Archive for June, 2011

Multitasking Might Just Be Frying Your Brain

June 30, 2011

One of the buzz words of the late 1990s was multitasking, being able to perform multiple activities at the same time.  There is early evidence that multitasking might just be creating an unhealthy state of mind.

Five neuroscientists spent a week in late May in a remote area of southern Utah, rafting the San Juan River, camping on the soft banks and hiking the tributary canyons.  That’s not the interesting part; they did it without access to cell phones, computers, or any other technology that is part and parcel of our everyday lives.

It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.  It is a trip into the heart of silence — increasingly rare now that people can get online even in far-flung vacation spots.

Some of the scientists studying what happens when we step away from our devices and rest our brains — in particular, how attention, memory and learning are affected.  Understanding how attention works could help in the treatment of a host of maladies, like attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia and depression. On a day-to-day basis, too much digital stimulation can “take people who would be functioning O.K. and put them in a range where they’re not psychologically healthy.”

The study indicates that learning centers in the brain become taxed when asked to process information, even during the relatively passive experience of a walk across the street in an urban setting. By extension, some scientists believe heavy multitasking fatigues the brain, draining it of the ability to focus.

The scientists found that nature can refresh the brain. “Our senses change. They kind of recalibrate — you notice sounds, like crickets chirping; you hear the river, the sounds, the smells, you become more connected to the physical environment, the earth, rather than the artificial environment.”

Behavioral studies have shown that performance suffers when people multitask.  Researchers believe that attention and focus can take a hit when people merely anticipate the arrival of more digital stimulation.

They have found that a fraction of brain power is tied up in anticipating e-mail and other new information — and that they might be able to prove it using imaging.  To the extent you have less working memory, you have less space for storing and integrating ideas and therefore less to do the reasoning you need to do.

What was their bottom line?   “This is the rhythm of the trip: As the river flows, so do the ideas.”  Perhaps that’s why the major religions have a day of rest.  Maybe that day of rest should include a reprieve from the cell phone, the Blackberry, and the computer.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll let you know when I do!

 For the complete article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/technology/16brain.html?pagewanted=all

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For the Golfer Who Has It All-His Bladder Will Also Say Thank You For The Uro-Club

June 29, 2011

This may sound like a joke, but it’s not. A Board Certified Urologist, practicing in Florida, a place where golf is played year round developed this novel solution that impacts so many men on the golf course.  Urinary frequency (a condition that can begin in men, as early as their mid 30’s, and usually due to prostate enlargement) is something that can change the quality of man’s life. Even if you don’t have this problem, let’s face it, there are not too many bathrooms on the golf course.

These are the very patients that inspired the urologist to create the UroClub™.  A camouflaged portable urinal, designed to be discrete, sanitary and create an air of privacy! It looks like an ordinary golf club and comes equipped with a unique removable golf towel clipped to the shaft that functions as a privacy shield!  Not even your closest partner will know for sure what you are doing!

Imagine, giving the appearance of taking a practice swing with your “putter”, while both privately and confidentially, you are able to relieve yourself and your bladder without any embarrassment! This can be accomplished easily while standing by the golf cart and even at the concession stand so you can buy another beer, as well. Have the confidence to drink whatever you wish during your game and not worry if you’ll make it to the clubhouse in time!

 

Bottom Line: I don’t play golf and I haven’t tried the UroClub but I think it sounds like a unique approach to a problem that affects so many middle age golfers.  This club could keep you out of the “woods”!  Fore!*

* a warning during a golf game when it appears possible that a golf ball may hit other players or spectators

The Power of Poop-You Won’t Believe This New Treatment For Many Diseases-It May Just Scare the Sh#@ Out Of You

June 26, 2011

Throughout civilization, human feces has posed considerable health hazards; when it gets into the water supply, for instance, a lot of bad things can happen. But in recent years, a variety of medical researchers, many of them gastroenterologists, have pushed for a greater understanding of poop, and have made some startling discoveries. It is possible that many medical illnesses — from intestinal problems to obesity to disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and perhaps even cancer — are related to bacteria in our colons. Now read this: the solution therefore may lie in transplanting healthy bacteria from a normal person into a sick person. This procedure, fecal transplant, was developed by a gastroenterologist in Sidney, Australia. A fecal transplant consists of taking the stool from a healthy person, mixing it with a saline solution, and inserting it into the colon of an ill person. Fecal matter is now much more than solid waste. We now know that it is largest organ of the body. It contains about nine times more living bacteria than the body contains human cells. So, in a manner of speaking, we are 10 percent human and 90 percent poop. Bacteria are capable of producing antibiotics. An example is penicillin, which was discovered when Alexander Fleming saw that some bacteria caused other bacteria to stop growing. When the stools infected with a bad bug or bacteria and causes an illness, the bacterial flora may be altered and stop producing antibodies. Using another person’s normal bacteria and return the bacterial flora to normal and resume making the good antibiotics. Bottom Line: All that stinks is not all bad. Healthy fecal bacteria may be helpful in treating various disease states such as ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, constipation, and maybe even multiple sclerosis.

Suffering From An Illness? Get a “Do It Yourself” Attitude

June 26, 2011

This post comes from an E-mail by Dr. Neil Niemark.  Anyone with that first name has to good writer!  🙂

True Health Means Making Every Day Precious
We all crave a greater sense of health and vitality in our lives. We all yearn for a deeper sense of inner peace and serenity. In order to achieve these noble goals, we must learn how to make every day precious.
How do we do this? By realizing that we are the architects of our own lives. Though it is so “natural” to want to blame other people or external events for our unhappiness, we are truly responsible for our own happiness.
What is the most powerful way to make every day precious? It is by developing a passionate involvement with life; participating fully in our own personal growth and development.

Vitality, serenity and inner peace do not come from living life on the sidelines, but rather from playing the game of life with all the gusto we have. We must engage life fully by moving towards our dreams and choosing the legacy we wish to leave.

We need to live life passionately, to live life as it’s unfolding, to live life on life’s terms. Not to shyly approach life, but to move into it. Living passionately does not mean living loudly or boisterously. It may be a quiet, peaceful way of being. But it is YOUR unique way of being, one that honors the fear and the suffering, but does not allow that fear or pain to immobilize us.

The Zen poet David Whyte speaks of passion beautifully, rendering images of fire, when he says: “We want the fire that warms, but we refuse the fire that burns.” We want a full and filling life (the fire that warms), but we refuse to expose ourselves to the risk and the suffering involved (the fire that burns) in etching out that life.

There have been engaging studies done on the healing power of participation. Dr. Charlene Kavanaugh, from the University of Wisconsin Medical School, compared a group of severely burned children who received standard nursing care with another group who were taught to change their own dressings. Those who had an active role in their care required less medication and had fewer complications.

Another study on participation was done in Palo Alto, where a group of asthmatic children were taught about their disease and the drugs used to control it. These children were encouraged to decide for themselves when they needed their medication. The results were amazing. These children missed far fewer days from school and their average rate of emergency room visits dropped from one per month to approximately one visit every six months.

The simple act of “participating in getting well” activates our healing system and begins our movement towards greater physical health. But this is not easy, is it? It means that we must get off our “if’s, and’s or but’s” and actually be involved. Most of us don’t want to do the work it takes to get well. We’d rather slack off, and then when we’re sick or ill, go to the doctor and get a bag of pills, a quick fix, or a magic bullet.

Norman Cousins, the great writer, says: “We regard the doctor as the miracle man who can wave his prescription pad over us like a magic wand and provide us a presto remedy. We expect the surgeon’s knife or the prescription pad to replace the personal discipline required to maintain good health.”

Dedication to getting well is a big commitment. This reminds me of a humorous joke about a girl who gets engaged and says to her girlfriend: “I’ve been wanting to get married for so long, but you know what, now that I’m engaged, I’m really a little scared.” “You should be,” said the girlfriend. “Getting married is a big commitment. Seven or eight years can be a very long time!”

There is no quick fix. True healing (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) requires a life long commitment to the process of getting well. True healing requires dedication, discipline and hard work. So participate in getting well by developing a passionate involvement with life. Make every day precious and let the fire warm you, even though it may burn you at times.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Every day, for the next week, write down one special thing that you can do to “make every day precious.”

Be well. In body and soul,

Neil F. Neimark, M.D.

www.TheBodySoulConnection.com

Warning: Actos, a diabetes drug, is a potential link to bladder cancer.

June 23, 2011

 

The FDA is informing the public that using the diabetic medication Actos for more than 1 year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Information about this risk will be added to the “Warnings and Precautions” section of the label for Actos. The patient medication guide for these medicines will also be revised to include information on the risk of bladder cancer.

According to the FDA the risk of bladder cancer with Actos use was noted among patients with the longest exposure to Actos and in those exposed to the highest dose of the drug.

The FDA recommends that doctors should not use Actos in patients with active bladder cancer and use it with caution in patients with a history of bladder cancer.

Bottom Line: There is a slight increased risk of bladder cancer in patients using Actos for long periods of time.  If you are on this medication, I suggest that you speak to your doctor and arrange for a urine cytology test and possibly for a cystoscopy on a yearly basis.

Sitting Disease-A Lethal Condition Can Be Cured By Standing At Your Desk

June 23, 2011

According to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, the sitting disease develops from our sedentary jobs and lifestyles. The 50 or more hours spent sitting each week is a hot topic for medical experts because of the relationship been sitting and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even early death.

What’s so bad about sitting? In a nutshell, when you’re seated your muscles’ electrical activity drops, which incites a cascade of unwanted metabolic effects. The body’s calorie-burning mechanisms slow and insulin efficiency drops, increasing the risk of diabetes. Obesity becomes a concern because enzymes that break down lipids and triglycerides also drop, bringing levels of good (HDL) cholesterol down with them. What’s more, even regular exercise doesn’t seem to outweigh the ills of sitting through the workday.

Luckily, experts are taking a stand, literally, to combat this Sitting Disease. The easiest solution is simply standing at your desk.

Consider adjusting your desk to standing height. Standing at your desk results in an increase in calorie-burning and better posture benefits. However, there’s a tradeoff and your feet will feel tired at the end of the day.

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.

So what’s wrong with sitting?

 The answer seems to have two parts. The first is that sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. You burn more energy by chewing gum or fidgeting than you do sitting still in a chair. Compared to sitting, standing in one place is hard work. To stand, you have to tense your leg muscles, and engage the muscles of your back and shoulders; while standing, you often shift from leg to leg. All of this burns energy.

People who sit for many hours found that those who took frequent small breaks — standing up to stretch or walk down the corridor — had smaller waists and better profiles for sugar and fat metabolism than those who did their sitting in long, uninterrupted chunks.

Bottom Line: Your chair is your enemy.  Beware of your chair!

Prevent Prostate Cancer-Try a Tomato

June 22, 2011

That wonderful, tasty fruit\vegetable just may be what the doctor ordered for prostate cancer prevention.  The primary nutrient behind tomatoes’ healing power is lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that works by neutralizing free radicals which can be a cause of cellular damage leading to the development of prostate cells becoming cancerous.  Eating foods that are high in lycopenes protects against a wide range of cancers, from prostate cancer to lung and breast cancer.

There’s more good news.  Tomatoes can also help prevent heart attacks by lowering cholesterol levels.  Lycopenes also increase bone mineral density and may be protective against hip fractures.  Also, lycopenes can help prevent type-2 diabetes.

It is estimated that three or more servings a week of tomatoes are adequate for the purpose of prostate cancer prevention.

Bottom Line:  No one is certain about what causes prostate cancer.  However, we do know that dietary abuses are partly responsible for the cause of prostate cancer.  We also know that certain supplements including lycopenes can be helpful in preventing prostate cancer.  So in addition to your apple to keep the doctor away, throw in a few tomatoes.

Rules For A Healthier You

June 22, 2011

Sleep

7 – 8 hours every night. Your body cannot heal with out proper rest.

Stress

Find a way to control stress.

Exercise

The definition of exercise is to raise your heart rate for 20 minutes at least three times a week. Daily is optimal and preferably outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight.

Nutrition

To live, eat live food. To die, eat dead food. We were created to live in a garden. Get to know your market, not the supermarket. Eat the food that is in season. 80% of your diet should be raw food in the summer 20% cooked, and in the winter, 800/0 cooked and 20% raw.

Shun prepared foods especially ones with artificial anything in them. Drink half your body weight in ounces water every day, either before you eat or after you eat–NEVER with a meal.

You may drink red wine with your meals, as it aids digestion.

Avoid toxins

Use natural deodorant and toothpaste.

Whatever touches your body is absorbed by your body. Wear gloves or a mask if you clean with chemicals.

Elimination

You should have 2 to 3 bowel movements every day.

Belief

Pray. Have an attitude of gratitude. Write down five things every day that you are grateful for.

Believe you will be healed. If you do not believe it will not happen. If you do, it will.

WSYDD-What Should Your Doctor Do?-Suggestions For Dialog With Your Primary Care Doctor

June 21, 2011

According to the National Physicians Alliance, these are five guidelines that your primary care physician should follow:

 

1. Don’t do imaging for low back pain within the first six weeks.  Although low back pain is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits, X-rays of the lumbar spine before six weeks does not improve outcomes but does increase costs.

 

2. Don’t obtain blood chemistry panels (glucose, calcium, uric acid) or urinalyses for screening in asymptomatic, healthy adults.  It is recommended to do lipid screening (cholesterol, triglycerides) which yields significant numbers of positive results even among asymptomatic patients.  It is appropriate to screen for diabetes with a glucose test in asymptomatic adults with hypertension

3. Don’t order annual ECGs or any other cardiac screening for asymptomatic, low-risk patients.  There is little evidence that detection of heart disease in asymptomatic patients at low risk for coronary heart disease improves health outcomes.  False positive results are common and false-positive tests are likely to lead to harm through unnecessary invasive procedures, over-treatment, and misdiagnosis

4. Use only generic statins (Mevacor® (lovastatin) Pravachol® (pravastatin),Zocor® (simvastatin) when initiating lipid-lowering drug therapy.  All statins are effective in decreasing mortality, heart attacks, and strokes when dose is titrated to effect appropriate LDL-cholesterol reduction.  It is acceptable to switch to more expensive brand-name statins (atrovastatin [Lipitor] or rosuvastatin [Crestor]) only if generic statins cause clinical reactions or do not achieve LDL-cholesterol goals

5. Don’t use DEXA screening (test for bone mineral density) for osteoporosis in women under age 65 or men under 70 with no risk factors.  This test is not cost effective in younger, low-risk patients, but is cost effective in older patients

Bottom Line: So What Should Your Doctor Do?  He or she should weight the potential harms of routine annual screening to make sure the harms are much less than the potential benefit.  Only with a meaningful dialog should routine testing and screening be performed in asymptomatic young men and women.

Want To Tame That Overactive Bladder? Here’s 10 Food Groups to Avoid

June 20, 2011

1. Avoid citrus juices like oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple

These fruits are highly acidic and irritate the bladder.

2. Avoid Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine, a substance that irritates the bladder.

3. Avoid: Caffeine containing beverages such as Coffee and black tea

Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to urinate more often, and the caffeine stimulates the bladder. Even decaf versions have this effect. That’s because decaffeinated coffee and tea are seldom caffeine-free.  Herbal teas are without caffeine and are not bladder irritating.

4. Avoid: Hot sauce, chili peppers, wasabi

Spicy nachos, hot peppers, jambalaya, kabobs, and curries are significant bladder irritants.

5. Avoid: Sugar and honey

Sugars tend to stimulate the bladder. Know that for some people, even artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) are bladder irritants.  Good news: Stevia is a natural sweetener that does not irritate the bladder.

6. Avoid Tomatoes

Tomatoes, like citrus fruits, are acidic; hence their bladder-irritating quality.

7. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol interferes with brain signals that tell you when to “go.” It’s also a dehydrator and a diuretic that makes you need to go to the bathroom more.

8. Avoid milk and cheese

Different dairy products tend to affect people differently. For some, all dairy is a bladder-baddie. Others are bothered only by very rich and creamy milk products, such as cream cheese, sour cream, or aged cheeses.

9. Avoid Energy drinks

These drinks are very high in caffeine, which bothers the bladder.

10. Avoid Carbonated Drinks

Quenching your thirst with a carbonated beverage (colas, other flavors, fizzy water, seltzer) is counterproductive if you have an overactive bladder. The carbonation is a bladder trigger, an effect that’s intensified if the drink also contains caffeine. You may consider drinking straight water or one of the flavored vitamin waters.

Now I’ve told you what to avoid.  How about what to add to your diet?  Numero Uno is good, ol’ water.   If you drink too little (fewer than about eight cups a day), urine becomes concentrated, which can cause even more bladder irritation.

Bottom Line: There are so many foods and fluids that cause bladder irritability.  I suggest you look at your diet and see if you are consuming too many of these foods and fluids that exacerbate your condition.  Your bladder will thank you!