COVID-19 Vaccine + Flu Vaccine Helps

Last year I blogged that taking the flu vaccine may help with contracting COVID-19, well enough time has passed and data has been collected to suggest. Yes, physicians/scientists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine after reviewing over 74,000 patients files from around the world, published that the flu vaccine may provide protection against COVID-19.

Their deduction after studying charts from vaccinated and unvaccinated COVID-19 patients: in unvaccinated (recall Vaccines approved Dec. 2020) individuals who received the flu vaccine, COVID-19 infections were less likely to have the complications of a stroke, sepsis, and DVT. Those who had both vaccines (against SARS-CoV-2 and flu) and developed breakthrough COVID-19, were less likely to visit the ER or be admitted to ICU. Remember the SARS- CoV-2 vaccine prevents – to varying degrees dependent on which vaccine you receive – contracting a severe case or dying from the illness.

Everything I just stated is from a retrospective study, no definite cause and effect but the probable likelihood is assumed.

Flu activity was unusually low throughout the 2020-2021 flu season both in the United States and globally. Please visit CDC Flu resource and read 2021-2022 information. Plan your flu shot for October so your immunity is present when flu season is at its peak.


Are Antioxidant Supplements Senseless?

Are Antioxidant Supplements Senseless?So much of medical beliefs and practices come as a result of lab studies, some just done in a test tube, others tested in ‘lab animals’. The conviction that ‘supplements’ especially antioxidants have merit in preventing chronic conditions is one. Is it senseless? My review and the publication of studies recently completed the challenge to the veracity of this belief.

Clinical trials, funded by the NIH to compare the effects of antioxidant supplements vs placebo on diseases such as cancer and heart disease were relooked at along with new studies. These include the Woman’s antioxidant cardiovascular study, Physicians’ health study II, SELECT trial.

Bottom line -antioxidant supplements may do little to facilitate better health.

According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), people are most likely to have side effects or adverse reactions from supplements when taken in excess. What is too much is unknown also the safety is unknown. The FDA position: “The dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Generally, manufacturers do not need to get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.”

Scary once a problem, if recognized then it is checked out. An FYI: there are organizations that offer quality testing, they are:

Ultimately, not all research translates from lab to bedside, and for antioxidant supplements—unless a deficiency is present—it is most likely best to acquire needed nutritional components from a balanced diet.  A fruit or vegetable offers a balanced combination of nutrients versus an isolated intense antioxidant supplement.

Amazing Watermelon

Yes, your BBQ has a side of watermelon, naturally. You know it is hydrating and has a surprisingly low sugar content? But did you know it is also packed with antioxidants?

You’ve heard the term anti-oxidant in the same sense as ‘good for you’  but do you realize the important role it has in our bodies? A quick few facts that will have you looking for these free-radicals ‘eaters”. Free radicals cause disease and damage to our bodies. Think prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and yep, even cancer. The body needs balance if the free radicals outnumber the antioxidants, the body goes into ‘oxidative stress’. Stress of almost any kind is not good. This state causes damage to tissues, and we become ill.

Lycopene gives watermelon its vibrant pink hues, it is a carotenoid that gives many fruits and vegetables a red color. It is both an antioxidant and an anti-cancer nutrient. It is the most powerful antioxidant in foods. Lycopene is in many cells, its presence in the skin literally protects against solar radiation damage. High lycopene foods include guavas, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, sweet red peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage, and mangos.

H. Sies studied micronutrient’s role in cancer prevention and we have him to thank for these important contributions. Watermelon can also help people who already have cancer, plus since it is 90% water helps with the common problem of dehydration.

Watermelon can be made into a drink, a salad with feta cheese and balsamic vinegar, look and ask around for healthy watermelon recipes.



Incredible Number Of Skin Cancers

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. Incredible is the fact, it is estimated that one out of seven people in the United States is diagnosed with skin cancer each year. According to the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 5.4 million basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed, Sun exposure is the major culprit. This blog is not about prevention, but I do want to remind you, it is easy enough to prevent sun damage to your skin. SPF greater than 30 (learn about sunblocks) applied after water exposure, with sweating along with a 3 inch brimmed head covering will protect you.

Skin cancer risk factors, you know many of them. Yes, fair skin, excessive exposure to the sun, and tanning beds will do it. But you need to realize a history of sunburn, fair skin, and family history are also risk factors. 

Folks most likely to promote skin cancer are individuals with fair skin, blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, a history of sun exposure, or a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun. Those who have a family history of skin cancer are also at increased risk. People with dark skin, myself included, can develop skin cancer

Squamous and basal cell skin cancers are the most common types. Melanoma, another less common type of skin cancer is a more serious type of skin cancer as it is more invasive.

In this short blog, I want to give you some clues so you can perform once a monthly a self-check of your skin. In a well-lit private place with a large wall mirror, you may find changes in the way your skin looks or feels. Use a hand mirror to check for anything new on your skin, discoloration, a new mole, or changes to a mole you already have. Don’t forget to check your scalp and between your toes.Incredible Number of Skin Cancers

Take a picture with your phone if you are concerned. This is important in case you think it is a pimple and watch if it changes. Below I will share well-known clues to suspecting abnormal skin lesions. Keep track of any changes you may see, and tell or email your doctor. Dermatologists are best at examining and recognizing skin lesions. Also, they can treat them with the latest removal techniques. The Mohs surgery to remove lesions has a cure rate exceeds 99 percent for new skin cancers and 95 percent for recurrent skin cancers

The ABCDE’s of suspicious skin lesions

  • A – Asymmetry: One half does not look like the other half
  • B – Border: Edges are irregular, uneven, or ragged; margins fade into the skin around the lesion.
  • C – Color: Uneven color or varying shades; shades of black, brown, and tan can be present; also areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue 
  • D – Diameter: The size of the lesion, spot or mole can be very small or bigger than pea size (one-fourth of an inch) or larger
  • E – Evolving: All of the above characteristics change over  time making it suspicious for cancer 

If you have a lesion or any skin change, find out if it is concerning by seeing a trained medical provider. Timely diagnosis and removal, if it is suspicious, is very important. 


Beware For Children’s Eyes

Why do adults wear sunglasses yet do not encourage children too? They spend lots of time outside enjoying going to sports, pools or just ‘hanging’. Hopefully, you insist they wear sunscreen to protect their skin and a wide-brimmed hat, so why not protect their eye? 

Actually, according to Mayo Clinic Health System, children are exposed to more annual sun than adults. I can believe that.

With increased exposure comes an increased potential for eye damage.  Ultraviolet (UV) light — (invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun) can damage young eyes and surrounding skin. Adult eyes can actually fair better from UV rays but cumulative damage with age causes cataracts, age-related macula degeneration, and pterygium, a non-cancerous growth on an eyeball. In the short term, we are all familiar with snow blindness (photokeratitis), caused by the reflection of UV rays off sand water, ice, and snow. Yes, the name for sunburned eyes!

You understand why you should wear them by now, so why not encourage children to do so, the younger the better. Make it a game make it seem cool any tactic to protect those precious & venerable eyes.

Simply wearing sunglasses will protect eyes from everyday UV damages as harmful rays are present even on cloudy days. 

Think about the following as you purchase sunglasses for children.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI ) has guidelines that define UV protection and impact protection. Go for a pair that blocks 99%–100% of both UVA (long-length) and UVB (short-length) rays. Buy a pair that protects from rays entering from the sides – wraps around.

Consider photochromic lenses, also called transition lenses, to eliminate the need for sunglasses for a child that already wears glasses. Photochromic lenses automatically change from clear lenses to darkened lenses in the presence of sunlight blocking 100% of the sun’s UV rays. 

Consider the activities of your child when buying, be sure they are impact-resistant (polycarbonate). Bendable but not breakable is good and don’t forget to look for scratch-proof lenses. Some sunglasses come with amber or green colored lenses to help with contrast, needed for certain sports.

Make the purchase of sunglasses the child’s idea, have them choose from pairs you have determined meet their needs. If they do not want to wear sunglasses, do some detective work, is it not fitting correctly, falls off easily, does nose bridge slide – you will figure it out.  As the ‘adult ‘ be the ‘keeper’ of the sunglasses when not in use, trust me the pair will be around longer. Then when you go out, as you put your sunglasses on be sure your child does, routine and in unison -how cool! 

Fight Viruses With These Foods

There are foods with antiviral properties and in this blog, I will share what I have learned. Antiviral properties are present in immune-boosting nutraceuticals, polyphenols, terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, sterols, pigments, unsaturated fatty-acids, micronutrient vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, and trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper.

In this blog, I want to introduce a few specific foods that can fight viral infections.

Olive oil, especially extra virgin, is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as several polyphenols (esp. Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol)  which have powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory characters. The polyphenol, Oleuropein, specifically has been shown to fight the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to have an inhibiting effect on HIV from entering the host cell and binding. Also, this polyphenol can inactivate the effects on influenza A viruses.

Vitamin D-containing foods are antiviral. We have been hearing lots during the pandemic about this vitamin. It is found in dairy and its ability to battle COVID-19 and influenza infections has been uncovered. Vitamin D’s exact mechanism of action is not clear but it definitely helps lung protection against a virus in folks who have low levels of this vitamin.

Yogurt, you know is good for you, especially when you are taking antibiotics! But did you know yogurt has been shown to provide protection against the influenza virus, as well other RNA viruses? We know of its probiotic actions but it also has an impact on virus adsorption and internalization into cells specifically lymphocytic cells.

Garlic is always touted as being good for you, so much so tablets and capsules are in the vitamin section of almost all stores. The compounds in garlic that fight viruses, including allicin, diallyl trisulfide (Allitridin), ajoene, and quercetin. These compounds act by inhibiting the virus from attaching to cells and block the virus from copying itself. Garlic acts against influenza A, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human cytomegalovirus.

Mushrooms have active anti-viral ingredients, these include polysaccharides and terpenoids. They deter the binding of HIV-1 protease and its ‘reverse transcriptase activity ( the virus’s RNA changes the DNA of the cell). Other viruses that mushrooms protect against include influenza A and cytomegalovirus.

Cyclotide-containing foods have long been used in Chinese plant medicine these bioactive chemicals are from edible wild vegetables, used for reduction of fever, detoxification, anti-inflammation, and pain relief. Think pumpkin, squash, zucchini, legumes,

This is not an exhausted listing so please do take a look at this article for other antiviral foods. The Illustration below is from the article. Fight Viruses With These Foods



Doc’s Message

Drugs alone can not protect us from all viruses, this is well known. The state of our bodies, especially our ‘resistance’ to viral infections is helped tremendously by what we put into our body – diet. Immunity arises quicker in healthy bodies. Knowing the helpful ingredients in our food sources is well worthwhile.

Super Nutrition For Your Skin

You are what you eat especially your skin shows it! What nutrition is best to affect healthy skin? I share what science has proven are the superfoods that are capable of helping your skin – the largest body organ. These foods also help our internal organs. Ensure your young loved ones start enjoying these foods.

Super Nutrition For Your SkinThe results of incorporating more nutrient-rich foods into your diet, you’ll see in the mirror!

Hear me out, please, Never too many orange & yellow fruits & vegetables on your plate- think not just carrots, but mango, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. Rich in vitamin C and A, carotenoids, and other antioxidants as well as magnesium.

Vitamin C impacts collagen think firmness youthful-looking skin. Vitamin A found to decrease sebum production reduction great for us with oily skin or acne-prone. Those carotenoids and other antioxidants in the orange and yellows help prevent UVA/B sun damage and keep our skin healthy and moisturized. Then there is the magnesium, content that’s important for relaxing, improved sleep, and decreased muscle and joint discomfort.

Other rich in Vitamin C (antioxidant) foods esp. kiwis, guava, blueberries, red peppers, and strawberries will attack free radicals. Free radicals are not good! That translates to less sunburn, wrinkles, and age spots.

Yes, don’t forget the legumes, a category (think grown as a crop) that includes peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts. They are an excellent source of zinc in your diet and have healing properties, help fight acne and other inflammatory skin problems.

Tomatoes are one of the only foods to have all of the important carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene. As mentioned above they shield against UV damage and yes wrinkles! Bonus, they also contain lots of vitamin C.

Broccoli is packed with so many things good for your health.  From vitamins A, C, and K for collagen production to lutein, and beta carotenoid it is chockfull of important nutrients for the skin. PLUS it also contains sulforaphane, which is believed to reduce the risk for specific kinds of cancer by limiting the damaging effects of carcinogens and triggering your body’s immune system to respond appropriately to cellular damage that can lead to cancer. Sulforaphane on the skin level protects against UV damage and helps maintain lifelong collagen production.

To be complete do not forget plain yogurt esp. Greek. Why Greek? More protein and less sodium and, because all lactose goes out with the whey, less sugar and carbohydrates. Added bonus, its thick consistency keeps you full longer. Yogurt’s probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties, think-less breakouts, and flareups like acne and psoriasis. Of course, it will promote hydration and smoother skin. And we all know how it helps good bacteria in our gut.

Yes, dark chocolate is also good for skin health. Antioxidant-rich will help with hydration making your skin less likely to sunburn, also improves blood flow. Any antioxidant makes it easier for nutrients to get to skin cells.

We’ve talked about the good and now the bad. 

A good rule is that food bad for your health is also bad for your skin. Processed food, foodstuff containing refined sugars, complex carbohydrates are going to accelerate or age us and can make any skin problem worst or cause a flareup.

Breakthrough Covid-19, But I’m Vaccinated!

So you woke up with a sore throat and a little runny nose, in the evening you started coughing and felt feverish. In the past year, your mind would have immediately jumped to COVID-19.

But if you are already fully vaccinated, you might wonder: Should I still get tested for COVID-19? Listen to Doc Handal’s new podcast on this important topic.

The focus on too many fronts is on the number of vaccinated in the population BUT the proof the pandemic is ending will be in the number of new cases. Remember more spread more likely a variant of concern could arise.

Positive COVID-19 test still means quarantine so if whether or not you were vaccinated get tested if you have symptoms.

As I said above full vaccinated persons can catch the virus and spread it. Listen and find out from Doc Handal about breakthrough cases.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple, Google, and iHeart radio so you don’t miss the next episode. And if you like what you hear, a five-star rating goes a long way.

You Should Know, So Please Read

We need humility in dealing with this virus. The euphoria of ‘re-opening, for many this belief, is premature. I wish we did not hear or read another word on this virus, but not our reality!  The names may have changed by WHO by using the Greek letters rather than the name of the site it originated in, no matter the name this virus is still a concern (see table below). The genome of the original continues to mutate with established or suspected phenotypic implications. Separated into ‘variants of concern’ & ‘variants of interest’ (seven at this posting), the medical world has not relaxed about this virus quite yet.

You Should Know, So Please Read

You Should Know, So Please Read

There is a reason a few days ago the UK delayed opening up. The Delta variant (alias Indian variant) is 90% of the new cases and 60% more transmissible and landing 20-29 y.o. in hospital. So still masks!

The CDC and OSHA recommend plexiglass barriers as protection against the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing can’t be practiced. Ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities. Think about putting folks in large buildings or floors in open cubicles with shared ventilation systems. Yes, filters and much more would be needed to get me into that setting. 

BTW, the ‘3-foot distance’ CDC recommendation doesn’t apply to a gym or health club, a choir, or contact sports. “This is only for everyday living in a lower risk environment,”

Have children going to attend in-person classes, please read what CDC is continuing to recommend despite the perceived ‘end’ to the pandemic.

This year we may see a ‘booster vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 given at the same time as the annual flu ‘shot’. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said that COVID vaccines may be co-administered