Thursday, 14 November 2013

Solutions for anxiety

Anxiety: Worry dogs you constantly for no logical reason, and you imagine terrible things happening to you. Or maybe you’re fearful about taking trips or going to parties or meetings.
If so, you might have generalised anxiety disorder. People with GAD experience “uncontrollable worrying,” says Dr. Peter Norton, director of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic at the University of Houston. Symptoms include chronic nervousness, trouble sleeping, and fatigue.
This heavenly therapy slows the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which are linked to anxiety, says Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Her research found that a month of weekly 20-minute massages lowers cortisol levels—”a very good objective index of anxiety,” she says—by 31 per cent. Massage also causes a relaxation response, which eases anxiety.
“Exercise makes you pay attention to its sensations, such as breathing faster, and the things around you,” says Jasper A. J. Smits,  professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. “It helps you disengage from worry.” In one study, he found that exercise slashed anxiety in half.
In anxious people, “we see a deactivation in areas of the brain that govern thought,” so worries can spiral out of control, says Fadel Zeidan,  a research fellow at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Mindfulness meditation helps you stop the cycle of worry. In Dr. Zeidan’s study, anxiety levels of meditators eased by up to 39 per cent.

Benefits of coffee

Often people think of coffee just as a vehicle for caffeine,” writes Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health. “But it’s actually a very complex beverage,” containing hundreds of different chemical compounds. Grown in more than 70 countries around the world, coffee has something of a contentious history with health experts, who have long cautioned that over-consumption may be detrimental to our health. More recent studies, however, paint a rosier picture for the Coffee plant’s roasted berries (they’re not actually beans), suggesting that when consumed in moderate amounts — and without heaping on the sugar and cream — the magical stuff can harbor numerous potential health benefits. A look at a few of them:

•Coffee may help fight depression.
Start your day with a smile: A joint study from the National Institutes of Health and the AARP discovered that folks who quaffed four or more cups of java a day were 10 per cent less likely to be depressed than someone who didn’t drink coffee at all. Oddly, the same mental-health benefits didn’t extend to other caffeinated beverages — particularly cola, which was linked to a higher risk of depression (perhaps because of the high sugar content). Therefore, researchers suggest coffee’s “mood-lifting effect might be traced to its antioxidants,” reports Prevention.

• Coffee-drinking adults are less likely to commit suicide
Along those lines, a massive public study from the Harvard School of Public Health found an astonishing statistic: Drinking two to four cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of suicide in both men and women by a surprising 50 per cent. Researchers combed through the health data of more than 100,000 men and women, and pegged caffeine as the main mood-enhancer in coffee.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Quick remedies at home

When minor medical issues crop up (nosebleeds, insect stings, dandruff!), chances are your medicine cabinet already contains some effective—and surprising—fixes for what ails you. Here are common household items that do double duty, saving you a trip to the pharmacy—and cash in the process!
The effervescent type with sodium bicarbonate helps neutralize the acid that causes painful heartburn symptoms.
“Antacid formulations such as Alka-Seltzer contain aspirin, an anesthetic that can help ease the sting and itch of insect bites,” says Howard Sobel, MD, a clinical attending physician in dermatology and dermatologic surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
He recommends making a paste with a crushed antacid tablet, a pinch of oatmeal (also a skin soother), and water and applying it to the skin. Results are immediate—and this DIY formula has a healing bonus that other anti-itch salves lack. “Calamine lotion contains zinc oxide, which can be drying to the skin,” Dr. Sobel explains. “Effervescent antacid tablets provide quicker relief from pain and itching—without the dehydrating side effects.”
“Both types of mouthwash—with and without alcohol—contain antimicrobial properties that reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth,” explains Edgard El Chaar, DDS, a clinical associate professor of periodontology and implant dentistry at NYU College of Dentistry.
If you’ve switched to an alcohol-free version, don’t throw away the old bottle: Use the alcohol mouthwash to keep your feet and toenails pristine. To prevent athlete’s foot, soak a cotton ball with the liquid and swab the bottoms of your feet and between toes after every shower. According to Dr. Sobel, the high alcohol content of traditional mouthwash helps ward off fungal infections.
Baking soda
Many dentists recommend baking soda to help remove superficial stains from enamel, making teeth appear whiter. It also prevents bad breath and gets rid of plaque embedded in the area between the teeth and gums.
Used topically, baking soda takes the sting out of sunburn and minimises the itch and discomfort caused by a variety of skin conditions (including eczema, prickly heat, and poison ivy).

Diabetes friendly foods

Non-starchy vegetables, beans, and fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and berries. Even tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and papayas tend to have a lower glycemic index than typical desserts.
Eat grains in the least-processed state possible: “unbroken,” such as whole-kernel bread, brown rice, and whole barley, millet, and wheat berries; or traditionally processed, such as stone-ground bread, steel-cut oats, and natural granola or muesli breakfast cereals help reduce blood sugar.
Limit white potatoes and refined grain products such as white breads and white pasta to small side dishes.
Limit concentrated sweets—including high-calorie foods with a low glycemic index, such as ice cream— to occasional treats. Reduce fruit juice to no more than one cup a day. Completely eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks.
Eat a healthful type of protein at most meals, such as beans, fish, or skinless chicken.
Choose foods with healthful fats, such as olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and avocados. Limit saturated fats from dairy and other animal products. Completely eliminate partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats), which are in fast food and many packaged foods.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Natural ways to lower blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, commonly known as hypertension, has been said to kill in at least eight different ways.
They include stroke, diabetes, kidney failure, heart attack, aneurysms, end-stage liver failure, coronary heart diseases and  sudden death.
Emeritus Prof. of medicine, Oladipo Akinkugbe, describes high blood pressure as a condition that occurs when there is excessive pressure on the walls of the artery and adds that this causes damage to the blood vessels, as well as vital organs in the body when it is not controlled.
Hypertension is also a major health concern for Africans.
In Nigeria, about 57 million people are estimated to be hypertensive with many still undiagnosed.Akinkugbe says  this high incidence of hypertension is a major reason why many die suddenly from heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure is preventable and it is also manageable, so you need not die from it if you make efforts to control it.
According to Akinkugbe, one can live over three decades with hypertension without developing complications associated with the condition, if detected early and managed properly.
 He adds, “I have patients I diagnosed with high blood pressure 30 years ago that are still alive today, because they managed it by taking prescribed drugs and making lifestyle changes.
“Research has proven that salt intake is a reason why most Africans have hypertension. Hypertension only kills when you ignore it.”
If you have already been told that you have high blood pressure, then your doctor must have prescribed some drugs to help you control it.
While medication can lower  the condition, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and lack of sleep. Luckily, most people can bring down their blood pressure naturally .Your lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure, according experts on
They say if one can successfully control one’s blood pressure by living well, then one can delay or reduce the need for medication. Here are lifestyle changes to make if you are ready to lower your blood pressure and keep it down for life!
Watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilogrammes) can help reduce your blood pressure. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure.
Losing weight also makes any blood pressure medications you’re taking more effective. You and your doctor can determine your target weight and the best way to achieve it.
Besides shedding pounds, you should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure. In general, men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimetres).
Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 cm).
Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity  — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week  — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
And it doesn’t take long to see a difference. If you haven’t been active, increasing your exercise level can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks. If you have pre-hypertension — systolic pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89  — exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension.
If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise programme.
Your doctor can help determine whether you need any exercise restrictions. Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help. But avoid being a “weekend warrior.” Trying to squeeze all your exercise in on the weekends to make up for weekday inactivity isn’t a good strategy. Those sudden bursts of activity could actually be risky.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet.
It isn’t easy to change eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:  Reduce salt in your diet. If you are an African, you need to reduce your salt intake. Even a small reduction in the salt in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.
To decrease salt intake, track how much salt is in your diet. Keep a food diary to estimate how much salt is in what you eat and drink each day and avoid eating processed foods as much as you can, because they are preserved with salt.
 Also do not add raw salt to your food. Potato chips, frozen dinners, bacon and processed lunch meats are high in sodium. You can ease into this change by cutting back gradually till your taste buds have adjusted to it.
Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much of it — generally more than one drink a day for women and men older than age 65, or more than two a day for men age 65 and younger.
Also, if you don’t normally drink alcohol, you shouldn’t start drinking it as a way to lower your blood pressure. There’s more potential harm than benefit to drinking alcohol. If you drink more than moderate amounts of it, alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.
Culled from Punch