Effects Of Astigmatism And Best Treatments

Wouldn’t it be stressful to drive through life with a “warped windshield”? That’s exactly how astigmatism feels. Astigmatism is an eye disorder which occurs due to the irregular curvature of the eye. It prevents light from being focused on the retina properly and blurs your vision. Astigmatism has different extents of affecting people. Medical research shows that astigmatism can be congenital or occur after an eye injury, disease or surgery.

The Two Types Of Astigmatism

Corneal Astigmatism – This is when the cornea is curved improperly. The cornea has a distorted shape that prevents light rays from getting refracted properly.

Lenticular Astigmatism – When the lens of the eye is improperly curved, it is Lenticular Astigmatism. The lens is curved imperfectly so the image reaching the retina is blurred. Lenticular Astigmatism is seen in patients with diabetes, but is reduced once you start treating diabetes.

Symptoms Of Astigmatism  

Astigmatism can be diagnosed through various eye check-ups and eye tests, but other indicators are headaches, squinting, fatigue, blurry vision, eyestrain, distorted vision and photophobia – sensitivity to light. A visual acuity test, regular eye tests and use of a Snellen Chart, Keratometer or Astigmatic dial can be used for the diagnoses.

Treatment For Astigmatism 

Eye glasses, corrective lenses or refractive surgery are a few ways through which astigmatism can be corrected. Eyeglasses and corrective lenses are the primary means of correcting blurred vision caused by astigmatism, but the best way to improve vision and correct astigmatism is through corrective surgery. There are two types of laser surgery: PRK and LASIK.

  • (PRK) or Photorefractive Keratectomy is one of the laser surgery methods to treat astigmatism. The protective layer of the cornea is removed and another laser reshapes the cornea. However, this treatment is known to be painful.
  • (LASIK) or Laser in situ keratectomy is a recently developed technology. It has been favored largely because it is less painful. The surgery involves using a laser to make an incision into the cornea and reshaping it with the help of an excimer laser.

Lesser Known Facts Of Astigmatism

Some mild types of this disorder may not affect vision but this is common in young people and women. It is congenital for some people, so the intensity may increase with age.

  • It can be treated – Most people do not experience symptoms and hardly require treatment. Prescription glasses and contact lenses are just enough to treat astigmatism in the early stages.
  • Diabetes – High blood sugar levels can affect the eye, especially the shape of the lens which helps with the focusing power of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye are blocked.
  • Rubbing can weaken your eyes – Allergies or rubbing vigorously may weaken your eyes because it can distort the shape of the cornea.
  • Eye exercises help – Our eyes are muscles and need to be kept in shape. It is important to do the “read and avert gaze” exercise every now and then. You can start by reading and then shifting your gaze to a nearby object and then get back to reading. Doing this repeatedly will strengthen your eye muscles and help you with your ability to focus.

Vision therapy, eye exercises and a healthy diet can be beneficial to treat astigmatism as well as other eyesight conditions like Myopia, Hyperopia and Presbyopia. Though there are alternate measures to curb the problem only an ophthalmologist would know best and will suggest the best possible treatment to you.

Author Bio:   

Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, an Ophthalmology Center in California. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs to inform readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care, especially LASIK. Aaron loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.

Recent Studies Address Pros And Cons Of Drinking Coffee

Drinking coffee is “more likely to benefit health than to harm it” for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ medical journal recently. They bring together evidence from over 200 studies and find that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day is associated with a lower risk of death and getting heart disease compared with drinking no coffee.

Coffee drinking is also associated with lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia. However, they say drinking coffee in pregnancy may be associated with harms, and may be linked to a very small increased risk of fracture in women.

Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages worldwide and could have positive health benefits. But existing evidence is of lower quality from observational research so randomized controlled trials are needed to strengthen the evidence of benefits. The included studies used mainly observational data, providing lower quality evidence, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but their findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee intake.

To better understand the effects of coffee consumption on health, a team led by Dr. Robin Poole, Specialist Registrar in Public Health at the University of Southampton, with collaborators from the University of Edinburgh, carried out an umbrella review of 201 studies that had aggregated data from observational research and 17 studies that had aggregated data from clinical trials across all countries and all settings.

The Benefits

Drinking coffee was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease, with the largest reduction in relative risk of death at three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers. Increasing consumption to above three cups a day was not associated with harm, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver.

Finally, there seemed to be beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. There was less evidence for the effects of drinking decaffeinated coffee but it had similar benefits for a number of outcomes.

Safe, Moderate Coffee Consumption

Many of the included studies may have adjusted for factors that may be associated with both the health outcome and with coffee drinking, such as smoking. This was not comprehensive and varied from study to study. The authors can therefore not rule out the effect of such factors on the apparent harmful or beneficial associations.

The authors conclude that coffee drinking “seems safe within usual patterns of consumption, except during pregnancy and in women at increased risk of fracture.” And they call for robust randomized controlled trials “to understand whether the key observed associations are causal.”

In a linked editorial, Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says, although we can be reassured that coffee intake is generally safe, doctors should not recommend drinking coffee to prevent disease and people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.

As this study shows, some people may be at higher risk of adverse effects, and there is “substantial uncertainty” about the effects of higher levels of intake. Finally, coffee is often consumed with products rich in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, “and these may independently contribute to adverse health outcomes,” Guallar adds. “However, even with these caveats, moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population.”

Higher Coffee Consumption Associated With Lower Risk Of Early Death

A similar study recently stated that higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of death, according to research presented recently at the ESC Congress. The observational study in nearly 20,000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.

“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world,” says Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. “Previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee might be inversely associated with all-cause mortality but this has not been investigated in a Mediterranean country.”

Mediterranean Diet Study

The purpose of the study was to examine the association between coffee consumption and the risk of mortality in a middle-aged Mediterranean cohort. The study was conducted within the framework of the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project, a long-term prospective cohort study in more than 22,500 Spanish university graduates which started in 1999. This analysis included 19,896 participants of the SUN Project, whose average age at enrollment was 37.7 years old. Patients were followed-up for an average of 10 years.

During the 10-year period, 337 participants died. The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never or almost never consumed coffee. There was a 22% lower risk of all-cause mortality for each two additional cups of coffee per day.

The researchers examined whether sex, age or adherence to the Mediterranean diet had any influence on the association between baseline coffee consumption and mortality. They observed a significant interaction between coffee consumption and age. In those who were at least 45 years old, drinking two additional cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of mortality during follow-up. The association was not significant among younger participants.

“In the SUN project we found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above,” Navarro said. “This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants. Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.”

Ground Coffee Improves Nose, Throat Surgery

Imagine plopping six cups of coffee grounds on the heads of patients just before they are wheeled into the operating room to have nose or throat surgery? In essence, that is what a team of Vanderbilt University engineers  proposed in an effort to improve the reliability of the sophisticated “GPS” system that surgeons use for these operations. They have designed a “granular jamming cap” filled with coffee grounds that does a better job of tracking patient head movements than current methods.

The coffee grounds are not loose but form a thin layer inside a stretchy silicone headpiece, which looks something like a black latex swim cap decorated with reflective dots. After the cap is placed on the patient’s head, it is attached to a vacuum pump that sucks the air out of the cap, jamming the tiny grounds together to form a rigid layer that conforms closely to the shape of the patient’s head. This is the same effect that turns vacuum-packed coffee into solid bricks.

The Registration Process

Before surgery, a special scanner is used to map the location of the dots relative to key features on the patient’s head: a process called registration. Then, during surgery an overhead camera observes the position of the dots allowing the navigation system to accurately track the position of the patient’s head when the surgeon repositions it. The computer uses this information to combine a CT scan, which provides a detailed 3-D view of the bone and soft tissue hidden inside the patient’s head, with the position of the instruments the surgeon is using and displays them together in real time on a monitor in the operating room.

“These are very delicate operations and a sophisticated image guidance system has been developed to help the surgeons, but they don’t trust the system because sometimes it is spot-on and other times it is off the mark,” says Robert Webster, associate professor of mechanical engineering and otolaryngology, who is developing a surgical robot designed specifically for endonasal surgery. “When we heard about this, we began wondering what was causing these errors and we decided to investigate.”

Fiducial Markers

When Webster and his research team looked into the matter, they were surprised by what they found. They discovered it wasn’t the hardware or the software in the guidance system that was causing the problem. It was the way the reflective markers were attached to the patient’s head that was at fault. Typically, these “fiducial markers” are attached by an elastic headband and double-backed tape and are subject to jarring and slipping. Their tests found that skin movement and accidental bumps by operating room staff both produced large tracking errors.

“The basic assumption is that, after registration, the spatial relationships between the patient’s head and the fiducial markers remains constant,” says Patrick Wellborn, the graduate student making the presentation. “Unfortunately, that is not the case. For one thing, studies have shown that the skin on a person’s forehead can move as much as a half an inch relative to the skull. And accidentally bumping or dragging cables over the headband can also produce significant targeting errors.”

Previous research has found that when everything goes well, the guidance system produces targeting errors of about two millimeters but, in about one operation out of seven, the target error is much larger, forcing the surgeon to redo the registration process.

The Coffee Ground Method

So the team began thinking up alternative, non-invasive methods to attach these critical markers. Webster recalled some experiments that were done using coffee grounds to help robots grip irregularly shaped objects. Bladders filled with coffee grounds were built into the robot’s gripper. When it grabbed an object, the bladders conformed to its shape. Then a vacuum was pulled and the coffee grounds became rigid and locked the object into place. The researchers decided to see if this technique could be applied to the problem.

In the last three years, they have gone through a number of designs. They began with headbands that had coffee-ground-filled bags over the temples. Their tests showed that these models could reduce the targeting error by about 50 percent. But the engineers still weren’t satisfied.

Then, Wellborn, who was taking over the project, had a brainstorming session with fellow graduate student Richard Hendrick. Among the materials that his predecessor had left behind was a latex bald cap. “That sparked the idea of caps in general,” Wellborn recalled. “We wanted something elastic that was form fitting, which led to the idea of a swim cap.”

New Design And Advantage

In addition to fitting extremely tightly to the head, the new design had another advantage. The headband system has only three fiducial markers attached on the ends of three thin rods to form a triangle. The new design allowed them to attach several dozen markers directly to the surface of the cap, which the researchers believe will also contribute to improving the guidance system’s accuracy.

They designed three tests to determine how well this “granular jamming cap” performed relative to the current headband in reducing targeting error. They “bumped” both of them from a number of different directions with a tennis ball filled with plastic particles swinging on the end of a string. They found that the cap reduced targeting errors by 83 percent.

They simulated the case where a cable or other piece of equipment is accidentally pushed against the two by applying forces ranging from four to six pounds in different directions. They determined that the cap outperformed the headband by 76 percent when the forces were applied to the headband and by 92 percent when they were applied to the markers.

They tested the effects of head repositioning by having an experienced surgeon reposition test subjects’ heads six to seven times. In this case, the cap proved to have 66 percent lower error rates than the headband.

“It’s a very clever way – that doesn’t involve drilling holes in patients’ skulls – to greatly improve the accuracy of the guidance system when we are operating in the middle of a person’s skull: a zone where the accuracy of the current system is inadequate,” added Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology Paul Russell, who is collaborating with the engineers on the project.

Does Roasting Affect Coffee’s Properties?

In June 2017, researchers compared the caffeine and chlorogenic acid components of coffee beans at different roasting levels and tested the protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the different coffee extracts in human cell models. The results, linking degrees of roasting to reduced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The article is entitled Cellular Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Coffee Extracts with Different Roasting Levels. 

The researchers measured the levels of caffeine and chlorogenic acid and evaluated the effects of Coffea Arabica green coffee extracts roasted at levels corresponding to light, medium, city, and French roast. Whereas the caffeine levels did not differ greatly between the various roasting levels, the levels of chlorogenic acid did vary and correlated with the differences shown in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

“When people think of coffee, they often associate the beverage with caffeine. However, coffee beans have many other chemicals that could help fight chronic inflammatory diseases,” says Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD., Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and Interim Associate Dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida. “Coffee drinkers are passionate about different roasts – light, medium and dark. This study suggests that some of the potentially beneficial compounds could be affected by the roasting process. This article would certainly change my coffee roast preference!”

Substance In Coffee Delays Onset Of Diabetes

In recent years, researchers have identified substances in coffee that could help quash the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But few of these have been tested in animals. Recently, a study in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products reports that one of these previously untested compounds appears to improve cell function and insulin sensitivity in laboratory mice. The finding could spur the development of new drugs to treat or even prevent the disease.

Some studies suggest that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Initially, scientists suspected that caffeine was responsible for this effect. But later findings discounted this possibility, suggesting that other substances in coffee may have a more important role.

Cafestol

In a previous laboratory study, Fredrik Brustad Mellbye, Søren Gregersen and colleagues found that a compound in coffee called cafestol increased insulin secretion in pancreatic cells when they were exposed to glucose. Cafestol also increased glucose uptake in muscle cells just as effectively as a commonly prescribed antidiabetic drug. In this new study, the researchers wanted to see if cafestol would help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in mice.

The researchers divided mice that are prone to develop type 2 diabetes into three groups. Two of the groups were fed differing doses of cafestol. After 10 weeks, both sets of cafestol-fed mice had lower blood glucose levels and improved insulin secretory capacity compared to a control group, which was not given the compound.

Cafestol also didn’t result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, a possible side effect of some antidiabetic medications. The researchers conclude that daily consumption of cafestol can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in these mice, and that it is a good candidate for drug development to treat or prevent the disease in humans.

Extra Coffee Calories

More than 160 million people in the U.S. drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, and many of them use sugar, cream, flavored syrups or other calorie-laden additives in their drinks of choice. A new analysis reveals just how much Americans are adding to their caloric intake by spicing up or sweetening their coffee or tea.

The research looked at 12 years of data – ending in 2012 – from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including information from a nationally representative sample of 13,185 adults who reported drinking coffee and 6,215 adults who reported drinking tea in the 24 hours prior to being surveyed.

The data suggests that more than 51 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee and nearly 26 percent drink tea on any given day, said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An, who conducted the study. Roughly two-thirds of the coffee drinkers and one-third of the tea drinkers put sugar, cream, flavorings or other calorie-rich additives in their drinks, he found.

“Many people prefer drinking coffee and tea with sugar, cream, half-and-half or honey,” An said. “These add-in items are often dense in energy and fat but low in nutritional value. Milk products add a bit of calcium to the diet, but the amount – 22 milligrams per day on average – is negligible.” The daily recommended calcium intake is 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams, depending on one’s age and pregnancy status.

Those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other substances to their coffee. More than 60 percent of those calories come from sugar, with fat accounting for most of the rest of the extra calories consumed.

Tea drinkers tend to add fewer calorie-dense substances to their tea if they add anything at all, the analysis found. “Compared with adding nothing to one’s tea, drinking tea with caloric add-ins increased daily caloric intake by more than 43 calories, on average, with nearly 85 percent of those added calories coming from sugar,” An said. “Our findings indicate that a lot of coffee and tea drinkers regularly use caloric add-ins to improve the flavor of their beverages, but possibly without fully realizing or taking into consideration its caloric and nutritional implications.”

The daily intakes may seem small, but the extra calories every day can add up to extra pounds.

What Is Pennyroyal Oil?

Pennyroyal is a substance that comes from bees and has a significant amount of protein inside. The protein, in conjunction with some of its other elements, makes it very impressive. Natural honey has been touted as a remedy for many things – nature seemed to know what we needed long before we did. Here are some specific ways pennyroyal oil is so effective.

Helps Boost Immune System

The immune system – one of the most important systems within the body – regulates the overall susceptibility to threats and diseases. The immune system is designed to ward off harmful entities. In a 2001 study it was found that royal jelly helps to fortify the immune system, which helps to ward off the symptoms of seasonal allergies by strengthening the system intrinsically itself.

Improves Memory

Royal jelly can improve those memory lapses and blocks you may be experiencing. In a study conducted and published in Advanced Biomedical Research, it was found that royal jelly has an influential and positive impact on neural functions. The brain tissue we need and value can be vulnerable to the free radicals that exist everywhere – they surround us perpetually. Thankfully, royal jelly can help to strengthen the receptors and tissues in the brain that often fail in the beginning stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

Improves Digestion

For many years there has been this new push to inform the masses about gut health. The gut is directly linked to all other organs and the way the body functions is heavily dependent on this. Royal jelly is actually a source of bifidobacteria, which means it helps to realign your gastrointestinal tract. Many people have issues with their digestive system or their intestines and they continue to ignore it. This is done by eating a poor diet and leading a stressful lifestyle. The probiotic within the royal jelly provides great benefits to your tummy and digestive process.

Anti-Aging

There are few things more frightening than beginning to look old. Our bodies don’t hold on forever and because of this natural progression, there are certain signs that someone is getting old. Lines, wrinkles, dark spots, or drab skin are all indications that the skin is starting to look less and less youthful. Thankfully, royal jelly helps to reverse this by promoting collagen production. Collagen helps the skin to appear smooth, supple and soft. It also allows for the skin to obtain more epidermal thickness within the skin tissue, which improves the overall state of the skin as well as the look and feel of it.

You can purchase pennyroyal oil online from several companies at amazon.com.

 

Consistent Exercise Will Keep Older Adults’ Lungs Strong

Our organs change and shift as we become older. There is more attention that must be paid to keeping them as healthy as possible. With certain environmental factors as a conduit to lung issues, a study found that consistent exercise has shown to keep the ability of lungs at a healthy level in aging adults. There is an exchange of gases that the lungs partake in: one being oxygen and the other being carbon dioxide. Oxygen is for the body and carbon dioxide is expelled from the body.

When lungs begin to deteriorate, which is a normal sign of aging, the circulatory system becomes faulty. The surface area of the air sacs tends to decrease and the blood vessels also get smaller. This reduction is known to compromise the necessary exchange that oxygen and carbon dioxide undergo.

Lung Study

A team in Rochester, Minn. set out to make some determinations about lungs, age and activity as they took four sample groups of varying ages and fitness levels. All individuals participated in an exercise test that measured their exertion and stamina. Aspects such as heart rate, lung capacity and intensity were measured. The hypothesis going into the study was that the older group would likely have impaired lung function after such activities but that wasn’t necessarily the case. Given the exercise level, lung diffusing capacity was the strongest and most notable in the groups that stayed relatively active.

It turns out that the correlation between healthy aging and fitness is incredibly strong and that the lungs respond positively to steady and consistent exercise. There isn’t a need to exercise very vigorously or intensely in order to get the benefits of leading a healthy, active, fitness-filled life. The age-related changes presented in pulmonary circulation are diminished when the lungs are used to their full capacity regularly.

Smoking

There are a few outliers that may compromise the lungs such as environmental factors and lifestyle habits. Obviously, the presence of smoke and regularly smoking is bad for your pulmonary mechanisms so if you are a smoker, quitting is definitely in your best interest.

Not only can smoking negatively affect your lungs and various other aspects of your health, it can make working out and maintaining a certain level of fitness increasingly difficult. We use so much more lung capacity and dexterity when we are working out. This is why smokers can’t necessarily be very fit because so much of their lung capacity has already been used and compromised from their smoking habit. This is especially true if they smoke several cigarettes a day.

Exercise

Once giving up this very bad habit, exercising may seem difficult as your lungs start to understand what it means to not be filled with smoke. The lungs can come back from being in such unsavory situations, but consistent exercise is absolutely key to this transition.

Establishing an activity plan, whether it be brisk walks, cycling or yoga, will help to refashion the way that your lungs displace carbon dioxide and ingest oxygen. All of these things beget the overall health and ability of the lungs and the body as a whole. Keep them in good shape and use them often. Even breathing exercises while doing physical activities will help in this way.

Why The Way Your Spine Ages Matters

It appears that medicine is facing a huge challenge. Neurosurgeons all over the globe have to deal with the aging spine and all of the many repercussions that it entails. The numbers are astounding. In four short years we’ll start to see why the presence of bone health was talked about so ceaselessly. Seventy-five million Americans will be over the age of 65 in the year of 2020; 14 million will have osteoporosis. More than double that number will have some type of issue with their bone mass.

The costs of osteoporosis are astronomical, with it coming in at $20 billion annually. Just in the decade span of 1998 to 2008, the age that spinal surgery is performed went from 54 to 49. This influx rises all the time. While life expectancy makes it seem that living a vibrant and active life into your older age is likely, the state of the spine may compromise that ability.

Mobility And Flexibility

Spines are incredibly vulnerable. Some age badly while things like injury impede others. Spines serve one of the most integral aspects of our mobility. It serves as how our nerves interact and relate to the rest of our body, and how we experience things like pain and overall function. Flexibility is also intrinsically required for even the simple day-to-day tasks we often take for granted. This isn’t referring to the type of flexibility that is needed to do the splits. Things like getting dressed, showering and going to the bathroom require a specific amount of flexibility that can be compromised by an aging spine.

Osteoporosis is classified as a condition of fragility of the skeletal form which compromises the strength in one’s bones. Its presence also increases the risk of fracture. Everyone is potentially at risk for this condition. There is a misconception that it only affects those who are older. It can happen at any age. Women also tend to have a higher rate of risk for the condition than men.

Bone Density

A bone density test should be routinely completed to rule out any presence of the condition. Just as other screenings are recommended annually for specific health issues, this one is for the health of your bones and should not be brushed aside. There are ways that the condition can be preventable. While it isn’t entirely in the hands of preventative measures, they can help to thwart off the issue.

Osteoporosis and neurosurgery are connected in that the pain people can sometimes experience, even when they are relatively healthy, can be the result of osteoporosis. An elderly man with an immense quality of life, who walked daily and played tennis three times a week, started experiencing debilitating pain. His pain was to the point that he couldn’t walk around the block or even play tennis for 10 minutes without having to stop. It was found that he was suffering from osteoporosis, a more specific type that causes a curvature of the spine called scoliosis and the narrowing of the spinal canal referred to as stenosis.

Calcium, Magnesium And Vitamin D

The presence of calcium and magnesium will help in the strengthening of the bones. Getting adequate levels of vitamin D is also incredibly crucial to your overall bone health, which is coincidentally one of the most common vitamin deficiencies reported.

What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Cancer is an insidious and pervasive disease that we are seeing more and more of as years go by. Why is the presence of cancer so seemingly ubiquitous? More common types of cancer, such as breast and lung, compile a large amount of sufferers every single year. In 2017, the American Cancer Society believes that roughly 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed within the year. This will lead to more than 40,000 deaths.

One imperative aspect of prevention of this disease is early detection. Thankfully, there are over three million breast cancer survivors in the country today largely because of the initiatives that have been rolled out in conjunction with raising awareness. Here are the key elements one must keep in mind about breast cancer in order to properly prevent it, catch it, or treat it.

Know The Risk Factors

The major factors of risk are being a woman and being of a certain age, though there have been more and more cases of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s and 40s. Most cases are in women older than that. Also, if there is any family history of breast cancer, a woman can be at greater risk.

Risk factors are typically beyond your control but one thing you can control and should is your overall general health. Watch what you eat and stay as physically active as you can. Limiting or eliminating bad habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking, poor stress management and other things will help to improve your overall health and put you in a much better overall state.

Know The Warning Signs

Many times, the breast cancer that becomes the hardest to fight may not have any signs at all. But typically there are things to look out for. Usually breast cancer is asymptomatic, which means it actually is found via annual mammograms instead of a lump being detected. But there are certain red flags that can be indicative of something being abnormal.

If there is any perpetual redness, thickening of the skin, or any type of nipple discharge that hasn’t been commonly experienced, you want to get those things checked out as soon as possible. It’s also important to note that most types of breast cancer are not tender to the touch. That type of experience can be connected to your menstrual cycle, fibroids or benign cysts.

Mammograms Are Vital

Getting checked via mammogram on a yearly basis is essential. This process saves lives and is not to be taken lightly. There is a bit of debate regarding the effectiveness of performing consistent self-breast examinations in between mammograms. One thing proponents say is that self-breast exams allow women to become much more familiar with their breasts, how they usually look and feel in an up close and tangible way.

New Research Is Showing Improvement

Researchers are constantly and tirelessly working to find new and effective ways to treat this disease. Not only to treat it but also to detect it and prevent it. Information and research includes what causes breast cancer, the specific factors that may be tied to the disease, and how to properly eradicate it from the landscape of our current health conversation. Being completely informed is what allows so many to make better and more effective decisions.

Dietary Potassium May Prevent Artery Hardening

Bring on the bananas. A recent study has found that the benefits of potassium are much more far reaching than we had previously thought. Foods that are rich in potassium may help to protect from vascular calcification, which is otherwise known as hardening of the arteries.

Performed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, it was shown that a reduced amount of potassium caused an unwanted amount of aortic stiffness when it was tested on a mouse model – in reference to the mice that received a potassium-rich diet. This type of stiffness seen in humans often leads to the onset of heart disease and potential death. As one of the leading causes of death in this country, this is something that we should be aware of.

Preventing Atherosclerosis

The knowledge of how arteries are unable to regulate the type of calcification that is the result of poor diet, stress and a sedentary lifestyle is directly combated by something like the increased amount of potassium in one’s diet. Including foods rich in potassium, such as avocados and spinach, can help to prevent complications that could lead to atherosclerosis. This was explored with mice that received various levels and concentrations of potassium and the way their vascular smooth muscle cells responded as a result.

One group of mice was given a low-potassium diet which was shown to increase vascular calcification when paired with a high-fat diet. Subsequent groups were given a medium and moderate amount of potassium and another a higher amount. Those that did have some type of potassium in their diets showed decreased stiffness. The varying levels also spoke to the levels of potassium that were seen in the three different groups of mice.

“The findings have important translational potential since they demonstrate the benefit of adequate potassium supplementation on prevention of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis-prone mice, and the adverse effect of low-potassium intake,” says the professor of nephrology Paul Sanders, M.D.

What was found in the cultures taken of cells was that there was a markedly enhanced calcification in the rats that had low or limited exposure to potassium and quite the opposite with rats that had ample amounts. It was shown that low potassium tended to increase intracellular calcium within the vascular smooth muscle cells. Blocking autophagy was shown to block calcification.

Internal Health

There are many vitamins and minerals, if taken in proper dosages and consistently, that can help to improve the internal health of the body. Coupled with mindfulness of dietary choices as well as active lifestyles they can really help thwart the onset of many physical diseases that compromise health and quality of life. Potassium is a necessary electrolyte that helps essentially with issues like blood pressure and kidney disease. The ability for it to improve the hardening calcification that takes place within cells and membranes is the principle reason why it is so effective in this way.

It’s presence also does a tremendous job of helping the onset of anxiety and stress because of its positive effects on the nervous system. Incorporate as much potassium as you can into your diet for a healthy heart and betting functioning arteries.

Tobacco Oil: Is It Good For You?

Many people know that tobacco is bad for your lungs and overall health when it is smoked, however, it also actually has healing properties when it is used in other manners.

Insect Repeller

The tobacco plant – called nicotiana – covers over 70 species and has been used for thousands of years in a myriad of ways. It’s known to be great to keep on hand if you like to garden as it keeps the insects at bay. In fact, you can add a couple of drops of tobacco oil into a water spray bottle with some peppermint and lavender oil and you won’t have to worry about any insects infiltrating your garden as bugs detest these kinds of oils.

Pain Reliever

Tobacco oil can also be used as a way to relieve pain. The additives incorporated into tobacco and used for cigarettes or tobacco chew are not included in the purest form of tobacco, nor are they included when the tobacco leaves get transformed into its oil form. So if you are suffering from an ear ache or a tooth ache, tobacco oil is a great way to relieve some of that discomfort in a safe and easy way. Just mix a droplet of the tobacco oil with some water and dab it onto your aching tooth with a Q-tip or put a couple of drops of the mixture into an infected ear that happens to be giving you a hard time.

Inflammation Soother

Indians historically have used tobacco leaves on skin rashes and bits of inflammation as it has natural anti-inflammation properties. While it may be hard for you to obtain whole leaves fresh from being picked, the oil will have the same effect as all the components are inherent within the tobacco itself. Tobacco oil is also a great way to treat insect bites as it helps to mitigate the pain and lessen the inflammation that is often accompanied by bug bites.

Skin Healer

Try adding a couple of drops, with some tea tree oil, into a mixture and you will start to notice how the bites will no longer be a source of irritation or a nuisance to you. This goes for bee stings, mosquito or spider bites. Traditionally, Indians would also use the leaves to treat poisonous snake bites. This oil will have a similar effect if you suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Just a few drops onto the affected area that is experiencing the flares and the irritation will start to subside.

You can purchase tobacco oil online from several companies at amazon.com.

 

How Food Is Farmed Leads To Better Taste, Texture And Nutritional Benefits

All foods are not created equal – even if they aren’t processed and come from the ground. The way that food is farmed means more than some people may realize. The agricultural aspects of whole, organic food can be the difference between getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients the food can provide in its best, undeterred state.  This was something that researchers wanted to explore more of – specifically with kidney beans.

Kidney Beans

One of the most popular types of beans, they are a complex carbohydrate and also an excellent source of iron, protein and folate. Kidney beans are a good basis for the study as it commands the highest market price by weight. So this means that the improved farming methods of the kidney beans would not only benefit the farmer but the consumer as well.

Certain rooting strategies are not as conducive to overall growth and flourishing as others. This is because some rooting strategies are more prone to fungal pathogens which can potentially ruin the kidney bean itself. This can also ruin the crop which is a huge financial loss for the farmer. When the root has a higher level of resistance to these type of bacterial strains that rot, it allows for the seeds and the growth of the kidney beans to remain healthy and fruitful. This leads to a bountiful harvest which leads to more overall profit for the farmers. Higher yields are also imperative for food security.

Rosie And Talon Breeds

Rosie and Talon, a dark red kidney bean and a light red kidney bean, were tested in over 20 fields across Minnesota and North Dakota. Both farmers and researchers alike spoke about the importance of developing new hearty varieties of kidney beans. Sometimes a part of the issue is being able to effectively match consumer expectations. Sometimes the mixing of the breeds, or plant breeding, can be a very risky endeavor. But figuring out what the best mixture of bean or plant is could be a very beneficial and fruitful endeavor.

While this is true of the newer potential options, it is still very imperative to protect the existing varieties. Because of their relative ease to cook as well as their nutrient dense value, the bean is great. This is why it’s such a staple in many developing and poorer countries because it’s easily accessible and affordable. Figuring out a way to not only preserve how the beans are made but also figure out a way to potentially make other variations that would be better or stronger is a worthy effort.

Typically, the beans that are dry come in smaller crops. This means that more crops can potentially be fashioned in a way that allows the crops to yield more and more beans over time. If they are rooted properly and come all the way to fruition soundly, then the amount of beans that the farmers can harvest and that people can buy, for fair and sound prices, can increase. This benefits both the farmer and the consumer, as beans are a healthy, densely rich food and have tremendous nutritional value within them.

Protecting our crops, sustaining their roots and taking care of farmers should be an invaluable mission that ought to be protected and cultivated.

Yoga Improves Heart Disease, Brain Function And Energy

Several recent reports and studies have shed light on the positive health benefits of yoga. Interestingly though, there have also been a few reports detailing some down sides as well.

Heart disease patients who practice yoga in addition to aerobic exercise saw twice the reduction in blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol levels when compared to patients who practiced either Indian yoga – a combination of whole exercise of body, mind and soul, and a common practice throughout India – or aerobic exercise alone, according to research presented recently at the 8th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference.

Researchers in this study looked specifically at Indian yoga and aerobic training’s effect on the coronary risk factors of obese heart disease patients with type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle intervention has been shown to aid in reducing the co-occurring risk of death and heart disease when used alongside medical management.

Combing Yoga And Aerobic Exercise

The study looked at 750 patients who had previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. One group of 225 patients participated in aerobic exercise, another group of 240 patients participated in Indian yoga, and a third group of 285 participated in both yoga and aerobic exercise. Each group did three, six-month sessions of yoga and/or aerobic exercise.

The aerobic exercise only and yoga only groups showed similar reductions in blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, weight and waist circumference. However, the combined yoga and aerobic exercise group showed a two times greater reduction compared to the other groups. They also showed significant improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction, diastolic function and exercise capacity.

“Combined Indian yoga and aerobic exercise reduce mental, physical and vascular stress and can lead to decreased cardiovascular mortality and morbidity,” says Sonal Tanwar, PhD, a scholar in preventative cardiology, and Naresh Sen, DM, PhD, a consultant cardiologist, both at HG SMS Hospital, Jaipur, India. “Heart disease patients could benefit from learning Indian yoga and making it a routine part of daily life.”

Yoga, Meditation Improve Brain Function And Energy Level

In another recent study from the University of Waterloo, practicing brief sessions of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels. The study found that practicing just 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation per day can boost the brain’s executive functions, cognitive abilities linked to goal-directed behavior, and the ability to control knee-jerk emotional responses, habitual thinking patterns and actions.

“Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing of nonessential information,” says Peter Hall, associate professor in the School of Public Health & Health Systems. “These two functions might have some positive carryover effect in the near- term following the session, such that people are able to focus more easily on what they choose to attend to in everyday life.”

Hatha yoga is one of the most common styles of yoga practiced in Western countries. It involves physical postures and breathing exercises combined with meditation. Mindfulness mediation involves observing thoughts, emotions and body sensations with openness and acceptance.

“Although the meditative aspect might be even more important than the physical posing for improving executive functions, there are additional benefits to Hatha yoga including improvements in flexibility and strength,” said Hall. “These benefits may make Hatha yoga superior to meditation alone, in terms of overall health benefits.”

Mindfulness Meditation

Thirty-one study participants completed 25 minutes of Hatha yoga, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading – a control task – in randomized order. Following both the yoga and meditation activities, participants performed significantly better on executive function tasks compared to the reading task. “This finding suggests that there may be something special about meditation – as opposed to the physical posing – that carries a lot of the cognitive benefits of yoga,” added Kimberley Luu, lead author on the paper.

The study also found that mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga were both effective for improving energy levels, but Hatha yoga had significantly more powerful effects than meditation alone. “There are a number of theories about why physical exercises like yoga improve energy levels and cognitive test performance,” Luu said. “These include the release of endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and reduced focus on ruminative thoughts. Though ultimately, it is still an open question.”

Combining Yoga And Medical Studies To Connect, Recharge, Remember

Yoganatomy is a class at the Perelman School of Medicine that combines traditional yoga practice with reinforcement of lessons in gross anatomy. By mindfully moving and breathing with the body parts that earlier in the day they had learned about in lectures and examined up-close in donated cadavers in the lab, first-year medical students at Penn gain a deeper appreciation of these structures in a living body.

“The primary goal of Yoganatomy is to give the students an outlet to help them with their stress,” said Nikki Robinson, the yoga instructor who developed and leads these classes, which began last fall. “The demands on medical students’ time are so intense that this class offers students a way to unwind and exercise easily on the medical school campus when they otherwise might not find the time to seek that out. Here’s an hour when they’re going to move, breathe, talk about things we learned in the anatomy lab, and then rest, so they’re recharged to go about the rest of their day.”

Going All In For The Med Students

Robinson made the unusual educational twist from yoga teaching into the medical school classroom through a connection with Mitchell Lewis, DPhil, a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Lewis teaches the first-year medical students intermediary metabolism with a level of dedication to education that is hard to understate. Though Lewis is a basic scientist whose professional life is in a lab, a number of years ago he took a sabbatical and audited the first-year medical school curriculum at Penn in order to get a better understanding of how his class fits into the broader preclinical curriculum. “Of all the preclinical courses, I found anatomy the most fascinating,” he said. “I visit and spend several hours in the gross labs with every new class.”

A few years ago, Lewis started attending yoga classes at the Yoga Garden, where Robinson leads classes that have a strong anatomical bent. The idea soon came to life when Lewis approached Neal Rubenstein, MD, PhD, the gross anatomy course director, about the possibility of integrating yoga with gross anatomy. Together, the three devised a plan to augment traditional medical education with anatomically-based yoga. Rubenstein even suggested that Robinson attend and learn firsthand what medical students experienced in the gross labs.

Yoganatomy

“I love this, and it is really important for me to be able to accurately reflect and represent what the students are taught,” Robinson said. “If they’re going to be in my care, I want to reinforce what they’re learning on the table, and then take that and interpret it in an accurate way, to physically put it in their body.”

This summer, Robinson completed a gross anatomy course at Rowan University, taught in part by James White, PhD, one of Penn Med’s most esteemed teachers. This fall, Robinson will assist the first-year students in gross lab and continue teaching Yoganatomy to the new crop of students.

Yoganatomy runs in many ways as a typical yoga class, except for the parts that sound more like a gross anatomy study session. When students are in plank pose — which is essentially holding the “up” position of a push-up — Robinson might say, “Now retract the scapula.” Students are forced to think about the muscles connected to the scapula and to recall the distinction between protraction and retraction. “I try to straddle keeping it really serious and medically accurate and just giving them something fun to do,” Robinson said.

Medically-Informed Yoga

After gross anatomy and the end of the first semester, medical education with a yogic corollary isn’t over for Penn medical students. The leader of the next yoga class in the sequence is an inversion of Robinson: instead of a yoga instructor-turned-part-time-med-school-attendee, Sila Bal is a full-time medical student who became certified as a yoga instructor. Now a fifth-year MD/MPH student at Penn, Bal incorporates her knowledge of anatomy and physiology into teaching yoga classes.

But soon after she began teaching, she got to thinking, “Wouldn’t it have been cool if when I was an MS1 or MS2, someone had gone through what is or isn’t physiologically plausible that’s taught in yoga classes?” She also thought back on the experience she had working as a research assistant on a study of yoga breathing as a tool to help patients with depression.

When the paper resulting from that study was published, Bal decided to connect it with the brain and behavior curriculum taught as part of Mod 2, a preclinical learning block focused on organ systems and disease that spans from January of medical students’ first year through December of their second year. Over the course of the last spring semester, Bal developed and taught multiple classes connected to the topics in Mod 2 and called them Medically-Informed Yoga.

Evidence Through The Ages

“I pick a paper from a reputable journal with trustworthy results and use that as a starting point for our discussions,” Bal said. In the brain and behavior module, “we went through depression and the physiology behind depression, the results of the paper, and physiological bases of the use of yoga in depression. Depression has a lot of research behind it. For example, we know yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.”

After a brief discussion, Bal leads the students through a 45-minute sequence of the asanas, or physical postures that yoga teachers recommend for the organ system under discussion, to practice what they learned. Bal points out that in some organ systems, the connection with these asanas has not necessarily been demonstrated through medical research, but often yogic knowledge, honed through thousands of years of practice and experience, reflects a different type of “evidence through the ages.”

Creating Connection

The two yoga class sequences – Yoganatomy for first-semester medical students in gross anatomy, and Medically-Informed Yoga for second, and third-semester medical students in Mod 2 — arose independently by luck or chance last year. This year, the two programs are coming into alignment. Bal and Robinson are working together to develop a coordinated curriculum of yoga classes to complement the full span of the three semesters of preclinical medical education that can be standardized and repeated in future years.

Already this year, yoga as a study enhancement is front and center for new students. During their orientation to medical school, new first-year students received an introduction to Yoganatomy and Medically-Informed Yoga, and participated in a brief demo. Bal, Lewis, and Robinson believe that all medical students can benefit from yoga through integrating stress relief, exercise, and connection into their often high-stress learning experience. “I encouraged all of the students in my biochemistry class to participate in Yoganatomy,” Lewis said. “This past year our Yoganatomy attracted many medical students that have never been exposed to yoga.”

“Attendance was highest last fall at the sessions when Lewis participated,” Robinson said. “The students wanted to see their professor’s moves, including an impressive handstand.” The sessions also lured more senior medical students — some of whom said that Robinson’s Yoganatomy quizzes helped them study for board exams. Yoganatomy also attracted faculty and graduate students from other schools at Penn.“This year we hope to encourage more medical faculty to participate in Yoganatomy,” Lewis said. “We are open to any and everyone who wants to join,” Bal added.

Yoga More Risky For Causing Musculoskeletal Pain Than You Might Think

Yoga causes musculoskeletal pain in 10 percent of people and exacerbates 21 percent of existing injuries, University of Sydney research shows. Published recently in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, the findings come from the first prospective study to investigate injuries caused from recreational participation in yoga. Yoga is an increasingly popular complementary or alternative therapy for musculoskeletal disorders, with millions of people practicing worldwide.

“While yoga can be beneficial for musculoskeletal pain, like any form of exercise, it can also result in musculoskeletal pain,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas from the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, who conducted the study with Professor Marc Campo from Mercy College, New York.

“Our study found that the incidence of pain caused by yoga is more than 10 percent per year, which is comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population. However, people consider it to be a very safe activity. This injury rate is up to 10 times higher than has previously been reported.

“We also found that yoga can exacerbate existing pain, with 21 percent of existing injuries made worse by doing yoga, particularly pre-existing musculoskeletal pain in the upper limbs,” Pappas added. “In terms of severity, more than one-third of cases of pain caused by yoga were serious enough to prevent yoga participation and lasted more than three months.”

The study found that most ‘new’ yoga pain was in the upper extremities – shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand – possibly due to downward dog and similar postures that put weight on the upper limbs. It’s not all bad news, however, as 74 percent of participants in the study reported that existing pain was improved by yoga, highlighting the complex relationship between musculoskeletal pain and yoga practice.

Conscientious Practice

“These findings can be useful for clinicians and individuals to compare the risks of yoga to other exercise enabling them to make informed decisions about which types of activity are best. Pain caused by yoga might be prevented by careful performance and participants telling their yoga teachers of injuries they may have prior to participation, as well as informing their healthcare professionals about their yoga practice.

“We recommend that yoga teachers also discuss with their students the risks for injury if not practiced conscientiously, and the potential for yoga to exacerbate some injuries,” Pappas added. “Yoga participants are encouraged to discuss the risks of injury and any pre-existing pain, especially in the upper limbs, with yoga teachers and physiotherapists to explore posture modifications that may results in safer practice.”

Another study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicates that yoga and aerobic exercise interventions did not significantly reduce objectively measured sleep disturbances among midlife women who were experiencing hot flashes.

Secondary analyses of a randomized controlled trial showed that neither 12 weeks of yoga nor 12 weeks of aerobic exercise had a statistically significant effect on objective measures of sleep duration or sleep quality recorded by actigraphy. Although the women had no difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep was common at baseline and remained after each intervention, with women in all groups waking during the night for an average of more than 50 minutes.

According to the authors, previously published analyses of the same trial had found that the yoga and aerobic exercise interventions were associated with small but statistically significant improvements in subjective, self-reported sleep quality and insomnia severity. The primary findings were that the two study interventions had no significant effects on objective sleep outcomes in midlife women with hot flashes.

Examining Other Treatments

The main implication of this finding is that other behavior treatments with the potential for effectively improving sleep in this population should be examined,” says lead author Diana Taibi Buchanan, associate professor of Bio-Behavioral Nursing and Health Informatics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The authors analyzed data from the Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health (MsFLASH) network. The study involved 186 late transition and postmenopausal women with hot flashes who were between 40 and 62 years of age. Study subjects had an average of 7.3 to 8 hot flashes per day. Participants were randomized to 12 weeks of yoga, supervised aerobic exercise, or usual activity.

Sleep measures were evaluated using wrist actigraphy, and bedtimes and rise times were determined primarily from the participants’ sleep diaries. Mean sleep duration at baseline and after each intervention was less than the seven or more hours of nightly sleep that is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for optimal health in adults.

Future research should explore other approaches for improving sleep quality in midlife women, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.

The Amazing Abilities Of Cocoa Butter

You’ve probably ingested cocoa butter many times in your life even if you didn’t realize it. That’s because the butter itself, sometimes known as theobroma oil, comes from the cocoa bean. This bean is commonly used in many dishes and foods as it’s a great fat source often contributed to your favorite chocolate.

More commonly known as something that can be used on the skin, cocoa butter has amazing benefits. It has a healthy amount of fatty acids that assist in it being one of the best moisturizing options available. It’s also often preferred in many households because it is completely natural and organic. There are no unnecessary additives that you often see in the ingredients of other moisturizers and body creams. You can’t go wrong with cocoa butter because it is completely natural.

Dry Skin

One of the most common uses of cocoa butter is for any sort of dry skin issue. Because this butter is so rich in nutrients and elements that the skin needs, it makes for an excellent moisturizer. The saturated fats that are present within cocoa butter do an amazing job at healing dry skin that may even also peel. It’s a non-greasy way to make sure your skin is properly hydrated and will stay that way for hours on end. It even works for those who tend to have very sensitive skin and can’t use certain products because they are liable to break out.

Chapped Lips

Similarly, cocoa butter can be used to help heal chapped lips. During the winter, many people suffer from dry lips that crack or become irritated because of the weather. While this is not only uncomfortable and annoying, it’s also something that normal Chapstick can’t treat or combat properly. Due to the emollient properties within cocoa butter, it helps to add a protective layer over the lips by blocking out the cold temperatures from negatively affecting your lips. You can make your own protective, nutrient-rich Chapstick by mixing other essential oils like orange, grapefruit, vanilla or peppermint with some cocoa butter. Your lips will thank you for it.

Antioxidant

The power of cocoa butter is truly amazing and impressive as it can also help to ward off the signs of aging. The polyphenols within the butter are a known antioxidant which helps to fight off the degeneration of the skin. It assists with cell mutations that can sometimes cause wrinkles, age spots and other signs of aging relatively prematurely. This particular antioxidant can also improve the tone of your skin, making it more even. It can also improve skin elasticity, which will make it appear more supple and youthful. Hydrating your skin is tremendously important and cannot be overstated enough.

Shaving Cream

While cocoa butter can serve many functions, one of its coolest is as a shaving cream. There are so many gels and creams out there but, while most are expensive, they’re also not the best for your skin. With cocoa butter you can hydrate your skin while shaving your body hair. It lathers nicely and will easily dissolve completely under hot water. Leave your arms, legs, chest, and face completely smooth by using this as a shaving aid.

You can purchase cocoa butter online from several companies at amazon.com.

Adequate Levels Of Vitamin D Linked To Preventing Severe Asthma Attacks

Dealing with asthma can be a very strange and frightening experience. The inability to take and withstand deep breaths is crucial to the body’s overall makeup; struggling to do so can lead to many issues.

A recent study that was published recently, showed that additional research is linking the benefits of vitamin D supplements to those who struggle with asthma. This condition affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is the cause of over 400,000 deaths a year. While specific safety measures have been taken for many, trying to eradicate this dangerous condition has been a longstanding hope.

Viral upper respiratory infections can often trigger these asthma attacks and they tend to make the overall symptoms much worse than what they would be otherwise. The study found that vitamin D actually works against the attacks by almost immediately boosting the immune system and counteracting the respiratory viruses. It helps to mitigate the inflammation that is often experienced in the lungs during such attacks. This is the primary cause of the biggest issues as the inflammation becomes harmful and obstructive to the airways.

Vitamin D Supplements

The study took the individual data of over 950 participants and tested the specific use of vitamin D supplements. The findings were extraordinary. There was at least a 30 percent reduction in the amount of asthma attacks that required injections or steroid tablets. There was a 50 percent reduction in the risk of experiencing an asthma attack so extreme it requires hospitalization or urgent care attendance. That’s a drop from about a six percent occurrence to a three percent occurrence. The dosages of the vitamin D supplementation were found to be safe; no side effects that affected calcium levels or renal stones were detected.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Adrian Martineau, explained: “The results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health. On average, three people in the United Kingdom die from asthma attacks every day. Vitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive. Supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem.”

Managing Your Immune System

Based on the outlay of which groups received the adequate dosages of vitamin D supplementation, it was found that there were strong indications of the benefits for the individuals that had low levels of vitamin D to start with. Oddly enough, the absence of necessary levels of vitamin D within the body is actually very common. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a whole host of issues. This makes complete and perfect sense when we realize the intrinsic connection between vitamin D and the immune system. The way that health conditions manifest and spread happens initially in the immune system.

The results that were gathered from this study were from the majority of participants that suffered from mild to moderate asthma. Those who had severe asthma were underrepresented in this study, but the results for those who experience any type of asthmatic symptoms are impressive. Especially when vitamin D is so readily available and not very costly to use on a regular basis. This information can help asthma suffers have a better idea of what type of preemptive measures they can take to better manage their systems.

High Weight And Heightened Blood Pressure May Cause Heart To Work Harder

For years we have been told that there is a direct correlation between high blood pressure, weight issues and heart problems. In a new research study conducted in the United Kingdom, the direct damage is being researched and uncovered. When someone is carrying extra weight on their body, it can explicitly change the weight and size of the heart as well. This complicates the way that the heart performs and can also be affected by high blood pressure rates as well.

Researchers from University of Oxford used a magnetic machine that can read cardiac responses in order to study the function and structure of over 4,500 hearts. There were certain risk factors that they learned could not be foreseen or modified.

The Risk Factors

They were able to include risk factors brought on by lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol intake, exercise, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. It was seen that these specific risk factors have different effects on the heart. It was seen that an increased heart weight was generally linked to overweight or obese individuals. This means that those who were carrying some extra pounds actually had bigger hearts.

Other studies have found the intrinsic link between heart disease and high BMI. Things like increased blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes all factor into the risk that one has for dealing with this disease. There is a specific impact that being overweight carries on the body, namely the heart. If we really stop and think about why that may be, it makes perfect sense. The body is designed to do certain things and organs are designed to function a specific way. When outliers may impede that, their function may be compromised or level off because of certain factors, one of those being weight.

Think about it, if you put too much weight on a chair, it may collapse. Especially if it’s not built to sustain such weight. The same thing can be said for your heart, especially with other factors such as diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure contributing to the issue. So if a heart has to work harder, it can then mirror the overall health makeup of other parts of the body. This can then make the heart grow in size based off of the sheer amount of work it is made to do in the body of someone who is overweight.

Lifestyle Choices

Professor Steffen Petersen explains: “With this research, we’ve helped to show how an unhealthy lifestyle increases your risk of heart disease. BMI and blood pressure in particular lead to heavier and bigger hearts, which increases the risk of heart problems, including heart attacks. We all know that our lifestyle has a big impact on our heart health – particularly if we’re overweight or obese.”

Weight and heart health are extricably and intrinsically connected. This is why so much is being made of the obesity epidemic and the issues surrounding extra weight in this country. It is comforting that we know we can change the course of some of these factors before it is too late and before they lead to something like heart disease. Shifting lifestyle choices is so imperative to the overall landscape of your health and specifically your heart health.

The Benefits Of Mindfulness To Health

The mind is a powerful entity. We often focus so completely on physical health because it can be seen and experienced in issues that display themselves in obvious ways. A strong mind, mental health, and clarity are of equal value and importance. The power of mindfulness and properly aligning and mastering your thoughts will greatly impact your life in a myriad of ways.

It was found that those who are cognizant of the power of the present moment and work actively to exist fully in it, have less of an issue taking, or being confronted with, health advice. This also leads to them being more apt to make necessary behavioral changes that would positively improve their situations.

Mindful Change

What a recent study uncovered was that while many people understand and fully realize what they need to do in order to feel better and to be healthier, they can sometimes react poorly to advice they cognitively understand to be true. If you tell someone why they should eat better or stop smoking or be more active, that can easily elicit contempt and feel as if you are badgering or nagging them. Not the way that any well-meaning person wants to be perceived.

It’s interesting that people can hear these messages in a very different way. A study conducted at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found that those who practice mindfulness are more prone to accepting these types of suggestions. Those who are mindful are more apt to want to change and improve themselves to the best of their abilities.

Specific Messaging

Mindfulness is typically defined as the ability to think and stay in the present moment. This helps in a plethora of reasons as it stops negative thinking, curbs depression and anxiety, and allows each moment to be fully lived in and experienced to the depths in which it appears. Senior author Emily Falk, Ph. D. explains that, “health messaging often causes people to react emotionally in negative ways, so we investigated factors, including mindfulness, that could potentially influence people to be more receptive to health messages and more motivated to change their behavior.”

The study took a group of people who only got a minimal amount of exercise per week and exposed them to specific health-minded messaging. The researchers then took notes on the perceived motivation to change and improve behavior as well as if said behavior did change in subsequent weeks. The mindfulness factor was gauged by certain tests and questionnaires. Those who scored the highest in mindfulness were the ones that seemed more motivated to change their behavior and more apt to actually do so.

Promoting Positive Behavior

One of the key takeaways from this study was that some people actually feel really badly about the poor health habits that they possess. When these habits are brought to their attention, it only makes them feel worse, regardless of how well meaning it may be. This means they are less likely to change said behavior when they feel so negatively about it to begin with.

“Individuals may benefit from cultivating mindful attention when processing potentially threatening yet beneficial health information,” added lead author Yoona Kang, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg School. “It’s possible that incorporating mindfulness cultivation into existing intervention strategies can promote more widespread positive health behavior.”

Pracaxi Seed Oil And The Skin

An oil that is indigenous to Brazil is one of the best kept skin secrets. Not only is it restorative and impressive, it is one of the most important, cost effective products that can be used on the skin. The pracaxi seed grows in various places throughout the northern part of Brazil and tends to be harvested during the first part of the calendar year. Due to the fact that it is so rich in behenic acid, it is incredibly beneficial for those lines and wrinkles on the face. Here are some other ways pracaxi seed oil is tremendously good for the skin.

Hyper-Pigmentation

There are several different issues that the skin can encounter. Unfortunately, sometimes a number of those issues happen all at once and you’re left trying to figure out which issue you should address first. Many people suffer from specific discoloration on the face, whether it be from acne scarring, hyper-pigmentation or just general skin unevenness. Thankfully, pracaxi oil has been known to easily align the skin back to a specific place that makes it look more even. Just a couple of drops of this oil added into your daily cleanser will do the trick. You can also add it to any type of face masks you may use to lighten your dark spots. Add a drop or two to the mask and you’re good to go.

Eczema

The anti-fungal and antibacterial properties which are inherent in this oil do a really good job at soothing and even healing eczema rashes and breakouts. Sometimes eczema can be worsened and ignited by a number of factors like stress and diet. When you experience a flare up of eczema try treating it with a bit of pracaxi oil. It has very powerful healing properties. Brazilians would use the bark of the stem on reptile bites from scorpions and snakes. Try using a bit of the oil mixed with coconut oil or jojoba oil and treat all of your troublesome eczema patches that are causing you grief.

Moisturizing

In order to ensure you keep your skin as healthy as it is meant to be, it’s important that it is moisturized on a daily basis. This goes for those who tend to have oily skin as well. Some people think that if they suffer from too much oil, they shouldn’t hydrate their skin for fear that it will only further worsen their issue. Many times oily skin is actually a sign of the lack of moisture your skin actually requires to flourish in its natural state.

The production of sebum oil is what happens to your skin when your skin is imbalanced. If you suffer from excess oil, you likely suffer from things like acne and bigger pores. Pracaxi seed oil can help this issue as it has deeply restorative moisturizing properties. Keeping your skin properly hydrated is of the utmost importance and having a great moisturizer on hand is essential.

You can purchase pracaxi oil online from several companies at amazon.com.