Saturday, July 1, 2017

Inspirational Quote – July 1, 2017

“When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.”

Fear makes us prisoners of us. It prevents us from doing the things we want to, perhaps even preventing our dreams from becoming reality, because we ourselves allow it power over us. Why not give it a “bloody nose” by taking your power back? Go on, gather all your courage, believe in YOU, and do what you fear the most. You’ll find that nothing terrible happened but that, actually, you feel great and experience a wonderful sense of “release” because that old bogeyman “Fear” has been banished forever. YOU, have given yourself the great gift of a fear free life apart, of course, when fear works in your favor and prevents you from doing something really dangerous, then its ok!

Sister Lucy: The Mother Teresa of Pune

Sister Lucy Kurien founded Maher in 1997, one small home in a village outside of Pune. This humble beginning has blossomed into over 30 homes in over 85 rural communities around Pune, India as well as locations in Ratnagiri, Kerala and Jharkhan and has served over 4,000 women, men and children. Maher means mother's home in Marathi. Sister Lucy has created the warmth and love of a mother's home for the abused and traumatized women and their children. Part of Maher's genius is that incoming women are cared for by a highly competent staff of mostly women - who themselves had once sought refuge at Maher. Sister Lucy says her prayer for the future is that the fire of real Love will ignite more people's hearts, and inspire them to join this vital work. It can be done anywhere, and is needed everywhere.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Here's Why You Need Vitamin D

Vitamin D: Wonder Pill or Overkill?

Wouldn’t it be great if one vitamin could build stronger bones and protect against diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, and depression? Or even help you lose weight? Researchers have high hopes for vitamin D -- which comes from our skin's reaction to sunlight, a few foods, and supplements. Learn the facts in the slides ahead … and see who's at risk for a "D" deficiency.

Vitamin D Boosts Bone Health

Vitamin D is critical for strong bones, from infancy into old age. It helps the body absorb calcium from food. In older adults, a daily dose of "D" and calcium helps to prevent fractures and brittle bones. Children need "D” to build strong bones and prevent rickets, a cause of bowed legs, knock knees, and weak bones. Adding the vitamin to milk in the 1930s helped to nearly eliminate rickets.

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common far away from the sunny equator. For years, experts suspected a link between sunlight, vitamin D levels, and this autoimmune disorder that damages the nerves. One newer clue comes from a study of a rare gene defect that leads to low levels of vitamin D – and a higher risk of MS. Despite these links, there's not enough evidence to recommend vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of MS.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

Some studies have shown a link between a low vitamin D level and type 1 and type 2 diabetes . So, can boosting your vitamin D levels help ward off the disease? There's not enough proof for doctors to recommend taking this supplement to prevent diabetes. Excess body fat may play a role in type 2 diabetes and low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D and Weight Loss

Studies have shown that people who are obese often have low blood levels of vitamin D. Body fat traps vitamin D, making it less available to the body. It's not clear whether obesity itself causes a low vitamin D level or if it's the other way around. But one small study of dieters suggests that adding vitamin D to a calorie-restricted diet may help overweight people with low vitamin D levels lose weight more easily.

Low "D" and Depression

Vitamin D plays a role in brain development and function, and low levels of vitamin D have been found in patients with depression. But studies don't show that Vitamin D supplementation will help reduce the symptoms of depression. The best bet is to talk with your doctor about what might help reduce the symptoms of depression.

How Does Sun Give You Vitamin D?

Most people get some vitamin D from sunlight. When the sun shines on your bare skin, your body makes its own vitamin D. But you probably need more than that. Fair-skinned people might get enough in 5-10 minutes on a sunny day, a few times a week. But cloudy days, the low light of winter, and the use of sun block (important to avoid skin cancer and skin aging) all interfere. Older people and those with darker skin tones don’t make as much from sun exposure. Experts say it's better to rely on food and supplements.

Dining With Vitamin D

Many of the foods we eat have no naturally occurring vitamin D. Fish such as salmon, swordfish, or mackerel is one big exception and can provide a healthy amount of vitamin D in one serving. Other fatty fish such as tuna and sardines have some "D," but in much lower amounts. Small amounts are found in egg yolk, beef liver, and fortified foods like cereal and milk. Cheese and ice cream do not usually have added vitamin D.

tart Your Day With Vitamin D

Choose your breakfast foods wisely, and you can get a substantial amount of vitamin D. Most types of milk are fortified, including some soy milks. Orange juice, cereal, bread, and some yogurt brands also commonly have added vitamin D. Check the labels to see how much “D” you’re getting.

Vitamin D Supplements

Eating D-rich foods is the best way to get vitamin D. If you still need help getting enough, there are two kinds of supplements: D2 (ergocalciferol), which is the type found in food, and D3 (cholecalciferol), which is the type made from sunlight. They're produced differently, but both can raise vitamin D levels in your blood. Most multivitamins have 400 IU of vitamin D. Check with your health care provider for the best supplements for your needs.

Are You Vitamin D Deficient?

Problems converting vitamin D from food or sunshine can set you up for a deficiency. Factors that increase your risk include:

o Age 50 or older
o Dark skin
o A northern home
o Overweight, obese, gastric bypass surgery
o Milk allergy or lactose intolerance
o Liver or digestive diseases, such as Crohn's disease or celiac

Using sunscreen can interfere with getting vitamin D, but abandoning sunscreen can significantly increase your risk for skin cancer. So it's worth looking for other sources of vitamin D in place of prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun.

Symptoms of "D" Deficiency

Most people with low blood levels of vitamin D don't notice any symptoms. A severe deficiency in adults can cause soft bones, called osteomalacia (shown here). The symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. In children, a severe deficiency can lead to rickets and symptoms of soft bones and skeletal problems. Rickets is rare in the United States.

Testing Your Vitamin D Level

There's a simple blood test used to check your vitamin D level, called the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Current guidelines by the Institute of Medicine set a blood level of 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) as a goal for good bone health and overall health. However, some doctors say people should go higher, to about 30 ng/mL to get the full health benefits of vitamin D.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) per day for adults up to age 70. People aged 71 and older should aim for 800 IU from their diet. Some researchers recommend much higher doses of vitamin D, but too much vitamin D can hurt you. Above 4,000 IU per day, the risk for harm rises, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Daily "D" for Breastfeeding Babies

Breast milk is best, but it doesn’t have much vitamin D. Breastfed babies need 400 IU of vitamin D until they're weaned to fortified formula and can drink at least one liter (about 4 ¼ cups) every day. Starting at age 1, babies drinking fortified milk no longer need a vitamin D supplement. Be careful not to give too much vitamin D to babies. High doses can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive thirst, muscle aches, or more serious symptoms.

Vitamin D for Older Children

Most children and adolescents don’t get enough vitamin D from drinking milk. They should have a supplement with 400 IU to 600 IU. That amount is often included in chewable multivitamins. Children with some chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis may be at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your child’s doctor about the need for extra vitamin D.

How Much Is Too Much Vitamin D?

Some researchers suggest taking far more vitamin D than the 600 IU daily guideline for healthy adults. But too much be dangerous. Very high doses of vitamin D can raise your blood calcium level, causing damage to blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. The Institute of Medicine sets the upper tolerable limit at 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. You can’t get too much vitamin D from the sun. Your body simply stops making more. But sun exposure without sunscreen can raise your risk of skin cancer.

Drugs That Interact With Vitamin D

Some drugs cause your body to absorb less vitamin D. These include laxatives, steroids, and anti-seizure medicines. If you take digoxin, a heart medicine, too much vitamin D can raise the level of calcium in your blood and lead to an abnormal heart rhythm. It's important to discuss your use of vitamin D supplements with your doctor or pharmacist.

Vitamin D and Colon Cancer

It’s too soon to make a strong case for vitamin D as an overall cancer-fighter. But newer studies suggest that people with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood may have a lower risk for colon cancer.

Vitamin D and Other Cancers

Headlines tout vitamin D as a way to prevent breast and prostate cancer. But researchers don’t yet have enough evidence to say that the benefits are real. And, vitamin D may boost the risk of pancreatic cancer. The VITAL Study -- a Harvard university study -- of vitamin D and omega-3 is following 20,000 volunteers to find answers. In the meantime, a healthy body weight, regular exercise, and the diet guidelines of the American Cancer Society may help prevent cancer.

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Still, it’s not clear whether boosting vitamin D will reduce heart risks and how much vitamin D is needed. Very high levels of vitamin D in the blood can actually harm blood vessels and the heart by increasing the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.

A Factor in Dementia?

Older people are more likely to have vitamin D levels that are too low. Researchers found that older people with vitamin D deficiency performed poorly on tests of memory, attention, and reasoning compared to people with enough vitamin D in their blood. Still, better studies are needed to learn if vitamin D supplements could prevent dementia or slow mental decline.

Are Emotions Born or Made?

A new book argues that our brains forge emotions from lived experience. But does it go too far?

Inspirational Quote – June 30, 2017

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better myself. We all know people who, when problematic situations, hard financial times, or personal strife happens to them, they sail through whatever it is and come out the other end better than they went in! Unlike us, who when things like that happen to us, boy do we suffer! However, maybe they tackle what comes at them in a different way. Perhaps, just by thinking positively, they already have a head start over the rest of us in overcoming whatever life throws at them. Maybe we should all try this for ourselves and see how we get on?

Dr. Toni Frohoff: Life Among Dolphins

Dr. Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., who has dedicated her life to studying marine mammal behavior and communication, argues that humans can learn a lot from the wild animals with whom we share the planet, particularly dolphins. Dolphins show a remarkable capacity for experiencing and expressing a range of emotions, and communicate with other members of the species in ways that often defy human capabilities and logic. Dr. Frohoff emphasizes that there are lessons to be gleaned not only from examining the species' evolutionary history, but from how they conduct their lives. It requires a quieting of the mind, she argues, to learn from other animals, as well as from each other. The way we treat our planet, and the creatures who inhabit it, have far-reaching implications for our generation and many to come. "It underscores the need for awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What Your Ears Say About Your Health

What Are Your Ears Telling You?

What does it mean when your ears look a little different or hurt, ring, or itch? It could be a sign of something you might not think of when you think of your ears.

Earlobe Crease

Also called “Frank’s sign” (after the doctor who first noticed it), a diagonal crease in your lobe may be a sign of heart disease. Scientists don’t know exactly what causes the crease, and not everyone who has it will have heart disease. If you notice you have one, talk to your doctor about it.

Pits and Folds

Babies can be born with conditions that affect how they develop. One of these, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, causes creases or small holes around the ear. The baby also may be bigger than usual and have a large tongue and low blood sugar. The syndrome doesn’t cause major health problems for most people who have it. But as the child grows, one side of his body may be larger than the other, and he can be more likely to get certain tumors.

Low-Set Ears

Two of the more common conditions linked to this are Down and Turner syndromes. Problems with a chromosome cause both. People with Down syndrome also have other physical differences and development issues. Turner syndrome can cause problems with how the head and the neck form, and issues with growth and puberty. Two rare conditions -- Shprintzen-Goldberg and Jacobsen syndromes -- also can cause low-set ears and development problems.

Missing External Ear

This can be a sign of anotia -- a condition you’re born with. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but things in the environment and taking certain medications during pregnancy may play a part. It can happen by itself or along with another genetic condition. In most cases, doctors can form an outside ear with plastic surgery.

Unusual Ear Shape

Even if it’s just a “skin tag” on the ear, it could be a sign of a problem with the way your kidneys work. That’s because a baby’s kidneys develop at the same time as the ears. If your doctor notices it on your newborn, she may want to test your baby’s kidneys or do an ultrasound to get a closer look.

Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)

This is usually caused by something directly related to your ears -- like wax buildup or being around loud noises. But it also can be a sign of a problem with the joint where your jawbone meets your skull (the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ), or an injury to your neck or head, among other things. If you hear ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sounds, see your doctor to find out what’s going on.

Itchy Ears

A fungal infection or other ear irritation often causes this. Another possible reason is psoriasis, which happens when your immune system attacks your skin by mistake. It can be very painful if you have it on your ears, where your skin is thin. It can happen outside and inside your ear and may lead to a buildup of dead skin that makes it hard for you to hear. There's no cure for psoriasis, but your doctor can help you manage symptoms.


This can be a sign of an ear infection, throat infection, a buildup of earwax or fluid, an abscessed tooth, or you might grind your teeth. See your doctor if you or your child has an earache that doesn’t get better in a day or so, or comes with fever, vomiting, throat pain, discharge from the ear, or swelling around it. You also should call the pediatrician if your child is younger than 6 months and you think he might have an earache.

Happy Caregivers May Help Dementia Patients Stay Alive

A new study finds that supporting the mental health of family caregivers could lead to longer, happier life for dementia patients.

Patients with dementia may actually die sooner if their family caregivers are mentally stressed, according to a new study.
From 2007 until 2016, UC Berkeley researchers tracked the mortality of 176 patients with neurodegenerative diseases that are corrosive to brain function. They also measured the mental health of the family members who took care of them.
Their findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that patients tended by caregivers with depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of mental illness typically died sooner than those being looked after by caregivers in good mental health. In fact, compared to patients who were cared for by relatives in fairly good mental health, patients tended by family members in poor mental health died, on average, about 14 months sooner.

High stakes of caregiver stress

“Our finding of the strong relationship between patient survival and caregiver mental health underscores the profound intertwining of the lives and well-being of caregivers and patients as they engage in one of life’s most challenging and intimate relationships,” said study senior author Robert Levenson, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley.
While the study does not provide definitive causal or directional evidence for the earlier death of patients whose caregivers are in poor mental health, “it highlights the mutual influence both parties’ mental and physical states have on one another, and the extraordinarily high stakes that are involved,” Levenson said.
The study is thought to be the first to link the mental health of caregivers to the mortality of patients who suffer from a diverse range of neurodegenerative diseases, researchers said.
“These findings make a compelling case that helping preserve the mental health of caregivers may also help the patients in their care,” said study co-lead author Brett Ford, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto who worked on the study as a Ph.D. student in psychology at Berkeley.
“These findings make a compelling case that helping preserve the mental health of caregivers may also help the patients in their care.”
―Brett Ford
The 176 caregiver-patient pairs were examined by researchers at Levenson’s Berkeley Psychophysiology Laboratory. Caregivers reported their own health, as well as their social and emotional well-being; patients were assessed during annual follow-up appointments and phone updates through the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
Of the caregivers, 85 percent were spouses, eight percent were adult children, and six percent were siblings.

Watching loved ones ‘lose sense of self’

“We were able to meet and speak with a number of caregivers, many of whom talked about the challenges of watching their spouse or loved one slowly lose their sense of self and their ability to live independently,” said study co-lead author Sandy Lwi, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Berkeley.
A patient’s longevity was based on the number of days from their initial assessment at the Berkeley Psychophysiological Laboratory until their time of death, or, if they had not died, until the study cutoff date in May 2016. Of the 176 patients, 76 died during the course of the study.
Overall, the results showed that the mortality risk for patients was greater when their caregiver suffered from poor mental health, even when factoring in patients’ gender, age, disease severity and mental health.
More than seven million Americans are estimated to suffer from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) and Huntington’s disease, all of which lead to gradual declines in cognitive, emotional, and motor functioning.
The unrelenting progression of these diseases—with a rate of survival ranging from three to 10 years after initial diagnosis—means that patients are often cared for in the home by relatives or close friends who are not being paid for their work.
“Family members and others who provide critically needed care for these patients do heroic and extremely challenging work,” Levenson said.

Challenging, unpaid work

While caregivers may find this work rewarding and necessary, the everyday stress can take a toll on their mental well-being. Up to 40 percent of dementia caregivers suffer from depression. They also report above-average levels of anxiety, social isolation, and frustration.
The study notes that poor mental health in caregivers can affect patients’ lives in a variety of ways. It can reduce the quality of patient care by raising the risk of neglect or abuse, weaken the patients’ immune systems by compromising social bonds between the caregiver and patient, or transmit negative emotions directly to patients through a phenomenon known as emotion contagion, in which one person in a relationship absorbs the emotional responses of the other.
Researchers said they will continue to check in on the surviving caregiver-patient relationships in their study to dig deeper into the dynamics at play.
Meanwhile, the study’s results are timely in the face of the rising health needs of aging baby boomers, said Levenson. By 2030, more than 8 million Americans are anticipated to be living with some form of dementia.
“Soaring rates of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases constitute one of the most pressing public health challenges of the present era, and this will become even more challenging as the population ages,” Levenson said.

Inspirational Quote – June 29, 2017

“What is, is. What isn’t, isn’t. You become so obsessed with what isn’t that you miss what is.”

Exactly, how true is this? Basically, what this means is that occasionally we allow ourselves to focus on what hasn’t happened in our lives, i.e. the great job, the loving fulfilling relationship, winning the lottery, etc. All this does is to stop us from getting on with life and perhaps, by making the best of what we have, we can get what we dream of, perhaps not winning the lottery, but seeking out and pursuing better job opportunities, the possibility of finding that special someone etc. Doesn’t that make sense?