Saturday, July 22, 2006

Plastic Surgery

Can we improve health and extend life by "going under the knife?"

Does plastic surgery improve health and increase longevity? Several studies over the years have demonstrated that some cosmetic or reconstructive surgery may have profound physical, psychological and emotional effects that create greater happiness, improve quality of life and increase the will to live. Of course, overindulgence in cosmetic surgery may be not only unattractive but also unhealthy.

For the rest, please see Plastic Surgery.

Water: The Elixir of Life

How much water is needed for superior health and longevity? What type of water?

Fresh water is the elixir of life. Unless you're a sea creature, of course! So, how much water should drink in order to thrive? And what type of water?

As is the case with plants, human beings need a variable amount of water. The "one size fits all" approach does not work with diet, exercise or sleep. Nor does it apply to water. A man in the desert will need more water than one in the rainforest. Someone who's been perspiring will be thirstier than someone who has not.

The subject of water consumption is, like so many other health issues, full of confusion. One person recommends drinking nothing but spring water; another insists on distilled. Is H2O just H2O, or is there some "trick" to it?

For the rest, please see Water: The Elixir of Life.

Probiotics: The Staff of Life

Probiotics have been shown to be very effective in improving overall health.

Since the days when acidophilus first entered the vocabulary there has been a quest for the "perfect" probiotics. The word "probiotic" means "for life," as opposed to "antibiotic," which means "against life." It has been recognized for centuries that cultures added to such foods as milk, producing yogurt and cheese, are beneficial to human health: Hence, they are probiotics. These probiotics are composed of many different strains of bacteria that thrive in the intestine and could thus be called "intestinal flora." Included within this category of bacteria are not only acidophilus but many other strains - more than 400 different species - including bifidus, bactilis subtilis and various substrains, as well as soil-based organisms, which under normal circumstances release "beneficial enzyme, hormone and nutrient by-products" into the soil. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted using a large variety of probiotics or intestinal bacterial flora, with a wide spectrum of results and probiotics therapy being recommended by scientists and doctors in many parts of the world.

For the rest, please see Probiotics: The Staff of Life.

The Ultimate Diet

What is the diet most likely to improve health and increase longevity?

Over the years, many diets have been proposed that not only help someone lose weight but also increase health and, possibly, human lifespan. In experiments with animals, diet has consistently had a very pronounced effect on the animal's longevity. It is clear that the consumption of whole foods, as opposed to denatured, refined and processed foods, increases health, well-being and longevity. It is also evident that we must go even further "back to nature" in increasing the amount of organic whole foods we consume. Can someone live a fairly long life consuming little but junkfood? It may be possible, as there are always exceptions to the rule, such as long-lived individuals who smoke and drink, but it is a smarter bet to put your money on organic foods.

For the rest, please see The Ultimate Diet.

Sun Worship or Withdrawal?

Is exposure to the sun helpful or harmful?

Little has been so important to life on earth as the sun. For thousands of years, cultures the world over have found the sun so germane to life that they have created extravagant religions around it. Sun worship has been highly pervasive.

For those of us today who see the sun as a big ball of gas, the question arises: Is the sun healthful or harmful to human health? Does exposure to the sun increase or decrease longevity? What can the study of long-lived cultures reveal to us about this controversial subject?

Many people today are aware that the sun has the ability to harm us and other lifeforms through its potent UV rays. We are encouraged to slather ourselves and our children inhigh SPF sunscreens and to wear protective clothing , as it is currently prevailing wisdom with apparent evidence that the sun is a major cause of skin cancer. Is this apparent carcinogenic effect factual? Has the harmful effect of the sun increased because of a degradation of the ozone layer?

For the rest, see Sun Worship or Withdrawal?

Need Milk?

Is milk helpful or harmful to health? Do we need to drink milk?

Most of us are familiar with the Dairy Industry's "Got Milk?" campaign. Many people are unaware that there has been an ongoing debate concering the inclusion of milk in the human diet. While the dairy industry is in favor of everyone consuming as much milk as is possible, naysayers point to milk as the cause of practically every illness. What is the truth to this matter? Somewhere in the middle, which is appropriate for a health and longevity rule of thumb: "Everything in moderation."

For the rest, please see Need Milk?

Botox: Effective, But Safe?

How does Botox work? Is Botox safe? Are there alternatives to Botox?

The rage over Botox, an injectable anti-wrinkle treatment made from the botulinum toxin (hence "bo-tox"), continues. Botox is well known to remove facial wrinkles, especially forehead wrinkles, frown lines between the eyes and whistle marks around the mouth. Botox does this miracle by causing "flaccid muscle paralysis," temporarily paralyzing the muscles needed to make the wrinkles. It is sometimes easy to spot a Botox-treated face, as it may look unnaturally smooth and relaxed. Botox treatment is a "nonablative technique," which means that it is non-surgical, with no post-operative down time. As concerns which type of Botox is more effective in reducing facial wrinkles, a study published in December 2005 concluded: "Botox [Cosmetic] 20 U provided better and more prolonged efficacy than Dysport 50 U in the treatment of glabellar lines."

Through several years of testing, Botox has been shown to be very effective, as many people, especially celebrities, can attest. But, is it safe? Are there any longterm health hazards? Should it be used repeatedly and indefinitely? Are there any alternatives? Are they safer and more practical than Botox? And what about cost? Botox is generally out of the price range for most people.

For the rest, please see Botox: Effective, But Safe?

Bone Health

Our bones are the foundation of our health. How can we keep our bones healthy and avoid osteoporosis and other bone diseases?

Most people know about the role of calcium in bone health, but there are many other factors. Possibly the most important overlooked element in bone health is the role of vitamin D, even though a vitamin D deficiency has been known for decades to be the cause of the debilitating bone disease rickets. To prevent rickets is why vitamin D is added to milk. Unfortunately, the amount of vitamin D we get from drinking milk is generally not enough to ensure proper bone health. Although we can produce vitamin D if we get enough sunlight, the most reliable source of vitamin D is cod liver oil.

Even in sunny places, modern man does not produce enough vitamin D, as has been demonstrated through blood testing. One reason is that in some cultures we are "bath happy," which means we bathe frequently, removing oils from our skin that are necessary for the production of vitamin D through sunlight. Also, many people today are concerned about the harmful effects of the sun on their skin. It is pretty clear from observation of people who work in the sun, such as farmers, that the sun ages our skin, as it tans hides. However, it is also believed that a large amount of sunlight and the subsequent vitamin D produced by it can prevent diseases such as prostate cancer.

For the rest, please see Bone Health.

Alpha Lipoic Acid & Wrinkles

Does alpha lipoic acid reduce wrinkles? Can it improve health?

Popularized by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, alpha lipoic acid is widely touted as a "wrinkle cure" more effective than skin-care ingredients of the past, such as alpha hydroxy acids. But the anti-aging substance alpha lipoic acid is more than just a skin-care ingredient. Called "possibly the most powerful antioxidant," alpha lipoic acid may increase health and lifespan.

Personal anecdotes reflect that alpha lipoic acid improves the texture and smoothness of skin. Alpha lipoic acid is also used to eliminate the puffiness around the eyes. Another product that works very well to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes is Camocare, which contains extract of chamomile flower. Eye puffiness is a sign of the kidneys being taxed and overworked. Very large bags under the eyes indicates that water has built up around the heart. Along with topical treatments for eye bags and puffiness, it is wise to consume foods and other nutritional products that will increase kidney and heart health. Taking alpha lipoic acid orally may be useful in treating these conditions, as well as any that may be caused by inflammation.

For the rest, please see Alpha Lipoic Acid.

Noni: Nature's Medicine

Does Noni reduce the effects of aging? What are the health benefits of consuming noni? Are there any risks?

The Pacific Islands plant commonly known as "noni" has been the subject of much interest in the field of nutrition, health and longevity. Known in the scientific community by its Latin name Morinda citrifolia, noni is found under many names throughout the Pacific and elsewhere such as Africa, Australia, Asia, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. Noni's names include bumbo, cheesefruit, Grand Morinda, Indian mulberry, kura, lada, mengkudo, nono, nhau, Painkiller Tree, Polynesian bush fruit and 'ura.

A bitter and generally inedible plant, noni is beneficial through the use of its extracts, including infusions from its leaves, as well as juice and other substances. Modern Fijians, Tahitians, Australians and Samoans are known to use noni both raw and cooked. Noni has been claimed to be a tonic for practically every illness and disease known to mankind. It is further claimed that noni contributes to a long, healthy life, by reducing the overall aging of the human body. Cited as evidence - considered anecdotal by the scientific community - are the healthy and youthful Polynesians who utilize noni. Noni is thus held up as a virtual "cure" for aging, with citations of foreign communities such as French colonies who consume it becoming healthier and more youthful.

Does noni really produce these effects? Is the youthful natural state of the Polynesians, known for their thick and smooth skin, as well as ageless hair, attributable to noni? It is difficult to say whether or not noni has this extraordinary effect on human health and longevity, as the noni used has only been available in its present form for a few years and has not been held up to enough rigorous scientific testing.

For the rest, please see Noni: Nature's Medicine.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Meditation can help many ailments

It's about time scientific studies were done of this phenomenon, which for centuries has been reported upon by Westerners traveling to Tibet and elsewhere. These findings have consistently been pooh-poohed by the skeptical scientists and Western religionists, who labeled these practitioners are "charlatans." Obviously, they are not, and their techniques are highly useful, as is meditation in general, demonstrated for millennia by yogis and the like.

The form meditation in which one sits quieting the mind for hours on end is called "vipassana," but there are other forms as well, or methods one can use in order to be able to achieve vipassana. Vipassana can be difficult to accomplish, as the mind can carry on endlessly chattering. However, with these other methods, which are sometimes quite physical, quieting the mind can become much easier. Making sure one is sitting comfortably and not attempting the cross-legged "lotus posture" can also facilitate attaining to a state of peacefulness and reduced stress.
Harvard Gazette: Meditation changes temperatures
Mind controls body in extreme experiments
By William J. Cromie
Gazette Staff

In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room where the temperature was a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a yoga technique known as g Tum-mo, they entered a state of deep meditation. Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49 degrees) and placed them over the meditators' shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.

If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.

Attendants removed the sheets, then covered the meditators with a second chilled, wet wrapping. Each monk was required to dry three sheets over a period of several hours.

Why would anyone do this? Herbert Benson, who has been studying g Tum-mo for 20 years, answers that 'Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There's another reality we can tap into that's unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation. The heat they generate during the process is just a by-product of g Tum-mo meditation.'

Benson is an associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He firmly believes that studying advanced forms of meditation 'can uncover capacities that will help us to better treat stress-related illnesses.'

Benson developed the 'relaxation response,' which he describes as 'a physiological state opposite to stress.' It is characterized by decreases in metabolism, breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. He and others have amassed evidence that it can help those suffering from illnesses caused or exacerbated by stress. Benson and colleagues use it to treat anxiety, mild and moderate depression, high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, excessive anger, insomnia, and even infertility. His team also uses this type of simple meditation to calm those who have been traumatized by the deaths of others, or by diagnoses of cancer or other painful, life-threatening illnesses."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Breast Cancer, Shaving and Deodorants

Some years ago, Kris McGrath, MD, agonized over the tragic death of his young wife from breast cancer and theorized that it was caused by antiperspirants and deodorants entering into her bloodstream via nicks created while shaving her armpits. McGrath subsequently set out to prove his theory and seemingly did so. In 2004, headlines around the world shouted that a connection had been made in his study of 400 women. The study has since been challenged as being inconclusive.

Nevertheless, it is logical to assume that toxic chemicals placed under the arms - a very sensitive part of the body, especially after shaving - will do little to contribute to good health and quite probably will contribute to poor health. Despite the seeming lack of a proven connection between shaving, toxic substances and breast cancer, there is no reason to take the risk that there may indeed be such a connection. Women need not shave all the time - or at all, especially if they are not going to be exposing their armpits to anyone else. Women all over the world do not shave. Now, with sleeveless shirts and bathing suits, that habit is somewhat unaesthetically pleasing, as well as odorous, but the latter can be combatted. One more "natural" but highly effective substance to remove or prevent underarm odor is the deodorant crystal. Unfortunately, like the typical commercial brands of deodorants, the crystal contains aluminum, although it is purportedly a more "naturally occurring" metal and the risks are likely less with this type or this amount of aluminum. Also, some people sometimes get very painful rashes from the deodorant crystal.

In any event, it seems prudent for the health of your body as well as that of the earth to cut down on the typical commercially produced deodorants and antiperspirants.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

GABA: Anti-Anxiety Cure?

GABA is a potent anti-anxiety medication that can be used safely. It may be useful in helping overcome sleep and mood disorders, as well as drug dependency.

A breakthrough in mind medicine may be a hand with the study of the amino acid and brain chemical gamma butyric acid or GABA. GABA is a naturally occurring chemical found in the brain that is responsible for an upbeat mood, positive self-image, goodwill and sound sleep. A neurotransmitter, or chemical that allows brain cells or neurons to interact, GABA apparently regulates the "anti-anxiety" part of the brain. People who suffer anxiety attacks may have a chemical imbalance that includes GABA depletion.

For more, please see GABA: Anti-Anxiety Cure?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Obesity Epidemic and Women's Health

The epidemic of obesity in the U.S. is astounding and very dangerous to personal and national health. It seems like every other person I see is grotesquely overweight, many of them women. Although it may be a metabolic or hormonal problem, the fact is that you do not see such obese people in areas where food is scarce. You also do not often see grotesquely overweight individuals who eat healthy, organic whole foods. It is unfortunate and frightening that the dietary advice being pushed in schools today is extremely faddish, focusing on a low-fat and low-salt diet. This diet actually contributes to health problems. Just eat a low-fat, low-salt meal and see if you don't feel sick - and hungry. This type of diet will actually cause you to overeat because your body is not satisfied with necessary nutrients, including fat and salt. Of course, it is best to consume the proper kind of fat and salt: Namely, unhydrogenated saturated fats such as organic virgin coconut oil and butter; monounsaturates such as olive oil; and some fish and flax oils containing omega 3s, etc. The proper salt is sun-dried Celtic sea salt.
Women's Health Risks Rise Along With Weight
WEDNESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Another major study finds that the more obese a woman is, the greater her risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure and death.

Reporting in the July 5 Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh analyzed data on weight, death, and cardiovascular disease among more than 90,000 ethnically-diverse U.S. women followed for an average of seven years.

They concluded that the health risks of women who are extremely obese may have been underestimated."