Thursday, July 28, 2016

Is this part of your throat a mistake of Nature?

I recently had a strange health challenge—I had a small fragment of an almond get lodged between the “flaps” of my tonsils!

And despite my best efforts to gargle, WaterPik, cough, eat dry bread and poke at my neck in the tonsil area, that almond was stubborn…so I had to get some “medical assistance.”  (I won’t get graphic.)

But the thing that floored me was the conversation with the intake nurse that I had beforehand.

She said that she always had trouble with food getting stuck in her tonsils, so she just had them removed since they “don’t serve any purpose anyway.”


Since when is a part of your body’s lymphatic system a useless mistake of Nature?

Here’s why I had to resist the temptation to tell her to go back to school.

Your body’s garbage truck
Your lymphatic system is like the garbage truck that comes through your neighborhood each week.
This garbage truck is made up of numerous nodes and glands, the thymus gland, the thoracic duct, spleen, bone marrow, tonsils and MILES of lymphatic vessels.

You actually have three times more lymph fluid flowing through you than blood—that should tell you something.

Its job is to filter and purify your bloodstream, cleanse wastes from your tissues, organs, and cells, and search out and destroy any harmful pathogens that enter your body.

Then the garbage truck takes the wastes and brings them to one of your 4 "dumping grounds"--the bowels, bladder, lungs, and skin--for elimination from your body.

The lymphatic system has been called the heart of the immune system because of its vital role in keeping your body clean and destroying dangerous organisms.

The tonsils—a first line of defense
The largest nodes in your lymphatic system are the tonsils--and there are actually more than two.

The most common tonsils are the ones everyone knows about in the throat (that recently housed my almond), but there are also some in the space above the throat and behind the nose (called the adenoids), some surrounding the tubes in each ear, and one in your larynx.  There's also tonsil tissue at the base of your tongue.

All of the tonsils are connected by lymphatic vessels and make up a protective ring that defends your oral and nasal areas from bacteria and viruses.

Does that sound like a useless mistake to you?

Now sometimes your lymph system gets overloaded and when it can't keep up with its job, the tonsils can fill up with fluid, swell and hurt.

Otherwise known as tonsillitis.

This is a BIG warning sign that something is seriously wrong with the level of waste in your body.

It doesn’t stop there
In addition to tonsillitis, if your lymphatic system is challenged, you are susceptible to a number of health problems including:
  • Lacking nutrients/deficiency diseases
  • Cancer
  • Low energy
  • Repeated viruses or infections
  • Fluid swelling in your limbs or other areas of the body (edema)

Take care of YOUR tonsils—and your entire lymphatic system!
Here are ways to make sure your entire lymphatic system is working in tip-top shape to cleanse and protect you:

Get regular exercise
Unlike your circulatory system which has your heart to pump blood through your body, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to move lymph around.

So YOU have to be the pump—by getting regular exercise!

No more excuses.  Pick an activity, get your doc’s OK and GET MOVING.

Stay hydrated

Water is essential for having proper blood levels and to flush wastes out of your cells.  Eight 8-oz. glasses a day should be your minimum.

Nutritional support

A great way to help your lymphatic system’s cleaning efforts is to create less garbage, to begin with!

That means avoiding processed and fast foods and instead having a diet of real foods.  Excellent choices for lymphatic health are leafy greens, citrus fruits and healthy fats (especially nuts, seeds and avocado).

Give those immune cells a good home
Although your lymphatic system’s bone marrow and spleen produce most of your immune cells, the majority of those cells (about 70 percent) take up residence in your gut.

So it’s crucial to make sure that you provide a healthy intestinal environment to house these life-saving protectors—and the key to that is a real foods diet and probiotic supplementation.

Practice deep breathing
Proper movement of air through your lungs also helps pump fluid through the lymphatic system:

1- Get in a sitting or lying position and put your hands on your chest and stomach.
2- Focus on breathing from your abdomen instead of your chest. 
3- Breathe in through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds and then exhale through your mouth.
4- Try to do four 8-breath cycles one to three times every day.

Consider possible iodine deficiency

Most people associate iodine deficiency with thyroid goiter, but it can also cause congestion of the lymphatic system.

If you suspect you may be deficient, ask your doctor to do a test.

And if you want some (non-salt) dietary sources of iodine, fish and shellfish are your best bets.

Congratulations!  You are now an expert in your lymphatic system and hopefully, realize that NO part of it is useless.

Instead, it’s keeping you healthy and, well, alive.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What your mucus is trying to tell you

Although it’s not something you often talk about, the slippery stuff inside of you called mucus is truly an underappreciated hero.

Here is the skinny on your inner slime and what it might be trying to tell you.

So what is it exactly?
Although we tend to associate mucus with a cold or sinus infection, it's a normal secretion that your body produces ALL the time to the tune of about one or two quarts a day.

Mucus is made up of water, proteins, antibodies, antiseptics and salts, and this gooey concoction serves several impressive roles:
  • It’s your body’s built-in moisturizer and is found on the tissues that come into contact with elements from the outside world (like the nose, sinuses, and mouth).  Without mucus, these tissues can dry out and crack, cause soreness and bleeding, and leave you susceptible to illness.
  • The antibodies in mucus help your immune system attack dangerous toxins, viruses or bacteria you ingest.  When this happens, your mucus gets thick and cloudy to trap the invader.
  • Antiseptics in mucus kill pathogens directly on the spot like a terminator.
  • Mucus protects your body’s delicate internal membranes by coating every single thing you eat or drink -- even water!
  • It acts as a natural defense against acids.  For example, when you eat dairy products, the sugar in them (lactose) changes to lactic acid. If it weren't for your mucus surrounding the lactic acid, it could actually burn a hole in your cells, tissues or organs...and possibly kill you! 
  • Mucus humidifies the air you breathe.
  • It keeps your eyes lubricated and contributes to the development of tears.
All the colors of the rainbow
Although normal mucus is clear to light white, here are other possible colors for mucus and what they might mean:

Gray:  Mucus that is blown from your nose may be gray, especially if you’ve been exposed to a lot of dust and dirt.

Yellow or Green:  Infections typically produce yellow or green mucus. Note that the vast majority of sinus infections are actually viral, so don’t necessarily rush to the doctor for antibiotics because they are useless for a viral infection.  Unnecessary antibiotics will merely obliterate your friendly gut flora and increase your risk of antibiotic resistance.

Here are signs where antibiotics may, in fact, be necessary:
  • Your infection drags on for more than 10 days, or if it gets worse after a week
  • The discharge is thick and uniformly white (it looks like pus)
  • There is a high fever that isn’t improving
  • Your symptoms don’t respond to over the counter cold or sinus medications
Brown or Black:  Brown mucus can sometimes be produced by an infection. Tar from cigarette smoke can stain mucus in the respiratory system brown or black.  Coal miners can also develop black mucus as a result of inhaling coal dust.

Orange, Red or Rust Colored:  People with pneumonia may produce orange mucus in the respiratory tract.  Pink, red or rust colored mucus suggests the presence of internal bleeding—see a doctor if necessary.

Mucus in your BMs
Although the mucous membranes in your large intestine helps stool to slide through, a normal BM will not contain much mucus, and you probably can’t see it with the naked eye.

When stool has visible mucus, it can be a sign of bacterial infections (like Salmonella), anal fissures, a bowel obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's disease.  If you suspect a problem, see a doctor to rule out any conditions that require medical attention.

Sometimes it goes overboard
Clearly, mucus is something you don't want to be without, but the problem arises when mucus gets too thick and there’s too much of it.

And the primary cause of that is food!

Many people have a diet that is heavy in foods that trigger lots of thickened mucus. The foods either contain toxins or they break down into an acid residue in the digestive tract and sound the mucus alarm.

The worst offenders are dairy products, followed by meats, white flour, processed foods, chocolate, coffee and alcohol.

Over time, thick mucus can build up in your intestines, trapping feces and other debris.  This can weaken your intestinal walls (making you susceptible to diverticulosis) and create an environment that favors harmful bacteria.

Harmful bacteria overgrowth (dysbiosis) can cause gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, as well as impaired immune function and worsening symptoms of asthma and allergies.

Do you have too much?
Here are some signs of excessive mucus inside of you:
  • Frequent constipation or diarrhea
  • Frequent gas and bloating
  • Bowel movements with an excessively foul odor
  • Mucus in your feces
  • Cold hands and/or feet
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion not related to allergies or a cold
  • Lung congestion not related to asthma
  • White coated tongue
  • Frequent throat clearing
Keep mucus in line
If you suspect excess mucus is a problem for you, or want to keep your mucus defense "in line" and working like it should, here are ways to help:

Make sure to include fiber-rich alkaline foods like fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, and drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day.  These will help buffer the mucus production caused by the mucus-creating foods and keep the digestive process running smoother.

Eat spicy foods!  Great mucus-fighting spices include horseradish, wasabi, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and turmeric.

Also, a full-spectrum probiotic can help support a strong gut wall, encourage more regular bowel movements and help sharpen your immune system so that you can be less susceptible to mucus-creating infections and colds.  Probiotics also help curb symptoms of asthma and allergies, which can lessen your mucus load too.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Little known causes (and answers) for infertility

Arguably there is no more frustrating and complex health issue than infertility.

Defined as the inability to conceive a child after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, infertility affects about one out of six couples.

Infertility can be a mystery, because, in the absence of any anatomical disorders such as ovulation problems, fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, or uterine issues, it’s difficult to pinpoint what may be going on.

Here are several little-known underlying factors that you should consider that can significantly impact fertility, as well as ways you can overcome each and increase your chances of pregnancy success!

Having a low-fat diet

In addition to being crucial to brain and nervous system health, fats are needed by your body to make sex hormones, so if you severely restrict fats in your diet, you are selling your body short in terms of hormone resources…and that can impact your fertility.

About 30 percent of your daily calorie intake should be fats, being sure to include saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Healthy sources of fats include real butter, extra virgin olive oil, lard, coconut oil, avocado, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and nuts.

If you’re concerned about weight gain, don’t be.  Fats help fill you up and keep you satisfied, so you’re less likely to snack or overeat—and that’s a recipe for weight LOSS!

Environmental toxins

The more toxic you are, the less likely your body will be able to function as it’s designed to, and that includes fertility—so it’s time to detox!

Start with your diet—eliminate the processed junk and stick to real foods.  If you look at a food label and have no earthly clue what an ingredient is, trust me, neither does your body—and it will have to be detoxed out of you like a poison.  Closer to Nature is always best.

Strive to go organic as much as you can to avoid herbicides and pesticides.  If you can’t go 100 percent organic, here’s a good rule of thumb:  If you are going to be eating the entire food including the skin if any (like apples, berries, cucumbers, lettuce, grapes or peppers), buy organic.  If you’re going to be peeling the food (such as with bananas, avocado, potatoes or oranges), conventional produce is acceptable.

Seek out natural household cleaners and detergents without harmful chemicals (Mrs. Meyers is an excellent choice) and organic personal care products.

And although this should be obvious, if you smoke, please quit, and avoid excessive alcohol intake.

Pregnenolone is your “molding clay” for hormones, and your body allocates its Pregnenolone resources to wherever they’re needed.

But stress hormones trump all others—so when you’re under stress, your body directs ALL of its Pregnenolone to making stress hormones…and that leaves none for other hormones, including sex hormones.

Find ways to lower your stress level and get help if you need it.

Statin use

Here’s something you won’t read on a Crestor box—cholesterol is needed to make sex hormones, so if you’re on statins to reduce cholesterol, you may, in turn, be impacting your fertility.

There are other safer ways to encourage a healthy cholesterol level:
  • Fish oil supplements—fish oil has been medically proven to reduce cholesterol.
  • Better digestion—your liver eliminates old worn out cholesterol through the GI tract, but if you’re prone to constipation, your old cholesterol may instead be getting reabsorbed into circulation from the intestinal tract.  For better digestion, keep your meals simpler and avoid combining animal proteins and starches in the same meal, as this combination is very taxing on your stomach.  Enzyme supplements can also help boost the digestive process.  
  • Probiotics—probiotics produce acids that counter cholesterol production, they also “eat” excess cholesterol and they encourage more regular BMs (and ease constipation).
Talk to your doctor about safer alternatives.

Nutrient deficiencies
Vitamin D, folic acid, and zinc deficiency have all been linked to female infertility.

In addition to a healthy diet of real foods, a high-quality multi-vitamin, and mineral formula can help ensure your essential nutrient bases are covered.

Over or underactive thyroid
Both over and underactive thyroid can affect the ability to conceive, so if you haven’t had your thyroid tested lately, now is the time.  Although the typical standard for testing thyroid function is the TSH test, many times the TSH misses cases of hypothyroidism because it's more of a measure of pituitary function--not thyroid health.

The best option for assessing thyroid function is a TRH Stimulation (or TRH Challenge) test.

If your doctor is not familiar with the TRH Stimulation test (and many mainstream doctors are not), at least ask him to do these tests in addition to the TSH:
  • Total T4 and T3
  • Free T4 and T3
  • T3 Uptake
  • Reverse T3
  • Thyroid Antibodies 
Get to the bottom of what may be contributing to infertility and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Can you believe this is the 3rd leading cause of death?

You might find this a little unsettling, but the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer is…

Getting medical care!

That’s right.  According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), medical errors now kill an estimated 250,000 Americans every year.

“Medical errors” include unnecessary surgery, medication errors in hospitals, other hospital errors, hospital acquired infections and taking drugs as prescribed by your doctor.

Note that you won’t find anything about this on the CDC’s website.
According to them, the third leading cause of death is respiratory disease, which claims about 150,000 lives in the US each year.

The CDC doesn't publish any information relating to medical errors at all—this is likely at least partially due to an inadequate collection of data and the fact that death certificates don’t include a coding class for medical errors.

Plus I wouldn’t rule out their desire to protect the pharmaceutical industry either.

The mortality statistics that are published only look at the condition that led the individual to seek medical treatment in the first place.

So for instance, if someone went in for heart surgery and died in the hospital because of a medication error, the cause of death would likely show as heart disease.

Very misleading to say the least.

Our shocking rates of chronic illness
Although the US is extremely impressive when it comes to acute and emergency medical care, we are positively abysmal in the treatment of chronic disease.

Consider these sobering statistics:
  • Seven out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription medication per day, and one out of five takes at least two medications each day.
  • Half of all adults have one or more chronic health conditions.
  • Two out of every three people are overweight, and half of those are obese.
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, and currently, affects 53 million adults age 18 and over. 
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations (other than those caused by injury), and new cases of blindness among adults.
  • One-third of American adults has high blood pressure. 
  • About 70 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders, with over $40 billion spent on products to relieve GI symptoms.
Our healthcare system should not be called “health” care at all but rather “disease management with pharmaceuticals and surgery.”

Do your part to create HEALTH!
Although medical care is necessary at times, now more than ever before in our existence it is vital that you do your part to not just prevent sickness but to create HEALTH!

And the good news is it’s not rocket science.  Instead, there are some tried and true ways to take care of your body and make it less likely that you will need “health” care to begin with:

Get enough sleep.  Seven to nine hours a night should be your goal.

Eat real food.  Simply put, your food should not come with a bar code and a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Your body needs fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, healthy fats (like butter and olive oil), eggs and whole grains.

Take a daily multi-vitamin.  Our food is inherently less nutritious than it used to be, and our hectic schedules sometimes make it difficult to eat the way we should, so the only way you can ensure your nutritional needs are consistently met is to take a high-quality multi.

Stay hydrated.  Eight 8-oz. glasses of filtered water per day should be your minimum goal.  Avoid tap water at all cost, as the fluoride and chlorine added to most municipal water supplies are toxic to your body, plus they may contain any number of other contaminants and heavy metals.    

Get regular exercise.  No excuses allowed.  Just be sure to get your doctor’s OK, especially if you and the couch have been BFFs for a while.

Take a top-notch multi-strain probiotic formula.  The world is finally catching on to the importance of the gut microbiome in the maintenance of health, including sound immune function, better digestion, elimination of toxins, reducing inflammation, efficient nutrient absorption and so much more.  Many things can impair your gut flora (including most medications!) so a daily probiotic is wise for just about everyone.

Keep stress under control.  Stress is extremely damaging to your health and especially to your gut.  Do whatever it takes—counseling, meditation, exercise, deep breathing, etc.  Get help if you feel you need it.

Do your part to create health and minimize your chances of being the victim of a medical error.