Prevent heart attack and stroke

closeup of hands holding red heart with familyHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today — causing as many as one in four of all deaths. And this applies equally to every group, whether on the basis of ethnicity, gender or walk of life.

Ironically, or perhaps fortunately, many of the underlying causes of heart disease can be avoided with intervention and treatment. In other words, we know how to solve this problem.

Prevalence of heart disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is responsible for about 610,000 deaths in the United States every year. That’s one in every four deaths.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of the population of the United States has some kind of cardio-vascular disease. The most common type is coronary heart disease, which is caused by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This narrows the arteries, reducing the flow of blood and ultimately can lead to a heart attack.

Every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. About a third of these are second or subsequent heart attacks — they happen to people who have already had a heart attack.

Risk factors for heart disease

The key risk factors linked to heart disease are high blood pressure or hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. However, the latest data shows that 60 percent of people who have a heart attack have normal levels of cholesterol in their blood. This means that standard cholesterol tests are not useful for predicting who is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Other factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease include:

  • overweight and obesity
  • diabetes
  • poor diet
  • lack of exercise or physical activity
  • excessive alcohol use.

Heart attack and stroke prevention

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we have developed programs targeting cardiovascular disease.

Advanced Cardiac Evaluation (ACE) begins with advanced testing using True Health Lab’s (TH) advanced testing. This has been proven to provide better information in identifying the presence of cardiovascular disease.

Advanced carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) imaging combined with emerging, scientifically validated biomarkers, uses simple blood tests to identify cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease formations that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

CIMT is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound imaging to measure the intima-media, the innermost two layers of the wall of an artery. We use it to measure the thickness of the carotid artery, the big artery in the neck that carries blood to the head. This test allows us to quickly find the presence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the artery due to plaque build-up. It’s a major predictor of heart disease and heart attack.

Next, the HeartSmartIMTplus test evaluates the characteristics of plaque build-up. Softer plaque is more likely to break off, which can lead to a blockage and heart attack or stroke.

Once we have identified the presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we can move on to the Advanced Cardiac Treatment (ACT) program to prevent, mitigate and reverse the progress of the disease.

Prevention strategies

There are steps we can all take to help prevent the onset of heart disease.

  • Know your risk factors: get the tests to measure inflammation, plaque and other risk factors, as well as your family history of heart disease.
  • CIMT: the non-invasive tests that detects the presence of plaque build-up in your arteries, and determine its characteristics as described above.
  • Eat a healthy diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, reduced in sodium and moderate in total caloric content.
  • Exercise regularly: at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This does not have to be extreme. Just 25 minutes of walking each day can be enough.
  • Get enough sleep: Recent research has found a link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of heart disease. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend at least seven and a half hours of sleep per night for adults, and more for children and adolescents.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for developing heart disease. The previous two steps, a healthy diet and regular exercise, are the two most important components of life-long weight control. Research also finds a link between insufficient sleep and excess weight.
  • Get the right vitamin supplements, particularly COQ10. This is an enzyme crucial to energy creation at the cellular level, especially in cardiac or heart tissues. We recommend at least 200 mg daily, and up to 400 mg for patients at higher risk of heart disease.
  • Work with your preventative medicine specialist for controlling other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, genetic factors and other risks.

Find your cholesterol profile

Don’t put your health off any longer. You can get your full cardiac risk profile with an Advanced Cardiac Evaluation — just call us at 703-822-5003, or use our online contact form to set up your appointment.

Or, if you know your status and just want your CIMT score, you can schedule just a CIMT scan and a 30-minute follow-up visit.

Be proactive — take charge of your health today.

Heart disease: The silent killer

31053823 - senior man relaxing in autumn landscapeThanks to advances in modern medicine and disease prevention, Americans are living longer, healthier lives than ever. But a silent killer still stalks us. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.

The good news? Proactive Wellness Centers is a preventive medicine specialist that is able to help you minimize and mitigate your risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, susceptible genetics and other key risk factors. We also offer Advanced Cardiac Evaluation (ACE) and Advanced Cardiac Treatment (ACT) programs to help patients prevent, reverse and mitigate cardiovascular disease.

Knowing your risk is extremely important. We have the Carotid Intima Media Thickness (CIMT) with HeartSmartIMTplus™, a non-invasive and cost-effective diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound imaging to provide the earliest detection of cardiovascular disease. The test takes only 10 minutes and is done in our office. Specifically, HeartSmartIMTplus™ measures the intima media thickness of the carotid artery to determine the presence of sub-clinical atherosclerosis (cardiovascular disease that is undetected by other tests).

Here are some other ways to reduce your risk of heart disease:

Take plenty of COQ10. This is a critical enzyme that is at the root of energy creation at the cellular level, especially in the cardiac tissues. For patients at higher risk, we recommend 400 mg daily and for patients at lower risk, we recommend 200 mg daily. A recent long-term study supports the use of CoQ10 in combination with Selenium.

Controlling your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.

Getting enough exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day. Walking is great exercise.

Eating a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit saturated fats and high levels of sodium and sugar.

Getting regular cholesterol checks. Work with your physician to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Quitting smoking. If you smoke, stop.

Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is often not diagnosed until an individual experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. The symptoms for each:

Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).

Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. Learn more about our CIMT test and other ways we can help you prevent and manage heart disease by visiting our website:


What are antioxidants and why do you need them?

Medical capsule with fruit. Vitamins and supplements. DifferentYou may have heard of antioxidants, and how eating things like berries can absorb free radicals, boosting your health. It sounds good, and who would turn down berries?

What are antioxidants? What are free radicals? What do they do to your body? And how do they affect your health?

Free radicals

At every moment of our lives, our body’s cells are busy converting sugar into energy. This allows us to move, to digest food, to breathe; it allows our hearts to pump blood, our brains to process the input of our senses into a conception of our natural environment — in short, life.

As this happens, the chemical reactions at the cellular level produce, among other things, free radicals. These are chemicals, atoms or molecules that each have a single unpaired valence electron. Chemically, this makes them highly reactive.

While many free radicals are generated by processing food and converting sugar to energy, others can be absorbed from the air we breathe, and some are created by the interaction of sunlight on our skin.

As they move through the bloodstream and other body systems, free radicals interact with other molecules and cells in a process called oxidation. Chemically, oxidation is the same as combustion, burning or rusting.

Free radicals are essential to a number of essential life processes, such as fighting off infection. However, when the body has an imbalance in the amount of free radicals, it can experience a state called oxidative stress.

Research has associated oxidative stress with a range of diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among many others.

Other symptoms of oxidative stress can range from arthritis pain to eczema and migraines. One sign can be a build-up of lipid peroxides.

Antioxidants to the rescue

Fortunately, we’re not helpless against free radicals. Our bodies also produce chemicals called antioxidants. As their name implies, they tend to produce chemical reactions that work against oxidation.

We can also get antioxidants from food, especially unprocessed fruits and vegetables and other plants. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Berries are also high in other antioxidants.

The way forward

Experiencing a range of symptoms with unclear causes can be a sign of oxidative stress and excess lipid peroxides. A simple urine test can measure these markers.

From there, we can perform a blood analysis to identify food sensitivities and allergies that could be associated with health symptoms. An IgG Food Antibody Profile, for instance, tests for sensitivity to 30 common food antigens.

With this information in hand, we can develop a program tailored to your specific metabolic needs. It would include food, nutrition and supplements designed to bring your body into balance.

Contact us about working up your comprehensive metabolic profile and take charge of your health.

Five ways to stay healthy and happy this holiday season

34792251_MWith so many things on your to-do list this time of the year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The stress of gift-giving, holiday events and activities and family get-togethers can lead to stress. Unhealthy foods and flu viruses seem to be everywhere. That’s why we wanted to share with you some simple (yet highly effective!) ways to stay healthy and happy this holiday season:

Stick with a healthy diet. At Proactive Wellness Centers, we generally favor the Mediterranean and Paleo diets. Both are balanced, healthy approaches to eating. The Mediterranean diet focuses on daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats, weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs, dairy in moderation and limited amounts of red meat. We understand the holidays are full of delicious sugary sweets practically everywhere you turn! Enjoy the treats of the season in moderation while remaining committed to healthy meals. The American Dietetic Association says eating healthy is a great way to boost immunity and prevent flu.

Warm up before activity. Exercise can help combat stress, but can also lead to injures if you aren’t prepared. Whether you’re shoveling snow, skiing, skating, sledding or enjoying some other type of wintertime activity, warm up first and don’t forget cool-down stretching. Warming up and cooling down can reduce your chances of injury. For some easy warm-up and cool-down exercises, go to this link.

Try meditating. Feeling yourself becoming overwhelmed? Closing your eyes, listening to some soothing music and taking deep, cleansing breaths can really help. Not sure where to start? There’s a variety of top-rated free and low-cost apps that can help. One is the Calm app. Calm offers guided meditation with soothing music in 3- to 25-minute sessions. Want to develop a daily meditation practice? Try Daily Calm, the app’s 10-minute program that helps you meditate in the mornings or evenings. You can also check out or purchase a book on meditation.

Don’t overdo it. Only commit to how much you’re willing to do, even if it means only one big event per day. If two major family gatherings happen to fall in the same time period, know it’s OK to pick just one—or invite people to come to you. Learning to say no is important, especially over the holidays.

Make time for enjoyable activities. Make sure you’re taking time during this busy season to do things you truly enjoy. Activities such as reading a book or enjoying a cup of hot tea can provide an escape from the daily hustle and bustle. Take regular breaks to simply look after your own well-being.

Founded in 2006, Proactive Wellness Centers (PWC) is a leading integrative and functional medicine practice serving Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania. Learn more about us on our website:

Could your allergy really be mold illness?

51186706_MOne of the most prevalent and least appreciated health concerns today is caused by exposure to mold. A quarter of the U.S. population is sensitive to molds and don’t know it. And a major part of the problem is that mold illness is often mistaken for allergies, Lyme disease, depression, PTSD or even multiple sclerosis, among other illnesses.

Mold illness is not an allergic reaction, however. It’s an acute, chronic and systemic inflammatory response to toxins released by molds. Also known as mold sickness, mold toxicity or biotoxin illness, it can lead to severe complications — even death, in extreme cases. That’s why we take it very seriously at Proactive Wellness Centers, and develop individual plans to treat it.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus. Mold can be found everywhere, but it’s usually invisible to the naked eye until it has grown into large colonies of interconnected networks of individual organisms. It often appears as a fuzzy layer on food, or a slimy coating on a surface, in a wide range of colors.

There are thousands of different species in the world. Unlike plants, mold cannot photosynthesize its own food, so it needs some kind of food source as well as moisture to grow. This is why you’ll find mold growing on fruits and vegetables as well as in damp areas. It can also develop in poorly maintained air conditioning and ventilation systems.

Molds reproduce by producing large amounts of spores that spread by wind or in water. Some cling to clothing or fur, as well. When it finds a suitable environment, grows, and reproduces again. However, the spores can survive a long time before finding a favorable habitat, even in extremes of temperature and pressure.

Most molds don’t start to grow or reproduce at temperatures below 39 degrees F, which is why we refrigerate food down to that temperature. However, any mold spores on refrigerated foods will survive in a dormant stage until the temperature goes up again — which is why you may find fuzz on your peaches after you take them out of the refrigerator overnight.

Mold exposure

A few mold species produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause health problems or even death in other organisms, including humans.

Symptoms of mold exposure are similar to a wide range of other causes:

  • watery, itchy eyes
  • chronic cough
  • sneezing
  • headache
  • rash
  • difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • Sinus and nasal blockage

This is why mold illness is easily misidentified as an allergic reaction, a cold or other illness.

Black mold is often found in water-damaged buildings — in insulation or wallpaper, for instance — following a flood. It can cause severe lung problems.

Why mold illness happens

The human body cannot process mold. About a quarter of the population has a genetic profile that makes them susceptible to mold illness. This happens because of a series of biochemical changes known as the biotoxin pathway.


At Proactive Wellness Centers, we use a multi-phase process to confirm mold response and then identify the source of the biotoxin. We use a number of different tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to distinguish CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) from Lyme disease, and a range of different genetic and genomics-based tests to personalize the diagnosis and treatment to the individual patient’s body chemistry and needs.

Our Environment Relative Moldiness Index, or ERMI, uses DNA to determine which mold species are present in the patient’s home or workplace. This way, we can find out which biotoxins are affecting the patient, and the extent of the mold problem.


Once we have positively identified the presence of mold illness, the type of mold and its source, we can develop a treatment protocol that’s based on the specific health profile and needs of the individual patient.

  1. Get you away from biotoxins—The first step is to end the exposure to mold by getting the patient out of the harmful environment.
  2. Remove biotoxins from the body—Two binding agents, Welchol and cholestyramine, bind to biotoxins in organs and helps to carry them out of the body.
  3. Eradicate infections—About 80% of people with mold illness and other chronic inflammatory conditions have Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci infection, or MARCoNS. This is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection deep in the nose. Removing it allows the patient to return to health.
  4. Clean up the terrain—The road back to health is different for everyone. It can involve evaluating the presence of antigliadin antibodies for non-celiac gluten sensitivity and rebalancing hormones. At every step, we re-test to confirm the body’s balance has been corrected.
  5. Clean up the environment—It makes no sense to return to a moldy, infectious environment. With the specific mold identified, we can help advise the patient on where to look for it in the home or workplace, and how to remove it. Black mold, for example, can be very harmful and may be in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a basement or attic, or between walls.
  6. Develop a proactive diet—To prevent a return of a mold reaction, we work with each patient to find a diet that avoids foods likely to carry molds and mycotoxin, including corn, rye, wheat, rice, peanuts, cottonseed, oil seeds, some cheeses, black pepper, dried fruits, bread and alcoholic beverages.

Don’t wait

Too many people suffer needlessly without realizing their fatigue, nausea, headaches, rashes or other symptoms are caused by mold illness. Many more will waste time and resources seeing allergists and other doctors who are unable to identify the cause of their symptoms, or worse, treat the wrong thing.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above and have not found the cause, call us at Proactive Wellness Centers to set up an appointment and get back on the road to health.

Healthy living for kids

19809673 - happy hispanic people parents giving children piggybackThe holiday season seems to start earlier every year. Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and all the associated school and neighborhood parties can pose a challenge to maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.

This is especially true for children, who have a lot to keep them busy at this time of year. Not to mention that it’s also cold and flu season.

So here are some tips for parents to help keep their kids healthy at least until the new year.

Keep healthy food choices in reach

There will inevitably be lots of yummy treats, desserts and sweets available to kids from many sources at this time of year. So keep lots of healthy options on hand throughout this season — plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and nutritious meals.

Make sure everyone starts the day with a healthy breakfast to provide them the fuel and energy they’ll need for a busy day.

Try to avoid buying high-calorie, sweetened drinks — there’ll doubtless be lots of opportunity to drink those outside of the home.

Don’t use food as a reward. This encourages the development of poor eating habits.

Get kids involved

We all feel motivated to be healthier when we’re involved in the decision, and kids are no different. Involve them in meal planning and preparation. Have each child help out in making at least one meal a week.

Stay active

With shorter days and colder temperatures, it’s always tempting to give up on outdoor activities at this time of year. Which means parents need to plan ahead. Try to make sure everyone gets between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This doesn’t have to be all at once. A couple of walks through the day can add up. Housework, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or at school, and physical play at home all add up.

Bring the kids grocery shopping. This gets them more involved in making healthy eating choices, and it’s physical activity, too.

If you have a stationary bicycle or other exercise equipment in your home, don’t let it gather dust just because you’re busy with planning or celebrating the holidays.

And there are still plenty of activities you can do outdoors, from simple walks to a game of catch or shooting hoops. Keep it simple and fun.

Avoid infections

Cold and flu season is here. The number one way to reduce your chances of catching one from someone else is frequent, good hand-washing with soap and warm water.

Everyone should also get a flu vaccination every year. And while you’re at it, check to make sure everyone’s immunizations are up to date.

Set a good example

Even though they may not admit it, kids learn their habits from their parents. Model healthy behavior by eating right yourself, staying active every day, not smoking and consuming alcohol in moderation.

For more information on staying healthy, visit our Nutrition and Lifestyle page.

Can you protect yourself against Alzheimers disease?

Old lonely woman sitting near the window in his house.We all forget things occasionally. We misplace our keys temporarily, take longer to perform routine tasks, or forget names, dates and other details once in a while. These are normal signs not only of aging, but of daily life.

But the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) go beyond these normal signs of aging. Our table compares normal signs of aging to signs of AD, to help you tell the difference and take action. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), half of Americans in nursing homes today have some degree of Alzheimer’s disease, a brain condition that leads to cognitive decline and dementia.

In total, Alzheimer’s or AD, affects more than 5 million people in the U.S., causing more than 110,000 deaths, and noted as the sixth-leading cause of deaths in the U.S., according to 2015 data. AD is also a progressive disease. It gets more pronounced over time. And there is also a phase where the disease is affecting the brain without external, obvious symptoms. However, there are ways you can detect the early signs and actions you can take to slow its progress, and the devastating impacts.

What is AD?

Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder, is the most common cause of dementia — literally, the “loss of mind” — in seniors. It is a condition characterized by the death of neurons, or nerve cells, and synapses, the connections between them, in the brain. It is associated with the development of plaques and protein tangles in the brain. While these are consequences of aging, people with AD and associated dementia have been found to have greater amounts of plaques and tangles.

In AD, this starts in the hippocampus, the center for memory and learning. This is why the most obvious effects of AD are loss of memory and the ability to perform daily tasks. Dementia also presents as a loss or change in personality, memory, and ability to function independently in the world. Some of the long-term effects of AD and dementia include:

  • loss of ability to do routine activities
  • loss of abilty to understand conversations or instructions
  • inability to communicate, including pain or symptoms of disease
  • difficulty walking
  • loss of balance
  • repeated falls
  • inability to swallow
  • incontinence.

Causes of AD

While no one has yet determined the exact cause of AD, a range of factors are probable. These include genetics (whether a parent or other close relative has had AD), head trauma such as concussion, and long-term exposure to toxins such as molds.

The strongest risk factor so far appears to be family history. Those who have a parent or sibling with AD are more likely to develop AD. International research has also pointed to a number of possible and modifiable risk factors associated with AD: smoking, depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, low education, cognitive inactivity and physical inactivity.

Most people who have AD develop it after the age of 65, but early-onset AD can occur in younger people, as well. After age 85, nearly one-third of seniors show signs of AD.

Early warning signs

Below are the early warning signs of AD and looming AD-related dementia. If you notice an increase in several of these in yourself or a loved one, consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

  • personality change
  • mood changes and mood swings
  • inconsistent or inappropriate emotional responses
  • confusion and disorientation
  • decrease in ability to read
  • withdrawal from social situations
  • apathy
  • getting lost frequently
  • angry outbursts, aggression or violence
  • distrust of family members and long-term friends
  • memory loss
  • frustration over inability to remember or communicate
  • difficulty finding the right words to communicate or explain
  • significant decrease in verbal fluency
  • difficulty comprehending conversation or situations
  • inability to remember and repeat a statement immediately after it was given
  • loss of inhibitions.

How to be sure

AD is a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms and effects become stronger over time. But the root causes of AD have been working in the brain for some time before signs become noticeable.

There is no single test to diagnose dementia or AD. Scientifically, AD can only be proved after death. Clearly, a way to detect signs of AD early would help. That’s what the Bredesen protocol is about. Developed by Dr. Dale Bredesen, it includes blood tests, cognitive evaluations and other indications of overall health. We will also look at environmental and lifestyle factors that may be contributing to symptoms.

Next comes the ReCODE protocol that uses a number of strategies to address the specific health conditions that contribute to A.

We provide ongoing monitoring and adjustment of the

The next step is a multiple modality approach to metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration, or MEND. The goal: slowing the advance of AD and dementia.

In other words, we take the time and devote careful analysis of evidence to develop an individually tailored lifestyle modification guide to mitigate risk of AD. If indicated by test results, this could include bioidentical hormone replacement, treatment for biotoxin and other chronic illnesses, nutritional supplements, and of course follow-up cognitive assessments at regular intervals.

Don’t put off your health

If you’re concerned about your risk of developing AD, or for a loved one, don’t put off finding out more. Read our page on AD, find more resources, and contact us through our quick contact form, or call us at 703-822-5003 during regular office hours.

The secret to staying healthy: Staying active

Senior couple at homeGoing vegetarian or vegan. Eating a high-protien diet. Taking nutritional supplements. Avoiding supplements altogether. Using cannabidiol. Staying away from cannabidiol. Teetotalling. Drinking a glass of red wine each day.

Sound familiar? We’re told every day about a combination of foods and drugs that will keep us healthy longer. And, what is the “best” advice often changes from day to day.

But there is one thing about which the benefits are undeniable: the best thing you can do to maintain your good health as long as possible is to stay physically and mentally active throughout your life.

Benefits of physical activity

Physical activity brings a cascade of physical benefits, no matter what your age. It stimulates the heart, lungs and circulatory system, strengthening them and making them better able to do their jobs. Physical activity strengthens muscles and boosts the function of just about every body system.

Over the long term, regular physical activity can help prevent the loss of bone density and osteoporosis.

Physical activity also improves the health of the brain and mind, as well as the immune system. In other words, a healthy, active lifestyle makes you better able to fight off infection and disease. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Mental activity

Physical exercise or increased activity has proven, real benefits for your mental health. You may have heard of the “runner’s high” — a mood boost that follows not just running, but any physical activity that you enjoy, such as playing a sport or just moving your body. Physical activity releases hormones called endorphins, which cause you to feel pleasure and can help reduce depression.

Your mind needs exercise just as much as your body does. Books, games, music and being with other people are essential to your mental health. What’s more, good mental health can also boost your physical health.

Social activity

Physical activity can also be a social event — a chance to connect with people around you. Sports, group exercises, dancing and other activities are critical in avoiding depression, boosting your mood while exercising body and mind.

Keep it fun

Regular physical, mental and social activity are good for you, no matter who you are or what your situation is. The best news is that it doesn’t have to be extreme or expensive. Just going outside for a walk with a loved one, getting together with friends or colleagues, even gardening can have real, long-lasting health benefits.

Regular activity throughout your life is key, which means you should choose an activity you enjoy. Do what you love, whether it’s hiking solo in the woods, playing catch with your kids or joining your buddies for a weekly game of Ultimate. Whatever gets your heart thumping and your breath faster for a short time will also keep your blood flowing smoothly and your mind sharp.

Keep following us at Proactive Wellness Centers for the latest information on how to stay healthy.

Is mold behind your symptoms?

?????????????????????????????????????????????????Mold has been in the news lately because it has been causing significant health impacts on people. Following floods, or in places where a number of people suddenly become very ill, mold is often found to be the culprit.

Mold is everywhere on earth, and grows quickly wherever mold spores find moisture. Outbreaks of mold-induced illness often follow floods, as black mold grows quickly in the soaked, interior spaces after a flood. Mold can also build up in poorly ventilated or poorly maintained air conditioning or heating systems, which then spread more spores through the building.

While not everyone will get sick from mold exposure, those with sensitivity to mold can suffer significant symptoms. These can range from mild allergic reactions, like stuffy nose, irritated throat, coughing, eye irritation, sometimes skin irritation. They can, however, be more severe for those who are more sensitive, or with suppressed immune systems (seniors, those with chronic conditions, obstructive lung disease).

Symptoms of mold exposure

Mold allergies can present flu-like symptoms. They can also present as mood suppression or depression, and have been proven to trigger asthma symptoms. This means these allergies can be hard to detect for doctors with little experience in treating mold. All too often, patients do not get the right treatment for the underlying cause of their symptoms.

Our approach

At Proactive Wellness Centers, our team studies with leaders in mold and other causes of chronic disease, with a differential diagnosis approach.

We start with a thorough range of laboratory tests, for:

  • heavy metal exposure
  • tick-borne illnesses including Lyme (Borrelia bacterium) and co-infections
  • reactivated viruses

With a full picture of your condition — and remember that 50 percent of our chronically ill patients have more than one disease, with more than one cause — we can devise a comprehensive treatment plan to stop the progress of the illness, and then reverse the effects. Next, we focus on developing interventions to maintain the improvement in your wellness.

Control mold

No matter what, we all have a certain amount of mold spores in our homes. It’s important to keep them from growing.

Mold can be black, brown or other colors. It appears as spots in damp areas, and can smell musty. No matter what color it is, you should remove it immediately.

Clean mold with regular soap and water, or use a mild bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of laundry bleach to 1 gallon of water. Dry thoroughly.

Discourage mold from coming back:

  • Open your windows for fresh air.
  • Regularly ventilate damper areas, like bathrooms, showers, laundry and cooking areas.
  • Control humidity, keeping it at no more than 50 percent.
  • Fix leaky roofs, windows, pipes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and ducts.
  • If your home is flooded for any reason, thoroughly clean and dry it as soon as possible. Replace wet insulation and any carpets that you cannot dry quickly. Clean with mold-killing products, and use paint with mold inhibitors.

Look for the signs

If you have had symptoms of aches, pains, cold or flu or allergies that persist, despite different treatments from various doctors and specialists, you owe it to yourself to investigate the possibility of sensitivity to mold, Lyme or parasites.

If you’re in the northern Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland or Pennsylvania area, visit or call us about your symptoms.

The surprising effect sugar can have on your mental health

47157756_MThere are certain times of the year when we all indulge in sugar (even taking candy from our kids, if we’re being honest). We may go on baking frenzies during the holidays or have a large slice of cake during birthday celebrations. Or perhaps we sneak in an extra nibble or two of the leftover pie after dinner. It’s okay, we all do it. While everything in moderation is best, we should also consider that an extra spoonful of sugar here and there can take a toll — not just on our waistline, but also on our minds.

Read on to learn more about how sugar can affect our minds:

1. Anxiety

For adults, anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental disorders, where nearly 25% of the population experiences something of the sort. Not all conditions can be attributed to sugar, but did you know that sugar can cause certain symptoms, which can contribute to a panic attack? These symptoms include difficulty thinking, fatigue and shaking.

Cutting back on sugar can help the body to cope with stress in a healthier way by boosting your energy (and keeping you free from harmful sugar highs and crashes).

2. Depression

Speaking of the ups and downs that come with sugar consumption, this roller coaster ride sugar has us on can contribute to an increased risk of depression. Some research explains that sugar suppresses a certain hormone that is low in individuals with depression.

3. Memory

High glucose levels have shown to diminish mental capacity over time. If you’re a little too keen on the cookies, there is a chance you’ll experience deficits in memory, learning and other cognitive functions.

It’s normal to experience sugar cravings every so often. Instead of reaching for refined sugars, your body and mind will thank you for turning to fresh fruit instead. Your body and mind will benefit. Now that is sweet.