Friday, June 27, 2014

What are breast cancer symptoms and signs?

 "Your mammogram is suspicious for breast cancer." "Your biopsy was positive for breast cancer." These are among the most terrifying words a woman can hear from her doctor. Breast cancer elicits so many fears, including those relating to death, surgery, loss of body image, and loss of sexuality. Managing these fears can be facilitated by information and knowledge so that each woman can make the best decisions concerning her care. Optimally, these issues are best discussed with the patient's doctor on an individual basis. What follows is a review of information on breast cancer intended to aid patients and their families in their navigation through the vast ocean of breast cancer information and issues. Although breast cancer can occur in men as well as in women, this article is specifically about breast cancer in women.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor (a collection of cancer cells) arising from the cells of the breast. Although breast cancer predominantly occurs in women it can also affect men. This article deals with breast cancer in women.
Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

What are breast cancer symptoms and signs?

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. In addition, the following are possible signs of breast cancer:
  • Nipple discharge or redness
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Swelling of part of the breast or dimpling of the skin over the breast
It is best to detect breast cancer before any of these signs occur by following screening mammography guidelines.
You should discuss these or any other findings that concern you with your health care professional.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Although breast cancer can be diagnosed by the above signs and symptoms, the use of screening mammography has made it possible to detect many of the cancers early before they cause any symptoms.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has the following recommendations for breast cancer screenings:
Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so as long as they are in good health.
    Mammograms are a very good screening tool for breast cancer. As in any test, mammograms have limitations and will miss some cancers. The results of your mammogram, breast exam, and family history should be discussed with your health care professional.
Women should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of regular health exams by a health care professional about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 years of age and over.
    CBE are an important tool to detect changes in your breasts and also trigger a discussion with your health care professional about early cancer detection and risk factors.
Mammography may offer less benefit to younger women than to older women. Younger women frequently have more dense breasts, and there is a higher incidence of false positive results in younger women. In contrast to the ACS recommendations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that routine mammography screening begin at age 50. Women aged 40 to 49 are encouraged to discuss their situation with their health care practitioner to decide on the appropriate time to begin screening mammography.
Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health care professional.
If a woman wishes to do BSE, the technique should be reviewed with her health care professional. The goal is to feel comfortable with the way the woman's breasts feel and look and, therefore, detect changes.
Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderate risk (15% to 20%) should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.


Saturday, June 21, 2014


Medicinal properties of Moringa oleifera: An overview of promising healer

Moringa oleifera Lam. is a small size tree with approximately 5 to 10 m height. It is cultivated all over the world due to its multiple utilities. Every part of Moringa is used for certain nutritional and/or medicinal propose. Besides being a good source of protein, vitamins, oils, fatty acids, micro-macro minerals elements and various phenolics, it is also reported as anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, cardiovascular, hepatoprotective, anti-ulcer, diuretic, antiurolithiatic, and antihelmintic. Its multiple pharmaceutical effects are capitalized as therapeutic remedy for various diseases in traditional medicinal system. Further research on this charismatic healer may lead to the development of novel agents for various diseases. This study provides a brief overview about medicinal potential of Moringa and its future as a component of modern medicinal system. This study concludes that  Moringa  needs legitimate appraisal to establish its pharmaceutical knack in modern medicine.

Medicinal properties and Benefits of Moringa

Moringa has enormous medicinal potential, which has long been recognized in the Ayurvedic and Unani system (Mughal et al., 1999). Nearly every part of this plant, including root, bark, gum, leaf, fruit (pods), flowers, seed, and seed oil have been used for various ailments in the indigenous medicine (Odebiyi and Sofowora, 1999), but recent research is also indicating about several active constituents for accepting its applicability in modern medicine (Table 1). Few representatives of these are discussed in this article.

Moringa Benefits Antimicrobial and Antihelmintic Activity

Antimicrobial components of Moringa have been validated after the discovery of inhibitory activity against several microorganisms. In a recent study, aqueous extracts of Moringa was found to be inhibitory against many pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in dose dependent manner (Saadabi and Abu Zaid, 2011). Moringa extracts was also found to be inhibitory against Mycobacterium phlei and B. subtilis (Eilert et al., 1981). Leaf extract of Moringa was found to be effective in checking growth of fungi Basidiobolus haptosporus and Basidiobolus ranarums (Nwosu and Okafor, 1995). Another study involving aqueous methanolic extract and fixed oil against microorganisms was performed using Scenedesmus obliquus (green algae), E. coli ATCC 13706, P. aeruginosa ATCC10145, S. aureus NAMRU 3 25923, Bacillus stearothermophilus (bacterial strains) and Herpes Simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1) and Polio virus type 1 (sabin vaccine). Varying degree of antimicrobial activity was observed ranging from sensitive for B. stearothermophilus to resistant for P. aeruginosa (Ali et al., 2004). Beside antibacterial activity of Moringa oils, it also posses anti-fungal activity (Chuang et al., 2007). Study comparing relative antimicrobial activity of seed extracts against bacteria (Pasturella multocida, E. coli, B. subtilis and S. aureus) and fungi (Fusarium solani and Rhizopus solani) revealed that P. multocida and B. subtilis were the most sensitive strains, and their activity was influenced by cations (Na, K, Mg and Ca2+) (Jabeen et al., 2008).

Another relative comparison of antibacterial and antifungal efficacy of Moringa steam distillate observed more inhibition for E. coli followed by S. aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa and B. subtilis. In case of fungi, Aspergillus niger was strongly inhibited followed by Aspergillus oryzaeAspergillus terreus and Aspergillus nidulans (Prashith Kekuda et al., 2010). Contrary to resistance against P. aeruginosa and Candida albicans for Moringa in other studies, one study using ethanolic extract of leaves, seeds and flowers showed the antimicrobial activity against E. coli, K. pneumoniaeEnterobacter species, Proteus mirabilisP. aeruginosaSalmonella typhi A, S. aureusStreptococcus and Candida albicans(Nepolean et al., 2009). Moringa contains pterygospermin (originally found in Moringa pterygosperma) which has powerful antibacterial and fungicidal effects (Rao et al., 1946). Several other specific components of Moringa have been reported with antibacterial activity, including 4- (4'-O-acetyl-a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate, 4-(a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl isothiocyanate, niazimicin, benzyl isothiocyanate, and 4- (a-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy) benzyl glucosinolate (Fahey, 2005). Other bioactive compounds, such as Spirochin and Anthonine are found in root and are active against several bacteria. Anthonine has potent inhibitory activity against Vibrio cholerae (Nwosu and Okafor, 1995). Moringa flower and leaves are also capable of controlling parasitic worms, their antihelmintic activity has been demonstrated during several studies (Bhattacharya et al., 1982). Moreover, it has also been reported to inhibit Indian earthworm Pheritima posthuma with MO leaves ethanolic extracts (Rastogi et al., 2009).

Moringa Benefits Anti-inflammatory activity

Moringa plant parts have substantial anti-inflammatory activity. For instance, the root extract exhibits significant anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenan induced rat paw oedema (Ezeamuzie et al., 1996; Khare et al., 1997). The crude methanol extract of the root inhibits carrageenan- induced rat paw oedema in a dose dependent manner after oral administration (Anonymous, 2005). Moreover, n-butanol extract of the seeds of Moringa shows anti- inflammatory activity against ovalbumin-induced airway inflammation in guinea pigs (Mahajan et al., 2009). Amelioration of inflammation associated chronic diseases can be possible with the potent anti-inflammatory activity of Moringa bioactive compounds (Muangnoi et al., 2011).

Considering potent anti-inflammatory activity of Moringa plant, it can be surmised that this plant shows profound influence on inflammation associated diseases and resultant symptoms. As a consequence, this plant shows beneficial effects on asthma, pain, and other resultant symptoms.

Moringa Benefits Anti-asthmatic activity

It has been reported a long time ago that Moringa plant alkaloid closely resembles ephedrine in action and can be used for the treatment of asthma. Alkaloid moringine relaxes bronchioles (Kirtikar and Basu, 1975). The seed kernels of Moringa also showed promising effect in the treatment of bronchial asthma, during a study to analyze efficacy and safety of seed kernels for the management of asthmatic patients. The study showed significant decrease in the severity of asthma symptoms and also concurrent respiratory functions improvement (Agrawal and Mehta, 2008).

Moringa Benefits Analgesic activity

The analgesic activity of Moringa has been reported in several Moringa species. In a study using ethanolic extracts of Moringa concanensis tender pod-like fruits in experimental animals, a significant analgesic activity was observed (Rao et al., 2008). Furthermore, alcoholic extract of the leaves and seeds of Moringa also possess marked analgesic activity as evidenced through hot plate and tail immersion method (Sutar et al., 2008).

Moringa Benefits Antipyretic activity

As a result of anti-inflammatory action of Moringa bioactive constituents, the antipyretic activity can be hypothesized. A study was designed to assess antipyretic effect of ethanol, petroleum ether, solvent ether and ethyl acetate extracts of Moringa seeds using yeast induced hyperpyrexia method. Paracetamol was used as control during the study. Not surprisingly, ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts of seeds showed significant antipyretic activity in rats (Hukkeri et al., 2006).

Moringa Benefits Antihypertensive, diuretic and cholesterol lowering activities

Moringa leaves contain several bio active compounds, they exert direct effect on blood pressure, and thus these can be used for stabilizing blood pressure. Moringa compounds leading to blood pressure lowering effect includes nitrile, mustard oil glycosides and thiocarbamate glycosides present in Moringa leaves (Anwar et al., 2007). In addition, diuretic activity of Moringa exists in its roots, leaves, flowers, gum and the aqueous infusion of seeds (Morton, 1991). Moreover, Moringa leaves also contain bioactive phytoconstituent, (that is, b-sitosterol) with cholesterol lowering effect. This compound is capable to reduce cholesterol level from the serum of high fat diet fed rats (Ghasi et al., 2000).

Moringa Benefits Antidiabetic activity

Several medicinal plants have been evaluated for their potential as therapeutic agent for diabetes. Moringa is also an important component in this category. Moringa leaves significantly decrease blood glucose concentration in Wistar rats and Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats, modeled type 2 diabetes (Ndong et al., 2007). Another study indicated that the extract from Moringa leaf is effective in lowering blood sugar levels within 3 h after ingestion (Mittal et al., 2007). As a mechanistic model for antidiabetic activity of Moringa, it has been indicated that dark chocolate polyphenols (Grassi et al., 2005) and other polyphenols (Al-Awwadi et al., 2004; Moharram et al., 2003) are responsible for hypoglycemic activity. Moringa leaves are potent source of polyphenols, including quercetin-3- glycoside, rutin, kaempferol glycosides, and other polyphenols (Ndong et al., 2007). Thus, potential anti- diabetic activity of Moringa can be commercialized through the development of suitable technology with achieving anti-diabetic activity up to conventional drugs.

Moringa Benefits Antioxidant activity

Moringa is a rich source of antioxidant (Chumark et al., 2008). It has been reported that aqueous extracts of leaf, fruit and seed of Moringa act as an antioxidant (Singh et al., 2009). During a study reporting antioxidant property of freeze dried Moringa leaves from different extraction procedures, it was found that methanol and ethanol extracts of Indian origin Moringa have the highest antioxidant activity with 65.1 and 66.8%, respectively (Lalas and Tsaknis, 2002; Siddhuraju and Becker, 2003). It was also reported that the major bioactive compounds of phenolics, such as quercetin and kaempferol are responsible for antioxidant activity (Bajpai et al., 2005; Siddhuraju and Becker, 2003). During another study, quercetin and kaempferol have shown good antioxidant activity on hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) induced Met phosphorylation with IC 50 value for 12 and ~6 µM/L, respectively (Labbe et al., 2009). Another recent study comparing palm oil with Moringa seeds for their antioxidant potential found out that Moringa seed are superiors for radical scavenging (Ogbunugafor et al., 2011).

Moringa Benefits Hepatoprotective activity

Moringa has shown significant hepatoprotective activity in several studies. Moringa leaves ethanolic extracts showed significant protection against liver damage induced by antitubercular drugs [isoniazid (INH), rifampicin (RMP), and pyrazinamide (PZA)] in rats. It was found that hepatoprotective activity of Moringa is medicated by its effect on the levels of glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (aspartate aminotransferase), glutamic pyruvic transaminase (alanine aminotransferase), alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin in the serum; lipids, and lipid peroxidation levels in liver (Pari and Kumar, 2002). Moreover, methanolic and chloroform extracts of Moringa leaves also showed significant protection against CCl 4 induced liver damage in albino rats. Besides hepatoprotective activity of Moringa leaves, its root and flowers also possess strong hepatoprotective activity. Moringa flowers contain a well recognized flavonoid (Quercetin), which may be responsible for its potent hepatoprotective activity (Ruckmani et al., 1998; Selvakumar and Natarajan, 2008). In a recent study evaluating the effect of Moringa seed extract on liver fibrosis, it was found that Moringa seed extract has the ability to subside liver fibrosis. This study involved CCl 4 induced liver fibrosis and concurrent administration of Moringa seed extract. Moringa seed extract control the elevation of serum aminotransferase activities and globulin level induced by CCl 4. Moreover, immunohistochemical studies also showed that Moringa reduces liver fibrosis (Hamza, 2010).

Moringa Benefits Antitumor activity

Moringa has been found as a potent anticancer plant and several bioactive compounds with significant antitumor activity have been discovered from Moringa. Among bioactive compounds from Moringa, niazimicin, a Moringa leaves thiocarbamate was found to have potent anticancer activity (Guevaraa et al., 1999). Furthermore, niazimicin also shows the inhibition of tumor promoter teleocidin B- 4-induced Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activation (Murakami et al., 1998). Another study involving 11 plants used in Bangladeshi folk medicine, Moringa was considered as potential source of anticancer compounds. During this study, the plant extract were analyzed for cytotoxicity through brine shrimp lethality assay, sea urchin eggs assay, hemolysis assay and MTT assay using tumor cell lines. The study also indicated the potential cytotoxic effects of Moringa leaf extract on human multiple myeloma cell lines (Costa-Lotufo et al., 2005; Parvathy and Umamaheshwari, 2007). Beside leaves, Moringa seed extracts also have anticancer activity through its effects on hepatic carcinogen metabolizing enzymes, and antioxidant property (Bharali et al., 2003).

Moringa Benefits Antifertility activity

Moringa plant also has pertinent antifertility activity. The aqueous extract obtained from root and bark of Moringa showed post-coital antifertility effect in rat and also induced foetal resorption at late pregnancy (Prakash et al., 1987). Moreover, aqueous extract of Moringa roots was also evaluated for estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, pro- gestational and antiprogestational activities. This extract induces several consequences for affecting its antifertility property (Shukla et al., 1988). During another study analyzing anti reproductive potential of folk medicine plants, Moringa leaf extracts were found to be 100% abortive with doses equivalent to 175 mg/kg of starting dry material (Nath et al., 1992).

Moringa Benefits Antispasmodic and antiulcer effects

Moringa root and leaves contain several compounds with spasmolytic activity. These compounds include 4- (alpha- L-rhamnosyloxybenzyl)-o-methyl thiocarbamate which is possibly affected through calcium channel blockade, niazinin A, niazinin B, niazimicin, etc., with hypotensive and bradycardiac effect. The spasmolytic activity of different constituents support for traditional uses of this plant in gastrointestinal motility disorder (Gilani et al., 1994). Moringa methanolic extract is also capable in protecting experimental rats from gastric lesions induced by acetylsalicylic acid, serotonin and indomethacin. In addition, it also enhances healing process of chronic gastric lesions induced by acetic acid in experimental animals (Pal et al., 1995). Another study have reported the antiulcer effect of Moringa leaves aqueous extract on adult Holtzman albino rats (Debnath and Guha, 2007).

Moringa Benefits Cardiac and circulatory stimulant

In addition to earlier mentioned bradycardiac effect of Moringa leaves, all parts of Moringa are reported with somewhat cardiac and circulatory stimulant activity. Root bark of Moringa contains alkaloid moringinine which acts as cardiac stimulant through its effect on sympathetic nervous system (Duke, 2001). The aforementioned effects can also result due to the prevention of hyperlipidemia. It has been demonstrated that Moringa prevent hyperlipidemia in male Wister rat due to iron deficiency (Ndong et al., 2007). During a study performing comparison of Moringa leaf extract with antenolol (a selective β 1 receptor antagonist drug, used for cardiovascular diseases) on serum cholesterol level, serum triglyceride level, blood glucose level, heart weight and body weight of adrenaline induced rats, it was found that Moringa leaf extract cause significant changes in cardiovascular parameters. This study reported Moringa leaf extract as hypolipidimic, lowering body weight, heart weight, serum triglyceride level and serum cholesterol level in experimental animals (Ara et al., 2008). In addition to the aforementioned studies, antiatheroscle- rotic and hypolipidaemic effect of Moringa leaves were also analyzed in another study using simvastatin as control (Chumark et al., 2008). Moringa also causes cardio protective effects in isoproterenol (ISP)-induced myocardial infarction in male Wistar albino rats. It was reported that Moringa treatment plays favorable modulation on biochemical enzymatic parameters including, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase-MB. Moreover, it also prevents histopathological damage and ultra-structure perturbation caused due to ISP induced myocardial infarction

Moringa Benefits In ocular diseases

Vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of blindness, which ranges from impaired dark adaptation to night blindness. Consumption of Moringa leaves, and pods and leaf powder which contain high proportion of vitamin A can help to prevent night blindness and eye problems in children. Ingesting drumstick leaves with oils can improve vitamin A nutrition and can delay the development of cataract (Pullakhandam and Failla, 2007). In fact the use of Moringa as a supplementary food was highly accepted for integrated child development scheme supplementary food (ICDS-SFP) for its potential as vitamin A source (Nambiar et al., 2003).

Moringa Health Benefits Conclusion

Medicinal potential of Moringa is enormous and difficult to cover in a single article, despite this current article provided glimpses of Moringa applications for performing appraisal of this promising nutrition and medicinal plant. Although, many bioactive compounds have been discovered from Moringa, still the knowledge is in infancy, in term of its total reserve. Perhaps, future rigorous studies directed towards the detection, and commercialization of Moringa bioactive compounds can lead to the development of remedies for several ailments. Thus, it can also prove the validity of traditional utility of Moringa in various folklores.

17 Superb Health Benefits Of Cucumber You Should Know!

Pick a handful of firm, dark green cucumbers and pop them into your shopping basket. Congratulations! You have just bought yourself a fruit full of good health!
Here is a short list of the impressive health benefits that a cucumber carries:
1. Keeps you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate!
2. Fights heat, both inside and out. Eat cucumber, and your body gets relief from heartburn. Apply cucumber on your skin, and you get relief from sunburn.
3. Flushes out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.
4. Lavishes you with vitamins. A B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant.
5. Give it more power by juicing cucumber with carrot and spinach.
6. Supplies skin-friendly minerals: magnesium, potassium, silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.
7. Aids in weight loss. Enjoy cucumbers in your salads and soups.
8. Revives the eyes. Placing chilled slices of cucumber on the eyes is a clichéd beauty visual, but it really helps reduce under-eye bags and puffiness.
9. Cuts cancer. Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.
10. Stabilizes blood pressure. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief.
11. Refreshes the mouth. Cucumber juice refreshes and heals diseased gums, leaving your mouth smelling good.
12. Helps digestion. Chewing cucumber gives the jaws a good workout, and the fiber in it is great for digestion.
13. Smooths hair and nails. Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shinier.
14. Soothes muscle and joint pain. All those vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain.
15. Keeps kidneys in shape. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.
16. Good for diabetics. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
17. Reduces cholesterol. A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.

Watermelon: 9 healthy reasons to eat this ultimate summer food

There aren't many that can think of a reason not to eat watermelon on a hot summer day or as dessert at a family outing. But besides being a tasty snack, watermelon is a treasure for the health-conscious.
Sure, watermelon tastes good. (You know, real watermelon, not any of that awful watermelon-flavored stuff.) And it is fun to eat, being one of the foods where you're allowed to get messy. But the large fruit is also quite healthy for you. In fact, there are several benefits one can derive from sitting down and eating a wedge of watermelon or a bowl of watermelon chunks.
Here is some of the fruit's healthy qualities built around a list compiled by Amanda Fiegl at National Geographic:
1. L-citruline: Watermelon contains an abundance of an amino acid called L-citruline. This is converted by the human body into L-carnitine, which plays a major role in relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation, thereby improving overall cardiovascular health.
2. Alleviates high blood pressure: Studies have shown that watermelon extract supplements helped alleviate high blood pressure in obese, middle-aged men.
3. Diuretic: Watermelon is a natural diuretic (as if the name isn't a straightforward giveaway) and good for hydration (because, as the name suggests, it is 90 percent water). This, of course, could eventually lead to the natural necessity of ridding oneself of excess water as well.
4. Natural Viagra: In the area of improved circulation, one study has found that watermelon has Viagra-like effects where increased circulation is a necessity. The study also indicated that the fruit might also have an effect on the libido, making it a two-for-one pre-romantic appetizer.
5. Vitamin and mineral rich: The body needs all sorts of vitamins and minerals to function. Watermelon provides several, but is heavy in vitamins A and C. It also contains a fair amount of potassium, which could be instrumental in alleviating hypertension and perhaps even stroke.
6. Low in calories: A cup of watermelon contains about 80 calories.
7. Low fat: According to Nutrition Data, the big green fruit has almost no fat per serving, so...
8: Low cholesterol: For those conscious of their cholesterol intake, watermelon contains no measurable cholesterol in a single serving.
9. Lycopene: Watermelon contains lycopene, an antioxidant that could possibly be a cancer combatant. One study from Queensland University of Technology in Australia indicated that lycopene could be an important preventive and source of treatment for prostate cancer.
Not bad for a berry, huh? (Oh, yeah, that is correct. Watermelons are berries with exceptionally thick skins or rinds.)
(Read: Add Colorful Foods To Your Diet To Boost Your Immune System)
Just remember: When pushing a wedge of watermelon into your face at that summer picnic, indulging in a piece of the sweet fruit isn't bad for you. Not at all.
(photo credit: Jack Keene, Creative Commons)

Friday, June 20, 2014


Irrespective of who we are, where we from, we are all prone to making this mistakes knowingly or not.
Skipping breakfast
Skipping your breakfast and then continuing with your day is like trying to drive your car with a very low tank of fuel — it will feel fine to start with, but eventually slow down and cut out. Not only will you feel less active and sluggish, skipping breakfast — whether it is due to lack of time or fear of putting on weight — is linked with a higher risk of diabetes and can lead to obesity as your body stores up more fat to use as fuel throughout the rest of the day. Eat breakfast to feel happier, more functional and, most of all, healthy.
Avoiding the scales
In many households across the world, the scales are the one piece of equipment gathering more dust than the treadmill. A common way to gloss over our weight problems is to avoid going on the scales altogether. If you feel like you’ve gained weight, it’s best to face the facts to see how much you’ve gained so you can do something about it before it gets out of hand.
Everyone’s weight naturally fluctuates, so don’t panic if you’ve gained a couple of pounds here and there. But if you gain more than five pounds, you should probably rein in your eating habits. Checking your weight on a regular basis allows you to nip it in the bud if you discover a weight problem — losing the odd few pounds is much easier than trying to shed a stone.
Silent worrying
You worry about the meeting at work, you worry about putting the bins out … and it’s really getting you down. While stress can be positive in helping to keep you alert and avoid danger, too much of it can be detrimental to your health. Endless worrying eventually leads to distress, which causes headaches, high blood pressure, an upset stomach, chest pain, and sleep deprivation.
While it’s natural to worry when you have a deadline looming, panicking too much about petty things needs to be sorted. When you’re worrying, ask yourself a few simple questions and answer them as honestly as you can. Will you still be worrying about this in a couple of weeks’ time? Can this problem be easily resolved? If you can’t let it go, tackle the problem head on until it is resolved. If you can learn how to control your worrying, you’re well on your way to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Stopping medicines suddenly
Most of us are guilty of this one; we’re feeling much better and stop taking our medication, but suddenly end up feeling a whole lot worse. How often do you consider the health risks of this?
Depending on the medicine you are taking, going ‘cold turkey’ can cause all sorts of health risks, which range from mild, to moderate, or serious.
Discontinuing your medicine suddenly can cause mild headaches, rapid return of the illness that you were treating, and seizures, to name only a few. Abruptly stopping certain medications can be life-threatening, so keep taking it until your doctor tells you to stop. And when you do get the ‘all clear,’ take medical advice when you’re discontinuing them.


45 best health tips ever

We've done the legwork for you and here they are: the 45 best health tips. Make that 46 - taking the time to read this tops the list.

1. Copy your kitty: Learn to do stretching exercises when you wake up. It boosts circulation and digestion, and eases back pain.
2. Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show that eating a proper breakfast is one of the most positive things you can do if you are trying to lose weight. Breakfast skippers tend to gain weight. A balanced breakfast includes fresh fruit or fruit juice, a high-fibre breakfast cereal, low-fat milk or yoghurt, wholewheat toast, and a boiled egg.
3. Brush up on hygiene. Many people don't know how to brush their teeth properly. Improper brushing can cause as much damage to the teeth and gums as not brushing at all. Lots of people don’t brush for long enough, don’t floss and don’t see a dentist regularly. Hold your toothbrush in the same way that would hold a pencil, and brush for at least two minutes.

This includes brushing the teeth, the junction of the teeth and gums, the tongue and the roof of the mouth. And you don't need a fancy, angled toothbrush – just a sturdy, soft-bristled one that you replace each month.
4. Neurobics for your mind. Get your brain fizzing with energy. American researchers coined the term ‘neurobics’ for tasks which activate the brain's own biochemical pathways and to bring new pathways online that can help to strengthen or preserve brain circuits.

Brush your teeth with your ‘other’ hand, take a new route to work or choose your clothes based on sense of touch rather than sight. People with mental agility tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and age-related mental decline.
5. Get what you give! Always giving and never taking? This is the short road to compassion fatigue. Give to yourself and receive from others, otherwise you’ll get to a point where you have nothing left to give. And hey, if you can’t receive from others, how can you expect them to receive from you?

Read: Mind aerobics
6. Get spiritual. A study conducted by the formidably sober and scientific Harvard University found that patients who were prayed for recovered quicker than those who weren’t, even if they weren’t aware of the prayer.
7. Get smelly. Garlic, onions, spring onions and leeks all contain stuff that’s good for you. A study at the Child’s Health Institute in Cape Town found that eating raw garlic helped fight serious childhood infections. Heat destroys these properties, so eat yours raw, wash it down with fruit juice or, if you’re a sissy, have it in tablet form.
8. Knock one back. A glass of red wine a day is good for you. A number of studies have found this, but a recent one found that the polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) in green tea, red wine and olives may also help protect you against breast cancer. It’s thought that the antioxidants help protect you from environmental carcinogens such as passive tobacco smoke.
9. Bone up daily. Get your daily calcium by popping a tab, chugging milk or eating yoghurt. It’ll keep your bones strong. Remember that your bone density declines after the age of 30. You need at least 200 milligrams daily, which you should combine with magnesium, or it simply won’t be absorbed.
10. Berries for your belly. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain plant nutrients known as anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. Blueberries rival grapes in concentrations of resveratrol – the antioxidant compound found in red wine that has assumed near mythological proportions. Resveratrol is believed to help protect against heart disease and cancer.
11. Curry favour. Hot, spicy foods containing chillies or cayenne pepper trigger endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Endorphins have a powerful, almost narcotic, effect and make you feel good after exercising. But go easy on the lamb, pork and mutton and the high-fat, creamy dishes served in many Indian restaurants.
12. Cut out herbs before ops. Some herbal supplements – from the popular St John's Wort and ginkgo biloba to garlic, ginger, ginseng and feverfew – can cause increased bleeding during surgery, warn surgeons. It may be wise to stop taking all medication, including herbal supplements, at least two weeks before surgery, and inform your surgeon about your herbal use.
13. I say tomato. Tomato is a superstar in the fruit and veggie pantheon. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful cancer fighter. They’re also rich in vitamin C. The good news is that cooked tomatoes are also nutritious, so use them in pasta, soups and casseroles, as well as in salads.

The British Thoracic Society says that tomatoes and apples can reduce your risk of asthma and chronic lung diseases. Both contain the antioxidant quercetin. To enjoy the benefits, eat five apples a week or a tomato every other day.
14. Eat your stress away. Prevent low blood sugar as it stresses you out. Eat regular and small healthy meals and keep fruit and veggies handy. Herbal teas will also soothe your frazzled nerves.

Eating unrefined carbohydrates, nuts and bananas boosts the formation of serotonin, another feel-good drug. Small amounts of protein containing the amino acid tryptamine can give you a boost when stress tires you out.
15. Load up on vitamin C.We need at least 90 mg of vitamin C per day and the best way to get this is by eating at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. So hit the oranges and guavas!
16. No folly in folic acid. Folic acid should be taken regularly by all pregnant mums and people with a low immunity to disease. Folic acid prevents spina bifida in unborn babies and can play a role in cancer prevention. It is found in green leafy vegetables, liver, fruit and bran.
17. A for Away. This vitamin, and beta carotene, help to boost immunity against disease. It also assists in the healing process of diseases such as measles and is recommended by the WHO. Good natural sources of vitamin A are kidneys, liver, dairy products, green and yellow vegetables, pawpaw, mangoes, chilli pepper, red sorrel and red palm oil.
18. Pure water. Don’t have soft drinks or energy drinks while you're exercising. Stay properly hydrated by drinking enough water during your workout (just don't overdo things, as drinking too much water can also be dangerous).

While you might need energy drinks for long-distance running, in shorter exercise sessions in the gym, your body will burn the glucose from the soft drink first, before starting to burn body fat. Same goes for eating sweets.
19. GI, Jane. Carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index, such as bread, sugar, honey and grain-based food will give instant energy and accelerate your metabolism. If you’re trying to burn fat, stick to beans, rice, pasta, lentils, peas, soya beans and oat bran, all of which have a low GI count.
20. Mindful living. You've probably heard the old adage that life's too short to stuff a mushroom. But perhaps you should consider the opposite: that life's simply too short NOT to focus on the simple tasks. By slowing down and concentrating on basic things, you'll clear your mind of everything that worries you.

concentrate on sensations and experiences again: observe the rough texture of a strawberry's skin as you touch it, and taste the sweet-sour juice as you bite into the fruit; when your partner strokes your hand, pay careful attention to the sensation on your skin; and learn to really focus on simple tasks while doing them, whether it's flowering plants or ironing your clothes.

21. The secret of stretching. When you stretch, ease your body into position until you feel the stretch and hold it for about 25 seconds. Breathe deeply to help your body move oxygen-rich blood to those sore muscles. Don't bounce or force yourself into an uncomfortable position.
22. Do your weights workout first. Experts say weight training should be done first, because it's a higher intensity exercise compared to cardio. Your body is better able to handle weight training early in the workout because you're fresh and you have the energy you need to work it.

Conversely, cardiovascular exercise should be the last thing you do at the gym, because it helps your body recover by increasing blood flow to the muscles, and flushing out lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles while you're weight training. It’s the lactic acid that makes your muscles feel stiff and sore.
23. Burn fat during intervals. To improve your fitness quickly and lose weight, harness the joys of interval training. Set the treadmill or step machine on the interval programme, where your speed and workload varies from minute to minute. Build up gradually, every minute and return to the starting speed. Repeat this routine. Not only will it be less monotonous, but you can train for a shorter time and achieve greater results.
24. Your dirtiest foot forward. If your ankles, knees, and hips ache from running on pavement, head for the dirt. Soft trails or graded roads are a lot easier on your joints than the hard stuff. Also, dirt surfaces tend to be uneven, forcing you to slow down a bit and focus on where to put your feet – great for agility and concentration.
25. Burn the boredom, blast the lard. Rev up your metabolism by alternating your speed and intensity during aerobic workouts. Not only should you alternate your routine to prevent burnout or boredom, but to give your body a jolt.

If you normally walk at 6.5km/h on the treadmill or take 15 minutes to walk a km, up the pace by going at 8km/h for a minute or so during your workout. Do this every five minutes or so. Each time you work out, increase your bouts of speed in small increments.
26. Cool off without a beer. Don’t eat carbohydrates for at least an hour after exercise. This will force your body to break down body fat, rather than using the food you ingest. Stick to fruit and fluids during that hour, but avoid beer.
27. ‘Okay, now do 100 of those’. Instead of flailing away at gym, enlist the help – even temporarily – of a personal trainer. Make sure you learn to breathe properly and to do the exercises the right way. You’ll get more of a workout while spending less time at the gym.
28. Stop fuming. Don’t smoke and if you smoke already, do everything in your power to quit. Don’t buy into that my-granny-smoked-and-lived-to-be-90 crud – not even the tobacco giants believe it. Apart from the well-known risks of heart disease and cancer, orthopaedic surgeons have found that smoking accelerates bone density loss and constricts blood flow. So you could live to be a 90-year-old amputee who smells of stale tobacco smoke. Unsexy.
29. Ask about Mad Aunt Edith. Find out your family history. You need to know if there are any inherited diseases prowling your gene pool. According to the Mayo Clinic, USA, finding out what your grandparents died of can provide useful – even lifesaving – information about what’s in store for you. And be candid, not coy: 25% of the children of alcoholics become alcoholics themselves.
30. Do self-checks. Do regular self-examinations of your breasts. Most partners are more than happy to help, not just because breast cancer is the most common cancer among SA women. The best time to examine your breasts is in the week after your period.
31. My smear campaign. Have a pap smear once a year. Not on our list of favourite things, but it’s vital. Cervical cancer kills 200 000 women a year and it’s the most prevalent form of cancer among black women, affecting more than 30 percent.

But the chances of survival are nearly 100 percent if it’s detected early. Be particularly careful if you became sexually active at an early age, have had multiple sex partners or smoke.
32. Understand hormones. Recent research suggests that short-term (less than five years) use of HRT is not associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer, but that using it for more than ten years might be. Breast cancer is detected earlier in women using HRT, as they are more alert to the disease than other women.
32. Beat the sneezes. There are more than 240 allergens, some rare and others very common. If you’re a sneezer due to pollen: close your car’s windows while driving, rather switch on the internal fan (drawing in air from the outside), and avoid being outdoors between 5am and 10 am when pollen counts are at their highest; stick to holidays in areas with low pollen counts, such as the seaside and stay away from freshly cut grass.
33. Doggone. If you’re allergic to your cat, dog, budgie or pet piglet, stop suffering the ravages of animal dander: Install an air filter in your home.

Keep your pet outside as much as possible and brush him outside of the home to remove loose hair and other allergens. Better yet, ask someone else to do so.
34. Asthma-friendly sports. Swimming is the most asthma-friendly sport of all, but cycling, canoeing, fishing, sailing and walking are also good, according to the experts.

Asthma need not hinder peak performance in sport. 1% of the US Olympic team were asthmatics – and between them they won 41 medals.
35. Deep heat. Sun rays can burn even through thick glass, and under water. Up to 35% of UVB rays and 85% of UVA rays penetrate thick glass, while 50% of UVB rays and 75% of UVA rays penetrate a meter of water and wet cotton clothing.

Which means you’ll need sunscreen while driving your car on holiday, and water resistant block if you’re swimming.
36. Fragrant ageing. Stay away from perfumed or flavoured suntan lotions which smell of coconut oil or orange if you want your skin to stay young. These lotions contain psoralen, which speeds up the ageing process. Rather use a fake-tan lotion. Avoid sun beds, which are as bad as the sun itself.
37. Sunscreen can be a smokescreen. Sunscreen is unlikely to stop you from being sunburned, or to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. That’s because most people don’t apply it properly, and stay in the sun too long.

The solution? Slather on sunscreen daily and reapply it often, especially if you’ve been in the water. How much? At least enough to fill a shot glass.
38. Laugh and cry. Having a good sob is reputed to be good for you. So is laughter, which has been shown to help heal bodies, as well as broken hearts. Studies in Japan indicate that laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body shake off allergic reactions.
39. It ain’t over till it’s over. End relationships that no longer work for you, as you could be spending time in a dead end. Rather head for more meaningful things. You could be missing opportunities while you’re stuck in a meaningless rut, trying to breathe life into something that is long gone.
40. Strong people go for help. Ask for assistance. Gnashing your teeth in the dark will not get you extra brownie points. It is a sign of strength to ask for assistance and people will respect you for it. If there is a relationship problem, the one who refuses to go for help is usually the one with whom the problem lies to begin with.
41. Save steamy scenes for the bedroom. Showering or bathing in water that’s too hot will dry out your skin and cause it to age prematurely. Warm water is much better.

Apply moisturiser while your skin is still damp – it’ll be absorbed more easily. Adding a little olive oil to your bath with help keep your skin moisturised too.
42. Here’s the rub. Improve your circulation and help your lymph glands to drain by the way you towel off. Helping your lymph glands function can help prevent them becoming infected.

When drying off your limbs and torso, brush towards the groin on your legs and towards the armpits on your upper body. You can do the same during gentle massage with your partner.
43. Sugar-coated. More than three million South Africans suffer from type 2 diabetes, and the incidence is increasing – with new patients getting younger. New studies show this type of diabetes is often part of a metabolic syndrome (X Syndrome), which includes high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

More than 80% of type 2 diabetics die of heart disease, so make sure you control your glucose levels, and watch your blood pressure and cholesterol counts.
44. Relax, it’s only sex. Stress and sex make bad bedfellows, it seems. A US survey showed that stress, kids and work are main factors to dampen libido. With the advent of technology that allows us to work from home, the lines between our jobs and our personal lives have become blurred.

People work longer hours, commutes are longer and work pervades all aspects of our lives, including our sexual relationships. Put nooky and intimacy on the agenda, just like everything else.
45. Good night, sweetheart. Rest heals the body and has been shown to lessen the risk of heart trouble and psychological problems.


"How To Get Fit And Slash Your Health Insurance Costs" by: Neil Stelling

Okay, before we start, let me explain the purpose of this article. I want you to get so healthy, you'll never need to make a health insurance claim. You'll save money by increased fitness. You'll save money with a long no-claims insurance history. And you'll look and feel much better.

There's three sides to your maximum health and fitness. Diet, and Exercise. But that's only two ! Let me split
Exercise into Aerobic exercise and Aneorobic exercise.

Get all three right. Get the right balance. And you'll get as fit and healthy as your body and genetics will
allow. Whole forests of paper have been filled with advice on each of these fitness factors. Just go into your local bookstore, and see shelves of diet advice. Shelves of exercise advice.

Funny how so much contradicts itself, especially for diet e.g right next to each other on the shelf, you'll find a
book advocating low carbs & low fat; another saying high fat is okay if you keep the carbs low. Yet another focuses on high protein, and says carbs don't matter...

* Diet

Let me give you this simple diet advice. Stick to low fat, low carbs and high protein. Many medical and weight loss studies over the last 10-20 years prove this approach. Many other diet myths come from way back in time, and look just plain wrong when analyzed with modern methods.

* Aerobic Exercise

Couch potatoes don't realize how easily they can start feeling fit and healthy. Just walk somewhere 3-4 times per week, for around 20 minutes each time.

Ideally, do some more demanding aerobic exercise. I do a lot of cycling, because it's great low-impact exercise. And I get to see beautiful scenery while I ride.

Running provides even more intensive aerobic exercise, but careful of your joints. Maybe you prefer hiking, to see the local countryside ? Or take up a sport like rowing or tennis. You also get to meet new friends by taking up exercise as a sport.

* Anaerobic Exercise

Many people work on their diet. Many people take aerobic exercise. But many people ignore anaerobic exercise, or weight training.

What makes weight training so important ?
As you get older, muscle mass decreases. Muscle burns fat. So as you lose muscle, it gets harder to keep the fat off. Equally important, weight training can reshape your body.

No matter how much aerobic exercise you do, you'll still be a pear shape (a smaller pear shape) if you started out a pear shape.

Using weights you can flatten your stomach, tone your thighs, bulk up your chest and shoulders, and reshape your body any way you want.

Weight training is incredibly beneficial to your general skeleton strength and conditioning. Older women can reduce the effects of osteoporosis, and older men can maintain their strength and agility.

This short article can do nothing more than provide an introduction to the three keys to your health. Follow
these and you shouldn't need to make a health insurance claim.

Slash your health insurance costs with a long no-claims bonus. Slash your health insurance costs with any insurer who rates your fitness.