMBER 17, 2014

If you’ve got asthma severe enough to need daily controller medication, you may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack, according to new findings presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.

For nine years, researchers followed nearly 7,000 adults, including 156 asthma patients who used daily controller meds and 511 who were asthmatic but not on controller meds. Compared to non-asthmatics, asthmatics who took controller meds were 60% more likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke, even after accounting for other heart disease risk factors like age, smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

asthma

It’s hard to say for sure what drives this increased risk, but both conditions share an inflammatory basis, says Matthew Tattersall, DO, study author and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Still, Tattersall and his team don’t yet know if people who take daily controller meds have more severe uncontrolled asthma that in turn causes more severe inflammation, or if the increased risk is related to the controller meds themselves or another factor altogether.

One thing they do know? If you have asthma so bad that you rely on controller meds to manage it, be extra vigilant about keeping your ticker in tiptop shape. “Focus on the things that we know can prevent heart disease,” Tattersall says. That means eating right, getting plenty of exercise, keeping stress under control, and—as if we even need to say it—don’t even think about smoking.


1 Comment

Gut Bacteria Tied to Asthma Risk in Kids

Study suggests that antibiotics in infancy might also play a role

WebMD News from HealthDay      By Steven Reinberg      HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) – The presence of four types of gut bacteria in infancy may reduce a child’s risk for asthma, Canadian researchers report.

Most infants get these bacteria naturally from the environment. But some babies are given antibiotics that kill these bacteria, and some are not exposed to them for various reasons, the researchers said.

“We now have particular markers that seem to predict asthma later in life,” lead researcher Brett Finlay, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said during a news conference Tuesday.

“These findings indicate that bacteria that live in and on us may have a role in asthma,” he said. This seems to happen by 3 months of age in ways that still aren’t clear.

Coming into contact with environmental bacteria, such as by living on a farm or having pets, appears to decrease asthma risk, Finlay said.

Asthma, which has increased dramatically since the 1950s, affects up to 20 percent of children in western countries, according to the researchers. “Ironically, it has not increased in developing countries,” Finlay said.

It’s possible that people in these less-developed countries are exposed to more helpful bacteria and other microbes, he said. This is the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which says environments that are too clean may actually impede development of the immune system.

The new report was published Sept. 30 online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

For the study, Finlay and colleagues looked for four types of bacteria in stool samples of 319 infants at 3 months of age. The bacteria are called FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella and Rothia).

The researchers found that 22 children with low levels of these bacteria at age 3 months also had low levels at age 1 year.

These 22 children are at the highest risk of developing asthma, and eight have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease so far, the researchers said.

baby

Study co-author Dr. Stuart Turvey, professor of pediatric immunology at the University of British Columbia, said at the news conference that it’s “not surprising how important early life is.”

In the first 100 days of life, gut makeup influences the immune response that causes or protects kids from asthma, he said.

Testing for these bacteria in infants might help identify children who have a high risk of developing asthma, Turvey said. “These children could be followed and treated more quickly if they end up with asthma,” he said.

While the study found a connection between gut bacteria and asthma risk in children, it did not prove cause and effect.

Whether giving kids probiotics — good bacteria — might reduce asthma risk isn’t known, the researchers said. Turvey said the probiotics available in over-the-counter forms do not include the four bacteria identified in this study.

“Studies like ours are identifying specific bacteria combinations that seem to be missing in the children at the highest risk of asthma,” he said. “The long-term goal is to see if we could offer these bacteria back, not the general nonspecific probiotics.”

Finlay said these findings need to be replicated in larger groups and in different populations. He said the researchers also want to know if all four bacteria are protective, or just one or two.

“There could be other microbes that have a similar function, but we don’t know that yet,” Finlay said.

Turvey cautioned that treatment with bacteria is a long way off. “We are not ready for that yet,” he said. “We know very little about these bacteria, but we are working to see if that might be a safe option to prevent this disease.”

Dr. Maria Franco, a pediatric pulmonologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, had this to say: “The finding shows how our immune system in the first three months actually changes things in life for the long term.”

It’s still not known how these bacteria get into the gut, Franco said. “But it shows how something so natural can make a big difference in a child’s life,” she said.

SOURCES: Maria Franco, M.D., pediatric pulmonologist, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami, Fla.; Sept. 29, 2015, news conference with: Brett Finlay, Ph.D., professor, microbiology and immunology and biochemistry and molecular biology; Stuart Turvey, M.D., professor, pediatric immunology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Sept. 30, 2015, Science Translational Medicine, online

source: WebMD HealthDay 


Leave a comment

Top 5 Foods For Natural Asthma Relief

Nearly 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and it is the most common chronic condition among children. Conventional treatments include steroids and asthma inhalers which can have nasty side effects. Here are some natural foods to ease symptoms.

According to the Asthma And Allergy Foundation of America, asthma accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. each year, with 1.75 million visits. In addition it accounts for over 10 million out-patient visits and just under half a million hospitalizations each year.

These figures are staggering and the annual cost of asthma to our economy is estimated to be nearly $18 billion as a result of medical treatment and loss of earnings due to illness or death (i).

It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and approximately 250,000 deaths related to the disease occur annually. By the year 2025, it’s believed that the number will grow by another 100 million or more (ii).

The usual symptoms are shortness of breath and wheezing. Prescribed medications cost the economy millions and can take a toll on our health as they can have many unwanted side effects.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables will always be beneficial to our bodies and their function. These natural foods are rich sources of antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which can help reduce lung swelling, chest tightness and inflammation caused by cell-damaging chemicals known as free radicals.

Here are five of the most beneficial:

1. BANANAS

Research has shown that children who ate a banana each day had a 34% lower chance of going on to develop asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing. Bananas are one of the best sources of pyridoxine, commonly known as vitamin B6. Pyridoxine goes on to produce compounds which been shown to help relax bronchial muscle tissue.

Kids love bananas and they can be added to cereals, smoothies or just eaten from their skin for a nutritious and energy giving health boost.

The 5 Most Prominent Minerals In The Body and Their Use

2. AVOCADOS

Avocados contain a substance called glutathione which is known to protect cell damage from free radicals. It also works to detoxify the body of pollutants which can lead to breathing problems. They are also a rich source of vitamin E. Avocados can help in stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving cardiovascular health and protect the eyes against age related degeneration.

They are a powerhouse of nutrients and are a fantastic addition to a salad or added to a smoothie, or again eaten straight from the skin.

3. GARLIC

Garlic is another super-food as it has so many health benefits, including maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing cancer, and reducing high blood pressure. It is beneficial for asthma sufferers due to the high levels of vitamin C and it’s powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals, unstable molecules that cause contraction of airway smooth muscles in asthma patients.

Raw garlic reduces the amount of histamines produced in the body so easing any allergic reactions in asthmatics which normally promote inflammation.

Garlic can also boost the ability of the body to create prostacyclins. These are lipid molecules that help keep the air passages of the lungs open and thus promote easy breathing in asthma sufferers.

4. SUNFLOWER SEEDS

Asthmas patients will benefit from eating sunflower seeds on a regular basis. They are packed full of nutrients including potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. In addition one cup contains a third of the daily recommended amount of selenium which is a mineral linked with a whole raft of health benefits but in particular is known to help individuals that struggle with asthma by reducing the various symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

Sunflower seeds are relatively calorific but eating these mild nutty seeds in small amounts regularly will help keep healthy lungs and airways.

5. PARSLEY

Parsley loosens phlegm and will help rid the airways of a build up of mucus. Eating parsley can relieve any tightness across the chest muscles and soothe sore throats that can be aggravated by coughing bouts when the mucus has been expelled.

It is a tasty herb versatile enough to use in many dishes or added to a juice or smoothie. Parsley leaf can also be made into a herbal tea.

These are just some of the natural treatments for asthma which can provide relief without over-reliance on chemical packed inhalers and steroid treatments. However, consult your health practitioner before stopping conventional treatment.

SOURCES

(i) http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=42
(ii) http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.aspx