One of my patient’s inquired “if Niacin (B3) helps with hair health?” Well, yes and maybe no….Niacin is one of several “scientifically documented nutrients” that contribute to overall hair health, but it doesn’t end there! First, one MUST have proper circulation to the hair follicles in our scalp…then nutrients can feed these hair cells to do their job–grow hair. Hair is 88-90% protein- best gotten from fatty fish (salmon, sardines), grain-fed beef. eggs, beans. etc.. Next, Vit D, Zinc, Copper, Inositol, Biotin (Vit H: part of the B-complex family), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Niacin(B3) have all demonstrated some influence with hair texture, growth, graying, etc. So, if you go to a pharmacy, health food store or “on-line” you will find numerous products that I refer to as “designer supplements” (products developed based on the most up to date “guaranteed new discovery” for health). Buyer Beware- food is the basis of “nourishing” your body (hair cells -all cells). When I was 23, my first introduction to “Food Supplmentation” was Nutritional Yeast for healthy hair. I have been taking it regularly for the past 40+yrs. Initially, I did not know why this person told me to do it until the late 70’s when it was reported in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “hair health was found to be related to a Copper deficiency”. I looked at my can of Brewer’s Yeast and I was surprised to see that Copper, as well as many other hair related nutrients, were part of that food source. It was very high in protein, Biotin, Inositol, Niacin, B5, Zinc, etc….that’s when I realized that Food should be my supplementation form not the “miracle cure of the moment”.
In this video, Dr. Fiscella compares the old-school weightlifting approach to the newer model of athletic training. Looking to get in shape with fewer injuries in the new year? Check out the full 9min video!
The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against external invaders: bacteria, viruses, parasites and more. To address a wide array of intricate microorganisms, the immune system’s response has to be equally as complex. But an extensive amount of research has been done over the years on the various inner workings of the immune system. These findings often point to nutrition as a way to support the immune system and reach optimal functioning.
Why Nutrition Is Important for the Immune Response
Nutrition is important for a healthy immune response because, like other systems of the body, immune organs, tissues and cells need energy to complete their assigned functions. Nutrients provide that energy. Nutrients also provide support for the immune system in the form of:
Reduced risk of infection
Antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin; essential meaning the body cannot produce it in ample amounts on its own. Exposure to sunlight is typically the way an average person accesses this micronutrient, as ultraviolet rays stimulate vitamin D synthesis from within the body.
Dietary vitamin D sources include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, mushrooms and some fortified foods. Vitamin D is also a common ingredient in nutritional supplements.
Vitamin D is associated with calcium absorption and bone health, and it is also important for immune support. This is especially true for boosting the innate immune system (also known as the nonspecific immune response or the “first line of defense”), which aids in the prevention of common colds and influenza during peak infection months (i.e., “flu season”).1
Poor vitamin D status has long been understood to correlate with increased risk of contracting the infectious illness, but supplementation has yielded mixed results on reducing risk overall. A recent meta-analysis has shown that vitamin D supplementation is effective and safe to support acute respiratory concerns.2
Zinc is an essential mineral associated with immune barrier support in the innate immune system.1 Suboptimal zinc levels are associated with dysfunction in immune cells, potentially increasing the risk of infectious disease and other conditions. Physical barriers in the immune response are often characterized by mucus production and mucosal membrane integrity. Zinc is also associated with other immune support mechanisms, such as:
Inhibition of rhinovirus replication, a microbe commonly responsible for the common cold
Promotion of antigen presentation for the adaptive (specific) immune response
Support of lymphocyte maturation and differentiation
Zinc is found in oysters and other types of seafood, red meat and poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and other foods. Phytates in whole-grain bread, cereal, legumes and other foods bind zinc and prevent it from being absorbed, limiting its bioavailability from these foods.3
Echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea) produce bioactive compounds called alkylamides that, along with other constituents found in echinacea, have been shown to support the innate immune response. Echinacea’s support of immunity comes from a variety of actions:
Maturation of dendritic cells
Increase in phagocytic activity and macrophage activity
Increase in natural killer cell activity
Balance of inflammatory response by inhibiting the “cytokine storm”
Studies also associate echinacea with reduced duration and severity of colds and upper respiratory infections, as well as the alleviation of symptoms associated with these conditions.4-5
A variety of medicinal mushrooms have long been associated with both innate and adaptive immune support, specifically in the form of promoting cytokine and cytokine receptor function; as well as the activation of important immune cells thanks to beta-glucans produced by many mushroom species. Medicinal mushrooms of particular immune importance include: maitake, turkey tail, shiitake, reishi and cordyceps.
Why Lifestyle Is Important for the Immune Response
Lifestyle factors in addition to diet, such as sleep habits, stress management and physical activity, also have an impact on the health of the immune system. A lifestyle balanced with healthy choices from all aspects of activity can maximize the efficacy of the immune system and minimize the risk of infection.
Sleep: People normally feel “good” after a night of restful sleep because sleep is the body’s chance to recuperate after a day of physical and mental stress. A good night’s sleep prepares the body for another day, and that includes the immune system, which has to stay on alert for external threats. Healthy sleep is important for optimal immune function, specifically the homeostatic balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory compounds that keeps inflammation initiation and resolution in equilibrium.
Stress: Management of stress is important for immune health because excessive or chronic stress can wear down the body over time. Like inflammation, acute physiological stress that has a definitive beginning and end is a normal part of the body’s response to life. But when stress (or inflammation) becomes chronic, the body may experience a perpetual state of strain.
Specifically for chronic stress, there is an issue with excessive cortisol production. Cortisol is an important hormone for acute states of stress, such as avoiding a fender-bender in bumper-to-bumper traffic or answering an important question when called on at school or work. But when cortisol production continues indefinitely as a result of chronic stress, it can have negative repercussions that suppress the immune system and prevent it from responding to infections effectively.
Healthy stress management is beneficial for whole-body health, which includes the immune system.
A wholistic approach is vital to maximize the protective capabilities of the immune system. Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary components – as well as lifestyle factors like healthy sleep, stress management and exercise habits – are all important steps toward supporting the immune system’s natural mechanisms to keep the body healthy.
Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-care for common colds: the pivotal role of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea in three main immune interactive clusters (physical barriers, innate and adaptive immunity) involved during an episode of common colds-practical advice on dosages and on the time to take these nutrients/botanicals in order to prevent or treat common colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2018:5813095.
Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data BMJ, 2017;356:i6583.
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
Block KI, Mead MN. Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review. Integr Cancer Ther, 2003;2(3):247-67.
Jawad R, Schoop A, Suter P, et al. Safety and efficacy problem of Echinacea purpurea to prevent common cold episodes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evidence-Based Compl Alt Med, 2012:841315.
If you read anything at all about nutrition, you’ve likely come across a variety of diets which all tout health benefits and claim to be the best. Here’s a little breakdown on the most common diets and a commentary that, hopefully, makes it all less confusing!
Standard American Diet (SAD) This is the most common diet in the US and includes sugar, fried foods, trans fat, prepackaged foods, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), foods filled with pesticides and other chemicals/additives that keep you addicted and cause you to gain weight. These foods have low nutrient levels and because you aren’t getting what you need, you tend to eat more in an effort to compensate.
Paleo The paleo diet is designed to resemble what our hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic) ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Researchers believe their diets consisted of whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils. Foods to avoid would include grains, sugar, processed foods, most dairy products, legumes, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, margarine and trans fats.
Atkins The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet, usually recommended for weight loss. Proponents of this diet claim that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods high in carbs. The Atkins diet was originally promoted by the physician Dr. Robert C. Atkins, who wrote a best-selling book about it in 1972.
Keto The ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a lowcarb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins diet, but with a bit higher fat content. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Mediterranean The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in the 1960’s. The basics include eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil and eating in moderation poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
Vegan/Vegetarian Plant-based diets have been popular for centuries because of the health benefits. Vegetarian diets contain various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. The inclusion of dairy and eggs depends on the type of diet you follow. The most common types of vegetarians include: Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal flesh, but do consume dairy and egg products. Lacto vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid animal flesh and eggs, but do consume dairy products. Ovo vegetarians: Vegetarians who avoid all animal products except eggs. Vegans: Vegetarians who avoid all animal and animalderived products.
So what are we supposed to eat? The simplicity of it is…the more your food is unaltered and in its natural form, the better. Chemicals don’t belong in our food or in our bodies. So, start there. Our nutritional needs can fluctuate depending on the season, age, energy demands, ancestral heritage, etc. We all need protein, fat and carbohydrates but the RATIO of what we need can vary. Some do well with a 100% plant-based diet and some need animal protein. In the summer, we usually feel like more fruits and vegetables but on a cold winter night, we might want a beef stew. Once you clean out the chemicals from your diet, it will be easier to tell what your nutritional needs are because your body will tell you. Pay attention to how you feel and adjust until you find what works for you. If you can, attend our upcoming classes and ask questions!
Dr. Fiscella is teaming up with Heidi Miller, an expert on the topic of veganism, to bring you three nights of good food, good information and good fun! All 3 nights are free…so please join us and invite your friends. They will be breaking down the difference between these two very different, but very relevant, diets.
Find what diet works best for you
Learn the benefits of adding more vegan meals into your daily diet.
Sample tasty meals that you can easily prepare at home.
Please call us to RSVP so we can make sure we have enough delicious food on hand for everyone: 314.353.1477
Want to stop the progression of symptoms and infectivity of COVID-19?
You might be surprised how you can do so.
Nasal Irrigation Is the Key to Reducing COVID-19 Progression, Doctor Says:
AMY BAXTER, MD, SAYS NASAL IRRIGATION MAY BE THE BEST WAY TO TREAT POSITIVE CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS.
According to Amy Baxter, MD., an Atlanta-based doctor known for creative solutions to long-standing medical challenges is touting a lesser-discussed method to combat the progression of COVID-19 in patients who are positive: nasal irrigation.
After considerable research and talking to colleagues who focus on both ear, nose, and throat and pulmonary treatment, Baxter, CEO and founder of Pain Care Labs, “believe[s] strongly that nasal irrigation is the key to reducing COVID-19 progression of symptoms and infectivity.”
What is Nasal Irrigation?
At Wilmington Clinic, we often recommend the regular use of nasal irrigation or wash. In fact, the Wilmington Clinic has been promoting “NASAL RINSING” for over 80 years. In addition, there are other anti-viral and anti-bacterial solutions that we use to enhance the saline solutions, as well as, nebulizing to combat bronchial and lung invasions.
Still, she has multiple reasons for believing that this approach can be effective in preventing coronavirus from worsening in a sick patient. Firstly, she says, “SARS-CoV2’s viral load is heaviest in sinuses/nasal cavity.” Secondly, the sex and age discrimination of COVID-19 supports her conclusion. “Children don’t develop full sinuses until teens; males have larger cavities than women, and the cavities are largest [in those] over 70 years,” Baxter says. Of course, you’ve heard by now that children have been the least affected by COVID-19, and the elderly and men are dying at faster rates. Baxter also adds that the total deaths in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam are particularly low. “Yes, they wear masks, and yes, they bow and don’t shake hands, but the biggest difference between them and places like South Korea or Japan is that nasal irrigation is practiced by 80 percent of people,” she says.
In short, regular flushing of one’s sinuses in the manner described above could be an effective way to keep the COVID-19 contagion from building up and entering your lungs and causing potentially fatal respiratory problems.