A Different Approach To Spring Allergies

One of the most important aspects of addressing any health issue is to understand the cause and effect of how and why you are experiencing your symptoms and what they represent. Seasonal allergies are, for many, the down side to the beauty of spring and summer. Itchy, runny eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and even wheezing can dictate an individual’s activity choices, where they can go, and even what they can eat.

None of this is desirable, and much of it has been shown to be preventable. To understand how you can take control of your seasonal allergies, let’s explore where they come from. Foreign proteins are found in many airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, and ragweed. When mucous membranes that come in contact with these foreign proteins are not immunologically competent enough to break down the proteins, the membraneS secrete mucous, fluids, and histamine. This causes the itching, swelling, irritation, and watery excretions that make seasonal allergies so challenging.

To improve allergy symptoms, steroid or steroid-like medications are often prescribed. These are anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce the allergic immune reaction to the foreign proteins.

By building up our immune and adrenal system, we can enable our bodies to be better able to handle these allergens, which cause the allergy reactions. Our adrenals are located either on top of or within the kidneys and produce cortico-steroids and other natural anti-inflammatory as part of our “national guard” system. Hans Selye, MD, PhD, who spent over 50 years researching the adrenals and immune system, discovered the important nutrition and lifestyle components to keeping this important body system working well: 

  • A diet rich in B, C, E, and A vitamins (or supplementation)
  • Unsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oils
  • Adequate protein intake
  • Minerals to aid the production of natural allergy fighting anti-inflammatories 
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Elimination of infections
  • Reduction of emotional stress
  • Moderate exercise
  • Avoidance of over exertion
  • Avoidance of traumas as well as dental and medical surgery
  • Elimination of extreme temperatures indoors and out

Seyle’s research demonstrated that by taking good care of our adrenal and immune system, allergies may be greatly reduced and, in some cases, eliminated. Applying some of these principles may allow you to enjoy this spring more while experiencing fewer symptoms.

5 Ways To Protect Your Health And Save The Environment

We can all make small behavioral changes that can lead to a big difference to our personal health and the health of our planet. There are many easy and convenient ways to "go green." Several of these suggestions can even save us money and time. Here is a brief list of ways you can immediately start to protect your health and help keep the planet healthier at the same time:

> Taking shorter showers will not only help to keep your skin better hydrated by not having all the natural oils removed from your skin, but each individual who limits their shower to five (5) minutes can save almost 4,000 gallons of water per year.

> Avoid the dry cleaner and you avoid exposing your skin to perchloroethylene. Also known as perc, this toxic solvent is used to dry clean clothing. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and skin irritation have all been linked to this solvent. It may also deplete the ozone layer in addition to contributing toxic and carcinogenic by-products as it breaks down.

> Stop using air freshners to avoid phthalates, chemicals linked to hormone abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. In addition, they may also contain other harmful, cancer-causing volatile organic compounds that are not good for you or the earth. You can use mixtures like orange peel or sage in pretty containers or small bowls to freshen the rooms of your home or office.

> Buy organic coffee that is grown without pesticides that can harm the soil and seep into the water supply. This makes a better "brew" for you as it does not contain synthetic chemicals, and it decreases damage to the earth.

> Avoid using flea collars on your pets as the chemicals in the flea collars contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate water supplies. The pesticides used in the flea collars work by harming the nervous system of the insect. The same pesticides can harm your pet and yourself as they are absorbed through the skin.

These are a few simple and convenient ways you can immediately start to make yourself and the planet healthier!

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Apologies: Men vs Women

For most of us, it does not come as a surprise that men and women think, behave, and are in many ways fundamentally different from one another. We also know that hormones play a large role in these differences. Now science is beginning to unravel the specifics of how male and female brains function, in large part because of male and female hormones that craft our brain development and orient our behaviors. These differences in brain function and hormones may be the reason why men and women approach apologizing in completely different manners.

Two new studies look at the brain function of men and women and offer some interesting observations regarding the subject. One study is from the University of California in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, led by researcher Richard Haier, a psychology professor at the University of California.

The findings of their study show that generally men have 6.5 times the amount of gray matter relating to general intelligence compared with women. Women on the other hand have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men. "These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," said Haier. But apparently these types of intelligent behaviors manifest differently.

Women apologize more often than men do, according to a new study led by researcher Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. It appears it is not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing, they simply have a different perception regarding what they feel rises to the level of requiring an apology.

The research team saw no difference in the number of times men and women acted in ways that elicited apologies, but there was a distinct difference in the male and female perception of what constituted a situation that requires an apology.

"Men aren't actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don't want to take responsibility for their actions," says Schumann. "It seems to be that when they think they've done something wrong they [men] do apologize just as frequently as when women think they've done something wrong. It's just that they think they've done fewer things wrong.”

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from my bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

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What Your Sleep Position Says About You

In a BBC report linking certain sleeping positions with health risks, British scientists revealed that the sleeping position of an individual may provide clues to their true personality in addition to revealing health clues. It is an interesting theory and I became interested to learn whether a person's usual sleeping position could really hint toward character flaws or health symptoms. Here's what I learned through further study.

Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, analyzed six common sleeping positions that he believes are linked to specific personality types. "We are all aware of our body language when we are awake but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us" Professor Idzikowski noted.

The sleep study identified that most people are unlikely to change their sleeping position during the night. We are also creatures of habit. Most people sleep the same way every night. Only 5% of the study participants were reported to have slept in a different position on different evenings. Another interesting reveal of the study was that only one in ten individuals cover themselves completely with a blanket. Most people expose a leg, an arm, or both feet.

Professor Idzikowski also examined the effect of various sleeping positions on health. You may have read that some positions are believed to help aid digestion, while other positions are believed to promote snoring and restlessness.

Here are the six common positions studied by Professor Idzikowski. The study's findings related each position to certain personality traits and health implications. See if you agree with the findings based on your own sleep patterns.

  • Fetus position – A majority (41%) of the study participants, with 200% more females than males, sleep in this curled-up position. The personality appointed to this position is that the sleeper has a tough exterior and is shy and sensitive but warms up quickly.
  • Log position – This study identified that 15% of people sleep in this position. Sleeping on your side with both arms down suggests that you are a social, easy-going person who is trusting and possibly gullible.
  • Yearner position– The third most popular position, utilized by 13% of the participants, is the side-lying position with both arms out in front of the body. This position is considered to be open-minded and yet cynical. They can be suspicious and stubborn.
  • Soldier position – 8% of the sleepers in this study lie on their back with their arms down and close to the body. This position is paired with people who are reserved, quiet, not fussy, and hold themselves and others to a high standard. This position also has a higher rate of snoring due to the back position.
  • Free fall position – Only 7% of the sleepers lie on their bellies with arms under or wrapped around a pillow and their head turned to the side. These individuals were considered brash, outgoing, and uncomfortable with criticism.
  • Starfish position – Those who lie on their backs with arms near their head or pillow make up the smallest group of sleepers, with only 5% utilizing this position. Starfish sleepers are considered good listeners, helpful, and  uncomfortable being the center of attention. Sleeping in the starfish position is likely to lead to a poor night's sleep due to snoring.

It will be interesting to see how future studies add to the knowledge revealed by Professor Idzikowski. In the meantime, take some time to ponder whether the associated personality traits are accurate for your style of sleeping. Consider ways to remedy any undesirable traits or health consequences.  

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Should You Curb Your Blabbermouth?: Social Costs And Benefits Of Gossip

Gossip is one of the most unconscious addictions many of us suffer from. If you want to do a little experiment, count how many times a day you talk about other people: those you know and even those you don't like celebrities and politicians.

It's not that all gossip is bad. There are basic social functions that gossip serves. The first function is that it creates an informal exchange of information. Think of popular referral websites like "Angie's List" that provide feedback from folks who utilize professional services. The "grapevine" gossip can be informative and can serve as a reference service when we are looking to find out if someone is trustworthy or if a doctor or dentist is a good practitioner.

Another purpose gossip serves is to control inappropriate behavior by creating fear of such behavior being broadcast through gossip and revealing information about an individual they would prefer to keep under wraps. Treating others badly, cheating on a spouse, or being thought of as a liar are typical behaviors that people will usually curb to avoid being gossiped about.

Gossip can also be part of storytelling and an attempt to understand human nature and why people behave as they do. We are often like curious detectives talking about what a person did or said to attempt to understand their motives and how they might be feeling about us. This is one way we try to resolve our realtionship conflicts by talking about the person with friends, family, and even therapists.

When gossip is bad or ugly, we step over the line and maliciously critize and "bad mouth" someone for the purpose of either putting them down or building ourselves up. We may critize others in an attempt to deflect our own fears of inadequacy and insecurity.

Gossip can range from insightful storytelling or social therapy to destructive behavior that diminshes others and ourselves. An important thing to remember about gossip is well stated in the Spanish proverb: "He who gossips with you will also gossip about you."

 

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The Nourishment Of Our Relationships

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We don’t often think of relationships as nutritious, but indeed they are. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, made a statement about the power of love and relationships and their importance to our happiness: “We are never so helplessly unhappy as when we lose love.”

A Little Knowledge

Freud knew something from his experience about the human condition because of his many years treating patients who experienced difficult, unfulfilling and loveless relationships. We often forget that those who love us and those we love fulfill our basic human need to be known, valued and wanted. All healthy human beings want to be valued and want to experience being cared for and treated respectfully. We want to receive affection from those we care about.

As an older adult who, like Freud, has seen the ravages of love’s loss, I have come to appreciate and cherish those in my life who fulfill my need to be valued and wanted, my need to be loved.

Perfect Memories

It is important for each of us to remember that no one is perfect and that if we expect perfection in love, we will surely be disappointed. One of the gifts of age and experience is the relief of realizing that each act of love we give from our imperfect self to another and the love given to us by imperfect others is the most important wealth we possess.

At the end of the day, when all else is stilled and the distractions of work, ambition, success and achievement are put aside, those we “go home to” and the nourishment they provide us are our real treasures.

May we take a moment each day to appreciate how profound a blessing the gift of relationship is in our lives. For a free download on enhancing your relationship through communication skills, visit http://www.changingbehavior.org/.

 

Relationships as Nourishment

We don't often think of relationships as nutrient, but indeed they are. Freud made a statement about the power of love and relationships and their importance to our happiness when he said: "We are never so hopelessly unhappy as when we lose love."

Freud knew something from his experience about the human condition from his many years treating patients who experienced difficult, unfulfilling and loveless relationships. We often forget that those who love us and those we love fulfill our basic human need to be known, valued and wanted. All healthy human beings want to be valued and experience being cared for, treated respectfully and receive affection from those we care about.

As an older adult who, like Freud, has seen the ravages of loves loss, I have come to appreciate and cherish those in my life who fulfill my need to be valued and wanted – my need to be loved.

It is important for each of us to remember that no one is perfect and that if we expect perfection in love we will surely be disappointed. One of the gifts of age and experience is the relief of realizing that each act of love we give from our imperfect self to another and the love given to us by imperfect others, is the most important wealth we possess.

At the end of the day, when all else is stilled and the distractions of work, ambition, success and achievement are put aside, it is those we "go home to" and the nourishment they provide us that is our real treasure.

May we take a moment each day to appreciate how profound a blessing the gift of love is in our lives.

With all good wishes,
Georgianna
Copyright 2012 G. Donadio

Take Two Tylenol, Call Me in the Morning

Here is a very interesting bit of research. Although I have shared this information on a national blog I write for, the information was so interesting that I wanted to share it again, here with you.

Last year there was a study conducted at the University of Kentucky, College of Arts and Sciences, that was examining the connection and possible overlap between physical pain and emotional pain. This particular study had 62 participants who were filling out the “Hurt Feeling Scale”, a self-assessment tool which measures an individual’s reaction to distressing experiences. In addition, the study was using doses of the active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, as art of its protocol.

The researchers separated the study volunteers into two groups. The first group, after filling out their self-assessment tools, were given 1,000 mg of the acetaminophen. This is a dose that is equal to one Extra Strength Tylenol. The control group however, received a placebo  instead of the acetaminophen.

The finding from this study showed that the control group without the acetaminphen, after three weeks, did not experience any change in the amount of intensity of "hurt" feeling during the three week period. However, the group that did receive the active ingredient reported a noticeable reduction of "hurt" feelings on a regular, day-today basis.

The outcomes were so interesting that the researchers started a second study cohort group of 25 different volunteers, but this time upped the amount of acetaminophen to 2,000 mg daily and added computer games that were designed to create social rejection and a feeling of isolation in the participants. Also new to the study was MRI scanning which were able to identify when the participants had feelings of social rejection occur.

Now here is the "gold" of this research – the outcomes demonstrated that the area of the brain where emotional discomfort is felt is the same location that the physical pain is experienced in. This would explain why the group that was taking the acetaminophen, while having not physical pain, reported less feelings of hurt and rejection than the group that was not taking the acetaminophen but rather a placebo substance.

Geoff MacDonald, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who is an expert in romantic relationships, co-authored this study. MacDonald states that our brain pain centers cannot tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain.
So, while Tylenol is not recommended to be used routinely as it can lead to liver and digestive system disturbances, knowing that it can take away the pain of a broken heart, it may soon be that our therapists as well as our physicians will recommendation that we “take two Tylenol and call me in the morning” for heartache as well as for headache!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/227298.php http://web.psych.utoronto.ca/gmacdonald/Research%20Interests.html

With all good wishes,
Georgianna

Copyright 2012, G. Donadio All Rights Reserved

Infertility and Stress

When a couple desires to have a child together and they are unable to conceive, it can be a time of great stress and upset for both partners. The inability to conceive, and the resulting longing that accompanies it, can be one of the most painful and difficult things a couple can experience together.

A number of years ago, in the New England Journal of Medicine, an article appeared that caught my eye because at that time there were a significant number or couples in my practice who were experiencing infertility. The article stated that often, regardless of the advances in medical technology and the various in-vitro methods available, a woman will ony become pregnant when her body is ready to carry a conception to term.

This wisely suggests that there are a number of reasons a woman may not conceive when she wishes to; and that the body’s innate intelligence knows when the best time and condition for a successful conception and birth of her baby is. The article also went on to say that stress is the number one reason women do not conceive when they wish to.

This is well demonstrated with women who adopt a baby when they cannot conceive, settle into motherhood, only to find that they are pregnant – something they or their doctors did not think would happen. The discussion of why women, in other cultures, become pregnant more easily that women in the US always leads back to our lifestyle and the abundance of stressful living we have in the US.

How does stress actually cause infertility? Here are the facts –

1. When we become stressed for periods of time, our body must make more cortisol, an adrenal hormone that deals with stress adaptation.

2. To provide this additional cortisol, the body diverts the production of sex hormones into the production of cortisol. This reduces fertility. Under stress, sex and reproduction is the first thing the body ignores.

3. Excess levels of cortisol interfere with oxytocin, the hormone required for fertile egg implantation in a woman’s uterus lining.

4. Excess stress over time suppresses the immune function as well as interferes with healthy digestive function that can lead to malnutrition.

If you or someone you know wants to conceive and is having a difficult time, they may greatly benefit from becoming familiar with this information and finding ways to decrease their anxiety about becoming pregnant, or reduce their lifestyle that may be causing high levels of physical stress.

With all good wishes,
Georgianna

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Fish and Heart Health – a Surprising Study


The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS), which involved 84,493 females aged 50-79 years old, analyzed data over a 10 year period on the effects of various forms of fish consumption and heart failure. At the start of this study none of the participants had heart disease.

Fish is well known as a food which enhances both physical as well as mental health. Fish oil is also reported to be a mental and physical nutrient which reduces disease development and mental deterioration. In evaluating fish and fish oil it would be natural to expect that positive outcomes would be observed and reported.

The study divided the consumption of baked or broiled fish into frequency catagories of less than 1 time per month; 1-3 times per month; 1-2 times per week; 3-4 times per week and greater than 5 times per week.

The study also observed the consumption of fried fish at the frequencies of less than one serving per month; 1-3 times per month and greater than 1 time per week.

The findings, however, were startling. The weekly consumption of 5 or more serving of baked or broiled dark fish, primarily salmon, mackerel and bluefish, was found to lower the risk of heart failure by an impressive 30%. While the consumption of fried fish, just 1 time or more per week, was associated to be related to a 48% increase in heart failure!

Another surprise within this study is that the assumption that taking omega-3 supplements will be as beneficial as eating fish. The study could not identify any significant change in cardiac failure rates that was associated with taking omega-3 supplements.

While the study came to no hard and fast conclusion of why the fried fish was so lethal, the thinking is that there must be some property to the oil when deep fried that creates the negative health affects. Another conclusion was that it appears better to eat fresh fish that is baked or broiled that to reply on fish oil supplements for heart health.

While this is a blow to those of us who love fish and chips, enjoying fish that is well cooked and healthy of our hearts is not a hard thing to get used to.

With all good wishes,
Georgianna

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio