Junk food kills protection against obesity, cancers and more..

Junk food kills protection against obesity, cancers and more..

 

Junk food – we all love it. But do our bodies feel the same way about our favorite McDonald’s meals? Research suggests that it might be otherwise.

Just recently a team of scientists explored the link between eating junk food and the overall health and well-being. Tim Spector, the lead scientists of the project, concluded that junk food kills stomach bacteria that is responsible for protection against obesity, diabetes, cancer, inflammatory bowel conditions, heart disease and even autism.

The cause and effect within the phenomenon was explored with the help of a case study – Spector’s own son Tom, who agreed to consume only McDonald’s meals, including hamburgers, chips, nuggets and Coca Cola for 10 days straight. There are around 3,500 different bacteria in the human gut and the fragile balance between all of them is necessary for the proper functioning of the human body. When the experiment started, Tom had around 3,500 species but once the diet began, he lost about one third of them. The proportion of the different bacteria species in his stomach also changed, so it might seem like the McDonalds diet not only eliminated a large number of gut bacteria but was especially harmful to a particular type of them.

For most people, losing weight is simply a matter of calorie-counting. Eat less than you need, and you’ll shed off those extra pounds. Professor Spector’s research, however, suggests that it might not be a case of simply overeating. Think about it: there are many people who eat whatever they want, including junk food, and yet are still slim and thin. The answer might be hidden in the stomach flora, which has a key role in protecting from potentially harmful microbes and regulating the metabolism.

The bacteria that live inside the human body is especially important for its proper functioning. In fact, bacteria make around 90% of the cells in our tissues and organs and performs a vital role in producing vitamins and breaking down and digesting food. The bacteria in a person’s gut weigh around 2 kg and any changes in its number or proportions can result in health issues and affect the immune system, metabolism, body weight, as well as cause cancer, autoimmune diseases and diabetes.

The stomach flora produce digestive enzymes, which are necessary for the absorption of nutrients in the body. Imbalances have been linked to various health conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. Autistic patients often complain of gut problems and autism has been linked to lower gut bacterial activity.

The link between microbes, food and health has been explored in the book The Diet Myth, authored by Professor Tim Spector. He argues that the real cause of obesity is not so much overeating, but rather eating the wrong things. When there is a lack of certain bacteria in the gut and bacterial imbalance, the stomach flora cannot perform its role and produce the vital digestive enzymes. Diets, rich in fat and sugar (much like McDonald’s meals and drinks), combined with inadequate nutrition caused by the bacterial imbalance, as well as lack of exercise, can lead to a variety of health issues, including severe obesity, heart problems, inflammatory bowel disease and many more.

The link between our lifestyle and health has been identified for years now, but we have just recently begun unraveling the secrets of our own body. Junk food has not only been implicated in preventing you from losing weight, but it can lead to more serious health complications. By eliminating almost one third of the gut flora, the ingredients in junk food affect your overall health and well-being and can present serious health consequences.

What causes hair loss?

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss, technically called alopecia and also known as baldness, refers to hair loss from the body, specially the head.

Hair loss can be male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) or general hair loss.  There are numerous reasons for hair loss and they need to be identified before jumping on to conclusions and trying to reverse the process of hair loss.

 

What causes hair loss?

Alopecia (hair loss) has variable reasons and causes and isn’t completely understood. Common causes of alopecia include:

 Androgenic alopecia (Male pattern baldness)

Hair loss in 95% of men is due to male pattern baldness due to androgens. This pattern includes receding of hairs from the sides of the forehead along with balding in the center of head at vertex, which meet eventually resulting in a horse shoe shaped hair ring on the back of head.

 

Nutritional causes

Poor nutrition including reduced intake or deficiency in some of nutrients can result in thinning of hairs.

The nutrient deficiencies include:

  • biotin
  • proteins
  • zinc
  • iron

These deficiencies don’t usually result in total baldness.

Surprisingly the excess of nutrients like vitamin A and animal fats (found in fast foods usually) leads to hair loss too.

 

Infections

There are various infections including skin infections that result in hair loss. These infections include:

  • Fungal infections (including tinea capitis)
  • Folliculitis
  • Dissecting cellulitis
  • Secondary syphilis
  • Demodex folliculorum

 

Drugs causing hair loss

Various drugs can result in hair loss too that can be temporary or permanent, both. These medications include:

  • Antihypertensive medicines
  • Cardiac diseases medicines
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs
  • Diabetic medications
  • Drugs affecting hormonal balance, including:
    • Hormone replacement therapy medicines
    • Steroids
    • Contraceptive pills
    • Acne medications
  • Mycotic infections treatments include drugs that can cause massive hair loss
  • Chemotherapy drugs

 

Trauma and injuries

Trauma to the skin of scalp or hair follicles isn’t due to direct injury only, but also due to ponytails and cornrows insult, called traction alopecia. These individuals injure the scalp with rigorous brushing, heat while styling, massaging the scalp roughly – damaging cuticle that is the outer casing of the hair, or by simply pulling the ponytails or hairs with excessive force.

Some individuals have a disorder near puberty and adulthood in which they pull or bend their hairs, resulting in extraction and permanent loss of hairs in them.

Other traumas include major surgery, poisoning, severe stress, etc. resulting in hair loss and are called telogen effluvium.

Radiations as in radiotherapy damage the irradiated area and results in hair loss.

 

Hair loss management

The first step in managing hair loss is to identify the exact cause of hair loss. If it’s due to some illness, drug or any other controllable factor, it should be managed accordingly.

Non-medical and surgical options include embracing the baldness, using wigs or styling the hairs in a way that the bald area isn’t prominent.

 

Medical treatment for hair loss

Male pattern hair loss can be managed with limited success using certain medications. However they have their own side effects, which can be very serious in some patients, therefore always consult an expert before using any medicine and keep consulting them regularly for review or if you have any symptoms. These medications include:

 

  • Minoxidil
  • Finasteride
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressant’s
  • Anthralin
  • Hormonal modulators
  • Dietary supplements

 

Surgical treatment for hair loss

Surgical treatment option for hair loss includes hair transplant. Hair transplant is done under local anesthesia. The hair that’s transplanted falls off within a few weeks, however the follicle remains and the hair regrows permanently within some months.

Options for hair transplant include:

  • follicle transplant
  • scalp flaps

These procedures are effective but also expensive and painful with a risk of scarring or infection.

Another procedure, scalp reduction, is performed in which the hair less patch of scalp is removed. This procedure is usually done in combination with hair transplant specially in patients with extensive hair loss.

Micro needling is a painless procedure and is considered to stimulate hair growth too.

 

Most effective treatments for hair loss

It’s not possible to define any single best treatment for hair loss in all individuals. Deciding which treatment would be best for specific case depends on the cause of hair loss and various factors specific to each individual and their general health.

For example minoxidil is effective for male pattern baldness and alopecia areata but is not effective for other types of hair loss. Finasteride is good for some patients but in most patients it leads to severe side effects and is thus not recommended without doctor’s prescription, etc.

Hair transplant is considered effective these days but the best one has to be discussed specific to your case with your doctor.

 

Natural regeneration

After identifying the exact cause of your hair loss and discussing with your doctor, certain natural regeneration tips can be used to regrow your lost hair, including:

  • Head massage with oils like coconut, olive, almond, sesame, etc.
  • Using wide tooth wood comb
  • Eating flax seeds
  • Regular healthy exercise
  • Avoid caps and hair styles that put pressure on the hair roots and scalp
  • Use Amla, eat and use as oil
  • Have fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Manage hormonal imbalances if any
  • Have diet rich in vitamin B complex, biotin and vitamin B6 specially
  • Have foods rich in vitamin E to prevent hair breakage
  • Have foods rich in iron like green leafy vegetables, berries, leeks, cashews, etc.

Before trying any regime, especially the ones including medications, it’s important to consult an expert and see if they suit your specific case and if they’re safe for you. If you feel any symptoms with them stop using them immediately and consult your physician!

Reflexology – does it actually work?

Reflexology – does it actually work?

Reflexology is a non-intrusive alternative therapy, often offered as a complementary pain relief technique. It’s based on the theory that different points on the feet, hands, face and ears correspond to various body areas. It can be received by any patient, regardless of age, and involves application of pressure to certain points in order to alleviate pain or stress.

Reflexologists use special foot charts to guide them through the process of application of pressure to certain areas. The therapy can be accomplished with a variety of items, such as rubber balls or bands, as well as wood sticks. It’s considered safe, even though a vigorous massage can cause a certain level of discomfort to some people.

The science behind reflexology states that our bodies are capable of healing themselves. However, all systems need to work together in order to maintain a healthy body balance and this balance could easily be disrupted by an illness, injury or mere stress. According to reflexologists, there are 5 body zones on each foot that run from each toe through the body up to the head. Reflexology has been known to humankind for thousands of years, with the first evidence of its use dating back to the ancient Egyptians.

Reflexology is not about curing a disease or illness but rather acting as a complimentary treatment. It’s a very individual approach, tailored to the specific needs and problems of the patient, and addresses both physical and non-physical factors that might affect their well-being. In fact, a 2013 study by Vardanjani and colleagues discovered that reflexology was successful in alleviating the anxiety symptoms in a control group. However, as it’s not a set science, many people find reflexology works for them, while others – don’t.

What reflexology does is basically restoring the balance within the body in a natural way. After the first treatment, you might discover that your tension is reduced, and you feel somehow relaxed and calmer. Many patients also report better sleep and more regular sleeping patterns, following the treatment. There has been some clinical research, supporting the idea that reflexology can alleviate pain or stress but there is not a large enough body of evidence to conclude that with certainty.

Studies conducted in the US and around the world indicate that reflexology can indeed bring positive benefits to patients, suffering from a variety of conditions. Research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, suggests that reflexology may and should be used as an intervention to reduce pain and enhance relaxation, improve sleeping patterns and reduce a variety of psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. One of the most promising results comes from a study by Ernst and colleagues in 2010, who discovered that reflexology can be beneficial in the area of cancer palliation.

So, does reflexology work? Science cannot conclude that with certainty, but Kunz and Kunz (2008) established that reflexology in fact has impact on specific organs and can demonstrate amelioration of symptoms. They suggested that it could in fact create a sense of relaxation and can aid in pain reduction in a variety of conditions, including AIDS, chest pain and kidney stones.

FootMap

N-Acetyl Cysteine to protect your heart?

N-Acetyl Cysteine to protect your heart?

What is N-AcetylCysteine?

N-AcetylCysteine (NAC), also known as N-acetyl-L-Cysteine or simply acetylcysteine, is a cysteine derivative in which a nitrogen atom is attached to the acetyl group.

N-Acetyl Cysteine has its advantages in pharmaceutical overdose (of paracetamol / acetaminophen ), as a nephroprotective and mucolytic agent, microbiological use, use in psychiatry, etc. It’s useful in situations that can improve by sulfate repletion through cysteine or other amino acids related to sulfur.

What is homocysteine?

Homocysteine is a cysteine homologue and is synthesized inside our body from methionine. It’s a non-protein α-amino acid and can be converted to cysteine through certain vitamin-B or recycled to methionine.

Elevated levels of homocysteine are dangerous and enhance endothelial cell injury leading to atherogenesis in blood vessels via inflammation, resulting in ischemia. When the plague due to atherogenesis blocks the blood vessels of the heart, it results in cardiac ischemia and heart attack.

Usually men have higher levels of homocysteine than women. The homocysteine levels increase with age too. In west, average homocysteine levels are between 10 to 12. Homocysteine levels may reach up to 20 in elderly or in people having low vitamin-B intake.

Homocysteine level above 15 µmol/L is called hyperhomocysteinemia and is a medication condition that may lead to increased risk of developing various diseases including neuropsychiatric disorders, fractures, thrombosis, cardiovascular diseases, renal diseases, etc.

High levels of homocysteine are seen mostly in people with high animal protein intake and less leafy vegetables or fruits. Leafy vegetables and fruits are a source of vitamin-B and folic acid that help our body to fix and get rid of homocysteine, keeping its levels in control.

 

High levels of Homocysteine and Cardiovascular system

High levels of homocysteine affect cardiovascular system of our body by endothelial cells injury. Endothelial cells are the inner most lining of the blood vessels. When the inner lining of the blood vessel is injured, there is an inflammation as a response. This inflammation leads to the formation of a plaque, which can directly reduce the diameter of the blood vessel at that point, hindering the flow of the blood and thus the supply of oxygen and nutrition along with other constituents of blood to the organs where the vessel leads.

Even worse, if the plaque gets dislodged it starts flowing with the blood and can block any vessel anywhere in the body, resulting in blockage of the blood supply to any organs where that vessel leads. If this happens in the heart, cardiac ischemia and heart attack occurs, if it blocks a vessel in brain then stroke may happen and so on.

High levels of homocysteine are also believed to enhance the blood clotting by acting on platelets, further enhancing the risk of cardiovascular or related diseases.

Atherosclerosis

How does NAC help reduce homocysteine?

Elevated homocysteine levels are associates with cardiovascular diseases and can’t be lowered significantly with vitamin-B supplements only.

Almost 80% of Homocysteine is bound to a protein in blood. The free homocysteine is easily metabolized and cleared from the body whereas the protein bound homocysteine keeps on accumulating in the blood and having negative health affects. N-Acetyl cysteine displaces homocysteine from that protein’s binding site probably due to disulfide interchange reactions. As a result, a mixed low molecular weight cysteine and N-Acetyl cysteine disulfides are formed. These compounds are believed to have more metabolic bioavailability and a high renal clearance, resulting in removal of homocysteine from the plasma. However, the decrease in homocysteine levels through N-Acetyl Cysteine is dose related [1].

A study published in 2006 [2] studying affect of intravenous N-Acetylcysteine on hemocysteine concentration in plasma during haemodialysis in end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients concluded that N-Acetylcysteine normalizes the plasma concentration of hemocysteine during hemodialysis resulting in improved pulse pressure and overall condition of patient with end stage renal failure (ESRD) and can be considered a promising approach to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in vulnerable patients.

 

Effective dose of N-Acetylcysteine

A study on N-Acetyl Cysteine affect on plasma Homocysteine concentration of patients undergoing hemodialysis published in 2009 [3] concluded that oral NAC was sufficient and safe to lower the hemocysteine levels in blood plasma. However they found that doses below 600 mg per day for a month were not effective while dose above 1800mg per day caused complications for gastrointestinal tract without any further affect than a daily dose of 1200 mg per day.

Another study performed in 2003 on healthy individuals in three groups, given different doses of N-Acetylcysteine also found that the affects were dose related in lowering the plasma homocysteine levels, with more reduction in the group with higher dosage. [4]

Note that the dose is dependent on the requirement of the individual patient and an expert should be consulted before starting taking N-Acetylcysteine regularly.

 

Is supplementation of zinc and copper recommended with frequent NAC use?

A study published in 1990 [5] on affects of oral N-Acetylcysteine on the excretion of trace metals including zinc, copper, magnesium and iron for short term (2 weeks) concluded that there was no obvious loss of these elements from the body.

However it’s believed that the long term use of N-Acetylcysteine does affect the trace elements excretion from the body and they should be supplemented. Consult your doctor before taking any supplement including N-Acetylcysteine alone or any of the trace elements including zinc and copper. Also, the safety of N-Acetylcysteine is unknown for pregnancy and therefore should be avoided during pregnancy. During pregnancy always use medicine or supplements after consulting your physician.

 

References:

 

  1. Plasma homocysteine and thiol compound fractions after oral administration of N-acetylcysteine. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7809573)
  2. Intravenous N-Acetylcysteine During Haemodialysis Reduces the Plasma Concentration of Homocysteine in Patients With End-Stage Renal Disease (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531816)
  3. Does N-Acetyl Cysteine Have a Dose-Dependent Effect on Plasma Homocysteine Concentration in Patients Undergoing Hemodialysis? (http://numonthly.com/?page=article&article_id=892)
  4. Urinary and plasma homocysteine and cysteine levels during prolonged oral N-acetylcysteine therapy. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12711838)
  5. Does N-acetylcysteine increase the excretion of trace metals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper) when given orally? (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02657052)

 

 

Can chocolate make you look 30 years younger?

Can chocolate make you look 30 years younger?

 

Esthechoc is a newly-developed chocolate that can actually help you preserve your youthfulness and look younger. It was developed by scientists at the University of Cambridge, who argue that it can make a 50-year old look 20 or 30 years younger!

The secret behind Esthehoc seemingly miraculous properties is an antioxidant that improves the skin physiology. Esthehoc chocolate is based on 70% cocoa dark chocolate (which is also an antioxidant on its own), and marine carotenoid astaxanthin, found in the Alaskan salmon. One 7.5g piece of Esthehoc contains astaxanthin amounting to 300g of wild salmon, and flavanol activity equivalent to 100g of dark chocolate. This combination has powerful anti-aging properties and can boost the oxygen delivery to the tissues, thus improving the respiration and effectively supporting skin health.

The technology was developed by Cambridge scientists and is currently being offered by a spin-off commercial company by the name of Cambridge Chocolate Technologies. The unique formula is the result of extensive independent research on the relationship between cocoa polyphenols and free radicals.

There have been clinical trials that seem to demonstrate the effectiveness of this new anti-aging supplement. Volunteers that ate the chocolate daily for four weeks showed less inflammation in their blood and increased blood supply to their tissues. Esthehoc was also able to reverse the age-related depression of microcirculation in the participants. The good news is that each block contains around 40 calories, and ingestion of a piece does not result in the postprandial lipid- or hyperglycemia, meaning that it doesn’t contribute to calorie concerns. This makes the Esthehoc not only especially effective as an anti-aging supplement, but also suitable for diabetics.

Researchers, participating in the experiments, confirmed that the ingestion of Esthehoc improved the skin’s physiology. However, it’s unlikely that Esthehoc will appear on the market soon, at least not in the corner shops, so to speak. The price is still not announced officially, but the product is targeted to wealthy businessmen and women – “affluent and educated city-dwelling women”, which suggests a hefty price tag. It would also require regular use, which would make the product even more expensive.

Despite the tremendous success, some scientists are still not entirely convinced and believe that more research is needed to confirm the miraculous anti-aging properties of Esthehoc. There is a biological reason linking the compounds in Esthehoc and the prevention of aging. The astaxanthin molecule, for instance, neutralizes the free radicals, responsible for the aging of the skin and is hundreds of times more effective than vitamin E or green tea. Cocoa, on the other hand, is rich in a substance known as flavanol, and is also well-known for its anti-aging and antioxidant properties. The Esthehoc has a high concentration of both ingredients, which means double the power. It is also true, however, that eating too much chocolate can lead to obesity. Moreover, previous research suggests that astaxanthin works better when applied directly to the face, rather than ingested.

Scientists are not yet entirely convinced of the incredible powers of Esthehoc chocolate and the verdict is still not clear. There is a strong biological basis behind the claims, and the clinical trials conducted so far seem to support the hypothesis. Esthehoc is now shipped commercially and should be available by the biggest cosmetic brands, but it’s unlikely that it will be consumed on a national scale. More clinical trials are needed and would most certainly be conducted to test whether Esthehoc is really the miracle anti-aging substance we are all looking for.