by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

Overall, a person's lifestyle can effect their health in many ways - typically, the American diet promotes systemic inflammation through imbalances of omega-6 and omega-3 pathways. In other words, the Western diet consists of too many omega-6 fats and not nearly enough omega-3 fats. Omega-6 fats are found in almost every food you eat and are especially high in margarine, vegetable, canola and soybean oils. Omega-3 fats are found in fewer foods such as green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flax meal and oil and cold water fish (salmon). The average American consumes omega-6 oils 20 to 30 times more than omega-3 oils, and this ratio should be more in line with 2-4 to 1. Also, the American diet consists of too many processed foods loaded with high-glycemic sugars and unhealthy fats like trans fats derived from partially hydrogenated vegetable, canola and soybean oils.

A poor diet and lack of exercise promotes weight gain and increased body fat storage, especially around the midsection. Central (intra-abdominal) fat cells produce chemicals (cytokines) that promote systemic inflammation similar to omega-6/omega-3 imbalances. Together, these factors induce a systemic environment prone to inflammation and disease including heart disease, diabetes and various cancers in conjunction with other conditions like allergies and asthma - those suffering from seasonal allergies and chronic asthma are predisposed to inflammatory reactions producing symptoms such as runny noise, watery eyes, sneezing, post-nasal drip, bronchial congestion, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Here are some tips that you might want to consider and speak to your healthcare provider about. It is important to speak to a qualified healthcare provider regarding dietary, exercise and supplementation before commencing. Various supplements can interfere with prescription or over-the-counter medications, as well as various medical conditions.

Some basic tips to help fight allergies and asthma

1. Lose the midsection - Generally, a waist circumference measured at the belly button, more than half your height in inches is a red flag. Example: a 64 inch (5'4") tall person should have a waist measurement less than 32 inches.
2. Eat Right - eliminate processed foods including fast foods and beverages (sodas sweetened fruit juices). Eliminate high-glycemic sugars and white flour, and stay away from high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils). Eat a well-balanced diet including whole foods, grains, nuts, plenty of fruits (especially berries) and vegetables, and quality proteins and fats.
3. Stay away from wheat, barley and rye, if allergic to gluten.
4. Drink green, white and black teas.
5. Exercise: incorporate an aerobic and weight training exercise plan based on your particular ability and medical situation.
6. Use a natural nasal spray that contains saline and xylitol (see below).
7. Take a broad-spectrum multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.
8. The following supplements may prove beneficial in reducing inflammation and relieving various allergy and asthmatic symptoms: If you are taking medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist for possible interactions before taking any supplement.

* Vitamin C and bioflavinoids (500-1000 mg - 2 X day)
* Quercitin (250-500 mg - 3 X day)
* Boswellia or boswellic acid (300 mg - 3 X day)
* Fish oils (EPA/DHA) - (1000 mg - 3 X day)
* Flaxseed oil (cold pressed) - (1 tbsp - 1 X day)
* N-acetylcyteine or NAC (500 mg - 3 X day)
* Butterbur - make sure that this product is UPA-free (unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloid) - (50-75 mg - 2 X day)

Nasal Spray: I recommend using Activated Nasal Mist by Now Foods to help reduce nasal and sinus irritation.

Of course, seeking the help and guidance of a qualified healthcare provider who specializes in functional medicine, is always recommended because one size does not fit all; however, the above suggestions may prove beneficial. For more information or if you have any questions you can send me an email via my contact page.

Dr. Sardone

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

There have been many claims made about the "super food" benefits of acai berry from anti-cancer to weight-loss. These claims are made by savvy marketing gurus trying to sell their products or by multilevel marketing companies attempting to build their fortunes. However, these hyped up claims are not supported by evidenced based scientific research or academic studies. In other words, acai berry does not have magical or super powers, and is not a panacea for all ills including weight-loss. Nevertheless, acai berry does have antioxidant and phytonutrient qualities that merits explanation.

The antioxidant value or potency of acai berry and other foods is determined by assessing their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity known as ORAC value (higher ORAC values have greater antioxidant potency). Various spices, fruits/berries, chocolate (cocoa), herbs, grains/nuts, beans and vegetables have the highest ORAC values testes. The following is a condensed list noting ORAC values per 100 gram servings of each food. A more complete list can be found in my book or the USDA website.

1. Cloves, ground - 314,446 ORAC value
2. Cinnamon, ground - 267,536 ORAC value
3. Oregano, dried - 200,129 ORAC value
4. Turmeric, ground 159,277 ORAC value
5. Acai berry powder (freeze-dried) - 102,700 ORAC value
6. Cocoa, powder (unsweetened) - 80,933 ORAC value
7. Curry, powder - 48,504 ORAC value
8. Sage, fresh - 32,004 ORAC value
9. Yellow Mustard, seed 29,257 ORAC value
10. Ginger, ground 28,811 ORAC value

Acai berry juice (liquid) does not offer as much antioxidant protection as the freeze-dried acai powder. Researchers tested various berry and fruit juices as reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (2008). They noted that (highest to lowest) pomegranate juice > red wine > Concord grape juice > blueberry juice > black cherry juice = acai juice = cranberry juice > orange juice = green tea = white tea = apple juice. They concluded that when in liquid form, acai berry lost some of its antioxidant capacity as compared to other juices with pomegranate having 20% more antioxidant potency. However, in freeze-dried powder form, acai berry had the highest ORAC value of any other fruit or berry per 100 gram serving size as follows.

1. Acai berry powder (freeze-dried) - 102,700 ORAC value
2. Elderberries, raw - 14,697 ORAC value
3. Cranberries, raw - 9584 ORAC value
4. Black plums, with skin - 7581 ORAC value
5. Blueberries, raw - 6552 ORAC value
6. Red plums, with skin - 6259 ORAC value
7. Blackberries, raw - 5347 ORAC value
8. Raspberries, raw - 4882 ORAC value
9. Red apples, with skin - 4275 ORAC value
10. Strawberries, raw - 3577

When considering supplementing with acai berry, choose freeze-dried powder over juice formulations, and incorporate it as part of an overall well-balanced diet including organic whole-foods - and avoid processed foods and beverages. Moreover, remember that there is no magic pill or food, and losing body fat is best achieved when good lifestyle behaviors are followed - change your focus from losing weight to becoming healthy and fit, and body fat will come off as a consequence.

Dr. Sardone

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

In a previous blog, I discussed how central obesity assessed by measuring waist circumference can exacerbate swine flu (H1N1 influenza) symptoms and increase mortality. A recent analysis by Anne Schuchat, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases - shows that individuals with certain underlying chronic health conditions are also at increased risk of complications and hospitalization.

Among 500 hospitalized children suffering from swine flu complications, the most common underlying conditions included asthma, chronic lung disease, neurologic and neuromuscular disorders, and sickle-cell anemia and other blood disorders.

Of the 1400 adults hospitalized, Dr. Schuchat noted that asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, and immunosuppression were the most common exacerbating conditions.

Dr. Schuchat also noted that 6.1% of hospitalized adults were pregnant. She cited the main reason for this finding to be the mother's natural immune system suppression as protection against her body reacting negatively to the fetus. Also, during pregnancy many women suffer from airway compression and this could decrease the mother's ability to fight off the infection as well.

Underlying medical conditions and pregnancy, as well as central obesity as previously discussed, are risk factors which increase hospitalization and mortality associated with swine flu infection. Individuals at risk should speak to their doctor regarding these risks, and the pros and cons of immunization. Also, those considering vaccination should request preservative (Thimerosol) free vaccines, especially pregnant women and infants under 6-months of age.

Yours for better health

Dr. Sardone

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

For those of you who have or have had breast cancer (BC), or know someone close that has, my heart goes out to you - I can relate. However, and this is a huge however, how many of you are doing everything possible to prevent it? Wearing something pink and walking to stir up awareness is commendable, but waiting for a cure is not enough.Taking responsibility by doing everything humanly possible to prevent getting breast cancer is more commendable and more beneficial. How many of you, without BC, but potentially at risk, have checked the following:

1. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations via blood testing: BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes known as tumor suppressors, and mutations of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
2. Estradiol and progesterone imbalances in both blood and saliva: Either high levels of estradiol or low levels of progesterone results in "estrogen dominance." Too much estrogen (estradiol) exposure over time, without the counterbalancing effects of progesterone, predisposes one to potential estrogen positive cancers of the breast and uterus.
3. Estrogen metabolite levels and ratios in either blood or urine: How estrogen is being processed in the body can be assessed via serum or urine metabolite assessment - 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone and 2-hydroxyestrone are the two metabolites measured. The ratio of these metabolites can determine one's risk for breast cancer as well as other diseases including osteoporosis.
4. Body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist circumference measurements: A BMI higher than 25, body fat percentage more than 25% (females) and/or a waist measurement (belly button) more than half your height in inches are all red flags and increase your risk for breast and other cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. Your waist measurement should be less than half your height in inches. Example: a 5'4" (64") female's waist measurement should be less than 32 inches, more than that would be considered abdominal (central-visceral) obesity. Excessive visceral fat cells produce various chemicals that cause systemic inflammation, and these same fat cells produce estrogen via testosterone conversion.
5. Periodic self-examination of breasts for lumps
6. Periodic checkups by your doctor

Prevention Tips

1. Lose body fat (weight): Strive for optimum BMI, body fat percentage and waist circumference
2. Exercise daily: Cross-train (aerobic and resistance training)
3. Eliminate processed and fast-foods including sweetened beverages from your diet - eliminate foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and partially hydrogenated oils (soy, canola or vegetable)
4. Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
5. Stop smoking
6. Stop using synthetic hormone replacement (synthetic estradiol and progestin)
7. Counterbalance elevated estradiol levels with natural-bioidentical progesterone
8. Counterbalance elevated estradiol and 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone levels with flaxseed meal and flaxseed oil, fish oils (EPA/DHA), calcium-d-glucorate, cruciferous vegetables (Brussels spouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) or their derivatives indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethaine (DIM)
9. Consume organic whole foods and foods rich in photochemicals and high ORAC (antioxdiant) value: spices, cocoa, colorful fruits and vegetables
10. Replace plastic food and beverage containers with glass or stainless steel. Avoid buying cans made with epoxy liners that leach bisphenol-A - buy BPA-free cans and bottles.
11. Take control of your health by changing your lifestyle, focus on becoming healthy and fit - Follow the principles taught in The Naked Truth: Overweight, Overhwelmed and Confused

Dr. Sardone

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

A sweetener that should be avoided at all costs is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) regardless of what savvy marketing gurus try and tell (sell) you. In fact, it is one of the eight reasons I cite in my new book that Americans are overweight and unhealthy. HFCS, developed by the Japanese and introduced to Americans in 1970, is either 42% or 55% fructose depending on its intended use, and is overly used in processed foods and beverages.

Sucrose (table sugar) also contains fructose as part of its molecular makeup, and the combination of HFCS and sucrose consumption in America has sky rocketed. In 2005, the average American was consuming 122 pounds of this combination per year, and it keeps increasing.

Fructose is metabolized in the liver where it is converted and stored as glycogen (storage form of glucose - blood sugar) or synthesized into triglycerides (fats). Habitual over consumption of fructose can overwhelm glycogen storage causing excessive triglyceride production resulting in fatty liver disease and high triglyceride (hypertriglyceridemia) blood levels. This can lead to insulin resistance, arterial (coronary) plaques and subsequent heart disease.

This sweetener has effects on insulin, leptin and ghrelin, hormones that regulate appetite and hunger among other things. HFCS inhibits insulin and leptin secretion and stimulates ghrelin production - the net result is increased hunger and appetite that leads to overeating and weight gain. In other words, the more HFCS you consume, the greater your hunger and the more you eat, especially carbohydrates.

The only way to avoid high fructose corn syrup, sucrose and other unhealthy food additives, is to avoid processed foods and beverages.

The Naked Truth!

Dr. Sardone

by Dr. S on November 15th, 2009

The thyroid gland sits below the Adam's apple in the front part of the throat, and secretes thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. This hormone regulates metabolism, body temperature, protein synthesis, energy levels, muscle strength, body weight and fertility.

Many individuals, especially females between the ages of 30 and 50, begin to experience symptoms associated with low thyroid function. Symptoms frequently experienced are: depression, fatigue, mental fogginess, insomnia, cold intolerance, dry coarse skin, weight gain, PMS, headaches, low libido, hair loss, muscle and joint achiness, brittle nails, infertility, increased LDL-cholesterol, B12 deficiency (anemia), chest pain, constipation, and low basal (arm pit) temperature.

Of course, many of the symptoms noted can be related to other conditions, however, checking thyroid function should not be overlooked. A simple home method of assessing thyroid function is to perform the Barnes Basal Temperature Test. This test requires a basal thermometer and three consecutive mornings. Place the thermometer next to the bed the night before testing. First thing upon awakening, place the thermometer under your armpit and lie still for 10-minutes, then record your temperature. Do this for three mornings. Normal temperature readings are between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees F. Three consecutive days of below normal readings indicates a low functioning thyroid, which requires further evaluation via blood testing.

A complete thyroid assessment should include the following blood tests: Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4, free T3, anti-TG antibody titer and anti-TPO antibody titer. Often, the antibody tests are not done and this omission could very well lead to inaccurate assessment and wrong diagnosis. For instance, early Hashimoto's disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) presents with normal TSH, T4 and T3 levels, but will produce anti-TPO antibodies. Considering that many hypothyroid females have autoimmune thyroid dysfunction, not including antibody testing will miss this diagnosis which can potentially cause damage to the thyroid gland that otherwise could have been prevented.

Females suffering from low thyroid function should also consider having their sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) checked via saliva testing. Elevated estradiol and/or low progesterone levels can negatively influence thyroid hormone uptake (usage) at the cellular level, thereby producing hypothyroid symptoms.

Autoimmune thyroid dysfunction is a common problem and an often-missed diagnosis as already noted. Underlying potential causes are viruses, food borne bacteria, antigens (leaky gut), diet (soy), toxins (pesticides, fertilizers, dioxin, plastics, mercury and fluoride), celiac (gluten intolerance) disease and genetic susceptibility.

Finding the underlying cause of low thyroid function requires a thorough evaluation. Seeking the help of a practitioner who specializes in functional and preventative medicine is beneficial not only in proper work up and diagnosis, but in treatment and management protocols including alternative methods.

Yours for better health,

Dr. Sardone

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