Here are some 'snippets' about various health related topics which may be of interest to you.

NB I accept no responsibility for the content of any of the third party sites or sources mentioned below - they are given in good faith.

  • Cholesterol and Statins
  • The Importance Of Magnesium
  • Weight Loss And The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind
  • Causes Of Fat Gain
  • Anti Depression Drugs
  • Probiotics And Urinary Tract Infections
  • Slow Sneaky Deadly Diabetes - How to Prevent and Fight Diabetes

Cholesterol and Statins:

Cholesterol Deceptions: From Eggs to Statins, What Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About Cholesterol.
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc.

Over 16 percent of U.S. adults have high cholesterol, defined as 240 mg/dL and above, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even the average level for Americans, 200 mg/dL, is borderline high, they say.

Some experts believe statin drugs are vastly overprescribed and could be leading Americans to unnecessarily lower their cholesterol to dangerously low levels.

This high cholesterol, public health agencies say, is putting people at an increased risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. This stated “fact” scares millions of Americans into take statin cholesterol-lowering drugs to get their levels as low as possible … but what if this “fact” was actually not true?

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Cholesterol is actually an essential part of your body, used to produce cell membranes, steroid hormones, vitamin D and the bile acids your body needs to digest fat. Your brain needs cholesterol to function properly, as does your immune system, and if a cell becomes damaged, it needs cholesterol in order to be repaired.
In fact, making excess cholesterol is actually your body’s response to inflammation, which it does to help heal and repair your cells. So if you have high cholesterol you probably have high inflammation levels too (more on this later).

Many Americans are under the mistaken impression that all cholesterol is bad, but in reality cholesterol is good for your body and necessary for you to live. Unfortunately, the “lipid hypothesis” (aka the “diet-heart hypothesis”), the one that claims foods high in saturated fats drive up your cholesterol levels, which clog your arteries and lead to heart disease, is widely accepted and has helped to spread the misinformation about cholesterol throughout the public.

But the lipid hypothesis is actually seriously flawed.

In his book The Cholesterol Myths, Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD explained that Ancel Keys, who performed the study upon which the Lipid Hypothesis is based, used cherry-picked data to prove his point that countries with the highest intake of animal fat have the highest rates of heart disease.

Dr. Ravnskov revealed that the countries used in the study were handpicked, and those that did NOT show that eating a lot of animal fat lead to higher rates of heart disease were left out of the study, leading to entirely skewed, and faulty, data.

One recent study even found that there is no association between eating saturated fat (which is supposed to drive up cholesterol levels) and heart disease. The authors wrote:

“According to the classic ‘diet-heart’ hypothesis, high intake of SFAs [saturated fats] and cholesterol and low intake of PUFAs [polyunsaturated fats] increase serum cholesterol levels and risk of CHD [coronary heart disease].

However, few within-population studies have been able to demonstrate consistent associations with any specific dietary lipids, with the exception of trans fats and omega–3 fatty acids.

The available evidence from Cohort and randomized controlled trials is unsatisfactory and unreliable to make judgment about and substantiate the effects of dietary fat on risk of CHD … There is probably no direct relation between total fat intake and risk of CHD.”

Does This Mean You Can Eat Eggs Again?

If you’ve been shunning eggs because you fear they will raise your cholesterol, you needn’t avoid this healthy protein source any longer.
For starters, eating cholesterol is not what gives you high cholesterol. According to the Harvard Heart Letter, it’s a myth that all the cholesterol in eggs goes into your bloodstream and your arteries.

“For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood,” the Heart Letter states. “The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease—not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries—found no connection between the two.”

Eggs are also an excellent source of healthy nutrients, including choline, a B vitamin that may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and more. Egg yolks also provide the most readily absorbed form of lutein, a yellow-hued carotenoid that may help fight everything from cancer and cataracts to macular degeneration and aging.

Is it true that eating eggs will give you heart disease? No! The only large study to look at the link between eggs and heart disease found no connection.

What Is Actually High When It Comes To Heart Disease?

Not only does evidence suggest that saturated fat does not cause heart disease by way of high cholesterol, but there is considerable questioning of what actually constitutes “high” cholesterol in the first place.

The American Heart Association states, “About half of American adults have levels that are too high (200 mg/dL or higher) and about 1 in 5 has a level in the high-risk zone (240 mg/dL or higher).”

But according to lipid biochemistry expert Mary Enig, PhD in the Weston A. Price Foundation quarterly magazine:

“Blood cholesterol levels between 200 and 240 mg/dl are normal. These levels have always been normal. In older women, serum cholesterol levels greatly above these numbers are also quite normal, and in fact they have been shown to be associated with longevity.

Since 1984, however, in the United States and other parts of the western world, these normal numbers have been treated as if they were an indication of a disease in progress or a potential for disease in the future.”

What this means is that many Americans may be taking statin cholesterol-lowering drugs unnecessarily, believing their cholesterol is dangerously high when it is not.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “ … Total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is above 330.”

Statin Drugs: Is Modern Medicine's Cure-All Harming Your Health?

Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.

They work by interfering with an enzyme that your body needs to make cholesterol. Along with lowering cholesterol, the drugs -- which include Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, Pravachol, Crestor and others -- may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has accumulated on your artery walls, helping to prevent further blockage.

However, although cholesterol drugs do lower cholesterol, there is question over whether or not they actually lower your risk of heart disease.

For instance, as Business Week reported, James M. Wright, a physician and professor at the University of British Columbia, analyzed evidence from years of trials with statins and was surprised at what he found among data from patients with no heart disease who were taking the drugs:

He found no benefit in people over the age of 65, no matter how much their cholesterol declines, and no benefit in women of any age. He did see a small reduction in the number of heart attacks for middle-aged men taking statins in clinical trials.

But even for these men, there was no overall reduction in total deaths or illnesses requiring hospitalization—despite big reductions in "bad" cholesterol. "Most people are taking something with no chance of benefit and a risk of harm," says Wright.”

As Business Week continued, when you look at the fine print of data surrounding cholesterol drugs, the benefits often altogether disappear. Referring to one figure stated by drug maker Pfizer, which said 3 percent of patients taking a placebo had a heart attack compared to 2 percent of patients on the statin drug Lipitor:

“The numbers in that sentence mean that for every 100 people in the trial, which lasted 3 1/3 years, three people on placebos and two people on Lipitor had heart attacks.

The difference credited to the drug? One fewer heart attack per 100 people.

So to spare one person a heart attack, 100 people had to take Lipitor for more than three years. The other 99 got no measurable benefit.”

Suddenly the drugs don’t sound so miraculous, do they?

They also carry steep risks.

In one of the most revealing looks into the true side effects of statin drugs, a review published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs found nearly 900 studies of adverse effects linked to the drugs.

"Muscle problems are the best known of statin drugs' adverse side effects," Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and co-author of the study, told EurekAlert. "But cognitive problems and peripheral neuropathy, or pain or numbness in the extremities like fingers and toes, are also widely reported."

Other side effects included increases in blood glucose levels, tendon problems and an increase in liver enzymes, leading to permanent liver damage. Because of this latter risk, people taking the drugs must have their liver function tested periodically.

Nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches and skin rash are other known side effects.

Statin drugs are also known to block the production of important nutrients in your body, including CoQ10, which is beneficial to heart health and muscle function. If CoQ10 levels become depleted, which is common in those who take statin drugs, it can actually cause heart failure.

So What Is The Best Way To Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels?

Eating lots of fast food can lead to chronic inflammation in your body, which is a trigger for your system to make more cholesterol. If you want to lower your cholesterol, cutting out fast food … to curb the underlying cause of inflammation … is a wise first step.

Remember the inflammation connection? Your body tends to make more cholesterol when it’s in a chronically inflamed state. What causes the underlying inflammation?

Inflammation is often due to poor diet and the consumption of processed foods or lack of live healthy raw foods. For instance, if you eat a lot of fast food, you probably have increased inflammation levels, as pro-inflammatory foods include sugar, soda, alcohol, bread, trans fats and red meat.

Inflammation is a problem because when your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, the inflammation can lodge in your muscles, joints and tissues. In fact, chronic inflammation is a leading cause of many diseases, both physical and neurological, including heart disease.

So, if you’re interested in keeping your heart healthy without taking drugs, reducing inflammation is an excellent first step, as this will typically naturally put your cholesterol levels into a healthy range. Some top tips to do this are:

  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods and buy whole foods whenever possible. Fast food should be only a very occasional indulgence, or not on your diet plan at all, and raw foods should make up a regular part of your meals.
  • Exercising regularly
  • Not smoking
  • Managing stress in your life
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Detoxing regularly. There is some evidence that heart disease (and other chronic illnesses) are caused or exacerabated by an accumulation of heavy metals and other toxins in your body.
  • Natural detox products can help you to clean your body of toxic metals and other poisons. Ask your health care practitioner.

The steps above will help you to lower chronic inflammation in your body so that your cholesterol levels naturally revert to a healthy range, no drugs required.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc.

The Importance Of Magnesium

Are You Overlooking the Importance of Magnesium - the Fourth Most Abundantly Needed Mineral in Your Body?
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Although magnesium may not be at the top of the list of minerals that first come to your mind as necessary for good health, it is in fact very important to your body and is required to maintain wellness. Magnesium is actually the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, which demonstrates how much your body depends on its presence. More than half of the magnesium found in your body is located in your bones, and the remaining quantity is primarily located in cells of tissues, muscles, organs, and bodily fluids. Like other minerals found in your body, magnesium cannot be produced within the body and therefore must be received through outside sources, such as diet and supplements.

You can find magnesium in spinach, broccoli and certain other foods, but the majority of Americans do not get enough of this healthy mineral from diet alone.

There are multiple benefits to keeping a healthy level of magnesium present in your body, including effective temperature regulation, energy production, transmission of nerve impulses, and the healthy formation of bones and teeth. Like other important vitamins and minerals, magnesium is essential for good health.

Why Is Magnesium So Important?
Magnesium is not just responsible for a few of your bodily functions. Rather, it is necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in all different parts of your body. Magnesium contains an enzyme that is required to help trigger chemical reactions within bodily functions, which helps in metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, along with assisting in the proper function of genes. Another important reason to have healthy levels of magnesium present is due to muscle retention. There are certain fuels that your muscles store in their cells, but without an available supply of magnesium, this storage is not possible.

Magnesium helps to relax your nerves and muscles, build and strengthen your bones, and assists with the healthy, smooth circulation of blood flow.

Since magnesium is associated with so many diverse actions in your body, having a magnesium deficiency can have a negative impact. So many organs and systems in your body require magnesium in order to function properly including your:
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Nervous system
  • Kidneys
  • Digestive system
  • Hormone-secreting glands
  • Brain

As mentioned, your muscles are also affected by magnesium. Your liver is also a vital organ that requires magnesium to metabolize. With all of these vital organs and systems requiring magnesium to operate, maintaining a healthy balance of the magnesium mineral is essential to proper growth and overall health.

How To Know If You Need More Magnesium
Since it is so important to keep healthy levels of magnesium in your system, knowing the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is imperative. As there are multiple systems affected, the symptoms for a magnesium deficiency are just as diverse.

Some of the symptoms include:
  • Muscle weakness, cramps, twitches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Weakening of bone structures
  • Imbalanced blood sugar levels
  • Seizures
  • Elevated fats in the bloodstream

An additional magnesium deficiency “clue” for some people can be the "difficulty in phasing out background noise."

Magnesium deficiencies can also have very negative effects on your heart muscle. The resulting symptoms associated with your heart include:
  • Arrhythmia
  • Irregular contraction
  • Increased heart rate

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may want to consult your healthcare practitioner for information on whether or not a magnesium deficiency may be the cause.

How To Increase Your Magnesium Intake
There are different ways that you can increase the amount of magnesium that you consume. As stated earlier, your body cannot naturally produce magnesium because it is a mineral; therefore, you must receive it from outside sources. There are certain foods that are known to be high in magnesium levels, which is one way that you can be certain you are consuming the needed mineral. Some of these foods include:
  • Spinach
  • Cooked turnip greens
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Flax seeds
  • Raw celery
  • Ripe tomato
  • Almonds and cashew nuts

There are many more foods that contain high levels of magnesium, and you can determine which ones work best for you by discussing your magnesium intake with your healthcare provider.

However, keep in mind that the majority of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their daily diets. As many as 68 percent of Americans do not consume the daily recommended amount of magnesium, according to a government study, and 19 percent do not consume even half of it.

Even the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) points out that:

"For many people, dietary intake may not be high enough to promote an optimal magnesium status, which may be protective against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction."

With that in mind, another way to increase your intake of magnesium is through supplementation. You can purchase magnesium as a dietary supplement in two different forms. One form is chelated, and the other is non-chelated. Chelated magnesium means that the magnesium molecule is joined with another molecule, which is normally a form of amino acids, which serve as foundations for proteins. Names of these supplements that are widely used include:
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium taurate

The other form of magnesium that you can purchase, the non-chelated form, involves the magnesium being attached to an organic acid or a fatty acid. These forms include magnesium sulfate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium carbonate.

For determining which form of magnesium would best suit your bodily needs, discuss these options with your healthcare practitioner.

Ask your health care practitioner to help you understand the differences in the magnesium supplements available, as well as recommend the option most suited for your needs.

Your Medications Could Lower Your Magnesium Levels
Certain medications, including diuretics, antibiotics and birth control pills, may impact your magnesium levels.

There are many medicines that affect your levels of magnesium as well. Some of these medicines include thiazide diuretics and loop diuretics that are used to lower blood pressure, and antibiotics, including neomycin, tetracycline, erythromycin, sulfamathoxazole, and sulfonamides.

Other medications that can affect magnesium levels are birth control pills, warfarin, and cyclosporine. If you take prescription medication, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if they could be causing a deficiency of magnesium in your body, along with the associated side effects.

Numerous Health Conditions Associated With Magnesium
There is a long list of health conditions that can be improved with proper magnesium levels. Some of the conditions that magnesium can help prevent include:
  • Heart attack
  • Alcoholism
  • Autism
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes

Other negative health conditions associated with a lack of magnesium include but are not limited to:
  • coronary heart disease
  • glaucoma
  • epilepsy
  • hypertension
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis

One recent study published in Magnesium Research even found that, in magnesium-deficient people, taking a magnesium supplement not only increased magnesium levels but also reduced levels of C- reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a special type of protein produced by your liver. When your body experiences systemic inflammation, levels of this protein go up. Many researchers and doctors now believe that CRP may be as important as -- or more important than -- cholesterol levels in determining risk of heart disease. The researchers noted:

"The findings show that many individuals have a low magnesium status associated with increased chronic inflammatory stress that could be alleviated by increased magnesium intake."

Current Issues And Misconceptions About Magnesium: Does It Help Your Heart, Blood Pressure And Diabetes?
Magnesium and its relation to potassium and blood pressure has been a debated issue within the medical field; however, there have been studies that have shown the positive relationship between healthy magnesium levels and healthy blood pressure levels. Green vegetables and foods high in magnesium are also typically high in levels of potassium and calcium, and are low in sodium and fat. Because of this, it can be difficult at times to evaluate the independent effect of magnesium on blood pressure and other health conditions because it can simply be hard to eliminate other nutritional factors.

However, new scientific evidence by Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is strong in proving that diets containing plentiful amounts of magnesium are very effective in individuals working to modify their hypertension. This group also suggests that even people with “prehypertension” who want to avoid developing full-blown high blood pressure should also make sure they eat a magnesium-rich diet.

Magnesium also decreases the chance of developing diabetes in older women. The Iowa Women’s Health Study followed a group of women beginning in 1986, and the study determined that the risk is lowered based solely on the dietary intake of whole grains, dietary fiber, and magnesium. Also, several studies have tested the option of using supplemental magnesium for controlling type 2 diabetes. This study concluded that the participants who received the magnesium supplement had higher blood levels of magnesium and had improved control of their diabetes.

Another common topic of discussion around magnesium deals with its relation to cardiovascular disease. Some studies have shown that having higher blood levels of magnesium can lower your risk of having coronary heart disease as well as reduce your risk of having a stroke. These studies recommend consuming healthy amounts of magnesium to benefit your entire cardiovascular system. These findings are also leading to new research on how magnesium levels may be associated with cardiovascular disease.

Consider This...
Magnesium has been proven to affect multiple important bodily functions, and your risk for certain unhealthy conditions could be significantly lowered by maintaining healthy levels of this pertinent mineral. Whether you simply want to relieve muscle aches, PMS symptoms, digestive irregularities, or address more serious issues such as diabetes and hypertension control, your healthcare professional can give you more information on how you can achieve healthy levels of the magnesium mineral through both dietary and supplement options.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Weight Loss And The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind

Is Your Mind Making You Fat … and Keeping You That Way?
The Power of Your Subconscious #1
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Your mind may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the battle of the bulge, but it deserves some definite attention. Not only do your emotions influence how much and what types of food you choose to eat, but your brain itself may as well.

Women may have more emotional cravings for food than men, even if they’re not really hungry, a new study has found.

Case in point, a new study from Brookhaven National Laboratory found that women, in particular, seem hard-wired to have emotional cravings for food.

In the study volunteers fasted for 17 hours, then were put into brain-imaging PET scanners, and were instructed NOT to think about food. But here’s the catch, they were then tempted with tiny tastes, smells and descriptions of their favorite foods.

But while both men and women were able to lower the overall sensation of hunger, women had a harder time shutting off their thoughts about food. Even when their feelings of hunger had dissipated, women still felt a desire to eat.

Further, just being stressed out can cause you to gain weight, according to the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation.

"Under stress, people conserve more fat, and we think that may be what's going on here," says psychologist and study co-author Tené Lewis of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Even after taking into account other factors that could affect weight gain (exercise habits, diet, smoking, etc.) it was found that the more bad things the women reported, the more weight they gained!

And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your mind -- your subconscious -- and your weight.

For starters, we’re all subjected to plenty of food advertisements and most of those ads are not for healthy foods. The bulk of the advertising goes to sway our kids, and according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in a typical day the average 8-12-year-old sees:
  • 5 ads for candy and snacks
  • 4 ads for fast food
  • 4 ads for sodas and other soft drinks
  • 3 ads for cereal
  • 2 ads for restaurants
  • 1 ad for prepared foods
  • 2 ads for the following categories combined: dairy, water, juice, meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables or grains

Do these ads encourage kids to want more junk foods? Certainly, and if you’re a parent that may mean you keep more unhealthy foods around your house -- to tempt you to sabotage your own diet. Even without kids, food advertising can have subtle impacts on your desire to eat foods that aren’t good for your waistline.

But advertisements are just one example. Here are some others:

Fad Diets
Are you swayed by the latest diet craze, the one that pushes low-fat, low-carbs, high-protein or any other mix of foods that is “guaranteed” to make you lose weight? Do you try them time and again, even though they always fail you?
Again, this is your emotions getting the better of you.

No fad diet will help you lose weight better than the old-fashioned advice to limit your calories … no matter what type they are. A new study published in the February 26, 2009 New England Journal of Medicine just further proved this point: researchers found that one diet is no better than the next when it comes to weight loss. All that matters is that you eat less.

"We have a really simple and practical message for people: it's not so much the type of diet you eat," says Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study. "It's how much you put in your mouth."

ANY Diet, For That Matter
The notion of “dieting” is ingrained in many of our heads, sometimes from childhood when we watched our mothers or fathers struggling with their own diets. As a result, you may feel, even subconsciously, that the only way to lose weight is by meticulously counting calories and fat grams, or starving yourself on cabbage soup and grapefruit.

Again, this is letting your mind play tricks on you.

How Your Mind May Saobtage Your Weight
  • Keep stress, and your waistline, under control replacing cravings with other activities or simply with water and healthy organic foods.
  • The more you try to eliminate the food you are craving, the more focused and greater the craving becomes.
Replace the craving vs attempting to eliminate it.

The 'one hour clue' is one hour after eating do you feel:
  • Better or worse?
  • More energy or less?

Any foods that don't make you feel good, energized one hour after eating, should be replaced with health-energizing foods.

When you feel the love, you'll start to feel better, replacing the upset feeling.

According to a two-year study published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, if you're looking to achieve long-term health improvements, behavior changes and self-acceptance are more effective than dieting any day of the week.

Portion Sizes
Do you think you must eat meals the size of thimbles to stay thin? Another trick of your mind! Thin people eat until they’re full … but they fill their plates mostly with fruits, veggies and lean protein. You can also trick yourself into thinking you’re eating more by using a smaller plate, such as a salad plate. It looks full, but you’re eating less than if you used a full-size dinner plate.
Once you’ve programmed your mind around healthy lifestyle habits, choosing good-for-you foods is natural.

Working Out Is A Luxury
Think you don’t have time to workout? Well, waist size is not all about food … it’s also about exercise. Taking the time to workout, even if it means giving up something else, is a trait that in-shape people share … and one that you should get your mind around. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself to exercise … it’s smart.

How To Programme Your Mind To Reach Your Ideal Weight
Losing weight is not about dieting or restrictions … it’s about changing the way you think about food, eating and a healthy lifestyle in general.

The first step to doing this is to become aware of your eating patterns; for instance if you tend to overeat when you're stressed about work, then make adjustments based on this. If you know you tend to overeat when you're overwhelmed, make it a point to keep yourself busy with another activity (even something relaxing like reading or taking a bath) during this time.

Next, focus on making small changes in your lifestyle, not on losing weight. For instance, rather than thinking, "I have to lose 30 pounds," think, "Today I'm going to take a pass on the bread and butter and go for a walk after dinner."

By adding just one or two healthy behaviors to your routine each day, you’re subtly changing your old, weight-sabotaging habits into new healthier ones.

And finally, stay positive. Focus on all you have to GAIN from your newfound mindset, rather than all you’re giving up.
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Causes Of Fat Gain

9 Causes of Fat Gain (Not One Being Food …)
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Have you heard people say they just can't lose weight even when they nearly starve themselves? Ever felt that way yourself?

A large number of Americans struggle to lose weight every day, despite adhering to healthy diets and regular exercise programs. So what is really going on? While diet and exercise are certainly the two biggest factors, and eating healthy and exercising will result in weight loss for the majority of people who try them, for some it’s just not enough.

In fact, there are several causes of weight gain that have nothing to do with diet or even exercise … so if you’ve been stuck in a weight-loss plateau, keep reading to find out if one of these explanations may be to blame …

1. Lack Of Sleep
Too little sleep can have a big impact on your waistline, and not in a good way. How? By altering levels of hormones that regulate hunger. According to one study by University of Chicago researchers, people who slept only four hours a night for two nights had an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a hormone that signals your brain you’ve had enough food, and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, the “hunger” hormone.

Not surprisingly, after getting such little sleep, the participants noted a 24 percent increase in appetite, with a particular desire for sugary, salty and starchy foods, like candy, chips and pasta.

A separate study also found that people who sleep less than four hours a night are 73 percent more likely to be obese than people who sleep more, while a new study in the International Journal of Obesity found that middle-aged women who have trouble sleeping may gain more weight than well-rested women.

In short, once your sleep patterns have been disrupted, your body will be prone to weight gain and overeating. Meanwhile, overeating may further throw off your circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, leading to a vicious cycle that can be hard to overcome.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, which can include a warm bath, a foot massage, stretching, or listening to soothing music, can help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

2. Sitting Too Much - 'Sittosis'
Americans spend an excess of time sitting -- leading to a variety of “sittosis” conditions, not the least of which is weight gain. Even independent of how much time you spend exercising, if you spend the bulk of your day sitting you could be inadvertently packing on the pounds.

Part of the problem is sitting stops the circulation of lipase, an enzyme that absorbs fats. So instead of being absorbed by your muscles, when you’re sitting fat recirculates in your bloodstream where it may end up stored as body fat, clogging arteries or contributing to disease and weight gain.

A recent study even found sitting time was a predictor of weight gain in Australian women, even after adjustments were made for diet and exercise.

According to Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, numerous studies show rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are doubled and even tripled in people who sit a lot.

For instance, a Canadian study showed that screen time is linked to obesity in adults. After surveying 42,600 men and women, researchers found:

Those who watched more than 21 hours of TV a week were 80 percent more likely to be obese than those who watched 5 hours or less.

Men who spent a lot of leisure time in front of a computer were 20 percent more likely to be obese, and women 30 percent more, than those who did not.

Research by Hamilton and others found sitting not only has a negative effect on fat and cholesterol metabolism, but also stimulates disease-promoting processes. What’s more, exercising, even for an hour a day, does not reverse this effect.

"The enzymes in blood vessels of muscles responsible for 'fat burning' are shut off within hours of not standing," Hamilton told "Standing and moving lightly will re-engage the enzymes, but since people are awake 16 hours a day, it stands to reason that when people sit much of that time they are losing the opportunity for optimal metabolism throughout the day."

So take the opportunity to stand rather than sit as often as you can. Stand while watching your kids play at the park, stand while you talk on the phone or watch TV, and any other time you can “get up off your butt” … do!

One simple tip is every morning when you first awake make a routine of stretching for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then, every evening set a time for a 30-minute focused exercise routine. This doesn’t have to require an expensive health club membership.

3. Intrauterine And Childhood Programming
Although the link is still being established, some studies have found a link between a mother’s weight during pregnancy and the future weight of her unborn child.

According to one study in Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology:

“Maternal obesity … increases the risk of delivering a large for gestational age or macrosomic neonate, who is in turn at an increased risk of subsequent childhood obesity and its associated morbidity.”

On the other hand, studies have also shown that you may be prone to obesity as an adult if your mother was undernourished during pregnancy. An animal study found that this may impact lifestyle choices later on, with rat offspring of undernourished rats more likely to be sedentary in later life. The researchers wrote:

“We have shown that predispositions to obesity, altered eating behavior, and sedentary activity are linked and occur independently of postnatal hypercaloric nutrition.

Moreover, the prenatal influence may be permanent as offspring of undernourished mothers were still significantly less active compared with normal offspring at an advanced adult age, even in the presence of a healthy diet throughout postnatal life.”

There is also the issue of childhood nutrition and weight. If a child is obese between the ages of 10 and 13, they have an 80 percent chance of being obese as an adult, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

4. Depression
Depression and obesity have a reciprocal relationship in that people who are depressed are more likely to become obese, while those who are obese are more likely to become depressed. Among initially normal-weight individuals, depression increases the risk of obesity by 58 percent, according to a new study by Dutch researchers.

For starters, it’s common for people with depression to overeat -- particularly foods high in sugar and fat, i.e. “comfort foods” -- as well as reduce their physical activity levels.

"Activation of the endocannabinoid system, which increases appetite and may simultaneously alleviate depression, is likely to reinforce this eating behavior. Socioeconomic disadvantage may further exacerbate the over-consumption of comfort foods because of their low cost," Dr. Evan Atlantis from the University of Adelaide's School of Medicine told Medical News Today.

If you’re currently depressed, you should seek help from a knowledgeable natural health care practitioner. You can also try adding regular exercise to your routine, as it’s effective at both relieving depressive symptoms and helping to maintain a healthy weight.

Ideally, try to avoid taking antidepressants, as they’re actually associated with obesity (see below).

5. Certain Medications
Certain prescription drugs cause weight gain as a side effect. According to Consumer Reports, these include:
  • Corticosteroids: These drugs increase your hunger levels and make you bloated.
  • Neuroleptics: Used to treat schizophrenia, these drugs cause you to feel lethargic, zapping your energy to exercise and making weight gain virtually inevitable.
  • Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants can make you crave high-calorie, sugary foods, leading to weight gain.
  • Epilepsy drugs: Depakote, Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol and Tegretol-XR for epilepsy are known to cause weight gain.

Other drugs, including contraceptives (the birth control pill), diabetes drugs and blood pressure drugs, are also known to cause weight gain. Considering that the use of prescription drugs in general is rising rapidly, this is a serious consideration in the battle of the bulge.

The average American aged 19-64 takes over 11 prescriptions per year!

6. Portion Sizes
If your portion sizes are too large, you can quickly gain weight – even if you’re eating primarily healthy foods. And if your foods aren’t always healthy, the weight gain from over-sized servings will be even quicker.

Portion sizes over the decades have doubled and it is showing in the growing waistlines of Americans. Studies have consistently shown that larger portion sizes tend to make people eat more food.

The portion boom, then and now:
  • In 1970, an average bagel weighed approximately three ounces and contained 230 calories. Today it is double that size and a whopping 550 calories
  • A serving of fries in the 1970s consisted of about 30 fries and 450 calories. Today, a serving will get you 50 fries and a heaping 790 calories

There are several tricks and techniques to eating the portion size that’s right for you. You can start by going through your kitchen cabinets and assessing your dinnerware and serving sets for sizes and even changing the ambiance of your dining room.

By eating off of smaller plates, such as 6-inch in diameter saucer-sized plates, you will trick yourself into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are. Also, start by taking small amounts of food on your plate and remind yourself that if you are still hungry after you’re finished, you can always go back to get more.

It is also useful to cut your portion sizes in half. If your daily lunch is a huge sandwich, try cutting it in half, eating one half and waiting a few minutes. This will give your body time to receive a full sensation. You may even decide you’re not hungry enough to eat the other half.

7. Obesity As A Symptom
If you’re inexplicably gaining weight, it could be a signal of another health problem. The following conditions, for instance, can cause weight gain as a symptom of a larger underlying problem:
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Eclampsia
  • Lupus
  • Metabolic Syndrome

If you’ve had unexplained weight gain, make an appointment to see your doctor to rule out an underlying disorder.

8. Pollution
Pollutants are all around us, many of which have an influence on your delicate hormonal and metabolic systems. Among them, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), pesticides, PBDEs, and others can predispose you to being fat.

Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences in MU's College of Arts and Science, told Science Daily:

"Certain environmental substances called endocrine-disrupting chemicals can change the functioning of a fetus's genes, altering a baby's metabolic system and predisposing him or her to obesity.

This individual could eat the same thing and exercise the same amount as someone with a normal metabolic system, but he or she would become obese, while the other person remained thin. This is a serious problem because obesity puts people at risk for other problems, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension."

Vom Saal pointed out that out of the approximately 55,000 manmade chemicals in use in the world, 1,000 may be endocrine disrupters.

To cut down on your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, avoid Polycarbonate, Lexan and Polysulfone plastics, which contain BPA, and instead use your own personal reusable water bottle made of HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic, which is BPA-free! For example the "Wellness H2.0" portable water bottle features a unique filtration system that not only purifies ordinary tap water, but also enhances the water for better absorption and hydration.

Because household items like cleaning products, toiletries (fragrances, hairspray, deodorants, shampoos, etc.), air fresheners, paint, bug sprays and many others are major contributors to the toxins in your home, seeking out natural varieties of these items is essential.

Also, because indoor air can be two to 100 times MORE polluted than outdoor air, according to the EPA, having a high-quality air purifier is now as essential as having locks on your doors. A simple way to keep your home’s air clean and safe is by using an Air Treatment System, which uses photocatalysis designed to oxidize organic odors, germs, and fungi to create clean, pure air in your home. Ask your practitioner what air treatments system they use and recommend for the best home and office air quality.

9. A Virus?
Studies suggest that an adenovirus called AD-36 may be involved in some cases of obesity. There are more than 50 types of adenoviruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold and gastroenteritis. Typically, the illnesses are not serious and resolve on their own.

However, research shows that 33 percent of obese adults have contracted AD-36 at some point in their lives, compared to just 11 percent of lean people. Further, in 2007 it was found that AD-36 could turn adult stem cells from fat tissue into fat cells.

According to Nikhil Dhurandhar, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, the virus likely triggers obesity when it spreads to other parts of your body.

A person exposed to the virus may recover from the related cough, cold or sore throat relatively quickly, but could reportedly gain weight for a period of three months, until their body has built up resistance to the virus. People with the virus could also remain contagious for three months.

“When we lose twenty pounds ... we may be losing the twenty best pounds we have! We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty.” Woody Allen.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Anti Depression Drugs

Depression Drugs: Do They Work As Well As Everyone Says?
New Research Points to "No"
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

When antidepressant medications first hit the markets in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, flocks of frenzied masses ran out to buy the drugs because they were hailed as a cure for depression and other mood disorders. Pharmaceutical companies, many scientists, and even doctors were quick to prescribe the new medications (most of which were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) to patients suffering from depression because they showed promising results in published clinical trials.

Is medication really the best option for treating depression? Get the facts before you decide. However, these “published” results were only half of the real story behind the popular pills.

The Real Facts About Antidepressants
A recent research study published in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) revealed a less flattering view of antidepressants’ abilities because it combined research from several trials instead of just one.

The report argued that "each individual trial provides some information about the new drug's effectiveness but additional information can be gained by combining the results of all the trials in a “meta-analysis,” a statistical method for combining the results of many studies."

What was most intriguing about this meta-analysis was the fact that much of the research had not been released to the public before. Upon retrieving the full set of results about some major medications from the FDA under the Freedom of Information Act, the researchers found information that showed how the effects of many SSRI antidepressant medications were not much more significant than the effects of placebos.

Specifically they said:

"...compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression, but show significant effects only in the most severely depressed patients. The findings also show that the effect for these patients seems to be due to decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication."

The research, done by Professor Irving Kirch and colleagues, was ground-breaking because it opened the floodgates for a wave of backlash against the governing bodies that are in charge of accepting and rejecting new drugs into the mainstream market. About these governing bodies, the report stated:

"Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and other licensing authorities have approved SSRIs for the treatment of depression, some doubts remain about their clinical efficacy."

So Does This Mean All Antidepressant Medication Is Dangerous?
As with all medication, careful study and application is required to ensure that it is suited to the people taking it. While some people find positive results from mainstream SSRI medication, it is important to be aware of ALL the research out there. While Prozac’s makers (Eli Lilly & Company) claim that:

"In controlled trials used to support the efficacy of fluoxetine (the clinical name for Prozac), patients were administered morning doses ranging from 20 to 80 mg/day. Studies comparing fluoxetine 20, 40, and 60 mg/day to placebo indicate that 20 mg/day is sufficient to obtain a satisfactory response in Major Depressive Disorder in most cases."

Professor Kirch's study found that: "Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective."

So who do you believe in the war of words surrounding antidepressants?

The research in the latter study combines results of all trials, as opposed to just one, so it may bode well for all sufferers of depression to take note of it. Also the research comes from a group of doctors not affiliated with major pharmaceutical companies.

In addition to the controversy surrounding the benefits of these drugs in tests, there are other problems that have been linked to modern SSRI antidepressant medications that you should be aware of.

What Are The Other Dangers Of SSRI Medications?
There are many side effects to most major antidepressants on the market today. Some of them are:
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Reduced libido
  • Tremors

Most troubling, however, are the side effects published in the black box warning label of the drug itself. The warning found on the Prozac packages states:

"Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders."

The warnings don’t stop there though. In the book "Talking Back to Prozac" by Peter Breggin, MD and Ginger Ross Breggin, the authors found some more concerning findings about the antidepressant drugs. It says:

"Nine of fifteen recently approved medications developed serious postapproval [by the FDA] risks, including one that had to be withdrawn from the market...after it was found to cause potentially fatal immune system disorders."

In addition, they also found that Xanax, another medication often used to treat depression, was found to cause "paradoxical rage reactions."

All these facts make mainstream antidepressants sound rather scary, don't they?

Are There Alternatives To Antidepressants For Depression?
Exercise is proven to benefit people with depression, and often the improvements rival those experienced by people taking antidepressant drugs.
There are many alternative treatments for depression out there today. Many experts, including The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), recommend that patients try counseling and psychotherapy before they turn to prescription antidepressants.

In addition to psychotherapy, many scientists agree that people suffering from depression must also make efforts to:
  • Eat healthily
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep regularly
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol

If you are suffering from depression there are also natural herbal remedies, which are proven to improve mood disorders without the heavy side effects often found in common drugs.

Popular natural options include:
  • St. John's Wort - check with your medical practitioner before taking this as it can interact with other medication
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, with some including around 1100mg of EPA and 720mg DHA (a total of 1820mg).
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate (food sources Folic Acid only, not synthetic)

In addition there are many natural supplements that combine specially designed herbs and vitamins for mood stabilization. Ask your health care provider which one best promotes activity of GABA and serotonin, and may help improve mood and support greater feelings of calm and satisfaction.

The controversy surrounding antidepressants (their dangers versus their benefits) will, likely, rage on for years. The real side effects of drugs usually take decades to surface, so in the meantime, it is important for anyone suffering from depression to be aware of ALL the information out there.

There are always major risks that come with taking medication, so make sure you always check with your health care practitioner before starting ANY program. Most importantly though, be proactive about finding out everything – including the good, the bad, and the controversial – about your medication before you decide to take it– it could change your life forever.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Probiotics And Urinary Tract Infections

Simple Tips for Overcoming Urinary Tract Infections Safely and Naturally
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc

Up to 60 percent of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. UTIs are one of the most common reasons why women visit their healthcare professionals and women are 10 times more likely to get a UTI than men. With an estimated 150 million cases in the world each year, the resulting healthcare cost is around $6 billion, not to mention the lost time from work and other normal activities.

UTIs can result in a range of symptoms from mild pain and discomfort to more serious cases that involve your kidneys and renal system and require hospitalization.

Sexual activity is one of the most common risk factors in acquiring a UTI and is part of the reason why so many women will experience a recurrence of the infection -- 30-40 percent of women will get another UTI within six months of the first infection. Over time, the conventional treatment, which is almost always antibiotics, stops working as well, requiring stronger or new antibiotics that can cause potentially harmful side effects and make your body more resistant to antibiotics when you really need them.

Signs and symptoms of a UTI include:
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • More frequent than normal urination or a sudden, urgent need to urinate
  • Lower abdomen pain or cramping
  • Blood or pus in your urine or a strong smell to your urine
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Fever, chills, nausea or vomiting

What Causes UTIs?
UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. Your body produces lots of natural agents inside the bladder, which keep urine sterile, but if bacteria enters the urethra, the bladder or urinary tract can get infected. The bacteria can come from a number of sources, but in most cases a UTI is caused by bacteria in fecal matter that travels to the area around the urethra. This bacteria, most commonly E. coli (Escherichia coli), is the infecting agent in 70-75% of UTI cases.

However, there are other risk factors that make you more likely to develop a UTI as well. These include:
  • New or multiple sex partners or frequent or intense sexual intercourse
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Irritation from harsh skin cleansers or contraceptives like diaphragms or spermicides
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Having a history of UTIs, especially if you had more than one in six months
  • Conventional UTI Treatment

If you suspect you have a UTI, your health care provider will feel your abdomen and the area around your kidneys and will also do a urine test to check for infection. The typical medical treatment for a UTI is a 1-10 day round of antibiotics. However, patients with frequent urinary tract infections may also be placed on a low-grade dose of antibiotics that they take every day as a way to prevent new UTIs from occurring.

The most common antibiotic used for UTIs is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX, brand names Bactrim, Septra). But, unfortunately, new antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli have begun appearing that don't respond to treatment with TMP-SMX. So health care professionals have begun to try other antibiotics in the penicillin, cephalosporins, or fluoroquinolone families. It is feared that the bacteria may become resistant to these antibiotics as well.

Problems With Conventional Treatment
The first problem with conventional antibiotic treatment of UTIs is that antibiotics often have unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects. These can include:
  • Stomach upset, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Allergic reactions
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Photosensitivity (making it easy to get sunburned)
  • Convulsions

The second problem with antibiotic treatment of UTIs is that bacteria can become resistant to them, making it harder and harder to treat the next infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem because almost every type of bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics with overexposure to the antibiotic. In fact, the CDC says that it is frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics that causes bacteria to become drug-resistant. Then when a UTI or other infection occurs, the antibiotic won't work as well -- or at all. Once this happens, treating the infection becomes more difficult, requiring stronger antibiotics, which may have harsher side effects, and leaving you vulnerable to the more serious repercussions of an uncontrolled infection.

What Are Probiotics?
In one study of women with nearly constant UTIs, after taking oral probiotics for several days a number of the women had all of their symptoms disappear.
The term probiotic comes from the Greek words meaning "for life," just as antibiotic means "against life." Whereas antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria, probiotics are meant to help other healthy microbes grow. They are live, beneficial bacteria that help keep a healthy balance of microorganisms in your bowel, vagina, and body in general. Keeping the right balance of healthy, bacteria-fighting microorganisms can help reduce the occurrence of infection.

Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods like yogurt but are also available in supplement form. In some countries, probiotics are considered a normal part of daily nutrition and digestive health.

In the United States, interest in probiotic foods and supplements is on the rise. Some health care professionals have begun recommending probiotics for digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. Research also indicates that probiotics may help prevent and treat UTIs.

Probiotics For UTIs
In the healthy vagina and urogenital area, there are more than 50 different microorganisms. Depending on your age and your exposure to different factors, the composition of these microorganisms changes. When you take antibiotics or use products like spermicide, the balance can be disturbed. The same can happen when E. coli or other bacteria are introduced.
In premenopausal women, a healthy vaginal environment is dominated by a type of microorganism called lactobacilli. When a UTI occurs, tests show that the lactobacilli are greatly depleted. However, probiotics may help keep the population of lactobacilli healthy and strong, which can help prevent bacteria from gaining hold and turning into a UTI.

In one study, lactobacilli probiotics were administered by vaginal suppository to women who had a history of recurrent UTIs. Results showed that 27% of the placebo group had another UTI within 10 weeks, whereas only 15% of the women taking the probiotic had another UTI in the same time period.

In another study, women who douched with a probiotic solution had a significant increase in the time between infections. A second phase of the study showed that the use of probiotic vaginal suppositories reduced the recurrence of UTIs by 79% over a year. Success has also been seen when taking probiotics following treatment with antibiotics. The antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, which means they also kill the lactobacilli. Probiotics help restore the lactobacilli before bacteria can re-infect the urinary tract.

Although vaginal application of lactobacilli seems to have the most impact on preventing or reducing UTIs, oral ingestion of probiotics can help as well. A daily dose of probiotics can travel through the gut, exit the rectum and support the lactobacilli in the vagina.

In a study of women who suffered from nearly constant UTIs, after taking oral probiotics for several days a number of the women had all of their symptoms disappear. The researchers estimate that between 50-90% of women would have healthier levels of vaginal lactobacilli within 1-2 weeks of taking daily probiotics.

Probitoics For General Health
Probiotics have also shown promise in treating certain digestive disorders. The most promising treatments have been seen for infants and children who have infectious diarrhea. With probiotic treatment, studies show a reduction rate of up to 60% as compared to a placebo. Several studies show that probiotics can also help prevent recurrences of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. A healthy digestive tract also promotes a healthier immune system in general.

Some preliminary research shows that probiotics may also:
  • Help prevent the development of allergies in children
  • Help patients deal with negative antibiotic side effects
  • Decrease the risk of certain cancers
  • Help prevent cavity-producing bacteria in your mouth

You may want to ask your health care practitioner about what type of Probiotics are best for you that may help alleviate symptoms associated with diarrhea, constipation, dysbiosis, bacterial infections, and yeast overgrowth.

With probiotics, it's all about survival. Probiotic organisms must survive three critical barriers to be of benefit -- the manufacturing process, time on the shelf, and most importantly, transit through the acidic environment of your stomach. High quality probiotics are formulated to handle all of the above, that enhance stability and the ultimate delivery of probiotic organisms to your intestinal tract.

More Natural Help For UTIs
In addition to taking probiotics, there are other natural ways you can help prevent the recurrence of UTIs. Certain lifestyle changes can help, such as:
  • Drinking plenty of fluids like water and herbal teas and avoiding caffeinated and high- sugar beverages
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry and blueberry juice
  • Urinating before and after sexual intercourse
  • Avoiding sex while you are under treatment for a UTI
  • Eating antioxidant-rich and high-fiber foods while avoiding refined foods that contain trans fats and sugar
  • Ask your health care practitioner about taking daily multivitamins and supplements such as vitamin C, omega-3 fats

Be sure that you tell your health care provider what supplements you are taking. Also consider making an appointment with your health care provider to discuss whether probiotics or another natural option might be the right course for you in treating and preventing UTIs.

© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc


Slow Sneaky Deadly Diabetes
How to Prevent and Fight Diabetes with Enjoyable Daily Exercises
© Health Realizations, Inc.

Nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, a condition that causes high blood sugar levels and a host of related health problems. The majority of people suffer from type 2 diabetes, a form that can develop at any age and, according to the Mayo Clinic, is often preventable.

As it stands, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and while nearly 18 million people have already been diagnosed, another 5.7 have not. Another 57 million suffer from pre-diabetes, a condition that puts them at risk of developing diabetes, and its related complications.

What Is Diabetes And Why Is It So Dangerous?
Diabetes is a “slow subtle killer” usually with initially little to no pain. From the onset it can oh-so-slowly rob you of your quality of life without much notice … at least at first … even for years! Often it progresses so slowly that by the time many people realize how far and how bad it has become it’s simply too late.

As the American Diabetes Association explains: “In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy.

When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.”

Glucose builds up in your bloodstream because your cells have become resistant to insulin, and your pancreas cannot produce enough to lower the sugar in your blood. While the reasons this happens are not entirely understood, lifestyle factors, including inactivity, also play a role.

You may not experience any symptoms, especially if you have pre-diabetes, but some signs you may have the condition include:
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores

After these initial symptoms, long-term complications can develop. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of:
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Nerve damage, which can lead to a loss of feeling in your limbs
  • Eye damage (diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among 20-74-year-olds)
  • Kidney damage (diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure)
  • Foot damage (including infections and damage that may require amputation)
  • Bone and joint problems, including osteoporosis
  • Skin and mouth problems
  • High blood pressure

A Simple Way To Drastically Lower Your Risk Of Diabetes...
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and one that can be difficult to manage, so your best route is prevention. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help you to prevent type 2 diabetes, and even reverse the disease if you have pre-diabetes.
What is one of the most important lifestyle choices you should make? Get regular exercise.

Exercise can have a significant impact on your risk of diabetes. It can even help fight it if you already have it. In fact, according to a study from researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, exercise can prevent and fight type 2 diabetes in as little as 15 minutes a day.

"Many people can fight type II diabetes through diet and exercise alone,” John Thyfault, professor in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences' Department of Nutritional Sciences, told Science Daily. "It is important to ward off diabetes early. Exercise has proven to be effective at all levels. At any stage of type II diabetes, from an obese child to a person dependent for 20 years on insulin injections, exercise could have a dramatic effect on improving insulin sensitivity."

In the study, diabetic rats had significantly increased insulin sensitivity in certain muscles following acute muscle activity. The findings, researchers say, would likely translate to people as well.

"In relation to a person with type II diabetes, this would mean that they could lessen their dependence on insulin therapy to control their blood glucose levels or potentially control glucose levels without any drug by just increasing their daily activity levels in addition to the right diet," Thyfault told Science Daily.

Other studies, too, have found exercise benefits diabetics. In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, those who exercised using aerobic activities and resistance training had improved blood sugar control. Further, according to the American Diabetes Association, exercise improves blood glucose management by making you more sensitive to the insulin you make, as well as burning glucose (calories), both of which lower blood glucose levels.

The effects of exercise are truly significant. In 2001, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of over 3,200 Americans at high risk of diabetes found that walking 30 minutes a day and losing a bit of weight cut diabetes risk in half.

What Type Of Exercise Should You Be Getting?
A well-rounded exercise program, one that incorporates aerobic activity, strength training, stretching and core work is best. Try to devote at least 30 minutes of each day to some type of exercise at least five days out of the week.

You will also want to include a form of physical activity that addresses your mind-body connection.

Further, an excellent addition to any exercise routine, simple as it may sound, is stretching. A few well-performed stretches can do wonders for your body and your mind. Healthy Eating is Important, Too!

A healthy diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to managing and preventing diabetes. The types of food you eat can affect risk factors within your control even beyond diabetes, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and obesity.

So make sure to incorporate vegetables, fruit, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, low-mercury fish, lean proteins and other nutrient-rich foods into your daily diet. Also strive to get your food from healthy sources, such as a local farmer’s market, where you can find organic produce foods and grass-fed meat. As you incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. The more different varieties you try on a regular basis, the more interesting, tasty and healthy your meals will become.

© Health Realizations, Inc.