Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fever: Friend or Foe?

"Give me a fever and I can cure any illness" -- Hippocrates

Many parents consider a fever to be so dangerous that if the temperature rises to 100 degrees or 101 degrees F, they give the child fever-reducing drugs that are toxic to the liver. Worse yet, there are parents who give their child an aspirin at the first sign of fever, which poses an extremely dangerous risk for the life-threatening Reye's Disease.
If we understand how fever works, we may not unknowingly put our child's health at risk by suppressing the temperature.
Fever has two functions:
  1. To stimulate the immune system.
  2. To create an inhospitable (hot) environment for invading organisms.

Invading microbes are eaten alive by the first line of defense called macrophages (meaning "big eaters"). Macrophages then recruit other immune system cells and make Interleukin One (IL-1), which signals the body to raise its temperature.
How a Fever is Made
When organisms invade, the hypothalamus receives the IL-1 signal telling it that the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees F isn't enough anymore. So the hypothalamus makes another biochemical called PGE-2 which increases the body temperature high enough to protect the body from the invader.
How does the body raise its temperature when necessary?
In a healthy individual, the heat-generating mechanisms are:
  • Shivering
  • The TRH hormone
  • Vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels)
  • Pilo erection, (raising the small hairs on the skin, which suppresses sweat)
These result in a fantastic synergy of self-healing mechanisms in our bodies.
The Benefits of Fever
  • More antibodies -- cells trained to attack the exact type of bug more specifically than any pharmaceutical drug.
  • More white blood cells to fight off the invader.
  • More interferon to block the spread of viruses to healthy cells.
  • Blocks iron, the food for bacteria.
  • Directly kills microbes by creating an inhospitable environment for them

By now it should be clear that it's the germs that are begging for fever-reducing medicine, not your kids!
Treating Fever the Naturopathic Way
Always support a fever, unless it rises too high or too quickly. A fever of 102 - 103 degrees F is considered the optimal defense against microbes. Supporting a fever means to work with it. For example, one effect of fever is to slow down the movement of food through the digestive system. Therefore, to support a fever, one must either fast or eat light foods such as soups and drink plenty of water till the fever breaks.
Since exercise and activity will interfere with the immune system’s task, it is best to support the body's defenses by resting.
Don’t be afraid
The fear of fever is as absurd as fearing your car's engine light on the dashboard. Suppressing a fever is like asking your mechanic to disconnect the engine light rather than fixing the problem that caused the light to come on.
Logic should prevail over fear.
When medical attention may be needed:
  • Infants less than 1-month-old, with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F. Seek care right away for fever in this age group. Breastfeed as often as the baby desires since the mother's milk has antibodies to encounter pathogens in the baby's mouth.
  • Infants from 1-month to 3-months-old, with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F, if they appear ill. Again, breastfeed while waiting for care.
  • Children between 3 months and 36 months, with a temperature above 102.2 degrees F, if they appear ill.
  • Anyone with a temperature over 104.5 degrees F.
  • For children not in the above three categories, bed rest and drinking water will support the fever and allow it to do the job.

Remember, fever as a warning signal is more of a blessing than a danger.

Work with it, not against it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Does Your Blood Pressure Rise Despite Your Best Efforts?

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it creeps up on you without warning and leads to heart disease, stroke, kidney malfunction, blood sugar imbalances and a host of other problems. Millions of people struggle to get their blood pressure under control despite sticking to a healthy diet and regular exercise while taking multiple medications.
Why does this happen?
Your blood pressure could be spiraling out of control because of three often overlooked culprits…

Calcium buildup in your arteries

Your blood pressure may rise because ‘calcium plaque’ is deposited in your blood vessels. The diameter of your veins and arteries affects your blood pressure. A larger opening requires less pressure. But calcium deposits force your blood to squeeze through narrowed pathways—and your blood pressure rises.

Inadequate amounts of nitric oxide (NO)

Unbalanced levels of nitric oxide (naturally produced in your body from the amino acid L-arginine and oxygen) may also cause your blood pressure to rise. This gaseous molecule signals your blood vessels to relax and open up to allow blood to pass through easily. The widening of the blood vessels—called vasodilation—increases your blood flow, decreases your blood pressure and helps keep your blood platelets from sticking together.

Presence of the enzyme Angiotensin II

Unstable blood pressure may also result from blood vessel constriction and water retention caused by the Angiotensin II enzyme. When the blood vessels constrict, your blood must try to squeeze through. This can damage the lining and make your arteries hard and stiff. This enzyme can also raise your sodium levels, resulting in water retention and elevated blood pressure.

Actions to take

While following your doctor’s advice, it is also helpful to keep in mind that natural vitamins and nutrients can help combat these serious threats to your blood pressure such as Vitamin K2, Magnesium, and Argnine. These can be taken as nutritional supplements as well as through their natural sources: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts are rich in vitamin K2 and magnesium. Chickpeas and seafood are good sources of arginine. These natural foods and supplements can effectively manage your blood pressure and help protect your cardiovascular system.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can Sitting Be Dangerous To Your Health?

Most people think that if you exercise regularly, it’s okay to remain sedentary for the rest of the day. However, research shows that even if you exercise for an hour a day for 5 days per week, if you spend 40 hours or more per week sitting (at work and at home watching TV), you are at risk for various major diseases.
Current research shows that even exercise can’t protect you from the ill effects of sitting too much. The amount of time you exercise and the amount of time you spend sitting are com­pletely separate factors in risk for heart disease.
In a 14-year study of over 120,000 people with no history of lung disease, heart attack, stroke or can­cer, researchers found that those who spent the most time sitting – regardless of exercise – had the highest death rate. Sitting had negative effects on fat and cho­lesterol metabolism.
Prolonged sitting has effects on health that even exercise cannot combat. These include:
• Deep Vein Thrombosis – When you sit for long periods, your calf muscles don’t contract and circulate blood causing blood clots that get painful and swollen. Worse still, these clots can break off and cause a stroke.
• Diabetes – The less you move, the less blood sugar your body uses. For every two hours you spend sitting each day, your risk of diabetes in­creases by 7%.
• Heart Disease – Without blood circula­tion, enzymes that break down fat in the blood (triglycerides) switch off, increasing blood pres­sure and fat buildup in the arteries.
Technology has made it possible to sit through life. Nowadays, you can shop, pay bills and visit with friends on the computer – all without ever standing up! Just a few generations ago, our ancestors were more active in a day than we are in a month!
Here are some ways to stay active apart from ex­ercising:
• Set an alarm to get up from your chair ev­ery half hour or hour. Get up and walk around.
• Limit the amount of time you sit and watch TV or, watch TV while jogging in place or riding an exercise bike.
• Instead of sitting while folding laundry, paying bills or talking on the phone… stand or move around.
• Take the stairs instead of the lift. Park farther from your destina­tion and walk.
So don’t just plan to exercise, plan to move as well!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who’s Afraid of Salt?

Doctors, nutritionists and other wise folk will tell you if you want to be healthy or have high blood pressure, you have to restrict your salt intake. This oft repeated mantra is now deeply ingrained in our consciousness.

Time to challenge this myth masquerading as science.

First, take all advice to restrict salt…with a grain of salt.
In order to keep things interesting, I will just give you snippets of scientific evidence.

The Origin of the Low Salt Myth
It all started with some flawed studies in the 1950s by a scientist called Lewis Dahl.
Lewis Dahl was able to develop a strain of salt sensitive rats which routinely developed hypertension to support his firm belief in the value of salt restriction. This was widely heralded and cited by other low salt proponents as proof of the role of salt in hypertension. What they often neglect to mention is that these rats would have to be fed an amount of salt equivalent to over 500 grams daily for an adult human.

This study gained some traction over the years and eventually lead to an expensive and lengthy crusade by the government to prove a link between sodium and hypertension. The INTERSALT study of 10,000 subjects in 52 centers around the world started in December 1984 and was completed in April 1997. (Intersalt = International Study of Sodium, Potassium and Blood Pressure).

The INTERSALT researchers conveniently neglected to mention that the population of the four countries responsible for skewing the total figures to coincide with their preconceived conclusion also had less stress, less obesity, ate far less processed foods and much more fiber from fruits and vegetables. They also tended to die at younger ages from other causes and often too soon to have developed any significant degree of coronary atherosclerosis.

The INTERSALT study researchers were caught trying to prove their predetermined conclusions through data manipulation. It took three years for watchdog attorneys to finally obtain the raw data (through the Office of Research Integrity), dealing with just one of several specific questions that had been posed. This was enough to bring down the house of cards. A detailed explanation of how the data had been manipulated to support predetermined conclusions was published in the British Medical Journal in 1996 and was subsequently endorsed by various authorities.

Michael Alderman, a highly regarded epidemiologist and past president of The American Society of Hypertension scrutinized the same data in patients who were not overweight. He reported that "the more salt you eat, the less likely you are to die." (From heart disease or anything else).

Alderman has long been critical of the government's low sodium diet advice for large populations and their focus on sodium intake as it relates to blood pressure rather than to the overall health, quality and length of life of individuals. He examined the relationship between sodium intake and health effects in 3,000 patients with mild to moderate hypertension. In addition, his group measured sodium excretion, which is much more accurate than estimating dietary intake.

At the end of four years, Alderman’s team found that those who consumed the least sodium had the most myocardial infarctions (i.e. Heart attacks) and other cardiovascular complications.

The reason for this is that when you restrict vital nutrients like salt (or cholesterol), all sorts of strange things can result. Low sodium diets can increase levels of renin, LDL and insulin resistance, reduce sexual activity in men and cause cognitive difficulties and anorexia in the elderly. Tasteless and dull, low sodium diets can cause other nutritional deficiencies. Lowering sodium with diuretics to treat hypertension can cause similar problems.

Renin is possibly the most powerful and dangerous blood pressure raising substance known (NOT SALT). Indeed, the study done by Alderman's group found that for every 2% increase in pretreatment plasma renin activity there was a 25% increase in heart attacks. No such correlation was found with increased sodium intake.

Low salt diets may not be as entirely harmless as proponents often claim. In the meta-analysis survey, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association a few years ago, researchers reported that cholesterol and LDL "bad" cholesterol increased with sodium reduction.

More importantly, blood levels of renin and aldosterone also rose in proportion to the degree of sodium reduction.

This compensatory response to increase blood volume would tend to raise blood pressure and possibly the likelihood of cardiovascular complications. Since the government began promoting sodium restriction and diuretics three decades ago, the incidence of hypertension and strokes has increased and the previous declining rate of heart attacks has leveled off.

An eight-year study of New York Hypertensives found that those on low-salt diets had more than four times as many heart attacks as people with normal sodium intake.

Exercise, alcohol, social environment and weight are the real determinants of blood pressure. Sodium intake [was] not associated with blood pressure.
(Life style as a blood pressure determinant: Jan A Staessen et al - Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine - September 1996)

A study of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease in 7,300 Scottish men, the largest intra-population study ever done with 24-hour urine samples: Sodium consumption does not play any major role in blood pressure.
(Urinary electrolyte excretion, alcohol consumption, and blood pressure in the Scottish heart health study. WCS Smith, IK Crombie, RT Tavendale, SK Gulland, HD Tunstall-Pedoe. BMJ vol 297 - 30th July 1988).

A Health Outcome study based on the NHANES
This study followed 20,000 individuals over a period of 20 years.
They found that those with the highest sodium intake had the lowest cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

(Dietary sodium intake and mortality: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I). Michael H Alderman, Hillel Cohen, Shantha Madhavan. The Lancet (vol 351 . March 14, 1998)

…and I can go on and on with many more studies.

The point is that we’ve been lied to by junk science and manipulated data (fitting a square peg in a round hole)…and even otherwise intelligent people fall prey to this because it is done “in the interest of the public” with tax dollars.

So where does that leave us?

Salt is NOT the culprit.
Stress, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids, sugar, sedentary lifestyles, hormonal imbalances due to environmental “pseudo” estrogens, among other things are to blame.

Refined Salt: White Poison
Instead of maligning salt, both scientists and the general public should pressure the government to BAN Refined Table Salt…because that is not salt.

The problem is not with salt but the TYPE of salt we eat!

Unrefined sea salt contain 98% NaCl (sodium-chloride) and up to 2%  other minerals i.e. Epsom salts and other Magnesium salts, Calcium salts, Potassium (Kalium) salts, Manganese salts, Phosphorus salts, Iodine salts. All together over 100 minerals composed of 80 chemical elements. Composition of a crystal of ocean salt is so complicated that no laboratory in the world can produce it from its basic 80 chemical elements. Nature is still a better chemist than humans!

When we use refined salt, we are in deficit of 80 elements, which means we are somehow contributing to becoming weaker, imbalanced and more susceptible to diseases.

Please Note:
  • Each individual’s salt requirement varies constantly. Salt requirement is also different for different people. So there is no such thing as a recommended daily allowance as the anti-salt pundits would have you believe.
  • There are 2 oceans of water within the body (inter-cellular and intra-cellular). The inter-cellular ocean is salt water, which is monitored very carefully by the body because it used in the energy-producing process.
  • Salt restriction may lead to a condition called “low sodium syndrome” (hyponatremia), which results in muscle weakness, loss of vigor and other maladies.

My views on salt are not just based on research and theory. They are based on extensive real world experience treating many patients from different parts of the world (different genetics, different lifestyles, different diets, etc.).

At Uforia Centre for Integrated Medicine, we have helped many people safely get off their blood pressure medication and brought down their BP with diet, exercise and nutritional supplements…and NOT ONCE DID WE RESTRICT THEIR SALT INTAKE.

Enjoy your salt without guilt or fear…but let it be “real” salt in the form of unrefined sea salt or rock salt and not what masquerades as salt on supermarket shelves.

The pundits will scream, “What about iodine?”

You don’t need refined, iodized, table salt to get iodine.

Food Sources of Iodine:

  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Kelp
  • Lima beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Seafood
  • Sea salt
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Turnip greens

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nutritional Star or Clever Con?

Speak to most health-conscious individuals these days and they will tell you that soy is one of the healthiest natural foods on the planet. Authoritative articles try to convince you that soy is the perfect protein, a great-tasting meat substitute and an excellent alternative to milk.

But before you buy into this “picture-perfect” Cinderella story of nutrition, it may be prudent to look at some of soy’s dark secrets that lurk behind that healthy façade.

Soy is not a natural food

Unlike other beans, the soybean, in its natural form, is inedible and extremely toxic.
That is why it requires extensive processing to make it safe for eating. Soybeans were traditionally grown between consecutive harvests of the main crop to improve the nitrogen content in agricultural soil. After doing their job, the beans were fed to cattle or used as compost for the next cash crop. Later it was discovered that if soybeans were fermented, they could be digested by humans! And thus was born tempeh, miso, soy sauce etc. (fermented soybean products).

Soy is the most highly processed of all commercial foods

“So what is wrong with processing?” you may ask. Let’s see.
The beans are exposed to high-temperature cooking. This denatures the natural enzymes in the soybeans. Enzymes, vitamins and minerals are the three pillars of metabolism. Take away any one pillar and the other two cannot function properly. Therefore, without the enzymes, soybeans become very difficult to digest. After high-temperature cooking (the first stage in processing), oil is extracted by subjecting the soybean to solvent extraction, de-gumming, sodium hydroxide (what drain cleaners are made of), bleaching and deodorizing using extreme heat. The “residue” that is left behind after this highly toxic chemical process, is what is sold as soy burgers and other forms of soy protein.

Soy is not a complete protein

Out of all the amino acids that come from proteins, the body needs eight from external sources, since it can’t synthesize them on its own. These eight are known as essential amino acids. Soy protein lacks two of these essential amino acids – cysteine and methionine. A deficiency in these can lead to an abundance of health problems.

Soy contains many toxins and anti-nutrients

  • Our digestive system relies on an orchestra of enzymes to perform the complex functions required in breaking down and absorbing the food we eat. Soybeans contain toxins that inhibit these digestive enzymes (primarily the pancreatic enzyme known as trypsin), thereby throwing the entire digestive process into a state of confusion.

  • Soybeans contain the highest levels of phytic acid of any bean. These high levels of phytic acid in soy block the uptake of important minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium and especially zinc. Through this blocking mechanism, soybeans can cause mineral deficiencies. It is no wonder that third world countries that have diets high in soy and other refined grains have the most profound mineral deficiencies. Zinc deficiency is particularly bad for infants on soy formula because it is essential for immune system development, protein digestion, growth, brain and nervous functions.

  • Hemagglutinin is another danger hidden in soy. It can cause abnormal clotting of red blood cells, thus putting those with heart disease at greater risk.

  • Soy infant formula has been found to contain aluminium levels tens times higher than in milk-based formula. Aluminium is a toxin that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and can also damage an infant’s kidneys. But the greatest danger can be to the baby’s brain because the blood-brain barrier hasn’t been formed yet.

  • Soybeans go through a process called alkaline soaking. This process leaves behind a by-product called lysinoalanine which is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).

Soybeans are often genetically modified

Genetic engineering may seem to be scientifically sound. In reality, is not. Bioengineers who insert genes into plant DNA have no idea how those genes will behave (genetic expression). Sometimes the altered gene traits may lay dormant for a few generations…but eventually they will surface and may prove harmful to humans. We are being used as guinea pigs in these potentially dangerous experiments. Thankfully, the public in most countries is waking up to these potential dangers and asking their respective governments to pass laws requiring manufacturers to state clearly on labels if the foods have been genetically modified.

The drawbacks of soy as a natural estrogen

Nutritionists, dieticians and naturopathic doctors have bought into the claims that soy, soy milk, etc. add safe levels of natural plant-based estrogen which can help menopausal women prevent osteoporosis and other hormone-related ailments. The ingredient in soy which can do these alleged magical things is a substance called “isoflavones.” Since most isoflavones come from genetically modified soy, they are definitely not natural. Secondly, the increase in estrogen levels by soy isoflavones may be pathological and have never been studied. For instance, infants taking soy have sometimes shown phytoestrogen levels that are 13,000 times higher than normal blood estrogen levels! High levels of some estrogens can promote tumors in various organs, menstrual disruption and sex organ malfunction.

Soy is everywhere - watch out!
You’ll find refined soybean oil in cakes, packaged soups, potato chips, etc. Soy flour or soy meal will show up as “natural flavouring,” “hydrolyzed protein,” “textured vegetable protein,” etc. One needs to read food labels carefully!

Bottom line

Soy is not a health food. From blocking mineral absorption to depressing thyroid function, soy protein can cause a host of health problems. This is not food. It is technology. Choose from a wide variety of natural proteins that are far superior in every way and say no to soy.

One Silver Lining

Some components of soy such as “daidzein” and “genistein” do exhibit anti-cancer properties and are used therapeutically on cancer patients in naturopathic medicine. The medicinal use of soy is based on “fractions” (isolated parts of the bean) and in no way contradicts the dietary dangers it poses.