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Spring is in the Air

by Jeff Cordeiro

MonaVieUnfortunately, pollen is too. What could be worse, when love is all around, than to have a runny nose and itchy eyes? Fortunately, there is a quick and inexpensive solution.

It is the Neti Pot. I first learned about this wonderful remedy while researching ways to alleviate tooth pain. You may be wondering how tooth pain and allergies are related. The answer is the sinus cavity. Not only can irritants in your sinuses cause sneezing, increased mucus production and call for an onslaught of histamines, inflammation can cause extreme tooth pain as well.

The Neti Pot looks a little like Aladdinís Lamp and is nearly as magical. This simple little pot can strengthen your immune system, minimize the frequency and durations of colds and flu, relieve sinus pain, rejuvenate your senses of smell and taste, and reduce the severity of reactions to pollution and pollen. Not bad for an item that costs about $15 and pennies a day to use.

Quite often, when I describe the process to people, their reaction is one of aversion. However, the truth is using a Neti pot is as comfortable as brushing your teeth.

Hereís how it works. You mix about ľ teaspoon of kosher salt in about 8 ounces of warm water, to create a saline solution. Using distilled water rather than tap water, eliminates the chlorine and fluorine from the equation, but it is not absolutely necessary. Most of the time I use tap water, simply because it is easier. However, if your sinuses are already inflamed, you will want to use distilled water or water that has been boiled and then cooled to body temperature. This basic saline solution should taste like tears. You then pour half of this solution into your Neti Pot and insert the spout into one of your nostrils. This is where you may feel hesitant at first. 

Everyone knows the discomfort of getting water up their nose but that water was more than likely cool chlorinated water. Remember, our bodies are mostly salt water. So, this saline solution is actually very soothing to the sinuses. With the spout inserted into one of your nostrils, bend over the sink and tilt your head to the side raising the Neti Pot side up. This will allow the solution to enter your nose, flow into your sinuses and out your lower nostril. Once the pot is empty, gently blow your nose, both nostrils at the same time, to remove any excess fluid. Blowing hard with one nostril pinched off can force pollutants and other irritants deeper into your sinuses, which is the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. Next, pour the other half of the water into the Neti Pot and repeat the process using the opposite nostril.

I usually Neti just before I get into the shower. Occasionally, there are a few drops of saline solution left to drain, which are long gone by the time Iím out of the shower.

I know. I know. It sounds a little ďgrossĒ but, believe me, you will breathe so much better that, in less than a week, this will become one of your favorite new things to do. It gives you such a clean feeling that you will wonder how you were able to breathe before you discovered the Neti Pot.

There are some saline solution ďrecipesĒ that call for the addition of baking soda and/or honey. In a recent study, researchers discovered that honey is actually more effective in killing chronic sinusitis bacteria than the antibiotics commonly used against them. Its antiseptic properties render the honey saline solution especially soothing when suffering from any sort of sinus irritation. You can also buy packets of saline salt that are pre-mixed and pre-measured for individual use, if you prefer.

You can purchase a Neti Pot from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and most health-food stores.

Using the Neti Pot once a day will also greatly increase your resistance to colds and the flu. However, on those occasions that you start to feel a cold coming on, simply use the Neti Pot a second time each day, until you feel back to normal. I also use a drop of Visine in each eye at these times. Proper pH is just as important for the eyes as it is for the sinuses.

If youíve read past articles, you probably know that Iím also a firm believer in MonaVie. By using the Neti Pot twice a day and drinking an extra shot of MonaVie, on days I feel a bug coming on, I am usually symptom-free the next morning. As a matter of fact, Iíve only had one cold since I began utilizing this dynamic duo and my symptoms that one time were much less severe than anyone I knew that had succumbed to the bug. That particular virus seemed to get everyone but I may have fought that one off too, if I had rested. Unfortunately, I actually did much more than normal the day I felt it coming on and that probably allowed it to gain a foothold.

Always try to build your immune system. Donít weaken it. Never take antibiotics to try and cure a cold or a flu. Viruses donít respond to antibiotics but you will kill beneficial bacteria and weaken your immune system. Do everything you can to help your body do the job it was designed to do, which is to keep you healthy. Donít be overly obsessive about keeping your home germ-free (anti-bacterial soap, chemical cleansers, etc.) either. We need a little exposure to germs to keep our immune system on its toes. Besides, the chemical cleansers are probably more harmful than the germs they are killing. Back in the day, kids used to go outside, play in the bushes, eat mud pies and just plain get dirty. Many agree that this early exposure may lead to a stronger immune system. So, if you have kids, get them off the couch and tell them to go outside and play. They can wash up when they come in for dinner.

You may also know that I believe in eating foods that are right for you. It doesnít matter if you subscribe to Dr. Perriconeís anti-inflammatory diet, Dr. DíAdamoís blood-type diet or any other diet. Everyone knows that certain foods donít ďagreeĒ with them. What surprises me is that most people donít listen to their bodies.

We all know that allergies to pollen cause our bodies to produce more mucus. We also know that people can be allergic to certain foods. So, why is it so difficult to accept that foods that upset your stomach or cause excess phlegm are not good for you. Your body is telling you something.

Eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation, bleeding gums, and the release of histamines; all things your immune system does to eliminate unwanted invaders. Foods that are great for one person may be bad for another. Wrong foods have even been linked to chronic bronchial infections and migraines. Eating the wrong foods can also increase your sensitivity to other allergens. Simply eating right may greatly reduce all allergy symptoms.

You may also have food allergy addictions. That's right. You can be addicted to foods that you are allergic to. It is similar to smoking cigarettes; once your body adjusts to the toxins in the smoke, you are hooked. If you try to quit, your body experiences withdrawal symptoms. The same thing happens with foods your body finds toxic. If you keep ingesting those foods, your body will adjust. The minute you try and cut those foods out, you will experience withdrawal symptoms (from simple cravings to deep depression, depending on your level of addiction).

The good news is that you may not have to undergo extensive testing to eliminate the culprit. Cutting out junk food in general and the primary food allergens (dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, corn, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish) will probably do the trick. Try one group at a time. Getting past the withdrawal symptoms may also be as simple as supplementing your diet with basic vitamins and minerals. There is also a side benefit of getting the food-monkey off your back Ė you will lose weight without cutting calories. Food allergies cause the body to store more fat and water.

Back to breathing better. Air filters are, of course, very important but be sure that the filters you use donít produce ozone. For years, electrostatic air filters zapped the air of pollutants. You could smell the ozone (it smells a little bit like chlorine). This ďzappedĒ air was supposed to be good air. However, the news warns us when pollution levels are too high for strenuous exercise and one of the ďpollutantsĒ tracked is ozone. How can that be? Well, it is now agreed that ozone is bad for you, no matter what the source. If you have an air filter that generates ozone, get rid of it immediately. It is not good for you.

If you have central heat and air, your furnace has a filter. Most of the time, these filters are not changed often enough. The standard reusable filter that comes with most forced-air furnaces are, at best, slightly better than nothing at all. The reason these filters are used, other than the fact that they are inexpensive, is that they donít restrict airflow. The better the airflow, the more energy efficient the system is. Unfortunately, these filters only remove very large particles.

The next best option is the inexpensive ďmonthlyĒ air filter you can get from your local home improvement store. The problem with these is that they donít trap that much more than the reusable filters and you have to change them every month, which most people do not do.

I prefer the air filter that Consumer Reports claims is best for filtering (the 3M Filtrete Ultra Allergen 1250). I realize that it does restrict the airflow more than others but Iíd rather have the cleanest air I can get. It has been stated that the most polluted air a person breathes is the air in their home. The sources are many (carpeting, pets, pollens, mold, mildew, etc.) but I breathe a little easier knowing Iíve eliminated most of the pollutants. These are not the cheapest filters ($15-20) but they only have to be changed every 90 days or so.

One of the other causes of poor air quality in the home is the energy efficiency of the home itself. Todayís homes are so well sealed that the air becomes stagnant. Like water, a fresh supply continually needs to replace the old. So, open the windows and let fresh air in. Remember, the air outside is probably better than the old air inside.

While the fresh air is coming in, vacuum the carpets and upholstery. That is where most pollutants hide. After you close the window, dust with a modern duster like the Swiffer. Donít use an old feather duster. All they do is move the dust from one place to another Ė probably back into your now clean carpet and upholstery. You donít want to dust before vacuuming, however, because most vacuums donít trap all the dust they remove and, when it settles, youíll find a great deal of it back on your furniture.

As a child, I also spent a great deal of the hotter months in the pool. A recent study shows that boys who swim in chlorinated pools have a much greater chance of developing asthma. The research was carried out by Cork Maternity Hospital and involved a group of 121 boys ages six to twelve. I only had two asthma attacks in my life (between the ages of 10 and 14, the years I spent the most time in the pool). While more research needs to be done, it is always wise to err on the side of caution.

We are also exposed to chlorinated air whenever we shower. Most showers do not use filtered water and, while the chlorine that is added to our city water is necessary for preventing many impurities, it should be removed prior to our utilizing that water. There are, of course, whole house filter systems but you can also purchase small inexpensive filters that attach directly to your shower. In the mean time, shorter cooler showers will reduce your exposure to this chlorinated air.

Stress can also increase your sensitivity to allergens but thatís a whole article in itself.

So, take a deep breath and enjoy life. Spring is here!

As always, I hope you found this article thought-provoking and helpful.

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Click here for information on MonaVie

Good books on nutrition for health:

Dr. Perricone's Weight Loss Diet (click here) and 
Staying Healthy with Nutrition
by Dr. Elson M. Haas, MD (click here).

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