October 2009

Swine Flu H1N1 & Pregnancy

The fear of H1N1 is everywhere. As a pregnant women, who treats mainly pregnant women, I have been asked what am I going to do. Am I going to take the H1N1 vaccine? Am I going to hide out in my home and try to avoid contact with the world? I have spent a lot of time thinking about the risks to myself, my unborn baby, and those around me, including my 2 year old toddler. Let me say, I am not against vaccines. In fact I have vaccinated my daughter, however, I did delay the vaccines, I selected the vaccines based on the most serious diseases, and only allowed my daughter to have 1 -2 vaccines at a time. That being said, I am not comfortable taking a vaccine that may or may not prevent a flu that may or may not be serious, and that has not been adequately tested before being release on the most vulnerable, those unborn babies. Am I worried about the swine flu, yes. It does seem to affect pregnant women more seriously than others. This is in part due to a decrease in immune function in pregnant women, and a decrease in lung function due to the pregnancy. If you become ill, you may need to take medications that you would not normally take, your nutrition may be compromised, and you may experience a very high fever which may affect the baby. I am being proactive, trying to prevent exposure of the flu. I am aware of my surroundings, making sure to wash our hands especailly after visiting those drop in gyms. I am getting enough rest, eating nourishing foods, staying well hydrated, and getting out for fresh air. I have been taking vitamins and other supplements regularly. I am following Dr. Mercola's recommendations on how to boost your immune system: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/06/Why-You-Should-NOT-Vaccinate-Your-Children-Against-the-Flu-This-Season.aspx Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of ALL kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the TRUE culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself. This is probably the single most important and least expensive action you can take. I would STRONGLY urge you to have your vitamin D level monitored to confirm your levels are at a therapeutic level, which is between 50-65 ng/ml. I also recommend using a reliable vitamin D lab like Lab Corp, if you’re in the U.S. Sometime this fall, we hope to launch a vitamin D testing service through Lab Corp that will allow you to have your vitamin D levels checked at your local blood drawing facility, and relatively inexpensively. If you are coming down with flu like symptoms and have not been on vitamin D you can take doses of 50,000 units a day for three days to treat the acute infection. Some researchers like Dr. Cannell, believe the dose could even be as high as 1,000 units per pound of body weight for three days. However, most of Dr. Cannell's work was with seasonal and not pandemic flu. If your body has never been exposed to the antigens there is chance that the vitamin D might not work. However the best bet is to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D around 60 ng/ml. Avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice. Get enough rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest. Have effective tools to address your stress. We all face some stress every day, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness. If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as Meridian Tapping Techniques, which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started. Take a good source of animal based omega-3 fats like krill oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health. It is also vitally important to avoid damaged omega-6 oils like trans fats found in most processed foods, as it will seriously damage your immune response. Wash your hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to. Eat garlic regularly. Garlic works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body. And unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use. However, if you are allergic or don't enjoy garlic it would be best to avoid as it will likely cause more harm than good. Avoid hospitals and vaccines. In this particular case, I'd also recommend you stay away from hospitals unless you're having an emergency, as hospitals are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds, and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to flu bugs of all kinds. As a side note, please beware that 21 different pediatric Tylenol products have been recently recalled due to the possibility of bacterial contamination. So, if your child comes down with cold or flu symptoms, make sure you do not give him or her a potentially contaminated product. Better yet, help your child recover using more traditional cold and flu remedies, such as, hydrogen peroxide solution in the ear, zinc lozenges, high quality raw honey, or a homemade cough syrup. For more information and instructions, please see this previous article: Is Honey More Effective Than Cough Medicine?

Stress & Miscarriage

Although some miscarriages are linked to chromosomal abnormalities, sperm antibodies, blood clotting disorders, anti nuclear antibodies, 50 % of miscarriages are due to an unknown cause. However, our chronic life stresses, ie. traffic, bosses, fiances, will limit non essential bodily functions, one of which is reproduction. Stress releases cortisol hormones which in turn suppresses progesterone. Progesterone is essential to maintain the uterine lining and the pregnancy. "Don't Worry" - easier said than done, particularly if you have experienced 2 or 3 miscarriages. Recent studies show that women who have regular supportive care during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy dramatically reduce unexplained miscarriages. This includes regular medical and emotional check ins with midwives or doctors and regular practice of relaxation techniques. Relaxation is a learned behavior, some women have a real problem doing quiet still activities, they think its too boring. In order to manage stress start with 5 minutes a day of breathing, listening to music, or staring at the wall. Eventually you may want to meditate or practice mindfulness. Other activities that can reduce stress are yoga, tai chi, cardio exercise, reducing work commitments and surrounding your self with friends and family ( but make sure they don't add stress!) New Scientist. Stress can make pregnant women miscarry. November 2004 Liddell H. Recurrent Miscarriage - Outcome After Supportive Care in Early Pregnancy. 1991