Monday, November 22, 2010

Before you Buy Vitamins – Do You Know What’s Essential?

Let’s talk about essentials. We’ve all heard that vitamins are important and necessary, but let’s talk science for a moment. If you are looking to buy vitamins, you may want to consider what vitamins or vitamin supplements are going to have the greatest positive impact on your health. Let’s start with the essentials. An essential nutrient is one that your body needs, but it can’t make it by itself. Therefore, it is essential that you obtain these vitamins from your diet. Different species require different essential nutrients. You must be careful though, because many essential vitamins are toxic if taken in too large a dose, while some can be taken without any harm. While essential nutrients can be vitamins, they can also be essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, and other essential minerals.

Let’s look at just the vitamins. This short guide will help you understand the 13 essential vitamins and will help you become an informed person as you buy vitamins in the future. So let’s begin with the essentials (vitamins):

B1 (Thiamine)
B2 (Riboflavin)
B3 (Niacin)
Folic Acid
Pantothenic Acid

Vitamins are grouped into two categories which are fat-soluble (in bold above) and water soluble vitamins. This is important to know because only fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body’s fatty tissue and used at a later time. The exception is Vitamin B12, which is water-soluble, but is able to be stored for several years by the liver.

So, we can get into more detail in future posts, but let’s recap what we’ve learned so far and how you can use this information to help you buy vitamins. In summary, our body needs essential nutrients to survive. Essential nutrients are those that cannot be produced by the body, so we must get them from our diet. There are 13 essential vitamins, of which some are fat-soluble and others are water soluble.

Have fun buying vitamins.

Hong Kong diagnoses first human bird flu case in 7 years

Hong Kong, China (CNN) -- The first human case of bird flu in seven years has been diagnosed in Hong Kong, health officials said Thursday, urging the public to take precautions.

A 59-year-old woman was hospitalized in serious condition after a trip to mainland China, the Hong Kong Department of Health said.

Her illness was diagnosed as influenza A (H5), a variant of bird flu. It was unclear where she had contracted the disease. She did not have any contact with live poultry and did not visit farms while in China, Hong Kong health officials said.

Her 60-year-old husband developed possible symptoms of bird flu, but has recovered.

Hong Kong health officials have stepped up surveillance by testing patients with severe pneumonia for bird flu. They also have launched a hotline to answer questions from the public, and are working with health officials in mainland China to monitor any occurrences.

Avian influenza does not normally infect species other than birds and pigs. But humans came down with bird flu in Hong Kong in 1997, with the H5N1 strain infecting 18 humans, six of whom died.

Then, people became infected after coming into close contact with live infected poultry. Genetic studies showed the virus had jumped from birds to humans, and caused severe illness with high mortality.

Hong Kong's entire poultry population, estimated at 1.5 million birds, was destroyed within three days. That is thought to have averted a pandemic.

When humans came down with H5N1 bird flu in Hong Kong in 1997, patients developed symptoms of fever, sore throat, cough and, in several of the fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia.

Antiviral drugs can be used to treat and prevent bird flu in humans, but it can take months to develop a vaccine in significant quantities for a new virus subtype, according to the World Health Organization.

All birds are thought to be susceptible to the avian influenza, though some species, such as wild ducks, are more resistant than others. Domesticated poultry, such as chickens or turkeys, are particularly susceptible.

Infection triggers a wide spectrum of symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness to a highly contagious and rapidly fatal disease resulting in epidemics. In severe cases, the flu is characterized by a sudden onset of severe illness, and rapid death, with a mortality that can approach 100 percent.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Is Health and Sports?

Being healthy and fit go hand in hand. And the best way to get fit is to start some kind of Sport and Health.

It’s best to give up smoking as it will improve your overall fitness.

It also helps if you watch what you eat and measure your BMI - Body Mass Index. Being obese can affect your health and cause stress on your body. The more sport you do the more muscle you will build.

Before you participate in sport it’s advisable to go and see your doctor to have a check-up. This is especially important if you haven’t exercise for a while. But one thing is for sure is that sport will improve your health and your fitness for all to see.

A great way to start with any sport is to do some aerobics training. This can be catered towards your personal fitness. It can be anything from walking, fast walking, skiing, swimming, rowing, running, tennis, cycling, gym etc. Your fitness will improve very quickly.

If you need to lose weight you’ll need to burn the calories. It’s important to do cardio for around 45 minutes. This is a very effective way to lose weight and become very fit. To see lasting results you need to do a sport 2 or 3 times a week.

Try various sports to find one that suits you and your lifestyle. As it’s important that you choose a sport that you enjoy otherwise it’s difficult to keep your fitness up and you won’t continue.

Well-Known Molecule May Be Behind Alcohol's Benefits to Heart Health

ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — Many studies support the assertion that moderate drinking is beneficial when it comes to cardiovascular health, and for the first time scientists have discovered that a well-known molecule, called Notch, may be behind alcohol's protective effects. Down the road, this finding could help scientists create a new treatment for heart disease that mimics the beneficial influence of modest alcohol consumption.

"Any understanding of a socially acceptable, modifiable activity that many people engage in, like drinking, is useful as we continue to search for new ways to improve health," said Eileen M. Redmond, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Basic and Translational Research Division, at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "If we can figure out at the basic science level how alcohol is beneficial it wouldn't translate to doctors prescribing people to drink, but hopefully will lead to the development of a new therapy for the millions of people with coronary heart disease."

Population studies looking at patterns of health and illness and associated factors have shown that heart disease and cardiac-related death is 20 to 40 percent lower in light to moderate drinkers, compared to people who don't drink. Redmond notes that even if the reduction is only 20 percent, that still translates to a considerable benefit that warrants further investigation to better understand how alcohol works its protective magic.

In the study, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, scientists found that alcohol at moderate levels of consumption -- generally considered one to three drinks per day -- inhibits Notch, and subsequently prevents the buildup of smooth muscle cells in blood vessels, which contributes to narrowing of the arteries and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In trying to uncover the molecular players involved when it comes to alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, Redmond and her team focused in on Notch because research has shown it influences the fate -- growth, migration or death -- of vascular smooth muscle cells. In blood vessels, the growth and movement of smooth muscle cells plays a key role in the development of atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries, and in restenosis, the re-narrowing of arteries after they have been treated to remove buildups of plaque: Both are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

The team studied the effects of moderate amounts of alcohol in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and in the carotid arteries of mice. In both scenarios, regular, limited amounts of alcohol decreased Notch, which in turn decreased the production and growth of smooth muscle cells, leaving vessels open and relatively free of blockages or build-up -- a desirable state for a healthy heart.

Specifically, in human smooth muscle cells, treatment with moderate levels of alcohol significantly decreased the expression of the Notch 1 receptor and inhibited Notch signaling, leading to decreased growth of smooth muscle cells. The inhibitory effect of moderate alcohol on smooth muscle cell growth was reversed if the Notch pathway was artificially switched on in these cells.

In a mouse model of vessel remodeling, daily feeding of alcohol -- equivalent to two drinks per day, adjusted for body weight -- inhibited Notch in the vessel wall and markedly reduced vessel thickening, compared to the control, no alcohol group. Vessel remodeling occurs when vessels change shape and thickness in response to different injurious stimuli.

"At the molecular level, this is the first time anyone has linked the benefits of moderate drinking on cardiovascular disease with Notch," said David Morrow, Ph.D., an instructor in the Department of Surgery at the Medical Center, first author of the study and an expert on Notch. "Now that we've identified Notch as a cell signaling pathway regulated by alcohol, we're going to delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of the process to try to find out exactly how alcohol inhibits Notch in smooth muscle cells."

Researchers admit that uncovering how alcohol inhibits Notch signaling in these cells will not be an easy task. According to Redmond, "The Notch pathway is complex, and there are multiple potential regulatory points which could be affected by alcohol."

In addition to Redmond and Morrow, co-authors on the study include John P. Cullen, Ph.D., and Weimin Liu, M.D., Ph.D., also in the Department of Surgery, Research Division at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Paul A. Cahill, Ph.D., at the Vascular Health Research Center, Dublin City University, Ireland. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Health club rules: No grunting allowed?

David Tam was well known in our corporate fitness center for his muscular physique and his vocal workouts.

You’d usually hear him near the end of a 45-minute session, when he’d forcefully grunt, growl or even yell “boom!” as he brought the weight bar to his chest.

In many ways, Tam, a software engineer, is the ideal gym member. He doesn't swear or hog the weights, he wipes down the equipment, he motivates others and he truly loves working out.

But the center is small; you could hear him scream during yoga class, in the locker room and at the front desk. When a manager asked him to tone it down a little, Tam grew frustrated and sent me a note. Here's part of it:

“I train hard. I know what I'm doing. I would like to think it shows,” he wrote. “I'm also 37. I feel as if I'm cheating chronological age by about a decade. I played sports in high school and I still love martial arts. I love working out and training - it's honestly fun for me. When I get in there with the same group of guys on a regular basis - we have a ball.

I understand that some people just don't get it; they think I’m showing off. Maybe they are intimidated. You don't get to bench press 400 by just showing up to the gym and magical osmosis when you are there. You put in the work and that's what I do. I'm inspiring guys at the gym to do the same.”

Tam, who follows the training principle that involves pushing your muscles “to failure,” doesn’t think he yells too loud and doesn’t understand how grunting, groaning or growling for one to three reps near the end of his training can ruin someone else’s workout experience.

And in fact, screamers and grunters are prevalent in the weight lifting and body building culture, said certified exercise specialist Vik Khanna. Lifters do it both “as a psychological/emotional boost and also to draw attention to themselves,” he said. “Many lifters make a powerful exhalation during the lifting portion of the movement, so it is the perfect timing for vocalizing something.”

The problem, however, is that “it’s often very disruptive to people around them and can be one of the things that intimidates others at the gym or even dissuades some people from joining and trying a gym,” said Khanna, the executive director of Health and Wellness at the Sisters of Mercy Health System in St. Louis.

Khanna still follows the advice one of his strength training mentors gave him decades ago: “On each lift, your body has a finite amount of physical, emotional and psychological energy to put to use. Don’t direct any of that energy outward with a scream or grunt. Take that energy and make a conscious effort to direct it inward, toward the nerves, muscles and bones that are doing the work. “

But others say there’s a place for grunting. “When you grunt you tend to hold your breath, but when you say “KIA!” (pronounced ‘key eye!’) then you exhale and yell,” said Jeffrey Stout, vice president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. “In martial arts this is used to exert maximum force.”

Stout doesn’t know of any studies showing whether yelling provides a benefit but suspects it might. “On the other hand, holding your breath or jaw clenching has been shown to enhance strength. So, I would prefer people working out in the gym not scream, but I don’t have a problem with grunting.”

That’s good news for Tam, who cancelled his membership at our fitness center on Tuesday and has since joined another gym.

Lower costs? Forget it.

"The nation's health care tab will go up — not down — as a result of President Barack Obama's sweeping overhaul."

–Associated Press, Sept. 9, 2010

That verdict on the cost of the new health legislation was the conclusion of a government forecast released this month. Well, duh. You can't expand coverage by 32 million Americans and figure that will hold costs down. The Democrats sold health care to Americans with a lot of fuzzy accounting and shaky assertions about how relatively inexpensive all this would be.

No wonder at least 34 House Democrats are campaigning on health care reform — not extolling their grand accomplishment but touting their "no" votes, as Politico recently reported. In fact, Democratic candidates are spending more than $3 deriding the new health law for every $1 their fellow Dems are spending to brag about it.

A trio of Democratic pollsters recently advised Democrats to stop saying the big health care reform law passed last spring will reduce costs and curb a raging federal deficit. What the Dems should say, the pollsters suggested: "The law is not perfect … now we'll work to improve it."

The law does need to be "improved," if by improved, you mean profoundly scaled back in expense and complexity.

There are some good ideas in Congress about how to do that. There's a smart but so far unsuccessful move to change or repeal a tax reporting provision that would be onerous for small businesses.

And there's a proposal to deep-six a panel that most Americans never heard about and that hasn't even been formed yet. It's called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The board of experts is supposed to have broad powers to cut Medicare spending if Congress doesn't have the gumption to do so. Scratch that. Make it when Congress doesn't have the gumption to do so.

Sen. John Cornyn wants to abolish the panel before its members are even appointed. "America's seniors deserve the ability to hold elected officials accountable for the decisions that affect their Medicare, but IPAB would take that away from seniors and put power in the hands of politically appointed Washington bureaucrats," the Texas Republican said in a statement.