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Insomnia: Tips and Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
What is Insomnia?Insomnia is a common and persistent sleep disorder that can be characterized by having difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It can affect your energy levels, your mood and your health. As a result, work performance and quality of life in general can be affected as well. Every single person has different sleep requirements, even though the majority of adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. So how can you tell if you have insomnia? The following are some symptoms you can look out for:
- Experiencing difficulty falling asleep at night
- Frequently waking up in the middle of the night, and subsequently having difficulty going back to sleep
- Feeling tired and not adequately rested after waking up in the morning
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Sleepiness during the day
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Getting irritated or annoyed easily
Who gets Insomnia?What most people don’t realise is that insomnia is a very common disorder. Many adults experience it at some point, but only a small proportion of these people actually realise that what they are facing is a real disorder that requires treatment or at least some adjustments in lifestyle. To understand who gets insomnia, it is first important to note that there can be two different types of insomnia – primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
Primary InsomniaThis means that the person is facing sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health conditions.
Secondary InsomniaThis means that the sleep problems a person is facing can be attributed to other health conditions or personal issues, such as depression, pain or discomfort, stress, substance abuse, or even medications. It can also be due to environmental factors such as extreme temperatures (hot or cold), light or noise.
Benefits of having a good night’s sleepWhen we get busy in our lives, we often sacrifice our sleeping time, staying up late or waking up early to get more work done. The importance of a good night’s sleep is often overlooked. What most people don’t realise is that getting a good night’s sleep can actually give us a host of benefits. The following are just some of these benefits:
Improved memoryWhen a person sleeps, his or her mind goes through a process called consolidation. During this process, memories or learnt skills are practiced and strengthened. As such, sleep improves your memory and also primes your mind for the learning of new skills.
Longer lifespansStudies have shown that sleeping too much or too little is correlated to a shorted lifespan. In a 2010 study involving older women, it was found that there are a higher number of deaths amongst those who got less than five hours of sleep per night.
Curbed inflammationA study found that C-reactive protein is higher in people who get less than six hours of sleep per night. This C-reactive protein has been associated with a higher risk of heart attack. Similar research has also indicated that people who get six hours or less of sleep a night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in the bloodstream as compared to people who get more than six hours of sleep a night. A higher level of inflammatory proteins has been linked to higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, premature aging, and a whole host of other health problems.
Sharpened attentionWhen we don’t get enough sleep, our attention spans suffer. A study in the journal Pediatrics discovered that children who get less than eight hours of sleep a night are more likely to be inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. In the case of older adults, a lack of sleep results in sluggishness and sleepiness. Our reaction times and decision making capabilities are also affected. This is why insomnia is a major cause of traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes in 2009. The figure was even higher than that of alcohol-caused road accidents!
Reduced risk of obesityResearchers at the University of Chicago have found that dieters who are well rested tend to lose more fat than those who were sleep deprived. Even though both groups of participants shed similar amounts of total weight, it was discovered that those who were sleep deprived tend to lose more muscle mass instead of fat. It was also found that participants who got less sleep tended to feel hungry more often than those who got adequate amounts of sleep. This is because metabolism and sleep are controlled by the same portion of the brain, causing the hormones that control sleepiness to also affect our appetites.
Reduced stress levelsGetting a good night’s sleep has a positive effect on our overall well-being. One of the ways it does so is by reducing our stress levels. This leads to reduced irritability, and also a decreased risk of depression. How does sleeping well affect depression? Well, a good night’s sleep can decrease anxiety levels, leading to greater emotional stability. This then reduces your risk for depression. Of course, oversleeping is not great for emotional stability either.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleepIf you are currently facing problems getting a good night’s sleep, don’t worry for you are not alone. Often, you just need to make some small changes in your lifestyle and habits in order to overcome the sleep disorder. Here are some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:
- Switch off all electronic devices about an hour before you go to bed. This includes devices such as TVs, cell phones or computers. This is because the glow from the screen can disturb your sleep. In fact, the glow from a digital clock on your bedside table may also prove to affect your ability to fall or stay asleep.
- Reduce the number and length of your naps during the daytime. Getting too much sleep during the daytime can affect your ability to fall or stay asleep at night. If you absolutely need to take a nap during the day, try to keep it to less than 30 minutes. Also, try to avoid napping in the afternoon or too close to bedtime.
- Save your bedroom for sleep and sex. Try to avoid doing other activities such as work or watching the TV in bed. If you are able to do this, your body will automatically sense that it is bedtime when you get into bed.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. This means that you should go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. This conditions your body to be able to fall asleep easily at the same time every day. And yes, this includes weekends. One mistake many people make is that they sleep in on weekends. This messes up your snooze-wake schedule, which contributes to Monday blues.
- Try not to eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime. This causes your digestive system to be overloaded, which then makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. It is ideal to avoid eating at least an hour before going to bed. If you absolutely have to eat something, go for a small snack such as crackers or milk.
- Dim your lights about 2 hours before bedtime. When the lights are dimmed, your brain is signalled to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that induces sleep. If you are doing an activity that requires some light, try to use a 15-watt or lower bulb.
- Avoid consuming liquids within the last hour or so before bed. This reduces your odds of having to make a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night, after which it might be difficult to go back to sleep.
How to Keep Your Aging Bones Strong
The Dynamics of Bone DensityFor most people, bone mass levels peak at age 30 and begin to decline steadily afterward. Although bone remodeling continues to take place, people who are older than 30 lose more bone mass than they are able to build back. Bone loss rates are more pronounced in some people than they are in others and there are a variety of factors that affect how much bone mass a person will loose with age. These include factors the following:
How Much Calcium You ConsumePeople who eat a diet that is very low in calcium are likely to suffer more bone loss than people who eat a calcium-rich diet. Calcium deficiency can often lead to decreased bone density, premature bone loss and a higher risk rate for fractures and breaks.
Lack of Physical ActivityPhysical activity is one of the most important factors for keeping bones strong and people who live sedentary lifestyles are likely to suffer bone loss and fractures at a higher risk than more active people.
Smoking or DrinkingSmoking cigarettes or consuming more than 2 alcoholic drinks each day greatly increases the risk of developing osteoporosis due to the fact that alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to retain and absorb calcium. Similarly, tobacco products make it difficult for the body to transport nutrients to the bone, which makes them brittle and vulnerable to breaks.
GenderAs a general rule, women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis than men due to the fact that, on a genetic level, women have less bone tissue than men. Additionally, both women and men who have a body mass index of less than 19 have less bone mass, which means their bones may become brittle more rapidly with age.
GeneticsYour family history and race both have a great deal to do with bone loss rates. People of Caucasian or Asian descent are at increased risk for developing Osteoporosis, as are people from all races who have an extensive family history of bone loss.
HormonesHormones play a large role in bone loss rates. People with excessive levels of thyroid hormone will experience more bone loss, as will women experiencing reduced estrogen rates as a result of menopause. Additionally, women who suffer from amenorrhea and men with low or declining testosterone levels will suffer a loss of bone mass.
MedicationsPeople who have been using a long-term corticosteroid medication or an anti-seizure medication may be at increased risk of bone loss due to the medication’s ability to interfere with the body’s dispersal of nutrients.
Preventing Bone Loss: What You Can DoAlthough bone loss will inevitably happen as people age, it doesn’t need to be so severe as to lead to osteoporosis. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures seniors and aging adults can take to keep their bones healthy and strong all throughout life’s later years.
NutritionNutrition is one of the most important parts of maintaining bone health. Specifically, people need to be sure to they are consuming enough calcium- and Vitamin D-rich foods in their diets. When it comes to calcium, women after the age of 50 and men after the age of 70 should be consuming 1,200 mg of calcium on a daily basis. Keep in mind that the best sources of any nutrient are generally whole food sources and people can find ample levels of calcium in foods such as dairy products (whole milk, yogurt, cheese), nuts, leafy greens such as kale, salmon and soy-based products such as tofu. If, after switching to a calcium-rich diet, you still find yourself low on the calcium intake, consider adding a calcium supplement to your diet. Vitamin D, on the other hand, should be consumed at a rate of 800 international units (IU’s) per day for adults beyond the age of 71. Food sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, tuna and Vitamin D-fortified milk. Additionally, spending time in the sun aids in the body’s production and synthesis of Vitamin D.
ExerciseIn addition to ensuring adequate nutrition, people who are concerned about keeping their bones strong should pay extra attention to exercise. When it comes to maintaining bone health and decreasing bone loss, there are two types of exercise that people should focus on. These include the following:
Weight-bearing exercises are particularly important for bone health and can actually help slow the bone deterioration rate in people already affected by osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises stretch and pull muscles and bones more than everyday activity and, thus, can help strengthen bones in the long-term. Great option for weight-bearing exercises for seniors and older adults include Tai Chi, Yoga, walking, golf, ballroom dancing, moderate hiking and racket sports such as tennis and squash. These activities all provide weight-bearing activity that allows the bones to adjust to moderate force and, in turn, become as resilient and strong as possible.
Muscle-strengthening exercises maintain muscle flexibility and condition and, as such, can actually slow the rate of bone loss and prevent related fractures. Generally, muscle-strengthening exercises include functional movements that involve lifting the body’s own weight. Forms of muscle-strengthening exercises may include utilizing elastic exercise bands, using free weights for low-impact workouts and using weight machines to build and maintain lean muscle. Additionally, people who suffer from joint pain or stiffness may find swimming helpful, as it is low-impact and also offers all of the muscle-strengthening, stretching and flexibility benefits of the above exercises.
Lifestyle AdjustmentsIn addition to adopting a healthy diet and ample exercise, people who want to prevent bone loss should also limit alcohol and stop smoking. These two changes alone will go a long way toward increasing bone health and limiting the risk of painful fractures. Although bone loss is a reality of aging, osteoporosis doesn’t have to be. With these easy dietary and lifestyle changes, seniors and older adults can ensure that their bones stay strong, healthy and capable throughout all stages of life.
6 Important Steps to Living a Healthy Life
1. Take stock of your lifeIn order to get started, you first need to take stock of your current lifestyle in order to figure out what needs to be done. How are you doing health-wise? Schedule a comprehensive health check-up to find out. In fact, no matter how you are doing health-wise at the moment, you really should schedule regular appointments with your doctor for routine check-ups. Look also at your current activity level, both in terms of physical activity and social activity. Are you getting enough physical activity? Do you have a healthy social life? It always helps to have a supportive social circle, regardless of how you are currently doing in life.
2. Get any significant issues under controlIf you have any chronic health problems, it is crucial that you have some sort of plan to get things under control. Ensure that you are receiving appropriate medical attention and treatment, and lose any habits you may have that could aggravate your condition. For instance, if you have chronic respiratory problems, you should avoid smoking. Managing your stress levels well is also crucial. Develop some healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise or meditation, in order to keep your baseline stress level in check. Regardless of the nature of the issues you are facing (be it physical, psychological or otherwise), it is advisable that you have a stable support system in place. The support of a medical professional and/or your loved ones could go a long way.
3. Increase your daily activity levelIt is advisable to get at least one half hour of exercise at least three days a week. Getting regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. This is because it not only helps you to maintain a healthy body weight, build strong bones, and fight osteoporosis, but it can also help to prevent depression. So mix things up, and make exercise fun for yourself. If you do not like jogging or swimming, go for a cycle around the neighborhood or at the beach. Pick up a new sport with a friend. Alternatively, you could work exercise into your daily routine. For example, opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you do this for an entire year, you could burn twice the number of calories you would have burnt by riding the elevator.
4. Regulate your dietThis is the part that a lot of people dread. But having a healthy diet really isn’t as bad as you might think it is. Don’t think of it as something you ‘should’ do. Rather, think of it as something you ‘choose’ to do. Your mindset can make a huge difference. As most of you already know, you should aim to have 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Try to have a range of fruit and vegetables in order to get a good mix of micronutrients and vitamins. A good way to do this is to have a variety of colors (e.g. carrots and peas for orange and greens). Also, try to avoid overeating. If you find that you have a huge appetite, try slowing down the speed at which you eat your meals. In addition, don’t work or watch TV whilst you are eating. These prevent you from fully enjoying your food, which makes you less psychologically satisfied with your meal. If you absolutely have to snack in between meals, go for a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or a salad. Remember that the type of calories you consume is just as important as the number of calories you consume.
5. Get adequate rest every nightGetting enough sleep is as important as having a healthy diet and exercise regime. Lack of sleep can cause you to overeat and be less equipped to deal with stress. With that said, it is important that you do not ignore any chronic sleep problems you may have. See a sleep specialist if you are facing any sleep problems that you are unable to deal with alone. The following are some tips for dealing with sleep problems. Avoid watching the telly or using the computer two hours before bedtime. This is because the light emitted from the screens tricks your brain into thinking that it is time to be up and about. Also, avoid doing heavy exercise close to bedtime. Vigorous activity causes your body’s core temperature to rise, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. You should also try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. When your body has settled into a routine, you will be better able to fall asleep at night.
6. Avoid (excessive) alcohol/drug consumptionIf you consume alcohol or any other additive substance on a regular basis, you will find yourself facing a multitude of health problems. This is especially so for the case of tobacco, regardless of whether it is consumed in the form of cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco. In fact, if you avoid (excessive) alcohol and/or drug consumption, you will be able to save yourself a ton of money. If you absolutely have to consume alcohol, for work or other social reasons, ensure that you do not overdo it. Consult a medical expert to find out what is a reasonable amount. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/healthy-living-8-steps-to-take-today http://www.webmd.com/diet/4-steps-healthy-lifestyle http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/healthy-lifestyle http://depts.washington.edu/uwcoe/healthtopics/healthylife.html
Importance and Benefits of Vitamins for Seniors
What are vitamins?Vitamins are organic chemical compounds that organisms get from food. What is special about these compounds is that organisms’ bodies are able to produce them, but are not able to do so in adequate quantities for normal metabolism, hence the need to get additional amounts through foodstuff. If the body does not receive sufficient amounts of vitamins, deficiency diseases may develop. There are two main types of vitamins – fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitaminsThese vitamins are stored in organisms’ livers and in fat tissues. They are absorbed through the intestinal tract. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body for long periods of time. Hence, there is no need to consume fat-soluble vitamins on a daily basis. Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K. They are found mainly in fatty foods and animal products.
Water-soluble vitaminsThe important thing to note about water-soluble vitamins is that they are not stored in the body for very long; any excess water-soluble vitamins are quickly expelled from the body as a component of urine. As such, we need to replace the water-soluble vitamins in our bodies often to ensure that our bodies have a constant supply. Examples of water-soluble vitamins include Vitamins C, B (i.e. all the B vitamins) and folic acid. They can be found in a wide variety of foods. For instance, dairy product, fruit, vegetables and grains all contain water-soluble vitamins. However, water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed by heat, so cooking foods causes some vitamin loss.
Why should seniors and aging adults take vitamins?People of all ages need vitamins, but they are especially important in the case of seniors and aging adults. This is due in most part to physiological changes linked to aging. This explains why organizations such as the Institute of Medicine have separate nutrient recommendations for people aged 70 and above; it is done in order to cater to the increased micronutrient requirements of this group of people. When one ages, one faces decreased needs for energy intake. This is partly due to decreased physical activity level, hence requiring less food due to the lowered metabolic rate. Older persons may also face decreased appetites or have financial problems, rendering them unable to acquire adequate nutrient-dense foods (i.e. foods that have high levels of essential nutrients per food unit). For example, one study found that 50% to 75% of residents in German nursing homes have low energy intake. However, one’s requirements for micronutrients remain the same despite the decreased need for energy intake. In fact, an older person’s micronutrient requirement is, in some cases, even higher than that of a younger person (this will be explained later on). The reduced food intake is then unable to keep up with the constant (or increased) needs for micronutrients, even if the senior or aging adult consumes nutrient-dense foods. Additionally, the ability of older adults’ bodies to absorb and utilize micronutrients is lower than that of a younger person’s. With less efficient absorption and utilization, it is crucial for older adults to have increased nutrient intake in order to ensure that the body is still receive sufficient amounts of micronutrients. As if all that were not enough, chronic conditions and medications can also affect nutrient requirements. A large percentage of older persons have to take medications for chronic conditions, and some of these medications cause nutrient wasting interactions, especially in the case of the Vitamin B family. A study has shown that when an older person regularly uses supplements, his or her risk for having a nutrient intake below the Estimated Average Requirement is reduced by four times.
What happens if seniors and aging adults don’t get enough vitamins?In general, when one is unable to meet the required levels of micronutrients, this results in the development of deficiency diseases. The types of health-related problems that arise from the deficiency of different micronutrients vary. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the problems that may arise from micronutrient deficiency:
Degenerative diseasesAccording to the European Food Safety Authority, Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant for the human body. When one is deficient in Vitamin E, various chronic degenerative diseases can develop. The risks are especially high in the case of elderly persons. These degenerative diseases can affect many parts of the body, include the skeletal and muscular systems.
Central nervous system function disorders/Immune system disordersThe central nervous system metabolizes dopamine and noradrenaline. This process requires certain levels of Vitamins B2, B6 and B12. It also requires folate and Vitamin C. As such, if a person does not have enough of these micronutrients, the central nervous system will not be able to function properly. The synthesis of neurotransmitters and amino acids also require certain micronutrients. The immune system will also be affected, causing the person to be more susceptible to common viruses and infections. In the case of seniors or aging adults, these seemingly minor illnesses could possibly lead to more major health complications.
Cognitive function disordersThe process of energy production in the brain depends heavily on several micronutrients. These include but are not limited to Vitamin B2, B6, B12 and C. These vitamins play an important role in the glycolysis and the respiratory chain. Certain vitamins are also crucial for proper brain functioning. Insufficiencies may lead to age-related cognitive decline and, in extreme cases, Alzheimer’s disease. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878.php http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/vitamins-minerals.aspx http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714003396 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK51837/ https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate/vitamins-minerals http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20121130/older-adults-vitamins-supplements http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/nutrition-world-2/missing-nutrients https://www.healthambition.com/food-rich-minerals/
What Causes Diabetes and How to Prevent and Treat It
What is diabetes?Diabetes – I’m sure we’ve all heard about it, but how many of us actually know what it means? The term diabetes actually refers to a group of diseases that can arise due to a rage of causes. In general, people who have diabetes have high blood glucose. This state can also be referred to as high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. Diabetes can be classified into two common main types – type 1 and type 2. They are brought about by different causes. Diabetes can be classified into two common main types – type 1 and type 2. They are brought about by different causes.
What are the causes of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetesType 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks and destroys its own beta cells even though its normal function is to protect the body from infection by destroying viruses, bacteria and other harmful foreign substances. Diabetes then occurs when there is insufficient insulin due to the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults, although it is possible for it to occur in persons of any age.
Genetic SusceptibilityOne important factor in determining a person’s likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes is heredity. Many genes that are passed down from biological parent to child have been found to be influential in determining susceptibility to and protection from type 1 diabetes.
Autoimmune Destruction of Beta CellsResearch has suggested that insulin itself might be an important trigger for the immune system attacking the beta cells. Put simply, people who are susceptible to developing type 1 diabetes have immune systems that respond to insulin as if it were an antigen (or foreign substance).
Environmental FactorsEnvironmental factors can play a significant role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Possible factors include food ingested and toxins present in the environment. It has been suggested that environmental factors can trigger the immune system’s attack on beta cells.
Viruses and InfectionsViruses alone are unable to bring about type 1 diabetes, but there has been a correlation between viral infections and diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. This suggests that there is a link between the two. Also, type 1 diabetes often develops during the winter, which is also the period of time in which viral infections are common.
Type 2 diabetesType 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes – more so than type 1 diabetes. It can be brought about by a number of factors. A person with type 2 diabetes is unable to utilise insulin effectively, and at the same time is unable to produce enough insulin to compensate for the impaired ability to use insulin. Type 2 diabetes is most common in middle-aged and older people who are overweight. However, it can also be found in obese children and adolescents.
Genetic SusceptibilityGenes are one of the most critical factors regarding susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. This is proven by the high rate of type 2 diabetes in families, especially in the cases of identical twins. Also, there are distinct variations in type 2 diabetes prevalence by ethnicity – namely, African Americans, American Indians and Pacific Islander Americans are amongst the ethnic groups that seem to be most susceptible to type 2 diabetes. Genes can also affect a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing his or her tendency to become overweight.
Obesity and Physical InactivityIf your caloric intake is much higher than your level of physical activity, this can lead to obesity, which causes insulin resistance. This then contributes to susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. It is alright to have a high caloric intake, but do ensure that you have a relatively high level of physical activity to go with it.
Insulin ResistanceInsulin resistance is common amongst people who are overweight, have excess abdominal fat, and are not physically active. Because of these factors, their liver cells respond ineffectively to insulin. The pancreas is then stimulated to produce extra insulin. The combination of ineffective insulin utilization and beta cell dysfunction causes blood glucose levels to rise, resulting in diabetes.
How can I prevent diabetes?Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but you can prevent type 2 diabetes by making the following healthy lifestyle choices.
Be more physically active:Try to get about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Choose to take a walk instead of the bus, or the stairs instead of the elevator. Or you could take a nice relaxing swim after a long day at work. It will go a long way in preventing obesity and hence diabetes.
Lose excess weight:If you are currently overweight, do try to get your weight down to a healthy range. A good guide is to aim to lose 7 percent of your body weight. So if you are currently weighing in at 90.9 kilograms (200 pounds), simply aim to lose 6.4 kilograms (14 pounds) and you would have reduced your risk of diabetes.
Have a healthy diet:Reduce your consumption of foods that are high in calories and fat content. Choose instead to have more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Lean meats are a good idea as well.
Medication:Oral medication for diabetes can help to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Such drugs include but are not limited to Glucophage and Glumetza.
How is diabetes treated?Diabetes used to be a fatal disease a long time ago, before insulin was discovered. But with advances in medical technology and knowledge, people diagnosed with diabetes are able to lead a normal life. The most important aim of diabetes management are the following – keeping blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. To do this, you need to lead a healthy lifestyle – have a healthy diet, get adequate physical activity – and take insulin. Regarding the taking of insulin, it is important to balance your insulin intake with the amount of food you eat. Your level of physical activity also affects the timing and quantity of insulin you need to take. Other things to take note of:
Monitoring your blood glucose levels:You should go for regular blood tests to monitor your blood glucose levels in order to ensure that it isn’t fluctuating too widely.
Monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels:Although these aren’t directly related to diabetes, diabetics tend to be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. As such, it is essential that you monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in order to prevent developing cardiovascular disease. Eating healthily, doing frequent exercise and avoiding smoking will help as well.. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/treatment.html http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_treatment/article.htm http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prevention.html http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/preventing-diabetes-full-story/ http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/diabetes/ http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/causes-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Treatment.aspx
September is Healthy Aging Month: 7 Steps to Aging Healthy
Take the time to get your eyes checked
Blood Pressure Screening
Meeting with family
Practice something challenging
Keep your body moving
Causes of Back Pain and What You Can Do to Prevent It
What Causes Back Pain?Back pain results from a variety of things, the most common of which are skeletal problems and muscular or ligament strain. In many cases, back pain comes on slowly, as the result of an underlying problem. Occasionally, however, back pain comes on suddenly as the result of a traumatic injury or acute spinal disc problem. Generally, back pain originates from one of the following causes:
Skeletal Deformations:Common skeletal deformations such as scoliosis or birth defects can easily cause back pain. Fortunately, these conditions are rare and, when detected early, can often be rectified with chiropractic care or physical therapy.
Muscle Strain:Muscle strain is one of the leading causes of back pain and often results when people move in unnatural ways or lift heavy items. People who are in poor physical condition are more likely to experience muscle strain and, when lifting heavy items, may also experience accompanying muscle spasms.
Osteoporosis:Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones throughout the body to become weak and brittle. When osteoporosis affects the spine, it can result in the formation of compression fractures and hairline cracks. Because of this, people suffering from osteoporosis often experience back pain that ranges from moderate to debilitating.
Ruptured Discs:Spinal discs serve the important purpose of cushioning the vertebra in the spine. Spinal discs are constructed like small pillows and filled with a soft material known as mucoprotein gel. Under extreme pressure, however, the disc can rupture or bulge to one side or another, resulting in undue strain on spinal nerves and considerable back pain. In rare occasions, however, patients may have bulging or ruptured disks and no back pain at all.
Arthritis:In older individuals, back pain is most often caused by arthritis. Osteoarthritis is very common in the lower back and, in severe cases, can cause the entire spinal column to narrow down around the cord in a condition called spinal stenosis. Patients suffering from spinal stenosis will be in great pain but, fortunately, can often find relief through surgery.
Who is at Risk for Back Pain?Back pain affects people of all ages across all demographics. There are, however, some specific risk factors that place certain populations at increased likelihood for chronic back pain.
Older Individuals:Age is a direct risk factor for back pain and individuals beyond the age of 40 are at increased risk for back pain due to deteriorating spinal structure and increasing stiffness in joints.
Out of Shape Individuals:Poor physical condition directly contributes to an increased risk for back pain. When individuals are obese or lacking muscle strength, the spine is forced to absorb more strain, which often leads to back pain. Additionally, abdominal muscles play an important role in preventing back pain and, when a person is in very poor physical condition, the abdominal muscles cannot preform well enough to hold the spine in ideal position.
Pregnant Individuals:In the later months of pregnancy, the weight of the baby and all accompanying tissues and fluids is centered on the low spine. In order to support the weight, the spine is pulled forward, which often causes considerable back pain. The pain is worsened when a woman is forced to stand, sit or lie down for a very long time. Fortunately, pregnancy-induced back pain is temporary and can often be mitigated with chiropractic care and massage.
Individuals Who Lift Heavy Objects:People who lift heavy loads, such as movers and construction workers, are at incredible risk for back pain if they don’t maintain proper lifting form. Because lifting weighty objects puts considerable strain on the back, these individuals have a very high risk of slipping or rupturing disks or injuring muscles or ligaments.
Individuals who Smoke:Smoking makes it difficult for the body to deliver adequate nutrition to bones and, as such, can often result in severe and chronic back pain. In most cases, ceasing to smoke and adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is enough to remedy smoking-induced back pain.
Diseases:Although rare, some types of cancer or tumors can cause back pain by pressing directly on the spinal column or its associated nerves and muscles.
How to Prevent Back PainEven though back pain is so common, there are many ways to prevent it from occurring. Most people who suffer from back pain will benefit from simply adopting a healthier lifestyle, which means including more dietary fiber, vegetables, fruits and water into the diet. Individuals who smoke should stop as soon as possible and people in poor physical shape will find relief from back pain by beginning an exercise regiment designed to strengthen muscles and improve overall condition. Additionally, everyone who suffers even occasional back pain will benefit from practicing good posture. Unbeknownst to most people, poor posture is one of the leading causes in the muscle strain and weakness that often causes back pain. Because of this, people who lift heavy objects often should invest in a back brace designed to support proper posture of the spine and associated muscles during heavy lifting. In addition to wearing the brace, these individuals should avoid bending at the waist and should, instead, lift at the knees. Finally, people who suffer from chronic back pain may find powerful prevention in the form of a stretching practice like Yoga or Tai Chi. These practices are designed to gently condition muscles and can be very beneficial for keeping the spine aligned and preventing future back pain from occurring. Older individuals who are suffering from back pain caused by arthritis or osteoporosis can benefit from seeing a doctor regularly. Depending upon the type of back pain, these individuals may benefit from physical therapy, chiropractic work or a light yoga practice. Additionally, better nutrition, ample water intake, healthy lifestyles and plenty of light-impact physical activity are ideal for keeping the spine in great shape at any age. Although back pain is a common and uncomfortable condition, it can be treated and prevented in a variety of ways, which means that patients can live happier, healthier lives with less back pain.
All About Organic Food and What’s the Big Deal?!
What fueled this “organic movement”?The move to organic produce by consumers has partly been fueled by beliefs that organic produce may be better for health than conventional produce, concerns over health hazards potentially associated with pesticide usage, or that organic farming methods have a lesser environmental impact.
Agricultural pesticide usage and public perceptionBefore the 1920s, farming methods were largely pesticide-free (5). It was not until WWII that scientists discovered “chemicals designed as nerve gas…were also capable of killing insects” (5) and chemical pesticide usage in farming methods were not used until after WWII (4), when synthetic pesticides like DDT were made available to the public. Touted as a “fix all”, agricultural workers were ecstatic about its success in improving crop yields, reduction of pests, and its inexpensive price. Not much about the adverse effects were known at the time, but the dangers of some chemicals, notably the pesticide DDT, were later espoused by conservationist Rachel Carson in her book called “Silent Spring” in 1962. Carson had been researching the effects of pesticide exposure on “non-target creatures (organisms other than those that the pesticide is intended to kill)” in areas where the pesticide had been applied (4). Her publication included sound evidence of the death of animals in those regions and the persistence of the chemicals in the environment, which would continue to harm wildlife over time. She also noted that these chemicals could accumulate and reside in the tissue of the exposed being, including humans, and contribute to cancer or genetic damage in certain cases (6). Carson’s book was monumental in its broadening of public knowledge and shaping of perception towards pesticide usage and the potential damage it carries. Within the following decades, “the growing consumer interest in health and nutrition, the growth of the green movement, the focus on conservation and environmental issues stimulated the development of the organic market and encouraged farmers to adopt organic methods” (5). However, concern from organic producers and others also grew regarding the hazy conditions surrounding the term “organic”. This spurred the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, which allowed the Agricultural Marketing Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create national standards for foods certified as “organic”. It also created a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and a regulatory agency called the National Organic Program (NOP), which oversees the production and handling of organic items.
Health benefits of organic produceThere has been much debate over whether organic foods or conventional foods are “better” for overall health. And despite the research that has been undertaken, the evidence is not yet conclusive. Although more research needs to be conducted, the current literature contains findings similar to these following quotes: an article from Science Direct states that “in public health terms, there is insufficient evidence to recommend organic over conventional vegetables” (7) and another study states that the “results at present do not make it possible to formulate a general conclusion on a higher health-promoting value of organic vegetables in comparison to those grown by conventional farming methods” (6).
So why the craze for organic?Although the evidence regarding overall health is not yet conclusive, organically grown produce does still have certain favorable benefits over its conventionally grown counterpart.
More of certain vitamins and minerals may be present in organic products.
Organic farming has less of an environmental impact.
Reduced exposure to pesticides and other chemical additives
The Role of Patient Education in Reducing Hospital Readmissions
Why is there a need to reduce hospital readmissions?These are some of the reasons why there is a need to lower the number of re-hospitalization:
- To reduce the pressure brought on hospitals due to high readmissions
- To lessen the dissatisfaction patients feel when they repeatedly find themselves back in the hospital
- To reduce the cost of readmission on Medicare, state Medicaid programs, and private health plans