Good sleep needed to fight diabetes, obesity

It’s widely known that sleep is crucial for maintaining our health. Now, a new study sheds light its benefits, concluding that a lack of good sleep can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.

The research, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, says sleep aids in both the prevention and treatment of metabolic disorders because it helps regulate the metabolism of glucose, control food intake, and energy balance.

Disrupting the body’s sleep cycle is also linked to poor metabolic health, increased chronic illness rate, and premature death, according to the new study.

Researchers say more people are getting lower-quality sleep due to the modern lifestyles, including the use of technological devices at nighttime, such as tablets and smartphones.

Source: Health Central

6 Energy-Boosting Daily Habits That Don’t Rely On Caffeine

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with caffeine because we love the energy it gives us to start our day, but we hate the exhaustion it makes us feel at night. Although we have intimately familiarized ourselves with the stimulant drug during our mornings, mid-afternoon slumps, and in between errands, it masks the symptoms of fatigue and dehydrates the body. To avoid the highs and lows in this caffeine energy rollercoaster, here are six daily habits that will naturally boost your energy all day long.

1. Drink H2O
Replace your juice, caffeinated beverage, or energy drink with some H2O. Drinking a glass or two of water as a quick pick-me-up can give you an energy boost, clearer skin, and better digestion as it flushes toxins from the body. Not drinking enough water can result in dehydration and cause several systems in the body to slow down, and therefore, make you feel tired and irritable. Harvard Health Publications says water is the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for even the most demanding endurance activities. It’s time to drink up!

Tip: To add some flavor to your water, add a lemon to transform water into a natural energy drink with electrolytes that help the cells produce energy.

2. Eat Healthy Fats
Do not eliminate all fats from your diet. Healthy fats are essential for the body to absorb antioxidants and provide you with more energy. A 2012 study found people absorbed fewer antioxidants from veggies when they ate fat-free dressing compared to those who had low-fat and full-fat dressing. Some antioxidants need fat in order to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood where they can take effect. Moreover, they help fight free radicals and give you better focus and clarity.

Tip: Fats from avocado, olive oil, coconut, and fish are best to maximize the amount of energy in your body.

3. Take a Brisk Walk
Going on a brisk walk every day is a good start to increasing your level of physical activity while increasing your energy. Exercising causes the body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are stress hormones that can make you feel energized. In a 2006 study, a team of researchers reviewed 12 large-scale studies on the association between exercise and fatigue. Each study measured the amount of physical activity that participants were doing and how much energy or fatigue the participants experienced. Overall, all of the studies found there was a direct link between a reduced risk of fatigue for those physically active compared to their inactive counterparts.

Tip: Perform aerobic exercises for 30 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week to increase your energy, and promote good heart health.

4. Listen to Your Favorite Song
To get a quick burst of energy, put on your favorite song, and start dancing. The sound of music can elevate your mood and energy level as it invigorates the body by activating several areas of the brain simultaneously leading to new nerve connections, according to a study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience. It’s time to put on your favorite song, sing out loud, and dance for an energy boost.

5. Massage Your Ears
Although this may seem unusual at first glance, massaging your ears increases blood circulation, and therefore increases energy instantly. Dr. Art Karno, a chiropractor in California, says the ear maps the entire body and contains acupressure points that can stimulate every area, organ, or system in the body. He suggests vigorously rubbing your ears from top to bottom, including the lobes, and take three breaths as you do this. Inhale, exhale, and a panting breath for every repetition.

Tip: Start at the lobe and massage up to the top of each ear.

6. Take a Cold Shower
While hot showers can make you feel relaxed, and at ease, cold showers stimulate your body and speed up circulation, which makes you feel more alert. Tim Ferris, author of The 4-hour Body, says freezing cold showers can increase your metabolism, boost your energy levels, bolster your immune system, kick your sex drive into high gear, and even lead to healthier skin and hair. Cold showers are typically 50 degrees and can offer your body a refreshing burst.

Tip: Take a regular shower, and cool it down for the last five minutes or so to ease your body into these cold showers.

Source: medical daily


Home Remedies for Managing High Blood Pressure

Exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day can help bring down your blood pressure numbers by 4 to 9 mmHg. If you’ve been inactive for a while, talk to your doctor about a safe exercise routine. Start out slowly by walking or riding a bicycle. Gradually add moderate intensity activities to your routine. Not a fan of the gym? Take your workout outside. Go for a hike, jog, or swim and still reap the benefits. The important thing is to get moving! The AHA also recommends incorporating at least two days of muscle strength training a week.

Following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can lower your blood pressure by as much as 14 mmHg. The DASH diet consists of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish. Eliminate foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol, such as processed foods, whole milk dairy products, fatty meats, and fried food.

Slow Down On the Salt
If you have high blood pressure, keeping your sodium intake to a minimum is vital. The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,400 mg of sodium! Table salt isn’t the only culprit when it comes to high sodium; processed food and many restaurant dishes tend to be loaded with sodium. Consuming too much sodium can cause the body to retain fluid, resulting in a sharp rise in blood pressure.

Lose Excess Weight
Weight and blood pressure go hand in hand. Losing just five pounds can help lower your blood pressure. It’s not just the number on your scale that matters, but the number of your waist size. The extra fat around your waist, called visceral fat, is troublesome because the fat tends to surround organs in the abdomen, which can lead to health issues including high blood pressure. Men should keep their waist measurement to less than 40 inches, while women should aim for less than 35 inches.

Nix Your Nicotine Addiction
Studies show that smoking a cigarette can temporarily raise blood pressure 10 mmHg or more for up to an hour after you smoke. If you’re a heavy smoker, your blood pressure can stay elevated for extended periods of time. People with high blood pressure who smoke are at greater risk for developing dangerously high blood pressure. Even secondhand smoke can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Limit Alcohol
Drinking a glass of red wine with your dinner is perfectly fine and may even offer heart health benefits when done in moderation. Drinking alcohol in excess, however, can lead to many adverse health issues, including high blood pressure. What does drinking in moderation mean?

Stress Less
In this hurried, multitasking society we live in, it’s hard to slow down and relax. It’s important to step away from your daily stress and take a few deep breaths, meditate, or practice yoga. Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure, and too much of it can keep your pressure up for extended periods of time. Try to identify what’s triggering your stress, such as your job, relationships, or your finances, and find ways to fix the problems.

Source: health line

Stem Cell Research Offers Hope to Bipolar Patients

Brain cells of patients with bipolar disorder act differently than those of people without the mental illness, according to scientists who conducted a stem cell study of the condition.

The investigators said their research might one day lead to a better understanding of bipolar disorder and new treatments for the disease, which causes extreme emotional highs and lows.

About 200 million people worldwide have bipolar disorder. “We’re very excited about these findings. But we’re only just beginning to understand what we can do with these cells to help answer the many unanswered questions in bipolar disorder’s origins and treatment,” said study co-leader

Dr. Melvin McInnis, a professor of bipolar disorder and depression at the University of Michigan Medical School. The study authors took skin stem cells from people with and without bipolar disorder and transformed them into neurons similar to brain cells. It’s the first time that stem cell lines specific to bipolar disorder have been created, the researchers said.

They discovered distinct differences in how the two sets of neurons behave and communicate with each other. The cells also differed in their response to lithium, the most widely used treatment for bipolar disorder.

The study was published online March 25 in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

“This gives us a model that we can use to examine how cells behave as they develop into neurons,” study co-leader Sue O’Shea, a professor in the department of cell and developmental biology and director of the University of
Michigan Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Lab, said in a university news release.

“Already, we see that cells from people with bipolar disorder are different in how often they express certain genes, how they differentiate into neurons, how they communicate, and how they respond to lithium,” O’Shea said.

McInnis said it’s possible the research could lead to new types of drug trials. If it becomes possible to test new drug candidates in these cells, patients would be spared the current trial-and-error approach that leaves many with uncontrolled symptoms, he said.

Source: News max health

Spanking triggers vicious cycle, study finds

Parents who spank unruly children may not know it, but they are participating in a vicious cycle that will lead to both more spankings and more misbehavior in coming years, a new study suggests.

Researchers wanted to resolve the age-old “chicken-and-egg” question that surrounds the issue of physical discipline in childhood — do spankings promote aggression in children, or do naturally aggressive children simply receive more spankings as parents try to control their behavior?

The answer is yes to both, said study author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City. Across a child’s first decade of life, current spankings will lead to future misbehavior — but current misbehavior also will lead to future spankings, the investigators found.

“You can think of it as an escalating arms race, where the parent gets more coercive and the child gets more aggressive, and they get locked into this cycle,” MacKenzie said. “These processes can get started really early, and when they do there’s a lot of continuity over time.”

The findings are based on almost 1,900 families from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. That’s a decade-old research project conducted by researchers at Columbia and Princeton universities involving children born in 20 large American cities between 1998 and 2000.

Families in the study took part in assessments shortly after giving birth and when the children were approximately 1, 3, 5 and 9 years old. These assessments included questions about whether the children received spankings and the extent to which the children behaved aggressively, broke rules or acted surly or antagonistic.

About 28 percent of mothers reported spanking their children during their first year of life, increasing to 57 percent at age 3 and then hovering around 53 percent at age 5 and 49 percent at age 9.

But researchers also found that at each age, children who exhibited more behavioral problems went on to experience more spanking at a later age, indicating that the more difficult children might prompt increasing levels of punishment from their parents.

“Some children are eliciting higher levels of physical discipline, and high levels of physical discipline are in turn associated with later higher levels of parental aggression,” MacKenzie said.

Even though the study shows that spanking and misbehavior tend to feed each other, the investigators also found strong evidence that spanking a child within the first year of life likely is the catalyst that starts the cycle.

These findings put an end to the “chicken or the egg” debate over which comes first, the spanking or the childhood misbehavior, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental & behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“I see it starting with the egg, with the egg being the spanking, and then the spanking then leads to more aggressive behavior, and the aggressive behavior then leads to more spanking,” Adesman said.

The findings are published in the March 25 online issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

If parents can stick to non-physical forms of punishment when a toddler acts out, they are more likely to have a well-behaved child at ages 3, 5 and 9, he said.

“During the early toddler years, parents probably need to get more counseling or advice on strategies for managing children’s behavior without resorting to spanking,” Adesman said.

Unfortunately, MacKenzie said, it can be tough to avoid the urge to spank, given how stressed and overwhelmed many young parents can become.

“Spanking gives very immediate feedback, because children will stop doing what they were doing, but it’s not giving children the ability to regulate themselves over time,” he noted.

“But parenting is not an easy thing, and challenging kids make the job even tougher,” MacKenzie explained. “We need to give these parents the support they need to do as well as they’d like by their children.”

Source: cbs news

Low back pain single largest factor behind work disability

A new study has revealed that low back pain causes more work disability around the globe than any other condition.

The researchers have found that the problem will get worse as the world population growth gathers pace and the proportion of elderly rises and the governments and health services need to take the issue far more seriously.

The scientists, who studied data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, found that out of all 291 conditions, low back pain came top of the league table in terms of years lost to disability and ranked as the greatest contributor to disability in 12 of the 21 world regions, and the greatest contributor to overall burden in Western Europe and Australasia.

It was also revealed that the relevant factors deemed to be linked to low back pain were jobs involving lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions and vibration.

The researchers said that in 2010 there were just short of 22 million disability adjusted life years (DALY) worldwide caused by workplace related low back pain, which amounted to more than a third of all DALYs linked to occupational risk factors.

The findings show that agricultural sector workers were almost four times as likely to develop low back pain disability as any other group of workers.

The study was published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

source: business standard


Gene linked to deadly breast cancer found

Scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College and Houston Methodist have found that a gene previously unassociated with breast cancer plays a pivotal role in the growth and progression of the triple negative form of the disease.

Their research suggests that targeting the gene may be a new approach to treating the disease.

About 42,000 new cases of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) are diagnosed in the United States each year, about 20 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Patients typically relapse within one to three years of being treated.

Senior author Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, wanted to know whether the gene – already understood from her prior work to be a critical regulator of immune and metabolic functions – was important to cancer’s ability to adapt and thrive in the oxygen- and nutrient-deprived environments inside of tumors.

Using cells taken from patients’ tumors and transplanted into mice, Dr. Glimcher’s team found that the gene, XBP1, is especially active in triple negative breast cancer, particularly in the progression of malignant cells and their resurgence after treatment.

“Patients with the triple negative form of breast cancer are those who most desperately need new approaches to treat their disease,” Dr. Glimcher, who is also a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell said.

“This pathway was activated in about two-thirds of patients with this type of breast cancer. Now that we better understand how this gene helps tumors proliferate and then return after a patient’s initial treatment, we believe we can develop more effective therapies to shrink their growth and delay relapse,” the researcher added.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Source: yahoo news

Face-blind people can distinguish shapes: Study

People who are unable to recognise faces owing to face blindness following brain damage can still learn to distinguish between other types of very similar objects, researchers said.

Prosopagnosia, or face blindness following brain damage renders people unable to recognise and distinguish between faces – in some cases, even those of their own family members.

The finding provides fresh support for the idea that the brain mechanisms that process face images are specialised for that task.

“It also offers evidence against an ‘expertise’ hypothesis, in which the same mechanisms are responsible for recognition of faces and other highly similar objects we have learned to tell apart,” said Constantin Rezlescu, a psychologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The team trained two volunteers to recognize greebles – computer-generated objects that differ from one another in similar ways to faces.

The two volunteers spent eight training sessions of up to one hour learning to recognise 20 different greebles.

By the end of the training, they could tell individual greebles apart just as quickly – a sign that they had become experts in recognising them.

The training also enabled the volunteers identify individual greebles with the same ease as volunteers without face blindness who underwent the same training.

“The paper refutes a core prediction of the expertise hypothesis that a brain injury which severely damages face recognition should make it impossible for someone to become very good at telling apart individual members of any other category,” Elinor McKone, a psychologist at the Australian National University in Canberra, told the Nature.

Rezlescu now plans to search for bird watchers, dog trainers and people with other such skills in a database of about 9,000 people who say they have had prosopagnosia from birth.

The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

Source: samachar

Vitamin D deficiency risk to 84 % Indians: report

Changing lifestyle, increasingly odd-working hours and limited outdoor activities are leaving a bad impact on human health as 84 per cent of the country’s population was found vitamin D deficient, a recent study said here on Monday.

“In the face of present-day lifestyles, dominated by ungodly working hours and limited outdoor activities, inherent vitamin D deficiency is increasingly becoming an eyesore among a large number of people. (There is) Vitamin D deficiency risk to 84 per cent of Indians,” SRL Diagnostics said in its report.

The human body’s ideal dose of vitamin D ranges between 1,000 and 2,000 IU (International Units) per day.

“Vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent in around 69 per cent of the population, while 15 per cent more were found to be vitamin D insufficient, thus making around 84 per cent of Indians risk-prone to this, the study said.

The report pointed out that skin exposure to the sun is natural, intended, and most effective source of vitamin D, yet the most neglected. Tests that estimate the level of vitamin D have become increasingly common, pan-Indian.

Testing for vitamin D deficiency has been known to protect a majority of the Indian population from joint pains, muscle weakness, cardiovascular disorders and other more serious problems that could be permanently detrimental to one’s health.

While research on the impact of vitamin D on ailments is ongoing, doctors believe it is clearly associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, bone weakness, nerve-related disorders and obesity.

Doctors also point out that vitamin D directly benefits patients with diabetes and cardiovascular ailments. A sizable body of evidence proves the link between vitamin D and people with diabetes and heart ailments.

After pregnancy, women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis due to high demands of calcium and vitamin D, it added.

There are diagnostic tests to determine vitamin D levels in the body. It is extremely essential to keep a check on the levels of deficiency in the body as it helps retain calcium,” SRL Diagnostics President-Research & Innovation, Dr B R Das said.

“Sufficient vitamin D levels assist the body in reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, besides helping in the essential repair and maintenance activities in the body. It is directly linked to knee pains and osteoporosis,” Das said.

The study reveals that the differences between deficiency and insufficiency are conspicuous. Vitamin D deficiency manifests itself as a bone disease, which is mostly either rickets or osteomalacia. Whereas insufficiency may be associated with milder disease outcomes, including muscle weakness and fatigue.

Another outcome of this study draws attention to males between the ages of 30 and 60, while adolescent girls and women of child-bearing age (those belonging to the 16-30 age group) are more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency, as they require vitamin D in the form of extra supplements for growth, it said.

Source: Deccan chronicle

Reverse signs of ageing with healthy lifestyle


Wrinkles, hyper pigmentation and greying hair add decades to your chronological age. Though many cosmetic companies assure you of reversing the signs of early ageing, are they enough to compensate for the wear-and-tear of the cells caused by years of living a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle and exposure to ultraviolet rays and pollutants?

What is premature ageing?
Ageing is a natural phenomenon occurring due to the interplay between genetic, metabolic and environmental factors. The rate of ageing is an actively regulated metabolic process and so is not fixed. Premature ageing refers to the unnatural acceleration of the natural process of ageing. Possession of certain unfavorable genetic variants and/or an unhealthy lifestyle can become the cause of premature ageing, reflecting the importance of your well being both from the inside and the outside.

What are the factors that speed up the process?
Skin health correlates with the genetic makeup and metabolic condition, and is influenced by environmental and lifestyle-related factors like nutrition, exercise, personal habits and stress. Our body cells are exposed to the damage provoked by external and internal stressors including heat, radiation, pollution, genetic variations, excess glucose, oxygen free radicals, and collagen breakdown among others. The rate at which we age is determined by the ability of our body cells to cope with this damage.

What are the lifestyle changes that can help delay the ageing process?
A healthy lifestyle can postpone the visible signs of skin ageing and favorably influence the longevity of the skin. So focus on a balanced diet, drink lots of natural fluids and make sure that your day doesn’t end without an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables. A simple pranayama or yoga for a few minutes can relax your mind, while easy floor exercises and brisk walking can contribute to your fitness level. Indeed, the inside of the body must always be made to work in tandem with the outside of the body.

How does one understand that the body is ageing faster compared to the chronological age?
Skin changes are amongst the most visible signs of ageing. Skin ageing is evidenced by wrinkles, age spots, dryness and sagging. Ageing skin appears thinner, less plump, more pale, and translucent; and it repairs itself more slowly than younger skin. Overt signs of premature ageing as noticed by one’s self, or by comments on our appearance from others, tell a lot about our ageing tendency. But a genetic assessment on age-regulating genes can provide strong insights on ageing rate.

What is the role of gender in the ageing process? Do women age faster than men?
Dermis (the skin layer lodging skin-firmness protein, collagen) in men is much thicker than in women, hence men have a higher collagen density. As collagen relates to skin ageing signs, assumedly a woman’s skin appears about 15 years older than a man of the same age. Men seldom use sunscreens; hence UV damage negates the benefits of slowed intrinsic ageing in men, shadowing the noticeable difference.

How can understanding genetics help age better?
You are unique, so is your skin. Though the human genome sequence is 99.6% identical in all people, a small genetic change, or variation, that occurs within a person`s DNA sequence can have an impact on his/her health. Genetic assessment will give you a clear picture of your genetic information in relation to your health condition and ageing pattern. The skin might exhibit similar signs of ageing from the outside, but from the inside its genetic and metabolic regulations stand unique. Managing genetic risks for premature ageing by appropriate lifestyle changes can help us age better.

Source: Zee news