2006-01-20 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles The dry, cold days of January are infamous for their cultivation of stuffy head colds and sinus congestion; often leading to sinus infections, post nasal drip and bronchitis. My top picks for prevention and treatment are as follows:

PREVENTION: Drink plenty of water. Room temperature water with juice from ½ fresh lemon in the morning and at night on an empty stomach is cleansing to the mucous membranes and contains vitamin C and bioflavinoids both of which are strengthening to the immune system and have anti-viral qualities. Keep the nasal mucosa moist and cleansed from air borne irritants by using a saline nasal spray in the morning and at night before bed. Simply Saline is a product available locally that is suitable for this purpose.

Eliminate refined and processed foods like white flour, white sugar. That means cakes, cookies and candies as well as pasta, white rice and white bread. Choose whole grain products that have little or no processing. The fresher and closer to its natural state the food is, the more nutrition it contains. Of course, this means that it will have to be consumed more quickly as it’s shelf life is not as long as a product that has no life in it.

High quality, lean protein increases your metabolism and helps to ward off the inevitable winter weight gain. Choose products that have minimal processing such as Murray’s chicken (available at Waldbaum’s) or Bell and Evans chicken (available at Curran’s meat market). Include the oily fishes like wild salmon for their omega 3 content. These essential fatty acids improve immunologic function and are not made by our bodies. They need to be consumed. Walnuts, sardines, and mackerel are other good choices. Use flaxseed oil on your salad and vegetables to obtain the rich omegas as well. Increase fiber rich foods such as broccoli and cauliflower, which are also rich in indole- 3 carbons, a known anti-carcinogenic substance.

Get a good night’s sleep. This may be the hardest advice to follow. Sleep disorders are common especially during the winter months. Anxiety, depression and worries about health and finances often interfere with the ability to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Adults and children with this issue have been helped significantly with homeopathic treatment. For more information about homeopathy and to find a practitioner go to www.homeopathic.org.

The contraction that accompanies cold weather is often felt in our muscles, bones and joints and prevents us from using our bodies the way that we do in the warmer months. Inactivity leads to immobility, which can cause lowered immune function, depression and altered sleep patterns. The old adage, “Use it or lose it” happens to be very true. Loss of muscle tone results from inactivity. Loss of muscle tone creates balance deficits, which increases likelihood of falling. This is particularly true of the aging population but is true to some extent for all

of us. Regular chiropractic treatments can maintain alignment and balance muscles. Specific exercises for you can be designed by your Doctor of Chiropractic. Recent research shows that regular chiropractic care increases DNA enzyme repair activity. This means that you are stimulating your innate healing ability with every adjustment. We are blessed to have several talented and committed Doctors of Chiropractic on the peninsula.

TREATMENT: My top picks for treatments are as follows:

Steam showers with eucalyptus essential oil. A few drops in tub and steam away, morning and night, to clear mucous and invigorate the system.

Ginger, lemon and honey tea, hot and steamy is a good decongestant as well. The ginger root will bring up the internal heat and promote sweating so don’t use too much or at all if contraindicated by a medical condition. Or, if you suffer from hot flashes.

The herb and Indian food spice turmeric has pronounced anti-inflammatory properties and is wonderful to ease sinus congestion. A product made by Metagenics called Inflavinoid is available at Vitamin Shop.

Solgar makes a favorite product of mine called Quercitin Complex. This is a complex of anti-inflammatory vitamins and bioflavinoids that also stabilize the histamine action of the mast cells. This is very useful in allergic congestions as well.

Of course, all who know my column and me will not be surprised when I tell you that the one keynote to wellness, as I see it, is to be happy. This time of year tends to breed symptoms of regret and the resolutions we make that are so impossible to keep. Be gentle with yourself. Dormancy is a time to go within and nurture yourself. It is not a time to beat yourself up over the dietary transgressions you made over the holidays that you now must purge yourself of with severe restrictions. Nor is it a time to be anxious over the emotional or verbal indiscretions created over holiday relations.

Without the flowers and leafy “cover” of nature, we are able to see clearly through the bareness. Take an honest look and create compassionate responses to real or perceived issues. Take time to mull things over, sit on it, until compassion reigns. Kindness, the smile of all virtues. You will be happy when you act with a kind heart. Happiness is infectious. Let’s create a new winter epidemic, a pandemic, if you will. Hap-piness, compassion and kindness are the symptoms. It is transmitted through contact with others, an open and forgiving heart, a smile and a kind word for everyone you come in contact with. My hope is that it will spread like wildfire! And we must have hope. I’ll go first! Here’s smiling at you, kid.

May The Blessings Be!

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