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22 May

BLOG 268 SELECTIVE SERATONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs)

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medication works to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that signals communication between brain cells. More serotonin becomes available as SSRIs block the re-uptake of serotonin so that more is ready for use.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the following SSRIs:
• Citalopram (Celexa)
• Escitalopram (Lexapro)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Vilazodone (Viibryd)

The FDA requires that these medications are labeled with the type of warning called “black box warnings”. This is because some people can have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking an antidepressant.
The chemical makeup of these different prescriptions can cause side effects. For some, these subside within the few couple weeks, while others lead to trying a different type. Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, headache, agitation, nausea, or diarrhea. Taking the medication at bedtime can help with drowsiness and taking the medication with food can help with nausea. It is important to consider drug interactions if taking other medication and one should consult their doctor if pregnant and taking an SSRI. The key is to consistently take the medication. SSRIs are not considered addictive, but missing doses or abruptly stopping their use can cause withdrawl. It typically takes several weeks for an SSRI to become effective. It is common for doses to have to be adjusted or medications to be switched until the right combination is found.

Although the objective of SSRIs is to treat depression, some people respond differently to certain types. One person can have very different side effects from another person. Patience is critical. Relief will come. When feelings of sadness are so severe that they interfere with daily life, physical and emotional problems can result. Feelings that cause home life and work life to be difficult should be addressed. Depression is one of the most treatable conditions. Most times, 80% of people feel relief when using SSRIs. The brain chemistry can be positively changed to help you feel better. Feelings of sadness can be controlled, and emotions can be regulated. SSRIs specifically target serotonin which can in turn help fight depression, as well as anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some people have side effects and some do not. When the time is right, one can reduce dosage and come off this medication, but this should never be done abruptly. We are meant to smile and enjoy life, and SSRIs provide the assistance and potential relief to do so. Talking to your doctor is important to find the right solution and treatment for depression that works for you.

14 May

Living an active lifestyle is highly recommended and preventative medicine for your health. When it comes to getting some Vitamin D, fresh air, and those steps in, hiking might be your choice of exercise modality to meet those needs. There are of course all different levels of this activity, which can be said for most forms of exercise. Hiking is a great way to beat the boredom of the gym and mix up your routine. Here are some other reasons to get trekking:
1. Hiking can help strengthen your bones. This activity slows down the rate at which calcium is lost in the body. This in turn helps strengthens the bones and reducing the risk of breaks and other complications such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
2. Your stamina can increase form this aerobic exercise. The onset of fatigue can be delayed further and further. The uphill aspect strengthens the calf muscles while the downhill can strengthen the quadriceps. Hiking is a remedy to fight natural fatigue.
3. It helps weight loss. Hiking can burn up to 400 calories in one hour. Challenging areas have the potential to burn even more. Then of course complementing this activity with a healthy diet can really propel weight loss.
4. Hiking can reduce stress. Spending time in the wild and nature can calm the mind and body. It is a great method to escape the noise of people and technology.
5. Hiking is inexpensive. All you need are some good shoes and some water.
6. You can monitor your progress. You can chart your improvements for distance and/or time and can increase in the intensity of trails you climb. You set the pace and you decide.
7. Hiking tones the whole body. Adding a weighted pack to the trail can also increase this effect. There are inclines, rocks, and all sorts of changes to the surface that tone the legs while you use the arms to propel you forward.
8. You can lower your blood sugar and help control diabetes. This workout makes your glucose come into play and enters the bloodstream to give you energy.
9. It can be social. Take a friend, group, or join a hiking group. Walking and talking and finding a common interest can be motivating and inspiring.
10. Hiking can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. A body in motion makes your systems have to work this in turn helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Your body and heart appreciate the movement and will repay you with good health.
There are so many trails to explore and hiking is a creative form of exercise with so many added benefits. The world is yours to see, so take in the scenery as you work your heart and body, and hey even work on that tan.

07 May

BLOG 266 INSOMNIA
Difficulty falling or staying asleep might be associated with insomnia. People with insomnia also wake up and have trouble going back to sleep, wake up very early in the morning, or feel very tired upon waking. Insomnia actually comes in two forms:
1. Primary insomnia: Sleep problems exist that are not associated with other problems or health conditions.
2. Secondary insomnia: Sleep problems are the result of something else such as asthma, cancer, arthritis, heartburn, pain, or substance abuse.
Duration also varies among people. Insomnia might be short lived (acute) for some people while others might have long lasting troubles (chronic). Acute insomnia might be caused by stress, emotional problems, noises, light, medications, illness, or adjusting to changes in life. Chronic insomnia is classified as not being able to sleep well for at least three night a week for three months or longer. It could be caused by depression/anxiety, pain, or ongoing stress.

Insomnia can be disruption to someone’s wellbeing. They might feel irritable, generally tired, have trouble concentrating, and have a constant feeling of sleepiness. A doctor will evaluate a person’s sleep patterns and even interview the person that they might sleep with about their behaviors. Looking at medical history and sleep history are useful. Sometimes a doctor will refer the patient to a sleep center or specialist.

Acute insomnia might not require treatment. It may go away on its own. Sleeping pills might be prescribed for a limited time until regularity is re-established. However, over-the-counter pills should not be used to treat insomnia. They can have undesired side effects. Chronic insomnia can be treated with behavioral therapy in order to make the necessary changes to promote sleep. This might involve relaxation exercises, reconditioning, and sleep restriction therapy.

There are some useful practices to help with sleep. A person should avoid light before bed such as reading lights or screens. Getting regular exercise can help. Try to establish a regular bedtime and wake up time. Not eating heavy before bed can help. Try to create a quit, nice temperature setting that is sleep inducing. If worrying keeps the person awake at night, they might try making a to-list to settle the mind.

Sleep is part of our daily cycle and when it is compromised, the body and mind do not function optimally. Sleep is not mean to be short changed, so seek help when lack of nighttime shut eye becomes a problem that is impacting your daytime functioning.

02 May

BLOG 265 ANEMIA

When the blood lacks healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin, anemia can develop. We need hemoglobin to bind oxygen. When a person has too few red blood cells or hemoglobin is abnormal, then the cells in the body do not get enough oxygen. Anemia is the most common blood condition in the U.S., affecting nearly 5.6% of the population. This condition is marked by fatigue because the organs are not getting the oxygen they need to function properly. Persons more susceptible are women, children, and people with chronic conditions. Infants can be affected from the time of birth is based down genetically. Women during pregnancy are more susceptible due to increased blood supply demands. Older adults are also risk because of medical conditions and poor diet.

There are actually different types of anemia, reaching nearly 400 kinds. The most common type is iron deficiency anemia which is very treatable. Iron supplements and diet modifications can be made. The three main groups of anemia are categorized according to causality. These include anemia caused by blood loss, anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells, and anemia caused by lack of or faulty red blood cells. Blood loss can be caused by gastrointestinal issues, anti-inflammatory drugs, and menstruation. Having low or faulty red blood cells can result from a lack of vitamins or mineral, sickle cell anemia, or bone marrow or stem problems. Sickle cells anemia occurs when the crescent shape of the red blood cells, which is a genetic condition, break down so quickly that the red blood cells cannot deliver the oxygen to organs. It is common among African Americans and Hispanics. When a person is deficient in vitamin B12 and folate, the body is not able to make red blood cells.

Symptoms of anemia depending on causality. The most common symptoms include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, and cold hands and feet. The role of red blood cells has become disrupted in the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which give them their color. Hemoglobin is what allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to the lungs and to all parts of the body and to also carry carbon dioxide from other parts of the body to the lungs to be exhaled. The recipe the body needs to make red blood cells includes iron, folate, vitamin B12, and then other nutrients from one’s diet. Anemia should not be left untreated. It can result in rapid or irregular heartbeat, inability to complete daily tasks due to extreme fatigue, and complications with pregnancy. Healthy blood is needed for a healthy body, so be sure to seek help is your energy is zapped and you can’t seem to figure out why.

24 Apr

BLOG 264 FURRY FRIENDS

Pets are our companions, confidants, and part of the family. They improve our lives for many different reasons. In fact, owning a pet can be beneficial to a person’s health. Here’s why:
1. Pets fulfill the human need to touch: Scratch and pet all you want.
2. Pets provide a sense of purpose; They need their owner for food and shelter.
3. Pets require routine and organization: They must be fed and cared for, which keeps the owner accountable.
4. Pets improve heart health: Owners walks their pets and activity is appreciated by the body.
5. Pets reduce stress: They’re soothing and calming and compassionate friends to have around.
6. Pets improve mood: Their innocence and playful nature makes people smile.
7. Pets improve social life: Owners share a common interests and pets can attract other people who are engaged by them.
8. Pets improve the immune system: Babies who are raised in pet friendly environments often times have less allergies as they age.
9. Pets reduce loneliness: If a person lives alone or feels isolated, pets are there to share space.
10. Pets reduce anxiety: Pets offer loyalty and comfort and keep a person in check with life’s responsibilities reducing the opportunity to fall apart emotionally.
11. Pets can improve love life: Mr. or Mrs. Right can be lured in with the appeal of a cute and friendly animal.
Some people have just one. Some people have just one type. While others have more than one and more than one type. They become our children. They become part of us. Pets are amazing additions to our lives that help us embrace our daily functions with a little added bonus when we get home. I like that they get you moving and active.

16 Apr

BLOG 263 DRUG ADDICTION

The inability to control is the bottom line when it comes to addiction. A person’s brain and behavior are greatly affected. When you become addicted, you continue to use the drug or carry on the habit despite the consequences. A person can become powerless to legal or illegal drugs and substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. The brain starts to receive altered messages and all it can think about is the rewarding feeling the drug produces. The functioning of the neurotransmitters becomes distorted. The viscous cycle of tolerance starts to happen, and the person becomes persistent on experiencing the same high or better each time.

Addiction doesn’t just happen instantly. It builds its way into someone’s life. Cigarette smoking can start with just at parties or social events, but then the person finds themselves keeping a pack on hand and reaching for a smoke more and more frequently. The risk of addiction varies by drug and certainly affects how quickly one forms the habit. Sometimes a person is prescribed a medication, and they become hooked after use (especially opioids). Painkillers cause a high risk for addiction.

Addiction is the accumulation of more and more of the user’s choice. The person needs higher doses to get high. Hence, drug addiction is also called substance abuse disorder. When a person tries to stop, they crave more and feel withdrawal symptoms. Some of the symptoms that person has become addicted to their drug of choice include the following:
1. Having intense urges to use/take the drug.
2. Drug use starts to prevail over responsibilities like work.
3. Daily use of the drug, sometimes even several times per day.
4. Continuing to use the drug despite any physical and health consequences.
5. Doing whatever it takes to obtain the drug, which are behaviors you normally wouldn’t do.
6. Spending lots of time going to get the drug in addition to time spent taking it.
7. Spending excess money on the drug rather or not you can afford it.
8. Doing things you shouldn’t under the influence of the drug, such as driving.
9. Making sure you always have available supply of the drug
10. Feeling withdrawal when you don’t take the drug.

The main factors that cause addiction are your environment and genetics. Being exposed to the drug creates risk to partake. Traumatic life events can also cause a person to turn to drugs to deal with the situation. Feeling overwhelmed by stress can also cause drug use to help this feeling subside. Many addicts follow in the footsteps of their relatives. The reason people become addicted to drugs is an individualized.
Many addicts enjoy drugs and don’t want to stop, while others want and know they need help. The willpower to stop becomes a problem. Addiction is much more complicated then just deciding to stop and then you instantly can. The brain has to be re-wired to believe it can and will function without and the body has to feel committed to this process as well. There is help and hope and those in recovery help others. Addiction is a serious problem with serious consequences so most of the time testing the waters is never advisable because you many not be able to turn back.

10 Apr

BLOG 262 GLUCOSOMINE

Glucosamine is a compound found in our cartilage, which is the material that cushions our joints. It is naturally found in our body, but when the body might call for more, it can be taken in supplement form. When taken in supplement form, this substance is actually derived from the shells of shellfish. The most common supplement form is glucosamine sulfate which helps with inflammation of the joints that can be painful due to the loss and breakdown of cartilage. With age, comes the loss of cartilage and gradual breakdown of the joints. Glucosamine might possibly increase the cartilage or help the continued breakdown of cartilage, or both. It is a sugar protein. We are not able to obtain glucosamine from our diet. Certain conditions such as osteoarthritis benefit from this sulfate form to help alleviate pain in the knees, hips, or spine. For those with rheumatoid arthritis, glucosamine hydrochloride can help reduce pain. The third type, N-acetyl glucosamine, can help with osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is always important to read product labels and to consult a doctor to inquire about which type is appropriate for your symptoms.

Glucosamine can be an alternative to steroid type drugs and those who are not able to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Glucosamine sulfate, although not scientifically proven, has been known to help low back pain, asthma, allergies, and different sports injuries in addition to rheumatoid arthritis.
In general, glucosamine is considered safe. Possible side effects include headache, upset stomach, heartburn, and drowsiness. One should be careful if they have an allergy to shellfish. It is typically taken in pill form and the dosage depends on the label and what a doctor might recommend. It can also be used as a topical cream. There are also injections that can be performed. It may take up to 8 weeks of taking the supplement before improvement occurs.

As we age, the damage from years past can start to catch up. Aches and pains of the joints start to become a harsh reality. For some, this is so painful that nights can be sleepless and physical activity is unbearable. This transpires to turning to a sedentary lifestyle with other associated heath risks. When the body is not able to control pain, seeking help becomes needed. Supplements such as glucosamine that are considered generally harmless can be a good solution to turn to. Taking supplements and their success rate varies from person to person, but is a good leeway to avoid surgery, injections, and other more serious treatments. Most general health stores carry glucosamine but it is always important to consult a doctor to be sure you are meeting dosage requirements, will not have interactions with other medications, and to avoid an possible risky side effects.

04 Apr

BLOG 261 NAIL INDUSTRY

There are so many nail salons on every corner, how do they deal with all the competition? In 2017, there were 56,300 nail salons in operation, with many locations that come and go all the time. The most common services offered are a simple nail polish and pedicures. This industry employs nearly 440,000 people. California leads the way with 100,000 workers and 7,900 locations. Texas comes close behind. The nail polish industry itself is nearly $605 million. With so many locations, there becomes a complexity of price point and what services to offer. Some locations have expanded to offer facials and waxing, luring customers in the door and creating a one-stop shop. Interestingly, only 16% of nail salons use a computer system to make appointments and schedule employees. It is a fast-paced demanding profession, and the average income of a nail tech is about $24,000. About 96% of this workforce is female and 64% are minorities.

There are some possible health affects for those who work in this industry. These mainly involve respiratory concerns. Nail technicians are exposed to hundreds of chemicals such solvents, acrylates, and biocides in the form of dust and vapors. New York led the way in bringing attention to this matter and addressing healthier work conditions. Good general room ventilation is important. Wearing a protective mask can help.
As with most things in life, there are side effects for those who get fake nails. Gel and acrylic nails are the popular selections. What woman doesn’t want long, beautiful, colorful, nails? The chemicals used for acrylic nails have resins and formaldehyde. These can cause cancer. These nails are strongly bonded to the nail bed. If there is a gap or space, this moist environment can grow bacteria and fungi. Natural oils are dried out which over time causes loss of the natural nail. This is why some professions such as an in a hospital setting don’t allow their employees to wear artificial nails because of the increased risk for infections.

The nail market continues to boom with different art, different colors, and so many designs. Women return every two to three weeks to get their “fill”. The average price for a manicure is about $20. The average cost of a pedicure can be about $30. When added up, if a woman attends every two weeks, that’s about $1,300 yearly cost. The cost can add up quickly, but many enjoy treating themselves. There is something nice about the service that keeps them coming back, and as in most cases, doing it ourselves doesn’t have the same look or quality. Life is better in color and this can be true for nails too. Do what makes you happy and support a local salon. Customer appreciation is always rewarded.

28 Mar

BLOG 260 HUNGER HORMONES

Having a heathy appetite, one that says “I’m hungry”, then “I’m full”, is part of a cat and mouse game we play daily. The majority of us have no problem wanting to eat, but stopping is whole other event. The hunger hormones in the body are called leptin and ghrelin. Both play a role in body weight. Leptin is in charge of decreasing one’s appetite while ghrelin increases appetite. They have a tug of war relationship; one that we fully sense and feel.

Leptin is made by our fat cells. It is the all-ruling appetite suppressor. Leptin levels are lower in persons who are thin and are higher in overweight people. Leptin communicates with the brain that the body has enough energy (body fat) and doesn’t need more fuel. Obese people have hire levels of leptin, but the body seems to miscommunicate and misinterpret these hunger signals. The more fat in the body, the more leptin in the blood. For overweight people the body appears to be resistant to leptin.

Ghrelin is the hormone that increases appetite. Its action involves releasing signals in the stomach to the brain that cue hunger. This hormone is produced in the gut and travels through the blood stream to the brain to tell the body to get food quickly. The body is smart because research has shown that in people who have eating disorders or who under-eat, ghrelin levels increase. In people who are obese, this hormone reduces. Ghrelin levels naturally rise when the stomach is empty because you are actually hungry. The body is trying to protect itself from starvation. Dieting causes ghrelin levels to increase. That is part of the fight when trying to lose weight.

The mind and body and do have an interesting relationship, one that we would love to have better control of. Foods that are especially high in fat cause major disruption to this communicating relationship between the body and the hunger hormones. There are some self-care tips to balance these hormones. A diet full of healthy carbohydrates and lean protein suppresses ghrelin versus a high fat diet. Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of ghrelin too. Dieting is hard when ghrelin tries to use its power. Having more muscle mass is associated with lower levels of ghrelin, so start lifting those weights. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding extremes will help keep these hormones in check. Hormones are a tricky situation for us all. Poor choices to our eating will eventually catch up, and the hormones like to take advantage of this. Eating poorly only makes you want to eat more. Food is a drug, but be sure not to self-inflict more damage by making impulsive eating decisions. Your body will love you back when you love it.

21 Mar

BLOG 259 TYPES OF LETTUCE

Lettuce is used for multiple dishes in our diets. From burger toppings to salads, this green vegetable also comes in many different varieties. There are multiple health benefits to this green substance. Some of these include lowering inflammation, it’s full of antioxidants, it can help lower cholesterol, and can help control cancer. The minerals found in lettuce include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins B6, A, E, C, and K. Lettuce originated from the Egyptians who used the seeds to make oil and considered the vegetable to be sacred. Lettuce is scientifically known as Lactuca sativa. Sub-species and cross-pollination lead to the many different types.

There are 14 types of lettuce:
1. Frisee – this is yellow, green, and bitter in taste.
2. Arugala – originated from the Mediterranean.
3. Mizuna – this is deep read and purple.
4. Baby beet greens – these have purple veins.
5. Tatsoi – these have a mustard flavor and come from Asia.
6. Butterhead – the leaves are smooth like butter.
7. Endive – this has an oval shape and tastes bitter.
8. Radicchio – these are deep red and purple with a round shape.
9. Escarole – this is mildly bitter and crisp.
10. Cress – this has a peppery taste.
11. Romain – known for being stiffer than other types.
12. Mache – the leaves are very tiny and often still have soil on them when sold.
13. Looseleaf – this has a mild flavor and ruffled surface.
14. Oakleaf – the leaves look similar to those off an oak tree.

One cup of lettuce, for most varieties, remarkably only contains about 5 calories. One cup has no fat and maybe one carbohydrate. There is no sugar. No wonder it is recommended to have a lettuce wrap versus a traditional hamburger bun. Lettuce is usually a “free for all” when on a diet or when counting calories. It can start off a meal right by filling space in the stomach with good calories so that you don’t eat more later. There are many types, many uses, and many reasons why lettuce should be part of one’s diet. On a side note, It is very important to wash lettuce.

The key is what you have with the lettuce. After all, dousing it in ranch dressing will negate whatever positive intention there was to make a healthy choice. Lettuce is a great tool to find a way to feel full and load the tank with nutrients. Pick your type, have as much as you want, and be sure to wash before consuming.