Seven Simple Ways to Boost Energy

As life gets busy, many people can feel tired and drained. People can associate low energy levels with stress, work or school or even the strain of raising kids. However, there are many other factors that affect your energy levels. 

If you constantly feel drained and lethargic, you don’t need to gulp down energy drinks. You just need to make a few lifestyle changes. Of course there may be medical factors that can contribute to fatigue; such as, influenza, immune deficiency, heart issues and other common diseases or physical reasons. But in this article, we are going to concentrate on people who are not affected by these conditions and lead a fairly healthy lifestyle. With that said, below are seven simple ways to boost your energy levels:

Get Enough Sleep 

Woman sleeping with blindfold

According to research, 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep is a natural process to restore energy. It is the time during which the body repairs from the wear and tear of daily life. It is also during sleep when the brain processes information and rewires itself. Lack of sleep can make you feel lethargic and tired in the short term. But persistent lack of sleep can have serious consequences in the long run. 

An average person should get between 6-8 hours of sleep. Individual needs may vary where some people need more sleep than others. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you can try winding up your day in a relaxing way. A warm bath, a good read, and a comfortable room temperature will all help you fall asleep easily and more peacefully. 

Eat a Healthy Diet 

You are what you eat. Your diet is one of the biggest influences on how you look and feel. If you have lower energy levels, have a look at your diet. A healthy diet is all about including all food groups in your diet on a daily basis. This means you need to have a balanced intake of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You also need to incorporate dairy products. Relying too much on a certain food group can have negative effects on your energy levels. 

Consuming a balanced diet is important, but you also need to make sure that you do not skip meals. Most people skip breakfast while they are running late for work. In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast helps maintain energy levels. Another important consideration is adding healthy snacks in between meals. A handful of nuts, granola, or yogurt will give you an energy boost while you are waiting for the next meal.  

Move More 

We are all aware of the benefits of exercise. It helps us maintain body weight, improve muscle strength and flexibility, and reduces the risk of various diseases. However, exercise is one of the best ways to boost energy levels. While exercise burns calories, it also gives a boost to your metabolism. An active metabolism helps maintain energy levels. 

Lower Your Stress Levels 

Stress is one of the most undesirable effects of today’s busy lives. The constant pressure at work, home, or in relationships makes it difficult to concentrate. People today are more stressed, frustrated, and anxious than ever before. 

A certain amount of stress can be good. It keeps us moving towards our goals. However, constant high levels of stress can seriously affect a person’s physical and mental health. It is also one of the biggest causes of why people feel drained. Thus, in order to boost energy levels, it is important to reduce stress. 

Some of the strategies used to reduce stress include lifestyle changes. Sleep hygiene helps and meditation, yoga and spending time in nature are all welcome stress reducers. You can try to make it a point to always do something you like doing, like going to the city if you live nearby, dining out or going to the movies. If you want to get rid of troubling thoughts, writing down your thoughts in a journal also helps lower stress levels.    

Stay Hydrated 

Water is life. 70% of the human body is made up of water. Throughout the day, we tend to lose water from the body. Loss of water in the form of sweat and urine can cause dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. This can have a compounded effect on your brain function and energy levels as well. 

A daily intake of eight glasses of water is enough to keep you hydrated. Unfortunately, people are often so preoccupied with work that they forget to drink water. One simple solution for this problem is to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day. Make a conscious effort to drink more every day and you should notice a lift in your energy levels.    

Reduce Sugar Intake 

Humans have a natural inclination towards sugar. When looking for a snack, we automatically reach for something sweet. Though the intake of sugar gives an instant energy boost, its effect is short-lived. This is because the body releases a large amount of insulin to digest the sugar. Thus people often experience high energy levels followed by a dip. 

To boost your energy levels, it is a good idea to rely on complex carbohydrates. They are released more slowly into the blood. Thus they are ideal for maintaining energy levels. 

Avoid Smoking 

Smoking can have detrimental effects on your health. While smoking increases the risk of respiratory problems and heart diseases, it can also affect your energy levels. Regular smoking affects the amount of oxygen which flows to different organs. When insufficient oxygen is supplied to your body, this makes you feel tired. Passive smoking can have similar effects on the body. 

If you are a smoker, one of the best ways to boost your energy level is to avoid smoking. You can start by decreasing the number of cigarettes each day and gradually avoid it altogether.   

Feeling low? Trying some of the above-mentioned methods will surely help lift up your energy. 

Dehydration – How Does It Affect the Body?

What is Dehydration?

”Woman
Photo by Brendan Delany, Yayimages

Everyone on this planet has at some point felt thirsty. This is the body telling you that you need water to replenish your physical system, but if you go long enough without compensating for your thirst, you can fall into the category of dehydration and that is not a good prospect for your body to be in to. 

Around 70% of the human body is composed of water. Water helps our system to perform all its vital functions, including the transportation of blood. It aids in digestion, lubricates the eyes and mouth and helps flush out toxic waste from the body. 

Dehydration is a condition in which the body loses more water than it replaces. Normally, we tend to lose water from the body regularly. We lose some water in the form of water vapor as we exhale, but most water is lost as sweat, urine and stool. Along with H2O, the human body contains a certain amount of salt (known as electrolytes).

Water and electrolytes together help the body perform all its vital functions. When excessive water is lost from the body, it can create an imbalance of electrolytes. This, in turn, can affect many all the vital functions of the human body. 

Symptoms of Dehydration 

One of the first symptoms include changes in the color of the urine. Clear urine is an indication that you are well hydrated. While darker urine indicates dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration vary with age. Infants often experience the following symptoms:

  • A sunken fontanel – It is the soft spot in the middle of the skull 
  • No tears when crying  
  • Dry mouth 
  • No wet diaper for more than three hours

Infants are at a much higher risk of dehydration due to their lower body weight. While some of the symptoms of dehydration are the same in adults as in infants, others vary.  Symptoms of dehydration in adults include the following: 

  • Dry mouth 
  • Fatigue/lethargy 
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 

As the condition progresses, it can lead to the following symptoms: 

  • Low blood pressure 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Unconsciousness 

Causes of Dehydration

There are many causes of dehydration. One of the most important causes is drinking less water. People are often so tied up with their schedule that they do not drink enough. Athletes or people who spend more time outdoors in warmer climates are also likely to suffer this condition. 

However, there are some medical issues that can lead to this. 

Diarrhea and Vomiting 

In case of severe diarrhea and vomiting, the body ends up losing most of its fluids. This loss of water can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. 

Fever 

High-grade fever is another important cause of dehydration. The body tends to lose more water in cases such as this.

Increased Urination 

Uncontrolled or chronic diabetes can lead to excessive urination and can cause dehydration. 

How Does It Affect the Body?

Water is an integral part of the human body and there is a reason for it. It allows the body to perform all important functions including transportation of blood, brain function, attention, and excretion of toxic waste. According to research, even slight dehydration can negatively affect your mood, memory, attention and coordination. Some of the effects of dehydration on the human body include the following: 

Strains the Heart 

Since water is an integral component of the blood, lack of water results in the thickening of the blood. When the blood becomes more concentrated, its volume reduces and subsequently, your heart needs to pump faster to compensate for the missing liquid volume. This is the reason why dehydration results in a faster heartbeat, which can cause you to become lightheaded and even faint. 

Affects Brain Function 

Electrolytes play an important role in performing cognitive functions, including attention and motor skills. When the body is dehydrated, there is an imbalance of electrolytes and that can affect brain function. 

Can Lead to Kidney Failure 

Kidneys perform an important role in filtering out toxic waste from the body in the form of urine. When the body is dehydrated, it becomes harder for the kidneys to perform their functions. Severe dehydration can lead to a buildup of waste in the body, which can form clogs in the kidneys. This is the reason why dehydration is considered to be a leading cause of kidney stones and urinary tract infections. 

Hampers the Body’s Ability to Regulate Temperature 

The skin is one of the most vital organs when it comes to maintaining the body’s internal temperature. When the body temperature rises due to exercise, the skin allows the body to release excess heat in the form of sweat. When the body is dehydrated, it can affect the skin’s ability to regulate temperature. This can cause a condition known as hyperthermia, which is an overheating of the body. 

Tips for Staying Hydrated 

An average adult in a temperate climate needs between 2-3 liters of water every day. Now that you know how dehydration affects the body, here are a few tips for staying hydrated:

Keep a Water Bottle 

Try and keep a bottle of water along with with you all the time. A bottle at your desk, in the car or your bag and on the table will remind you to drink frequently throughout the day. 

Add Natural Flavor

If you find plain water tasteless, adding natural flavors can help. A slice of lemon, few mint leaves or berries can give color and taste to your water. 

Start Your Day by Drinking Water

A few sips or a glass full of water as soon as you wake up will help you stay hydrated throughout the day. It is also one of the best ways to reduce excess body fat. 

Add Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

Fresh fruits and vegetables including cucumber, watermelon, berries and oranges have high water content. Adding such fruits and vegetables to your diet will help replenish lost water from the body. 

Other Forms of Water
No doubt, pure natural water is the best for your body, but drinking other liquids is not out of the question. Coffee, tea, juice and milk (an excellent source of hydration) are great sources to keep your system plenished. Soda also, but be careful because they do have negative factors, such as weight gain. 

And alcohol? Now that’s a loaded question (yes, pun intended). Be wary, some alcoholic drinks can cause dehydration, but there is more to it than that. Low alcohol drinks are better at hydration than high alcohol ones, so the best thing to do is make sure you are still gulping down that plain, fresh natural H2O when you go out to drink the happy juice. 

How Stress Affects the Human Body?

In our previous article on anxiety and stress, we discussed the many ways you can work to alleviate or at the very least, reduce your anxiety. Now, let us discuss how stress affects you and what it can to do to your body, should it prolong. It is our hope that having this basic understanding of stress and anxiety will help you build on eliminating it.

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress

This human body’s response to environmental factors has many benefits. It helps us to keep going, face challenges, and overcome danger. This is due to the body’s built-in “fight or flight” which we react to when we are confronted with potential danger.

While occasional triggering of the fight or flight response has positive effects, prolonged engagement of this state can lead to a condition called chronic stress and it happens when a person goes through a series of prolonged challenges without any relief.

This condition is dangerous because the body’s fight or flight response is active all the time, which can subsequently disturb our system’s internal balance and can lead to wear and tear in the body – both emotional and physical. 

Effects of Stress on the Body

Man displaying frustration in front of a desk

Chronic stress is not something to ignore. As this disorder prolongs, more damage can occur in your body, both physically and mentally. According to the American Psychological Association, the following transformations can occur: 

Changes the Function of the Nervous System

This is because chronic stress alters the brain’s neurons by causing too much cortisol to be created. Cortisol exists naturally in the brain, but too much of it can disrupt the synapses (the electrical connections) between neurons and as a result, cognitive processing can be inhibited.

In other words, an abnormal abundance of cortisol can cause degradation of memory since the connections (of the synapses) equate to the transfer of information and if those connections are broken, so is the transfer of information.

Neurons in the Brain
Synapses in the brain connect with each other allowing information to build. Too much cortisol can disrupt this transfer of knowledge and memory.

The effects of chronic stress are obvious when a person experiences difficulty in retaining and processing information (although there could be other factors involved as well). This can subsequently result in decision issues as well. 

Chronic Pain 

man-suffering-from-neck-pain-isolated-on-white-background

Anxiety can cause the muscles to be in a state of alertness, which is due to our fight or flight condition. While this helps us to become more active in stressful conditions, it can lead to chronic (persisting) pain in the long run.

This is because chronic stress causes tension in the body. If the muscles continue to be in this state for too long, it can lead to stiffness, particularly in the areas of the neck, shoulders and head. Sometimes pain can be felt in the chest, but chest pains can be a sign of something even more significant and should not be taken lightly. People experiencing muscle pain from stress are also prone to migraines and stress-related headaches.  

Cardiovascular Diseases 

When in this fight or flight condition, the heart and the blood vessels work harder to provide more oxygen to the body, in turn producing stress hormones. This exposes your body to unhealthy, elevated levels of adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, and happens so that the body can make quicker decisions in case of danger.

If the condition becomes chronic, the heart and blood vessels need to work even harder on a continuous basis; subsequently, the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases increases.  Additionally, the constant presence of stress hormones in the blood can enhance the production of cholesterol. 

Secondary effects of stress-related heart disease could result from overeating, lack of exercise and the potential to drink and smoke more.

Affects the Respiratory and Digestive Systems

The respiratory system in the human body supplies oxygen to all parts of the body. In case of stress, the heart rate increases which, in turn, pushes the lungs to supply oxygenated blood to the body. This causes shortness of breath and rapid breathing. For people who do not have any respiratory condition, shortness of breath may not be a problem but it can be a serious concern for someone who has asthma or some other respiratory condition. Research also suggests that chronic stress can trigger respiratory conditions like asthma. This is because of a continuously overworked respiratory system. 

Stress is also closely linked with the digestive system. It not only gives you “butterflies” but can influence the overall health of your entire digestive system. Since stress increases metabolic activity, the processes taking place in your digestive system also speed up. As a result, it can lead to many conditions that are associated with improper digestion. This includes acid reflux, vomiting, nausea, and inconsistent bowel movements. 

Conclusion 

While some amount of stress is important to keep you going, too much can have detrimental effects on the human body. There is an abundance of ways to control stress, but in a nutshell, make sure you eat the proper stress-reducing foods, get a good seven-eight hours of sleep, exercise regularly and seek medical attention if necessary.


Three Common Blood Disorders

”Close
Photo by magannyayimages.com

The Significance of Blood 

Blood is the essence of life. It is the fluid that keeps our bodies going. As it circulates, it transports important nutrients and oxygen to each and every cell. It also collects metabolic waste from the cells and allows our body to get rid of it through the excretory system. Blood is a mixture of various components. Each component performs a specific function. Together, they allow our bodies to survive and thrive. 

Our blood is made up of the following components:

Plasma

Around 55% of the blood in humans is made up of this component. Plasma primarily contains water and proteins. It also contains glucose and other nutrients. The remaining 45% of the blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. 

Red Blood Cells 

Red blood cells are disc-shaped cells. They are slightly indented towards the center. These unique cells are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. The life of red blood cells is 120 days and the body regularly replaces them. A normal functioning body produces two million red blood cells every second. 

White Blood Cells 

White blood cells are the body’s internal defense against diseases. Though they make up only 1% of the blood. The presence of these cells protects the body against viral infections.  

Platelets 

Platelets are an integral part of the blood. They help the blood clot in case of a wound or injury and also prevent internal bleeding.  

It is essential that these components run as effectively as possible, but what it something happens and they don’t perform the way they should?

Blood Disorders?

Blood disorders are conditions that impact the blood’s ability to perform its functions effectively; such as if the red blood cells don’t carry the proper number of oxygen it needs to. If this happens or any other defect that causes the cells to not functioning the way they should, a blood disorder has developed and needs to be addressed ASAP, since disorders of the blood can impair the ability of other organs to perform their functions properly and that can be particularly dangerous.

Common Blood Disorders 

Many blood disorders take their names from the components of the blood they affect. Some of the most common disorders include the following: 

Anemia

Anemia is a type of disorder that affects the red blood cells and is the most common type of blood disorder in the US. Around 5.6% of the US population suffers from some type of anemia. This condition can be hereditary or may develop over time due to environmental factors and/or poor diet. 

Anemia is a condition that affects the ability of the red blood cells to transport oxygen. As a result, an inadequate amount of oxygen reaches the organs in the body and the person may feel fatigued and have a lack of energy. 

There are many types of anemia. Some of them are caused due to structural changes in the red blood cells. Other types are either caused due to a lack of iron, or due to an insufficient number of red blood cells in the blood. Most types of anemia can be treated through iron supplements, improved diet, and blood transfusions. 

Hemophilia 

Hemophilia is a rare, genetic blood disorder. In the US, 1 in every 5,000 male children are born with hemophilia. It affects the ability of the blood to clot. As a result, a person suffering from hemophilia is at a higher risk of excessive bleeding even with the slightest cut.  

Human blood contains proteins called clotting factors. The presence of clotting factors allows the blood to clot in case of a wound. People with hemophilia lack this protein in their blood. The condition is caused by a mutation in one of the genes responsible for making clotting factors. Though hemophilia is a genetic condition, it is not always hereditary. Children with no prior history of the condition may also be born with it. In some cases, people may develop hemophilia later in life.

The severity of the condition can be determined by the number of clotting factors present in the blood. The lower the clotting factor, the more you are at risk of excessive bleeding. There are many treatment options available to manage and cure this condition. Doctors may prescribe treatments based on the severity of the condition. 

Leukemia 

Even though it is often considered a disease in children, leukemia affects far more adults. Every year, almost 30,000 new cases of leukemia are reported in the US alone. It affects more men compared to women and is more common in white people than in other races. 

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. Unlike other cancers, it does not form a mass. Instead, it leads to an overproduction of white blood cells. 

Leukemia begins in the soft tissues of the bone marrow. The bone marrow is responsible for producing all types of blood cells. It produces billions of new cells every day. The problem arises when the DNA of the new blood cells incur damage. This causes uncontrollable growth and division of white blood cells and the result can be a feeling of tiredness, unexplained fever, bruising, headaches, excessive bleeding, unintentional weight loss, and infections. 

A normal functioning white blood cell fights against infections. However, the abnormally high number of white blood cells do not perform any function and do not die naturally. Instead, they overcrowd the blood, leaving little room for the red blood cells and platelets to perform their function adequately. As a result, leukemia leads to multiple blood disorders.  

Making Positive Changes in Your Life When You Have Crohn’s Disease

As of this writing, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but medication is available that can induce a long-term remission, which can allow you to live a fairly normal lifestyle.

Woman with Chron's disease talking to doctor

On the other hand, medication is not the only thing that you should rely on. Long-term remission means that the disorder can be triggered. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, try making some positive changes in your lifestyle. This allows you to take charge and avoid letting this condition get the best of you. 

The following are a few major ways that you can make some positive changes in your life when you have Crohn’s disease:

Learn More about the Disease

Educating yourself about Crohn’s disease is one of the major ways in which you can start to bring about a positive change in your life. If you don’t understand Crohn’s, you might unwittingly believe many of the myths and misconceptions about the condition, which can negatively impact how you deal with it. 

You can find plenty of resources from your doctors or and finding the right sources online that can shed more light on this illness and how you can live a happier and healthier life on a day to day basis. It also allows you to understand the different symptoms you might experience. No two cases of Crohn’s are alike and your symptoms might differ from the ones showcased by others. Knowing this fact will allow you to be more hopeful.

Similarly, each year, as medical technology advances, new medications and new treatment methods are being explored. While Crohn’s disease is incurable, there is hope that in the future, certain medications or therapies will be introduced that can guarantee complete recovery instead of just a long-term remission. 

Monitoring Your Diet

Apple with tape measure around itSince your gut can get irritated with Crohn’s disease, you need to pay attention to your diet. The many symptoms that one experiences with this condition can cause dehydration, malnutrition, and even loss of appetite. A good idea is to make sure you are eating high protein foods. Opt for smaller serving sizes as well as items that are easier to digest. 

Your physician will assign a diet for you as well as a list of supplements that you should consume. In many cases, Crohn’s disease can also cause a major vitamin and mineral deficiency so you could be lacking vitamin B12, C, folic acid, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. These are essential for your body.

It’s also a good idea to keep a food diary so that you can see which foods your body reacts positively to. Despite the recommendations provided, there can be instances when Crohn’s disease makes your body react badly to a certain food item. Note down the ones that cause inflammation or trigger other symptoms. 

Attend a Support Group

Getting Crohn’s disease might make you feel bleak, isolated or unhappy, but this a condition that afflicts over 780,000 people in the US alone. This means that you can easily find a support group of people who understand what it feels like to have a chronic condition that you must live with. A support group is necessary because one of the major symptoms of Crohn’s disease is depression.

It can also be extremely difficult for someone to try and assimilate themselves with the condition. By getting into a support group, you can ensure that you don’t fall into a depressive state. Stress and anxiety can all contribute to causing inflammation and worsening your condition. Another important reason why you need to have a support group is to process your anger.

Many Crohn’s patients are angry at the condition and the way the world perceives people with Crohn’s diseases. Despite being such a prevalent disorder, there are still so many misconceptions about it that it can be hard to handle the ignorance shown by others. In times like these, it is necessary for someone with Crohn’s disorder to take a step back and talk to their support group or a therapist about it.

Don’t Let the Good Days Fool You

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can fluctuate from person to person and from day to day. Some days, you might experience no symptoms while other days, you might feel like you are experiencing all of them at once. It is necessary to remember that regardless of the good days, you stick to your treatment plan. Treatment plans are designed with the aim of easing inflammation, nourishing your body and ensuring that you experience remission.

However, even when it goes into remission, if care is not taken, the condition can flare up again. If you are experiencing remission, you should continue to follow the treatment plan until your physician tells you that it is fine to stop or switch to a new one. In this manner, you can ensure that you are able to experience a long term remission. If you stop your treatment plan prematurely, you ruin your chances of this happening and might trigger your condition again.

Be consistent and you will be able to live your life with a semblance of normalcy as well. Many people with Crohn’s lead a full life so be patient as well. Once you are in remission, you can be as carefree as they are too. Never stop your treatment because you think it is not working. Always consult your physician and work with them to get a customized treatment plan. Just like no two Crohn’s disease symptoms are the same, similarly, no two treatment plans will be the same. 

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow-hued herb containing a variety of nutrients and is closely related to ginger. In the Western world, turmeric was initially used for dyeing fabric. However, in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it is deeply rooted in food and medicine. 

Turmeric contains proteins, fiber, and carbohydrates, along with minerals including manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. Studies have shown that turmeric has numerous beneficial effects on the human brain and body. Some of these effects include the following: 

Contains Bioactive Compounds 

Illustration of the turmeric plantTurmeric contains bioactive compounds called curcuminoids, which possess unique medicinal properties and is a very powerful antioxidant. The content of curcumin is around 3% of the weight of the turmeric. 

Unfortunately, curcumin is not readily absorbed in the blood. Therefore, it  advised that turmeric should be consumed with black pepper, which aids in the absorption into the blood. Since curcumin is also fat-soluble, consuming turmeric with a fatty meal can also increase the absorption of curcumin in the blood. 

Possesses Anti Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders as it helps to protect your body from infection, illness, or injury and is a signal that something’s wrong. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect it from foreign substances. This increases the blood flow to the area and subsequently, could cause redness and warmth. Sometimes there may be swelling, but the important thing to note is that inflammation is a protective process that fights dangerous bacteria. Without inflammation, bacteria can take over your body with potentially fatal consequences. 

Low-level chronic inflammation plays an important role in the development of various health conditions. This includes cancer (especially pancreatic cancer), Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and heart diseases.

The bioactive compounds present in turmeric play an important role in controlling inflammation. They are crucial in preventing and treating conditions associated with chronic inflammation. Curcumin functions at the molecular level and turns on genes related to inflammation; thus, it is known to be one of the best anti-inflammatory medicines without any side effects.

Improves the Antioxidant Capacity of the Body 

Highly reactive molecules with an unpaired electron, known as free radicals present in the body are known to be the cause of many age-related diseases and conditions. These free radicals react with proteins, DNA and fatty acids. The presence of antioxidants protects the body from free radicals and protects against age-related health conditions. 

The bioactive compounds in turmeric possess strong antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals. As a result, regular use of turmeric can help prevent many illnesses associated with old age.   

Reduces the Risk of Heart Diseases

Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death around the world. Our lifestyle and diet have greatly influenced our cardiac health. Turmeric, the golden spice, is one of the best herbs to prevent heart diseases. 

Here curcumin comes to our defense again as It strengthens the inner lining of the blood vessels, which results in regulated flow of blood. The effects of consuming turmeric on cardiac health is similar to the impact of exercise. Additionally, curcumin reduces inflammation and oxidation, two leading causes of heart disease.  

Can Help Prevent Cancer 

A research team at Washington State University used turmeric in cancer research. The study indicated that the use of turmeric successfully prevents the growth of cancer cells. 

Again the bioactive compound, curcumin is known to affect the cancer cells. According to research, curcumin hinders the spread of tumors by reducing the growth of blood vessels in the tumor. 

Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease 

Artist illustration of the brain's neurons
Artist illustration of the brain’s neurons

Alzheimer’s disease is a  neurodegenerative disease, meaning that it slowly breaks down the brain cells (AKA neurons), which then inhibits communicaition between these cells, causing cognative degeneration.

Unfortunately, the condition has no medical cure; however, researchers are  aware of the causes of Alzheimer’s and one of the leading causes is chronic inflammation,which has a negative effect on the brain cells. Another potential cause of this illness includes the buildup of a protein called amyloid plaques

As mentioned, the bioactive compounds present in turmeric are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it is beneficial against clearing up these plaques. Therefore, regular use of turmeric can help minimize the chances of developing Alzheimer’s’ disease. It also helps in controlling the symptoms once the condition has been developed. 

Beneficial Against Depression 

Turmeric is known to be effective against treating depression. Chronic inflammation can also affect the brain. It can lead to a decrease in the level of serotonin and dopamine. It can also result in the degeneration of certain parts of the brain. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin can help restore the neurotransmitters which can also help in protecting the brain against degenerative changes, which eventually helps improve mood and other depressive symptoms.  

Conclusion 

Turmeric is an exceptionally beneficial nutritional supplement which can protect against heart diseases and Alzheimer’s. The bioactive compound present in turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidants which can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and other age-related disorders. It also plays an important role in preventing and possibly treating certain types of cancer and depression. Until we find more concrete research, it is ideal to rely on fresh and powdered form of turmeric. With more research, it will possibly be considered safe to consume over-the-counter turmeric supplements in the future. 

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)

The human body is designed in a unique way. The bones are delicately connected through joints while muscles and tendons provide support. Any deformity in the connection of the bones with the tendons can have serious implications on the ability to perform daily tasks and subsequently, the overall quality of life. One such deformity is known as Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). Let’s take a look at the details of this abnormality and what can be done to correct it. 

What is DDH?

DDH is a problem regarding how the hip bone (known as the ball) is connected with the pelvic bone (known as the socket). The problem arises when the ball does not fit the socket. [Show picture] As a result, the hip does not develop properly. The condition may be present at the time of birth or may develop within the first year of a child’s life. 

DDH affects 1 in 1,000 newborns and is more common among girls. The condition varies in severity. In cases of mild DDH, the ball moves back and forth resulting in a specific clicking sound. This “click” sound when the legs are rotated is one of the first signs of DDH. In more severe cases, the ball does not reach the socket and the condition becomes evident when the child starts walking. 

Causes 

Some of the most common causes of DDH are: 

Family History 

DDH can be regarded as a genetic condition. If parents or other siblings have this condition, it is highly likely that the newborn will also have DDH. 

Breech Position 

The baby’s position inside the uterus is one of the factors causing DDH. When the rear portion is facing the birth canal, this can exert undue pressure on the pelvic region of the baby leading to DDH.  

Lesser Amniotic Fluid 

Typically in pregnancies where there is less amniotic fluid, the fetus is likely to develop DDH. Due to lesser amniotic fluid, the fetus cannot move. This can also happen when the baby is larger than average in size.  

Tight Swaddling 

Swaddling a newborn too tightly can sometimes cause DDH. This is because the baby does not get enough space for adequate movement of joints and muscles which is essential for healthy development. 

Other Conditions 

A firstborn child is more likely to develop DDH. Children born with other bone deformities including metatarsus adductus, torticollis and flat head syndrome are at a higher risk of developing DDH. 

Symptoms 

Some children are born with DDH while others develop this condition during the first year of their life. The condition varies in severity and the symptoms are not always apparent. Some of the common symptoms are: 

  • Clicking sound in the legs during the first medical checkup of a newborn
  • Unusual creases due to skin folds on the thighs
  • The difference in the length of legs 
  • Restricted motion of the legs
  • Achieving milestones like sitting and walking at a later than average age
  • If DDH goes unnoticed at the time of birth, it becomes apparent when the child starts walking. It manifests in the form of an imbalanced walk

In the case of mild DDH, symptoms appear at a very late age. The patient often complains about pain in the hips and lower back. If there are no other symptoms then the pain might be an indication of some other issue. 

Diagnosis 

DDH can be diagnosed right after birth when the pediatrician performs the first medical checkup. A physical examination of the legs can help in the diagnosis of DDH. An audible clicking sound upon movement is the most obvious symptom. Restricted limb movement and uneven skin folds near the buttocks can also help in diagnosing DDH. 

A follow-up checkup one week after birth is the ideal time for parents to discuss this condition with the medical practitioner.  It is important for parents and caregivers to share information about the family history of DDH with their doctor. In that case, the doctor would recommend an ultrasound of the pelvis at around six weeks. 

The same method is used for diagnosis if the newborn has other conditions like metatarsus adductus. A physical examination and ultrasound are used to identify the condition. 

Treatment 

The treatment for DDH depends on whether the condition was present and diagnosed at the time of birth or not. If DDH is diagnosed at the time of birth, it can be easily corrected by using a brace or harness. If the condition was developed later in the first year of a child’s life, DDH will only be diagnosed when the child starts walking. In that case, the treatment becomes more complicated. A typical treatment for DDH can be classified into two categories.

Non-Invasive Treatment

Treatment often depends upon the age of the child. For newborns, a specially designed harness is used which helps in tightening the ligaments surrounding the hip joint. This harness known as the Pavlik harness also facilitates the development of a normal hip joint. A Pavlik harness also allows parents to safely perform daily activities like diapering and bathing. The length of treatment depends upon the severity of the condition. Usually, this treatment is recommended for six weeks. If there is no significant improvement, the treatment is repeated for another six weeks.  

As the child grows, a stronger harness made from more firm material is used to align the hip ball and socket. A spica cast is usually applied to these children. 

Surgery 

Surgical invasion is required when the ball needs to be fixed in the socket. X-rays during the surgery are done to ensure that the hip joint is properly fixed. After the surgery, a cast is placed to maintain the proper position of the hip joint. The bone growth continues normally after the cast is removed and children are able to walk properly. 

Early and appropriate diagnosis of DDH can help in effective treatment. Children born with this deformity can lead to a normal life if they are treated well in time. Be sure to tell your doctor about any abnormalities within your family or if you suspect that your child may have DDH.

Cellulite – Can We Get Rid of it

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is a common skin condition that affects over 80% of women around the world. It can make your skin appear dimpled or bumpy. It is not a disease but a cosmetic concern for most people. The dimply skin affects certain areas of the body, especially the abdomen, hips, thighs and buttocks. The condition is usually referred to as “orange peel skin” because of the uneven texture. It not only affects women but also men. The condition is a result of fat deposits pushing through the connective tissues under the skin.

Human cells have three major components – dermis, epidermis and fat cells. The fat cells are present beneath the top layers of the skin known as epidermis and dermis. These fat cells store excess energy. Between the fat cells and the top layer of the skin, there are connective tissues. These tissues run vertically between the fat cells and the top layer of the skin. The vertical bands create chambers that can accommodate fat. When the fat cells expand, the chambers fill up and begin to bulge. This forms a small bump over the skin. When the same thing happens to most of the chambers under the skin, there are small bumps all over. This appearance of bumps gives an uneven texture to the skin causing a dimpling effect. This condition is known as cellulite

According to its severity, the condition can be ranked in three grades. It ranges from grade 1 which is mild to grade 3 which is the most severe form of cellulite. 

Risk Factors 

The exact cause of this skin condition is not known. However, there are a few risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing cellulite. 

Gender

Cellulite can affect both men and women. But the condition affects more women than men. According to estimates, 80-90% of women around the world get cellulite at some point in their lives. On the other hand, it only affects 10% of men globally. The reasons are multiple. To support childbirth, the physical structure of women is such that they have stronger thighs and pelvic region. Therefore they tend to carry more fat cells in their lower body. But they also have lesser connective tissues in that region. This is the reason why active women with an ideal BMI and a healthy lifestyle can also develop this condition. Additionally, female hormones are a major reason why more women are affected by this condition. 

Age 

Women are more prone to this condition as they age. This is due to the changes in hormones. As they age, women tend to produce less estrogen. This hormone is responsible for the smooth flow of blood in the vessels. As estrogen in the blood decreases, there is poor circulation and formation of new collagen and results in the breakdown of the connective tissues.  

Pregnancy 

Cellulite affects the lower body of women. It is the same region that grows during pregnancy. Also, hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger the condition or make your cellulite appear worse. However, with sufficient weight loss post-delivery, most women can overcome the severity of cellulite. 

Genes 

Cellulite may run in families. If other women in the family have it, you have a higher chance of developing the condition. However, since most women develop cellulite, having a family history is not much of a concern. 

Lack of Exercise

Lack of exercise is one of the potential risk factors. Regular exercise helps strengthen the connective tissues. It also burns excess fat stored under the skin. Therefore strength training targeted towards the lower body can significantly reduce your risk of getting cellulite. 

Smoking 

Tobacco smoke leads to reduced blood flow in the vessels. It also hampers the process of collagen formation. This results in damage to the connective tissues which makes your skin look drier. It also causes premature aging and can contribute to cellulite. 

Diet 

Diet rich in fats, carbohydrates and salts is likely to contribute to this condition as well. 

Treating Cellulite 

Cellulite is not a disease. Therefore it does not require any treatment. But since it is a cosmetic concern for most women, many opt for invasive and non-invasive treatments. This may include laser therapy and the use of a filler injection. It is a widespread misconception that liposuction can treat cellulite. In fact, the best way to treat cellulite is to adopt certain lifestyle changes. This includes incorporating a regular and targeted exercise regime. It also involves making a few dietary changes and quitting habits like smoking. 

Exercise 

If you want to get rid of cellulite, you need to keep your body moving. Highly-priced moisturizers and serums will not produce the dramatic effect they claim but exercise will. 

Squats, lunges and high-intensity strength training not only affect your lower body but will also boost your metabolism. This will tone the thighs and lower abdomen but it will also burn the excess fat stored under the skin. 

Foods Which Can Help Get Rid of Cellulite 

The strength of the connective tissues and fat deposits in the cells are the two primary concerns in this condition. There are various foods that can help improve the integrity of connective tissue and skin layers. Incorporating these foods on a consistent basis can help in reducing cellulite. Some of these foods are 

  • Eggs
  • fish 
  • Brown rice 
  • Olive oil 
  • Avocado 
  • Nuts 
  • Flaxseeds 
  • Carrots and 
  • Berries

In all, food rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats can help reduce the condition. But since the body also needs nutrition from carbohydrates, limiting the intake of carbs can be very effective in treating cellulite. 

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Medical Practitioners?

Will physicians be a thing of the past? It is claimed that robots will replace doctors by 2035 and artificial intelligence (AKA AI, machine language, machine learning) is the source of this highly sort after trend of the 21st century. Indeed, AI is proving to be a benefit across a broad spectrum of industries. It is of special use for law enforcement, such as the Department of Homeland Security who is using machine language to help identify human traffickers. Moreover, the medical industry is very interested and aggressive with promoting AI and the results are impressive. 

A study by Massachusetts General Hospital showed that machine learning is more efficient in analyzing readings for mammograms of high-risk cancers than human radiologists. Similar efficiency of AI was reported when examining retinal images of diabetic patients. 

Advancements in medical technology go much farther than that. Be it imaging, testing, or microscopic surgery, machine language is now widely used in the medical field. It is believed that AI will provide more evidence-based medical care along with more accurate diagnoses and provide very few chances of errors.

And the industry is thriving with new and innovative minds who will bring us to a new technical revolution of machine learning all through this 21st century, such as this tweet below.

What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

In a nutshell, AI is the use of computers to study data and subsequently learn from that data in order to produce more efficient results. 

With that said, the health care industry still has certain limitations when using machine language. For example, it cannot replace the need for medical practitioners physically and psychology diagnosing a patient, but as advancements continue, it is not a far thought that practitioners may be seeing less and less of us.

One example is heart monitor apps that you can download to your smartphone, along with acquiring the appropriate apparatuses. Another example are small chips that a surgeon might place near your heart and as you sleep, it monitors your heartbeat and sends the data back to the hospital.

Whether human physicians will always remain in the health care equation in the future or they will leave and we will be diagnosed by a hologram doctor remains to be seen. Let’s see how close we really are to having robots diagnose our physical health.

Benefits of AI in the Medical Industry 

Animated man with bacteria showing moving towards him

Intelligent software has numerous applications. It is widely used in robot-assisted surgeries, analysis of images like CT scans and MRIs, and clinical trials. The total investment in healthcare AI is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. There are many important reasons for such a huge investment. 

Some of the reasons why AI is likely to have a greater hand in helping human doctors are:

Faster and More Accurate Diagnosis

Though artificial intelligence is not a real doctor, but is an accurate tool for faster and more accurate diagnoses. Some diseases require immediate intervention, and human medical practitioners might fail to meet this need.

Neurons in the Brain

AI systems are designed similar to the neural network in the human brain and have the ability to learn from previous cases and that is the key – they learn.

Unlike standard software which simply performs a task or multiple tasks, machine language goes one step further by taking certain facts (called data points) and compares them to other examples to would determine the outcome. AI also has the ability to quickly access knowledge bases around the world in order to make an accurate judgment and a faster diagnosis. 

Interactions with humans can be exhausting for medical practitioners, and subsequently, increase the chances of an inaccurate diagnosis. But computers never get tired. They can deal with hundreds of patients without affecting the chances of error.

Cost Reduction

Investment in machine learning is generally considered by many to be an expensive proposition. In reality though, the operating costs are far less when compared to human practitioners. The initial investment is huge, but it can be easily recovered because of lower operating costs. 

Reliance on AI also saves costs for the patients. Since AI can provide you with a solution without visiting a doctor’s office, it saves traveling time and cost. 

Virtual Presence 

Doctor reading medical computer data

Not exactly AI, but still an advancement in technology, telemedicine allows people with medical issues to have a video conference with a physician without the need to visit his/her office.

Regardless of your location, you can seek accurate medical assistance for numerous ailments. This is exceptionally helpful for people that live in rural areas where medical practitioners are many miles away.

Reasons Why Artificial Intelligence Cannot Replace Doctors 

Even though AI is widely used in the medical industry, it cannot replace the need for medical practitioners altogether. Some of the reasons why there will always be a need for physicians are:

Robots and AI are Not Empathetic

a-male-patient-smiles-while-holding-the-hand-of-a-friend
Compassion is one area where computers cannot compete. At least not currently, but who knows?

Human beings are social animals. They do not only have physical needs but emotional needs as well. At times, a patient visits a doctor’s office just to be heard and understood. 

Though machine language can help in providing a faster and more accurate diagnosis, the algorithms can never fulfill the emotional needs of patients. For life-changing decisions like surgery, even the smartest algorithms cannot listen to your concerns and provide compassionate advice. It is still impossible to imagine healthcare without the human element involved. 

Not Everything Can be Classified as 0s & 1s

Algorithms classify everything as 0s and 1s – the binary code (DNA of computers) used in all machines worldwide. However, in case there are multiple problems, it is may become complicated before reaching a conclusion.

Diseases also follow the same pattern of variability. AI is still incapable of analyzing complex information about multiple diseases and illnesses at the same time. In the future, there might be an improvement in technology which can process more complicated information, but right now, our dependence on computers for accurate diagnosis remains specific to single ailments.

Human Element in Data Entry 

AI is not self-sufficient. It still needs humans to enter data. Only then will artificial intelligence process information and suggest a conclusion. If there is human error in the data entry phase, there will be an error in the analysis and diagnosis. Therefore, we cannot always rely solely on the diagnosis of machines, so currently, there will always be the need for a medical practitioner to reach a final conclusion.

It’s Not About Technology vs. Humans 

Robot looking into hyperspace


Machines and human beings are not rivals. They are partners working towards the same goal. Technology helps in providing more accurate and timely solutions, but it lacks the ability to process complex information at this time.

Human medical practitioners, on the other hand, are not as quick thorough on specific diagnoses and might reach a faulty conclusion. Only if humans and technology work together, can they provide safe and reliable medical solutions to the patients. 

Conclusion 

Doctor with Stethoscope
We see that there is a bright future for the medical industry as far as technological advancements are concerned. The human error aspect has decreased drastically, while efficiency has increased multiple times over, but even considering the efficiency of AI, it is highly unlikely that robots will replace human physicians in this decade. 

So for now, AI and humans will have to work in collaboration, but who knows? Maybe in our lifetime, we may just see that holographic doctor after all.

Four Most Common Cardiovascular Diseases

What are Cardiovascular Diseases?

The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, blood vessels, and blood. The heart is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to the entire body. The blood vessels act as a transporting agent, carrying oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to and from the heart to our other organs. When the organs receive this oxygen-rich blood, they are able to perform their respective functions. 

Cardiovascular diseases are a category of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels and encompass various conditions, but the most common ones are highlighted below. 

Heart Attack

Also known as myocardial infarction, is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases. Every year, around 0.7 million Americans suffer from this debilitating ailment. It is one of the leading causes of death globally and causes one in every four deaths in the US. 

The heart muscles need a constant flow of oxygen-rich blood, providing adequate blood supply to the body’s organs. In the case of cardiovascular diseases, the blood vessels are narrowed and consequently result in a higher risk of blood clots. A heart attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly stopped due to these clots and this problem can seriously damage the heart muscle. 

Not all heart attacks are due to blood clots, however. A heart attack can be a result of a spasm of blood vessels carrying blood to the heart. During a spasm, the blood vessel is unable to perform its function normally. As a result, the heart is deprived of oxygen-rich blood and the heart muscle and suffer permanent damage.

This heart muscles deterioration depends upon the time period the heart was deprived of oxygen. The muscle can begin to heal right after a heart attack and full recovery can take up to eight weeks. In case of serious damage, a heart attack can be fatal.  

Coronary Artery Disease 

Coronary artery disease is a specific medical condition related to the arteries, which are the blood vessels for carrying oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The heart then pumps oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. 

Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries become too narrow, due to a thick lining of fatty deposits. This is caused by a sedentary lifestyle and a diet rich in fats. The fatty deposits, called plaque, exert pressure on the arteries and results in damage to the vessel’s inner layers. This injury causes inflammation within the artery and the plaque further deposits in the artery; subsequently, pressure is exerted on the blood vessel and this may cause it to rupture. It also increases the risk of clot formation. 

Congenital Heart Defect

This condition is associated with a defect in the structure of the heart or major blood vessels. A congenital heart defect is one of the most common birth abnormalities. Every year, around 1% of babies in the US are born with a congenital heart defect. This birth defect either causes blood to flow through the heart irregularly or it may restrict the flow of blood in the heart or other blood vessels. Previously, children born with congenital heart defects were unable to survive. However, with advances in technology, it is possible to successfully treat some of these birth defects. 

There are over 30 different types of congenital heart defects. Medically, these defects can be divided into two categories. 

Cyanotic Heart Disease 

This condition is often characterized by low oxygen levels. This can cause breathlessness, fatigue, and fainting in infants. There may also be blue skin and lips, as well as fever, nausea, or vomiting. 

Acyanotic Heart Disease   

The oxygen levels in this condition are normal, but there is a flaw in the structure of the heart. This restricts the heart’s ability to pump blood to all the other parts of the body effectively. 

Most of the patients suffering from congenital heart defects have a higher than normal blood pressure. This means that the heart needs to work harder to transport blood throughout the body. This can weaken the heart muscles over time and may lead to heart failure. High blood pressure also increases the risk of other medical conditions, including stroke and kidney failure. 

Arrhythmia 

Some changes in the heart rate are normal. When a person sleeps, the heart rate drops and increases during exercise or stressful situations. However, an abnormally high or low heart rate can be a sign of a dangerous cardiovascular disease. 

Arrhythmia is a cardiovascular disease related to the rhythm of your heartbeat. People suffering from this condition experience irregular cardiac rhythm. There are two common types of arrhythmia. Either the heart beats too slowly. This condition is referred to as bradycardia. Or the heart rate is too high. This is known as tachycardia and occurs when you have more than 100 heartbeats per minute. 

Though the condition is not related to blood vessels, it is categorized as a cardiovascular disease. This is because it is associated with the heart and the electrical impulses of the heart. The condition is particularly dangerous because if the heart is beating too fast or too slowly, it cannot effectively pump blood to all other organs. Ineffective blood supply to vital organs like lungs, brain, and other organs can damage them. 

We are just scratching the surface here in order to give you a quick overview of heart ailments, but there is an amazing abundance of heart-related websites on the Internet. Be sure to read up on cardiovascular diseases for more detailed information, but make sure the information you find is from a reliable source.

As far as prevention is concerned, there is no guarantee that you will not acquire a cardiovascular disease sometime in your lifetime and there is also the possibility that you will never have a heart-related issue, but good exercise and proper diets can always reduce the odds. Of course, if you feel that something is wrong, contact your doctor immediately. Don’t wait!