Tag Archives: Black people

Breast-feeding protects from arthritis

Mothers who breast feed their babies for longer periods are likely to have a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues, a new study suggests.

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While previous studies have suggested that hormonal factors play a part in the development of RA, the new study found that breast feeding for 13 or more months was associated with a reduced risk of developing RA compared to women who had never breast fed.

The longer the breast feeding period, the lower the mother’s risk of developing RA in later life, according to the new data presented at EULAR 2007, the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona, Spain.

The latest study was conducted using the data from a community-based health study in Spain between 1991 and 1996, comparing health information from 136 women, reported health portal Medical News Today .

Comparable use of oral contraceptives (OCs) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) did not show a significant effect on the risk of developing RA, it said.

“This study specifically highlights the potential of naturally-induced hormones in protecting individuals from developing RA in the future,” said lead researcher Mitra Keshavarz, of Malmö Hospital University, Sweden.

“It further adds to the growing body of evidence in favour of breast feeding and its positive health implications this time demonstrating its protective benefits for the mother,” he added.

Studies in the past have shown that breast milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants and protect them from illness. Breast-fed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhoea, rashes, allergies and other medical problems than bottle-fed babies.

Breast-feeding not only helps the child against various diseases but benefits the mother as well. Previous studies have shown that it can lower a mother’s risk of getting cancer.

Source:The Times Of India

How to Help a Depressed Loved One

Don’t tell him to “snap out of it.” There are better ways to deal with depression.
The most important thing you can do for a family member or friend who is depressed is to help him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging him or her to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks), or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require making an appointment and accompanying your loved one to the doctor. It may also mean monitoring whether he is taking medication. Encourage your friend to obey the doctor’s orders about the use of alcoholic products while on medication.

The second most important thing is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Report them to your friend’s therapist. Invite your friend for walks, outings, to the movies, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave the person pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, religious or cultural activities, but do not push him to undertake too much too soon. Your friend or family member needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.

Do not accuse your friend of faking illness or of laziness, or expect her “to snap out of it.” Eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring her that, with time and help, she will feel better.

Where to Get Help:
If you’re unsure where to go for help, check the Yellow Pages under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “suicide prevention,” “crisis intervention services,” “hotlines,” “hospitals,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. You can also search the websites listed under “Related Links.” People and places that will make referrals to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services include: family doctors, community mental health centers, hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics, university- or medical school-affiliated programs, family service or social agencies, employee assistance programs, and local medical and/or psychiatric societies. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.

From: The National Institute of Mental Health

Heart-Healthy Advice You Need

Whether you’re at high risk for heart trouble or you’re trying to control early-stage heart disease, here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make.

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Exersise and Eat Right.
Simple lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of heart disease. If you’re at high risk or you’re trying to control early-stage heart disease, here are some important preventive steps — involving diet, exercise, medical options, supplements and lifestyle — you can take.
Diet
Think international. People who eat a traditional Mediterranean or Asian diet appear to have lower rates of heart disease than those who eat a typical American diet. Incorporate elements of these diets into your healthy eating plan.

Eat heart-smart foods. Choose foods that can reduce cholesterol and improve heart health, such as fruits (apples, avocados, dried fruits, grapefruit, oranges, strawberries), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, corn, lima beans, onions), seafood (clams, mussels, oysters), fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon and bluefish), soy, nuts and whole-grain breads and cereals.

Cut the fat. To keep your cholesterol level down, limit the amount of fat you eat, especially saturated fat. Your total fat intake should be no more than 30% of your daily calories. Focus on low-fat alternatives to red meat, such as fish or skinless chicken or turkey. Eating fish several times a week can cut your risk of heart attack by as much as half. Lower your intake of dairy fats by switching to low-fat or skim varieties. Or try soy milk — soy protein can lower cholesterol.
Spice it up. If you have high blood pressure, cut your sodium intake. In fact, researchers now think that even people whose blood pressure is within normal range should cut back on sodium. Avoid processed foods, which contain a lot of sodium, and ease up on salt at mealtime. But don’t settle for bland fare. Add flavor with salsa, curry, peppers, or garlic. Eating one to three cloves of garlic a day has been shown to reduce blood pressure and possibly lower cholesterol.

Add rough stuff. Soluble fiber — plentiful in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains — prevents arterial plaque buildup. Studies show that eating three or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by 25% or more. In one study, eating cooked dried beans daily lowered LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, by 20% in just three weeks. Other research showed that a diet high in whole grains can cut a woman’s risk of dying from heart disease by up to 15%. And dozens of studies confirm that eating oats has a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Seeing red. Drinking alcohol in moderation raises HDL, or “good,” cholesterol and “thins” the blood, reducing the likelihood of clots that can cause heart attack and stroke. Red wine offers additional benefits. Its dark pigments are rich in bioflavonoids that prevent the oxidation of LDL, making it less likely to stick to artery walls. Research showed that people who drank two 8-ounce glasses of red wine a day were 40% less likely to have a heart attack than those who didn’t imbibe. But don’t overdo it — too much alcohol raises your triglyceride level (and high triglyceride levels are linked to coronary artery disease and untreated diabetes in some people). And if you have an alcohol problem, the harm far outweighs any potential benefit. Other good sources of bioflavonoids: black and green tea, onions, kale and apples.

Exercise
Work your heart. The best preventive medicine for your heart is aerobic exercise. It reduces high blood pressure and atherosclerosis by widening the blood vessels. Plus, it raises “good” cholesterol levels. Choose an activity that works the large muscles of your legs and buttocks (like brisk walking or bicycling), and strive to reach your target heart rate for at least 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a week.

An (up)lifting idea. An American Heart Association (AHA) survey found that lifting weights a few times a week can improve heart health in some people. That’s because stronger muscles can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Having more muscle tissue also raises your metabolism, which helps control your weight. But don’t skip the brisk walk. The AHA recommends pumping iron in addition to aerobic exercise.

Be flexible. Flexibility exercises like yoga not only help keep your joints limber but also help cut the production of stress hormones that can contribute to heart disease.

Evaluate Your Heart Health
Medical Options
Schedule a checkup. Until age 65, you should have your blood pressure checked at least every other year. At age 65, you should have it checked at least annually. Most doctors also recommend a yearly cholesterol screening if you have high cholesterol or other heart-disease risk factors. Your doctor may also recommend electrocardiography (an ECG) to evaluate your heart health. While you’re there, ask about a simple blood test for a substance called C-reactive protein. According to Harvard researchers studying 28,000 healthy women, this test helped predict heart attack risk better than cholesterol tests.
An aspirin a day? People with existing heart disease may benefit from low-dose aspirin therapy, which may prevent heart attacks. The dosage ranges from part of an aspirin (80 mg) to one aspirin (325 mg) daily. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

Depressurize. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease. If diet and exercise can’t control it, blood-pressure medication can help.

Deal with diabetes. People with diabetes, most of whom are adults with the type 2 form of the disease, are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or stroke. Controlling the disease is often just a matter of losing extra pounds, exercising regularly and following a heart-healthy diet.
Don’t ignore depression. One study found that depressed people were 1.7 times more likely to develop heart disease and that depressed men were nearly three times as likely to die from it. See your doctor for help.

Supplements
Consider folate and vitamin B6. These vitamins lower elevated levels of homocysteine, a substance in the blood that may raise your risk of heart disease. A daily intake of more than 400 mcg of folate and 3 mg of B6 appears to reduce the risk of heart disease in women.

Go fish. Fish oil capsules contain omega-3 fatty acids, which act as anticlotting agents. Check with your doctor before taking them to avoid interactions with other medications.
Get garlic. Garlic capsules offer the health benefits of garlic without odor. Choose pills that supply 4000 mcg of allicin and take 400 to 600 mg a day.

Lifestyle
Rein in your rage. Don’t get mad — it’s bad for your heart. A study of nearly 13,000 people found that those who were quick to anger were almost three times more likely to have heart attacks than their cooler-headed peers.

Stay trim. Being even slightly overweight can increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk for heart disease. Follow a heart-smart diet and make exercise a priority.
No ifs, ands, or butts. According to the American Heart Association, you can cut your risk of death related to heart disease by 50% by kicking the smoking habit. After three smoke-free years, your risk of heart disease is the same as that of a lifelong nonsmoker.

Time out. Minimize stress, a risk factor for heart disease. Try meditation or visualization or yoga. Prayer may also help. Take brisk walks with a friend; your conversation may add extra stress relief.
Getting away is good for your heart. Researchers found that men between ages 35 and 57 who took a yearly vacation were one-third less likely to die from heart disease than their stay-at-work colleagues.

Source  :Readers Digest

Reduce Sodium Intake, Reduce Heart Disease

Almost everything we eat contains at least a little sodium, although many foods, especially  the processed variety, contain way too much. Our bodies only need about 500 milligrams (mg)of sodium a day; although current dietary recommendations allow for 2,000 to 4,000 mg (1-2 teaspoons of salt), statistics show that the average adult consumes almost double that amount on a daily basis.

Limiting your sodium intake can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, especially if you are overweight, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.Researchers estimated dietary sodium intake in 2,688 overweight subjects and 6,797 nonoverweight subjects, then assessed the incidence of and/or death from cardiovascular disease over 19 years of follow-up.

Results: Among overweight participants, a relatively small increase in sodium intake was
associated with substantial increases in disease risk: a 32% higher risk of stroke; a 44%
higher risk of heart disease; a 61% higher risk of death from heart disease; and a 39%
higher risk of death from all causes. Dietary sodium intake was not significantly associated
with cardiovascular disease risk in nonoverweight participants.

If you already have high blood pressure or a developing heart condition, restricting your
sodium intake is even more imperative. Your doctor can give you more information on sodium and provide nutritional guidelines suitable to your specific needs.

Source:ChiroFind.com