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We Are Not Alone:

  • Written by Dr. Tom Klos

This is true when we consider the astronomical number of microbes that live in our gastro-intestinal system. Some estimates put the gut microbiota count at around 60-100 trillion.

That’s right, trillion, as in 12 zeros. There may be 10 times more bacterial cells in our bodies as human cells, therefore it could be said, YOU are only 10% human.

Fortunately, these bugs are our friends. We, in essence, feed them and in return they help feed us. They do this by assisting our intestines in breaking down the food we consume.

These friendly flora also keep the cells that line our intestines (enterocytes) happy. This is key because the intestinal lining is the very site where absorption occurs; meaning this is where we really take in the nutrients of the food we eat. These good bugs out compete pathologic organisms, keeping us healthy and preventing gas and bloating by inhibiting the more gas producing bacteria.

There is also emerging research that these microbiota are involved in helping a person maintain a healthy weight and can even affect our moods.

Where did these microbes come from and how do they get in us? Some entered our body in the birth canal and some from breastfeeding, but the real story lies in the food we eat. Most of us have noticed labels on foods, such as yogurt, list bacteria like acidophilus or lactobacillus as part of the beneficial flora living in the food.

This is true but we also ingest billions of good microorganisms when we eat food from the gardens where living plants grow in the soil.

No garden you ask? The food you eat doesn’t appear to have come from the soil where all of these beneficial bugs live? This is a real concern! Much of the food we eat is heated, canned, pasteurized, irradiated or otherwise dead.

Does this mean you are alone? No not really, but it could mean you are having subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) health effects from an imbalance of the micro-flora, something naturopaths frequently refer to as "dysbiosis."

Now here is where it gets interesting and a cautionary tale arises. You see, a long line of biological history has been considerably altered. With the modern food focus largely being long shelf life and the ability to last or stay fresh-looking while traveling long distances, it generally means much of our food lacks the beneficial microbes that contribute to our health.

This is a radical departure from what we humans have always done, namely eat real food. Food substitutes may provide calories, but they are a poor and incomplete replacement source.

Short of planting our own garden what can we do to ensure a health promoting balance of micro-flora? Buying and eating produce is clearly a great habit for two reasons:

By eating plants, we supply food for our gut bacteria to eat & thrive and the plants themselves are teeming with microorganisms like lactobacillus to maintain our gut ecosystem. Kefer, kombucha, yogurt and other fermented foods also can be a delicious way to supplement a protective arsenal of friendly and healthy bacteria as well as quality farm fresh food. It’s also a great way to support our local businesses and farmers.

For a more detailed plan, you may schedule with a Health Moves doctor and receive quality guidance.

Dr. Tom Klos is a Naturopathic Doctor. He may be reached at: Health Moves, 17311 135th Ave NE Ste. C-800, Woodinville, WA 98072. Phone: 425.402.9999 or www.HealthMoves.org Most insurances accepted.

 

Five surprising solutions to help you stop snoring

  • Written by BPT

Snoring not only keeps you and your bed partner up at night – it can be dangerous to your health.

Typically, as you sleep, air passes through the nose and past the back of the throat without any trouble. But as muscles relax during sleep, the upper airway can become partially blocked, causing the soft tissue in the throat to vibrate and creating the cumbersome noise that is snoring.

Loud and frequent snoring is a common warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep illness. Over time, sleep apnea can increase the risk of high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, depression, diabetes, heart disease and more.

"Your mind, body and overall health suffer from poor quality sleep, so it’s important to determine the cause of your snoring and take action," says Dr. B. Gail Demko, a dentist who has practiced dental sleep medicine for more than 20 years and is president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine - the only non-profit national professional society dedicated exclusively to the practice of dental sleep medicine.

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine recommends these surprising remedies to help you stop snoring and sleep more soundly:

1. Change position – When you lie on your back, you’re more prone to snore. By sleeping on your side or raising the head of your bed 4 to 8 inches, you can help keep your airway open and prevent snoring. A trick to keep from rolling onto your back is to surround yourself with pillows or wear a rolled up hand towel in a fanny pack.

2. Avoid alcohol – When it comes to snoring, a nightcap is a misnomer. Alcohol increases muscle relaxation, and relaxed throat muscles can make snoring worse. Come home from happy hour at least three to four hours before bedtime to minimize your tendency to snore.

3. Work it out – Throat exercises can reduce snoring and the severity of sleep apnea by toning muscles around the airway, which helps prevent it from collapsing during sleep. There are several exercises you can do that involve swallowing, chewing and contracting the back of the throat. Strengthen your muscles by setting aside time each day for a throat workout.

4. Kick a bad habit –Cigarette smoking irritates and inflames your upper airway, increasing the likelihood that you’ll snore and raising your risk of developing sleep apnea. Learn about the available options, such as support groups and nicotine replacement therapy, to help you quit smoking and put sleep problems to bed.

5. Visit a dentist – Did you know there are thousands of dentists trained to help treat and manage your snoring and sleep apnea? Dentists experienced in dental sleep medicine can provide an effective, custom-fitted oral appliance that you wear during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway.

Oral appliance therapy is a comfortable alternative to the traditionally-prescribed CPAP machine and mask, and many patients prefer it as a solution for living with sleep apnea. If you’re losing shuteye to snoring or sleep apnea, visit www.LocalSleepDentist.com to find a dentist near you who offers oral appliance therapy.

"AADSM recommends oral appliance therapy for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea or those who can’t comply with CPAP," says Demko. "Once you’ve been diagnosed with primary snoring or sleep apnea by a board-certified sleep physician, a trip to a dentist for a custom-fitted oral appliance can be your key to better sleep and better health."

Small changes can help you live a healthier lifestyle

  • Written by BPT

A new year often brings with it the desire to make improvements in your life, and kick old habits to the curb in the pursuit of healthiness. But for most Americans, resolutions fail within the first few months because goals are too ambitious, intimidating or unrealistic in nature. If you’ve resolved to be healthier this year, the good news is that successful, positive change – whether it be spending more time with friends and family, being more physically active, or choosing healthier foods – is more achievable than you think. It’s important to think positively, stay focused and take baby steps versus one giant leap towards a lofty goal.

Many goal-setters achieve their desired health goal by starting with small changes. In fact, more than half the respondents to the Aetna "what’s your healthy?" survey like to do small things such as taking the stairs instead of using the elevator each day to be more physically active.

The approach to healthiness is a personal one and is not a "one size fits all" solution. To help inspire you to achieve your health goals this year, Alison Sweeney, an actress, author, television host and mother of two, offers her tips on simple changes you can make to your day-to-day life to ensure happiness and healthiness year-long:

• 100-calorie snacks. Thirty-three percent of respondents to the Aetna "what’s your healthy?" survey say they could, in an instant, drop eating large portions in order to become healthier. While it can be difficult to just start eating less than you are used to, you can set yourself up for success with 100-calorie snacks. A handful of almonds, homemade ranch dip with vegetables, or six cups of fresh-popped popcorn are all great low-calorie options to take on the go.

• Run your first race. Determined to run your first race in 2014? Here’s a secret to getting started: run walks. Alternating between running and walking quickly builds up your endurance and confidence – a great way to train and get fit. Start with 20 minutes a day, three times a week. During the cold winter months when you can’t get outside, try walking or running wherever you can – whether it is on a treadmill, taking the stairs more, or even parking further away when you are shopping. Increasing your physical activity in any way possible will definitely help toward your fitness goal.

• Strike a child’s pose. Many people take yoga classes to help them decompress and get in some exercise. You can also try it at home with the kids. This allows everyone to release extra energy, handle frustration or just relax, which is especially good right before bed. Deep breathing is the key. Try a child’s pose, which is a resting pose in the fetal position. The family gets to cool down together, making bedtime calmer for everyone.

• Eating clean. Many people probably included "eat clean" on their list of New Year’s resolutions. Ready to make the change, but not sure where to start? When you’re at the market, avoid the middle aisles where you’ll find most of the processed, packaged foods with artificial ingredients. Instead, shop the perimeter of the store for fresh foods like seasonal produce and lean meats.

• Get your exergame on. It’s often hard to squeeze in both "me time" and "family time" when you have a busy day, and especially when you want to stay fit to boot – 18 percent of respondents to Aetna’s "what’s your healthy?" survey cite family demands as a reason for not having time to be physically active. "Exergaming" (short for exercise gaming) is a great way to work out alone or with your kids. Grab the kids’ game console and get moving. You can dance, play tennis, and even golf – and get your entire body into it.

Setting health goals does not have to be intimidating. Set yourself up for realistic success with small, fun changes to your lifestyle that will lead to big results. For healthy inspiration and resources to help you achieve your health goals, visit www.WhatsYourHealthy.com.

Why older adults must understand their flu vaccine options and get vaccinated

  • Written by BPT

With the 2013-2014 flu season officially here, it’s important to consider the single best way to prevent influenza (commonly known as "the flu") – the flu vaccine. What many older adults don’t know is that the immune system weakens with age, meaning older adults are at a higher risk for flu and related complications.

More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year from flu-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults aged 65 and older typically account for more than half (60 percent) of these hospitalizations and almost all (90 percent) flu-related deaths, the CDC reports.

To help spread the word about this serious public health issue, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has launched the second year of Flu + You, an educational program that encourages older adults and their caregivers to learn about the seriousness of the flu, the importance of annual vaccination, and vaccine options for adults 65 and older. Actor Lee Majors, best known for his iconic television role as The Six Million Dollar Man, is joining the campaign this year as a national spokesperson.

"According to the CDC, the leading reason older adults do not get the flu vaccine is because they are unaware they need it," says Majors. "I get the flu shot every year and encourage my peers to do the same. It’s a simple step you can take to help protect yourself from the flu."

The flu can make existing health conditions worse, and it is especially dangerous for people with lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer, conditions that commonly affect older adults. Nationwide, 86 percent of adults 65 years of age and older have at least one chronic health condition and approximately 66 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions, according to the CDC. These conditions put them at increased risk of the flu and flu-related complications, which include hospitalization and even death.

"The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the single best way to protect yourself from the flu, yet a third of people 65 and older still don’t get vaccinated," says Dr. Richard Birkel, NCOA senior vice president for Healthy Aging and director of NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance. "As NCOA continues to educate older adults about the flu and the potential severity of the illness, we hope to encourage more people to help protect themselves and their loved ones by getting an annual flu shot."

There are now many types of flu vaccines, with several specifically indicated for certain age groups or immunization needs, including a higher dose flu vaccine, for adults 65 and older, that is designed specifically to address the age-related decline of the immune system. By improving the production of antibodies in older patients, the higher dose vaccine can provide a stronger immune response to the flu than traditional vaccines. Whichever vaccine option is selected, an annual flu shot is a Medicare Part B benefit. This means that the vaccine is covered with no copay for Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older.

Older adults and their caregivers can learn more about vaccine options and the importance of getting an annual flu vaccine on the Flu + You website, www.ncoa.org/Flu, which features free educational materials, a public service announcement with Majors and more facts about the flu.

Flu + You is a national public education initiative from the National Council on Aging with support from Sanofi Pasteur.

Move over carrots: other key nutrients for healthy vision

  • Written by BPT

Move over carrots and beta-carotene, there are other foods and nutrients that appeal to eye health. Dr. Michael Roizen, author and co-founder of RealAge.com, provides a brief tutorial on the best nutrients for eye health.

Vitamin E, found in oils, wheat germ and peanuts, is an antioxidant that supports eye health. It may be difficult to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin E through diet alone – 15 mg/day for anyone older than 14. For example, to get 15 mg of vitamin E, you would need to eat one cup of peanuts that comes with about 827 calories.

You can also get this vitamin in foods such as spinach, salmon and walnuts. But, if you’re not eating foods rich in these nutrients on a daily basis, consider adding supplements specifically formulated for eye health. Some of these supplements include Ocuvite, i-Caps and Centrum Specialist Vision. Check with your physician before starting any supplement program.

Roizen’s quick tips on how you can help support the health of your eyes include:

1. Avoid smoke, including second-hand smoke;

2. Wear UV protective sunglasses;

3. Take in 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin every day;

4. Get 900 mg of DHA omega-3 a day.