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Why do I keep getting sick? Part 2

By: Dr. Justin Marchegiani

With an unseasonably warm winter, especially in the North East, it’s so easy to forget we are still in the middle of flu season.   My goal is to mention a few supplements that you can use to increase your overall immune function.  With a strong immune system you are less likely to come down with a cold, even if you’re around others who are sick.

Before you use any of the suggested supplements, I recommend you go back and read my first post on “Why do I keep getting sick Part 1” for the foundational lifestyle and dietary advice you need to combine with the right supplements.  When combined they have synergistic effects and cost you less sick days at the same time improve the quality of your life.

Supplements:

1. Vitamin D:  The single best thing you do is make sure your vitamin-D levels are between 60-100 ng/ml.  Your body can produce its natural anti-biotic (cathelicidin) which can help your body gobble up intruders.  It can also help balance the immune seesaw above which can help your immune system function better (i.e. Increase t-regulator cells).

A 25 OH-D test can be very helpful to assess your levels.   I recommended anywhere between10, 000-20,000 IU per day for my patients in the winter months, (which is what your body can make in the sun normally).  You need to get test to find out what your levels are so you can dose according to your body’s needs.  Supplement with liquid vitamin D3, I prefer the liquids versions best.

2.  Think twice when you’re about to use anti-biotics:  Sometimes anti-biotics may be necessary if you have a bacterial infection that is out of control.  The problem is that antibiotics don’t work on viruses and they don’t have any effect on strengthening your immune system.  I see many people going on antibiotics year after year when in most situations it was a virus causing the infections to begin with.   The action items in this post actually strengthen your immune system and make your body more resistant to even coming down with these infections to begin with.

3. Avoid the flu vaccine:  The Cochrane database did a comprehensive meta-analysis on the flu vaccine and found that

“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission. (1)”

According to research we know that only 10 out of the 200 flu strains are even potentially protective by a flu vaccine.  Said another way, you still have a 90% chance of getting a flu like illness even with a flu vaccine.  The downside is that the majority of flu vaccines do contain 25mcg of mercury which is the 2nd most toxic compound on this planet right behind uranium (1).  With so many healthy and safe natural options out there a flu vaccine would be the last option on my list to use.

4.  Colloidal Silver can be a powerful antibiotics and antiviral for preventing illness and can also be used even after you get sick.   Remember anti- biotics can’t touch viruses so it nice to have a compound you can use preventively.  You can also use colloidal silver therapeutically too.  Let’s say you were around a bunch of sick people this holiday season, and you wanted to prevent any bugs from potentially being passed to you, this can definitely do the trick.  It can be excellent for sore throats where you can use a spray form, and spray the silver directly on the infected area.     Dosage: 50mcg of 10ppm colloidal silver.  I prefer: Silver Sol or Silvercillin.

5.  Herbs like Echinacea, Golden Seal and Astragalus can be excellent to increase your overall resistance to flu and bacteria that are out to make us sick.  Many studies have done testing on these herbs.  These herbs are most effective when they are used at the early onset of a cold.  The most active properties of these herbs are present in the “Roots” yet many supplements only contain the flower or the stems.  So make sure you read the ingredients.  I recommend 200-400mg of golden seal, 600mg to 1 gram of Echinacea, and 400-800mg of Astragalus per day at the onset of the cold.

6.  If you are sick a great way to help your immune system is fasting.  I recommending getting fasting tea from the Yogi tea line at Whole Foods and take 1-2 days off from food (preferably a lazy weekend) and just sip the fasting tea throughout the day while you give your digestive system a break.  A lot of times by fasting you’re avoiding sugar and many potential food allergens which can also give your immune system a boost.

7.  Coconut oil is great anti-viral and anti-bacterial compound.  Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is a natural substance that is actually found in breast milk too.  Research has shown that it can kill various forms of strep and staph bacteria.  A few table spoons of coconut oil per day is good, even if you aren’t sick.

Combined with the diet and lifestyle principles from my first post I hope these recommendation help improve your chances of not getting sick this winter season.

References:

1. Jefferson T, Di Pietrantonj C, Rivetti A, Bawazeer GA, Al-Ansary LA, Ferroni E. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD001269. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001269.pub4

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Paleo Shepherds Pie

March 21, 2012 1 comment



Paleo Shepherds Pie

By: Dr. Justin Marchegiani

This is a great hearty meal with the extra carbs from the sweet potatoes, which can be easily subbed for extra veggies if you are carb sensitive.   This meal is grain free, legume free and dairy free (if you use coconut oil instead of butter).

First things first: 

1.  2-3 sweet potatoes (peeled) steamed and then mash with coconut oil or Kerry gold butter.  A little bit of cinnamon can be added to the sweet potatoes for extra flavor.

2.  Saute 1-2 pounds of grass fed organic meat in a separate pan then the veggies (this makes it faster), depending on how many people.  1 pound is usually good for 2 people.

3.  Veggies:  Cut up 1 onion and saute in a pan with either coconut oil or butter.  Then cut up the peppers and add them to the pan after about 5 minutes.  Add cumin , oregano and turmeric to taste.

4.  Add the meat to the same pan as the sauteed onions and peppers and let the veggies and the meat mix-in before adding a half of a head of kale to the batch.  Once the Kale cooks down, the veggie-meat mix can then be served on top of the the sweet potato mix.

5.  Add additional sea salt as well as an avocado on the side.

6.  Viola!  Enjoy…

Thanks to Sarah Fragoso for the inspiration from her cookbook “Everyday Paleo”

Why do I keep getting sick? Part 1

March 16, 2012 2 comments

By: Dr. Justin Marchegiani

The winter time is unlike any time throughout the year.  We have extra stressors around us all the time including the holidays which include shopping, changes in weather including less sunlight, and increased consumption of sugar and processed foods from all the desserts and holiday goodies.

I am going to try to keep things simple so after reading this post you’ll have some excellent action items (AI) you can then use to apply to your health and for those interested some additional information on your immune system so you can understand how things work better.

Your immune system has two branches, you can think of it like a seesaw, as one goes up one goes down.  Understanding the basics will help you understand how these changes are affecting your body.    If this is too much info, just skip down to the action items for the meat and potatoes.

Immune system:  To keep things simple, you have two sides of your immune, TH1 & TH2

TH1:  This side is provides the front-line military defense for bacteria, virus and other pathogens trying to gain access to our bodies.

TH2:  This side is primarily responsible for making antibodies (soldiers that are specific to whatever is making us sick) to the various bacteria, virus and pathogens that have already invaded our body.  In other words, this provides the back-up defense for our body when we have already been compromised.  Vaccines work on this branch, more on this on a separate post!

It usually takes about 1 week for our TH2 side to get ramped up or i.e.  It takes about 1 week for the back-up soldiers to get called into action to help us out.  That’s why the average cold lasts about 1 week.   In summary the Th1 side is the wall that prevent things from coming in and TH2 side are the backup soldiers there to help in-case the bad guy break through the wall

Alright so after learning a little bit more about your immune system, the suggestions I am making below should now make a little more sense to you.  I am going to break up my recommendations into two categories, diet & lifestyle, and supplementation.  The first post will be on diet and lifestyle!

Diet & Lifestyle:  Actions Items

1.  Sleep:  Sleep is the primary time where your immune system recharges.  Our bodies are naturally on a light and dark cycle, so the prime time to tap into natural repair is right around 10pm.  At this time our body is making human growth hormone (which helps repair our body) and is going through a process known as cellular autophagy which is repairing our immune system.  Sleep deprivation is considered by the WHO as the only non-substance carcinogen in the same league as cigarettes and asbestos.  AI:  Sleep before 10pm and make sure it’s  in a dark environment.

2.  Vitamin D:  With less sunlight our body has less ability to make vitamin-d on our own.  So if you live in a warmer climate in the winter time get some healthy sun exposure without burning.  For the rest it will be a necessity to rely on a vitamin D3 supplement, stay tuned to the supplement post coming later!

3.  Avoid sugar:  According to John Briffa MD and Paul Chek 1 tsp. of sugar will inhibit your immune system for up to 4 hours.  So do yourself a favor and avoid sugar, which includes grains, starches alcohol and wine.  in the end all of these items are broken down by your body into sugar.  PS:  There are 10 tsp’s of sugar in 1 can of coke which can potentially decrease your immune function for almost 2 days!   Diet coke is not a good alternative either.   AI:  Healthy organic meats and vegetables especially cooked in a crock pot can be really helpful, chicken soup (minus the noodles), grandmas everywhere would be so proud!

4.  Listen to your body:  Your body will tell you when it’s starting to get sick.   Your energy will start to decline; you may start to feel a slight twinge in the back of your throat as well.  “If you can listen to your bodies’ whispers, you won’t have to endure its cries…”

This isn’t a time to be tough and power through it.  Your immune system takes a lot of energy when it ramps up the TH1 side to  fight an infection.  Instead of fighting your immune system, try a more gentle approach like a lite yoga session, a walk, or even take an off day and try to get some extra rest.

5.  Sauna session:  Your body will naturally try to increase its body temperature to increase the effectiveness of the TH1 side of the immune system .  This is why a fever can be a very beneficial thing, as long as the fever isn’t going >105 F there really is no need to worry. AI: You can mimic this state naturally with a sauna session which can help get your immune system ready to go!

6.  Hydration:  I recommend increasing your water consumption during these sick times.  ½ your body weight in ounces is a good baseline, so even a little more can helpful.  Teas can be good to, just avoid the ones with caffeine.  AI: Drink up “The solution to pollution is dilution!”

7.  Manage stress:  Stress comes in many shapes and sizes, emotional, physical, and chemical.  The above suggestions already address the chemical and physical but the emotional is not something we have dealt with yet.   Research has shown that after a fight with a spouse your immune system can be weakened for up to 2 days (1).   AI:  Avoid unnecessary stress-full conflict with your signifcant other when feeling under the weather.

8.  Wash your hands:  This is the main vehical in which viruses and other bad guys are transferred.  Washing your hands throughout the day can decrease the spread of these pathogens.

9.  Introduce fermented foods into your diet.  A real easy way to do this is start consuming sauerkraut or kimchi from your local health food store.  The fermentation processes, the way in which these foods are prepared produce beneficial bacteria (pro-biotics) which have an important role in your gut health.  70% of your immune cells are located in you gut (MALT & GALT), the healthier your gut, tthe healthier you immune system.  Anti-biotics can destroy the beneficial bacteria that we get from probiotics and fermeneted food, that’s why anti-biotics should be a last resort.

Important point, antibiotics do not  make your immune system stronger they just kill the bad guys that are making you sick.  All of the suggestions mentioned in this blog post will increase your immune function thus helping your immune system to kill off all of these bad bugs on your own.  A little help from supplements can’t hurt either!   More on pro-biotics in part 2!

Stay tuned for part 2 on immune boosting supplements!

Reference:

1. Stress-Induced Immune Dysregulation: Implications for Wound Healing, Infectious Disease and Cancer: Jonathan P. Godbout and Ronald Glaser

New study says red meat is linked to cancer and heart disease? Fact or fiction???

March 13, 2012 8 comments

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

According to a new Harvard study, red meat is linked to cancer and cardiovascualar disease.  Every day we see studies saying one thing and then saying the other things a few months later.  After a while the public doesn’t know what to believe…  Why is this?  I will break down the research and show you why this study isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and what to look for to know if a study holds true merit.

Here are some simple items that need to be looked at first.  Once observed it is easy view the short coming of this study linking meat to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

1. This study is an observational study.  In the study they gave questionnaires to individuals every 4 years and looked back to see who got cancer and heart disease and what they were eating. The problem with this type of study is there can be other confounding variables like… The person ate processed hot dogs as well as the gluten/sugar rich bun.  Or the person ate sausage and meatballs… on top of a pizza that was loaded with gluten/sugar. I think you are seeing a pattern, that when a lot of processed meats are eaten usually there is a bunch of sugar going down with it.

The variable of gluten/sugar combined with the meats are whats called a confounding variable, it is an important factor in the study that could be causing the factors in question “heart disease and or cancer”.
We need to do specific studies that actually isolate the meat from the bun/sugar to to control for these confounding variables.

2. To actually prove cause and effect we need to conduct a clinical trial.  A clinical trial is where you isolate different groups where you can control for the diet and also have a placebo group to compare.  An epidemiological study  (like this one) can only conclude correlation…  correlation and causation are two different things.   Gray hair is correlated with aging…  it doesn’t mean gray hair causes you to age…   Just an association…  I think you get the picture.

The study I am referring to may look like this:

group 1:  Fed organic pastue fed meats with no process sugar or grains allowed.

group 2: Fed conventional meet.

group 3: Fed conventional meat with grains and sugar.

group 4: Placebo control group, ate what ever they wanted.

Going one step further we can make the study blinded or double blinded where the patients don’t know what group they are in (very difficult), and the scientist don’t know what each patient is eating (easier).  This then controls for any pre-existing bias the scientist and or patients might have.

These people would then live in a metabolic ward for lets say a few months or so where they were actually fed the foods in questions.  As you can see studies like this are incredibly expensive there fore they aren’t done.  So we use less expensive epidemiological studies using surveys and then we extrapolate the information to the public like it’s a matter of truth.

Epidemiological studies like this one only help you to produce a hypothesis i.e. “I think meat causes cancer and cardiovascular disease.” From there we can now conduct a double blind placebo controlled study to test this hypothesis. It’s irresponsible to extrapolate that information and put it in the media and scare everyone (which is done here) before the clinical trial has been completed.

3. These studies never control for the quality of meat as mentioned above. Organic pasture fed vs free change vs anti-biotic vs hormone free vs conventional factory farmed etc.  It controls for processed vs non processed, but you can still eat bacon (which is considered processed) and it could be bacon from organic pasture fed sources of pork. The quality of the animal meat matters, but research conveniently ignores this.

Personally I do believe that conventional meat is bad for you and causes the issues sited above. But not because of the meat in general; but because of the quality of the meat and the hormones, antibiotics and the poor quality of food the animals were fed before it ended up on your table.  In other words, animals that are treated well and fed well have the potential to provide wellness to the person that consumes them.  Animals that are treat badly, fed like crap and injected with drugs don’t have the ability to convey health to the person that consumes them.

I hope the information presented in this article will help you sniff out studies that aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be