Jun 26 2014

Food Allergies: Autoimmune Update Part Three

Imagine what life would be like if you had to constantly check out the ingredients in your favorite foods to make sure your life wasn’t in danger after eating even a tiny bit. For some people with severe food allergies, that’s become their way of life. Food allergies cause about 30,000 severe allergic reactions and 150 deaths every year in the United States. They affect nearly 4% of adults and about 7% of children under 4 years old. Several studies show that food allergies are becoming more common. Food allergies occur if your immune system has an abnormal reaction to food. Normally, your immune system protects you from germs and disease by fighting off the harmful organisms that can make you sick. When your immune system makes a mistake and attacks a harmless substance you eat, it can cause serious, even life-threatening, allergic symptoms. Symptoms of food allergy can include coughing; tingling in the mouth; skin reactions like hives and itching; and nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or diarrhea. Food allergies can also cause a sudden and severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis brings life-threatening symptoms, which can include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways and wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe). Foods that can cause allergies include fish and shellfish such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster and crab; eggs, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts such as walnuts. Peanut ...

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May 16 2014

Update on Autoimmune Diseases Part Two

When an intruder invades your body—like a cold virus or bacteria on a thorn that pricks your skin—your immune system protects you. It tries to identify, kill and eliminate the invaders that might hurt you. But sometimes problems with your immune system cause it to mistake your body’s own healthy cells as invaders and then repeatedly attacks them. This is called an autoimmune disease. (“Autoimmune” means immunity against the self.) This is the second article in the series: the first article: "Juvenile Arthritis-What You Need To Know" appeared in November 2013: www.nerdel.com/blog/2013/11/21/juvenile-arthritis-what-you-need-to-know/ The Immune System Your immune system is the network of cells and tissues throughout your body that work together to defend you from invasion and infection. You can think of it as having two parts: the acquired and the innate immune systems. The acquired (or adaptive) immune system develops as a person grows. It “remembers” invaders so that it can fight them if they come back. When the immune system is working properly, foreign invaders provoke the body to activate immune cells against the invaders and to produce proteins called antibodies that attach to the invaders so that they can be recognized and destroyed. The more primitive innate (or inborn) immune system activates white blood cells to destroy invaders, without using antibodies. Autoimmune diseases refer to problems with the acquired immune system’s reactions. In an autoimmune reaction, antibodies and immune cells target the ...

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Feb 14 2014

Cancer In Children-What Do You Need To Know!

A report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Just the thought of a child getting cancer can be frightening and overwhelming. But while cancer can be life threatening, there’s encouraging news. Over the last few decades, improved therapies have helped childhood cancer survival rise to more than 80%. Many kinds of cancer can now be cured or controlled to help give children a better quality of life into adulthood. The most common type of childhood cancer is leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Leukemia begins in the bone marrow, the spongy substance inside our bones where blood cells are made. Other childhood cancers include lymphoma (blood cancer that begins in the lymph glands) and solid tumors (abnormal clumps of tissue). Solid tumors may occur throughout the body, such as in the brain, kidney, muscle or bone. The causes of childhood cancer are largely unknown. Childhood cancer can occur suddenly, with no early symptoms, and might get detected during a physical exam. “If you notice something unusual in your child—unexplained symptoms, not growing properly, belly distended, blood in urine—take your child to the doctor,” says Dr. Nita Seibel, a pediatric oncologist at NIH. If the doctor suspects cancer, a series of tests will help identify the type of cancer, where it’s located and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Cancers in children can be different from adult cancers. When you’re researching the ...

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Nov 13 2013

Are You Sleeping Enough?

As reported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the chart below shows general recommendations for different age groups. Age: Recommended Amount of Sleep Newborns 16–18 hours a day Preschool-aged children 11–12 hours a day School-aged children At least 10 hours a day Teens 9–10 hours a day Adults (including the elderly) 7–8 hours a day As part of a health survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7–19 percent of adults in the United States reported not getting enough rest or sleep every day. Nearly 40 percent of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month. Also, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic (ongoing) sleep disorders. If you routinely lose sleep or choose to sleep less than needed, the sleep loss adds up. The total sleep lost is called your sleep debt. For example, if you lose 2 hours of sleep each night, you'll have a sleep debt of 14 hours after a week. Some people nap as a way to deal with sleepiness. Naps may provide a short-term boost in alertness and performance. However, napping doesn't provide all of the other benefits of night-time sleep. Thus, you can't really make up for lost sleep. Some people sleep more on their days off than ...

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Jul 31 2010

Graehm Gray: Eating Less Makes Your Immune System Stronger!

Okay, so I guess all of you that have been reading my columns know by now that my emphasis is on eating less. Cut down on the portion sizes. Yes, to some, diet is a four letter word. Let's talk lifestyle! Eating less and exercising will help you maintain a healthy weight, improves the quality of your health and is anti-aging. As I explained in prior columns, calorie restriction (CR)-the term used for  low calorie meal plans, has been associated with many benefits. Both in human experiments and in animal research, the data has been confirmed-CR subjects outlive their normal and over fed counterparts. Researchers in Japan discovered that short term calorie restriction can improve the performance of the heart. Now comes further research showing that low calorie meal plans can actually enhance the immune response. What? Eating less can make my immune system stronger? Well, Simin Nikbin Meydani, Director at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University studied 46 overweight men and women, 20 to 40 years old and had them consume either a 30% or 10% calorie restricted diet for six months. The results: “short-term calorie restriction for six months in humans improves the function of T-cells*.” That means, our immune systems can improve with less food consumed. What is your immune system? Well, its the system of your body that ...

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