Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saying "Merry X-mas" like a Mathematician


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Health Benefits of Avocado

In his book "Prime-Time Health", Dr. William Sears lists avocado as one of the foods that can lengthen our prime time (i.e., the second half of our lives or a time when the "want to dos" can start to replace the "must dos.") Once reserved for royalty, today avocados are eaten more often than apple pie. Historians tell us that avocados were first cultivated in southern Mexico, in 1519, Aztec emperor Montezuma II presented them as prized offerings to Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes.

    Health Benefits


    The reasons why avocados are awesome:
    • Anti-cancer
      • Contain antiangiogenic compounds such as lutein that are being studied for their cancer-fighting abilities.[4]
      • In a Japanese study, lutein was found to be far more cancer-protective compared to other carotenoids such as alpha- and beta-carotene despite their stronger antioxidant activity. A likely explanation for this enhanced protection comes from lutein’s ability to prevent the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
      • In one of the latest studies, avocatin B, a type of fat found in avocados, was found to combat acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which is a particularly rare and deadly form of cancer.[11]
    • Most nutrient-dense fruit (ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits for folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium):
      • Vitamin A
      • Vitamin B
      • Vitamin E
      • Folate (or folic acid), a vital nutrient for preserving neurotransmitter function
      • Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats
        • The only other fruit with a comparable amount of monounsaturated fat is the olive.
        • Research suggests that exercise burns monounsaturated fat more rapidly than saturated fat.
        • Monounsaturated fats lower LDL and raise HDL levels in the blood.[8-10]
      • Magnesium,
        • Can decrease bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels 
      • Potassium
        • 1/2 medium size provides 500 mg K
      • Glutathione 
        • Avocados offer about 28 mg of glutatione in 3 1/2 ounces, while many other fruits, such as watermelon (7 mg), pears (5 mg), and bananas (4 mg), contribute considerably less.
        • Glutathione (GSH) is a compound in the liver that helps keep everything in check. Not only does GSH detoxify things like drugs, but it's also essential for liver regeneration.
        • Glutathione has been shown to be effective for preventing cataracts
        • Studies suggest that glutathione helps prevent cancers of the mouth and pharynx, as well as heart disease
      • Beta-sitosterol 
        • Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that avocados boast 76 mg of beta-sitosterol per 3 1/2 ounces 
        • Animal studies have shown that beta-sitosterol inhibits the growth of cancerous tumors 
        • Beta-sitosterol can inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from your intestines so you'll have less in your bloodstream, reducing your risk of heart disease
      • Fiber
    • Versatile food (i.e., ingredients in many food recipes)
    • High satiety value and help fight obesity.
      • It's a perfect partnership of healthy fats, proteins, fiber, and healthy carbs.
    • Powerful nutrient booster
      • Adding them to a salad or a salsa increases the absorption of antioxidants, carotenoids, lycopene, and lutein.
      • Their cholesterol-free fat helps your body absorb more of the nutrients in other foods, including lycopene in tomatoes.
    • Promoting eye health
      • They have the highest levels of the eye-enhancing nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin of any fruit.
      • Taking avocado can decrease BPH and decrease prostate growth
        • BPH occurs in the inner part of the prostate gland
        • BPH is noncancerous growth that happens with age.
      • When researchers used lutein alone, the prostate cancer cells were not affected. However, an extract of avocado containing carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of cancer cells.
      • In other research[4], lutein was used to prevent the proliferation of blood vessels in the eyes of mice. This may eventually prove valuable in preventing eye diseases spurred by uncontrolled blood vessel growth, a process that can ultimately cause blindness.
    • Top baby food
      • Avocado works in a similar fashion to blueberries in promoting brain health. 
    • Fight osteoarthritis
      • Their extract may help with symptoms of osteoarthritis 
    • Fight metabolic syndrome
      • Their consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.[6]

    Hass Avocado


    There are more than 100 varieties of avocados, but just two main types: 
    • California 
    • Florida
    You'll able to find California avocados year-round, while the Sunshine State's avocados are usually available from June through March.

    Hass avocados are the smaller, darker variety with bumpy green skin and have a higher nutrient content than Florida avocados, which are larger, and have smoother skin and a higher water content.

    The famous Hass avocado was developed in the 1930s in La Habra Heights, California, where the "mother tree" was planted and tendered by postman Rudolph Hass. Hass' pride and joy today accounts for about 95% of the commercial crop. By the 1970s, the one-time cottage industry had morphed into a large-scale affair, and today California leads the nation in production. Most commercially grown domestic avocados come from a part of the California state stretching from San Luis Obispo to the Mexican Border.

    Ripe to Perfection


    Avocados ripen only after picking. Unripe avocados are said to be toxic. So, ripen your avocados before eating them.

    It's a snap to ripen avocados. Pop them in a brown paper bag, be patient for 2 to 5 days, and voila, they're ripe, yielding to gentle pressure. If you're in a hurry, add an apple or banana to the bag. Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator and wash the skin before peeling.

    Based on a study from the University of California Los Angeles, the amount of carotenoids such as lutein found in California-grown avocados was highest in fruits that had been ripened for less than 10 days after their initial harvesting.[5] Furthermore, avocados harvested at the beginning of January contained on average only one-third to one-half the amount of total carotenoids as avocados harvested later in September, suggesting that fruits harvested later in the growing season had greater carotenoid content.  Finally, the UCLA research showed that  the greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green fruit of the avocado closest to the peel.[11]

    Among the 20 most commonly eaten fruits, avocado ranks #1 for vitamin E, lutein, glutathione, and beta-sitosterol (or phytosterol, a plant equivalent of cholesterol in animals). Avocados are versatile, healthful, and low in pesticides. Add them to your daily diets!


    References

    1. "Prime-Time Health" by Willian Sears, MD with Martha Sears, RN 
    2. Costco Connection, April 2010, vol 25, no 4. 
    3. "The New Healing Foods" by Colleen Pierre, M.S., R.D. 
    4. Avocados Contain Natural Antiangiogenic Compounds Beneficial for Cancer Protection and Eye Health
    5. Lu QY, Zhang Y, Wang Y, Wang D, Lee RP, Gao K, Byrns R, Heber D. California Hass avocado: profiling of carotenoids, tocopherol, fatty acid, and fat content during maturation and from different growing areas. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Nov 11;57(21):10408-13. 
    6. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001--2008 
    7. Guac-Humm-Mole (Avocado recipe) 
    8. The incredible cholesterol-lowering benefits of the Avocado
    9. Bite Back At Bad Cholesterol: Eat An Avocado A Day (NPR)
    10. An avocado a day keeps the cardiologist away (Penn State News)
    11. Anti-Cancer Benefits of Avocado (Dr. Mercola)

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Consuming a Whole Coconut for Better Health

    The various parts of the coconut have a number of culinary uses. In this article, we will show you how to crack open a whole coconut to extract its:
    • Coconut meat
      • This is the main part you want to consume for better health
      • A good way to consume coconut meat is adding it to your smoothies[1]
    • Coconut water
    for your consumption.

    How to Crack Open a Coconut


    There are multiple ways of cracking open a coconut. You can see one of them here on Youtube. However, there is a better way of doing it if you have a good Chinese chef's knife as shown below.



    Using the lower corner of the blade (i.e., highlighted circle), you can cut open the top part of the skull—which is the weaker part of it —as shown in the picture. As always, be cautious when you use the knife.

    As we have said, the most nutritious part of coconut is its meat (i.e., the white, fleshy part). After cut open a hole on the top and pour out the coconut water, you can then use a table spoon to scoop out its meat from inside.

    Health Benefits


    As shown in [2-3], coconut—especially coconut oil—provide countless health benefits . In [4,6], we have also shown that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So, you should buy a whole coconut and consume it as described in this article.

    Similar to the approach of a reductionist in nutrition, we have highlighted the individual nutrition constituent below[5]
    • Coconut meat
      • Per 100 gram serving with 354 calories, raw coconut meat supplies a high amount of total fat (33 grams), especially saturated fat (89% of total fat) and carbohydrates (24 grams) (see below table). Micronutrients in significant content include the dietary minerals, manganese, iron, phosphorus and zinc (see below table).
    • Coconut water
      • Per 100 gram (100 ml) serving, coconut water contains 19 calories and no significant content of essential nutrients.
      • Mature fruits have significantly less liquid than young, immature coconuts


    Nutritional value of coconut meat
    per 100 g (3.5 oz)
    Energy354 kcal (1,480 kJ)

    15.23 g
    Sugars6.23 g
    Dietary fiber9.0 g

    33.49 g
    Saturated29.698 g
    Monounsaturated1.425 g
    Polyunsaturated0.366 g

    3.33 g
    Tryptophan0.039 g
    Threonine0.121 g
    Isoleucine0.131 g
    Leucine0.247 g
    Lysine0.147 g
    Methionine0.062 g
    Cystine0.066 g
    Phenylalanine0.169 g
    Tyrosine0.103 g
    Valine0.202 g
    Arginine0.546 g
    Histidine0.077 g
    Alanine0.170 g
    Aspartic acid0.325 g
    Glutamic acid0.761 g
    Glycine0.158 g
    Proline0.138 g
    Serine0.172 g

    Vitamins
    Thiamine (B1)
    (6%)
    0.066 mg
    Riboflavin (B2)
    (2%)
    0.020 mg
    Niacin (B3)
    (4%)
    0.540 mg
    (6%)
    0.300 mg
    Vitamin B6
    (4%)
    0.054 mg
    Folate (B9)
    (7%)
    26 μg
    Vitamin C
    (4%)
    3.3 mg
    Vitamin E
    (2%)
    0.24 mg
    Vitamin K
    (0%)
    0.2 μg

    Minerals
    Calcium
    (1%)
    14 mg
    Iron
    (19%)
    2.43 mg
    Magnesium
    (9%)
    32 mg
    Manganese
    (71%)
    1.500 mg
    Phosphorus
    (16%)
    113 mg
    Potassium
    (8%)
    356 mg
    Sodium
    (1%)
    20 mg
    Zinc
    (12%)
    1.10 mg

    Other constituents
    Water46.99 g

    Photo Credit

    References

    1. Smoothie Recipes for Better Health
    2. Countless Uses for Coconut Oil – The Simple, the Strange, and the Downright Odd
    3. Oil Pulling for Your Oral Health—Why and How?
    4. The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts (Travel and Health)
    5. Coconut (Wikipedia)
    6. THE SECRET INGREDIENT IN YOUR ORANGE JUICE
    7. 5 Survival Foods to Consider for Your Emergency Supplies
      • Coconuts with the thick husk intact can be stored for up to six months if kept cold; husked coconuts will keep up to 2 months. Once the hard shell of a coconut is cut open, coconut meat deteriorates rather quickly at room temperature, so needs to be consumed as quickly as possible.
    8. Top 10 Ways Your Body Benefits From Coconut Water
    9. Cocos nucifera (L.) (Arecaceae): A phytochemical and pharmacological review
      • Coconut water seems to have protective effects, e.g., on the kidney and heart, and antioxidant activity, as well as a hypoglycemic effect.

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Tai Chi Chuan Step-by-Step Instructions (3/8)

    In simplified Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan, it is composed of 24 forms. See below articles for the details:
    1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
    2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions 
    3. Tai Chi Tips 

    Clock-Facing Position


    Whatever position you take at the start of the form (or whatever direction the center of your chest
    and navel face) consider that starting position to be facing the 12 o'clock position.[2] In this article, all our demonstrations use this viewing direction (or back view as you would follow a master in a lesson).

    When the center of your chest and navel face the 12 o'clock position, your right side faces 3 o'clock, your back side faces 6 o'clock, and your left side faces 9 o'clock.


    3 of 8


    The best way to learn simplified 24 forms is to learn the whole session in 8 parts.  In the above diagram, we show you 3/8 which includes:
    1. Left Grasp Sparrow's Tail (Zuo Lǎn Què Wěi, 左揽雀尾), Grasp the Bird's Tail
      • 9 o'clock
    2. Right Grasp Sparrow's Tail (You Lǎn què wěi, 右揽雀尾)
      • turn around and face 3 o'clock

        Below you can find the matching video(s) of 3/8 taught by master 李德印 and demonstrated by 邱慧芳. in Chinese.

        1. 左揽雀尾
        2. 右揽雀尾
        taichi 24 forms part 3 ataichi 24 forms part 3 b


        References

        1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
        2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions  (Travel and Health)
        3. Tai Chi Tips (Travel and Health)

        Tai Chi Chuan Step-by-Step Instructions (2/8)

        In simplified Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan, it is composed of 24 forms. See below articles for the details:
        1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
        2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions 
        3. Tai Chi Tips 

        Clock-Facing Position


        Whatever position you take at the start of the form (or whatever direction the center of your chest
        and navel face) consider that starting position to be facing the 12 o'clock position.[2] In this article, all our demonstrations use this viewing direction (or back view as you would follow a master in a lesson).

        When the center of your chest and navel face the 12 o'clock position, your right side faces 3 o'clock, your back side faces 6 o'clock, and your left side faces 9 o'clock.


        2 of 8


        The best way to learn simplified 24 forms is to learn the whole session in 8 parts.  In the above diagram, we show you 2/8 which includes:
        1. Brush Knee Push Step (Zuoyou Lōuxī Àobù, 左右搂膝拗步), Brush Knee and Twist Step, LEFT and RIGHT
          • 9 o'clock
        2. Right Hand Strums Lute (Shǒuhūi Pípā, 手挥琵琶), Strum the Lute, Play Guitar
          • 9 o'clock
        3. Repulse Monkey (Zuoyou Dào juǎn gōng, 左右倒卷肱), Step Back and Drive Monkey Away, LEFT and RIGHT
          • face 9 o'clock, but move backwards

        Below you can find the matching video(s) of 2/8 taught by master 李德印 and demonstrated by 邱慧芳. in Chinese.

        1. 左右搂膝拗步
        2. 手挥琵琶
        3. 左右倒卷肱
        taichi 24 forms part 2 ataichi 24 forms part 2 b

        References

        1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
        2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions  (Travel and Health)
        3. Tai Chi Tips (Travel and Health)

        Friday, November 27, 2015

        Tai Chi Chuan Step-by-Step Instructions (1/8)

        In simplified Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan, it is composed of 24 forms. See below articles for the details:
        1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
        2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions 
        3. Tai Chi Tips 

        Clock-Facing Position


        Whatever position you take at the start of the form (or whatever direction the center of your chest
        and navel face) consider that starting position to be facing the 12 o'clock position.[2] In this article, all our demonstrations use this viewing direction (or back view as you would follow a master in a lesson).

        When the center of your chest and navel face the 12 o'clock position, your right side faces 3 o'clock, your back side faces 6 o'clock, and your left side faces 9 o'clock.


        1 of 8


        The best way to learn simplified 24 forms is to learn the whole session in 8 parts.  In the above diagram, we show you 1/8 which includes:
        1. Opening (Qǐshì, 起势), Preparation, Beginning
          • 12 o'clock
        2. Part the Horse's Mane (Zuoyou Yémǎ Fēnzōng, 左右野马分鬃), LEFT and RIGHT
          • 9 o'clock
        3. Crane Spreads Wings (Báihè Lìangchì, 白鹤亮翅), Stork/Crane Cools Its Wings
          • 9 o'clock

        Below you can find the matching video(s) of 1/8 taught by master 李德印 and demonstrated by 邱慧芳. in Chinese.

        1. 起势
        2. 左右野马分鬃
        3. 白鹤亮翅
        taichi 24 forms part 1 ataichi 24 forms part 1 b

        References

        1. Yang-Style Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms
        2. Tai Chi Chuan—Directional Instructions  (Travel and Health)
        3. Tai Chi Tips (Travel and Health)

        Thursday, November 26, 2015

        Esophageal Cancer Risk and Alcohol Flush Reaction

        In this article, we will discuss the link between esophageal cancer and alcohol flush reaction:
        • Alcohol flush reaction
          • is redness or flushing in the face or neck after consuming alcohol.
        • Esophagus cancer[17]
          • Esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the throat and stomach.
          • Cancer can form in the tissues that line the esophagus.

        Higher Esophageal Cancer Risk If You Flush Easily


        One Japanese study has found that: you're at higher esophageal cancer risk if you flush easily with drinking. The study found that about 1/3 of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese are "aldehyde dehydrogenase" deficient which make them flush easily with drinking and people who flush easily have 6-10 times higher risk of getting esophageal cancer than individuals who don't flush easily.

        Alcohol Flush Reaction


        Alcohol is metabolized by several enzymes. It is first broken down into acetaldehyde, a harmful substance that is then converted to harmless acetic acid (or vinegar). When high levels of acetaldehyde occur in the blood, the following “hangover” symptoms occur:
        • Facial flushing
        • Light headedness
        • Palpitations
        • Nausea

        These symptoms are indicative of a disease known as the Alcohol flush reaction, also known as “Asian Flush” or “Oriental Flushing Syndrome”.[16]

        Enzyme and Gene


        Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) plays a crucial role in maintaining low blood levels of acetaldehyde during alcohol oxidation. Unfortunately, there is a mutant form of aldehyde dehydrogenase, termed ALDH2*2,

        A gene is a locus (or region) of DNA that encodes a functional RNA or protein product, Genes can acquire mutations in their sequence, leading to different variants, known as alleles, in the population. These alleles encode slightly different versions of a protein, which cause different phenotype traits.

        ALDH2 gene contains instructions for producing aldehyde dehydrogenase. A variant called ALDH2*2 in this gene results in an inactive enzyme. For individuals with the mutant allele:

        Esophageal cancer


        Esophageal cancer [6] is one of the common malignancies, with an increasing incidence and a high mortality in both developed and developing countries. Esophageal cancer exists in two main forms with distinct etiological and pathological characteristics:
        Whereas adenocarcinoma is more prevalent in the USA and some other Western countries, ESCC is the predominant type in the other parts of the world, especially in Asia, accounting for >90% of esophageal cancer worldwide.


        How to Lower Your Risk


        Most of esophageal cancer patients are over 60 and more common in men. If you're at higher risk, pay attention to the following advice:
        1. Don't eat foods that are burning hot. Wait until it cools down a little bit.[5]
        2. Stop smoking.[4, 9]
          • Cigarette smoking and heavy drinking are the two major causes of esophageal cancer, especially when combined.
        3. If you have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), treat it immediately. The acid burns the tissue and makes it rough and scarred, which is where the cancer begins to grow.[12]
          • Place a tall book (of the same thickness) underneath both posts of your bed frame on the side of your headboard. This will keep your bed at a slight angle so that the acid will go down instead of up into your esophagus.
          • Avoid red sauces like tomato sauce, garlic, and things with caffeine like peppermint tea or chocolate.
          • Do not wear control top underwear, because it is very tight and squeezes the acid up into your esophagus.
        4. Avoid swallowing lye or other caustic substances.
        5. Avoid dietary substance such as nitrosamine. High temperatures, as in frying, can enhance the formation ofnitrosamines.
        6. Don't overweight.
          • Obesity increases the risk of adenocarcinoma fourfold.
          • When you gain weight, the stomach gets pulled down from the extra weight and the kink that is usually between the esophagus and the stomach gets pulled out. This results in that connective area getting very thick, which can lead to Esophageal Cancer.[12]
        7. Avoid alcohol[19]
          • There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer of the liver, colon, rectum, esophagus, larynx, pharynx and female breast.
        8. If you have been infected with the Helicobacter pylori bacterim, treat it immediately.[9]
        9. Reducing radiation exposure to the chest.[9]
        10. Avoid red sauces like tomato sauce, garlic, and things with caffeine like peppermint tea or chocolate.
        11. Take a vitamin E supplement
          • High blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, may lower the risk of developing cancer of the stomach and esophagus, according to new research from China.
        12. NSAIDs
          • Risk appears to be less in patients using aspirin or related drugs (NSAIDs).[2, 6] 
          • However, be warned that aspirin is a blood thinner and overdosing can cause excessive bleeding (see [10] for more side effects). 
        13. Consuming more cruciferous foods
          • According to the National Cancer Institute, diets high in cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli[11], cauliflower) and green and yellow vegetables and fruits are associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer[2] 
        14. Moderate coffee consumption
          • Moderate coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk too.[2, 7] 
        15. Zinc
          • Zinc can protect us against esophageal cancer.[3, 8]

        References

        1. 日本研究发现:喝酒易脸红易罹食道癌
        2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esophageal_cancer
        3. "Younger you" by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
        4. Factors associated with carcinoma of the oesophagus at Mulago Hospital, Uganda.
        5. An Epidemiological Study of Precursor Lesions of Esophageal Cancer among Young Persons in a High-Risk Population in Huixian, China
        6. Expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and effects of bile acids and NSAIDs
        7. Coffee and tea intake and risk of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancer
        8. Zinc Deficiency Linked to Increased Risk of Less-Common Form of Esophageal Cancer
        9. American Medical Association Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness
        10. Pros and Cons of Aspirin
        11. Boosting Broccoli's Anti-Cancer Effect
        12. Dr Oz: What Causes Heartburn?
        13. ERCC1 Levels Strongly Associated with Survival in Esophageal Cancer
        14. Digestive System
        15. Red face after drinking suggests high blood pressure
        16. Thomasson HR, Edenberg HJ, Crabb DW; et al. (April 1991). "Alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase genotypes and alcoholism in Chinese men". American Journal of Human Genetics 48 (4): 677–81.
        17. The top 10 deadliest cancers -- and why there is no cure
          • 1. Lung Cancer 2. Colon Cancer 3. Breast Cancer 4. Pancreatic Cancer 5. Prostate 6. Leukemia 7. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 8. Liver Cancer 9. Ovarian Cancer 10. Esophageal cancer
        18. Spitting up in babies: What's normal, what's not
          • Normally, a muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) between the esophagus and the stomach keeps stomach contents where they belong. Until this muscle has time to mature, spitting up might be an issue — especially if your baby is relatively full.
        19. Alcohol's cancer risks outweigh any health benefits, study shows

        Sunday, November 22, 2015

        Eye Health: How to Choose an OTC Drop

        The understanding of dry eye disease has advanced recently through increasing recognition that the etiology of the condition involves both tear evaporation[5] and insufficient tear production, and that tear film instability and inflammation play roles in the various stages of the disease.[1]
        In this article, we will review over-the-counter (OTC) drops used for dry-eye symptoms from two perspectives:
        • What to consider
        • What to avoid

        What to Consider


        Artificial tears are eyedrops used to lubricate dry eyes and help maintain moisture on the outer surface of your eyes. They are available without a prescription. When choosing an OTC artificial tear to manage dry-eye symptoms, you need to know the underlying cause of your dry eye first. Based on that finding, you then consider other factors such as:
        1. Ingredients of the tear
          • Common artificial tear ingredients include tonicity, buffering, viscosity, wetting, and lubricating agents; antioxidants; and preservatives[7]
          • Good products should mimic the biphasic nature of tears by providing a lipid and an aqueous component to the tear
          • Consulting with your doctor to find if you have more of an aqueous deficiency, mixed disease or an evaporative form of dry eye, then make the decision
          • Choose products with lower osmolarity
            • May have a better effect on the ocular surface based on some studies
              • Tonicity agents adjust the preparation’s osmolality
          • Choose products with Osmoprotectants
            • Osmoprotectants L-carnitine and erythritol, alone or in combination, protect against stress activation of corneal epithelial cells cultured in hyperosmolar media
              • They are taken up by cells, and they blunt the response of the epithelial cells on the surface of the eye to high osmolarity in the tears.
        2. Severity of symptoms
          • Patients with mild dry eye
            • May prefer a watery drop like Refresh Plus
            • Problem with a watery drop
              • Sometimes they really don’t last much longer than three to four minutes
          • Patients with more severe dry eye
            • May prefer a thicker drop that stays on the cornea longer.
              • A thicker drop may decrease friction in the eye and lubricate the eye better
              • “For more severe dry-eye patients and for patients who have many erosions on their corneal surface, I would prefer a thicker, more viscous drop, such as Refresh Celluvisc or Systane Ultra preservative-free,” Dr. Latkany says.[2]
            • Problems with a thicker drop
              • It tends to blur the vision because they are gooey and sticky
                • Some people use them at night, but you can even have blurred vision for an hour or so after you wake up in the morning
              • It leaves more residual foreign particles in the eye
              • It allows allergens and other chemicals to stick to the tear film
          • High-risk individuals, postmenopausal females, patients requiring 4 or more drops of artificial tears per day, and patients with rheumatologic conditions
            • Should strongly be considered candidates for anti-inflammatory therapy.[6]

        What to Avoid


        “Self-selection of medications is not a good idea,” says Dr. Sheppard. “Invariably, when patients bring in their drops, they will be the Wal-Mart or Safeway brand of tears, which are by far the most inferior tears on the market.

        Based on [2], here are the products to avoid:
        1. Topical vasoconstrictor like Visine
          • Which induces vascular fragility, rebound vasodilation and dependence upon the vasoconstrictor to maintain a quiet, white-looking eye.
        2. Artificial tears using preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride (BAK)
          • A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that topical application of BAK to the eye causes:[2,9,10]
            • Corneal neurotoxicity[10]
            • Inflammation
            • Reduced aqueous tear production
        Finally, heed the following advice:
        • After starting on an artificial tear, you needs frequent follow-up by eye doctors to determine whether the drop is relieving symptoms.
        • Avoid using drops too frequent
          • Patients were quoted to be using drops every 30 minutes or every hour, and this has a deleterious effect on their lifestyle and well-being.
          • Be warned that artificial tears are helpful as adjunctive agents, but that they are not the answer for dry-eye patients.
            • “None of these can come close to the complexity of our natural tears,” Dr. Latkany says.[2,13]

        References

        1. Systane® lubricant eye drops in the management of ocular dryness
        2. OTC Drops: Telling the Tears Apart
          • Dr. Sheppard says. “The hydroxypropyl-guar in Systane provides an excellent matrix for the aqueous component of the tear. Refresh Optive Advance as well as Soothe from Bausch + Lomb provide a lipid substitute to better stabilize the tear film. Another valuable additive to over-the-counter tears is hyaluronic acid, which can be found in Blink tears from Abbott,” he explains.
        3. Sarkar J, Chaudhary, Namavari A, et al. Corneal neurotoxicity due to topical benzalkonium chloride. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012;53(4):1792-1802.
        4. Corrales RM, Luo L, Chang EY, Pflugfelder SC. Effects of osmoprotectants on hyperosmolar stress in cultured human corneal epithelial cells. Cornea 2008;27:574-579.
        5. Effect of systane and optive on aqueous tear evaporation in patients with dry eye disease.
        6. DRY EYE SYNDROME
        7. Power Graphics. Common ingredients in artificial tears. 1999;3(1):1–2.
        8. I have dry eyes. What should I look for when selecting artificial tears? (Mayo Clinic)
        9. Becquet F, Goldschild M, Moldovan MS, et al. Histopathological effects of topical ophthalmic preservatives on rat corneoconjunctival surface. Curr Eye Res. 1998;17:19-25;410–425.
        10. Corneal Neurotoxicity Due to Topical Benzalkonium Chloride
        11. Dry Eye: Proper Administration of Artificial Tears (Travel to Health)
        12. Oxidative Preservatives and Dry Eye
        13. The Microscopic Structures of Dried Human Tears
          • Both tears of grief and joy are psychic tears, triggered by extreme emotions, whether positive or negative. Would a tear of grief look any different than a tear of joy?

        Saturday, November 21, 2015

        Dry Eye: Proper Administration of Artificial Tears

        Dry eye is sometimes referred to as “a nuisance complaint — it’s not the sexiest of eye problems.” Nonetheless, said Dr. Rachel Bishop, chief consulting ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute, “Dry eye disease deserves serious professional — and personal — attention. It can be very debilitating and seriously diminish a person’s quality of life.”[12]

        According to the the Dry Eye Workshop report, prevalence of dry eye ranges from 5–30% in people aged 50 years and older.[1]

        The management of dry eye involves various strategies and therapeutic approaches, which include:
        • Find out the underlying cause of the dry eye[10]
        • Select a good and affordable OTC drop[11]
        In addition, proper administration of dry eye medications remains vital to a successful treatment.

        Preservative-Free Eye Drops


        Artificial tear formulations are typically buffered solutions that contain electrolytes, surfactants, and one or more viscosity agents or lubricants, and may or may not also contain a preservative.[1]

        However, for long-term usage of eye drops, you may want to avoid artificial tears using preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride (BAK).  Why?  Based on a recent study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, scientists have found that topical application of BAK to the eye may cause:[5-7]
        1. Corneal neurotoxicity[7]
        2. Inflammation 
        3. Reduced aqueous tear production

        Recommended Ways of Product Use


        In the following discussions, we will focus on two areas:
        1. Different forms of artificial tear preparations — liquids, gels, or ointments
        2. Preservative or preservative-free drops

        For optimizing benefit from ophthalmic medications, here are the recommended way of product usage:
        1. General instructions
          • If using two different types of eye drops, instill the first, wait 5 minutes, then instill the second.
          • If using drops and ointment, instill the drop first, wait 5 minutes, then apply ointment.
          • When using products in single-use vials, agitate the container so that the color and/or opaqueness of its contents are uniform. 
        2. Preventing contamination
          • For patients who need to instill artificial tears several times daily, larger containers of medication are desirable
            • British researchers observed that patients who frequently apply eye drops may need to carry multiple single-dose containers, which are cumbersome.[2] They also recognized that purchasing single-dose containers can be more than 1,000 percent as expensive. 
          • If you want to save remaining medication for use beyond the first day, then consider:
            • Dry eye medications have been tested and scientists have found that they remained uncontaminated when exposed to room air for as long as 28 days
            • However, to reduce the risk of infection to a level with which we are relatively comfortable.  Here are what Dr. Perry and Dr. Donnefeld have advise their patients:[3]
              • Preservative-free artificial tears are free of contamination the day they are opened, are probably not contaminated on the second day, but are likely contaminated on the third day and must be discarded
          • Wash hands before opening container
          • Prevent container tip from touching the eye
          • When finished, tighten container cap
          • Single-use vials should be used immediately after opening and discarded after use
        3. Eye Drops
          • Instilling instructions
            • Lean head back. 
            • Instill eye drops by gently sliding skin below eyelid over prominent point of cheekbone to form pocket. 
            • Put one drop into pocket. 
            • Close eye and refrain from blinking for about 1 minute. 
            • Press tightly (but not tightly enough to cause injury) with one finger on inside corner of eye for about 30 seconds after instilling drop. 
            • Use only 1 drop at a time.
              • The eye’s conjunctival fornix can accommodate only 1 drop at a time. Any fluid beyond 1 drop will overflow. 
        4. Ointment
          • Application instructions
            • Start at inside corner of eye
            • Squeeze thin line (about 0.5 cm) of medication along inside of lower lid
            • Blink
          • Artificial tear ointments may offer longer lasting relief but may cause blurred vision and, as such, may work best just before bedtime.

        References

        1. An Overview on Dry Eye Treatment: Approaches for Cyclosporin A Delivery
        2. Eye Health: How to Choose an OTC Drop (Travel to Health)
        3. Oldham GB, Andrews V. Control of microbial contamination in unpreserved eyedrops. Br J Ophthalmol. 1996;80:588–591.
        4. Issues in the UseOf Preservative-Free Topicals
        5. OTC Drops: Telling the Tears Apart
        6. Becquet F, Goldschild M, Moldovan MS, et al. Histopathological effects of topical ophthalmic preservatives on rat corneoconjunctival surface. Curr Eye Res. 1998;17:19-25;410–425.
        7. Corneal Neurotoxicity Due to Topical Benzalkonium Chloride
        8. "Help Improve Your Vision with Simple Exercises" (Dr. Mercola)
        9. How to Get Rid of Dry Eyes Naturally
        10. How do I soothe dry eye symptoms?
        11. Eye Health: How to Choose an OTC Drop (Travel to Health)
        12. Dry Eyes Deserve Attention

        Thursday, September 24, 2015

        Raw Foods for Better Health

        In this article, we will discuss the following topics:
        1. Why you should eat more raw foods?
        2. Cautions to be taken for preparing your raw foods for eating

        Health Benefits of Eating Foods Raw


        Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. The more food that you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of your digestive enzymes from your food.[18]

        "I personally try to eat about 85 percent of my food raw", said Dr Mercola[3]. Maybe it is also wise for us to strive to get as much raw food in our diet as possible . One way to achieve that goal is to drink fruit-and-veggie smoothies[8,19].

        Health Hazards of Over-Cooked Foods


        Cooking tends to destroy the nutritive value of the foods we eat. For example,
        • Vitamin C
          • Cooking can destroy the vitamin C in veggies. 
            • Dr. Liu[1] at Cornell University has found that vitamin C levels declined by 10 percent in tomatoes cooked for two minutes—and 29 percent in tomatoes that were cooked for half an hour at 190.4 degrees F (88 degrees C). 
        • Enzymes
          • Heating your food above 116 degrees F renders most enzymes inactive.[18]
        However, another aspect, and one which less people are aware of, is the toxins (including carcinogens) that exist when food is heated past a certain temperature over time. As found in the HEATOX studies[2], such toxic substances include:

        Food Contamination


        Before start eating raw foods, you need to be warned that:  each year, 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from contaminated food[6]. Common culprits include bacteria, parasites and viruses[11,16,23]. However, harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illness.

        In summer 2011, a deadliest E. coli outbreak has killed 31 people, sickened nearly 3,100 and prompted much of Europe to shun vegetables[5]. After a month of searching and testing, Health officials have finally tracked the bacteria's origin—the bean sprouts grown at an organic farm in Germany.

        While sprouts are full of protein and vitamins, their growing conditions and the fact that they are mostly eaten raw make them ideal transmitters of disease. They require 100-degree heat and humidity — precisely the same conditions E. coli needs to thrive. Sprouts have abundant surface area for bacteria to cling to.

        Clean Your Produce


        Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated by pathogens, pesticides, and other toxins. They may become contaminated when they are growing or when they are processed. But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Handling food safely can help prevent foodborne illnesses. So, if you choose to add raw foods to your diet, you need to clean them thoroughly. Some advice provided in [8,9,17] include:
        • For firm-skinned food, use a gentle scrub brush; if leafy or soft (lettuce, spinach, broccoli, strawberries), soak for minutes and separate leaves or parts. 
        • Make up a produce wash of one part of white vinegar to four parts water and keep it in a spray bottle by the sink to deep-six any microbes. 
        • Peel fruits and vegetables when you can and discard the outer leaves of leafy veggies. 
        • You need two cutting boards: one for meat, one for everything else


        Will Washing and Peeling Help?


        As reported by EWG, washing can help reduce the level of exposures to pathogens, pesticides or other toxins. But, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful materials[10].

        Although organic produce is a better choice, it still has its own problems:
        • Pathogens 
        • Pesticides 
          • About 1 in 4 organic produce bears some pesticide residue, usually as a result of "pesticide drift".
        Finally, some foods are poisonous if eaten raw and you should avoid them.[12-14]

        References

        1. Fact or Fiction: Raw veggies are healthier than cooked ones
          • The reason is that Vitamin C, which is highly unstable, is easily degraded through oxidation, exposure to heat (it can increase the rate at which vitamin C reacts with oxygen in the air) and through cooking in water (it dissolves in water).
        2. The HEATOX project
        3. When You Heat Natural Plant-Based Foods You Can Get Cancer-Causing Acrylamide
        4. Heat-generated food toxicants: identification, characterisation and risk minimisation
        5. E Coli and Bean Sprouts
        6. Foodborne Illness (MedlinePlus)
        7. Will Washing and Peeling Help? (EWG)
        8. "Juiceman's Power of Juicing" by Jay Kordich
        9. "Eating Well for Optimum Health" by Adnrew Weil, M.D.
        10. Eating Organic, Local, and Seasonal Foods (Travel and Health)
        11. Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked To Townsend Farms Frozen Berries From Costco
        12. 7 Everyday Foods That Just Happen To Be Poisonous
        13. Yes, Apple Seeds and Cherry Pits are Poisonous
        14. Blending Fruit Seeds In Your Green Smoothies – Beneficial or Dangerous?
        15. Raw Food for Dummies
        16. Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (Wikipedia)
          • Most HUS cases are preceded by an episode of infectious, sometimes bloody, diarrhea acquired as a foodborne illness or from a contaminated water supply and caused by E. coli O157:H7, although Shigella, Campylobacterand a variety of viruses have also been implicated.
        17. Four Important Cleaning Tasks In Your Morning Routine (Travel To Health)
        18. The Type of Food that Will Slow Nearly EVERY Inflammatory Disease...
          • Enzymes are relatively large and their protein structures are fragile
        19. Smoothie Recipes for Better Health (Travel To Health)
        20. Xu, Y; Cui, B; Ran, R; Liu, Y; Chen, H; Kai, G; Shi, J (Apr 5, 2014). "Risk assessment, formation, and mitigation of dietary acrylamide: Current status and future prospects.". Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 69C: 1–12.
          • The discovery of acrylamide in some cooked starchy foods in 2002 prompted concerns about the carcinogenicity of those foods. 
        21. 紅肉致癌成分與對策懶人包 (in Chinese)
        22. New Warning About Olive Oil (Dr. Mercola)
        23. Chipotle says norovirus — not E. coli — might have sickened 80 college students
        24. Preserving Nutrients When Cooking Foods
          • Virtually all minerals are unaffected by heat. Cooked or raw, food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, and sodium.
            • Exception: Potassium
          • With the exception of vitamin K and the B vitamin niacin, which are very stable in food, many vitamins are sensitive and are easily destroyed when exposed to heat, air, water, or fats (cooking oils). 

        Monday, September 21, 2015

        Seniors: Flu Prevention through Vaccination and Good Alternatives

        People 65 years and older have some of the highest rates of hospitalization and death as a result of influenza infection. If you are in that age group, you could choose:
        • No flu shots 
        • Regular flu shots 
        • Higher dose flu shot[1] 
        All medical interventions have a benefit-to-risk ratio. Each person has to weigh the supposed benefits against the potential risks[2]. No matter what your decision is, always do:
        • Avoid contact with others who are sick
          • Avoid hospitals
          • Stay away from people with runny noses
        • Practice good hygiene
          • Wash your hands
        • Build strong immunity[2,3,4]
          • Optimize your vitamin D levels
          • Avoid Sugar, Fructose and Processed Foods[5]
          • Get Enough Rest
          • Have Effective Tools to Address Stress
          • Exercise[6]
          • Take a Good Source of High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
          • Use Natural Antibiotics
          • Choose nutrition over medication[2,7,8]
            • People do not build health via the ingestion of medicinal substances.
              • Even natural, herbal products that have pharmacologic effects work because of their toxic properties not their nutritive content.
            • Don't abuse antibiotics and cold/flu medicines[8]
        If you do get flu, Dr. Fuhrman recommends you to[2]:
        • Stay home
        • Sip water all day, as opposed to guzzling a lot all at once 
        • Eat as little as possible
          • If you're hungry, stick to light food, mostly juicy fruits and salads. 
          • Anorexia of infection (loss of appetite) is one way the body has of activating a more powerful immune response.
        • Know when to call the doctor
          • Watch for a sudden worsening of the overall condition, especially if worsening symptoms start to involve labored breathing, persistent fever above 103 degrees for three days, abdominal pain, changes in behavior or mental status, and persistent diarrhea or vomiting.

        What Factors Could Affect Your Flu Shot Decision?


        Several factors can affect whether you should get certain vaccines — or wait before getting them. Be sure to tell your doctor if you:[9]
        • Are planning to travel abroad 
        • Have had your spleen removed 
        • Work in certain occupations where exposures could occur 
        • Are or might be pregnant 
        • Are breast-feeding 
        • Are moderately or severely ill or have a chronic illness 
        • Have any severe allergies, including a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine 
        • Have had a disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome 
        • Have a weakened immune system or are being treated with an immunosuppressant 
        • Have recently had another vaccine 
        • Have recently had a transfusion or received other blood products 
        • Have a personal or family history of seizures

        References

        1. National Council on Aging Urges Older Adults to Get Their Annual Flu Shot
        2. Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 
        3. Confirmed! Flu Vaccine INCREASES Risk of Serious Pandemic Flu Illness (Dr. Mercola) 
        4. Natural Immuninity Plays Important Roles in Your Health (Travel to Health
        5. The Sweet Relished and the Bitter Loathed (Travel and Health
        6. Exercise and Its Benefits (Travel and Health
        7. Western Diets and Western Diseases (Travel and Health
        8. Are You Fever Phobic? (Travel and Health) 
        9. Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
        10. The Pros and Cons of Flu Vaccination (Travel and Health