Monthly Archives: March 2009


Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. The body’s immune system normally makes proteins called antibodies to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens. In an autoimmune disorder such as lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances (antigens) and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against “self.” These antibodies, called “auto-antibodies,” react with the “self” antigens to form immune complexes. The immune complexes build up in the tissues and can cause inflammation, injury to tissues, and pain. Although much is still not known about the nutritional factors in many kinds of disease, no one questions the necessity of a well-balanced diet.

Alfalfa sprouts are in the legume family and contain an amino acid, L-canavanine. It can stimulate the immune system in people with lupus and increase inflammation. Other legumes are safe to eat as they have a much lower concentration of L-canavanine compared to alfalfa sprouts.

In a 6 month study, Dr. Emeir Duffy from the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster studied the effect of fish oil supplements in 52 lupus patients.

The results are promising for sufferers of this disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue throughout the body, causing painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever, skin rashes, kidney problems, cardiovascular complications and extreme fatigue.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are of real interest because they are thought to fight inflammation and affect immune function.
Participants in the study took either fish-oil supplements three times per day, a copper supplement, copper plus fish oil or a placebo. Duffy’s team found that the copper was of no benefit. But, all the participants who took the fish oil saw improvements in quality of life, inflammation and fatigue, which is one of the most debilitating symptoms of lupus.


Migraine Headache

A headache happens when pain-sensitive nerve fibers (called nociceptors) are triggered in the network of nerves that extends over the scalp, face, and along the surface and the base of the brain. Ninety percent of all headaches are triggered by stress or tension. These muscle contraction headaches usually resolve on their own or with the help of over-the-counter painkillers. Other types of headache have different triggers and are not as easily treated.

Treatment depends on the type of headache. Muscular contraction headaches, such as tension headaches, are relieved using over-the-counter painkillers, muscle relaxants, or stress reduction techniques. Migraine headaches are treated with drugs that can either prevent attacks or relieve symptoms when attacks occur. Some people try to prevent migraines by eliminating foods that appear to trigger the attacks. Traction headaches caused by brain tumors may require surgery to remove the source of pressure. Inflammatory headaches, such as those caused by arteritis and meningitis, are treated with corticosteroids to reduce tissue swelling.

During the past year, nearly 90% of men and 95% of women have had at least one headache.

Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.

Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.

Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.



Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are 18.2 million people in the United States, or 6.3% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 13 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 5.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.
Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Some diabetes symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

Complications include:

  • An increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and complications related to poor circulation.
  • Diabetes can damage the kidneys.
  • Diabetes can cause eye problems and may lead to blindness.
  • One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy means damage to the nerves that run throughout the body, connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs.

As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives.

People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor. Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.


Acid Reflux Disease | Heartburn

Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is extremely common disorder and is primarily treated with changes in lifestyle as well as acid suppression. Changes in life style like diet modification, elevation of head end of bed and cessation of smoking are important. GERD is the condition where degree of exposure of esophageal mucosa to gastric contents is greater than normal. It typically occurs after eating.

We of course all know how the GERD presents itself in the form of heartburn and pain. However, that is oversimplification and there are lots of other ways GERD can present e.g. Hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, laryngitis, recurrent pneumonia and ENT infections, nocturnal choking, sleep apnea, loss of dental enamel, bad breath and globus sensation. Acid reflux has been implicated in sudden infant death syndrome. Sometimes GERD can cause serious complications. Inflammation of the esophagus from stomach acid causes bleeding or ulcers. In addition, scars from tissue damage can narrow the esophagus and make swallowing difficult. Some people develop Barrett’s esophagus, where cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal shape and color, which over time can lead to cancer. Many pulmonologists routinely try acid suppression in cases of atypical asthma.

It is well documented that certain foods promote or worsen symptoms of acid reflux. Citrus, tomato and coffee directly irritate the mucosa. Other foods to avoid include garlic, onions, fatty foods, spicy foods, mint, caffeinated drinks, peppermint, alcohol and chocolate. Overeating as well as going to bed within 2-3 hours of supper should be avoided since gastric distention promotes reflux. Weight gain, and smoking have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease and thus should be avoided. Reflux symptoms may be reduced simply by elevating the head end of the bed or by using a wedge under upper body. The esophageal acid exposure time is reduced by gravity.



Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects more than 17 million Americans. Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the airways. The inflammation makes the airways smaller and therefore making it more difficult for air to move in and out of the lung. This creates the symptoms of asthma:

  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Major triggers are; allergens, tobacco smoke, strong odors, weather changes, viral or sinus infections, exercise, acid reflux disease, medications, and emotional anxiety. For some, eating certain foods or various food additives can trigger asthma symptoms. Culprits include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. If any of these foods triggers asthma attacks, the best remedy is to avoid eating them.

Every person has their own triggers. If you have asthma you can minimize your symptoms by avoiding the factors that trigger your symptoms, and by working with your physician to develop an effective management and treatment plan.


Obesity and Weight Control

Obesity is a disease that affects nearly one-third of the adult American population (approximately 60 million). The number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down. Today, 64.5 percent of adult Americans (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese. Healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately $100 billion.

Obesity is described as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. Continue reading


The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or OA. It affects many of us as we grow older. It is sometimes called degenerative arthritis because it involves the breakdown of cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis usually affects the fingers and weight-bearing joints, including the knees, feet, hips and back.

You have more of a chance to get arthritis if you:

  • Are older than 55
  • Are overweight
  • Have injured a joint
  • Have family members who have arthritis

Warning signs of arthritis can include pain, swelling (sometimes), stiffness or difficulty moving a joint. You should see your doctor if you have these problems for two or more weeks. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and treatment varies by type. It is very important to get an early, accurate diagnosis.

Research has shown several connections between food, nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids) and certain forms of arthritis or related conditions, such as gout, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, and reactive arthritis.


Arthritis Foundation

Heart Disease and Weight Control

Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans today; heart attack is its most visible sign. If your total cholesterol level is 240 or more, it’s definitely high. You have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, you should have your LDL and HDL cholesterol tested. Ask your doctor for advice. Close to 20 percent of the U.S. population has high blood cholesterol levels. People with heart failure often can improve their symptoms by watching what they eat and exercising.


Food Allergies and Sensitivities

In an online world where consumers are bombarded with claims, factual innuendo and facts that are not always attributable, consumers are hungry for objective and relevant information of all types. This is especially the case with websites delivering information about health and nutrition topics. Consumers are often confused, and sometimes totally misinformed. Continue reading

Obesity, Nutrition and You

With obesity rampant in the United States, and food allergies growing, consumers are increasingly concerned about the ingredients within the foods they eat. The situation worsens each year.

Consumers don’t know where to turn. Medical professionals, dieticians and nutritionists can help, but they are frequently not consulted until illness strikes or major adverse food reactions become apparent. Continue reading