Monthly Archives: January 2013

Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

There are some things that you can let pass. They aren’t a big deal, and you’ll live. But there are other things that aren’t so minor and you should pay attention to. Here are a few:

Sudden, Severe Headaches

If the room just starts spinning for no reason, this is not something minor or something to ignore. If you have to hold yourself up with the wall or a piece of furniture, you should head in to see your doctor. According to David Frid MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, This type of dizziness (called syncope if you faint, or pre-synocope if less severe), could be a symptom of an underlying coronary artery disease or arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm.You could also have tachycardia or other serious heart problems. You should never ignore passing out or almost passing out.

Throbbing toothache

This can really hurt, especially if it’s a chipped tooth. It can result from a number of different oral issues, often related to gum disease and tooth decay. In fact, it could actually contribute to heart disease. According to Paul Kim DDS of Great Expressions Dental Centers in Suffern, NY, A toothache is like a fire alarm. The pain alerts you to a problem that, if caught early, can often be an easy fix. If left alone, it just gets worse. It can easily spread, even to other organs.

Pain Near the Belly Button or Right Side

A severe pain on the right side could be simple constipation, but it could also be appendicitis. When it comes with a fever or nausea, it’s definitely something that you want to get treated, fast. If it is short term, it’s okay. On the other hand, if it lasts 24 to 48 hours, the bacteria could easily be spreading, causing more serious problems. It could even be fatal, meaning you should go to the emergency room.

A Sudden Feeling of Dread

You may feel anxious when getting up to give a presentation, and that’s normal for a lot of people. However, if you experience a sudden feeling of dread, chest tightness, chest discomfort, etc, it could be a heart attack or a sign of coronary disease. If you are exercising, the symptoms may go away with a little rest, but especially if you have a family history, you should reconsider.

Frequent Indigestion

If you are prone to indigestion, certain types of food or drinks can increase your symptoms and frequency of heartburn. Indigestion is a problem in itself, but if it becomes too frequent, you should keep an eye out. It could eventually lead to serious problems like ulcers. It could also increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

A Tender Calf That Feels Like It’s On Fire

A sore calf could be a simple pulled muscle. However, it could also be a sign of deep thrombosis, which is a deep blood clot that can form in the leg, generally with low to no activity. The clot can travel up to the heart and cause problems there. Most cramps go away quickly, but if it persists, you should see a doctor.

Your Knee Feels as if it May Give Out

If your knee literally feels as if it may give out at any moment, you could have a torn ACL. The ACL tear is common in athletes and certain others, and it’s essential to stabilizing the knee. It typically happens when you change direction or pivot frequently, which is why soccer and football players are at particular risk. If it developed over time with no distinct injury, it may not be the ACL at all.

A Sudden Headache

A sudden and severe headache can reach maximum intensity within a short period of time, and it is a red flag. It should always be checked out. It could be a sign of a cerebral hemorrhage according to Mark W Green MD. Migraines can of course be painful, but the next one in cases like this could actually be fatal.

A Long Lasting Fever

If a fever lasts for more than a few days, it could be a problem. You should expect a fever when you have a cold or flu, but when it lasts a few days on its own, especially when you also have a sore throat, it may be infective or bacterial endocarditis. It is basically an infection of the heart valves. It could be the result of something as simple as a dental procedure. Basically, bacteria has entered the bloodstream, and it could lead to a fatal heart attack or otherwise. Leukemia or lymphoma could also lead to these types of problems.

Painful Urination

For women, it’s most likely a urinary tract infection. However, urinary tract infections can travel up and cause more problems. For men, this could be a sign of prostate problems, even leading to cancer. It could easily be an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia for men, and it could be bladder cancer.

If you have these types of symptoms, the best thing to do is head over to your doctor. You may spend a few bucks to find out that it’s something minor.

Can Brain Pacemakers Treat Alzheimers?

It sounds like Frankenstein or therapies that were formerly used to treat mentally ill patients….that led to serious side effects that could permanently disable people. Sending jolts of electricity through one’s brain is a scary thought, understandably.

However, doctors are starting to use this to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors drill holes into the patient’s skull, and tiny wires are implanted in the right spot to provide what is effectively a brain pacemaker.

The first studies are finally getting underway. The research is still early, and only a few dozen people have actually had the implant in just a handful of hospitals. No one knows if it actually works just yet.

Kathy Sanford was among the first few signing up. In the early stages, she gradually got worse. At this point, she can still live independently, and she posts reminders for herself around the house, but she can no longer work. The usual medicines have not worked for her.

Sanford officially has dementia, and she has decided this particular treatment is worth a shot. Her father states, What’s our choice? To participate in a program or sit here and watch her slowly deteriorate?

A few months later, her hair is finally growing back. She feels good with an occasional tingling, and the battery generator is working so far. She’ll be tracked for 2 years

This is actually nothing new. 85,000 to 100,000 people have used DBS to block Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. This would just be another step in the progression of this particular therapy. Some also advocate using this to treat depression and obesity by decreasing appetite.

Alzheimer’s is many things. It steals memories, and eventually it seems to steal entire lifetimes. Researchers are tired of having no real solution, and hopefully this will provide a real option in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Is Carbonated Water Bad For You?

carbonated-waterOn a doctor’s recommendation, I stopped drinking soda. I didn’t do it to lose weight or because of all of the internet hype about soda being bad. It was related to a stomach problem I was battling at the time, and soda as you may guess contributes to gas, and it may be harsh on the stomach lining.

I definitely recommend more water for the average dieter. Water is zero calories, it doesn’t have all that extra sugar, and it’s just necessary for life. In a Google search, I can guarantee you’ll find a number of sites about carbonated water just being terrible for you, shortening your workouts, breaking down bones, and causing osteoporosis. Internet hype is attractive, and when they say it causes cancer….well everything causes or cures cancer these days. Let’s see what’s actually true.

Carbonated Water & Your Bones

Soda consumption has been linked to lower bone mineral density, particularly Colas. Obviously, there are some methodological problems right off the bat. Cola isn’t just made of carbonated water. It also has sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other things. Researchers have done more research which seems to also suggest that it’s not the carbonation. They had one group drink one liter of still water and another drink carbonated water for 8 weeks. After that 8 week period, there was no marked difference in bone density. Studies actually suggest that those who drink more soda take in less calcium, explaining the differential with simple nutrition.

Carbonated Water & Your Teeth

Carbonated water is slightly more acidic than normal water, which you would think would break down tooth enamel. The problem is that it doesn’t pan out quite that way. When researchers took the time to soak human teeth in a number of different still and sparkling waters, studies found that there was no difference or significant harm in any of the groups. Tap water actually contains a number of trace elements and minerals such as calcium that can protect your teeth from carbonic acid.

You should note though that this is not true when you’re talking about flavored waters. Flavored waters do have more sugar and other flavoring agents that can be quite acidic, breaking down your tooth enamel and damaging your teeth. You may have seen the weird facts about Coke (most of which use undiluted Coke syrup). Even diluted, just think about what that can do to your teeth. Unflavored water without extra sugar and other flavorants though does not cause that kind of damage.

Carbonated Water & Your Throat/Stomach

When I stopped drinking soda (soda, not specifically carbonated water), I was already in regular and constant pain. There was clearly something wrong with my stomach, and even now, a lot of sodas do burn when they go down my throat. That is not necessarily because of the carbonation, but because of a lot of the ingredients.

In terms of carbonation alone, it can make you burp. As you may have noticed, releasing gas can relieve some indigestion. Carbonated water alone as it turns out does not actually cause indigestion or hurt your stomach. Some even say that a little carbonated water could actually settle an upset stomach.

This could be explained by the fact that again, a little carbonation makes you burp, which releases tension and pressure. It does cause some of that tension, but it’s possible that it takes a little more than it came with when it leaves.

Carbonated Water & Stomach Acid

Personally, I would’ve thought carbonated water would make stomach acid more….acidy. Some believe that it actually dilutes stomach acid, making it less able to break down and digest food. To me, this just doesn’t even meet the test of common sense, but apparently that’s just me.

The fact is that drinking water of any type with meals does not dilute stomach acid. It does not stop you from digesting foods, including fats, and there is no proven increase in the risk of cancer.

There are many things to be said about carbonated water. It works extremely well to clean off the drink nozzles when you work in a restaurant. However, when it comes to the health risks, the evidence just isn’t as strong as many internet sources make it sound.

Getting Rid of Scars

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I just noticed that some old ice pick scars I had around my neckline/chin are now entirely gone. Working at a natural supplements company, I have tried any number of company products. I have been using an acne scrub the company sells for a while, and it doesn’t lighten scars. I’m now on my own one person trial to see if a wrinkle serum might be what got rid of my scars the first time around

Why Women Gain Weight During Menopause

Women tend to pack on the pounds more easily, in part because women have less testosterone, and the body is constantly preparing for pregnancy and fertility. This is not to say that men don’t experience weight problems, it’s just less excusable in some ways.

When women get older and hit menopause though, it gets even worse, even leading women to specifically gain more belly fat. A new study has attempted to explain why.

It’s not just that you’re getting older or just estrogen or testosterone. Women may also see an increase in an enzyme called A1dh1a1. Researchers say this enzyme is found in mice and humans, and it might explain manopause as well.

Researchers found that female mice eating a high fat diet had more A1dh1a1. This makes me think it’s more connected to obesity in general, considering it was diet based and not just age based, which would isolate the possibilities. Technically though, the female mice did gain more belly fat than the males did. Again, this would isolate gender and not necessarily age (menopause).

When genetically engineered to resist this enzyme, female mice were less likely to gain belly fat, even on the same high fat diet. In other words, if researchers could remove this enzyme in humans or make us more resistant, it might help women in general to be able to lose more weight.

Here’s where it might connect to menopause. Estrogen may suppress A1dh1a1 activity, which means that younger women with more estrogen may be more immune to the hormone. After menopause, levels of estrogen severely drop, meaning this might make sense. Researchers at Ouliana Ziouzenkova Ohio State University are working on an obesity treatment on this basis.

However, this treatment is unlikely to come in the near future. The research has ONLY been conducted on mice, and as you may know, mice do not necessarily work like humans.

This study has been published in the January issue of the journal Diabetes.

Is Obesity Really Unhealthy?

You’ve seen the commercials featuring the people who are obviously overweight, even 300-400 pounds who claim they’re picked on. They claim they’re not unhealthy and fat has nothing to do with health. Of course, every doctor and their dog would seriously argue with this. A little extra weight isn’t necessarily going to hurt you, but being morbidly obese will. It’s simple statistics.

A review of just about 100 studies though, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that it’s just not quite that simple. Being overweight doesn’t necessarily make you more likely to die, which isn’t surprising. The BMI really doesn’t factor in muscle, especially for women. What is surprising is that being mildly obese may not really increase your risk of death.

I wouldn’t say fat is good for you, and those people who go on TV to say I’m fat and it’s okay are probably still at risk. Our society’s ideas though may be more strict than reality. Epidemiologists insist that excess weight is typically dangerous. It’s just not as black and white as we once thought. Here’s what they’ve decided.

  1. The Difference is not that significant
    The JAMA analysis showed that overweight people were 6% less likely to die than normal weight people. Some critics say it’s only statistically significant because of the large number of people, but if it had gone the other way, these same critics wouldn’t be saying the same things.
  2. Death risk is the wrong thing to look at
    Yes, death is an easy thing to consider, but fat doesn’t necessarily relate to mortality. We should be looking at disease, and the truth is that our medical technology has jumped ahead by leaps and bounds. End story, we can keep people with disease alive for longer. You ARE more likely to suffer from diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes if you are obese. Without proper care, those diseases can kill you. That is established fact. So yes, obesity is still unhealthy.
  3. The difference between overweight and obese is too close
    Someone who weighs more, but has a lot of muscle, isn’t obese, period. You have to have a certain body fat percentage. We used to think that obese people were more likely to die earlier. Again insert medical technology. You may be 6% healthier if overweight, but you may also be on the road to morbid obesity, which gives you a 29% higher risk of death. So don’t gloat, because you’re that much closer to high risk than those who are a healthy weight.
  4. The dangers of being underweight
    Our society doesn’t necessarily pay attention to the risk of being underweight. We may even glorify it. Those who are underweight or on the lower end of the “normal” BMI have a higher mortality rate than those in a higher range. This particular group is actually the reason why slightly overweight people have better numbers.
  5. Different types of fat
    There are types of fat which are worse. For example, belly fat is worse as it surrounds vital organs. Hard fat is worse than soft fat. Butt and thigh fat may actually be safe or even healthy, especially for women in their reproductive years. Things like waist to hip ratio, body fat percentage, blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardio-respiratory fitness are better predictors.
  6. Fat Vs Disease
    There are some diseases that fat may actually be good for. Again, obesity does not help you, period. However, when you’re talking a little extra weight, diseases like heart disease, diabetes, renal dialysis, or old age may not have the same effect on you. You may be better able to fight them. When I say this, I’m talking about a couple points on the BMI scale, NOT morbid obesity or even slight obesity.
  7. Fat prevents injury
    Fat people have more padding. If you fall and hit your leg, a fat person is going to have more protection for their bones. An extremely skinny person on the other hand is more likely to hit the bone harder and therefore fracture it. If older, more fat still protects you, and you are even more likely to fracture a hip or break an arm if you don’t have extra fat.
  8. Muscular people skew the numbers
    Again, muscular people are still sometimes considered overweight. The traditional BMI does not take large amounts of muscle into account, and it’s really not accurate for some people because of that. These people may have 8% body fat, but they’re rated as being “overweight.” Are they really unhealthier? Unless they’re taking steroids or something, no. So that 6% may not be as true as you’d like to think.
  9. Medical intervention
    Your grandma just didn’t have the benefits of modern knowledge including modern medicine. Medicine can reduce the effects of fat on things like cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. In other words, it increases survival rate among those who would’ve died from obesity without.

At first glance, there are plenty of people who would say look, see, I told you, obesity isn’t bad. OBESITY IS BAD. It is unhealthy and increases your risk for disease. A little extra weight isn’t necessarily that unhealthy, and it is only because of modern medicine and innovations that obese people are less likely to die because of obesity than they were before. What this article is saying is that the BMI is based on very basic concepts and numbers, and it does not necessarily take into account other more complicated factors. It is saying that if you have a little excess weight, you should consider all of the puzzle pieces instead of freaking out. For example, something as uncontrollable as bone mass could affect your weight without being accounted for in your BMI.

The idea is that you should focus on healthy living as opposed to a certain number on the scale. Being underweight can be just as unhealthy.

Paula Deen’s Weight Loss

paula-deenNearly a year ago, there was no such thing as calorie cutting or healthy living in Paula Deen’s kitchen. All of the comfort food on her show could make a healthier eater sick, but about a year ago, she also announced her struggle with type 2 diabetes. Since then, she has lost 36 pounds, and she’s keeping it off, looking fitter than ever.

Some women who have lost 50 or 100 pounds talk about extreme calorie cutting, extreme living, and no wiggle room. According to the 65 year old chef though, It’s all about moderation. I just needed to learn to eat a normal portion size and not overindulge.

She regularly walks on a treadmill, no extreme personal training for this star. However, her biggest thing is portion control. She still eats many favorite foods such as her peanut butter pie, just on a smaller scale. For Deen, it really is about the small changes.

Her typical dinner used to be made up of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans with bacon, and biscuits that were of course delicious to her. Now we do a 3-oz portion of steak, which my husband, Michael, weighs on a scale, and I’ll sear it in a skillet and put it on the grill. We’ll saute the green beans but without bacon. And maybe a tomato salad with onions. No bread!

Sticking with some favorites, Deen doesn’t do things like light mayonnaise. It just doesn’t taste right. She eats plenty of greens minus more of the fat, and she even steams them.

As you may have noticed, the formerly obese chef built her entire empire on these kinds of fatty foods. She created things like the Lady’s Brunch Burger, which was a hamburger with bacon and a fried egg on two doughnuts. Talk about a heart attack on a plate. Truth be told, she was silently suffering with type 2 diabetes for years before she made the change. After her official announcement, she promptly endorsed a diabetes drug, making some wonder about her motivation and timing.

Deen stresses she was in denial, and she wants to be here for her grandchildren. She’s definitely not looking back with her parents dying at 40 and 44 respectively. She’s already 65, but she’d like more years to really live.