Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Shubhra Krishan     September 27, 2013

Cancer is an ugly killer, but sometimes, small changes in diet and lifestyle can force it to beat a retreat. Adopt these five habits to reduce your cancer risk.

Exercise for 30 minutes a day. This will reduce your cancer risk by keeping your weight in check. According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers in the esophagus, breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types.

Follow the ¾ plant, ¼ protein rule. Three-fourths of your plate should contain whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, while the rest can have animal proteins. According to Stanford’s Cancer Institute, research is discovering that the regular intake of fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains can inhibit the growth of cancer in the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, lung, prostate and rectum.


Steam, don‘t microwave. Vegetables with powerful antioxidants and flavonoids, such as broccoli, can lose some of their nutrients when microwaved. Steaming, on the other hand, helps retain their natural color and maintains their cancer-fighting superfood status.

Ditch the cigs. Did you know up to 30 percent of all cancers are related to smoking? The good news is that your cancer risk starts to plummet almost as soon as you reduce or give up smoking! If you need more convincing, simply read up the American Cancer Society’s tobacco-related cancer fact sheet.

Limit your drinking to just one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one beer a day. For men, the recommended limit is up to two glasses a day. Those who drink more are at a higher risk for cancers of the head and neck, breast, throat, mouth and colon. That’s because alcohol contains carcinogenic compounds that are introduced during fermentation and production.

source: care2.com


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Smoke-free laws linked to drop in child asthma attacks

LONDON    Mon Jan 21, 2013 

(Reuters) – Introducing laws banning smoking in enclosed public places can lead to swift and dramatic falls in the number of children admitted to hospital suffering asthma attacks, according to a study in England published on Monday.

Researchers at Imperial College London found there was a 12.3 percent fall in hospital admissions for childhood asthma in the first year after laws against smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces came into effect in July 2007.

Similar anti-smoking legislation has been introduced in many other countries, including in the United States where it has also been linked to a reduction in childhood asthma emergencies.

“The findings are good news … and they should encourage countries where public smoking is permitted to consider introducing similar legislation,” said Christopher Millett from Imperial’s school of public health, who led the study.

Asthma affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is the world’s most common children’s chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. In Britain, it affects one in every 11 children.


Before the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces was implemented in England, hospital admissions for children suffering a severe asthma attacks were increasing by 2.2 percent a year, peaking at 26,969 in 2006/2007, the researchers found.

That trend reversed immediately after the law came into effect, with lower admission rates among boys and girls of all ages. There were similar reductions among children in wealthy and poor neighborhoods, both in cities and in rural areas.

The effect was equivalent to 6,802 fewer hospital admissions in the first three years after the law came into effect, the team wrote in a study in the journal Pediatrics.

“There is already evidence that eliminating smoking from public places has resulted in substantial population health benefits … and this study shows that those benefits extend to … childhood asthma,” Millett said in a statement.

A study published in 2009 also found the ban on smoking in public places in England led to a swift and significant drop in the number of heart attacks, saving the national health service 8.4 million pounds ($13.3 million) in the first year.

“Previous studies have also suggested that the smoke-free law changed people’s attitudes about exposing others to second-hand smoke and led more people to abstain from smoking voluntarily at home and in cars,” Millett said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Source: Reuters


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Deepak Chopra: Secrets to a better brain

By Deepak Chopra, Special to CNN     January 4, 2013

Editor’s note: Deepak Chopra is a mind-body expert, founder of the Chopra Foundation and a best-selling author. 

(CNN) – There are many books on the market that focus on treating the brain like any other organ of the body. To improve the brain, they advise eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and avoiding toxins like alcohol and nicotine.

These are sound bits of advice, but in my own book, “Super Brain,” written with professor Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard Medical School, the emphasis is on the brain’s uniqueness. The secret to improving your brain is to understand that uniqueness.

The brain is the only organ that changes instantly according to how the mind relates to it. You can relate to your brain in positive or negative ways, and depending on which one you choose, your brain cells, neural pathways and areas of high and low activity will be altered.

In short, thinking your brain into better functioning is the most efficient way to improve it. (Other organs of the body also respond to positive and negative thinking, but their response must come through the brain first; it functions as command central for the rest of the body.)

The best way to relate to your brain is to inspire it; the worst way is to ignore it. Since the brain embraces every thought, word and deed, the list of things under each heading is long but very much worth attending to. See which of the following applies to you.

 

How to inspire your brain

Take care of stress. Avoid dulling routine. Do something creative every day. Read poetry, spiritual material or anything else that makes you feel uplifted. Take time to be in nature. Bond with another person who is heartwarming. Pay attention to being happy. Make sure you take time every day by yourself to relax, meditate and self-reflect. Deal with negative emotions like anger and anxiety. Focus on activity that makes you feel fulfilled. Give of yourself. Follow a personal vision. Attach yourself to a cause that is bigger than you are. Take the risk to love and be loved.

How to ignore your brain

Get set in your ways. Don’t look beyond your opinions, likes and dislikes. Isolate yourself from others. Take relationships for granted. Reconcile yourself to going downhill as you age. Look upon the past as the best time of your life. Forget about having ideals. Act on selfish impulses. Don’t examine what makes you tick. Give in to anger and anxiety. Let life take care of itself. Go along to get along. Assume that you are automatically right. Avoid anything new or challenging. Put up with stress. Take no emotional risks. Distract yourself with mindless diversions like watching sports for hours on end.

The difference between these two lists is pretty stark. In one case, you are approaching the brain as if it had great untapped potential. In the other, you assume that the brain runs on automatic pilot.

It is undeniable that the brain is endlessly adaptable. It turns into whatever you expect it to be. So how you relate to your brain is never passive; you are always instructing it to function in a certain way. Thus the whole package of beliefs, expectations, likes and dislikes that you hold inside are creating change – or blocking it – at the level of brain circuitry.

Needless to say, it’s better to inspire your brain than to ignore it. Potential is a terrible thing to waste.

The first step in forming a better relationship with your brain is to realize that you have a relationship. Once you realize this, you can choose to pay attention to the relationship and nurture it. You are in on a secret that escapes countless people. Take advantage of it.

source: CNN


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6 Simple Steps to Keep Your Heart Healthy

A healthy heart – and a healthier you – starts today with these quick tips.

By Wendy C. Fries WebMD 
Feature Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD 

Keeping your heart healthy is simple when you look at the big picture: Get exercise. Eat right. Stress less. Watch your weight. Don’t smoke.
Putting those goals into action, of course, isn’t so simple. Which matter most? How can you put them into daily practice?
Here are practical hints for a way of life that makes you feel great while it strengthens your heart.

Make Time to Play

Adults need at least 30 minutes of exercise five or more days a week for heart health. Make exercise playtime and you’re more likely to get it done. Play kickball with your kids, walk the dog, or shoot hoops, or go “mall-walking” with co-workers on your lunch break.
Go for a total of at least 30 minutes of exercise daily – and break it up, if you like. Aim for a 10-minute morning walk, workout with hand weights at lunch, and some digging in the garden before dinner, and you’ve met your goals.
“Folks should get their heart rate up so they’re somewhat breathless, but can still carry on a conversation,” says Susan Moores, RD, MS, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. All kinds of exercises are important, from strength training and aerobics, to flexibility and stretching exercises.

Add the ‘Food Rules’ to Your Memory

  • Limit Bad Fat: If you eat a typical American diet, this one change can bring dramatic results: Eat less saturated fat. You can “reduce your risk of heart issues by half,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD. Start by switching to low-fat meat and dairy, and change to healthier fats like olive and canola oils.
  • Cut the Salt: Cook without salt, limit processed foods, and go easy on the salt shaker. Aim to bring down the sodium you eat to 1,500 milligrams, the American Heart Association’s daily limit.
  • Pump Up Produce: Eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruit every day. You’ll lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. And there’s a slimming bonus: “For all the nutrients fruits and vegetables provide, you’re also getting few calories,” says Kerry Neville, MS, RD, “And they fill you up.”
  • Go for Grains: Whole grains help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and may help prevent type 2 diabetes.  Think about corn tortillas, whole wheat pancakes and pasta, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, quinoa, and chewy, delicious brown rice or wild rice.

Soothe Stress

Doing absolutely nothing can be a big part of keeping your heart healthy. Be sure to “relax and unplug daily,” says Moores. “Stress is a significant villain of heart health and really any health issue. It can wreak havoc.”
Carve out time for yourself regularly. Walk away from the computer, the phone, and other distractions. Make time to recharge your batteries, to find both energy and calm.

Work Toward a Healthy Body Weight

Gaining weight is a constant threat for most Americans in our world of cheap, convenient, and decadent foods. And extra pounds – especially if you tip into obesity – raise the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Now the good news: Losing even a few pounds starts you on the road to a healthier heart. Lose a few more and you’re likely to have more energy and sleep better, too. Here are the basics:
  • Go for good nutrition: Choose foods that are rich in nutrients, not just empty calories. A can of regular cola has over 120 calories and a lot of added sugar. Added sugar can give you a lot of empty calories without a lot of nutritional benefits. For a nutrient-packed snack worth the calories, try a palmful of mixed nuts. That has about 165 calories and is packed with protein and heart-healthy fats.
  • Balance calories: Be aware of the balance between the calories you eat and the calories your body needs. To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn.
  • Get physical: Get moving at least 30 minutes daily, most days of the week. Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of activity each day.

Find Your Personal Best Way to Quit Smoking

Cancer, lung disease, a higher chance of a heart attack: The damages smoking can do are well-known. Did you know that tobacco is also linked to early menopause, infertility, and pregnancy complications?
There’s no best way to quit smoking. Medicine, support groups, counseling, or a combination of all three may be what it takes to help you quit. Reach out, get help.

Schedule Checkups

Regular blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks, as well as physical exams, are important to keep your heart healthy. Two conditions that can hurt your heart — high blood pressure and high cholesterol — are “silent.” That means you typically won’t know you have them unless you get tested. Ask your doctor how often you need a heart checkup and put the next one on your calendar now.
source: webmd.com


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Stricter smoking bans tied to more health benefits

Hospitalizations for heart, stroke and asthma ailments decreased after smoking bans introduced

CBC News Posted: Nov 2, 2012

Smoking bans in workplaces were associated with fewer deaths and hospitalizations due to heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases, a new review finds.

The introduction of smoke-free laws were followed by a 15 per cent decrease in hospitalizations for heart attacks, a 16 per cent decrease in stroke hospitalizations and a 24 per cent decrease in hospitalizations for diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

More comprehensive smoke-free laws that covered workplaces, restaurants and bars were associated with larger declines, the researchers said after reviewing 43 studies on smoke-free laws in U.S. cities and states as well as countries ranging from Uruguay to New Zealand.

“The study provides strong evidence not only of the health benefits of smokefree laws but also of the need to enact comprehensive laws without exceptions,” Stanton Glantz, the study’s senior author and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco and his co-authors concluded in this week’s issue of the journal Circulation.

smoking

Passing smoke-free laws reflect changes in social norms that reduce smoking behaviour, they said.

Previous studies also found smoke-free laws were followed by decreases in hospital admissions for heart attacks and other heart problems.

The researchers cautioned that a cause-and-effect relationship can’t be drawn from studies comparing health effects before and after the introduction of smoking bans.

But one study in Helena, Mont. did observe a rebound in heart attack admissions after the city suspended its smoke-free law during a lawsuit, which supports a causal link, they said.

Glantz’s research was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Another study published this week in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine also found a 33 per cent decline in heart attacks when they compared the incidence 18 months before and after the introduction of smoke-free laws in workplaces, including bars, in one county in Minnesota.

Smoke-free laws are also associated with fewer hospital admissions for asthma in children and improved quality of life, the editors of a journal commentary accompanying the Minnesota study said.

“Moving forward, we should prioritize the enforcement of smoke-free policies, eliminating loopholes in existing policies as well as encouraging expansion of smoke-free policies to include multiunit housing, motor vehicles, casinos and outdoor locations,” wrote Dr. Sara Kalkhoran and Dr. Pamela Ling of the University of California, San Francisco.

source: CBC


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Want to quit smoking ? Try acupuncture or hypnosis

Sun May 6, 2012 10:21pm EDT

(Reuters) – Acupuncture and hypnosis have been promoted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work, according to a research review that looked at 14 international studies.

Researchers, whose findings appeared in the American Journal of Medicine, said that there are still plenty of questions, including exactly how effective alternative therapies might be and how they measure up against conventional methods to quit smoking.

But the alternatives should still stand as options for smokers determined to break the habit, said researchers led by Mehdi Tahiri of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

In general, smokers who want to quit should first try the standard approaches, which include nicotine-replacement therapy, medications and behavioral counseling, Tahiri said.

“But some people are not interested in medication,” he said, adding that in many cases the standard therapies had not worked. “Then I think we should definitely recommend (acupuncture and hypnosis) as choices.”

Researchers found that some studies showed that smokers subjected to acupuncture were more than three times as likely to be tobacco-free six months to a year later.

Similarly, across four trials of hypnosis, smokers had a higher success rate with the therapy compared to people who had minimal help.

But there were some caveats, researchers said. The success rate was not consistent in all the tests conducted, although the broad trends pointed to the benefits of alternate treatment.

A 2008 study that ran a few sessions of laser acupuncture on 258 smokers found that 55 percent who’d received the treatment quit the habit in six months, compared with four percent who were not given the treatment.

But a 2007 study from Taiwan that looked at needle acupuncture around the ear, the area typically targeted for smoking cessation, reported a lower success rate.

Only nine percent of those who were given acupuncture had quit after six months compared with six percent who stopped smoking without the treatment.

The situation was similar across the hypnosis trials. Two studies showed a significant impact : 20 to 45 percent of hypnosis patients were smoke-free six months to a year later. The other two trials showed smaller effects.

Nonetheless, Tahiri said, there was a “trend” toward a benefit across all of the studies of acupuncture and hypnosis.

There are still definitely questions, he added, about how many sessions of acupuncture or hypnosis might be necessary, or which specific techniques are best.

Other research reviews, though, have concluded that the jury is still out on alternative therapies for quitting smoking.

SOURCE: Reuters.com


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The Key to Health, Wealth and Success: Self-Control

By Maia Szalavitz    
Self-control may be the secret to success, according to a persuasive new study that followed 1,000 children from birth to age 32: children who showed early signs of self-mastery were not only less likely to have developed addictions or committed a crime by adulthood, but were also healthier and wealthier than their more impulsive peers.
Problems surfacing in adolescence, such as becoming a smoker or getting pregnant, accounted for about half of the bad outcomes associated with low self-control in childhood. Kids who scored low on such measures — for instance, becoming easily frustrated, lacking persistence in reaching goals or performing tasks, or having difficulty waiting their turn in line — were roughly three times more likely to wind up as poor, addicted, single parents or to have multiple health problems as adults, compared with children who behaved more conscientiously as early as age 3.
“This is a great study, mining a huge trove of data to tease apart the relationships among some really important factors that can determine the direction of our lives,” says Martha Farah, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. “It highlights how incredibly important self-control is.”
Dr. Bruce Perry, professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University, agrees: “It’s a very cool study. This is taken from data from what is probably the best long-term study in our field.” (Disclosure: Perry and I have written two books together.)

The new research confirms the findings of the famous Stanford marshmallow study, which found that young children who were able resist grabbing a fluffy marshmallow placed in front of them — for 15 long minutes — in order to get two of them later scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT than kids who couldn’t wait. About one-third of the 4-to-6-year-olds studied were able to withstand the sweet temptation. As in the current research, the kids with more self-control in the marshmallow trial had better life outcomes across the board.
For the new study, the “Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study” whose results were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers led by Duke University psychologist Terrie Moffit followed 1,000 children in New Zealand for more than three decades.


Moffitt and her colleagues measured children’s self control on numerous occasions, getting behavior ratings from parents and teachers as well as from research staff who worked with the children. “All children have varying attention spans, and all get frustrated now and then,” she says. “But our measures indicated that a child had low self-control only if the scores from different reporters and on different occasions all added up and pointed in the same direction.”



By adulthood, children in the highest self-control group were significantly less likely to have multiple health problems (11%), compared with kids in the lowest self-control group (27%). They were also much less likely to have addictions to multiple substances (3% vs. 10%, respectively), says Moffitt.


Only 10% of kids with high self-control grew up to have low income — less than $20,000 per year — compared with 32% of their more impulsive peers. Forty-three percent of the least disciplined children had a criminal record by age 32, compared with just 13% of the  most conscientious. And as adults, 58% of kids who had low self-control had become a single parent; this was true for only 26% of the high self-control group.
In previous research, researchers have found that impulsiveness and out-of-control behavior are more common in children who have experienced loss, trauma or violence — factors that tend to affect poorer kids more than rich ones. “If you have adverse experiences, that’s going to turn up the stress response,” says Perry, explaining that stress may affect the proper development of the frontal cortex in children’s brains, which is responsible for self-control and for “putting the brakes” on the brain’s lower brain regions. “If you have lower self-control, you’ll have a harder time in school, you won’t learn as efficiently, you’re more likely to act on frustration, which means more social problems and you might end up with legal problems.”
Although Moffit’s study found some “concentration of low self-control children in homes with low income,” the author says, the correlation was small. “There were plenty of well-to-do children with very low self-control.”
In fact, poor children who scored best on measures of self-control were more likely than others to become wealthy in later life. “One interpretation of the findings is that children with high self-control who began life in low-income homes ended up as adults with higher incomes,” says Moffitt.

Not surprisingly, many of the lapses in self-discipline that led to the worst life outcomes occurred during the teenage years: teens who had scored lowest in measures of self-control in early childhood were the most likely to make mistakes in the first place. And even those low self-control teens who managed to avoid smoking, pregnancy and alcohol or other drug problems, and stayed in school did worse later in life than their more disciplined peers. “This suggests that there might be a better return on investment from early childhood interventions,” Moffitt says.
“Trial and error is a healthy part of teenage life,” she adds. “But teens with good self-control engage in trial and error strategically, and they appreciate the difference between a useful learning experiment and real danger. I’m convinced that teenagers can be coached on this distinction.”
Interventions aimed at improving self-control and behavior throughout childhood are now being studied, but so far, research has not identified a single best approach. The most effective programs are small and tightly focused on increasing self-control itself — as opposed to fighting bullying, drugs or other problem behaviors — according to Moffitt.
Intriguingly, about 7% of the children in Moffitt’s study dramatically increased their own self-control over the course of the research, suggesting that such change is possible. But researchers don’t know how or why this happened. “Perhaps some of them attended a school that stressed achievement and provided structure. Perhaps some of them experienced changes in family life, such as parents’ changing marital status that brought more structure into the child’s daily life. We don’t really know,” Moffitt says.
“We have deeply held cultural beliefs about self-control — the importance of thinking about the future, persisting with the chores of life — which show up in fables like ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ or ‘The Tortoise and the Hare,’” says Farah. “This research shows that there is great wisdom there — delaying gratification and hanging in are aspects of self-control that bring great benefit.”
That’s probably welcome news to all those tiger mothers’ ears. While tiger parenting may err when it veers into harshness, the evidence in favor of teaching the discipline of hard work and repeated practice only continues to grow.
source: time