Diseases and Conditions

  1. Common colds boost heart attack risk

    The summer sniffles could tax your ticker

    It's HOT out -- so why do you have a COLD?

    Turns out, catching a summer cold is way more likely than you might think.

    Though most colds happen during the winter -- thanks to cool weather-loving rhinoviruses -- you can still get walloped with the sniffles in summer, when enteroviruses are most active.

    Enteroviruses cause 10 to 15 million illnesses each year -- primarily between June and October.

    You want to do everything you can to avoid catching a summer cold, and not just because it's a drag. According to the latest research, avoiding a cold could SAVE YOUR LIFE!

    The new study finds that you're at greater risk for suffering a heart attack in the weeks immediately following a cold or respiratory infection.

    When Australian researchers interviewed 578 heart attack patients, 21 percent of them reported having had a cold or other mild respiratory illness within a month before the heart attack struck.

    Sure, that could just be a coincidence. But 17 percent of those interviewed reported similar symptoms within the previous WEEK.

    After crunching the numbers, the researchers determined that patients who had a recent cold or upper respiratory infection were a whopping 13 TIMES more likely to have a heart attack than patients who reported no infections.

    The theory is that respiratory infections can bring on a heart attack because they increase inflammation. And, as you know, inflammation is the culprit behind many of our most common diseases and health conditions -- including cardiovascular disease.

    For instance, inflammation can make your blood clot -- something that also happens when you get sick with a cold.

    And when your blood is too thick -- or has clumped together into clots -- it can't flow as well through your body and can't deliver oxygen and nutrients to all the parts that need them, including your heart.

    But what's more, that infection can introduce toxins into your body that can damage your blood vessels. And if your blood isn't flowing as it should be, it can't clear them out as quickly as you may need.

    So, just because the mercury's rising doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels when it comes to common-sense cold prevention practices -- especially if you're at risk for heart disease or already have it.

    First and foremost, wash your hands with plain ol' soap and water frequently to get rid of any viruses you may have picked up from shared surfaces, objects, or other people.

    But don't stop there. You'll want to also:

    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Minimize your intake of sugar, which can cause inflammation and hinder your immune response.
    • Ramp up the probiotics to give the "good bugs" in your belly that support immunity an extra boost.
    • Load up on vitamins C and D, two of the best immune boosters out there. Your best sources are supplements, as well as eating citrus and soaking in some rays.

    At the first sign of symptoms, you can also supplement with elderberry extract or Echinacea to kick your immune system into high gear.

  2. Antacids linked to stomach bleeds

    Stop the burn... without causing a bleed

    Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz.

    You remember that old jingle for Alka-Seltzer. Those two tablets dropping into a glass of water and fizzing up made treating heartburn or stomach upset actually seem like fun.

    In its heyday, this ad campaign convinced younger people with no digestive issues to use it -- even if it was just to cure a hangover.

    But there's a reason why you should stop before you plop -- whether it's to stop reflux before it starts or to calm down the occasional stomach upset.

    A warning from the Food and Drug Administration links antacids like Alka-Seltzer to stomach bleeds -- and even death.

    According to the FDA, there were 41 cases of SERIOUS bleeding directly linked to these over-the-counter (OTC) antacids between 1969 and 2014.

    Now, that might not sound like much over the course of a couple of decades, but it gets scarier when you consider that ALL of those cases were bad enough to send the patient to the hospital. And of those, 21 patients lost so much blood that they required transfusions!

    And who's most "at risk?" Seniors over 60 -- especially those with a history of stomach ulcers.

    It's because the most popular antacids out there -- like Alka-Seltzer, Bromo Seltzer, and many others (including their generics) -- are loaded with aspirin.

    If you've followed recommendations from your doc, chances are you're ALREADY on a daily aspirin regimen -- but unless you read the label, you might not realize that you're adding yet ANOTHER dose of it to your day.

    In the case of aspirin, more is NOT better. And as you down those fun and fizzy drinks to relieve pain and discomfort, you put yourself more at risk. Aspirin has been proven to do a number on your gut.

    And it doesn't stop there. Prolonged aspirin use has also been linked to increased risk of stroke. That's why I keep a very close watch on my patients taking aspirin and keep them on the lowest possible dose as long as I'm certain they're not resistant.

    Fortunately, you can calm your upset stomach without making it bleed.

    As I share with you in the July issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter, capsules of Chios mastic gum can ease a number of digestive issues. You can even find mastic as an ingredient in some natural chewing gums -- and popping a piece after a meal is a good way to increase saliva and settle the stomach.

    I've also found a product called Iberogast to be an invaluable tool when I want to treat a patient's entire gastrointestinal system. Developed in Germany in 1961, it's a liquid blend of nine herbs, the main active one being Iberis amara (the "bitter candytuft").

    The others include peppermint, caraway, chamomile, licorice, milk thistle, and lemon balm -- all known to promote digestion.

  3. Eczema often caused by an allergy

    Ease irritated skin with herbs! Q: I've spent hundreds of dollars on different lotions, creams, body butters, etc., trying to soothe my eczema, which mostly manifests on my hands and mid-arm areas. Any suggestions? GR: Last week I answered a question about the dryness and cracking associated with psoriasis on the hands, so this week I'd like to continue the...
  4. Zinc protects against liver disease

    Liver health begins with this miracle mineral It clears out toxins... fights infection... helps with digestion... and stores vitamins. It even produces proteins, carbs, and fats for the rest of your body to use. It's a real workhorse, but you've probably never given this part of your innards much thought. I'm talking about your liver -- your body's unsung hero...
  5. Common insecticides boost risk of diabetes

    Could your garden be making you sick? You've planted the seeds... pulled the weeds... and now you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. Whether you're enjoying cool cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, plump zucchini, or ripe melons, summer is a pretty delicious time to have a vegetable garden. But planting a garden isn't just a...
  6. Statins don’t help healthy seniors

    America's most-prescribed drug does more harm than good You're panting for breath... dripping in cold sweat... and your heart feels like it's being squeezed to a pulp. The symptoms of a heart attack are so frightening that you'll take ANYTHING your doc gives you to avoid that kind of torture to your ticker. Even if you're currently HEALTHY! Once you're...
  7. High-fiber diets reduce risk of osteoarthritis

    Take the "ouch" out of OA with this simple diet trick Your body is like a classic car: Certain parts break down over time, but you've got to keep driving it if you want it to run smoothly. And your knees are a little like your tires -- because you've got SO MUCH riding on them! They've led you to...
  8. Skipping sugar can protect against macular degeneration

    Starve your sweet tooth to protect your eyes You've been holding menus a mile away from your face... mistaking the salt for sugar... and whipping out a pocket flashlight just to settle the bill. If you're a little on the older side, it can feel like you need a pair of night vision goggles -- and a healthy sense of...
  9. Selenium protects against dementia

    Scramble up a shield for your brain You put an army of Post-It notes around the house... set alerts on your phone... maybe even tie a string around your finger. As we get older and our "senior moments" stack up, we need all the help we can get when it comes to remembering life's small details! That's why I'm glad...
  10. Shrink varicose veins with this Mediterranean shrub

    Ditch the long pants and get your legs ready for summer Q: Is there anything I can do about the varicose veins on my legs. They're not painful, but they're so ugly I don't want to wear shorts in the summer. What would you recommend that doesn't involve surgery? G.R.: If you're 65 or older, you have a greater than...

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