TMW: Back and Biceps Day


Bulking and Cutting Tips

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, OBESITY, Video: Exercise and Fitness Tips


How I lost weight MUST SEE!


How I’m Keeping Off Over 150 Pounds! My Top Weight Loss and Diet Tips!


Your Weight Loss – How to Lose Weight Fast ~Pt. 2


Your Weight Loss – How to Lose Weight Fast ~Pt. 1


How To Build Muscle Fast

January 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, OBESITY, VIDEO


3 Easy Tips To Lose Fat – Your Weight Loss


Alzheimer’s Disease: Warning Signs, Prevention and Treatment

April 18, 2011 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S, Featured

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious condition that slowly destroys the brain. It begins by breaking down a person’s short term memory and spreads to other brain functions. It spreads through the brain and robs the victim of logic and language. In the later stages the victim loses emotional control, and long term memories. In the final stage the brain is unable to direct bodily functions, which leads to death. Tragically, there is no cure at present and its early symptoms are often ignored or misdiagnosed.

What Causes It

Medical researchers have yet to find the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. There are many different factors that seem to play a role in its development:

  • Genetic make-up can sometimes be a cause.  Generally, if it is something that runs within the family, you are at a higher risk of having it when you are older.
  • There are many different environmental faactors that may contribute to this disease as well. 

·         Age is one the biggest factors.  As you get older, your chances are drastically greater for having this disease. 

While these are all factors that can play a part in Alzheimer’s disease, you may find that even if neither of these factors relate to you that you can still find yourself with the disease. 

The Warning Signs

As with any disease or illness, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  If you have a full understanding of it, then you will be more likely to notice if you or a loved one is experiencing the early signs. 

  • Early in the disease, you may find that you are more forgetful than you used to be.
  • Some people may begin to ask the same questions repeatedly. 
  • In more severe cases, they may begin to not realize who they are or where they live. 

These situations can all be very scary.  It is important to be aware of these signs early on so that you can do things that will help to slow down the progression of this disease. 

Prevention

There is no definite way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but research suggests that a healthy, active lifestyle can delay the onset of symptoms.  That being said, here are a few things that may help:

  • Stay active. There appears to be a very strong link between poor cardiovascular health and Alzheimer’s disease. Get regular aerobic exercise.
  • Keep your body height and weight proportionate.  Studies show that overweight people are more likely to get this disease.
  • Eat a balanced diet with a lot of fresh vegetables.

Treating the Disease

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are some things that you can do to treat it and help keep the symptoms at bay. 

·         Visit the doctor frequently for medications that will help to slow the progression. 

·         Make sure that you have adequate help from others as you cope with the disease. 

Caring for Alzheimer’s Patients

The early stages of the disease require monitoring the patient to make sure they stay safe. If he or she lives alone you should install a medical alert system in the home so that help can be summoned quickly. A person with Alzheimer’s may be too confused to use a telephone and these devices make it easy for them to call for assistance.

As the disease progresses the patient will require more supervision. You may need to hire a home health care worker to help provide round the clock care.  Caring for a person with the disease requires lots of energy, skill and diligence. People with the disease can easily wander away from home so make sure you have your home modified to prevent the patient from leaving the house unnoticed. Consider a GPS system that can help find the victim quickly.

About The Author

Marie Clark writes about senior health issues at ElderKind.com where you can read reviews of health care products and services like medical alerts, home health care providers and assisted living,


How My Skin Condition Devastated Me (And Created Me A New Life)

April 13, 2011 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION, Featured

This is the first in a series of articles by Johnny Palmer of AbsRightNow.com. He talks about how his skin condition turned his life into bouts of depression, nothingness and how he has used this unfortunate illness to his advantage and how it has changed the way he lives for the better.

About ME

The ever increasing science of psychoneuroimmunology is finding out more and more about our brain and how it helps or hinders us in life.

We are also discovering how most dis-ease thought to be externally motivated is intrinsically internal.

There are numerous theories and case studies, but I have no interest in that – I want to know how it will effect ME.

In fact I have actually had the first hand experience of being able to look back and see how my own brain has helped guide me through depression, learn lessons, become a better person and then move on.

When I was born I was diagnosed with Eczema, or at least the doctors thought it was that. Ever since and up until just recently I have been plagued with chronic skin problems – which you might not define a “monster” illness, however the effects skin conditions can have are devestating.

Before you start thinking about how it is only a skin problem and I should be thankful I didn’t have cancer – yes I was very thankful it was only a skin condition, but I am a very proud person and being covered in an unsightly rash that appears on your face, arms, legs, chest and makes your skin look like sandpaper isn’t exactly enjoyable.

Especially not for an 18 year old guy who wants to go snowboarding with his friends, party, talk to pretty girls and enjoy life.

When you feel like you are ugly, you turn ugly.

When you feel like everyone is looking at you and talking about you, you hide.

This is exactly what I did.

I suspected I was allergic to something but no matter how many tests I had done no matter how many Doctor visits I racked up on my account, nobody had an answer.

They said it was Eczema and it will go away as you get older, but it might stay with you for life.

— WHAT?

Am I supposed to walk around with head to toe clothes and then move to India so I can cover my face too without looking out of place until I die?

The night was the worst time though.

Before getting into bed at night I would already be worried about waking up in the morning covered in dry, red, oozing skin, sheets smelling awful and looking like Freddy Kruger.

I would have a chamomile tea before bed, listen to soothing music and try to relax as much as possible. Even my lovely girlfriend would rub my back or chest to help relax me – which it did.

Sometimes I would fade off to sleep, sometimes I wouldn’t, but no matter what, I would wake up in the morning looking like the Devil had scorned me.

Some days I would be so bad I couldn’t go to work, at the times when I actually had a job – often my skin was so bad I couldn’t even bear to leave my bedroom and lived at my mums house.

Some days it wouldn’t be so bad and I would get a burst of confidence and make plans for the week, only to wake up the next morning to have to cancel them because I didn’t want to have to see my friends when I looked like a monster, let alone go to a job interview, appointment or a fun event.

I had specific things I couldn’t do such as:

  • Couldn’t stay at anyone’s house
  • Couldn’t have anyone sleep in my bed or room
  • Could never sleep in a car or tent
  • Had to make plans on the day depending on if I had an outburst or not

You might think I am just being dramatic, but unless you have actually had eczema on your face so bad that you scratch it until it is red every single night, you won’t understand.

This was the start of my depression.

I realized that there are starving people in the world, people with AIDS, diabetes, cancer and physically disabled, but I felt like those people were lucky because they still looked normal.

What do you do when you are stuck in your own prison of a mind and you can’t escape?

What do you do when you fool yourself into thinking everyone is laughing at you and you can’t go out into the outside world?

Do you sit in your bedroom and get really good at math, build websites, learn a language, build models or try to invent a new product?

In hindsight I should have done at least a couple of those, but I – did – nothing.

My mom said that one day she asked me to hang out the washing and I stood at the washing line for 35 minutes looking out over the hill our house faced.

Nothing wrong with sight seeing, but I was truly stuck in my own prison, and I didn’t even realize it.

Life seemed worthless if I was going to look like a freak the whole time.

Did you ever feel like that?

To be continued … the next part of this series will be up soon!

About The Author

Johnny Palmer runs absrightnow.com a website specially devoted to teaching you how to get abs and the best way to lose belly fat. Johnny has come from a wildly unhealthy lifestyle and out of shape to having a lean, ripped body and overcoming every obstacle that has been seemingly placed in his way as a test.


Vitamin B12 Deficiency Associated with Aging and Chronic Disease Determinant

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under AGING, Featured

Introduction

Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for biological reactions, acting on the aging process. In developed countries, the classic syndromes of vitamin deficiency such as scurvy, beriberi and pellagra, are now rare but specific subgroups of populations that are at risk of vitamin insufficiency. This is the case of the elderly, who often suffer from vitamin D deficiency and water soluble vitamins. Research over the last decade has suggested that subtle deficiencies of B12 vitamins are risk factors for vascular disease, dementia, depression, and malignancies. In this review the authors report the latest findings on bioavailability of B12 vitamins in the elderly and the association between the deficiency of these vitamins and chronic diseases.

Intake, bioavailability and B vitamin status in the elderly

Most of these vitamins are widely distributed in foods, even at relatively low concentrations (B1), While others are only provided by certain categories of food (B12.) The synthetic forms of vitamins are also used in food fortification (folic acid) and supplements (cobalamin). Bioavailability is defined as the ratio of micronutrients absorbed and stored in tissues or used. Due to functional inadequacies, the vitamin status in the elderly may be subject to greater variability than the young.

The determinants of vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly include: environment (hospitalization, residence in a nursing home, live alone), sex (higher prevalence in men), lifestyle (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism), vegetarian and genetic variations. The lower caloric intake due to increased mortality combined with drug therapy increases the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. The evidence indicates that intake of vitamins B1, B2 and B6 in this population is below recommended levels.

In one study, the concentration decreased erythrocyte thiamine pyrophosphate in the course of 3 years; this fact would be related mainly to aging. The prevalence of riboflavin deficiency ranges between 16% and 45% in most communities evaluated. Several experiences have demonstrated the high prevalence of vitamin B6 (13% to 45%). Assessments of the levels of folate have provided varied experiences as detected deficiency or risk of osteoporosis, while others did not establish this possibility. Hypochlorhydria alters the dissociation of vitamin B12 food complexes and, therefore, their release into the lumen of small intestine. Atrophic gastritis associated with pernicious b12 deficiency anemia, with poor absorption of vitamin B12. These conditions explain the altered levels of this vitamin in some elderly, although they meet nutritional recommendations.

Vitamin B deficiency and degenerative diseases

The failure of folate, cobalamin, vitamin B6, B2 and B1 and is recognized as a risk factor for chronic diseases, cognitive and neuropsychiatric dysfunction and certain types of cancer. You can also exacerbate existing conditions in the elderly. The metabolism of homocysteine requires folate, cobalamin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia (HHC) increases with age.

In one study, the prevalence of HHC amounted to 29.3% in subjects between 67 and 96 years. Low levels of folate play an essential role in the pathogenesis of HHC. A meta-analysis of randomized trials found that folate supplementation (0.5 to 5 mg / d) HHC can reduce by 25%, while the addition of vitamin B12 (0.5 mg / d) may decrease by 7% more. However, these predictions would not be valid in the elderly often with homocysteine levels exceeding the range of 10 to 15 mmol / l. There is also a possible moderate association between HHC and cardiovascular disease. Some studies suggest that vitamin B6 could provide independent protection against cardiovascular mortality.

The low intake or mild deficiency of vitamin B could be associated with neuropsychological impairment in the elderly. Some studies have suggested that low levels of free thiamine in the cerebrospinal fluid may be associated with risk of Parkinson’s disease, having detected a relationship between levels of vitamin B1 in plasma and cerebral cortex, with cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

HHC dependent on low levels of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 could be a risk factor for cognitive disorders, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Folate deficiency also would be associated with increased risk of cerebrovascular events in the elderly. The HHC would be an independent risk factor for stroke and cognitive impairment.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause neuropsychiatric abnormalities such as depression test, which was not seen with folate deficiency, which indicates the specific effects of cobalamin. The HHC would be an independent risk factor for stroke and cognitive impairment in elderly is not known if it precedes the onset of dementia, or is the result of dementia associated with vitamin deficiencies.

Some studies suggest that under certain circumstances, such as high fat intake or smoking, folate deficiency may influence cell differentiation in the pancreas and contribute to the pathogenesis of pancreatitis and carcinoma. The low intake of folate, vitamin B6, Or both, would be associated with increased incidence of colorectal adenoma. It is also reported an inverse association between folate intake and colorectal and lung cancer. Moreover, the risk of breast cancer is associated with low levels of folate and possibly vitamin B6.

Mechanisms of the effects of vitamin B deficiency associated with aging

Chronic deficiencies of vitamins B can disrupt the metabolism of homocysteine. Folate deficiency can affect the configuration and structural stability of DNA, chromosomal commitment. Aging, marginal deficiencies of folate or vitamin B12 and the elevation of homocysteine are accompanied by spontaneous chromosome damage. Several studies have shown that chromosome damage can be minimized with concentrations of folate in RBCs greater than 700 nmol / l.

B vitamins may provide protection against oxidative stress by lowering homocysteine prooxidant and acting as an antioxidant. Moreover, several factors associated with brain aging (vessel disease, brain dysfunction, impaired nitric oxide activity, oxidative damage of neurons and altered methylation reactions) are related to the HHC due to folate deficiency. Also, there would be a relationship between increased homocysteine and a toxic product of lipid peroxidation in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency in aging

Cereals, vegetables, legumes, fruits, meat, fish and dairy products contribute to the consumption of vitamin B in the populations of developed countries. In order to prevent chronic diseases, experts from Western countries recommend a daily intake of at least 5 foods that correspond to fruits or vegetables. However, low percentage of subjects who follow this recommendation. Since the grain fortification with folic acid there were increases in plasma folate indicators in various populations.

Folate intake through supplements offers additional benefits for the elderly who consume fortified foods. However, supplementation and fortification with folic acid can enhance the growth and progression of colonic lesions and decrease the effectiveness of drugs used by the elderly. It was suggested that increased folate may precipitate or worsen the neurological dysfunction in subjects with vitamin B12.

The authors estimate difficult to answer if the elderly have specific needs of certain B vitamins Information from women between 60 and 85 years suggests a need to recommend a higher daily intake of folate, however, little specific advice. Despite some quantitative differences, the recommendations made in different countries generally agree on the specific requirements of B vitamins for the elderly. The daily requirement of vitamins B would be similar (folate, vitamins B1, B2, B12) Or higher (vitamin B6) To young adults. In the U.S. recommended the use of supplements or foods fortified with vitamin B12 for over 50 years. In thiamine-deficient elderly, administration of high doses of vitamin improved welfare indexes.

Treatment with vitamin B6, Cobalamin and folate, and multivitamin intake increased levels of vitamin and reduced homocysteine. In the elderly with vitamin B deficiency2 and B6 supplementation with physiological doses of riboflavin improved biochemical markers. It has not yet succeeded in establishing the amount of folate required to increase deposits to levels protective against chronic diseases. Several ongoing studies will enable to know the effects of supplementation with folic acid and other B vitamins in the production of chronic diseases. Currently, dietary modification towards a balanced system, rich in fruits and vegetables, it is preferable to consumption of products enriched or multivitamins.

Conclusion

The deficiency of B vitamins in the elderly population is associated with increased risk of degenerative entities, such as vascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and neurological tumors. However, there are differences between the information currently available. Therefore, longitudinal studies are needed to demonstrate that deficiency of these vitamins or alteration of biochemical indices (HCY) produces these pathologies. Other research projects will determine whether early initiation of adequate food has protective effect against degenerative diseases and whether the elderly require special attention on the status of the B vitamins.


Microvascular complications of diabetes: retinopathy

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under DIABETES, Featured

Diabetes comes with a lot of complications, both on the macrovascular and microvascular scale.

Macrovascular complications, as the term suggest, involve the large blood vessels and under this category falls cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and hypertension and stroke.

But what about micro vascular complications? This category includes

  • Effect on the eye (aka diabetic retinopathy or diabetic eye disease)
  • Effects on the kidney (aka diabetic nephropathy or chronic kidney disease)
  • Effects on the peripheral nerve function
  • Effect on sexual function (e.g. erectile dysfunction)

In the next couple of posts we will look at the most common microvascular complications of diabetes starting with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among adults in the US. It occurs when the retina is damaged through microvascular complications of diabetes.

The retina is the located at the back of the eye. It is the light-sensitive part of the eye. Diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels of the retina. Damage can occur in several ways. One way is the swelling and leaking of fluid from the blood vessels. Another way is the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) of the retina. Either way, the retina gets damaged leading to visual impairment and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 4 stages:

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy often does not present with any evident symptoms. Yet, about 40 to 45% of those diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) eventually develop diabetic retinopathy. This is why people with diabetes are recommended to undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once each year.

Prevention

With preventive measures and close monitoring, the risk for vision loss can be reduced by 95%. “The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy.” Early detection also reduces the risk for disease progression. Currently, there are many treatment options available. IN addition, blood pressure and cholesterol levels should also be kept under control.

Laser surgery is used to shrink abnormal blood vessels. Types of laser surgery are scatter laser and focal later treatments.

Vitrectomy is a more invasive procedure.

“A vitrectomy is performed under either local or general anesthesia. Your doctor makes a tiny incision in your eye. Next, a small instrument is used to remove the vitreous gel that is clouded with blood. The vitreous gel is replaced with a salt solution. Because the vitreous gel is mostly water, you will notice no change between the salt solution and the original vitreous gel.

Things that can exacerbate retinopathy

Pregnancy can exacerbate diabetic retinopathy in women with diabetes. In a recent study, alcohol consumption was linked to increased risk of deterioration of visual acuity.


Caregivers deserve to have fun, too – here’s how

December 21, 2010 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S, Featured, HEALTHCARE

It is a sad fact but while people are partying and celebrating during the holiday season, some people are especially put under stress at this time of the year that can lead to burn out and depression. They are the caregivers. Especially affected are the caregivers of the terminal ill, the disabled and those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. And the sad thing is, most caregivers do not even realize the difficult condition they are in. They take it for granted that they have to perform their duty day in and day out. In the process, they are taken for granted.

According to radio talk show host Leeza Gibbons (source: USA Today):

“Most caregivers don’t even realize the kind of pressure they’re under. They often end up with life-limiting conditions as a result of the relentless stress.”

Gibbons experienced this first hand as she witnessed her mother slowly deteriorated with Alzheimer’s. Her family became dysfunctional as they watched their loved one slowly but surely fade away. But their sad story was what inspired them after their journey to set up Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and Leeza’s Place, a community gathering place that provides support for caregivers.

The magazine GRAND gives 8 tips for caregivers on how to make their holidays less stressful and even enjoyable. These tips were written by Dr. James Huysman, Executive Director of Leeza’s Place.

  1. Give yourself a wellness gift. Give yourself a health and wellness gift.  Get a checkup, an assessment for anxiety or depression, and/or a health screening. Find a therapist. Join a support group. Take care of your own personal health. It is the first step toward reducing the stress and strain of the season ahead.
  2. Ask for help and make sure you are open to accept it. Asking friends and families for help may be the hardest thing we face. As caregivers, we are way too quick to accept the role of hero, martyr or savior. Too often we have a “go it alone policy” and believe that we must take care of everything ourselves.
  3. Find a friend or make a friendship even richer.  Having a friend to provide conversation, support and assistance or for any holiday activity is a wonderful therapeutic approach to the holidays. Sometimes a friend is all we need: a safe sounding board so we can get some stress out. Sometimes a friend might even offer respite that can lift your spirits and make the season more enjoyable.
  4. Learn how not to take things personally. Sometimes when families get together we are “on our last nerve.” Make sure we realize that the people around us have their dramas and traumas too and their words, though hurtful, may have nothing to do with us. Sometimes the words may come from a person with stressful challenges of their own.
  5. Identify a supportive community of friends, families or spiritual gatherings. Many caregivers are concerned they are seen as a burden and are often reluctant to come out and be connected to the world around them. Sometimes they feel no one cares. By finding a community outside the family, caregivers know they exist in a community of loving people who want to help because they care.  
  6. Plan your family’s activities with thought throughout the season. Roles and responsibilities are extremely important to explain to all involved. Ongoing family conferences throughout the holidays help maintain the boundaries necessary to the caregiving process so that no one feels out of control or inadequate. This is vital and should be done in person and as frequently as needed. Holiday family conferences are like tune-ups used to maintain the family car. This car needs to drive well, efficiently and for a long time. Schedule these conversations regularly before the wheels fall off.
  7. Keep a gratitude list in a holiday journal filled with wonderful affirmations.  That is a mouthful for sure and no doubt as a caregiver you will take this item by item or as a personal project throughout the season. Any one of these exercises can shift your focus away from darkness and worry and help empower a caregiver to create a focus on gratefulness – and hopefully begin to see the large amount of abundance that there already is in being alive. This process will begin to inspire new avenues of thought throughout the holiday season.
  8. Find humor everywhere you go. “Laughter Is the Best Medicine.” This is an old expression popularized by Norman Cousin’s book “Anatomy of an Illness,” in which he describes his battle with cancer and how he “laughed” his way to recovery. Laughter is a great tension-releaser, pain reducer, breathing improver, and general elevator of moods. Humor is so very valuable and a great elixir to get us through difficult or stressful times. Try to see the humor in being a caregiver during the holiday season. Start now. “How do you tell a caregiver from anyone else? It is the person who jumps off a cliff and someone else’s life passes before their eyes. . .  Okay, not so funny. Make sure you find your own laughter to keep smiling in your own life. Your energy for others during the holiday season will only happen when you energize and empower your own life force today.

Family Health History Part I: Why is it important?

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE

Many health problems have a genetic component to it. Yet, many of us never look back at our past for lessons for the future. Until health history repeats itself. Take me, for example. I was quite ill in 2001 and it took many different tests before I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. My doctor then asked afterwards “Why didn’t you tell me you have a family history of thyroid problems?” I completely forgot that my mom had her thyroids taken when I was little girl. However, because of my diagnosis, it wasn’t a complete surprise when 5 years later, my niece and then 2 years later one of my nephews had similar problems.

Eight years ago, from out of the blue, without prior health problems, my father-in-law had to undergo an emergency triple heart bypass. That was when my husband learned that his grandmother and his uncle both died of heart attack.

Knowing our genealogy is important. But the family tree should also include data on health and medical. In other words, a family tree should also be a family health tree.

Last Thanksgiving, the US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin urged Americans to take the opportunity of family get-togethers to share the family health history with each family member

“While family health histories may seem old-fashioned, the truth is, the family health history is key to understanding your family’s unique genetic make-up and your individual disease risks.

Knowing your family health history can help you actually prevent disease, or detect diseases, such as many forms of cancer, for early treatment. The information your family health history contains can help you and your doctor determine your personal risk.  This means two things:  you can tailor your lifestyle to reduce your health risks; and you can be more carefully screened for diseases where your risk is high.

To make documentation of health history easier, the Surgeon General’s office has developed an online tool called My Family Health Portrait. The tool can help you record your health history electronically, making it easier to pass on the information to subsequent generations.

The Surgeon General believes that the older generations are an invaluable source of information when constructing a family health tree.

Says Dr. Benjamin:

“Older adults are more likely to know about the health conditions of previous generations. I like to think of the family health history as an heirloom that can help current and future generations live longer, healthier lives.”

Well, Christmas is another opportunity to start your family health tree or perhaps bring to completion what has been already started. The MD Anderson Cancer Center calls in creating a “health ances-tree”.

But why is a family health tree important?

Well, taking my family as example, my husband and I learned about some of our family’s health history when the same health problems occurred a generation later. His family history and my family history are now merged to become our children’s history. From what we have learned, we know what are the diseases our kids our genetically predisposed to. We cannot change our genes but we can change our lifestyle. By changing our lifestyle, we can reduce our risks and those of our children.

This holiday season, make a family health history your holiday project.

Coming next: how to build a family medical history.


Have yourself a merry little green Christmas

December 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

Once again it’s that time of the year when we eat, drink, and be merry to the the fullest. Christmas is the season to jolly. We bake, we decorate, we shop, and everybody is having fun.  But can you imagine our impact on the environment during the holiday season!. This is one post from last year that I’d like to repost, with some revisions. Because these tips are a relevant as ever.

Carbon emissions spike up at Christmas time because we use up more than our usual consumption of electricity, fossil fuel, foodstuff, and other materials. This doesn’t mean to say we should refrain from spreading on the holiday cheers and goodwill. But there are ways wherein we can reduce wastefulness without losing out on the fun. So let’s take a look as to how we can minimize our carbon footprint this Christmas and be easy on our pockets as well.

Christmas lights

There is nothing more festive and beautiful that outdoor Christmas lights. My kids just love them.  Every Christmas our neighbors would lovingly decorate their house facade and their lawn with all sorts of Christmas lights, from a miniature sleigh pulled by six reindeers, to a life-sized lighted Santa hanging from the balcony. Each tree in the lawn is decorated with fairy lights. The front porch is decorated with lighted evergreen garlands. How beautiful they are!  But should all these lights be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Compared to our neighbors, our house has very few lights but we do have some. For my kids, outdoor lighting is part of Christmas. But why leave them on when the kids are in bed? That’s why I only turn them on from 6 pm till 10 pm every day. Also, try to use electricity-saving products, including light bulbs.

Last year, there were times when I’d forget to turn off the lights before I went to bed. This year, I installed an automatic timer to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

Shopping

Although I prefer to take the public transport, the car is still indispensable when it comes to shopping. We should however, try to minimize driving back and forth by scheduling shopping trips carefully. I reserve one whole day just for Christmas shopping and fill the car to the roof if I must, especially with the big items. If there were little things that I forget, I can always take the bus to the nearest mall.

In recent years, I also try to buy lots of stuff online. It saves time as well as gasoline money.

Choose green presents. When buying, here are the questions you can ask:

  • Is it made from recycled materials?
  • Is it biodegradable? Recyclable?
  • Is it energy efficient?
  • Is it non-toxic, non-polluting?
  • Has it been produced in an environmentally friendly/socially responsible way?

For example, little gadgets that run on alternative energy are nifty. My kids got mini flashlights that run on pure mechanical energy and they are great.

Or what about mobile phones which emit very little radiation? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested several models to check for radiation emission levels. Check out EWG’s cell phone radiation guide.

Another green present I find nifty are carbon emission offsets. Check out the 3 Phases Renewables carbon calculator and see how much of your friends carbon emission you can offset.

On the safety side, choose toys that are safe and non-toxic. Check the consumer updates for recalled products.

Recycling

After all the presents have been unwrapped, what do we do with the rubbish? Wrapping papers and cardboard boxes are easily recyclable. Check locally for recyclers, then collect your Christmas wrappings and deliver them to the recyclers in one go.

Christmas trees can also be recycled. In our town, the trees are collected in January, to be used for wood or placed in the compost. Some shops, including Ikea, take back the trees for composting and even give gift vouchers in return.

What about unwanted presents? In some countries, people can exchange these right after Christmas. But not is Switzerland where we live. They have, however, a way of disposing unwanted presents – donation to charity. The rule is that the presents, food or nonfood, are new and unused, and if food or beverage, are unopened. The presents are either distributed to the needy, or resold, with revenues going to charity.

Food

Christmastime is feasting time. We love to cook and to bake at this time of the year. But preparing food also uses up a lot of resources, from the food production to the roasting process. And there is always more than enough to go around. But please do not throw away leftover food. I freeze whatever I can for lean times. If you are not the leftover eater type, or if the deep freeze is full, take them to the local shelter or soup kitchen. There are hungry people out there who’d be sure to welcome them. The only exception I make about throwing away food is on sweets. Sadly, ever since the holiday season has started, I’ve thrown away so much sweets which my kids bring home from parties and even school activities.

And while you are at it, have yourself a merry little green Christmas!


`Tis the season for heart attacks?

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEART AND STROKE

‘Tis the season for joy and cheers … and cardiac events. Okay, I don’t want to dampen your high spirits during the holidays but it has been shown again and again that there is a distinct spike in the number of heart attacks during December-January, particular around Christmas and New Year. According to WebMD, there has been generally an overall 5% increase heart-related deaths during the holiday season based on mortality statistics from 1973 to 2001. Let us look at the reasons why.

Is it the weather?

The winter season does have some adverse effects on our heart health. The cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, which in turn elevates blood pressure. Blood clots also occur more easily. Extremely cold temperatures and physical exertion put too much burden on the heart. These are the ingredients for coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

Is it the holiday season?

A study published in circulation reported:

“The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.”

And this pattern is not only true in the cold northern parts of the US. The same trend has been observed in Los Angeles where winters are not necessarily freezing. Some hypotheses put forward by health experts are:

  • People delay consulting their doctors despite feeling ill until after the holidays, mainly to avoid disrupting holiday festivities and travel plans.

“People just tend to put off seeking medical help during the holidays. They tend to wait till afterwards, which I think is a mistake.”

  • GPs are not easily available whereas hospitals and emergency clinics are short-staffed during the holiday. These can lead again to delay in treatment as well as decrease in the quality of care of those who decide to go to the hospital.
  • The holiday season is simply a very unhealthy season when people eat too much, drink too much, forego on exercise, get too much stress and get too little sleep.

“People tend to gain weight during the holiday season and take in more salt, which can put additional stress on a weakened heart.”

However, all the risk factors that may lead to increased heart attacks at this time of the year are actually modifiable. Dr. Robert A. Kloner, a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California gives us the following tips:


“The Flu ends with ‘U’”

December 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

The FLU ends with “U”. That is the current slogan of the Flu Vaccination Week in the US.

 Pregnant women urged to have the flu vaccine

Pregnant women are pretty wary of taking medications. With good reason. Many medications can affect the growing baby in the womb that can lead to fetal malformation, preterm labor or still birth. A well-known case was that of thalidomide in 1950s which caused tens of thousands of cases of birth defects. Hence in most cases, women are not supposed to take any medications during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary.

However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in US are asking pregnant women to make an exception when it comes to the seasonal influenza vaccine. ACOG and ACIP are recommending that pregnant women should have flu shot regardless in which trimester they are in. Health authorities are assuring these women that the shot is safe and will provide protection for them and their unborn child.

Flu: What Seniors Need to Know

Another special group of people urged to get flu shots are the senior citizens. Early last month, the US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) organized a webcast wherein senior Americans could address their questions about the flu to the health experts, including US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Info on flu prevention especially addressed to elderly adults aged 65 and older is available on the flu.gov site. The 3 key recommendations are:

Kids and Flu: Elmo helps out

A public service announcement from the HHS will be sure to get the flu message to kids and their parents. After all, who wouldn’t listen to Sesame Street star Elmo? HHS Secretary Sebelius, with the help of this popular TV character, appeared on a webcast with this message: Be Healthy America.

Faith & Communities Fight Flu

Finally, everybody in the community have the duty to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of flu.HHS gives us 5 simple tips to do this:


Music-based multitasking exercise program helps improve gait and balance in the elderly

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING, Featured

Uncertainty of gait, impaired mobility and loss of balance. These are just a few of the physical downsides of aging. All of these lead to high prevalence of falls and injuries in the elderly. And falls lead to bone fractures that even worsen mobility impairment and overall quality of life.

Researchers at the University Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine of Geneva in Switzerland report that a special exercise might help senior citizens overcome these physical problems and improve their quality of life. According to the study authors:

“Each year, one-third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall, and half of those fall repeatedly. Exercise can counteract key risk factors for falls, such as poor balance, and consequently reduce risk of falling in elderly community-dwelling individuals.”

They are recommending a “music-based multitask exercise program” which they have tried out in elderly community dwellers. The exercise is especially geared towards improving gait since most falls happen during walking. The program consisted of:

Two groups of community-dwelling elderly people were assigned to different exercise interventions were compared. One group was assigned to the normal exercise activities (control) and the other to the music-based multitask exercise program for 6 months. During the next 6 months, the groups switched activities.

The result showed that:

  • Improvements in balance and functional tests were more pronounced in the multitasking group vs. the control group.
  • Walking speed increased in the multitasking group.
  • Stride length increased and stride time variability decrease in the multitasking group.
  • The benefits of the multitasking program persisted beyond the first 6 months, even after the interventions were switched.

This study authors concluded

“…that participation in music-based multitask exercise classes once a week over a 6-month period can improve gait performance under single and cognitive-motor, dual-task conditions, as well as improve balance, and reduce both the rate of falls and the risk of falling in at-risk elderly community-dwelling adults. Our findings suggest that this program may be useful for fall prevention and rehabilitation in community-based setting such as senior centers.”


Breastfeeding prevents metabolic syndrome

June 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEART AND STROKE

Metabolic syndrome is condition characterized by the presence of multiple risk factors in 1 patient, making that patient highly predisposed to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Metabolic risk factors according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute are: a large waistline, indicating abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension, and high fasting blood sugar level. A patient is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least 3 of these risk factors.

In a recent report, researchers at Kaiser Permanente stated that one way of lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome for women is breastfeeding.

Previous studies have shown that women with gestational diabetes have a much higher likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. The protective effects of breastfeeding against metabolic syndrome were especially evident in women who suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The researchers looked at 704 women aged between 18 to 30 years at the start of the study and did not have metabolic syndrome. Over the 20-year follow-up, 120 cases of metabolic syndrome occurred after delivery. The researchers reported that breastfeeding among these women decreased metabolic risk syndrome by 39 to 56% in women who did not have gestation diabetes but it went as high as 44 to 86% among those who had gestational diabetes Furthermore, the protection seems to be correlated to the duration of the breastfeeding.

According to study author Dr. Erica Gunderson

The findings indicate that breastfeeding a child may have lasting favorable effects on a woman’s risk factors for later developing diabetes or heart disease.  “

In the study, he benefits of breastfeeding were not associated with weight gain and physical activity and even lifestyle but linked to less abdominal fat and high levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Breast milk is considered to be the best food for babies. Only recently was it observed that the benefits of breastfeeding actually both ways. The child receives the best food nature can provide and the mother lower her risks for a wide range of diseases, from breast cancer to heart disease – and now metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Gunderson explains further:

“The Metabolic Syndrome is a clustering of risk factors related to obesity and metabolism that strongly predicts future diabetes and possibly, coronary heart disease during midlife and early death for women…Because the Metabolic Syndrome affects about 18 to 37 percent of U.S. women between ages 20-59, the childbearing years may be a vulnerable period for its development. Postpartum screening of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease may offer an important opportunity for primary prevention.”


Wednesday, April 7th is World Health Day

April 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE

April 7 is World Health Day.

This year’s theme for World Health Day is “1000 cities, 1000 lives.” The Day is set on April7, 2010 but events are planned worldwide from April 7 to 11.

Here are the global goals of World Health Day 2010:

•1000 cities: to open up public spaces to health, whether it be activities in parks, town hall meetings, clean-up campaigns, or closing off portions of streets to motorized vehicles.

•1000 lives: to collect 1000 stories of urban health champions who have taken action and had a significant impact on health in their cities.

So far, over 600 cities all over the world have already registered to join the campaign.

But why are we focusing on cities? These facts and figures from the World Health Organization tells us why:

  • More than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas.
  • By 2030, 6 out of 10 people will be living in cities, by 2050 it will be 7 of out 10.
  • About a third of the world’s urban population (more than 1 billion people!) live in urban slums.
  • The rate at which urbanization has taken place over the last few decades is well-illustrated by a look at how long it took a city to grow from one million to eight million inhabitants. For London, this growth took around 130 years. For Bangkok, similar growth took 45 years. For Seoul, it took only 25 years.
  • Between 1995 and 2005 alone, the urban population of developing countries grew by an average of 1.2 million people per week, or around 165 000 people every day.
  • Most rapid growth will take place in cities of 1 to 10 million people; it is not just a megacity issue.
  • The speed of urbanization has outpaced the ability of governments to build essential infrastructures that make life in cities safe, rewarding, and healthy, particularly in low-income countries.

The speed of urbanization has outpaced the ability of governments to build essential infrastructures that make life in cities safe, rewarding, and healthy, particularly in low-income countries.

Problems that many urban dwellers have to deal with are:

  • Poor living conditions, including lack of housing, water and sanitation
  • Lack of access to social and health services
  • Increased risk for violence, chronic disease, and for some communicable diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cholera)
  • Increased risk for chronic diseases due to lack of physical exercise, poor nutrition, and air pollution
  • Increase rates of psychological and behavioral problems among urban dwelling children.
  • Overcrowing, unemployment, cultutal dislocation and isolation
  • Increased rate of substance, tobacco, and alcohol abuse

To address these challenges, the World Health Day Campaign identified 5 key areas for action:

Urban planning promoting healthy behaviours and safety. Local governments and civil society can design urban areas to promote physical activity through investment in active transport; encourage healthy eating by managing availability and access to fresh food; and reduce violence and crime through good environmental design and regulatory controls, including managing the number of alcohol outlets.

Improve urban living conditions. Apply healthy urban design principles with easy access to basic amenities and services, designated commercial and non-commercial land use, with land also set aside for protection of natural resources and recreation. One of the biggest challenges is, of course, access to adequate shelter for all. The quality of housing and adequate access to services such as water and sanitation are vital contributors to health.

Participatory urban governance. Local participatory governance mechanisms should be established that enable communities and local governments to partner in building healthier and safer cities.

Inclusive cities are accessible and age-friendly. People with disabilities make up at least 10% of the population, and access barriers prevent participation in education, employment and public life. Globally, populations are rapidly ageing, leading to more older people, many of whom will experience mobility and sensory impairments. Measures such as accessible public transit, kerb cuts, safe pedestrian crossings (e.g. tactile paving, signaled controlled crossings) all improve safety and enhance participation for disabled and older persons.

Making urban areas resilient to emergencies and disasters. Improving the ability of the community to protect themselves from all types of hazards, and involving the health sector in community-led local emergency response planning and training, will help to reduce risks and provide a more effective emergency response. The development of settlements and infrastructure away from natural and technological hazard-prone areas, and safer health facilities which are prepared for emergencies will make communities safer. All-hazard health emergency management systems, with the ability to provide safe and secure health services, food and water, water, protection and shelter in humanitarian settings is needed to minimize loss of life and disabilities in emergencies, disaster and other crises.

Follow World Health Day Events by checking their social media site!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Next Page »

NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.