Tag Archives: Conditions and Diseases

Foods That Help Fight Allergies

The leaves are starting to fall. The hot, humid days of summer are giving way to crisp, cool, throw-an-extra-blanket-on-the-bed nights.

And your ragweed allergy has you running for the protection of your well-sealed home and slamming your windows shut. If you feel like your allergies are worse, or lingering longer than normal this year, it’s because they are. Climate change, and the resulting higher temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide, allow pollen-producing plants to live longer and to produce more potent pollen. And this year, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology announced that the season will extend through October, rather than ending in September as it normally does.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for 4 more weeks. The foods you eat (and don’t eat) can help stifle your sniffling, particularly seasonal foods that are available now from your farmers’ market. So grab your reusable shopping bags and hit the market for these nine fresh finds.



This precious piece of produce serves two purposes in annihilating your allergy symptoms: It’s high in allergy-relieving vitamin C and it’s a member of the crucifer family, plants that have been shown to clear out blocked-up sinuses. Researchers have found about 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just 1 cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg. For another fall-flavored vitamin C boost, try cabbage or cauliflower, two other, related cruciferous vegetables. Both pack 56 mg of vitamin C per cooked cup.



Don’t just admire kale as a garnish. Eat it! This superfood packs a one-two punch against allergies. Like broccoli, it’s a member of the crucifer family, but it’s also rich in the carotenoid department, packing a form of vitamin A thought to improve allergy symptoms. A number of studies have shown that people with low vitamin A stores are more likely to have asthma and allergy problems.


Collard Greens

Hijacked by hay fever? Put collard greens on the menu. Their phytochemical content, mainly carotenoids, eases allergy issues. The darker the leaves, the higher the carotenoid content. They do require some patience to cook, however. Tough, fibrous veggies like collards need to cook anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in order for your body to absorb their nutrients easily. Some vitamins will leach out into your cooking water, or “pot likker,” as Southerners call it. Use that water in soups or stews, or use it to cook some rice to serve with your leafy greens in order to maximize the nutrients your body absorbs.


Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are packed with quercetin, another secret weapon that helps fight allergies by acting like an antihistamine. Quercetin also acts like vitamin C and quells inflammation in your system, which helps stem the side effects associated with allergic inflammation, such as stuffy noses. However, quercetin isn’t absorbed very easily from food. So, although eating lots of onions and garlic may ward off some symptoms, you might consider a 400 to 500 mg supplement if you have severe fall allergies.



Like broccoli and leafy greens, pumpkins are rich in allergy-fighting carotenoids, the form of vitamin A that you need to stockpile in order to better ward off allergies. If your only dietary experience with pumpkin has been in breads or pies, you may not know how versatile it can be. Try it in a main dish, as in this recipe for Beef and Pumpkin Stew, or in Pumpkin Kugel.



Another carotenoid powerhouse, carrots contain lots of healthy beta-carotene to help ward off your ragweed misery. You’ll get more of the valuable vitamin if you lightly steam your carrots, rather than eating them raw, or sauté them with a healthy fat, such as coconut oil or ghee, a form of clarified butter.



Celery is full of vitamin C and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a great tool in fighting not just allergies, but also high blood pressure and chronic pain. It’s one vegetable that you can eat raw or cooked without losing access to its nutrients. And don’t ignore the leaves; chop those up for use in soups and stews to get their vitamin C content, as well.


Stinging Nettle

Even though it’s not necessarily a food, or a fall-specific herb, you can’t discuss natural allergy remedies without hailing stinging nettle. It helps stifle the inflammation that occurs when you’re experiencing allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle contains histamine, the chemical your body produces during an allergic reaction, so it helps you acquire tolerance. Look for 500 mg freeze-dried nettle capsules in your natural health store, and take three times a day. That’s the best form for allergy relief; it won’t sting because it’s freeze-dried. Long-term use of the herb is not recommended, since it can deplete your potassium stores.


Antiallergy Soup!

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup when you’re feeling sick, and while this usually pertains to chicken soup for the flu, an expert on herbs developed this soup to naturally battle allergies. In The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns (Rodale, 2008), herb expert James Duke, Ph.D., recommends this allergy-fighting soup recipe:

Boil an onion (with skin) and a clove of garlic.

Add ½ cup chopped leaves and diced taproots of evening primrose.

After boiling for about 5 minutes, add a cup of nettle leaves and a cup of diced celery stalks, and boil gently for another 3 to 10 minutes.

Before eating, remove the onion skins and eat the soup while it’s still warm.

Season with wine vinegar, black pepper, hot pepper, turmeric, curry powder, or celery seed.


What Not To Eat

Even though foods can be great natural allergy cures, some can actually trigger allergy symptoms. The condition is called “oral allergy syndrome” and occurs when your body mistakes proteins in certain foods for the same allergic proteins in ragweed. On the upside, cooking those foods neutralizes the offending proteins. So if you’re a fall allergy sufferer, here are few foods to either cook first or avoid entirely during allergy season: apples, bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew), cucumber, zucchini, chamomile tea, echinacea, honey, and nuts.



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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Skinny Fat

The Swapawful Conversation

Me:  I AM FAT! Ugh.

My Girlfriend: Stop it! You’re so thin! You’re like a size 4! Geez….

Me: (More like a 6, what is she blind?) No, really, I’m fat. Look at this (jiggling my fatty waist as evidence).

(This argument goes on for several minutes until the comfortableness of directing attention to our problem spots subsides.)

The Skinny

Just because one looks skinny, doesn’t mean they’re not packing on the fat. Thin people can still have high levels of visceral fat, as well as fatty organs. Visceral fat accumulates internally primarily around the outside of organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, and in between the intestines. Having fatty organs can still put thin people at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers. Causes of internal obesity have been attributed to impaired triglyceride/cholesterol metabolism increasing fat accumulation in your liver; excessive intake of fatty foods; or more commonly, eating more calories than the body uses.

How Fat Affects Your Organs

There is no evidence that fat on the inside is riskier than having fat on the outside. What is known is that it is just as comparable to causing hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

  • The liver. The liver is the body’s filter.  It converts and clears the blood of toxins.  When the liver is fatty, it doesn’t work very well as a filter.  Poor liver function has been linked to increased glucose production (diabetes), and affects overall health.
  • The ovaries. Women’s ovaries are crucial for reproduction because they produce eggs and also secrete the hormone estrogen. Problems can arise in the ovaries when too much fat is involved. Investigative studies are currently being done regarding fat around the ovaries and how it relates to pregnancy and fetal growth.
  • The heart. Although visceral fat resides in the abdomen, it can actually be hurting the heart. Research done on mice found that inflammation surrounding individual fat cells can contribute to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the heart’s arteries, and can lead to blood clots. The heart, and the arteries in general, can also be harmed by triglycerides.
  •  The brain. Much more research needs to be conducted, but scientists have found that excess visceral fat may affect brain health as well. Specifically, it was discovered that people with a larger waist and waist-to-hip ratio along with larger body mass index (BMI) have a lower total brain volume. What this really means and whether there is a correlation between abdominal fat and dementia need further investigation, but for those who carry excess weight around the middle, losing a few (or more) pounds makes sense.

Regardless of whether you have internal or external fat, treatment for either is the same.  Eat a healthful diet, weight train, and include cardiovascular exercise in your daily/weekly regimen – a must for this skinny-fat girl!



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Foods That Boost Muscle Growth

Whether you’re a girl or a guy, if you’re trying to get fit, you’re in the testosterone-boosting business. (Unless you have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, in which case your body produces too much testosterone.) Testosterone gives us energy, builds muscle, and heightens our libido. It also helps protect our bones and brains — all good stuff. Some foods can help increase this helpful hormone — here’s how you can take advantage of them.

  1. Add some garlic and onions to your meals. A study conducted with rats found that garlic coupled with a high-protein diet increased testosterone levels. Allicin, a phytochemical found in garlic and onions, may also inhibit cortisol, which can compete with testosterone and interfere with its normal function.
  2. Get more niacin in your diet. Niacin, a B vitamin, has been shown to boost HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind), high levels of which have been associated with high levels of testosterone. Niacin is found in many foods, including dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and eggs.
  3. Choose healthy vegetable fats. Vegetable fat intake has been shown to increase dihydrotestosterone, a form of testosterone responsible for the growth of body hair. Just take it easy on the soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils — instead get your vegetable fats from heart-healthy canola and olive oils.
  4. Eat zinc-rich foods. These include oysters, Dungeness crab, beef, pork, dark-meat chicken and turkey, yogurt, cheddar cheese, cashews, almonds, baked beans, and chickpeas. One study found that restricting zinc in healthy young men led to a 75 percent reduction in their testosterone, while supplementing zinc-deficient older men doubled their testosterone.




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Can A Broken Heart Be Fixed With A Defibulator?

Immaculate Heart of Mary

According to Dana George, an eHow contributor, it’s possible:

Broken heart syndrome is a condition that develops out of a stressful situation. Often referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, times of great turmoil can actually cause your body to produce an overabundance of stress hormones. This change in the chemical makeup of your system can prompt an enlargement of your heart, which triggers the chest pain and shortness of breath associated with this condition. The death of a loved one is by far the most predominant cause of broken heart syndrome, but you may develop this disorder out of any extremely stressful circumstances. Though the condition can be quite disconcerting, there is treatment to counteract complications of the syndrome.

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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Health and Science


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Who Is Sleep Deprived?


Nearly one third of U.S. workers come to the job with less than six hours of sleep — meaning they are almost certainly sleep-deprived, government researchers say. Among the sleepiest workers: Those who work night shifts (think nurses and cab drivers as well as factory workers), people ages 30 to 64 and those who are widowed, separated or divorced.

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Health and Science


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Allergy HELP

Original caption: Not faked. I was trying to t...

Allergies and asthma affect millions of Americans. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) is a professional association of allergists and the leading authority on allergic conditions such as allergies and asthma. If you suffer from either or both, allergists are the experts with the training to stop your allergy and asthma symptoms at the source.

You can learn more about allergies and asthma, read about people who found relief from symptoms just like yours and check back for updates on how you can feel your best all of the time.


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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Health and Science


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