I’d like to thank you and all who have been readers of Balanced Immune Health. I have exciting news to share. In order to make it easier for you to find useful, fun and interesting information on immune health and on EpiCor, we will be transitioning Balanced Immune Health.com to a new blog called “More Healthy Days” on www.epicorimmune.com in June.
There you will find tips and insight from a variety of experts and people just like you…from “spring cleaning your health” to “back-to-school must-do’s.” We’ll aim to provide new information on a wide range of lifestyle topics. And, you’ll be able to sign up for distribution of blog posts to your email.
Our promise is to continue providing you with helpful information about living more healthy days! I hope you’ll visit Epicorimmune.com and stay connected.
I used to take Claritin and Zyrtec by the gallo, five years ago. Now, I don’t touch the stuff during allergy season–err—seasons. Well, let me amend that. I might feel compelled to take one OTC pill during the rare instance when my natural histamine/anti-histamine equations could use some extra input. So far, that’s amounted to about 1 Claritin or Zyrtec tab every 2 years. It appears that for the past 5 years, my EpiCor 500 mg daily regimen has shifted my immune function to the point of greatly reducing allergy symptom duration and severity.
That doesn’t mean I won’t rattle off a couple sneezes once in a while. But, the days of me waking up every morning with madly itching eyes and nose are long gone.
Natural, nutrition-driven immune balance is a game changer and quality of life improver.
Yes, we live in a world where obesity is highly problematic and on the rise. The U.S. is a perennial leader among developed countries in obesity rates, the most recent ratio being nearly 35%. Childhood obesity is also another category leader for the U.S.
Recently in Great Britain, also among the fattest countries on earth, researchers have discovered a new significant trend: underweight children. What?!?! That is supposed to be a problem in third world countries where food is scarce.
The findings show a growing population of underweight kids due to parents who are obsessed with keeping their kids from getting fat. A story on this study says, “Underweight people are likely to be less fit and active, which would also increase their cardiovascular risk. Immune systems, designed to fight diseases and protect the body, are also much weaker in underweight people, which could at the very least lead to them having more illnesses like flu.”
People who think kids should be on a fat-free or very low fat diet are doing harm…maybe more harm than good. They may tend to substitute healthy, natural fats with processed foods that replace fats with sugar, starches, or synthetic materials. That can end up wreaking havoc on immune development.
Dairy, nuts, fatty fishes, flaxseed, avocados, all of these and more contain essential fats that kids need. So don’t treat your kid like she’s got to be the next Kate Moss.
All hail the pacifier. It may save our collective global health. Parents licking their babies’ pacifiers–rather than washing them off with water–may help strengthen the infants’ immune health. The microbes in mom or dad’s saliva might help train the kiddies’ immune cells’ memories at a very early age, thereby cutting down on immune triggered childhood conditions like eczema and asthma. Such conditions are aided by an over-active, out-of-balance immune system that is not properly identifying and retreating from certain microbes that do not warrant an all out assault from attacking immune cells.
There’s a cool store in Des Moines’ historic district downtown (The East Village). It’s called Allspice. Besides spices, it sells huge variety of vinegars and oils. The vinegars are somewhat amazing: dark chocolate, red apple, cinnamon pear, champagne, honey ginger are among the flavors they offer. And you can sample them till your heart’s content, just like you might in a Napa Valley winery.
My wife and I took home a few bottles and we’ve been using them in a lot of different things. The great thing about vinegar: it’s fermented. Why does that make any difference, you say? Science. Fermentation science, specifically. Fermented foods can feed the good gut bacteria which help drive a healthy, balanced immune system. Vinegar, in particular may also help vanquish bad bacteria in the gut, making way for immune-driving good bacteria to flourish. This doctor’s write-up describes the vinegar-gut health link.
What is it about music? Why does the organization of tone, pitch, rhythm, instrumentation and sometimes, lyrics, into what we call music have such wide appeal? Why does it motivate young people to pursue college majors that will likely pay squat?
Why does it drive people toward mad romance? Why does it sear such a brand in your brain that when you hear a song at age 50, it can transport you back to the very first time you heard it when you were 14 or 18 or 24, with all the accompanying smells, sounds, touches and other sensory experiences?
Who knows? Maybe it’s just one of those mysteries, as are many things involving the soul, that will never be totally understood. Kind of like why do dogs always want to stick their head out of car windows?
Maybe one thing behind music’s eternal alluring appeal is physiological. Music has been shown, in several studies, to change the body’s physical immune function. One study of 300 people showed upbeat dance music increased levels of the immune antibody sIgA while decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.
Just like your immune cells store data from bacteria and viruses for future reference and activation years down the road, maybe your brain and nervous system store songs that can be instantly recalled–and relived–when they appear again. Who knows?
The “hygiene hypothesis” movement is coming to Cheesehead Country. Or Badger Country. Or whatever the preferred term it. A new study is launching in Wisconsin that will compare city-raised babies with farm-raised babies, to compare the health experiences and the immune system activity between the two groups of babies. Researchers will be particularly interested allergies, asthma, respiratory infections that may develop over the two-year span of the study.
The hypothesis, in short, states that people who grow up on farms or in rural areas where they are exposed to microbes in dirt, dust, animals, etc. tend to experience far fewer incidents of allergies, asthma, ear infections, etc. during their childhood compared to people who grew up in suburban or city environments, where such exposures can be very limited or non-existent.
The “hygiene” part of hygiene hypothesis refers the notion that rural kids are raised in a less ‘hygienic” environment compared to cities kids, whose more sterile, over-hygiened upbringing means their immune systems do not get the early exposure and “learnings” of rural kids. Therefore they may have unbalanced immune function that attacks everything and anything and keeps attacking, resulting in greater frequency of illness or allergies. Farm kids’ immune cells, the theory goes, are familiar with pathogens and pollen they experienced from birth on, and as they grow, those cells know when to attack real bacteria or viruses, then back off, and how to let harmless pollen or dander pass without responding.
There have been a number of hygiene hypothesis studies, here and in Europe. Usually those studies are comparing health histories of kids who are already well into puberty or pre-puberty. This Wisconsin study will compare two groups of babies, one group from farm families, and one group with city families. They will measure immune cell activity in the babies over a two-year period, and compare allergy/asthma experience between the two groups. Kind of a realtime measurement of these parameters as the kids grow. Childhood asthma afflicts 7 million kids in the U.S.
It will be interesting to see the results down the road.
The trees are budding now, the flowers are coming up and grass is growing. Here comes the pollen.
When looking at seasonal allergies, what triggers them and how to cope, two views generally take shape. One is focused on the immune response. It focuses on the fact that immune cells may be unduly sensitized to harmless pollen, and attack the pollen antigen vigorously, causing histamine release and other processes that result in classic allergy symptoms. The video above illustrates that nicely. And the obvious question is, what steps might a person take to reorient his/her immune response to change its behavior and not over-react to pollen?
The other approach is to view allergies in terms of symptom relief. The histamine-stimulating immune response is a given, and the remaining question is, how to best remedy those histamines with an antihistamine. In other words, allergies are inevitable for many, so allergy medication will be the best way to confront them.
Which view would I choose? Hmmmmmm. Well, I won’t leave a mystery dangling. The first route is what I’ve adopted–retraining my immune function to not over-react to allergies. And it has worked splendidly for years, now.
Wow. With Newtown and now Boston in the news, let alone the intermittent stories that come and go, there is a lot of bad news making headlines. And to intensify it even more, the broadcast and cable networks devote their brand of breathless 24/7 coverage to these stories. My attitude is, for every evil soul out there, there are a million–maybe millions–of good ones. So evil doers will never come remotely close to winning anything. The sheer numbers against them won’t allow it.
Still, with non-stop news coverage of these episodes, it seems to project an appearance that these violent acts are much more pervasive and threatening than they really are. That may be amplified even more when that coverage is consumed by news junkies like me, who follow developments pretty closely.
Does this barrage of bad news affect health? Maybe. A small study got a lot of attention not long ago. It measured biochemical and physical response when groups of adults were asked to read various “neutral” news stories along with “negative” stories involving accidents and murder.
The findings showed women reading the negative stories produced significantly higher cortisol levels than women who read neutral stories. Men who read both kinds of stories had no real change in cortisol.
So what’s the remedy? Don’t watch or read the news, in case bad news crops up? Hardly. And keep in mind, this was a small study; the findings cannot be statistically projected across the entire population. There are many women news consumers, journalists, editors, etc. whose immune health is fine with or without an endless stream of bad news.
But for those who refuse to give up our news fix, getting out and exercising, socializing, enjoying other life pleasures has to be a part of the routine. The news, almost always, can wait.
We always read about the best foods you can consume for this or that. Best foods for good skin. Best foods for your brain. Best foods for healthy weight management. Best foods for the heart.
This week I came upon a “worst foods” list. This is a list of the worst foods for bone health. As I look through this list, it seems it’s less a “worst foods” list than a “don’t eat too much of this” list. Woo hoo. Don’t eat too much meat. Don’t consume too much alcohol. Don’t drink too much coffee. Well duh! You could put this “too much” foods list against almost anything. Too much caffeine, meat or alcohol is bad for a lot of things, heart, weight, eyes, skin. Yet, moderate amounts of these foods are valuable as well. Lean meat contains a lot of important minerals like iron and selenium and quality protein. Very moderate alcohol and coffee can positively impact cognitive health.
So, I found a list of bad stuff for the immune system. These seem more on target, because we all agree chronic stress, which is on the list, is not good in any amount. Same for lack of exercise or sleep, and chronic isolation.
So view these immune busters as true busters, not mushy, squishy, maybe/maybe not propositions.
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