Psoriasis 101

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, scaly, itchy patches of skin. More than 8 million Americans are affected by psoriasis. Psoriasis is developed equally by men and women, and occurs in all racial groups. It’s common for psoriasis to develop between age 15-35, however any age can get, on a rare occasion even infants!

August is psoriasis awareness month; the goal is to educate those who are unfamiliar with this common disease.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. What is known is that the immune system along with genetics play a role. The scaly red patches that can be itchy and even painful occur because the life cycle of skin cells is sped up and grow at an abnormally fast rate, which leads to a buildup of dead skin cells on the skins surface. Psoriasis can range from small dandruff- like patches to much larger patches. It can flare up for weeks or months at a time, and then subside or go into remission.

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Symptoms:

  • Red patches with thick silvery scales

  • Dry cracked skin, may lead to bleeding

  • Itching

  • Burning

  • Soreness

  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails

  • Swollen or stiff joints

Are there different types of psoriasis?

Yes! There are 5 different types of psoriasis.

  •        Plaque psoriasis- the most common form. Consists of red patches with silvery buildup of dead skin cells that tend to be itchy and painful. Often shows up on scalp, knees, elbows, and low back.

  •        Guttate- the second most common type. This form appears as small dot- like lesions. It can be triggered by a strep infection and often starts in childhood or early adulthood.

  •        Inverse- with this form, many people have another type of psoriasis somewhere else on the body. Inverse shows up on body folds (behind the knee, under the arm, or in the groin region) as smooth, shiny, red lesions.

  •        Pustular- can occur on any part of the body, but most often it’s on the hands or feet. Pustular consists of white pustules surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells and is not contagious.

  •        Erythrodermic- is a rare form only occurring in 3% of people. It’s widespread fiery redness that covers most of the body. It causes itching, pain, and the skin comes off in sheets. Erythrodermic flares can be life threatening and patients having a flare should see a doctor immediately.

 

1 in 3 people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis which affects joints, tendons, and ligaments.

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What treatment options are available?

It’s important to work with your physician and set goals for managing your psoriasis effectively to reduce your risk for comorbidities and improve your overall health. There are different forms of treatment:

►      Biologics- made from living sources (human, animal, or bacteria cells), they are given as an injection or IV infusion. They work to lower the overactive immune system and decrease inflammation.

►     Oral treatments- some target specific cells of the immune system, others may target the immune system as a whole.

►     Phototherapy- using UV light to treat.

►      Topical treatments- creams, lotion, ointments, or shampoos applied directly to the skin.

►      Other treatments: natural products, mind and body practices, pain management, diet and lifestyle changes.

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Inflammation- The Silent Killer Part 2

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In our previous post on inflammation we touched on inflammation and how it definitely is helpful but can also be very harmful when it becomes chronic! Your body can be on your side one-minute using inflammation to aid in the healing process after you sprain an ankle, and next can fall into the vicious cycle of chronic inflammation. It’s not yet proven that inflammation causes cardiovascular disease, however, it’s known that low- grade chronic inflammation is linked to all stages of atherosclerosis.

Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic, but the buildup of fats and cholesterol result in the blood vessels and arteries becoming thick and stiff. Atherosclerosis is when plaque and cholesterol build up inside blood vessels. As it builds up, it irritates the walls of the vessels and they become inflamed, it can restrict blood flow to organs and tissues.

Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis, along with arthritis comes inflammation. More than 50% of premature deaths from heart attacks or strokes had osteoarthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. While there are many nutritious foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect, Quell-Gel™ is an exciting new supplement for whole body anti-inflammation support! It is a clinically tested proprietary formula containing 9 researched anti-inflammatory ingredients that help to play a role in lowering the risk for a heart attack or stroke.

 
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  • Omega-3 fish oil- helps block chronic inflammatory responses. Fish oil is converted in the body into resolvins (medicinal anti-inflammatory chemicals)

  • Curcuminoids complex- higher levels of anti-inflammatories from turmeric (a spice used in Asian foods) protects you and helps you feel better.   

  • Mixed tocotrienols- vitamin E contains tocotrienols and tocopherols, used for whole body inflammation by Alternative Health Care.

  • Vitamin D3 - preliminary research studies are showing that the sunshine vitamin keeps your heart and blood vessels in good working condition.

  • Gamma linoleic acid- anti-inflammatory fatty acids in plants. Plays a role in lowering the risk for heart attack/ stroke.

  • Hydroxytryosol- an antioxidant found in olive oil and olive leaf. Combined with other ingredients, promotes an overall healthier lifestyle for the heart and brain as you age.

  • Astaxanthin- an antioxidant that gives salmon/shrimp the pink or red color. It makes Quell-Gel™ medicinal in a natural way when combined with other all natural anti-inflammatories, for healthy arteries.

  • Potassium- helps flush sodium out of kidneys, too much sodium can raise inflammation and blood pressure.

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Inflammation is the body’s response to injury, but when it persists and the immune system is mistakenly attacking the healthy tissues it can cause harm. The link between inflammation and cardiovascular disease is one that continues to be studied. What is known is that chronic inflammation is linked to all stages of atherosclerosis. Getting inflammation under control is the goal to lower the risk for developing chronic disease. Quell-Gel® is a powerful anti-inflammatory formulated for every day use, containing natural ingredients such as vitamin D, potassium, and fish oil that help lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Eating a well-balanced diet that contains plenty of inflammation fighting foods - see our FREE eBook offer below, “Inflammation Reducing Quick ‘n Easy Recipes” - along with appropriate supplements have the potential to help reduce chronic inflammation in the body, thus reducing the risk for developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.


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FREE Inflammation Reducing Quick ‘n Easy Recipes

22 Quick ‘n Easy

Recipes +Anti-Inflammatory Foods Frugal Shopping List


 
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QUELL INFLAMMATION Naturally!

 

Part 1: Inflammation - The Silent Killer

Inflammation can be the good guy, the tough one that goes to work quickly when you get injured, sick, or stung by a bee. The immune system uses its super powers to protect your body, the swelling as result of an injury. When you get injured, the area swells up as a way to prevent from injuring it more. It also is painful and when we experience pain, we are careful and try to go easy on it, this allows it to heal! Inflammation definitely has its purpose, but what happens when it gets out of control? Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of many diseases such as: cardiovascular disease, arthritis, dementia, and even cancer.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease each year in the US. How do inflammation and heart disease relate? Think of that injury that swells as your immune system rushes to the rescue, the inflammation causes it to swell, part of the healing process. Eventually the swelling goes down and the injury heals. Smoking, high blood pressure, high LDL, are all forms of ‘injury’ to the heart. All those risk factors tend to be long lasting, resulting in chronic inflammation. Low-level inflammation (anywhere in the body) can cause damage to blood vessels and plaque builds up. If plaque that builds up is loosened, it can lead to heart attack or stroke. There are ongoing studies and research looking at exactly what role inflammation plays in cardiovascular disease.

An exciting discovery has recently emerged regarding inflammation and heart disease. In a clinical trial, it was found that interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 for short) is an important molecule involved in inflammation. There is evidence that this pesky molecule might contribute to the development of heart disease. In Boston, Paul Ridker and colleagues had a group of high-risk patients that they treated with a drug that blocked the IL-1, just as they thought the group of patients suffered less heart disease! Furthermore, this group treated with the IL- 1 blocking drugs developed less cancers. Many patients in the group smoked and they believed some may even have small lung cancer due to their history. The IL-1 blockers seemed to stop the progression to detectable malignancy. This brings us to question, if we lower inflammation could that reduce our risk for heart disease and cancer? More research and clinical trials are needed, but it is noted that currently anti-inflammatory treatments don’t work in advanced cancers.

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Though we don’t know exactly how inflammation directly leads to cardiovascular disease, we have information connecting chronic low-level inflammation to the buildup of cholesterol and plaque inside our blood vessels, leading to heart attack or stroke if the plaque is loosened. As with many chronic diseases, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and quit smoking are some of the best preventative methods out there. Don’t let inflammation slowly burn in your body, fight back and do your part in battling the chronic inflammation!

Stay tuned for part two of Inflammation - The Silent Killer! 

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STAYING HEALTHY IN THE SUMMER

During those warm summer months, where evenings and weekends are spent often times with good company, around a bonfire or pool with a drink in hand surrounded with a wide variety of foods, it may seem rather impossible to stick to a healthy routine. People look forward to summer where the days are warmer and longer. After winter, and trying to prepare for swimsuit season, how do you continue a healthy lifestyle while enjoying all summer has to offer?

Here are the top 6 ways to improve your health during the summer while enjoying it!  

1.       Get outside- After a long winter, you look forward to nothing more than being able to go outside without freezing, having to wear four layers of clothing, and tromp through 2 feet of snow. Summer is a great time to get outside, enjoy nature, and soak up some vitamin D. During the winter months, we rely on getting vitamin D through food, or supplement. Summer is also a time when people decide to take their workouts outside rather than a gym or at home. Walking, running, biking, or even a circuit in your backyard. It can be much more fun riding or running on trails than a stationary machine indoors. Exercise can be as simple as just playing tag in the backyard with the kids, or going on a nature hike, get the whole family involved. Get a walking or running group together in your neighborhood to encourage you to stick to it!

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2.       Eat well- Eat all the fruits and vegetables! When looking up recipes for “summer meals” ones that are full of fresh fruits and vegetables pop up. Kebabs, noodles with grilled chicken and veggies, and lots of salads! Tip: try planting a garden, even just a small one. Plant a variety of lettuce for fresh salads, green beans, zucchinis, summer squash, and cucumbers! Experiment with various plants and see what you can grow best. Being able to go grab a handful of lettuce and veggies to throw together to make a quick salad is the best!

3.       Stay hydrated- Those summer days can get HOT! It’s so important to stay hydrated, whether you’re mowing the lawn, boating, or sitting by the pool. Water makes up 60% of your body weight. Like a plant, your body needs water to survive. Every cell in your body needs water for body systems to function properly from your immune system to your metabolism and everything in between. Water removes toxins and wastes through urination or sweating, helps to lubricate joints, maintains your body’s temperature, and protects tissues. The more you sweat the more water your body needs to replenish the lost fluids.

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4.       Skin care- Adopting a healthy skin care regime is something many people do, whether it’s to control acne, reduce wrinkles, or just moisturize. Summer is a time you need to especially focus on taking care of your skin. During the summer months, the sun’s rays hit the earth at a steep angle which doesn’t allow the light to spread out much. This means that the amount of energy hitting one spot is increased. With your skin being exposed to this sunlight, it’s important to use good sunscreen to protect your skin from being sunburnt. The Academy of Dermatology recommends using SPF 30 or higher, and reapplying every 2 hours, more frequently if swimming or sweating heavily.

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5.       Stress less- Reducing stress is important not only for your mental health but also your physical health. Stress can have a negative impact on your immune system function, putting you at risk for catching illnesses and even putting you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Trying to limit your stress during the summer can be stressful just thinking about it! Start by taking time for you, set aside even just 15-30 minutes (more if you are able) a day for ‘you time.’ Wake up before the kids, or take time after they go to bed. Take time to exercise, do yoga, read a book, whatever it may be. Even going outside barefoot in the grass, or putting your hands in the soil to plant a garden, may help to reduce stress because it’s a way of grounding! (See our blog post: Time to Get Grounded) Don’t feel selfish or guilty for taking ‘you time,’ you deserve it!  

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1.       Drink smart- Previously we touched on making sure you drink enough water to be properly hydrated, now let’s talk about drinking smart when it comes to alcoholic beverages! Summertime is the prime time to have a drink in hand at social gatherings around the bonfire, pool, concerts etc. Drinks can be a way to add up calories quickly without even knowing. You can easily consume 500-1000 calories or more after a night of drinking, especially when you order a pizza after, followed by the big breakfast the next morning to help with the hangover. So, what drinks are considered “healthy” that won’t completely sabotage your week of eating healthy and exercising?  Drinks such as beer or margaritas are very high in carbohydrates and the calories can add up quickly, however there are lower calorie options. Below is the calorie content of various liquors:

 

Vodka – 64 Calories per 1 oz                                      Whiskey – 70 Calories per 1 oz

Rum – 64 Calories per 1 oz                                         Champagne- 87 Calories per 1 glass
Brandy – 65 Calories per 1 oz                                     Light beer- 110 Calories per 1 can
Gin – 73 Calories per 1 oz                                           White wine- 120 Calories per 5 oz
Tequila – 65 Calories per 1 oz                                     Red wine- 125 Calories per 5 oz

Calories that come from alcohol are considered “empty calories” meaning they have no nutritional value.

Be sure if you do choose to drink, to drink responsibly.

CHEERS to a Healthy Summer!

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Acid Reflux 101

Have you ever experienced that burning in your chest or throat? Maybe even that sour taste of regurgitated food? You lay down for bed at night and can’t sleep because these symptoms keep you wide awake? This is what acid reflux or GERD is. Around 60 million Americans suffer from acid reflux including babies, children, and adults.  

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What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux happens when the contents of your stomach come back up your esophagus. This causes a burning sensation often felt in the throat or chest. The term acid reflux refers to period episodes, whereas the term GERD refers to a more severe form of acid reflux that is long- lasting. GERD also can be accompanied by more symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, coughing, or wheezing.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of acid reflux or GERD include:

  • Pain in chest/ upper abdomen

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Problems swallowing

  • Bad breath

  • Respiratory problems

What causes acid reflux?

Often the biggest question is: what exactly causes acid reflux? Besides eating spicy foods and having a burning feeling in your chest, what causes it?

The esophagus is the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach, when the lower esophageal sphincter, gets weak or relaxes it allows stomach contents to get into the esophagus. So, the next question, what causes that sphincter to become weak or relax?

  •   Being overweight/ obese, or pregnant, because this increases pressure on your abdomen

  • Certain medications (asthma medications, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants)

  • Smoking

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How to help control symptoms?

Of course, there are medication options from over the counter antacids, to medications that lower the acid amount in your stomach, and even surgery.

Controlling symptoms of acid reflux often begin with lifestyle changes such as:

  •   Losing weight (if you’re overweight or obese)

  •   Stop smoking

  •   Avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to bedtime

  •   Eat small meals throughout the day versus large meals

  • Avoid spicy or greasy foods and alcoholic drinks

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