Knowledge is half the battle won, which is why Durbell is committed to offering you the best in health and wellness news. By reading what you need to know here, we aim to help you overcome the changes and challenges that occur every day. New health trends and facts hit the airwaves all the time, because life continues to evolve in interesting ways. We hope to help you tackle these changes and challenges to the best of your ability, by giving you the real truth, hard facts, good advice and whatever assistance you may need.

ULCERS – UNDERSTANDING THE BURN

Why do we get stomach ulcers and what causes these painful sores in the lining of our stomachs?

For those not familiar with the condition, stomach ulcers are caused when the lining of the stomach fails, which allows the stomach acid to eat away at the stomach wall. This results in the formation of a stomach ulcer. It is important to note that once you have been diagnosed with an ulcer, it can easily be treated although it needs to be attended to timeously.

The reasons for most ulcers:

H.pylori: The first possible way that the stomach lining can be compromised is through the action of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). These bacteria are generally responsible for most stomach ulcers. This organism weakens the protective coating of the stomach which allows damaging digestive juices to eat away at the sensitive lining below.

NSAIDS: The second main reason for the reduction of stomach lining is the prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used for pain relief. These drugs block substances in the stomach that help maintain blood flow and protect the area from injury, which has the effect of allowing the stomach lining in places to be compromised over time. They are present in many non-prescription drugs used to treat fever, headaches and minor aches and pains. If you need to be on long term pain medication, we recommend that you consult your doctor in order to maintain gut health.

In addition to these two main causes, there are a number of other risk factors that should be taken into account:

Genetics: Genetics play a role. Superfluous acid in the stomach can cause stomach ulcers and this could be as a direct result of your genetic make-up.

Stress: Another factor that causes ulcers is stress. Even though stress is no longer blamed for being the direct cause of ulcers, those with ulcers have reported that emotional stress increases ulcer pain.

Physical Stress: Physical stress is often the cause of ulcers developing in the stomach. Patients and individuals with injuries – either those that have undergone major surgery or patients that have serious burns – usually require medical treatment to prevent the occurrence of ulcers or complications that are instigated by ulcers, which usually include bleeding.

Smoking: Smoking is bad for you – period. Statists show that smoking not only slows down the healing process of ulcers that already exist, but they can be the cause of new ulcers developing and are a contributing factor to ulcers recurring!

Lifestyle: A poor lifestyle will always have a detrimental effect on your health – this includes excessive use of alcohol. Even though there is no link that can prove that the excessive use of alcohol is a contributing factor in individuals suffering from peptic ulcers – it is a known statistic that patients with cirrhosis of the liver often suffer from ulcers and peptic ulcers. The use of steroids, often used for conditions such as asthma, may also have an effect if used excessively.

Age: If you are over the age of fifty and have a family history of ulcers, chances are good that you will be vulnerable to getting stomach ulcers.

How will you know if you have an ulcer?

  • The first indication that you might have an ulcer is the pain which occurs between the area of the navel and the breastbone. However, symptoms will differ from one person to the next.
  • Other indications include nausea, vomiting, belching, loss of weight, poor appetite as well as a general feeling of lethargy.
  • If your stool is black in colour it could be an indication of a bleeding ulcer and you should consult your doctor.

THE TREATMENT OF STOMACH ULCERS

The main approach to treating a stomach ulcer is firstly to get rid of the possible underlying cause. Medication is almost always needed to alleviate the symptoms and must be used to eradicate the H.pylori bacteria. There are a number of tests that can be conducted by your doctor to test for the presence of H.pylori, including a blood test, stool test and breath test.

If it is indeed established that the ulcer is as a result of H.pylori, a treatment programme will be started. Antacids may be used in order to sooth the pain, but will not treat the cause of the ulcer. It is important to note that antacids may block the absorption of medication and therefore it is recommended that they should be taken at least 1 hour before and 3 hours after any other medication.

The introduction of an H2 blocker or a Proton-pump inhibitor which acts by reducing gastric acid production allows for pain relief as well as healing.

In general, an ulcer sufferer will need to take a combination of an antacid and either a H2 blocker of Proton-pump inhibitor.

In order to deal with the cause of the ulcer namely the H.pylori there are a number of different options. The first is to visit your local doctor who will then prescribe a combination of antibiotics to take care of the bacteria.

In recent times however there has been a move away for antibiotics to a more natural alternative namely mastic gum, which works by killing the H.pylori. Another product that has been used in conjunction with mastic gum is DGL-liquorice which has been shown to have a soothing affect and protects the stomach from the harmful effects of NSAIDs.

STRESS

There are ways and means of managing stress levels if you find that you are feeling pressurised and overwhelmed. Stress triggers an increased amount of cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’ – which can raise blood-sugar levels in your body as well as elevate your blood pressure.

The overproduction of cortisol can lead to a constant state of chemical arousal which could eventually lead to a heart attack. If you have bills to pay, challenging relationships and abnormal pressure at work, these can all add up have serious effects on your health.

It is therefore important to manage your stress levels. Try making your environment less stressful, eat well, get sufficient exercise and implement calming techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation. It could also help to consult your doctor.

This is what stress does to your body:

  • Heart attacks – individuals who reported being anxious and overwhelmed were 27% more likely to have a heart attack, according to studies carried out at Columbia University’s Medical Centre.
  • Strokes – stressful habits and being a type A personality could lead to a higher risk of a stroke.
  • Brain shrinkage – elevated stress levels can reduce some of the grey matter in your brain. This is the area that is directly tied to emotional and physical function.
  • Skin – the skin is also affected when you are stressed. Increased cortisol levels caused by stress could lead to more oil production which can exacerbate skin issues. Furthermore, stress also causes blood vessels to dilate which can cause unpleasant redness.
  • Gut – It is a known fact that stress suppresses inflammasomes. This is a multiprotein that plays an important role in taking care of your immune and digestive system, and can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Depressed libido – stress has a negative impact on one’s hormones which in turn can have an adverse effect on the production of oestrogen as well as testosterone – perhaps the most common cause for a diminished sex drive!

Stress and Illness:
The stress hormone cortisol could ‘switch off’ the inflammatory response of the body. This will result in the inflammation lingering long after an infection has been given the all-clear.

Chronic Disease:
Individuals who are always stressed in their everyday lives are more susceptible to being diagnosed with chronic health disorders and problems ranging from heart disease to arthritis.

Here are some common ailments that you are likely to experience when stressed:

Tension headaches:
Tension headaches can be quite debilitating. It feels as though a band of moderate pressure is put on either the back of the forehead or the back of the head or neck.

Muscle tension:
Increased tension leads to your body always being in ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode. If no action is taken, the muscle tension will in most instances disappear.

Weight gain and tension:
High levels of cortisol are often directly linked to weight gain, lower bone density, high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as diminished immune function.

Exercise:
If you are prone to feeling stressed, exercise is a great way to increase your energy levels and fight off feelings of fatigue.

  • Running, cycling and walking fast are all exercises to try if you are feeling stressed.
  • These increase the heart rate and flow of oxygen levels to the muscles.
  • When these exercise are done consistently over a period of time, the heart’s efficiency will automatically improve and as a result your resting heart rate will decrease – therefore a lower heart rate will lower feelings of anxiety and stress.

Resistance training is brilliant for reducing stress levels:

  • Weight training as well as Pilates are great stress-relievers.
  • Resistance training increases muscle strength and improves cardiovascular performance, minimising the chance of injuries.
  • Weight training and Pilates help the body to perform everyday activities and teaches you to move correctly. The result is that once daily activities are executed more efficiently, fatigue will be diminished.
  • Exercise such as Pilates teaches individuals to breathe correctly. By increasing the capacity of the lungs, improved breathing will automatically alleviate stress.

Flexibility training for relaxation:

  • Yoga and stretching exercises all alleviate stress levels.
  • Yoga and stretching improves muscle mobility, thus helping the muscles to relax.
  • The more your body is relaxed, the more the mind will become relaxed too. Yoga also teaches you to breathe more effectively.

When you find that you are in a stressful situation – try these tips:

Breathing it away is perhaps the best way to alleviate stress:

  • Sit upright to increase lung capacity – choose a chair with good back support.
  • Breathe steadily in through your nose an out through your mouth. The breath out should be twice as long as the breath in – do this at least ten times.
  • Use your diaphragm to breath: a good way to find exactly where your diaphragm is situated is by placing a hand on your diaphragm and you will feel it as you breathe.
  • Relax your muscles – including your shoulders and upper chest.
  • Relax your mind as you perform this exercise – shut your eyes and think pleasant, happy thoughts.

The pursuit of happiness and self-gratification is more important than ever – it is about time that we relearn the art of putting on the brakes so that we become more available to spend quality time with our friends and family, resulting in a more stress-free lifestyle.

YOU & ARTHRITIS

Arthritis, for those of you who are not familiar with either the condition or the term, refers to inflammation of the joints. It is a term used for no fewer than two hundred diseases and conditions that affect the joints as well as the surrounding tissue of the joint and other connective tissues found in body.

Some of the more common conditions include:

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It is a joint disease caused by the inflammation of healthy cartilage. In OA, cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an auto immune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thin membrane that lines the joints. It causes chronic inflammation that leads to pain, swelling and stiffness.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. While little is known as to its causes, there is evidence that people with the condition may be more sensitive to pain as there seems to be something wrong with the body’s usual pain perception processes.

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is a buildup of too much uric acid in the body. This acid causes crystals to form in the joints, which results in the joints becoming inflamed and painful.

Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Joint pain, which is often deep, aching pain that worsens with movements and improves when rested.
  • Stiffness in the morning or after sitting or lying down for more than 15 minutes.
  • Joint swelling.
  • Joints are warm to the touch.
  • Limited range of movement.
  • Growth of bony knobs near the joints.

What are the main causes of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is associated with aging, metabolic conditions, genetics, chemicals and mechanical factors in the body. It has a number of risk factors that should be taken into account:

  • Being older than 54
  • If Osteoarthritis runs in the family
  • Being overweight
  • If you have suffered an injury to a joint
  • History of inflammatory joint disease
  • Repetitive stress joint use
  • The deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Lyme disease – a bacteria carried by certain ticks.

Some individuals are naturally more prone to arthritis as a direct result of their genetic makeup. If this is the case they will be more vulnerable when faced with other external factors including injury, infection, smoking as well as physically demanding occupations or sport. Diet may also play a part in arthritis as some foods have inflammatory effects which may intensify the condition. However, diet alone is very unlikely to be the cause of arthritis.

Treatments used for Osteoarthritis:

While researchers are working on ways to re-grow cartilage, the current goal of healthcare professionals is to treat Osteoarthritis by relieving symptoms and improving mobility and flexibility of the joint, maintaining a healthy weight and getting adequate exercise. It has been found that a combination of conventional treatments, complementary alternative medicines and lifestyle changes are the most affective.

  • Pain, Anti-inflammatory and Cortisone medications. These are used to relieve pain symptoms.
  • Complementary, Alternative Supplements & Herbs.
  • Glucosamine/Chondroitin is used to reduce pain and inflammation, improves joint function and slows the progression of Osteoarthritis (OA).
  • Omega – 3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation in the joints. Please note that high doses of Omega-3 increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking blood thinners.
  • SAM-e-acts as an analgesic (pain reliever) and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may stimulate cartilage growth and also affects neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which reduce pain perception. Two studies have shown that it relieves OA symptoms as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with fewer side effects and a prolonged benefit.
  • Devil’s Claw is used to relieve pain and inflammation and may help lower uric acid levels in people with gout. It has been known to affect blood pressure and heart rate, so people with heart conditions should seek advice from their medical practitioner.
  • Curcumin can be used for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation in the body.

As with all medications and supplements, you should consult your medical practitioner, pharmacist or nutritionist to establish what may be best suited for your condition.

Lifestyle changes may also improve the symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

Maintaining a healthy weight will make a difference as carrying extra kilos impact negatively on joints, especially the knee and hip joints. Losing weight is the most positive thing that patients can do to reduce arthritic pain. As the kilos fall off, patients will automatically have far less stress on the joints and this will lower the general workload on the joints.

Another change is stepping up your fibre intake on a daily basis. Add fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains to your diet, reduce the intake of carbs and incorrect fats and you will soon see a positive change.

Start exercising. Although it may be hard to exercise when you are in pain, regular exercise helps improve the symptoms of Osteoarthritis. The reason for this is that it allows for the strengthening of muscles which in turn allow for better support of your joints. Stretching also assists in overall movement. Regular low impact and supervised exercise is a necessary part of your arthritis management.

Other treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic and physiotherapy have all been shown to help in the pain management of Osteoarthritis.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CANDIDA

Candida has become a buzz word, but what is it all about?

Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida Albicans. Candida yeast normally lives on the skin and mucous membranes without causing infection. However, overgrowth of these organisms can cause symptoms to develop, depending on the area of the body that is infected.

When the immune system becomes compromised through – for instance – the use of antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, unbalanced diet, over exercising or lack of sleep, it can lead to an uncontrolled overgrowth of Candida which can migrate to other parts of the body. In the digestive tract, when left unchecked, it can break down the walls of the intestinal lining and penetrate the bloodstream. This releases by-product toxins and other toxins from your system, causing a leaky gut.

Candida feeds on sugars – the more sugar available to the cells, the easier and faster they grow and expand their colonies. In diets containing too many sugars and refined carbohydrates, Candida will start to grow out of control, creating a problem in the system.

Probable symptoms of Candida include exhaustion, cravings for sweet foods, halitosis, a white coating on the tongue, foggy brain, hormone imbalance, joint pain, low libido, allergies, digestive issues such as excessive gas and bloating, weakened immune system, urinary tract infections and new sensitivities, allergies and intolerance to a number of food groups such as gluten, eggs, corn and dairy products.

CANDIDA CULPRITS:

  • ANTIBIOTICS: Problems arise when antibiotics kill off both the good and bad bacteria in one’s body. The good bacteria in your system are important for digestion and to keep things like Candida under control, so once they are reduced or killed off with antibiotics, this allows for overgrowth.
  • CANCER TREATMENT: Candidiasis (thrush) can become invasive in cancer patients, which often is very visible by the white appearance of the tongue and mucus membranes inside the mouth. Chemo and radiation both work to kill cancerous cells and tumours, but they also kill off healthy gut bacteria which naturally keep Candida in check.
  • ORAL CORTICOSTEROIDS: Asthma sufferers using corticosteroid inhalants are at risk of developing Candidiasis (thrush) of the mouth, which in turn could lead to systemic Candida overgrowth. That is why it is so important to rinse the mouth after each use. For those that succumb to Candidiasis, gargling and rinsing the mouth with coconut oil and a couple of drops of clove oil should help the problem.
  • DIABETES: Sugar levels are higher in those suffering from Type 1 and 2 Diabetes. Because Candida feeds on sugar, it is quite common for diabetics to be at a greater risk of developing Candidiasis.
  • COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM: Those individuals that have weakened immune systems are obviously more prone than others to developing Candidiasis. This group will include infants, small children, the elderly, as well as those suffering from HIV/Aids and other autoimmune conditions.

CANDIDA CRUSHERS:

The secret is restoring your balance and healing your gut, by eliminating inflammatory foods that can harm your intestinal tract and introducing foods that will assist to prevent Candida overgrowth. It is advisable to follow a diet that is low in refined carbohydrates and excludes sugars as far as possible, whilst including plenty of fresh organic greens.

Good, healthy bacteria and a proper functioning immune system are essential for fighting off Candida Albicans. Full-spectrum probiotics will restore the balance of the good bacteria in the gut. These are especially important and should be taken when taking antibiotics to prevent yeast infections.

The essential oil of oregano may be used in two ways for treating Candidiasis, either by applying it topically to the affected skin area or by taking it orally. The potent substances contained in this essential oil can be irritating to the skin if applied directly, especially to the genitals and other sensitive areas. Mix two to three drops of oregano oil with one tablespoon of olive oil before applying it to the skin. If your skin still reacts uncomfortably with this mixture, add some more olive oil to the mix. Oregano capsules or tincture can also be taken twice daily to facilitate healing and should be continued until the Candida infection is gone.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONSTIPATION

CONSTIPATION IS ONE OF THE MOST COMMON DIGESTIVE COMPLAINTS IN MODERN TIMES – IT AFFECTS UP TO 15% OF THE POPULATION AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

BUT WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN WE PREVENT IT?

Bowel movements are based on numerous influences, ranging from diet to the fiber content in our foods, how much water we consume and the metabolism of different individuals. This means that you may not have a bowel movement every day. As long as you are not going for days on end without a bowel movement, you should feel quite happy to march to the tune of your own body.

Frenetic lifestyles lead to too little time for small pleasures as well as bodily needs, and we tend to get anxious about passing a motion. The more anxious we get, the worse the problem becomes. Being rushed and stressed will play havoc on your digestive system, causing tension in the whole arrangement – especially on the bowels – and with that tension comes discontent, discomfort, bloating and flatulence.

Our intestines contain billions of healthy bacteria and when an imbalance occurs, known as dysbiosis, one of the results can be constipation. Probiotics can play a key role in relieving the problem.

Some Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species enhance bowel regularity and mucous secretion by converting bound bile salts into free bile salts, which cause more water to be pulled into the colon, softening the stool and aiding elimination. The following strains have shown their health benefits for constipation in clinical trials: Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus plantarum.

Probiotics for constipation in babies, infants and children which are also useful in adults are: Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus casei shirota. Lifestyle changes, starting with diet, should be the first step in the right direction to alleviating constipation:

Here are some tips!

  • Drink adequate water to remain well hydrated.
  • Increase your daily fiber intake. Bulking agents such as wheat bran, flax seed and muesli can be included in your daily intake. Increasing your daily intake of fiber rich raw salad as well as fruit and vegetables will also ensure that stools are a lot softer and much easier to pass.
  • Take a daily probiotic.
  • Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods.
  • Up your exercise regime – walking, swimming and running.
  • Avoid stressful situations and choose a private time of the day to go. Try to stick to a routine.
  • If you think constipation is being caused by certain chronic medication and/or supplements, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Chronic constipation is a result of slow stool time or functional defection disorder (dyssenergic defectation) or a combination of both. With slow-transit constipation there is a delay in the transit of stools through the colon, whereas dyssenergic or outlet obstruction (also referred to as pelvic floor dyssenergy) is the inability or difficulty in expelling stools. In pelvic floor dysfunction the muscles in the lower pelvis do not work properly. A third kind of constipation may rear its ugly head in the form of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), where constipation will alternate with diarrhea.

Short-term effects of constipation include bloating and abdominal pain.

Long-term chronic constipation may result in internal or external hemorrhoids:

  • Anal fissures (cracks in the skin around the anus as a result of hard stools stretching the anal sphincter too far).
  • Rectal prolapsed (the rectum becomes over stretched due to the accumulation of large amounts of stool and it then loses its ability to contract to its former size when the stool is eliminated).
  • Diverticulitis (the pressure of accumulated stool causing pouches to form in weak spots along the colon).

If you suffer from chronic constipation, ask your pharmacist or medical practitioner to recommend a suitable solution for you, which may include a laxative. Keep in mind that laxatives taken long term may have an effect on other chronic medications being taken.

BULK-FORMING LAXATIVS:

  • These laxatives swell in the intestines and soften the stool which makes it easier to pass – they generally work within a 12-hour time frame.
  • Bulk-forming laxatives are made from fiber and are perfectly safe to use long-term and often include psyllium, methylcellulose and polycarbophil.

OSMOTIC LAXATIVES

  • These increase the water content within the intestines which makes the stool soft and easy to pass.
  • They are fast-acting and can cause loss of fluids and electrolytes.
  • They should not be taken long-term.

BUSTIMULANT LAXATIVES

  • These laxatives cause the muscles of the intestine to contract moving the stool along for short-term use as they can cause dehydration and imbalance of the electrolytes in the body.
  • These laxatives include castor oil, Senna, Senokot, Dulcolax, Correctol and Ex-Lax.

LUBRICANT LAXATIVES

  • These laxatives work by coating the stool and assisting movements.
  • Perhaps the most common ingredient of Lubricant Laxatives are mineral oils.

STOOL SOFTENERS

  • Stool softeners are laxatives that are commonly prescribed by medical practitioners after surgery.
  • They are often used in conjunction with stimulant laxatives.

Suppositories and enemas are also used when an immediate response is necessary. Enemas should not be used for children unless specifically prescribed by a medical practitioner.

 

THE FIGHT AGAINST FLEAS!

Flea-borne infections are emerging or re-emerging throughout the world, and their incidence is on the rise. Furthermore, their distribution and that of their vectors is shifting and expanding.

Fleas reproduce really fast, particularly if you have one or more pets in your home. However, even people who don’t have any pets are at risk of flea infestations, as fleas can still make their appearance in your garden. Fleas breed in tall grass, shaded areas near decks, in woodpiles, and in storage spaces. They are fond of living in wooden floorboards, in bedding and in carpets and individuals that keep pigeons should remember that birds are carriers of fleas too.

Fleabites appear as tiny little red bumps with a red ring around the centre of the bite. These bites usually appear in clumps of three or four, or in straight lines, often making their appearance around the ankles and legs. If you get a flea inside your clothing, you will often have bites on your lower back and waist, the armpits, breasts, groin area and in the folds of knees and elbows. Fleabites are itchy and the skin can become rather painful around the area of the bite. Should the skin become damaged and broken from scratching, secondary bacterial infections can set in. Keep bites clean with antiseptic to avoid infection, but if you get it, visit your pharmacist right away.

Flea eggs can be found anywhere: in the ground, on rugs, carpets, bedding, and upholstery, with most hatching within two days of being laid. Larvae that hatch make up about 35% of the flea population. The larva will spin cocoons in five to twenty days after hatching from the eggs. The cocoons are the pupal stage of the flea’s life cycle before the adult fleas emerge. When the environmental conditions are perfect for emergence the cocoon will protect the developing adult fleas for months, until a potential host becomes available which is detected through vibrations, elevated levels of carbon dioxide, and body heat of the host. They are then released in order that they may feed on a host. Within 24 to 48 hours after taking their first meal, they mate, and female fleas start laying their eggs within a couple of days.

Fleas feed on animals with hair including rats, mice, dogs, cats, rabbits, as well as other domestic or wild animals. They are capable of jumping long distances. Fleas are also capable of carrying diseases when consuming blood from a host that is infected. The transmission of a disease may occur by the regurgitation of a precious blood meal from an infected host, or by passing contaminated faecal pellets on an uninfected host.

Humans are at risk of fleabites when they come in contact with the flea carriers. Humans seldom contract diseases from fleas, but for your pets these can cause harmful diseases.
Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms that can be transmitted by fleas. They may be ingested during grooming. If you accidentally eat any infected fleas or are in contact with infected flea faeces, you may also develop tapeworms.

For example, fleas spread bubonic plague worldwide. Infected fleas typically live on wild rodents. This disease is curable with a quick antibiotic treatment. While it’s no longer common for humans to get the plague, your pet can still become infected if a flea that has fed on the blood of an infected wild animal bites it.

Alcohol, calamine lotion, tea tree oil, and vinegar may be used to help relieve the itching caused by fleabites. Don’t scrub too hard, as you may enlarge the hole of the bite. You should always clean the infected area with an antiseptic in order to reduce the chances of introducing a bacterial infection.

Although fleabites will usually go away without any treatment, once you have a flea infestation you will find it really difficult to get rid of, no matter how many times you vacuum or wash your pets bedding; you might have to fumigate your home or call in pest control experts. Therefore treating your pets during spring and summer is well worth the effort.

THERE IS MUCH MORE TO AVOCADOS THAN GUACAMOLE!

The humble avocado is a rather unique fruit. It is actually a large berry that belongs to the cinnamon family. Fruits are usually high in carbohydrates, but this fruit is high in healthy fats. Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and potassium. They are actually classified as a protein.

Avocados are incredibly nutritious and a wonderful health food, containing all the essential amino acids and health promoting essential-fatty acids. They have excellent levels of magnesium, calcium, as well as B-vitamins and are alkaline forming too.

Many people tend to avoid avocados because of their high caloric and fat content, but this is more than compensated for by all the positive properties of this versatile fruit. In a recent study published in the Nutrition Journal, it was established that not only are avocados high in nutrients, but the consumption of avos has been linked to a lower intake of added sugars, lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference, higher good cholesterol limits, as well as lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

AVO-FACTS

Avocados are one of the best sources of omega-3. Omega 3 is essential for healthy cell membranes. These fatty acids are powerful antioxidants and constitute a crucial part of your skin’s lipid (fat) content, which improves the barrier function, sealing in the moisture and keeping out irritants.

Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. Potassium is a nutrient that most individuals simply don’t get enough of. It helps maintain the electrical gradients in the cells of the body and serves a number of important functions. Having a good potassium intake is closely linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major factor for heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure.

Avocados are overflowing with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. 77% of the calories in avocados come from fats. Fats are vital in our diet. An average avocado contains about 30g of total fats, 23% of which comes from its health promoting omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

The majority of this fat content is oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is the main component of olive oil and it is believed to have many favorable properties, such as a link to reducing inflammation.

Avocados contain plenty of fiber. Fiber is plant material that is largely indigestible and can assist in giving the feeling of being full when eaten. It contributes to weight loss and can reduce blood sugar spikes because it slows down digestion and absorption of nutrients. Fiber also helps with constipation and is linked to lowering the risk of numerous diseases.

Avocados can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation and blood pressure, amongst other factors, are responsible for heart disease which is perhaps the most common cause of deaths globally. Studies have indicated that individuals who consume avocados regularly enjoy:

  • Reduced cholesterol levels quite substantially
  • Reduced blood triglycerides by up to 20%
  • Reduced LDL cholesterol by up to 22%
  • Increase in good cholesterol (HDL) by up to 11%

Avocados contain wonderful antioxidants – great for protecting the eyes. When eaten as part of your normal diet, avocados increase the absorption of antioxidants from other foods. They are high in antioxidants themselves, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are both vital for eye health. These nutrients are linked to a drastic reduction of the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration common in the elderly. Eating avocados should result in long-term benefits for eye health.

Individuals who regularly include avos in their diet tend to be a lot healthier than those who do not. These individuals have a much higher nutrient absorption and are unlikely to suffer from metabolic syndrome – a cluster of symptoms that constitutes a major risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

An avocado a day may keep the doctor at bay – and in South Africa we are fortunate to have avocados almost all year round.

WHAT SECRETS LIE IN THE DEPTHS OF YOUR GUT?

A Leaky Gut occurs when the protective barrier that keeps bacteria and waste in the intestines is breached, allowing these substances, together with partially digested food, to enter into the bloodstream. As a result of this breach, the body’s immune system is flooded with foreign substances, leading to systemic inflammation as well as the development of multiple food allergies.

Over time, the immune system turns on itself in various areas, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, bone, cartilage and nerves, resulting in an all-out autoimmune response. The inflammation results in less effective digestion, causing compromised nutrition and loss of vitamins and minerals. It also leads to a reduction of healthy bacteria in the gut, which may develop into an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast. A Leaky Gut also leads to persistent and chronic pain.

If a Leaky Gut goes undetected or untreated, it will cause havoc and widespread inflammation may occur by initiating any number of immune responses in the body. These may include bowel disease, skin issues (eczema), arthritis, hypothyroidism, depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and mal absorption, amongst others.

A Leaky Gut is caused by chronic irritation and the resultant inflammation of the intestinal lining. Potential stressors that initiate this process can be divided into three main groups: physical, chemical and emotional. An example of a physical stressor is when you eat an allergen every day. It acts as a constant aggravating factor that disrupts your digestive system and prevents it from functioning properly and ultimately results in inflammation (e.g.: gluten intolerance). In the case of chemical irritation, there may have been a repeated need for antibiotics at an early age, which may have upset the healthy bacterial balance in the gut, again leading to conditions that then may lead to inflammation. Then mental or emotional stressors surpass your threshold for stress tolerance and begin to affect your daily life. If these are not properly processed or resolved, your body may initiate an inflammatory chain of events that may result in a Leaky Gut.

HEALING FROM A LEAKY GUT

In order to deal with a Leaky Gut, we need to look at the body as a whole and try to identify the stressors that are exacerbating the inflammation of the gut and increase hyper-permeability of the gut lining.

Physical stressors need to be eliminated by removing any possible food intolerances from the diet. One also needs to make sure that the balance of healthy gut bacteria is boosted by taking a probiotic especially formulated for this type of condition. It needs to be taken over an extended period of time to give the gut a period of renewal in regards to these healthy bacteria.

Chronic emotional stress and trauma need to be addressed, as this is often the primary source of inflammatory conditions. This type of stress has been shown to disrupt the interaction between brain and gut, leading to increased intestinal permeability. Stress affects the body’s ability to repair itself and also suppresses the immune system in its response to disease.

Getting enough restorative sleep is critical. With inadequate sleep, the body’s cortisol levels are affected, which reduces our ability to tolerate negative stimuli. Our ability to heal may then become compromised, limiting the rate at which the gut lining can heal.

Getting enough exercise is a natural way to enhance your immune system and help manage daily stresses, as well as directly improving the intestinal barrier function. Studies show that regular aerobic exercise improves metabolic processes and reduces systemic inflammation. Exercise need not be excessive. Start slowly and choose something you will enjoy.

An optimistic attitude towards your health can play a large role in your treatment and recovery, as it reduces stress, supports the immune system and promotes your natural ability to heal. Letting go of health problems and everything that accompanies them in itself is part of the healing process.

Quit smoking, as it is a well-known fact that smoking promotes inflammation in gut disorders.

TAKE SUPPLEMENTS THAT ASSIST THE BODY IN ITS HEALING PROCESS:

  • Glutamine assists in strengthening and improving the integrity of the gut lining, and lessens the systemic inflammatory response.
  • Probiotics are used as it is extremely important to have the healthy gut bacteria in the right balance to help maintain healthy gut permeability. They also assist with the breakdown of foods into more manageable particle sizes, and also synthesis certain vitamins and nutrients for the body. They are essential to helping heal digestive disorders and gut hypermobility.
  • Prebiotics are a food source for healthy gut bacteria. Therefore, supporting the growth of these bacteria helps to restore the integrity of your gut immunity.
  • Essential Fatty Acids specifically including DHA, has been shown to protect the intestinal wall from inflammatory stimuli and help maintain the integrity of the gut barrier while supporting gut barrier function. DHS and EPA help increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which promote the normalisation of gut function.
  • Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and has strong anti-inflammatory effects that have general systemic as well as gut health benefits. It has the ability to reduce inflammation and also assists in normalizing gut function.
  • Zinc is a mineral cofactor that supports the integrity of the cells lining the intestines, which is very important in reversing a Leaky Gut. It also assists normal immunity and supports energy production and hormone metabolism.

SUPPLEMENTS ARE AVAILABLE WHICH HAVE BEEN ESPECIALLY FORMULATED TO ASSEST IN THE HEALING OF, AS WELL AS IMPROVING THE INTEGRITY OF THE GUT LINING.

The body is often deprived of these nutrients due to the compromised digestion and mal absorption experienced when dealing with a Leaky Gut.

WHAT IS QUERCETIN?

Quercetin is one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet, and it plays a vital part in fighting free radical damage.

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot exert, wealth is useless and reason is powerless”
Herophilies, 300BC

“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings”
Hippocrates

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”
Socrates

These statements should guide our actions, especially concerning our health. Very often we do not have the slightest idea of how to maintain good health. When all “building materials” are supplied to the cells and the damage is reparable, nature will do the healing.

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in foods including leafy greens, tomatoes, berries and broccoli. It is technically considered a “plant pigment”, which is why it is found in deeply coloured, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables. Quercetin is one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet, and it plays a vital part in fighting free radical damage, as well as the effects of aging and inflammation.

According to the Department of Pathology and Diagnostics at the University of Verona in Italy, Quercetin and other flavonoids are anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agents, with the potential to be expressed positively in different cell types in both animals and humans. Flavonoid polyphenols are most beneficial for down regulating or suppressing inflammatory pathways and functions.

Quercetin is the most diffused and known nature-derived flavonoid there is, showing strong effects on immunity and inflammation caused by leukocytes and other intracellular signals.

It has been shown to inhibit leukotrienes, mast cells, and the release of histamine, which makes it a good candidate for anti-allergy therapy. Evidence also demonstrates that Quercetin blunts the inflammatory response of immune cells upon antigen recognition.

TIRED OF SEASONAL ALLERGY SYMPTOMS?
Quercetin has been shown to reduce histamine release in people with seasonal allergies by 96%.

Allergic signs and symptoms: Itchy stuffy and runny nose, post nasal drip, swollen lips, itchy throats, swollen red and itchy eyes, wheezing and coughing, difficulty breathing, asthma, rashes and hives, vomiting and diarrhea.

Food allergies: dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, interstitial cystitis (recurrent urinary tract infections with a known cause), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, allergic rhinitis and bloating.

Most common allergies: food allergies (e.g. diary, wheat and gluten), drug allergies (e.g. Penicillin), insect bites/stings (e.g. bee sting), environmental (e.g. pollen, grasses and house dust mites).

Quercetin may assist with: cognitive impairment, gout, viral infections, cancer, skins disorders (including dermatitis), inflammation of prostrate, bladder and ovaries and stomach ulcers.

Food rich in Quercetin include: apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables including spinach and kale, as well as citrus fruits.

It is important to remember that nothing works in isolation. These nutrients may be used to assist or support Quercetin: L-Glutamine, probiotics, L-Methionine, Nettle, Bromelien and vitamin C.

Quercetin is contra-indicated for persons taking Warfarin, and its safety during pregnancy and breast-feeding has not yet been established.

OWN UP TO YOUR HEALTH AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!

 

HAY FEVER CAN MAKE YOU MISERABLE BY HAVING TO DEAL WITH IRRITATING SYMPTOMS

Spring means flowers budding and trees coming into bloom. If you are one of the millions of people who have a seasonal allergy, also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, it can make you miserable by having to deal with sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and other irritating symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environments that typically causes no problem in most other people. Symptoms can occur in spring, summer and early autumn. They are usually caused by allergic sensitivity to airborne mold spores or pollens from grasses, trees and weeds.

People with perennial allergic rhinitis experience symptoms all year-round. This is generally caused by dust mites, pet hair, cockroaches or mold. Symptoms usually include a runny nose, itchy eyes, mouth or skin, sneezing, stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion and fatigue (often reported due to poor quality sleep as a result of nasal congestion).

ALLERGIC RHINITIS LEADS TO:

Decreased concentration and focus, limited activities, decreased decision-making capacity, impaired hand-eye coordination, problems remembering things, irritability sleep disorders and fatigue.

TRIGGERS:

  • Outside: pollens from grass, trees and weeds.
  • Inside: pet hair or dander (a combination of dead skin cells and hair shed by the skin), dust mites and mold.
  • Irritants: cigarette smoke, perfume and exhaust fumes.
  • Chlorine: in swimming pools.

HOW TO AVOID TRIGGERS:

  • Keep windows closed during high pollen periods. Use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers, pillows, comforters, duvets, mattresses and box springs.
  • Wash your bedding frequently using hot water (at least 55◦C), to limit exposure to dust mites and a dehumidifier to control mold (if you smell mildew, you likely have mold).
  • Clean floors with a damp rag or mop, rather than dry dusting or sweeping.
  • Wash your hands after petting any animal and have a non-allergic person help with pet grooming, preferably outside.
  • Wash your clothes after visiting friends with pets.
  • If you are allergic to a household pet, keep the animal out of your home as much as possible. If the pet must be inside, keep it out of the bedroom so you are not exposed to animal allergens while you sleep.
  • Replace carpeting with hardwood, tile, or linoleum – all of which are easier to keep dander-free.
  • Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry as pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
  • Try not to rub your eyes. Doing so will irritate them and could make your symptoms worse.

PREVENTION:

Ideally, prevention should start a few weeks before allergy season and before symptoms develop. A dose of herbs and supplements taken early can eliminate the need for many later doses to reduce established symptoms.

Quercetin, a flavonoid found in leafy greens, tomatoes, berries and broccoli, is a natural anti-inflammatory that blocks histamine’s effects before it starts. Bromelain and vitamin C are used to enhance the action of Quercetin. Butterbur and Stinging Nettle may block the production of leukotrienes. From a naturopathic viewpoint, allergies are often associated with weak adrenal, immune and digestive functions. Treatments are therefore used to support and improve those functions and in this way alleviate hay fever symptoms.

Good health can help ease allergy symptoms, and good health starts with good nutrition, by including dark green, leafy vegetables, deep yellow and orange vegetables, nettles, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beet tops, beets, carrots, yams, onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne and horseradish in your eating plan.

Exclude alcohol, caffeine and dairy products, bananas and citrus fruit, chocolate, food colouring (tartrazine), peanuts, red meat, sugar and wheat from your diet.

Include: flaxseed oil, probiotics (e.g., lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus), a multivitamin (high potency and customized if possible), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and Zinc.

TREATMENT:

  • Intranasal corticosteroids are the single most effective drug class for treating allergic rhinitis. They can significantly reduce nasal congestion as well as sneezing, itching and a runny nose. However, you need to be aware that these cannot be used continually as this results in a rebound effect and results in not being effective.
  • Oral antihistamines: Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes.
  • Decongestants: Oral decongestants can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Combination medications: Some allergy medications combine antihistamine with a decongestant.
  • Nasal spray: Decongestants also come in nasal sprays. Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays van actually worsen symptoms (known as rebound congestion).
  • Immunotherapy: (Allergy shots) this is one of the most effective ways to treat seasonal allergies linked to pollen. These injections expose you over time to gradual increments of your allergen, so you learn to tolerate it rather than reacting with sneezing, a stuffy nose or itchy, watery eyes.
  • Nasal Douching: Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.

More than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have symptoms all year-round. If you think you are a sufferer or allergic rhinitis, pay your pharmacist a visit and if your symptoms simply will not go away, seek the assistance of your medical practitioner or an allergist.