Colds, Flus and Allergies: What you should know

Colds, Flus and AllergiesIt’s that time of year again, Back to School and Back to Colds, Flus and Allergies.  It is the time of year some of us dread.  How do you know if you are experiencing a cold, the flu or just seasonal allergies?  Understanding the major differences in each of these conditions will help us understand what to do to begin to feel like our “well” selves once again.  Although prevention is the key to lowering our risks for infection, looking at our lifestyle, our nutrition and vitamin needs will give us a better chance to fight what is ailing us and WIN.

The Cold:

Colds are viruses.  There are over 100 different types of viruses that cause the common cold.  Symptoms may vary but usually include a runny or stuffed up nose, sore throat, and a cough.  Colds pass through the air from contact (like touch), from a sneeze or a cough.  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believes that on average a cold will last from seven to 10 days.  Colds can happen at any time of the year.

 The Flu:

The flu usually begins with a high fever (higher than 102 degrees) and can also include vomiting, body aches and chills, dizziness, flushing, headaches, nasal discharge and a loss of energy.  The fever can last for a day or two or it may last up to a week.  The flu is also a virus and usually affects the whole body.  The flu virus however can settle in any area of the body which could produce the same symptoms experienced with a cold, like a sore throat or it may cause bronchitis, an ear infection or turn into pneumonia if it settles in the respiratory tract.  The flu can last anywhere between four to seven day.

An Allergy:

Allergies usually occur when the body’s defense system has an adverse reaction to a certain substance which acts like a trigger.  These triggers cause the body to release chemicals called histamines which are intended to help the body fight off an intruder.  The histamine actually causes common allergy symptoms. Allergy trigger may be seasonal or year round.  Common allergens are grasses and weeds, dust, mold, pollen, soy, wheat, dairy, milk and nuts.  Symptoms of allergies include watery, itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, coughing, sore/scratchy throat and sneezing.  Rashes are also a symptom of allergies.

Supplements that may help:

Although there is no way to completely protect ourselves from experiencing any of the above conditions, lifestyle changes and supplementation may aid in strengthening our body’s defense system.  Finding a balance between a supplement program, regular exercise and a healthy diet may aid our body in dealing with infection.

Vitamin A:

This fat soluble vitamin helps maintain healthy tissues, especially the mucous membranes, which line all entrances to the body including the respiratory tract linings, and the skin.  This antioxidant also promotes a healthy thymus function which supports the body’s defense system.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C, is essential for the needs of the body’s immune system.  That body itself cannot manufacture this water soluble supplement so it is necessary for the body to obtain this nutrient from supplementation or from the diet.  Stress, inflammation and large amounts of sugar easily deplete this important antioxidant.  Although Vitamin C, which is highly concentrated in the immune cells, may not prevent a cold or flu it seems that Vitamin C is beneficial in reducing the duration of the symptoms associated with these viruses.

Astragalus:

Astragalus is a deep stimulating immune boosting herb found in Mongolia and China.  This herb has been known to boost white blood cell count, supporting immunity and stimulating antibody growth.  It also may help strengthen the body’s resistance to viruses and bacteria.

Vitamin D:

An important nutrient for overall health, this vitamin may be needed, especially during the winter months, when sunlight exposure is limited.  Vitamin D affects almost 2,000 different human genes and almost every type of human cell has been found to respond to Vitamin D.  Vitamin D supports the body’s ability to fight infections since it produces over 200 various peptides that affect the body’s ability to fight colds.  Vitamin D also produces small proteins, cytokines, which deal with immune response.

Probiotics:

Approximately 80% of our body’s defense system is located in the gut, which means when supplementing with a high quality probiotic the body’s immune system can be strengthened all year long.  With increased levels of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract the immune system can be developed to protect the body against the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria.

Zinc:

Essential for supporting the cells of the immune system, Zinc, which acts like an antioxidant in the body, helps to support immunity and the ability of the T-cells to function correctly.  Zinc is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body which involves growth and development, antioxidant protection and immune response.

Goldenseal:

Seasonal allergies may be supported with this beneficial herb which supports the immune system and allergic symptoms.  Goldenseal may also help soothe irritated and swollen tissues.  Berberine, a key phyto-nutrient in Goldenseal is also known for killing bacteria.

Other herbs like Stinging Nettle and Butterbur may help the body by inhibiting histamine production.  Butterbur, a member of the ragweed family should be avoided by those allergic to chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds and ragweed.

Don’t forget the importance of getting a good night’s rest to help support the body’s defense system.  When the body does not get adequate rest certain white blood cells called T-cells decrease.  T-cells are important to help increase the body’s immune system.  Melatonin, a hormone, acts like an antioxidant in the body and also works to activate T-helper cells and natural killer cells.

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Could Probiotics Restore Microbiome Imbalance Linked to Auto-Immune Disorder?

Probiotics and ImmuneA new study finds that probiotics may aid in restoring imbalances in gut bacterial in patients with the auto-immune disorder systemic sclerosis.  Systemic sclerosis affects connective tissue in the body.  It is not a common condition, but results in the skin thickening and becoming hard.  Occasionally this condition creates problems with blood vessels and internal organs.

17 adults with systemic sclerosis from UCLA, 17 adults with systemic sclerosis from Oslo University Hospital and 17 healthy adults participated in this trial.  Stool specimens were used to determine the amount and types of bacteria present.  Participants with systemic sclerosis had significantly lower amounts of gut bacteria believed to protect against inflammation like Bacteroides.  Additionally the participants with systemic sclerosis were found to have higher amounts of bacteria, like Fusobacterium, which actually promote inflammation when compared to those without this auto-immune disorder.

Researchers believe that probiotics are helpful in restoring the bacterial balance in the gut in individuals suffering from systemic sclerosis and play a role in improving these patients quality of life.

Further testing is planned using larger patient groups.

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High-Dose Vitamin C Could Cut Duration of Common Cold (and Other Infections)

A new review of prior clinical data shows high doses of Vitamin C might reduce the duration of common colds and other types of infections.  At a dose rate of between 6 to 8 grams of Vitamin C, prior studies show the duration of colds reduced by almost 20%.

In one study 3 grams of Vitamin C per day was given to 2 participating groups a third group was given a Vitamin C dose of 6 grams per day and a fourth group received a placebo.  When compared to the placebo group the group receiving the 6 grams of Vitamin C daily experienced a 17% reduction in the duration of their colds.  This result was twice as much as the group receiving the 3 grams of Vitamin C per day.

In another study one group received a Vitamin C dose of 4 grams per day while another group supplemented 8 grams of Vitamin C daily while others additional groups received a placebo.  These dosages of Vitamin C and the placebo were administered on the first day of the cold.  The results showed that when compared to the group supplementing with the placebo the participants supplementing with the 8 grams of daily Vitamin C showed there colds were shortened by about 19% which was twice as much as the group supplementing with the 4 grams of daily Vitamin C.

Researchers suggested that the majority of prior controlled studies used a dose of only 1 gram of Vitamin C daily and that when looking at studies using a wider range of dosages as outlined above it may explain why lower dosage studies found no correlation between Vitamin C and reduced durations of cold and other infections. Researchers suggest that new randomized trials using higher dosages of Vitamin C must be performed.

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CoQ10 Supplementation Shows Benefits for Liver Cancer Patients Post Surgery

liver cancerA new study shows daily supplementation with 300 mg of CoQ10 significantly increases antioxidant capacity and reduces inflammation levels and oxidative stress levels after surgery for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer.

41 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) participated in this single-blinded, randomized, parallel, placebo-controlled study.  A random numbers table was used to randomly assign the participants to receive either the CoQ10 (300 mg) or a placebo.  The study lasted 12 weeks.  The levels of antioxidant enzymes activity was significantly increased in the CoQ10 supplement group.  Additionally the CoQ10 group had significantly decreased oxidative stress and inflammatory markers levels when compared to the placebo group.

Larger and longer studies are needed to confirm the benefits seen with CoQ10 supplementation in patients with HCC taken after surgery.

CoQ 10 is a cell oxygenator and supports the transfer of oxygen between the cells. It is an antioxidant and supports cardiovascular health by promoting energy on a cellular level. Scientific studies show Co Q 10 is three times more bioavailable when delivered in an oil based softgel capsule.

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Heightened Liver Cancer Risk Linked to Low Selenium Levels

SeleniumA recent study found an increased risk of developing cancer of the liver may be linked with low levels of the trace mineral selenium.  Western diets and lifestyles were blamed for this selenium deficiency.

Data from the EPIC cohort study was analyzed to provide data for this study.  Over 500,000 men and women between the ages of 25 and 70 participated in the EPIC cohort study between the years 1992 and 2000.  Study participants filled out questionnaires regarding lifestyle information like activity levels, medical and smoking histories and education.  Blood levels of selenium were also collected.  A control group was established by utilizing data from 121 individuals with liver cancer and 140 individuals with biliary tract and bladder cancer.  Equal numbers of individuals who were cancer free were matched against the first group.

Observational and experimental evidence found low intakes of the trace mineral selenium contributed to the development of many cancers.  Selenium is known to protect cells from oxidative stress and this role may account for the outcome of this study.

A growing body of data shows increasing rates of liver cancer in industrialized countries due to unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits.  Treatment options may be limited since liver cancers are usually diagnosed at later stages.

Further research is planned.

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