Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Benefits of Exercises to Health

Exercises have been defined, as physical activities that enhance the health and well being of people. They are, therefore, a good way of keeping in shape and healthy. Exercises have often been linked to strong muscles and a healthy cardiovascular system. It is, therefore, pertinent to note that there are so many benefits that exercises offer to your health. These come in a variety of categories, all of which have various benefits, since they all relate to different parts of the body. However, some exercises are meant for the whole body and these are the most effective ones. The various types include aerobics, flexibility, agility, anaerobic and eccentric among others. As noted, certain exercises are meant to strengthen parts of the body. For example, aerobic exercises like swimming and running majorly focus on strengthening the cardiovascular muscles. In other words, they mainly focus on how the heart is to function.

As noted, there are so many health benefits to exercise, one of which is overall physical fitness. Exercises are a terrific way of keeping physically fit, through reducing weight and building of muscle strength. It is rare to find a person who exercises regularly fat. These activities can, therefore, be looked at as a good way of slimming or reducing weight.

In addition, the activities have also been known to reduce stress levels. This is because; they reduce the levels of cortisol produced, which is a stress related hormone. Therefore, people who exercise regularly are at less risk of being stressed.

Research has also established that regular exercises are a means of reducing the risk of acquiring some life threatening diseases. In other words, the activity reduces the likelihood of you being able to get diseases like heart diseases, insomnia, high blood pressure and depression among others. According to the WHO, 17% of patients of heart diseases do not engage in any form of exercise. Therefore, to reduce the risk of acquiring such infections, you should engage in some physical activities.

Also, pertinent to note about exercises is that they can be either vigorous or moderate. However, it has been established that the former is more beneficial than the latter, because of the difference in activity. In other words, it is better for you to engage in vigorous exercises, if you are to fully, benefit from the activity. On the other hand, though moderate exercises are also suitable, their benefits might take a long time to manifest, thus, leaving many people to feel that their exercise routine is not working.

It is necessary to note that one of the established advantages of exercise is related to the cardiovascular system. Research has indicated that people who engage in exercise activities are at less risk of getting heart diseases, because their heart are constantly strained and exercised. There is, therefore, no room for accumulation of fat or other factors that could cause heart attacks and strokes. Exercises are, therefore, very beneficial for human health, and their benefits will mostly be seen if they are performed on a daily basis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Challenge of Getting and Staying Healthy

It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.

My age finally caught up with me and my mailbox swims with ads for Medicare programs. Maybe it's just the time of year but I can't turn on the television without facing an onslaught of ads from Medicare insurance programs and drug companies. My next medical appointment also creeps up on me and it will be time to see what condition my condition is in. I will soon be asked to account for my efforts at keeping my body healthy.
Drugs abound for every conceivable condition and some conditions beyond imagination. I should ask my health provider about each drug and tell her if I have any conditions from a long list including, strangely enough, death. Ads tout each Medicare program as my best possible choice. I decide to check the Medicare website and find fifty-six different plans available to me. One most likely will be enough. Still, the other fifty-five vie for my attention.

I don't review all fifty-six plans and fortunately narrow down possible selections of interest to a handful. I learn that the best way to keep medical costs down is to stay healthy. No big surprise there. I know my enemies: overweight, hypertension, cholesterol, triglycerides and too little exercise among others. These are the usual suspects. Then arrive all the other conditions typical of my age, some commonplace, some more exotic, and the screening tests to keep them at bay.

Lately my lunchtime conversations have turned to nutrition, the field of medicine, drugs and health in general. Fast foods keep popping up on TV, mail advertising, newspapers and billboards. We see and hear how quick, easy and tasty each one is. The effects on our bodies and health somehow don't make the ads.
I wonder why the sudden need for such a variety of drugs and supplements. We can't be so different from our ancestors who had little need for them. I stumble on a book about the Mediterranean diet and realize we have forgotten how to eat. Traditional Mediterranean communities took the time to incorporate their wonderful foods into their daily routines. Many of the lifestyle illnesses and conditions which plague us are rare among them.

Sugar, fat and salt have shanghaied our diets. Even the Mediterranean communities have started gradually moving toward our frenetic pace of life and seemingly easy but dangerous eating and lifestyles. Yet their traditional variety, emphasis on fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and a little wine offer to prevent or minimize the conditions we create for ourselves and then try to remedy with drugs and supplements. I for one have started exploring the Mediterranean option.

Life Lab Lessons

Spend some time thinking about how you eat.Look at how you spend your leisure time.What did you hear about your health last time you saw your doctor?What is your health worth to you?Consider Mediterranean, Hawaiian or other traditional diets.

The Number One Secret You Need To Know To Be Healthy

For 5,000 years, mankind has always looked from the Outside-In to be healed. Needles shooting serum in from the outside to prevent disease. Pills from the outside ingested to treat disease. Radiation, chemotherapy, all external factors used to treat cancer and other various ailments from the Outside-In.

Even vitamins, minerals, shark cartilage, and oils are all external factors that are used to treat disease from the Outside-In. Everything we do to treat diseases, symptoms, and conditions are all external to the body. And where has this gotten us?

Two trillion dollars (that's $2,000,000,000,000) are spent every year on medicine in this country. That's nearly 20% of our GDP! In 2000, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the US ranked 37 out of 40 industrialized nations in health care. In 2007, the OECD found more of the same and worse. The US spent $6500 per person on "health" care. Japan had the best ranking, a little over $2000 per person.

Now before we go any further, I do want to commend medicine for its value in emergencies. Accidents and saving people's lives that have abused their bodies so badly from poor lifestyle choices is where medicine shines and should be lauded. However, based on the above statistics, medicine has completely failed in getting people healthy.

Medicine is not alone in Outside-In treatment methods; another few hundred billion are spent on vitamins, fish oil, shark cartilage, and the next all-natural miracle cure. We've been so marketed to death, literally, that we now believe there is some miracle tree in the Amazon or some fish we can grind up that will cure cancer. And again, this is not to denounce nutrition.

I eat green stuff every day and a lot of it! Yet $2+ trillion later, we're still getting sicker and sicker. Even Bill Clinton said in 2004 that "For the first time in American history, our current generation of children could live shorter lives than their parents." Believing something outside the body can produce health inside the body has failed.

It's cliché but you can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. More money, more time, more "science", more "research" won't ever prove an untrue concept. Each and every Outside-In treatment method attempts to "cure" sickness and disease. At one point bloodletting was considered scientific! This incidentally took George Washington's life.

In the 1920s mercury was a panacea! What do we say today? We've warred on germs now since Pasteur and what have we done? As one virologist said, "we've advanced the microbiologic population by 400 years by trying to kill them off." Outside-In thinking has bankrupted our health, our pocketbooks, and our spirit.

Outside-In thinking assumes that all the wisdom of the universe that went into creating you from two ½ cells, was random, programmed for failure, and needs man's (un-)educated intelligence to heal. Can you ever think of a time where man has manipulated nature that has benefited the ecosystem in the long run? Outside-In thinking is destructive.

In 1895, D.D. Palmer discovered a new approach to health, so radical, that medicine, doctors, and even many chiropractors have denied its existence. Even to this day, those "in the know" In fact, some early practitioners in the early 1900s thru the 1950s who proclaimed this truth even went to jail for using it. And now you know for the first time, the answer to all your health issues is in you!

The secret to our health and healing is using an Inside-Out approach! Think about it, what heals? Only one thing: Life heals! Life comes from within. So before we believe medicine has a miracle cure, maybe we should ask if that "cure" can create life. Only life creates life. And the recreation of life by life, cell by cell, second by second, is what healing is! This gives everyone hope because now you are not reliant on a broken medical system to fix you! You are the secret to your health!

Let's look at this deductively. Assume a healthy man or woman. A healthy man must be made up of healthy parts. In man, the healthy parts are organs. Organs are made of tissues. Tissues are made of the most basic building block of the body, cells. And your body right now has 70,000,000,000,000 (trillion) cells. So if all the cells, the basic building blocks of the body, are healthy, we must deduce the tissues will be healthy, and then the organs must be healthy. The entire human being is then healthy.

Do you know your cells don't last? They die. Your body is constantly replacing itself with new cells. In fact every 60 seconds your body is manufacturing 3 billion new cells! It takes 14 months to remanufacture every organ in your body. And the entire body replaces itself every seven years! So if you've been married for 21 years, you're already on your third spouse!

In a diseased or cancerous organ, sick cells cannot be healed. They will die. And so will healthy cells. As one cell dies your body makes a new cell to replace it, via cell division. Let's take the heart for example. Your heart cells live for 90 days then they die. In fact they're dying right now as you read this. But don't worry about it. Your heart is making new heart cells that replace the old ones as they die out.

If those heart cells created are healthy cells, your heart is fine and you don't have to worry. But if a new heart cell is just as sick as the heart cell it replaced, the heart disease will go on and on forever till it kills you. But if a new healthy heart cell replaces the sick dying heart cell, your body will heal! This happens for red blood cells, the lungs, the liver, thyroid glands, the ovaries, and every other organ in the body!

So no doctor can heal you. No chiropractor. No vitamin, no medicine heals. Only your life cures sickness and disease by creating new cells to replace old ones, in spite of the poisonous medicines our bodies are bombarded with daily. This recreation of life daily is what we call healing. Healing can only come from the Inside-Out. It's as simple as that! Medicine has been a complete failure for thousands of years because it attempts to treat sick cells that are going to die anyway! Let them die! Let's just make sure the new cells replacing the dying cells are healthy!

Sick cells are the ones that produce symptoms. Symptoms are multifarious. Asthma, psoriasis, allergies, cancer, heart disease, etc. are all signs of sick cells. Treating sick cells that are going to die is a futile approach.

So if life is the only thing that heals, the only logical question to ask is not how to treat disease, but how to get more life! And this is where chiropractic comes into the picture. For your 70T cells to be organized properly, for them to produce the proper chemicals at the proper time in the proper amount, for them to divide properly, all the cells must be under control of a central computer. And the central computer of the body is the brain and the spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord was the first organ to develop in the womb because nature needed a way to control all the cells in the body!

Think of the brain as the power generator of the body. The brain sends power and messages to each and every cell. No power, no life. When the nervous system is interfered with, just slightly, it cuts down on life force flowing to the cells of the body. When those cells don't get a normal nerve supply, the cells begin to malfunction. The cells don't produce the right chemicals at the right time in the right amount. They don't divide properly or divide uncontrollably as in cancer.

Disease begins with this malfunction. When the cells malfunction, tissues malfunction. When tissues malfunction, organs malfunction. When organs malfunction, you have serious problems and most often this is the time you see symptoms. So this malfunction causes the organism to die slowly, before its time.

Disease is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. By the time cancer is detected, it has been there for 8-15 years. The first and most common symptom of a heart attack is death. There is no way a heart can go from perfect health to death overnight. All disease processes must first begin in this state of malfunction. Anytime nerve energy is not getting to the cells, malfunction begins.

The stresses of everyday life cause nerve interference. Chemicals in the air, water, medication. Physical traumas from car accidents or repeated poor posture. Emotional stresses from jobs, relationships, and financial pressures. Chiropractors call the nerve interference a subluxation.

A subluxation is when the bones of the spine move very slightly out of position and put pressure on the nerves, creating interference to nerve energy of the body. Imagine a garden hose at full blast. Bend it and it slows the water supply. The exact same thing is true in the brain and spinal cord. When the body is subluxated, it cuts down life energy flowing to the cells and chaos begins. And this is where chiropractic comes in.

Chiropractic works with the law of life. Chiropractors correct this interference. Chiropractic restores normal nerve supply to the body. The chiropractor uses an instrument to detect proper nerve flow. When the body is subluxated, the chiropractor gives a gentle adjustment by hands only to relieve pressure off the nervous system and restore normal nerve supply to the cells of the body. A series of gentle adjustments, over time, gets the pressure off the nerves, opens the life channels, and gradually restores nerve supply to the cells.

No pills, potions, surgeries, vitamins, fish oil, etc. will ever get the pressure off a nerve to allow healing. Over time, those sick cells will gradually be replaced with new healthy cells. Healthy cells create healthy tissues. Healthy tissues create healthy organs. Healthy organs make a healthy you. Healing is an Inside-Out job! As B.J. Palmer, the developer of chiropractic said, "It's as simple as that!"

Chiropractic can't heal nor can medicine. Only life heals. The only way to get more life is to get a better nerve supply. Turning up the power to 100% and letting your body create new life is the only way to heal. Only chiropractors can unlock the life force of the nervous system so you can be the best you can be in all your endeavors.

So how do you know if you're subluxated? How do you know if you have nerve interference that is sapping your lifespan, destroying your potential in all aspects of life? You don't. Unfortunately there are no symptoms associated with subluxation. Pain doesn't necessarily mean you're subluxated. I'm a chiropractor and I don't know if I'm subluxated. I drive to Los Angeles to get checked weekly by my mentor, Richard A. Gohl. It's that important.

Only a trained chiropractor can tell if you're subluxated. Don't wait till the life force has been cut down so much that your body is in a state of peril, and you're looking for a miracle. Get checked today. It's simple, painless, quick and affordable. As B.J. Palmer, DC said: "Nature needs no help, just no interference."

Why You Need to Learn How to Digest Food Better If You Want Better Health

Many people wonder why you need to learn how to digest food better. They seem to think that suffering from heartburn, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea and other digestive disturbances are normal. Getting rid of those problems is not the only reason to learn, however.

Poor digestion means poor nutrient absorption from foods. When nutrients are not absorbed through the lining of the small intestine, they pass in and then out of your body like they were never there. So no matter how high the quality of the food you eat, you can suffer from symptoms of malnutrition.

This constant lack of essential nutrients is recognized by your body. The response is between meal hunger pangs. If you ignore them, you may overeat when it is mealtime. Overeating only adds to the problem.

Poor nutrient absorption leads to symptoms that people do not always associate with digestion. Symptoms like bad skin, bad breath, weak teeth, aching joints and fatigue may be caused by malnutrition.

There are many issues that can interfere with nutrient absorption in the small intestine. One of the most common is overgrowth of yeast. The yeast grows on the inside of the lining and clogs up the tiny villi through which nutrients are absorbed.

Learning how to digest food better involves learning how to get rid of the yeast. What's the answer? The answer is beneficial bacteria.

You may have heard of probiotics: supplements that contain beneficial bacteria. The hope associated with probiotics is that the bacteria within them will set up a household in the digestive tract and eat the yeast. But for some reason, probiotics, although beneficial, are not what you need to achieve optimal digestion health.

They only increase the bacterial count in the feces for a short period of time, while the supplements are being taken. So, they do not encourage the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

You body knows how to digest food better, but you have to give it the right tools. In this case, the tools it needs are prebiotics.

Prebiotics are relatively new dietary supplements. The best ones are derived from naturally occurring foods, unlike probiotics, which are always man-made foods. An example of a prebiotic rich food is whole kiwi fruit, including the hairy skin. Either eating the fruit whole or dietary supplements produced from them may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Prebiotics are only a single part of the total solution, though. Kiwifruit extract also contains unique enzymes that are an important part of how to digest food better. The enzymes help to break down the foods that you eat.

In particular, they are necessary for the breakdown of proteins found in animal products and milk. If the proteins are not broken down into their component amino acids or if the break down is not complete, your body does not get the protein it needs regardless of how much you eat. The result can be weak muscles and difficulty building muscles no matter how much you exercise.

You need to know that not all kiwifruit supplements contain the skin and only the skin contains the prebiotics. So, you have to be careful when you shop for a supplement.

There are other reasons that you might need to learn how to digest food better. Once your digestive tract gets back in balance, you may be surprised by how good you feel all around!

Virginia takes a keen interest in all maters relating to health and fitness. She also does research in the areas of natural dietary supplements.

I am sure you are concerned about your health; therefore; I suggest you visit Best Digestive Enzyme Supplement to obtain additional information on the only 100% natural dietary digestive enzyme supplement on the market.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips to Staying Healthy

There is always an article that comes out that lists the things that you need to do in order to stay healthy. These things are always changing. It seems that the only things that stay consistent are that you need to exercise and eat healthy. While these things are important, there is more to staying healthy than just physical changes you can do. This is my off beat list of a few other things in life that can help keep you healthy. It is important to live healthy in all areas. Nobody wants to think about not being around anymore, but if you follow these tips you can at least live the best life possible.

Surround yourself with family and friends. Having connections with people is important to everyone's emotional state. I am not saying that you have to go out and befriend every person that you meet. That would be insane. However you should have people in your life that are a positive influence in your life, people that lift you up and people that you have shared interests with. Think about how it is hard sometimes to not have plans on a Friday. What if this was the case everyday forever? You have to make a conscious effort to let people in and allow the relationships to mature. After all love makes the world go round.

Speaking of the world, get out there and see it. I believe that traveling is one of the most important things that you can do in your life. You can go and experience how other people live. Learn how they talk, what they eat, and their customs. We are all different and that's what makes it exciting. When you travel, you open yourself up to new experiences and you have a different outlook on the world around you.

Read. This is so important. Our nation has a growing problem with literacy and its sad. When you read you are able to educate yourself and even discover different people and places. When you read a great book you completely transform your mind and are entranced by what you are reading. Reading helps you build your vocabulary and learn about things that you might not have learned otherwise. I have a rule of thumb, for every fiction book I buy I also buy a nonfiction book. I love biographies and books about different cultures.

Another great way to stay healthy is get out there and volunteer. There are always people that need help and places always need extra hands to manage it. You can always put your life in better prospective when you are able to hear about someone else's. Helping people is just good for the soul.

Like I said these aren't your conventional tips to stay healthy. I wanted to explore things outside of the physical healthy range. Emotional health is just as important if not more than physical healthy. When you are healthy on the inside then it shows. It's all about getting out there and connecting with the world around you. So get up, get out, and live a long and healthy life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 7 Sources For All Natural Energy

Each day, it seems like there's one point in time when a nap would be the greatest thing in the world. Either just after lunch or right in the middle of the afternoon, or maybe right when we get home from work, taking a quick nap would feel so good. Unfortunately your boss generally frowns on sleeping on the job and when you get home there's usually more work to be done so a nap is out of the question. So how do you come up with the necessary energy to get everything done without any funny chemicals? All natural energy sources which give you the energy to get through your day and give you a healthy boost are ones to look for.

Here are some sources of truly natural energy that will help you make it through your day:

1. Bananas - While everyone knows bananas are good for you, these natural sources of potassium and natural sugars help to give you additional natural energy. When you feel your energy level flagging, eating a banana can give you that boost you need to make it through the day.

2. Energy Drinks - While the energy drinks from the "big" companies are filled with caffeine and sugar, energy drinks from other companies actually are filled with all natural ingredients. Filled with vitamins, minerals and natural energy boosters, these drinks give you the energy you need without the crash you get from caffeine and sugar boosted energy drinks.

3. Rearrange your vitamin schedule so you're getting your main vitamins during the middle of the day. This not only improves brain function but can help keep you alert during the "slow" part of the day.

4. One thing to consider is to swap out 5 or 6 small meals per day instead of 3 large ones. Not only will this level out your energy intake but it will keep you from overeating as well.

5. By drinking a smoothie instead of a cup of coffee or caffeinated cola in the afternoon, you'll feel peppier. Smoothies made with all natural fruits, soy milk and protein powder give you a real boost that is healthy and beneficial for your body.

6. For all natural energy, great afternoon snacks are power bars filled with vitamins, minerals fruits and grains not only gives you added fiber in your diet but gives your body additional "fuel" to make it through the day.

7. Exercise - Believe it or not, exercising regularly actually increases your energy level. Instead of taking that two martini lunch, go to the gym and get in some reps. You will feel better and the afternoon energy drop won't be there.

Taking care of your body with all natural energy boosters has a lot of added benefits. Feeling great all day plus making it through the whole day without wanting a nap is a great feeling. Increase your productivity, your confidence and be happier by taking advantage of all natural sources of energy for your body.

There are many ways to jump start your weight loss and using thermo boost products can help make your weight loss a success. Sasha Paul found great natural weight loss supplements to give her a little boost when she hit a plateau.

What to Eat After Gallbladder Surgery

If you are wondering what to eat after gallbladder surgery, you will find some answers here. However, you must talk to your doctor about this. Patients are always told about the most important things to do before and after the gallbladder surgery.

Gallbladder surgery is done when all other treatment methods fail. Gallbladder problems can occur due to several factors, but gallstones seem to be the most common cause. Gallstones do not always lead to complications. Some stones are very small, and many people don't even know they have them. These stones are asymptomatic, so it is hard to detect them. However, these stones can be eliminated in the natural way, using some herbal remedies.

Large stones can cause complications. If you are diagnosed with gallstones, your doctor will tell you about the best option for solving this problem. In some cases, the surgery has to be done. This medical procedure rarely results in complications, but the patient will have to stick to some rules, especially when it comes to his/her diet. The gallbladder is known as a rather smaller body organ in the human physical structure which would help in digestive break down of extra fat plus allows to hold all the bile that has been developed in the liver.

What to Eat After Gallbladder Removal

Gallbladder surgery will be carried out if all other options fail. After the procedure, you will need to make some moderations to your diet.

Foods to avoid include:

- Broccoli
- Cereals
- Cabbage
- White bread
- Mayonnaise
- Margarine
- Fatty sauces
- Sugary foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Junk foods
- Fatty meats
- Fatty dairy products

Foods to eat include:

Liquid foods. After the surgery, you will have to consume liquid foods, because these foods will not put any pressure on your digestive tract.

After a while, you will be allowed to consume solid foods, but only the low-fat ones. Lean meat, fruits, vegetables (tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers are good to eat), and plenty of water will be good for you.

You will have to be disciplined, when it comes to your meals. You will have to avoid eating large meals. Eat several small meals every day. Talk to your nutritionist about the best way to prepare your food. You will see that gallbladder diet is not too restrictive. It includes healthy foods, so you will feel much better. Your doctor will tell you what to eat during the first couple of days after the surgery. If you have any other questions related to your future diet, talk to your doctor.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Get Enough Protein! Day by Day Guide

There is no doubt that your body needs protein. Day after day your body uses it to build muscles, skin, blood and more; it is a component of every cell and vital for healthy functioning. Without enough protein, you might find yourself becoming easily fatigued or even lethargic, experience edema (fluid retention), lose muscle mass, become constipated and have difficulty healing from wounds or injuries. Although true protein deficiency is rare in developed nations, it can occur in people following crash or fad diets, those with eating disorders or elderly/invalid people who have difficulty getting enough nourishment.

In Western countries, the issue for most people isn't how much protein they are getting but from what sources. A person who eats a lot of steaks, burgers and deli meat is consuming more than enough protein but is also consuming an excess of saturated fat and sodium. Many people are concerned that vegetarian and vegan diets are too low in protein however plant sources of protein such as beans can provide ample amounts as well as other nutrients such as vitamins and fiber.

For healthy adults, weight is used as the basis for calculating the required amount of protein. Day allowances are 0.80 grams per kilogram of weight (divide your weight by 2.2 if measuring in pounds to get kilos). For a 150 lb person, that's about 55 grams a day or about the amount in one chicken breast.

One of the best benefits of protein is that it gives you a feeling of satiety, in other words it leaves you feeling full and satisfied for a good amount of time after you consume it. A great way to take advantage of this is to consume small amounts of protein rich foods throughout the day to help keep hunger at bay so that you aren't reaching for high calorie, low-nutrition snacks. Combining protein rich foods with complex carbohydrates and a modest amount of good fats is your best bet when it comes to sticking with a nutritious eating plan.

While some protein is good, a lot isn't necessarily better. High protein diets that cut out carbohydrates can be hard on the kidneys but for most people the biggest risk is that eating a lot of protein dense foods can crowd out other food choices that are also rich in vital nutrients, such as leafy green vegetables and whole grains. As noted before, some high protein foods are also high in saturated fat which can lead to heart disease, stroke and other diseases.

A well balanced eating plan includes a variety of foods to ensure ample amounts of all the vital nutrients, not just protein. Day by day if you make smart eating choices, you will get enough protein to stay strong and fit.

Cholesterol: Is My Heart at Risk?

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat produced in liver or intestine, used for the synthesis of hormones and cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. Cholesterol is a very essential structural component of plasma membrane of mammals required for maintaining proper membrane permeability and fluidity. It is also an important agent required for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones and vitamin D. It is the principal steroid synthesized by animals however, smaller amounts are also produced in plants and fungi. Cholesterol is entirely absent among prokaryotes. If its concentration increases in blood then the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases so its level must be kept under control. The word cholesterol has originated from a Greek word and was first discovered by Francois Poulletier de la Salle in gallstones in solid form in 1769 but, chemical identification was done by Eugène Chevreul in 1815 who gave the term cholesterine.

Cholesterol participates in the synthesis of male and female steroid hormones especially testosterone and estrogens. About 80% of the body's cholesterol is synthesized by the liver while rest comes from our diet. The major sources of dietary cholesterol are meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Among meat, liver is excessively rich in cholesterol content while foods of plant origin lack cholesterol. After consuming a meal, the dietary cholesterol is absorbed from the intestine and packaged inside a protein coat. This cholesterol-protein coat complex is known as chylomicron which is later stored in the liver. Liver bears the potential of regulating cholesterol levels in the blood stream. Cholesterol synthesis starts from simpler elements present in the body. In blood circulation it is transported within lipoproteins and if its level increases then the risk of atherosclerosis increases. Typically for a person weighing 68 kg the total body cholesterol synthesis is 1 g per day. The daily additional dietary intake of cholesterol in the United States is 200-300 mg. The body maintains equilibrium by minimizing the total amount synthesized in the body if the dietary intake of cholesterol increases.

Cholesterol is also recycled, it is excreted by the liver via bile into the digestive tract. About 50% of the excreted cholesterol is again reabsorbed in the small intestine and reaches blood stream. Phytosterols can compete with cholesterol reabsorption in the intestine and thus, reduce cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a fat required by the body in small amounts. High blood levels of cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease and angina. Nitrates are used to relieve angina. Most people require regular tests for knowing blood cholesterol levels that comprise checking of triglycerides, high density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol levels.

Methods for increasing the levels of good cholesterol or lowering blood cholesterol levels include cholesterol reducing drugs like statins, fibrates, niacin and bile acid resins. These drugs are not able to reverse calcification and if coronary arteries are blocked then heart attack may occur. The two chief types of cholesterols are high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). For the sake of simplicity HDL is considered as good cholesterol while LDL is known as the bad cholesterol. We can conclude that the bad cholesterol is responsible for forming plaques in the arteries and thus, increases the risk of heart attack. The good cholesterol on the other hand, reverses cholesterol transport by taking it out of the plaque and sending it back to blood circulation for excretion via liver.

Three major types of lipoproteins are found in the serum of a fasting individual namely, low density lipoproteins (LDL), high density lipoproteins (HDL) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL).

1. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) or bad cholesterol and its management

LDL or bad cholesterol comprises 60-70% of the total serum cholesterol. It is the major atherogenic lipoprotein used in the cholesterol lowering therapy as its higher levels are dangerous. It deposits cholesterol on the walls of arteries resulting in the formation of a hard substance known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque is responsible for the hardening of arterial walls so they become narrow and the process is identified as atherosclerosis. Liver not only manufactures and secretes LDL cholesterol in the blood stream but also removes it from the blood. A large number of active receptors are present on the surface of liver that actively bind to the LDL cholesterol molecules and remove it from blood. A deficiency of LDL receptors is associated with the higher level of these molecules in the blood.

A number of advantages are known when the levels of bad cholesterol undergo reduction for example, declination in the formation of new plaques on the walls of the arteries, removal of existing plaques from the arterial walls, narrowed arteries attain their normal shape, avoidance of rupturing of plaques which facilitates formation of blood clots and finally the risk of heart attack is reduced. A number of studies have indicated that the risk of heart attack diminishes by 25% for every 10% drop in the LDL cholesterol level and it is the key factor ensuring that total blood cholesterol level has reached a safer zone. A study carried out with 4,000 individuals has confirmed that the levels of bad cholesterol and risk of heart attack were reduced to about 25% and 42%by using the drug statin. It is profitable that the daily calorie intake of fat must be reduced down to 30% and consumption different kinds of foods rich in carbohydrates, proteins must be increased as the body will convert them into triglycerides which are later stored as fat.

Foods rich in saturated fats increase levels of LDL cholesterol in blood stream. Fats may be classified as saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are easily available in the meat, dairy products and some vegetable oils especially those derived from coconut, palm and cocoa. Therapeutic lifestyle changes adopted for lowering the levels of bad cholesterol include regular exercise, loss of excess body weight and following a diet with low concentration of saturated fats and cholesterol. When lifestyle changes fail to give desired results then medications are taken into consideration. Statins are the most effective drugs giving best results for lowering the levels of bad cholesterol and also reducing the risk of heart diseases. Other drugs that can be used include fibrates like gemfibrozin, resins such as cholestyramine, ezetimibe and Zetia. The National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have published some guidelines that can help the medical experts while dealing with cases of high cholesterol.

2. High density lipoproteins (LDL) or good cholesterol and its advantages

HDL cholesterol or the good cholesterol as it prevents atherosclerosis by extracting cholesterol from the arterial walls and disposing them through liver. High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with the risk of heart diseases. So the levels must be maintained in order to enjoy a happy and healthy life. HDL cholesterol accounts for 20-30% of the total serum cholesterol. Since it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis its level must be checked from time to time. Both heredity and diet have a significant effect on a person's HDL, LDL and total cholesterol levels. Families with low HDL levels are at an elevated risk of heart attack and vice versa. Lifestyle and other factors also influence HDL levels. HDL levels are low in individuals who smoke, are overweight, inactive and suffer from Type II diabetes mellitus. HDL levels are higher in individuals who are lean, exercise regularly and do not smoke. Estrogens also increase HDL levels so women have high HDL cholesterol levels as compared to men.

Lowering of the LDL cholesterol level is however easier than elevating the levels of HDL cholesterol. Reducing LDL and raising HDL levels have a beneficial effect on an individual's health. Earlier the researchers were much focused on the ways of reducing the levels of bad cholesterol but with advancement in research it became clear that it is better to raise the levels of good cholesterol as it will automatically reduce bad cholesterol levels. The levels may be raised by weight loss, regular exercise and intake of niacin. Some studies have suggested that drugs like statin when coupled with niacin give better results and women with high levels of HDL have reduced risk of heart attack. The average HDL level for women must be in between 50-55 mg/dL and for men 40-50 mg/dL. The total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio can be of help in estimating the risk of atherosclerosis. An average ratio must be in between 4-5.

Studies have indicated that even a small increase in the level of HDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart attack. For every 1 mg/dL rise in the HDL cholesterol level the risk of coronary heart disease reduces by 2-4%. However, therapeutic lifestyle changes can help in increasing the HDL levels. When these changes fail to give positive results then medication is taken into account. Regular aerobic exercise, loss of excessive body weight and cessation of smoking are helpful in raising HDL levels. Regular alcohol consumption for example, taking one drink per day can also help in this regard but as alcohol consumption is coupled with many adverse health effects this criterion is not taken into consideration. Effective drugs include gemfibrozil, estrogen and lower doses of statin. A newer medicine, fenofibrate has also given better results and is used in reducing serum triglycerides.

3. Triglycerides or very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) or ugly cholesterol and its effects

The ugly cholesterol is a triglyceride rich lipoprotein that accounts for 10-15% of the total serum cholesterol. This cholesterol is produced by liver and some remnants of VLDL seem to promote atherosclerosis similar to that of LDL. Triglyceride is a form of fat transported to the tissue through blood. Body's majority of fatty tissue is composed of triglycerides. Serum triglycerides can be derived from two sources. The first source is the food that we consume for example, if we consume a diet rich in fats then intestine packs some of them while rest is transported to the liver. The second source is the liver itself. When fats are received by the liver, it takes fatty acids released by the fat cells and ties them in triglyceride bundles that are later utilized as fuel. There is a controversy about the fact that whether high levels of triglycerides alone are responsible for coronary heart disease or not.

Other clinical conditions frequently coupled with high triglyceride levels are high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney, liver and circulatory disease and hypothyroidism. In some individuals elevated triglyceride levels are inherited and this condition is identified as hypertriglyceridemia. The common examples of hypertriglyceridemia include mixed hypertriglyceridemia, familial hypertriglyceridemia and familial dysbetalipoproteinemia. Hypertriglyceridemia can also occur due to some non-genetic factors like obesity, excessive alcohol, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease and use of estrogen containing medicines like birth control pills. The levels can be returned back to normal without medication by taking the help of a physician. The first step involved in the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia includes intake of a diet low in fats with limited consumption of sweets, regular aerobic exercise, loss of excess body weight, reduction of alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. In patients with diabetes mellitus effective control of glucose level is needed.

When medications become necessary statins, fibrates and niacin can be used. Fibrates not only reduce the triglyceride levels but also raise the HDL levels and particle size of LDL molecules. Same task is done by niacin but it lowers the levels of Lp (a) cholesterol. Statins on the other hand, reduce both triglyceride and LDL levels but are ineffective in raising HDL levels. A newly launched medicine, fenofibrate has shown promising results in lowering triglyceride and LDL levels as well as raising HDL levels especially in those individuals who show sub-optimal responses with fibrates. In some individuals a mixed dose of fibrate or fenofibrate along with statin is prescribed for better results.


Cholesterol is needed for building and maintenance of membranes as it modulates membrane fluidity over a wide range of physiological temperatures. The hydroxyl group located on the cholesterol molecule interacts with the polar head groups of membrane phospholipids and sphingolipids and thus, reduces permeability of membrane to protons. Within the cell membrane it also functions in intracellular transport, nerve conduction and cell signaling. Cholesterol is also very essential for the structure and function of invaginated caveolae and clathrin coated pits in endocytosis. Recently, it has been suggested that cholesterol also plays some role in cell signaling process by assisting in formation of lipid rafts in plasma membrane. In many neurons a cholesterol rich myelin sheath is present which is derived from the compact layers of Schwann cell membrane helping in efficient nerve conduction. This layer also provides insulation. Within cells cholesterol also acts as a precursor molecule for several biochemical processes. In liver, cholesterol is converted into bile which is then stored in gallbladder. Bile is rich in bile salts which actively solubilize fat molecules in the digestive tract and thus, aid in intestinal absorption of fat molecules and fat soluble vitamins like A,D,E and K. It is also an essential precursor molecule for the synthesis of vitamin D and steroid hormones.

Biosynthesis and Regulation

All animal cells manufacture cholesterol but the rate of production varies depending upon the cell type and the organ involved. About 20-25% daily production of cholesterol occurs in the liver and rest in intestines, adrenal glands and reproductive organs. Synthesis of cholesterol within the body starts with one molecule of acetyl- CoA and one molecule of acetoacetyl-CoA that are hydrated to form 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA). The HMG-CoA so formed is reduced to form mevalonate by the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This step is the rate limiting and irreversible step in the cholesterol synthesis. The mevalonate so formed is converted into 3-isopentenyl pyrophosphate in three reactions that need ATP. Mevalonate is then decarboxylated to form isopentenyl pyrophosphate. Then three molecules of isopentenyl pyrophosphate collaborate together to form farnesyl pyrophosphate in the presence of geranyl transferase. Two molecules of farnesyl pyrophosphate join to form squalene in the endoplasmic reticulum and the reaction is catalyzed by squalene synthase. Oxidosqualene cyclase then converts squalene to lanosterol that finally forms cholesterol. The mechanism and regulation of cholesterol was worked out by Konard Bloch and Feodor Lynen for which they received Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964.

The biosynthesis of cholesterol is under the strict control of the cholesterol levels but homeostatic mechanisms involved in its regulation are partly understood. A higher intake of cholesterol from food results in a net decrease in endogenous production and vice versa. The main mechanism involved comprises sensing of intracellular cholesterol by the protein SREBP (sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 and 2) located on the endoplasmic reticulum. In the presence of cholesterol this protein binds with two other proteins namely, SCAP (SREBP-cleavage-activating protein) and Insig 1. When the cholesterol level declines Insig 1 dissociates from the SREBP-SCAP complex, allowing entry of this complex into the Golgi apparatus, where SREBP is cleaved by S1 and S2 proteases. These proteases are activated by SCAP when cholesterol levels decline. The cleaved SREBP then migrates towards the nucleus to act as a transcription factor and here it binds to the sterol regulatory element (SRE) which stimulates transcription of many genes for example, scavenging of circulating LDL from the blood stream by low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and increase in the endogenous production of cholesterol by HMG-CoA reductase. A larger part of this signaling pathway was worked out by Dr. Michael S. Brown and Dr. Joseph L. Goldstein in 1970s for which they received Noble Prize in 1985.

Cholesterol synthesis can be terminated when cholesterol levels are high. HMG-CoA reductase bears both cytosolic and membrane domains. The membrane domain is sensitive for the signals responsible for its degradation. Increased concentration of cholesterol causes a change in the oligomerized state of domain that makes it more susceptible to destruction by proteosome. The activity of this enzyme can also be reduced by phosphorylation by an AMP activated protein kinase. Cholesterol is only slightly soluble in water and can be dissolved in water-based blood stream but travels at exceedingly small concentrations. As cholesterol is insoluble in blood it is transported in the circulatory system within the lipoprotein complexes whose outer part is made up of amphiphilic proteins and lipids. Triglycerides and cholesterol esters are carried internally. Lipoproteins provide cholesterol a soluble medium to be transported through blood and for this reason lipoproteins are carried in different forms within blood namely, chylomicrons, very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL).

Chylomicrons are the least dense type of cholesterol transporting molecules whose shells are rich in apolipoprotein B-48, apolipoprotein C and E. They carry fats from intestine to muscles and other tissues that require fatty acids for energy. Cholesterol that is not used by the muscles remains in the form of chylomicron remnant which is later taken up by the liver through blood stream. VLDL molecules produced by the liver are loaded with triacylglycerol and cholesterol that are not needed by the liver for the production of bile acids. These molecules contain apolipoprotein B100 and apoplipoprotein E in their shells. During transport the blood vessels cleave and absorb triacylglycerol from IDL molecules that have high concentration of cholesterol. LDL molecules are the major carriers of cholesterol in the blood and each molecule contains about 1,500 cholesterol esters. The shell of LDL molecule contains only one molecule of apolipoprotein B100 that is recognized by the LDL receptors present on the peripheral tissues. During binding of apolipoprotein B100 many LDL receptors become localized in the clathrin-coated pits. Both LDL and its receptors are internalized by endocytosis to form a vesicle within the cell which then fuses with the lysosome containing lysosomal acid lipase that hydrolyzes cholesterol esters. At this stage cholesterol can be used for the biosynthesis of membrane and can be stored within the cell.

Synthesis of LDL receptor is regulated by SREBP protein. When the cell has sufficient amount of cholesterol, LDL receptor synthesis is blocked and no more molecules of cholesterol can enter inside the cell. When the cell is deficient in cholesterol more LDL receptors are formed. When this system is deregulated more LDL molecules without LDL receptors appear in the bloodstream especially near the peripheral tissues. These molecules are then oxidized and taken up by the macrophages forming foam cells and contributing in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of the arteries causing heart attack. HDL molecules participate in reverse cholesterol transport as they return cholesterol back to the liver for excretion. Cholesterol is susceptible to oxidation and can easily form oxysterols that are the oxygenated derivatives. Oxysterols can be generated through three mechanisms especially by autoxidation, secondary oxidation to lipid peroxidation and cholesterol metabolizing enzyme oxidation. Oxysterols also participate in bile acid biosynthesis, transport of different forms of cholesterol and regulation of gene transcription.

Cholesterol is oxidized by the liver into a variety of bile acids which are in turn conjugated with glycine, taurine, glucuronic acid. A mixture of both conjugated as well as non-conjugated bile acids along with cholesterol is excreted from the liver into bile. About 95% of the bile acids are reabsorbed from the intestines while rest is lost in faeces. The excretion and reabsorption of bile acids form the basis of enterohepatic circulation essential for digestion and absorption of the dietary fats. In certain circumstances, cholesterol crystallizes and forms gallstones especially in the gallbladder. Lecithin and bilirubin gallstones are also known to occur but their percentage is low. Everyday about 1 g of cholesterol is known to enter the colon which comes from diet, bile, desquamated intestinal cells and can be metabolized by the colonic bacteria. Cholesterol is mainly converted into coprostanol which is a nonabsorbable sterol excreted in faeces. A cholesterol reducing bacterium has also been isolated from human faeces. Some cholesterol derivatives are known to generate liquid crystalline cholesteric phase.

Dietary sources of cholesterol

Animal fats are complex mixtures of triglycerides having lower proportions of phospholipids and cholesterol. Major dietary sources of cholesterol include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, shrimp and poultry. Human breast milk also contains sufficient amounts of cholesterol. The amount cholesterol present in the plant sources is lesser when compared with the animal sources. Plant products like peanuts and flax seeds bear phytosterols which are cholesterol like compounds helping to lower serum cholesterol levels. The total fat intake especially in the form of saturated and trans fats play greater role in blood cholesterol rather than the intake of cholesterol itself. Saturated fats are abundantly present in the full fat dairy products, animal fats, chocolate and several types of oils.

Trans fats are obtained by the partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats and do not occur in significant amounts in nature. They are present in good amounts in the margarine, hydrogenated vegetable fats and in many fast foods like snacks, fried or baked goods. Avoiding consumption of cholesterol rich animal products not only reduces the amount of cholesterol taken through the diet but also reduces the synthesis of cholesterol. Individuals interested to reduce their cholesterol levels through diet must consume less than 7% of their daily energy needs from the animal fats and fewer than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. It is debatable that reduced consumption of dietary fat and cholesterol can lower blood cholesterol levels because any declination in the dietary uptake of cholesterol is compensated by the organs involved in its synthesis so that the levels can be kept constant.

Foods that might cholesterol

Dietary fibers play a major role in maintaining our health as well as also protect us from a number of diseases like diabetes and heart diseases. Oats, oat bran and oat meal contain a special type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucan that helps in reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol. Oat fibers are different from other fibers in the manner that they reduce the levels of bad cholesterol while the levels of good cholesterol remain unchanged. So we can say that oat fibers help in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Studies have also indicated that if individuals with high levels of HDL consume 3 g of soluble oat fiber per day the total cholesterol levels may be declined. Soy protein also protects against heart diseases and hypercholesterolemia as it reduces the bad cholesterol and raises the good cholesterol. It also prevents the oxidation of bad cholesterol so that it may not coagulate on the arterial walls.

Several studies have indicated that drinking of green or black teas also reduce the blood cholesterol concentration, blood pressure and inhibit blood clotting and also provide some protection against cardiovascular diseases. Green tea is rich in catechins while black tea contains flavins that inhibit oxidation of bad cholesterol. Tea also contains folic acid that helps in reducing the risk of heart attack and cancer. A person can get 25% of RDA for folic acid by drinking five cups of tea in a day. Several studies have indicated that barely has some unique health promoting effects especially for the heart. The cholesterol fighting efficiency of barley is more pronounced than that of oats. Studies have indicated that it can reduce up to 15% of total cholesterol levels in individuals with elevated cholesterol levels. Barley is also a rich source of beta-glucan which retards fat and cholesterol absorption by the intestines. The fiber is known to bind bile salts and thus, removes cholesterol from the body. Psyllium husk is also a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibers known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, serum cholesterol, LDL levels, triglycerides and apolipoprotein B. Psyllium husk is rich in a fiber known as beta-sitosterol.

Cholesterol testing and reducing high cholesterol

The American Heart Association recommends that the cholesterol levels of individuals above 20 years of age must be checked in every five years. A blood sample after 12-hour fasting is taken by the medical expert for the determination of the lipoprotein profile. This determines LDL, HDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Causes of high cholesterol may vary from person to person and are influenced by the lifestyle and gender of an individual. A number of steps can be taken in order to reduce high cholesterol levels for example loss of excessive body weight. Avoidance of consumption of foods derived from animal fats, regular physical activity and exercise can also help in maintaining low cholesterol levels. Levels of cholesterol in both males and females increase after a certain age and the levels in women tend to increase after menopause. Genes also play an important role in a person's health.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 Tips to Stop Video Games from Affecting Your Health

In this day and age, we are not only becoming more technologically savvy, but we are also becoming increasingly demanding in our desire for entertainment. Constantly evolving developments in the realm of information and technology, is resulting in the increased prevalence of computer games, and the refinement of the way in which we interact with them.

Financially we have seen that the game development area is expanding exponentially. Companies are investing millions of dollars into the research and development of certain franchises of games, and they are seeing the results. Many individuals are spending a large amount of their time becoming literal disciples in this medium of entertainment.

Gaming platforms are also evolving. Gamers, individuals who spend a large proportion of their time playing computer games, are becoming fully immersed in seemingly complete imaginative worlds. So what effect is our constant appetite for gaming having on our health. Is it merely a coincidence that obesity is rising?

We will now consider what we can do to prevent game playing from affecting our health.


Moderation and gamers seem to be contradicting terms. There is no point of a small session playing games. Individuals happily sacrifice large amounts of time to conquer levels, and dominate landscapes in pixel filled worlds. But what effect does this have on the human body. The human body is optimised for movement. Our musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems work in a complex way to ensure we are readily able to enjoy our surroundings. Lying prone, sitting in a bean bag or just lazing around playing games will eventually cause your muscles to atrophy, resulting in increased deposits of lipids in your body. When muscles are not used they do not receive the vascularisation that is needed for muscle and bone maintenance.


Have shorter sessions of game playing. Set an alarm, every hour to make sure that you do not spend more than an hour continually playing games. When that hour is up, stand up and do some simple stretches. Focus on stretching your back, moving your extremities through the full range of motion. Stand up and tense your core muscles. Step outside get your eyes used to natural light again. Additionally, perform this very simple passive exercise to prevent eye damage. Go outside and focus on the horizon. This will cause your eyes to focus on a distant object, thereby decreasing eye strain.

Fresh Air

It is amazing how stuffy a room can get if it is not properly ventilated. Additionally, the human body of many gamers is quite efficient at producing various gasses, that are not beneficial to any individuals health, and are generally not pleasant. Long sessions of gaming in an unventilated room, can cause both decreased reaction times and limited attention spans.


Ensure that your room is well ventilated. Open your windows and get a cross breeze through your room. Install a whirly bird, or a ventilated skylight. Roof ventilators are very efficient at removing stuffy air from houses, and introducing fresh natural air into your house. By introducing a constant flow of ventilated air, you will increase your oxygenation, which beneficially will increase your attention span, and decrease your reaction time, therefore allowing you to be more complete gamer.

Dirty Controllers

The most effective way to prevent catching a cold or flu is to regularly wash your hands. There can be a wide variety of dense bacterial populations on game controllers. These can be readily transported to your mouth and other mucous membranes, leading to avoidable infections.


Never lick your controller, keyboard or mouse. Regularly use an alcohol based disinfectant to sanitise anything that your hands touch. Do not forget to sanitise the on/off button. If you are playing with multiple people in the same room, do not share controllers.

Gamers will continue to save the world, win the championship and kill aliens. But by applying these few simple suggestions you will be able to do so without adversely affecting your health.

The author is an avid Angry Birds player, but only plays in rooms where a whirly birds are installed. Whirly birds are also known in some parts of the world as roof ventilators.