Can your next tattoo detect early forms of cancer?

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Scientists at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA have been developing a series of smart tattoos that can indicate levels of dehydration and sugar levels through minimally invasive implantation. Dermal Abyss located in Cambridge tattoo inks change color according to the chemistry of the body’s interstitial fluid, which can be used as a surrogate for constituents of the blood. One ink changes from green to brown as glucose concentration increases. The team has also developed a green ink, viewable under blue light, that grows more intense as sodium concentration rises, an indication of dehydration. Researchers tattooed the inks onto segments of pig skin and noted how they changed color or intensity in response to different biomarkers.

Recently, however, Swiss scientists have developed an experimental skin implant that triggers the appearance of a dark mole when there is a change to the body’s interstitial fluid. Detecting the subtle body changes, such as hypercalcemia, work to serve as an early warning of cancer.

The implant, or “biomedical tattoo,” as researchers call it, has been tested on lab animals, lasts for about a year and recognizes the four most common types of cancer: prostate, lung, colon and breast cancer. It works by reacting to the level of calcium in the blood, which rises when a tumor is developing. About 40 per cent of cancers could theoretically be detected this way, researchers say.

“The biomedical tattoo detects all hypercalcemic cancers at a very early, asymptomatic stage,” says lead author Martin Fussenegger, professor at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at ETH Zurich.

They help to monitor health using biosensitive ink that changes color following the modifying composition of the body’s interstitial fluid.

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The researchers say that the biomedical tattoo could one day potentially be used to not only detect certain diseases and medical issues but could also be used to “noninvasively monitor response to treatment.” The researchers have developed a self-powering chip which sits under the surface of the skin. The chip contains a number of sensors which can monitor alcohol intake and blood levels in the host body, which could be useful in rehabilitation environments.

Earlier this month, engineers from the University of California San Diego revealed another skin-based research project which could impact our health. This time, by monitoring drug and alcohol intake.


Sources :
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Yes, mushrooms are good for you. But do they hold medicinal properties too?

Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries to treat everything from asthma to gout.

Now they’re being marketed in the West as functional or medicinal mushrooms that can prevent cancer or stimulate higher brain function, but there are relatively few trials in humans to back up these claims.

There are more than 2,000 species of edible mushrooms on the planet, but many of us probably only know a few kinds. Sauteing or grilling up white button mushrooms and portobellos may sound familiar to Americans, but in other parts of the world, particularly Asia, soups and stews might contain shiitake, maitake, oyster or lion’s mane.

To find a really good variety of mushrooms, I went to my local Mitsuwa, a Japanese market chain, located at a busy intersection on the west side of Los Angeles. It’s pretty drab outside, but when you walk in the doors, there’s lots of color and sound: Japanese snacks in bright packages, an aisle of nothing but singing rice cookers, and a rainbow array of mochi ice cream, the Japanese answer to an ice cream sandwich.

Vendors hawk steaming bowls of ramen and freshly fried tempura on one side of the building. And on the other side, there’s the produce aisle, which includes rows and rows of mushrooms.

Manager Yumi Kuwata buys the mushrooms here and says her top sellers include shimeji (beech mushrooms,) enoki (tiny white mushrooms with small caps) and shiitake, but she always has at least 10 varieties.

Kuwata says her customers buy mushrooms because they’re healthy and low in calories. “Japanese food [is] very healthy cuisine. So that’s what they are expecting,” she says.

But mushrooms offer a lot more than low calories.

Viki Sabaratnam, the scientist in charge of the mushroom research center at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says mushrooms are particularly good for us because of what they do before humans harvest them: “Their basic function in the environment is recycling of large molecules, and in the process they produce these fruit bodies, we call them, and they accumulate some of these components.”

The components include dozens of nutrients like selenium, vitamin D, potassium and compounds known as beta glucans, which can help fight inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can contribute to many diseases of aging, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Think of mushrooms as the superheroes of the fungi kingdom.

In the lab, researchers have reported all kinds of promising mushroom benefits, from killing cancer in human cells to reducing insulin resistance in diabetic mice.

But research on actual humans hasn’t been as prolific.

There are a few outliers: Shiitake mushroom extracts seem to help prolong the lives of stomach cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and in fact doctors in Japan now prescribe them for that purpose.

Also, maitake (hen-of-the-woods) and scaly wood mushroom extracts seem to strengthen the immune system of some breast cancer patients.

It’s hard to draw big conclusions about how these extracts would impact a broad range of people, though, because the studies have been small and targeted to specific populations.

Sabaratnam is studying how mushrooms might someday help fight off dementia, which affects around 50 million people today, with 10 million more added every year. She and her team reviewed studies of 20 different medicinal mushrooms thought to improve brain function and about 80 different metabolites isolated from those mushrooms that were tested in cells in the lab and in mice. They found that these metabolites improved recovery and function in damaged neural cells and had antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

“We have shown in lab experiments, yes, some of these properties are there,” But as she admits, “it’s quite a long way to go” to say how these mushroom extracts will work in actual humans.

But that hasn’t stopped the dietary supplement industry from jumping on reports of mushroom health benefits. There are teas, coffees and pills containing extracts of mushrooms that promise to reduce stress or jump start your brain.

Megan Ware is a dietitian in private practice in Orlando. She sees the potential health benefits of mushrooms, and even drinks mushroom coffee when she wants to feel extra alert. But she warns: “If you’re eating cheeseburgers and fries for lunch every day and you eat a couple mushrooms along with it, that doesn’t mean it’s going to lower your risk for heart disease or diabetes or any of those lifestyle conditions.”

Maybe one day, science will be able to prove that mushrooms can help prevent and treat disease. And if not, well, mushrooms are really delicious, so why not add a few new ones to your diet?


Here’s a list of a few tasty mushrooms that also show promising health benefits:

Mushrooms And Their Potential Medicinal Benefits

Most edible mushrooms contain high levels of nutrients and antioxidants, are high in fiber and low in cholesterol, and can help us lose weight if we swap them out for less healthy foods. But some appear to contain properties that could potentially benefit human medicine. Here’s some selected mushrooms and what we know about them so far.

Lentinula edodes (shiitake)

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Extracts of this widely consumed mushroom may help humans improve their immune system, prolong the lives of some cancer patients, and appear to kill certain viruses in the lab and improve gut microbes in mice.

Ganoderma lucidum (reishi)

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Extracts from this mushroom are credited with reducing obesity in mice by altering their gut bacteria.

Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom)

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In the lab, extracts of this mushroom appear to inhibit growth of breast and colon cancer cells.

 


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SOURCES:

SOURCE 1

SOURCE 2

 

The Sjögren’s Syndrome Diet

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What is the Sjögren’s syndrome diet?

The Sjögren’s syndrome diet is a food-based approach to reducing inflammation and other symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. While not a cure for this autoimmune condition, modifying your diet can help to treat symptoms, provide a higher quality of life, and improve your overall health.

What is Sjögren’s syndrome?

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease most common in older women, though it can affect people of all ages. Autoimmune disorders cause your immune system to attack healthy parts of your body, mistaking them as threats.

The disease causes your immune system to attack glands that produce tears and saliva. This affects your body’s ability to produce moisture.

The most common symptoms from this disorder are dry mouth and dry eyes. However, you may also experience other symptoms including:

  • joint pain
  • swelling
  • dry skin
  • dry throat
  • dry nasal passages
  • vaginal dryness
  • difficulty swallowing

Sjögren’s syndrome is often linked to other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Sjögren’s Syndrome & Diet

Similar to many recommended diets, the Sjögren’s syndrome diet focuses on well-balanced meals rich with vegetables, lean proteins, and fruits. Other than increasing nutrients and healthy proteins in your diet, the Sjögren’s diet reduces or eliminates foods that can cause inflammation or trigger allergic reactions.

Ginger root with green leaves, watercolor illustration with clipping pathCombined with a prescribed treatment plan, a moderated diet can help to prevent or reduce dryness and inflammation from Sjögren’s syndrome.

Foods to avoid

Pursuing the Sjögren’s diet or a similar anti-inflammatory diet means eliminating common trigger foods and allergens.

Some foods to avoid include:

  • red meat
  • processed foods
  • fried foods
  • dairy
  • sugars and sweets
  • alcohol
  • soda
  • gluten
  • refined grains
  • safflower, corn, and canola oils

Some foods affect people differently. Though these foods can trigger inflammation and worsen Sjögren’s syndrome symptoms, some can be eaten in moderation. This specifically applies to some dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese.

If your symptoms begin to worsen after eating specific foods, consider eliminating them from your diet. Also, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to ensure you receive the best treatment.

Foods to eat

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Maintaining a diet rich in foods with anti-inflammatory effects can reduce dryness symptoms and provide relief from other associated conditions. Some foods high in anti-inflammatory benefits include:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • nuts
  • fruits
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • fatty fish
  • olives and olive oil
  • avocado
  • whole grains

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How you cook your foods can also affect dry mouth symptoms. Here are some additional tips to make your meals more enjoyable:

  • If you choose to make a sandwich, consider adding vegetables that are high in moisture, such as cucumbers.
  • Adding sauces to your meals can ease swallowing, but use creamy sauces in moderation to limit fat content.
  • Try soups and smoothies as alternatives to dry foods.
  • Drink with your meals to ease swallowing.
  • Soften your foods with broth.
  • Tender-cook your meats to prevent them from drying out.

Always consult your physician before beginning any treatment program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.

Plasma Med Research is currently enrolling people that are diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome. If you, or someone you know may be intrested in participating in one of our many studies, please reach out to us at www.plasmamedpatients.com/contact or message us on Facebook.

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Article Source: Healthline

Crohn’s Research: Recent Recaps, What’s Going on Behind the Scenes

babesa_research_donate_plasma_medical_lyme_tickborne_babesia clinical studiesAlthough there is an abundance of researchers working on developing effective treatments for Crohn’s, it can be hard to keep up on all the different things that are currently being done. In attempt to make research more transparent for all, here’s a few recaps on what researchers are finding– right now.

Artificial sweetener could intensify symptoms in those with Crohn’s disease

The new findings, recently published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, revealed increases in the numbers of Proteobacteria, a large phylum [group] of microbes, in the intestines of mice drinking water supplemented with Splenda. Half of the mice studied, belonging to a genetic line that suffers a form of Crohn’s disease were more affected than the remaining half of mice, which belong to a healthy mouse line. Splenda produced intestinal overgrowth of E. coli (a member of the Proteobacteria group) and increased bacterial penetration into the gut wall, but only in Crohn’s disease-like mice.

The researchers also found that Splenda ingestion results in increased myeloperoxidase activity in the intestines of mice with the bowel disease, but not in the healthy mice. Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme in leukocytes (white blood cells) that is effective in killing various microorganisms. The inference is that the increased presence of E. coli intensified the myeloperoxidase activity in the bowel as the body sought to fight off the invader. The findings suggest that consumption of Splenda may increase myeloperoxidase production only in individuals with a pro-inflammatory predisposition, such as Crohn’s disease or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease patients. As part of this process, inflammation and its attendant consequences could exacerbate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

“Our findings suggest that patients with Crohn’s disease should think carefully about consuming Splenda or similar products containing sucralose and maltodextrin,” said the study’s lead author, Alex Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, MSc, DVSc, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Several studies have examined the ingredients found in this widely available product, separately. Here, we used Splenda as a means to test the combined effect of the commercial ingredients and used one of the best animal models of ileal Crohn’s disease.” This study demonstrates that the sweetener induces changes in gut bacteria and gut wall immune cell reactivity, which could result in inflammation or disease flare ups in susceptible people. On the other hand, the study suggests that individuals free of intestinal diseases may not need to be overly concerned.”

Find out more, here: Source

Engineering the gut microbiome with ‘good’ bacteria may help treat Crohn’s disease

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Penn Medicine researchers have singled out a bacterial enzyme behind an imbalance in the gut microbiome linked to Crohn’s disease. The new study, published online this week in Science Translational Medicine, suggests that wiping out a significant portion of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, and then re-introducing a certain type of “good” bacteria that lacks this enzyme, known as urease, may be an effective approach to better treat these diseases.

“Because it’s a single enzyme that is involved in this process, it might be a targetable solution,” said the study’s senior author, Gary D. Wu, MD, associate chief for research in the division of Gastroenterology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “The idea would be that we could ‘engineer’ the composition of the microbiota in some way that lacks this particular one.”

An imbalance in the gut microbiome — more “bad” bacteria than “good” — is known as dysbiosis, which is caused by environmental stressors, such as intestinal inflammation, antibiotics, or diet. Gut dysbiosis is believed to fuel Crohn’s disease and other diseases, but the mechanisms behind that relationship is not fully understood by researchers looking to strike a healthier, bacterial balance for patients. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects nearly one million children and adults in the United States.

In a series of human and mouse studies, the researchers discovered that a type of “bad” bacteria known as Proteobacteria feeding on urea, a waste product that can end up back in the colon, played an important role in the development of dysbiosis.

The “bad” bacteria, which harbor the urease enzyme, convert urea into ammonia (nitrogen metabolism), which is then reabsorbed by bacteria to make amino acids that are associated with dysbiosis in Crohn’s disease. “Good” bacteria may not respond in a similar manner, and thus may serve as a potential therapeutic approach to engineer the microbiome into a healthier state and treat disease.

“The study is important is because it shows that the movement of nitrogen into bacteria is an important process in the development of dysbiosis,” Wu said. “It also proves using a single enzyme can reconfigure the entire composition of the gut microbiota.”

Using this approach, in the current study, researchers showed that inoculating pre-treated mice with a single bacterial species, Escherichia coli, altered the gut microbiome in a significant way, depending on the presence of urease. Mice injected with urease-negative E. coli did not lead to dysbiosis, while mice with urease-positive E. coli did. The urease-positive E. coli also exacerbated colitis in the mice.

The research was conducted by Wu and colleagues from Penn Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), under the PennCHOP Microbiome Program with funding from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Similar to mice, treating five human subjects with the same two antibiotics and PEG also successfully reduced bacterial load in their intestinal tract by 100,000-fold, suggesting that it might be possible to engineer the composition of the gut microbiota in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Find out more, here: Source

Dysfunctional gene may be culprit in some Crohn’s disease cases

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Sundrud’s laboratory, from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), is working to understand the characteristics and functions of TH17 cells, a subset of immune cells that circulate throughout the body. These cells protect many types of tissues from infection, but they can also promote chronic inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, which specifically targets the intestinal tract.

Knowing TH17 cells need to function in a variety of tissue environments throughout the body, Sundrud’s team wondered if and how these cells might use different tools to behave normally in one environment — or tissue — than they’d use in another. Perhaps activating one gene could be useful in the lungs, while activating another would be useful in the gut, the same way you might bring a bathing suit on a trip to Florida and a jacket if you’re headed to Canada.

This study built on previous research from the Sundrud lab, which showed that when TH17 cells entered the intestine in human tissue samples, they increased the expression of a gene called MDR1.

But MDR1 is only known to transport chemotherapeutic drugs out of tumor cells, so why would it be expressed in immune cells in the gut?

The new study suggests that MDR1 is responsible for protecting TH17 cells in the gut from bile acids — detergent-like molecules produced by the liver that break down fats. Normally, the liver secretes bile acids after we eat to aid digestion. As food moves through the digestive tract, these acids are reabsorbed when they reach the ileum — the final portion of the small intestine — and the site of ileal Crohn’s disease, the most common form of Crohn’s.

“T cells only see high levels of bile acids in the ileum. They know this, and they adapt once they get there,” says Sundrud.

This discovery led the researchers to identify a mechanism where ileal Crohn’s disease appears to be induced by bile acids when T cell adaptation does not occur the way it should. The team used a genetically modified mouse model to observe the expression and function of MDR1 in mice. They found that the gene’s expression increased when the cells entered the ileum. But, in mice where the gene couldn’t be activated in the gut, TH17 cells that were exposed to bile acids suffered severe oxidative stress. This stress caused the TH17 cells to become overactive, leading to Crohn’s disease-like intestinal inflammation in mice.

Using bile acid sequestrants, an FDA-approved class of drugs used in transplant patients that absorb bile acids like a sponge, scientists were able to restore normal T cell function in the ileum and attenuate Crohn’s disease in mice.

To establish the relevance of their findings, the team tested blood samples from healthy humans, as well as those with a variety of inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s. They found a subset of patients with Crohn’s disease had severely impaired MDR1 expression.

Not only does this suggest that the cause of Crohn’s disease in these patients may be oxidative stress due to dysfunctional MDR1, but that for the subset of patients with this dysfunction, bile acid sequestrants may be an effective treatment. Together with his collaborators, Sundrud hopes to fund a clinical study to test exactly that.

Find out more, here: Source

Blood Test for Colitis Screening Using Infrared Technology Could Reduce Dependence on Colonoscopy, Study Finds

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A fast, simple blood test for ulcerative colitis using infrared spectroscopy could provide a cheaper, less invasive alternative for screening compared to colonoscopy, which is now the predominant test, according to a study between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

The researchers used Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to examine the blood serum of mice with colitis and found nine absorption peaks that could be used to indicate the presence of the disease in the blood sample.

The findings, recently published in the Journal of Biophotonics, suggest a new testing procedure that could be developed to help doctors more easily screen patients for ulcerative colitis.

More than 1.6 million people in the United States suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the large intestine. Adults 50 and older are expected to get a colonoscopy, a test that allows a doctor to look at the inner lining of the large intestine (rectum and colon), every five years or more frequently if abnormalities are found. The test can help find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors and other areas of inflammation or bleeding.

However, many people don’t like getting colonoscopies because the procedure is uncomfortable and requires them to fast an entire day and clean out their colon by drinking a liquid solution. Colonoscopies can also be costly because they require sedation and several medical personnel and have risks of complications. There remains a great need for simpler and cost-effective techniques to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, according to Dr. A. G. Unil Perera, Regents’ Professor of Physics, and Dr. Didier Merlin, professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences.

“Colonoscopy is used as a screening technique, so even if you don’t know if a person has colitis or not, that’s currently the only way to clearly check and say they do,” Perera said. “We are not talking about replacing colonoscopy. We have shown that a minimally invasive blood test can tell if a patient has an indication of colitis. Then, doctors can perform a colonoscopy to see how far the disease has spread and whether there are signs of cancer.”

This blood test using infrared spectroscopy is much quicker, less invasive and much less expensive compared to colonoscopy. There are no risks, except a simple finger prick to get a blood sample, Perera said.

In this study, the researchers used two groups of mice with different types of colitis, chronic and acute. The mice with chronic colitis, the interleukin 10 (IL 10) mice, had a gene modification that allowed them to develop colitis. The mice with acute colitis, the Dextran Sodium Sulphate (DSS) mice, were administered DSS in their drinking water for seven days, and they developed colitis over time. The control group in the study was mice before they were fed DSS.

Find out more, here: Source

 

Plasma Med Research is recruiting potential donors diagnosed with Crohn’s, Lupus, MS, and many more indications. For more information on how to become a donor and help research, please visit http://www.plasmamedresearch.com.

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Thank you, and we look forward to working with you.

 

12 Healthy Diet Tips for Hepatitis C and Liver Disease

Dealing with liver disease or any chronic illness can be challenging enough and can bring an out of control feeling. Your diet is something you can control. It gives you a sense of being behind the wheel with your health.

The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is true.  What we eat affects our entire body, especially our liver.  The liver is the powerhouse of the body.  It is the second largest organ and helps with many vital functions.  When our liver is unhealthy, it affects our entire body, even your immune system, which helps you fight disease.

Think of your liver in terms of a highly efficient engine and filter.  What you eat, drink and expose to your body is chemically broken down by your liver and affects your immune system and many other functions of your body.

 

It’s important to eat and drink the right fuel in order to operate effectively. With having Hep C, I learned 12 healthy diet tips for Hepatitis C or any liver disease that help the liver do its jobs and help repair some liver damage.

The American Liver Foundation states that eating an unhealthy diet can even lead to liver disease.  For example, a person who eats a lot of fatty foods is at higher risk of being overweight and having (NAFLD) non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

An unhealthy diet and exposure to dangerous chemicals can do damage to your liver and cause it not to function properly.  Like ‘sludge’ in your gas tank an unhealthy diet can slow down or worse, lead to compromised liver function.

When I was first diagnosed with Hep C over twenty years ago, along with seeing my liver specialist, I saw a registered dietitian for nutritional counseling.  I wanted to know from having Hepatitis C what kind of diet was best.

12 Healthy Diet Tips for Hepatitis C and any liver disease is:

  1.  Eating foods from all food groups in healthy portions such as whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
  2. Eating foods with high fiber such as fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans and whole grains are liver healthy foods.  Fiber it up, it’s nature’s broom to help eliminate toxins from the body.
  3.  Eat a well balanced diet, but eat lean proteins from poultry, fish, and plant based proteins.
  4. Limit red meat due to this is harder and takes longer for your system to break it down, plus it can contribute to bloating.
  5. Avoid uncooked shellfish such as oysters and clams or other uncooked meats.
  6. Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar and salt.
  7. Limit eating high fatty foods.
  8. Limit eating fried or processed foods.
  9. Stay within a healthy weight range because the liver can function better than if we’re over or under weight.
  10. Eating smaller meals throughout the day is also better than large meals.  Your liver has to work harder to break down high fat and larger meals.  This will also help stabilize blood sugar, cravings, and the bloated, sleepy feeling that can come from eating larger meals.
  11. It is best to limit foods that have a lot of sugar and high sodium (salt). High sodium foods and eating too much protein will make you retain fluid and can lead to excess toxins in your blood stream.   Be careful not to limit your protein too much because it can result in a lack of certain amino acids that is essential for your body to function properly.
  12. Drink plenty of pure water, filtered if possible.  Drink at least 64 ounces a day.  Avoid Alcohol.  Alcohol is like throwing gas on a fire with liver disease and increases damage.

 

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Always consult your physician before beginning any treatment program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.

Article Source:  https://www.lifebeyondhepatitisc.com/2015/06/ten-healthy-diet-tips-hepatitis-c-liver-disease-2/

How to Prevent the 2018 Allergy Season From Getting the Best of You

 

As February drags on, many of us find ourselves at the point where we would give almost anything for a time machine that can catapult us into spring, when we can finally put away our bulky jackets, we won’t have to worry about every flight being cancelled due to snow or ice, and this year’s dangerous flu season finally starts to wind down. “Everything will be better in spring,” we wistfully tell ourselves, conveniently forgetting that the warming temperatures are the bearers of another big annoyance: allergies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Those allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, can cause all sorts of pesky symptoms, like itching, sneezing, sinus pain, and more. As we inch closer to spring, here’s what you should know about what the upcoming months mean for your allergies — and how to keep the downsides to a minimum in 2018.

When is “peak” allergy season?

We throw around the term “allergy season” a lot, but the reality is there isn’t one season when everyone’s allergies collectively flare up. “‘Peak’ allergy season varies for each individual depending on what they may be allergic to and the region of the country they live in,” Sindhura Bandi  an allergist and immunologist at Rush University medical center tells Allure. 

Seasonal allergies generally hit in waves. Bandi explains that tree pollen season usually goes from late February/early March through May; followed by grass season, which holds on until July; then August and the fall bring about mold spores (which take their toll in humid climates) and ragweed, which holds on until approximately November.

That said, none of that is an exact science. “In areas that do not experience frosty conditions, certain allergens may persist for longer seasons,” Bandi says. “In addition, with the more temperate climates we have been seeing nationally, certain pollen seasons are lasting for longer than usual.” And as if that weren’t enough, there are also perennial allergens that persist year-round, such as dust, pet dander, and some types of mold.

 

What’s the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies?

Darria Long Gillespie a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and head of clinical strategy at Sharecare, explains that seasonal allergies are only present during peak pollination times of specific allergens (like the aforementioned trees, grass, mold, and ragweed). Perennial allergies are not only present all the time, but they’re also caused by different allergens, with the exception of mold, which can cause both seasonal and perennial allergies. Instead of plants, Long Gillespie says that year-round allergies are typically triggered by insects (like dust mites and cockroaches) and animals (cats and dogs).

But that’s where the differences stop. “Whatever the trigger of the allergy, the body’s response is the same,” Long Gillespie says. “It recognizes these things as something ‘harmful’ and mounts an immune response, which leads to the classic allergy symptoms, [like] stuffy/runny nose and sneezing, sore or itchy throat, and itchy/red eyes.”

How can I prevent or minimize both kinds of allergy symptoms?

The CDC explains that you can’t prevent allergies, but you can prevent allergic reactions. Doing so requires you to take control of your environment and minimizing those triggers as best you can.

If you have seasonal allergies, keep tabs on the daily pollen count, which you can get from most weather forecasting service. When it’s high, try to stay inside as much as you can. Both Bandi and Long Gillespie also recommend keeping your windows and doors (to your home and car) closed to minimize your exposure to pollen.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you can avoid going outside at all during peak pollination times, but there are still things you can do to help prevent reactions when you do. “When you come in from the outdoors, change your clothes and take a shower to rinse pollen out of your hair and off your skin,” Long Gillespie says. If you can’t shower right away, she recommends at least doing so before you go to bed. And if you have pets, wipe them down after they come inside, too.

Dandelion seeds in the morning sunlight blowing away across a fresh green background

Speaking of pets, a HEPA filter, as well as regular vacuuming, can also help ward against pet dander. It’s also worth noting that, Bandi says, cat dander can linger in a home up to six months. In the event that you used to have a cat — or have simply done a bit of cat-sitting, for that matter — and are still experiencing allergy symptoms, you may need to do a deep clean and replace your filters.

If possible, Long Gillespie suggests keeping the carpeting in your home to a minimum, as it attracts both pollen and dust. And if dust is your big allergy trigger, Bandi recommends keeping your home’s humidity below 50 percent (you can test the level with a hygrometer) and using dust mite-proof pillows and mattress covers. “In addition, frequent vacuuming and using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in the home can reduce dust mite exposure,” Bandi says.

Long Gillespie also says that nasal rinses, such as neti pots, can clear pollen out of your nose before the allergy symptoms start. If you go that route, be sure to closely follow the FDA’S safety recommendations. Whatever your specific trigger, Long Gillespie also recommends cleaning all air, duct, and air conditioner filters before allergy season begins each year.

How can I fight them once they show up?

“Of course, prevent[ing] complete exposure is often not possible, and your allergist can recommend various medical therapies to reduce the symptoms,” Bandi says. “Allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can be helpful in desensitizing your body to the allergens in which you are allergic.”

Long Gillespie also recommends options like antihistamines (which come in many forms to block your body’s immune overreaction to the trigger, steroid nose sprays to fight congestion and post-nasal drip, and decongestants in oral or nasal spray form.

If you’re not sure what exactly is causing your symptoms, Bandi suggests making an appointment with an allergist who can help you identify the trigger. And even if you do have a good idea of what allergen is causing you to sniffle and sneeze, a specialist can guide you on the best path for warding off and treating the symptoms, so you can get back to enjoying the season

 

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This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate treatment plan.

Article source: https://www.allure.com/story/when-is-peak-allergy-season-how-to-prevent-symptoms