Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Apr 13, 2019

Colorectal Cancer and the High Cost of Ignorance

Filed under: Health — Tags: — admin @ 8:24 pm

I can’t believe the year has rushed by so fast. There have been a lot of happenings since this year. First, my sister left for China on January 20. I went back to spend some time with my mother on January 31 and came back on March 26. After I got back, I was busy with filing tax returns and managed how to pay all the bills. This took care of a large chunk of the year.

While I was in China, I learned a piece of bad news about a relative of mine. He retired this February, had his first colonoscopy and confirmed stage 3C colorectal cancer in March, and checked into hospital for surgery in April. What a sad way to start his retirement!

We all learn a heavy lesson from this. First of all, this relative had rectal bleeding last year or even before that. They thought it was caused by his blood thinner medication that he started taking after a heart attack around two years ago. Without further check into his GI system, they simply changed his medication. When the bleeding continued early this year, the doctor suggested more GI checks which included colonoscopy, first time in his life. This is the first major lesson: check GI system first when having rectal bleeding.

Second lesson is the cost of ignorance. My relatives thought since this patient never had constipation, he would not be at any risk of having colon cancer. They didn’t understand both polyps formation and how polyps can become cancerous. From Mayo Clinic, I have learned that the risk factors in polyps formation include: (1) age (50+); (2) inflammatory intestinal conditions; (3) family history; (4) tobacco and alcohol use; (5) obesity and lack of exercise; (6) race (Afrio); (7) type 2 diabetes that is not well-controlled. My relative just turned 60; his father died of colon cancer; tobacco and alcohol user; not active; not well-controlled type 2 diabetes. With this background, he should have a colonoscopy at least a decade ago!

Third lesson is when it comes to your health and your life, you should take full responsibilities, do your homework, instead of relying on anyone else including doctors. Any laziness on your part could cost irreparable damages including your dear life.

1, Jan 25, 2017

Health advice to my children

Filed under: children,Health — admin @ 1:23 pm

Today I read about this in Chinese. I thought of sharing them with my children. So, here’s the English version on health.

1. On health, nurture works better than nature. You might inherit longevity gene from your parents, but you won’t be able to carry on this gene if you don’t take good care of your body. Nurture means a healthy lifestyle with diverse food intake and daily exercise.

2. Overnutrition is a form of malnutrition.

3. Getting mad or upset or low spirit or sad or depressed hurts your body as much as a disease does.

4. Getting drunk damages your liver like an attack of acute liver infection.

5. Family disharmony is detrimental to your health.

6. Loneliness hurts people more than poverty.

1, Apr 6, 2016

“Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone”

Filed under: Health — admin @ 1:44 am

Finally, there is something free from Harvard Medical School email. I am tired of seeing emails from Harvard Medical School. They often tell readers a tiny bit of something, then click here if you want to read more about it. This will take you to an order site where you have to pay about $20 for the article.

Last week, I read this one for FREE, “Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone.” Here’s the whole article.

“The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.

All of us are born with the knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to the practice of “sucking in” the stomach for a trimmer waistline encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone. Diaphragmatic breathing (also called “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing”) encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

But it’s especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, air can become trapped in the lungs, which keeps the diaphragm pressed down. This causes it to weaken and work less efficiently. Diaphragmatic breathing can help people with COPD strengthen the diaphragm, which in turn helps them use less effort and energy to breathe.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that’s more comfortable.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.

3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.

4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

You can also practice this sitting in a chair, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Practice for five to 10 minutes, several times a day if possible.”

1, Mar 23, 2016

Skin care myths and facts

Filed under: Health — admin @ 11:23 am

This is something that I read sometime ago and I forgot when and where. Below is the whole thing that I have saved and am sharing it here, though I have to say that I don’t agree with the article 100 percent.

“Don’t fall for these skin myths

Think you know a lot about skin and skin care? You might be surprised at how much “common knowledge” about keeping your skin clear and healthy is simply not true.
Here, we debunk 10 common myths about skin.

1. The right skin cream can keep your skin looking young.

There are hundreds of skin treatments that claim to help you look younger or slow the aging process. For reducing wrinkles, the topical treatment with the best evidence behind it is retinoic acid (as in Retin-A). Many over-the-counter products contain retinoic acid, but it’s difficult to say if one is better than another. But the best ways to keep wrinkles at bay are using sunscreen and not smoking.

New information on treatments for both medical skin conditions and cosmetic problems is available in this updated Special Health Report on Skin Care and Repair. This report describes scientifically approved treatments for common medical conditions from acne to rosacea, as well as the newest cosmetic procedures for lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other problems. An explanation of the ingredients in popular skin lotions and cosmeceuticals is also included.

2. Antibacterial soap is best for keeping your skin clean.
Skin normally has bacteria on it. It’s impossible to keep your skin completely free of bacteria for any amount of time. In fact, many experts are concerned that the use of antibacterial soap could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibacterial soap is not necessary for everyday use. Regular soap is fine. Thorough and consistent hand-washing, not antibacterial soap, is what helps prevent the spread of infection.

3. Eating chocolate or oily foods causes oily skin and acne.
The truth is that an oily substance called sebum causes acne. It’s made and secreted by the skin. In fact, there’s no evidence that any specific food causes acne.

4. Tanning is bad for you.
Spending an excessive amount of time in the sun or in a tanning booth can increase skin cancer risk, especially if sunscreen is not used. Skin cancer risk is correlated with total lifetime sun exposure and frequency of sunburns. Excessive tanning can also damage skin, causing it to wrinkle and age prematurely.
But developing a light or gradual tan through repeated, but careful, sun exposure isn’t dangerous. As long as you’re taking precautions — such as using a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, applying it thoroughly and reapplying when necessary, and avoiding peak sun exposure times — a light tan with no burning isn’t a warning sign.

5. Tanning is good for you.
People often associate a dark tan with the glow of good health. But there’s no evidence that tanned people are healthier than paler people. Sun exposure does have a health benefit, though. Sunlight activates vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D helps keep bones strong, and may also lower the risk of certain cancers and boost immune function. Depending on how much vitamin D you’re getting in your diet, a lack of sun exposure could increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency.

6. The higher the SPF of your sunscreen, the better.
Above a certain level, a higher sun protection factor (SPF) has little added benefit compared with a lower SPF. Experts generally recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks out 97% of UVB radiation. It may be worth a higher SPF if you’re planning to be outside for more than two to three hours, especially during hours of peak sun exposure (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). But in most circumstances, a higher SPF may not be worth the extra cost.

7. A scar that is barely noticeable is the mark of a good surgeon.
The true skill of a surgeon is demonstrated by what he or she does between making and closing the incision. While surgeons routinely pay more attention to incisions on the face (using thinner suture, making stitches closer together, or avoiding the use of sutures altogether if possible), the appearance of a scar tells you little about the skill of your surgeon.

8. Vitamin E will make scars fade.
There’s little evidence to support this claim. Talk to your surgeon or dermatologist if you have concerns about the appearance of a scar. There are many options for improving the appearance of scars, including laser treatments.

9. Crossing your legs causes varicose veins.
There are a number of risk factors for varicose veins, but crossing your legs is not one of them. Heredity is one of the most important — an estimated 80% of people with varicose veins have a parent with the same condition. Other things that make a person prone to varicose veins include smoking, inactivity, high blood pressure, pregnancy, obesity, and having a job that requires prolonged standing. If you already have varicose veins, elevating your legs and using compression stockings may be helpful. But keeping your legs “uncrossed” won’t prevent or improve the condition.

10. Scalp massage can prevent baldness.
There’s simply no evidence that scalp massage prevents baldness, tempting as it is to believe.”

1, Jul 15, 2015

Don’t go against nature….

Filed under: Health — admin @ 1:59 am

Nature may call in different forms, be it when you feel thirsty, or when you are sleepy, or when you are hungry, or when you need to use restroom. Don’t hold yourself back when you hear nature’s call.

That is, drink when you are thirty, eat when you are hungry. Go to bed when you are sleepy, slow down when you are tired. And of course, go to restroom when you need to. It will be detrimental to your health if you keep doing what you are doing and ignore nature’s call.

1, Sep 8, 2014

Things you should avoid doing when you are sad or depressed

Filed under: Happiness,Health — admin @ 12:28 pm

(1) Clean your room or house. The old stuffs can remind you of the past which is here no more. It can only aggravate your sadness. The best thing to do is to leave the place that is associated with the past and get into a place totally new and unrelated.

(2) Look at old pictures. In fact, stay away from anything that is associated with the past. Don’t do this unless you think you are not depressed enough.

(3) Keep everything to yourself. Instead, find some outlets, like sharing your feeling with your friends or someone who faces similar situation. A great camaraderie is very essential here.

(4) Lock yourself in your room. The isolation only serves to make you more focus on your sad sorry existence, which is suicidal. Don’t do that.

(5) Writing can be cathartic and therapeutic to some people, but essentially writing is a lonely act. It sometimes makes me feel worse. If you are like me, stay away from writing until you think you feel better.

1, Aug 6, 2014

Tips on shoe buying

Filed under: Health — admin @ 3:12 pm

I got this from Harvard Medical School newsletter. I might have posted this one before as it was published on 7/11/2013, over a year ago, “8 tips for buying shoes that are good to your feet.” Still, before I delete it from my inbox, I’d like to share it here, even if it means second time around.

“Buying the right shoes is an investment in foot health. But how do you find ones that fit properly and provide adequate support?

Start with your own feet, and look at what’s already in your closet. Stand barefoot on a piece of paper or cardboard, and trace the shape of each foot. Now take your shoes, one by one, and place them on top of the drawing. If you’re like most people, your “comfortable” shoes will closely match the outline of your own feet.

Identify the shoes that cause pain. If you’re a woman, most of these will be shoes with narrow toes or high heels. Check to see if the toe of the shoe is narrower or shorter than your own toes.

When you’re ready to replace some of that uncomfortable footwear, these tips can help:
1. Wait until the afternoon to shop for shoes — your feet naturally expand with use during the day and may swell in hot weather.

2. Wear the same type of socks that you intend to wear with the shoes.

3. Have the salesperson measure both of your feet — and get measured every time you buy new shoes. If one foot is larger or wider than the other, buy a size that fits the larger foot.

4. Stand in the shoes. Make sure you have at least a quarter- to a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

5. Walk around in the shoes to determine how they feel. Is there enough room at the balls of the feet? Do the heels fit snugly, or do they pinch or slip off? Don’t rationalize that the shoes just need to be “broken in” or that they’ll stretch with time. Find shoes that fit from the start.

6. Trust your own comfort level rather than a shoe’s size or description. Sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. And no matter how comfortable an advertisement claims those shoes are, you’re the real judge.

7. Feel the inside of the shoes to see if they have any tags, seams, or other material that might irritate your feet or cause blisters.

8. Turn the shoes over and examine the soles. Are they sturdy enough to provide protection from sharp objects? Do they provide any cushioning? Also, take the sole test as you walk around the shoe store: do the soles cushion against impact? 9. Try to walk on hard surfaces as well as carpet to see how the shoe feel.

1, Jul 31, 2014

A few things that you can do to boost your energy

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:34 pm

This is what I just read today from Harvard Medical School newsletter, just as I was getting tired and feeling the need for re-charging.

Want more energy? Here’s what really helps
We all get tired from time to time, but fatigue tends to become more common as we get older. Assuming your doctor has ruled out medical causes for persistent fatigue, there are a few basic steps you can take to feel more energetic day to day.

(1) Pace yourself. Instead of burning though all your battery life in two hours, spread it out between morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals in between.

(2) Take a walk or a nap. A short power nap can restore energy, but if you struggle to get enough sleep at night, napping can make insomnia worse. Rather than take a siesta, get moving. Get up and walk around the block, or just move around. If you are not an insomniac, though, enjoy that 20- to 30-minute power nap.

(3) Skip most supplements. There is no evidence that energy-boosting or “anti-aging” supplements work. In particular:
— DHEA. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that’s naturally produced by the adrenal glands. There is absolutely no evidence that that DHEA provides any benefit. And you especially shouldn’t be buying it from ads in the back of a magazine, because you don’t know what’s in it.
— Iron. Iron is only beneficial if you are clearly deficient, which a doctor can check with a blood test. Unless you are low in iron, you don’t need to take it, and getting too much iron can be harmful.
— B vitamins. It is true that B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but it’s a myth that taking in more B vitamins supercharges your cells.

(4) Eat long-lasting fuel. Your body burns through sugars and highly processed carbohydrates, like white bread, white rice, or prepared bakery goods, more rapidly than protein and the carbohydrates in whole grains. Instead, try low-fat yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey. Your body will take in the carb-fiber-protein mix more gradually. To really sustain yourself over the course of the day, eat a breakfast and a lunch that include complex carbohydrates and protein.

(5) Don’t skip meals. It’s better to evenly space your meals out so your body gets the nourishment it needs all through the day.

1, Jul 12, 2014

A happy family is the key to one’s health

Filed under: family,Happiness,Health — admin @ 10:36 am

A happy family is the key to ones health and happiness
I will translate this later.

1, Jul 10, 2014

People die of what? Anger?

Filed under: Happiness,Health — admin @ 10:32 am

people die of what
Again, I will translate this later, that is, when I have time.

1, Jun 26, 2014

Tips on safe strength training

Filed under: Health,Healthy aging — admin @ 11:51 am

Harvard Medical School often sends emails for me to buy their articles. On rare occasions, they give away something free, like this one –“seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.” Here are the tips which I’d like to share with my readers.

1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.

2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.

3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.

4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.

5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.

6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.

1, May 11, 2014

Make peace for your dear life. Here’s why

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:01 am

I must share this article, “Frequent arguments with family and friends linked with greater risk of death.” This is a scary alarm as I am sure nobody wants an early death.

The article starts like this “For middle-age adults, frequent arguments with partners, relatives or neighbors may increase the risk of death, according to a new study.”

“After analyzing this data, the researchers concluded that frequent worries or demands created by partners and/or children were linked to a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

Men were more vulnerable than women to worries and demands from their partners. … men tend to have smaller networks, which may mean that stress in their relationships has a larger impact – but it remains unclear why men are at a higher risk.

Given these findings, researchers concluded that conflict management skills may help curb premature death related to social relationship stressors.”

1, May 3, 2014

What your tongue tells you about your health

Filed under: Health — admin @ 5:58 am

I used to think only traditional Chinese medicine studies a patient’s tongue, not any more until I read this article, “6 Things Your Tongue Tells You– It’s more than the doorman for your throat—it’s a diagnostic wonder tool” by PAIGE FOWLER.

Here are these six things, quoted from this article.

(1) The sign: Swollen grey/white balloon under your tongue
What it means: You could have a clogged salivary gland. When this occurs, something is blocking the tiny ducts so they can’t drain saliva, causing swelling, fluid build-up, and pain. One of the most common causes of a clogged duct is a salivary stone. “It’s a calcium deposit similar to a kidney stone,” says Mark Woff, D.D.S, chair of cariology and comprehensive care at New York University College of Dentistry. If it doesn’t go away on its own within a few days, make an appointment with your dentist—the deposit may need to be surgically removed.

(2) The sign: Sores with a halo around them
What it means: A healthy tongue is pink and relatively smooth with no lumps or bumps. If you notice any red or whitish patches, a spot with a red ring around it, white areas with a lace-like pattern, or an unhealing sore, alert your doctor or dentist—it could signal cancer. While rates of other types of cancer are on the decline, the incidence of oral cancer has increased approximately 25 percent over the past decade, possibly due to the rise in human papilloma virus (HPV), a risk factor for the disease.

(3) The sign: Thick red tongue
What it means: Check your diet—you could have a vitamin deficiency. Your tongue is one of the first places a vitamin B12 deficiency appears. The vitamin is essential for creating healthy red blood cells, and subpar levels can lead to anemia. With that disease, your tongue may feel sore and is sometimes said to appear “beefy.” If you eat a typical U.S. diet, you’re probably getting enough vitamin B12 since it’s mostly found in meat, poultry, milk, fish, and eggs. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan or have a digestive disorder such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, you may not be getting enough. Taking a multivitamin and eating fortified foods like cereal can help.

(4) The sign: Black, hairy-looking tongue
What it means: Did you recently take antibiotics? A course of the drugs can disrupt the normal bacteria in your yapper, causing an overgrowth that builds up on tiny round projections on your tongue called papillae. Instead of sloughing off like they normally do, the papillae can grow and give your tongue a hairy appearance. The good news: For the most part, it’s harmless and should go away on its own. However, the bacteria can cause bad breath and affect your ability to taste. “Brush your tongue really well with a toothbrush and toothpaste each day and you’ll help the normal flora return,” Dr. Wolff says.

(5) The sign: Swelling
What it means: Of all the symptoms to watch for, this requires the most immediate attention, since you could be having an allergic reaction. “It isn’t actually so much swelling of the tongue that occurs, but swelling of the airway behind the tongue that pushes the tongue forward, making it appear larger,” Dr. Wolff says. Without quick treatment, swelling in your mouth can block your airway and become life-threatening, Dr. Wolff adds. Seek medical attention right away.

(6) The sign: Dry, white glossy tongue
What it means: Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva. This can cause uncomfortable dryness on the tongue and affect the balance of bacteria, which may cause a change in your tongue’s color and appearance. When left untreated, dry mouth can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay—normally, saliva deposits minerals that help keep your teeth healthy—and it may also increase your risk of oral infections. Drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier if you live in a dry environment can help. If dry mouth is a chronic problem, medications you take for allergies, high blood pressure, asthma, and other conditions may be to blame. Talk to your doc about switching prescriptions. You can also treat dry mouth with over-the-counter mouth rinses, which work like an artificial saliva substitute.

1, Apr 17, 2014

Too much sitting and early DEATH

Filed under: Health,Life — admin @ 2:56 am

Leading to death! This is not kidding. It is again from Harvard Health Publication.
Too much sitting linked to an early death, 1/29/2014. In case the link is not active. Here’s the article.

“I spend most of each workday sitting in a chair, my fingers the only part of my body moving with any intensity. Technology lets me—as well as millions of other people—earn a living from the relative comfort of our desks, without having to break a sweat or even stand up. Once the workday is done, we can transition straight from desk to car to couch, taking barely a step in between.

The ease of our modern workday could come at the expense of our longevity. A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

And here’s the kicker: Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones.

Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors, and chief of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Each of these behaviors is important and has an independent effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

How exactly sitting contributes to reduced longevity isn’t clear, but there are a few possible mechanisms. “Sedentary behavior is associated with an increased risk of the development of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

When you sit, you expend fewer calories than you would while standing, and you demand little effort from your muscles. Sitting too much can also lead to other behaviors that contribute to obesity and heart disease. “Many times when people are sitting, what are they doing? They’re often watching TV and snacking,” says Dr. Manson.

Work out
One way to avoid prolonged sitting during the workday is to switch to a standing desk, or one that can adjust to sitting and standing positions. Some companies are piloting the use of treadmill desks, which let workers walk at a leisurely pace while they type or answer the phone. However, these machines are pricey, and if you set the speed too high your legs will wear out before 5 o’clock rolls around.

An easier, no-cost solution is to set your smartphone timer to go off every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. When the alarm rings, “Stretch and move around the office to avoid any prolonged sitting at one time,” Dr. Manson recommends.

Sit less
How much sitting can you safely do in a day? In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. “Once you’re sitting for more than 6 to 8 hours a day, that’s not likely to be good for you,” Dr. Manson says. You want to avoid prolonged sitting and increase the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise you do each day, she adds.

When it comes to exercise, “Any activity is good,” says Dr. Lee. “Some is better than none, and more is better than less.” Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active—even in short spurts—the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.”

1, Apr 10, 2014

Mindful — a powerful antidote to stress

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:19 am

I forgot where I read this, but I am glad I jot down the ideas. I don’t think I have problems with being mindful. In fact, I might be over-mindful sometimes and I wish I could be less this way. Here’s what I have on becoming mindful and stress reduction.

“Learning to focus the mind can be a powerful antidote to the stresses and strains of our on-the-go lives. The ability to pay attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment — without drifting into thoughts of the past or concerns about the future, or getting caught up in opinions about what is going on — is called mindfulness.”

This basic mindfulness meditation exercise include:
(1) Sit on a straight-backed chair, or cross-legged on the floor.
(2) Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
(3) Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and ideas.
(4) Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it as good or bad.
If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

“The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you practice it, the more benefits you usually experience.”

Perhaps I need to practice this when I want to insulate my mind from the negative culture at my work place.

1, Apr 4, 2014

Simple items can help you strengthen your core

Filed under: Health,Healthy aging — admin @ 2:20 am

From Harvard HEALTHbeat newsletter, “The right stuff: These simple items can help you strengthen your core,” March 29, 2014

“You needn’t spend a cent on fancy equipment to get a good workout. A standing core workout and floor core workout rely on body weight alone. With the help of some simple equipment, you can diversify and ramp up your workouts. To start, consider buying only what you need for the specific workout you’d like to do. If you have a gym membership, use the facility’s equipment. Here is a description of all of the equipment used in the six workouts designed by Harvard experts and found our report, Core Exercises.

Chair. Choose a sturdy chair that won’t tip over easily. A plain wooden dining chair without arms or heavy padding works well.

Mat. Use a nonslip, well-padded mat. Yoga mats are readily available. A thick carpet or towels will do in a pinch.

Yoga strap. This is a non-elastic cotton or nylon strap of six feet or longer that helps you position your body properly during certain stretches, or while doing the easier variation of a stretch. Choose a strap with a D-ring or buckle fastener on one end. This allows you to put a loop around a foot or leg and then grasp the other end of the strap.

Medicine balls. Similar in size to a soccer ball or basketball, medicine balls come in different weights. Some have a handle on top. A 4-pound to 6-pound medicine ball is a good start for most people.

Bosu. A Bosu Balance Trainer is essentially half a stability ball mounted on a heavy rubber platform that holds the ball firmly in place.

1, Oct 20, 2013

If you think you are invincible because you are young, think again

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:06 am

Severe sleep deprivation kills. On 8/21/2013, I read a sad piece of news about the death of a 21-year-old intern. Bank intern’s death spotlights workaholic culture. I personally know some people working at the IBD of a top investment bank. They throw in more than two third of the day to their work. This is definitely not life but torture or even suicide.

“The 21-year-old German intern allegedly worked for 72 hours without sleep for the Bank of America’s investment banking division in London before he was found dead.

Moritz Erhardt, 21, who died while working as an intern for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s investment bank division in London.

LONDON — The death of an intern working at the London offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch has prompted calls for city firms to take more responsibility for the ambitious graduates who push themselves to the limit to secure jobs at the world’s top banks.

Attracted to the glass towers of finance in London, New York and Singapore by the prospect of securing a full-time job and hefty wage, future “masters of the universe” often face 20-hour days in some of the most adrenaline-soaked offices on Earth.

Weekends at work and meals in the office are par for the course with anecdotal reports of the “magic roundabout” where interns get a taxi home after dawn and leave it waiting while they have a quick shower and then return to work.”

1, Aug 4, 2013

Mean people don’t live long, really?

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:38 am

Last Friday, I read an article, “Selfish traits not favoured by evolution, study shows” by Melissa Hogenboom, Science reporter, BBC News.

It is said that a new research reveals “Evolution does not favour selfish people,”
which challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first.

We are told that it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of “the prisoner’s dilemma”, a scenario of game theory – the study of strategic decision-making.”

It should be this way when we consider how important it is for people to stick together and how we value key words like teamwork and cooperation. But, from what I observe in life, the opposite is true.

In real life, those who are very considerate of others and sacrifice themselves in order to keep peace are often punished by illness or early death. On the other hand, those who spit out whatever in their chest regardless how others feel, feel better and live longer.

The first law of living is self-preservation. I think those who think of themselves before anyone else have much higher chance of outliving those who think of others first.

1, Jul 9, 2013

Heart Attack and Water

Filed under: Health,Heart — admin @ 12:38 am

Below was from a friend of mine.

Heart Attack and Water
I asked my Doctor why people need to urinate so much at night time.
Answer: Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc.) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement!

Correct time to drink water
Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body:
2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs,
1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion,
1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure,
1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack
My question: How much should I drink before exercise?

Drinking water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.

1, Jul 7, 2013

“More women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses than ever before…”

Filed under: Health,What I am reading,Women — admin @ 12:59 am

Here’s another one that I read recently on overdosing of prescription drugs. Again, I can see the role of doctor in this trend and again patients should be well-informed regarding prescription drugs– “Drug overdose deaths spike among middle-aged women” by Fatimah Waseem, USA TODAY 1:01 p.m. EDT July 2, 2013.

“Their drug of choice is usually prescription painkillers.
More women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses than ever before, highlighting what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls a growing public health epidemic.

The CDC study shows that while men are still more likely to die of overdoses, the number of deaths among women increased five-fold in the last decade, four times more than deaths in women from cocaine and heroin combined, says CDC director Tom Frieden. About 12% of these deaths were suicides, CDC experts said.

The rate of prescription drug overdose deaths of women increased 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared with an increase of 250% for men. More men die of prescription painkiller overdoses — about 23,000 in 2010, compared with 15,300 for women.”

1, Jul 6, 2013

Can’t trust doctors to do the right thing for you all the time

Filed under: doctor,Health — admin @ 12:47 am

When it concerns your health, you have to do your own research. You can never trust your doctor to do the right thing for you all the time. This is what I just read lately, “Doctors prescribe narcotics too often for pain, CDC chief says

“Narcotics should be reserved for severe pain, otherwise patients run the unnecessary risk of addiction and overdoses, CDC chief says.”

“Drug overdose is one of the few causes of death in the United States that is worsening, eclipsing fatal traffic accidents in 2009. The CDC put the spotlight on the problem in 2011, declaring the surge in deaths an epidemic, and it has been escalating its efforts to reduce the toll ever since.”

“The nation’s top public health official on Tuesday sharply criticized the widespread treatment of aches and pains with
narcotics, saying that doctors are prescribing such drugs too soon, too often and for too long — putting patients at risk of addiction and overdose.”

“…doctors are relying on these powerful drugs to treat chronic pain when physical therapy, exercise and other remedies would be safer and in many cases more effective.”

“Prescribing an opiate may be condemning a patient to lifelong addiction and life-threatening complications.”
“…there is a growing awareness…that physicians’ prescriptions play a significant role in fueling addiction and overdoses.”

1, Jun 25, 2013

Thyroid health: overactive or not? Part 2

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:08 am

The symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
Heat intolerance
A sped-up metabolism leads to an increase in body temperature.
A body perpetually in overdrive tires out more quickly.
Emotional changes
Fatigue coupled with an overstimulated central nervous system can lead to a variety of emotional changes. Anxiety intermixed with depression, as well insomnia or irritability, are not uncommon.
Perspiration and thirst
As your body temperature rises, your sweat glands tend to overwork, and you feel the need to continually replenish fluids.
Constant hunger
As your body uses up energy, it tends to cry out for more. Some people have an insatiable appetite.
Unexplained weight loss
Even though you may eat constantly, you could lose weight, usually between 5 and 10 pounds — even more in extreme cases.
Racing heart
You may notice your heart racing out of the blue. This can occur when you are exerting yourself or when you are relaxing. You may find your pulse is much faster than normal.
Enlarged thyroid gland
Sometimes, but not always, the thyroid gland becomes enlarged and may protrude from the neck to form a goiter. If the goiter is large enough, it may feel lumpy.
Hand tremors
Overstimulated nerves can make your hands shake. The shaking may be subtle, or it could be to the point where you can’t steadily carry a drink without spilling it.
An overactive thyroid causes the digestive system to speed up, and this leads to frequent, loose bowel movements.
Eye problems
In some people with an overactive thyroid gland, eye problems can occur and be quite severe. The most common eye symptom is a retraction of the eyelids that makes the eyes appear to bulge or stare dramatically. Your eyes may also be puffy and watery, and you may experience double vision.
You might notice an itchy rash that can be relieved with antihistamines.
Menstrual changes and infertility
Women may notice lighter or missed periods, and may have trouble becoming pregnant.

1, Jun 24, 2013

Thyroid health: overactive or not?

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:59 am

I read this piece from Harvard Medical School newsletter. I am pretty sure I have posted something similar before, but the thought of a friend of mine developing thyroid problem makes me determined to post it again.

“Many people diagnosed with a thyroid condition are surprised that such a tiny gland can have such a profound impact on overall health and well-being. But the thyroid gland plays an enormous role in human health.

“Throughout life, this busy gland is constantly producing hormones that influence metabolism. When disease causes your thyroid gland to slack off and underproduce thyroid hormone, or overwork and produce too much of it, you’ll know something isn’t right.

“Millions of people have an overactive thyroid gland. Many don’t know it. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, occurs more often in women than in men. Since the thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism, an overactive thyroid puts the body into overdrive.”

1, Apr 13, 2013

Depression and illness, which comes first?

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:41 am

From the Harvard Medical School newsletter, I learned that sometimes the root of depression is physical illness. Interesting to know.

Depression is more than a passing bout of sadness or dejection, or feeling down in the dumps. It can leave you feeling continuously burdened and can sap the joy out of once-pleasurable activities.

Sometimes, a physical illness can trigger depression. When that happens, depression can affect the course of a physical disease. This seems an chicken-or-egg story. Two common thyroid disorders are well known to affect mood.

If the thyroid makes too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), manic symptoms can result. If the gland makes too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), exhaustion and depression can appear. Treating thyroid disease can often relieve the mood problems.

The take-home message is that if you have depression, or think you might, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history could help pinpoint a physical source of the problem — and the most appropriate treatment.

1, Apr 5, 2013

Keep your stress level and blood pressure down…

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:32 am

I read this article on 3/21, from Harvard Medical School. The article looks familiar, which means I might have read it before and posted here. But then, if it is a good thing, it doesn’t hurt to read it again and again.

Here are seven ways that can help keep down our stress and blood pressure. Practice them when you find yourself tense and on edge.
(1) Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
(2) Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful stress-busters.
(3) Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.
(4) Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.
(5) Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don’t let stressful situations fester.
(6) Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: for example, take a walk or a nap or listen to your favorite music.
(7) Ask for help, that is, if it is beyond the realm of self-help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, ask your doctor whether anti-anxiety medications could be helpful.

1, Mar 13, 2013

Six ways to ease neck pain

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:00 am

So I was told when I read Harvard Medical School newsletter of the following six tips to help take care of your neck.

1. Don’t stay in one position for too long. It’s hard to reverse bad posture, Dr. Isaac says, but if you get up and move around often enough, you’ll avoid getting your neck stuck in an unhealthy position.

2. Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor at eye level so you can see it easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your touch-screen tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45° angle, instead of lying flat on your lap.

3. If you wear glasses, keep your prescription up to date. “When your eyewear prescription is not up to date, you tend to lean your head back to see better,” Dr. Isaac says.

4. Don’t use too many pillows. Sleeping with several pillows under your head can stifle your neck’s range of motion.

5. Know your limits. Before you move a big armoire across the room, consider what it might do to your neck and back, and ask for help.

6. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems increase the risk for several different conditions, including musculoskeletal pain.

Generally, neck pain is nothing to worry about. But if it’s occurring with other, more serious symptoms, such as radiating pain, weakness, or numbness of an arm or leg, make sure to see your doctor. “Other key things that might make one more concerned are having a fever or weight loss associated with your neck pain, or severe pain. You should let your doctor know about these symptoms,” Dr. Isaac says.

1, Feb 17, 2013

Strength training: what you need and how long

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:43 am

Strength training encompasses any of the following:
1) Free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells.
2) Ankle cuffs and vests containing different increments of weight.
3) Resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs.
4) Exercises that use your body weight to create resistance against gravity.

A beginner’s strength-building workout takes as little as 20 minutes, and you won’t need to grunt, strain, or sweat like a cartoon bodybuilder. The key is developing a well-rounded program, performing the exercises with good form, and being consistent. You will experience noticeable gains in strength within four to eight weeks.

Good luck!

1, Feb 7, 2013

Hyperthyroidism: watch out for an overactive thyroid

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:35 am

Two friends of mine have thyroid problem in recent years. So I started paying attention to this topic. On 1/19/13, I read this from Harvard Medical School newsletter, “Know the signs of an overactive thyroid.”

Most people are unaware of the profound impact of this tiny hormone-producing gland on overall health and the well-being of human beings, specifically its influence on our metabolism. Either over (hyperthyroidism) or underproduction (hoperthyroidism) of thyroid hormone can cause huge problems.

The risk of hyperthyroidism increases with age. The diagnosis of thyroid disease can be particularly tricky in older people as they don’t always show the same symptoms as the young patients do.

Typical signs of an overactive thyroid with the symptoms experienced by younger patients include:
increased sweating,
heat tolerance,
hand tremors,
excessive thirst, and
increased appetite.

Older persons with hyperthyroidism are more likely than a younger person with the disease to develop —
Heart failure
Atrial fibrillation
Excessive weight loss

Life will be tough for senior folks if they have problems with their thyroid. Stay healthy!

1, Feb 5, 2013

Knowledge is health; ignorance kills

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:43 am

On 1/6/2012, I read this article “Poll: Few Americans know all the risks of obesity” by LAURAN NEERGAARD and JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP.

“Carrying too many pounds may lead to or worsen some types of cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, even infertility. But a new poll suggests few Americans realize the links.”

“Ask about the most serious consequences, and more than 7 in 10 Americans can correctly tick off heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer,…”

“Only 7 percent of people surveyed mentioned cancer, although doctors long have known that fat increases the risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, uterus and certain other sites. Plus, being overweight can make it harder to spot tumors early and to treat them.”

“About 15 percent of people knew obesity can contribute to arthritis, a vicious cycle as the joint pain then makes it harder to exercise and shed pounds.”

The list goes on…
We know there is a large overlapping between cancer morbidity and social class, that is, the lower the social class, the higher the cancer morbidity. Now we should see one between ignorance and health or lack of health.

1, Nov 22, 2012

A special message for this Thanksgiving day!

Filed under: Health — admin @ 12:59 am

Continued from yesterday… This is the translation of yesterday’s posting on Matsubara Yasumichi’s spiritual aspect in healthcare, of which he created three do-not rules.

(1) Do not force yourself. Don’t overreach yourself or bite off more than you can chew or do unconventional thing.
(2) Do not waste, which means value time and everything around you, appreciate other people’s kindness.
(3) Do not be lazy. Try to do it yourself instead of letting others to do it for you. No matter how old you are, be enthusiastic about learning.

Never mind about his self-contradictions. I like the second rule best, for it opens my eyes to something that I once failed to see. That is, I used to consider not wasting as mainly not wasting time and money, when in fact not wasting means a lot broader than this.

Only when we go about our daily life with a grateful attitude can we truly count our blessing and appreciate everything we enjoy daily — our health, friendship, good relations, days when our children are with us, what others have done for us, or even the sunny days, etc.

This is my special message for this Thanksgiving day!

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