Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Benefits of Grapefruit

GrapefruitHailing from the sunny Caribbean, grapefruit is a popular and delicious breakfast or anytime delight. And now is a great time to enjoy it, because February is National Grapefruit Month. Here are some of the health benefits of grapefruit:

  • Grapefruit is rich in the soluble fiber pectin, which can help you control your cholesterol.
  • The cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene is found in abundance in red grapefruit.
  • Grapefruit is a common and delicious way to reduce fever and alleviate flu symptoms. The natural quinine also treats malaria.
  • A grapefruit a day helps relieve symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • The fat-burning properties of grapefruit make it great to help you lose weight. In addition, the smell of grapefruit can reduce hunger.
  • Grapefruit supplies your body with vitamin A, which maintains healthy skin and has been shown to help prevent lung cancer.
  • At bedtime, try grapefruit juice to help relieve insomnia.
  • Flavonoid antioxidants such as naringenin, essential for good vision, are found in grapefruit.
  • Vitamin C is found in grapefruit and other citrus fruits. It helps boost your immune system and eliminate free radicals.
  • Grapefruit is a good source of B-complex vitamins.

When shopping for grapefruit, look for sweet-smelling, brightly colored fruits that are heavy for their size and are wrinkle-free. Many medications interact with grapefruit, so talk to your doctor and make sure it’s safe. Grapefruit keeps up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Charles Lieberman, MedexSupply blogger

Eating Safely

Although we normally associate it with summer picnics, E. coli and other types of food poisoning can be dangerous—even deadly—year-round. The danger comes from a family of microorganisms called cytotoxins or verotoxins. E. coli produces Shiga-like toxin 1; Shiga toxin, a nearly identical cytotoxin that causes the same symptoms, is produced by a bacterium called Shigella dysenteriae.

Whatever the cause, there has historically been no effective treatment for this form of food poisoning other than prevention, chiefly making sure food is cooked thoroughly—generally to a temperature of at least 160° Farenheit. That kills the bacteria and makes the food safe to eat. Otherwise, verotoxins may attach themselves to a common protein and slip past your body’s defenses. Verotoxin food poisoning kills a million people each year.

Recently, researchers discovered that manganese, a metallic element, might be able to help. Manganese alters the path the protein takes in cells, keeping it away from the toxins, which then get destroyed. Manganese is itself dangerous in high doses, but scientists are investigating whether safe doses are effective against food poisoning. Another issue that needs to be resolved before the treatment is practical is whether the protein’s function will be impaired by the treatment. However, experiments on rats, according to the journal Science, have been successful without impairing the animals’ functioning.

Charles Lieberman, MedexSupply blogger

Lose Weight While You Sleep

A good night’s sleep can do more than help keep you well rested. Swedish scientists say it could help keep you fit. That’s because sleep deprivation is linked to overeating.

According to a research team at Uppsala University, the area of the brain responsible for feelings of hunger and satiety is affected by sleep deprivation. When sleep-deprived people are shown pictures of food, this area is more active than in people woh’ve gotten adequate sleep.

“Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run,” said lead researcher Christian Benedict. “It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”

As little as one night of sleep loss shows a measurable impact in hunger. So get some rest—and you’ll feel thinner in the morning.

Charles Lieberman, MedexSupply blogger

Water Aerobics Benefits

Regular exercise is necessary for good health. It promotes bloodcirculation and keeps the heart healthy and strong.  However, high impact exercise may be too much of a strain on individuals who aren’t used to physical exertion.

A good solution for this is water aerobics.  Water aerobics is low impact while still promoting a great workout, and is suitable for most strength levels.  Unlike some high impact sports, the rhythmic body movements in water aerobics can be enjoyable and even relaxing.

Most water aerobics routines last for about 40 to 50 minutes and focus on both the arms and the legs. Water resistance helps improve strength and flexibility in the body, as well as balance.

Provides Support
Water aerobics provides support to the body, reducing the chance of bone, joint or muscle injury, a common issue in standard cardio-style exercise.  According to a study, water supports 80% of a person’s weight, causing less strain on the joints, back and torso.

Burned Calories
Exercising under water resistance will help burn calories in the body.  Expect to burn between 400 and 500 calories per hour when you are performing water aerobics. The calories an individual burn will depend on size, the intensity of the movements performed as well as the depth of the water and its temperature.

Developed Flexibility
Water aerobics are great for older individuals who may find themselves losing flexibility as they age.  A regular exercise program can improve flexibility and range of motion.  It can also help people with arthritis and other chronic pain issues.

Helps in Cardiac Conditioning
Exercising in the water is beneficial to the heart. In water aerobics the heart rate is maintained at a lower, steadier rate compared to running and cycling.

If you’re reluctant to start an exercise program due to fear of injury or because you don’t think you’re fit or strong enough, try water aerobics! It has all the same benefits of working out in a gym with few of the drawbacks.

How Your Body Stays Young

Nearly everyone would like to stay young, especially those who are already developing signs of aging. But do you know that our body can defy our chronological age? It just depends on proper maintenance.

Cells are constantly regenerating throughout our body, including in the skin, gums and circulatory system. This regeneration is how wounds heal, and also promotes the growth of hair and nails. It also occurs in ways that are not evident to the naked eye.

Cells in the digestive system regenerate every five minutes, while for the heart it occurs every six to nine months.  The liver repairs and replaces 25% of its tissue every five months.  Human skin repairs itself every four weeks, gums every two weeks and even the red blood cells are replaced every four months

Practicing a healthy lifestyle can encourage cell regeneration, allowing the body inside and out to remain in top form.  Here’s a few simple steps you can take:

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that protect the body from developing diseases and help it stay young.

Exercise. Help those renewed cells in the body and the circulating red blood cells as well.

Socialize. Talking with family, relatives and friends will keep your spirits high and help ward off depression, which can have negative effects on the body.

Get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours is recommend for optimal results, though your body will tell you if you’re sleeping enough.  Don’t be afraid to take naps if you need them.

Drink lots of water. Water is needed to maintain proper metabolism and circulation, as well preventing dehydration.

Consume whole grains. Whole grains like barley, oats, millet and brown rice contain fiber and protein, and are a great source of vitamins and minerals.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol in large amounts can be hazardous to the body, especially the liver, which is the organ responsible for filtering toxins. It depresses the function of the nervous system as well, and can affect red blood cell regeneration.

Limit processed foods.   This may include convenience foods such as frozen dinners, as well as foods containing high amounts of white flour. Processed foods do not contain enough of the nutrients that are important in cell growth, or the enzymes necessary to promote healthy digestion.  Some processed foods may also contain additives and chemicals that can impact liver health.

Avoid fried foods.  A diet high in saturated fats can damage cell membranes and enzymes, and can be stressful on the digestive system and liver.

Keep sugar intake to a minimum. Excessive sugar can affect the immune system’s normal functions, as well as reduce the amount of calcium in the body.

Be mindful of caffeine intake.  Caffeine is highly addictive and can cause undue stress on the adrenal glands.  It’s also a diuretic, which can dehydrate cell and slow down growth and regeneration.

Get the Facts on Anxiety and Panic Disorder

Anxiety and panic disorder is triggered by stress from a situation or event that a person cannot control.  It is a legitimate emotional disorder with physical side effects, and may require professional treatment.

Anxiety is a normal coping mechanism for people in situations such as studying for an exam, auditioning for a performance, or other situations that may cause stress and increased tension. A healthy level of anxiety is useful and even necessary in understanding how to confront stressful life situations.

However, experiencing what seems like constant anxiety, even over relatively minor or even imagined situations, may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.  If left unaddressed, generalized anxiety disorder can gradually develop into depression.  It may trigger a host of different of physical complaints, including high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, headaches, digestive issues, muscle aches and pains, and more.  These issues are rarely related to a medical issue, but an individual with generalized anxiety disorder may believe that they are legitimately ill, causing him or her to become even more anxious.

Panic disorder is a separate issue from anxiety disorder.  This is when elevated levels of anxiety cause an individual to suffer from what’s known as a panic attack.  During a panic attack, a person may experience chest pains and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of a heart attack.  The sensation of a panic attack has been described by sufferers as “like dying” or feeling as though they’re “falling apart.” Millions of people each year seek emergency treatment for panic attacks, even though there is no physical cause for them.

Generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder should be treated by a mental health professional.  Many sufferers believe that because the issue is “all in their head” that there is little a doctor or therapist can do for them, but many courses of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, have been proven very successful.  Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people with generalized anxiety and/or panic disorder learn to recognize the thought patterns and situations that can trigger an episode, so that they can either avoid them or learn to process them in a healthier fashion.

Anti-depressants or mild sedatives such as Xanax may also be prescribed, though Xanax is not recommended for long-term use.  As anxiety and panic disorders become more prevalent, it’s important for everyone to learn now how much stress is too much, and how to combat it before it takes over your life.

Inexpensive Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress is a feeling that every individual experiences at some point in life. While it may seem too much to bear at times, it can also help in developing strength to overcome challenges and tough circumstances.

Stress can’t be avoided, but it can be relieved, by many ways that are simple and inexpensive.

Lack of sleep can stress the body and affect its normal functions. Getting enough sleep is crucial for both physical and emotional health. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for best results.  Reducing your caffeine intake will also help.

Take a few moments during your day to rest. Do a few stretches in your workplace. You can lean head back and close your eyes for about 2-3 minutes. This is also an effective way to relieve stress in an inexpensive manner.

Take time to have a glass of juice and sip it slowly.

Take a few short walks for about 15-30 minutes outside and focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths of fresh air and exhale slowly.

Take time to meditate for about 10 minutes each day to clear negative thoughts from your mind. This can be done. Stand and spot a place. Close your eyes and let your mind to be quiet and empty.

Plan to not turn on the computer or watch television for one to two days a week. Read your favorite book, spend time with family or cook a healthy meal.

Get a massage. Not only is it physically beneficial, but it can relieve stress, worry and anxiety even for a short period of time.

Take time to be alone with yourself. Think about life goals along with future plans.

Light some candles and listen to soft music. When you are taking a bath add some relaxing bath soaps to relax your mind and make you calm.

Cast your fears and worries away by rising up against them. Take time to think about what is happening and whether there are real problems that need to be solved. Focus on solving the problems. Do not imagine too much. Just stay focused on what is happening in the present.  Do not exaggerate things that are in your mind, and stress will eventually release its grip on your life.

All about Hypertension

Hypertension is better known as high blood pressure. It’s a condition that requires the heart to work harder to provide enough blood circulating through the blood vessels.

Blood pressure involves two different measurements within the arteries at two different times, known to be the systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic is measured when the heart muscle is contracting while pumping blood through the arteries, while diastolic is when the heart is relaxed and receiving blood between beats.  Normal blood pressure should be 120/80 mmHg, with 120 being the systolic blood pressure and 80 as the diastolic blood pressure. High blood pressure is present if an individual has a consistent reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

Classification

Primary (essential) hypertension. In this classification of hypertension, high blood pressure does not have any obvious underlying medical cause.

Secondary hypertension. Hypertension caused by medical conditions affecting the arteries, kidney, endocrine system, as well as the heart.

Signs and symptoms

Headaches. Hypertension related headaches are usually felt in the back of the head or first thing in the morning.

Lightheadedness or faintness.

Vertigo. Individuals experiencing vertigo may feel as though they’re dizzy or about to fall.

  1. Tinnitus.  Also known as ringing in the ears, tinnitus may present itself as a high pitched squeal, buzzing or clicking sound.

Altered vision.  This can include blurriness or dimness.

Should any of these signs or symptoms persist, it’s important to schedule a medical checkup as soon as possible.  Your doctor may choose to monitor your blood pressure for up to 24 hours, to see if hypertension is present.

Causes

Primary hypertension

Age. Blood pressure often increases with age.

Lifestyle factors.  Overweight and obese individuals are more likely to experience hypertension, as the heart must work harder to circulate blood through the body.

Other factors such as stress and caffeine consumption.  

 

 

Secondary hypertension

Reno vascular hypertension.

Cushing’s syndrome.

Hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism.

Treatment

Medications

Antihypertensive drugs are helpful for treating hypertension. It aims to reduce high blood pressure for individuals with 140/90 mmHg or higher pressure.

Modification of Lifestyle

Most individuals with persistent hypertension will be encouraged to make lifestyle changes.  Usually these changes will involve a reduction of salt intake in the diet, as well as regular exercise.  Often just losing a small amount of weight will bring one’s blood pressure down to a healthier level, without the need of medication.  It’s also important to develop healthy outlets for stress, such as yoga, meditation or exercise.

Untreated, hypertension can lead to stroke, blindness, heart and kidney failure.  If addressed early, it’s easily treatable, provided the individual is cooperative and willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes.

January: National Blood Donor Month

January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month since 1970. It’s intended to raise awareness to the public of the important role of blood donation in other’s lives. This is the time of the year when blood supplies usually falls to their lowest levels.

Supplies usually declines in January because of the holiday season, when people are busy and can’t schedule appointments to make a blood donation. Winter weather is also a factor, as it makes people less likely to want to leave their homes. However, despite these reasons, the need for blood donations remains constant.

Donating blood is a great way to helping your own community by supporting those are in need, such as premature babies, organ transplant patients, or other individuals who require a transfusion, such as accident victims or people with blood disorders such as hemophilia or anemia.

Blood saves millions of lives. Approximately 39,000 units of blood are needed in hospitals and emergency facilities.  Every 12 seconds someone is in need for blood transfusion due to illnesses or accidents.

Blood has a life span of only 42 days and it is important that it be continually replenished or replaced. A person can donate blood every 56 days or up to 6 times a year.

Donating blood is a selfless and lifesaving step to help those who are in need.  One donation can save up to three lives.

You must be at least 17 or older to be a blood donor, or 16 with parental consent.  Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.  Before donating blood, donors must complete a form which may determine their eligibility to donate.  After that, the donor will be subject to a general checkup, which will include a blood pressure and pulse reading.  Individuals who are determined to be unwell will be excused from donating.  Do not proceed with a donation if you’re feeling sick, or if you have an illness that can be transmitted through the blood, such as hepatitis or HIV.

Most blood donations proceed without incident, though some donors may experience nausea and lightheadedness afterwards, as well as pain at the injection site.  It’s recommended that donors have a light snack and drink immediately following a donation.  Any unpleasant side effects that may be experienced usually go away within a few hours.

If you meet the requirements, please consider making a whole blood or platelet donation! It’s an hour or two of your time that will make a difference in the lifetime of someone else