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6 Ways to Help Prevent Cold Sores

Anyone who gets cold sores knows what a pain (literally) they can be. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), these uncomfortable lesions on the lips and face can be triggered by stress, such as the onset of a cold or other illness, menstruation, sunburn, fatigue, even emotional trauma. The good news is that cold sores usually go away on their own within 10 days; the bad news is the virus remains dormant in nerve cells, and can reappear to initiate another outbreak. Help lessen the risk of recurrent cold sores with the following:

  1. Avoid foods rich in the amino acid arginine, which can activate the virus. These include chocolate, cola, beer, grain cereals, chicken soup, gelatin, seeds, nuts and peas.
  2. Get a new toothbrush after an outbreak subsides. The virus can live in your toothbrush and re-infect you. Also, help prevent the virus from getting into the toothpaste (and re-infecting you and others in the family) by not touching the brush to the tube.
  3. Always use SPF 15 sunscreen before going out in the sun (summer and winter) and use a lip moisturizer with sunscreen.
  4. Since the HSV is highly contagious, don't kiss or shake hands with anyone who has a cold sore. And avoid these contacts when you have one.
  5. Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently.
  6. Avoid sharing towels and utensils with anyone who has a cold sore.

Managing stress can be a powerful prevention tool as well.


Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a perennial favorite, but it is often loaded with vegetable oil and laden with a cream cheese frosting. Our version is healthier, using a small amount of olive oil, a full cup of honey for moistness and flavor, and a combination of whole wheat pastry and unbleached flours. The crunchy walnuts even add a bit of omega-3 fats to this sweet treat. With a cup of hot green tea, this cake will make you forget about cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!




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Pesticides and ADHD

Exposure to pesticides used on berries, celery and other fruits and vegetables could raise the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in youngsters. This report, published in the June, 2010, issue of Pediatrics, suggests that the commercial use of organophosphates could be related to rising rates of ADHD. The investigators analyzed data on pesticide exposure and ADHD in more than 1,100 boys and girls between the ages of eight and 15. They learned that youngsters who had higher pesticide levels in their urine were more likely to have ADHD and that the higher the levels of these chemicals, the higher the risk. The investigators noted that earlier studies have shown an association between exposure to organophosphates and developmental problems. Those studies saw links to ADHD among babies who were exposed to pesticides in the womb as well as after they were born. The research team didn't suggest that kids avoid fruits and vegetables but that parents might help safeguard their children's health by seeking out organic produce, buying at farmers' markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly at home.

My take? I'm not at all surprised by these findings. My colleague, Sandy Newmark, M.D., a California-based pediatrician and member of the faculty at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has just published an impressive book¸ ADHD Without Drugs, which delves into the causes of the rising rate of this disorder among children. In discussing the causes, he notes that from the moment of conception exposure to damaging environmental toxins has increased dramatically in the past 40 years and that a number of studies have implicated industrial pollutants as a factor in the rising rates of ADHD as well as learning disabilities. I highly recommend Dr. Newmark's book to any parent dealing with this diagnosis.

Learn which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide contamination and should always be bought organic by watching my video on the Environmental Working Group's Shopping Guide.


Night-Time Eating Bad for Teeth

Strange as it may seem, eating late at night can lead to tooth loss. It doesn’t appear to matter what you eat - the timing is the problem. Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Copenhagen University in Denmark looked at data on the oral health, eating behavior and general health of more than 2,200 Danish men and women age 30 to 60. The investigators found that eight percent of their study subjects consumed a quarter or more of their daily calories after their evening meal by waking and snacking in the middle of the night. After controlling for age, smoking status and the amount of sugar and carbohydrates eaten, the researchers determined that the night-eaters had lost more teeth at the later point in the study than the non-night-eaters. A possible explanation: saliva flow needed to remove debris from the mouth dries up at night, allowing the damage that can be caused to teeth by sugary and acidic foods and drink. The study was published in the August 2010 issue of Eating Behaviors.


A Note on Raspberries

These gems are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and provide folate, vitamins B2 and B3, magnesium and other essential nutrients. Raspberries also have considerable antioxidant potential (50% more than strawberries), and appear to have potent anti-cancer properties. Because commercial strains may be heavily sprayed with pesticides, I recommend buying organic varieties of raspberries.

An easy and delicious way to incorporate raspberries into your diet: Almond Fruit Tart.


Healthier Diet May Lower Asthma Risk

If you want to protect kids against asthma, you might try feeding them fewer burgers and more fruit and fish. That's the latest word from a team of European researchers who looked at data collected worldwide on 50,000 children between 8 and 12 years old. The investigators found that the link between asthma and burgers was strongest in countries where fast-food diets are most common. Interestingly, the study didn’t identify an association between asthma and eating meat, a finding that led the researchers to suggest that contributing lifestyle and environmental factors may be linked to fast-food burgers. As for the fruits, the researchers said that the antioxidants they contain - particularly those high in vitamin C - could support respiratory health and have been linked to better lung function and fewer asthma symptoms. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have anti-inflammatory effects that could be protective. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease. About 10 million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it. The study was published in the June, 2010, issue of Thorax, a British Medical Journal.

Read more about treating kids with asthma.


Multi-Grain Scones

These scones are the perfect answer to the morning rush. Unlike a lot of low-fat foods, which can be so loaded with sugar that you feel hungry soon after eating them, these are quite filling - you can eat just half of one and still satisfy the need for morning sustenance. Plus, you'll get in a nice amount of bran for the day, an appropriate source of roughage.

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Mind/Body Treatment for IBS

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo report that even patients with severe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were able to get better (and stayed better) if they were motivated and believed they could control their symptoms by changing their behavior. Nearly one-third of the 71 patients participating in a 10-week cognitive behavioral study indicated they felt significant relief after only four weeks, regardless of the amount of time they spent with the therapists treating them. Some had four one-hour sessions with a therapist over the 10 weeks; others had 10 one-hour sessions over the 10 weeks; those in a third "control" group attended no sessions. Conventional wisdom holds that benefit from behavioral treatment is tied to the amount of treatment a patient receives, said lead researcher Jeffrey Lackner, Psy.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at the UB School of Medicine. But that didn’t hold true in this study - some patients improved rapidly regardless of how many sessions they had. In addition, the investigators reported that 92.5 percent of these "rapid responders" maintained their improvement for well over three months with little evidence of deterioration. The study was published in the May issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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