Letter from Dr Janson
Allergic Sinusitis versus Colds
More on Environmental Detoxification
Diet and Brain Function
In the Health News
Recipe of the Month: Steamed Veggie Simplicity
While watching some recent television shows (yes, there are
occasional good ones if you are extremely selective), I have
been impressed with the advertising, which I normally simply
block out with the mute button. What impresses me is the juxtaposition
of the different ads. First we see ads for fast junk (no,
I dont call it junk food because it is not really food)
from McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, Burger
King, Krispy Kreme, KFC, and others.
Next are the ads for Maalox and Pepcid, Axid and headache
pills. So we see the ads for the cause of indigestion and
headaches followed by the ads for the supposed remedies for
these maladies. The next collection of ads are for the later
results of these dietary habits, namely laxatives for the
constipation and antidiarrheal drugs for the loose bowels.
Of course, there are also plenty of ads touting the remedies
for the most serious result of poor dietary choicesobesity.
It is impossible to choose your excessive calories from the
above sources without eventually suffering the consequences
in many ways. We know that all the gimmick diets and exotic
supplements for weight loss are ineffectiveand they
do not promote health.
What works is regular exercise (as opposed to sitting around
watching ads for high calorie and high-fat junk, while using
the remote to change the channels) and the constant selection
of healthy diets from real foods that grow. These foods are
satisfying, filling, and relatively low in calories. They
can also be relatively fast (what is faster than a banana?)
and they provide a wide variety of nutrients and phytochemicals
that protect and enhance your health, rather than anti-nutrients
that initiate and promote diseases.
The most dangerous result of these ads is the indoctrination
of children and teenagers into destructive dietary habits.
They learn the poorest habits at an early age and carry them
into adulthood. They never learn how to eat properly, but
they do learn how to sit around watching TV. I was recently
cleaning out some areas of my basement, and I came across
my high school yearbook. One of the most striking features
for me was to see how incredibly few students were overweight.
No, we did not all eat perfectly, but we did eat somewhat
fresher, more wholesome foods, and we did not watch nearly
so much television. After school we played, rode bicycles,
took hikes and spent a lot of time outdoors.
The results of this onslaught are seen every day. One
recent book, Fast Food Nation, shows the parallel between
the rise of fast junk restaurants with the rise of obesity
in America. A recent scientific study shows an ominous trendin
teens 15 to 19 years old, 100 percent had arteriosclerotic
damage to their aortas, and 50 percent to their right coronary
arteries. We have a lot of work to do.
In this season, with Spring allergies approaching and
winter sinus infections still with us, some people want to
know the difference between the two conditions and how to
deal with them.
Sinus problems, colds, and allergies often overlap, and the
symptoms may be difficult to distinguish. The sinus cavities
in the bones surrounding the eyes and nose are lined with
mucus-producing cells. Air circulation in these cavities helps
to warm the air as you breathe in. The sinus secretions normally
drain into the nose through small openings. A sinus problem
(sinusitis) is simply inflammation of the sinuses from whatever
causeusually a cold or allergies.
A viral infection, such as a cold or flu, can cause swelling
that blocks the sinuses, leading to accumulation of secretions.
Symptoms are congestion, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.
This sometimes develops into a bacterial infection, but not
always. A postnasal drip from the sinuses may lead to a chronic
cough. Symptoms that accompany a cold or flu are runny nose,
fever, chills, fatigue, sore throat, and coughing.
Allergies can also lead to swelling of the sinus openings.
Exposure to allergens such as dust, molds, pollens, and sometimes
foods can trigger the same symptoms as sinusitis from other
causes. As with viral infections, theres congestion,
a runny nose, and difficulty breathing, but not the accompanying
flu-like symptoms or fever. Chronic allergies can lead to
sinus polyps, which are nonmalignant growths.
Whatever the cause, sinusitis can lead to headaches or facial
pain, a sense of fullness around the nose and eyes, and sinus
discharge. If the sinusitis is chronic, the pain may come
With allergies, it is possible to reduce exposure to
allergens with environmental controls such as air conditioning,
an air filter (I use an AustinAir), or simply wearing a dust
mask while gardening or doing dusty chores or crafts. For
some people, avoiding milk helps reduce mucus production.
It is important to stimulate sinus drainage by inhaling steam
and drinking plenty of fluids. Extra vitamin C (3,000 to 6,000
mg) helps control allergic symptoms. Quercetin (800 to 1,200
mg) is a bioflavonoid that reduces histamine release. Quercetin
does not block the action of histamine, but it stabilizes
the cell membranes so they do not release the histamine as
readily. Antihistamine drugs often have side effects, so it
is better to try the natural remedies first.
Nettle extract (250 to 500 mg of standardized extract up
to several times a day) has antiinflammatory properties, and
it helps relieve allergic sinusitis and hay fever. Supplements
of proanthocyanidins (also called oligomeric procyanidinsPAC
and OPC are the common acronyms), derived from grape seed
and pine bark, also help support normal immune function, and
can help relieve allergic symptoms.
For viral infections, also try the steam inhalation
and high fluid intake. While the same 3,000 to 6,000 mg dose
of vitamin C is usually helpful (and it maintains valuable
high levels of vitamin C in the white blood cells), it may
be necessary to have intravenous treatments for the most benefit.
(The recent warnings about vitamin C causing arterial thickening
are based on unreliable data, and the best information we
have now is that high dose vitamin C can prevent strokes and
heart disease as well as cancer.)
Supplements of echinacea (250 to 300 mg of standardized extract,
twice a day) help to enhance immunity by stimulating white
blood cell activity. Garlic (1,000 to 2,000 mg of deodorized
garlic is most convenient) has antibiotic and antiviral effects.
Standardized elderberry extract (1,000 to 2,000 mg daily)
has antiviral properties and may help shorten colds.
I also recommend transfer factorimmune
support substances derived from colostrum that help control
bacterial and viral infections (usually 200 to 400 mg three
times a day). Ginger extract (200 to 400 mg) is an antiinflammatory,
that may relieve symptoms.
For bacterial infections, with fever and sinus discharge,
most of the above supplements are helpful, but its also
important to take the appropriate antibiotic to keep the infection
from spreading to the surrounding tissues, including the bone
and brain. Take Lactobacilli for their antibacterial activity
and to replace the friendly intestinal bacteria killed by
In last months issue, due to space considerations,
I left out the importance of exercise as an aid to elimination
of environmental toxins.
Exercise helps by increasing metabolic rate and body temperature.
It promotes sweating, which helps to remove toxins, including
those stored in fatty tissues, as you burn off the excess
fat or replace normal levels of body fat. Exercise also eliminates
toxins by stimulating passage of waste through the colon and
promoting regular bowel movements. As a result, toxins spend
less time in contact with the vulnerable bowel mucosa, and
the likelihood of reabsorption is diminished.
No one doubts the value of exercise for health and promotion
of longevity, and the sense of vigor and vibrancy it provides.
The additional value of detoxification may well be a part
of the reason that it produces a sense of well being and the
long-term health benefits.
A new report based on an animal study suggests that
a high fat diet can impair brain function. Although the known
results of a high fat diet (especially meat fat) are bad enough
(increased cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon, and
obesity, diabetes, and heart disease), this new study suggests
It is possible, according to the researchers, that the decreased
brain function is due to insulin resistance that results from
obesity. When cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, the
risk of diabetes and heart disease goes up. Also, for a variety
of reasons, diabetics lose long-term memory and other cognitive
Their research also showed that carbohydrates can enhance
brain function. In a human study, adult subjects given a mashed
potato and barley breakfast performed better on brain tests.
The same researchers reported in 1990 that a decline in brain
function was related to saturated fat intake, compared to
polyunsaturated oils. Animals on regular lab chow (4.5% fat)
had higher cognitive function than those who ate extra animal
fat, while those who ate additional soybean oil consistently
performed better in memory and learning than the animal fat
group (but the low-fat chow was the best for performance).
It is clear that a high complex carbohydrate diet has
many advantages. In 1999, researchers gave four different
breakfasts to 14 subjects. After a high fat meal, the participants
craved more food and ate more calories than those on a high-fiber
carbohydrate meal. The latter meal led to the highest rating
of alertness and resulted in the least craving for calories,
thus potentially assisting in weight loss efforts.
In addition to diets of whole grains, vegetables, fruits
and beans, many supplements help brain function.Take brain
antioxidantsalpha lipoic acid (300 to 1000 mg daily),
vitamins C and E, ginkgo biloba (120 mg), melatonin (3 to
6 mg), and proanthocyanidins (100 to 200 mg).
I also recommend supplements of phosphatidyl serine (200
mg), a component of neuronal membranes that enhances memory.
A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine
shows that coronary bypass surgery has more long term effects
on brain function than previously thought. While it was known
that loss of cognitive ability was an immediate effect (and
one to five percent of patients have strokes), it seems that
loss of function is apparent even years later. The real disgrace
is that a majority of angiograms and bypass operations are
probably unnecessary. (Newman MF, et al., N Engl J Med 2001
Feb 8;344(6):395-402. Graboys TB, et al., Results of a second-opinion
trial...angiography. JAMA 1992 Nov 11;268(18):2537-40.)
Although low dose aspirin has been touted for prevention
of heart attacks, a new study shows that it is only valuable
for those in a higher risk category. Lower risk patients had
no benefit, and the lowest risk patients actually had more
risk from bleeding complications than any potential benefit.
You are better off taking vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, vitamin
C, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and ginkgo biloba.
Fiber is not only protective against colon cancer (in
spite of one report to the contrary), but new research suggests
that it also protects against cancers of the mouth, throat,
and esophagus. Those in the highest level of intake of all
fibers had about half as many such cancers as the case-matched
controls. Certain fibers did even betterlignins and
soluble fibers, found in grains, beans, and seeds (including
flaxseeds), were the best, at just over one third as many
cancers, but all fibers appeared worthwhile in this study.
Of course, fiber could just be a marker for eating a diet
high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and seeds, with
many other protective properties. (Soler M, et al., Fiber
intake and the risk of... cancer. Int J Cancer 2001 Feb 1;91(3):283-287.)
One of my favorite easy meals is just a mix of steamed vegetableswith
a few enhancements. I put several potatoes and butternut squash
(cut into 1-2 inch pieces), quartered onions, and peeled garlic
in a large steamer. When that is just about cooked, I add
cut broccoli for the last 12 minutes. Test it with a fork
before taking it off the heat. I then drizzle some flaxseed
oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar over the mix, some fresh
crushed black and white peppercorns, and a few drops of toasted
sesame oil. For variety, I sometimes try thyme, cayenne, or
chili powder, or for a lower calorie dressing I replace the
oil and vinegar with mustard. Of course, you can do this with
cauliflower, or brussels sprouts, or any mix. Experiment with
your own selection of veggies or dressings.
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