Christmas trees and allergies.

While bringing home a live Christmas tree marks the beginning of the holiday season for many, the mold that thrives on its branches can trigger weeks of suffering for some, a new study shows.

Connecticut researchers have found that the mold count from a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level two weeks after the tree was brought indoors, and that can prove problematic for people with mold allergies. Their research was presented this week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting, in Dallas.

“Christmas trees are another possible source of mold exposure during the holiday season,” said study co-author Philip Hemmers, an allergist and immunologist with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn. “Mold allergies peak in the fall, and we see a second peak with a lot of our mold-sensitive patients during the holiday season. Our finding correlates with this second peak of mold sensitivity.”

The researchers studied the mold growth of a live Christmas tree in a house in Connecticut. The study found that the mold spore count was 800 spores per square meter (m3) for the first three days. Normal spore counts are less than 1,000 spores/m3, said Hemmers. However, the spore count rose after day four, reaching a maximum of 5,000 spores/m3 by day 14.

“This mold spore count is five times above normal. These high levels have been correlated with allergic rhinitis and an increased rate of asthma symptoms and asthma-related hospitalization in other studies,” said Hemmers. “So if you don’t feel well during the holidays, consider the Christmas tree as a possible source of allergies.”

Hemmers recommended that people with mold sensitivity keep a live Christmas tree in the house for only four to seven days. An artificial tree may be a better option for people with mold allergies.

Vitacost.com Daily Health Tip

Vitamin D just gets better.

Vitamin D3, which is technically a prehormone, has a whole host of benefits. This invaluable substance has a role in preventing or treating the following:

Cancer: It is now accepted that Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of seventeen types of cancer.

Multiple Sclerosis: It has been well demonstrated that the risk of MS increases rapidly the further away people live from the equator. The American Academy of Neurology has identified a lack of vitamin D as a predictable indicator in incidence of the deadly disease.
Diabetes
Heart Disease
Hyperparathyroidism
Hypertension
Mental illness
Osteoarthritis
Osteopourosis
Muscle weakness
Periodontal disease
Ulcerative colitis
Inflammatory bowel disease

The study authors established a strong link between vitamin D3 levels and telomere (protects the ends of chromosomes) length. They found that after taking into account the age of the subjects, women with higher vitamin D3 levels were more likely to have longer telomeres.

This meant that the telomeres in the subjects with high vitamin D3 levels were five years younger than the telomeres in the subjects with low vitamin D3 levels.

The researchers believe that the results demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D3 may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D3. (Vitamin Research Breaking News Nov. 20, 2007)

As with most nutrients in our food supply vitamin D has also almost completely vanished due to over-processing and bad farming. Supplements are your best bet, but make sure you’re using D3 (cholecalciferol).

Weight Lifting Gone Wrong

Just a small reminder that safety comes first when lifting heavier weights:

Oats vs. Oats

While walking through the local grocery store, you reach the cereal aisle and notice the various types of oatmeal. There’s your standard rolled oats (i.e. the ones that come in a big Quaker box), steel cut oats and instant oats. So what are?the differences?

First and foremost, both the rolled and steel cut oats are in the whole grain family, which are necessary for a balanced diet. Oatmeal is extremely better for you than refined bread or pasta, and any kind of sugary cereal. So don’t pass the Quaker man for the Sugar Smacks Frog your next trip to the grocery store.

However, in effort to add more oatmeal to your diet, stay away from instant oatmeal that usually comes in individual packets. Instant oats are usually pre-cooked, loaded with sugar and less nutritious than rolled or steel cut oats.

Instead, make sure you’re buying standard rolled or steel cut oats. In short,?steel cut oats typically are more natural and go through less processing than rolled oats, so their nutritional value is usually higher. They often take longer to cook, however, so keep that in mind if you’re on a time crunch. They have a much nuttier flavor too, so they usually don’t taste as bland as rolled oats do when you cook them. Rolled oats, on the other hand, take less time to cook, but are more processed than steel cut oats and sodium is often added for flavor. As previously noted, however, both types have a ton of nutritious value to them, especially if they can take the place of refined cereal, bread or pasta.???

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