Eat Well, Feel Better, Live Longer

The adage is true: We are what we eat. Food can affect many aspects of our lives.

Live Longer

(Pixabay / jill111)

Food Allergies

More and more, we hear about food and the role it plays in allergies. In fact, food allergies have increased to the point that they now affect an average of two school-age children per classroom.

It used to be that if you had food allergies, there was only one solution: Avoid problematic foods. This could be very tricky, however, if you were allergic to staples like wheat or dairy that play prominent roles in common foods. It also became a sizeable problem for people with multiple food allergies. By the time they accounted for all of their food sensitivities, there were very few things that were safe to eat.

Fortunately, treatment for food allergies (including milk, wheat, and nut allergy treatment) is now available with sublingual immunotherapy If you suspect that you have food allergies, your doctor can order a food allergy testing kit to determine where your sensitivities lie. If appropriate, your physician can then prescribe immunotherapy in the form of daily, under-the-tongue drops that help desensitize your body to the food proteins that trigger your allergies. (Allergy drops for kids and adults are available.)

Food and Heart Health

Food affects more than just allergies, however. It also affects heart health. Studies have shown that eating a heart-friendly diet in combination with a healthy lifestyle can decrease your chance of developing cardiovascular disease by more than 75 percent. That’s a pretty strong case in favor of eating well.

In honor of American Heart Month in February, here’s a list of dietary elements that can help keep your heart healthy and strong.

  • Good fats. Saturated fats are found in lard, fatty meats, and dairy products (like butter and cream) and can be hard on the heart. Don’t write off fats altogether, though. Your heart needs “good fats,” including Omega-3 fatty acids that you can get from eating fatty fish (including salmon), chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), soybeans, and spinach.
  • Fiber. Bad cholesterol (known as LDL cholesterol) is hard on the heart, but fiber can help lower LDL levels. Fiber can be found in nuts, flax and chia seeds, quinoa, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, avocados, berries, and many vegetables (including turnips, artichokes, and peas).
  • Potassium. Potassium can help reduce blood pressure. It can be found in most fruits and vegetables (especially in oranges, bananas, and potatoes). It also abounds in dairy products. Just be sure to choose products like low-fat milk and yogurt that are low in saturated fats.
  • Fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy heart. Use color as a guide. Choose boldly colored produce like leafy green lettuce, peppers, and berries. They are loaded with antioxidants that reduce damaging free radicals in your body and benefit your heart.

As you strive to add more heart-healthy foods to your diet, you should also reduce your alcohol intake if you drink. Alcohol can drive up blood pressure and ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke.

Food sustains life and adds pleasure to our days, but it can have a significant bearing on the way our body feels and function. Resolve to make a few positive changes to your diet this year. Your body will thank you.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.