Thursday, 14 November 2019

How to prevent Carpal Canal Surgical treatment

Carpal Canal Affliction is really a situation which impacts actually a large number of People in america every year. CTS is really a repeated tension damage that may trigger numbness, tingling, neck of the guitar pressure, weak point from the fingers, inflammation, evening discomfort, irregular feelings, as well as hands clumsiness. And in addition, this can be a situation that’s common amongst people from the labor force that carry out demanding, repeated duties using their hands as well as fingers through the workday. Probably the most typical reasons for CTS consist of bad position, repeated actions which are not really finished correctly, harm as a result of drop or even another damage, as well as resting in your fingers or even your own belly. They are just some of the most typical leads to, although there are lots of much more stuff that may bring about or even trigger CTS.
The actual most detrimental point regarding Carpal Canal Affliction is actually that it’s an ailment that may significantly impact your own everyday routine, as well as your profession. There are plenty associated with employees who’re pressured to consider period removed from function because of CTS, however there’s also numerous employees who’ve absolutely no option however in order to depart their own work because of the results of the terrible, existence altering situation!
One of the greatest myths regarding CTS is actually it demands surgical treatment to fix. Unfortunately, numerous physicians don’t deal with the actual underlying reasons for CTS, and also the surgical procedures frequently become inadequate, pointless, and never resolving the actual issue.
To place this really merely, you will find just a few buildings from the entire body which are included and/or affected through CTS. They are the actual Average Neural, 9 from the Flexor Muscles (tendons which permit you to bend your own arm as well as fingers), and also the arteries positioned in the actual fingertips as well as within the hand from the hands. Carpal Canal Affliction occurs once the Average Neural gets compacted inside the carpal canal (a little channel positioned in the actual wrist).
You will find a small amount of those who are delivered having a issue which leads to CTS. Many people create CTS due to among the actions mentioned previously. Nevertheless, generally, the issue doesn’t lay totally within the arm… there’s more often than not a larger issue (usually the ‘crush’ site), on the main Average Neural within the neck of the guitar. Because the neural operates with the neck of the guitar as well as lower the actual equip towards the hands, harm carried out towards the neural in a additional area compared to arm can lead to CTS equally well because harm within the arm.
Among the explanations why it’s very easy with regard to physicians in order to mis-diagnose the reason for CTS is actually the truth that physicians tend to be educated in order to identify as well as deal with the actual signs and symptoms of the damage, as well as with all the discomfort within the arm, the majority of physicians (not surprisingly) presume which the issue is within the arm. Carpel Canal Affliction is really a chiropractic issue, since the real cause associated with CTS is usually present in the structural misalignment from the neck of the guitar. This particular impacts the actual Average Neural, and also the discomfort triggered moves towards the hands, leading to numbness, discomfort, or even every other quantity of signs and symptoms.
Lots of people don’t realize exactly how useful as well as efficient chiropractic treatment could be for any situation for example CTS. With regard to small instances, you may be totally happy of the situation within 1 in order to four weeks! Obviously, ongoing chiropractic treatment is essential that will help you prevent long term difficulties, however the cash as well as difficulty this treatment could save you may much outweigh the expense as well as issues that the surgical treatment brings a person. Actually, research show which with regard to on the century, sufferers as well as scientists as well possess each documented which chiropractic changes possess regularly supplied respite from each standard carpal canal signs and symptoms as well as general entire body perform!
Chiropractic specialists happen to be effectively dealing with CTS for a long time… it’s that individuals have a tendency to visit the actual physician very first once they possess discomfort. In the event that much more physicians submitted CTS sufferers in order to able chiropractic specialists, Carpal Canal Affliction will be a smaller amount of the issue. Prior to saying yes to take medicine in order to possess surgical treatment carried out in your arm with regard to CTS, check having a able chiropractic specialist that has encounter figuring out as well as dealing with Carpal Canal Affliction. It’s likely that excellent that the chiropractic specialist can repair the main reasons for the issue, as well as chiropractic treatment includes a higher achievement price within stopping the requirement with regard to medicine or even surgical treatment.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Probiotics... Intestinal Flora Vital to Life.

In a word, probiotics are bacteria. For our purposes we are talking about the bacteria that live in our intestines and impart many known healthful benefits to us.
In actuality we know very little about these squatters in our guts but new findings are coming fast and furious.
What is known is that they are indispensible for proper digestion, absorption, elimination and provide numerous housekeeping duties and a broad array of protective measures.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), both specialized agencies of the UN, have adopted an official definition of probiotics; namely, " microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".
I'm comfortable with just calling them dietary supplements that our gastrointestinal system needs. Normally, we wouldn't need to supplement with probiotics; they are inside us and self-sustaining.
I do use a supplement designed for colon support that is rich in fiber and has a smaller content of various probiotics, prebiotics and enzymes. It seemed to help my colon deal with the irritable bowel syndrome that I had been living with most of my adult life but who knows for sure.
By the way, probiotics are not the same thing as prebiotics. A prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient that selectively stimulates the growth and/or activity of beneficial microorganisms already in people's colons. When probiotics and prebiotics are mixed together, they form a synbiotic. OK, new word time; what's a synbiotic?
A synbiotic is a supplement that contains both a prebiotic and a probiotic that work together to improve the “friendly flora” of the human intestine. A synbiotic product should be considered a “functional food” rather than some obscure chemistry formulation.
One of the mysteries that is drawing big research dollars now is why our immune system, which is known to attack and kill invading bacteria and viruses, doesn't attack the beneficial bacteria living in and on our bodies.
It is starting to look like we and the bacteria that live within us have evolved together and learned to co-exist in a symbiotic relationship.

The NIH weighs in!

Microbial organisms that inhabit our bodies are so numerous that the National Institutes of Health has launched its Human Microbiome Project.
It's a five-year, $125 million dollar research effort to analyze entire communities of bacteria at once; a process they call metagenomics.
By contrast the former Human Genome Project analyzed one microbe at a time.
To put it in perspective, we have about 60 trillion cells in our body, give or take 10 or 20 trillion. It is estimated that we have about 10 times that number of microbes crawling around in us spread throughout our nasal and respiratory system, urogenital areas, skin, gastrointestinal system and mouth.

Photo: NIH depiction of areas of microflora concentration in the human body
These bugs are largely unstudied. Their influence on our development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition are still big question marks.
As such, the NIH launched the Human Microbiome Project to generate resources leading to the characterization of human microbes and analysis of their role in human health and disease.
The project aims to take advantage of recent technological advances and to develop new ones.

The Commercialization of the Bugs!

For now, the Paris food company Group DANONE has taken the lead in turning human probiotics into big bucks. Activia, their latest big thing, has a bacteria called bifidus animalus as its key ingredient. This is one tough bug in that it is able to pass through the stomach without getting zapped by the hydrochloric acid bath, then move into the intestine where it teams up with other microorganisms to push fecal matter through the colon.
From that description, it should be no surprise that Activia is marketed as an aid to regularity. It racked up almost $2 billion in worldwide sales in 2006.
Another introduction from DANONE was DanActive, containing the bacteria Lactobacillus casei which is purported to give the immune system a boost. There are other probiotic products coming to nourish the skin and fight obesity.
The profit projections from the DANONE products is attracting competitors and this is one market that is destined for huge growth.

Meet the Family!

Probiotics have two sides to their family. Genus Lactobacillus is a group of organisms that inhabit the digestive system but resides mainly in the small intestine; the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum.
The other side is the genus Bifidobacterium. These family members are found in the colon and exhibit changes and alterations throughout the human life span.
Lactobacillus is a group of probiotics that convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid and the genus currently listed about 125 different species.Lactobulgaris bulgaris from Utah State University
Photo: Lactobulgaris bulgaris
The species most commonly found in probiotic dietary supplements are:
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: The best known of the probiotics has numerous health benefits. Among others, it reinforces the immune system, reduces lactose intolerance, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and others, and produces natural antibiotics. Isn't that amazing; a probiotic producing an antibiotic, sounds almost suicidal.
  • Lactobacillus brevis: This like all the lactobacillus helps with lactose intolerance and inhibits the growth of some harmful bacteria.
  • Lactobacillus bulgaris: Yogurt typically contains L. bulgaris. Helpful in acute diarrhea and lactose sensitivity. Very valuable in that it produces interferon which retards the growth of invading viruses.
  • Lactobacillus casei: Occurs naturally in the mouth and digestive tract, breaks down carbohydrates and slows the harmful bacteria in the small intestine. Also effective in treating diarrhea.
  • Lactobacillus lactis: One of the super probiotics that has a supporting role in fighting the superbug Clostridium difficile due its ability to produce the peptide, nisin. Like most lactobacillus, has benefits for controlling acute diarrhea and has shown potential for helping colitis sufferers.
  • Lactobacillus plantarum: May have beneficial effects for allergy sufferers and has antimicrobial properties.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus: A wonderful probiotic for those plagued with urinary tract or vaginal infections. It makes a mucus coating that prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream. It occurs from the mouth to the small intestine.
  • Lactobacillus salivarius: from its name we know it is found in the mouth but also in the small intestine. It provides benefits for gum health, tooth decay, improves breath odor and helps with mouth sores such as cankers and thrush. It also has the ability to denature (break down) proteins and produce B vitamins, enzymes and lactic acid. Its antimicrobial effects have been clinically proven.

Bifidobacteria is a major genus of bacteria that make up the gut flora, specifically, the bacteria that reside in the colon.
Bifidobacteria aid in digestion, are associated with a lower incidence of allergies and also prevent some forms of tumor growth. Some bifidobacteria are being used as probiotics as shown below.
There are approximately 35 species of bifidobacterium.
Photo: Bifidobacterium cells on colon epithelium

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum: One of the best probiotics for supporting absorption of vitamins and minerals in the small intestine. It can produce the B vitamins and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Bifidobacterium breve: Has demonstrated abilities to repress the growth of ulcer causing bacteria. May also help under weight infants gain weight.
  • Bifidobacterium infantis: An incredibly important probiotic for protecting infants from very dangerous clostridia, salmonella and shigella pathogens. It is found naturally in the colons of infants and helps protect from acute diarrhea.
  • Bifidobacterium longum: Has most the benefits of the other probiotics; preventing the invasion of pathogens, supporting the immune system, improving digestion and controlling constipation.

All of the probiotics mentioned above have many, many more benefits than were presented here. Since anyone can go to Wikipedia and find the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation on each of them, the only purpose here is to raise awareness and highlight some of their benefits.

Final thoughts on Probiotics

Besides the yogurt products we read about above, probiotics are available in foods and dietary supplements of all forms and in some other forms as well. Examples of foods containing probiotics are fermented and unfermented milk, miso, tempeh (fermented soybean cake), and some juices and soy beverages. In probiotic foods and supplements, the bacteria may have been present originally or added during preparation.
Two sources of probiotic supplements that I am familiar with but have not had occasion to use personally are:
Udo's Choice Probiotic Blends available in your local health food store. Udo Erasmus has a beautiful, informative website and can be seen at http:// check it out, click on the "enter here" when you get to the site and see Udo's great smile.
Second is Garden of Life's Primal Defense probiotic formula which should also be available from your local health food store.
Minimal to no side effects
Probiotics' side effects, if they occur at all, tend to be mild and digestive in nature such as occasional gas or bloating. Probiotics might theoretically cause infections that need to be treated with antibiotics, especially in people with underlying health conditions.
They could also cause unhealthy metabolic activities such as too much stimulation of the immune system, or gene transfer, meaning insertion of genetic material into a cell.
Unforeseen consequences
Messing around with the microflora in our bodies can have unforeseen consequences, a situation that demands much more research. One example is from the Helicobacter pylori experience. The Wall Street Journal's Friday, October 3, 2008 issue carried a half page article titled, "The Body as Bacterial Landlord" by Robert Lee Holz.
He reports that a microbiologist, Martin Blaser, and his colleagues at New York University began to document some odd findings since people adopted antibiotics to treat gastric ulcers.
The incidence of ulcers dropped dramatically as did stomach cancer. H.pylori has almost disappeared among children but coincident with the deficit of H.pylori; asthma, hay fevers and allergies have tripled in children.
In adults, acid reflux disease (GERD) and some forms of esophogeal cancer have become more common. The question is unanswered as to whether or not the elimination of the harm these bacteria caused came at the expense of the protection they provided us.
After examining the health records of 7,412 people, Dr. Blaser and NYU epidemiologist Yu Chen reported those children between 3 and 13 years old who tested positive for H. pylori were 59% less likely to have asthma and 40% to 60% less likely to have hay fever or rashes.
Perhaps the NIH Human Microbiome Project mentioned above will someday answer these questions.
It is looking like we need the bacteria in us as much as it needs us. It goes to show you; some marriages are made in heaven, others are made in the gut.

Water Health? What's In That Stuff Coming Out Of My Faucet?

Water health has been on my mind lately. A few months ago the water main feeding our neighborhood caved in and started doing a pretty good imitation of Old Faithful, except it was in the middle of the street instead of Yellowstone.
Two days later the pipe section had been replaced and we turned on the water. Whoa! You would not Old Faithful imitating a water main breakbelieve what came out of the kitchen faucet. The best I can say is that it was brown and sort of liquid. The sound of air clearing the system was also a memorable experience. Then the toilet bowls and tanks were another matter altogether.
OK, I understand that when a section of water main is replaced, it takes awhile to clear the mud out of the system but it did get me thinking about water.

Chlorine: A Protector of Water Heath

Or is it?
I remember a couple of years ago at a dietary supplement maker's annual convention, I saw demonstration of a filtered water bottle. It was a real attention getter and started me thinking about how water health affects our health.
A sample of tap water was tested for chlorine and, sure enough, it turned the characteristic purple color indicative of chlorine. Next the demonstrator took a large mouthful of the same tap water and swished it around in his mouth for several seconds, spit it into a cup and tested it for chlorine. No chlorine!
Where did it go? Well it was absorbed by the guy’s mouth tissues. Then he took the same tap water and ran it through his filtered water bottle, tested it for chlorine and of course the water stayed clear.
The filter bottle was certainly effective in removing chlorine.
Anyway, the demonstration was enough to get me to order the large filter for the kitchen and the smaller one for the shower head, not to mention a couple of the filter bottles for carrying around and taking on the road.
I figured that if it took out chlorine; it would probably take out other chemicals as well (which it does).
Besides, I knew that chlorine interacts with organic matter to produce a new class of cancer causing compounds called trihalomethanes but we'll get to that in the last page of our water treatment section.
Click on: to see a broad spectrum of water filter products for the home and travel from Wellness Water. If you decide to order any of them, use the Referral ID number 23494 at checkout to get a discount.
It's worth a trip to their website just to read up on the latest technology in home water filters.

The Canary in the Coal Mine...

Water Health and Wildlife
Water health was forced into my consciousness again when an article appeared in my Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 for anyone who wants to check it out) that was headlined, “What’s Coming From Your Tap?”
It discussed the amount and types of contaminants in tap water that are being found as detection methods improve. Pharmaceuticals, particularly the endocrine-disrupting compounds in birth control pills and mood control drugs, that have been linked to birth defects in wildlife. If they affect wildlife, what are they doing to us?
The article also went through the various types of water filters on the market and how they work. Click here for some tips on living with Contaminated Water.
It reminded me of an another article I read in one of those hunting magazines you see lying around the waiting rooms of automobile service lounges and barber shops.
I don't remember the name of the magazine but the article covered a strange deer that had been taken that season; a deer with five legs and with both male and female sex organs.

Photo: Whitetail deer with appendage on right front leg
It speculated that such birth defects in wildlife may be a result of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals showing up in the lakes and streams in the wild.
I was also reminded of a paragraph in Dr. Steve Nugent's book, "How to Survive on a Toxic Planet", that made reference to gender confused sea gulls, presumably from eating fish contaminated with estrogen. He gives many other documented examples of the "feminization" of male birds, fish and wildlife. How to Survive on a Toxic Planet
There is something very weird going on in our water so let’s see what it is?

Our Environment Needs a Water Health Checkup

Pure water from any municipal water supply is no longer a reality. Pure water from a pristine mountain stream no longer exists.
The problem is that we have contaminants entering the water supply in such quantity that they can no longer be removed. The system is simply overwhelmed. Dilution is no longer the solution to cannot be diluted to healthy concentrations anymore.
In addition to quantity, the type of contaminants now consist of chemicals and pharmaceuticals unknown to us a few decades ago. The molecular structure of many are so small that they can't be filtered out and many are impervious and, since they are not micro-organisms, they can't be "killed". They are synthetic chemical compounds created in the lab.
The things that pollute and degrade our water health today fall into several classes.
The first is Agricultural Contamination and includes all types of fertilizers, pesticides, animal waste and more.
Next are the Pharmaceuticals that imperil our water health and they enter the water supply from surprising sources.
Then we have Industrial Waste that finds its way into our municipal water and thus into our homes. It's not only industry, the government also contributes its share. Some is accidental but far too much is premeditated and criminal.

Photo: Sewage gushing up through manhole coverSewer overflow in Rhode Island
Although it's not supposed to happen, sewage is too often a pollutant in our water due to overflow, clogged system, improper or ineffective processing and storm water.
Mother Nature herself is a big polluter but we will only concern ourselves with the pollutants that we put into the mix. At least human sourced contamination is somewhat controllable. Nobody controls mama nature.
So, let's take them one at a time. Click on the links above to navigate to a discussion of each area that degrades our water health. But first, there's a couple of nasty little parasites you should know about.

Water Health in Recreation...

The Parasites Want You!
Two common parasites are prevalent throughout the U.S. and they can really mess up our vacation and summertime fun.How to catch a parasite
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium. Both the disease and the parasite are commonly known as "Crypto."

Photo left: boy playing in public water park
Photo right: Crypto oocyst in human feces
Cryptosporidium parasite
There's a lot different species of "Crypto" and they are equal opportunity; infecting both humans and animals. This parasite is a real tough guy, protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. It's also very resistant to chlorine disinfection.
We can pick up "Crypto" in several different ways but water is the most common method of transmission and Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. Drinking water and recreational water (swimming pools and water parks) are the most prevalent.
Giardiasis is another parasite to watch out for. Well, we can't really watch out for it since it is microscopic. It's a single celled animal, more properly referred to as Giardia intestinalis.Giardiasis parasite
This parasite is found all over the place; in soil, food, water, and especially surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.

Photo: Flagellate protozoan Giardia Lamblia; aka: backpacker's diarrhea
People become infected after accidentally swallowing the parasite; typically from dirty hands. Giardia causes diarrheal illness, and it's one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the United States. The good news is that there are several prescription medicines available to treat giardiasis. Of course, that means a visit to the doctor's office. Oh well.
After all of this, the real question is how do we protect ourselves from water hazards? To get a few tips, click on protection from contaminated water to check out filters and more.

Healthy sleep is a gift of life; a balm no medicine can match.

No one has ever described what healthy sleep is better than William Shakespeare.
A little over 400 years ago he penned the lines, "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day's life, sore labor’s bath Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast." - William Shakespeare, Act 2, Scene 2, Macbeth.
Wonderful words..."knits up the raveled sleeve...labor's bath balm of hurt minds...nature's second course... chief nourisher in life's feast".
What a blessing it is to be able to slip under the cool sheets and lie your head on the pillow and drift off into dreamland after a long, hard day.
Ever thought about what happens in our bodies and minds that make us sleepy, makes it hard to keep our eyes open, hard to focus, hard to think, just want to lie down, so tired, just let me sleep? And what is it about sleep that restores us; awakened refreshed, alert and ready for another day?
Some of these questions are still unknown with a lot of research still being conducted. But we will try to cover what is known about sleep and how it effects our physical and mental health, our feelings, our productivity, our grades in school, our relationships and so much more.
Healthy sleep, as used here, refers to restful, uninterrupted, deep sleep that restores and refreshes the mind and body.
during hibernation, this guy will sleep from October to May
We'll start with what is known about sleep and dreaming, what happens when we are sleep deprived and how we can ensure healthy sleep to enhance our quality of life.
Photo: Little Bear Sleeping by Schani
Navigation links are provided to discussions on sleep disorderssleep stages and the physiology of sleep.

The Sleep Trigger

All this is well and good but what is it that makes us sleep; that makes us NEED seven or eight hours of healthy sleep every day? Why can't we just pop more energy pills, eat more carbs, drink coffee and keep going?
Our desire to stay awake longer, do more, have more fun or drive straight from Virginia to Florida non-stop isn't a matter of willpower or nutrition or gallons of coffee. It comes down to chemistry. As we will see, all brain function, which is to say, all bodily function, is chemistry.
There is a natural chemical called adenosine that builds up in our blood as our wake time increases. Neurologists would say it is an "inhibitory neurotransmitter, that (they think) plays a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal, with levels increasing with each hour an organism is awake".
It seems we just can't avoid the big words in this subject. OK, an inhibitory neurotransmitter is a chemical that decreases the electrochemical activity of neurons, meaning that the signals or messages between neurons and another cell get dampened or attenuated. Serotonin is another well known inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Back to adenosine. It builds up in the blood while awake and gets broken down in the body while we sleep. The working hypothesis might be that this chemical is what the body uses to keep track of lost sleep and forces us to sleep when we need it.
Taking the hypothesis a step further, it may be that the accumulation of adensine could explain why we build up a "sleep debt" that must eventually be paid for by sleeping longer than normal until the debt is paid.
It is not possible to adapt to getting less sleep than our body needs. Sleep deprivation will be reimbursed one way or another; either by giving yourself restoring healthy sleep or causing a breakdown in some critical system, at which time, we will be forced to sleep.

How much time does healthy sleep require?

What if we Don't Get it?
The first part is easy. A large amount of research by professionals who study these things, show that men need between seven and eight hours of sleep and women, a bit less, at six to seven hours. We're not talking about catnaps and fitful sleep; for healthy sleep, it has to be good, uninterrupted continuous sleep.
Restoration starts taking place about two and a half hours into a good sleep. This goes to the fact that sleep is not a steady state process; it occurs in stages and certain things happen in each stage.
We will take a look at sleep stages in a separate section; click on sleep stages to navigate there when you are ready.
The experts aren't sure exactly why, but if we get less than the optimal amount of healthy sleep and we increase our risk of arterial aging and heart attack.
According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, in his book, "You! The Owners Manual", adequate sleep greatly contributes to heart and brain health and can make us up to 3 years younger. Click on the book image to the right to get your own copy of his book.
Lack of sleep sets up a stress response, with cortisol being released into the blood stream thus increasing the risk for arterial scarring and plaque buildup.
A good night of healthy sleep is one of the most crucial things we can do for our body.
Inadequate sleep reduces our cognitive abilities, making us less mentally aware. Lack of sleep results in us making bad choices.
When we are fatigued we eat more and tend to eat more of the wrong stuff. We crave sugar when we're tired.
There is a "feel good" hormone called serotonin, a neurotransmitter. It's a chemical released in the brain and it has a role in the modulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, sexuality, appetite, and metabolism. All very important functions to us human beings.
If we don't get our required daily allowance of sleep, our brain doesn't release enough serotonin. So a mechanism kicks in that makes us try to compensate by taking in more foods with sugar or really harmful substances like tobacco.
Sleep deprivation also contributes greatly to accidents and makes us more accident prone. I can attest to that first hand. Driving home early one morning after working a night shift I saw a guy die when his car hit the guard rail, flip over and roll a few times. I found out later that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Think about it; one minute you're driving down the freeway and a second later you're facing eternity.

Photo: Crash test dummys don't need sleep: we do!
Here's one more. The brain plays a big role in gastrointestinal function. Want to eat less, sleep more. Here's how it works. A hormone called ghrelin tells our brain when we're hungry and another called leptin tells our brain when we're full.
When we don't get enough sleep, more ghrelin is released and less leptin is released. So lack of sleep disrupts the proper control of these two hormones, thus causing us to overeat. Who would have thought that the current obesity epidemic might be linked to not getting enough sleep?

Healthy Sleep Depends on Several Things:

To enjoy healthy sleep, try this, this and this.
The Healthy Sleep Environment
Environment matters and it's really simple. The bedroom is not your office, not your TV room, not your dining room or your reading room. For good healthy sleep, the bedroom is reserved for just two things and the first is sleep. I can't remember what the second one is.
So take the TV out of the bedroom, don't bring homework or office work to bed, keep your favorite novel by your easy chair in the den and have your night time milk and cookies in the kitchen. Besides, who wants cookie crumbs in their bed? Still keeping with environment, lower the temperature and darken the room. Put shades or thick curtains over the windows to keep light pollution out; streetlights, porch lights, car lights and the like. And healthy sleep likes a cool room, not too hot, not to cold; just right.
They say, Timing is Everything
To the extent possible, schedule sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. It trains the brain and body to expect sleep and prepare for it. The absolute worst situation for maintaining good, healthy sleep is for those poor souls who work rotating shifts or night shifts.
Because of the way our brains are wired, we have a biological clock that takes environmental cues and makes us most alert during daylight hours and the most drowsy during the early morning hours. It is estimated that about one-quarter of our workforce has to work night shifts.
Statistics show that these workers experience higher sleep disorders, have more accidents, especially auto accidents while driving home from work, have more digestive and cardivascular problems, even fertility and emotional problems.
There is also a body of evidence that says the fatigue of night shift workers can be very dangerous. Chernobyl Nuclear AccidentI have read that the Valdez oil spill, Three-Mile Island and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown were all linked to mistakes made by fatigued workers. For health's sake, if you work the night shift, look for a new career.

Photo: Oops! Where reactor 4 used to be at Chernobyl
For Healthy Sleep, Nutrition matters
The objective regarding sleep and nutrition is to eat foods that calm the brain and this gets us into amino acids. Food that contains the amino acid tryptophan is a good place to start.
This is the basic material that the brain uses to build serotonin and melatonin, two relaxing neurotransmitters, or as our friends, the neurologists would say, "inhibitory neurotransmitters". Typically protein contains amino acids like tyrosine that perk up the brain while carbohydrates are the tryptophan foods, that tend to relax the brain.
The secret is to eat high protein and medium carbohydrate meals in the morning and afternoon. A complex carbohydrate with a little protein meal would be eaten for dinner. A small bedtime snack would be OK if it combines the complex carb with protein and calcium. Calcium is like a catalyst that helps the brain convert the tryptophan to melatonin.
At bedtime, "snack" means small; don't pig out before bedtime. Good food that contains tryptophan and thus melatonin are pasta, eggs, tuna, chili, tofu, oats, sweet corn, rice and similar. Or there's always the old standby, skim milk and apple pie.
Obviously, avoid stimulants like coffee, tea and chocolate near bedtime.
Exercise and Healthy Sleep
Lastly, exercise is always recommended as a daily activity, just not near bedtime. Exercise is a stimulating activity, not a relaxing one. Thankfully, this doesn't apply to sex. Sex is great exercise and burns about 300 calories so, yes, it is very stimulating exercise.
The counterbalance is that it also releases a lot of wonderful, relaxing, "feel-good" endorphins. If your heart's up to it, have at it; you'll sleep like a baby.

Healthy Sleep Requires Dreaming

We all dream but so far, neuroscience hasn't uncovered much definitive information as to why.
Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep. This means that we dream multiple times during the night since we have between five and seven complete sleep cycles inclusive of the REM stage.
There are interesting differences between dreaming in the early slow-wave states and the REM stage. Essentially, our recall and dream content is different. Someone awakened from slow-wave dreaming will have little recall and if any of the dream is remembered, it is unstructured with no "story".
REM sleep, on the other hand, generally has a complex story and can be recalled in great detail. The imagery and intensity of REM dreams is greatest in the early morning hours but the control mechanism is still unknown and is the subject of much research.
"Bad dreams" are more common in REM sleep, having complicated stories with negative connotations. Conversely, slow wave dream content is less visual and emotional. A strange finding is that the true nightmares only occur in slow wave sleep; another unknown concerning dreams.
In the slow-wave, non-REM nightmares, there is a respiratory decline and paralysis. In children night terrors (pavor nocturnus) sometimes occur, lasting 1 -2 minutes. The child may wake up screaming but will have no recall of the nightmare.
In adults slow wave nightmares are referred to as incubus (demons) sleep but, as with children, there is no memory of the dream. If there is any recollection, it is usually short with no story; just a single horrifying event. Another finding is that REM dreaming only occurs in humans and animals with neocortex, the outer layers of the brain hemispheres. A common theory is that REM sleep is necessary for the consolidation of memory and if we prevent REM sleep, we prevent consolidation of events into long term memory.
All neuroscientists agree that something important must be going on with sleep and dreaming since we spend one-third of our lives engaged in it. In a single stage of sleep, ten separate nuclei and six separate neurotransmitters have been identified, confirming that the structure and function of sleep and dreaming is incredibly complex.
The bottom line is that we still have no definitive, proveable reason why we dream or sleep.

The question is, "What is Cancer?" Now we Know.

What is cancer? It's the fourth position in the zodiac and the name "cancer" comes from the Latin word for crab. From the Greek language, we get "metastasis" for a "change in position". The Latin "cancer" and the Greek "metastasis" both describe how the disease cancer moves.
It moves in a crab-like fashion to invade healthy tissue and then Metastasizes to move from its primary site to tissues or organs some distance from where it started.
Photo: The Crab Nebula in the Taurus constellation is a good depiction of how cancer invades surrounding tissue.
Crab nebula from NASA/ESA.  Created for NASA by SCScl under contract NAS5-26555
What is cancer? It's good cells gone bad. Remember our friends the vampires? As long as they can get human blood, they never die. Cancer cells are the same way. As long as they have a good blood supply, they are immortal.
Let's back up and review a couple of things about cells.
Human cells have a nucleus that houses DNA which is what carries the genetic blueprints of all life forms. It's the information contained in the DNA that guides the construction and functioning of all living things.
DNA is very delicate and can be damaged by a large number of things, mostly environmental but some biologic as well.
If a cell carrying damaged DNA isn't detected and destroyed by the protective mechanisms in our body, that cell will replicate and create a mutated version of itself. Thus we have the foundation of evolution. The downside is that the damaged or changed cell can cause cancer.

Stem Cells and Differentiation

To address the original question of "what is cancer", we need to consider how stem cells change to their final form, a process called "differentiation". We hear a lot about stem cells these days and it's a hot area of research, also one charged with all kinds of political, religious and ethical arguments; most of which arise from a woeful lack of understanding about stem cells.
We have a storehouse of stem cells throughout our body and they function to repair and replace injured tissue throughout our whole lifespan. The wonderfully intriguing thing about stem cells is that they have the ability to become any type of cell the body requires.
Embryonic stem cells start out as totipotent, meaning that they can become any type of cell. On their way to becoming that final cell form, they travel through several stages in which they increasingly lose that ability.
The stages are totipotent, pluripotent, multipotent, committed, determined, and fully differentiated then terminally differentiated (unipotent).
The diagram below shows a fertilized egg (oocyte + sperm) becoming a totipotent morula (early stage embryo of 16 to 32 cells), growing to a blastocyst where pluripotent inner mass cells are produced, which ultimately become a heart, neuron, immune cell or whatever they are directed to become.
Original work by author Mike Jones for Wikipedia, May 3, 2006.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution shareAlike 2.5 License.
The whole journey is called the differentiation cascade and that last stop, terminally differentiated, is where the cell finally becomes what its DNA has instructed it to become. A lot of cell divisions have occurred by the time a cell reaches full or terminal differentiation.

Back to the Basic Question...

"What is Cancer?"
We needed a discussion on differentiation because the first and most important thing about cancer is that the stem cells fail to differentiate somewhere along the cascade.
They divide and divide but never progress to a final destination. What is Cancer? Uncontrolled growth is another clue to the answer.
As we can imagine, all that division with no place to go, results in a clumping together of cells that we call a tumor.
If the tumor stayed put and just grew, we could deal with it fairly easily at some point but... another bad thing about cancer is that it has the potential to invade surrounding tissue.
As long as the cancer stays in place, it situ as it's called, no metastasis has taken place. This is where the crab name came from; it invades surrounding tissue in crab-like movements.
Metastasis takes us one step further in the "what is cancer" question. It's a fine point, but what is meant here is the "potential" to metastasize.
Invasion of surrounding tissue has to occur before the cancer is primed to metastasize, meaning "change its position" to some distant locale. It moves out of the confining tissue and is transported by the blood stream, lymphatic system or direct transmission to some other point where it continues its unchecked growth.
One thing that makes cancer so fearsome is that it is potentially fatal in that sooner or later it will end up in a vital organ and grow to the point of organ failure causing death.
Photo left: Liver slice showing multiple metastatic nodules originating from primary pancreatic cancer.
For example, breast cancer is not fatal since the breast is not a vital organ but when it metastasizes to the liver or lungs, then we have the potential fatality.
Cancer is lethal by design in that the strongest, fittest, most aggressive cancer cells live while the weaker ones are taken care of by our immune system.
Below is a handy Search Box for Abe Books to use in looking for books on cancer. Just type in your keywords and hit "Search". For example, if you want an overview of cancer, type in "Cancer".

Another thing about cancer is that it is immortal. Normal cells have a programmed life span, die and are replaced.
Cancer cells never get the signal that it's time to die. As long as they can get fed from a good blood supply, they live on and on.
Caller ID
This takes us to another characteristic of cancer. Cancer cells do not respond to outside signals at all. They only pay attention to their own autonomous signals which means that they are not responsive to the "braking" signals that would slow or stop the division of normal cells.
In a sense, cancer cells have caller ID. When they see the "call" to die coming in, they just don't answer.
Think of driving your car down the highway going faster and faster and discovering that the accelerator is stuck. Now you hit the brakes only to find out that the brakes have failed. That's a pretty good analogy to the question, "what is cancer?".
Follow the link to the next page to delve into what causes cancer.

Physical Fitness... It Makes all the Difference!

Too many American's attitude on Physical Fitness is summed up in the following quotes:
From the actress, Joey Adams, "If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all."
From the comedienne and show host, Ellen DeGeneres, “I really don't think I need buns of steel. I'd be happy with buns of cinnamon."
From the comedienne and actress, Rita Rudner, "The word aerobics came about when the gym instructors got together and said, "If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it jumping up and down."
And lastly, from the comedienne, Phyllis Diller, "My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit."
These four quotes were from people who get paid for being funny but being "out of shape" is no laughing matter.
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
Winnie the Pooh from author, A. A. Milne, summed it up very well..."A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise."
"Tubby" is too kind a word, "obese" is more descriptive of our times. All you need to do is go to your local mall, sit on a bench for 15 minutes and you will see what obesity in America looks like.

Physical Health requires Physical Fitness!

There is no way we can become fit with a pill, potion or diet. It takes work, sweat, discipline and dedication. But the good news is that it doesn't have to be work; it can be fun and will make you feel good.
Ever heard of endorphins? A neurologist would say that endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus during periods of excitement, exercise, orgasm or other enjoyable experiences. They attach to areas of the brain responsible for pleasure (the limbic system and prefrontal cortex).
That's a bit complicated for most of us, so I'll just say that when we do hard exercise, our brain releases chemicals that make us feel good. Avid joggers might describe it as the "runner's high".
Photo below: Those runners look like they passed their "high" several miles ago.
The human body is a lot like a machine. If the machine sits idle for too long without maintenance, it gets rusty, its gaskets wear out, it's hard to start, it loses horsepower, and its tubes get clogged. Would you believe our bodies are very similar.

Photo: 2008 Corvette engine...I would never let this guy sit idle!
2008 Corvette engine
If we don't push our body, it builds up toxins and free radicals (gets rusty); its cartilage and joints start to degrade (gaskets wear out); it loses energy and stamina (gets hard to start); muscle tissue loses mass and bones get thin (loses horsepower); and veins start building up plaque (tubes get clogged).
The facts are, as our physical fitness goes, so goes our health. Why is it a fact? Read on!

What is Physical Fitness?

When most people think of physical fitness (if they think of it at all), they automatically think "exercise".
Yes, exercise is a huge part of staying fit but it's not the whole story. "Physical" refers to the total body, not just the muscles. "Fitness" refers to how well the cells, tissue, organs and systems of the total body function.
Homeostasis is a word the medical community uses to describe a state of balance in the body; everything working together in harmony.
So putting the total package together...
Physical fitness involves proper nutrition and eating for health. That means we have to give our bodies the right fuel to do its job.
Physical fitness means we have to cleanse our body by removing the debris of life; toxins, free radicals and mutated cells. In keeping with the engine analogy, we have to change the oil every so often.
Physical fitness means we have to protect our body by keeping its immune system working at peak efficiency. This involves a number of things such as managing stress, managing weight, and avoiding toxins and harmful substances.
Photo below: What getting fit means to most people
Exercising at Northarea family YMCA
But this section is about what most people think physical fitness means; muscular strength, stamina, proper breathing (respiration) and building bone density.
So let's see what we have to do to get fit and stay fit.

What Would Jack LaLanne Do?

Anybody out there old enough to remember Jack LaLanne? Jack is 93 years old now, been married to the same woman for 50 years, and still going strong. He hosted the Jack LaLanne show for 34 years on TV. It was the first and longest running show on health and fitness.
He set the world record for pushups that I believe still stands; 1033 pushups in 23 minutes. He swam handcuffed and shackled for a mile and a half while towing 70 boats with 70 people on board.
What is Jack's secret? No secret, we already said it...get plenty of physical exercise, eat right and keep your mind sharp. Let's take them one at a time.
LaLanne still works out two hours every day but says that an exercise program lasting 20 to 30 minutes a day, three or four times a week is adequate for most people. His tips include a lot of common sense items. If you are out of shape, overweight or have some health condition, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Before exercising, stretch. Stretching warms up the body, gets the blood moving and limbers up the muscles.
Click on the banner link below to see the incredible variety of exercise routines available on video from There is a right way and a wrong way to approach fitness routines. It pays to get advice from the experts.
Engage in some physical activity every day.
Set a goal, achieve it, and set another one.
Mix up the exercise routine to keep a well rounded program and keep it from getting boring.
Photo right: Getting ready for a workout? Don't overlook the stretches.
stretching prior to working out
LaLanne believes that proper nutrition is the backbone of any physical fitness program. He recommends avoiding processed foods. If it comes in a can or package or is handed through a window, forget it.
Load up on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and high-fiber foods. Starting to sound familiar...I know you've heard this before.
He also advocates quality protein found in fish, lean meat and chicken without the skin. Don't forget the six to eight glasses of water every day.
Chew slowly and savor every bite.
Lastly this giant of fitness still recommends supplementing food intake with natural vitamins and minerals. It sounds like Jack is up to speed on the nutritional deficiencies of our commercial food supply.
With mental acuity, he says that an idle brain will deteriorate just a surely and fast as idle muscles. The best activities are those that challenge the brain and involve social interaction. Suggestions included bridge, chess, music, sports and on and on.
Personally, I start my day with a bowl of whole grain and fiber cereal (mixed), smothered in blueberries, walnuts, strawberries, flax, a couple of prunes and a glyconutrient powder (no sugar), all drowned in light soy milk. While eating the cereal, I'm doing the Sudoku and cryptogram in the local morning paper. So far, I can still find my car keys and remember what they're for.
The way Jack LaLanne describes it, anyone can do it; it's not rocket science.

What do the Doctors Think?

Let's move to the medical world and see what Dr. Mehmet Oz has to say about exercise. Dr. Oz is the celebrity M.D. (cardiovascular surgeon) who makes frequent appearances on Oprah and has co-authored a lot of books with Dr. Michael Roizen. The link below will take you to where you can see most of their recent books and buy new or used. Such a deal!
Dr. Oz reports that between 1966 and 1996, the number of Americans that took part in any physical exercise dropped by 1% per year. The good news is that from 1996 to 2002, the number of people engaging in regular exercise has risen by 1% a year.
Among other things, Dr. Oz is a proponent of resistance training. Benefits include an increase in lean muscle mass which consumes more calories than fat. Obviously, it makes the muscles stronger.
Strengthening the lower back muscles is the best way to avoid low-back pain. It decreases the age of our heart, arteries and immune system. Most important, it builds strong bones.
Photo: Free weights are a great form of resistance training. This is the free weight rack at the Istanbul Hyatt's health club.
Freeweights in rack; Istanbul Hyatt Regency
Bones know when they are under stress, such as when muscles pull on them. Their response is to increase their density by absorbing more calcium. It would seem that resistance training should do wonders for osteoporosis sufferers.
Furthermore, Dr. Oz claims that it doesn't take much resistance to experience bone benefits. Just thirty minutes of weight bearing exercise a week will kick off the increase in bone density. Jack LaLanne might just dispute that.
It doesn't have to involve a gym or weights either; we can use our own body as the resistance. Squats and lunges, pushups, crunches and the like will all add to muscle mass and bone density.
The other type of physical fitness training is for stamina. Stamina training can be self-defeating if it is of such duration that it damages joints and bones.
The best overall type of stamina training involves activities that elevates the heart rate and works all the muscle groups without causing shock to the joints and cartilage.

Photo right: Lance Armstrong, Mr. Stamina!
Lance Armstrong, the master of stamina
Swimming, rowing, cycling on a recumbent bike or an elliptical machine all come to mind.
Walking is great exercise but it must be done briskly and for at least thirty minutes a day; leisurely strolling around the mall doesn't count.

Discipline Counts in Physical Fitness! Get Help!

Not many of us have the discipline needed to stick with a physical fitness program for the long haul. Good intentions fade away with the pressures of work, deadlines, family commitments or any other excuse our mind can conjure up.
Physical fitness must become nothing less than a lifestyle change. It must become an ingrained habit. Ideally we should schedule exercise time each day as if it were a business appointment or a hot date.
If anything intrudes on the scheduled time, the knee-jerk response would be, "I'm sorry, I have an appointment".
Personal trainer working with client
Since most of us lack such dedication, a personal trainer is a highly effective way to approach a physical fitness program. It's also a fact that most of us don't have a clue what we are doing when it comes to sensible exercise or how to go about it.
Photo left: Personal Fitness Trainer working with client
For example, most of us are jumping on the scale every other day when we should be using the tape measure. With physical fitness, inches matter more than pounds.
Remember that, per unit volume, muscle weighs more than fat. We can build muscle, lose fat and possibly gain weight...but it will be healthy weight.
Personal fitness trainers are professionals. They have experience, they have the requisite schooling in physical education and they won't let us hurt ourselves.
If you are interested in seeing what a personal fitness trainer can do for you plus get a real education in how to work out, I recommend you click on the Completely Fit personal training company to visit their website.
This company, located in Mt. Airy, midway between Frederick, MD and Baltimore, MD, offers both personal one-to-one fitness training as well as online coaching.
The site is rich with photos of proper exercise routines and offers information on everything you would ever want to know about achieving fitness through exercise.

What About a Home Gym?

If you are like me and don't want to take time out to visit the gym but still want to workout, a home gym might be the way to go. Space is always a consideration but it doesn't take all that much.
My home has a fairly roomy, finished "walk-out" basement where I installed a Health Trainer HT85 treadmill and a Body Solid G2B exercise machine. The two pieces of equipment together probably take up less than 130 sq. ft.
They're not top of the line nor bottom, probably about mid-range equipment and they work great.
Photo below: My Body Solid G2B machine; no, she wasn't part of the package.
Body solid HT85 home exercise machine
Believe it or not I have had them over a year and still use them every day. If something is convenient, I will probably stick with it.
The problem with home gyms and treadmills, or exercise bicycles is that there is a mind-boggling assortment of equipment to choose from.
How does one go about figuring out what to buy, what is quality equipment and what is junk? The prices are all over the map but as with most things, we get what we pay for.
There are a lot of moving parts in most home exercise equipment so be sure to look for a dealer that will deliver and set it up for you and stands behind their product. If something breaks, it's nice to have a local dealer that will fix it.
After shopping around a bit, I bought my equipment from a local store (Play it Again, Sports). They had numerous brands and price ranges; the salesman was helpful, they did deliver and set it up; and they service their products.
I haven't tested it yet but their advertising says they buy back used equipment.
I am in the process of checking out websites that evaluate such equipment to help us with those decisions and as soon as I have picked what I think is the best, I will include it here as a reference with a link to the site.

Parting Thoughts on Physical Fitness

In wrapping up, We are faced with one of those Health-Choices-for-Life crossroads. We can choose to exercise and strive for physical fitness and reap the health benefits it bestows while enjoying a higher quality of life.
Or, we can choose the couch over the treadmill and keep getting our food handed to us through a window and reap the consequences of those choice; obesity, ill health and a life of prescriptions and waiting to see the doctor.
Understand that what I have written here is designed to whet the appetite and get people thinking about improving their quality of life through physical activity and being fit.
When it comes to physical fitness, this information is just a drop in the bucket; after all, there are 2-year, 3-year and full 4-year college degrees in physical fitness, physical therapy and sports coaching to name a few.
The choice is ours; let's be like Indiana Jones and choose wisely. Remember what happened to the guy that chose badly?