10 Surprising Things Your Body Does When You’re Healthy

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The human body is a fine-tuned machine that will automatically let us know when something isn’t quite right. We can almost always tell when something feels out of the norm. Looking out for changes or discomfort that are out of the ordinary can be a great way to stay on top of your health. However, if in doubt err on the side of caution and seek medical help.

Unfortunately some bodily functions are a little more gross than we would care to admit, but these can actually be signs that your body is healthy. Many of the body’s “gross” bodily functions are completely normal and show that your body is fixing any problems on its own. Your body will automatically give you clues about your health and it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Not every strange thing happens to your body is unhealthy. There are many bodily functions that might surprise you by being a sign of good health. Here are just a few of them that are usually not a cause for panic, but a pat on the back for keeping yourself in good health.

  1. Large Bowel Movements

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THAT came out of ME!? While it’s not the greatest topic of conversation, large bowel movements are good indicators of health. Well-formed bowel movements without any stray food particles show that your digestive system is on track and very healthy. You get major bonus points if you have them every day around the same time. Not sure whether your stool is as healthy as it could be? Consult a doctor and you can take a look at this informative article.

  1. Going To The Bathroom Several Times A Day

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While large bowel movements can be shocking and unnerving, but having them several times a day might instill some concern or pride. However, this is also a sign of good digestive health. Everyone’s frequency will vary from 3 times a week to even 3 times a day. Don’t be concerned if you are not one of those people who poop several times a day. Everyone is different. While any consistency or frequency changes can be a sign of illness it is not a cause for immediate concern unless the changes are sudden and drastic.

  1. Producing Ear Wax

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Much like bowel movements everyone produces ear wax and the amounts will vary by person. According to Kid’sHealth.org ear wax, or cerumen, is made in the outer part of the ear by special glands. Ear wax is actually really important for your ears. It lubricates the ear canal, fights infections, and shields the inner ear from dirt and dust. While it may be a little bit gross, ear wax is extremely healthy for your ears. The good news is that you don’t have to do anything to get rid of it; most of the time it falls out on its own without anyone noticing. If you notice larger than normal levels make sure you consult a doctor to make sure something potentially harmful isn’t happening.

  1. Passing Gas

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Whether it be burping or farting many times a day or even both you are showing signs of good health. Some people swallow more air, such as when you chew gum, and eat certain foods that may cause more gas, such as some vegetables, but passing gas is considered normal and a sign of digestive health. It is your body’s way of getting rid of excessive air. Passing an excessive amount of gas is considered rare, but if accompanied by other symptoms it may be time to consult your doctor. There are ways you can reduce the amount of gas your body excretes, such as by quitting smoking and making small changes in your diet.

  1. Sweat and Body Odor

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Sweat is a natural function the body goes through sometimes multiple times a day. Causes can be stress/anxiety, exercise, and excessive heat. Sweat comes from tens of thousands of glands all over your body, but the largest concentrations are in your armpits and groin where you typically find higher concentrations of hair. Sweat is initially odorless and does not start to smell until it mixes with bacteria on your skin. This is why everyone has their own, unique scent when they sweat much like a smelly fingerprint.

Some people sweat more often than others and this is just a fact of life. Foods and drinks can also change your body odor somewhat so keep that in mind before panic sets in. If you notice any sudden changes, start sweating for no apparent reason, sweat begins to disrupt your life and/or your notice a change in odor you should think about seeing your doctor.

Age can also be a factor for bodily odor changes. Changes in your sweat glands, hormones, and medications can have a major role in why your scent changes as you get older.

 

  1. Eyes Moving When You Sleep

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It might be unnerving and weird to see someone sleeping but their eyes are still moving around apparently “looking” at many different things. Believe it or not this is actually a sign that you’re getting enough sleep which has seemingly endless health benefits.

When we sleep our body’s go through several stages or cycles of sleep. We cycle back and forth between REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. These eye movements have been associated with dreaming, however scientists are not completely sure of the cause. While the causes might not be fully known at this time, the effects are very beneficial. This REM sleep cycle only occurs when we are in a deep sleep and has been shown to give better sleep quality, make you feel more rested and even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The next time you see someone sleeping with lots of eye movements let them sleep. They are getting much deserved and very healthy deep sleep.

  1. Flaky and Shedding Skin

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Your skin is one of your body’s first lines of defenses against the sun, bacteria, and other harmful substances. Flaky skin can be a sign of dryness, sunburn, or some medical conditions so don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist if you feel like you have something more serious.

Never fear! There is plenty of good news. Our skin is constantly shedding at a rate of 500 million cells a day. This might seem like an alarming rate, but our bodies are forming more skin cells to replace them all each day as well. One of the main chemical in your shedded skin cells is squalene, which has been shown to remove ozone levels inside by 2-15%.

Next time you see dust around the house you can give yourself a pat on the back for improving air quality instead of feeling the need to clean all day.

  1. Producing Mucus

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Boogers have a bad reputation, but they are actually quite useful. Mucus works with your nose hair to trap dirt and dust particles and this combination forms what we unlovingly call the booger. Maybe we should give them a little more credit since they are a sign of immune system health.

If you’re eating you might want to put your food down. New studies are beginning to show that eating your boogers may help defend against some illnesses and infections. While studies are still being conducted there is evidence that ingesting boogers might have beneficial health results.

For now be happy that without eating any boogers your mucus is fighting off infection and keeping dust and dirt from getting in to your body. We’ll tackle ingesting them when the time comes.

 

  1. Waking Up With “Crusty” Eyes

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Eye gunk, eye sleep, eye boogers, sand, crusties, the list goes on. The medical term for those crusty particles you find on the corners of your eyes when you wake up is Rheum. Every human has a mucus layer on their eyes that attracts water. Underneath it is another layer made up mostly of water that functions as a lubricant for your eyes and also washes away infections.

During sleep our body relaxes and some of this fluid can leak to the corners of our eyes, which is completely normal. When inside your eye this “gunk” is liquid, but when it leaves the warmth of your eye it cools and becomes the crunchy, hard substance we all know. Why do we have this substance at all? It keeps our tears in our eyes where it belongs to hydrate our eyes.

If you notice any changes in color or amounts this can be cause for concern, especially in conjunction with red, itchy eyes. Eye infections can cause more rheum to build up and even turn green. Keep an eye out for these changes, but otherwise stay calm and know that your rheum is working to keep your eyes hydrated and healthy.

  1. Forming Thick Foot Calluses

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While they might not be the most attractive thing to happen to your feet they definitely are not the worst. Calluses are thick, protective layers of dead skin cells or patches of skin that have thickened and are commonly found in bony areas. Their primary function is to protect the area on which they have formed, commonly on the feet. You can get calluses from exercise or walking on rough surfaces since they develop as a response to friction and weight.

Think of a callus as a tougher version of a blister. It’s just trying to protect an area of the body that is subjected to more wear and tear than usual. Make sure to always take care of your feet or any callused area to prevent infection. You can always see a doctor if any become painful or you want to have them removed.

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Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

It is April! So you know what that means! Spring is here. Or right around the corner. Which means, its allergy time! I know, I know, most of us aren’t exactly excited about allergy season. But along with the pollen and insects and grass that spring brings, it also offers some natural ways to fight off the sneezing, itching, and runny noses.

According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people, or about 50 million Americans, live with allergies. Whether it be seasonal allergies, food allergies, or another kind, the chances are incredibly high that you know someone living with allergies.

Most Americans who struggle with the issues caused by allergies are treated with pharmaceuticals, such as Benadryl, Claritin, or other prescription medications. While these medications can help with allergy symptoms, some find that the prescriptions can further aggravate the symptoms, while others find that the medicines treating the allergy create new symptoms to deal with, such as fatigue.

Fortunately, there are natural remedies that do not bring other side effects. In particular everyday foods we eat, there are natural compounds that help combat allergies. This antioxidant, called quercetin, is abundant in certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Eating foods high in this compound helps to reduce mast cell activity, which soothes symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing. It is best used as a long-term remedy, and many people begin taking it 4-6 weeks before allergy season arrives.

What is interesting about quercetin is that multiple researchers have found evidence of its effectiveness. It is believed that it calms down the hyperactivity of the airways. The compound is so powerful that Iranian researchers have proven that it can help control peanut allergies (the leading cause of life-threatening/fatal allergy attacks). However, many sources agree that quercetin should be used as a long-term remedy as it may take several months before it begins to work.

Here are some great ways to boost your quercetin levels:

Apples

Yes, you read that right! Who says that treating your allergies can’t be tasty? Apples are packed with tons of antioxidants, which fight inflammation and prevent cellular damage. No worries if you can’t find apples at your grocery store all year. Pick up a jar of applesauce and be on your way!

Honey

There have been many studies on the effects of local honey and the human body, and so far so good. One study showed that a single dose of honey before bedtime diminished coughs and discomfort experienced by children. Another study found that local honey works like an allergy shot, helping your body develop a tolerance to local allergens.

Turmeric

What can’t this little spice do? Known for its anti-inflammatory abilities, turmeric is a mast cell stabilizer. Because of the spice’s long history of aiding health, there are hundreds of recipes out there allowing you to be more healthy and eat delicious food.

Nettle Leaf

This natural remedy is far less known compared to others on this list. However, nettle leaf can be very effective at naturally blocking the body’s ability to produce allergy-causing compounds and reactions. The most effective option of this remedy is tiny capsules made from dried nettle leaves. However, there are other ways of ingesting it. For example, it is often mixed with peppermint leaf and sometimes red raspberry leaf to make a refreshing allergy relief tea.

Integrative Medicine in Pediatric Care

Integrative medicine is being practiced more and more regularly as a part of a holistic approach to medicine for adults, and recently it has begun making waves in pediatric care as well. 1 in 10 children receive integrative medicine, and more than 50% of children with a chronic illness partake. As I am not a pediatrician but internal medicine doc, and realize toddlers are not just little people I do respect the opinion of those that have been trained in this tender age group. Most recently our son came down with a cough which lasted a bit longer than a few days, and I was strongly recommended by the many women in our family to take our young son to the urgent care “just to make sure” there was nothing else making him ill given my limitations. I was nicely surprised when the pediatrician recommended tea with honey to relieve a post nasal drip cough which was the final diagnosis. Therefore, it is vital to understand how integrative medicine works and why it can be useful for parents to incorporate it. In order to understand the positive effects, let’s look at some examples.

Massage

Nobody is going to complain about getting a massage, but did you know massages do more for your body than simply make you feel good? Livestrong posted an article about the positive effects of massage therapy. Some of the most common include decreased stress, pain relief, increased circulation, and immune system function. All of these benefits are good for anyone at any age, but starting massage therapy at a young age can increase the benefits as time goes on.

Nutrition

Diet is an important part of everyone’s life, and instilling good diet habits early can set a child up for a healthy, happy life. It is shown that a poor diet has lasting negative consequences in children. This includes both physical and mental troubles, which can range from obesity to depression. Poor nutrition can also correlate to a number of eating disorders down the line, and studies have shown that eating disorders are popping up in younger children all the time. In order to combat diseases down the line, stick to a well-rounded nutritional plan.

Yoga

Exercise is good for everyone, but yoga is a specific type of exercise that incorporates flexibility, strength, and mental focus. The physical benefits of yoga can often be greater in children than in adults, as children are continuing to grow. Furthermore, yoga can be incorporated with meditation to provide an outlet for calm introspection, which children may not naturally have.

Art/Dance/Music

Art and music are some of the most popular forms of self-expression. There are numerous studies about the positive effects in children, at Arts.gov recently there was a published study linking art and music involvement to lower alcohol and marijuana consumption, higher optimism about attending college, and less engagement in delinquency. Dance is also lumped into the arts, and even better it has the added benefit of exercise.

Integrative medicine is a large topic that includes many categories. Not every category is right for every child, but exploring the possibilities can allow you to make the best decision on what is right for your family. At the end of the day, it is crucial to understand and acknowledge that integrative medicine is an important part of life and it is unlikely to go away.

The Importance of Taking Care of Your Mental Health

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Physical health and mental health are tightly connected. Many mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, can worsen your blood pressure and put a strain on your heart. People with these illnesses are more likely to die from heart-related illnesses. According to the WHO, poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions, including chronic pain and chronic fatigue.

And this connection goes both ways. So, if you develop a chronic physical condition as a result of your chronic mental health issues, the stress of the physical conditions can cause your mental health to worsen. On the other hand, working to improve your physical health, for example through careful eating and exercise, can have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing your stress levels, improving your memory, releasing mood-boosting endorphins, and improving your sleep.

More productive

People experiencing mental health conditions struggle to be productive. Mental illnesses can make it harder for you to motivate yourself to work, and harder to focus on the work once you’re doing it. And over time, mental illnesses can severely decrease your sense of self-worth, leaving you feeling like you wouldn’t be able to produce anything worthwhile even if you could put the time in.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, you’ve probably noticed this phenomenon in your own life. Everyone has good days and bad days, and you’ve probably realized that you work better on your good days. And inversely, you’ve probably realized that when you are most productive, you feel better.

Better relationships

Bad mental health can cause your relationships to suffer. Mental illness can cause you to miss engagements, lash out at loved ones, or isolate yourself for long stretches of time. The overall stress of dealing with a mental illness, like any chronic illness, can also saturate your personal life. On the farthest end of the spectrum, people with severe mental illnesses can wind up completely isolated or stuck in an abusive relationship.

Again, even if you don’t have a mental illness, you will find yourself struggling socially when you’re tired, crabby, or stressed. Improving your mental health improves your relationship with your friends, your families, and your romantic partner. And having that support network there to help you is essential in maintaining your mental health.

Consume your Way to Fight Inflammation

Our body is devised with an amazingly astonishing mechanism: when an alien object tries to enter your body, it works to shield itself from the foreign element. 

The immune system of our body is designed in such a way that, when it fights off invaders like plant pollens or chemical elements of a microbe, the body reacts to the process in multiple ways. One of the reactions is inflammation.

Inflammation is the defense process of our immune system in which a part of the body becomes red and begins to swell. This is a perfectly natural reaction to an infection or an injury, as your blood cells rush to the area to assist in healing. However, if the inflammation persists chronically, the repercussions can turn life threatening. 

Sometimes inflammation occurs without an infection or a bruise caused by external factors, and that is when you need to start paying attention. Inflammation can be a gateway to a number of fatal illnesses like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, and even Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. 

Remedies to combat inflammation lie in our kitchens. Many experimental studies have concluded that consuming right nutrients can actually influence the onset, or stymie the occurrence, of inflammation in the human body.

Here are some of the most dangerous foods to consume for their role in causing inflammation:

  • Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and white rice to name a few examples.  If the bread is soft and easily compressed most likely it’s going to quickly turn into sugar in one’s body.
  • Fried foods and other pre-prepared packaged junk foods such chips that are excessively consumed can speed up the occurrence of inflammation.
  • Sugar-laden and sweetened beverages, drinks, sodas, and over consumption of alcohol.  The liquid consumption of sugar causes other health hazards too, besides inflammation and fuels the metabolic syndrome affecting many today.
  • Processed meat like hot dogs, sausages, salami, bacon, luncheon meats.
  • Corn fed red meat like steaks, burgers, and other “meat pie” dishes.
  • Spreads of animal fat origin like margarine, lard, and shortening.

It is not a revelation that most of the food items mentioned above are associated with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity since inflammation is an underlying cause of each of these diseases.

What must be consumed to keep inflammation at bay?

Take a look at some of the best fresh foods, preferably organic, you can consume to reduce inflammation:

  • Fibrous green leafy and cruciferous vegetables like spinach, collards, lettuce, swiss chards, kale, broccoli trying to go for various colors of the rainbow
  • Tomatoes, which contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as lycopene.
  • Almonds, walnuts, and cashews
  • Fruits, including citruses, like oranges, cherries, strawberries, and other berries
  • Fatty fish like sardines packed in water or olive oil, mackerel, wild salmon and, herring, and black cod. If eating these fish is not possible than take a high quality fish oil supplement
  • Lets not forget about the mushrooms.  If available in your area maitake, shiitake, enokitake, and oyster mushrooms provide powerful health benefits.
  • Beverages like green or white tea, matcha, and coffee have anti-inflammatory benefits too, but mind the additives, which can negate the benefits.

The Mediterranean diet, which is composed primarily of plant, healthy fat and protein consumption, is said to be an ideal and healthy dietary lifestyle if one wishes to lean towards anti-inflammatory eating.

A Look into Mind-Body Medicine

In most Western medical practices, mental health and physical health are viewed as two separate entities; physical health is handled by a primary care physician and mental health is covered by a psychologist or psychiatrist as needed. However, newer practices are pulling from centuries-old beliefs that the health of the mind and the health of the body are more interconnected than we’ve been practicing.

Mens sana in corpore sano.

In ancient Greek times, there was a firm and widely held belief that the mind and body are connected and influence the health of one another. A well-known Latin phrase was developed from this belief: “mens sana in corpore sano” translates to mean “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” In essence, total, holistic wellness is wellness in both your mental and physical health. This duality between mind and body remained the common belief and practice until the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods when they were separated into two different entities. In the 17th century, Rene Descarte described humans as being comprised of two contrasting substances which could not unify with one another; the mind being sentient and able to reason but without substance, and the body with substance but constricted to the physics of earth whereas the mind is not.

Reconnecting the mind and body.

As medical knowledge progressed and our understanding of health deepened, the importance and influence of the mind began to creep its way back into discussions of physical health in the 20th century. They began to study the power that the mind has over the body in the wake of studies on how placebos can affect the body’s ability to control pain.

Mind-body health today.

Today, an entire sector of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is devoted to researching the connection between mind and body health. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) studies the impact that mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect a person’s health.

Some mind-body medicine practices from the NCCIH include mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, yoga, deep breathing, massage, and homeopathy. Mind-body practices also promote the use of natural products like herbs, minerals, probiotics, and vitamins.

The designation that mind-body health practices are “alternative medicine” presents a misinforming picture of the power that incorporating these holistic practices in life can have. “Alternative” gives the impression that all typical Western health practices are abandoned when in reality it just expands the scope through with which we view these practices and understand their impact.

Are Acupressure Mats Worth Using?

For over seven years, a buzz has been growing around the so-called “acupressure mats.” Also known as a “bed of nails” or an “acupressure needle stimulation pad,” these mats are the latest trend for at home relaxation, pain relief, and enjoyment.

Featuring thousands of tiny spiking crowns melted onto a non-organic cotton and foam mat, the acupressure mat can seem somewhat troublesome, especially when considering that it is recommended for users to lay on the mat for a minimum of 10 minutes daily to rid the body of toxins, to release endorphins and oxytocin, to stimulate energy, and to break through stress. It is further claimed that use of this mat will result in long-term alleviation of anxiety, headaches, constipation, insomnia, fatigue, tension, back pain, muscle aches, and discomfort.

So how exactly does it work? Well, first it is essential to understand that the idea is far from new. In Ancient India, a healing tradition was practiced that required laying on a legitimate bed of nails. The nails would press firmly into pressure points thus relieving tension and muscle aches. Now, thousands of years later, this tradition has evolved from actual nails to thousands of non-toxic plastic spikes that are harmless to the skin.

For the complete posting, please visit Dr. Gregory Burzynski on Patch.com, and for more information on Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center, check out their website.

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Treating Addiction with Medication Requires Careful Consideration

In 1861, the Civil War began, and with it, it brought many new changes and obstacles.

Shortly before the war started, morphine was synthesized for pain thus exposing a large number of soldiers to opioids. Soldiers took kindly to the drug as it was reported to relieve physical pain, as well as the emotional distress of wartime experiences. After the war, soldiers returned home with “the Army’s disease” or “the soldier’s disease,” an early name for the addiction opioids caused.

By the end of the 1800s, America had experienced its first heroin epidemic, which led to the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, which stated that physicians should not treat heroin addiction with morphine. This act made it illegal for doctors to use opioids to treat opioid dependence, and those who wouldn’t abide by the rules were sent to prison.

By the 1960’s, doctors began using methadone maintenance to combat addiction. Methadone works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It reduces the painful symptoms of withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of opiates, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like hydrocodone.

Today, the opioid crisis is at its peak. In 2016, 64,000 Americans lost their lives due to drug overdose– about two-thirds from opioids. The United States consists of about five percent of the world’s population, and yet an estimated 90% of the world’s prescribed pain medications are used here.

For the complete article, visit Dr. Gregory Burzynski’s Patch.com, and for more information on Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center visit them online.

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Natural Remedies to Keep Your Health Up this Winter

During the winter months, especially where weather gets cold, it seems like everybody’s down with some sort of cold for the duration of the season. Between runny noses, chest colds, and the flu, it can be hard to feel like you’re truly protecting yourself from illness. While there may not be much you can do to avoid germs spreading to you — aside from washing your hands and wearing a HAZMAT suit — there are ways that you can help make sure your body is prepared to fight off any incumbent bacteria or viruses: check out these natural remedies to help you keep your health up this winter.

Herbal Teas

Great for a cold or when you’re just feeling cold, herbal teas are just that — tea made from herbs that either accompany or replace the tea leaves in the drink. Some amazingherbal tea include elderberry, age, rose, plantain, echinacea, and calendula, and they help your body with everything from improving circulation to supporting digestion including managing stress which can exacerbate many health issues. Before you even feel a cold coming on, start introducing herbal teas into your diet to help you defend yourself from illness.

Fruits

While those of you living in colder areas know that fruits aren’t in season locally during the winter, buying them at the supermarket shipped in from warmer weather is the next best thing when it comes to keeping yourself healthy. Fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C which boosts energy and promote a healthy immune system; look for citrus fruits, red peppers, and sweet potatoes to keep your levels up.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Another key nutrient your body needs during the winter is zinc, which helps boost our immune systems to fight off cold and flu viruses. Zinc is found in beef, oysters, lamb, and mutton, and although animal food may generally be a better source of zinc than plant foods, leafy greens like spinach and legumes are also excellent sources of zinc.

Fish

Fish, particularly cod and wild salmon, are great sources for vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which help mitigate fatigue and exhaustion and contributes to a healthy, functioning immune system, necessary to keep colds at bay and fight any that may have gotten through. On top defending your body, B12 also aids in the prevention of memory loss and reduces the risk of developing neurodegenerative disease.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms, specifically maitake and shitake, are high in compounds called beta glucans, which are helpful polysaccharides or sugars found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and algae. Research from NYU’s Langone Medical Center showed beta glucans alter white blood cells and modulate immune function. Shiitake mushrooms not only contain those powerful beta glucans but also contain B vitamins such as B2, B5, and B6, and important minerals such as selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc.

Alongside including all of these foods in your diet to promote good health this winter, don’t forget the basics of not spreading germs. Wash your hands often, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and stay at home if you’re feeling really under the weather.

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Why Integrative Medicine is for Everyone

Integrative medicine is a healing-oriented medicine practice that focuses on the entire person when developing a plan for healthcare. While many of the methods used are ancient remedies – like acupuncture – or changes in diet, the cost of treatments and accessibility to the right foods and supplements might not be feasible for some and give integrative medicine the air of being a practice only available to the rich. However, despite the high costs that come with some aspects of integrative medicine, this effective practice can be reasonably cost-efficient when you focus on the changes that individuals can make.

At its core, integrative medicine focuses on holistic care. As a result, when studying a patient’s gastrointestinal problems, you don’t just look at the GI system; you examine the whole person. How much sleep do they get? What’s their diet? What does their home environment look like versus their work environment? What facets of their life could be contributing to the problem? All of these factors and more are taken into consideration when dealing with a plan for care.

Integrative medicine also calls for a much closer doctor/patient partnership where care is collaborative and ongoing, rather than on an issue-by-issue basis. It also places huge importance on preventative care, where the focus is on helping keep the body holistically healthy to prevent any health concerns from arising. Because of the continued basis of care and the focus on prevention, integrative medicine is the key to providing poor and marginalized communities with the healthcare that they need. People in underserved communities often experience more stress which leads to chronic medical conditions and poor health, all of which could be treated with an integrative approach.

Providing integrative care to underserved communities is especially crucial at this time when our nation is facing an opioid crisis spawned from a drug-heavy approach to managing chronic pain. While many physicians are quick to prescribe painkillers, even long-term, to help manage pain, integrative medicine offers a number of modalities in their place including massage therapy, herbal medicine, and acupuncture which have all been shown to help reduce chronic pain. Furthermore, while pharmaceuticals — especially those for pain management — help you deal with the pain, they don’t treat the underlying issues that are the root of the pain in the first place. Opioids and painkillers also lack the ability to improve the patient’s overall quality of life. Using practices like mindfulness can help you improve your mental health as well as your physical health and can do so much more for chronic pain than simply numb it.

Integrative medicine holds the answer to a healthier society as a whole, and making it more accessible to underprivileged communities is the key to truly affecting healthcare change in America.

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