How to Avoid Catching a Cold

Spark Lifestyle Services

With cold and flu season being well underway we are constantly being asked how to stay healthy with all the germs being spread around. There are many Naturopathic diet, lifestyle, and supplementation tips that can help you avoid catching that cold or flu. Here are some of my top tips to support your immune system naturally:

 

  1. Address Your Gut Health. The gut has a large impact on our overall immune system. Maintaining proper gut health is one of the foundations to ensure you have a strong defense system during cold and flu season. It is key to optimize digestion so that you are absorbing adequate nutrients, calming inflammation, and maintaining the right balance of healthy gut flora (i.e. probiotics). However, treating the gut is different for each individual person. At Spark, we provide comprehensive stool analyses so that we can support your gut and your individual needs. It gives a deeper dive into what’s happening in your microbiome so if you do need a probiotic we can target the exact dose and type that your body needs.

 

  1. Quality Sleep. Sleep is another foundation to overall health and especially our immune system. Life gets busy but it is more important than ever to prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep during cold and flu season. Ensuring good quality sleep is also something that I instruct all my patients to pay attention to and this means staying away from blue light before bed. Turn on the blue blocking apps on your phones, TVs, computers or get yourself a pair of blue blocking glasses to put on in the evening so that you get high quality sleep and wake feeling rested.

 

  1. Stress Management. Stress can be a trigger for numerous diseases as it can suppress our immune system. When we are under more stress we are utilizing more nutrients, like B vitamins, and our bodies need that extra support. Removing all stress may not always be possible but what we can do is improve our body’s response to stress. Meditation, breathing exercises, IV therapy, vitamin injections, sleep, exercise, and massage are all different ways to incorporate self-care to help your stress response. Choose something that brings you joy and try to incorporate it daily – whether it’s 5 minutes or 60 minutes.

 

  1. Optimize Nutrient Status. Nutrient deficiencies can put us at risk for many disease processes and there are a few key nutrients that are crucial in order to support the immune system during cold and flu season. Vitamin D is something that we test for all of our patients because despite living in southern California it is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin D, however, is stored in fat so we always want to test to see where your levels are to recommend the proper vitamin D dosage. We always instruct our patients that it is better to test instead of guess when it comes to supplementing for nutrient deficiencies. At Spark, we can test for individuals nutrient levels that we may suspect or run an larger micronutrient panel to see exactly what you are missing and target your levels appropriately with diet, IV therapy, vitamin injections, supplements, and more.

 

  1. Smart Supplementation. There are certain supplements that can help us get through cold and flu season. At Spark we love to use an anti-microbial formula called Bio Vegetarian to support the immune system all season long. It has a combination of botanicals and nutrients that can be used to prevent getting sick as well as when you already are feeling those cold and/or flu symptoms. I often suggest to patients to start taking this prior to getting on a plane when traveling or when you come in contact with others who are sick. The amino acid N-Acetyl Cysteine is another supplement we often use during this time of year because it acts as a mucolytic and helps with congestion. This amino acid is the precursor to our favorite immune supportive antioxidant, glutathione.

 

  1. IV Therapy and Vitamin Injections. IVs and vitamin injections are a great way to get high doses of vitamins and minerals that bypass the gastrointestinal system for 100% absorption. Our immune IV is packed full with high doses of vitamin C, B vitamins, electrolytes, and amino acids to help support your immune system and can be used preventatively or when you are feeling sick to reduce the length of a cold. I always recommend to my patients to come in for an Immune Boost before and/or after traveling because our bodies are under more stress and you are coming into contact with more germs when your traveling on planes.

 

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet. At Spark we often recommend an overall anti-inflammatory diet for our patients to feel their best, but during cold/flu season this becomes even more important. In general, we want to reduce consumption of processed foods, sugar, dairy, gluten, and alcohol to protect the body from unnecessary inflammation. I recommend my patients aim to eat the rainbow to ensure they are getting adequate nutrients and to incorporate bone broth or a collagen protein. Diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables have been proven to help to support the immune system and prevent disease. Choosing red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple foods increases your chance of getting all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Bone broth and collagen protein are not only nutrient dense but help to support your gut health as well.

 

  1. Magic Socks. It may sound uncomfortable, but actually it is so relaxing that kids will often ask for this when they get sick! Soak cotton socks in ice water, wring out quickly, and slip them on your child’s feet. Then, over this, put on dry wool socks (the natural fibers of wool trap heat in much better than cotton).  Leave the double socks on for at least 15 minutes, during which time your child’s feet will warm both layers of socks up.  You can wrap a blanket over the feet to help warm them faster if they like.  The act of warming the socks helps relieve congestion in the head and chest and is very relaxing.  It often helps sick kids fall asleep.  Do not remove the socks until they have been warmed (rub the feet vigorously to help warming if it takes longer than 15 minutes.  You can do this multiple times per day, and keep on overnight. 

 

  1. Hydration. Water increases your body’s ability to eliminate toxins and perform its important immune functions. Adequate hydration also allows the body to more easily transport nutrients through the blood to the cells that need them most. Sometimes it is challenging to ensure we are getting adequate water intake throughout the day or even if we are drinking plenty of water we are still not feeling hydrated. IV therapy is a great way to boost your hydration during the winter months especially when you are feeling sick and it is challenging to keep up with your fluid intake. Another great way to increase your hydration is by adding electrolytes to your water. Our favorite is Ultima Replenisher because it has a great electrolyte formula without all of the added sugar! Stop by Spark to pick up a bottle and try it today!

 

  1. Humidifier – Running a humidifier at night is a great way to keep kids hydrated when they are sick.  The extra moisture in the air not only keeps the throat and nasal passages hydrated and soothed, it also increases hydration in the body.  This is especially important if there is fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea, but even with the average cold it can sometimes be hard to get enough fluids in. 

 

For more information about how to keep your body healthy and help prevent yourself and your family from getting sick, please call Spark Health at (858) 228-4188 or send us an email at Spark@MySparkHealth.com

 

Spark Health is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

 

Thank you,

` The Spark Team

What to Expect When Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor

Natural Medicine San Diego

Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor at Spark Health may not be your average doctor’s appointment. Naturopathic Doctors are trained similarly to Medical Doctors as they go through 4 years of medical school with similar coursework but the approach to patient care has a different perspective.

Naturopathic Medicine follows the following six principles in order to provide you with the best personalized medical care  which include:

  •  The Healing Power of Nature. Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes. Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.
  • First Do No Harm. Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.
  • Doctor as Teacher. Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.
  • Treat the Whole Person. View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.
  • Prevention. Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.

When you book a new patient appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor at Spark Health is that you will be meeting with your doctor for about an hour long.

We want to be able to get to know you as a whole person so that we are treating you as a person and not just a symptom. Prior to our new patient appointments, we have our patients fill out a thorough new patient questionnaire.

This allows the doctor to get some background and get to know you before you walk through their door. When you arrive at Spark Health you will be checked in with our patient care coordinator, we check your vitals and then you get an entire hour to discuss your current health concerns and goals with your Naturopathic Doctor.

During the visit with the doctor, you will discuss your current symptoms, past medical history, family history, current diet, and lifestyle factors like how you are sleeping, stress management, and more. This is because all of these factors have a powerful influence on how you are feeling and your overall health.

Naturopathic medicine wants to identify and treat the cause rather than simply suppressing symptoms. During your initial appointment with the doctor is when you will decide the best ways to further gather information with lab testing. This may be with a blood draw, urine, saliva, breath, or stool collections. Many of the labs we use can be billed through your insurance but all of the office visits are cash price.

Your Naturopathic Doctor is able to create a superbill for you after your visit that may provide reimbursement from your insurance company, depending on the policy. At Spark, we perform all of our blood draws in office and also offer mobile phlebotomy services to accommodate you and your schedule.

Most other lab testing can be done in the comfort of your own home.

 As Naturopathic Doctors, we are trained to look beyond the basics when it comes to lab testing. This allows us to provide the most personalized treatment plan that is right for you and your body at that time.

Depending on your current symptom picture and history, a Naturopathic Doctor will be able to guide you towards the proper lab testing. Too often we have patients that come in with a laundry list of supplements without knowing why or if they should be taking them.

We want you to supplement your body with what it needs which is why we like to tell our patients to test instead of guess. Something we see commonly is patients experiencing abdominal complaints and nearly everyone running to the store to get on a probiotic, but not all probiotics are created equal.

With a comprehensive stool analysis, we can get a better understand of your gut microbiome to see what is happening with the beneficial flora of your gut to see exactly which strain and dose of probiotic is best for your body.

 Once all lab testing has been done your doctor will review all of your labs and go through everything discussed in that initial appointment to create your complete treatment plan.

Your Naturopathic Doctor will want to take everything into account while developing your plan. Your first lab review appointment will also be a bit different than visiting your conventional doctor.

We sit down for another hour long appointment to go through your lab results point by point so that you can understand what each value means. Your Naturopathic Doctor also will be looking at your labs through a different perspective.

Often times reference ranges for certain lab values are quite large and we want to look at them through a functional perspective. For example, vitamin D has a reference range typically around 30-100 but if a patient’s vitamin D level is only a 31 it may be in the normal range but not what is optimal for that patient.

 Your treatment plan may include medications, supplements, dietary interventions, as well as lifestyle adjustment so that you can reach your health goals to feel your best. A common misconception is that Naturopathic Doctors are against using medication, which is not the case.

We will use medications and prescriptions when necessary but always aim to provide our patients with a treatment plan that is using interventions that are least invasive first.

At Spark, we want to educate our patients as much as possible because when you have the knowledge and understanding about your body your health with succeed even more.

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For more information about naturopathic medicine or integrative medicine, please call Spark Health at (858) 228-4188 or send us an email at Spark@MySparkHealth.com

Spark Health is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

Thank you,

` The Spark Team

Lab Tests for Kids

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There are some lab tests we rely on for kids that are not the typical tests you would find at your pediatrician’s office.  We are not usually diagnosing acute illness like strep throat or the flu. Instead, the tests we use most often, help uncover the cause of more chronic health problems.  A lot of kids have tummy problems, whether it be chronic abdominal pain, constipation, or bloating. Comprehensive stool testing is helpful in not only looking for infections like bacteria or yeast (or occasionally parasites) but it can tell us what kinds of healthy bacteria is in the gut.  Many tummy issues are related to imbalances in normal gut flora or bacteria, and finding and correcting these imbalances eliminates symptoms.

 

At Spark Health we also use food allergy testing, which can be a blood draw or finger stick to help with digestive complaints, but also for symptoms outside of the gut like allergies, asthma, and skin rashes.

 

Finally, there are is urine-based, Organic Acid testing, that looks for signs of nutrient deficiencies by seeing what amounts or substances get excreted in the urine.

 

And we do sometimes recommend standard blood draws as well, especially to help evaluate nutrient levels.  Mild iron deficiencies or omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies are not uncommon, especially during times of fast growth and can really impact mood, energy, and cognition.

 

As kids become teenagers the tests run start to look more like the adult blood work since they are less likely to be traumatized by a blood draw and we may want to look at additional markers such as hormones and blood sugar levels.

 

If you would like to learn more, give us a call at 858.228.4188 or visit us online at MySparkHealth.com .

Natural Medicine Pediatrics

Naturopathic medicine is great for kids!  For those that have health problems, it can be helpful to evaluate nutritional levels, and sometimes gut health to see what kind of impact this could be having on their health. Once we have a more complete idea of what is going on, we can recommend specific diet changes, supplements, or other treatments that can work alongside their conventional care, or sometimes be a safe and effective alternative to what they were using before.  Parents appreciate having support for using natural care, in knowing which products and dosages are safe, and knowing when conventional care is the more appropriate option.

One bonus to bringing kids in early is to plant the seed that health is largely created by choices and actions.  Although it is a hard time for most kids to really take responsibility for that, we start sending those messages early, that not only are diet, sleep, moving your body, handling stress important, there are places to go for help and support with that.

If you would like to learn more, give us a call at 858.228.4188 or visit us online at MySparkHealth.com .

Common Nutrient Deficiencies and How To Address Them

Detox Basics

Even with the most perfect, natural diet, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can still occur. Because of the way food is grown in our modern world, soil tends to be depleted of many nutrients that are necessary for optimal health.

We require approximately 40 micronutrients for our bodies to function properly, and our bodies can’t manufacture a lot of these nutrients on their own. 

Inadequate micronutrient levels are known to contribute to increased rates of illness. (1,3) Micronutrient deficiencies are associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, weight problems, cognitive issues, and a weakened immune system. (3) 

Common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. include: magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, vitamin A, calcium, and folate. People who follow vegetarian, vegan, or calorie-restricted diets are more prone to micronutrient deficiencies.

The elderly, those who smoke, those who have undergone gastric or bariatric surgery, those who have gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, and those who are recovering from illnesses are also more at risk for deficiencies. (2) However, even if none of the above apply to you, you may still have vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

How can you know for sure what nutrient deficiencies you may have?

Here at Spark Health, we use blood tests to measure your levels of micronutrients.

We are able to test levels of nutrients that are in the blood, and we are also able to test how well your cells are utilizing vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and antioxidants.

After gathering information about what nutrients you are deficient in, we are able to make personalized recommendations for dietary changes, lifestyle changes, supplements, shots, or IV therapy. 

Increase Nutrients

One way to reduce your risk of micronutrient deficiencies is to dramatically increase the amount of nutrient-dense foods in the diet.

Decreasing the consumption of processed foods and increasing consumption of whole foods will help to support healthy micronutrient levels.

For example, if you are looking to get more magnesium in the diet, you may want to increase your consumption of spinach or nuts, and to get more B12 in the diet, you may want to increase your consumption of pastured eggs and grass fed beef. 

Whenever possible, choose organic versions of fruits and vegetables, and if you have access to farmers markets, you will be able to get produce that has been harvested more recently, which increases the amount of micronutrients are in the produce.

Most produce that is found in the supermarket is picked before its prime, and is transported on boats and trucks for days and sometimes weeks before consumption. It’s best to choose a variety of different colors of fruits and vegetables in order to improve the variety of nutrients you receive. 

Avoiding Nutrient Killers

Another way to increase nutrient levels is to avoid certain substances that are known to drive down the levels in the body: caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Caffeine tends to bind iron and certain minerals, and can be dehydrating and depleting. Alcohol has a tendency to reduce our levels of digestive enzymes, leaving us depleted of certain vitamins like B1 (thiamine).

One serving of refined sugar has been shown to increase urinary excretion of calcium, and is also known to deplete vitamin C, vitamin D and chromium levels in the body. (4)

When diet isn’t enough to bring micronutrient levels up, we may employ other natural solutions. Here at Spark Health in Solana Beach, our team of naturopathic doctors are experts in providing nutrient supplementation orally, via intramuscular injections (shots), or through nutrient IVs. 

We can deliver concentrated levels vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and amino acids directly into the bloodstream through an IV. With certain nutrients, IV vitamin therapy provides up to 10 times the absorption of oral supplementation.  

By administering the nutrients directly into the bloodstream, our cells are able to effectively metabolize the nutrients they require for optimal function and healing. We can create a customized IV vitamin bag based on your own personal blood test results and unique vitamin and nutrient needs!

Learn More

For more information about micronutrient testing and personalized IV therapy, call Spark Health today at (858) 228-4188 or send us an email at Spark@MySparkHealth.com . Spark Health is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

Thank you,

` The Spark Team

REFERENCES

  1. Black, R.E. Micronutrient deficiency – an underlying cause of morbidity and mortality.Bull World Health Organ. 2003;81(2):79

 

  1. Shankar, P, Boylan, M, Sriram, K. Micronutrient deficiencies after bariatric surgery.Nutrition 2010; 26: 1031–1037. 

 

  1. Ames, B.N. Micronutrient Deficiencies A Major Cause of DNA Damage. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1999. 

 

 

  1. Hudson, Tori. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 2008. pp 237-266

 

What Modalities Do Naturopathic Doctors Use

IV Nutrient Therapy

Naturopathic Doctors use a wide variety of treatments to treat your health
problems. Most importantly we try to use the least toxic and least
disruptive treatments that will achieve our goals, those that will return the
body to a higher state of health overall.
We do sometimes need to use prescription medications, especially
hormones like thyroid replacement or bio-identical hormones to bring a
patient back in to balance. But even more so, we rely on botanical
products and different vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements
to treat problems effectively. Some doctors also use homeopathy or
physical medicine such as hydrotherapy.
Most supplements are taken by mouth, but there are injectable nutrients
(vitamins and minerals especially) that have a profound benefit to healing.
And some injectable treatments, such as PRP, that promote tissue health,
growth, and repair.
In addition to things you can take to support your healing, we focus a lot on
lifestyle factors. Things you DO every day that have an impact on your
health like diet, exercise, sleep quality, how you handle stress, and we
counsel you on what would be better and how to make those changes.
If you would like to learn more, give us a call at 858.228.4188 or visit us
Online at MySparkHealth.com

Weight Loss – Common Obstacles

Spark Lifestyle Services

Weight Loss – Common Obstacles

Weight loss can be frustrating because there are so many different things
that block it. Even when you’re putting in the effort sometimes things are
working against you that you don’t even recognize. Here are some of the
most common obstacles:
1. Not eating enough- most people cut back on calories when they are
trying to lose weight. This can be an important thing, especially if you
are doing a lot of snacking or over-eating. But it is possible to eat too
little and actually shut down the metabolism. It can be helpful to get
tested to understand how many calories you need to eat so this does
not happen.
2. Hormone Imbalances- there are so many hormones that can block
weight loss if imbalanced. Particularly high insulin levels, low thyroid
levels, high estrogen levels, or very high or low adrenal hormone
levels. It’s helpful to check your hormone levels before you get
started to make sure your hormones won’t be working against you.
3. Ignoring the importance of building muscle- having more muscle
mass means your body has a higher metabolic rate all the time. You
are actually burning more fat just sitting around as long as your
muscle mass has your metabolism revved up. Sometimes hormone
imbalances can worsen muscle mass, or sometimes a person is
focusing too much on cardio-type exercises and not enough of
strength training, which can burn your muscle.
4. Ignoring sources of inflammation- there are lots of places your body
can be inflamed that keeps bloating and weight on. Gut infections
can do this, food allergies can do this, and poor detoxification can do
this.
Investigating and correcting these issues can help make weight loss a
success.
If you would like to learn more, give us a call at 858.228.4188 or visit us
online at MySparkHealth.com.