Category Archives: Health

Dropping Fat without Any Help?

thin-women

Research conducted at Loyola University Chicago suggests that people who have overweight friends tend to have difficulty dropping fat. Likewise, the study also found that those who have thin friends tend to maintain slimmer figures.

What it Means

In conducting their study, researchers looked at groups of high school students throughout suburban Chicago neighborhoods. Ultimately, they found that thinner students tended to have thinner friends and vice versa.

The researchers were quick to suggest their findings indicate that social pressure aids in dropping fat; however, according to our in-house health and fitness expert, the study is likely a result of something else.

“The study isn’t really all that interesting, when you consider the common sense reality of adolescence,” said health and fitness expert, Paul A. Achoa. “In my opinion, the researchers falsely attribute their results to social pressure. For instance, the lead researcher suggests that the study proves that friends can help friends lose weight. While this may be somewhat true, the reality is that high school students are prone to associating with like individuals. In other words, thin, popular students have no desire to associate with overweight students.”

Do You Need a Friend?

While Achoa doesn’t discount the value of working out with a friend, he believes weight loss is usually an individual goal.

“It’s a fine idea to think that you and a close friend will lose weight together,” he said. “In a perfect world, you would help push each other, with one motivating the other in times of weakness. Unfortunately, what is more likely to happen is that one will either quit or cheat, and the other will follow suit.”

Achoa says dropping fat is about making individual long-term lifestyle changes that promote a trimmer figure.

“If you want to look and feel better, you have to make your own choices,” he said. “In the end, you are going to be alone the majority of the day and night, and this is when temptation is going to hit. The vast majority of weight loss happens when no one is looking; so relying on a friend to help see you through isn’t really all that practical.”

Sleep Apnea Worsens during Winter Months

sleep-apnea-winter

Countless Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes sufferers to stop breathing numerous times throughout the night. Most people suffering from the condition must cope with frequent waking, daytime fatigue and snoring. Now, a recent study out of Brazil suggests these symptoms may worsen when the mercury drops.

More Severe During the Winter

According to research conducted at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, weather changes can have a very real impact on the way patients experience sleep apnea. Over the course of a decade, researchers tested 7,500 patients for at least one night to see how many times each stopped breathing. Ultimately, they found that subjects who were tested during the coldest months of the year experienced more nighttime disturbances (18) than those who were tested during the warmer months (15).

Additionally, the study found that, while only 28 percent of subjects were found to have severe sleep apnea during the warm season, 34 percent suffered from severe sleep apnea during the colder parts of the year.

Although researchers weren’t able to determine why cold weather might make the sleep disorder worse, they theorized that wood burning might irritate the condition, as might heating units which can dry the air and dehydrate the sinuses.

Seeking Treatment

Regardless of the season, sleep apnea remains a serious condition that can drastically reduce the quality of a sufferer’s life. The condition has also been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity and dementia. Normally, people find 100 percent relief when they receive CPAP treatments; however, many people suffer unknowingly with the sleep disorder for years before they get help.

In the end, only a sleep physician can diagnose a patient with sleep apnea. Typically, patients are expected to sleep overnight at a sleep clinic; however, these days, more and more physicians are using at-home sleep testing equipment that allows patients to be tested while in the comfort of their own beds.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Death?

sleep-apnea-death

Millions of Americans suffer from what’s called maintenance insomnia, which leads them to wake frequently throughout the night. While this problem can be caused by a variety of factors, it’s sometimes stems from an underlying sleep disorder, such as OSA. While many consider this condition to be nothing but a troubling nuisance, more and more studies are suggesting that sleep apnea can cause death both directly and indirectly.

Sudden Death

OSA gained a lot of attention back in 2004, when Hall of Fame NFL football player, Reggie White died suddenly in his sleep at age 43. Although medical examiners ultimately attributed his death to cardiac and pulmonary sarcoidosis, they speculated that sleep apnea might have been partly to blame. Although rare, experts agree that it is possible for a sleep apneic to die in his or her sleep due to a lack of oxygen.

Long-term Health Risks

More and more studies suggest that OSA could ultimately kill sufferers by gradually damaging their health. This dangerous sleep disorder has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and dementia, all of which can affect mortality. Furthermore, a recent study suggests that sleep apneics are at a five times greater risk of developing cancer than those who do not suffer from the disorder.

How Many People Have OSA?

While it’s clear that sleep apnea can cause death, it’s not necessarily clear how many people suffer from the sleep disorder. According to one prominent researcher, as much as 85 percent of so-called “clinically significant” sleep apneics have yet to be diagnosed. This is leading some to call OSA a silent killer, especially since many people don’t even know they have the problem in the first place.

What Can People Do?

If you are experiencing common symptoms associated with OSA, including snoring, daytime fatigue and frequent waking, a sleep physician can help. Generally, you will be asked to do an overnight sleep study; however, some physicians are now using at-home sleep studies that prove just as reliable. If you are positively diagnosed, you have a pair of options: most patients receive CPAP treatments, which provide a constant source of oxygen throughout the night; on the other hand, some patients find relief when they use an oral appliance, which is used to clear the airway by adjusting the jaw.

Beating Insomnia with Alternative Strategies

beating-insomnia

Millions of Americans have difficulty going to sleep and/or staying asleep. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as a stressful life event, a sleeping disorder or what’s known as poor sleep hygiene. Most of the time, lifestyle changes can help resolve sleeping troubles; however, in some cases, problems can become chronic. Beating insomnia can be difficult, but there are some alternative methods that could prove helpful.

Blue Light Filters

Our bodies have evolved to be sensitive to the blue component of natural sunlight. When we are exposed to this light, we produce less melatonin; when we are kept from it, we produce more. Unfortunately, modern televisions, computers and florescent light bulbs emit blue light which can interfere with our bodies’ production of melatonin. You can filter out this light by attaching filters to your laptops, televisions iPads and iPhones. If this sounds like too much trouble, you can also buy a pair of blue light filtering glasses to wear in the evening. For many people, this one simple strategy can be the key to beating insomnia permanently.

Acupuncture

While some studies have found that Acupuncture can effectively relieve some ailments, other studies have found that it offers very little relief for others. Fortunately, research suggests it is beneficial to people who suffer from chronic insomnia. When comparing actual acupuncture treatments to so-called “sham” acupuncture in which subjects receive the placebo effect of fake acupuncture treatment, researchers have found that real treatments tend to offer very real help.

Sleep Hygiene

Although some people have great difficulty beating insomnia, most sleep better when they make subtle lifestyle changes. If you are having trouble sleeping, read over these tips to beat insomnia. They provide good advice on how you can get more shut eye by improving your sleep hygiene.

How to Lose Weight Correctly

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Most Americans don’t know how to lose weight correctly, because they’ve heard so much misinformation. Generally, this bad advice comes from friends, family and companies that seek to market their fad products and diet pills to unwitting consumers. Before you begin a dieting regimen, learn what our health and fitness expert has to say.

The Wrong Way

Reducing your body mass isn’t rocket science. Invariably, if we eat fewer calories than our bodies burn, we will begin to weigh less. That said, if we try to trim our waistlines using the wrong techniques, the results can be disappointing.

“Improper diet strategies usually lead to unattractive bodies,” said health and fitness expert Jake Weathers. “To get a lean, shapely body, it’s important to know how to lose weight correctly.”

According to Weathers, crash diets tend to result in muscle wasting, which promotes a sagging, unhealthy appearance.

“Good muscle tone is the foundation for a sexy body,” he said. “Unfortunately, it can be difficult to maintain muscle when you are cutting calories and trying to get rid of unwanted fat. Dieters need to make sure they are eating enough protein; this will help build muscle and preserve existing tissue.”

Getting Enough Calories

Obviously, if you want to shed weight, you need to either consume less food or burn more calories. Unfortunately, because many people dislike working out, they try to speed things along by drastically reducing their food intake.

“Our bodies need calories to function,” Weathers said. “Without energy, our brains will not perform well; we can’t make the hormones we need; and our bodies may actually begin to make more fat. Many people are surprised to learn that eating is an important part of a diet. If you want to lose weight correctly, you need to eat small frequent meals to speed up your metabolism. You should focus on high-fiber vegetables, protein-rich lean meats and foods that contain essential omega fatty acids.”

Diet Don’ts that Prevent Weight Loss

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Weight loss can be a frustrating challenge for many Americans, who are frequently subjected to false information and ineffective fad products. If you’ve been struggling to shed unwanted fat, learn the following diet don’ts.

Eating Too Late at Night

After a long day, we tend to sit around the house doing very little. This is especially true in the evening, when most people either read or watch television. Since these sedentary activities burn very few calories, most of what you’ve recently eaten will be turned to fat. Usually, it’s best to avoid eating within three to four hours of sleeping.

Sugary Foods

By far, the biggest diet don’ts centers on the consumption of sugar. Studies have shown that sugar tends to produce insulin spikes, which prompt the body to make and store fat. It’s also devoid of vitamins and amino acids, making it an empty source of fuel.

Carbohydrates for Dinner

Carbohydrates are ideal for fueling the mind and body during trying portions of the day; however, they also promote weight gain, especially when eaten later in the evening. If you want to lose weight, eat protein-rich dinners with low-calorie, fibrous vegetables.

Avoiding Weight Workouts

Many women avoid weight lifting, because they fear it will cause them to add masculine bulk. In reality, muscle development aids weight loss by increasing the body’s need for calories. Resistance training can turn your muscles into calorie-burning ovens that will burn fat even while you sleep.

Eating Bread

Bread is one of the biggest diet don’ts, because it has a high glycemic index. This means it takes very little time for your stomach to digest the food, causing insulin spikes that promote fat accumulation. Many people believe that whole grain bread has the opposite effect because it has more fiber; however, this isn’t necessarily correct. While it’s true that high-fiber foods tend to have low glycemic indexes; because whole grain bread is milled, it takes less time to break down inside the stomach. For best results, dieters should avoid bread in all its forms.