Month: January 2016

Four Ways to Improve Your Mood by Food

Do you wake up on an installment plan? Do you really not surface until you have another coffee break? Are you out-of-sorts? Downright grumpy? You can improve your mood by changing the foods you eat. How? 1. Plant foods to the rescue! Enjoy a plant-based diet, including a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Plus, complex carbs are loaded with fiber that enables your blood sugar to stay within normal limits. It is fine to have a potato or corn; just remember ½ cup of starchy food comprises a serving. When combined with a...

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Preventing and Surviving Cancer

In some ways we are winning the war on cancer, as the overall death rate has decreased slightly, but in other ways it is still a tremendous threat. The Magnitude of the Problem It is estimated that 1,638,910 men and women will be diagnosed with, and 577,190 men and women will die of cancer in 2012. Based on Table 1.1 rates from 2007-2009, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer during...

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease, in which the immune system attacks the joints and sometimes other parts of the body. The cause of RA remains unknown. What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? The most common symptom of RA is joint pain and morning joint stiffness. Several joints on both sides of the body are usually affected, especially those of the hands, wrists, knees, and feet. Affected joints may feel warm or appear swollen. People with RA may have other symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and, occasionally, fever. Dietary changes that may be helpful: Feeding...

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Managing Stress Successfully

I like to illustrate the sympathetic nervous system by yelling “FIRE” before coming in to teach my physiology students. Yes, indeed, in a one-word definition the sympathetic division yells, “FIRE!” The sympathetic nervous system operates in emergencies—which happens everyday. Stress of any kind activates it. The well-known “fight-or-flight” response when confronted with sudden fear or a stressor is caused by increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Effects of stimulation to this system include: A rapid heart beat Increased blood pressure due Slowed digestion Digestion is impaired by slower peristalsis Increased blood pressure Enhanced mental activity Dangers Excessive sympathetic...

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Power to Change

We all have habits, both good and bad. It’s a fact of life. The question is how we can change our habits and positively impact on our lives. Anyone who has tried to develop good habits or change bad ones has had a struggle. The process involves more than knowing what to do, one needs to know how to do it and be motivated to do it. But there is one more vital element, for those of us struggling with these issues: we need the power to do it. One of the hardest struggles of the human heart is...

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Seven Steps for Setting and Reaching Goals

Ever been on a diet—just one diet? Not likely. The pattern is more like 20 or 30 diets, often gaining a little “interest” in weight—and discouragement—after each attempt at paring those pounds. And that’s the way it seems to go, whatever the habit that keeps us bogged down in old, negative routines. Replace donuts with dice, drugs, or drink, and the picture is all too often the same—too many tries, too few results. According to neuroscientist Dr. Karl Bailey, if your brain is powerful enough to get you addicted in the first place, then it is powerful enough to...

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Boost Your Immunity

Natural killer (NK) cells and killer T-lymphocytes are special immune cells that destroy viruses and combat cancer. They release chemical bullets that perforate the protein coating of viruses and the membranes of cancer cells. Natural killer cells also damage the DNA of cancer cells and interfere with the replication of viruses. To add further detail, NK cells release perforins into the membranes of their target cells. “Perforin” comes from the word perforate. So, perforins are a group of chemicals that shoot tiny holes into the membranes of their targets. Special enzymes from the NK cell granules then insert themselves...

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Sunlight’s Dual Nature: Curative or Deadly

You hear much about sunlight causing skin cancer. Indeed, solar ultraviolet radiation seems to account for approximately 93 percent of skin cancers and about half of lip cancers.1  However, there are many scientifically established physiological, cancer-protecting benefits of sunlight as well. A review of 8 studies from 100 countries shows strong inverse correlations with solar UVB for 15 types of cancer: bladder, breast, cervical, colon, endometrial, esophageal, gastric, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, rectal, renal, and vulvar cancer; and Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.2 For example, individuals living in northern latitudes (and thus lower vitamin D production) have a substantial greater risk...

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Berries as Disease Fighters

If you have (or are at risk for developing) diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or dementia, frequent consumption of berries will improve your health. Here’s why. Cardiovascular Protection Harvard researchers followed 100,000 young and middle-aged women for 20 years and found that those who ate more than 3 servings of strawberries or blueberries a week reduced their risk for heart disease by 32%.1 Cardiovascular diseases—atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, vascular dementia, and hypertension—are caused by much more than accumulated cholesterol and fats in arteries. Oxidation, inflammation, sticky platelets, and reduced ability of the blood vessels to dilate all contribute to these disease processes....

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The Deadly Epidemic of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome deserves serious attention, for one out of five adult Americans and one out of eight school-age children has it. This dangerous pandemic pushes millions down the slippery slope to heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and early death. Profile Of Metabolic Syndrome What’s involved in the complex mix of unhealthful conditions that make up metabolic syndrome, or MetS, for short? Insulin resistance Obesity High blood cholesterol Hypertension If an individual has any three of the above four unhealthful conditions, a doctor can confirm the diagnosis. Significance? Three of these conditions can double one’s risk of heart attack or stroke!...

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Diabetes and Self Compassion

Did you really eat that whole bag of chips? Did you choose healthy carbs, but eat way too many? Is it easy to commit to your health goals in-between-meals, but more difficult to follow through when it’s time to eat? Do you beat yourself up when you make a mistake? Do you find it easy to show compassion to your friends, but more difficult to be kind to yourself? As a diabetes educator, I find that many people are hard on themselves. They especially remember their failings. As we start a session, many patients say, “You’re going to be...

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Metabolic Syndrome: A Cluster of Trouble

Grapes come in clusters, and so do lifestyle diseases. When I was in medical school, I noticed a similarity between the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. For example, if a person had diabetes they were more likely to also have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, to be overweight, or to have a heart attack. I wondered how these disorders are all related. Gerald Reaven, MD, a hypertension researcher at Stanford University, suggested that these diseases—four of the biggest killers in our society today—were actually ONE disease with various manifestations. He proposed...

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