Thursday, April 28, 2011

Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick tissue that connects the heel to the toes becomes irritated, inflamed and painful.

The ADAM Encyclopedia mentions these potential risk factors for plantar fasciitis:
  •  Having either high arches or flat feet.
  •  Being obese.
  •  Exposing the feet to repetitive stress, from activities such as running long distances, running on an uneven surfaces or running downhill.
  •  Gaining weight rapidly.
  •  Having tightness in the Achilles tendon.
  •  Wearing shoes that don't offer good arch support or have soft soles.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Health Conditions may cause Paleness

Though fair skin may simply be an indication that you protect your skin from the sun, paleness may be a sign of a health problem that needs to be addressed.

The ADAM Encyclopedia lists these health conditions and problems that may cause pale skin:
  • Anemia or insufficient red blood cells.
  • Insufficient blood flow to the skin from being cold, having low blood sugar or fainting.
  • Shock.
  • Frostbite.
  • Chronic disease such as cancer or infection.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Coffee doesn't Raise Blood Pressure: Study

Regardless of previous concerns, drinking lots of coffee doesn't seem to increase the risk of high blood pressure, says a U.S. study.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, has been linked to heart disease, stroke and a shorter life expectancy, and some scientists have proposed that coffee might fuel the problem.

But according to a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that combined data from six previous studies, covering 170,000 people, this did not appear to be the case.

"The results suggest that habitual coffee consumption of more than 3 cups per day was not associated with an increased risk of hypertension compared with less than one cup per day," wrote Liwei Chen, from the Louisiana State University School of Public Health in New Orleans, who worked on the study.

But Chen added that more data would be needed in order to draw a firm conclusion, noting that the report "is not saying there's no risk" to drinking lots of java.

What's more, people who drank between one and three cups per day had a slightly higher risk of high blood pressure than those who drank less, a result the researchers couldn't explain.

The studies surveyed the participants to find out how many cups of coffee they drank each day, from less than one to more than five, and then followed them for up to 33 years.

Just more than one in five eventually developed high blood pressure, with the chance of being diagnosed with the condition no different for people who said they chugged more than five cups of coffee a day and those who drank very little.

"I don't think of coffee as a risk factor for high blood pressure," said Lawrence Krakoff, who studies high blood pressure at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and wasn't involved in the new study.

But "if people are drinking 12 cups a day and aren't sleeping, I assume that's an important issue."

The relationship between coffee drinking and blood pressure is complicated by the possibility that it doesn't work the same way for everyone, Chen said.

"People with a different genetic background may react to coffee differently," she said.
"For some people maybe it's safe to drink a lot of coffee, but not for other people."
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Factors that may trigger Muscle Cramps

It's common to have muscles that tighten and cramp, especially if you're an avid exerciser. One of the primary triggers for muscle cramps is overuse, the ADAM Encyclopedia says.

ADAM mentions these additional causes of muscle cramps:
  •  A muscle injury.
  •  Dehydration or nutritional deficiency, including a lack of calcium or potassium.
  •  Alcoholism.
  •  Taking certain medications.
  •  Kidney failure, or an underactive thyroid.
  •  Metabolic problems.
  •  Pregnancy.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pneumonia Signs and Symptoms

Pneumonia's symptoms may appear to mimic those of other respiratory infections. But pneumonia can kill, and its warning signs shouldn't be dismissed.

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute mentions these possible warning signs of pneumonia:
  • A high fever.
  • Chills that cause you to shake.
  • Worsening bouts of coughing up phlegm.
  • Shortness of breath from performing everyday activities.
  • Having chest pain when breathing or coughing.
  • Suddenly feeling worse after you appeared to get over the flu or a cold.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

An apple a day keeps women's cholesterol at bay

According to a new study, an apple a day can really keep the doctor away - by reducing bad cholesterol levels in women.

Apples are truly a miracle fruit that convey benefits beyond fiber content, said Bahram H. Arjmandi, Margaret A. Sitton Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at The Florida State University, who led the study.

Animal studies have shown that apple pectin and polyphenols in apple improve lipid metabolism and lower the production of pro-inflammatory molecules.

Arjmandi's research is the first to evaluate the long-term cardio-protective effects of daily consumption of apple in postmenopausal women.

The study randomly assigned 160 women ages 45-65 to one of two dietary intervention groups: one received dried apples daily (75g/day for 1 year) and the other group ate dried prunes every day for a year. Blood samples were taken at 3, 6 and 12-months. The results surprised Arjmandi, who stated that 'incredible changes in the apple-eating women happened by 6 months - they experienced a 23 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol'.

The daily apple consumption also led to a lowering of lipid hydroperoxide levels and C-reactive protein in those women.

"I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4 percent," said Arjmandi.

Yet another advantage is that the extra 240 calories per day consumed from the dried apple did not lead to weight gain in the women; in fact, they lost on average 3.3 lbs. "Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake" he said.

Part of the reason for the weight loss could be the fruit's pectin, which is known to have a satiety effect. The results were presented at Experimental Biology 2011 in Washington, DC.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eggs contain 14% Less Cholesterol than Thought

Many people avoid dietary cholesterol for fear of increasing their risk for heart disease. However, experts from leading institutions have now dispelled some common myths surrounding dietary cholesterol – they found that such diets don't increase the risk of heart disease. They also found that eggs contain higher Vitamin D levels and less cholesterol than thought.

The distinguished panel of the symposium speakers examined other factors impacting heart disease risk including refined carbohydrate intake, dietary cholesterol metabolism in the body and the effect of egg intake on blood vessels.

Experts from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) presented new nutrition data that indicates eggs are now lower in cholesterol.

The USDA-ARS study found that one large egg contains 185 mg of cholesterol (down from 215 mg), 14 percent lower than previously reported on Nutrition Facts panels. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent.

A follow-up study funded by USDA-ARS examined how the new nutrient analysis of eggs impacts the overall dietary cholesterol profile of the American diet.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prefer Healthy Carbohydrates

The foods you consume contribute to your overall mood and appetite, the Cleveland Clinic advises. If you feel good and feel contented that you've eaten enough, you may not feel the desire to go back for more, clinic experts say.

Carbohydrates, an essential part of your diet, should be whole grain and contain lots of fiber. Here are some of the clinic's choices:
  •  Whole-grain cereals and breads.
  •  Potatoes with their skins.
  •  Brown rice, bulgur and quinoa.
  •  Fresh vegetables and fruits.
  •  Whole-grain pasta.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Video Games might Aid in Stroke Recovery

New research suggests playing video games may be an effective strategy in improving motor and cognitive skills in people who have had a stroke.

Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto said that stroke patients who played Playstation, Wii and other video games were up to five times more likely to show improvements in arm motor function compared to those who had standard therapy.

The researchers reviewed 12 existing studies that looked at the effects of electronic games on upper arm strength and mobility.

Between 55 and 75 percent of stroke survivors suffer motor problems in their arms. But conventional therapies like physiotherapy and occupational therapy are often not effective, according to the researchers.

Video games are “challenging, repetitive, task specific and novel,” the researchers said in a statement. They help the brain heal through a process called neuroplasticity, which the researchers define as the brain’s ability to remodel itself after injury by creating new nerve cell connections.

A report on the study is published in the April edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Extra Stress can lead to Memory Loss

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have shed new light on how stress can contribute to memory loss in old age. The study could assist research into treatments for age-related memory disorders. Many believe that stress is bad for our brains especially as we get older.

Now, researchers have shown how two receptors in older brains react to a stress hormone called cortisol. This has been linked to increasing forgetfulness as we age.

While we know that stress hormones affect memory, this research explains how the receptors they engage with, can switch good memory to poorly-functioning memory in old age. The study found that one receptor was activated by low levels of cortisol, which helped memory. However, once levels of this stress hormone were too high they spilled over onto a second receptor. This activated brain processes that contribute to memory impairment.

The study found that high levels of the stress hormone in aged mice made them less able to remember how to navigate a maze. The memory recall problem was reversed when the receptor linked to poor memory was blocked. The research helps explain why too much stress over a prolonged period interferes with the normal processes in storing everyday memories.

This is despite the fact that a little bit of stress can help us better remembering emotional memories.

We now know that lowering the levels of these stress hormones will prevent them from activating a receptor in the brain that is bad for memory. Understanding the mechanisms in the brain, which affect memory as we age, will help us to find ways to combat conditions linked to memory loss.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ways to Cut Down on Sodium

Most people get much more sodium (salt) in their diet than their body requires. This causes the body to retain water, increasing the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

The Cleveland Clinic suggests how to manage a lower-sodium diet:
  •  Cook with fresh ingredients, rather than using pre-packaged or prepared foods.
  •  Choose low-sodium foods, or those without added salt.
  •  Substitute or eliminate high-sodium ingredients from recipes.
  •  Create marinades for meat with a base of pineapple juice or orange juice.
  •  If you eat a frozen meal, look for those with 600 milligrams of sodium or less.
  •  Don't flavor foods with seasoning mixes that include salt.
  •  Talk to your doctor before using a salt substitute.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Facts about Feet

  • During a lifetime, a human being will walk around 185,000 km, which is enough to circle the earth four times! This averages out at 10,000 steps a day. Of course, some people will walk greater distances that others.
  • Despite being relatively small in themselves, feet account for a massive 25% of the number of bones in a human body. A foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. There's plenty to go wrong if they aren't adequately protected.
  • There are around 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of human feet. These can produce up to half a pint (200 ml) of sweat a day.
  • When running, the pressure on feet can be up to four times the runner's body weight.
  • Fingernails and toenails grow more rapidly in warm weather, as well as during pregnancy and adolescence.
  • As many as nine in every ten women in the developed world, wear shoes that are too small for them.
  • Statistically, women have four times as many foot problems as men, with high heels partly to blame.
  • Even though shoes can cause you foot trouble, be extra careful when going barefoot. Places such as communal showers can be a hotbed of nasty diseases like athlete's foot, plantar warts and ringworm. In developing countries, a lack of shoes can leave people vulnerable to all manner of soil-transmitted diseases and parasites, from hookworm and jiggers to podoconiosis and the potentially fatal tetanus.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Less Stress, Better Sleep may help you lose Weight

Getting sufficient sleep, at least six hours a night, and lowering stress levels may significantly help individuals to lose their extra weight, a new study suggests.

Kaiser Permanente Centre researchers asked about 500 hundred people to follow a low calorie diet and exercise at least three hours a week, while keeping a record of their sleep habits and stress levels.

According to the findings published in the International Journal of Obesity, getting the right amount of sleep and stress reduction guarantees successful weight loss. Lowering stress by itself was associated with more weight loss.

Moreover, reducing stress and overcoming depression, apart from recording exercise minutes and keeping food diaries, are among important factors in maintaining weight loss, researchers wrote.

"We found that people who got more than six but less than eight hours of sleep, and who reported the lowest levels of stress, had the most success in a weight-loss program," said lead author Charles Elder.

"This study suggests that when people are trying to lose weight, they should try to get the right amount of sleep and reduce their stress," said Elder. “Some people may just need to cut back on their schedules and get to bed earlier. Others may find that exercise can reduce stress and help them sleep. For some people, mind-body techniques such as meditation also might be helpful.”

Although, the participants in the study were highly motivated and most had a college degree, the researchers suspect that their finding could be applied to everyone.
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