Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” hosts, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss how to stay healthy during the busy holiday travel season.

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

    Topics Include:
  • Vitamins (Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C) and Probiotics to take when traveling
  • How our expectations contribute to stress
  • And More…

Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.

Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.

Erin Brinker:  And we are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA-AM 1050; FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. I’m excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.

Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, her career has spanned advocacy, academia, naturopathic patient care, and public health. She serves as Vice-President of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health, and on the advisory board for the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. JoAnn, welcome back to the show.

JoAnn Yanez: Good morning, folks. Good morning.

Tobin Brinker: Good morning.

JoAnn Yanez: Happy holidays.

Erin Brinker: Happy holidays to you. So, is Hanukkah over?

JoAnn Yanez: Last night was the last night of Hanukkah.

Erin Brinker: Ah, so you lit that eighth candle?

JoAnn Yanez: That was it.

Erin Brinker: Awesome. Awesome. And now, I’m going to ask a really dumb Gentile question. Do you have a big feast on the last night?

JoAnn Yanez: No. By the last night, you’re kind of done eating fried food and ready for the next thing.

Erin Brinker: Just no more latkes; you’re done.

JoAnn Yanez: Yeah.

Tobin Brinker: That’s funny.

Erin Brinker: So, one of the things that- Tobin’s parents are here; they just arrived this morning and they came in from North Carolina. And this is really a time of travel, and it seems like everybody has the flu. So how do you keep yourself healthy when there’s so many people moving about?

JoAnn Yanez: You know, AANMC just did a piece on staying healthy during the travel season and holiday travel, and I think it is really a huge question as folks are getting ready to board planes and go to their family members all across the nation, and even the world. Staying healthy can be a challenge.

We’ve talked about healthcare before, and you know me; I’m always going to go back to the basics. So, what are the basics that you need for health? Good sleep, no stress, getting out in nature and laughing with friends and family, healthy food, not so much alcohol, getting good water. Do those things all happen?

Erin Brinker: Uhhh …

Erin Brinker: The sleep and the no stress; that’s the tough one for everybody.

JoAnn Yanez: And well, you know the food thing can be a challenge as well. When you’re traveling and you’re on the road, oftentimes you’re not eating on your regular routine, you may be eating more than you’re normally used to, or more sugar than you’re normally used to, more alcohol than you’re normally used to, and all of those things will have or can have repercussions on your immunity and how you feel. Your digestive tract can get thrown off when you travel. Not going into too many details, but your body elimination processes can be thrown for a loop, and all of that can have ripples on your health. Most of us are pretty resilient. We can handle a little bit of stress or a not-so-perfect night of sleep here and there. But when you start to throw them all together, there are only so many stressors your body can handle before the straws break the camel’s back.

Erin Brinker: Right, yeah. And then you find that everybody’s getting sick. And this has been a rough- I think we talked about this the last time you were on. This has been a rough flu season. Tobin and I read somewhere that the flu shot this year is about 10 percent effective.

JoAnn Yanez: Yeah, that’s what I’ve read as well. And you know, it’s a little disheartening. You would hope that it’s offering a bit more protection than that, and even maybe that is part of why we’re having so much of an outbreak right now. But, yeah. You know, the other thing, too, is you’re in close quarters when you’re traveling. You mentioned Tobin’s dad was just here; just came in from North Carolina and getting on an airplane – basically, a little tin can with a bunch of other people breathing re-circulated air. The air is all dried out, which dries your mucus membranes; makes them a little bit more susceptible to get bugs and critters. And you throw that in to the mix of no sleep, stress and change in routine.

I was just on a plane last week coming home from D.C., and the woman next to me starts hacking, and I’m like, “Oh, goodness gracious.” And you’re stuck; you can’t … If I was in the mall and somebody was coughing, what would I do? I’d walk away. But you’re on an airplane and you’re sitting next to a human being who’s coughing, and you want to be gracious and have empathy; you know, “I’m sorry you’re feeling sick.” But at the same time, I don’t want to get sick, either, and I can’t go anywhere.

Tobin Brinker: I have a question about vitamins.

JoAnn Yanez: Please.

Tobin Brinker: You know, I see some of these ads and stuff that talk about how you can boost your immune system with different vitamins. Is that true, and is that good sort of preventative measures to take certain types of vitamins?

JoAnn Yanez: So, there is literature showing that there’s certain vitamins, like vitamin D, that do have immuno- immune responses. And we talked about D in the past; vitamin D is your sunshine vitamin and you get that from sunlight, and that tends to be lower for people in the wintertime because we’re not outdoors as much. But even some people in the summertime because they’re lathered up in sun screen, which blocks a little bit of our conversion there. Folks do have more melanin in their skin who are darker complected also don’t convert vitamin D as well and as efficiently. So, vitamin D is one, but we list actually a number of supplements and things that you can do in our article on our website. So I would definitely let folks know about that and to check that out.

So, zinc is another one; zinc can help. My favorite form of zinc are zinc lozenges, if you can at the first sign of a scratchy throat; I pop a few. And making sure that you’re getting vitamin C up to bowel tolerance, which would be usually a couple, several grams of vitamin C if you’re just starting to feel sick. I’ve noticed that a lot of these things aren’t quiet as effective the flu or the cold has really taken hold-

Tobin Brinker: Yeah.

JoAnn Yanez: -but if you start some of these things right at that- and you try and nip it right in the very beginning, oftentimes the duration of the illness can be a bit shorter. That’s at least what I’ve found.

Tobin Brinker: Yeah, Erin will tell you, my big thing is I’ll go buy a big thing of orange juice, but I get the one that’s the vitamin fortified with the vitamin D, and I just drink a ton of that and just hope it helps just because I’m not big on taking the pills. But if it’s just in the orange juice, then I’m pretty good with it.

JoAnn Yanez: Yeah. You know, a couple of other things that I definitely recommend, especially when people are on the road and traveling to places where the food is going to be quite different for them. Probiotics can be helpful making sure that you don’t get traveling bugs, because if you’re going to another country, probiotics are a good idea to just make sure that you keep your gut bacteria in a healthy balance. And the other thing would be digestive enzymes. So if you’re eating foods that are different for you, that those things would also be something to consider.

Erin Brinker: I’d never thought about that.

JoAnn Yanez: We think of the colds and flus, but how many folks travel and they get an upset tummy, or they might have constipation? There are a number of things that come into play. And if you’re uncomfortable, if your digestive system’s uncomfortable, you’re not going to be feeling your best.

Erin Brinker: So, you know, for some people the holidays are a very stressful time because they want everything to be perfect. So they decorate to the nth degree; they make a thousand cookies; they … and it becomes very stressful. How much do our own expectations add to our stress?

JoAnn Yanez: Oh. You know, I have a girlfriend of mine who just recently posted a picture on Facebook. She is very Catholic, and I remember decorating trees at her house and her tree was always perfect. This friend of mine has six children and a bunch of animals, and she posted a picture of her cat perched atop of her Christmas tree.

Erin Brinker: Oh, my goodness.

JoAnn Yanez: And the caption was, “Sometimes you have to let go of the vision for the perfect tree.”

Erin Brinker: That’s awesome.

JoAnn Yanez: You know, and so I think that our expectations do play a lot into that. And also learning how to say ‘no’. I think so many of us are trying to go to every party and get every single person a present; and get every Christmas card or holiday card out there. And there are only so many hours in the day; there are only so many things that you can actually do. Prioritize them. Which are the most important? Maybe this is the year you say, “Hey, sorry I didn’t get the holiday cards out. Maybe we’ll get some New Year’s cards out next year or a birthday card or something like that.” You know, I think we have to let go of perfect. And I am- you see, my husband will attest. I’m as guilty of that one as anybody.

Erin Brinker: Yeah, because you want to make memories for your kids and your family. But if you end up just beating yourself down, it’s just … it becomes too much.

JoAnn Yanez: Yes. Well, we just recently moved to a house and the house is not perfect. It is not fully decorated; there are not things all out on the walls hung yet, but I’ve been inviting people over anyway. You know, I’m not going to wait for the perfect house to have people over. This house is made for entertaining and enjoying our friends and family. And anybody who loves me enough won’t care that I didn’t hang up the mirrors yet.

Erin Brinker: Well, I would be offended.

JoAnn Yanez: That’s why you’re not coming over, all right?


Erin Brinker: So, we are out of time. Remind everyone how they can find out more about naturopathic medicine and naturopathic medical colleges, and how they might find and follow you on social media.

JoAnn Yanez: Sure. So, we are at A-A-N-M-C.org, and you can find the travel article I just talked about on our website under news. So I hope that folks will check us out on social media. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etcetera. So connect with us there. Hope to see you all soon.

Erin Brinker: Dr. JoAnn Yanez. It’s as always, it’s been great having you on the air. Merry- well I’ll say, happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, all of those things. Happy Hanukkah, even though I’m late. And we’ll see you next year.

JoAnn Yanez: Yes, see you both next year. Have a great, great Christmas for both of you, and happy new year.

Tobin Brinker: Thank you very much.

Erin Brinker: Thank you so much.