Archive for May 2018

Alkaline Foods That Will Benefit You

But that doesn’t mean you suddenly have to eat a “raw” or “vegan” diet, which is what we tend to think about when we think about eating highly alkaline foods.

The truth is, eating alkaline foods doesn’t require any extreme measures.

Eating high alkaline foods simply means you’re eating more of certain foods to help prevent your blood from becoming too acidic, which promotes your health in endless ways.

In fact, among other things your body has a hard time properly producing energy in an acidic internal environment, as an acidic state leaves less oxygen available to your cells for energy production.

It just so happens that the most alkalizing foods are plant foods, which makes them excellent food choice when you’re eating for energy. Therefore, eating energizing, alkaline foods simply means you’re eating more fruits and vegetables.

What Does Acid/Alkaline Mean?

Our bodies have what’s called a pH balance, which measures the acidity in our blood. That level can determine our overall state of health – and whether or not we’re at risk for serious illness.

pH Scale

Our blood is measured on a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14. Zero is considered most acidic, while fourteen is highly alkaline. The ideal pH of our blood for optimal health is around 7.35, which is neither too acidic or too alkaline, but neutral.

The reason the acid-alkaline balance matters to you is because it directly impacts your state of health.

An acidic environment is considered the perfect setting for illness and disease to thrive in. One of the primary factors that influence our blood’s pH are the kind of foods we eat.

All foods can be categorized as acidic, alkaline, or neutral. A food’s pH isn’t measured by its physical properties, but by the residue that’s left in the body once the food has been metabolized.

For example, we’d intuitively consider a lemon acidic because it has a sour taste and the ability to erode our tooth enamel. But once it’s been metabolized by the body, lemon leaves the blood alkaline. This explains why a seemingly acidic food can “turn” alkaline in the body.

To determine whether a food is alkalizing or acidic to the body, each food is measured on a PRAL scale.

What Is PRAL?

PRAL isn’t the sound a dying cat makes – rather, it stands for the “Potential Renal Acid Load” of a food. Instead of simply categorizing a food as acidic or alkaline, PRAL measures the exact amount of acidity or alkalinity of a food once it’s been metabolized.

Each food on the PRAL scale scores in a negative, neutral, or positive value. Any food that has a negative value is considered an alkaline food (or a base), while any food with a positive value is acidic.

For example, broccoli has a score of -1.2, which means it’s alkalizing – but not as alkalizing as eggplant, which scores at -3.4.

Lean beef, on the other hand, has a score of +7.8, which means it’s highly acidic.

To get a little more technical, PRAL measures the acidity or alkalinity of a food based on the amount of minerals, protein, and phosphorus that’s left behind in the body once it’s been metabolized.

Since protein and phosphorus break down into sulfuric acid and phosphoric acid, they are considered acidifying to the body. When an alkaline food is metabolized, it will leave behind alkaline trace minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

PRAL Chart

The foods that rank most alkaline on the PRAL scale are fruits, vegetables, and a few nuts and seeds. The foods that rank most acidic are the foods many of us eat each day, such as chicken, grains, eggs, peanuts, fish, seafood, and dairy products. Parmesan cheese has a score of +34.2 on the PRAL scale, which classifies it as one of the most acidifying foods in our diets.

Now, you may be wondering how dairy could be classified as acidic, seeing as how it contains calcium, which is an alkaline mineral. The reason dairy is acidic is because it contains much more phosphorus (which is acidic) than calcium (4).

As a quick side note, how the PRAL table measures the acidity of a food isn’t to be confused with how our blood’s pH is measured.

If we were applying PRAL scores to the pH scale, the 7.8 score of lean beef would suggest that it’s alkaline, or neutral. Unlike the pH scale, a food with a negative score actually means it’s alkalizing to the body. Make sense?

The Problem with Being Too Acidic

We’ve brieflyBeing too acidic can come with other symptoms that occur far before a serious illness results. In fact, being too acidic can result in muscle wasting and reduced bone density. This is partially due to the fact that many acidic foods are low in nutrients that promote musculoskeletal health, such as potassium and calcium (5).

To get slightly more scientific in terms of bone health, an acidic environment has been shown to  encourage the activity of osteoclast cells. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bone.

In contrast, an alkaline environment has been shown to encourage the activity of osteoblasts, which are the cells that help build bone (6). (To learn more on the relationship between an alkaline diet and bone health in more detail, visit here.)

In addition to the long-term conditions that can result from being too acidic, there are short-term symptoms that may also suggest your body is more on the acidic end of the pH scale. These symptoms include:

  • Low energy
  • Exhaustion
  • Acne
  • Brain fog or confusion
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Frequent headaches
  • Frequent colds
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Digestive issues such as bloating

Now, the body contains natural compounds such as bicarbonate, that act as buffers to neutralize blood acidity. These buffers help prevent extreme drops in blood pH. This is an important defense not only against acidifying foods, but also against other factors that promote acidity in the body, such as chronic stress.

Strenuous exercise can also promote blood acidity because it encourages the release of lactic acid from the muscle tissue.

While your body has a natural defense system against having an acidic blood pH, it is possible for these buffers to get worn out over time – especially if several factors are present that negatively impact your pH, such as stress and a highly acidic diet.

For this reason, it’s important to support your body by including alkaline foods in your diet whenever possible.

This isn’t to say you must go raw vegan and eat only alkalizing fruits and vegetables for the rest of your life.

While it’s rare, it’s still possible for the blood to become too alkaline. But since the modern diet is typically higher in acidifying foods, including alkalizing foods into your diet each day will help neutralize your blood pH and improve your health in numerous ways.

19 Highly Alkaline Foods That Will Benefit Your Body

1. Beet Greens – PRAL score: -16.7

Let’s give a round of applause to the world’s most alkaline food: beet greens.

Although beet greens aren’t the most popular green in our diets, their high alkalinity score makes them one of the best additions to smoothies or stir-fries. In addition to being high alkaline, beet greens also have a bitter quality that may help stimulate bile production to help better digest fats.

If that’s not a good enough reason to hang on to your beet tops, I don’t know what is.

Beet greens can replace any green in salads, soups or smoothies.

Apple Cider Vinegar & Greens Detox Salad

You may want to try my Apple Cider Vinegar and Green Detox Salad recipe, where you can easily substitute the spinach, kale or watercress for beet greens.

2. Spinach – PRAL Score: -11.8

Spinach is another high alkaline food that is known to benefit bone health because of the calcium it contains.

Because spinach is highly alkalizing, it’s often included in anti-cancer and cleansing juicing protocols. There are endless creative and delicious ways to eat spinach.

I recommend giving any of these Easy Green Smoothie Recipes a try. Each smoothie only has 3 ingredients, with endless flavour combinations.

3. Kale – PRAL Score: -8.3

There’s a reason kale has been labelled as the new beef.

It’s high in plant iron, calcium and vitamin K, which is said to help protect against many types of cancers. In addition to these health benefits, kale is another one of the world’s most alkaline foods.

Kale has a mild taste that can jazz up any recipe. You can easily add kale to any smoothie recipe that calls for greens, stir fries, salads and soups for a (delicious) alkaline boost.

Curried Chickpea Salad Bowl

Why not get your kale on with this delicious Kale Curried Chickpea Salad Bowl recipe? It’s packed full of flavor and takes less than 20 minutes to prepare.

4. Swiss Chard – PRAL Score: -8.1

Have you noticed a pattern yet? The world’s most alkaline foods are leafy greens. Swiss chard is another green that provides mega nutrition benefits with vitamins that support cellular health, such as vitamin K.

Swiss chard also contains phosphorus and plant protein, but based on its PRAL score, it leaves behind more alkalizing minerals than acidity when metabolized.

I recommend using Swiss chard as hearty lettuce wraps, in any recipe that calls for a grain bun or tortilla.

The Kitchn has a great recipe for Swiss Chard Taco Wraps with Cumin Lime Sauce. Although I recommend avoiding the optional cheese to keep this dish highly alkaline.

5. Bananas – PRAL Score: -6.9

Bananas, aka “Potassium Sticks,” are another highly alkaline food that you won’t want to leave out of your diet. Bananas are also a great source of fiber, which help promote digestive regularity and sweep toxins out of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

While most people tend to avoid bananas to prevent weight gain due to their high sugar content, eating a banana is far better for you than eating a granola bar or some other processed food that’s packed full of sugar and acidifying ingredients.

One of the most delicious ways to include bananas in your diet is by making banana “nice cream,” which is simply just frozen bananas blended into a creamy consistency. The best part about banana nice cream is that you can jazz it up with other alkaline ingredients, such as fresh mint leaves and berries.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a recipe for my favourite Mint Cacao Chip Nice Cream.

6. Sweet Potato – PRAL Score: -5.6

Now you can feel better about eating sweet potato fries (in moderation).

Although they’re higher in starch, sweet potatoes are an alkalizing food that provides your body with plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because sweet potatoes are so high in fiber, they have less of a negative impact on blood sugar levels, since fiber helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.

Therefore, sweet potatoes are an excellent food when it comes to eating for energy and providing your body with a boost of alkaline nutrients.

3-Ingredient Sweet Potato Waffles

What better way to eat sweet potatoes, than in these 3-Ingredient Paleo Sweet Potato Waffles?

You may think of waffles as a breakfast item, but I recommend saving complex carbs for your evening meals instead. Why? Because contrary to popular belief, eating carbs at night can actually help promote weight loss and help you sleep better.

7. Celery – PRAL Score: -5.2

Aside from being alkalizing, celery has additional cleansing properties. Since it’s mostly water, celery can easily help the body flush toxins. Celery is also a “negative calorie” food, which means it takes more calories to chew and digest than the total amount of calories it contains.

I include celery in a variety of my green detox juice and smoothie recipes.

For a complete list my favourite no-fruit-added green juices, you can refer to my 7 Green Detox Juice Recipes right here.

8. Carrots – PRAL Score: -4.9

Carrots are a high-alkaline food that is famous for improving eyesight based on their vitamin A content.

In fact, 1 cup of carrots contains more than 300 percent of the daily recommended intake of beta-carotene, an antioxidant form of vitamin A. Beta-carotene can also help protect against cancer and help promote brighter, younger looking skin.

If you need some carrot inspiration, The Healthy Foodie blog has a delicious recipe with step-by-step instructions for a shredded coleslaw-esque Carrot Salad right here.

9. Kiwi – PRAL Score: -4.1

Kiwi is a high-alkaline food your cells won’t want to miss out on, because it also contains a plethora of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

And although oranges are famous for their vitamin C content, kiwi contains nearly five times the amount of vitamin C than an orange. Kiwi is also a great source of fiber for improved digestion, as well as potassium for muscle function.

Tropical Kiwi and Chia Parfait

I feature kiwi as an ingredient in my Tropical Chia Pudding Parfait right here.

10. Cauliflower – PRAL Score: -4.0

Cauliflower is an alkaline food that can also aid in hormone rebalancing when the body’s estrogen levels are too high.

This is because cauliflower contains a nutrient called Indole-3-Carbinol (or I3C) that helps the body regulate estrogen levels. We come into contact with estrogen on a daily basis through estrogenic foods (such as soy), chemicals in our environment (such as plastics) and pharmaceuticals drugs (such as oral contraceptives) (9).

High levels of estrogen are harmful to the body and can lead to weight gain, digestive symptoms such as bloating, as well as reproductive cancers and infertility.

A fun way and delicious way to eat more cauliflower is with this Slow Cooker Cauliflower Fried Rice.

11. Cherries – PRAL Score: -3.6

Cherries are known as one of the world’s best sources of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which may help prevent cancer. Studies also support that cherries can help relieve inflammation linked to joint pain and arthritis, and may even prevent cardiovascular disease (10).

Peanut Butter and Cherry Protein Shake

Cherries blend well in smoothies, such as this blood-sugar-balancing Peanut Butter and Cherry Protein Shake. I recommend this recipe as a great post-workout shake because it contains both plant-based protein and alkalizing nutrients.

Ideally, a post-workout shake should always include alkaline foods. This is because lactic acid, a substance that naturally helps increase the body’s energy, is naturally released during intense exercise. As suggested by its name, lactic acid can make the body acidic, which is why it’s important to neutralize the acidity with alkaline foods after a workout.

12. Eggplant – PRAL Score: -3.4

In addition to being alkaline, eggplant is a food that offers phytonutrients such as chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid isn’t acidifying to the body, rather it’s a plant compound that can help promote digestion and metabolism.

Eggplant is delicious when it’s baked in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and added to salads, or used as a substitute for pizza crust in this 10 Minute Eggplant Pizza recipe.

13. Pears – PRAL Score: -2.9

Pears are extremely high fiber and lower in sugar, which makes it a great fruit even for those who have blood sugar imbalances. Pears are also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, which helps protect cells from carcinogens.

Here’s a recipe for an easy to make Pear Walnut Salad with a Mustard Orange Dressing.

14. Hazelnuts – PRAL Score: -2.8

Most nuts have an acidifying effect, according to their PRAL scores. But hazelnuts are an exception.

So if you love nuts, they’re an ideal variety include in your diet in comparison to peanuts, which have a score of +8 and are highly acidic.

Hazelnuts are best known for their contribution to the infamous nut butter, Nutella. However, I recommend avoiding store-bought Nutella and making your own refined-sugar and additive-free version with Chocolate Covered Katie’s Healthy Nutella recipe.

15. Pineapple – PRAL Score: -2.7

Pineapple is an alkalizing food that’s so good for digestion that several supplements add it to their digestive-boosting formulas. This is because pineapple contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is also said to be helpful for killing off intestinal parasites.

Super Green Cleansing Smoothie

You can add more pineapple to your diet in many different ways. It would pair especially well with the rest of the alkalizing ingredients in my recipe for this Super Green Cleansing Smoothie.

16. Zucchini – PRAL Score: -2.6

Zucchini is a great source of phytonutrients such as lutein. Lutein belongs to the same category of antioxidants as beta-carotene, which means it also has superior benefits when it comes to protecting eyesight.

Zucchini has become extremely popular as a low-carb, gluten-free and vegan pasta alternative. You can make zucchini pasta noodles using a Vegetti spiralizer that can be purchased online or found at your local home accessories store, for under $20.

My recipe for this One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta combines zucchini pasta noodles with vegetables, fresh basil and other aromatic, zesty spices. Not only is it an alkaline food recipe, but it’s also extremely easy to make (and tastes delicious, of course).

17. Strawberries – PRAL Score: -2.2

Strawberries are another extremely rich source of the antioxidant vitamin vitamin C. They also contain manganese, which is a trace mineral that’s needed to facilitate metabolic function in the body.

Banana and Strawberry Smoothie

The ways to enjoy strawberries are endless, as they can add just the right amount of sweet to any dish. I personally love using strawberries in this Strawberry Banana Smoothie recipe.

18. Apples – PRAL Score: -2.2

Apples have a reputation as one of the healthiest foods in the world, mostly because they’re so rich in detoxifying fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids that protect against cancer. All of these nutrients are also essential for promoting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.

To get even greater health benefits from apples, I recommend adding apple cider vinegar to your diet each day. When fermented to make vinegar, apples contain a nutrient called acetic acid, which offers antibacterial and antiviral benefits (11).

If you don’t like the taste of apple cider vinegar on its own or diluted with water, that’s okay. There are several ways to make apple cider vinegar taste so amazing, you won’t even notice the slightly sour taste.

This Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Soda Drinkrecipe is naturally sweetened with lemon and stevia, and makes the perfect healthy substitute for fizzy beverages that contain several teaspoons of refined sugar and other acidifying ingredients.

19. Watermelon – PRAL Score: 1.9

Lastly, watermelon is another alkalizing food that provides the body with essential electrolytes for cardiac function, such as potassium. Since watermelon is mostly water (hence the name), it also hydrates us more than most fruits and vegetables.

Watermelon makes a delicious snack on its own, but sometimes it’s fun to get creative.

Here’s a recipe for my Summer Watermelon Detox Juice  that is packed full of flavor with added ginger, jalapeno and honey.

Mainstream, Healthy, Alkaline Choices

As you can see, eating an alkaline diet doesn’t have to be extreme or difficult. Trying new plant based recipes, such as the ones listed above, are one of the easiest ways to start increasing the amount of alkalizing foods you incorporate in your diet each day.

From eating a highly alkaline diet, you can expect to receive more energy, better mental focus, a stronger immune system and an overall greater sense of well-being as you tackle life’s challenges each day.

Piriformis Syndrome Exercises

Both stretching and strengthening exercises are important for treating and preventing piriformis syndrome.

Stretching exercises release spasm in the muscle and therefore pressure on the sciatic nerve whilst strengthening ensures the muscle is strong enough to cope with the demands placed on it, preventing the injury recurring. We also demonstrate below how foam roller exercises should be performed to help treat piriformis syndrome.

Stretching exercises

Due to the position of the piriformis muscle in the hip, static stretches are more appropriate. Static stretching is where the stretch is applied then held for a period of time. It is important the stretch is not forced by is applied gently. The piriformis muscle itself should be stretched on a daily basis and in the early stages at least 3 times a day may be required. In addition other stretching exercises for the groin and other buttock muscles will help ensure the joint is balanced.

Outer hip stretch – To stretch the muscles that rotate the hip outwards. Lie on your back and bend the knee of the leg to be stretched. Use the opposite hand to pull the knee over to the side as shown opposite. You should feel this in the hip and buttocks. Hold stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, repeat 3-5 times and stretch 3 times a day.

Piriformis stretch – Lay on your back and bend both knees with the feet flat on the floor. Place the outer foot of the leg you wish to stretch on the lower thigh/knee of the other leg. Grip behind the thigh and pull this knee in towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in the buttock. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeat 3-5 times and stretch 3 times a day.

Another version of this stretch can be done standing up where the knee is placed under and across the body resting on a table. The patient then leans forward using bodyweight to increase the stretch.

Long adductor stretch – It is important to stretch the long aductor muscles which attach at the knee as well as the short adductor muscles which attach above the knee. Long adductor muscles need to be stretched with a straight leg. This can be done either sitting or standing. Short adductor muscles are stretched with the knees bent.

Short adductor muscle stretch – Sit on the floor and put the soles of your feet together. Use your elbows to apply a gentle downward pressure to your knees to increase the stretch. You should feel a stretch on the inside of the thigh. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeat 3-5 times and stretch 3 times a day.

Muscle energy technique – With a partner lie on your front and get the partner to rotate the bent leg outwards (towards the horizontal) as far as it will comfortably go. Then the athlete applies gentle pressure at about 25% effort to try and return the leg to the vertical. The partner resists this movement.

Hold this pressure for about 10 seconds and then relax. The partner then moves the leg further to stretch the muscle and holds this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this process until you get no further improvements in mobility. This is an excellent stretching method and has produced some exceptional and instantaneous results. This should only be done by trained therapists.

Foam roller exercises for piriformis syndrome

The foam roller is used to apply deep tissue mayofascial release massage to the muscle. One leg is placed across the other to put the muscle on stretch. The athlete then moves over the roller in a slow and controlled manor working backwards and forwards along the length of the muscle. This may be mildly uncomfortable but should not be painful. If you are not able to perform the exercise and keep the muscle relaxed then try performing the exercise a little more lightly. The aim is to relax the muscle and if it is tightening up through pain it is not working.

Strengthening exercises

Strengthening the piriformis muscle itself and also the other hip abductor muscles can be helpful in preventing piriformis syndrome recurring.

Resistance band abduction – Stand with one end of the band tied around the ankle and the other end attached to a fixed object, close to the floor. Move the leg out to the side, away from the body, keeping the knee straight. Once you get as far as is comfortable, slowly return the leg back to the center. Repeat 15 times and gradually build this up to 2 sets of 20

Side lying clam exercise – Lay on your side with the hip to be worked on top. Bend your knees and position them forwards so that your feet are in line with your spine. Make sure your top hip is directly on top of the other and your back is straight. Keeping the ankles together, raise the top knee away from the bottom one.

Remember, don’t move your back or tilt your pelvis, all the movement should be coming from the hip. Slowly return it to the starting position. Repeat 15 times initially and gradually build this up to 2 sets of 20.

Hip extension exercise – Position yourself on all fours. Shift your weight slightly off the leg to be worked. Keeping the knee bent, raise the knee off the floor so that the sole of the foot moves towards the ceiling. Slowly lower the leg, almost back to the starting position and repeat. Repeat 15 times initially and gradually build this up to 2 sets of 20.

Foods to avoid if you have gout.

Hyperuricemia can occur either when the body produces too much uric acid or when the body does not excrete enough uric acid

Purine compounds, whether produced in the body or from eating high-purine foods, can raise uric acid levels. Excess uric acid can produce uric acid crystals, which then build up in soft tissues and joints, causing the painful symptoms of gout.

Dietary management focuses on reducing the amount of uric acid in the system and on managing the disorders that occur frequently among patients with gout, including diabetes mellitus, obesity, hyperlipidemia (high blood levels of fats), hypertension and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Dietary Management of Gout

The primary dietary modification traditionally recommended is a low-purine diet. Avoiding purines completely is impossible, but strive to limit them. People with gout should learn by trial and error what their personal limit is and which foods cause problems.

“Begin by eliminating foods in the ‘high-purine’ category while reducing your intake of foods in the ‘moderate-purine’ category. If you don’t have gout attacks after trying this, you may add more foods from the ‘moderate’ category or occasionally try a food from the ‘high’ category. Using these guidelines, you may be able to determine a safe level of purine consumption and enjoy some of your favorite foods without experiencing attacks.”

High-Purine Foods Include:

  • Alcoholic beverages (all types)
  • Some fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout and haddock
  • Some meats, such as bacon, turkey, veal, venison and organ meats like liver

Moderate Purine Foods Include:

  • Meats, such as beef, chicken, duck, pork and ham
  • Shellfish, such as crab, lobster, oysters and shrimp

Get to Know Your Psoas Muscles

Get to Know Your Psoas Muscles

Most people have never heard of the psoas muscles, much less know where they are or how to pronounce the name (“SO-as”). Yet problems with these muscles often play a role in hip, groin, and low back pain. There are two of them, one on each side of the body. Each of these long, thick muscles originates deep in the abdominal cavity, from the sides of vertebrae in the lower half of the spine, and runs downward into the pelvis where it joins with another muscle (the iliacus) before attaching to the femur (thigh bone). Basically, the two psoas muscles connect the low back to the thighs, as shown in the illustration below.

As part of a group of muscles categorized as hip flexors, the psoas muscles’ primary action is to flex the hips in order to lift the thighs toward the torso, which allows you to run, walk uphill, and climb stairs, for example. They are vital for flexibility and movement of the back, pelvis, legs, and hips. And along with the core muscles, they help stabilize the spine.

If the psoas muscles become shortened or tight—from overuse or injury, for instance—they pull the small of the back forward, leading to excess curving (lordosis) of the lower back, which increases stress and pressure on the lumbar vertebrae. Sit­ting for hours on end, such as at work or in a car, is probably the most common contributor to shortening of the psoas muscles.

On the other hand, many athletes, including runners, soccer players, and cyclists, as well as dancers, end up with tight psoas muscles because they are prone to overuse them. Having tight psoas muscles reduces the length of your stride when you walk or run, since your hip can’t extend as much as it needs to, and the tightness can affect your performance in other ways as well.

Getting to the core of the problem

If you have low back, hip, or groin pain, there are many possible causes. A physical therapist, physiatrist, or other health care practitioner with expertise in musculoskeletal conditions can evaluate and treat you.


One quick test often used by these practitioners to deter­mine if a tight psoas, in particular, is contributing to the problem is called the Thomas test (see illustration below). This involves lying on your back on the exami­nation table with your knees hugging your chest; you then extend one leg at a time to see how far you can hang it off the end of the table (see illustration below).

If the muscle is tight, it won’t drop very far, and you will wind up arching your lower back in the attempt. It’s common to have imbalances such that the muscle on one side is fine, but its counterpart on the other side is tight. If you are not having acute pain or just want to check your psoas muscles yourself, you can try this test at home, lying on the floor or another firm surface and bringing one leg up to your chest while trying to keep the extended leg and the small of your back in contact with the floor.

Treating a tight psoas muscle is not a matter of simply stretching it, as discussed in a paperin the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine that focused on dancers. A physical therapy regimen should also include strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles—includ­ing the abdominal, gluteal, hamstring, and piriformis muscles—along with range of motion, pelvic mobiliza­tion, and postural exercises that help counter any excess lumbar lordosis. It’s important to learn proper technique, since even slight alterations in the exercises can reduce their effectiveness.

The doctor or physical therapist should also review any lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the problem, such as prolonged sitting, poor posture, sleep­ing in a fetal position, and doing sit-ups incorrectly. Some physical therapists, physiatrists, and osteopathic physicians work on trigger points, which may be causing referred pain (see Dealing with Painful Trigger Points), and can show you techniques for doing self-release or massage of trigger points at home.

Help for your hip flexors

Many people, especially those who sit for prolonged periods, can ben­efit from stretching their psoas and other hip flexor muscles as part of a balanced exercise routine. Don’t wait until you start having pain to take action. Here are some tips:

  • Lying on the floor face up, flatten the small of your back (your thighs should not lift off the floor) and contract your abdominal muscles. Then bring one knee to your chest, keeping your lower back and extended leg on the floor (or as close to it as possible); hold for 30 seconds, repeat five times, then alternate with the other leg.
  • Other good exercises include the fencer’s stretch, modified lunges, and the half-kneeling psoas stretch. To do the half-kneeling stretch, as shown below, begin by kneeling on one leg. Squeezing the buttock muscle of the leg that’s in back, and keeping your tailbone tucked under, shift your hips forward a bit. You should feel the stretch deep in the front of the hip that’s positioned back. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.

  • Several yoga poses stretch and strengthen the psoas muscles, including the warrior pose. For examples, go to How to Stretch and Strengthen the Psoas.
  • If you engage in a lot of hip-flexor-heavy exercise (like cycling or running), replace some with exercises that have a hip-extension effect (such as skating or cross-country skiing).
  • If you do sit-ups, don’t hook your ankles under something, since that adds strain to the psoas. Instead, keep your knees and hips flexed at 90 degrees (a neutral pelvic position) when doing the sit-ups. This concentrates the contraction on the abs (which is what you want anyway).
  • Limit sitting time, especially in a leaning-forward position. You might consider a workstation that allows you to alternate between sit­ting and standing. Or at least take frequent standing breaks.

Antioxidant Foods

When certain types of oxygen molecules are allowed to travel freely in the body, they cause what’s known as oxidative damage, which is the formation of free radicals. When antioxidant levels in the body are lower than that of free radicals — due to poor nutrition, toxin exposure or other factors — oxidation wreaks havoc in the body. The effect? Accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, broken-down tissue, the activation of harmful genes within DNA, and an overloaded immune system.

The Western lifestyle — with its processed foods, reliance on medications, and high exposure to chemicals or environmental pollutants — seems to lay the foundation for the proliferation of free radicals. Because many of us are exposed to such high rates of oxidative stress from a young age, more than ever we need the power of antioxidants, which means we need to consume high antioxidant foods.

What Are Antioxidants? 

While there are many ways to describe what antioxidants do inside the body, one definition of antioxidants is any substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products or removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.

Antioxidants include dozens of food-based substances you may have heard of before, such as carotenoids like beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin C. These are several examples of antioxidants that inhibit oxidation, or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxide and/or free radicals. Research suggests that when it comes to longevity and overall health, some of the benefits of consuming antioxidant foods, herbs, teas and supplements include:

  • Slower signs of aging, including of the skin, eyes, tissue, joints, heart and brain
  • Healthier, more youthful, glowing skin
  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Detoxification support
  • Longer life span
  • Protection against heart disease and stroke
  • Less risk for cognitive problems, such as dementia
  • Reduced risk for vision loss or disorders like macular degeneration and cataracts
  • Antioxidants are also added to food or household products to prevent oxidation and spoilage

Why do we need antioxidants, and what do specific antioxidants do inside the body once consumed?  

Antioxidant sources, like antioxidant foods, herbs, spices and teas, reduce the effects of free radicals, also called oxidative damage/stress, which plays a major role in disease formation. The leading health problems facing us today — including conditions like heart disease, cancer and dementia — have been linked to increased levels of oxidative damage and inflammation. In simplest terms, oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to other chemical chain reactions that damage cells.

According research published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, the official journal of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine along with the Society of Free Radical Research-Europe, proteins are often targeted by reactive oxygen species, also known as oxidants. We know how important proteins are to health, so protecting them is just one of the many reasons antioxidants and antioxidant foods are important.

Sources of antioxidants in your diet offer much-needed help in counteracting the damage done by things like blue light or sun exposure, a poor diet, smoking or using other drugs, taking medications, toxicity or chemical exposure, even high amounts of stress and other natural factors that increase the risk of age-related problems. In the process of fighting free radical damage, antioxidants protect healthy cells while halting the growth of malignant or cancerous cells.

History of Antioxidants Knowledge and Their Usage

It’s not exactly agreed upon who first “discovered” antioxidants. Antioxidants have been dated in medical literature to the early 19th and 20th centuries, but researchers and health experts have been discussing them for much longer. Each antioxidant has its own unique history of discovery. Some, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, were first researched by doctors, such as Henry A. Mattill during the 1920s–1950s, used to explain why animals fed whole foods lived longer and remained healthier.

Joe McCord is another researcher credited with discovering the function of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase, mostly by mistake, and noting how all organisms held these beneficial compounds inside their bodies but less so as they aged.

Today, the level of antioxidants in any substance or food is evaluated with an ORAC score, which stands for “oxygen radical absorption capacity. ORAC tests the power of a plant to absorb and eliminate free radicals. These measurements were developed by the National Institute of Aging and are based on 100 grams of each food or herb. While ORAC scores are no longer available via the National Institutes of Health, you can still find many of them on Superfoodly.

Most common fruits, vegetables and herbs in the diet that contain antioxidants include forms like vitamin E, lutein, vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids and lycopene. While there is currently no official recommended daily allowance for antioxidants or antioxidant foods, generally speaking the more you consume each day from real foods in your diet the better.

Top 10 High Antioxidant Foods List

Antioxidants may be easier to add to your diet than you might think. Based on ORAC scores provided by Superfoodly (based on research from a broad number of sources), below are some of the top antioxidant foods by weight:

  1. Goji berries4,310 ORAC score
  2. Wild blueberries9,621 ORAC score
  3. Dark chocolate20,816 ORAC score
  4. Pecans: 17,940 ORAC score
  5. Artichoke (boiled): 9,416 ORAC score
  6. Elderberries14,697 ORAC score
  7. Kidney beans: 8,606 ORAC score
  8. Cranberries9,090 ORAC score
  9. Blackberries: 5,905 ORAC score
  10. Cilantro5,141 ORAC score

The ORAC scores above are based on weight. This means that it might not be practical to eat high amounts of all of these antioxidant foods. Other high antioxidant foods not listed above, which are still great sources and highly beneficial, include common foods like tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, strawberries, kale, broccoli, grapes or red wine, squash, and wild-caught salmon. Try to consume at least three to four servings daily of these high antioxidant foods (even more is better) for optimal health.

Top 10 Antioxidant Herbs List

Along with antioxidant foods, certain herbs, spices and essential oils derived from nutrient-dense plants are extremely high in healing antioxidant compounds. Here is another list of the herbs you can try adding to your diet for increased protection against disease. Many of these herbs/spices are also available in concentrated essential oil form. Look for 100 percent pure (therapeutic grade) oils, which are highest in antioxidants.

  1. Clove:314,446 ORAC score
  2. Cinnamon267,537 ORAC score
  3. Oregano159,277 ORAC score
  4. Turmeric102,700 ORAC score
  5. Cocoa: 80,933 ORAC score
  6. Cumin76,800 ORAC score
  7. Parsley (dried): 74,349 ORAC score
  8. Basil67,553 ORAC score
  9. Ginger28,811 ORAC score
  10. Thyme27,426 ORAC score

Other antioxidant-rich herbs include garlic, cayenne pepper and green tea. Aim to consume two to three servings of these herbs or herbal teas daily.

Top 10 High Antioxidant Supplements

The American Heart Association, along with the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, recommend getting antioxidants from whole foods and a wide variety of foods. While it’s always ideal, and usually more beneficial, to get antioxidants or other nutrients directly from real food sources, certain types may also be helpful when consumed in supplement form.

There’s still debate over which antioxidants may offer help preventing or treating diseases when consumed in concentrated dosages. Some research has shown that antioxidants like lutein and glutathione may be beneficial when taken in supplement form — for example, in preventing vision loss, joint problems or diabetes. But other research doesn’t always show the same results and sometimes even that certain supplements like vitamin A or vitamin C may be harmful in high amounts.

So just remember that while they might help you in certain instances, overall it doesn’t seem that consuming supplemental antioxidants help you live longer. That’s where your diet and lifestyle come in. Bottom line: We should neverrely on supplements to counteract unhealthy lifestyles and poor nutrition.

If you’re generally healthy and eat a varied diet, you might not benefit much from taking antioxidants supplements. However, if you’re at risk for something like vision loss or heart disease, talk to your doctor about whether the following antioxidant supplements in proper doses (and with a healthy lifestyle) might be helpful:

1. Glutathione

Glutathione is considered the body’s most important antioxidant because it’s found within the cells and helps boost activities of other antioxidants or vitamins. Glutathione is a peptide consisting of three key amino acids that plays several vital roles in the body, including helping with protein use, creation of enzymes, detoxification, digestion of fats and destruction of cancer cells.

According to Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, “Glutathione peroxidase-1 (GPx-1) is an intracellular antioxidant enzyme that enzymatically reduces hydrogen peroxide to water to limit its harmful effects.” What does this mean? It means glutathione peroxidase can  prevents lipid peroxidation, which can fight inflammation (3a)

2. Quercetin

Derived naturally from foods like berries and leafy greens, quercetinseems to be safe for almost everyone and poses little risks. Most studies have found little to no side effects in people eating nutrient-dense diets high in quercetin or taking supplements by mouth short term.

Amounts up to 500 milligrams taken twice daily for 12 weeks appear to be very safe for helping manage a number of inflammatory health problems, including heart disease and blood vessel problems, allergies, infections, chronic fatigue, and symptoms related to autoimmune disorders like arthritis.

3. Lutein

Lutein has benefits for the eyes, skin, arteries, heart and immune system, although food sources seem to be generally more effective and safer than supplements. Some evidence shows that people who obtain more lutein from their diets experience lower rates of breast, colon, cervical and lung cancers.

4. Vitamin C

Known for improving immunity, vitamin C helps protect against colds, the flu, and potentially cancer, skin and eye problems.

5. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is an active ingredient found in cocoa, red grapes, and dark berries, such as lingonberries, blueberries, mulberries and bilberries. It’s a polyphonic bioflavonoidantioxidant that’s produced by these plants as a response to stress, injury and fungal infection, helping protect the heart, arteries and more.

6. Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is found in wild-caught salmon and krill and has benefits like reducing age spots, boosting energy levels, supporting joint health and preventing symptoms of ADHD.

7. Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral found naturally in the soil that also appears in certain foods, and there are even small amounts in water. It supports the adrenal and thyroid glands and helps protect cognition. It may also fight off viruses, defend against heart disease and slow down symptoms correlated with other serious conditions like asthma.

8. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil reduces inflammation and helps the body in many ways, such as producing important antioxidant enzymes – especially glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase.

9. Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is very helpful for detoxification and linked to natural cancer prevention, blocking carcinogenic effects within the body, and protecting DNA from damage caused by toxins or stress. It’s found in things like spirulina, leafy green veggies, certain powdered green juices and blue-green algae.

10. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense oil has been clinically shown to be a vital treatment for various forms of cancer, including breast, brain, colon and prostate cancers. Frankincense has the ability to help regulate cellular epigenetic function, which positively influences genes to promote healing. Rub frankincense essential oil on your body (neck area) three times daily, and take three drops internally in eight ounces of water three times daily as part of a natural prevention plan.

Other substances with antioxidant activity include cysteine, alpha tocopherol and more.

Top Health Benefits of Antioxidant Foods

1. Slow the Effects of Aging by Reducing Free Radical Damage

As described above, the single most important benefit of antioxidants is counteracting free radicals found inside every human body, which are very destructive to things like tissue and cells. Free radicals are responsible for contributing to many health issues and have connections to such diseases as cancer and premature aging of the skin or eyes.

What do free radicals do exactly, and why are they so destructive? The body uses antioxidants to prevent itself from the damage caused by oxygen. Electrons exist in pairs; free radicals are missing an electron. This is their weapon of sorts. They “react” with just about anything they come into contact with, robbing cells and compounds of one of their electrons. This makes the affected cell or compound unable to function and turns some cells into “electron-seeking muggers,” leading to a chain reaction in the body and the proliferation of free radicals. Free radicals then damage DNA, cellular membranes and enzymes.

2. Protect Vision and the Eyes

The antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene have all been shown to have positive effects on preventing macular degeneration, or age-related vision loss/blindness. Many foods that provide these nutrients also supply antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin, nicknamed the eye vitamins, and found in brightly colored foods like fruits and vegetables — especially leafy greens and types that are deep orange or yellow.

These antioxidants are believed to be easily transported around the body, especially to the delicate parts of the eyes called the macula and the lens. In fact, there are more than 600 different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about 20 make their way into the eyes. (4) Of those 20, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only two that are deposited in high quantities into the macular portion of the eyes, which is one of the earliest to be damaged during aging.

Based on concentrations of things like lutein and other carotenoids, examples of antioxidant foods that protect vision include spinach, kale, berries, broccoli and even egg yolks. Research shows that high-lutein sources like spinach are proven to help decrease eye related degeneration and improve visual acuity. (5) Similarly, flavonoid antioxidants found in berries, such as bilberries or grapes (also a great source of the antioxidant resveratrol), may be especially beneficial at supporting vision into older age.

3. Reduce the Effects of Aging on the Skin 

Perhaps most noticeably, free radicals speed up the aging process when it comes to the appearance and health of your skin. Antioxidants may help combat this damage, especially from eating sources high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants.

Vitamin A and C have been connected to a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and skin dryness. Vitamin C, specifically, is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the effect of oxidative damage caused by pollution, stress or poor diet. Vitamin A deficiency has also been linked to skin dryness, scaling and follicular thickening of the skin. Similarly to how free radicals damage surface skin cells, keratinization of the skin, when the epithelial cells lose their moisture and become hard and dry, can occur in the mucous membranes of the respiratory, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract.

4. Help Prevent Stroke and Heart Disease

Since antioxidants help prevent damage of tissues and cells caused by free radicals, they’re needed to protect against heart disease and stroke. At this point, the data does not show that all antioxidants are effective in protecting against heart disease, but some, such as vitamin C, do seem to be.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition featured a study that found those with high levels of vitamin Cin their blood had almost a 50 percent decreased risk of stroke. Countless studies also have found that people who consume highly plant-based diets — loaded with things like fresh veggies, herbs, spices and fruit — have a better chance of living longer and healthier lives with less heart disease.

The Department of Preventive Medicine & Public Health at University of Navarra states, “Fruits and vegetables are dietary sources of natural antioxidants and it is generally accepted that antioxidants in these foods are key in explaining the inverse association between fruits and vegetables intake and the risk of developing a cardiovascular event or having elevated levels of cardiovascular risk factors.” However, when it comes to heart health, certain studies have found that using vitamin E or beta-carotene supplements should be “actively discouraged” because of the increase in the risk of heart-related mortality, so be careful when it comes to vitamin E or carotene supplementation.

5. May Help Decrease Risk of Cancer

Studies have found that high intakes of vitamin A, vitamin C and other antioxidants could help prevent or treat several forms of cancer thanks to their ability to control malignant cells in the body and cause cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (destruction) of cancer cells. Retinoic acid, derived from vitamin A, is one chemical that plays important roles in cell development and differentiation as well as cancer treatment.

Lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral and skin cancers have been demonstrated to be suppressed by retinoic acid. (9) Another study collected numerous references demonstrating the findings of retinoic acid in protection against melanoma, hepatoma, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. However, there’s evidence indicating that the benefits of chemicals like retinoic acid are safest when obtained from food naturally, rather than supplements.

6. Can Help Prevent Cognitive Decline, Such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Oxidative stress is believed to play a central role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, but a nutrient-dense diet seems to lower one’s risk. The Journal of the American Medical Association of Neurology reports that higher intake of foods rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, may modestly reduce long-term risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Many studies have found that people eating plant-based diets high in antioxidants, such as the Mediterranean diet, have better protection over cognition.

Are There Any Antioxidant Precautions or Side Effects?

Just like any other supplement, it doesn’t seem that it’s beneficial or even necessarily safe to consume high doses of antioxidants in supplement form. For example, because during exercise oxygen consumption can increase by a factor of more than taking high doses of antioxidants might interfere with proper exercise recovery. Other research has shown that high-dose antioxidant supplementation may interfere with the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, have negative effects on the body’s natural anti-cancer activities, and affect how the body balances levels of different chemicals and nutrients on its own.

When it comes to protection against things like cancer or heart disease, overall the medical literature seems conflicting. Although some studies found a positive relationship between antioxidant supplementation and risk reduction, others have not found such positive effects. To be safe, always follow directions carefully and speak with your doctor if you’re unsure of whether or not a supplement is right for you. And to remain your healthiest into older age, aim to reduce free radical load in your body by practicing things like:

  • avoiding environmental pollutants in water
  • reducing chemical exposure in household and cosmetic products
  • limiting intake of processed and refined foods
  • limiting intake of pesticide and herbicide-laden foods
  • limiting intake of antibiotic and hormone-laden foods
  • avoiding overuse of medications
  • reducing stress
  • getting moderate amounts of exercise
  • using natural, cold-pressed oils (heat oxidizes fats in refined oils)

Final Thoughts on Antioxidants and High Antioxidant Foods

  • Antioxidants inhibit oxidation in the body, also called free radical damage, which is tied to stress.
  • We get most antioxidants from our diets, which help counteract effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, such as accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, broken-down tissue within the skin or eyes, the activation of harmful genes within DNA, and low immunity.
  • Some noteworthy high antioxidant foods, herbs and supplements include leafy green veggies, artichokes, cocoa, wild berries, green tea, cinnamon, clove, sea vegetables like kelp, spirulina, quercetin or lutein supplements, and essential oils like lavender and frankincense.

Flying with a common cold

A cold is proper cause for taking the responsible action of voluntarily and temporarily grounding yourself from flying. I’ve suffered the pain and distress of bilateral haemotympanum (that’s bleeding into the ear drums of both ears, the stage before perforation or rupture of the eardrums) during an aerobatic spin sequence when, unknowingly, I was brewing a cold. I’ve also seen usually stout military aircrew reduced to tears of pain during descent because having a cold rendered them unable to clear the pressure in their facial sinuses. Although a minor ailment to most folk a cold is a potential disaster to aviators (and those that fly with us).

What is a cold ? A cold is an infection, caused by any one of a hundred or so related rhinoviruses. It usually takes one or two days for a cold to incubate or brew once you’ve ‘caught’ it.

The first symptoms you notice are usually tiredness and irritability along with a tickly, scratchy throat, blocked or runny nose, and a mild headache. The runny nose (rhinorrhoea) usually increases over the next couple of days and then settles rather rapidly as the whole illness resolves. Bouts of sneezing may also occur. A fever is unusual during the common cold. A small number of people (around 1 – 2%) will develop bronchitis at the same time and have a cough that produces quantities of sputum (phlegm).

Most of us use the word ‘cold’ in reference to any illness or infection of the nose, throat, ears, and lungs that involves a runny nose or mild cough. Many other viruses are also able to cause diseases similar to the common cold. The illness caused by these other viruses is often more severe than a common cold and may involve quite marked cough, fever, sore throat, or even pneumonia.

The common cold, along with any of the above mentioned viral upper respiratory tract infections, is often more severe in children.


You won’t be surprised to hear that colds are more common in the Winter and Autumn. Nobody is certain why this is the case but it may have something to do with the increased time we all spend indoors close to other people during the colder months.

For the purpose of this article I’m not going to distinguish between all of these related but different illnesses. I’m simply going to use the word ‘cold’ to denote any, or all, of the above – after all they have similar relevance to aviators.

What happens during the infection? The offending virus usually gains access to your body through the lining tissues of your upper airways, especially the nose or throat. It invades the cells there and sets about doing what viruses do best, trying to produce more of its kind and send them forth into the world to infect other cells and produce even more viruses. To do this the virus must hijack machinery and equipment within the cell. This machinery is reserved for the cell’s privileged use and the hijacking may set off alarms and alert the body’s defence (or immune) system.

As the virus multiplies the cell may rupture and millions of new viruses spill into the bloodstream or nearby tissues. This release of new viruses may also alert the immune system’s equivalent of ‘customs and immigration’, ever watchful for viruses without visas. The release of new viruses causes the cell to die and the immune ‘homicide squad’ may also be called.

The alerted immune system then mobilizes to seek and destroy all viruses, bits of viruses, and hijacked, infected cells. This is usually achieved rapidly and the illness rarely lasts much longer than a few days. This response almost invariably results in swelling of the infected areas as the battle rages between the immune system and the infecting virus.

Once a virus has been vanquished the immune system ‘remembers’ it, and is able to recognize its closer relatives, for a time. It is still possible for a not-so-closely-related virus to cause another cold soon afterwards and the memory eventually fades so that the same virus may again cause a cold some time in the future.

You can spread a cold to others because as you breath out virus particles may leave your nasal area in the air or within tiny fluid droplets. If someone near you breaths in some of the virus particles the whole process may start afresh in their nasal passages.

How can a cold affect flying ? The two features of a cold that are most important to aviators are the overflow of new viruses into the bloodstream and the swelling of nose and throat tissues.

The first of these, the release of new viruses from their host cell into the body is often called the “viraemic phase”. This viraemic phase usually results in the headaches and general feeling of tiredness, lethargy, and unwellness  that is usually associated with a cold.

Anything that makes you feel tired and unwell is a distraction from flying and may well impair your decision making abilities at a critical moment. The viraemic phase of a cold is no exception and our mental and physical performance is always impaired. As aircrew we can ill afford any impairment of our performance that may affect our safety and that of the craft we fly and those that choose to fly with us.

As the tissues lining the nasal area swell the tiny openings to the ears (eustachian tubes) and the sinuses (ostia) become narrowed and may close over. Closure of these small tissue lined tubes makes ear and sinus pressure equalization difficult or impossible. Inability to equalize our ears and sinuses during ascent or descent may result in pain and tissue damage. The term barotrauma (as in barometer) is used to refer to these pressure related tissue damage.



The pain of sinus and ear barotrauma can be of crippling intensity leaving the sufferer unable to devote attention to the task of flying. The tissue damage, which could include rupture of the ear-drums or the filling of a sinus with blood, may adversely affect our short and long term “fitness to fly”. It’s really not worth the risk.

What can you do ? The first action for an aviator with a cold is the simplest but often the most difficult. When you have a cold you are most certainly not fit to fly. It’s as simple as that, the risks are just not worth it. To fly whilst suffering a cold a professional aviator would be exposing his passengers, cargo, and employer to an added, avoidable risk while a sports aviator exposes himself, his passengers, and his craft to the same unnecessary risks.

As an air passenger you are still exposed to the same risks during a cold. It is unlikely, though, that as a passenger you could cause the wreck of an aircraft or the injury of others. Should you choose to travel by air as a passenger while you’ve got a cold there’s a few things you might find useful knowing.

There is no cure  for the common cold! Our immune system is the only avenue we have for ridding our body of the cold virus. To function at its peak our immune system must be maintained by a sensible and well balanced diet. Large doses of vitamins or mineral supplements do not cure the common cold. The body also requires adequate rest for its immune system to remain in peak condition.

Antibiotics do not cure colds! Viruses are immune to antibiotics. It is only when the cold is likely to become complicated with a second, overlapping bacterial infection that antibiotics have any place at all in the management of colds. Anyone healthy enough to maintain an aircrew licence is extremely unlikely to suffer any bacterial complications of a common cold.

It is only if the cold symptoms are sufficiently severe that medication has any place in the treatment of a cold. Even then the only effect that medicine will have is some relief of the symptoms. Medication can’t cure or dispel a cold. Aspirin or Paracetamol will help to relieve a headache or sore throat and may settle a mild fever. Decongestants (8) will reduce some of the swelling of the nasal lining tissues and may make it easier to equalize the ears or sinuses. It may also be possible to relieve an irritating cough with a cough mixture or tablets.