Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cut Down On Soft Drinks And Beverages

image by cema, sxc.hu

Reduce Exposure To Health Vulnerabilities

Why are you consuming so much sugar? Why has your sugar consumption been increasing all of a sudden these past few years? You know very well that excess sugar is not good for health. Despite this knowledge, the world has been gulping down sugar like there is no tomorrow.

image by nosheep, sxc.hu

Actually, while we may be quite conscious and do not consume sugar directly, the extra sugar consumption has been happening surreptitiously in the form of "added sugars" introduced by vendors in soft drinks, fruit drinks, desserts, sugars and jellies, candy, ready-to-eat cereals and the like, in the name of enhancing the taste and quality of their products. This jump in sugar-intake gets stored in some energy form or the other in the body. If this is not enough, add yummy foods such as salty snacks, pizza, fries and cheeseburgers - make you salivate internally, don't they? - that supplement our sugary liquids. Ideally, the excess energy must be burnt by way of physical exercise. However, while data shows that over the past 30 years, our total calorie intake has risen by anywhere between 150 and 300 calories per day, we have also tended to become more lethargic, more sedentary and less physically active. We have also decreased our intake of fruits and vegetables, whatever fruit and vegetable we get is by nibbling the toppings that the chefs in our favorite restaurant and fast-food joint sprinkle on our favorite dish. We do not any health expert to tell us the consequence of all this. The consequence of our actions is self-evident when we see ourselves in the mirror - no, the lards don't hide themselves and they also don't lie.

image by tuareq, sxc.hu

There is now concrete, numeric data available that correlates increased sugar consumption, decreased fruit consumption and sedentary lifestyle with obesity. For example, a survey of 548 school kids from four communities in Massachusetts in the US showed that for every additional can of sugar-sweetened drink consumed, the kids registered a proportionate increase in BMI, with their lifestyle remaining unchanged during the period of survey. When cola companies came out with bigger-sized cans for their beverage, and unleashed a campaign blitzkrieg that bullied our minds into buying those jumbo cans, they unintentionally made us more vulnerable to health complications, of which obesity is just one manifestation. Examples of even more exotic conditions that lurk round the corner just waiting to pounce - if they haven't done so already - include hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes... and this list is only just begun.

image by hisks, sxc.hu

The message from the health research community has been unequivocal: cut down your intake of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages. This will, they say, also cut down the excess calories that you are tempted to get the beverages to wash down by way of ordering those fast foods. This one act will do wonders for your health, they assure.

image by mexikids, sxc.hu

True to nature, alarmed by the statement issued by the health research community, the American Beverage Association has come out with a press release that gives their side of the story. Which is understandable, of course - they are in damage control mode, the annual general meeting of next year where they have to present their financial statements to the stakeholders must loom uppermost. For you and me, at the end of the day, it is a matter of achieving a balance between indulging in one's senses and a Spartan but healthy living style.

image by ctr, sxc.hu

[Understanding the consequence of high sugar intake on physical health is a must. Even more important - indeed, all-encompassingly-important - is understanding the consequence of holding the correct thoughts in our mind at all times. What is the connection between thoughts and health? Read about it here: "Well-being And The Science Of Matter-Energy Continuum".]
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Things To Tell The Kid At The Breakfast / Dining Table

image by nosheep, sxc.hu

Teach Them How To Handle The Bullies In Their Life

Parents intuitively know how their kid will fare when in the midst of bullies in school. This knowledge comes to them automatically. It is partly out of their own predisposition towards the concept of bullying, partly out of their own experiences as a child, and partly as they watch the child growing up from the cradle onward. For parents whose kids are physically and / or mentally sturdy, there is absolutely no problem. They can bask under the self-glorifying tales recounted by the kids after they return home from school about how they made life hell for this boy or that girl. But for parents whose kids are at the receiving end of aggression? To say that it is a bit of a challenge is an euphemism.

image by mavvamp, sxc.hu

It is alright to airily dismiss the problem as a ritual - a rite of passage - that everybody has to go through at some time or the other. Oh, don't worry, the kid will cope. Now is the best time for them to get a taste of what the wide world is going to be outside the cocooned shelter of the home. Indeed it will be good if they can cope with the situation and come out on top. Because, the lessons learnt in these episodes will mentally prepare the child for the tougher times when facing stalking by strangers or acquaintances, when facing physical bullying or verbal taunts from peers and colleagues in the workplace, and when handling manipulative bosses or supervisors who think employees are slaves, always willing to go down on their fours to get their promotion or to keep their job.

image by baikahl, sxc.hu

Besides hoping that the child will work out their own strategies to cope with any bullying they might be facing, there are things we can do that can work as a shield for the child in all circumstances, now as well as when they lead their adult life. The best place to begin is at the breakfast and / or the dining table. Sermonizing, finger-wagging, and edgy tones do not work of course. Light, humor-laced conversation that subtly delivers the right messages is a skill that we need to learn to imbibe as parents / caregivers.

image by hisks, sxc.hu

This setting is the best time when the child's receptive mind can absorb finer points about how they are not alone, and that for every single enemy, they can rally around two allies from amongst the crowd of the other kids. The child finds it useful to wolf down, along with the nutritious cereals on the table, thoughts such as how brave and fearless they innately are, and that it does not matter if the other party appears to have more physical strength, because there is some or the other flaw that makes everybody vulnerable, and because there is always going to be something that the child excels in which the other party is no good at and which can ultimately make the child a winner. The child begins to discover their inner strength when they are repeatedly told that they are the best human being in the world, and that the taunts and the teasing and the name-calling can be handled good-humoredly and in more positive ways than by mere sulking or by withdrawing into some shell. The kid can also be made aware about the existence of something known as "justice", in the form of the administration at the level of the school, a wider law that regulates the wider public, as well as a still wider Law that shepherds the entire cosmos, and that having the law by one's side is the best way to lead a peaceful and trouble-free life.

image by srbichara, sxc.hu

The kid won't consciously understand what it is they are receiving at the breakfast / dinner table, along with the food. But when the time comes for them to be parents themselves... they will know.

image by hisks, sxc.hu

[In front of children, we have to, at times, put on a brave front, and project ourselves as one who has all the experience and the wisdom to dispense the right advise. But we know, deep in the heart, of situations which we have no clue how to handle. This article might give insights into handling situations where the brain simply refuses to work: "When Facing Troubles - Focus On The End Outcome You Want".]
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Schizophrenics - A New Once-Monthly Antipsychotic Now Available

image by littleman, sxc.hu

A New Choice Available To People With This Condition

The inability to distinguish between reality and hallucination - this is what distinguishes schizophrenics from the rest of humanity. Like the virtual worlds that we see in computer simulation applications, the schizophrenic weaves a whole fantasy world that exists only in their mind. And they dwell in this world often for long times, only to occasionally emerge to reconnect with the others.

image by k_vohsen, sxc.hu

Psychopharmacological interventions for this neuropsychiatric condition require consistent and regular medication. However, it has been found that consistency in taking oral medications is the first casualty. People simply miss popping the tablets on time, or they discontinue medication altogether, due to a host of reasons - side effects, absence of support from family or society, non-affordability are just a few. For schizophrenics, the consequence of this non-adherence to medication is relapse, usually at least once within five years of diagnosis. And relapse in the case of schizophrenia leads to worse degeneration compared to other major mental illnesses, with an increased risk for suicide and mortality. Getting them to continue taking medications, therefore, is a major challenge facing researchers.

image by lokigrl1616, sxc.hu

In this backdrop, a new alternative to oral medication has been recently approved by the FDA. "Invega Sustenna", manufactured by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharma Inc, is administered as an injection in the deltoid muscle. After the first injection, the second injection is given 8 days later; and then for all subsequent injections the patient has to visit the doctor once a month. What does this drug do? Consistent administration delays the relapse - the schizophrenic continues to stay rooted into reality for a longer duration, and is held back from reentering their world of hallucinations and fantasies.

image by scyza, sxc.hu

Like most psychopharmacological interventions, the Invega Sustenna too comes with a long list of caveats. This drug cannot be given to the elderly - it puts them to a higher risk of death. Some people have been found to develop symptoms such as high fever, rigidity in muscles or twitching and / or jerky movements in the body (Tardive Dyskinesia) or seizures, profuse sweating, akathisia or restlessness, abnormal change in heart rhythm, high blood sugar and diabetes, obesity, sexual dysfunction, dizziness, sleepiness,... and this is just a partial list. When the patient is under the Invega Sustenna treatment, rigorous care and careful monitoring by family members is therefore called for.

image by soulmyst, sxc.hu

Side-effects are unfortunately a way of life with modern medicine. Taking full cognizance of the side-effects, given that the injections are an improvement over the earlier oral tablets to the extent that they can at least prevent the missing out of the dosage administration, schizophrenics now have on offer one more choice to not return to their personal world of hallucinations, and to get well.

image by xymonau, sxc.hu

[It is all quite well to say that medications have side-effects, and that one must be careful about them. But is there any side-effect-free, non-psychopharmacological intervention that can address mental health conditions such as schizophrenia without any pain and without any tears? Turns out that such an intervention is emerging on the medical horizon. This article discusses: "Exploring The Fourth State Of Consciousness".]
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