Health advice to my children


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.



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


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.”



Skin care myths and facts


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.”



Don’t go against nature….


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.



Things you should avoid doing when you are sad or depressed


(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.



Tips on shoe buying


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.



A few things that you can do to boost your energy


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.



A happy family is the key to one’s health


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



People die of what? Anger?


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



Tips on safe strength training


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.



Make peace for your dear life. Here’s why


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.”



What your tongue tells you about your health


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.



Too much sitting and early DEATH


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.”



Mindful — a powerful antidote to stress


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.



Simple items can help you strengthen your core


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.



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


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.”



Mean people don’t live long, really?


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.



Heart Attack and Water


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.



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


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.”



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


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.”



Thyroid health: overactive or not? Part 2


The symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
Heat intolerance
A sped-up metabolism leads to an increase in body temperature.
Exhaustion
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.
Diarrhea
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.
Hives
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.



Thyroid health: overactive or not?


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.”



Depression and illness, which comes first?


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.



Keep your stress level and blood pressure down…


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.



Six ways to ease neck pain


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.



Strength training: what you need and how long


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!



Hyperthyroidism: watch out for an overactive thyroid


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,
nervousness,
excessive thirst, and
increased appetite.

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

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



Knowledge is health; ignorance kills


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.



A special message for this Thanksgiving day!


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!



Dysthymia, low-level depression, and how to deal with it


I love all these profession-sounding forbidden words, especially from Harvard Medical School, another intimidating one.

Dysthymia refers to “a long-term drone of low-grade depression that lasts for at least two years in adults or one year in children and teens.” It is not as dark as the real depression but too far away from bright color of cheerfulness.

Yet, because of its prolonged tormenting effect, it could keep you from feeling good about everything and keep you from being healthy and productive. You tend to go about your daily life without enthusiasm.

You are suffering from dysthymia if you feel your depressed mood having lingered for more than two months at a time, and you have at least two of these symptoms:

–>overeating or loss of appetite
–>insomnia or sleeping too much
–>tiredness or lack of energy
–>low self-esteem
–>trouble concentrating or making decisions
–>feelings of hopelessness

Of course, with America’s super-trust of authority, Harvard Medical School suggests that you “talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend that you see a mental health professional for the most effective approach.”

I would suggest you read comic books or do something that once brings you joy and excitement or mix with some friends or seek some social gatherings of your kind or set a new goal and get yourself busy or do something good for a change like volunteer among children. Do these activities not once in a while but constantly. In fact, fill your life with anything cheerful and positive for at least a month to see the result.



“Failure to thrive” and my college classmate


During the weekend of 9/15, I heard the term “failure to thrive” over the radio. It reminded me of the first time when I learned of this term. That was from a college classmate of mine.

That’s what the doctor told my classmate about his infant son, well, during the baby’s first year of life, because of the baby’s mother’s negligence. Years later, I saw the boy’s picture, a very cute one only too little for his age.

When my son was about 10 months old, we went to New York and met this classmate who liked my son very much and commented “He is too good for you” I know he meant it to be a compliment, or a strange way of complimenting.

For some reason, I feel sorry for his boy, a miniature in my memory.  All because the mother was having her fun and neglected her maternal duty.



When it comes to your health and your life, always do your own research


Here’s another one on health. On 8/24, I read this report “Vital Signs: Risk for Overdose from Methadone Used for Pain Relief — United States, 1999–2010” by Leonard  J. Paulozzi, MD; Karin A. Mack, PhD; Christopher M. Jones, PharmD,  carried on Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. 2012; 61(26):493-497.

Here’s the highlight of the report.
“In 2010, methadone accounted for between 4.5% and 18.5% of the opioids distributed by state. Methadone was involved in 31.4% of OPR deaths in the 13 states. It accounted for 39.8% of single-drug OPR deaths. The overdose death rate for methadone was significantly greater than that for other OPR for multidrug and single-drug deaths.

Conclusions: Methadone remains a drug that contributes disproportionately to the excessive number of opioid pain reliever overdoses and associated medical and societal costs.

Implications for Public Health Practice: Health-care providers who choose to prescribe methadone should have substantial experience with its use and follow consensus guidelines for appropriate opioid prescribing. Providers should use methadone as an analgesic only for conditions where benefit outweighs risk to patients and society. Methadone and other extended-release opioids should not be used for mild pain, acute pain, “breakthrough” pain, or on an as-needed basis. For chronic noncancer pain, methadone should not be considered a drug of first choice by prescribers or insurers.”

Even though the guideline says methadone should not be used for mild pain, some physicians will still prescribe it. I shared with my children about this. The take-home message is some doctors tend to prescribe the more powerful medicines than necessary. This applies not just methadone but all medicines. Do your own research when you need to take any medicine. It is your life. It is too important to simply trust the so-called medical experts who very often have other agenda than your life.



Harvard medical school suggests the steps for keeping blood pressure in the safe zone


Yes, I started paying more attention to the blood pressure issue after I got back from China. Two of my childhood classmates are afflicted with hypertension, daily controlled by medicine right now. I learned that hypertension is one of those “silent killers.”

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. Keeping yours below 120/80 is the ideal goal for dodging a host of afflictions. Here are some of the steps that Harvard Medial School suggests.

Reduce sodium intake.
The medically proven DASH diet keeps sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day (about one teaspoon of salt). Cutting it to 1,500—not easy, but doable—works even better. The DASH diet can lower your systolic pressure (upper number) by 10 points or more.

Monitor your pressure at home.
Checking blood pressure at home with an appropriate device can give you instant feedback on the benefits of diet and exercise and give you and your doctor a more accurate picture of your blood pressure. This is valuable, because some people experience “white coat hypertension,” in which blood pressure spikes higher than normal when measured at the doctor’s office.

Limit your alcohol intake.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. For men, the suggested limit is one to two alcoholic drinks per day, defined as 1.5 ounces (1 shot glass) of 80-proof spirits, a 5-ounce serving of wine, or a 12-ounce serving of beer. (For women it’s no more than one drink a day.)

Take more meds if you need to—but take the right ones.
Many people who are already taking one or two hypertension medications ultimately come into “control” (blood pressure below 140/90) only when taking three or even four medications. But they need to be the right drugs. Your doctor should combine medications that work to lower blood pressure in different ways. “Your doctor should pick medications in different classes that complement each other and won’t just be redundant,” Dr. Kormos says.



More benefits from socializing with others


On 7/29/2012, I learned some fun fact about fat conversion and socializing, well in mice right now.

Researchers at Ohio State University identified a link between the amount of social interaction in a mouse’s environment and its weight. The study promises some new socially-based therapeutic strategies to fight obesity.

The study, published in Cell Metabolism, shows socially active lifestyle can dramatically speed up weight loss through the burning of fat in mice.

Fat can come in two types: energy-storing white fat, and energy-burning brown fat. The brown fat needed for weight loss is difficult to make. It is mostly found in babies, or in adults who have been exposed to extreme cold, where it is burned to keep them warm.

The study, led by Professor Matthew During, has found that relatively small changes in the physical and social living environment of mice can alter vast amounts of white fat to brown.

In contrast to the “couch potato” lifestyle of normal laboratory mice, experimental groups were housed in an “enriched” living environment – numbering 15-20 in large containers, furnished with running wheels, tunnels, huts, wooden toys and a maze.

This more physically complex housing for the lab mice not only increased the mental challenges posed, but also the amount of  social interactions between individuals.

Professor During said that he was “amazed at the degree of fat loss that occurs.” After just four weeks in the enriched environment, mice had lost on average 50% of their abdominal white fat.

Wow, one more reason to become socialized.



Tips for hot days from Harvard Medical School, part IV


The fourth but not the last tip is the protection of your eyes.

As we age, problems with eyesight become more common. Despite this, many people are not conscientious about caring for their eyes. Learn how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of specific eye diseases — cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy — and what steps you can take to prevent or treat them before your vision deteriorates further.

The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can damage your eyes every bit as much as your skin. The cornea is at particular risk. Even a single intense exposure can cause photokeratitis, or sun blindness. The symptoms are pain and light sensitivity, often accompanied by redness, tearing, and uncontrollable blinking. Fortunately, the cornea will usually repair itself in 12 to 48 hours.

But repeated low-level ultraviolet exposure can cause cumulative damage to the lens, ultimately resulting in cataracts. Sunglasses will prevent both problems if they have high-quality lenses that screen out UV rays.

Avoid lenses that are rated as “cosmetic.” Instead, look for sunglasses rated “general purpose” that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet B rays and 60% of ultraviolet A. For intense exposures, turn to glasses with a “special purpose” rating; they absorb 99% of UVB.

There are some more tips and bug bites and plants problems, which I am not going to carry here.



Tips for hot days from Harvard Medical School, part III


The third tip is to wear light-colored and loose garments.
Take it easy. Walk instead of jogging. Take breaks and quit early. Don’t exercise in extreme heat and humidity. If it’s humid and above 80° or 85°, take a day off or head for the pool — or an air-conditioned health club.

Drink plenty of water. Drink 6 to 8 ounces of cool water before you get started, and pause frequently to drink. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink again on your way to the shower.

Stay cool at home.

Listen to your body. Don’t force yourself.

Fatigue, weakness, confusion, lightheadedness, nausea, labored breathing, chest discomfort, or a rapid or erratic pulse can all be signs of trouble. If you feel ill, get into a cool place and drink plenty of water. If you don’t improve promptly, get help.



Tips for hot days from Harvard Medical School, part II


The second tip is on heat and humidity. This is more a common sense.

Your metabolism always generates heat, and when you exercise, your muscles crank out 20 times more. That’s okay if body heat can pass out into cool air. As the temperature rises, though, cooling becomes difficult, even impossible.

The evaporation of sweat can also take away lots of body heat, but as the humidity rises, this too becomes difficult, then impossible. Heat that can’t be shed externally remains trapped in the body.

That’s when problems develop. Some are mild (muscle cramps), others serious (heat exhaustion), and some can be lethal (heat stroke).

Avoid sunlight. Schedule your outdoor activity in the early morning or the evening to avoid direct sunlight and always take advantage of the cooler temperatures.



Tips for hot days from Harvard Medical School, part I


I read this article yesterday from Harvard Medical School, “Health tips for the dog days of summer.”

Of course, the first tip is on protecting your skin. Because “over time, sun exposure will build up to increase your risk of melanomas and other skin cancers. Sun exposure will also produce premature aging and wrinkling of your skin.”

“Sunlight contains two forms of ultraviolet energy, UVA and UVB. Use a sunscreen that will protect you from both. Most products are effective against UVB, but many fail against UVA. Look for a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen; ingredients such as avobenzone and ecamsule are good for UVA, while oxybenzone and octocrylene add UVB protection. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect against both. Many sunscreen brands contain a mix of ingredients that provides protection against UVA and UVB.”

“Above all, don’t let sunscreen give you a false sense of security. The only foolproof protection is to avoid sunlight as much as possible. Stay in the shade when you can, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Try to stay away from reflective surfaces. Wear a hat with a big brim, pants, and long sleeves.”



Avoid these seven activities immediately after meal


This was sent to me by a friend in New York on 5/6/2012. Rather interesting to know.
(1) Do not drink eat after eating
(2) Do not have cold drink after eating
(3) Do not smoke after eating
(4) Do not plunge into a sweaty workout after eating
(5) Do not take a shower or go swimming after eating
(6) Do not try to have bowel movement after eating
(7) Do not go to bed after eating

 



Nine Health Risks, part II


5. Constantly running a humidifier.
Those little steam machines can be a life saver for parents with a stuffed-up kid who can’t sleep, but using them too often might make things worse.

6. Certain antibacterial soaps and toothpastes.
Triclosan is a germ killer found in a lot of antibacterial hand soaps, body washes, and even some brand-name cavity-control toothpastes. But the American Medical Association recommends against the use of triclosan in our homes, because it may encourage the development of scary bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

7. X-ray airport scanners.
You know those “backscatter” full-body X-ray machines at airport security gates? Europe banned them several months ago because of health concerns, but the machines are still in use in some airports in the States.

8. Colon “cleansing.”
Celebs may swear by this kind of thing, but colonics and colon-cleansing pills could be dangerous, our experts said. The intestines are self-cleaning, so unless you’re getting a colonoscopy, there’s no reason to sweep the whole thing out.

9. Ready-to-feed canned baby formula.
Bisphenol A (BPA) isn’t only found in plastic–it’s also used to line the inside of cans to keep bacteria out. And according to tests conducted by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, one of the foods that ends up most contaminated with BPA is canned liquid infant formula.



Nine Health Risks, part I


On 5/31/2012, the day before I left for China, my son sent me this article — “9 Health Risks that Aren’t Worth Taking” By Melinda Wenner Moyer, REDBOOK. Here are from this article.

1. Holding your cell phone up to your ear. Although the overall risk is still very low, research suggests that people who have spent the past decade or more frequently talking on their cell phones in the traditional way are more likely to develop brain tumors.

2. PVC shower curtains.
That funky, chemical-y smell of new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtains comes from volatile organic compounds, which may be carcinogenic over time and can cause nausea and headaches in the short term, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

3. Microwaving in plastic.
Heat releases some of the chemical building blocks in plastic, sending them into whatever food or drink you’re warming up. One such chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), “can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, potentially leading to issues like premature puberty and breast or testicular cancer.”

4. Flea and tick collars.
Adults who play with a cat or dog while it’s wearing a flea and tick collar are exposed to up to 500 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s safe level of pesticides.

To be continued…



While good habits yield lifelong benefit, bad ones do the opposite


On 5/23, I worked on an expired patient who was 58 at the time of death, of lung cancer, with over 40 years smoking history. Like many hard-to-quit smokers, she started smoking when she was a teenager.

One of my co-workers has tried getting rid of smoking many times and still has not succeeded. I can see how hard it is for her to quit. From this I think of the long-term impact of habits on our lives.

It is very hard to change one’s habits, good or bad, once they have been formed early in one’s life. The impacts of those habits developed in our early years will reach over half a century. Hence, it is extremely important to get into good habit when a person is young. Life will be easy if you end up with many good habits and no bad ones.


Avoid things that make you feel bad


Feeling good is one of the key ingredients to good health. I remember when I was in graduate school, the moment I found myself rather depressed was right after I finished a term paper or completed a big project or the end of a semester.

Here’s my list of things or occasions that make me feel bad.
1) when I feel like drifting away each day without a goal;
2) when I realize I have been busy but have not accomplished anything;
3) when I don’t know what to do with my time;
4) when I lose a competition and realize my time and efforts have yielded no result;
5) when I give up some plan but have not formulated a new one to replace it;
6) when I feel trapped in one position and see no future, no life, no way out;
7) when I feel hopeless no matter what I do;
8) when I am physically sick.

I shared with my daughter this piece right after I wrote it. She said she wholly agreed with me. Find out what makes you feel bad and make plans to avoid putting yourself in that moment.



Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Management


Before I read this from medscape, I thought there must be some pathological base for this chronic fatigue syndrome. In reality, very often the improvement on this condition is found not by medical treatment but by changes in behavior. Below is what the article suggests that people with CFS should work on.

(1) Develop a good sleep habit. Fatigue is often caused by not having a good sleep.
(2) Go to bed when you are tired
(3) Use bed for sleeping only
(4) Do not watch TV or use computer in bed at night
(5) Keep to a sleep schedule
(6) Avoid stimulant foods and beverage at night
(7) Read or listen to music if you cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes
(8) Avoid daytime naps (short rest periods are acceptable)



Never Check Email Before Going to Bed


On the evening of 4/12, right before I went to bed, I checked my office email, which was a mistake. After reading an email from a young relative of mine, I got rather upset and couldn’t fall asleep. Later I told my daughter, “Never check emails right before you go to bed. You never know who will write what.”

In my previous emails with that relative, I shared with him my parenting experience with my children and how American parents raise their children. Because he is an adult now and I was hoping he could understand it.

Unfortunately, he misunderstood my intention, thinking I was trying to compare my children with him. I know they are totally different in personality, growing up experience, and maturity.  It is like comparing apple with pear when they are of different kind.

I felt both sorry and upset, sorry that he misunderstood me. The argumentative tone in his email sounds rather upsetting.



Hop off the treadmill before it grinds you up


Toward the end of last month, I read an article on how physicians can retire early. The article starts asking readers to exam the emotional side of retirement, which is just as important as the financial side.

If you have a great sense of worth and accomplishment tied up in your work, terminating your job completely may not work well for you.

Your financial readiness is the next thing you should consider. I was surprised that not many physicians are ready for retirement by the time they feel like to. Because they even have not earned enough or have not saved enough.

Don’t sell your stocks during recession. “The people who weathered the last recession the best were the ones who held tight to a diversified portfolio and continued adding money to it.”

Last, resist the urge to chase “can’t miss” investments, such as private partnerships that purchase real estate or invest in various types of businesses: restaurants, car washes, and the like. “Nine times out of 10 these things don’t work out.”



All About Cholesterol


Here’s what I learned about cholesterol
–It is found in every cell in the body.
–It is used to build healthy cells and vital hormones.
–It cannot dissolve in the blood.
–It is transported to and from cells by lipoprotein–HDLs and LDLs.
–You total cholesterol score = (HDL+LDLS+triglycerides)/5.
–High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels, decrease in oxygen to the heart, and increase in risk of heart attack or stroke.
–HDLs = good one, increased by weight loss, exercise, Omega3s and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
–LDLs = bad one, decreased by weight loss, exercise, Omega3s and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats
–Triglycerides = decreased by cutting back on sugar, alcohol and saturated fats.

Desirable cholesterol level
–total <200
–HDL >40 for male >50 for female
–LDL <70-130 depending on risk factors
–triglycerides <150

Not overeating can improve your blood sugar
–Because you are eating possibly half as much food
–Eating when you are not hungry causes insulin to be released.

How to raise your HDLs
–exercise
–it can take 6-12 months to see a difference in HDLs through walking
–diets, exercise and the way you are eating can improve it

Now it makes me feel so good after sharing with my readers.



Three Types of Heart Attack


On 4/6, while my daughter was not home that Friday evening, I found some time calling a young relative of mine in Texas, then chatting with a friend in Alabama. She told me she took baby aspirin every day. She knows it is good for heart health but she doesn’t know exactly why. I just learned about heart health that week. So I shared the following with her.

There are three types of heart attack.
(1) The first type is caused by slow build up of plaque, which eventually blocks blood flow to vessels that supply the heart with oxygen. This in turn causes chest pain or angina. Its diagnosis can be made with treadmill or angiogram.

(2) The second type is caused by inflammation in the arteries; half of all heart attacks occur in people with desirable cholesterol levels. This is where we need baby aspirin. It helps prevent inflammation.

(3) The third type is caused by arrhythmias, that is, erratic heart beat which often causes sudden death. It may account for half of the 500,000 heart attack deaths each year; sudden death happens unless a defibrillator is on hand;

Knowledge is power. Ignorance can cost life.

P.S. my daughter is leaving for Albuquerque, New Mexico today with her school for this year’s Acadec. They will be back on Saturday. It reminds me of the 2007 Acadec in Hawaii when my son went there with the school.



Health Advice from a Friend


A friend of mine sent to me this and other health related writings. Here’s a summary of its main idea.

(1) Learn how to live a healthy life. Don’t die of ignorance.
(2) Don’t punish yourself with other people’s weakness. Don’t get mad. Don’t let madness control you for over 5 minutes.
(3) It’s very important to be in good mood. You are not likely to get sick if you are optimistic and with positive attitude.



National Sleep Awareness week, so we were told


Yesterday, I received an internal email about National Sleep Awareness week. I have not heard of this until that moment, though I think it beneficial to have this reminder. Here are the main points about sleep.
(1) Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep every day
(2) Good sleep helps keep your heart healthy, makes you feel better
(3) Sleep is the time for the body to repair itself. “Your body needs the extra protein molecules that your body produces while you’re sleeping. It helps strengthen your ability to fight infection and stay healthy. These molecules help your immune system mend your body at a cellular level when you are stressed or have been exposed to compromising elements such as pollutants and infectious bacteria.”
(4) Sleep improves your memory.
(5) Sleep reduces your chances of diabetes. “Lack of sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body processes glucose, which is the carbohydrate your cells use for fuel.”
(6) Sleep helps control weight problem. The argument goes sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. You tend to overeat when the hormones go wired.
(7) Sleep reduces the occurrence of mood disorders. You are likely to feel grumpy when you have not had enough sleep.


Notes from Naturally Slim Program


Our company offered some health programs. One of them is Naturally Slim, which claims to beat all the existing diet programs.

P.S. 3/2/2012 This is the fourth week of my participation of the program and I have already benefited from it. I removed these notes, as I believe you will get the full benefit by personally participating in it. For any questions, you can go to Naturally Slim website.

 



Hidden Risk Factors of Heart Disease


This is from our internal circulation on health. You might think the factors must include overweight, smoking, drinking, or overwork. Actually, there are some factors that I have never heard of before. So here they are for my readers.

First, “Too much or too little sleep can increase blood pressure and levels of stress hormones,” says Jennifer Mieres, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Over time, this stress can wear on the heart.

Second, if you have gum disease. “While the link is not clear, it may be that the inflammation from gum disease allows bacteria to enter the mouth’s blood vessels, travel into the coronary artery vessels, and narrow the passages. This reduces blood flow.

Third, depression is a risk factor. It “can cause abnormal heart rhythms, elevated blood pressure, and faster blood clotting, all of which tax the heart.”

Fourth, if you’ve been diagnosed with certain autoimmune conditions. “The biological mechanisms and causes of these diseases still are not clear, but they may be related to inflammation.”

Fifth, you feel tired and sluggish. “Lower hemoglobin levels force the heart to work harder, which means it wears out sooner. “Anemia can be a key risk factor, especially as women start getting close to menopause and their periods become irregular and they’re living with lower hemoglobin levels.”

Sixth, your mother had a bad heart. “Children typically spend more time with their mothers than with their fathers. Mothers with heart disease are more likely to smoke, have a poor diet, and/or be inactive, which can influence the behavior in offspring and increase their risk.”

Seven, you’re taking steroids. Because “steroids increase blood pressure, lipids, and blood glucose, thus increasing the risk of heart disease. Since steroids change the potassium balance in the heart muscle’s cells, they may be the root cause of atrial fibrillation.”



Eat Balanced Meals for Your Brain


This posting is written for those who love good food, regardless of its ingredients. I read this one on 12/29/2011 — “Alzheimer’s: Diet ‘can stop brain shrinking'” by Helen Briggs.

“Diet affected tests of memory and thinking skills. A diet rich in vitamins and fish may protect the brain from ageing while junk food has the opposite effect, research suggests.

“Elderly people with high blood levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids had less brain shrinkage and better mental performance, a Neurology study found.

“Trans fats found in fast foods were linked to lower scores in tests and more shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s.

“They found those who had more vitamin B, C, D and E in their blood performed better in tests of memory and thinking skills. People with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids – found mainly in fish – also had high scores. The poorest scores were found in people who had more trans fats in their blood. Trans fats are common in processed foods, including cakes, biscuits and fried foods.”



Benefits of Strength Training


On 10/7/2011, I read this article from Mayo clinic, “Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier” by Mayo Clinic staff. As always, I shared this article with my children, even though I am not sure if they ever pay any attention to it. I can never over-emphasize the importance of a good health, as I once said, “All things being equal, the person with a strong body and mind will win the race.”

The article states, “Strength training is an important part of an overall fitness program.” Here’s the brief list of benefits.

(1) Use it or lose it. Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age.
(2) It helps develop strong bones.
(3) Control your weight.
(4) Reduce your risk of injury.
(5) Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily.
(6) Manage chronic conditions.
(7) Sharpen your focus.



Gravity Defyer Shoe, Treat Yourself Well


On 10/18/2011, I received the Gravity Defyer Ballistic shoe that I ordered a few days ago. I told my daughter, “This is the most expensive shoe that I have ever bought in my entire life. So this is a record-breaking event.”

When I was at office, some people introduced to me shoes like MBT, Ecco, and Clark. I have never cared about brand name shoe like that, as talks like this often remind me of the shoes that a Chinese friend’s daughter once bought. That girl spent over $100 on a pair of sandal when you can get one for less than $10 a pair and she was only a high school student! Even worse, her mother showed me two pairs of that.

But a few days ago when I was flipping through Discover magazine, I noticed the advertisement of Gravity Defyer Ballistic sneaker. The thing that attracts me is its claim, that is, it could “relieve your foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain.”

Talk about all these pains during my morning walk when I have a full taste of them all! As an exception to my usual stinginess, I decided to treat myself well this time with a pair of pain-killer shoe. And they are on sale with free shipping.

The next morning, 10/19, I jumped out of bed as soon as the alarm rang because I was eager to put on my new shoes and run. That truly gave me a good start for the day. It seems I have got what I paid for, at least psychologically, if that counts.



Out in The Cold


It was cold and dark when I got up yesterday morning. I hesitated for a while before I got up. I waited for sometime before I stepped out. By the time I was outside, it was very cold, no longer dark though.

I walked and ran for two miles without seeing a soul. In the evening around 6 pm when I took my daughter to bookstore, the store seemed empty.

After we got back home, I mentioned this to my daughter, “Why were there so few people at Barnes & Noble’s?” She was not sure why. I told her my early morning walk. “There were very few people because it was cold and people stay indoor as much as they can. That’s how winter fat is accumulated.”

Indeed, going outside in winter either for a walk or for bookstore seem to be an uncomfortable challenge to many people. That’s where a strong will power plays a key role.



Health, Economic Factors, Life and Death


On 9/7/2011, I read a report by The American Cancer Society (ACS). It reveals that while the number of white Americans contracting cancer is decreasing, African Americans remain unchanged, still having the highest cancer rates in America. Even worse is the fact that they are more likely to die of cancer than any other ethnic group.

From my own observations, the main explanation is their low socioeconomic status. There is a heavy overlapping of race and social class in that you find a heavy concentration of blacks in both prisons and among low social class. Very often, a person from poor background postpones seeking medical help when she feels lump in her breast. By the time she shows herself at a doctor’s door, her disease is very often at a late stage and she misses her survival chance.

Another health factor associated with social class is ignorance, that is lack of knowledge of healthy living leading to many avoidable diseases. Once again, the lower the social order, the less likely a person is aware of healthy living.

Alas, how dreadful it is to be poor and sick at the same time! Pick one instead. Better still, be wealthy and healthy!



Price You Have to Pay For Your Abusive Lifestyle in Younger Years


I read a sad case last Friday evening when I was in Barnes & Noble’s with my daughter.

A woman in her 40s died of lung cancer. Since her youthful years, she drank and smoked, becoming alcoholic with a long smoking history, plus suffering from anorexia.

When young people think they are invincible, they abuse their bodies to the maximum and have to pay a heavy price in later years. This reminds me of a Chinese saying–



For Those Who Love You and Need You…


Thought for the day.
One late-staged lung cancer patient in her early 40s and her young son were sitting in the exam room, crying most sadly when I stepped in to hand her a copy of informed consent. She has been smoking since teenage years and up to present. My mind was kept there long time after I stepped out of the room. I couldn’t help thinking about the young boy, his loss, the meaning and responsibility of a mother, or the highest level of irresponsibility. No loss is greater than this when a mother fails to take care of herself for her child’s sake. It’s like abandoning your child if you have to cut short your life because of your bad habit, smoking in this case.

Get rid of the bad habit, whatever that is, for those who love you and need you.



Create a Healthy Environment for Yourself


On 8/18/2011, a friend of mine called me during lunch break, telling me she started feeling a lot better after she got back to work. She used to feel low when she was home, not without other reasons. Her complaints about her spouse reminded me of a conversation with a relative of mine who had similar experience.

However, instead of making complaints, she told me, “Some men seem to get worse as they age, either in temper or in whatever bad habits they might have. One way to look at this problem is, they become sick as they age, either mentally or psychologically.”

I told my friend, “If you can see him as being sick, you will not take his words for real.” After all, who would fight with a sick person? Nowadays people attach great weight to being healthy. They are also aware that feeling good or being in good mood is very crucial to their health. Yet, without a positive, sunny and cheerful environment, it is hard to maintain a high spirit and to feel good and healthy.

Instead of waiting for others to create this environment for us, I told my friend, it is up to us to create and maintain a positive and wholesome environment for ourselves. Call this win-win deal.

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