According to the CDC, 1 in 12 children in America suffers from asthma. That translates to approximately 6 million children. To be clear, asthma is a serious problem not only because asthmatic attacks can be life-threatening, but in the long-term, asthma has been associated with permanent lung damage.
Treatment of asthma in children typically involves inhalers of one sort or another. There are inhaled steroid medications that help to prevent asthma attacks, and so-called “rescue inhalers” that are utilized when the quick relief of symptoms is required.
But, as so often is the focus of my blogs, I think it’s important to first ask questions related to what may be causing a particular problem, in this case asthma, as opposed to simply focusing on treatments. In other words, how might the idea of preventive medicine factor into this discussion?
Who can forget the message of Mary Poppins telling us that “…a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Yes, we humans certainly like our sugar. To be sure, added sugar certainly increases our desire to consume a lot more than the “medicine” described in the song. It’s concerning to consider that of the 1.2 million food products sold in America’s grocery stores, approximately 68% have added sweeteners. This represents an active attempt to hack into our primitive desire for sweet and to alter our food choices moving forward. Continue reading
The development of highly accurate and widely available genome sequencing technology has put us at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, the divergent views of nature versus nurture confront consumers wishing to be advocates for their own health. As we learn about our genetics it seems quite clear that the deterministic message about our health destiny is ringing loud and clear. More and more, the idea that we are at the mercy of our inheritance seems supported by the advancing understanding and interpretation of our individual genetic profiles.
An important message we have been espousing over the past decade centers on the importance of lifestyle choices, specifically directed to offset disease risk that may well be enhanced by genetics. This ideology centers on the notion of genetic predisposition in contrast to genetic determinism. It is this contrast that opens the door to empowerment and your health destiny.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a remarkable 40% of Americans aged 20 or over are obese. If we include those who are overweight, the percentage jumps to an astounding 72%! That means that more than two thirds of Americans age 20+ are overweight or actually obese. These statistics are sobering, especially in light of the recently announced report indicating that, for the second year in a row, life expectancy for both American women and men has declined.
When should efforts begin that might be effective in reducing these astounding rates of overweight and obesity? The CDC also reveals that 21% of children (ages 12-19) are obese, with 18.5% obesity in children ages 6 to 11. Perhaps most heart-wrenching is the fact that 14% of 2-5 year olds are obese as well. These statistics would certainly support dietary education and intervention programs very early on.
But, how early should we be starting these educational efforts that can positively impact the incidence of overweight and obesity in Americans? Continue reading
Over the past 10 years, in the various books that I have written, there has been a persistent emphasis on the importance of DHA, an omega-3, in terms of brain health. DHA represents over 90% of all the omega-3, polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain, and further, it’s 10 to 20% of all the brain’s fat. DHA is especially concentrated in the gray matter, and is also an important part of the cellular membrane of neurons. DHA also has an important role to play in the functioning and structure of mitochondria, the release of neurotransmitters, the expression of DNA, the creation of the myelin insulation around every neuron, the management of neuroinflammation, and even the growth and differentiation of brain cells.
DHA plays a particularly important role in the frontal lobes, allowing us to maintain executive function, pay attention to the various tasks in which we are engaged, and even plan for the future and solving problems. Continue reading
Asthma is the world’s most common respiratory disorder, and, studies have found, is often associated with increased rates of mortality and decreased quality of life. Thus, it’s obvious that keeping asthma at bay is in our collective best interests. Continue reading
We often talk about the importance of method of birth on a newborn’s health, not only in the short-term, but in the long-term. Research has found, again and again, that vaginal birth, and the experience of going through the birth canal, exposes a child to various microbes that form the basis for their own gut microbiome. Continue reading
Hardly a day goes by without someone telling me a story about a miraculous improvement in some form of medical condition when a person decided to eliminate gluten from his or her diet. No doubt, most would find it fairly easy to accept the notion that some people may have improvement from, for example, gastrointestinal issue by going gluten-free. To be sure, it’s pretty well accepted these days that some people with chronic headaches may improve on a gluten-free diet as well.
But the idea that a psychiatric issue might be related to gluten sensitivity seems a little bit more difficult for people to generally accept. Nonetheless, we are seeing ever more frequent citations in well-respected medical journals that clearly make this connection. Continue reading