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Healthy Tips

Probiotics Protect You from Gut Parasites

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The gut health boosting effects of probiotics may also extend to preventing and eradicating parasitic infections.
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Scientists studying Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, found that bacteria present in the human gut help stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms.

Probiotics may occupy space in the intestine and thus reduce or prevent potentially pathogenic bacteria attaching to the intestinal wall.

Source: NutraIngredients.com August 20, 2009

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Positive thinking

Train That Brain

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The negative effect of poverty on the intellectual level of children can be reversed.

It may be a politically incorrect question to ask, but the answer may have profound implications for socio-economic development. How well can children from poor or uneducated families do in life? One could make the question even more incorrect, but at the least, equally relevant: what is the influence of children’s family backgrounds on their subsequent mental development? Research in the last few years has provided partial answers to the question, and they are deeply disturbing.

It now turns out that a child’s brain develops according to the stimulus it receives at home.
If you do not provide complex inputs, you do not get complex brains.

To give one example, the more sophisticated the language used at home, the better the chances of good brain development in the first 10 years of a child’s life.

To put it bluntly, if the parents are uneducated, the children can often end up with deficient brains by the age of 10, compared with children from more educated families. Is this the reason why poverty runs in many families through generations?

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, are conducting a set of experiments to understand the real nature of the problem. They put cameras in the dining rooms of families — rich and poor — to monitor dinner time conversation. They got children to their labs and tried to give them tasks and measure the brain response. Their initial finding: the brains of children from poor families often resemble that of stroke victims by the age of 10.

Research in other labs around the world corroborates this finding, while also providing explanations as well as solutions to the problem. Parents in poor families do not talk much to their children. “We hope that parents in poor families will at least talk to their children more than they do,” says Mark Kishiyama, psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. But even if they do, their language is not complex enough. In fact, Adele Diamond, professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, has shown that children in poor families hear 30 million fewer words by the time they are four years old.

Those with low socio-economic status perform poorly in language tests and long-term memory tests. Martha Farah, director at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, showed such differences two years ago. Enrico Mezzacappa at the Children’s Hospital in Boston also showed three years ago that low income children perform poorly in speed and accuracy in some problems when compared with those from higher income families. While common sense can attribute these differences to a lack of education and opportunities, neuroscientists suspected that some of these disparities stemmed from differences in the brain. There is now substantial proof for the differences of brain development in children.

The problem is in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This area is in the front part of the brain, just behind the forehead. The prefrontal cortex is the seat of problem solving and creativity. A deficient prefrontal cortex makes you poor at complex tasks and problem solving. The experiment now being conducted at the University of California at Berkeley has already shown that poor children have deficient prefrontal cortex, thus substantiating the research of Martha Farah. But we also know the reasons, and other research provides us with a means of solving the problem.

It is not just the lack of intellectual stimulus that interferes with brain development. Poor children are usually under high stress, and it is known that high stress interferes with brain development, by producing chemicals that destroy neurons. Another important factor is pollution: they are exposed to a higher amount of pollutants — lead in water is an example — than children in richer families. All these factors combine to work against the brains of poor children. No wonder, then, that poor children are often not able to measure up to their richer counterparts if they manage to enter institutions of higher learning.

However, science also provides us with a solution to the problem.
“The differences in the brain of children can be reversed with proper training,” says Tom Boyce, a developmental psychobiologist at the University of British Columbia. Neuroscientists are now discovering that the brain remains plastic well into old age. For example, in experiments performed at the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have taken old rats — with only a few weeks to live — and made their brains look young purely by providing more inputs.

There is now a booming industry in the West called the brain improvement industry. Some of their products provide mental exercises with visual and auditory inputs that can improve the brain even in old age. We can thus train young brains to be on a par with those of children from more privileged backgrounds, provided we recognise the problem first.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Featured

How to Live Till a 100

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Want to live till 100 years of age? Well, do regular exercises, be married, wash hands and brush your teeth everyday.

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That’s what a new book, ‘The Long Life Equation’, by Dr Trisha Macnair suggests. In the book, the author has listed activities that add years to your life.

Macnair said washing your hands adds two years, and good dental hygiene can add six more years in your life.

But smoking, fast food, no exercise and a stressful life can strip away 20 years.

“There’s no doubt younger people take life and health for granted – more than any generation before, they idle time away watching TV or playing computer games, ignoring the activities that keep them healthy or develop meaning in their lives,” Courier Mail quoted Macnair, as saying.

“As we get older and start to feel the years slipping away, we suddenly realise how precious it is.

“But by then we may have already established habits (smoking, drinking, obesity, lack of exercise, stressful occupations) which take their toll and are difficult to reverse.

“Still, it’s never too late to change. Also, our attitudes to older age are changing so there is more freedom now to do things later in life if we are healthy and able,” she added.

A 2006 study from University of California in Los Angeles showed that men and women live healthier, wealthier, happier and longer lives when they are in a stable partnership

The study confirmed that married couples were more likely to live to an old age than their divorced, widowed or unmarried counterparts.

A stable partnership can actually add on seven years to life.

Regular exercise also adds as much as two or more years to your life.

A Harvard Alumni Study, which took into account more than 71,000 men who had graduated from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania between 1916 and 1954, found that those men who regularly burned 8400kJ a week while exercising lived, on average, two years longer than sedentary types.

But cigarette smoking can actually reduce 8 years from your life

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, many of which are highly toxic.

A divorce can also strip away 3 years from your life, as it takes longer-lasting, emotional and physical toll on former spouses than virtually any other life stress.

Recent studies indicate that divorced adults have higher rates of emotional disturbance, accidental death and death from heart disease.

The divorced also have higher rates of admission to psychiatric facilities and make more visits to doctors than people who are married, single or widowed.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Contact Dermatitis

As its name implies, contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin caused by contact with a specific substance. there are two types: irritant contact dermatitis, which is caused by primary irritants (substances, such as bleach, that harm anyone’s skin); and allergic contact dermatitis, which occurs when a person comes in contact with a particular substance to which he or she has developed a sensitivity over time.

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substances that commonly trigger irritation or allergic reactions include some cosmetics; the nickel contained in jewelry, buttons, earrings for pierced ears, or watch straps; certain chemicals; drugs in skin creams; and plants, such as poison ivy or ragweed.

It is a term for a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens (allergic contact dermatitis) or irritants (irritant contact dermatitis). Phototoxic dermatitis occurs when the allergen or irritant is activated by sunlight.

Contact dermatitis is a localized rash or irritation of the skin caused by contact with a foreign substance. Only the superficial regions of the skin are affected in contact dermatitis. Inflammation of the affected tissue is present in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) and the outer dermis (the layer beneath the epidermis).[1] Unlike contact urticaria, in which a rash appears within minutes of exposure and fades away within minutes to hours, contact dermatitis takes days to fade away. Even then, contact dermatitis fades only if the skin no longer comes in contact with the allergen or irritant. Contact dermatitis results in large, burning, and itchy rashes, and these can take anywhere from several days to weeks to heal. Chronic contact dermatitis can develop when the removal of the offending agent no longer provides expected relief.

Types of contact dermatitis
There are three types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact, allergic contact, and photocontact dermatitis. Photocontact dermatitis is divided into two categories: phototoxic and photoallergic.

Chemical irritant contact dermatitis
is either acute or chronic, which is usually associated with strong and weak irritants respectively (HSE MS24). The following definition is provided by Mathias and Maibach (1978): a nonimmunologic local inflammatory reaction characterized by erythema, edema, or corrosion following single or repeated application of a chemical substance to an identical cutaneous site.

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The mechanism of action varies between toxins. Detergents, surfactants, extremes of pH, and organic solvents all have the common effect of directly affecting the barrier properties of the epidermis. These effects include removing fat emulsion, inflicting cellular damage on the epithelium, and increasing the transepidermal water loss by damaging the horny layer water-binding mechanisms and damaging the DNA, which causes the layer to thin. Strong concentrations of irritants cause an acute effect, but this is not as common as the accumulative, chronic effect of irritants whose deleterious effects build up with subsequent doses (ESCD 2006).

Common chemical irritants implicated include solvents (alcohol, xylene, turpentine, esters, acetone, ketones, and others); metalworking fluids (neat oils, water-based metalworking fluids with surfactants); latex; kerosene; ethylene oxide; surfactants in topical medications and cosmetics (sodium lauryl sulfate); alkalies (drain cleaners, strong soap with lye residues).

Physical irritant contact dermatitis
is a less researched form of ICD (Maurice-Jones et al) due to its various mechanisms of action and a lack of a test for its diagnosis. A complete patient history combined with negative allergic patch testing is usually necessary to reach a correct diagnosis. The simplest form of PICD results from prolonged rubbing, although the diversity of implicated irritants is far wider.[citation needed] Examples include paper friction, fiberglass, and scratchy clothing.

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Many plants cause ICD by directly irritating the skin. Some plants act through their spines or irritant hairs. Some plant such as the buttercup, spurge, and daisy act by chemical means. The sap of these plants contains a number of alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, anthraquinones, and (in the case of plant bulbs) irritant calcium oxalate crystals – all of which can cause CICD (Mantle and Lennard, 2001).

Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This condition is the manifestation of an allergic response caused by contact with a substance. A list of common allergens is shown in Table 1 (Kucenic and Belsito, 2002).

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Although less common than ICD, ACD is accepted to be the most prevalent form of immunotoxicity found in humans (Kimble et al 2002). By its allergic nature, this form of contact dermatitis is a hypersensitive reaction that is atypical within the population. The mechanisms by which these reactions occur are complex, with many levels of fine control. Their immunology centres around the interaction of immunoregulatory cytokines and discrete subpopulations of T lymphocytes.

ACD arises as a result of two essential stages: an induction phase, which primes and sensitizes the immune system for an allergic response, and an elicitation phase, in which this response is triggered (Kimble et al 2002). As such, ACD is termed a Type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction involving a cell-mediated allergic response. Contact allergens are essentially soluble haptens (low in molecular weight) and, as such, have the physico-chemical properties that allow them to cross the stratum corneum of the skin. They can only cause their response as part of a complete antigen, involving their association with epidermal proteins forming hapten-protein conjugates. This, in turn, requires them to be protein-reactive.

The conjugate formed is then recognized as a foreign body by the Langerhans cells (LCs) (and in some cases Dendritic cells (DCs)), which then internalize the protein; transport it via the lymphatic system to the regional lymph nodes; and present the antigen to T-lymphocytes. This process is controlled by cytokines and chemokines – with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and certain members of the interleukin family (1, 13 and 18) – and their action serves either to promote or to inhibit the mobilization and migration of these LCs. (Kimble et al 2002) As the LCs are transported to the lymph nodes, they become differentiated and transform into DCs, which are immunostimulatory in nature.

Once within the lymph glands, the differentiated DCs present the allergenic epitope associated with the allergen to T lymphocytes. These T cells then divide and differentiate, clonally multiplying so that if the allergen is experienced again by the individual, these T cells will respond more quickly and more aggressively.

Kimbe et al (2002) explore the complexities of ACD’s immunological reaction in short: It appears that there are two major phenotypes of cytokine production (although there exists a gradient of subsets in between), and these are termed T-helper 1 and 2 (Th1 and Th2). Although these cells initially differentiate from a common stem cell, they develop with time as the immune system matures. Th1 phenotypes are characterised by their focus on Interleukin and Interferon, while Th2 cells action is centred more around the regulation of IgE by cytokines. The CD4 and CD8 T lymphocyte subsets also have been found to contribute to differential cytokine regulation, with CD4 having been shown to produce high levels of IL-4 and IL10 while solely CD8 cells are associated with low levels of IFN?. These two cell subtypes are also closely associated with the cell matrix interactions essential for the pathogenesis of ACD.

White et al have suggested that there appears to be a threshold to the mechanisms of allergic sensitisation by ACD-associated allergens (1986). [10] This is thought to be linked to the level at which the toxin induces the up-regulation of the required mandatory cytokines and chemokines. It has also been proposed that the vehicle in which the allergen reaches the skin could take some responsibility in the sensitisation of the epidermis by both assisting the percutaneous penetration and causing some form of trauma and mobilization of cytokines itself.

Common allergens implicated include the following:

Nickel (nickel sulfate hexahydrate) – metal frequently encountered in jewelry and clasps or buttons on clothing
Gold (gold sodium thiosulfate) – precious metal often found in jewelry
Balsam of Peru (Myroxylon pereirae) – a fragrance used in perfumes and skin lotions, derived from tree resin (see also Tolu balsam)
Thimerosal – a mercury compound used in local antiseptics and in vaccines
Neomycin – a topical antibiotic common in first aid creams and ointments, cosmetics, deodorant, soap and pet food
Fragrance mix – a group of the eight most common fragrance allergens found in foods, cosmetic products, insecticides, antiseptics, soaps, perfumes and dental products
Formaldehyde – a preservative with multiple uses, e.g., in paper products, paints, medications, household cleaners, cosmetic products and fabric finishes
Cobalt chloride – metal found in medical products; hair dye; antiperspirant; metal-plated objects such as snaps, buttons or tools; and in cobalt blue pigment
Bacitracin – a topical antibiotic
Quaternium-15 – preservative in cosmetic products (self-tanners, shampoo, nail polish, sunscreen) and in industrial products (polishes, paints and waxes).

Photocontact Dermatitis
Sometimes termed “photoaggravated”(Bourke et al 2001)[13], and divided into two categories, phototoxic and photoallergic, PCD is the eczematous condition which is triggered by an interaction between an otherwise unharmful or less harmful substance on the skin and ultraviolet light (320-400nm UVA) (ESCD 2006), therefore manifesting itself only in regions where the sufferer has been exposed to such rays. Without the presence of these rays, the photosensitiser is not harmful. For this reason, this form of contact dermatitis is usually associated only with areas of skin which are left uncovered by clothing. The mechanism of action varies from toxin to toxin, but is usually due to the production of a photoproduct. Toxins which are associated with PCD include the psoralens. Psoralens are in fact used therapeutically for the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo.

Photocontact dermatitis is another condition where the distinction between forms of contact dermatitis is not clear cut. Immunological mechanisms can also play a part, causing a response similar to ACD.

 

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Symptoms:
Contact dermatitis usually affects the area that has been in direct contact with the substance that triggered the reaction. In irritant contact dermatitis, the skin inflammation develops soon after contact with the substance. the severity of the resulting rash depends both on the concentration of the irritant and on the duration of exposure.

Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops slowly over a period of time, and it is possible to have contact with a substance for several years without any skin inflammation occurring. however, once your skin has become sensitive to the substance, even a small amount of it, or a short exposure time, can trigger an allergic reaction.

In either form of contact dermatitis, the symptoms may include:

* Redness and swelling of the skin.This is the usual reaction. The rash appears immediately in irritant contact dermatitis; in allergic contact dermatitis, the rash sometimes does not appear until 24-72 hours after exposure to the allergen.

* water- or pus-filled blisters that may ooze, drain, or become encrusted. Blisters, welts, and hives often form in a pattern where skin was directly exposed to the allergen or irritant.

* flaking skin, which may develop into raw patches.

* persistent itching…..Itchy, burning skin. Irritant contact dermatitis tends to be more painful than itchy, while allergic contact dermatitis often itches.

While either form of contact dermatitis can affect any part of the body, irritant contact dermatitis often affects the hands, which have been exposed by resting in or dipping into a container (sink, pail, tub) containing the irritant.


Causes:

In North/South America, the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are plants of the Toxicodendron genus: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Common causes of irritant contact dermatitis are harsh (highly alkaline) soaps, nickel, detergents, and cleaning products and rubbers.

Treatment:

Self-care at Home
Immediately after exposure to a known allergen or irritant, wash with soap and cool water to remove or inactivate most of the offending substance.
– Weak acid solutions [lemon juice, vinegar] can be used to counteract the effects of dermatitis contracted by exposure to basic irritants [phenol etc.].

If blistering develops, cold moist compresses applied for 30 minutes 3 times a day can offer relief.
Calamine lotion and cool colloidal oatmeal baths may relieve itching.
Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Ben-Allergin) can also relieve itching.
For mild cases that cover a relatively small area, hydrocortisone cream in nonprescription strength may be sufficient.
Avoid scratching, as this can cause secondary infections.

What might be done?
Your doctor will want to know when the skin inflammation developed and whether you have any known allergies. the site of the reaction is often a clue to its cause. For example, a patch of dermatitis on the wrist may be caused by an allergic to nickel in a watch or watch strap. people who handle chemicals at work often develop irritant or allergic contact dermatitis on their hands.

Your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to relieve itching and inflammation. however, even with treatment, contact dermatitis may take a few weeks to clear up.

If you handle chemicals at work, it is particularly important to find the cause of your skin allergy. If the cause cannot easily be identified, you may need to have patch testing.

Once the trigger has been identifies, you should avoid it as much as possible. If you cannot do so, you may need to use creams, protective clothing, or gloves whenever you come into contact with the trigger.

Medical Care
If the rash does not improve or continues to spread after 2-3 of days of self-care, or if the itching and/or pain is severe, the patient should contact a dermatologist or other physician. Medical treatment usually consists of lotions, creams, or oral medications.

Corticosteroids. A corticosteroid medication similar to hydrocortisone may be prescribed to combat inflammation in a localized area. This medication may be applied to your skin as a cream or ointment. If the reaction covers a relatively large portion of the skin or is severe, a corticosteroid in pill or injection form may be prescribed.
Antihistamines. Prescription antihistamines may be given if nonprescription strengths are inadequate.

Prevention
Since contact dermatitis relies on an irritant or an allergen to initiate the reaction, it is important for the patient to identify the responsible agent and avoid it. This can be accomplished by having patch tests, a method commonly known as allergy testing. The patient must know where the irritant or allergen is found to be able to avoid it. It is important to also note that chemicals sometimes have several different names.

Summary
The distinction between the various types of contact dermatitis is based on a number of factors. The morphology of the tissues, the histology, and immunologic findings are all used in diagnosis of the form of the condition. However, as suggested previously, there is some confusion in the distinction of the different forms of contact dermatitis (Reitschel 1997). Using histology on its own is insufficient, as these findings have been acknowledged not to distinguish (Rietschel, 1997), and even positive patch testing does not rule out the existence of an irritant form of dermatitis as well as an immunological one. It is important to remember, therefore, that the distinction between the types of contact dermatitis is often blurred, with, for example, certain immunological mechanisms also being involved in a case of irritant contact dermatitis.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_dermatitis
http://www.charak.com/DiseasePage.asp?thx=1&id=149

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Healthy Tips

Heart Disease Risk Factor Is Depression

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The power of your mind over your heart.
In one of the strongest indications of the power of the mind to influence the body, a growing collection of evidence finds that people who are depressed have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease…..click & see

In a study of almost 3,000 men and 5,000 women, depressed men were 70 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who weren’t depressed. While depressed women were just 12 percent more likely to develop heart disease overall, those who were severely depressed were 78 percent more likely. In fact, a 1998 study found that women who are depressed have a risk of dying from heart disease equal to that of women who smoke or who have high blood pressure.

The link works the other way around, too: While about 1 in 20 American adults experience major depression in a given year, that number jumps to about one in three among those who have survived a heart attack.

The more severe the depression, the more dangerous it is to your health. But some studies suggest that even mild depression, including feelings of hopelessness experienced over many years, may damage the heart. Other studies suggest depression may affect how well heart disease medications work.

Researchers aren’t sure what the connection between depression and heart disease is, but theories abound. One is that people who are depressed tend not to take very good care of themselves. They’re more likely to eat high-fat, high-calorie “comfort” foods, less likely to exercise, and more likely to smoke. But beyond lifestyle, there is probably also a physiological link between depression and heart disease. Recent studies found that people with severe depression tended to have a deficiency of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. People who are depressed also often have chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. These keep the body primed for fight or flight, raising blood pressure and prompting the heart to beat faster, all of which put additional stress on coronary arteries and interfere with the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

A whole branch of medicine is devoted to the complex links between mental health, the nervous system, the hormone system, and the immune system. Called psychoneuroimmunology, this science is gradually sorting out how the mind-body connection affects our vulnerability to, or defense against, heart disease.

Overall, an estimated 10 percent of American adults experience some form of depression every year. Although available therapies can alleviate symptoms in more than 80 percent of people treated, less than half of those with depression get the help they need.

Quick Tips:

Get regular, moderate exercise
. A 1999 study conducted at the Duke University School of Medicine found that exercising 30 minutes a day, three days a week, was just as beneficial in treating depression as medication alone.

Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from food and fish-oil supplements).

Take B vitamins,
which are beneficial in preventing depression.

Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates. These foods help increase serotonin levels, a brain chemical that relieves a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

From : Cut Your Cholesterol