Fish Oil Is Good For Body And Mind

What if I told you there was a supplement that has proven to be good for your heart, your mind, your brain, your immune system, your joints, your digestive system AND improves women’s health?  There is!

It’s fish oil.  Yep, the lowly fish oil capsule can help ALL these parts of your body.

As you know, I’m very interested in nutrition and supplementation and their role in health.  It’s been fascinating to read research supporting the role of fish oil in general health.

I’m beginning to think EVERYONE from birth to death should take fish oil.

First let’s talk about all the physical and mental benefits of fish oil supplementation.  I’ll try to be brief!

HEART HEALTH

  • Reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation after heart attack
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Eliminates aspirin resistance
  • Helps keep grafts open after bypass surgery
  • Decreases triglyceride levels
  • Improves heart function and decreases hospitalizations in heart failure patients
  • Inconclusive evidence about preventing both first and subsequent heart attacks

MENTAL HEALTH

  • Reduces anxiety symptoms by 20%
  • Prolongs remission and decreases depression symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder
  • Decreases depression symptoms and aggression in patients with borderline personality disorder
  • Decreases symptoms and promotes remission in major depression
  • Decreases psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia

BRAIN HEALTH

  • Improves cognition and behavior in children with developmental disorders
  • Inconsistent benefit in Alzheimer’s patients (some studies show benefit, some don’t)

IMMUNE RESPONSE / PAIN

  • Decreases pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Decreases symptoms in systemic lupus
  • Decreases pain and the need for pain medication in patients with nonsurgical neck and back pain
  • Decreases need for rescue inhaler in exercise-induced asthma

DIABETES

  • Decreases risk of type I diabetes in children
  • Decreases insulin resistance in type II diabetes

WOMEN’S HEALTH

  • Significantly reduces menstrual symptoms in women
  • Reduces the frequency of menopausal hot flushes (but not their severity, unfortunately)
  • Decreases testosterone levels in women with PCOS
  • Decreases the rate of preterm birth when used in pregnancy

Wow, fish oil is good for such a long list of conditions and problems!  So how much fish oil is the right amount?  It depends on why you’re taking it, and what your diet is like.

In the USA we eat a LOT of omega-6 fatty acids.  They are found in nearly every oil used in cooking.  Omega-3 fatty acids are harder to get.  They are in flaxseeds, hemp seeds, purslane and walnuts as well as in fatty fish.

The best and safest sources of fish oil are small oily fish (like anchovies, sardines and herring) found low down on the food chain.  Fish high on the food chain (like tuna, mackerel and shark) tend to store up toxins from fish they’ve eaten, a phenomenon called bioaccumulation.

Recommended dosages vary based on why you’re taking it.  For general health purposes it’s reasonable to take 500-1000 mg daily.  Those with heart or vascular disease (including high cholesterol) should consider 1-3 gm daily.  Much higher doses are needed for those with autoimmune disease, neurological or psychiatric problems, or chronic pain.  A therapeutic trial of 5-10 gm daily is reasonable for these conditions.

Be careful which fish oil products you buy, some are not labeled accurately according to a review I found at ConsumerLab.com.  (I subscribe to this website because it gives me third-party testing results for all sorts of supplements.)

Want to know what fish oil my family and I take?  (Bet you can guess, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile.)

OmegaGuard from the Shaklee Corporation is ultrapurified fish oil made from sardines.  Two capsules gives 1200 mg fish oil, free of mercury and other contaminants.

And no fish burps!  Yay!

Here’s a link to more information about OmegaGuard.  You can order it through this link.

QUESTION:  I was surprised to learn that fish oil was so effective in controlling chronic pain.  Was there one use for fish oil that surprised you?

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Asthma Education Programs In School

You know, air is one of those things you just have to have. Asthma interferes with airflow, causing air trapping in the lungs, wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. It is estimated that one in 12 children has asthma, and it is the single most common reason for missed days of school.

Asthma attacks are common. Almost 50% of children with asthma report having at least one attack in any given year. Attacks are very frightening, with sudden onset of symptoms, and are a common reason for ER visits. It is the third leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. Thousands of Americans die every year from asthma. Black people are three times more likely to die from asthma than Caucasians.

Credit: Healthdirect.gov.au

There was a study published that explored using school-based education programs about asthma. They found that teaching children about asthma in school decreased trips to the ER and hospitalizations.

There is a big problem with asthma management in this country. Many children and parents don’t know how to use inhalers properly. Children aren’t comfortable reporting symptoms at school because they’re embarrassed to ask to go to the nurse to use their medication. And access to primary care is inconsistent, leading parents to overuse the ER.

Asthma education programs in school raise awareness among students and teachers so children with asthma are less likely to be stigmatized. The more people who are able to recognize early signs of an asthma attack, the more likely a child will get treatment quickly when it is most effective.

Asthma claims the lives of thousands of people yearly. There is unfortunately limited primary care access in many parts of the country. With higher illness burden in African American children, more ways to educate patients and parents about asthma management are needed. Asthma education programs in schools are a natural and (now) proven option to decrease ER visits and hospital stays.

QUESTION: Do you think teaching children about asthma in school will help raise awareness and improve health outcomes?

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Is Measles Making A Comeback?

Lately measles has been in the news a lot  Five years we had a big outbreak of measles here in Ohio.  Currently Europe is seeing the highest numbers of measles cases they have had in 20 years.  The Pacific Northwest,  Texas and New York (among others) are seeing cases and it’s estimated that the US may see more measles cases in 2019 than we have seen in 30 years.

It is ironic that the success of childhood vaccination is the reason we’re seeing the resurgence of this disease.

Most people have never seen measles and don’t know how to recognize it.  I have never seen measles either.  Before you go questioning my training, you should know the reason WHY I’ve never seen measles.  For a very long time, measles has been extraordinarily rare in the United States.  The reason for this is universal childhood vaccination.

The live measles vaccine was introduced in 1963.  Before that time, according to the CDC it is estimated that 3-4 million people in the US got measles every year.  About 48,000 people were hospitalized, over 400 people died and 1000 people were left permanently disabled from measles encephalitis (brain infection).  That’s EVERY YEAR.

In the 1990s over 500,000 children still died worldwide ever year from measles.  That’s like 3 Boeing 747 jumbo jets crashing EVERY DAY, all year long.  From 2000-2013 there were 37-220 cases of measles in the US per year.  All of these cases were related to international travel, or exposure to an infected international traveler.  Measles was common in other parts of the world, you see.  It is much less common now, but by no means gone.

Ten states in the USA are reporting measles outbreaks right now.  What is interesting is that researchers predicted this last year, by looking at the rates of non-medical exemptions for vaccination.  The areas that have the highest rates of non-medical exemptions are the hot spots for the current outbreaks.

Why?

If vaccination resulted in the near-eradication of measles in this country, it doesn’t take a genius to see that falling vaccination rates will result in a resurgence of the disease.

Well-intentioned parents who love their children are frightened by all the reports of vaccine injury in the news media and on bloggers’ websites.  So they refuse to vaccinate and therefore put their families at risk from a dangerous, highly contagious disease that has no specific treatment.

If you or a family member get measles it is critically important to recognize it as soon as possible.  So let’s review the symptoms of measles.

  1. Fever:  sudden onset of high fever, sometimes up to 105F
  2. Cough, runny nose (coryza) and conjunctivitis:  These are sometimes called the “3 C’s” of measles.  Measles is a respiratory illness so the cough and sneezing is how the virus is spread.  Anyone with a fever, cough and runny nose should stay at home until the fever is gone.  If they get red, watery eyes they should ESPECIALLY be isolated until the fever is gone.
  3. Koplik’s spots:  These are little gray-white spots (like grains of sand or salt) surrounded by a red ring on the insides of the cheeks.  Those who have these spots are VERY contagious.  You can see a picture of them here.
  4. Rash:  The rash is what most people associate with measles.  It starts at the hairline and spreads down to the feet, and disappears slowly the same way.  This picture is from the CDC website.

measles-22-lg

If you are planning to travel to a country where measles is common, make sure your immunizations are up-to-date.  Large outbreaks have been reported in England, France, Germany, India, and the Philippines, to name a few.  The outbreak here in Ohio five years ago was related to unvaccinated travelers to the Philippines who then came back and exposed people in Ohio’s unvaccinated Amish population.

These measles cases are a good illustration of why universal vaccination doesn’t work as well if it’s NOT universal.  As vaccination rates fall because parents refuse to allow their children to be immunized, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases will become more and more common.

Measles is highly contagious.  Approximately 90% of non-immune people exposed to a sick patient will get sick with the disease.  This is compared to an estimated 33-45% for influenza.

There are people who CANNOT be immunized.  The immunocompromised, those who are allergic to vaccine components, and the very young are unable to be fully vaccinated.  They depend on us to limit our ability to spread these vaccine preventable illnesses to them.

QUESTION: Have you ever seen measles?

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Healthy Skin Care

Believe it or not, summer is coming. Eventually.

Today I found myself dreaming about slathering on sunscreen and heading out to ride roller coasters at my favorite amusement park. I put sunscreen on my face every morning all year around. It occurred to me how many people don’t know how to tell the difference between dangerous and healthy skin care products.

This week I wanted to round up a list of the most dangerous skin care ingredients so you can check your products and make sure your skin is safe. Your skin is your largest organ and it’s the first thing people see so you should take good care of it and keep it healthy!

Parabens

Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives in skin care products. They mimic estrogen and disrupt endocrine signaling. Researchers have found parabens in breast tissue and have shown that they increase breast cancer cell growth. Parabens can even block the activity of tamoxifen, a drug that inhibits the growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells.

Parabens in breast tissue are intact, meaning they did not go through the liver. These parabens were not in food, but instead were absorbed directly across the skin. Parabens are used in a lot of very expensive skin care products, but it is becoming better understood that these preservatives are not safe. Check your skin care product ingredient labels to make sure parabens are nowhere to be found!

Artificial Colors

If there is something in your skin care that has a color followed by a number, it doesn’t belong in or on your body. These coloring agents are derived from petroleum. In general products derived from petroleum are considered human carcinogens and artificial colors are associated with ADHD in children. The EU has banned them. They shouldn’t be in your skin care products.

“Fragrance”

What does THIS mean? No one knows, actually. The word “fragrance” on a skin care label is deliberately vague and may include a number of dangerous ingredients like phthalates, solvents and other toxic chemicals.

Fragrances are associated with skin problems like rashes and eczema and they can trigger allergies and asthma attacks in sensitive people. It’s safest to use products that don’t have added fragrance.

Phthalates

These chemicals are used to soften plastics and are also found in lotions, creams, perfumes, nail polish and hair spray. They are often part of the “fragrance” in scented products (see above). Like parabens they mimic hormones and can affect cancer risk and fertility in both men and women.

Bottom Line

There are a number of dangerous chemicals that have no place in our diet, our water supply and our health and beauty products. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Since I’m focusing today on healthy skin care today I wanted to briefly touch on some of the most prevalent.

Please go grab your skin care products and check the ingredient lists. If you find parabens, phthalates, “fragrance” or artificial coloring agents please consider switching to skin care products which don’t use these ingredients.

Want to know what skin care I use? Bet you can guess 😉 Click here to see the products I trust for myself and my family, and click here to see the list of 2500 harmful ingredients NEVER present in the products I use.

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