Upcoming presentations

A day in the life of a Gold Rush physician. Saturday, October 6, 10:00 a.m., OASIS Grossmont Learning Center, La Mesa. Go to http://www.oasisnet.org/sandiego for registration details and class description.

Regain your youthful memory. Monday October 8, 12:00 a.m. OASIS Escondido Senior Center. 210 E. Park Ave. Go to http://www.oasisnet.org/sandiego for registration details and class description.

How to lose weight after 40. Tuesday, October 23, 12:30. Carlsbad Dove Library. Go to http://www.oasisnet.org/sandiego for registration details and class description.

All about salt. Saturday October 27, 1:00 p.m. San Diego Archaeological Center, San Pasqual Valley Road (same as Hwy. 78, just past Safari Park) $30, non –member, $20 members. Local wine and inspired foods will be served after the lecture. See https://sandiegoarchaeology.org for further information.

 

In the news

Influenza vaccine – there’s more to the story.

There are few topics in medicine that are more controversial than the influenza vaccine. The media focus on its failure to prevent disease. Depending on the year the effectiveness ranges from about 20 to 60 percent. That sounds like a reason not to bother, doesn’t it? In those disparaging articles there is usually acknowledgment near the last paragraph that even if the vaccine does not prevent infection, those who receive it have a significantly lower risk of requiring hospitalization. That fact has been documented repeatedly.

The last place you want to be at any time is in a hospital, where infections, often from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, kill nearly 100,000 persons every year. The influenza virus has long been known to weaken the immune system. Most people who die during an attack of influenza are brought down by secondary infection to which they have become more susceptible, not the virus. When you put together the age-related decline in immunity, the further weakening incurred by the influenza virus and the high risk of hospital exposure to several species of dangerous bacteria, a perfect storm emerges.

But wait – there’s more! Physicians have known for decades that the risk of dying from a heart attack is greater during and in the weeks after infection with the influenza virus. We now know why: release of inflammatory chemicals, disruption of plaques within the walls of blood vessels and increased tendency to form artery-plugging blood clots. Another perfect storm.

One more thing: you cannot get influenza from the influenza vaccine. The virus is dead – period! And the intense scrutiny of the vaccine production process, driven by attorneys who dread a vaccine-induced infection, makes it highly unlikely that any live virus particles will make it to you.

The flu season has begun. ‘Nuf said.

Preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: antioxidants.

The human body evolved to require many kinds of nutrients and about 4,000 of these are antioxidants. Nature provides them to plants and animals in order to counteract the damage inflicted by free radicals, chemicals that result from exposure to radiation, sunlight, infection, exercise or even normal digestive processes. Animals can manufacture only a handful of antioxidants, that’s why we need a high intake of fruits and vegetables.

Plant products that are high in antioxidants have three characteristics: they are highly colored, highly aromatic and highly flavored. Think carrots, beets, garlic, coffee, red wine and dark chocolate.

Antioxidants don’t act alone. That’s why, as in the case of vitamins, studies on single chemicals such as curcumin are not convincingly conclusive. What we do know is that persons who have a diet high in natural antioxidant-containing fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of dementia. In part that’s because they are less likely to eat refined grains and sugars or to get their protein from red meat. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, which plays a large role in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

There is plenty of evidence that a high intake of antioxidants has many health benefits. This is confirmed by studies of the Mediterranean Diet revealing that those who adhere to this diet have a thicker layer of gray matter in the brain, preventing or postponing cognitive decline, especially memory.

 

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