Health Bytes

About the masks…

Do they work?

Of course they do.  And of course they don’t – at least, they don’t deliver as often promised…

Think of the mask as a filter. If your filter has “big holes” it won’t keep out tiny things.

Any mask fabric has weave apertures (holes between the threads) that any self-respecting virus could easily fly through, riding in on the propulsion of a forceful sneeze. Viruses are incredibly tiny, only visible in specialized microscopes.

What about multiple masks?

Think of the mask as a filter. If your filter has “big holes” it may not keep out all tiny things, even with multiple layers of “big holes” – but it will capture some of them. So does that mean that masks are worthless?  No…   Are they effective protection against a virus?  No…

No, not masks alone.  In concert with other measures, masks can decrease the number of viral particles getting into your oral cavity and replicating.  Filters, even “big hole” filters of different fabrics, will decrease the number of viral particles that enter. A critical mass of viral strings are required to initiate a viral infection.  And taking nutrients that inhibit replication/multiplication of the virus (for example quercetin, Vitamin C, turmeric) will enhance the effects of the mask.

You also want to discourage the possibility of those few viral strings proliferating in your mouth or nasal passages. Wearing a mask toomuch creates a protected environment for their growth!  Take breaks from mask wearing when you’re not in close contact with others, not in a virally-loaded airspace,  when you’re outdoors.  Between mask wearings, use an anti-viral mouth wash or gargle, such as hydrogen peroxide mixed with mint, to disable unwanted entrants. Hydrogen peroxide kills viruses and many other micro-organisms as a disinfectant.

Many masks DO block larger sized organisms such as bacteria. Blocking bacterial in the air from entering your system will reduce the total immune load on your body. That’s a good thing.

There are masks that include silver or copper threading, which are strongly anti-viral, killing/blocking viruses from entering your system or emerging from you. That’s what we wear at Health InSyncs.  But the risk of over-wearing any mask remains. Even if viruses and other organisms are not entering the oral cavity, the  prolonged disruption of natural oral ventilation is stressful for the immune system.

There’s no magic mask. Work with what works for you, your exposure to people,  your immune strength, your mask budget.

Health Bytes

Easy, cheap bio-hacks…

Bio-hacking is the trending term for upping your game, improving your function. Here are some easy, inexpensive bio-hacks you can use to improve your mind, body and spirit function. 

  • Choose one important thing to do or work on each day, and do it first
  • Spend time in nature, or at least gazing at it (even photographs of nature work!)
  • Remove toxic cleaning materials from your home
  • Smile when you feel stressed
  • Drink filtered water – and not from plastic bottles!
  • Practice gratitude hourly
  • Walk vigorously 5-20 minutes daily (to your ability)
  • Stop to breathe deeply for 2 minutes at least once daily
  • Give 3-5 second hugs, and mean it
  • Listen to your favorite music for an energy lift
  • Volunteer for a cause of passionate interest to you
  • Relish the sight, smells and texture of your food before eating
  • Spend time with people who have habits or traits you want to develop or improve 

Health Bytes

Summarizing Suzy on Cilantro…

In her recent column, Suzy Cohen (“America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist”) described several medicinal attributes of one of my favorite herbs, cilantro. In my rehab from mercury toxicity in the past, cilantro extract was part of the chelation armamentarium; I also really enjoy fresh cilantro as an herb in many “southern” (Central and South American) dishes. So I was appreciative of Suzy’s attention, surprised at the range of cilantro’s potential benefits, and re-enthused for enjoying more of its culinary offerings. I offer some highlights of Suzy’s column (SuzyCohen.com).

Detoxification   Cilantro is rich in chlorophyll, carotenoids, quercetin and other antioxidants, and a gentle chelator of heavy metals. That’s a powerhouse for detoxification! Antioxidants are best known as “housekeepers” that help clear the body of many free radicals and toxins.  Chelators dissolve and transport heavy metals that have accumulated in the body and help them get escorted out of the body via the urine. 

Bone Building    Cilantro is an excellent source of Vitamin K, well-known for its role in building bone mass. It also is a generous source of minerals that are used to build strong bones: magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. Caution: because of the high Vitamin K content, people on anticoagulant therapy are sometimes advised to avoid cilantro.

Reducing seizure activity   As an adjunct to seizure controlling medications, cilantro demonstrates support for the function of potassium channels and help reduce aberrant firing in the brain.  That can educe the severity or frequency of seizures.

These uses, supported by studies, are based on cilantro eaten as food, not on cilantro extracts or concentrates. Cilantro offers gentle support through natural physiologic mechanisms for healthier function. 

My curiosity was piqued by a few friends and family with a strong distaste for cilantro. I suspected there was something “wrong” with them! It turns out that there is a genetic SNP/variation in their “smell genes” that makes the aroma of cilantro quite offensive to some people.  It’s reportedly a rare SNP.  But if you have a strong reaction to cilantro, don’t fight your genetics!  There’s another herb out there for your uniqueness.

Health Bytes

When Summer Fun Gets Sidelined… reach for these remedies

Homeopathics

Arnica Montana – 1st remedy for trauma, falls, bruises, sprains and strains, muscular soreness, overexertion,  pain after dental work

Bryonia Alba – joint pain with swelling, slightest movement worsens pain, severe headaches that develop slowly

Calendula – sunburn, first degree burns, scrapes, rash

Nux Vomica – for indigestion, nausea, hangover, bloating, “heavy head” headaches, constipation, lack of sleep, nervous exhaustion from frantic pace, travel sickness

Rhus Toxicodendron – for poison ivy or poison oak; for sprains and strains from overexertion, joint pain or stiffness that is better after some gentle movement of the joint

Herbs

Rhodiola – for physical and mental fatigue and anxiety from prolonged stress

Schisandra – anti-inflammatory for colds, flu, digestive and chest symptoms

White Willow Bark – the “pre-aspirin” pain reliever – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic for pain, headaches, overexertion (caution for bleeding disorders or recent surgery)

Health Bytes

Keep a Rainbow of Health Housekeepers

Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and even black and white.  Why is food color important?

One reason: colors are indicators of different kinds of antioxidants that the body uses to keep the place clean! Each kind of antioxidant has specialized duties in your body, dealing with different toxins or damage, in your cells and in varying parts of the body. 

So keep a staff of “rainbow housekeepers” on hand  to support your body naturally cleaning itself of toxins and debris.

Health Bytes

On-the-Go Snacking Options

Traveling? On the run a lot? Getting together with friends at an eating place that doesn’t have options for your food sensitivities? It can be challenging when you have food sensitivities, or just want to make healthier food choices, when your life and schedule are so-o-o full. Healthy snacks help to curb hunger and to resist temptation from partaking of foods that will disturb your balance.

I have two basic snacking strategies:

  • Homemade snack packs of nutritious real foods
  • Retail packaged processed foods

I haven’t organized my life enough to have a steady or long-lasting supply of the homemade foods. I supplement with retail snacks that I think of as healthy emergency rations. You don’t need to have enough food for a meal – just enough to stave off hunger or temptation.

The homemade snacks are for an anticipated hectic day or week, and depend on my frozen or dried reserves and baking sprees. They can be carried in my purse or briefcase for the day, or be refrigerated at work for several days. The second category of retail packaged snack foods are stocked in my purse, in my desk drawer, in my briefcase, in the car, in the suitcase.… for emergencies, travel and conferences. 

The “homemade” snacks include fresh foods or homemade goodies stored in silicone or plastic baggies, or small glass snack containers. These don’t store for more than a day of travel:

  • raw vegetables such as pea shoots, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, young turnips, jicama, celery
  • small fresh fruits such as blueberries, cherries, pineapple chunks, pear
  • home sprouted nuts or seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pecans
  • fresh coconut chunks or chips
  • roasted beans such as garbanzos or peas
  • dried fruits such as apricots, pineapple, figs, plantain chips, apples
  • protein-rich, low-sugar muffins and cookies (look on HealthInSyncs.com for some recipes!) 

For out-of-town events and on the road, or even weekends of just too many errands to stop and eat – I cheat. Not by eating foods that are detrimental to my health – life is too precious for me to waste it like that! But I raid the retail snack foods, that are in my purse, in my briefcase, in the suitcase.…

These retail packaged snacks require NO refrigeration, NO cooking, stirring, or shaking. The ingredients are all or mostly organic, certainly non-GMO. Most have shelf lives of about 12 months. I look at the protein/sugar ration as an “easy” screen; to get a significant protein serving without too much sugar. I want it to be as unprocessed as possible – as close to Real Food as portability allows.

Here’s what I might find when I dive in to my snack hiding places (some of my current favorites). All are free of gluten, dairy, soy, MSG, corn, artificial sweeteners:

Jerky et al.- Grass fed meats as jerky, pemmican, or other packaged meat products

  • Lamb Currant-Mint Bar – Epic brand. Grass fed lamb, sesame seeds, spices and herbs yield 10g protein/9g sugar
  • Nick’s Sticks Grass-Fed Beef Snack Sticks – grass-fed beef and spices, 10g protein
  • Paleo Stix – by Steves Paleo. Nothing but grass-fed beef and spices with 7g of protein.
  • Tanka Bar – A Native American enterprise!  Buffalo, cranberry, and spices with 7g protein/6g sugar

Fruit & nut bars – Note:  Some sugar is OK, high-sugar is not! High sugar:protein ratios feed cravings, not you.

  • Cherry Walnut – Evo Hemp brand. Raw, vegan Paleo mix of fruit, nuts, seeds, alfalfa for 7g protein/8g sugar
  • Chocolate Coconut Bliss – Raw Revolution brand. Raw, vegan, organic fruit, nut, and chocolate for 7g protein/12 sugar
  • Heavenly Hazelnut Chocolate – Raw Revolution brand. Raw, vegan, organic fruit, nut, and chocolate for 7g protein/12g sugar
  • Mango Macadamia – Evo Hemp brand. Raw, cold-pressed vegan Paleo mix of fruit, nuts, seeds, yerba mate for 7g protein/9g sugar
  • Vegan Bar – Organic Food Bar brand. Raw, cold-pressed vegan mix of nuts, seeds, pea protein, sprouts, quinoa combined for 11g protein/20g sugar

Other protein snacks 

  • Crispy Crunchy Organic Chickpeas – The Good Bean brand. Organic chickpeas soaked and roasted, 5g protein/1g sugar
  • Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds – Go Raw brand. Raw, sprouted organic pumpkin seeds 7g protein
  • Sprouted Sunflower Seeds – Go Raw brand. Raw, sprouted organic sunflower seeds 6g protein

This is where I have found them (retail offerings change a lot). There are certainly other retail and online sources.

Most websites provide nutritional and ingredient information for each product, so you can choose for your specific ingredient preferences.

It’s tempting to think of these good-tasting, portable foods as meal substitutes; but that’s an abuse of the convenience. The great value of these “healthier” snacks is to stave off blood sugar drops, and to defeat the temptation of junk snack foods that offer counterfeit energy and negative nutrition.

So stock up wisely for emergencies and temptations!

Health Bytes

Want to check on your brain?

Use BrainSpan

Brain health is cell health. One of the easiest and most effective ways to check on your brain wellness is with a BrainSpan assessment. With a few drops of blood and a 15 minutes web-based cognitive online assessment, you gain insight into functional brain changes before they become apparent in traditional medical screening.

The BrainSpan assessment examines

  • Nutritional Brain Health
  • Inflammatory Response
  • Brain Cell Toxicity
  • Short Term Memory
  • Sustained Attention 
  • Processing Speed

Two weeks after submitting your dried blood spot and online analysis, you’ll receive a report of your current cell and brain biomarkers and a report of how to improve them.

You can go to the website BrainSpan.com for more information. We have the test kits available at Health InSyncs.

Health Bytes

Ginger is Powerful Medicine

Ginger contains many therapeutic compounds, with well documented responses in the body. Two well recognized ginger compounds in the research include gingerol and zingerone. Cooking transforms gingerol into zingerone so the benefits of ginger will vary somewhat with the form used, whether fresh grated, cooked or powdered.

Ginger is an antioxidant, an analgesic, a blood thinner, and a liver protector. Research on its compound zingerone (most prevalent in cooked ginger or ginger tea) determined that it reduces inflammation, improves blood sugar, eases muscle and joint pain,  speeds fat breakdown and improves immune function. You can easily add it to soups, sautéed vegetables or make tea to make it part of your dietary habit.

What’s not to like about ginger? It tastes good, too! However, some medical cautions are in order. Ginger amplifies the effects of some medications, like tetracycline, some calcium channel blockers and blood thinners. If you’re on these medications, do not suddenly add a lot of ginger to your diet without medical supervision.

“We think of ginger as a flavor agent, but ginger is powerful medicine.”
Suzy Cohen, America’s pharmacist