pollen allergies and food sensitivities

I read an interesting article recently which showed research linking certain pollen allergies to food sensitivities.

Up to 70% of people with pollen allergies experience unpleasant reactions to certain foods. This is called ‘Oral Allergy Syndrome” (OAS).  Some common reactions include:

* itchy or swollen lips

* tingling at the back of throat

* scratchiness on roof of mouth

* watery or itchy eyes

Most of these symptoms are not serious; but, can be annoying. The theory of OAS  is that the problem is not the food, but the pollen. When certain foods are eaten in the spring and fall during high pollen count, the body’s immune system mistakes the food pollen as the plant pollen and there is a cross-reaction. There are specific foods to avoid if you have ‘grass’ allergies:

oranges, tomatoes, melons and figs

If you are allergic to weeds,  especially ragweed, avoid:

banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, melons, zucchini,artichoke and teas of echinacea,             chamomile and hibiscus.

Usually, symptoms will occur immediately after eating the offending foods. Another way to avoid OAS is to eliminate artificial additive, artificial sweeteners, and pesticides. It is also helpful to boost your immune system.  The weaker the immune system, the more likely your body will have a cross-reaction.  Drink plenty of water, get daily exercise and at least seven hours of sleep nightly.  During the peak allergy season, eat your offending fruits and vegetables cooked rather than raw.

If you are unsure of which foods trigger this cross-reaction, keep a food journal.

Vegetable health

Vegetables continue to be a major source of intestinal disease due to contaminants.
About 2.2 million Americans get sick every year from contaminated leafy vegetables. Add all produce to that list – like fruits and other vegetables- and the number doubles.

Everyone is aware that we should wash our vegetables before eating. But not everyone does a good job of that.

A simple way to wash which will get rid of pathogens, insecticide and oil(to make them look good) is to fill a sink with water and put about 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the water. Add vegetables and fruits and let sit for 10 minutes.

Using this technique, you will find your produce lasts longer and berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries will resist mold.

Take a deep breath

Tax time, long winter, have to find health care insurance, my car is not going to last much longer, my daughter needs braces, my boss wants this report in 2 days…all this leads to STRESS.

We all have it. It just is managed by some better than others. Proven techniques for stress management are meditation, tai chi and yoga. These three modalities put you in the present time. Stress is about tomorrow and sometimes yesterday. If you live each moment in the present – rather than yesterday or tomorrow – your stress is minimal.

Meditation is often thought to be too difficult to master. I want to offer you a simple technique which you can do at your desk, on the subway, or at home. It only takes a few minutes. It is called alternate nostril breathing. ANB

Sit in comfortable position. Breath in and out through both nostrils slowly one time. Then place the fleshy side of your thumb on the right nostril and close it. Exhale and then inhale to the count of 9 through your left nostril. Close the left nostril with your in second finger and hold your breath for nine seconds. Release your thumb and exhale and then inhale through the right nostril to the count of nine.
This is one round. Do this nine times. Eventually try to get up to 27 rounds. And feel the peace surround you.


I haven’t written anything for almost a year. Have had some security issues and finally got resolved.

This post is about ‘heartburn’ or acid reflux. There are many causes of this symptom. Some of the causes are very serious and need to be treated by a health care provider – not just an over the counter remedy.

How can you tell is this is serious or not? Does it happen frequently? Does it last more than a few minutes? Have you ever vomited blood? Have you ever seen blood in your stool or black tarry stools? Do you take over the counter pills with no relief? If you answer yes to any of those questions, this is not something you should ignore. Tell your health care provider about your symptoms.

Often a simple change of lifestyle will improve your symptoms. Loosing weight and exercise will help with digestion and aid in the natural movement of your food. Eliminating certain foods will also help – caffeine, chocolate, all carbonated drinks and alcohol especially red wine.
If you decide to try some of the over the counter remedies, start with antacids like tums. If that does not completely control your symptom, try the H2 inhibitors like ranitidine. Long term use of the PPI eg Prilosec is a very bad idea.
If you find you need H2 inhibitors or a PPI, be sure and discuss this with your health care provider.

Eating small meals throughout the day rather than three big meals will also help with digestion. If you suffer heartburn at night, be sure to stop eating at least five hours before you go to bed.

natural cold remedy

I saw this in Bon Appetit magazine and meant to share – but then couldn’t locate again..now here it is. Am afraid if I don’t post now, I will not find it during the winter ‘cold’ season. Am sure it will also work for those summer colds – which seem to be more annoying and last longer. Let me know what you think of it.

Makes one dose:

1Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey or light agave syrup
1 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp of super echinacea extract
pinch of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in mug with 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until all honey is dissolved. Let sit for one minute and drink.

group sessions

the saying goes “two heads are better than one” We have seen this proven time and again. Especially in health care, groups with similar or same conditions are able to share and help each other.

We are starting monthly sessions of groups of 15 – 20 patients with similar diagnosis to share materials and thoughts.
Let us know what topic you would like us to host

Allergy season

The DC metro area is one of the highest allergy rated nationwide. If you are feeling extra fatigue, experiencing nasal congestion or constant throat clearing…ahem…you could be one of this area’s allergan victims.

Many of the over the counter antihistamnes will take care of symptoms. If you try the medications for a week and do not get any relief, come into the office for a consult.
If your symptoms are associated with a fever or a productive cough, it is probably not allergies.

One of the best things to help control these allergies is to take a night time shower. Washing off all the pollen and allergy particles before you go to bed will help tremendously. Also be very wary of room or house humidifiers..they make the mold and spore count increase drastically. If you must use one – be sure and add the bacteriostatic solution for humidifiers daily.

Don’t let allergy season keep you indoors. This is the time of year to get outside and enjoy the great DC spring weather. Take an antihistamine. And call your nurse practitioner if it doesn’t work.

stomach virus

If you have had a week’s worth of vomiting/nausea/diarrhea – chances are good you have the norovirus. It’s nasty and it’s in the DC metro area.


Put yourself on the BRAT diet Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. Drink only FLAT gingerale or gaterade or ginger tea. NO water as it will increase the stomach acid and make the symptons worse. Stay on the BRAT diet until you are symptom free for 2 days.
Wash your hands Wash your hands Wash your hands

It Works

I have spoken with a few of you about the It Works products. I am so impressed with this company and its products. The longer I use them the better they get. All of the products are made with natural plant materials. There is no “animal testing” done with any products.

The new improved vitamin just came out Feb 1st. It has upgraded the dose of Vit D (which most of us need) and added omega 3 fatty acids..to help lower cholesterol.
AND of course there is that crazy wrap thing.
If you are interested in any of the products – including the wrap – visit my website gailf.myitworks.com or come by the office and talk with me.

recipe for chicken breast

You know I stress eating healthy and less animal protein.
But this recipe is for those of you still eating beef/pork/lamb…try this delicious chicken …. it’s perfect on a cold winter evening:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup apricot preserves
12 cut fat free low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

Coat each chicken breast with flour. Heat oil med heat in a large skillet. Brown chicken for 3-4 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low.

Combine apricot preserves, chicken broth and soy sauce in small bowl and then add to skillet. Cover and simmer for 15 min. Remove chicken, cover with foil and keep warm.

Turn up heat and cook sauce until slightly reduced and thick (about 1-2 min) Serve chicken with pan sauce.

per serving: 290 calories, 1.9 g fat, 34.2g carbohydrates, 0.8g fiber, 34.4g protein.

Don’t forget to send me a photo of the dish!