Thursday, February 12, 2015

Allergies Out of Control? Help is Here!

If you've tried everything you know to do to relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms and still find yourself with itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and coughing then your allergies are still out of control. And it's not just seasonal allergies that can cause problems, there are so many things to be allergic to. Allergy symptoms are basically a reaction from your immune system to a specific trigger that is treated as a foreign invader. Once the immune system labels something as a foreign invader it produces antibodies to attack it just as it does for a virus or bacteria. The antibodies locate the allergen in your body and inform blood cells to release histamine into the bloodstream. The releasing of histamine creates inflammation causing tissues around blood vessels to tighten and fluid to escape. The escaping fluid becomes the symptoms you experience such as a runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing.

Allergy Triggers and Symptoms
About 20% of us have allergies to deal with that are either seasonal type allergies to substances such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds or those that can happen year round like food allergies, scents, pet dander, dust mites and mold. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also cites that around a third of those who have pollen allergies may be affected by oral allergy syndrome. This is triggered by a protein some produce has on its skin. Cliff Bassett, MD, founder of Allergy and Asthma Care in New York City, compares the reaction from the immune system to this protein as the same as the reaction to pollen. If this is a trigger for you, peeling the produce before eating it may be helpful. There are those however who will have to avoid foods that cause this reaction as it can lead to anaphylactic shock. Stress is another culprit when it comes to allergies. Studies such as one reported in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology find that stress increases the risk of allergy reactions. Air pollution too can increase allergy symptoms making sunny, calm days that cause ozone clouds to linger worse for allergy sufferers. Among all these triggers that can be ingested in some way, there are also allergies caused by insects such as bees, wasps and fire ants.

Besides the typical sneezing, runny nose or stuffy nose, watery eyes and itchy eyes and nose, there are sinus headaches that can occur when nasal passages swell, wheezing from air passages closing up, itchy hives and rashes including Eczema and even allergic reactions that are life threatening. Allergies can also leave you feeling fatigued, especially if you are not sleeping well due to the symptoms or taking an antihistamine that leaves you drowsy. In the case of insect stings and food allergies, symptoms can be life threatening.

Tips for Dealing With Allergy Symptoms
1. Be aware of the weather, pollen counts and air pollution levels if these are triggers for your allergy symptoms. Plan outdoor activities during times when these levels are lowest and the weather is best suited. Keep windows closed and use the air conditioning when these levels are high and make sure to keep air ducts and air filters clean. You can find your local pollen counts on some local weather reports or at the National Allergy Bureau web site -

2. Butterbur extract has also been found helpful in relieving allergy symptoms and working as a natural antihistamine. Sakina Bajowala, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, warns however that Butterbur is from the ragweed family and can in itself trigger other allergies. She also in not in favor of butterbur products promoted as not having pyrrolizidine alkaloids because they can be damaging to the liver.

3. Use a HEPA filter indoors and keep carpets cleaned regularly to cut down on triggers such as dust mites, pet dander and any pollutants or pollens that have come in the house. Vacuuming furniture and curtains and washing sheets in hot water regularly can also cut down on these type of triggers. Since vacuuming carpets can spread allergens up into the air you may need to wear a mask during this chore.

4. Dr. Oz and other experts advise using a neti pot to wash out the nasal cavities to help relieve allergy symptoms. Use distilled water, salt and baking soda for best results. Saline solution nasal sprays can also help give relief.

5. If mold is an issue for you, be aware of damp places where it can accumulate. Ventilate basements and other damp areas in the house and don't leave piles of leaves or grass standing outside around the house. If you have to do yard work during allergy season or when mold might be present, wear a mask and gloves as well as a long sleeve shirt.

6. If your allergies include food, make sure you are aware of those foods that are triggers for you and avoid them. When eating out or at someone else's house make sure you ask about ingredients and make sure the food preparer is aware of foods you can't eat. If your symptoms are severe enough to require an Epipen, make sure you always have it with you wherever you go. The most common food allergies include milk, eggs, nuts, and shellfish. When checking for ingredients make sure you also ask what type of oils are used when cooking. Peanut oil is sometimes used by restaurants.

7. Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" that live in our intestines and do most of the work in digesting our food once it has passed through the stomach. Acidophilus and bifidus are among the most important of these friendly bacteria, and provide a barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream, as well as helping us fully digest our food. This can help with food allergy symptoms in particular and a study done with mice sensitive to peanuts reported finding the bacteria Clostridia useful for reducing this sensitivity. According to Taylor Feehley, a pathology researcher at the University of Chicago and co-author of this study, you can recolonize the friendly bacteria in your gut and retrain your immune system to react differently when confronted with foods you have sensitivities to. The combination of Clostridia used in this study is not available in food or supplements for humans yet, but other friendly bacteria are closely related to it, can help boost the immune system and help create the barrier that keeps food allergens from getting into the bloodstream from the intestines. Studies also show that having a healthy population of acidophilus in your small intestine can reduce the amount of IgE that your body produces in response to pollen.

8. Clothes, hair and skin can often have dust, pollen and other triggering substances on them from being outdoors. There are some clothes that if they aren't dirty and smelly you may be able to wear them again before washing, but don't give in to this temptation during allergy seasons. Wash them each time they are worn preferably in hot water. It's also a good idea to bathe or shower at night before going to bed so as not to let allergens settle in your bed.

9. Dust mites can be reduced by keeping the humidity level inside between 30 and 50%. Humidifiers, exhaust fans and proper ventilation can help maintain the proper level.

10. When taken with food, enzymes help ensure proper digestion and prevent food particles from entering the bloodstream. When taken separate from food, the enzymes are able to pass through the intestinal barrier (just like the food particles) to digest the food particles in the bloodstream. This prevents the immune system from thinking that food is an invader, thus preventing the immune response that causes food allergy symptoms if you have sensitivities to certain foods. This is not a replacement however for severe allergies to foods that produce life threatening symptoms, so be sure to keep your Epipen handy and avoid those foods if you have these type of allergic reactions. Enzymes, especially those with protease, can also help your body cope with pollens that have been ingested. Taking supplemental enzymes between meals can also support your body's immune response as it uses the extra enzymes to englobe and remove pollen grains from your system, reducing the amount of overreaction from your body's immune system.

You don't have to be miserable suffering with allergy symptoms. Make an allergy relief plan for yourself and check with your healthcare provider for additional solutions and to make sure your plan is a safe one for you. List the types of reactions you have, do some research to discover the triggers that cause them and try some of these natural solutions to find what gives you the relief you deserve.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of David Castillo


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Attention Weekend Warriors: How to Get Fit not Hurt!

There's no doubt that exercise is a good way to get fit, but sometimes we end up being weekend warriors, trying to cram too much at one time into our weekends and overdo it. Overdoing sports, exercise or strenuous labor can cause cartilage found around joints to break down which can result in stiff joints, inflammation and swelling. Besides overuse or an injury, sore joints can be caused by inflammation from damage caused by free radicals in your body. Free radicals result from conditions such as stress, heavy exercise, overwork, poor nutrition, and environmental toxicity. Inflammation is the body's response to foreign invaders, irritation or injury and causes redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. Sometimes the body attacks itself with inflammation even when there are no foreign substances. Certain types of arthritis are good examples of the body misinterpreting the need for its defensive action.  These types of arthritis are called autoimmune diseases, in which the body's normal immune system attacks and damages its own tissues. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both common types of arthritis that can occur. For us weekend warriors, gardeners and sports enthusiasts it is important to keep joints healthy and know how to support joint health and avoid injury. One important way to protect joints is to have the right safety equipment like knee and elbow pads. Another way is to know safe exercises that support joint health.

Don't wait for the weekend to get in all your exercise. Joints need to move throughout the week to stay flexible. Just doing some stretching and moving a few times during the week will help a lot. Be sure not to do stretching when your muscles are cold though. Joints, ligaments and tendons need to have some warm up exercises before being stretched to loosen them up. Muscle building exercises will also help support joint health. The stronger the muscles around the joints are the more stress they can relieve from the joints. Exercises that require you to pull something down from above to behind the head can cause injury to shoulders, the spine or neck and those that require you to pull a weight straight up to under the chin in certain positions can cause shoulder and nerve damage. When taking up a new exercise program or using exercise equipment for the first time, check with a trainer or someone with expertise in exercise to make sure you are doing or using them safely. There are usually safe alternatives that will exercise the same muscles if you just seek them out. Be sure you have the right shoes for the activity you are doing too. Joint injuries such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis can occur just from the stress put on them by doing an activity with the wrong foot support. Experts suggest buying shoes from a specialty store where you can get advice from salespeople trained to help you select the proper footwear for various activities. And when shoes start wearing out, it is important to get them replaced so they are in good shape to lend the support they were designed for.

Nutrition for Joint Health

When it comes to inflammation, your diet is important. Processed foods, junk food, fast food, foods with refined sugars, and starchy simple carbs can all lead to inflammation in the body. These types of foods also lend themselves to fat storage instead of the body burning them off for fuel.

Eating a well-balanced healthy diet is important for building strong muscle and bone which in turn supports joint health. Muscles need protein to stay strong which means making sure you have lean protein foods such as white meat chicken, beans, legumes, soy, seafood and nuts in your diet. Your diet also needs to include those foods that produce strong bones. That means making sure you are getting the right amount of calcium. Good food sources for calcium include milk products, broccoli, kale, figs, and fortified cereals. The calcium won't help you though if you don't get the right amount of Vitamin D to help your body absorb it. Some research has also shown that Vitamin D supports joint health by helping to reduce inflammation in joints. Our bodies create Vitamin D mainly from our exposure to sunshine so getting outdoors a little bit every day is important. If you are unable to do this, a Vitamin D supplement may be required. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider to see if this type of supplement is right for you. You can get Vitamin D from some foods such as dairy products, and fortified cereals or soy and almond milk. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to not only support heart and brain health, but to be useful for reducing inflammation and support joint health. Coldwater fish like cod, mackerel and salmon, olive oil, nuts, seeds and AFA bluegreen algae are all good sources for omega-3's. Antioxidants are another important part of a healthy diet that can help with joint health as they help repair the damage done to the body by free radicals. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are the best way to get antioxidants into your diet.

Alternative Solutions for Joint Health

Glucosamine is naturally found in cartilage around joints. There have been studies reporting that supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin can relieve joint pain. You can get glucosamine and chondroitin as well as undenatured collagen, and all the superfood nutrition of organic AFA bluegreen algae in this joint support supplement. Another supplement with the wholefood nutrition that is known to support recovery from physical exertion and lower risks of inflammation is this enzyme algae supplement. It gives you a combination of plant-based proteolytic enzymes--bromelain, papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, and organic AFA bluegreen algae. SAMe is another supplement that has research to back it up as being able to relieve pain from inflammation. Some studies have even reported this supplement to work better than certain anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. If you are on medications already, be sure to check with your healthcare provider to make sure particular supplements are safe for you. Acupuncture is another natural alternative for pain control that many people find preferable to supplements. 

Don't' give up your weekend activities because of joint pain or muscle soreness. Just start paying attention to how you can support your joints by eating the right foods and doing the right exercises throughout your week. Making these few simple changes to your lifestyle will keep you active and enjoying your weekends for years to come.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius