Wuhan virus outbreak: practical tips to protect your health during Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year is fast approaching, and according to Hong Kong experts, the Wuhan coronavirus has already spread to 20 other cities in China, just ahead of the country’s biggest festival. China has confirmed that this respiratory virus can be spread from human to human. Although the majority of the cases have been in Wuhan, the disease has spread to other Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Japan and Thailand have also reported confirmed cases. 

Currently, there is no vaccine for the new virus. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing, coughing as well as pneumonic infiltrates in the lungs.

kid3

Your immune system protects you from infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that cause disease and even death. “The strength of your immune system is what determines who gets sick and who doesn’t,” explains Woodson Merrell, MD, director of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. We know that adequate sleep, regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking are essential to good health, but what more can we do to improve our immune system?

  1. Choose the right type of probiotic. Probiotics are the helpful, good bacteria in our gut that keep us healthy and provide a number of health benefits. Many people know that probiotic supplementation can help maintain a strong immune system, but what you may not know is that different strains of probiotics treat different conditions. Not all probiotics are the same, so it’s important to find the right type. A supplement with various probiotic strains including a high(er) amount of Lactobacillus rhamnosus is beneficial for boosting immunity.
  2. How important is vitamin D? Researchers have found that people with adequate levels of vitamin D have reduced rates of infections, and when they do get sick, they tend to recover faster compared to those who are deficient. There have been various cross-sectional studies looking at vitamin D levels and rates of influenza as well as other infections including bacterial vaginosis and HIV. All have reported an association of lower vitamin D levels and increased rates of infection. One study found that among 800 military men in Finland, those with lower vitamin D levels took significantly more days from active duty to recover from upper respiratory infections than recruits with higher vitamin D levels (above 40nmol). kid2In Japan, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared vitamin D3 supplements (1200 IU/day) with placebo in school-aged children. Researchers found that the children receiving the sunshine vitamin had a 42% reduction in getting influenza A compared to those not receiving it. The study also found that the group not getting the vitamin D had six times more asthma attacks. “Vitamin D helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria and viruses,” says Carlos Camargo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. In Dr. Yik’s practice, she finds that many adults and children in Hong Kong are deficient in vitamin D, regardless of how much sunshine they get. Before you start taking vitamin D supplements though, get your level checked so you can supplement at the correct dosage. Too much vitamin D puts you at a higher risk for kidney stones.
  3. woman5Are you deficient in micronutrients? Micronutrient deficiencies are associated with an impaired immune response and higher incidence of infection. Deficiencies can stem from reduced food intake (due to eating disorders, dieting, etc.), excessive consumption of junk/ processed food, an imbalanced diet or impaired/ weak digestion. Zinc, selenium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and folic acid in particular help the immune system work properly.  To ensure you are getting adequate micronutrients, eat whole foods with adequate protein, good fats and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Include immune-boosting foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, dark green vegetables, shiitake/ maitake/ reishi mushrooms and berries in your diet. If you suspect you are deficient in certain nutrients, talk to your doctor and get tested.
  4. Certain essential oils such as clove and eucalyptus have immune-enhancing and antimicrobial properties. Some choose to diffuse it while others use direct or indirect inhalation. For topical use, always read the labels carefully and seek a certified practitioner if unsure.
  5. doctor1Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap after you use the toilet and before eating. Avoid touching your nose, mouth or face. Sneeze or cough into a tissue or sleeve (not your hands), or wear a mask when you are sick. Change into clean clothes when you return home.

If you are sick, seek medical attention. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps adults and children rebuild immunity, naturally. Click here to learn how she can help you achieve and maintain optimal health.

SOURCES:

https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3047022/wuhan-coronavirus-20-other-cities-china-affected

https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30513933

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17380552

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Is your child depressed? Recognise the signs.

kid red hat
An increasing number of children are suffering from depression, but they are often too young to articulate how they feel. Research shows that the number of kids who have gone to the ER for suicidal behaviour has doubled in less than a decade in the United States. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in children ages 10 to 14 in Canada. In Hong Kong, children and teens under 18 who were diagnosed with depression jumped by 118% in five years (2014/ 2015 compared with 2018/2019).

Why is depression on the rise for kids? Genetics, stress, family conflict and bullying may all play a role, but experts are also making connections between this rise with the increase in children’s use of screens and social media.

RECOGNISE THE SIGNS

  1. Physical symptoms. Though depression is a mental illness, it’s not unusual for children to experience physical symptoms, like tiredness and tummy aches. You may notice changes in their eating or sleeping habits as well. They may suddenly have no appetite to eat, or they may have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep.
  2. Changes in behaviour. Kids who are depressed might suddenly withdraw from their friends, start to perform poorly at school or experience a change in activity level. Some may become irritable, aggressive or poorly behaved. Many kids won’t have the words to explain the despair they feel, and since they cannot express themselves, they may act a certain way to avoid social interaction or push people away.
  3. Disengagement. Withdrawing from friends and activities may be a sign that something is wrong. Complaints of boredom could also be a warning sign. “Boredom isn’t a natural state for a child,” says Tyler Black, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. “In child psychiatry, it’s considered a symptom of sadness.”
  4. Talk of death. If a child talks about death all the time, it can be a sign that they have suicidal thoughts. Saying things like, “You’d be better off without me”, “I want to die” or “I hate my life” or drawing pictures with dark or violent imagery should be addressed.
  5. High-risk behaviour. Self-harm like punching oneself or banging one’s head against the floor or wall, or hurting others, may be indicative of suicidal ideation.

WHAT TO DO

 

  1. If your child is showing signs of depression or suicidal behaviour, it’s important to talk to them about it and seek professional help for them. If your child is in immediate danger of hurting themselves, call 999 (in Hong Kong) for emergency help.
  2. Early intervention is key. Don’t brush off any persistent warning signs.
  3. Develop and maintain a good, positive relationship with your child. Be present for your child. Ask them about their day, about their friends, about their passions or hobbies. Try to have dinner as a family together. Do an activity or sport together. Don’t underestimate the love, support and time you give to your child.

Is your child stressed or anxious? Click here to read more about stress and anxiety in today’s children. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless children and teenagers reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition. She works closely with psychologists when necessary for the betterment of her patients and is in charge of the “Boost Your Child’s Health”program at OT&P clinic in Repulse Bay.

SOURCES:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2730063

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/04/article/under-18s-depression-up-sharply-in-hong-kong/

Why is suicidal behaviour increasing among elementary school children?

 

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Got a stuffy nose? Tips for a better sleep.

allergies2Whether you’ve got a stuffy nose from a cold, flu or allergies, sleeping through the night can be a challenge with all that congestion. Read on for tips on how to sleep better when you are congested.

  1. Elevate your head. Congestion tends to be worse when you lie down because it is harder for the nose and sinuses to drain in that position. Excessive mucus makes it harder to breathe and may even trigger a sinus headache in the morning. To combat this, try elevating your head with a few pillows to help drain the sinuses more easily.
  2. Use a humidifier to moisturize the air, prevent excessive dryness and reduce the pain of breathing when you’re congested. You may try adding essential oils, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, to the humidifier. NOTE: Clean humidifiers regularly, as moisture can promote the growth of bacteria and fungi. It is best to read the machine’s instructions on cleaning and disinfecting it.
  3. Use a saline spray or rinse, which contains a small amount of salt mixed into sterile water. Saline rinses can help flush out congested sinuses as well as help relieve irritation and swelling so you feel less congested at night. Find saline rinses that do not contain drugs. These are safe to use several times per night.
  4. Try a spoon of Manuka honey. A 2014 study compared (plain) honey with a placebo and the bronchodilator drug salbutamol in children with a common cold. Honey was found to be the most effective option for easing symptoms. Honey also coats the throat, easing discomfort and dryness from breathing through the mouth when you have a stuffy nose. Furthermore, Manuka honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  5. Keep a box of tissues, saline spray, wastebasket, bottle of water, etc. by the bed to make nightly interruptions shorter and more comfortable.
  6. Take a warm shower before bed. Steam loosens the dried mucus and can help the nose drain before bed, reducing pain and congestion. Try gently pressing or massaging the skin covering the sinuses to promote further drainage.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless adults and children in Hong Kong combat infections and boost immunity, naturally. Click here to learn how to protect your health and strengthen immunity.

Remember to seek medical help if:

  • A person with a weak immune system, such as an older adult or a baby, develops flu symptoms.
  • A baby has signs of congestion. Babies under 2 months only breathe through their noses, so congestion can quickly cause serious breathing issues.
  • A person finds it impossible to breathe or shows signs of breathing problems, such as a fast heart rate, blue lips, rapid breathing, dizziness or severe changes in mood or personality.
  • A person has congestion for longer than 2 weeks or finds that it gets progressively worse over several days.
  • A person has a high fever of 103.1°F (39.5°C) or a fever that lasts for longer than a few days.
  • A person has a stuffy nose along with signs of an asthma attack, such as sudden difficulty breathing, wheezing or gasping for air.

 

SOURCE: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327263.php, https://www.ajol.info/index.php/eamj/article/view/109140

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Stressed? Anxious? Spend time in nature.

IMG_7828 (1)More and more research is showing a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. Not only that, but individuals who are more connected to nature tend to be happier in general.

  1. Interacting with nature offers a variety of therapeutic benefits. For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response. The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. “Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.” Can’t go outside? It turns out that listening to nature sounds or pictures of nature settings can have a similar effect. 
  2. How much time with nature is enough? “Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods is helpful,” says Dr. Strauss. “The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle.” It can be as simple as a daily walk in the park, a weekend trail hike or combining the nature outings with your regular exercise like cycling, yoga or power walking outdoors.
  3. “Many men are at higher risk for mood disorders as they age, from dealing with sudden life changes like health issues, the loss of loved ones, and even the new world of retirement,” says Dr. Strauss. “They may not want to turn to medication or therapy for help, and for many, interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.”

People who have recently experienced stressful life events such as a death of a loved one, serious illness or unemployment can benefit greatly from nature outings. “Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state,” says Dr. Strauss, “and there are many ways to tap into it.”

If you are experiencing stress or anxiety, find a health care practitioner who looks at the whole picture. Pharmaceutical drugs can help reduce anxiety but it may not work for every person. Aside from drugs, there are numerous treatment protocols and techniques that can benefit you and help address the symptoms and root causes of stress and anxiety (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, etc.). Find a doctor who listens and cares for your wellbeing.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless people in Hong Kong combat stress, reduce anxiety and reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition.

SOURCE:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00976/full

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Does gut bacteria affect your happiness?

The gut microbiome (i.e. the bacteria in our gut) has been getting lots of attention recently. Scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the key role these trillions of microbes play in health and disease. Not only do these gut microbes within us help us digest food and metabolize drugs but over the past decade, research has shown that they also influence our immune system, inflammation, allergies, metabolism, appetite/ weight and athleticism as well as our behaviour, brain function and mental wellbeing.

Is your gut health responsible for your happiness? Although many factors may influence how happy you feel, there is a definite link between your gut health and mental health. Consider the following:

  1. A study of two large groups of Europeans found that several species of gut bacteria are missing in people with depression. Jeroen Raes, a microbiologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and his colleagues took a closer look the gut microbiome of 1054 Belgians. 173 out of the 1054 Belgians had been diagnosed with depression or had done poorly on a quality of life survey. Upon comparing their microbiomes with other participants, the team found that two kinds of microbes, Coprococcus and Dialister, were missing from the microbiomes of the depressed subjects, but not from those with a high quality of life. The finding held up when the researchers allowed for factors such as age, sex or antidepressant use, all of which influence the microbiome. They also found the depressed people had an increase in bacteria implicated in Crohn disease, suggesting inflammation may be at fault. 
  2. From the same study, Raes and his colleagues began looking for something that could link microbes to mood. They compiled a list of 50+ substances important for proper nervous system function that gut microbes either produce or break down. They found, for example, that Coprococcus seems to have a pathway related to dopamine, a key brain signal involved in depression, although they have no evidence how this might protect against depression. The same microbe also makes an anti-inflammatory substance called butyrate; we know that increased inflammation is implicated in depression.
  3. Serotonin is a major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion.  Although this “happy hormone” is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, it is estimated that 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. And it turns out that certain bacteria in the gut are important for the production of peripheral serotonin. In one Caltech study, researchers found that germ-free mice produced approximately 60% less serotonin than their peers with conventional bacterial colonies. When these germ-free mice were recolonized with normal gut microbes, the serotonin levels went back up, showing that the deficit in serotonin can be reversed using proper bacterial colonies.
  4. Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London Tim Spector remembers the moment when he realised the centrality of the gut. As director of the country’s biggest twin registry, he had always wondered how identical twins can be so different, even with exactly the same genes. How can one be fat while the other, thin? One happy, the other sad? He came to the answer when he compared the gut microbiota of different sets of twins: “One of the biggest factors was that their microbes were different,” he recalls. It turns out that genes are not the only factor dictating one’s health.

What does that mean for us? What can we do to ensure a healthy gut microbiome?

  1. Eat a variety of different healthful foods. Focus on consuming as many different plants, and parts of plants, as possible. Vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt promote good gut health.
  2. Increase your fibre. Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the good, friendly bacteria in your gut. This helps the gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system. Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners and meat reared using antibiotics.
  3. Avoid the use of antibiotics in infants and children unless it’s absolutely necessary. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND treats many infections in children naturally using antimicrobial medicinal herbs and nutraceuticals. She is also trained to know when to refer to a medical doctor if pharmaceutical antibiotics or drugs are needed. Click here to read more about how antibiotic use in infants is linked to disease later in life.
  4.  Contact with a variety of bacteria is recommended, too. Perhaps there’s more than one reason why children with pets are happy and healthy (Pets can boost your child’s immunity!).
  5. Find a licensed naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner who can help you find out more about your gut health. Gut health tests such as the GI-MAP can detect and identify microbes in your gut which may be contributing not only to your mental health concerns but also to your GI symptoms, chronic health issues or weight loss challenges.

 

SOURCE:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-018-0337-x

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171025103140.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201710/black-tea-alters-gut-microbiome-in-anti-obesogenic-ways

Bacteria may live naturally inside the human brain

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/evidence-mounts-gut-bacteria-can-influence-mood-prevent-depression

https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495

 

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Health benefits of a daytime nap

Need a nap? It turns out that taking an occasional nap is favourable to your health. Before you take one, read on to learn its benefits!

  1. A recent study has found that a daytime nap once or twice a week can lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes. This observational study, published in the journal of the British Cardiovascular Society Heart, tracked over 3400 people for over 5 years and found that those who napped occasionally (once or twice a week, for 5 minutes to 1 hour) were 48% less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke or heart failure compared to those who did not nap at all.
  2. Taking a power nap can help you boost productivity. Sleep experts have found that daytime naps can help improve cognitive function such as increasing alertness, boosting memory, reducing mistakes, improving perception and accuracy as well as boosting creativity. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
  3. Are you a college or university student? Research shows that sleep-deprived undergraduate students are more likely to get worse grades and drop a course than their well-rested fellow students. In one study, inadequate sleep was found to be as powerful as binge drinking, and more powerful than marijuana, in predicting who would have academic problems.  In the USA, napping stations and sleep pods are now popping up in various universities. ” Napping is a survival mechanism for college,” says Sara Mednick, Assistant professor at University of California-Riverside and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. She recommends a 60- to 90-minute nap taken 8 to 9 hours after waking up. She explains, “Ninety minutes affords you all of the different sleep stages shown to be important for cognition, memorization, creativity, basic motor skills and the ability to make decisions in a clever way.”
  4. Napping is better than consuming caffeine. “The boost you get from caffeine is good for 15 to 20 minutes up to a half hour, but sleep is actually taking the recent information that you’ve learned and filing it away for you so you can more effectively take in new information,” says Robert Stickgold, an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Caffeine cannot make you feel as rested as well as a nap.

Naps can be beneficial, but if you feel drowsy or lethargic throughout the day, go see your doctor. Your daytime sleepiness may be due to insomnia, stress, sleep apnea or other underlying health conditions. Also, if you don’t feel the need to nap, feel groggy after a nap or can’t sleep at night after napping, then perhaps you’re getting enough sleep (congratulations!). Napping isn’t for you. But for those who feel energised, refreshed and more productive after a nap, go for it!

SOURCES:
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Processed foods are bad for our health. But, what exactly is a processed food?

Many studies confirm that eating processed foods can lead to cancer, heart disease, obesity and well, early death. 

But, what exactly is a processed food?

Using a four-tiered system called NOVA, nutrition experts and scientists classify everything we eat into one of four categories: unprocessed or minimally processed, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods and ultra-processed food/ drink products. When researchers do studies involving “processed foods”, they are usually referring to ultra-processed food/ drink products. Here are more detailed explanations on each category:

Unprocessed foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, roots, etc. from plant foods, animal meat, fungi and algae. These can be fresh, frozen, or even fermented. Dry beans, grains like rice or steel-cut oats, seafood, nuts and spices are also unprocessed foods. The key point is that they have not been treated with additives, injected with salt or rubbed with oil until they’re about to be eaten.

Processed culinary ingredients are ingredients made from unprocessed foods, like vegetable oils, butter and lard. This category also includes honey from honeycombs, sugar from cane and syrup from maple trees.

Processed foods are items that have added ingredients like sugar, salt and fat to help keep them edible longer. Canned fruits, leavened bread, cheese, pickles, alcohol and salted nuts all make this list.

Ultra-processed foods are food items that are ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat. These foods are often manufactured in factories. They are broken down from their whole or fresh form and treated with thickeners, colours and additives. They might contain high fructose corn syrup or protein isolates, or they might be fried before being packaged. These foods “often have a higher content of total fat, saturated fat, added sugar, energy density, and salt, along with a lower fibre and vitamin density,” explains one study from the Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center at Sorbonne Paris Cité in France. Examples of ultra-processed foods include candy, mass-produced breads and baked goods, hot dogs, processed meats, chicken nuggets, French fries, dehydrated soups, ready-to-eat meals with food additives, margarine, packaged granola bars, carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks.hotdog

These ultra-processed foods are what researchers have found to be linked to more cancer and heart disease cases, weight gain and early deaths. On the other hand, many studies show that consuming a diet high in whole, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains protects against disease and supports optimal health.

SOURCES:

https://archive.wphna.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/WN-2016-7-1-3-28-38-Monteiro-Cannon-Levy-et-al-NOVA.pdf

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325330.php

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Thyroid illness: can we decrease thyroid antibodies naturally?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease are autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, which produces hormones that regulate metabolism, energy and mood. In these autoimmune conditions, the immune system creates anti-thyroid autoantibodies (aka thyroid antibodies) that damage the thyroid gland.

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (click here if you are hypothyroid and trying to get pregnant). You might have experienced symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, anxiety, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, fertility challenges and/ or miscarriages- and were subsequently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Did your doctor test for thyroid antibodies? The presence of thyroid antibodies in the blood, along with high TSH or low FT4 is indicative of Hashimoto’s. You may already be on thyroid medication (i.e. levo-thyroxine) but if your thyroid antibodies are still high, their presence may cause continuous damage to the thyroid tissue.

Many people with this condition wonder if those antibodies will ever decrease or normalise. To answer this question, we need to understand what might cause the immune system to start attacking the thyroid in the first place. Although genetics play a role in the susceptibility of getting Hashimoto’s, whether those genes activate disease depends on certain environmental and lifestyle factors. Some points to consider:

  1. The gut microbiome, the community of bacteria that live in your intestines, play a key role in regulating the immune system. When your gut flora is out of balance, the immune system can lose its balance too and become more inclined to mistaken the thyroid for something that needs to be attacked.
  2. dnaSome studies have found that individuals with thyroid disorders have significantly lower numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (beneficial bacteria) and significant higher levels of Enterococcus species (considered an opportunistic pathogen) compared to healthy controls. Other studies have found that H. pylori infections are more commonly found in people with Hashimoto’s disease than those without. A 2015 study found that getting rid of Blastocystic hominis infections normalised thyroid hormones and decreased thyroid antibodies. The gut definitely plays a role in autoimmune conditions.To investigate each patient’s unique microbiome, Dr. Yik offers various lab testing, including the GI MAP (GI-Microbial Assay Plus) test, a comprehensive stool analysis that includes an FDA-approved DNA/PCR assay for GI pathogens (bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeast, etc.).
  3. Food sensitivities or intolerances can cause chronic inflammation and trigger unwanted immune reactions. Research shows that there’s a link between thyroid autoimmunity and gluten. Many, though not all, people with Hashimoto’s disease have a gluten sensitivity. In some cases, thyroid antibodies return to normal when gluten is removed from the diet. In Dr. Yik’s practice, dairy and eggs are also common food sensitivities found in patients with Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease. If you decide to do the test, remember to get tested for food intolerances, not allergies (click here to read about the difference).
  4. In practice, Dr. Yik has found a link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Epstein Barr virus (mononucleosis). How do underlying infections lead to autoimmunity? One theory is the molecular mimicry theory, in which the immune system remembers specific proteins on the viruses that it correctly attacked, but then it starts attacking other proteins in the body that look similar to the virus protein. Another theory, the bystander effect, is where the immune system attacks healthy cells along with the virus.
  5. Could you be deficient in nutrients? You may be eating healthy, but if you have gut dysbiosis or gut inflammation (see above), you may not be absorbing the nutrients from foods you eat. The cells that line the gut have fingerlike projections called villi, which increase the surface area for transporting nutrients into the body. When the gut is inflamed, these villi can become shortened, which results in impaired nutrient absorption. Low vitamin D, selenium, vitamin A and zinc are all associated with the development of Hashimoto’s.
  6. Chronic stress and heavy metal toxicity have also been linked to thyroid autoimmune disease.

If you have Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease, it’s important to find a doctor who addresses the underlying causes of your condition, not just prescribe thyroid medication to “balance” hormones.

SOURCE:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26230132

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339455/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21073613

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618598/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00284-014-0640-6

 

 

 

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Can cleanliness increase your risk of developing allergies and asthma?

pexels-photo-459976.jpegHow can being too clean make us sick? Well, it turns out that excessive cleanliness or a lack of exposure to bacteria, viruses and allergens prevents the normal development of the immune system, which eventually increases the chance of disorders within this system down the road. This is called the hygiene hypothesis, and it explains why allergy and asthma rates are much higher in wealthy countries. Studies have found that babies who are exposed to both bacteria and allergens in the first year of life are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. In fact, a 2014 study found that inner-city babies who grow up in houses with higher levels of certain bacteria (carried on cockroach, mouse and cat dander) are less likely to experience wheezing or asthma by the age of 3.

allergiesFurthermore, researchers have found that specific conditions as asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases and various allergies, including hay fever, have become much more common as we’ve become more sanitary. These health ailments are more prevalent in developed countries compared to developing ones.

Take note, this hygiene hypothesis does not account for all cases of allergies and asthma, which have a clear genetic component. It’s the interactions between a person’s environment and genes that contribute to the rates of these health conditions.

So, what should we do?

  1. First of all, you don’t need to stop cleaning your home or stop washing yourself. Remember, most of these findings involve germ exposure during infancy and childhood. Additionally, broader trends such as antibiotic use and sewage treatment plants have led to more drastic reductions in bacteria exposure that we see in modern society. 
  2. Avoid the use of antibiotics in infants and children unless it’s absolutely necessary. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND treats many infections in children naturally using antimicrobial medicinal herbs and nutraceuticals. She is also trained to know when to refer to a medical doctor if pharmaceutical antibiotics or drugs are needed. Click here to read more about how antibiotic use in infants is linked to disease later in life.
  3. Avoid using antibacterial soaps and products, especially in children. A consensus of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals has concluded that triclosan and triclocarban, two popular antibacterial agents commonly found in personal care products and household items, are environmentally persistent endocrine disruptors that accumulate in and are toxic to aquatic organisms, animals and humans. Triclosan has been found in human breast milk and blood. In Hong Kong, many personal care products and household items containing triclosan or triclocarban are commonly advertised on TV and in public. Beware of the detrimental effects these products may have on your children’s health and yours.
  4. Vaginal births and breastfeeding are important for the development of a healthy microbiome in infants. Click here to learn on how you can prepare for the best birth. Click here to learn the benefits of breastfeeding.
  5. Interested in getting a family pet? There’s one more reason to give in to your child’s request. It turns out that pets can boost children’s immunity!

 

SOURCES:

http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749%2814%2900593-4/abstract

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp1788

Posted in Allergies, Babies/ Children, Cancer Prevention, Fertility, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Toxins and Our Health, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reduce anxiety, naturally

Government statistics show that over 13% of people in Hong Kong aged 16 to 75 have common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to a 2015 study, 27.8% of Hong Kong’s primary school children have anxiety symptoms so severe that professional help is warranted (Click here to read more on stress and anxiety in Hong Kong children).

Perhaps you were anxious as a child and grew into an anxious adult, or maybe you developed anxiety later in life. Regardless, with the current situation in Hong Kong, your anxiety levels may be rising. In addition to seeking professional help, what are some natural ways to combat anxiety?

  1. Talk to a trusted friend. Let out your frustrations and anxiety to someone who is willing to listen without judgment. Don’t bottle up your emotions inside.
  2. Your anxiety can worsen with caffeine, so avoid coffee, chocolate and other caffeinated foods or beverages. Try swapping caffeinated beverages with herbal teas that promote relaxation, like chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and passion flower teas.
  3. Get moving! Physical activity raises endorphins and serotonin levels to help you feel better emotionally. Exercise can also take your mind off your problems. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 6 days a week.
  4. Take a nature walk or trail hike. Studies show that people who spend time in the great outdoors (or even look at pictures of nature) experience less mental stress and reduced levels of anxiety. 
  5. Practice deep breathing and meditation. The deliberate process of taking slow, even breaths (as opposed to fast, shallow breathing common with anxiety and panic attacks) can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety. Research from John Hopkins found that meditation for 30 minutes a day can “provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.”
  6. Chemicals in processed foods such as artificial flavors, artificial colors and preservatives may cause mood changes in some people. A diet high in sugar can also affect your temperament. Eliminate processed foods and eat a healthful diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and good fats. Foods which may ease anxiety include fatty fish, nuts, eggs, turkey and yogurt. 

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Find a health care practitioner who looks at the whole picture. Pharmaceutical drugs can help reduce anxiety but it may not work for every person. Aside from drugs, there are numerous treatment protocols and techniques that can benefit you and help address the symptoms and root causes of anxiety (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, etc.). Find a doctor who listens and cares for your wellbeing.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless people reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition.

SOURCES: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2141499/largest-ever-hong-kong-mental-health-survey; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/meditation_for_anxiety_and_depression; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322652.php

 

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