Sunday, April 29, 2012

Poor Posture - Your Underestimated Nemesis

While you were growing up did adults ever nag you to "stand up straight!"? Chances are, it was annoying but they were right. The effects of bad posture should not be underestimated.
Bad posture not only slowly wears away your joints and ligaments leading to eventual orthopedic conditions & injuries but it can even cause trouble breathing, weight gain, lowered confidence and energy. But don't worry; it can all be avoided with a few small adjustments.
Good Posture Tips

A common misconception is that you should stand as straight as possible, which usually means you're overarching your back and that can actually cause more tension than slouching in some cases. You really just need to ensure everything is aligned correctly but don't force your back into an unnatural position. A good test is to stand against a wall with your bottom touching. If the back of your head naturally touches the wall as well you've got good posture. Your head, shoulders and hips will be in a straight line but your spine should still form its natural "S" shape. Here are a few tips more specific to bad posture prone situations:
  • Sitting (driving, working on the computer, etc)
  • Sit upright as if you had a string pulling you up.
  • Your bottom should touch the back of your seat.
  • Feet are flat on the floor. Don't cross legs, we know it's tempting - don't do it.
  • Don't lean forward to look closer at what you're watching/doing. This can seriously stress your neck muscles and lead to a lot of discomfort and even headaches!
  • A small pillow in the curve of your back can aid with comfort and keeping the natural curve of your spine.
  • Get up every 30 minutes or so and walk around if you can.
  • If you have injured your back in the past, wear a supportive back brace during strenuous activities.
Standing and walking
  • Walk heel to toe, pushing off the ground with the balls of your feet.
  • Position your feet shoulder length apart, shoulders slightly back in a relaxed position and suck in your stomach.
  • Take shorter, more frequent strides are idea as opposed to long strides.
  • Don't look at the ground; keep eyes straight ahead.
  • Tuck in your chin just a little to ensure your head and neck are both in line with your spine.
  • It almost goes without saying but comfortable shoes with a proper arch make a huge difference, especially if walking long distances.
Lifting & Bending - One of the biggest back injury culprits!
  • Always bend at the knees when you lift.
  • Make sure you lift with your legs, never your back.
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Position yourself close to the object you're lifting.
  • If you have to turn while lifting something, use your feet not your waist.
  • Tighten those stomach muscles!
  • Sleep on your back or on your side with your knees bent.
  • If sleeping on your side, put a pillow in between your legs to keep your spine straight throughout the night.
  • Don't sleep on your stomach.
  • Avoid thick pillows that will raise your head up too far.
It's not difficult to improve your posture; it just takes some conscious attention and consistency. The sooner you start, the better since it's much harder to reverse the negative effects of bad posture the older you are. Besides, the benefits are worth it.
Improved Posture Benefits
You might be surprised at how much improved posture benefits your body, health and mind. Here are just a few of the positive changes you'll see:
  • Improved organ function, especially digestion
  • Decreased joint injury and ligament stress
  • Lowers chances of arthritis and other orthopedic conditions and injuries
  • Stronger core
  • Facilitates breathing for increased energy, improved blood flow and a clearer mind
  • Try breathing slouching and breathing standing up straight - huge difference!
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Appear taller and thinner
  • Increased confidence

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Health News: Medical Breakthroughs

Over the years, medical scientists have worked so hard to shed light to the most puzzling areas of health and medicine. These people spend most of their time doing research for the benefit of the humanity. If you are reading health news on a regular basis, you would understand how diligent these people are. Here are some of the breakthroughs in medical and health science that have a significant impact on our lives.
Disarming HIV
One of the most talked about breakthroughs today is the discovery of the Achilles Heel of the HIV. American and European scientists have found a way to disarm the virus and keep it from wreaking havoc in the immune system. The method involves extracting the cholesterol from the virus, a method that extinguishes its defenses. Without this cholesterol, the virus loses its weaponry and becomes open for the human immune system to destroy. HIV is known for disabling the adaptive response of the immune system. Since the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus, scientists have been finding a means to fight it. None so far has been so successful. Vaccines in the past were useless. But things might have changed now that a new way to weaken the virus has been discovered.
Aspirin for Cancer Prevention
It has been found out that taking small amounts of aspirin on a daily basis can curb risk of stroke and heart disease. We already know that. But recent studies indicate it can also decrease risk of cancer. Studies done in United Kingdom have been conducted to monitor subjects taking about 75-300 mg of aspirin a day. After three years, those taking aspirin had cancer risk reduced by approximately 25%. Then after 5 years, risk of cancer was reduced to 37%.
Studies indicate that daily intake of aspirin cuts down cancer risk by preventing metastasis. Nonetheless, there is another problem with aspirin intake. Doctors warn that regular intake of aspirin may cause stomach bleeding. Moreover, people who take aspirin daily are, ironically, at risk of hemorrhagic strokes.
Placebos as Drugs
Placebos are "empty" agents used in research to determine the true effects of drugs. This time they are used as treatment agents on their own. The power of placebos comes from suggestion-not from the placebos themselves. For instance, studies show that when people are told they are getting good exercise, they tend to lose more weight than those who are not told the same thing. There are already many studies that test the ability of placebo to treat disorders. Placebos do not contain active ingredients to target the illness. They work by changing the person's reaction to their illness.
Exercise to Defy Aging
People already know the benefits of exercise. Health news articles have discussed too much about exercise. Anyone can now say exercise relieves stress, improves cardiovascular health, enhances immunity, and so on. What we might have missed to note is that exercise promises to reverse aging. This assumption was made by scientists who studies laboratory mice subjected to exercise program. These mice had better muscles, hearts, kidneys, and brains than those that did not go through exercise program. Their hair was also shinier and thicker.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sports Physical Appointments at a Walk In Clinic

Today's athletic physicals can be set up at a walk in clinic instead of a primary care physician's office. Kids tend to keep parents on their toes and everyone has a busy schedule. Who wants to hassle with trying to find a date and time that work for the doctor and your family? In some cases, there is no need to make an appointment when you can just drop in for the physical instead.
Reasons for a Sports Physical
You may see your child as physically fit and ready for soccer, basketball, or football. They eat well, maintain a healthy weight and have plenty of energy for their activities. In spite of your observations, a doctor still needs to examine your child and make sure that he or she is ready to participate in sports at school. They work much like a regular physical but the doctor may discuss the sport with the child and ask specific questions about it. For example, the doctor may want to stress the importance of a helmet and proper equipment to a child going out for football.
If there are any issues that could cause sports to be a problem, the doctor can identify them and work on a treatment. If there are any past medical concerns, the doctor can revisit those issues and check to see if any progress has been made. For most parents, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Seeing a doctor at the walk in clinic can give you peace of mind when you send your child out onto the field or court.
In some cases, a walk in clinic will not require an appointment for a sports physical. A parent and child can drop by any time and wait to see a practitioner. The wait is usually not more than 20 minutes, so those with a difficult-to-accommodate schedule also find this to be the best option. If a parent has the ability to make an appointment, call the walk in clinic to see how that would work.
At the time of arrival, a medical history will be requested as well as any health insurance information. Be sure to have anything necessary to fill this form out readily available. For most people, this will not take much time and the parent takes the form back when meeting with the doctor.
If the school has provided a release form, be sure to bring this along as well. The doctor can sign off on the paper when the exam is complete, releasing the child to participate in sports at school. Often a walk in clinic will have a form that will suffice when it comes time to turn in the paperwork to the school. It outlines the child's health and allows them to join in on the activities.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Digestion: Boost Energy, Recover Better, Be Happier

It isn't too hard to believe that the digestive system is one of the most important and hard-working systems in our bodies. Its job is to extract nutrients from foods, digest nutrients into small units for absorption (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) and to separate waste products.
Why is healthy digestion so important?
It's pretty simple. Poor digestion results in poor mineral and nutrient absorption. This is because the digestive system has lost some of the ability to turn what's consumed into a form the body can use. So it doesn't matter how healthy or "well" you believe you're eating, if you have a damaged or poor functioning digestive system, you will not be getting the full benefits of what you're consuming. With today's busy lifestyles, many of us are susceptible to poor digestion.
Symptoms of poor digestion can include:
  • Bloating
  • Gas & abdominal pain
  • Low energy & chronicle fatigue
  • Reflux & heartburn
  • Constipation & Diarrhoea
  • Poor skin & hair quality
  • Allergies
  • Poor training recovery
  • Sore joints
  • Weak immune system (getting sick frequently)
  • Chronic conditions such as depression & anxiety
  • Cancer (extreme but research has shown links)
What can cause poor digestion?
  • Stress
  • Processed foods
  • High sugar consumption
  • Alcohol
  • High intake of red meat
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Diet changes
  • Artificial additives (aspartame sweetener (951) being one of the main culprit, hidden in most "sugar free" diet drinks, chewing-gums, low sugar chocolates, Equal sweetener, etc)
  • Anti-biotics & other medications (anti-biotics and strong medications create enzyme imbalances)
  • Age (as you age, digestive enzyme production decreases)
How to improve your digestion:
  • Eat raw foods which have living enzymes. This includes: Raw fruit & vegetables (uncooked and well washed - preferably organic): help to break-down carbs; Raw sprouts: Soak these to re-active enzymes. Examples include broccoli, radish, cress, beans (mung, amarillo, peas, etc) and more; Raw nuts & seeds (unroasted and preferably unsalted): Help break down fat; Raw pineapple: Helps with the digestion of protein
  • Digestive enzymes supplement
  • Glutamine to restore colon lining, recovery and also assist in digestive enzyme balance
So, if you want to have more energy, recover better, be happier & even live longer, start working on your digestion. Not only will you feel better, it could be the key to you losing extra weight, fitting into your old jeans and reaching your body & performance goals.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Something You Should Know About Heart Attack And Stroke

Atherosclerosis - Leading Cause Of Heart Disease And Stroke
About 1.2 million Americans are diagnosed with heart disease every year and almost 700,000 Americans will suffer a stroke. Additionally, about 8 million people suffer peripheral arterial disease in the U.S.
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause for heart attack and stroke, which results in more than 40% of all deaths in the United States, more than all kinds of cancer combined. For many, atherosclerosis is a silent disease, with no visible signs or symptoms until it suddenly leads to a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis is a disease where there is a slow increase of fatty plaques in the arteries, causing the arteries to harden. The arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells. The buildup of plaque in these arteries narrows the arteries and reduces the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and other parts of the body.
The process of atherosclerosis can begin at early childhood or adulthood and eventually block the arteries, which arrests the flow of blood to the heart and brain, leading to heart attack, stroke or even death. Any artery in the body can be altered by atherosclerosis and, depending on which artery is affected, a variety of diseases can develop.
-- Coronary artery disease or heart disease: A buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries can reduce or block blood flow to the heart, leading to chest pain and heart attack.
-- Carotid artery disease: A buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries can lower or diminish blood flow to the brain leading to stroke.
-- Peripheral arterial disease: A buildup of plaque in the major arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms and pelvis, can lead to numbness, pain and dangerous infections.
Low-grade Inflammation Plays A Crucial Role At Every Stage Of Atherosclerosis
During the initial stage of atherosclerosis, plaques build up quickly in the inflamed arteries. When inflammation persists, the plaques narrow the blood vessels quickly. As atherosclerosis progresses, inflammation leads to the formation of soft or vulnerable plaque filled with inflammatory cells and their metabolites and debris.
The inflamed plaques develop weak areas that can rupture without warning. The ruptured plaque brings the blood in contact with the plaque contents, results in the formation of clots and artery occlusion, leads to major problems like heart attack and stroke.
What Causes Low-grade Inflammation
Cigarette smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes are well established risk factors that promote atherosclerosis. These risk factors give rise to a range of toxic stimuli that cause the release of chemicals and the activation of inflammatory cells.
In addition, chronic infection, probably caused by bacteria or virus, might contribute to or even cause atherosclerosis. The infectious bacteria such as Chlamydia pneumoniae has been shown to have an important association with atherosclerotic plaque. The herpes simplex virus may also be an original inflammatory infectious agent in atherosclerosis.
Lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, and genetic predisposition can also stimulate inflammation.
Inflammatory Marker CRP Predicts Cardiovascular Events And Stroke
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein marker that rises during systemic inflammation. High levels of CRP reliably predict recurrent coronary events (angina) and heart attack. Elevated CRP levels are also associated with lower survival rates in these patients.
Studies also indicate that the higher the CRP level, the greater the risk of having a heart attack. Studies also found association between sudden cardiac death, peripheral arterial disease, and CRP.
Control Inflammation Can Prevent Heart Attack And Stroke
Inflammation should be controlled by lifestyle changes, including losing weight, exercising, controlling diabetes, stopping smoking, controlling high blood pressure, and reducing alcohol intake. Anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin may offer some protection. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may also reduce low-grade inflammation.
A recent clinical trial that studied 17,802 apparently healthy men and women discovered that lowering inflammation can prevent cardiovascular disease. Another trial that examined 250,000 patients who suffered a heart attack showed that nearly 50% of the attacks occurred in people with normal cholesterol levels, which indicates that inflammation is involved. The study findings also implied that about 20% of the total heart attacks in the US can be prevented simply by controlling inflammation.
Natural Remedies For Inflammation Relief
There are many medicinal herbs with anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce chronic inflammation safely. Some of them have been extensively analyzed and studied. To name just a few: Turmeric, Scute, Coptis, Lovage, and Gingo biloba.
By keeping inflammation under control, natural anti-inflammatory remedies may:
-- Boost the vascular healing and repair;
-- Improve vascular function and integrity;
-- Maintain normal coagulation of blood and protect blood vessels from breakdown;
-- Restore the body's antioxidant defense and help to ease stress.