Does Acupuncture Really Work?

Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body (on Pathways called meridians) with extremely thin needles to alleviate pain or help other various health conditions. According to Chinese Medical Theory,  health is a balanced flow of energy called Chi in the body and that pain and other health challenges are due to stagnation or imbalances of qi .
There are many hypotheses in allopathic medicine as to how acupuncture works. One is  that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release hormones such as endorphins. Another is that it also reduces inflammation and increases blood flow and helps the body to secrete different chemicals that improve health.
The World Health Organization recognizes over a hundred different conditions that acupuncture can help, such as pain allergies digestive problems fertility issues headaches depression and skin conditions among many others the way my first acupuncturist explained it to me is that acupuncture enhances your body’s natural healing ability – kind of like watering the garden.

 

ROBIN SHARMA’S 21 tips to get you to your best productivity:

I wanted to help you create explosive productivity so you get big things done (and make your life matter).

Here are 21 tips to get you to your best productivity:

#1. Check email in the afternoon so you protect the peak energy hours of your mornings for your best work.

#2. Stop waiting for perfect conditions to launch a great project. Immediate action fuels a positive feedback loop that drives even more action.

#3. Remember that big, brave goals release energy. So set them clearly and then revisit them every morning for 5 minutes.

#4. Mess creates stress (I learned this from tennis icon Andre Agassi who said he wouldn’t let anyone touch his tennis bag because if it got disorganized, he’d get distracted). So clean out the clutter in your office to get more done.

#5. Sell your TV. You’re just watching other people get successful versus doing the things that will get you to your dreams.

#6. Say goodbye to the energy vampires in your life (the negative souls who steal your enthusiasm).

#7. Run routines. When I studied the creative lives of massively productive people like Stephen King, John Grisham and Thomas Edison, I discovered they follow strict daily routines. (i.e., when they would get up, when they would start work, when they would exercise and when they would relax). Peak productivity’s not about luck. It’s about devotion.

#8. Get up at 5 am. Win the battle of the bed. Put mind over mattress. This habit alone will strengthen your willpower so it serves you more dutifully in the key areas of your life.

#9. Don’t do so many meetings. (I’ve trained the employees of our FORTUNE 500 clients on exactly how to do this – including having the few meetings they now do standing up – and it’s created breakthrough results for them).

#10. Don’t say yes to every request. Most of us have a deep need to be liked. That translates into us saying yes to everything – which is the end of your elite productivity.

#11. Outsource everything you can’t be BIW (Best in the World) at. Focus only on activities within what I call “Your Picasso Zone”.

#12. Stop multi-tasking. New research confirms that all the distractions invading our lives are rewiring the way our brains work (and drop our IQ by 5 points!). Be one of the rare-air few who develops the mental and physical discipline to have a mono-maniacal focus on one thing for many hours. (It’s all about practice).

#13. Get fit like Madonna. Getting to your absolute best physical condition will create explosive energy, renew your focus and multiply your creativity.

#14. Workout 2X a day. This is just one of the little-known productivity tactics. Here’s the key: exercise is one of the greatest productivity tools in the world. So do 20 minutes first thing in the morning and then another workout around 6 or 7pm to set you up for wow in the evening.

#15. Drink more water. When you’re dehydrated, you’ll have far less energy. And get less done.

#16. Work in 90 minute blocks with 10 minute intervals to recover and refuel (another game-changing move I personally use to do my best work).

#17. Write a Stop Doing List. Every productive person obsessively sets To Do Lists. But those who play at world-class also record what they commit to stop doing. Steve Jobs said that what made Apple Apple was not so much what they chose to build but all the projects they chose to ignore.

#18. Use your commute time. If you’re commuting 30 minutes each way every day – get this: at the end of a year, you’ve spent 6 weeks of 8 hour days in your car. I encourage you to use that time to listen to fantastic books on audio + excellent podcasts and valuable learning programs. Remember, the fastest way to double your income is to triple your rate of learning.

#19. Be a contrarian. Why buy your groceries at the time the store is busiest? Why go to movies on the most popular nights? Why hit the gym when the gym’s completely full? Do things at off-peak hours and you’ll save so many of them.

#20. Get things right the first time. Most people are wildly distracted these days. And so they make mistakes. To unleash your productivity, become one of the special performers who have the mindset of doing what it takes to get it flawless first. This saves you days of having to fix problems.

#21. Get lost. Don’t be so available to everyone. I often spend hours at a time in the cafeteria of a university close to our headquarters. I turn off my devices and think, create, plan and write. Zero interruptions. Pure focus. Massive results.

I truly hope these 21 productivity tips have been valuable to you. And that I’ve been of service. Your productivity is your life made visible. Please protect it.

Stay productive.

Robin

The Mood Cure

Do you ever experience “monkey brain”? Brain fog? Can’t sleep because your mind is racing? I have personally had a significant improvement by following Julia Ross’s advice in her book, The Mood Cure. Between the 5HTP and L- Tyrosine, I notice a huge difference in my sleep and mental focus. Funny, I just accepted my busy mind as an annoying part of my personality, when it has actually been a deficiency in certain amino acids and retraining some mental habits. I’ve noticed L-glutamine reducing sugar cravings in my patients with “sweet tooths.” You may have heard much of the nutrition advice from me and others, but Julia Ross helps to fine-tune the brain chemistry to a new level!

“We’re in a bad mood epidemic. Depression and anxiety have tripled in the last ten years. The Mood Cure explains why and provides the good news that we can feel better emotionally, without the use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or anti-depressants-and the even better news that we can begin to see the results in just one day. The Mood Cure is a comprehensive natural approach that jump-starts your program with brain-fueling amino acids combined with a high-protein, healthy-fat, veggie-rich diet and other nutritional strategies. Beginning with the 4-part questionnaire to identify your mood type, The Mood Cure will help you to: *Lift the dark cloud of depression *Blast the blahs *Cool anxiety and stress *Comfort oversensitive feelings *Let go of emotional eating *Recover from addictions *Find reliable alternatives to anti-depressants” from moodcure.com

Caution: if you are on medication please consult with your doctor to work with you on using the recommendations in this book.

Dr. Mercola’s Comments

Dr. Mercola’s comments:

Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and actually has the ability to significantly influence your:

  • Mind
  • Mood
  • Behavior

So while modern psychiatry still falsely claims that psychological problems such as depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, researchers keep finding that depression and a variety of behavioral problems actually appear to be linked to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut!

Germ-Free Mice Engage in High-Risk Behavior

In the featured study published last month in Neurogastroenterology & Motility, mice that lack gut bacteria were found to behave differently from normal mice, engaging in what would be referred to as “high-risk behavior.” This altered behavior was accompanied by neurochemical changes in the mouse brain.

According to the authors, microbiota (your gut flora) may play a role in the communication between your gut and your brain, and:

“Acquisition of intestinal microbiota in the immediate postnatal period has a defining impact on the development and function of the gastrointestinal, immune, neuroendocrine and metabolic systems. For example, the presence of gut microbiota regulates the set point for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity.”

The neurotransmitter serotonin activates your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis by stimulating certain serotonin receptors in your brain. Additionally, neurotransmitters like serotonin can also be found in your gut. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain!

So it actually makes perfect sense to nourish your gut flora for optimal serotonin function as it can have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behavior.

The authors concluded that:

“[T]he presence or absence of conventional intestinal microbiota influences the development of behavior…”

This conclusion adds support to another recent animal study, which also found that gut bacteria may influence mammalian early brain development and behavior. But that’s not all. They also discovered that the absence or presence of gut microorganisms during infancypermanently alters gene expression.

Through gene profiling, they were able to discern that absence of gut bacteria altered genes and signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control. This suggests that gut bacteria is closely tied to early brain development and subsequent behavior. These behavioral changes could be reversed as long as the mice were exposed to normal microorganisms early in life. But once the germ-free mice had reached adulthood, colonizing them with bacteria did not influence their behavior.

According to Dr. Rochellys Diaz Heijtz, lead author of the study:

“The data suggests that there is a critical period early in life when gut microorganisms affect the brain and change the behavior in later life.”

In a similar way, probiotics have also been found to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.

The Gut-Brain Connection

When you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there’s no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it’s easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well.

With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Interestingly, these two organs are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. This is what connects your two brains together, and explains such phenomena as getting butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, for example. (For an interesting and well-written layman’s explanation of this connection, read through Sandra Blakeslee’s 1996 New York Times article Complex and Hidden Brain in Gut Makes Stomachaches and Butterflies.)

Your gut and brain work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa.

As a result, it should be obvious that your diet is closely linked to your mental health. Furthermore, it’s requires almost no stretch of the imagination to see how lack of nutrition can have an adverse effect on your mood and subsequently your behavior.

Have We Become Too Sanitized for Our Own Sanity?

Another study published last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry reviewed the evidence for signs that psychiatric problems might be caused by lack of natural microorganisms in soil, food, and the gut. And it did find such a link.

Rates of depression in younger people have steadily grown to outnumber rates of depression in the older populations, and one reason for this could be the lack of exposure to bacteria, both outside and inside your body.

Quite simply, modern society may have gotten too sanitized and pasteurized for our own good.

Fermented foods have been traditional staples in most cultures, but modern food manufacturing, with its focus on killing ALL bacteria in the name of food safety, has eliminated most of these foods. You can still find traditionally fermented foods like natto or kefir, but they’re not the dietary staples they once used to be, and many people don’t like them when trying them out for the first time in adulthood.

When you deprive your child of all this bacteria, her immune system—which is her primary defense system against inflammation—actually gets weaker, not stronger. And higher levels of inflammation are not only a hallmark of heart disease and diabetes, but also of depression.

The authors explain it as follows:

Significant data suggest that a variety of microorganisms (frequently referred to as the “old friends”) were tasked by coevolutionary processes with training the human immune system to tolerate a wide array of non-threatening but potentially proinflammatory stimuli. Lacking such immune training, vulnerable individuals in the modern world are at significantly increased risk of mounting inappropriate inflammatory attacks on harmless environmental antigens (leading to asthma), benign food contents and commensals in the gut (leading to inflammatory bowel disease), or self-antigens (leading to any of a host of autoimmune diseases).

Loss of exposure to the old friends may promote major depression by increasing background levels of depressogenic cytokines and may predispose vulnerable individuals in industrialized societies to mount inappropriately aggressive inflammatory responses to psychosocial stressors, again leading to increased rates of depression.

… Measured exposure to the old friends or their antigens may offer promise for the prevention and treatment of major depression in modern industrialized societies.”

Researchers around the World have Linked Gut Problems to Brain Disorders

Brain disorders can take many forms, one of which is autism. In this particular area you can again find compelling evidence of the link between brain and gut health. For example, gluten intolerance is frequently a feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a strict gluten-free diet. Many autistic children also tend to improve when given probiotics, either in the form of fermented foods or probiotic supplements.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is just one of many who have investigated the connection between developmental disorders and bowel disease. He has published about 130-140 peer-reviewed papers looking at the mechanism and cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and has extensively investigated the brain-bowel connection in the context of children with developmental disorders such as autism.

A large number of replication studies have also been performed around the world, by other researchers, confirming the curious link between brain disorders such as autism and gastrointestinal dysfunction. For a list of more than 25 of those studies, please see this previous article.

Other Health Benefits of Probiotics

Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria — more than 10 TIMES the number of cells you have in your entire body. Ideally, the ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85 percent “good” and 15 percent “bad.”

In addition to the psychological implications discussed above, a healthy ratio of good to bad gut bacteria is essential for:

  • Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease
  • Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
  • Digesting and absorbing certain carbohydrates
  • Producing vitamins, absorbing minerals and eliminating toxins
  • Preventing allergies

Signs of having an excess of unhealthy bacteria in your gut include gas and bloating, fatigue, sugar cravings, nausea, headaches, constipation or diarrhea.

What Interferes With Healthy Gut Bacteria?

Your gut bacteria do not live in a bubble; rather, they are an active and integrated part of your body, and as such are vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you eat a lot of processed foods, for instance, your gut bacteria are going to be compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast.

Your gut bacteria are also very sensitive to:

  • Antibiotics
  • Chlorinated water
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Pollution

Because of these latter items, to which virtually all of us are exposed at least occasionally, it’s generally a good idea to “reseed” the good bacteria in your gut by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods.

Tips for Optimizing Your Gut Bacteria

Getting back to the issue of inflammation for a moment, it’s important to realize that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is actually located in your gut, which is why you need to regularly reseed your gut with good bacteria.

Additionally, when you consider that your gut is your second brain AND the seat of your immune system, it becomes easy to see how your gut health can impact your brain function, psyche, and behavior, as they are interconnected and interdependent in a number of different ways—several of which are discussed above.

In light of this, here are my recommendations for optimizing your gut bacteria.

  • Fermented foods are still the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Healthy choices include lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented milk such as kefir, various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots, and natto (fermented soy).

    If you regularly eat fermented foods such as these that, again, have not been pasteurized (pasteurization kills the naturally occurring probiotics), your healthy gut bacteria will thrive.

  • Probiotic supplement. Although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics are definitely an exception. I have used many different brands over the past 15 years and there are many good ones out there. I also spent a long time researching and developing my own, called Complete Probiotics, in which I incorporated everything I have learned about this important tool over the years.

    If you do not eat fermented foods, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is definitely recommended.

A Simple, Inexpensive Trick to Cure a Cold

By Dr. Mercola

woman coughingEach year Americans catch more than one billion colds, making the cold virus the most common infectious disease in the United States.

It accounts for more school absences and missed work than any other illness, and it’s the number one reason people visit their physicians — even though most physicians have little to offer in the form of treatment.

It’s a widespread misconception that colds are caused by bacteria. Colds are actually triggered by a virus, which means if your physician prescribes you an antibiotic, it will be absolutely useless.

More on this shortly, but before I delve into simple prevention and treatment strategies it’s important you know how colds are contracted in the first place.

How Do You Catch a Cold?

The most common way cold viruses are spread is not from being around coughing or sneezing, or walking barefoot in the rain, but rather from hand-to-hand contact. For instance, someone with a cold blows their nose then shakes your hand or touches surfaces that you also touch.

Cold viruses can live on pens, computer keyboards, coffee mugs and other objects for hours, so it’s easy to come into contact with such viruses during daily life.

However, the key to remember is that just being exposed to a cold virus does not have to mean that you’ll catch a cold. If your immune system is operating at its peak, it should actually be quite easy for you to fend off the virus without ever getting sick.

If your immune system is impaired, on the other hand, it’s akin to having an open-door policy for viruses; they’ll easily take hold in your body. So the simple and short answer is, you catch a cold due to impairment in your immune system. There are many ways this can result, but the more common contributing factors are:

  1. Eating too much sugar and too many grains
  2. Not getting enough rest
  3. Using insufficient strategies to address emotional stressors in your life
  4. Vitamin D deficiency, as discussed below
  5. Any combination of the above

Vitamin D Deficiency: Another Reason You May “Catch” a Cold

It’s estimated that the average U.S. adult typically has two to four colds each year, while children may have up to 12! One reason for the widespread prevalence may be that vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the United States, especially during the winter months when cold (and flu) viruses are at their peak.

Research has confirmed that “catching” colds and flu may actually be a symptom of an underlying vitamin D deficiency. Less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.

In the largest and most nationally representative study of its kind to date, involving about 19,000 Americans, people with the lowest vitamin D levels reported having significantly more recent colds or cases of the flu — and the risk was even greater for those with chronic respiratory disorders like asthma.

At least five additional studies also show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and vitamin D levels, and you can read about them in detail here. But the research is very clear, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections.

It’s not surprising, then, that the average American gets so many colds each year, as current guidelines for optimal intake and normal vitamin D levels are far too low — and since most people do not get adequate sun exposure on a daily basis (which is what produces vitamin D in your skin) many are deficient. I strongly believe you could avoid colds and influenza entirely by maintaining your vitamin D level in the optimal range.

How Long Do Colds Last … and How Can You Make Your Cold Go Away Faster?

Most uncomplicated colds last between eight and nine days, but about 25 percent last two weeks, and 5-10 percent last three weeks. Even the most stubborn colds will typically resolve in a few weeks’ time; this is actually one of the ways you can distinguish a cold from allergies.

A cold will last, at most, a few weeks, but allergy symptoms can last all season.

How quickly you bounce back is typically defined by you and your collective lifestyle habits — and this does not mean popping over-the-counter cough and cold remedies or fever reducers. In fact, as long as your temperature remains below 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius) there is no need to lower it.

Cold viruses do not reproduce at higher body temperatures, so a slight fever should help you get rid of the virus quicker and help you to feel better much sooner.

You should avoid taking over-the-counter pain-relief medications as well, as a study showed that people who take aspirin and Tylenol (acetaminophen) suppress their body’s ability to produce antibodies to destroy the cold virus. Aspirin has even been linked to lung complications including pulmonary edema, an abnormal build up of fluid in your lungs, when taken in excess.

You should only use these medications when absolutely necessary, such as if you have a temperature greater than 105 degrees F (40.5 degrees C), severe muscle aches or weakness.

Hydrogen Peroxide: A Simple Trick to Beat a Cold

I don’t advise over-the-counter medications, but one simple treatment you can try that is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections is hydrogen peroxide.

Many patients at my Natural Health Center have had remarkable results in curing colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear. You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation.

Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear. A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less. It is simply amazing how many people respond to this simple, inexpensive treatment.

So What Else Can You do to Recover From a Cold, Quicker … and Prevent One in the First Place?

As I said above, the number one way to conquer a cold (or flu) is vitamin D. Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. So optimizing your levels will not only help send a cold virus packing … it will help ward off cold viruses in the first place.

The best source for vitamin D is direct sun exposure. But for many of us, this just isn’t practical during the winter. The next best option to sunlight is the use of a safe indoor tanning device. If neither natural nor artificial sunlight is an option, then using oral vitamin D3 supplements is your best bet.

Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. This recommendation also includes children, the elderly and pregnant women.

However, keep in mind that vitamin D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin D status is dependent on numerous factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you’re exposed to on a regular basis. So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is simply impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone’s needs.

The only way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested. Ideally, you’ll want to maintain a vitamin D level of 50-65 ng/ml year-round.

For an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know before you get tested, please read my latest updates in Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

Dietary Strategies to Kick a Cold

If you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu, this is NOT the time to be eating ANY sugar, artificial sweeteners or processed foods. Sugar is particularly damaging to your immune system — which needs to be ramped up, not suppressed, in order to combat an emerging infection.

So if you are fighting a cold, you’ll want to avoid all sugar like the plague, and this includes sugar in the form of fruit juice and even grains (which break down as sugar in your body).

Ideally, you must address nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress issues the moment you first feel yourself getting a bug. This is when immune-enhancing strategies will be most effective.

So when you’re coming down with a cold, it’s time to address ALL of the contributing factors immediately, which includes tweaking your diet in favor of foods that will strengthen your immune response. Good choices include:

  • Raw, grass-fed organic milk, and/or high-quality whey protein
  • Fermented foods such as raw kefir, kimchee, miso, pickles, sauerkraut, etc, which are rich in probiotics, or good bacteria. Scientific research shows that 80 percent of your immune system resides inside your digestive tract, so eating probiotic-rich foods, or taking a high-quality probiotic, will help support your immune system health.
  • Raw, organic eggs from free-ranging, preferably local, chickens
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
  • Locally grown fruits and vegetables, appropriate for your nutritional type
  • Mushrooms, especially Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake, which contain beta glucans (which have immune-enhancing properties)
  • Garlic, a potent antimicrobial that kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. Ideally this should be in fresh form, eaten raw and crushed with a spoon just before eating.
  • Herbs and spices with high ORAC scores: Turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, cloves (for more on ORAC, visit www.oracvalues.com)
  • Make sure you are drinking plenty of fresh, pure water. Water is essential for the optimal function of every system in your body and will help with nose stuffiness and loosening secretions. You should drink enough water so that your urine is a light, pale yellow.

And what about the old wives’ tale of chicken soup for your cold?

Chicken soup can help reduce your symptoms. Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily.

Processed, canned soups won’t work as well as the homemade version, however.

For best results, make up a fresh batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so) and make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it’s easier to cough up and expel.

Three Cold-Busting Lifestyle Strategies

Vitamin D, check! Hydrogen peroxide, check! Healthy diet, check! We’ve covered several of the primary “weapons” you should have in your cold-fighting arsenal, but there are others, too.

  1. High-Quality Sleep, and Plenty of It Pay attention to how you are sleeping. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or enough restorative sleep, you’ll be at increased risk for a hostile viral takeover. Your immune system is also the most effective when you’re not sleep-deprived, so the more rested you are the quicker you’ll recover. You can find 33 secrets for a good night’s sleep here.
  2. Regular Exercise Regular exercise is a crucial strategy for increasing your resistance to illness. There is evidence that regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk for respiratory illness by boosting your immune system. In fact, one study found that people who exercised regularly (five or more days a week) cut their risk of having a cold by close to 50 percent. And, in the event they did catch a cold, their symptoms were much less severe than among those who did not exercise.

    Exercise likely cuts your risk of colds so significantly because it triggers a rise in immune system cells that can attack any potential invaders. Each time you exercise you can benefit from this boost to your immune system.

    Ideally, establish a regular fitness program, such as Peak Fitness, now, to help you ward off colds and other illness.

    However, if you’re already feeling sick don’t overdo it. Over-exercising can actually place more stress on your body, which can suppress your immune system — and you don’t want that either. You might just go for a walk if you are coming down with a cold, or simply tone down your regular workout.

    Any rise in body temperature will be an unwelcome climate for a viral invader, though, so some exercise is likely to be beneficial.

  3. Address Your Emotional StressEmotional stressors can also predispose you to an infection while making cold symptoms worse. Finding ways to manage daily stress as well as your reactions to circumstances beyond your control will contribute to a strong and resilient immune system.

    My favorite tool for this is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a system that helps balance your body’s subtle energies and repair emotional “short-circuits.” EFT may even help you overcome cold symptoms.

Supplements That Send Pathogens Packin’

Supplements can be beneficial for colds, but they should be used only as an adjunct to the lifestyle measures already discussed.

Some of the more helpful options for cold (and flu) — above and beyond vitamin D — are:

  • Vitamin C: A very potent antioxidant; use a natural form such as acerola, which contains associated micronutrients. You can take several grams every hour till you are better unless you start developing loose stools
  • Oregano Oil: The higher the carvacrol concentration, the more effective it is. Carvacrol is the most active antimicrobial agent in oregano oil.
  • Propolis: A bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world; propolis is also the richest source of caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important compounds that aid in immune response and even fight cancer.
  • A tea made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, linden, peppermint and ginger; drink it hot and often for combating a cold or flu. It causes you to sweat, which is helpful for eradicating a virus from your system.
  • Olive leaf extract: Ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder.

Remember This Tip: Wash Your Hands Sensibly

Washing your hands frequently is one of the easiest ways to wipe out germs and viruses and reduce your chances of becoming sickened by them. Thorough hand-washing truly is an important step, as you are at far greater risk of passing on an infection by shaking someone’s hand than even by sharing a kiss.

One report even found that regular hand washing may be more effective than drugs in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses such as influenza.

When you wash up, plain soap and water will do. Do not make the mistake of using antibacterial cleansers, as their widespread use is leading to strains of resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” which cause the ingredients to lose effectiveness for the times when they really are needed, such as for surgeons prior to surgery.

Further, the active ingredient in most antibacterial products is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that kills bacteria and inhibits bacterial growth. But not only does triclosan kill bacteria, it also has been shown to kill human cells.

Antibacterial soaps are also no more effective than regular soaps. One study found people who used antibacterial soaps and cleansers developed a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms just as often as people who used products that did not contain antibacterial ingredients. So please avoid making the mistake of using antibacterial liquids and soaps.

Too Much Hand-Washing Can Backfire …

There is another important caveat to remember, and that is your skin is actually your primary defense against bacteria — not the soap.

So resist the urge to become obsessive about washing your hands. If you wash them too frequently you can actually extract many of the protective oils in your skin, which can cause your skin to crack and bleed.

It is rare for a germ on your skin to cause a problem — it is typically only an issue when you transfer that to your nose, mouth or an open wound like cracked skin. So obsessive-compulsive washing can actually increase your risk of getting sick by providing an entryway for potentially dangerous pathogens.

So mild to moderate washing is wise, but excessive washing, especially with harsh soaps, will actually be highly counterproductive.

Avoid the Antibiotics!

More than 300 different viruses can cause colds, so each time you have a cold it is caused by a distinct virus (i.e. adenovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus, coronavirus). A virus is much smaller than a bacteria; it is a tiny cluster of genetic material surrounded by a protein wrapper.

There are currently NO drugs available that can kill these viruses. Antibiotics, including penicillin, do not have any effect on viruses, but unfortunately have been vastly over-prescribed for this very (useless) purpose. That, coupled with the excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture, has contributed to a steep rise in antibiotic-resistant diseases.

Antibiotic-resistant infections now claim more lives each year than the “modern plague” of AIDS, and cost the American health care system some $20 billion a year!

Further, according to one meta-analysis, the health risk from over-use of antibiotics is also a very personal one, as opposed to simply raising the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in the general population over time.

Whenever you use an antibiotic, you’re increasing your susceptibility to developing infections with resistance to that antibiotic — and you can become the carrier of this resistant bug, and spread it to others.

So please, if you have a simple cold remember that an antibiotic will do far more harm than good.

When Should You Call Your Physician?

Sinus, ear and lung infections (bronchitis and pneumonia) are examples of bacterial infections that do respond to antibiotics. If you develop any of the following symptoms, these are signs you may be suffering from a bacterial infection rather than a cold virus, and you should call your physician’s office:

  • Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius)
  • Ear pain
  • Pain around your eyes, especially with a green nasal discharge
  • Shortness of breath or a persistent uncontrollable cough
  • Persistently coughing up green and yellow sputum

Generally speaking, however, if you have a cold medical care is not necessary. Rest and attention to the lifestyle factors noted above will help you to recover quickly and, if you stick to them, will significantly reduce your chances of catching another one anytime soon.

Holiday Plans for this Thanksgiving

by Brett Blumethal

If you are hoping to avoid this scenario, be proactive! Here’s a plan to help you enjoy, while not overdoing it:

1. 6:1 Weekly Calendar. Create a holiday event calendar where non-event days are color-coded light blue and event days are color-coded bright red and weeks with multiple events bright yellow. Events include extended family dinners, work and social parties, and happy hours. When possible, aim to have no more than one “event” a week…or a 6:1 ratio of healthy days to indulgent days.

2. Plan for the 5:2 or more Weeks: Weeks that are at higher ratios than the 6:1, can cause us to “blend” one celebration into another, and before you know it, we eat as though every day is a holiday…with or without an event to attend. When you have these weeks do the following:

– Exercise: Exercise an extra 20 minutes each day you exercise and add in an extra day of activity. Also, walk as much as possible to get where you are going. This will help burn off extra calories consumed.

– Non-Event Day Nutrition: On non-event days, drink protein shakes for breakfast and lunch (try the apple banana and the berry shake recipes). They are high in fiber and other nutrients, but will help you keep your digestive tract in working order to keep waste moving through your system. Have a sensible dinner of salad and some lean protein. And, when eating snacks between meals, stick with vegetables and fruit.

– Event Day Nutrition: Do the same as on non-event days, but skip snacks. Right before your event, however, drink two glasses of water (16 oz) and eat a snack that is well-balanced with healthy fat, fiber and protein (E.g., an apple and a quarter cup of nuts). This will help you avoid extreme hunger at the event.

3. At Events. Indulge with purpose and in the things that are worth it. Decide want you want to indulge in before the party – alcohol…dessert…chips – so that you can keep yourself in check from over-indulging. Meanwhile, fill-up on things you know to be healthy, leaving little room for unhealthier foods. Here is a good order in which to eat:

– Fibrous Vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, cucumber, peppers, celery, onions, etc.)

– Lean Protein (turkey, fish, chicken, ham, lean red meat)

– Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, yams, corn, peas)

– Fruit

– Snacks, Sweets and Alcohol

As you experience the holiday season, enjoy! Don’t obsess about weight gain, just be smart about your habits and choices!

Chantelle’s comments: I appreciate Mr. Blumethal’s reminder of mindfulness during the holidays. Enjoy the choices you make, remembering to celebrate feeling great, not just celebrating food! Treasure your health!

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