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Feeling tired? You might want to check your iron levels

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Feeling tired?  You might want to check your iron levels. 

Iron is one of the key ingredients  of your next batch of red blood cells.  These cells last only about three months; the old ones are broken down in the liver, and new ones are generated in  the  bone marrow.  If our iron levels fall, then we can end up anemic, and, commonly, fatigued.

While most iron deficiencies have been seen in women of menstruating age, it can occur in men as well.

Here are some considerations if you have low iron in your blood test:

1. INTAKE:  Iron is found in foods that are green (like fresh vegetables, including Popeye's famous spinach), and also in foods that have red blood (meat, fish, chicken).  If you are vegan ,  eat green veggies,  beans and whole grains.   One easy trick for anyone low in dietary iron  is to use an uncoated iron frying pan, as it will add a lot of real iron to your foods.   If you are a junk food fan, remember they don’t call it “junk” for nothing: there is usually little iron (or anything else) in it.

2. ABSORPTION:  Certain kinds of stomache or intestinal conditions make it difficult to absorb iron, even if enough is presented in one's diet.  This can be seen in cases of malabsorption, including patients with surgically shortened intestines.

3. OUTFLOW: Two major sources of blood loss to consider;

    a)  Vaginal loss: heavy periods, or constant slow leaks throughout the menstrual cycle can lose more blood than the body can produce. If this is the case, it is not something to put up with, it should be investigated by your doctor.

     b) Rectal loss:

          -Visible loss of blood is an obvious cause of low serum iron for men or women. Remember that blood can be black if it comes from higher up in the stomache or upper intestines, or it could be bright red, if it comes from a hemorrhoid .  These are very important to investigate.

          -Invisible loss of blood:  A slow daily leaking of trace amounts of blood in the stool can indicate important problems inside the colon. One way to screen for this is with the home kits for Fecal Occult Blood, which comes with a stick, and a fold-over place to put the stool sample.  To read more about this test, click this link: FDA: home fob tests.  If any hidden blood is detected, then colonoscopy comes next.  This gives the doctor a clear view of any bleeding polyps, which are often fixable on the spot.  Through the colonoscope, it is also possible to biopsy and photograph any other pathology, such as inflammatory diseases like colitis or diverticulitis. 

Once the cause has been determined, then a solution becomes clear.  In cases where the problem lies in low intake, one needs more iron in the diet, or an iron supplement from your doctor.  In cases where there is an excessive loss, one must plug the leak, or at least have one's doctors solve this. In all cases, remember to recheck your blood after three months, to make sure your body is back on track.

In any case, this is just another reason to check the silent signals in your body, to make sure you stay as bulletproof as possible.  Its a stressful world out there, and we all need to be in our best shape!

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Caring for Sore Throats

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One of the most common reasons for patients to visit their doctor is the common sore throat.  For many years after the age of antibiotics began over a half-century ago, most doctors reached for Penicillin or Sulfa drugs, and most patients expected this prescription to be the “miracle” cure.  Which it might well be, if the underlying organism is a strep bacteria, and not a virus. 

However, times are changing, and so are bacteria.  

No longer will the common antibiotics guarantee complete recovery, even if the infection is purely bacterial.   In fact, the overuse of antibiotics has been not only in doctors offices, but in the food industry.  Mass-produced  livestock, such as  cattle, pork, chickens,  and even fish are kept in unnaturally close quarters, where they are basically bumping into each other, or the perimeters of their cages/fences. If they show superficial infections, they will not pass inspection.  So rather than have more space around each animal, it turns out to be a lot cheaper to dump antibiotics in with the feed.   This even shows up in eggs and milk in areas where this practice is not regulated. 

As a consequence, the bacteria are so used to antibiotics that they frankly are not impressed; and the infections are mutating with such speed that we cannot make new families of antibiotics fast enough. 

So with this as background, you will not be surprised when your doctor today is much less likely to dole out these medications.   Even if you have green or yellow discharge from your nose or in the back of your throat, and even if you have bright red tonsils the size of golf balls.

Instead of reaching for the prescription pad, doctors now will suggest a throat swab to test for strep, before prescribing any antibiotics.  This can be done as an instant test (which may be an extra charge, depending on your insurance), or as the kind that takes two days for the lab to report.  Over 80% of the time (in my practice) these are negative for any treatable bacteria, meaning the infection is caused by an untreatable virus.

So how do we deal with these painful viral episodes?  Here are a few tips that may help:

  1. Consider holding back on dairy products for a few days.  Milk products in many people will have an effect (not an actual allergy) to thicken mucus.   That’s why singers never drink warm milk between songs.  As soon as the mucus clears, you can happily resume your favourite milk, cheeses, or ice creams.  If milk does no such thing to you, don’t worry about this step.
  2. Grandmother’s Chicken Soup: turns out to be an excellent choice to help thin mucous discharge from the nose, throat, and airways.  Keep a few boxes of chicken stock handy, or use boullion cubes to fill your mug with a nice hot drink.  Remember to rehydrate your body with water.  Lemon and honey can prove soothing in a mug of hot water, as can herbal teas or ice water. 
  3. Saline gargles: Do NOT use commercial mouthwashes more than a few times a day, or you can change the pH, as well as the  ecosystem in the mouth, and end up with a fungal infection, with a  blue or white tongue.  If you have a really sore throat, including swollen tonsils, you need to gargle a lot, even hourly.  The best way is to use saline, stirring a few spoonful’s into a half-glass of warm water, until no more will dissolve.   Gargle as long as you can with the first mouthful, then spit it out, and repeat a couple more times.  You can immediately take a swig of something tastier, so you don’t need to endure the salt for long. 
  4. Treat symptoms with off-the-shelf medicines.  For fever, sinusitis, and pains, something like an ibuprofen or aspirin based cold/sinus pill will help. 

If the above is not working, go back and see your doctor.  Even if it turns out that your case is caused by a bacteria that will respond to an antibiotic, the above steps are still very useful.

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Beware the Plastics

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Plastics may be great for consumer.  But they are NOT meant to be consumed. 

With today’s busy lifestyle, more people are reaching for packaged foods, and most of these are introducing small amounts of chemicals into the foods they touch.   Whether it is the fast food burger in a foam box, raw meats on a Styrofoam (made from toxic styrene) tray in the supermarket, or drinks that now come in plastic instead of glass bottles, unwanted chemicals are entering our digestive tracts, and getting into our bloodstreams.  Now scientists and doctors are starting to take notice.  Higher rates (and earlier ages of victims) of cancers and neurological diseases are starting to be noticed in areas where packaged food is the norm.  While the big food companies may argue that this is untrue, there is certainly no chance that these chemicals like BPA (BisPhenol-A) are “health foods”.  As a consequence, it makes sense to take some simple measures to reduce our exposure.

Action Items to keep plastics out of your body:

  1. Buy fresh food, whenever you can.  Try your local farmer’s markets, or at least get to know the people behind the fish and meat counters at your grocery store.  Have them wrap it in wax paper. 
  2. Buy small quantities, so you won’t have a fridge full of left-overs. Remember the best way to keep food fresh is to leave it in the store!
  3. Learn to cook.  You will save money, and save your health.  You will also save time.  Watch Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute mealson YouTube; you will learn how to make something nutritious from scratch in less time than it takes to go out (or order in) for “fast” food.
  4. Don’t buy landfill along with your groceries.  Today’s foam trays, plastic containers, and packages all end up in next week’s garbage.  Far better to have foods wrapped in paper, foil, or cardboard boxes, and to buy liquids in glass containers. To complete the green concept, take your own cloth bags to the store, instead of using any plastic ones.  You will be amazed at the reduced output when you just buy the product and not the containers.
  5. Throw out your non-stick pans, plastic utensils, and storage containers.  Use stainless steel-lined pots and pans, and glass or steel storage containers. 
  6. Use water for your main drink.  It’s a lot cheaper than sodas and juices.  Besides, you don’t have to carry tap water home!  If your tap water tastes poorly, consider a reverse osmosis water filter. To make it look more appetising, fill old wine bottles with water, and leave them to chill in the fridge.   If you do enjoy fizzy water, seek out those that still come in glass containers. 
  7. Time counts.  If you do need to bring some foods home in plastic containers, transfer them to dishes immediately.    If some of it is to be saved for later, put it in a glass container.  Try not to eat from (or store food in) original plastic containers.
  8. When you absolutely need to use plastic at times, make sure it is the "hard" kind, not the soft opaque version; the opaque one is much easier to scratch with utensils, and much more likely to leech chemicals into its contents, especially when heated for cleaning.

While we can’t control all of the chemicals that touche our foods, we can certainly take these simple measures to fight back.   

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Fight Alcoholism? Get Rid Of The Sugar!

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For long term success, an alcoholic must learn not only how to stop drinking, but also how to start eating.

Most alcoholics that are admitted into detoxification centers are massively malnourished, and seriously depleted of thiamin, vitamins A, B-12, and C, folic acid, and the essential minerals calcium, magnesiuum, potassium, and zinc.  These deficiencies are corrected at the outset with supplementation by mouth or by injection.  However once past the initial stages of treatment, recovering alcoholics often go back to poor dietary choices such as processed foods that contain little apart from sugar, fat, and calories. The sugar is particlarly bad because alcoholics already produce too much insulin, which means that during withdrawl they crave sugar. 

 

By eating refined sugars they only make the situation worse, because the pancreas pours out even more insulin, and the cravings for not only sugar but alcohol increase.  Inhaled tobacco smoke makes matters even worse, as it leaches a variety of nutrients from the body.   Dr. Joseph Beasley, the medical director of Brunswick House, Amityville, New York, studied a group of hardened alcoholics, forty percent of whom were cross-addicted to oher substances, such as cocaine.  Not the sort of group you would think should set any records in rehabilitation. 

With the standard program of detoxification, behavioral and family therapy, exercise, and follow-up with Alcholics anonymous, a twenty to thirty per cent recovery rate after one year is considered the norm. However, these patients were also given multivitamin and mineral supplements, and a balanced diet high in fiber and low in refined sugars.  At the end of a year, an astonishing 65% of the group were still sober.

To get the best results in treating alcoholism,  one must treat any other dietary and lifestyle indiscretions.  In fact, Bill W., one of the founders of Alcholics Anonymous admitted in his later years that one of his biggest mistakes was leaving sugar, nicotine, and caffeine in AA. 

So when you battle the bottle, shuck the sugar, and cut the butts, so you'll really have reason to say cheers.

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Improve Communication With Your Doctor While In The Hospital

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If you are in hospital, don't expect your memory to do all the work for you. If you have a question, write it down, then, when the doctor does come for a visit, you won't forget to ask.

Under the best of circumstances, going into hospital as a patient is stressful, because it invokes great change in your life. You have changed your environment, your daily routine, and your eating habits. There are the intrusions of strangers poking and prodding, and wheeling you down the hall for tests.

An image of a doctors stethoscope

Coordinating the whole scene is your doctor, who usually sees you for just a few minutes each day. If this encounter is not handled well by both parties, it can lead to further anxiety and confusion. That’s why doctors need coaching in bedside manner.

Especially while you are in the hospital, the ability to communicate accurately with your doctor leads to better healing and potentially can even mean the difference between life and death. This has been confirmed in a series of studies performed and published over the past forty years. Good doctor-patient communication makes a difference not only in patient satisfaction but in patient outcomes including resolution of chronic headaches, changes in emotional states, lower blood sugar values in diabetics, improved blood pressure readings in hypertensives, and other important health indicators.

However, in a recent national survey of both doctors and hospitalized patients, effective communication remains elusive.

Only 48% of patients said they were always involved in decisions about their treatment, and 29% of patients didn't know who was in charge of their case while they were in the hospital.

Here's an action tip:

While your doctor's ability to communicate with you will vary by personality and training, you can benefit from a few tips as well. The following suggested questions were compiled by the Mayo Clinic, and serve as a good model for each patient.

  • What do my symptoms mean?
  • Do the medications have any side effects?
  • What is this test for?
  • What risks are involved in my treatment?
  • Do I have any options other than the treatment you've prescribed?
  • How do the benefits of the treatment compare with the risks?
  • What emotional reactions can I expect from my illness?
  • How long do I have to stay in the Hospital?
  • Do I have any limitations on my activity at home?
  • What should I call you about once I'm at home?

With these questions in hand, you should be well prepared to take some of the stress out of the hospital stay.

But what about the case where, despite your best attempts, you just can't establish that rapport with your doctor? Here are some resources for helping you decide what to do if you and your doctor don't communicate well.

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Stress and Childhood Obesity

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If you have a child between the ages of 7-13 that experiences rapid weight gain, the reason may well be stress.

I have always maintained that obesity is never a problem; it is only the result of a problem. Until that underlying problem is addressed, whether it is boredom, poor self image, or too much stress, all the diets in the world are not going to work in the long term.

An image depicting a child fighting childhood obesity with exercise

Now a new multi-center European study, headed by Drs. Melbin and Vuille and reported in the Scandinavian Pediatric Journal, has come to the same conclusion. They examined close to a thousand children, and followed them from birth to age 15 years. All children who gained more than fifteen percent in relative weight were analyzed according to age groups. Their psychosocial stress was evaluated according to scholastic health records and school nurses' information, and rated 0 (for no stress), 1, or 2. Between the ages of 7 to 13, the students with the highest stress scores turned out to be the ones most likely to be obese.

In addition, the high levels of stress were manifested in other ways. For example, among the seventy overweight children in the study, they were almost five times as likely to drop out of school beyond the nine year mandatory period. When the stress levels were low, almost half of these overweight children lost weight between the ages of 13 and 15, but when stress was high, only 15 % achieved normal body weights in later adolescence. So the authors concluded that rapid weight gain during the school years may be an indicator of psychosocial problems and the ramifications are obvious. Just signing such a child up for an expensive diet program, or subscribing to radical liquid diets will only work for a very short period of time, if at all. If the stresses are not addressed and dealt with, the obesity will soon return.

The American Heart Association has taken a position on this subject based on scientific evidence:  physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. Inactivity also increases the risk of stroke and such other major cardiovascular risk factors as obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Here's an action tip:

If you have a child that has suddenly gained a lot of weight, make sure you don’t just shut down the food lines, but open up the lines of communication. Resolve these stresses by working together and, where appropriate, involve professional help. You will do a lot more to cure the obesity if you listen to the child.

How do I promote physical activity in my child?

  • Reduce the time your child watches TV, talks on the phone, plays computer games or any other activity that does not require vigorous physical activity.
  • Make sure that any physical activity is enjoyable and rewarding - it will help reinforce the idea that exercise is fun and something to be looked forward to, not avoided.
  • Be a role model! If you are active and encourage your child to also be active there's a good chance they'll make exercise a habit!

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Have a Glass of Red Wine to Relieve Stress and Fight Heart Disease and Cancer

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Do you drink an occasional glass of red wine in the evening after a stressful day at work? Are you also a bit confused about which foods are good for you and which ones to avoid? Well, its getting even more interesting now.

An image of glass of red wine

We've long known that dietary factors are being found by researchers to play a role in the prevention or cause of cancers. Edible items from fats to chewing tobacco have been implicated as cancer causing agents, while others such as fiber and some vitamins can offer protection. Well, add to the list of good dietary products: red wine, garlic, onions, and soy sauce, although please, not all at once.

Dr. Terrance Leighton, professor of microbiology at the University of California in Berkley, identified a substance called quercetin which is found in these foods and, ironically, can also be a carcinogen. However, he says that its power as an anticancer agent simply overwhelms its danger as a mutagen, or cancer causing one. Found in a wide variety of foods, quercetin is active in the micromolar range, in directly blocking the proliferation of cancer cells. In case you are not familiar with the micromolar range, try looking for it just this side of the Rocky Mountain range. Dr Leighton noted that Chinese who are on diets high in allium vegetables, such as onions and garlic, which have incredible levels of quercetin, have twenty times less cancer risk than those without these vegetables.

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin reported that mice given a cancer-causing diet developed fewer tumors if they had soy sauce on their food. Mind you, what they don't tell you is that the salt in the soy sauce probably gave the mice swollen ankles, high blood pressure, heart failure, and kidney disease, but hey, this is only a cancer experiment.

Here's the news about red wine: in moderation, it has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits and may help prevent heart disease by protecting against artery damage. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that's gotten attention. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease. 

The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.

Other foods that contain some resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It's not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.

While this update about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, the medical community is wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That's because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.

 

Here's an action tip:
Medical research comes and goes, and foods that were the villains of yesterday can come back into favor. In the meantime, until we hear evidence to the contrary, it seems we can all sit back to a Chinese vegetable meal, have a glass of red wine, and take the medical news not with a grain of salt, but with a shake of soy.

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Fight Childhood Obesity More Effectively With Exercise

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Are you an overweight teenager, or do you have one in your family? Well, new research indicates that childhood obesity may be hurting a lot more than just their physical appearance.

An image of a high school volleyball matchObesity in teenagers is rare in most parts of the world, but it is remarkably common in the United States and Canada. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese.  Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but one of the most difficult to treat.  Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.

What is obesity? 

Generally, a child is not considered obese until weighing in 10 percent or higher than what is recommended for their height and body type.  The ages between 5 and 6, as well as adolescence, are the most common ages for obesity begin.  Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult. While few extra pounds does not suggest obesity, it may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and/or exercise.

Certainly one reason for it is our absence of exercise. North American teens lead the world in hours of television watched after school, and it’s not much better when they are not watching TV.

What causes obesity? 

Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up, but the underlying causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors.  Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems.  Chances are 50/50 that a child will be obese if one parent is obese. These odds rise to about 80% when both parents are obese.    

Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:

Our teenagers get virtually no exercise on their way to school, or once they get there. In many jurisdictions the paltry amount of time devoted to physical education is only an option, meaning that it appeals to those who are active anyway, but can be dodged by the slothful. Well, not only are our teenagers falling woefully behind the rest of the world in academic matters, they are as a group, also in dreadful shape. Because adult heart disease actually begins in childhood, it eventually puts their very lives in jeopardy. The obvious answer is to diet, but now it has been shown that overweight teens should also focus more on exercise.

Professor Victor Katch, of the University of Michigan, conducted a study involving thirty six adolescents whose body fat was more than five per cent above normal for their ages. For a period of twenty weeks, half were given a heart healthy diet, and the other half was given the diet plus an exercise routine of fifty minutes three times a week. In the teens that exercised as well as dieted, their blood levels of cholesterol and other blood fats dropped more than twice as much as those who only dieted, and their overall risk improvement for heart disease was three times as good.

Here's an action tip:

 If you have an overweight teenager in your family, or if you are one, please consult your doctor for a full physical exam and cholesterol tests, and an appropriate diet. But, just as importantly, try to incorporate activity into your routine, even if you turn off the TV or video games for an hour each afternoon, and go for a walk.

As a parent, other ways in which you can help your teenager steer clear of obesity are:

  • help them start a weight-management program
  • change eating habits (eat slowly, develop a routine)
  • plan meals and make better food selections (eat less fatty foods, avoid junk and fast foods)
  • control portions (consume fewer calories)
  • know what your child eats at school
  • eat meals as a family instead of while watching television or at the computer
  • do not use food as a reward
  • limit snacking
  • attend a support group (for instance, Overeaters Anonymous)

Your career may depend on your mental exercises during high school, but your adult health depends on how well you exercise your body.

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Alzheimer's Disease and Aluminum

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Aluminum was once thought to be an inert metal, but its safety in our bodies is now being questioned.

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative neurological disease that causes premature aging of the brain. Memory loss, early senility, and premature death are hallmark symptoms. Although there may be many causes, including genetics and a number of environmental factors, aluminum ingestion has been implicated. While no causal relationship has yet been proved, there is circumstantial evidence linking this metal with Alzheimer's disease.

alzheimer's disease

Neurotoxic behavior of aluminum is known to occur upon entry into the circulatory system, where it can migrate to the brain and inhibit some of the crucial functions of the blood brain barrier (BBB). A loss of function in the BBB can produce significant damage to the neurons in the central nervous system, as the barrier protecting the brain from other toxins found in the blood will no longer be capable of such action. Though the metal is known to be neurotoxic, effects are usually restricted to patients incapable of removing excess ions from the blood, such as those experiencing renal failure. Patients experiencing aluminum toxicity can exhibit symptoms such as impaired learning and reduced motor coordination. Additionally, systemic aluminum levels are known to increase with age, and have been shown to correlate with Alzheimer’s Disease, implicating it as a neurotoxic causative compound of the disease.

Aluminum became a suspect when researchers found traces of this metal in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Many studies since then have either not been able to confirm this finding or have had questionable results. Aluminum does turn up in higher amounts than normal in some autopsy studies of Alzheimer's disease patients, but not in all, and the aluminum found in some studies may have come from substances used in the laboratory to study brain tissue. Moreover, various studies have found that groups of people exposed to high levels of aluminum do not have an increased risk. On the whole, scientists can say only that it is still uncertain whether exposure to aluminum plays a role in Alzheimer's disease.

Millions of cases have been diagnosed in Canada and the United States, as well as countless others wrongly attributed to simple aging. Alzheimer's disease has certainly attracted the attention of the public. Dr. Donald McLachlan, Professor of physiology and medicine at the University of Toronto notes that we should all be eating about two micrograms of aluminum a day, but we average at least four times this amount. Many people inadvertently consume forty times the recommended levels. Highly acidic foods such as rhubarb or tomatoes, when stewed in aluminum pots will absorb some of the element. A slice of homemade cornbread tops the list with nine times the recommended daily dose, as does a gram of Crest gel toothpaste in the tube. Fresh mint Crest gel, in the metal tube, contains almost twenty times less aluminum than Crest Sparkling gel, in the metal tube. Aquafresh in the metal tube, bests the list with only .27 micrograms per gram.

Foods high in aluminum are American processed cheese, cake and icing from a mix, foods containing additives, foods packaged in aluminum, some antacids, lipstick, cosmetics,  antiperspirants, buffered aspirin, and even prune juice. A call to your local public health office will tell you about your local drinking water. A liter of Metropolitan Toronto tap-water contains 75 micrograms in winter and this increases to between 200 and 300 in summer.

The evidence that what you eat matters to your brain is growing fast. Many studies have recently reported that many of the same factors that contribute to poor heart health also increase one’s risk of cognitive decline or developing Alzheimer's disease. It is very important to eat in moderation and maintain a healthy body weight, as people who are obese double their risk of developing dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Research has found that people who eat foods high in fat and sugar, as well as larger amounts of red and processed meats have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than people who ate more lean meats (fish and poultry) and more fruits and vegetables. Yet another study has shown that vitamin B-12 and folic acid deficiencies coupled with increased levels of homocysteine, a compound found in the blood that has been linked to increased risk of certain cardiovascular conditions, resulted in lower scores on cognitive tests. Taken as a whole, these and other studies support the notion that eating a balanced diet and eating in moderation throughout your life is just as important to long-term cognitive health as it is to heart health.

Studies have found also shown that aluminum absorbs better through the skin than orally. When using antiperspirants, one only applies very little aluminum to the skin. However, daily use results in chronic exposure to aluminum.

Here's an action tip:

To help reduce your chances of developing aluminum toxicity, take steps to avoid antacids and antiperspirants, which may contain aluminum. Until more is known about the effects of aluminum ingestion on our health, the safest thing to do is avoid foods wrapped in it, and read all food labels carefully, If the tap water in your area is suspect, then drink bottled water.

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Colonoscopy for Cancer of the Colon: Hind-sight is 20-20

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Colon Cancer Prevention

 Aging is supposed to be a reward, not a punishment.  However, there are days when that may not seem to be much consolation.  Just like with a car, we can ignore maintenance at first, but after it becomes an old classic, it needs a lot more maintenance.

One human example is our search for preventable diseases.  Colon cancer is certainly one of the classic examples. 

Our society is at a high risk of the disease, for a number of reasons.  Our aging population, or changing diet with less fiber and more sugars and additives, and our increased levels of stress all mitigate increased risks of this (and other) diseases.  Because cancer of the colon is so easy to prevent, and yet so deadly if allowed to grow undiagosed, prevention trumps heroic surgery as our first option.  While prevention incorporates the usual good lifestyle choices of diet, exercise, and stress management, here are some critical elements of detection:

1.       Fecal Occult Blood test: this is a simple test kit, available from your doctor or lab, which will show trace amounts of blood in the stool.  This might be from bleeding from the gums or swallowed blood from a nosebleed, or it could come from the stomach or any part of the intestines down to the rectum.  While blood is visible as red or black discoloration in the stools, this test is sensitive enough to detect blood hidden from the human eye.  Because it is inexpensive and non-invasive, this can be done to any age group.  We often order it for patients with low iron levels, or with known bowel diseases like chron’s or ulcerative colitis.

 

2.       Colonoscopy:  This is the definitive test, routinely suggested for all adults after the age of 50.  Earlier screening is suggested for those who have any of the risk factors mentioned above, including those who have positive Fecal Occult Blood tests.

Treatment:

                1. Minor surgery:  Nip it in the bud: the point of a direct (as opposed to a “virtual” one) colonoscopy is that it will not only show any polyps, but allows the doctor to snip, zap, or otherwise eradicate them before they turn into cancers.  A classic “two-fer”, this means the diagnosis is made, and the treatment is given all during the same procedure.  For patches of suspicious cells, a biopsy can be taken which will detect diseases within a few days of lab processing. 

2.    Major surgery: If the above is too late, and the cancer has progressed into and through the wall of the colon, then full abdominal surgery is usually indicated.  Often this ends with a segment of bowel removed, and a colectomy or removal of bowel being done.  The patient is left with a colostomy bag, which is often permanent.  In some cases, the cancer may have already spread beyond the colon and into the lymph nodes, meaning that systemic chemotherapy or radiation may then be needed.

Please consider option 1, no matter how you might rather postpone or ignore it.  Those who are in denial are likely going to end up with Option 2, and for some of those, even surgery may be too late to save their lives.  Once cancer has been established,  a third of all patients will die from it.  If detected early, the survival rate should be 100%.

There are plenty of “bad luck” reasons for us to die; please don’t let “bad management” add to your risks!  Ask your doctor for a referral, and make sure you check out your colon when you are due. 

For more info on colonoscopy:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonoscopy

For more articles on colon issues, check these articles on www.stressipedia.com:

A-new-wrinkle-on-fatigue-Flat-Iron

Stress-and-Constipation-How-to-Move-Things-Along

Probiotics-new-use-for-an-old-bacteria

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