December 7, 2013 The winter is the time when most of us are concerned about catching the flu, or the cold virus from a family member or friend, or getting something from one of our kids. We are all inside, sneezing and having more contact than perhaps usual. The best strategy for preventing illness during cold and flu season is to help you build a strong immune system. This is by far is the best prevention AND protection. Remember, only about 10% of the illnesses you see around this winter are actually from the "flu" and so you need to protect yourself from everything else, too, regardless of whether or not you choose to get a flu shot.
Here are my Tips for Boosting Your Immunity. You can purchase any of the items below from our online store.
First, it is imperative that you work on your immune foundation - and not just during flu season. This should be your strategy all year round because a strong immune system is fundamental for staying healthy in general.
Three Parts to a Healthy Immune Foundation:
1. Good gut health, meaning lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species. If you are taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors, stop because this alters your gut flora in a negative way.
2. Balanced stress hormones. Beware of toxic emotions! They can cause a stress response in the body that can harm your ability to fight viruses.
3. Eat foods that are good for your immune system. This means avoiding processed foods and focusing on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies, which boost the detox system in your liver.
How to Boost Your Immune System to Protect Yourself from the Flu
1. Here are the important vitamins: • Vitamin D: 2000 iu/day minimum. The dose is based on your blood • Vitamin A retinyl palmitate: 5000 iu/day. Our vitamin D complex has levels, so if you have low vitamin D you will need more. 2000 of D, and 5000 of A, together in one capsule. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not take more than 5000 iu/day of this kind of Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). • Zinc: 30 mg/day • Vitamin C: 3-4000 mg/day as an immune booster. 1-2000 mg/day is good for general prevention. • Probiotics
2. Additional supplements • Whey Protein Powder is high in immunoglobulins that boost your good for general prevention. For a non-dairy alternative, try our Immune Support Protein Powder, which also has immunoglobulins but is made with pea and rice protein. • Herbs like Elderberry, Echinacea, Astragalus, and Beta Glucan immune system (mushroom extracts). We love Immunoberry Liquid, which is a potent and convenient blend of these. 1 dropperful each day in your shake or in a little water is all you need for ongoing protection.
3. Make sure to wash your hands multiple times each day, especially before you eat and after exposure to public transportation like riding the subway.
Dr. Susan Blum of the Blum Center For Health, will make another appearance on The Doctor Oz Show to discuss the four steps for a healthy immune system in her new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan.
Do you have underlying immune problems even though you feel healthy?
Why is the food we eat everyday one of the most common immunity destroyers?
How does lack of sleep and stress affect your immune system?
Tune into The Dr. Oz Show Monday, July 15th to find out the answers and so much more.
Dr. Blum will explain her simple, effective, and easy to follow plan:
Use Food As Medicine, Balance Your Stress Hormones, Heal Your Gut, and Support Your Liver.
The Blum Center for Health Welcomes Intern Avery Levine By Jess Guski and Melanie Olin
June 6, 2013 Byram Hills senior Avery Levine is a student intern at The Blum Center for Health. The Blum Center for Health is a functional and lifestyle education center that sells organic and gluten-free food to help support an anti-inflammatory diet. They also focus on the mind, body, and spirit to help reduce stress.
Avery says that the Blum Center has made her eat and feel healthier, and increased her knowledge of good nutrition habits. "When you work here, you feel accomplished." The internship has also helped her work harder and has made her more focused on specific tasks.
As an intern, Avery assists their chef, Felix, in the Blum Kitchen’s, OrganicToGo; the menu includes classic hummus, arugula salad, turkey burgers, and homemade granola. She also helps with public relations and organizes the stock room. Avery has had such a positive experience that she plans to continue to work at the Blum Center for Health during the summer.
Why Do You Have Allergies?
May 8, 2013 Allergies of all kinds are more common then ever. Our children have more seasonal allergies and severe food reactions than our generation did when we were growing up. And we do, too! I see many adults with new allergies and food sensitivities that they never had before. What is going on? How do you get allergies and what can we do about it?
Many things cause allergies. There is a genetic predispositon - like there is to most things - and so some people are more likely to develop allergies than others. There is some research suggesting that introducing foods to children too soon can be a trigger. Impaired gut health coupled with over exposure to the same food all the time is another problem, especially for adults, as are vitamin deficiencies like A, D, and essential fatty acids.
These triggers are important for seasonal and food allergies, and food sensitivities, which are all connected. If you have seasonal allergies, your immune system is revved up—over reacting to common environmental exposures—and you are more likely to have a problem with food. For example if you are allergic to ragweed, you are likely to have a sensitivity to cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, and banana. Click here for a complete list of these cross reactions. So, if you know you have some allergies, you need to realize you are probably experiencing some food sensitivities, too.
So what is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity? A food allergy is when you have a noticeable reaction to food that causes hives, throat tightening, runny nose, watery eyes, and for some people life threatening anaphylaxis. This response is caused by a specific kind of immune reaction called IgE and involves histamine, one of the body’s chemicals that causes the symptoms you are experiencing. Your allergist can do skin testing or measure IgE blood levels to these foods, and your allergy can be proven in black and white, with no controversy.
Food sensitivities are different because they don’t cause the same kind of reaction. The definition of a food sensitivity is that you feel better when you avoid the food, and worse when you eat it. The symptoms people often experience are digestive (gas, bloating, flatulence, reflux), fatigue, brain fog, feeling puffy and swollen, joint or muscle pain. In fact, it can be any symptom at all. When this happens, we know that the food is triggering some kind of immune reaction that is causing inflammation in the body, even if the standard allergy tests are normal.
How do we reduce allergies and sensitivities? First, identify the problem foods and remove them from your diet. I have come to rely on two ways to figure this out: an Elimination Diet, and IgG food testing. Mary Gocke, RD, CDN, our Director of Nutrition can help you get tested, and talks about this, below. Second, make sure your gut is healthy, because a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system. I cover this in my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan; you can also learn more about Step 3: Healing Your Gut, here.
Using Food as Medicine
April 2, 2013 The Immune System Recovery Plan is a groundbreaking book providing a revolutionary way for people to balance their immune systems, transform their health, and live fuller, happier lives. One of the most sought-after experts in the field of Functional Medicine, Susan Blum, MD, MPH, shares the four-step program she used to treat her own serious autoimmune condition and help countless patients reverse their symptoms, heal their immune systems, and prevent future illness.
Dr. Blum's innovative method focuses on:
• Using food as medicine • Understanding the stress connection • Healing your gut • Supporting your liver
The Immune System Recovery Planis a book of hope and healing that shows readers how the immune system works and offers an easy to follow 4-step program so that you can:
• Reverse symptoms • Reduce antibodies • Cure the cause of disease • Improve immune function.
The Immune System Recovery Plan will teach you how to create your own personalized treatment plan with:
• An interactive workbook of checklists and questionnaires • 40 delicious and nutritious recipes to jump start the healing process.
The chapter of "Food as Medicine" in The Immune System Recovery Plan, by Susan Blum, MD, MPH shows that eating gluten-free pasta, grains, and flour can taste good and won’t leave you feeling deprived. The recipes focus on dishes that you can substitute for your usual gluten-filled muffins, granola bars, pasta, side dishes, and desserts. All of these anti inflammatory recipes are also corn, soy, and dairy free that are calming to your immune system. Click for a recipe of Asian Soba Noodle Salad
For more information, videos, consumer support, and where to buy info for THE IMMUNE SYSTEM RECOVERY PLAN, click here
To read the Foreward by Mark Hyman, Introduction, Table of Contents and Chapter 1, click here
In Your Community Armonk Resident Promotes Healthy Living By Nomi Schwartz
February 11, 2013 Bernadette Valcich is a 14-year resident of Armonk. She’s a familiar face in the stands at Byram Hills events, cheering on one of her three sons at soccer, baseball, or track events. Professionally, she worked in Human Resources for many years, and building on her skills planning themed parties for family and friends, she developed and ran her own event-planning business.
About two years ago, recently separated and ready to expand her options, Bernadette encountered a life-changing opportunity. Susan Blum, MD, was launching the Blum Center for Health, Functional Medicine and Lifestyle Education Center. Bernadette interviewed for the position of Front Office Manager. She has just been promoted to the Blum Center’s Manager of Wellness Programs and Events.
AAA: What initially interested you about working at the Blum Center for Health?
BV: After meeting with Dr. Blum, I loved the idea of working in a positive environment that was healing and nourishing, with a team of dynamic women who clearly make a difference in people’s lives. I was at a time in my life when I needed to reinvent myself and re-enter the workforce. Life was a buffet of choices; I had all to gain and nothing to lose.
AAA: What had been your previous experience with Functional Medicine?
BV: I had no background or knowledge in the field. I honestly didn’t know what tempeh or gluten was. And now my perspective on health, wellness, nutrition, and managing my stress has been transformed by the Blum philosophy to an enriched lifestyle.
AAA: What does your new position as Manager of Wellness Programs and Events involve?
BV: I manage all of Blum Center’s on site and off site programs and events. I’m charged with continuing to identify and develop relationships with like-minded entities: corporations, libraries, gym/yoga studios, and not-for profit organizations. I work closely with Human Resource professionals and leaders of various departments to create programs that are synergized with their team building wellness philosophies.
AAA: Is this a new position?
BV: As we are entering our third year of business, this is a newly created position to address the demands and interests of our clients. Being the only full service medical and lifestyle education center in Westchester, our culinary team building, health & nutrition talks and stress management offerings are highly sought after. Our clients are becoming more mindful in implementing a healthy lifestyle into their daily lives and they look to Blum Center for Health to meet those needs.
Cholesterol: Do You Really Need Medication?
Cholesterol lowering medication is the #1 selling prescription medication in this country. Somehow, everyone has ended up on these drugs. While I am not anti-medication, I believe there should be a discussion that weighs the risks and benefits to see if each prescription is right for you. It shouldn't be an automatic reflex with no review of alternatives to taking a statin, for example. This is our focus today, and also the topic of my free monthly talk at Blum Center for Health on February 27. Click Here for Details
Myth #1: Lowering my cholesterol will lower my risk of heart disease and death.
While this may be true for some of you, for most, the studies don't prove this. People are put into risk categories, and for the highest risk people, getting your cholesterol down to a very low number and quickly, might be the right answer. But who is at high risk? Certainly not women after menopause who naturally have a rising cholesterol level—they all don't need a statin. There are a lot of side effects from statins including impaired memory, which is a concern for many people as they age. Studies are now emerging that show that post-menopausal women without a personal or strong family history of cardiovascular disease are in the low risk zone.
So who is in the high-risk zone? Anyone who has diabetes or knows they have atherosclerosis or plaque because they had a test from a cardiologist; if one of your parents had a heart attack or stroke when they were in their 50's or younger; and finally, you need to have the advanced cholesterol test—the NMR Lipoprotein Analysis—to look at the size and shape of your cholesterol before it is deemed too high or a problem and before deciding if you are in the high risk zone. The routine numbers done in a basic lipid panel don't tell the whole story.
Myth #2: Treat the number, it's all that matters.
Wrong. Just getting your numbers down isn't good enough to prevent heart disease. We need to make sure your cholesterol isn't damaged from free radicals because that's what makes them sticky and form plaque. This happens if your body is inflamed or deficient in antioxidants. We need to look at this and treat it, no matter what your cholesterol numbers are. Mary will focus on this in the nutrition section below.
Myth #3: The only way to lower cholesterol is with medication.
Wrong again. First, think about WHY cholesterol goes up? There are some people who have genetically high cholesterol, but they are the minority. For most people it is about lifestyle. Since cholesterol is used as a raw material to make the stress hormone cortisol, too much ongoing stress will prompt the liver to make more cholesterol to support your hormones. Elizabeth will talk more about the stress-cholesterol relationship and what to do about it. The other big cause is the foods you are eating. A diet filled with processed flour, sugar, saturated fat, and lots of animal foods like dairy will increase cholesterol. Fixing your food by eating a plant based diet filled with fiber, plant sterols, and essential fatty acids is the best way to lower cholesterol andget the antioxidants needed to keep the cholesterol you do have from getting sticky and making plaque. Of course, taking fiber, fish oil, and plant sterol supplements will help, but nothing works better than actually changing the food you eat.
Myth #4: If I take medication, I can eat whatever I want!
This idea can really get you into trouble. Studies have shown that people who take statins are at an increased risk of diabetes. You can't keep eating all those processed sugar and flour products while your medication keeps your cholesterol down. This false sense of security will make you sick and increase your risk of heart disease.
I was asked to appear on the Dr. Oz Show last Friday to talk about my views on the flu shot. You can see the segment and my interview by following the links below. However, they edited much of my segment so I never really had the chance to explain why I am against the flu shot for healthy adults. So here it is.
In my opinion, all medical decisions should be based on comparing the risks and benefits of any medication or treatment for each individual person. When looking at the evidence, my conclusion is that the benefits of getting the flu shot do not outweigh the risks for most people. The lack of effectiveness of the vaccine was discussed at length on the show, so I will not repeat that here. As for risks, there are several. The multi-use vials used at most distribution sites contain mercury, a heavy metal associated with autoimmune disease, allergic reactions and is a known toxin to the nervous system. I work hard with many of my patients to get the mercury OUT, so adding it IN concerns me. Next, the vaccine is an intense irritant to the immune system--the complications reported include increased autoimmunity and inflammatory reactions, making it risky, especially for autoimmune patients. This kind of reaction can cause flu like symptoms, which can last a few days or persist for weeks. There are also allergic reactions, and Guillian Barre syndrome, a serious paralyzing neurological disease.
My preference is to help you build a strong immune foundation so that you don't get sick from any virus. This is, by far, the best prevention and protection. Remember, only about 10% of the illnesses you see around you this winter are actually from the "flu" and so you need to protect yourself from everything else, too.
Here are my Tips for Boosting Your Immunity. You can purchase any of the items below from our online store HERE.
First, work on your immune foundation. This is not just during flu season but should be a strategy all year round because a strong immune system is the foundation for staying healthy in general.
THREE PARTS TO A HEALTHY IMMUNE FOUNDATION
1. Good gut health which means lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species. If you are taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors, stop because this alters your gut flora in a negative way.
2. Balanced stress hormones. Get a good night sleep and don't over work yourself during flu season. Stress harms your ability to fight viruses.
3. Eat foods that are good for your immune system. This means avoiding processed foods and focusing on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies which boost the detox system in your liver.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE FLU
1. Here are the important vitamins:
Vitamin D 2000 iu/day minimum. The dose is based on your blood levels, so if you have low vitamin D you will need more.
Vitamin A retinyl palmitate 5000 iu/day. Our vitamin D complex has 2000 of D and 5000 of A together in one capsule. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not take more than 5000 iu/day of this kind of Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate).
Zinc 30 mg/day
Vitamin C 3-4000 mg/day as an immune booster. 1-2000 mg/day is good for general prevention.
2. Additional supplements:
Whey Protein Powder is high in immunoglobulins that boost your immune system. For a non-dairy alternative, try our Immune Support Protein Powder, which also has immunoglobulins but is made with pea and rice protein.
Herbs like Elderberry, Echinacea, Astragalus, and Beta Glucan (mushroom extracts) We love Immunoberry Liquid, which is a potent and convenient blend of these. 1 dropperful each day in your shake or in a little water is all you need for ongoing protection.
3. Make sure to wash your hands multiple times each day, especially before you eat and after exposure to public transportation like riding the subway.
September 16, 2013 Blum Kitchen offers an eating exercise designed to help you slow down, taste, enjoy, digest, and metabolize all the wonderful nutrients and flavors you are eating.
Start by choosing a food to eat that is bite size such as a grape, raisin or a small piece of dark chocolate. Then sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes and center yourself, using your breath as your guide-breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Hold that piece of food in your hands and feel its texture, temperature, shape and color. Smell it. Notice if you are beginning to salivate. Put the food into your mouth. First experience it without biting into it. Then chew slowly and completely, focusing all of your attention on the texture and the taste of the food. When the food is completely liquefied, you can swallow. After all the sensations are gone, open your eyes. Spend some time reflecting on what you noticed.
Blum Kitchen suggests that you bring this meditative quality to all of your meals, every time you eat. An upcoming Blum Kitchen's cooking class is Healthy Meals in a Hurry: Tools and Recipes to Feed Your Family, on Thursday, September 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Register