Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How You Can Benefit From Diet Aids

Most people know that weight loss is best achieved by balancing a proper amount of exercise with a well-balanced diet. Doing so helps reduce obesity, reduces the risk of numerous diseases (e.g., diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure), and improves one’s mood and self-esteem.

For some people who are having difficulty losing weight using the standard techniques or who are overweight and already have significant medical problems as a result, diet aids may be helpful.

A common diet aid most people are aware of is the food and drink category. This includes meal replacement shakes, meal replacement snacks, and low calorie snack bars. SlimFast, for example, makes many of these dietary food and drink products. These products are popular even among people who are not overweight but who want to prevent excessive weight gain. Meal replacement shakes come pre-made or in mix form in many tasty flavors such as milk chocolate, French vanilla, or cappuccino. The shakes can control hunger for up to four hours by containing a high amount of protein (e.g., 14 grams), which creates a sense of fullness. They also contain vitamins and nutrients that help you lose weight and are high in fiber, which promotes healthy intestinal activity. By being low calorie, meal replacement shakes will not cause weight gain, provided that they are used as directed. 

For people who do not like shakes, meal replacement bars are a solid alternative with the same health benefits. These also come in many tasty flavors, often in chocolate form. The use of low calorie (e.g., 100 calorie) snack bars helps further reduce weight if they are used as directed and replace high calorie snacks and/or foods between meals.

Weight loss tablets are also used as diet aids. Some are available over-the counter, some by prescription, and others can be obtained from a pharmacy online. These medications work in different ways such as preventing absorption of a third of the fat that is consumed, suppressing appetite, and making your brain feel like the stomach is full. While these medications can be very helpful for some, like any medication, they can cause side effects. Because of this, you should always check with your health care provider before deciding to take one of these medications. In addition, it is important to remember that weight loss tablets are not a substitute for proper diet and exercise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Best Brain Training Exercises to Keep Your Brain Healthy

There have been wild claims in the past about what can be accomplished by using brain training. Most of these have since been debunked by neuroscientists as nonsense but that is not to say that these activities provide no benefit to your health.

No, there aren’t any guarantees that brain training will stop your cognitive facilities from deteriorating in the long-term but it can help you think faster, remember the words you need or just to react quicker if it meets certain standards. Here are some of the best brain training exercises to keep your brain healthy:

Playing card games

It may sound silly, but maintaining an active interest in playing card games can help train your brain. When you think about it, these card games whilst they are a source of fun usually involve strategy, numeracy and keep you on your toes! This can be combined into a social activity by finding a local Bridge group, or you could visit the likes of and take advantage of the opportunity to make yourself some cash whilst keeping your brain active.

Try something new

The older we get, the more inclined we are to stick to activities which are familiar to us. Whilst it is undoubtedly comforting to only do things we are sure of with people we know, by challenging yourself to try something new you will utilize otherwise lost skills. No, you don’t need to be an instant expert in your new activity but simply by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you may find a new social group, fun activity, and increased brain health!

Don’t forget to exercise the rest of your body

It can be easy to forget about the connection between the health of your brain and that of your body but of course everything is linked! Getting up and going for a brisk walk once a day or joining an exercise class has endless health benefits for you both physically and mentally (remember your teacher telling you to open up the windows for the oxygen necessary for your hard work?).

Have a look at the various activities online

The internet has a wealth of activities and programs which are designed for this exact purpose and a quick search on Google will soon have a plethora of websites to keep you busy. The BBC for instance has compiled some activities in collaboration with top neuroscientists which combine fun games with mental activity – brain training doesn’t have to be boring!

This article was written by Alex Saunders.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Happens When You Get Addicted?

Everybody thinks they know what addiction is or what it probably feels like. This is because addiction is typically described in language that is deceptively simple sounding. Everybody knows what it feels like to “need” something that isn’t good for them.

For example, people who decide to quit eating sugar often feel that need for sugar even though they know it isn’t good for them.
What many do not realize however, is that where science is concerned: the need of addiction isn’t just a metaphorical or existential need. It is literally a physical need. Here’s why.

What Do Drugs Do?

Everybody knows that drugs can wreak havoc on our bodies. Everybody knows that if you drink too much you’ll damage your liver and that if you smoke you increase your chances of developing lung cancer. What not everybody knows is that most of the changes that occur in our bodies when we are drinking or on drugs originate in our brains. Drug use inhibits our brains' control of our moods, mental functioning, communication ability and even our motor skills. All of those things change because drugs and alcohol change the way our brain processes stimuli. Specifically, taking drugs causes the brain stem, the cerebral cortex, and the limbic system to behave differently and, often, erratically.

A Normal Brain

A brain functions by sending and receiving millions of chemical and electrical signals. Those signals are passed from neuron to neuron in the brain with the aid of chemicals called neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter carries a signal into a neuron’s receptor and, for lack of better term, plants it there for the neuron to process. Imagine that spark that happens when you put a plug very close to an outlet. There is a great breakdown of how signals are transmitted between neurons here.

A Brain on Drugs

Most drugs (and alcohol) have chemical components that cause the different parts of the brain to “misfire.” For example, marijuana has a chemical structure that is similar to that of a neurotransmitter. So, when those chemicals enter the brain, the brain thinks that it is receiving more signals than it actually is and because a drug’s chemical makeup does not behave in the same fashion as a neurotransmitter when it enters a neuron’s receptors, the brain can’t figure out how to process it. This is why drugs like marijuana and heroin have a slowing effect on the brain.

Other drugs, like cocaine, cause the brain to release more natural neurotransmitters while also preventing those neurotransmitters from being sent back to receive more messages (or being “recycled”) so the brain is constantly bombarded with more messages than it can process, which causes it to speed up--which is why drugs like cocaine or meth have a “hyping” effect.

Great So How Does Addiction Work

Our brains’ primary goal is to keep all of the chemicals flying around within it balanced out. So, as you keep sending manufactured neurotransmitters (and chemicals that act like neurotransmitters) to it, it will slow its own production of those neurotransmitters to keep everything even and balanced.

This is why, if you have been using drugs for a while and you suddenly stop, you have a hard time feeling normal. Your brain literally isn’t getting the chemicals it needs to function normally and it takes time for your brain to adjust to the change and re-start its own natural production. So, in this sense, your brain literally needs your drug of choice for you to continue functioning like a normal person. This is particularly problematic in adolescents. According to a blog post from, adolescents’ brains are still forming and introducing an addictive substance can cause irreparable damage.

Suddenly the character House seems a lot more sympathetic, doesn’t he?

What to do About Addiction

Many people, even the addicts themselves, assume that the best method for dealing with an addiction is to simply quit their drug of choice “cold turkey.”

Almost all of the time, this is a bad idea--especially when attempted alone. Because of how dependent upon a drug a person becomes, the detoxification process can be quite dangerous. It is always better to go through detox and withdrawal with the help of a trained professional. This is why so many people check into rehabilitation facilities to detox; rehab centers have trained medical professionals who can watch for and treat any detox side effects or problems.

It is important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. The sooner you can admit you have a problem the better chance you have of lasting recovery. And though it will take time for your brain to start functioning normally again, it is important to understand that it is possible.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Varicose Vein Treatment

Many people are aware of what varicose veins look like due to their swollen, squiggly, and sometimes discolored appearance, typically on the legs, making self-diagnosis easy. Here are a few other lesser known facts about varicose veins:

Cause: Varicose veins are caused when valves in the veins do not work properly, causing them to become swollen and distorted. Normally, blood travels up the veins to the heart but when the valves malfunction the blood falls down the vein instead. As a result, the veins become enlarged and twisted, the skin can become discolored and thickened, and this can cause significant pain. The condition is most common in the legs due to high pressure in the lower limbs when standing. There is a strong genetic component to most cases of varicose veins. Risk factors for developing varicose veins includes obesity, pregnancy, prolonged standing, menopause, abdominal strain, injury to the legs, and aging. However, it is a myth that varicose veins only occur in the elderly because many young people (including teenagers) develop them as well.

Prevention: Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent varicose veins, the chances of developing them can be reduced through exercise, weight loss, proper diet (high fiber, low salt), keeping the legs elevated (e.g., on a recliner chair), regularly changing sitting or standing positions (e.g., avoid prolonged standing), and (for women), avoiding high heels and tight fitting stockings. These prevention strategies improve blood flow and muscle tone and are also used as a form of treatment once varicose veins have emerged to prevent additional ones from developing. When too many varicose veins have appeared, however, more intensive treatments may be needed.

Treatment: One traditional treatment for varicose veins is known as “venous stripping.” This involves removing all or part of the sapheous vein, which is the large superficial vein of the leg. It is a myth that this is the best treatment for varicose veins because the vein can regrow in the future leading to recurrence, there are numerous potential complications (e.g., blood clots), and the vein will not available in the future if a bypass graft is needed. Another important point is that venous stripping techniques treats the problem at the surface only. Thus, it is important to contact a varicose veins treatment specialist who will identify and correct the underlying problem and restore venous blood flow. An alternative non-surgical treatment for varicose veins is foam sclerotherapy, in which a medicine is injected into varicose veins to make them shrink.

It is a myth that insurance will not pay for treatment of varicose veins. In reality, insurance companies will pay for treatment in most cases of varicose veins because it is a medical problem in addition to a cosmetic problem. People should not wait for pain to occur or all pregnancies to end before seeking treatment for varicose veins because the dysfunctional blood flow pattern needs to be corrected to prevent additional medical complications. The best news of all is that varicose veins will usually not recur if treated properly.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Young People Are Drinking Less

The ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato, used to write about the benefits of doing things in moderation. For example, drinking too little water can lead to dehydration while drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication.

Not exercising can lead to obesity and heart disease whereas excessive exercise can lead to injuries. There are some instances, however, where there are no benefits of moderation. For example, even a moderate amount of tobacco or asbestos exposure can be deadly whereas no exposure to these substances is the healthiest option.

What about alcohol, however, which is one of the most frequently abused substances throughout the world? It is true that some people cause great harm (e.g., liver damage, financial ruin, relationship breakups) to themselves through alcohol abuse and binge drinking (episodic excessive drinking) and need to dry out now. Others avoid alcohol completely, which is known as teetotalism.

While complete avoidance of alcohol is not harmful, some people may be surprised to discover that there can be benefits to moderate alcohol consumption such as a lower risk of heart disease, greater longevity, improved libido, protections against the common cold, decreasing chances of dementia, decreasing chances of diabetes, and decreasing chances of gallstones. Thus, even with alcohol, a moderate level of consumption can be helpful. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined by up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men,

There is evidence that young people are drinking less alcohol than in the past, at least when it comes to binge drinking. For example, research in England through the Office of National Statistics shows that binge drinking at least once a week decreased from 29% in 2005 to 18% in 2013. The same study showed that when young adults did chose to drink alcohol that they chose to drink less and more than a fifth of those surveyed denied drinking any alcohol at all. The latter is also a slight increase over time. The reasons for this trend are likely cultural such as the effects of public health campaigns, increased use of social media, and religious beliefs. Whatever the explanation, the ancient Greek philosophers would surely approve.