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Paleo Diet—The Eating Habits of Prehistoric Men

According to the statistics, nearly 70% of the US population is obese or overweight, thanks to an unhealthy eating regimen and decreased physical activities. These alarming circumstances prompted many concerned parties (nutritionists, food scientists, etc.) to come up with diet plans and routines that can limit the harmful impact of recent times by convincing people to eat healthy.

Therefore, many dieting plans and routines have been planned out in recent years and one of the popular among them is the Paleo diet. Here, we will discuss the salient features of this diet routine.

The Paleo Diet- Eating Habits Come Full Circle

The Paleo diet, referred by the terms the Stone Age diet, the Caveman diet and primal diet, is based on a simple rationale that humans should revert to the eating behavior of a caveman, the most ancient ancestor of human race.

By adopting the eating habits of his ancestors, the modern human can get back to a healthy lifestyle which is not crammed with diseases and other physical and mental complications. Humans of the Stone Age would eat vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood and therefore the Paleo diets are also premeditated around the same eating commodities.

Scientific Rationale Given to Adopt This Diet Plan

Genetics of modern human has been evolved through the time with food items eaten by humans in his primitive phase. That’s why, to maintain the balance of health against evolutionary pressure, it is imperative to adopt the eating habits of our prehistoric forefathers.

What to Eat, what not to Eat?

Many nutritionists also call the Paleo diet a dietary routine without any carbohydrates. Because most of the food items rich in this macronutrient are not allowed to eat in this eating regimen. Let’s try to outline some of the food items that are allowed and prohibited in this diet plan.

Paleo Foods

  • All type of lean meats and seafood are allowed in the Paleo diet
  • Fresh organic fruits and green vegetables such as green beans, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage and broccoli can also be consumed
  • Only plant-based oils such as coconut, olive and grapeseed oils can be used in the making of Paleo dishes
  • Except peanuts, all other nuts can become a part of a Paleo diet chart

Foods That Can’t be Included in a Paleo Diet Chart

  • All variety of grains whether its wheat, barley or rice are not allowed to eat in the Paleo diets. A large chunk of modern foods (bread, pasta, rice dishes, cereals) are made of grains and this diet plans excludes all of them from your daily diet.
  • All the vegetables rich in starch are also prohibited in the Paleo diet. For instance, potatoes and corns, a major ingredient of many recipes can’t be consumed if you are following the Paleo diet.
  • All the beans and legumes, which became part of human diet just few hundred ago are also not permissible in the Paleo diet plan.
  • Since caveman didn’t consume dairy products, therefore milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy derivatives are not allowed.
  • Meat with high fat content and process food rich in Trans fats are also excluded from your diet
  • Processed sugar and salty foods are also not allowed in the Paleo diet plans.

From the above given list, it is evident that most of the food items considered Paleo foods have scientifically proven benefits for human health. But there are some foods which are healthy but still can’t be consumed in the Paleo Diet (dairy products). This is the reason why some nutritionists don’t advocate the complete adoption of this diet regimen. In the next article, we will look into the benefits and side effects associated with this diet plan.

 

Ketosis and Ketogenic Diets – How To!


”Ketogenic
Photo by arlooyayimages.com

Human body uses carbohydrates as the primary source of energy. Therefore, the body normally uses glucose and breaks into ATP to fulfill the levels of energy needed for its everyday functioning. However, it doesn’t mean other macronutrients such as proteins and fats can’t be used to realize the energy need of the body.

In case of glucose (produced when carbohydrates are digested in the body) deprivation, the body will resort to consuming fat as the main energy source. This metabolic process burns fat and results in accumulation of carbonyl group organic compounds in the body called ketones.  

Even though ketosis is a regular metabolic process within the human body, it has become popular among people in recent years due to a weight loss diet that is based on the natural feature of human metabolism.

What is ketogenic diet?

Ketogenic diet, more commonly known as keto diet or low carb diet, is the one in which a person intentionally limits his or her’s consumption of carbohydrate-based foods to very minimal levels and replaces them with fat-based meals. This change in the dieting pattern directs the body in the metabolic state of ketosis. When body is only available with fats to burn to get the adequate energy, it becomes significantly efficient in burning fat. This change in the metabolic process can result into various health implications for the body that are mostly beneficial in nature.  

In other words, by reducing carbohydrate intake, more fat will be utilized converted into energy.

Classifications of Ketogenic Diets

 

Balance chart for Ketogenic Diet
Not all individuals should partake in a a Ketogenic Diet, but if you do decide to, speak to you doctor first. Then if you are given the green light, determine which category of these diets would be best for you.

There are several variants of the ketogenic diet adopted by people according to the result they want from the diet. The classifications are based on the proportion of intake of three major macronutrients in the daily diet.

Standard ketogenic diet

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is the most prevalent version and most of the people who go with keto diets follow SKD to lose weight. SKD diet plans are rich in fats, with moderate consumption of proteins and very low carbohydrate intake. The proportion usually goes as:

  • 75% fats
  • 20% proteins
  • 5% carbohydrates

Cyclical ketogenic diet

As its name suggests, this diet has cyclic patterns where the amount of carbs in the diet are increased temporarily in a periodic manner. Usually a week is divided into 5 ketogenic days and 2 high carb days.

Targeted ketogenic diet

In this pattern of ketogenic diet, carbs are usually consumed around the workout sessions. People who are involved in body building exercises usually follow targeted ketogenic diets.

High-protein Ketogenic diet

It is same as standard ketogenic diet, but with more portion of protein-based foods in the plan. The amount of protein intake goes to 30% in this keto diet.

Ketogenic Diets: How Healthy are They?

Ketogenic diets have several proven health benefits. We all know it is popular for its ability to bring on a significant weight loss in a person. For instance, it has proven to be a better weight losing results than a low-fat diet. It is also effective because unlike calorie-restricted diets, you don’t have to exhaust yourself in counting the calories of consumed foods all the time.

A simple design

The weight loss method is very simple in ketogenic diets. The body becomes efficient in burning and consuming fats which helps in reducing the weight by burning up the excessive adipose tissues. Decreased glucose levels in blood due to decreased consumption of carbs and decreased insulin resistance also assist the weight losing process.

Beneficial for type 2 diabetes patients

Type 2 diabetes entails changes in metabolism where body sugar levels always remain high with declined insulin activity. A research study has found out that only adopting ketogenic diet by type 2 diabetic patients can reduce their medication intake. Out of 21 participants in the study, 7 were succeeded in controlling their blood glucose level without the help of any diabetes prescription.

May Help with Bipolar Disorder

A preliminary study suggests that a low-carb diet may be advantageous to persons suffering from bipolar disorder, as they maintain higher of sodium inside their bodies than people who do not have this illness. One of the functions of the medications used to maintain mood stabilization is to lower the individual’s sodium levels. By default, ketogenic diets also lower sodium levels.

Additional studies performed also suggest that people with epilepsy may also benefit from this diet.

Watch out for some possible side effects

Due to a radical change in the eating pattern, one might experience an upset digestive system through diarrhea, constipation, nausea or vomiting.

Ketogenic diets can also result in a temporary fatigue in the transition period during which body is setting and adjusting itself in a newly developed ketosis-influenced environment.   

In addition, ketogenic diets are very particular and consequently, deficiencies of vitamins B, C, and D, as well as calcium, magnesium and iron could result. These deficiencies may continue the cycle of the the digestive issues mentioned above. Sometimes, but rarely, abnormal heart rhythms, pancreatitis, weakened bones and kidney stones may develop.

Be sure to speak to a medical professional before starting any diets!

How Do I Start?

Provided you got the proper clearance from your doctor or medical professional, you can start here or run a Google search for “ketogenic diets” and look for how to start websites that will  guide you through the process. Another method would be to contact a nutritionist or other expert in dieting and begin with them.

REMEMBER: BE SURE TO ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE TRYING ANY OF THESE DIETS! 

An Impartial Analysis of Red Meat Consumption

From the time immemorial, humans have considered livestock as their premium source of food and it is common knowledge that meat in all its various forms is consumed all around the world.

According to a statistical report published by the National Chicken Council, the average person in the US has feasted on around 107 pounds of red meat in the year 2016. Comparing this amount of consumption from the past years, one finds out that US citizens are eating fewer amounts of meat than what they were eating five years ago. In this decade in the United States alone, the consumption of red meat has been reduced by 10 pounds per capita. 

Vegetarians – Take Note

This reduction in red meat consumption has been chiefly attributed to recent scientific studies which indicated that regular intake of mammalian food is the root cause of many serious diseases and health complications. There is no doubt about the harms of red meat, but completely preventing yourself from consuming it is not advisable either.

In this article, we will have a discussion on red meat so that you can decide what your limit of consumption should be.

What is Red Meat?

All the meat that comes from mammalian livestock (mammals) is considered red meat. Beef, pork, mutton, lamb, veal and goat are the general red meats consumed by the human population. Mammalian meat appears red as compared to the white meat (fish and poultry) due to the large value of myoglobin present in it.

Risks Associated with High Consumption of Red Meat

Several health risks have already been noted by food scientists on the consumption of red meat. It is imperative to know the downsides of eating too much meat in order to lead a healthy life.  

Processed Red Meat Can be Carcinogenic

The first and foremost health risk associated with high intake of mammalian meat is the increased chances of acquiring cancer. According to a report from the World Health Organization, processed red meat might contain traces of carcinogens.  High-temperature treatment of the red meat also results in the production of carcinogenic hydrocarbons. WHO validates these findings with the help of a control test that concluded the daily consumption of processed red meat (beef and pork were the meats that were used in the test) can increase the risk of developing cancer in the colon or rectum by 18%. 

Heart Diseases

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600,000 people die of heart-related diseases in the US. High levels of bad fats or cholesterol in daily diet lead to cardiovascular diseases. Red meats are rich in cholesterol and saturated fat and its high consumption on regular basis can lead to major health problems. High blood pressure in case of different heart-related complications can also result in kidney failure.

Benefits of Red Meat

Even with these serious consequences, the inclusion of red meat in your daily diet in a regulated amount is necessary for the healthy functioning of the body.

Red Meat is Rich in Proteins

Red meat is one of the richest sources of the most sought-after macronutrient (meaning that the body needs large amounts of it) which is  protein and consequently, eating healthy cooked meat as part of your diet can help you maintain strong muscle development.  Protein-rich food is an important building block of the bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Proteins present in red meat are also involved in vital physiological reactions to the body; such as making enzymes and hormones.  Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” 

In addition, mammalian foods contain iron, zinc and B vitamins – essential nutrients that the body needs.

Red Meat Can Cure Anemia

Red meat also contains ample amounts of iron, which can reduce the risk of iron deficiency in an individual. It is worth mentioning that more than one billion people all around the world are suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Red meat contains some other healthy micronutrients as well.

Preparing Meat for Diner
Consumption in moderation is the key!

So, it’s all about moderation, due to the risks and benefits associated with red meat. Even eating some fast food, although not the healthiest choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight, is not out of the question, as long as you don’t overdo it!  And it is also advisable to speak to your medical professional about how much red meat is considered moderation for your particular metabolism, as well moderating the consumption of fast food. 

In the interim, one guideline you can follow is a recommendation from the American Institute of Cancer Research that, in general, an individual should not eat more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week.

Good Coffee Bad Coffee: A Guide on Coffee Consumption

Coffee Beans
The Good and Bad of Coffee

Is coffee good or bad for human health? The answer depends upon your physical and mental condition and which advantage or disadvantage is of more concern to you. Some people drink coffee as a ‘wake me up’, but there is so much more to this stimulating (pun intended) drink besides caffeine.

The good and bad of coffee has been in debate for years and a highly polarized opinion has been set for this psychoactive drink. People love or they hate coffee. Very few people are out there who are not obsessed with coffee in either way. In the past, people advocate and censure coffee consumption on personal experience and merely made up facts.  

However, in recent few decades, researchers have been trying to find out the good and bad aspects of coffee under the light of scientific studies. In this article, we try to dissect the use of coffee in the same context. It is important to ascertain both the good and bad aspects of coffee drinking, because, as of the latest survey conducted in the beginning of the year, around 44% American consumers stated that they drink two to three cups of coffee per day.

Good Coffee

Let’s find out some of the benefits that can be availed by consuming coffee.

A Catalyst for Weight Loss

According to the scientifically obtained nutritional chart of coffee, coffee is rich in the micronutrients of potassium and magnesium. Ample amount of these minerals in the body regulates blood sugar level by optimizing the function of insulin which also helps in lowering the cravings for starchy and sugary foods. With regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels, there are also reduced chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Reducing the Risk of Developing Cancerous Tumors

According to a research study that analyzed the effects of coffee consumption on more than 40,000 people, drinking coffee on a regular basis can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer and endometrial cancer by 20% and 25% respectively.

Another research study indicates that increased caffeine intake in the form of coffee can reduce the danger of developing squamous cell skin cancer.

Beneficial for the Elderly

Keeping the brain’s neuron’s synapses healthy is a major factor in maintaining effective cognitive performance, as well as maintaining the body’s nervous system. There are conditions one can do to help keep the brain’s neuron’s healthy. Some are natural. Some are voluntary, but all have shown signs of success as per numerous scientific reports.

Then there is another neurodegenerative factor that can affect the brain’s health and that is oxidative stress. A study conducted by Harvard University reports that regular consumption of coffee is linked to the reduced chances of developing Parkinson’s disease by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation of the neurons in the brain. A close relative of cognitive neurodegeneration from Parkinson’s is dementia and more specifically, Alzheimer’s disease. 

Some neurons are more vulnerable to oxidative stress than others and these neurons are usually the first to exhibit cell death during the aging process. Analogous to an apple that turns color when exposed to air, the cells in our body can eventually “rust” as we breathe. This is the process of oxidative stress and is caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage or “oxidize” cells throughout the body and there are many ways to counter the existence of these precarious molecules, mainly through the use of antioxidants, and coffee has been found to have a high level of antioxidants.

Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, the Lead Scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience in Boston has stated: “Coffee is perhaps best known as a source of the stimulant caffeine. However, coffee also contains high levels of polyphenols and consuming phenol-rich foods can have direct effects on the brain and also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.”Glutathione-3D Illustration

Artists rendition (above) of a redox-active sulfur atom (yellow circle) that provides antioxidant activity, while the red, blue, white and dark grey circles represent oxygen.

Conclusion: Drinking coffee to lower oxidative stress is a major benefit towards cognitive health.

 

Bad coffee

Of course, there is a negative side to the consumption of coffee. Let’s take a look at what the effects are. 

It can result in insomnia and restiveness

An excessive amount of coffee can produce the psychological effects that might lead to agitation and sleep deprivation. Some people are inherently sensitive to the psychoactive substance present in coffee, called caffeine.

Pregnancy complications

According to a research paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, coffee can induce problems for developing fetus in a pregnant mother. Coffee that reaches the fetus through placenta can have adverse effects on the undeveloped metabolism of the unborn child.

Addictive tendencies

According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who regularly consume around 350 milligrams of caffeine exhibit the signs and symptoms associated with drugs notorious for substance abuse. For instance, they possess a never-ending desire for coffee and experience the signs of withdrawals when they try to limit its consumption.

Digestive acidity and ulcers

There are various acids present in coffee beans. With excessive regular consumption, they can increase the acidity in the digestive system and can also damage the internal lining of the stomach and small intestine that leads to the ulcer.

People who are suffering from high cholesterol are advised to consume filtered coffee. Filtered coffee is the one with beans that are free of most of the LDL in it.

What path should be taken?

From the above discussion, one can figure out that the goodness or badness of coffee actually boils down to the degree of its consumption. Consuming coffee in moderation is the way forward. If you are drinking more than 1-4 cups in a day then there is a strong probability that you are drinking good coffee. However, if you finish a cup of coffee every hour then it is more likely that you are consuming the bad one.  

Be mindful of your daily consumption, especially if you are pregnant. But looking at the big picture, it is the opinion of this author that the good coffee outweighs the negative potential of bad coffee.

Still not sure, speak to your nutritionist or medical professional who know you and can advise you more thoroughly than any Internat article can do.

Finding and Keeping a Job with Autism

Autistic ChildAutism – A most misunderstood disease. Fact is that people with autism are a great asset to society and should be treated with the same respect as the rest of us, but there are those who just don’t understand the disease and tend to shy away from them.

With that said, what happens when someone with autism spectrum disorder completes his or her education and steps into the real ‘adult’ world? How smooth is this transition and what can be done to aid those facing difficulties due to ASD? 

Autism and Difficulty in Finding Meaningful Employment

It’s difficult for everyone to find and keep meaningful employment. Rising competition and demands from employers regarding experience and educational qualifications has made it impossible for Americans to find decent jobs. Imagine how much harder it must be for people with autism.

Let’s see the numbers:

Only 39 to 42 percent of clients (with ASD) take help from the United States vocational rehabilitation system found jobs between 2002 and 2006. Additionally, many individuals who are employed have trouble retaining their position (most are overqualified for their jobs).  

Another research conducted in 2013 found only about 53% of young adults with autism had even worked outside of their homes in the first 8 years after secondary education. Moreover, only 1 in 5 worked for a minimum age or less with aspirations of a better job or career.

Another point of interest is the difference between younger individuals coming from a low economic background compared to older people coming from a higher income household. Not only are those individuals high functioning in society but are more likely to find a job and advance in the position.

Helping You Find Good Career Prospects – One Step at a Time

Autism isn’t and shouldn’t be a hindrance to individuals facing this learning disability. Most autistic individuals are responsible, dependable, honest hard-workers who will never let you down. You can find companies that hire here and Howard Fensterman is a philanthropist who can offer help to autistic individuals when it comes to finding and retaining good employees. 

Following are some steps that can be taken to start the process:

Create a List of Strengths

Writing down all skills and strengths in a list helps get clear perspective about what the individual is good at doing. Next comes listing down dream jobs as well as jobs that you won’t have any trouble doing. Try to match possible job leads to your strengths.  

Other steps to take are:

  • Make a list of all contacts that could help with the job search. Having a good personal network is better than any other. Start with your family, friends, neighbors and other people who know you.
  • Consider joining job search and social networking websites. This will help you increase your contact list.

The rest of us can help make it easier for individuals with learning disabilities to not only find good jobs but become better functioning members of society. It would be a win-win both for you as an employer and the person working for you!

 

An Overview of Liver Transplantation

Anatomy_of_liver_and_gall_bladderLiver transplantation is a life-saving treatment that is part of the standard healthcare practices to treat many end-stage liver diseases. It is the surgical process of removing the malfunctioning liver and replacing it with a healthy liver from a deceased or living donor.

In case of regular liver infections and diseases, the liver can heal itself with a unique process of regeneration.

What is liver regeneration?

Liver regeneration is a complex process of liver homeostasis which activates when part of the  liver is surgically removed or chemically damaged. Studies have proven that 25% of the original liver volume can regenerate itself.

Liver regeneration starts with cell proliferation, which begins with the replication of hepatocytes (the main cells of the liver). The proliferation then completes with the replication of endothelial and epithelial cells.

Conditions when liver transplantation becomes necessary

Human beings are gifted with this innate ability of the liver to regenerate. However, there are instances where the liver is damaged beyond its capacity to self-heal. When this happens, you need help through medical means which provide you the option of a liver transplant.

The disability of liver cells to function normally, the loss of liver cells and the scarring of liver is referred to as cirrhosis. When a significant part of liver is affected by cirrhosis, then there are no other viable options other than going for a liver transplant.  

There are several medical conditions that can lead to dangerous levels of cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B

When hepatitis B becomes chronic and can’t be treated with conventional treatments, patients are recommended liver transplants.

Substance abuse of alcohol

Long term and excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. The disease jaundice is one of these can can be attributed to a defective liver. In addition, overdose of certain pain medications that contain acetaminophen can be damaging to the liver.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Unlike other classes of hepatitis which are caused by different viruses, autoimmune hepatitis is the condition in which a person’s immune system mistakes its own liver cells as harmful foreign invaders. Autoimmune hepatitis is chronic in nature and can lead to liver failure and cirrhosis.

Liver cancer

Liver cancer is mostly diagnosed in old people. In its advances stages, it can only be treated with a liver transplant.

Acute liver failure

Overdose of certain drugs can lead to sudden liver failure. Liver transplant is recommended in fast-acting acute liver failure.

Types of Liver Transplant

There are different types of liver transplants that are offered to a person fighting of dangerous liver diseases.

Orthotopic transplant

An orthotopic transplant is the most common type of liver transplant surgery in which the person undergoing surgery gets the replacement of the whole liver organ from a deceased donor. Orthotopic transplants are done with the help of people who pledge to donate their healthy organs prior to their death.

Living donor transplant

There has always been a big difference between the number of deceased donors and the people who await liver transplantation and it is nearly impossible to facilitate every patient with orthotopic transplant.

With technical advancements in surgical procedure, it has become now feasible to transplant a part of liver in the person which is donated by a willing liver donor.

The success of living donor transplant is based on the concept of liver regeneration. If body does not reject the transplant, then the transplanted part of the liver can regenerate itself to the original size within week or two and the donor’s removed portion of the liver also grows back to its actual size.

Since this type of transplant is complex in nature, there are certain criteria that need to be met.

    • The donor must be in between 18-60 years of age, with good mental and physical health
    • The donor must have a BMI of less than 35
    • The donor and recipient must have a compatible blood type
    • The donor must be free from significant organ diseases and transmissible diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
    • The donor must not be an active substance abuser

Prevention of liver diseases

It is an old cliché, but there is no doubt that prevention is better than cure. Therefore make sure that your liver remains healthy by keeping in mind the following guidelines.

    • Keep your consumption of alcohol low or moderate
    • Get regular vaccinations for hepatitis if you are more susceptible to the hepatitis virus
    • Take medications cautiously – don’t mix medications with alcohol and non prescribed supplements
    • Practice safe sex
    • Obesity is the major reason behind non alcoholic fatty liver disease, so adopt healthy eating habits

Remember that a liver transplant is the last resort to treat a faulty liver and it is better that you make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy liver first. A standard lifestyle should be sufficient in maintaining a healthy liver. Doing things like heavy drinking or overdosing on OTC or prescription drugs are some of the causes that would cause your liver to acquire a disease.

Most importantly, nothing beats getting regular check ups with your doctor! You get your car maintained. Make sure you do it with your body as well!

Nicotine Craving and Withdrawals: The Main Reason Behind Failed Attempts to Quit Smoking

Smoking Inhibitor
What keeps you from quitting?

Currently, over one-billion people around over the world smoke cigarettes. It is killing machine that sends seven million people to their deaths each year. As we know, there are many serious physical and mental problems that are associated with frequent smoking.

Many people pledge to quit smoking, but most of them fail to keep this pledge because they can’t beat the cigarette or nicotine craving. Many fail to quit smoking because they don’t understand the underlying reasons associated with nicotine withdrawals and they don’t learn how to outsmart those carvings.

There are many ‘remedies’ out there to help people who are hooked on nicotine. For some, they work. For others, they don’t. Remember that quitting smoking is all about resisting those cravings and having the willpower to deal with your withdrawals.

Side effects of nicotine consumption

Nicotine is a potent psychoactive alkaloid that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system by inducing various effects on the brain. However, there are several side effects that are associated with regular consumption of nicotine.

Since cigarettes are the most common type of nicotine administration that uses tobacco as the main source and is thought to have more than 70 carcinogens, nicotine consumption is more dangerous for health than you think.

There are several side effects that are associated with nicotine consumption

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Coughing
  • Constipation
  • Soreness in mouth and throat and change in taste
  • Upset stomach

People who have serious medical problems can get some severe side effects from the regular use of nicotine.

  • Rashes and swelling
  • Irregular heartbeat for long time period
  • Chest pains

If someone experiences these side effects, it is better to get immediate medical help.

Cigarette and nicotine withdrawals

Since nicotine can be as addictive as alcohol, cocaine and other addictive drugs, it results in various withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal depend on the level of your addiction i.e. how long you have been using nicotine and the quantity of your daily nicotine consumption.

Some of the common nicotine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Loss of concentration
  • Severe headaches
  • Gastrointestinal cramping

The psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are underlined with irritability, bouts of anxiety and depression. In some cases, people also gain weight temporarily when they stop smoking

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are more severe in the following days of quitting but for some people they can persist for weeks or even months.

How to cope with nicotine cravings

While you experience the symptoms of nicotine withdrawals, you are simultaneously craving for it. Therefore if you are planning to quit smoking, prepare yourself for extreme cigarette craving.

Fill up your lungs with fresh air

Nicotine cravings often induce anxiety which urges you to smoke. To relax your mind in this situation, take up deep breathing exercises. Go outside and instead of filling your lungs with harmful carcinogenic smoke, fill them up with some fresh air. Take 5-10 deep breaths at a time. Lowering the level of your withdrawal anxiety will help you to stay on the course.

A healthy snack for each cigarette

Make a list of healthy snacks that are low in sugar and carbs, and treat yourself to them whenever you feel the strong urge to smoke. Citrus fruits and nuts are good options for these types of snacks. Engaging yourself in eating instead of smoking will also help distract the mind. Healthy food plays a role in improving the deteriorated state of your body due to excessive smoking as well.

Social support is vital

Having social support around you significantly helps in fighting nicotine or cigarette cravings. Being alone when your body is craving for nicotine will make you more susceptible to smoking again. When you quit smoking, make sure that you spend most of the time with friends and family.

Avoid smoker’s company

Many times people fail to quit smoking because people around them continue to smoke. Explain to your smoker friends about your quit plan so that they can understand why you are avoiding them. It has been noticed that people who successfully quit smoking once and overcome all the withdrawals and cravings, don’t get tempted by smokers around them again. So, you can rejoin your smoker friends once you are sure that you have got rid of the vice for good.

Apart from all these techniques, keep yourself busy in activities where your mind can be distracted. Start exercising, immerse yourself in reading, and listen to some calming music.

Controlled nicotine consumption

To treat the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in heavy smokers, controlled nicotine is recommended where you gradually decrease the quantity of nicotine consumption by getting small amounts of nicotine from sources other than cigarettes. Nicotine gums, inhalers, sprays and nicotine patches are used for this purpose. Remember, use these products under the supervision of a professional physician.

What are free radicals and how to counter them with antioxidants?

Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron
Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron, causing it to become a free radical

Many of us have often heard about the negative effects of free radicals on human health. However, very few of us know what free radicals are and how they work against the human body to inflict harm.

In this informational piece, we will discuss how free radicals affect our health and how we can alleviate their harmful effects with the help of antioxidants.

What are free radicals?

Free radical is the name given to any molecule, atom or ion that possesses an unpaired electron. Electrons, when not paired in their atomic orbits are highly unstable and reactive. To achieve stability, free radicals try to pair their unpaired electron through the process of oxidation.

In oxidation, free radicals try to attract or rather steal electrons from other stable atoms and molecules. If they are successful in this attempt, it sets off an oxidative chain reaction which can affect hundreds of millions of molecules and atoms.

Let’s see how free radicals operate in the environment of the human body.

Reactions of free radicals in our body

When free radicals are formed or enter into our body, they try to get electrons from different molecules, be it proteins, fats, cell membranes or genetic molecules; in other words, they try to steal electrons from the atoms of the nutrients that work to keep us healthy. The removal of an electron from any such molecule within the body changes its basic structure and triggers an oxidative chain reaction. This phenomenon caused by free radicals is also known as the oxidative stress.

What is the free radical theory of aging?

According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because their biological cells accumulates oxidative damage of free radicals over time. Even though the debate on the authenticity of this theory is still ongoing,  research studies have agreed on the fact that the oxidative stress can lead to much degeneration. For instance arthritis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and many other health complications can be caused by the prevalence of free radicals.

According to the free radical theory of aging, if oxidative destruction caused by free radicals can be capped, then it can provide longevity to any living being.

Have we found the fountain of youth?  Most likely not, but have we found a way to keep us healthy to the point that we may live longer? Absolutely.

Sources of Free Radicals

To counter the effects of free radicals, it is imperative to know the sources of free radicals. Either they are produced within the body or we get exposed to them from external sources. Whatever the case, knowing where they come from, holds the key to getting rid of them.

Internal sources of free radicals

  • The human body needs the energy to survive and grow. This energy comes from breaking down the food that we eat into ATP molecules with the help of oxygen. This chemical reaction also produces free radicals as a byproduct.
  • Apart from metabolic byproduct, free radicals are also produced when the body undergoes severe stress levels or inflammation.

External sources of free radicals

There are lots of harmful environmental resources that can expose the human body to free radicals.

  • Industrial pollution (including chemicals and smoke)
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic Metals
  • Cigarette Smoke

It is practically impossible to get rid of external free radicals altogether since they are all around us, in the air we breathe and in the food and water we consume. The best practice is to try and minimize their levels in your body.

How to do this? Read on for more information.

Antioxidants: Crusaders against free radicals

As the name suggests, antioxidants are substances that inhibit the process of oxidation. Introducing antioxidants in the body means that you can stop the process of oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.

Antioxidants usually stop free radicals from inflicting damage to biological molecules by donating the electron they are looking for.

Like free radicals, some antioxidants are produced within the body, while others can be consumed through dietary products and supplements. Usually, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of some very effective antioxidants.

There are three main antioxidants that are synthesized in different organs of the body and have different reactions.

  • Glutathione
  • Uric acid
  • Ubiquinol

There are several other antioxidants, which although not as vital as the above three, are also necessary for combating the negative effects of free radicals.

  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Anthocyanins
  • Selenium
  • Polyphenols
  • Curcuminoids

What Foods Contain the Highest Amounts of Antioxidants?

Coffee has been known to contain high levels of antioxidants. As far as food is concerned, you can’t go wrong with any types of fruits and vegetables, but the ones with the highest amounts of antioxidants are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Artichokes
  • Elderberries
  • Kidney beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cilantro (Chinese parsley)

Making Sense of it All

In general, you can make sure that your body has access to antioxidants by adjusting your dietary habits around fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are one of the richest sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, and both of these substances are necessary to rid the body of free radicals.

Bottom Line: Keep free-radicals at bay by consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants daily.

 

Improving Your Quality of Life With the Help of Meditation

Meditation can calm the mind and body
Woman in seawater at sunset meditating

Stress and anxiety have become a norm of the modern-day lifestyle. Unfortunately, for a very long time, people didn’t consider these psychological problems as worthy of attention. We were more focused on keeping our bodies physically healthy, and lost focus on the importance of mental hygiene and keeping a healthy mind. However, over time, the perception of various mental issues have changed. Now more people strive to find the solutions for these problems, because they are aware of the fact that without the healthy state of mind it will be difficult to achieve the improved quality of life.  

What is quality of life?

The term ‘quality of life’ is outlined by a set of different parameters like physical health, financial stability, education, family and religious beliefs of an individual. All of these parameters, which determine the quality of life, are strongly associated with one’s mental health. It is safe to assume that no matter how well you are doing with all the mentioned aspects, if you don’t have mental peace then you can’t able to appreciate the quality of life.

If mental problems persist for long, it can negatively affect all those characteristics necessary to attain the improved quality of life.

What is the solution?

In the previous section, it has become quite clear that how important mental health is to lead a happy life. So how one can get rid of all those mental ailments that make it difficult for us to cherish our lives? The answer lies in the mental exercises carried out by humans being for thousands of years. According to ancient Hindu scripts, meditation was nearly started 5000 years ago.

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware. It is also known as the exercise in which person observes his train of thought without judging and interrupting them. The mindfulness achieved through meditation helps you to focus on the present moment instead of getting distracted by the ever-persisting clutter of thoughts.

There are several benefits of meditation to the mental health that can help you to improve the quality of life.

Meditation: The stress killer

Reducing stress through meditation is the best gift you can give to yourself. Our modern day lives are crammed with so much stressor that our mind gets overwhelmed by all that negativity of the stress. Different stressors basically fires up neurons, the constant stimulation of nerve cells results in agitation. You can tackle this mental agitation by practicing meditation.

Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps you to shape up the responses of your brain to the incoming stressors. When you are more in control of your brain, it is less likely that brain will go haywire all of a sudden by releasing the stress hormone cortisol. It has been reported that mediators takes less toll of the stressful conditions as compared to other people. Shedding considerable amount of stress from your everyday life automatically contributes to improve the quality of it.

Meditation gives you a less distractive mind

We are living in an era where we have been distracted by a plethora of things in every given moment of the day, thanks to the technological innovations. Our concentration levels and attention spans are greatly affected by those distractions. Loss of attention and concentration contributes to the poor grades for students and less productivity of the working professionals. Quality of life is strongly connected to good education and professional success.

Since meditation is about ‘focusing’ on the present, it helps in increasing the capability of mind to focus and concentrate which assist person in different life affairs.

Meditation makes you more self-aware

Meditation also increases the level of self-awareness in a person which helps him in becoming less harmful to himself. Simply put, highly self-aware person tries to adopt healthy lifestyle. People start to eat healthy and many people quit smoking and excessive drinking after regular practice of meditation.

Meditation helps in accepting oneself

Accepting one’s self is the hardest thing many people come across with. Meditation helps you to accept yourself with all the faults and shortcomings. People can’t able to experience the feel of present moment just because they don’t want to accept their present self and they keep continue to chase the illusion of perfection. Meditation helps people to accept themselves with ifs and buts and that helps them to experience and feel the happiness of the given instant.

It is given that all the discussed benefits of mediation can certainly increase the quality of your life and also of the people around you.

A Short Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Checking WaistlineObesity has become a worldwide concern due to the multiple health complications associated with it. People living in the developed countries are especially affected by the problem of weight gain. To address the issue of obesity, nutritionists have introduced many different diets and eating patterns. There are experts advocating to adopt the eating habits of the Stone Age in the form of paleo diet. Then there are some who are in favor of fat-based diets to curb the malevolence of obesity.

The one common denominator with all these eating plans is to eat healthily. Among all these diet programs, intermittent fasting* has gained much popularity among the weight loss aspirants. However, it seems as if many people still don’t know exactly what intermittent fasting is and therefore, they hold certain reservations and misconceptions about the concept.

What is intermittent fasting?

Simply, it is an eating model in which an individual goes through alternative cycles of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, rather it’s concerned with when to eat. There are several sub-categories of intermittent fasting, all of which depend on the duration of fasting and eating periods.

Misconceptions regarding intermittent fasting

Misconceptions often hold us back from adopting the right habits. Here are some of the widespread misconceptions about the functioning of intermittent fasting.

You are allowed to binge eat during the eating period

Many people think that intermittent fasting is all about going extreme with your eating routine i.e. for a period you have to starve and then for a time slot you are entitled to non-stop eating. That’s not the case at all; otherwise, you won’t be able to get any benefits from this eating pattern.  

Only water is allowed during the fasting period

This is another false fact associated with intermittent fasting that you are only allowed to drink water during the fasted phase. You can consume caffeine products (green, black tea and coffee) during the fasting period. Supplements and other drinks with zero calories can also be used during the non-eating phase.

Longer fasting periods are better

No, this is not true. Fasting for more than 20 hours can become counterproductive. Remember that a fasting phase doesn’t entail starving yourself.

Feeling hungry is bad for health

There isn’t any substantial body of research behind this claim that feeling hungry is harmful to your health. So don’t get worried that a mere feeling of starvation will result in the loss of vital mass (muscles) of the body, no such thing happens during the fasting period.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

Now let’s’ delve into some of the proven benefits of perfectly carried out intermittent fasting.

Losing abdominal fat

Losing abdominal fat in order to reduce weight and to get back into shape is the primary reason many start intermittent fasting. There are certain characteristics of intermittent fasting that helps in losing excessive fat:

  • Overall, you consume fewer calories during the complete cycle of fasting. Fewer calories mean there will be less amount of residual fats produced from the excessive calories.
  • Fasting helps in enhancing different beneficial hormone functions of the body resulting in revved-up metabolic rate which also helps in burning more calories.

It means intermittent fasting is a two-pronged method of reducing weight. It limits the average calorie intake of an individual while simultaneously increasing the metabolic rate.

Preventing and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes

In recent years, type 2 diabetes has become one of the most prevalent diseases all around the world. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where blood sugar or glucose levels exceed their normal limits in the bloodstream due to lower insulin levels in the blood. A research study indicates that intermittent fasting can improve insulin resistance which helps in reducing blood sugar levels.

Health concerns related to intermittent fasting

While with its benefits for the people facing obesity and type 2 diabetes, there are certain downsides of intermittent fasting as well that can affect certain individuals.

Dehydration

In some instances, the fasted phase can result in dehydration. It usually occurs because people practicing intermittent fasting are not getting the fluid portion of the solid food items.

High-stress levels and headaches

During the initial phase of intermittent fasting, one can experience increased stress levels resulting from disturbed sleep pattern and headache.

If carried out properly, intermittent fasting can provide you with its benefits. However, it is always better to consult a nutritionist before adopting a new eating pattern.  

* Note: You should always confer with a health professional prior to beginning any weight loss program!