Category Archives: Healthy Tips

11 foods that lower cholesterol

It’s easy to eat your way to an alarmingly high cholesterol level. The reverse is true, too — changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream.

Doing this requires a two-pronged strategy: Add foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis. At the same time, cut back on foods that boost LDL. Without that step, you are engaging in a holding action instead of a steady — and tasty — victory.

In with the good:   

Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

1. Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)

2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.

3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take awhile for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.

4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

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5. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.

6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.

7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.

9. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.

10. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

11. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.

Out with the bad:

Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL drifts downward largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices. Genes play a role, too — some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren’t something you can change. Here are four things you can:

Saturated fats.

Typical sources of saturated fat include animal products, such as red meat, whole-fat dairy products, and eggs, and also a few vegetable oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter. Saturated fat can increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. But it has some benefits, too — it lowers triglycerides and nudges up levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

The role of saturated fat in heart disease is currently under debate. For now, it’s best to limit your intake of saturated-fat-rich foods.

Trans fats. The right amount of trans fats is zero! Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. These fats have no nutritional value — and we know for certain they are bad for heart health. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while reducing levels of HDL cholesterol.

Recently, the FDA banned trans fats from the U.S. food supply. The phasing-out process is expected to take three years. The encouraging news is that many major food suppliers and restaurants have already substituted healthier fats for trans fats.

Weight and exercise. Being overweight and not exercising affect fats circulating in the bloodstream. Excess weight boosts harmful LDL, while inactivity depresses protective HDL. Losing weight if needed and exercising more reverse these trends.

Putting it all together:

When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.

A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowered LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.

Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.

Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.

Resources: Harvard Health Publications

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Why Coconut Oil Is So Good

Reasons:

*If you’ve stayed away from coconut oil because you’ve been misled to believe it is fattening, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that incorporating this fat into a healthy diet can actually help you lose weight

*Coconut oil is loaded with medium-chain fats that are easily metabolized

*Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils and has many benefits as both a health food and personal-care product
Despite more than 1,700 medical studies being performed on coconut oil, it continues to be vilified mainly because 90 percent of its fat content is saturated fat. However, saturated fats, and most particularly coconut oil, are a vital part of the human diet. For decades, we’ve labored under the false belief that saturated fat is a leading cause of heart disease. Research suggests there is no significant evidence demonstrating that saturated fat clogs your arteries or puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

In fact, particular types of saturated fat, including coconut oil, are necessary for optimal health. If you have bought into the media hype that saturated fats are unhealthy and will raise your risk of heart disease, please reconsider your position. If you’ve been avoiding coconut oil, you’ll find that it has many beneficial properties that make it a worthwhile addition to your diet.

Certainly, if you’ve stayed away from coconut oil because you’ve been misled to believe it is fattening, you deserve to know the truth that it can actually help you lose weight, not gain it. Having said that, if you are allergic to coconut oil or you simply don’t like the taste, then it’s best not to use it.
Where Coconut Oil Has Been Used, People Thrive:

It’s no secret that coconut products, particularly coconut oil, have been used by certain populations around the world for millennia. In places where coconut oil is consumed as part of the standard diet, people seem to thrive. So, what do they know about coconut oil that you may not?

Take, for example, Polynesian populations such as the Pukapuka and Tokelau, where people eat a lot of coconut. As such, their diet tends to be high in saturated fat and low in cholesterol and sugar. Researchers found that “vascular disease is uncommon in both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated-fat intake having a harmful effect.”

Another study focused on the Kitevan people in Papua New Guinea, whose subsistence lifestyle and diet has remained untarnished by the poor dietary habits of the Western world. Besides eating a lot of fish, fruit and tubers, the people also consume coconut as a prominent staple.

None of the people involved in the study reported stroke, sudden death, chest pain or discomfort due to coronary heart disease (CHD). In fact, the researchers concluded that stroke and CHD appeared to be absent in this population. Based on those two studies, we can infer that the plentiful inclusion of coconut oil in traditional diets around the world contributes positively to the health and well-being of those eating it.

According to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of “The Coconut Oil Miracle” and director of the Coconut Research Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado:

“Asian and Polynesian people who rely on coconut and coconut oil as a part of their daily diet have the lowest heart-disease rates in the world. Some of these people get as much as 50 percent of their total daily calories as saturated fat, primarily from coconut oil.

If coconut oil caused heart disease, as some people used to believe, these islanders would have all died off centuries ago. Those populations who consume large quantities of coconut oil have remarkably good cardiovascular health. Absent are the heart attacks and strokes characteristic in Western countries where coconut oil is rarely used.”
Conventional Medicine Says All Saturated Fats Are the Same:

In Western conventional medicine, coconut oil faces some tough critics who are less convinced of its health benefits. Andrew Freeman, director of the American College of Cardiology‘s nutrition and lifestyle working group, suggested to CBS News that coconut oil is nothing more than a fad, and one he wishes would go away.

“People seem to be eating it and drinking it with everything — adding it to coffee, cooking their vegetables with it — and it’s giving them large quantities of fat. …

It’s not a recommended oil by any of the guidelines that is know of. In general, it can contribute to cardiovascular-disease risk because of its very high saturated-fat content. The standard American diet … is already high-fat and full of a lot of processed meats and cheese, and now everyone’s adding coconut oil, and we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Libby Mills, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says coconut oil is a mixed bag, though she understands why it’s being talked about so much.

“As a society, we’re always looking for the panacea — the one thing that’s really going to fix it all. While some of the research is promising, and the MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oils in coconut oil are very attractive, unfortunately they come with a lot of saturated fat packaging.”
Coconut Oil is Different From Other Saturated Fats:-

What Freeman and others may not realize is that coconut oil is different from other types of saturated fat. The saturated fat in coconut oil is unlike the types of saturated fat found in vegetable oils, meat and cheese, for example. Whereas those fats are known as long-chain fats, about two-thirds of the fat in coconut oil are medium-chain fats, also referred to as a medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Long-chain fats are digested slowly and absorbed through your intestinal wall where they are combined into bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are distributed throughout your body through your bloodstream. Your body metabolizes MCTs, such as coconut oil, differently from other fats. Normally, fats taken into your body must first be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder, and second be acted on by pancreatic enzymes. Only then can fats be broken down in your digestive system.

MCTs, however, don’t require bile or pancreatic enzymes to be digested. Once they reach your intestine, they diffuse through your intestinal membrane into your bloodstream. From there, they are transported directly to your liver, which naturally converts MCTs into ketones. Your liver then releases the ketones back into your bloodstream, where they are transported throughout your body.

Notably, MCTs are readily available and used for energy, not stored as fat. MCTs can even pass the blood-brain barrier to supply your brain with energy. This is one of the reasons coconut oil is thought to have positive effects on those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Coconut Oil Contains Four Types of MCTs:

As a general rule, the shorter the carbon chain, the more efficiently the MCT is converted into ketones, which are an excellent, clean source of energy for your body — far preferable to glucose, as ketones produce far less reactive oxygen species that produce excessive dangerous free radicals. MCTs can be divided into four groups based on their carbon length:

*6 carbons (C6), caproic acid
*8 carbons (C8), caprylic acid
*10 carbons (C10), capric acid
*12 carbons (C12), lauric acid

Coconut oil provides a mix of all the medium-chain fats, including C6, C8, C10 and C12 fats, the latter of which (lauric acid) makes up over 40 percent of the fat in coconut oil. (The exception is MCT oil, which is fractionated coconut oil or palm oil, which contains primarily C8 and C10.8) There are benefits to all of these fatty acids. However, caprylic and capric fatty acids increase ketone levels far more effectively.

Lauric acid is most well-known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The shorter-chained MCTs, on the other hand, are more readily converted into ketones, which are an excellent mitochondrial fuel. Ketones also help suppress ghrelin (aka the hunger hormone) and enhance another hormone that signals your brain when you’re full.

Most commercial brands of MCT oil contain close to a 50/50 combination of C8 and C10 fats. My personal preference, even though it is more expensive, is straight C8 (caprylic acid), as it converts to ketones far more rapidly than do C10 fats, and may be easier on your digestion. That said, coconut oil is a less expensive option overall, and can readily be used in all sorts of cooking and other household uses.

Is Coconut Oil Fattening?
A study conducted on 40 women with abdominal obesity revealed positive effects related to coconut-oil supplementation.9 After 12 weeks, the women consuming coconut oil daily showed a reduction in waist circumference, as compared to the group who consumed soybean oil.

In addition, coconut oil increased the participants’ HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, and lowered their ration of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or “bad” cholesterol to HDL. Soybean oil led to decreases in HDL. Although it seems counterintuitive to add fat to your diet to lose weight, Dr. Bruce Fife, featured in the video above, says:10

“Adding fat into your diet can be the key to your weight loss success. Low-fat dieting actually causes weight gain, and is one of the reasons for our current obesity epidemic. You can lose weight on these diets temporarily, but in the long run you end up gaining all your weight back, and then some. In fact, studies show that 95 percent of those people who go on low-fat diets eventually regain all their weight.

That’s a 95 percent failure rate! It should be obvious that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. …Fat also satisfies hunger so that you don’t feel like you are starving. You feel satisfied. In fact, with an adequate amount of fat, you don’t get hungry even when you cut down on total calorie intake. Your metabolism and energy levels remain elevated. You feel a lot better and get better results.”

Dr.Mercola’ new book, “Fat for Fuel,” explains many of the health benefits associated with a diet high in healthy fats, including coconut oil. Indeed, the ketogenic diet, featuring low net carb and high fat intake, has been shown to be beneficial for many chronic health conditions, including cancer, and can significantly improve your chances of weight loss.

At the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University, in a study of 49 overweight men and women, researchers noted that participants consuming MCT oil lost more weight than those consuming olive oil. Researchers reported:11 “Consumption of MCT oil as part of a weight loss plan improves weight loss compared with olive oil and can thus be successfully included in a weight loss diet. Small changes in the quality of fat intake can therefore be useful to enhance weight loss.”

Are You Familiar With the Benefits of Coconut Oil?

If you haven’t had a chance to explore all the extraordinary uses for coconut oil, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil contains no trans-fatty acids. Coconut oil won’t oxidize when heated, so it’s great for cooking and baking. It is also shelf-stable and won’t go rancid. Beyond these intrinsic qualities, coconut oil has many benefits, some of which may surprise you.

Lauric acid makes up about half of the fatty acids in coconut oil. When lauric acid is digested, it morphs into a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin help rid your gut of harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

These substances have been shown to kill the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections.

Coconut oil also works on fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. The European Journal of Pediatrics reported research suggesting a blend of coconut oil and anise was almost twice as effective as the commonly prescribed (and toxic) permethrin lotion for treating head lice.
The Effects of Coconut Oil on Brain Function:

As mentioned above, the MCTs in coconut oil are digested through your liver, which creates ketones that supply energy directly to your brain. Research focused on determining the effect of a ketogenic agent on individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease suggests there are some benefits to MCT supplementation with respect to cognitive impairment:

“In small-scale human trials,MCT supplementation boosted cognition in individuals with cognitive impairment and mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease after just a single dose. While not everyone improved from the MCT treatment, those with certain genetics experienced notable improvement.”

Ketones are the preferred source of energy for your brain in people affected by Alzheimer’s diabetes, Parkinson’s and maybe even ALS, because in these diseases, certain neurons have become insulin resistant or have lost the ability to efficiently utilize glucose. As a result, neurons slowly die off.

The introduction of ketones may rescue these neurons, enabling them to potentially survive and thrive. One study promoted the positive effects of ketone ester in treating Alzheimer’s disease, noting improvements in patient behavior, cognition and performance of daily activities.

Coconut Oil Prevents Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure:

Heart disease, which includes heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 34 seconds, and someone dies from a heart disease-related event every 60 seconds.16 Despite what you may have been led to believe, saturated fats like coconut oil are not to blame for the spike in coronary heart disease. On the contrary, coconut oil:

Increases your HDL cholesterol:

*Helps convert your LDL cholesterol into good cholesterol
*Fosters heart health and lowers your risk of heart disease due to the increase in HDL17
*Use Coconut Oil to Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

* Coconut oil as a superb way to cleanse and flush harmful bacteria from your mouth. This technique is especially beneficial if you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease. Because of its high concentration of antibacterial MCTs, coconut oil is ideal for oil pulling. One of the positive side effects of oil pulling is that coconut oil also naturally whitens your teeth. This is an oral hygiene habit that can be done every day.

Coconut Oil for Personal Care and Insect Repellent:

Coconut oil is not only a useful food, but can also be a great personal-care product. Here are some additional ways you can use coconut oil:

*Apply it to dry or cracked skin for instant relief
*Use it as a facial cleanser, lip balm or makeup remover
*Try it as a shaving lotion; its antiseptic properties will soothe any cuts or nicks
*Slather it on dry, lifeless hair for 15 minutes to help restore lost moisture and shine

In addition, while coconut oil doesn’t impart the minty aftertaste that accompanies most toothpaste, brushing your teeth with it before bed helps kill bacteria that cause plaque and other problems. If you miss the minty taste, just add a drop of peppermint essential oil. If you want more grit, mix it with a little baking soda. If you’re looking for a natural deodorant that will give lasting protection without the potential health risks from added aluminum, mix the following ingredients and apply to clean underarms:

*3 Tbsp. organic coconut oil
*3 Tbsp. non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot powder
*3 Tbsp. baking soda
*2 drops of essential oil of your choice, or a pinch of clove powder

As for an insect repellent, a good recipe combines coconut oil with a high-quality essential oil such as peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, tea tree or vanilla. This is a good alternative to toxic sprays such as DEET and smells a lot better too!

Resources:  Dr. Mercola’ article

Greater self-acceptance improves emotional well-being

Self-acceptance is defined as “an individual’s acceptance of all of his/her attributes, positive or negative.” It includes body acceptance, self-protection from negative criticism, and believing in one’s capacities………CLICK &  SEE

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people have low self-acceptance. There can be many reasons for this, but one widely accepted theory is that because we develop our self-esteem, in part, from others appreciating us, people with low self-acceptance may have had parents who lacked empathy during their childhood. Consequently, in their adult lives, they may need much stronger affirmation from others than most people do. In other words, ordinary levels of approval do not “move the needle” on their self-esteem.

Some people with low self-acceptance try to bolster it by accomplishing great things. But this only helps your self-esteem for a while. That’s because achievement is a poor substitute for intimacy. In addition, these people are often under the impression that “taking it” when suffering is the main reflection of their value. It’s hard for them to believe in genuine caring, and when it does come their way, they are suspicious of it.

Of course, self-acceptance (or lack thereof) does not exist in a vacuum — it actually has profound effects on your physical and psychological health. For that reason, it is worth understanding what these effects are, and what you can do about it.
The emotional and physical consequences of low self-acceptance:-

Without self-acceptance, your psychological well-being can suffer, and often, beneficial interventions are less helpful for you than for others with higher self-acceptance.

For example, practicing mindfulness can help many people reduce the impact of stress. But when you cannot accept yourself, it becomes less effective. Also, if you have a physical illness such as rheumatoid arthritis, not accepting yourself can make you more anxious about your body. In this context, your automatic negative thoughts increase.

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition, if you feel negatively about yourself, the brain regions that help you control emotions and stress have less gray matter than someone with a greater degree of self-acceptance — that is, these regions actually have less tissue to “work with.” This lack of gray matter may also appear in regions of the brainstem that process stress and anxiety. Stress signals from these latter regions, in turn, disrupt the emotional control regions. So, poor self-acceptance may disrupt emotional control in two ways: directly, by disrupting the brain regions that control it, and also indirectly, by increasing stress signals in your brain that subsequently disrupt these regions.
How to bolster your self-acceptance:-

There are three ways to increase self-acceptance:

1.self-regulation
2.self-awareness
3.self-transcendence.

Self-regulation involves suppressing negative emotions such as self-hatred, refocusing on the positive aspects of yourself, and reframing negative situations so that you see the opportunities in them. For example, looking for ways in which negative criticism can help you grow constitutes reframing.

However, self-control may be less powerful than we think. The lack of self-acceptance can be deeply unconscious — that is, it can exist at a level beyond our conscious control. Also, when you do not accept or forgive yourself, “you” are still split from “yourself” — you do not feel “together.” Both of these parts — the one that needs to forgive, and the one that needs to be forgiven — are at odds with each other. In this situation, self-transcendence can be helpful.

When you are “self-transcendent,” you rely less on things outside of yourself to define you. Instead, you turn to an unforced sense of connectedness with the world. You can achieve this by contributing to work, family, or the community at large. The goal is to seek unity with some system in a way that is heartfelt and authentic. Any of the methods I’ve described in this post may also contribute to self-transcendence.

Fortunately, just like self-acceptance, self-transcendence also engenders physical changes in the brain. It has been associated with increased serotonin transporter availability in the brainstem. As mentioned earlier, this same region impacts self-acceptance. Transcendental meditation is another potential tool to consider for self-transcendence. It decreases cortisol and reduces your stress response.

Meditation as a path to self-acceptance:-

Self-acceptance can also be achieved by two other kinds of meditation: mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation.

Mindful attention to emotions involves not “judging,” but observing, your emotions when they arise. This can lower your brain’s emotional response to anxiety and distress. It effectively “calms down” your amygdala.

Having more compassion toward yourself appears to be helpful in increasing self-acceptance. Loving-kindness meditation can help you achieve this state by changing the activity in regions of the brain that perceive and process emotions. For example, people previously numb to praise may be able to become more accepting of it. It is also associated with greater connectivity within the brain. This makes sense, as lack of self-acceptance has been associated with excessive right-hemisphere activity in the brain. Loving-kindness meditation provides a potential way to correct this imbalance.

Find the ways to self-acceptance that work:-

 Not all of these methods work for everyone. And while double-blind placebo-controlled trials remain the scientific gold standard to assess whether each intervention “works,” they are limited too. They tell us little about what will work for an individual — an individual is, by definition, uniquely different from everyone, including study participants. So, it is most important to do what works for you. Self-acceptance is key to a healthy emotional and psychological life. Start exploring what works for you today.

Resources: Copied from Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Medical School

HOW TO KEEP MEMORY SHARP

By age 60, more than half of adults have concerns about their memory. However, minor memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a serious problem, such as Alzheimer’s disease, but rather the result of normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. This report describes these normal age-related changes and other more serious causes of memory loss — and how to distinguish between them.

The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall.Always negative thinking against an agenda is the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one.Positive thinking, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.

2. Get a good night’s sleep. People who don’t sleep well at night tend to be more forgetful than people who sleep soundly. A good night’s sleep is essential for consolidating memories. The most common reason for poor sleep is insomnia — difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Unfortunately, many medicines used to treat insomnia can also impair memory and general brain function. That’s why it’s best to try improving your sleep habits first and turn to medication only if those steps don’t help. If you do need sleep aids, use the lowest dose for the shortest time needed to get your sleep back on track.

3. If you smoke, quit. Easier said than done, certainly — but if you need additional motivation, know that smokers have a greater degree of age-related memory loss and other memory problems than nonsmokers. People who smoke more than two packs of cigarettes a day at midlife have more than double the risk of developing dementia in old age compared with nonsmokers. However, those who stop smoking by midlife and those who smoke less than half a pack a day have a similar a risk of dementia as people who have never smoked.

4. If you drink alcohol, do so moderately. Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk for memory loss and dementia. People with alcoholism have difficulty performing short-term memory tasks, such as memorizing lists. Another type of memory loss associated with alcohol use is called Korsakoff’s syndrome. In this condition, long-term vitamin B1 deficiency, combined with the toxic effects of alcohol on the brain, can trigger sudden and dramatic amnesia. In some cases this memory loss is permanent, but if caught early, it can be reversed to some degree.

5. Protect your brain from injury. Head trauma is a major cause of memory loss and increases the risk of developing dementia. Always use the appropriate gear during high-speed activities and contact sports. Wear a helmet when bicycling, riding on a motorcycle, in-line skating, and skiing. Wear seat belts when riding in motor vehicles. Car accidents are by far the most common cause of brain injury, and wearing a seat belt greatly reduces the chances of severe head injury.

Source: Advice from Harvard Medical School

Hunger for Air

Breathing is an involuntary action, coordinated by respiratory centres deep in the brain. It is not really possible to die by voluntarily holding one’s breath, as without practice and training, apnoea (not breathing) cannot be sustained for more than 1-2 minutes. This is because “breath holding” results in accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood and a drop in the blood pH. The respiratory centre in the brain is automatically stimulated. Breathing sets in.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Sleep apnoea (cessation of breathing during sleep) can occur in adults, usually middle-aged overweight males with a thick neck. It can occur in all ages and both sexes, especially if the tonsils or adenoids are enlarged, there is a deviated nasal septum or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). Sleep apnoea can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and daytime drowsiness. Academic performance and decision making at work can suffer. There may be daytime lapses in concentration, which can cause accidents.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Mild cases of sleep apnoea respond to weight loss and exercise. Severe cases may require CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure), or surgery.

Reactive Airways Disease or name bronchial asthma is a condition where the smaller airways in the lungs constrict when exposed to many triggers. These may be a viral or bacterial infection, pollen, food, or odours in the air. As the breathing pipes become smaller, the outflow of air is obstructed and there is whistling sound with each breath. The person may start coughing vigorously or panic as they feel the air supply is being cut off.

This can be tackled with nebulisers, inhalers and rotahalers. These devices deliver dilating medication directly to the breathing pipes. The effect is almost instantaneous and there are practically no side effects.

Our airways are designed to filter out dust and other harmful particles. Unfortunately our inbuilt air purification system can only filter out particles of 2·5 µm (PM2 ) in diameter. The smaller – found around us both indoors and out – can enter the lungs. Indoor pollution comes from the use of solid fuels, such as coal, wood, or charcoal (even when it is only used to heat water), burning rubbish and waste, particularly plastic. Cigarette smoke harms the smoker and the polluting particles secondarily affect others in the environment. Agarbattis release many polluting chemicals as do mosquito repelling coils, mats and liquids.

Industrialisation and urbanisation have? resulted in fossil fuels being used in factories and for transport. Smoke from factories is sent high into the sky through industrial chimneys, but that just means that the particles spread over a wider area. The petrol and diesel vehicles on the road also emit particulate material and harmful gases. Seven million deaths occur annually because of air pollution alone. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable. Constant exposure to a polluted environment affects long-term growth and cognitive ability in children. If we keep polluting the environment like this, our IQ levels will be affected.
Eventually, constant exposure to pollutants over many years can also result in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) with breathlessness with the slightest activity. This too is treated with nebulisers and inhalers.

• We all breathe but this does not mean we breathe correctly. Lungs need regular breathing exercises and correction of faulty breathing techniques. Yoga corrects the technique.

• Exercise early in morning when pollution is less or indoors in a gym.

• Keep indoor plants in your home. They reduce particulate matter and pollutants.

Source: The Telegraph (India, Kolkata)