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Practicing Mindful Eating Improves Health

November 24, 2015
Mindful eating is a practiced skill worth learning. The skill of mindful eating is can change the way you think about what goes on your plate.

In the course of our usual meal, we might pay attention to the first few bites, which helps us recognize if the food tastes well. However, after that, eating often becomes an insensible activity.

Mindless eating becomes an unconscious habit and often leads to a harmful association with food. Some undesirable eating incidents may include anxiety, boredom, guilt, and cravings.


Genetics Determines Medicine’s Effectiveness

November 21, 2015

How your genes influence what medicines are right for you

Julie A Johnson, University of Florida

You have a headache

Do you reach for Tylenol or Advil? 

Most people have a preference because they have learned over time that one works better than the other at relieving their pain. This type of variability from person to person is true for nearly every medication, whether it requires a prescription or can be purchased over the counter.
That explains a lot does it not.
Pharmacists, physicians and researchers have tried for decades to understand why the same medication, at the same dose, can work well for some people but not for others, or why some people need higher or lower doses of the same drug, or why some people have side effects, while others do not. Many factors contribute to these differences in how people respond to the same medication, including age, other medications they may be taking, kidney function and cigarette smoking, to name a few. But it’s become increasingly clear that genetics can also be an important factor. So, genetics decides which conditions you are likely to get and also how to treat them.

Genes influence how well drugs work

Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Understanding how these genetic differences work means that physicians can take a more personalized approach to selecting the right medication and dosage for each individual. This is called *pharmacogenetics, and pharmacogenetic tests to guide use of certain medications are becoming increasingly common.
How do you study for these tests?
This kind of personalized treatment is an example of what is called precision medicine, which is being touted as an important part of the future of health care. In fact, President Obama announced in the 2015 State of the Union
address his plan to launch the Precision Medicine Initiative:Thank you President Obama

“to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”

Genes influence how well your liver breaks down medicine

liver and onions taste disgusting do you not agree
Today the most frequently used tests looks for variations (also called polymorphisms) in the genes that carry instructions for making the enzymes in the liver that metabolize (break down) drugs. I want Captain America’s super soldier serum, I want to be faster and stronger.
For drugs that are already in an active form – which means that the drug has immediate effect on the body – enzymes in the liver break the drug down to make it inactive, so the body can then discard it. When the enzyme in the liver that breaks down a particular drug does not work properly due to a genetic variation, then the body can’t get rid of the active drug effectively. That can lead to too much drug in the body, which can in turn lead to serious side effects. Ever notice in drug commercials the side effects sound worse than the diseases they are meant to cure.

Other drugs are consumed in a form that is inactive, and are broken down in the liver into their active form. The liver enzymes that break the drug down are critical to making it work. For these medications, when the liver enzyme does not work properly because of a gene variation, the drug cannot be converted into its active form. The placebo effect is real it can even regrow hair in some people, crazy right!
Differences in how enzymes break down drugs can mean that people need different doses of a particular drug to achieve the same effect, or that some drugs might not be as effective for them. And many of these gene variations are very common in the general population and can affect decisions about the right drug or right drug dose in several ways. Does my doctor know about this? Sometimes it is hard to convince them that a drug does not work.

Using gene variations to choose the right medication

Saving the small endeavor but a worthwhile one.
Children with leukemia are commonly tested for a gene variation for the enzyme that breaks down drugs called thiopurines. These drugs are commonly used to treat childhood leukemia, and are consumed in an active form.

Some genetic variations mean that patients need a smaller dose to get the same effect. IV via

If tests reveal that the enzyme that breaks down the drug and gets rid of it doesn’t work as well, they are given one-tenth the normal dosage. That tiny fraction of a dose gives them the same benefits as someone whose enzyme functions normally and gets 10 times the dose because their body breaks it down more efficiently. In cases like this, the genetic difference between people can be addressed by giving different dosages of the same medication. Sometimes less is more.more or less.
For drugs that are converted into an active for in the liver, genetic variations can mean that a person needs to take a different kind of drug entirely. One example of this is the drug called Plavix® or clopidogrel, which is commonly used after heart attacks or balloon angioplasty to prevent blood clots from forming. It has to be activated by the liver – but gene variations in the most important enzyme for this process mean that at least 25%-30% of people cannot fully convert Plavix® to its active form. When people with that gene variation take Plavix®, it is less effective at preventing heart attacks and strokes. When taking Plavix it thins your blood and you can not have surgery until of of it for two weeks.
Here at the University of Florida, we began testing this gene in heart disease patients getting a balloon angioplasty and stent in 2012. For those who had the gene variation that made Plavix® a suboptimal choice, we recommended a different medication be used. I had a heart attack in 2008, and did not have this very valuable information at the time.
We followed patients who had this gene variation, and found that the ones who actually took an alternate drug had significantly fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes and were less likely to die than those who continued taking Plavix. These data highlight how using someone’s genetic information can lead to a personalized approach to their care, and in turn lead to better health. I think we can all use better health.

These same approaches are also being used more and more often to select cancer drugs, although in most situations it is the genetics of the tumor, not the patient, that are being tested to pick the right drug. In fact, most of the new drugs that have been approved for the treatment of cancer in recent years are developed for specific tumor genotypes. What we did not know in the past makes for better medicine for those suffering with cancer and other diseases today.

Where does pharmacogenetics go from here?

The future is wide open for new and better medicines.
These are just a few examples of the potential for using genetic information to guide decisions about drug therapy. Currently over 100 drugs have pharmacogenetic information in their product label from the Food and Drug Administration. Over time, more and more medications will likely be added to the list of those for which genetic data may allow for more personalized treatment decisions.

And the way genetic information is obtained will change in the coming years. In the examples provided above, the genetic information is gathered through a laboratory test that specifically evaluates the gene or genes of interest.

However, in the future it is expected that an individual’s entire genome (all three billion letters of their genetic code) will be defined and stored for use throughout their lifetime. When that happens, using genetic information to inform decisions about the right drug and the right dose will likely involve computerized approaches that marry the genetic data with knowledge about drugs and genes, to lead to a personalized treatment recommendation. We are probably at least a decade or more from this reality.

In the meantime, the number of drugs whose use can be guided by genetics and the number of people who benefit are expected to grow.
The Conversation
Julie A Johnson, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy and Medicine, and Director of UF Health Personalized Medicine Program, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

*Pharmacogenetics is the analysis of inherited genetic variances in drug metabolic passageways which can affect particular responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects. 


Best Nutrition and Exercise for Preventing Osteoporosis

November 20, 2015
human-skeleton-Osteoporosis-health medical.

Osteoporosis is one of those diseases we do not think about until it happens to us, or someone around us. Still it is happening on a daily basis all around the world and all around us. In fact, approximately 75 million of people are affected by osteoporosis in USA, Europe and Japan, alone. Every three seconds osteoporosis-related fracture occurs somewhere in the world. The micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue and low bone mass, lead to bone fragility and increased risk of fracture, which is increasing exponentially with age. Knowing all of this, you should start thinking ahead and stop this maleficent disease, before it occurs.

Eat Your Vegetables

Yes, your mother did not talk nonsense. Every vegetable is good for your health, but as for the bone density, leafy greens are the best choice. They are packed with calcium (dairy products are not the only ones with that super-power) which is the bone-building material.

kale-vitamin k

Besides, they contain plenty of vitamin K, which is known for increasing bone density and reducing the probability of fractures. One cup of kale, for instance, contains over 600 percent of the daily value of vitamin K and almost 10 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake.

Eat Plenty of Nuts

Nuts are actual superheroes when it comes to fighting and preventing osteoporosis. They are packed with essential ingredients for strong bones: calcium and protein.


In fact, just a quarter of a cup of walnuts, for instance, contains more than 90 percent of the recommended daily value of omega-3 fatty acids, which are increasing calcium deposition in bones and improving bone strength. A cup of almonds contains 385 mg of calcium, while a cup of milk contains just under 300 mg.

Increase Magnesium Intake

A simple glass of milk is not enough to have strong bones. Calcium is not the only building material of bones, 50 percent of the body’s magnesium resides in bones.


Low levels of magnesium usually lead to fragile bones and even calcium loss. And the greatest sources of magnesium are seeds. Beans will also give you the necessary magnesium boost.

Things to Avoid

Some foods are beneficial for the bones, while other can have quite the opposite effect. One of the things that can cause havoc with your bones is too much soda. Some studies have concluded that the more coca cola women drink, the lower their bone density will be.


So, you should consider replacing your soda habit with milk, water or carbonated water. Avoiding too much salt would also be a wise decision, since one study suggested that older women who consumed large amounts of salt were four time more likely to suffer bone fractures.

Get Moving

It is no secret that exercises keep the bones and the muscles strong. Still, it is sometimes unclear about which type of workout is the best for preventing osteoporosis or reversing its symptoms.


It was very important to me to find the proper workout routine, because my mother has osteoporosis, and I was afraid that was a risk factor. After discussing it with my personal trainers from Dubai, I have found out that high-impact weight-bearing exercises are the best for building bones. They also advise me to do a lot of dancing, high-impact aerobics, running and hiking.


It is also recommended to practice tennis, use elliptical training machines and to do low-impact aerobics. Resistance exercises (weight-lifting, yoga, Pilates, etc.) are also beneficial for improving balance, flexibility and strength. Do not forget about posture exercises, which will not contribute to your bones strength, but they will help you to stay flexible and perform your daily activities.

We have all heard the saying: “Better safe than sorry”, and in the case of osteoporosis, it is even more truthful. That is why you should think ahead and prevent it from ever developing, with balanced nutrition and proper exercise routine.
Nicole Noel
Editor, HighStyleLife


Stroke: How to Reduce Your Risks

November 16, 2015
Stroke is a condition that falls under the umbrella of heart disease. Most people don’t realize that there are three kinds of stroke and that there are things you can do to reduce your risk of all kinds of stroke. 

The three major kinds of stroke include the following:

Thrombotic stroke

This is the type of stroke in which plaques build up on the arterial walls of the arteries leading to the brain. The plaques narrow the blood vessels and clots can form in the narrowed areas, causing a reduction in oxygen and blood flow to the brain stops. 

Embolic stroke

This is the type of stroke in which there is a blood clot somewhere in the body (usually on a heart valve) that breaks off and travels through the bloodstream so that it cuts off the circulation to an area of the brain, resulting in a stroke. 

Hemorrhagic stroke

Rather than an area of the brain being without blood and oxygen, a blood vessel in the brain opens up, causing bleeding to occur within the brain. This can be due to areas of weakness in the blood vessels or to aneurysms in the brain that open up and bleed.


Stroke Statistics In The United States
  • Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States
  • There are 795,000 strokes every year
  • Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds of each and every day in the US
  • Stroke is the leading reason for serious disability overall, and those who survive are often left with paralysis and speech impairment causing long term disability, often requiring long term care
  • After the age of 55 years old, the risk for stroke doubles every decade
  • Almost ¾ of all strokes occur in people age older than 65
(Data source: Internet Stroke Center)

Prevention Of Stroke

There are different ways to prevent a stroke depending on the type of stroke you are trying to prevent. There are some things you can do that prevent a certain type of stroke but that has the potential to worsen another type of stroke.

The following are some things you can do to prevent a stroke:



Maintain a normal blood pressure

This holds true for all kinds of stroke. If your blood pressure is too high, it contributes to arterial spasm and increases the risk of thrombotic stroke. If the blood pressure is too high, it can push the blood clot in the heart from the heart valve into the circulatory system of the brain, resulting in an embolic stroke.

In a completely different way, high blood pressure can cause hemorrhagic strokes. If there is a weakness in the walls of any part of the brain’s circulatory system, high blood pressure can cause that weak area to open up, resulting in the kind of bleeding you see in a hemorrhagic stroke.


Maintain a normal cholesterol

Cholesterol is what makes up part of the plaques that contribute to getting a thrombotic stroke. If you maintain a good level of cholesterol, the plaques don’t build up so much and the chance that a blood clot can form in the arteries is much less.

You can keep a good cholesterol level by eating food that is low in cholesterol or by taking medications designed to lower the cholesterol level.


Stop smoking

Smoking has the potential to raise your blood pressure, increasing the risk of all kinds of strokes. Smoking also contributes to plaque formation in the walls of the blood vessels so that the risk of thrombotic stroke increases.

The longer you smoke, the greater is the risk of developing all kinds of heart disease, including that of thrombotic stroke.


Take a baby aspirin

Baby aspirin is a commonly used medication used to prevent the recurrence of heart attack in a patient who has already had a heart attack. Aspirin is a platelet inhibitor, which means that it blocks platelets from sticking together and forming a blood clot.

This same phenomenon can work in the prevention of both thrombotic strokes and embolic strokes. If the platelets cannot form a blood clot, it will prevent a blood clot from forming on a heart valve so that it can’t travel to an area of the brain, leading to an embolic stroke.

In the same way, when platelets are blocked from forming a clot inside a narrowed area of the blood vessels leading to the brain, this thwarts the onset of a thrombotic stroke.

Beautiful Lady Enjoys The Summer healthy lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle so that the blood pressure is reduced, smoking is not a problem, and cholesterol is kept within normal levels will go a long way toward reducing the incidence of all kinds of strokes.

If you are concerned about stroke, or any type of heart disease it is a great idea to see your doctor and get a full physical and relevant screenings to be sure that there is not more that you can do to ensure you remain in optimal health.

Take care and be well

Tommy Douglas

#health #fitness #baby boomer #stroke

5 Reasons Why You Have Lost Your Motivation

November 13, 2015
Motivation Rocky Balboa Winner Pose
We all lose our focus from time to time, even on important things. Motivation is the same way. Because of your busy life or other factors, your burning desire to reach a certain goal or achieve a desired result can slip away. Be aware of the following five reasons that may cause you to lose your motivation on the way to success.

1 - You experienced a drastic lifestyle change.


Stress, health problems, the birth of a new baby - these are all major lifestyle events. No matter how dedicated and motivated you are, life sometimes gets in the way of you achieving your dreams and desires. 

To be successful at any major achievement, you are going to have to negotiate speed bumps along the way. This includes any major lifestyle changes you may experience.


2 - You are not seeing results fast enough.


Some people start fired up and motivated expecting to see results immediately. However, some efforts require time before significant improvement happens. 

One-way to keep from losing motivation if you do not believe you are seeing results quickly is to break down your major goal into smaller chunks. When you see small victories occurring, it gives you the motivation to keep moving towards your major goal.


3 - You have lost focus.

lost-focus-forest, girl, green, hallucinations nature, psychedelic

Focus is required for any major achievement. Focus is also a huge part of motivation. When you are laser focused on a desired result, nothing stands in your way. Unfortunately, many things can make you lose focus. 

Try to identify focus-roadblocks before they appear and you can always keep on track, and in the intended direction.


4 - Your original motivation came from an outside source, not from yourself.


Behind any great achievement, you will find self-motivation. 

If someone provides your motivation other than yourself, it is easy to find yourself putting your goal achievement on the back burner. Find some way to provide your own motivation for whatever it is you are trying to do. This usually means discovering the “Big Why” that is at the heart of your efforts.


5 - Your priorities have changed.

foggy-night-perspective-railway station- trains-traveling-changing-prorities

Sometimes a lack of motivation occurs when you have a change in priorities. This can sneak up on you, and is not always a conscious action. You may plan to pay off all of your credit cards by a certain date.

You develop a schedule, take action, and are well on your way to making that happen. Then you lose your job or your vehicle breaks down. It is obviously okay to take care of these important priorities when they arise. Just do not put off getting back on track when you have the ability to do so. 

Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas


The main goal of this blog is to pass on useful information and different viewpoints that real people can use for improving their health. Sometimes, I write my own articles, sometimes a quest post and other times republish content that I feel has merit.

Remember everyone is different and a variety of approaches may need exploration before you find the correct health improvement plan for you.

Keep in mind I am a blogger not a Doctor, so get professional advice.

Take care and be well.

Tommy Douglas