Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Colds & Flu

August 31, 2015

Feature_Flu

There are about 1 billion colds in the US every year, with every child catching it 6-10 times a year, resulting in 22 million school days being lost every year!

When it comes to cold and flu season, prevention really is the first line of defense. To keep your body’s defense system–the immune system–in peak condition, follow our immunity-boosting tips to help your body fight off the bugs looking for a host. And, for times when you are feeling ill, the second set of tips can help ease your symptoms and support a quick recovery.

Cold & Flu Prevention Tips

Your immune system is at work 24/7! The best approach to supporting immune function is a healthy lifestyle that includes stress management, exercise, whole foods, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant-based medicines. On a daily basis, you can take the following steps to help your immune system keep you healthy:

  • Wash your hands regularly to help prevent transfer of bacteria.
  • Stay clear of people sneezing or coughing. Avoid shaking hands or other close contact with anyone whom you know to be sick.
  • Make sure your home and work space are well-ventilated. Even on a cold day, open a window for a few minutes to clear out stale air.
  • Follow a consistent sleep/wake schedule so the immune system can repair and recover.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of organic (when possible) fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants that help the body neutralize cellular damage.
    Healing Tips
  • Rest. Sometimes the body’s only way of getting your attention is to force you to slow down by getting sick. Don’t push through fatigue. Honor your body and sleep/rest as needed to promote healing. Reduce activity at home and at work as much as possible.
  • Increase fluid intake to include water, diluted vegetable juices, soups, and herbal and green teas.
  • Eat light meals and eat more soup. Whether you choose a vegetarian broth or a heartier bone-broth, soups for healing should be loaded with a variety of herbs and veggies.
  • Manage stress. Even just 10 minutes of meditation a day has positive effects on the immune system and promotes a positive mindset.
  • Laugh–it truly is good medicine. Patch Adams was onto something when he brought humor to his patients’ bedsides. Read a funny book. Watch stand-up comedy. Share jokes with a friend or your kids. Laughter lowers the stress hormones and elevates your mood–both are good for healing.

Vitamin, Mineral, and Botanical Support for the Immune System

There’s no panacea, but a growing body of research has shown that certain vitamins, minerals, and plant-based supplements can help prevent/curtail the symptoms of colds and flu. Some that you may want to include are listed below.

These are best tailored to your specific needs and health status, with guidance from your doctor.

  • Multivitamin and mineral formula
  • Vitamin C
  • Bioflavonoids, 1000 mg/day
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D, 2000 IU/day
  • Zinc, 30 mg/day
  • Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus (tea, capsule, or liquid extract) help prevent common cold and viral infections. Physicians and scientists continue to study the immune-enhancing effects of these and other botanical remedies.

Food for Thought. . .
“He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.”
– Thomas Fuller

In health,

Dr. Gina


The Healthiest Kids on the Block

July 31, 2015

bigstock-Kids-Superhero-67023205Did you know that 40% of daily calories of US children and adolescents aged 2-18 years come from added sugar and solid fats? Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.

Raising healthy kids sounds pretty simple: Provide good nutrition, 60 minutes of daily physical activity, and create a joyful and safe home environment. Do that, and you’ll reduce your child’s risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic disease. But you’re up against a host of unhealthy temptations including advertising, peer pressure, and an abundance of junk food in shiny packaging.

The first and most important step you have to take for your child’s health is modeling healthy habits in front of them. Make a healthy lifestyle a family affair. Keep things simple. And don’t give up when kids get picky. The tips and resources provided below will keep you on track.

Keep Kids in Motion. Once kids return to school, they are sedentary for the better part of the day. Outside of school, make sure your kids have opportunities to stretch, strengthen, and build endurance for 60 minutes daily. Make time for creative play at the park where children can engage all the major muscle groups. Provide opportunities for trying new sports or creative movement classes. Get the whole family involved with obstacle courses, biking, or hiking. When the weather outside is too hot or cold, visit an indoor pool, playscape, climbing gym, or bounce-house facility. Create a joyful atmosphere at home, check stress at the door (which is easier to do if you are exercising), and encourage playtime.

Limit Screen Time. With more schools incorporating digital devices into curricula, it’s important to monitor your child’s free time on the screen. For younger children, set a daily limit of 60 minutes, and for older children, set a limit of 120 minutes for all media–TV, movies, and games.

Consider having a “digital-free zone” in your home: one room designated just for reading, games, and music sans the headphones. Also, make one day a week (e.g., Sunday) a “device-free day” for all family members. Play games or get physically active, together.

A Balanced Diet, Not a Food Fight. No matter their age, kids can be picky eaters. Offer your child choices at meals that are acceptable to you, health promoting, and palatable. Model the healthy eating habits you want your child to have whether they are at home or out with friends.

When it comes to getting kids to try new foods, get creative: Blend veggies into homemade smoothies. Serve raw veggies with hummus. Make zucchini-based brownies. Incorporate blended or finely chopped veggies into pasta sauce for use on pizza and spaghetti. Try healthier ice cream options like Bliss (raw, vegan, organic and tastes great) or Arctic Zero.  Involve your kids in creating a beautiful fruit salad. Kids’ palates change as they age; what they like/don’t like at age 3 is likely to be different at 13 and even 23!

Introduce and reintroduce healthy selections at all meal and snack times. And don’t fight about food…that only creates a lousy mood for everyone at mealtimes. Sometimes, it really is okay to skip the asparagus and still have dessert.

Tame the Sweet Tooth. Sugar intake for children is recommended to 3-4 teaspoons a day. Cutting back on soda, candy, and cookies is only the first step. Read labels to identify added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and food dyes that can be hidden in foods including bread, condiments such as ketchup, crackers, cookies, candy and canned and frozen foods. Make your own frozen treats from fresh fruit, and cut down on packaged foods.

Sleep Well. During sleep, children’s bodies generate hormones important to healthy growth and development. A good night of rest allows children to wake energized for the following day. Research has shown that sleep plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting a positive mood. Try to keep kids to a daily sleep-wake routine, especially during the school week.

Healthy diet and exercise make a huge difference in the health and demeanor of children. If challenged with a behavioral and/or physical health issue you can take it a step further. At HealthBridge Medical Center we will often run lab tests to determine if a child has specific food allergies, or a particularly high demand for certain nutrients like zinc, magnesium or essential fatty acids for example.  Getting specific with nutrient supplementation and adjusting the diet accordingly makes for much happier and healthier children. It is always worth the time and effort involved.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Yoga Can Help Keep Kids in School

August 27, 2013

GirlYogaAn excellent discussion below published in Forbes…given the increasing stressors kids face today, yoga exercises provide a form of movement that help kids to cope, focus and thrive.

 

In health,

Dr. Gina

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Forbes (forbes.com) – How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids In School – By Alice G. Walton

Scientific evidence is mounting daily for what many have long sensed: that practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help us address certain intractable individual and societal problems. Prominent companies – Google, General Mills, Target, Apple, Nike, AOL, and Procter & Gamble among them – and prominent individuals have already embraced this possibility. Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman who wrote the book A Mindful Nation, has been a big proponent of bringing mindfulness to the masses. He, along with others, believes that mindfulness should be a part of everyone’s day, to help wire our brains to deal with our many modern stressors.

And, perhaps more importantly for our global health, for kids dealing with extreme stressors, traumas and abuse, putting these practices into schools could be the difference between failure and success.

Last month, a group of American and Canadian scholars, researchers, businesspeople, and yoga teachers came together for a weekend at Omega Institute to discuss how this group of practices that helps us self-regulate as individuals could, quite possibly, help us regulate on a society level. The issues the country is facing – the massive dropout rate of school kids, substance abuse among all age groups, PTSD among veterans, the staggeringly high incarceration and recidivism rates – cost the country volumes in human potential, not to mention trillions in dollars.


Warning for Parents: Toxic Lead Levels in Imported Rice

April 16, 2013

BoywithRiceCakeA new press release from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians reveals that rice not manufactured in the US has high levels of lead that are causing toxic reactions in children.

US companies must maintain strict quality control measures when importing foods and herbs from other countries. The study cited was just presented at the American Chemical Society’s meeting and is extremely concerning, especially because of the gluten free trend in children’s foods. Manufacturers are turning to rice based products as an alternative for wheat.

There was concern over high arsenic levels in rice in late 2012. For now, to be on the safe side, I recommend avoiding rice-based infant and children products altogether.  There are other options for grains if desired, that promote balanced nutritional health, such as quinoa.

In health,

Dr. Gina

TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD COMMON IN IMPORTED RICE, RICE FLOUR: A new study has found that the rice imported into North America from Asia, Europe and South America contains very high levels of lead that represents serious health risks, particularly for infants and children, who are especially sensitive to its effects, and adults of Asian heritage who consume larger amounts of rice. (Rice and rice flour imports to the US have tripled since 1999 and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys. It causes potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders in children.) The researchers found that for children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products imported from these countries would be 30 to 60 times higher than the FDA provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels; for adults, the daily exposure levels were 20 to 40 times higher than the PTTI levels. This study was presented in New Orleans at the meeting of the American Chemical Society. The full report will be available when it is published in a journal at a later time.


Tylenol Linked to Asthma and Eczema in Children

September 12, 2010

A new study has found a dose-related association between current acetaminophen use by adolescents and their experiences with symptoms of asthma. Although researchers said that “it is not possible” to prove this is a cause and effect link, the study was quite large, involving 360,000 adolescents of 13 to 14 years of age in 50 countries. The subjects were surveyed about their use within the last year, of acetaminophen as well as their symptoms of asthma. Those who used the drug at least once a year showed a 40 percent greater risk of asthma; and those who used acetaminophen at least once a month had a 150 percent higher risk of asthmatic symptoms. Rhinoconjunctivitis – an inflammation of the covering of the white of the eye, combined with a stuffy nose – and eczema were also associated with recent use of the drug. The study team suggested that “controlled trials are now urgently required to investigate this relationship further.” This study was released August 13, 2010 but will not be published until a future issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Eczema and asthma often go hand in hand.  It is due time that we acknowledge this link and caution against freely using Tylenol to manage our children’s ailments. Asthma and eczema tend to be chronic conditions, and the immediate relief for children (and their parents) that Tylenol can bring, does not match the long term negative consequences. Naturopathic Medical Doctors often run lab tests to identify food allergies and nutrients deficiencies that cause headaches, frequent colds, asthma and eczema, and are usually quite successful in preventing and treating these conditions in children.

In health,

-Dr. Gina



Teenage Stress leads to Adult Health Challenges

April 2, 2009

Teenage Problems, Social Issues and BullyingA new study done by researchers at my alma mater, UCLA , further confirms the connection between stress and inflammation.  In this study researchers found that stress during the teen-aged years leads to silent inflammation as an adult, which then increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.  I will also add that it increases the risk of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders and a condition called Sickness Syndrome that is best treated with Naturopathic Medicine.

You can take a free assessment on-line to see if the depression, anxiety, sleep disorders or weight gain you are experiencing is due to this syndrome by clicking here:

The foundation protocol that I use to support the health of patients who have Sickness Syndrome can be found here:

For more information about the condition click here.

It is amazing to watch as people pull out of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight disorders and severe mental health challenges without the use of prescription medications (in fact I often have to work with their prescribing doctors to taper them off the medications so that their body and mind can get to a balance point, and benefit from the natural medicines).  Naturopathic Medicine works so well!  I am always amazed by the the body’s ability to heal itself when you give it what it needs, and remove the barriers to cure (e.g. stress, drugs, food allergies, hormonal imbalances, structural imbalances, toxicities, digestive imbalances).

Dr. G


ALA Youth Leadership Training Conference

February 23, 2009

angel-light-academy_for_phone2Angel Light Academy (ALA) is a volunteer operated non-denominational organization that is very near and dear to my heart. The mission of this reputable and time-tested organization is to enhance the health, happiness, and well-being of individuals through the practice and demonstration of unconditional love, as well as through education, research and service. ALA is a caring resource for people of all ages who seek to change their lives providing guidance, support and hope.

On March 7-8, 2009 Angel Light Academy will be hosting their Annual Youth Leadership “Kick-Off” Conference.  This conference kicks off the organization’s year-round training programs which includes problem solving, decision making, communication, leadership skills and team building.  Extensively trained volunteers utilize role playing, games, theater, art and sports to nurture, develop and facilitate leadership qualities in youth of all ages hailing from diverse ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

Every time you help another you are already an Angel on Earth.  If you would like to expand, and help meet a community need,  please consider sponsoring one ($100)  or more children for the conference, by clicking here or calling 1-866-30ANGEL (1-866-302-6435).  If you are local or are a patient at LTP Natural Medical Center, feel free to call our office or stop by to pick up a brochure & sponsorship form.

Please consider helping them out, as an Angel on Earth.

In health,

Dr. Gina


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