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Breast Cancer Prevention Begins in Childhood?


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

We often direct the awareness message to women, recommending steps they can take to detect breast cancer early or to reduce their risk of cancer.  But breast cancer prevention actually begins in childhood.  Several recent studies show the relationship of childhood diet to breast cancer risk.

Childhood Diet and Cancer Risk

It’s long been known that early puberty is a risk factor for breast cancer, likely because of the increased length of time the body is exposed to higher levels of estrogen.  Interestingly enough, onset of puberty is significantly impacted by certain dietary factors. 

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012 showed that increased meat and dairy intake is associated with an earlier age of puberty onset.  On the other hand, a diet higher in vegetable protein intake was correlated to a later onset of puberty.  This study specifically looked at the diet when the children were only 3 to 6 years old. 

Good Sleep is Essential to Brain Health


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

In a previous blog, Seven Ways that Exercise Helps Maintain a Healthy Brain,  I outlined the importance of exercise for brain health.

Now on the flip side of that is the importance of sleep for brain health.  Lack of sleep is so significant to brain function that 24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.  That is higher than the legally drunk blood alcohol level of 0.08%!

Sleep deprivation:

  • causes impairment of performance, concentration, vigilance and memory 
  • can have permanent effects on memory and brain cell connectivity
  • impairs reaction time and cognition

 Is your child getting enough sleep?  Studies show that 30 – 40% of children do not get enough sleep each night. More and more children are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 

So, given how important sleep is to our brain health, here are 5 strategies for helping your child sleep well:

Winterize Your Medicine Cabinet with These Natural Remedies


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

We all know that feeling of waking up with a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. That feeling of dread that “I’m coming down with something.”  It’s that time of year when we’re are about to be bombarded with the winter viruses, bringing their familiar illnesses such as the common cold, bronchitis and influenza. How many times have you been caught unprepared for the illness?  I’m going to suggest that you winterize your home now by stocking your home medicine cabinet (and kitchen pantry) with natural and effective tools you’ll need to fight back against the illnesses that are surely coming your way. 

Here are 7 things that you should have around to be ready for the winter:

1)      Zinc is great for the immune system, and studies have shown that it can shorten the duration and the severity of a cold. When the scratchy throat starts, have some zinc lozenges in the house.

2)      Vitamin C: As soon as that runny nose or cough hits, you want to load your body with vitamin C.  Make sure you keep vitamin C rich foods, like bell peppers, broccoli and strawberries, on hand all through the fall and winter.  And also, have a vitamin C supplement on hand.  The last thing you want to do when you’re sick is drag yourself to the market.

3)      Garlic is a natural antibiotic with both antiviral and antibacterial properties.  Crushing fresh garlic releases its immune-boosting properties.

4)      Ginger is both antiviral and anti-inflammatory.  And it also settles an upset stomach.  So if the stomach flu hits your home, you’ll definitely want this on hand for relief.

Worried About Enterovirus D68? Here’s What You Can Do

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Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

Many people are calling enterovirus D68 the “new respiratory virus.”  In fact, there’s nothing new about this virus which was first identified in 1962.  Enteroviruses are a common cause of respiratory illnesses in the summer and early fall.  This particular strain of enterovirus, D68, can cause respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe.  I’m sure you’ve seen many of the severe cases highlighted in the news. 

So here are 5 things you can do to help your child prevent enterovirus infections:

  • Make sure your child is using the basic infection prevention strategies which include frequent handwashing, coughing into her sleeve, and avoiding sharing utensils or cups with people who are sick.
  • If your child develops respiratory symptoms, make sure you’re giving him lots of healthy fluids like water, soup broth, freshly made fruit and vegetable juices and tea.  You can use herbal teas such as ginger tea or Echinacea.  Add raw honey and lemon which also help fight bad bugs.  Do not use honey with children under the age of 12 months!
  • Boost your child’s vitamin and mineral intake by giving her lots of fruits and vegetables.  Flavor your vegetables with disease fighting extras such as garlic, turmeric and onions.
  • Use a humidifier. Moisture is an important defensive weapon that your upper respiratory tract uses to keep out the bad bugs.  You can power up your humidifier by adding a few drops of lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, oregano or peppermint essential oil to the water reservoir.  These essential oils help fight infections, reduce congestion and improve sleep.
  • You’ve probably been advised to use a saline nasal spray to help with congestion.  That’s a good idea.  But even better is using a Xylitol nasal spray which is anti-microbial in addition to reducing the swelling.

These tips will help your family prevent and fight enterovirus and the multitude of other respiratory viruses that you’ll face in the coming months. 


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD, is an integrative pediatrician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  She is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine with a doctorate in physiology. Dr. Fuller is in a unique position to positively impact the health of children by identifying  the underlying contributors to disease such as nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, infection and stresses, in order to reverse symptoms and restore your child’s health. Her focus is prevention of chronic illness and obesity in children and young adults, ADHD, asthma and allergies.

Are Allergies No More Than Toxicity?


Autumn Frandsen ND

                Allergies can develop at many points in a person’s life, often going unnoticed or unrecognized until they are a major hindrance. They can present as a sinus infection, headaches, itchy eyes, and even colitis. I have found that emotional turmoil, stress, exposure to chemicals, poor diet, defects in detoxification pathways, and frequent antibiotic use can all cause allergic reactions. The threshold for toxicity is different in everyone and once it is reached the nervous system and immune systems become hyperactive. At that point it is no longer enough to use antihistamines and anti-anxiolytics. A more holistic allergy treatment must be focused on unburdening the body through increasing antioxidants, repairing damaged caused by inflammation (particularly in the gut), and desensitizing both the nervous system and the immune system.

                There is a delicate balance between the nervous system and the immune system. Adrenal function affects both of them greatly and in those with pronounced stress, whether physical or emotional, adrenal output is usually diminished. At any given time there can be surges of cortisol, causing the nervous system to by up regulated, which in turn causes hyperactivity of the immune system as it searches for stressors and invaders. This increase in immune system reactivity causes increased inflammation, leading to destruction of the GAP junctions in the gut lining. This causes “leaky gut” and suddenly (or insidiously) food allergies or sensitivities never before present or bothersome increase in number and symptom presentation.

Seven Ways that Exercise Maintains a Healthy Brain


Teresa Fuller MD, Phd

Our children’s brains are under attack.  Take a look at these startling statistics from a comprehensive surveillance report by the CDC that spanned 2005 - 2011 which shows that among children aged 3-17 years:

  • 6.8% have ADHD
  • 3.5% have behavioral or conduct problems
  • 3% have anxiety
  • 2.1% have depression
  • 1.1% have autism spectrum disorder 

Moreover, research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness has found that among children ages 9 to 17, 21% have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder, and that suicide is the leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24.

These numbers show us why brain health is a major focus of research today.  The good news is that there are many things we already know about how to maintain a healthy brain.  Last week, we talked about the importance of “brain food.”  And here’s another habit that is critical to brain health -- exercise.  Your brain needs an abundant blood flow to sustain its high energy demands for function, and exercise is a great way to increase blood flow to the brain.

4 Great Nutritional Brain Health Boosters for Children


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

Brain Food for Optimal Concentration, Creativity and Cognition

Now that our kids are back in school, they’ll need all the brain power they can get.  Our brain function is so vitally connected to what we eat that Dr. Scott Shannon, noted psychiatrist says this: 

“In order to ensure that your child’s brain is able to function well…you must first ensure that it is being properly nourished.…Poor diet is without a doubt one of the major reasons we’re seeing such an incredible spike in the number of kids diagnosed with and medicated for mental and emotional disorders.  Even drugs can’t help our kids when they are quite literally being starved of their mental and emotional health.” Scott Shannon from Please Don’t Label My Child

Indeed, more and more studies are showing just how powerful food is in the function and growth of the brain.  On the other hand, the wrong foods are absolutely detrimental to brain function. We as parents need to equip our children with the tools they need for better concentration, creativity and cognition. So here are four great nutritional brain boosters:

1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables! 

Our children need at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Being the parent of a picky eater myself, who only likes corn (not even sweet potatoes, can you imagine?!), I’ve had to be very creative about getting the fruits and veggies in, such as smoothies and milkshakes doctored with hidden fruits and vegetables. 

How do fruits and vegetables boost brain power?

Help for Depression with a Functional Medicine Approach


Dr. Chas Gant, integrative and functional medicine physician, was recently interviewed on TakeBackYourHealth radio on the subject of Depression: What We Can Learn from Robin Williams. What are the causes of depression and what can we do about it?

10 Reasons Why Breast Milk is Nature's Original Superfood


Teresa Fuller MD, PhD

The latest report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) shows that breastfeeding rates have increased over the past few years to almost 80% from 77%.

This is great news because of the many benefits of breastfeeding to both Mom and baby.

There are dozens of positive health effects from breastfeeding, but here I’ll list just 10 of the well known benefits for breastfed babies compared to formula-fed babies.

Breastfeeding babies have :

  • Far fewer respiratory illnesses than formula-fed children
  • 3 to 4 times fewer diarrheal illnesses
  • Reduced likelihood of ear infections
  • Decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Reduced occurrence of eczema and allergies
  • Fewer dental cavities
  • 20 to 30% reduced rate of obesity
  • 34% decreased risk of insulin-dependent diabetes
  • 8 times lower risk of childhood cancer (if breast fed for more than 6 months)
  • Fewer learning and behavioral problems

Breastfeeding is Best for Mom Too

There are multiple benefits for Mom as well. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.  And breastfeeding Moms lose their extra pregnancy weight faster.

Have You Heard the News Today?


Anita Capizzi RN, CHC

Some GREAT news just came out in the medical and scientific community, which has been widely reported by many mainstream publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine and NPR.

Low Carb V. Low Fat Diet          

A new randomized controlled clinical study was published in the Sept. 2 issue of the

Annals of Internal Medicine looking at the effects of a low carb vs. a low fat diet.

I have copied the results here:

Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health.

After decades of “low fat” and “no fat” foods which never made anybody feel satisfied, and didn’t do much to lower the incidence of heart disease in the United States, this news is welcome indeed!

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This is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease.