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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

11 Widespread Food Statements Demystified

Written: 11/28/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Often used as commercial lines, the following statements are posed in such a way that different interpretations can be attached to them. Some are even false. To get noticed, many advertisers chance upon these powerful one liners to grab the attention of gullible customers. Well it is about time we shook things up a little for them…

  1. The Banana: A powerhouse of 9 vitamins.

    True but False:
    You may find this answer ambiguous but this is actually the case. In most health articles you will find people quoting such a vegetable or such a fruit as a powerhouse of vitamins. A banana has been claimed as such. A fruit in itself is not a powerhouse. You will find 9 vitamins in a banana but most are in trace amounts that they will not do such major benefits on your health. However bananas are rich in potassium, a nutrient which combats high blood pressure.

  2. Puree is the best way to digest potatoes.

    False: To gulp down potatoes in puree without mastication and impregnating it with saliva, it will not be digested correctly. So do not give too much puree to your child or old persons.

  3. Carrots ease the transit in case of diarrhea.

    True: This is due to a molecule known as pectin which absorbs water and gives less watery faeces but this vegetable does not have anti-infectious properties. Beware also of intolerance to carrots.

  4. Mushrooms are the "meats" of vegans.

    False: Mushrooms do not contain all essential amino acids (building blocks of proteins) found in meats. Also you must consume about 1 kg of mushrooms to get the equivalent amount of proteins in a beef steak. At most, you can consider them as protein complements.

  5. Consuming the cooking water of vegetables are beneficial for health.

    Actually there are two schools of thoughts on this particular nutrition fact which are totally divergent.

    True: The classic opinion is that you must collect the cooking water of vegetables because it is a concentrated solution of minerals and vitamins which have drained from the vegetables and it would be a total waste to throw it away.

    False: On the other hand, as well as vitamins and minerals, you will also be collecting the pesticides, insecticides and nitrates compounds found on the vegetables.

    For this, I'll say that if you are sure that the vegetables have not been sprayed by hazardous chemicals, then make a health drink from the cooking water of the vegetables.

  6. The automatic cooker is safe for the cooking of vegetables.

    False: If you do not know how to use an automatic cooker.

    True: If you respect the modes of use: cooking in a minimum amount of water, in a minimum amount of time and in an airtight condition. In a cooker, the vitamins are more vulnerable to the time of cooking than the actual temperature. So it is better to cook your vegetables at 120°C for 10 minutes than at 100°C for 30 minutes.

  7. Two bananas are the equivalent of a beefsteak.

    False: You need atleast 12 to 14 bananas to equate the proteic value of 100g of a beefsteak but it is more nutritious to eat 12 bananas than a beefsteak.

  8. Citrus juices acidify urine.

    False: The acidic salts in fruits undergo a transformation in the human body which turn them into carbonates alkalines, i.e. the acidic nature of the citrus fruits are cancelled by the human body. Most vegetables and fruits in general, rich in calcium, potassium and other metals, are alkaline. They are very important in a dish to balance the acidic nature of meats, eggs and fish.

  9. Dried plums are excellent against constipation.

    True: An excellent grandmother remedy, it is recommended for lazy intestines to eat, every morning 3 to 4 dried plums soaked 24 hours in water and to drink the water.

  10. Pulses can replace meats.

    True: But you must also complement your meals with other sources of proteins. Although more loaded with proteins than meats (20 to 24%), they lack some essential amino acids. The biggest inconvenience of eating pulses is the intestinal fermentations they provoke.

  11. Potatoes left to ripen in air are good for health.

    False: There has been some cases of intoxications with potatoes left to ripen in the air but if you take the necessary precautions to remove all the germs and the greenish patches on the potatoes, then there are no major health risks. The substance responsible for this is Solanine, a compound which develops under the skins of tubers on exposition to air, sun and humidity.

12 Ways to Avoid Cancer In Your Life

Written: 11/27/2007 | Join the discussion (1)

Today I had an internship at the cancerology department of my faculty. Of all the patients I ever encountered during my internships, I were the most affected by patients suffering from cancer and who had almost no hope of returning back to a normal life. This led me to ponder on the question of how our nutrition and lifestyle has changed drastically over the centuries and how cancer can be avoided. Today you have more fatty, sugary foods, animal meats doped with hormones and steroids and cultivations sprayed with insecticides and pesticides. All these contribute to the formation of cancers. So how to decrease the risks of cancer?

  1. Limit the consumption of fine sugars

    By this, I mean sugars which are powdery or in small cubes which are use to make cakes and other delicacies. So no sugar in your coffee or tea as from now. Replace white bread with wholewheat breads. Stop drinking sodas. These food products have a high glycemic index: they contain a lot of sugar which are digested and absorbed very quickly by the human body. Cancerous cells need a lot of glucose to develop rapidly. A diet with lots of sugars can favorize the development of tumors in your body. Moreover, your pancreas, the organ which produces insulin in your body, must increase its turnover of insulin to break down surplus sugar. This increase of insulin, according to the chief of cancerology department, stimulates the growth and diffusion of cancerous cells. It is imperative then to limit the consumption of fine sugars.

  2. Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

    You can find them in some margarines and prepared dishes. They have inflammatory properties and prepare the ground for the formation of cancerous tissues. These are also trans fat products. Trans fats lowers the amount of HDL or good cholesterol.

  3. Opt for fresh farmers foods

    Fresh farmers foods have the advantage of having been cultivated the traditional way. The fruits and vegetables are not contaminated by pesticides and insecticides and the meats are not loaded with steroids and hormones. But beware though. Some farmers do resort to orthodox and unhealthy methods to boost their productions.

  4. Green Tea

    Green tea is rich in polyphenols and seems to block the formation of tumors by preventing blood vessels of forming everywhere. Green tea also seem to prevent the formation of leukemia, cancers of the prostate, breasts, kidneys, skins and mouth.

  5. Soja

    Soja contains isoflavines which have the property of reducing overstimulation of the body by oestrogens. It is used in some treatments of cancer like breasts cancer.

  6. Curcuma

    Curcuma have anti-inflammatory properties and thus may prevent proliferation of some tumors, namely in the colon, liver or stomach and breasts.

  7. Maintain a correct weight

    Maintain your BMI (Body Mass Index) in the healthy normal range of 18.5 to 24,9. Overweight and obesity increase the risks of developing cancer, even more if you have a lot of fatty tissues around your waists. An increase in weight raises the probability of having cancer in your colon and rectum, oesophagus, pancreas, kidneys and breasts even after menopause.

  8. Do some regular physical activities

    The famous 30 minutes daily walk must no longer remains as idle talks. You must make sure you have a daily time slice to do some jogging, walking or other physical activities. Doing some kind of sports may have some benefits against certain types of cancer such as lung and pancreatic cancers.

  9. Limit the consumption of red meat to 500 g per week

    Red meat has been known to be one of the causes of the cancer of the colon and rectum. But do not eliminate it completely from your diet because it is also a very good source of essential minerals and nutrients like proteins, zinc and iron.

  10. Daily Maximum Alcohol Intake: only 1 glass for women and two glasses for men

    And no alcohol for pregnant women! Alcohol favorizes the apparition of cancer in certain parts of the body: colon, rectum, oesophagus, liver and even breasts.

  11. Limit consumption of salt to 5 g per day

    It seems that salt is one of the major causes of stomach cancer.

  12. Mothers should breastfeed their babies

    Ideally every baby should be fed by breastfeeding only till the age of six months. Breastfeeding decreases the risks of breast cancers for the women and participates in the development of a solid immunitary system of the growing child. This also prevents overweight later.

Note that nutrition is one of the contributing factors among other factors such as heredity, stress, work environment, exposure to sun and chemicals, smoking but if you manage to atleast control one factor, you are decreasing the risks of developing cancer.

Here is another interesting read 31 Simple Ways to Prevent Cancer.

Use by... Or Best Before... Learn How to Minimize Health Risks of Spoilt Foods!

Written: 11/26/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Sometimes I get lost between the "Use by...." and sometimes "Best Before..." for the expiry dates on food products. Often when you look at a food item, you ask yourself why only the year is shown as the date of expiration. What are the health risks if you go beyond the dates of expiration of certain food products?


The apposition of expiry dates on food products is just a safety step to ensure that consumers do not eat the food products beyond the dates shown as expiry dates. The quality of some foods depends on the presence of microorganisms in the foods which help us fight diseases, dietary benefits or sensory assets like taste. These qualities may be lost if you consume the food beyond the expiry date.

When a product looks, smells and tastes alright, this does not mean it is safe to eat. Always refer to the expiry date as a guideline for food consumption safety.

Also, keep in mind that certain products may expire before their expiry dates which is the case of meats. The color will turn to a grayish green which is not usually a good sign. Do not eat them!

On most food products there are usually two types of date: Date of Consumption and Date of Optimal Use. Note that these dates may have variants according to countries and the food manufacturers.

  1. Date of Consumption

    You can easily recognize these dates with the mention "Use by..." or simply the Expiration date and nothing else mentioned. This date must be respected at all costs, even more if the products have been left out for more than 2 hours. The consumption of such products after their expiry dates present great risks to your health. This type of expiry date applies to all food products which are sold in the fridge compartment of your supermarket or fresh products. Examples are:

    • Fresh Products: meat, fish, sea foods, chicken,...
    • Milk: Pasteurized or raw
    • Certain types of dairy products: yoghurt, certain types of cheese,...
    • Cooked dishes
    • Certain types of frozen foods (Depending on the type of treatment and the nature of the food).

    Normally you will not find such products which are already expired when you go to buy them because they are remove at once if their expiry dates have been reached.

  2. Date of Optimal Use

    You can differentiate this from the Date of Consumption by the mention of "Best Before..." or "BB" followed by the date.

    Date of Optimal Use does not have the "warning" characteristic of the Date of Consumption. You can consume the food products without posing major risks to your health. Only attributes like flavor and taste or dietary attributes can be lost. These are generally:

    • Sterilized products: Canned food
    • Lyophilized products: Coffee, Tea, Spices, Herbs...
    • Dehydrated products: Soups, Puree and milk powder
    • Certain types of frozen foods
    • Products with salad dressings
    • Smoked foods: Smoked meat, smoked fish...

Health Risks Associated with Spoilt Foods

You've eaten a yoghurt and you found out afterwards that it was expired. What are the health risks associated with eating that yoghurt?

At first, you will experience some discomforts due to microorganisms (microorganisms which cause illness) which are not very pathogenic. When a product expires, these microorganisms which are naked to the eye, multiply at an alarming rate and become concentrated in the expired food. Bacteria in question are all around us but only in high concentrations are they harmful. They can cause stomach pains, diarrhea, vomit, etc... But nothing that is alarming. The risks are more elevated to children, pregnant women and old persons.

Also some expired foods may contain bacteria and toxins which are harmful, even to a person in good health. The most common ones are salmonella infections. These are due to a bacteria called Salmonella. It manifests itself after a period of incubation of 8 to 48 hours. The incubation period is the time from the moment of exposure to an infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear. The symptoms associated with these infections are diarrhea, headaches, stomach pains, nausea, vomit, fever. You may catch these from the following expired foods: Meat, Chicken, Eggs and egg products, Dairy products, fish and sea foods.

How to reduce health risks from spoilt foods

  • Always verify the expiration dates on the food labels before buying foods. Many people think that frozen foods can be kept in the fridge for a long time without getting spoilt. This is not the case. Certain types of frozen foods do get spoilt after their expiry dates, even when kept in a fridge. Differentiate between the two types of expiry dates Date of Consumption and Date of Optimal Use for every type of foods. Shop Smart!

  • Do not keep frozen foods outside of a fridge for more than 1 hour. Always buy your frozen foods last when shopping and first thing, put them in your fridge when you get back home.

  • Do not defrost frozen foods at room temperature. Always defrost them in your fridge or in a microwave.

  • Throw expired foods away.

  • Buy foods with Date of Consumption in small quantities and eat them first, else you may forget about them.

  • Store your foods in order. The more ancient ones in front and the new ones after them.

  • Remove any packings before storing your foods.

  • Clean your fridge regularly and use it effectively.

How to Keep Your Hands Clean Besides Cleaning Them

Written: 11/22/2007 | Join the discussion (1)

Washing your hands is the most basic form of hygiene, necessary to prevent transmission of diseases. But do you know that you can get more germs after you have dried your hands in hot air?

Learn the art of properly cleaning your hands.

  • Prevention is better than cure.
    To prevent the little diseases and infections that trouble us in our everyday life, prevention is very important, namely for hygiene issues. Be it viral infections or bacteria, they are transmitted from person to person via your hands. You open the tap with your hands, you shake hands, you grab objects with your hands, you rub your face and eyes with your hands. Try this little experiment one day. Note down the objects your hands come into contact with and you'll be astonished to note that in only one day, you may have touched more than 100 objects. A little experiment carried out by my friends and I estimated the number of objects touched on average in 1 hour is about 30. Most of the time, you are unaware that you are touching these objects. It is routine for you. So next time, before touching something, make sure the object is clean first. If it is not, wash your hands properly immediately after touching it.

  • Wash your hands properly
    But how? You think that just by using some soap and running your hands under water, it is enough? Not necessarily. Most people wash their hands without using soap in the first instance. And also the "Intitut national de Prévention et d'Education pour la Santé (INPES)" in France or the "National Institute of Prevention and Education of Health" recommends a minimum of 30 seconds when you wash your hands, after having rubbed properly between the fingers and under your nails with soap and hot water.

  • Dry your hands properly.
    Believe or not, you actually get more germs when drying your hands with hot air after you have washed them properly. It is better to wipe your hands clean with a towel, provided the towel is clean and dry. Else, if the towel is wet or unclean, you'll just catch the germs you have just washed away.

  • Develop the washing reflex.
    Before starting to cook food, before playing with your baby, when returning from work, before washing your face, one reflex only: Wash your hands. For example a disease known as bronchiolitis can be avoided simply by washing your hands every time before you hold your baby.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using public facilities.
    Washing your hands after having used public transportation or public toilets can seem obvious but not everybody does this. INPES (National Institute of Prevention and Education of Health) estimates that only 53% of women and 39% of men wash their hands after having used public transportation. When you know that 71.6% of people who are ill travel about on public transportation, imagine the risk of getting infected yourself if you do not adhere to a hygienic lifestyle.

  • Develop a cleaning routine.
    Microbes are everywhere, on your phone, keyboard, mouse and even in your pockets. A mobile phone has at least 20 900 microbres per cm2. These are objects which are not cleaned on a frequent basis. Microbes are invisible to the human eye and you must not wait for the objects to be stained to clean them. You must clean every object you come into contact with daily at least twice per week. Here is a little statistics which I hope won't scare you. Your workstation has about 3 249 bacteria per cm2 compared to toilet seats which contain only 8 bacteria per cm2.

  • Always keep some hand wipes on you.
    Most people laugh at Mr. Monk's habit of cleaning his hands after shaking hands but he is actually right. Most people do not clean their hands because they have got nothing to clean their hands with. To be prepared for any situations, always keep some hand wipes handy. Wipe your hands discreetly after having touched any objects used by many people.
Although the advices above may actually look like going over the borderline, it's better to be safe than sorry in the case of your health.

Reference: The statistics come from INPES.

18 Simple Tips to Avoid Back Pains

Written: 11/21/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Whether we are seated or standing up, the back has almost no rest. The postures we adopt to sit or while doing our daily activities are not very often adapted for our back. This constant 'torture' of our back results in severe back pains sometimes. A back pain can appear gradually or with no particular warning when we are doing our daily activities. National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey carried in 2001 revealed that around 13,500,000 people visited a physician’s office for back pain in the US in 2001.

The spine is a complex structure. There is not just one type of back pain. They are caused by either worn out bones, muscles sprains or nerves.

Tips to prevent back pains:

  1. You spend around 25 years of our life in bed. So it is better you have a good posture during sleep. The best position is the fetal position. To reduce pressure on the back bones it is also adviced to place a pillow between the knees.

  2. The mattress is as important as the sleeping posture. Avoid too soft or too hard mattresses because they will not preserve the contours of the body well. If your mattress has depressions in it, it is high time you change it.

  3. Control your weight. Being overweight or obese exerts more pressure on your back because of the excess weight of your belly in front.

  4. Adopt a good posture when watching TV or sitting at your workstation.

  5. Instead of bending to pick up things, bend your hips and knees or use your legs muscles. This will give some rest to your back muscles.

  6. Avoid lifting heavy objects alone. Find friends to help you or use apparatus designed for the lifting of heavy objects. If you are alone, place the object as close as possible to your body. The weight will be less harmful to your back.

  7. Push heavy objects rather than pulling them.

  8. Exercise to make your back muscles less stiff. Avoid exercises like sit ups which place a strain on your back. Instead do crunches to tone your ab muscles.

  9. Before exercising or doing any kind of physical jobs, warm up for about 15 minutes. If your muscles have not been stretched and relaxed properly, strains or muscle tears are possible.

  10. Use shoes with flat or low heels when moving about. High heeled shoes can be reserved for special occasions.

  11. Carrying heavy bags in the hands exerts much pressure on the back. Choose back bags. They are healthier for your back.

  12. Stretch from time to time when working for long hours seated at your desks or when you go for long drives.

  13. Always buy your chair and tables carefully. There are many so called ergonomic devices which in many cases are not suited for everyone. For example choose adjustable chairs and tables. This will allow you to adopt your posture for a particular activity more easily.

  14. Drink milk and eat dairy products to build strong bones. Remember that calcium is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin D. So take products which are enhanced with vitamins D.

  15. Know your limits. If you know you will not be able perform a work or a physical activity which is related to the back, then refuse.

  16. When standing or walking always keep a good posture. Keep your ears, shoulders and hips in a straight line, with your head up and your stomach pulled in.

  17. Visit your doctor at least once a year for a full check up.

  18. Sleep and rest well. If you are tired, then the whole organism is in the same state. This will exert pressure on your spine.

8 Errors You Must Stop Making

Written: 11/19/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

I admit I'm guilty of some of them. Though it's not an easy thing, it is very important to correct the following errors if you want to lead a healthy life.

  1. Skip a meal
    Skipping a meal can have more inconveniences than advantages when we trying to lose some weight. Some hours after skipping a meal, you run the risk of "breaking down" because of hunger pangs or an irresistible craving for food. When you "break down", you eat generally far more food than you would have eaten if you had taken your normal meals at their regular time.

    Correction: Eat 3 regular-sized balanced meals at correct intervals with a breakfast to start the day.

  2. Snacking in between meals
    Most of us have a tendency to forget the little calories we nibble in between meals. Your body does not forget about it though; it stores every surplus calorie. Foods which lead to obesity are foods you have eaten outside of your regular meals.

    Correction: Avoid snacking in between meals or if you are snacking, eat healthy snacks.

  3. Consuming too much "sugary" drinks or alcoholic drinks
    Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks and opt for water.

    Correction: Learn to develop the water habit. Water is a drink which has 0 calorie. As a guideline, 1 g of alcohol contains 7 kcal, 1 glass of wine contains 70 kcal and 1 liter of wine contains 600 to 700 kcal.

  4. Cutting short on all food you love to eat
    If you cut short on all foods you love to eat, then you are taxing your body. Sooner or later, you will give in to the cravings and you will then tend to eat more than you used to eat.

    Correction: The technique here is to gradually stop yourself from eating this or that food. It takes time but it is a sure technique to prevent yourself from relapsing again.

  5. Eating in less than 15 minutes
    Our stomach has an internal clock (or we can say speedometer) which is not in synch with the traditional clock. If you eat a meal under 15 minutes, you will find yourself asking for more. But if you take your time and eat the same meal in let's say, 30 minutes, you will find yourself satiated.

    Correction: The average time for eating a normal-sized meal is around 20 minutes. Learn how to keep within this time limit by enjoying every mouthful and keeping down your knife and fork everytime you take a mouthful. Cultivate these two habits and you will find yourself enjoying your meal more.

  6. Eating while watching tv or reading
    In these cases, you are not concentrating on the quantity and quality of the foods you are eating. This allows the absorption of great quantities of foods and generally, high-density calories such as chips, chocolate or soda.

    Correction: Eat while sitting without doing anything else.

  7. Not making a shopping list
    You run the risks of buying more foods than you need if you do not prepare any list beforehand. Temptation is very strong moreover if you are shopping in a supermarket.

    Correction: Do your shopping with a shopping list and after having eaten.

  8. Not having a menu of the meals you are going to eat
    If you do not have in mind what you are going to cook, then when it's time to eat, you will tend to rush to the foods which are easily prepared without giving any thoughts to the calorie intake, etc...

    Correction: Always prepare a menu for the day when you wake up. Take a good 15 minutes to go over what you will eat. Even if it happens that you did not have the time to prepare a menu, then go over these 101 meals that can be prepared under 10 minutes.

How to Avoid Allergic Reactions To Food

Written: 11/15/2007 | Join the discussion (1)

Have you ever started sneezing when eating peanuts, getting rash on your skin or feeling your heart starting to beat faster? Statistics show that around 12 million Americans suffer from food allergy, with 6.9 million allergic to seafood and 3.3 million allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.

Food allergies occur immediately after consumption of an allergen food unlike food intolerance where it takes hours for the first symptoms to appear. The food is treated as harmful to the body, by the immune system, which defends our organism from harmful external attacks. Chemicals called histamines are released in the blood and trigger allergic symptoms which include:
  • itching

  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body

  • wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing

  • hoarse voice

  • coughing

  • stomach pain

  • diarrhea

  • nausea or vomiting

  • dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

The most severe form of food allergy is called anaphylaxis. It is a life threatening condition which is often fatal to certain people. Symptoms may include:
  • itchy skin rash (hives),

  • swelling of the lips and tongue,

  • tightening of the throat,

  • difficulty breathing and

  • feeling faint.
Statistics show that more than 150 people die annually from allergy to certain types of food.

The foods that are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies are:
  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts, such as walnuts and pecans

  • Milk

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

  • Wheat

  • Soy

The best way to prevent food allergies and eat healthily is to avoid eating allergen foods and try replacing them when possible with a corresponding food with the same nutritive values. Here is a few more guidelines about things you should know and how to put them into practice.

  1. Check the food labels cautiously
    When buying food, read attentively the labels on the food products. All manufacturers according to the new Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Act must clearly list all the ingredients of the product including the 8 food allergens even if they are present in trace amounts. If the sticker is not very explicit avoid buying these products, even if they might be cheaper.

  2. Enjoy new products manufactured just for you
    Specialized industries are producing new foods such as cakes, desserts and biscuits which were not eatable by allergic persons initially. They taste nearly the same but substitutes are used for the allergen foods such as nuts and eggs. There are also organisations on the internet like food allergy that design new recipes for children and adults that suffer from food allergies.

  3. Always be on your guard
    The person suffering from food allergy must always carry a first aid kit containing adrenaline and antihistamine injections in case of accidental intake of the allergens.

  4. Sensitize the person concerned and his environment
    The child should be sensitized about his health problem and the dangers of consuming even if its a small bite of a restricted food. The earlier the sensitization starts, the better it will be because kids are more cooperative at a younger age. Siblings and friends should also be informed about the health problems so that they can be more cooperative.

  5. Safe food preparation
    Parents should be very cautious when preparing food. The table and utensils used need to be clean. It is recommended to cook the food of the allergic person in the first place. And while laying the table, they must wash their hands clean to prevent any accidental contact of allergens with the allergic persons.

  6. Visit your doctor regularly and be patient
    Food allergic persons should be patient. In certain people, the allergy disappears gradually. Visit your doctor regularly to find about the progress of your allergies instead of having strict diets everyday. One day you may be able eat like everyone without any fear of having an allergic attack.

  7. Keep a diary
    Keep a diary to note the foods that aggravate your food allergies and new experiences as well as changes that you notice. The help of a dietician is recommended in the beginning. Your GP can direct you to them more easily.

  8. Never succumb to temptation
    Being tempted to have a piece of cake can be very dangerous. Your health and life is much more worth than it. Always think about the efforts people around you are putting to create an allergic-free environment for you.

  9. Use the arrangements made for you
    In school, there are special programs to accommodate special diets to children suffering from life threatening food allergies.

  10. Eat food you are sure is safe
    Allergic persons should avoid consuming cakes that are not homemade and should always carry some snack on them. Buying food in restaurants are risky.

Different laws are being renewed and voted to protect people suffering from allergies. From restaurant foods to dishes served in airplanes, the allergic person has the right to enquire and ensure that the food is safe for him.

Here is a site which can be helpful to you if you have kids and babies.

There have been different studies that have been carried on allergens which I'm sure can be of some help to you.

- Harry

22 Simple Tips to Get Out of Sleep Debt

Written: 11/15/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Do you still feel tired when you wake up in the morning? Do you still want to continue sleeping after your alarm sounds? Do you have concentration problems or black outs? Then maybe you lack sleep. When someone does not sleep enough, the body tends to be in sleep debt. Certain people try to catch up with their lost sleeping hours by lazing in bed for longer hours on the weekend. This is very bad because it tends to affect the circadian rhythm.

It is advised to sleep for 6-7 hours daily to maintain a good health. It is during sleep that there is assimilation of information which is converted into memory. The brain also gets some 'rest' as well as other organs like the eyes. People who do not sleep enough have a tendency to overeat, which in the long run can lead to obesity and other health related diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes among many others.

The following tips will help towards a better sleep

  1. Develop a regular sleeping habit. For example have a glass of warm milk, read a non-stimulating book and finally brush your teeth before going to bed.

  2. Avoid drinks containing caffeine like coffee, tea, chocolate as well as beverages rich in vitamin C a few hours before going to bed. They stimulate the brain keeping you active.

  3. Nicotine is a stimulant. So smoking should be avoided particularly near bedtime and upon night awakenings. They may interfere with sleep.

  4. Choose a good mattress which is neither to hard nor to soft. The mattress should be able to preserve the curvature of your backbone.

  5. Back pains often prevent people from sleeping well. The best position to preserve the natural curvature of your spine is the fetal position with a pillow between your knees. If you have the bad habit of sleeping on the belly which is not very friendly to the backbones, here is a trick to try. Tie or stick a ball on your belly. This will automatically get rid of your bad habit in one week or two.

  6. Avoid intake of alcoholic drinks before sleeping or to find sleep. It is true that when you are drunk or under alcoholic influence, you feel very sleepy. This is because alcohol has a sedative effect. Once the effect is over, you will no more feel sleepy. This will disrupt the sleep cycle of the body.

  7. Our circadian rhythm is under the influence of the hormone melatonin which is dependent to light intensity. In winter, the darkness prevails most of the time. In the low light density, the hormone is secreted in greater quantity leading to an imbalance in the sleep cycle. The best way to treat this problem is to make use of luminotherapy to balance the hormonal cycle.

  8. Make good use of your bed. Your bed should be kept only for sleeping and sex. Laptops have no place in bed.

  9. If you have a TV set in your bedroom, I advise you to remove it. Many people get addicted to late night shows or watch programs that stimulate their brain before going to sleep. This is one of the major reasons why many people are still awake by 2 am when they have to get up for work at 6 am.

  10. When lying your head on the pillow, think about pleasant things like the sea or your recent splendid holidays. Thinking about personal and professional problems do not serve much in calming the brain's activities.

  11. Avoid overtime or long hours of work especially at night. Hectic work schedules can make anyone feel more stressed than usual, leading to nocturnal tossing and turning without any sleep.

  12. If you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, don’t worry about it. Just close your eyes and get back to sleep.

  13. Stressing about not being able to sleep leads to more sleeping dysfunctions. Just relax and try relaxing techniques like yoga or meditation before bed.

  14. A warm shower before bedtime can be a very good way to relax and prepare the body for a good night's sleep.

  15. A dimly lit room is a better environment to find sleep. Draw your curtains and lower the light intensity in your bedroom before gliding in your bed.

  16. Looking repeatedly at the watch or clock does no good. If you find that you are not finding sleep, do something boring in dim light to avoid stressing the mind.

  17. Never go to bed hungry. Try some light food like some yogurt, a glass of warm milk with cereals, a toast with peanut butter. But do not sit for a meal. A light snack will do the trick.

  18. Keep your bed clean and friendly. Change your bed sheets and blanket each month. A clean and hygienic bed sheets and blankets will make you more willing to sleep.

  19. For those who suffer from allergies, place your blankets and mattress in the sun or aspirate them as often as possible.

  20. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and has a comfortable temperature (between 15°C and 23°C). A cooler temperature is better than a warmer one.

  21. If you are not very active, avoid evening or afternoon naps. They tend to deprive you of a good night's sleep.

  22. Avoid taking sleeping pills unless you really need them and they have been prescribed by your doctor.

Sleep has a fundamental role in our daily life. Lack of sleep renders certain people irritative and aggressive and others tired, less motivated and creative. To be full of energy and 100% concentrated in your work, enjoy your everyday sleep.

Please check also an article we wrote previously, 18 Tweaks To Eliminate Insomnia and Get to Sleep

- Harry

15 Every Day Injuries and How to Treat Them

Written: 11/14/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

A cut here, a bruise there, a nosebleed,... Life is filled with bumps, bruises that may not require a trip to the emergency room, but still require some care to feel better. Further, without the proper treatment, even something as minor as a papercut has the potential to become serious (if it became infected, for instance). So here is a guide to make your day as safe as possible.

  1. Cuts & Scrapes

    • Use a clean cloth or bandage and press it on the cut with a little pressure.

    • After the bleeding has stopped, rinse the wound with plain water and use tweezers to remove any debris.

    • Apply an ointment on the wound to prevent infection.

    • Cover the wound with a bandage to help keep it clean. Change the bandage daily or whenever it gets wet or dirty.

    • Be on the lookout for signs of infections like redness or swelling and immediately go to see your doctor if you see any of this.

  2. Burns and scalds

    • This is only for first degree burns. For other burns, please see your doctor immediately.

    • First degree burns damage the outer layer of the skin only. First degree burns are usually associated with redness, mild pain and swelling.

    • Remove all clothing, jewellery and watches from the burned area unless it is sticking to the skin.

    • Plunge the burned area into cold water, or hold it under a cold running tab for 10 minutes or until the pain stops or lessens.

    • Gently blot the burnt area. Do not rub. Rubbing may break the skin and open it to infection.

    • Cover with a clean, dry and sterile gauze dressing for protection.

    • NOTE: Never put butter or greasy ointments on a burn. They seal heat into the wound and may cause infection.

    • Always seek medical advice if the victim is a child or an elderly person, the burn covers more than one part of the body or the burns are caused by chemicals.

  3. Sunburn

    • The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Mild sunburn results in skin irritation and redness and can be safely treated at home. Severe sunburn requires medical attention.

    • Apply cool compresses on the sunburnt areas.

    • Drink a lot of water.

    • Leave blisters intact to speed healing and avoid infection.

    • Make sure all the sunburnt areas are fully covered to avoid the sun rays.

    • More than 90% of skin cancers are the result of sun exposure. Unprotected sun exposure is even more dangerous for kids who have moles or freckles, very fair skin or hair or a family history of skin cancer.

    • Call a doctor if your child has a sunburn that forms blisters or is extremely painful, facial swelling from a sunburn, fever or chills after getting sunburnt, headache, confusion or a feeling of faintness, signs of dehydration (increased thirst or dry eyes and mouth) or signs of infections on the skin (increasing redness, warmth, pain or pus).

    • Remember the following words before going out! Slip Slap Slop! Slip on a shirt. Slap on a sunglass. Slop on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

  4. Nosebleed

    • Lie down and tilt your head forwards to allow the blood to drain from your nostrils.

    • Breathe through your mouth and to pinch through the soft part of your nose to stop the bleeding.

    • Do not speak, swallow, cough, spit or sniff because this may disturb blood clots that may have formed in the nose.

    • Release the pressure after 10 minutes. If the bleeding has not stopped, reapply a pressure on the soft part of your nose for a further 10 minutes.

    • After that, clean your nose with warm water.

    • Take a rest and avoid blowing your nose.

    • If the bleeding stops and restarts after a lapse of time, apply the pressure as shown above.

    • Note: Do not tilt the head back; blood may run down the throat and induce vomiting.

  5. Severe Bleeding

    • Note: This applies only to bleeding from the arm or leg. If you are bleeding from the head or chest, better seek medical advice.

    • Lie down and if possible raise the injured part to reduce the flow of blood to the wound.

    • Press hard on the wound with a clean pad. If the wound is gaping, hold its edges together firmly.

    • If there is a foreign body in the wound (e.g. glass), apply pressure alongside.

    • Take a firm pad and bind it firmly over the whole wound so that pressure is maintained (a scarf or tie can be used).

    • If blood soaks through the bandage, do not remove it. Instead, continue to apply pressure to the wound for 7-10 minutes.

  6. Sprain

    • Rest your injured limb and don't use the joint directly (if you sprained your ankle, for instance, use a crutch or a splint to protect the sprain).

    • Apply an ice-pack wrapped in a cloth to the area as soon as possible to reduce swelling.

    • Use an elastic bandage to compress the area.

    • Keep your limb elevated as much as possible to limit swelling.

    • If the sprain doesn't get better in a couple of days, you experience severe pain, or you're unable to use your joint at all, seek medical treatment.

  7. Black eye

    • Apply an ice-pack to your eye area gently (do not press on your eye).

    • Use the ice-pack immediately after the injury, if possible, and continue to apply the pack for one or two days to reduce swelling.

    • If you have severe pain, vision problems, or blood in your eye or nose, seek medical help.

  8. Spider bite

    • Clean the area with soap and water.

    • Apply a cool washcloth to the bite location.

    • Apply an anti-itch cream to the area to eliminate itching and promote healing.

    • If you experience chills, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, rash or listlessness, you may have been bitten by a poisonous spider, such as a black widow spider or a brown recluse spider. You should seek medical help immediately.

  9. Bee Sting

    • Remove the stinger by scraping it with a credit card or other flat-edged object (don't use tweezers, as these can increase the amount of venom released).

    • Wash the area with soap and water.

    • Place an ice-pack, wrapped in a cloth, on the site for 10 minutes. Wait 10 minutes more without the pack, then reapply the ice for another 10 minutes.

    • Apply an anti-itch cream to the area to eliminate itching and promote healing.

  10. Foreign object in the eye

      Under The Eyelid

    • Pull the upper lid over the lower one.

    • Dislodge the object by blinking under the water.

    • Floating on the white of the eye

    • Advise the victim not to rub his/her eye.

    • Ask him/her to sit down facing a light, so that you will be able to see into the
      eye clearly.

    • Using your finger and thumb, gently pull the eyelids of the injured eye apart.

    • When you see the foreign body causing the irritation, wash it out with clean water (sterile if available) using a glass.

    • If the foreign body has not moved, try to lift if off with a moist swab, or the dampened corner of a tissue or handkerchief.

    • Note: If it is embedded in the eye or there are chemicals in the eye, seek medical advice.

  11. Foreign body in the ear

    • Note: If the foreign body is lodged in place, DO NOT attempt the move it (object may be pushed further in).

    • Sit the victim down.

    • Gently pour tepid water into the ear until it floods, carrying the object out.

    • If this does not work, take him/her to the hospital.

  12. Toothache

    • Use dental floss to remove any food particles wedged between your teeth.

    • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to dull the ache.

    • Don't place aspirin or another painkiller directly against your gums, as it may burn your gum tissue.

    • Brush your teeth regularly.

    • Go to a dentist if the pain persists for more than a day or two, you have fever with the toothache or you have trouble breathing or swallowing.

  13. Frostbite

    • Get out of the cold.

    • Warm your hands by tucking them under your arms. If your nose, ears or face is frostbitten, warm the area by covering it with dry, gloved hands.

    • Don't rub the affected area. Never rub snow on frostbitten skin.

    • Get emergency medical help if numbness remains during warming. If you can't get help immediately, warm severely frostbitten hands or feet in warm — not hot — water.

  14. Choking

    • Perform the Heimlich maneuver to try to remove the object.

    • On someone else

    • Stand behind the person. Wrap your arms around the waist. Tip the person forward slightly.

    • Make a fist with one hand. Position it slightly above the person's navel.

    • Grasp the fist with the other hand. Press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust — as if trying to lift the person up.

    • Repeat until the blockage is dislodged.

    • On yourself

    • Place a fist slightly above your navel.

    • Grasp your fist with the other hand and bend over a hard surface — a countertop or chair will do.

    • Shove your fist inward and upward.

  15. Motion sickness

    • By ship, request a cabin in the forward or middle of the ship, or on the upper deck.

    • By plane, ask for a seat over the front edge of a wing. Once aboard, direct the air vent to your face.

    • By train, take a seat near the front and next to a window. Face forward.

    • By automobile, drive or sit in the front passenger's seat.

    • Focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. Don't read.

    • Keep your head still, resting against a seat back.

    • Don't smoke or sit near smokers.

    • Avoid spicy foods and alcohol. Don't overeat.

    • Eat dry crackers or drink a carbonated beverage to help settle your stomach if you become ill.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, emergency treatment or formal first-aid training. Don't use this information to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider. If you're in a life-threatening or emergency medical situation, seek medical assistance immediately.

19 Hacks to Stay Healthy at Your Workstation

Written: 11/13/2007 | Join the discussion (0)

Being a blogger is very fun but the amount of time we spend at our workstation can be detrimental to our health, moreover if you are planning to work at home if you are not already doing so. The problems associated with working on a computer are various ranging from back pain, wrist pain, RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in your upper limb parts, sore neck and other countless trouble such as degrading eyesight and stress. Repetitive strain injury is any injury that occurs as a result of repeated movements. It is normally associated to pains in your upper limbs (hands, arm, back and neck) as a result of excessive computer use. Hopefully the following hacks will help you avoid this injury and other health trouble associated with your workstation.

  1. Take regular breaks: Now that is one outdated piece of advice you have heard plenty of times but it still holds true. The main cause of RSI is that many computer geeks just can't tear themselves away from their pc for long. I was like that at one time but fortunately I got over this. I use a regular alarm clock which goes off 1 hour after I've started working. I then take a 10 minutes break before getting back to work and setting my alarm clock again. For those of you who lack the necessary motivation or just can't stand the sound of an alarm clock, fortunately there are many software which help you avoid RSI by monitoring your computer and giving you discreet reminders if you work for too long without taking that necessary break. They are Albion StopNow, Easy HR, Coffee Break Pro 2.2, RSI Shield 4.5.1, Workrave and AntiRSI.

  2. Proper keyboard, monitor and mouse positioning: Ergotron has various measurements about angles,etc... on this stuff but the general guidelines are to always have your monitor below your eye level and about one arm length from your eyes so as not to put a strain on your eyes. As much as possible use both of your hands on the keyboard instead of only one when you are typing.

  3. Discard Qwerty and Azerty: Although I can touch type on both Qwerty and Azerty keyboards, I'm thinking of doing an overhaul and actually going back to a type of keyboard which is not well-known, the Dvorak keyboard. Here is a piece of history. Qwerty was actually developed in 1860s for typewriters. Notice if you are using a Qwerty keyboard that most of the time when you are writing a word, you go from one side of the keyboard to another. That was to avoid typewriters from becoming jammed by slowing the typists and making them type from two extremes. The advantage that Dvorak has over a normal Qwerty keyboard is that it is far more efficient if you have mastered it properly and most important of all, it poses less strain on your hands unlike Qwerty.

  4. Arrange your PC parts properly: If you are like Bill Gates and you need 3 monitors to read emails, then it will be a good idea to align the monitors side by side and not place them in various corners of your room. I know of some people who love to wring their necks to read from one monitor to another. Do this for a few months and you may find yourself victim of a Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease (Chronic Neck Pain).

  5. Do some desk exercises: No I'm not telling you to put on your gear and go running but simply do some desk exercises from time to time at your desk to relax your tensed muscles.

  6. Use an adjustable chair: Adjust yourself properly on your chair before starting to work. If you are less fortunate like me and do not own an adjustable chair, then drop a few cushions on the chair before sitting on it. This will prevent you from getting cramps in your legs and buttock. Yes you do get cramps there.

  7. Adjust your workstation to your stature: Sometimes your workstation may be too low or too high for you and that can be a real pain if you have to bend over your computer for a very long time. So in order to prevent future irreversible pain, take the time to invest in a cheap and proportionate furniture that will be adjusted to your height and size. Ergotron has a workplace planner to make your workstation fit you.

  8. Discard the Headset for a mic: For those of you who are always on a conference call on Skype, then it is time for you to get rid of the headset and to simply use a mic and your regular desktop speakers. Constant use of a headset can impair your hearing, your movement and stability. It also irritates your ears.

  9. Proper Lighting: Never use your workstation in a dark room unless you want to damage your eyes. Always light the room in which you are working. Avoid harsh or diffused lighting. Adjust the lighting to a comfortable level for your eyes. Always have the lighting source above and behind you. Do not place your desktop lamp directly behind you to avoid projecting shadows on your monitor. Also adjust the brightness and luminosity of your monitor according the lighting intensity of your lamp.

  10. Warm up: I actually do some stretching of my arms, shoulders and wrists before sitting down to work. I recommend you do Elbows Back, Shoulder Strangle, Bicep-Wall Stretch, Hand Down Spine, Upward Stretch and Chin to Chest Front among the various stretching exercises. It will take you about 5 minutes in all and will condition your body for a sedentary work.

  11. Avoid the coffee: In order to get the work done, many people tend to drink coffee to pep them up. This is a very bad practice. Although caffeine will stimulate you for sure, you will feel very exhausted after your work and the coffee is over. So avoid this bad habit as from now. Drink a juice or better a glass of water and take short breaks to resource yourself and recover your stamina.

  12. Take a cold bath: Always take a cold bath before working at your desk. A cold bath brings the body to activity, in the morning or in the afternoon, especially for sedentary persons.

  13. Listen to your body: If you are feeling drowsy while working, then listen to your body and take a power nap to get yourself back in condition. It's your body's usual response to fatigue and if you try to work under these conditions, you will get very little work done.

  14. Maintain an optimum temperature: Working in a stuffy room is irritating and counter-productive. Likewise working in a cold room is very difficult. If you are feeling cold, then invest in a small heater and if you are feeling hot in your room, then buy a small office fan or better aerate the room by opening your window.

  15. Use the necessary supports for your body: Use trays for your wrists, arm rests for your arms and high chairs to support your back. Do note that sometimes it is more comfortable for your wrists not to use trays. Experiment and adapt.

  16. Avoid pounding on the keyboard: Type with a smooth, zen-like movement and you will find yourself working faster. If you just can't get the character unless you have to press hard on the keyboard, then it's time to get a new keyboard.

  17. Use your laptop effectively: In a previous article, we mentioned that laptops were linked to various health problems like infertility and groin burns. Avoid using the laptop on your lap. Instead use a rest for your laptop or put it on a table or desk. Allow proper circulation of air around your laptop.

  18. Do some deep breathing: Sometimes when you have been working for some time, your head starts do get crowdy. Do some deep breathing and open your windows to let fresh air in. Inspire and expire deeply for about 1 minute and you will find your head starting to clear up.

  19. Don't stop the music: For this one, Rihanna was right on the spot. Sometimes it is good for you to listen to some soft music when you are working. Personally I have found this one working for me.

Also check out this great tutorial on Office Ergonomics. If you have other tips on making your workstation stress and RSI-proof, do share it with us please.

- Gyanish