Archive for March 2009

FOOD ALLERGY: TOTAL EXCLUSION DIET

The principle of a total exclusion diet is that you either fast, or eat just one or two specific foods, for a period of up to five days, then reintroduce and test foods. The fast or two-food period will clear your system of foods that you eat commonly, and should unmask background symptoms. You can become very weak and HI on a diet of this kind. You can do it at home, but should never do it without a doctor’s knowledge and supervision.

The best-known version of a two-food diet, the lamb and pear diet, is often prescribed for up to five days. You eat nothing but lamb (baked or grilled, with no oil or cooking fat) and pears, and drink nothing but water, preferably filtered or bottled. You can eat as much of these two foods as you want or need – for breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner – but nothing else at all.

Lamb and pears are chosen for the diet because, it is argued, they rarely cause reactions. The diet originated in the United States where lamb and pears are not common items in the diet, and hence are uncommon causes of allergy and intolerance. In the UK, however, they are much more frequently eaten and do cause reactions, although relatively rarely. Some doctors in the UK therefore prefer to use other, less often eaten foods, such as turkey and peaches, or rabbit and raspberry.

After the fast, or two-food diet, you start reintroducing and testing foods. Reintroduction is usually done on a stricter basis than for single-food testing or a special exclusion diet. It is usually recommended that you eat foods singly (not combined with any other foods), that you leave four hours or more in between testing foods, and that you organise foods on a rotation, so as to avoid problems with cross-reaction between related foods. (For more information on testing foods and organising a rotation diet. A doctor will usually give you a diet sheet to follow, based on your own history and preferences, which will help you with the complexity of planning. Depending on how many foods you test (and how many you react to), it can take between two and four weeks to devise a permanent diet.

The drawbacks of this type of exclusion diet are fairly obvious. It is time-consuming and almost impossible to combine with an active life. The foods you eat can be costly. You can be very weak and hungry while carrying it through, apart from any reactions you might get to foods you test. If you have a lot of food sensitivities, it can take a long time to devise a manageable diet.

On the other hand, if you are as highly sensitive as that, this is the only way to work out a tolerable diet, and it can turn up some surprises. People often find that they are not sensitive to foods that they had assumed to be a problem, and that, conversely, something unexpected turns up to be a real villain. Often just one or two foods turn out to be the root causes of symptoms and that can be an enormous relief. It really does sort out what is going on and if you can stick it out, it is an invaluable process.

There are two in-patient units in the UK where you can go through this type of diet with constant medical supervision.

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UNDERTAKING AN ELIMINATION PROGRAMME FOR ALLERGY TREATMENT

The basic principle of an elimination programme is to remove from your environment, as far as is practicable, the things that you suspect of causing reactions. You then monitor your symptoms and see if they improve after a period of time. If you want to confirm the results of the trial, you can then reintroduce the substances or start using them again. You do this with care, monitoring your symptoms as you do it.

To make the programme work, you have to be thorough and you have to be systematic. You also have to be patient and to give things time to settle before you make a judgement. It is better to eliminate only one group of substances at a time, say only foods, only house dust mites, or only chemicals, and do it thoroughly, rather than to try several things at once and only do each partially. People often start by doing the latter because it seems less work and they hope it will be sufficient to make them feel better.

If you have only mild allergies or sensitivities, a partial approach will work well. However, if you are significantly affected by your reactions or if you have multiple sensitivity, most people find that the only way to work out what affects them is to eliminate one thing at a time, and to do it wholeheartedly. Although it appears more work, it is shorter in the long run and less confusing.

Choose yourself which approach you will adopt. Whichever way you go, keep an open mind as you go along, monitor symptoms carefully and retest things whenever you are not sure.

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ALLERGY TO CLOTHING/BABY CLOTHES: HIGH STREET NAMES

It is relatively easy to find 100 per cent cotton jersey vests, underwear and sleepsuits for newborns and up to 12-month size (80-90 cm). Boots, Mothercare and Woolworths, in particular, are good sources, but check labels to make sure that all cuffs and trimmings are of cotton. Marks and Spencer usually have a selection of pure cotton baby-wear, but these are more highly treated and not always well tolerated. Next sell a very good range of soft 100 per cent cotton jersey rompers and nightwear for babies. They often have cotton fleece all-in-ones which are much warmer than sleepsuits for winter babies. Most of their baby clothes have very little fabric finishes applied, unlike Next adult clothing in cotton jersey which is often highly treated. Next sell by mail order as well as in their High Street shops.

One brand name to look out for in the High Street shops is Fix, who make virtually all their range in 100 per cent pure cotton. Their clothes are not treated with formaldehyde and are not chlorine-bleached. Another name to look for is Stummer who make pure cotton velveteen rompers and outfits; these are warmer than cotton jersey for tiny babies. Honeybee make a good range of sleepsuits, sweat shirts, polo neck jumpers and T-shirts.

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ALLERGIC REACTION TO BEDDING:IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO COTTON

If you are allergic to cotton but not chemically sensitive, you have the choice of synthetics and latex as well as of other natural fibres. If you are chemically sensitive as well as allergic to cotton, you will have to look to other more expensive natural fibres, such as wool, linen and silk. It is worth trying polycotton, sometimes tolerated well by even very sensitive people.

If you have to use cotton because of multiple allergies, avoid very flocky cottons, such as candlewick bedspreads or terry towelling, which irritate more. You may be better able to tolerate smooth woven cottons, or T-shirt fabric. Try using a T-shirt as a pillowcase or to cover the upper part of your bedding. Look for a cotton jersey mattress cover (sources overleaf). The sources of supply which follow cover:

• Anti-dust mite and modified feather products

• Pure cotton bedding

• Wool, linen and silk bedding

• Synthetic and latex bedding and mattresses

• Cotton mattresses

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ALLERGY TO PLANTS AND TREES: RESINS AND BALSAMS ARE SECRETIONS PRODUCED BY TREES

Resins and balsams are secretions produced by trees and plants following injury. Natural turpentine is produced this way, as is latex. Balsam of Peru is a chemical known commonly to cause reactions. It has an odour resembling vanilla and cinnamon. It, and related balsams, are used as flavouring agents in many food products, confectionery, drinks, and for flavouring and perfume, home medicines and toothpaste. Balsam of Peru cross-reacts with a number of common chemicals such as coal tar products.

Rosin is a resin produced as a distillation of natural oil of turpentine. It has a very wide use in all sorts of applications from fabric finishes, through adhesive tape, to varnishes and lacquers, and sensitivity is well documented.

Many natural oils and resins (such as natural turpentine and essential oils like rosemary) are used in producing building and decorating materials with no synthetic chemicals. Some individuals can be sensitive to these. .

Linseed oil is produced by pressing from the seeds of the flax plant. It is used as a sealant in some building products and as a component of linoleum. It is relatively inert and rarely causes reactions. Linoleum is a type of flooring that causes few problems to the chemically sensitive. Forbo-Nairn manufactures linoleum which can be ordered through any carpet or flooring supplier.

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SEXUAL SUCCESS: KEEP THE DIET

There is little doubt that some individuals who change their diet can reduce their cholesterol levels and, over a period of time, even decrease arterial blockages. (Sometimes medication combined with diet is needed.) Canadian doctors, for example, put 50 patients with blockages in their leg arteries on a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet. Some used the American Heart Association’s program, others the Pritikin maintenance plan. Despite their leg pain, all participants were supposed to exercise regularly, cut out smoking as much as possible, reduce their intake of salt and caffeine (both of which can raise blood pressure) and limit alcohol consumption.

After one year on the program, all participants had lower levels of cholesterol and blood fats, and higher levels of highdensity lipoproteins (HDLs), an all-important cholesterol-remover .The researchers also found that the more fiber an individual ate, the more likely he was to have lowered his cholesterol. As an additional benefit, everyone lost weight. All were better able to exercise, as measured on a treadmill. This improvement may reflect increased blood flow to the legs, resulting from fewer blockages in the arteries. Many participants said they felt better. Unfortunately, the researchers did not report the program; effect on erection.

Obesity is bad for your arteries because it promotes in creased fats in your blood, high cholesterol, and keeps you body from producing enough HDLs. And if you are prone to diabetes, overweight will make you more susceptible to it—and the erection difficulties that can follow. So, for heavy men, taking off pounds is a necessary part of any plan for improving the health of the arteries and prolonging potency. A high-fiber diet can help you lose weight, and oat bran in particular may help lower your cholesterol. In addition to limiting your fat intake, exercise is important to losing weight.

Losing weight and keeping faithful to a low-salt, low-fat diet can also help lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure and many medications used to treat it can sap potency. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, more often if possible. Another aid to controlling high blood pressure is exercise.

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REIGNITING YOUR SEX LIFE: TESTOSTERONE RESEARCHES

Research at the St. Louis University School of Medicine has found that giving men an injectable form of testosterone for three months increases their sex drive as well as augments muscle strength. And a study conducted in 1995 at the Chicago Medical School found that a low dose of testosterone given regularly for two years seemed to cause no side effects. According to a researcher involved in the study, the men receiving injections felt better, had denser bones, lower cholesterol readings, and a greater sexual appetite than men who weren’t getting the supplementation.

But, hypogonadism aside, I don’t believe that there is sufficient scientific evidence to warrant testosterone boosting in men with normal levels. If a man is given testosterone supplementation when he really doesn’t need it, his pituitary and hypothalamus—which would normally signal testosterone production—slow down or stop. Once the pituitary gland is suppressed, the testicles begin to atrophy and the man becomes sterile. Another side effect is blood thickening, which can lead to a greater risk of stroke. Extra testosterone can also promote prostate cancer.

If you feel that your libido is drooping, you can raise your testosterone levels naturally. Start a strength-training program that works the muscles of the torso and legs. After a few workouts, there will be a short-term surge of testosterone. This natural boost can be maintained by continued exercise and you will have the added benefit of a stronger body and finer muscle tone. Another factor to consider when evaluating yourself is stress. When pressure starts to rise, testosterone levels begin to fall.

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THE VIRILITY-ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM: THE COENZYME Q EFFECT

A mighty antioxidant with the capacity to help prevent and combat heart disease—and therefore protect the vessels of the penis as well— coenzyme Q (Co-Q-10) is actually present in every cell of the human body. Critical to the conversion of food to energy, it is found more abundantly in some tissue cells than in others. Concentrations of the enzyme are particularly high in the heart, researchers believe, because that organ requires an enormous amount of energy to pump blood throughout the body.

First isolated in this country over forty years ago, the workings of Co-Q-10 are still not fully understood. Animal studies have shown that, by stabilizing cell membranes and keeping them from being destroyed, Co-Q-10 acts as an effective antioxidant that prevents free radicals from attacking and damaging cells.

Various research has revealed that as we age, we lose significant amounts of this enzyme in the heart muscle. In some elderly patients, the levels are as much as 75 percent lower than those of healthy patients. In fact, these diminished levels may be a strong indicator of impending death from heart disease. In one Swedish study, ninety-four hospital patients aged fifty years and older who had died within the prior six months had considerably lower Co-Q-10 than the surviving patients.

Co-Q-10 can also have a dramatic impact on elevated blood pressure. In a study conducted by cardiologist Peter Langsjoen, along with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, 109 patients with hypertension were administered 225 milligrams of Co-Q-10 every day. After a few months, this quantity significantly lowered the blood pressure of more than half of the test subjects, enabling many to stop taking between one and three blood-pressure drugs.

The patients who showed improvement rallied within four months of daily use. Their systolic (upper number reading) pressure was down, from an average of 159 to 147, as was their diastolic (lower number reading) pressure, from an average of 94 to 85. With the Co-Q-10 supplementation, more than forty of them were able to stop taking one or more of their hypertension medications. Another twenty began using the enzyme alone to manage their conditions.

Remember: 1/you are currently using antihypertensive medication, do not stop taking it. Consult with your physician about starting supplementation of Co-Q-10 in addition to your medicine.

Co-Q-10 is found in small quantities in seafood, eggs, and in all fruits and vegetables. The average person consumes approximately five milligrams of Co-Q-10 daily. Many experts believe that this amount is much too low to meet the needs of the body—especially after the age of fifty. As we age, Co-Q-10 levels begin to drop; by the time we reach middle age, many of us have barely 20 percent of the amount we had in our twenties. This steep drop-off may be due to free radical activity in the mitochondria, the area in the cells where nutrients are converted to fuel for the body’s use.

For men in their forties and fifties 1 recommend daily supplementation of at least 30 milligrams of Co-Q-10. A more accurate dosage recommendation is based on your body weight: 2 milligrams of Co-Q-10 for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) body weight. If you already have heart disease, or risk factors for it, I suggest you take higher dosages after consulting with your physician. Co-Q-10 is available in health food stores and many pharmacies. I find that the softgel, mixed with oil, is more easily absorbed than the dry tablets.

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ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION: SYMPTOM CHECKLIST

Anger, disappointment, sadness, concern, and the urge to help are all appropriate reactions to ED. These feelings apply whether a woman is encountering a male with ED for the first time or whether the condition is within the context of an ongoing relationship. However, when living with his disorder begins to produce disruptive physical and emotional symptoms in her, it’s time for a woman to seek professional help.

A symptom checklist follows. Some of these symptoms may have causes other than your partner’s ED, but are nevertheless having a negative impact on your relationship.

The symptoms are:

? Anger

? Sleep problems

? Fearfulness

? Eating problems

? Stress

? Difficulty concentrating

? Lack of self-esteem

? Feelings of hopelessness

? Troubling thoughts

? Depression

? Anxiety

? Alcohol or drug use

? Problems at work

? Memory loss

? Distractedness

? Health problems

If a woman identifies more than three of the above symptoms in her partner, she should consider seeking professional help. Having a relationship with a man suffering from ED is no easy matter. Talking over the problem, and how it makes her feel, is a big step toward helping herself, as well as her partner.

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POTENCY: WHY DIABETICS ARE MORE AT RISK

Diabetics are more at risk because they often develop blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis) at an earlier age than non-diabetics. And these blockages can occur in those crucial arteries that supply the penis with blood during an erection.

Nerve damage is another potency troublemaker for diabetics. Diabetes can cause a man to lose sensation or trigger a “tingling” in his arms and legs. And this same damage can affect the part of the nervous system that controls erection.

It’s not uncommon for a man diagnosed as diabetic to go for many years without any erection problems. Then difficulties may develop, sometimes slowly, sometimes more quickly. Daniel, for example, is in his mid-30′s and has been diabetic since he was 13. The diagnosis came as a shock, but he took to heart the advice his doctor gave him. “He told me to live life as fully as possible.”

An attractive man who is successful in his work, Dan takes obvious pride in his appearance and keeps himself in shape by lifting weights at a health club. But despite his seemingly carefree demeanor he has a lot of experience dealing with and adjusting to his diabetes. In the last few years, for instance, he’s had some problems with numbness in his legs.

Daniel didn’t have any problems with erections until about three years ago. But then, in less than a year, he went from having no problems to losing his ability to become erect. “First, I had semierections. Then, no erections. I knew diabetes could be a factor, I knew that was probably why this happened.” Daniel made the connection between his illness and the potency problems, and, in so doing, suffered less anxiety. His doctor confirmed that diabetes was indeed the culprit, and offered Daniel a choice of treatments.

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