Tag: health

Why Sitting is the new Smoking

Why Sitting is the new Smoking

Why is Sitting compared to Smoking?

We live in an age where there is a majority of people sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer or watching TV. Recently research has shown how this can affect your health.

Sitting

 

Smoking

 

X            X          X          X            X         X               X            X          X           X         X           X           X          

We are going to look into a few options for changing this and the reasons why we should.

Living a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous to your health. The less sitting or lying down you do during the day, the better your chances of living a healthy life.

If you stand or move around during the day, you have a lower risk of early death than if you sit at a desk. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you have a higher chance of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and experiencing depression and anxiety.

How does a sedentary lifestyle affect your body?

Humans are built to stand upright. Your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively that way. Your bowel also functions more efficiently when you are upright. It is common for people who are bedridden in a hospital to experience problems with their bowel function.

When you are physically active, on the other hand, your overall energy levels and endurance improve, and your bones maintain strength.

Legs and gluteals (bum muscles)

Sitting for long periods can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles. These large muscles are important for walking and for stabilizing you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and from strains when you do exercise.

Weight

Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars you eat. If you spend a lot of time sitting, digestion is not as efficient, so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body.

Even if you exercise but spend a large amount of time sitting, you are still risking health problems, such as metabolic syndrome. The latest research suggests you need 60–75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity to combat the dangers of excessive sitting.

Hips and back

Just like your legs and gluteals, your hips and back will not support you as well if you sit for long periods. Sitting causes your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.

Sitting for long periods can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation. Poor posture may also cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs in your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.

Anxiety and depression

Depression Anxiety
Depression Anxiety

 

 

We don’t understand the links between sitting and mental health as well as we do the links between sitting and physical health yet, but we do know that the risk of both anxiety and depression is higher in people that sit more.

This might be because people who spend a lot of time sitting are missing the positive effects of physical activity and fitness. If so, getting up and moving may help.

Cancer

Emerging studies suggest the dangers of sitting include increasing your chances of developing some types of cancer, including lung, uterine, and colon cancers. The reason behind this is not yet known.

Heart disease

Sitting for long periods has been linked to heart disease. One study found that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week have a 64 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who only watch 11 hours of television a week.

Some experts say that people who are inactive and sit for long periods have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes

Studies have shown that even five days lying in bed can lead to increased insulin resistance in your body (this will cause your blood sugars to increase above what is healthy). Research suggests that people who spend more time sitting have a 112 percent higher risk of diabetes.

Varicose veins

Sitting for long periods can lead to varicose veins or spider veins (a smaller version of varicose veins). This is because sitting causes blood to pool in your legs.

Varicose veins aren’t usually dangerous. In rare cases, they can lead to blood clots, which can cause serious problems (see deep vein thrombosis, below).

Deep vein thrombosis

Sitting for too long can cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), for example on a long plane or car trip. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the veins of your leg.

DVT is a serious problem because if part of a blood clot in the leg vein breaks off and travels, it can cut off the blood flow to other parts of the body, including your lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism. This is a medical emergency that can lead to major complications or even death.

Stiff neck and shoulders

If you spend your time hunched over a computer keyboard, this can lead to pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.

How sedentary are we?

Physical inactivity contributes to over three million preventable deaths worldwide each year (that’s six percent of all deaths).

It is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases.

It’s also the cause of 21–25 percent of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes cases, and around 30 percent of ischaemic heart disease. In fact, physical inactivity is the second highest cause of cancer in Australia, behind tobacco smoking.

The Australian Health Survey 2011–12 results show:

  • 60 percent of Australian adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day.
  • Only one-third of Australian children, and one in 10 young people (aged 5–17), do the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Fewer than one in three children and young people have no more than two hours of screen time each day.
  • Almost 70 percent of Australian adults can be classed as either sedentary or having low levels of physical activity.

Children and young people

The Australian Health Survey found that toddlers and preschoolers (aged 2–4 years) spent an average of six hours a day doing some form of physical activity, and one and a half hours having some form of screen time.

These numbers changed dramatically when the survey looked at children and young people (aged 5–17 years). They spend just one and a half hours a day doing physical activities, and over two hours each day on screen time.

The time spent on physical activity grew smaller as the young people got older, while the time spent on screen-based activities grew higher.

Just under half of all children and young people (aged 2–17) had at least one type of screen (such as a television, computer, or game console) in their bedroom. That figure grew to three quarters for young people aged 15–17.

The 15–17 year age group were the least likely to walk 12,000 steps each day, with only 7 percent reaching that goal. Younger children, aged 5–11, were much more likely to walk more during their day (at around 23 percent).

Adults

The Australian Health Survey found that young adults achieved the highest level of activity of all adults, with 53 percent of 18–24-year-olds being classed as sufficiently active.

People tended to become less active as they age. The lowest level of activity was among those aged 75 or over, with that group achieving around 20 minutes of activity each day.

People were more likely to have done sufficient exercise if they:

  • were wealthier
  • classified their health as ‘excellent’
  • were in the underweight or normal range of body mass index, rather than the obese range
  • did not smoke or had given up smoking
  • did not have a job where they sat down a lot, such as clerical or administrative work
  • watched less television and used the internet less than average (13 hours and 9 hours per week, respectively).

Adults took an average of 7,400 steps per day. Less than one in five adults took 10,000 steps each day.

How can you save your health from the dangers of sitting?

If you’re not getting enough activity in your day, it’s not too late to turn it around and gain great health benefits in the process.

Build more activity into your day

Some ways you can incorporate activity into your day are:

  • Walk or cycle, and leave the car at home.
  • For longer trips, walk or cycle part of the way.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or at least walk up the escalator.
  • Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park further away from wherever you’re going and walk the rest of the way.
  • Calculate how long it takes you to walk one kilometer – you may find you can reach your destination faster by walking than if you wait for public transport.

Be active (and safe)

If you’re new to physical activity, or if you have a health condition, speak to your doctor before you start any new activities. They can help you decide the best activities for you.

If you’re getting active outdoors, remember to protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen and wearing sun-protective clothing, including a hat.

Be active at work

You can move around at work more than you think:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Walk over and talk to your colleagues instead of emailing them.
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk and enjoy a short walk outside if you can.
  • Organize walking meetings.

Be active indoors

Don’t let bad weather stop you from being active! You can do bodyweight exercises such as squats, sit-ups, and lunges.

You can also try indoor activities such as:

 

Yoga

  • Dancing
  • swimming at an indoor pool
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • martial arts
  • squash
  • indoor rock climbing.

Reduce your sedentary behavior

Here are some simple ideas to keep you moving while you’re at home:

  • When you’re tidying up, put items away in small trips rather than taking it altogether.
  • Set the timer on your television to turn off an hour earlier than usual to remind you to get up and move.
  • Walk around when you’re on the phone.
  • Stand up and do some ironing during your favorite television shows.
  • Rather than sitting down to read, listen to recorded books while you walk, clean, or work in the garden.
  • Stand on public transport, or get off one stop early and walk to your destination.

If you work in an office:

  • Stand up while you read emails or reports.
  • Move your rubbish bin away from your desk so you have to get up to throw anything away.
  • Use the speakerphone for conference calls and walk around the room during the calls.

Benefits of regular physical activity

You are regularly physically active, you may:

  • reduce your risk of a heart attack
  • manage your weight better
  • have a lower blood cholesterol level
  • lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • have lower blood pressure
  • have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower risk of developing osteoporosis
  • lower your risk of falls
  • recover better from periods of hospitalization or bed rest
  • feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more relaxed and sleep better.

A number of studies have found that exercise helps depression.

There are many views as to how exercise helps people with depression:

Depression

  • Exercise may block negative thoughts or distract you from daily worries.
  • Exercising with others provides an opportunity for increased social contact.
  • Increased fitness may lift your mood and improve your sleep patterns.
  • Exercise may also change levels of chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.

 

 

To maintain health and reduce your risk of health problems, health professionals and researchers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day

 

Physical activity guidelines:

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build-up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days each week.

Exercise

 

Increases in daily activity can come from small changes made throughout your day, such as walking or cycling instead of using the car, getting off a tram, train or bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, or walking the children to school. Ways to increase physical activity 

Do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day?

Regular walking produces many health benefits, including reducing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression. We often hear 10,000 as the golden number of steps to strive for in a day.

It is a good idea to see your doctor before starting your physical activity program if:

  • you are aged over 45 years
  • physical activity causes pain in your chest
  • you often faint or have spells of severe dizziness
  • moderate physical activity makes you very breathless
  • you are at a higher risk of heart disease
  • you think you might have heart disease or you have heart problems
  • you are pregnant.

Over the past few years, prolonged sitting has emerged as a new health scourge. Sitting is the new smoking, headlines warn. But even as awareness of the problem grows, proposed solutions like regular activity breaks and adjustable-height desks have run into a stubborn problem: workplace culture. Sitt’s experience convinced him that psychology is as important as physiology in the fight against sedentary behavior, and spurred him to launch a new program tackling the problem on an organizational, rather than personal, scale.

The list of ills associated with hours of uninterrupted sitting includes an elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions, which occur as your muscles switch into a “dormant” mode that compromises their ability to break down fats and sugars. Crucially, exercising before or after work isn’t enough to counteract these effects – sitting all day is harmful no matter how fit and active you are.

Knowing maybe half the battle, but the other half (actually doing something about it) is the hard part. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in January, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia tried a multi-pronged approach to figure out the best ways to prompt behavior change in office groups.

The study compared three groups of university employees who typically spent more than six hours out of every eight-hour day sitting. One group received adjustable-height desks; the second received the desks along with ongoing individual and organizational-level guidance; the third group received no instructions and served as the control group.

After three months, the desks-only group had reduced their sitting time by a modest 33 minutes compared to the controls, while the desks-plus-guidance group dropped 89 minutes, getting close to the 50-50 sit-stand split recommended by the researchers.

The additional support included face-to-face coaching and goal-setting, group brainstorming sessions on ways to reduce sitting time, regular e-mail reminders and consultation with managers.

“Changing sitting habits may not be as simple as providing new desks,” lead researcher Maike Neuhaus said. “Sitting habits are ingrained in office routines, and we found that workers acting alone may feel awkward when standing during meetings or at their desk.”

Sitt, a former personal trainer, reached the same conclusion while struggling to rehabilitate his back. He saw a dramatic improvement in his overall health once he established a routine of taking five or six one-minute breaks each day to perform simple exercises at his desk, so he decided to launch a program to encourage others to do the same.

The key barrier, he realized, wasn’t the time commitment, which is less than 10 minutes a day, but getting a critical mass of people doing similar things, so he aimed his MOVE program at employers rather than employees. The nine-week intervention starts with one-on-one consultations, then assigns a range of simple exercises and stretches for one-minute breaks, and includes a weekly half-hour lunch workshop.

An initial pilot project with 10 employees at the charity Free the Children produced improvements in a range of assessment measures, including strength (as measured by push-ups) and flexibility (sit-and-reach test), as well as less tangible measures like energy and fatigue levels.

The pilot data also confirmed that the biggest barrier to adherence was feeling awkward about doing the movement breaks around other employees not participating in the program.

Given the costs associated with sedentary behavior – one study estimated that the least active employees are less productive by about three hours per week – this all-too-common workplace culture is something that employers would be wise to address. Change is hard, but Neuhaus’s research shows that getting the whole office involved with a formal program makes a difference.

In other words, sitting resembles “the new smoking” in yet another way: Quitting is way easier when you’re not the only one doing it.

Ways Sitting is Shortening Your Life

According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which looked at more than 4 million individuals and 68,936 cancer cases, sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for colon, endometrial and, possibly, lung cancer. The study found that even in physically active individuals, sitting increased the risk, and the risk worsened with each two-hour increase in sitting time.

Separate research links long-term sedentary habits with breast and colon cancer.

Frequent Sitters Have a Greater Risk of Developing Heart Disease

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men and women who sat more than six hours a day died earlier than their counterparts who limited sitting time to 3 hours a day or less. The study surveyed 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were healthy at the start of the study and over the course of the 14-year follow-up they saw a higher rate of mortality among the frequent sitters. “Associations were strongest for cardiovascular disease mortality. The time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level,” the study says.

Sitting Increases the Risk of Obesity

It’s widely known that exercise and a healthy diet are two major factors in maintaining a healthy weight, but there is a third important factor for weight control, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic—moving throughout the day. In a study on weight gain and loss, where every aspect of diet and exercise was controlled in a lab, the researchers added 1,000 calories to all the subject’s daily diets.

None of the people were permitted to exercise, but some people in the study were able to maintain their weight, while others gained weight. The researchers couldn’t understand why some were able to avoid gaining weight without exercise. How did they keep from gaining weight? Those who maintained their weight did so by unintentionally moving more throughout the day. Prolonged Sitting Increases the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

Prolonged sitting can increase the risk of Diabetes 2

Sitting for extended periods affects blood sugar levels and insulin in the body, meaning not only are sedentary people more likely to be obese, but they are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. An article published in Diabetologia examined the results of 18 studies with nearly 800,000 participants and determined that those who sat the most were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as the individuals who sat least.

Frequent Sitters are Susceptible to Muscular Issues

Muscles are healthiest when they are being used and challenged on a regular basis, so it’s not surprising that staying seated for eight or nine hours a day might bring some negative repercussions. Muscles are pliable but when locked in sitting position for the majority of the day, every day, they do get stiff. After years of constantly sitting the body is used to sitting and not as proficient at running, jumping or even standing. Researchers believe this might be part of the reason elderly people have such a hard time getting around later in life.

Constant Sitting Interferes with LPL

LPL or lipoprotein lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fat and uses it as energy when the enzyme isn’t working as it should, that fat is stored. In a study published in The Journal of Physiology, mice were tested for LPL levels in three states—laying down for most of the day, standing for most of the day and exercising. LDL activity in the laying mice was very low, levels rose more than 10 times when the mice simply stood but the exercise had no additional effects on the LDL levels in the mice’s legs.

The researchers expect the results to carry over in humans too. The larger point is that people can’t combat the effects of sitting with a half-hour or hour of exercise alone—standing throughout the day is the answer.

Sedentary Habits are Associated with Higher Risk of Developing Depression

With hours and hours of sitting associated with higher sickness and mortality rates, who wouldn’t be depressed? The news is both terrifying and disheartening, but knowing about the risks isn’t the reason frequent sitters are more often depressed. Researchers say since sitting reduces circulation it’s harder for “feel-good hormones” to make their way to receptors.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine followed 9,000 middle-aged women and determined that those who sat longer and did not meet minimum exercise requirements suffered from depression at much higher rates compared with the women who sat less and exercised more. When it came to sitting, those who sat for more than seven hours a day were 47 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who sat four hours or fewer.

On the exercise front, women who didn’t exercise at all had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than those who met minimum exercise requirements. Researchers concluded physical activity could alleviate depression symptoms and likely prevent future symptoms.

Well, the evidence seems to be overwhelming. Sitting for long periods of time can be hazardous to your health, the same as smoking:

This is a case where I doubt if we will be going through any withdrawal symptoms if we choose not to sit for lengthy periods of time.

We can do this a little bit at a time. Practice different position when sitting. Walk, stand and think about getting into a regular exercise routine. I know I have to.

Some Yoga Poses For You To Consider: YouTube Videos. Please click on the link:

High Low lunge pose:

Forward Fold:

Pigeon Pose:

Yoga Equipment Catalog and prices

Yoga Apparel Catalog and prices 

Thank you for reading.

Michael.

Comments are welcome.

Women and Health Issues

Women and Health Issues

Both Men and Women Face Health Issues. This article is mainly about Women and Health Issues.

Although both men and women face health issues, some are specific only to women. In some circumstance’s treatment and recognition may differ. There are some health issues that affect women more severely.

While both men and women contract various conditions, some health issues affect women differently and more commonly. Furthermore, many women’s health conditions go undiagnosed and most drug trials do not include female test subjects. Even so, women bear exclusive health concerns, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, menopause, and pregnancy. Women suffer higher heart attack deaths compared to men.

Depression and anxiety exhibit more frequently among female patients. Urinary tract conditions present more often in females, and sexually transmitted diseases can cause more harm to women. Among the conditions that present most frequently in women, the following eight illnesses pose considerable health risks.

Here is a general look at some of the health issues that affect women:

Some of the most common health issues and risks facing women today include:

Heart attack
Stroke
Stress
Anxiety
Fatigue
Low energy
Infertility
Hormone imbalance
Cancer
Weight gain
Autoimmune disease
Diabetes
Thyroid problems
Cardiovascular disease
Hair loss
Skin issues

Heart Disease

In the United States, heart disease causes one in every four deaths among women. Although the public considers heart disease a common issue among men, the condition affects males and females nearly equally. Yet, only 54 percent of women realize that heart disease is the top health condition threatening their gender. In the United States, 49 percent of all consumers suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoke; factors that contribute to heart disease.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer, which typically originates in the lining of the milk ducts, can spread to other organs and is the most aggressive cancer affecting the global female population. The condition presents more among female populations in developed nations due to their extended life spans.

Initially, women afflicted with breast cancer may develop breast lumps. Most breast lumps are non-threatening, but it is important for women to have each one checked by a care provider.

Ovarian and Cervical Cancer

Many people are not aware of the differences between ovarian and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer originates in the lower uterus, while ovarian cancer starts in the Fallopian tubes. While both conditions cause similar pain, cervical cancer also causes discharge and pain during intercourse. While ovarian cancer presents extremely vague symptoms, the condition is very complex. Finally, Pap smears detect cervical but not ovarian cancer.

Gynecological Health

Bleeding and discharge are a normal part of the menstrual cycle. However, added symptoms during menstruation may indicate health issues, and unusual symptoms, such as bleeding between menstruation and frequent urinating, can mimic other health conditions. Vaginal issues could also indicate serious problems such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or reproductive tract cancer. While care providers might treat mild infections easily, if left unchecked, they can lead to conditions such as infertility or kidney failure.

Pregnancy Issues

Pre-existing conditions can worsen during pregnancy, threatening the health of a mother and her child. Asthma, diabetes, and depression can harm the mother and child during pregnancy if not managed properly. Pregnancy can cause a healthy mother’s red blood cell count to drop, a condition called anemia, or induce depression. Another problem arises when a reproductive cell implants outside the uterus, making further gestation unfeasible. Fortunately, obstetricians can manage and treat common and rare health issues that emerge during pregnancies.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune disease occurs when body cells that eliminate threats, such as viruses, attack healthy cells. As this condition continues to escalate among the population, researchers remain baffled as to why the condition affects mostly women. While many distinct autoimmune diseases exist, most share symptoms such as:

● Exhaustion

● Mild fever

● Pain

● Skin irritation

● Vertigo

Most of the autoimmune system rests in the stomach. Duly, many who suffer from this condition have resorted to natural healing practices, such as:

● Consuming less sugar

● Consuming less fat

● Lowering stress

● Reducing toxin intake

However, the best defense against autoimmune disease is early detection.

Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis weakens bones, allowing them to break easily. Several factors can cause the condition that occurs mostly in women, such as:

● Age

● Alcohol consumption

● Certain prescriptions

● Genetics

● Lack of exercise

● Low body mass

● Smoking

● Steroid use

To detect the condition, care providers measure bone density using an X-ray or ultrasound diagnostic. While no cure exists for osteoporosis, care providers can prescribe treatment to impede illness progression, which might include dietary supplements, healthy lifestyle choices, or prescription medication.

Depression and Anxiety

Natural hormonal fluctuations can lead to depression or anxiety. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs commonly among women, while premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) presents similar, but greatly intensified, symptoms. Shortly after birth, many mothers acquire a form of depression called the “baby blues,” but perinatal depression causes similar – but much stronger – concerns, emotional shifts, sadness, and tiredness. Perimenopause, the shift into menopause, can also cause depression. No matter how intense the symptoms, care providers can provide relief with a prescription or therapeutic treatments.

A shocking 75% of American women are on prescription drugs, compared to only 56% of men. Yet this is not getting any healthier. And the quest for health is an expensive endeavor. In 1998, Americans spent $73 billion on prescription medications. By 2016 that number had risen to $329 billion for the year! Sadly, two-thirds of that outrageous spending was for women.

Prescriptions are not only expensive, but they come with a variety of side effects that can be more or just as dangerous as the condition they treat! It’s little wonder so many women are seeking natural solutions. Remedies from nature are often easier to access, cheaper, and some of them can get to the root cause of the issue, rather than simply cover up the symptoms.

Personal Note:

I personally not a fan of, “Big Pharma”. I will be doing research on some natural and herbal remedies and will be listing them later on in this article.

Please Always Follow Your Doctors Instructions First 

1. HEART HEALTH

When you consider the national statistics on heart disease, you begin to understand why this is the most urgent health concern for women. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for 1 in 5 women in the United States. However, only 56% of women recognize this danger.

The term ‘heart disease’ actually refers to several different heart conditions. These include heart attack, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, as well as cardiovascular disease, which refers to conditions with blocked or narrowed blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Things that affect your heart’s valves, muscles, or rhythm are considered heart disease. High blood pressure (hypertension) does not necessarily mean you have heart disease; however, it definitely increases the risk.

Factors that affect and increase the dangers of hypertension and/or heart disease include:

Unbalanced gut (microbiome)                                                                              Blood Pressures


Overweight and obesity
Diabetes
High sodium diet
High cholesterol
Chronic stress
Smoking
Lack of exercise
Family history

The most surprising item on this list is probably gut health. A recent study highlighted a connection between poor gut health and increased incidence of arterial hardening, a well-known risk factor for heart disease. In contrast, researchers saw a decreased incidence of arterial stiffness in those with a more diverse (healthier) microbiome. Another study, published just a year ago, compared the stools of 218 people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD) to 187 healthy individuals. They noted vast differences between the microbiomes of the two sets, indicating a link between an unhealthy gut and ACVD.

According to Dr. JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “There’s a complex interplay between the microbes in our intestines and most of the systems in our bodies, including the vascular, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. All of these relationships are highly relevant to cardiovascular health.”

Dr. Manson and colleagues published a study in 2017 where they saw a strong connection between blood levels of a certain substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a byproduct of eating red meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. What happens is certain gut bacteria feed on a nutrient in these foods called choline. This creates a substance called trimethylamine (TMA), which your liver then converts into TMAO. TMAO has been strongly connected to the development of artery-clogging plaques, heart attacks, and strokes. Dr. Manson’s study found that those with high TMAO had a 62% higher risk of “serious” cardiovascular events than people with low levels.

Significantly, this risk was determined to NOT be connected to other risk factors like obesity, diabetes, and kidney function. In other words, even if you are not obese, and do not have diabetes or kidney problems, having a high level of TMAO as a result of an abundance of certain gut choline-eating bacteria and eating high-choline foods such as red meat, fish, poultry and, eggs puts you at a 62% higher risk of heart disease and problems.

What all of this and other growing research seems to indicate is that ensuring your gut has a wide diversity of organisms and that your digestive system is functioning optimally may be a foundational way to decrease the risk of heart disease and ensure a healthier heart. We look at other ways to naturally support heart health later on.

2. WEIGHT GAIN

Unwanted weight gain is not just a matter of inconvenience or aesthetics (how it looks, or you prefer to look), it’s a red flag that can signal developing health problems. In addition, added weight increases the risk of disease.

Conditions science connects to excess weight include:

Cancer
High blood pressure
Heart disease
Heart failure
Stroke
Type 2 diabetes
Fatty liver disease
Kidney disease
Osteoarthritis
Sleep apnea
Gout

Pregnancy problems (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery) According to some sources, each pound of excess weight increases the risk of disease. When you get up into higher numbers of excess weight, the data gets a little scary. For example, some experts calculate that thirty pounds of extra weight may increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by 40, 75, and 100% respectively, with the risk for breast cancer risk jumping to 110%.

With these same metrics, some estimate that 55 pounds of excess weight would make the risk of heart disease jump to 80%, with the risk for both breast cancer and diabetes tripling to over 300% each. One Swedish study found that people at roughly 30 pounds overweight with high cholesterol and high blood pressure had a terrifying 500% increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Factors that can affect your weight include:

Inflammation
Parasites
Toxins
Unbalanced microbiome (gut)
Yeast overgrowth
Hormones
Thyroid
Food allergies or intolerances
Autoimmune disease
Insulin resistance

Diet insufficient in essential nutrients Malabsorption of nutrients Ineffective or incomplete elimination Many things on this list can create or be part of a cycle of cause and effect. Meaning, one issue leads to another, and in turn, they each trigger other issues and even each other, and/or combine to influence other problems. It’s a ‘which came first — the inflammation, hormone imbalance, or the insulin resistance’ type of situation.

To discover what is causing your weight gain, or your challenges in releasing your extra weight, all of the above should be considered. However, the foundation of health starts with nutrition. You want to make sure you are not only consuming all the nutrients your body needs to function best — things like omega 3s, Vitamins K2 and D3, glutathione, and more that we discuss further on — you want to ensure you are ABSORBING the nutrients.

Proper absorption depends on several systems, processes, and factors. These include hormones, enzymes, and even your gut flora. Hand in hand with absorption is proper elimination. Your body must be able to efficiently and completely remove toxins and waste from your body, otherwise more toxins are created. Assisting your body in proper elimination means giving it a fighting chance by including several antioxidants in your diet and ensuring your lymphatic system, kidneys, and liver are functioning well—flushing out toxins and waste.

In addition, your body’s waste disposal system (gut and colon) must be running well, without toxic build-up, constipation, or inflammation that can create further toxicity.

Also, if you’re not expelling waste properly, your body can’t absorb nutrients effectively, undermining a healthy diet or the benefits of nutritional supplements. Anything you can do to help your body eliminate toxins, free radicals (oxidants) or parasites, and flush them out, the better. All things that help moderate inflammatory response naturally, and ensure the availability and absorption of nutrients, will help your body be able to naturally heal and achieve a healthy weight.

3. ANXIETY

More than 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders, yet just under 37% receive treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are twice as likely to get an anxiety disorder some time in their life.

Anxiety often coincides with other health conditions such as:

Eating disorders
Headaches
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Sleep disorders
Substance abuse
Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive
disorder)
BDD (body dysmorphic disorder)
Chronic pain
Fibromyalgia
Stress

4. DEPRESSION

Many people with anxiety disorders also experience depression. Of course, depression can be independent of anxiety. There are different types of depression, but nearly all types of depression affect more women than men. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that twice as many women than men are likely to have a depressive episode.

Some basic stats on depression:

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is categorized as a collection of serious depressive symptoms that last for a period of two weeks or more. It affects about 7% of the population per year, the majority of them women. The average age for this condition to develop is 32.5 years. Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is considered a ‘low-level depression’, that is not as severe as MDD but may last longer. In general, a diagnosis means depressive symptoms have been present for two or more years. It affects around 1.9% of women, compared to 1% of men.

Seasonal depression, also known as a seasonal affective disorder, includes a time of major depression, with mood influenced by the seasons. Four out of five people with this disorder are women. Postnatal (postpartum) depression is different from the “baby blues”. The “baby blues affects up to 80% of new mothers and usually lasts about 2 weeks as the body’s hormones rebalance, and the mother recovers from labor. These feelings of sadness, worry, and fatigue goes away on their own. Postnatal depression presents with more serious symptoms, lasts longer and may require treatment.

According to the NIMH (the National Institute for Mental Health), with “postpartum depression, feelings of sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family.”

5. STRESS

Stress, which may or may not be correlated to anxiety and depression, is also a common health concern for women. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is on the rise in the US, as are the physical symptoms or effects of stress. In fact, according to an annual poll, Americans are the most stressed-out people on the planet!

Just this year, the New York Times reported that out of over 150,000 people polled world-wide, Americans reported the most stress, with 55% saying they felt stress for most of the day. Globally, that statistic was just 35%. Similarly, 45% of Americans polled said they had felt significant worry the previous day.

That’s a lot of people anxious, stressed, and depressed! That makes the odds that you are included in those numbers quite high. The problem with that is the toll each of these three conditions can take on the body. Likewise, these conditions can overlap. Stress can trigger anxiety, anxiety can be part of the depression, and depression can create stress and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety can limit your activities, which can further affect mental health in terms of lack of support, or your happiness quotient. It may also limit your physical activity, which, of course, will affect overall health.

However, of these last three health issues, stress is the most damaging to your body and health. Though research is showing that men and women respond to stress differently, it is widely accepted that chronic stress is extremely harmful to your health and well being.

Stress can lead to:

Menstrual problems
Hair loss
Headaches
Back pain
Overeating

Digestive issues:

Upset stomach, cramps, bloating, heartburn, IBS Weight loss or gain

Skin problems: 

Breakouts, hives, rashes
Irritability
Sleep problems
Depression
Lack of focus

Inflammation:

Considered the root cause of many diseases, including autoimmune disorders and cancer In keeping with the theme of the body’s health conditions affecting the overall homeostasis of its complex systems and processes, if stress creates or contributes to one of the conditions listed above, they can, in turn, contribute to or create other problems. For example, lack of sleep can contribute to irritability or a lack of focus. Lack of proper sleep will also increase the stress hormone cortisol. A weakened immune system can lead to greater health concerns.

Weight gain by stress eating can lead to the risks we discussed above. Your body is a delicate system! Anything you can do to lower stress will be of benefit.

DECREASING STRESS:

Some of the main lifestyle changes you can make to lower stress levels include:

Participate in cortisol-lowering activities like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.

Makes choices that:

• Allow you more time to sleep
• Create a better sleep
• Allow you more downtime to relax and have fun
• Lower pressure on you: lowering your budget
• Ensure you eat regular balanced meals
• Get enough healthy exercise or fun physical activities

Laugh more — laughter is incredibly healing and releases good hormones that can help lower stress Get more hugs! That’s right, studies show that more frequent hugs from a partner or loved one increases calming oxytocin levels in women, and even lowers cortisol and blood pressure. Another thing you can do to help with stress is to consume high-quality supplements that are proven to lower cortisol, like fish oil (omega-3), ashwagandha, and other adaptogens.

6. LOW ENERGY

Stimulants like caffeine just burn out your precious adrenal system. But not having enough energy to get through a day can simply become intolerable. Besides this, low energy can be a sign of deeper health issues, and should never be dismissed as ‘just part of life’ for too long. Many western doctors don’t take low energy very seriously as a symptom. So what can you do?

First thing is to look at the possible causes for your low energy. There are several basic factors that can contribute to this. Here are some places to begin, when seeking the root cause of your low energy.

SLEEP PROBLEMS:

Sleep is a basic physiological requirement for all humans. Lack of sleep can lead to a great many health problems, including low energy. Whatever it takes to make sure you are getting sufficient, uninterrupted and fully restful sleep—able to go through all the sleep cycles—you must do. This should not include sleeping pills. This could include things to lower your cortisol (and overall stress), like meditation, hot baths, exercise, supplements, etc.

PARASITES

Parasites are designed to live undetected. Their survival depends on you not knowing they are there. Even testing for parasites (if you can even convince your doctor to do this), is not reliable. Yet, you could have more than one common parasite living inside you, literally sucking the life out of you. They also can emit low-level amounts of toxins as part of their life cycle, increasing the tax on your body.

NUTRITION:

Your gas engine cannot run on diesel fuel. That is a fact. How can we expect our body to run well if we are not giving it the best, or even correct fuel? By now you are probably aware that our soil is not providing the same level of vitamins and minerals (nutrients) in our fresh produce that our grandparents grew up with. That is an unfortunate fact of the times we live in. Likewise, the quality of seeds and breeds of fresh foods are somewhat skewed. They have been modified in a variety of ways, mainly to ensure they ripen quickly and are less prone to attack by disease or insects.

If our fresh produce has become increasingly less nutritious, where do we begin when discussing processed foods? Processing removes many of the good things that do make it into our food, and often add several artificial ingredients in the name of shelf life, taste and even cost-cutting. Manufacturers will even add chemicals and fillers in order to make foods more “addictive”! Yet, even if you are on an organic, plant-based diet and taking supplements to get an array of vitamins
and minerals…You could be malnourished.

In fact, you aren’t “what you eat,” you’re what you ABSORB. Many women don’t realize that if their gut health, the health of their liver, kidneys, or lymphatic system is compromised, they may not be absorbing much nutrition at all. So you could be eating all the right things, but if your gut (microbiome) is out of balance, you may not be absorbing nutrients well. Likewise, if your liver, kidneys, and lymphatics are struggling to remove toxins and waste from your body, you may have malabsorption.

Ensuring your gut is balanced, your body is detoxifying itself efficiently and completely, as well nourishing yourself with the right foods, vitamins and minerals are essential to creating a foundation for having the energy you want to live a vibrant life. Other causes of low energy can include candida overgrowth, anemia, heart problems, autoimmune disease, imbalanced hormones, thyroid problems, and low-grade infection.

7. HORMONAL ISSUES:

You’ve probably been hearing about your hormones since you were a teenager. Women, especially it seems, are ruled by our hormones for what seems like our entire lives! It starts out with puberty and the onset of our menstruation. We hear about how hormones make us a woman, make us moody, make us grow. A woman’s hormones are blamed on skin breakouts, weight gain, bloating, PMS.

If you’re trying to get pregnant you may be injecting hormones into your body. If you have had a hysterectomy you may need to take hormones. If you breastfeed, hormone levels can create havoc in your life, too. It can feel like everything in life is hormones, hormones, hormones! Then as we get older, women go through ‘the change’. As a society, women are trained to fear this period of life. We hear about night sweats soaking through the sheets, hot flashes, random bleeding, loss of sexual desire, and intense mood swings.

There’s much you can do to get and help keep your hormones in balance. The first thing to understand is that while you hear a lot about estrogen and progesterone, those are just two hormones out of the 50 or so that our body secretes and circulates, and uses to function. As with just about every other system or aspect of our body, all of these hormones are designed to work in harmony. Their synergy is vital to your health. As well, hormones are created in multiple areas of your body: your brain, pancreas, gut (microbiome), ovaries—just to name a few!

Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate hormone imbalance:

Natural Hormone Health Women

Weight gain or weight loss
Excessive sweating
Difficulty sleeping
Sensitivity to cold and heat
Dry skin or skin rashes
Changes in blood pressure or heart rate
Brittle or weak bones
Elevated or low blood sugar
Irritability and anxiety
Fatigue
Thirst
Depression
Headaches
Changes in bathroom behavior (frequency, urgency)
Bloating
Changes in appetite
Lower sex drive
Thinning, brittle hair
Infertility
Puffy face
Blurred vision
Goiter
Breast tenderness
Deepening of the voice (females)
Heavy, irregular, or painful periods
Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
Hot flashes and night sweats
Vaginal dryness
Indigestion
Acne (during or just before menstruation)
Fibroids, or uterine bleeding not associated with menstruation Increased hair growth on the face, neck, chest, or back
Thinning hair or hair loss
Skin tags

As one doctor explains it, “Hormones act like traffic signs and signals by telling your body what to do and when, and making sure its machinery runs smoothly and maintains homeostasis or balance.” Knowing this, you can understand how getting your hormones into balance requires a multi-level approach. You need to address the entire body, and support its function, to attain optimal hormone balance.

Here are some ways to support hormone balance:

SLEEP

Yes, sleep again. Lack of sleep can play real havoc on your hormones. For full function, your brain needs uninterrupted sleep that permits it to pass through all five stages of each sleep cycle. “Sleep deprivation causes imbalances in many hormones, and in turn, the imbalance of these hormones causes more sleep deprivation,” according to functional medicine practitioner, Veronica Anderson, MD, IFMCP.

In particular, insulin, ghrelin, leptin, cortisol, and growth hormone are all affected by sleep. For example, if you don’t get enough sleep, you temporarily become insulin resistant. Even just one bad night can create this, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Another example we find in scientific research, less than 6.5 hours of sleep affect leptin and ghrelin levels — two hormones directly connected to your appetite. Your thyroid hormones are also affected by sleep. This can slow your metabolism and cause your thyroid function to wane.

Cortisol, the “stress hormone” also is affected by lack of sleep. Normally your cortisol level should decrease at night, allowing you to sleep. Studies have shown that cortisol levels can fall up to six times more slowly if you are sleep deprived. In turn, “Elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes.” Increased cortisol also affects your “sex” hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. This can not only affect your sex drive (libido), but any change to these key hormones will affect your reproductive system and more.

Bottom line: 

Making sure you get enough quality sleep is very important for hormone balance.

EXERCISE:

ANY amount of exercise or physical activity is better than none. As they say—sitting is the new smoking. Inactivity is hurting us, while any increase in physical activity has a tremendous benefit.

Among its benefits, exercise (even just walking) helps:

Control insulin levels and decrease insulin resistance. Support hormones that help maintain muscle and which normally decline with age. Namely, DHEA, growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1 Increase adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate metabolism and has anti-inflammatory effects.

Balance thyroid hormone levels and control how efficiently the body uses them Reduce some of the effects of cortisol

NUTRITION:

Nutrition

What you eat—and absorb! (see above)—It is extremely important to have balanced hormones. Insulin, serotonin, cortisol and dopamine, estrogen and testosterone can all be affected by the food choices you make. Each nutrient plays a role in how your hormones function and how your body uses them. In particular, diets high in sugar and refined carbs will eventually knock your insulin levels out of whack.

Studies show that even fructose (sugar from fruit, agave, honey, and maple syrup) can increase insulin levels that promote insulin resistance and related conditions, like PCOS… Especially if you are already overweight, obese, or have prediabetes or diabetes. The consumption of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) may also be beneficial for hormone balance. Consuming MCTs and other ‘healthy’ fats like fish oil, and olive or avocado oil may help lower insulin resistance by increasing insulin sensitivity.

It also triggers the release of hormones that help you feel full and satisfied. They also have been seen to be anti-inflammatory, and decrease both cortisol and adrenaline.

As important as what you eat is how much you eat. Undereating can affect your hormone levels. Studies have shown that restricting calories to under 1200 per day increases cortisol and that calorie-restricted diets can even trigger insulin resistance. Overeating has its own pitfalls and will affect your hormone balance, especially as it relates to insulin and cortisol. Alcohol can curb health efforts, in part because of the ways it can contribute to gut imbalance. Your gut flora must be in balance for hormones like serotonin and dopamine to be manufactured and used effectively.

A yeast overgrowth (candida) can also affect your hormones. What you eat will “feed or starve” candida, and other organisms in your microbiome. There are many natural supplements you can use to help heal your body so that your hormones are in balance. Other ways to naturally support hormone balance include managing stress (especially cortisol levels), reducing sugar in your diet, upping your fiber intake, quitting smoking, drinking green tea, reducing dairy intake, and making sure you are getting adequate protein (amino acids).

Let’s take a look at some natural remedies:

Ashwagandha: Buy now from Yes Wellness

Research has demonstrated that this adaptogen has multiple healing properties including possessing anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties. Ashwagandha has also been found to have positive influences over endocrine and central nervous systems.

Other health benefits of ashwagandha that research has confirmed include:

Ashwagandha Benefits

Lowers blood sugar levels
Reduces cortisol levels
Helps with severe depression
Supports fertility
Increases antioxidants
Increases muscle mass and strength
Decreases inflammation
Helps fight infection
Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Promotes antioxidant activity and reduces
free radical damage
Reduces oxidative stress
Helps induce programmed death of cancer cells

PRECAUTIONS: 

People with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Type 1 diabetes should be cautious with ashwagandha. Consult your healthcare professional. Additionally, caution is needed if you are taking medication for thyroid disease, as ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone levels in some people—A case where the natural healing that occurs lowers the need for thyroid supplementation, potentially causing an overabundance of thyroid hormones. A natural healthcare practitioner should be able to guide you.

BERBERINE: Shop at Yes Wellness

Berberine is a natural chemical found in that is found in some 450 plants, including goldenseal, European barberry, and tree turmeric. This plant extract has been a staple in Chinese and other traditional medical practices. In recent decades berberine has been studied for its many health benefits.

These include:

Berberine

Benefitting heart and cardiovascular health and function
Lowering blood pressure (decreasing hypertension)
Balancing blood sugar
Curbing insulin resistance
Regulating metabolism
Supporting antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
Improving bone health
Helping rebalance gut flora
Promoting anti-cancer properties
Reducing fat build-up in the liver

Tea

 

When compared to lifestyle changes alone, berberine was found to be as effective as common medications in lowering blood sugar levels, lipid levels, and decreasing hypertension. The upsides were decreased cost (the herb is cheaper than common medicines) and the absence of serious side effects.

A 2008 study demonstrated that berberine combined with cinnamon extract had better “anti-diabetic” effects than leading prescription medication for people with elevated blood sugar, or Type 2 diabetes. In another study, one gram of berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 20% and also improved levels of blood lipids, like cholesterol and triglycerides. Other studies suggest berberine helps with weight loss and can improve symptoms and markers of metabolic syndrome.

PRECAUTIONS:

Berberine can decrease the speed the liver breaks down some medications. You should also take precautions if you are taking medications to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure.

 

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES:

If you are not digesting and absorbing nutrients, your body is not getting enough of the right “fuel” to function well, let alone heal. If your body is dealing with inflammation, it may not be digesting food efficiently. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can reduce the burden on your digestive organs—the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and small intestine—by making foods easier to digest.

They do this by helping your body to break down harder-to-digest proteins, starches, and fats. Sometimes your body does not produce adequate amounts of the many enzymes required for proper digestion. Supplementing with quality enzymes can correct this.

Signs that you might benefit from taking digestive enzymes include the following symptoms:

Food cravings
Thyroid problems
Hormone imbalances
Severe PMS
Acid reflux, heartburn, GERD
Bloating
Flatulence
Diarrhea
Losing hair
Brain fog
Fatigue
Joint pain and arthritis
Dull or dry skin
Insomnia
Depression
Irritability and mood swings
Migraines and headaches

MIMOSA PUDICA:

This plant is also known as the “shy plant” and has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years. It’s been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, and research has shown that it has many medicinal properties.

Among these, mimosa pudica holds the following benefits:

Mimosa pudica

Antiparasitic
Anti-inflammatory
Anti-microbial
Antipyretic (lowers fever)
Antidiarrheal
Pain relief
Lowers blood sugar
Lowers blood pressure
Helps purify blood
Helps menstrual cramps
Supports uterine health
Supports depression
Helps hemorrhoids
Treats eczema and psoriasis (topically)
Acts as a diuretic
Helps ulcers
Promotes liver healing
Assists with detox
Promotes gut (microbiome) health
Helps sciatic nerve regeneration

This plant will actually paralyze parasites, so your body can purge them. In fact, two separate studies concluded that mimosa pudica is as effective as the leading anti-parasite medication. Mimosa pudica acts as a powerful internal “scrubber”. It will work its way through the intestinal walls, pulling out parasites, toxins, heavy metals, biofilms, and other unwanted elements to provide immune and digestive support. This plant was a stand-out component of my healing protocol, and in getting rid of parasites that were ravaging my body without me knowing!

WORMWOOD:

Wormwood is actually a cousin of the daisy family. As a known, natural anti-parasitic herb it’s used to help eliminate intestinal worms, especially pinworms and roundworms. Wormwood is also used to treat anorexia, Crohn’s disease, SIBO, insomnia, anemia, lack of appetite, flatulence, stomachache, and indigestion. It’s also antibacterial and antimicrobial, proving effective to fight Candida overgrowths.

OMEGA-3:

Omega-3 fatty acids—especially DHA and EPA—are essential to health, healing, and longevity. It’s something your body needs to function at the basic level and must be consumed because your body cannot manufacture it. Sadly, many people are deficient in this essential nutrient. Fish oil is an excellent source of DHA and EPA.

Science has studied and shown that omega-3 helps: Purchase from Yes Wellness

Tea

 

Decrease inflammation
Support heart health and function
Support cardiovascular health and function
Protect the heart
Protect your cardiovascular system
Support brain function and longevity
Support erectile dysfunction
Lower Depression, Anxiety & Stress
Lower cortisol
Support Mental illness Improve metabolism
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Prevent and support Alzheimer’s
Prevent and support dementia
Lower oxidative stress
Support healthy immunity
Balance blood sugar
Prevent tumor proliferation
Prevent Cancer
Support hormone balance
Note: During pregnancy and after childbirth
women should be especially aware of the need to
consume enough omega-3.

PROBIOTICS & PREBIOTICS:

The difference. What are they?

Hopefully, you are already aware of the importance that probiotics and prebiotics play in your quest to heal your gut (microbiome). In addition, these building blocks for a balanced gut and diversity in gut flora can help naturally support you in healing autoimmune disease, inflammation, depression, anxiety, hormone balance, and more.

Microbiome definition link

Microbiota definition link

Lactobacillus acidophilus link

Here are some important, general facts:

Your gut contains trillions and trillions of organisms that are not only part of your digestive system but contribute to mood, hormone balance, and even brain function. This environment is called your microbiome. The organisms are known collectively as the microbiota. The symbiotic balance of these organisms in your microbiome is essential to overall health, but in particular for a healthy immune response and inflammation.

“Probiotics” is the term used for a variety of beneficial bacteria that are essential for a healthy set of microbiota and microbiome.

Prebiotics are fundamentally food for your microbiota. They often come in the form of soluble fiber and resistant starches that encourage a healthy balance in your microbiome, by feeding the probiotics. While many people know that getting good probiotics is important, they often overlook the value of prebiotics. Optimal health is achieved with a balance of both.

Your gut has been found to directly influence anxiety levels. Both probiotics and prebiotics help reduce cortisol. Researchers have observed that Alzheimer’s patients frequently demonstrate unhealthy microbiota patterns. As long as 100 years ago, doctors believed an unhealthy gut led to chronic infection, stress, and inflammation.

A 2015 study showed Lactobacillus acidophilus could reduce gut inflammation. Probiotics are known to quicken healing in gastrointestinal infections, as well as the cold or flu, decrease blood pressure, and provide relief from ulcerative colitis, IBS, and Crohn’s disease.

The Arthritis Foundation lists probiotics as “crucial” to both health and supporting life with arthritis. We really could go on for several pages about both probiotics and prebiotics. After all, “probiotic” means “for life”, or “pro” life. Keeping your microbiome filled with happy and balanced microbiota is the foundation of all healing. The easiest and surest way to keep your microbiome happy is to eat a healthy, diverse, and high fiber diet.

But if you are out of balance, you may have to increase the balance of ‘good’ bacteria. In fact, experts recommend daily supplementation with good quality prebiotics and probiotics.

One challenge consumers face is that most probiotics sold in foods come from dairy, which is often a trigger for yet more inflammation and/or autoimmune issues. These types of foods are also notorious for containing far fewer probiotics than advertised. Unfortunately the same applies to many store-bought probiotic supplements, as well.

Even with the more expensive, refrigerated probiotics, you have no way of knowing how many live bacteria are present, simply because there are so many environmental factors in transit, storage, and stocking shelves that can compromise (or completely kill) them!

A plant-based probiotic is more stable and doesn’t need refrigeration. You’ll be looking for a variety of organisms, including:

Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, marine polysaccharides, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), and Bifidobacterium lactis. Prebiotics are much more stable. They easily survive the long journey from your mouth to your intestines. Probiotics are more of a challenge in this way, so finding a formula that has a high number of bacteria (often called CFUs, for Colony Forming Units) and that offers some kind of capsule protection is ideal.

The number of CFUs will ensure you get the most ‘soldiers in the field’ as it were, and a capsule with protective shielding allows it to travel to your gut and ensure they arrive ready to make a home in your microbiome.

Get your microbiota in balance, keep them happy and healthy with continued supplementation and a top-notch diet, and you can witness the anti-anxiety, anti-stress, autoimmune, and inflammation support and more yourself.

Please click on the following for definition and information:

Lactobacillus Plantarum 

Lactobacillus paracasei 

Polysaccharides

Fructooligosaccharide

Bifidobacterium lactis

Turmeric
Ginger
Bioperine
Rhodiola
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Vitamin D3
Cordyceps (Glutathione)
Dandelion Root
White Mulberry
Triphala
Yucca root
Vitamin K2

Please know you can find almost all of these herbal alternatives at the link below this text

Also a great Vitamin source

I hope you have found some helpful information that will assist you in living a healthy life. Always research the medications you are taking and that includes the herbal. I am not a woman and there are some things I can not relate to. I have read several articles, and visited many websites to provide you with what I consider is important.

Thank you for reading.

Michael.

Comments are welcome.

The Effects of Smoking to your Health

The Effects of Smoking to your Health

The Health Cost of Smoking

Cigarettes in Lungs

No matter how you smoke it, tobacco is dangerous to your health. There are no safe substances in any tobacco products, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide. The substances you inhale don’t just affect your lungs. They can affect your entire body.

Smoking can lead to a variety of ongoing complications in the body, as well as long-term effects on your body systems. While smoking can increase your risk of a variety of problems over several years, some of the bodily effects are immediate. Learn more about the symptoms and overall effects of smoking on the body below.

Tobacco smoke is incredibly harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks.

Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients, many of which can also be found in cigars and hookahs. When these ingredients burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them are linked to cancer.

In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that smoking is the most common “preventable cause of death” in the United States. While the effects of smoking may not be immediate, the complications and damage can last for years. The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse many effects.

Healthy Lung vs Smokers Lung

 

Central nervous system:

One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds and makes you feel more energized for a while. But as that effect wears off, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is extremely habit-forming, which is why people find smoking so difficult to quit.

Physical withdrawal from nicotine can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.

Respiratory system:

When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, this damage leads to a variety of problems. Along with increased infections, people who smoke are at higher risk for chronic non-reversible lung conditions such as emphysema, the destruction of the air sacs in your lungs chronic bronchitis, permanent inflammation that affects the lining of the breathing tubes of the lungs chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases lung cancer. Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory discomfort as your lungs and airways begin to heal. Increased mucus production right after quitting smoking is a positive sign that your respiratory system is recovering.

Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. They also tend to have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cardiovascular system:

Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood. Over time, the ongoing narrowing, along with damage to the blood vessels, can cause peripheral artery disease.

Smoking also raises blood pressure, weakens blood vessel walls, and increases blood clots. Together, this raises your risk of stroke.

You’re also at an increased risk of worsening heart disease if you’ve already had heart bypass surgery, a heart attack, or a stent placed in a blood vessel.

Smoking not only impacts your cardiovascular health, but also the health of those around you who don’t smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke carries the same risk to a nonsmoker as someone who does smoke. Risks include stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

Integumentary system (skin, hair, and nails):

The more obvious signs of smoking involve skin changes. Substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. A recent study has shown that smoking dramatically increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer).

Your fingernails and toenails aren’t immune to the effects of smoking. Smoking increases the likelihood of fungal nail infections.

Hair is also affected by nicotine. An older study found it increases hair loss, balding and graying.

Digestive system:

Smoking increases the risk of mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus cancer. Smokers also have higher rates of pancreatic cancer. Even people who “smoke but don’t inhale” face an increased risk of mouth cancer.

Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications, which tend to develop at a faster rate than in people who don’t smoke.

Sexuality and reproductive system:

Nicotine affects blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction by decreasing lubrication and the ability to reach orgasm. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. This can lead to decreased sexual desire.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Smoking

  • Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • Illegal drug use
    • Alcohol use
    • Motor vehicle injuries
    • Firearm-related incidents
  • More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.
  • Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.5
  • Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of death from all causes in men and women.
  • The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.

Smoking and Increased Health Risks

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

  • Estimates show smoking increases the risk:
    • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
    • For strokes by 2 to 4 times
    • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
    • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times
  • Smoking causes diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).

  • Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease, which are among the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure goes up. Clots can also form.
  • A stroke occurs when:
    • A clot blocks the blood flow to part of your brain;
    • A blood vessel in or around your brain bursts.
  • Blockages caused by smoking can also reduce blood flow to your legs and skin.

Smoking and Respiratory Disease

Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs.

  • Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.
  • If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse.
  • Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers.

Smoking and Cancer

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body: (See figure above)

  • Bladder
  • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors.1

If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.1,2

Smoking and Other Health Risks

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.

  • Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for:
    • Preterm (early) delivery
    • Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
    • Low birth weight
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
    • Ectopic pregnancy
    • Orofacial clefts in infants
  • Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.
  • Smoking can affect bone health.
    • Women past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked. They are also at greater risk for broken bones.
  • Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.
  • Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see). It can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision.
  • Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation and decreased immune function.
  • Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

Quitting and Reduced Risks

  • Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply.
  • Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker’s.
  • If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years.
  • Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for dying from lung cancer drops by half.

Circulation

When you smoke, the poisons from the tar in your cigarettes enter your blood. These poisons in your blood then:

  • Make your blood thicker, and increase chances of clot formation
  • Increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart work harder than normal
  • Narrow your arteries, reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood circulating to your organs.

Together, these changes to your body when you smoke increase the chance of your arteries narrowing and clots forming, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Heart

Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).

Carbon monoxide from the smoke and nicotine both put a strain on the heart by making it work faster. They also increase your risk of blood clots. Other chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your coronary arteries, leading to the furring of the arteries.

In fact, smoking doubles your risk of having a heart attack, and if you smoke you have twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease than lifetime non-smokers.

The good news is that after only one year of not smoking, your risk is reduced by half. After stopping for 15 years, your risk is similar to that of someone who has never smoked.

Stomach

Smokers have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer or ulcers. Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of your gullet (esophagus) and allow acid from the stomach to travel in the wrong direction back up your gullet, a process known as reflux.

Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing kidney cancer, and the more you smoke the greater the risk. For example, research has shown that if you regularly smoke 10 cigarettes a day, you are one and a half times more likely to develop kidney cancer compared with a non-smoker. This is increased to twice as likely if you smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.

Skin

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your skin. This means that if you smoke, your skin ages more quickly and looks grey and dull. The toxins in your body also cause cellulite.

Smoking prematurely ages your skin by between 10 and 20 years and makes it three times more likely you’ll get facial wrinkling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Smoking even gives you a sallow, yellow-grey complexion and hollow cheeks, which can cause you to look gaunt.

The good news is that once you stop smoking, you will prevent further deterioration of your skin caused by smoking.

Bones

Smoking can cause your bones to become weak and brittle. Women need to be especially careful as they are more likely to suffer from brittle bones (osteoporosis) than non-smokers.

Smoking can affect pregnancy and the developing fetus in several ways, including:

  • increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • reducing the baby’s birth weight
  • increasing the risk of preterm delivery
  • damaging the fetus’s lungs, brain, and central nervous system
  • increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • contributing to congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip or cleft palate

5. Risk of type 2 diabetes

The CDC report that people who smoke regularly have a 30–40 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who do not.

Smoking can also make it more difficult for people with diabetes to manage their condition.

6. Weakened immune system

Smoking cigarettes can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.

It can also cause additional inflammation in the body.

7. Vision problems

Smoking cigarettes can cause eye problems, including a greater risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Other vision problems related to smoking include:

8. Poor oral hygiene

People who smoke have double the risk of gum disease. This risk increases with the number of cigarettes a person smokes.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • swollen and tender gums
  • bleeding when brushing
  • loose teeth
  • sensitive teeth

Smoking tobacco can limit a person’s ability to taste and smell things properly. It can also stain the teeth yellow or brown.

9. Unhealthy skin and hair

Smoking tobacco can affect a person’s skin and hair. A person who smokes may experience prematurely aged, wrinkled skin. They also have a higher risk of skin cancer, “especially on the lips.”

Smoking can cause the hair and skin to smell of tobacco. It can also contribute to hair loss and balding.

10. Risk of other cancers

In addition to the well-documented link with lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can also contribute to other forms of cancer.

The American Cancer Society report that cigarette smoking causes 20–30 percent of pancreatic cancers.

People who smoke are also three times as likely to develop bladder cancer than people who do not.

Smoking cigarettes can also double a person’s risk of stomach cancer. Tobacco is especially linked to stomach cancers that occur near the esophagus.

Cigarettes can also increase the risk of:

Secondhand smoke

The ill-effects of smoking cigarettes do not only affect people who smoke. Secondhand smoke can also have significant health effects on family members, friends, and coworkers.

Effects of exposure to secondhand smoke include:

  • increasing the risk of colds and ear infections
  • making asthma worse
  • raising blood pressure
  • damaging the heart
  • reducing levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol

Quitting

While quitting smoking can be challenging, the CDC reports that today, there are more people who used to smoke than people who currently smoke.

Once a person stops smoking, the benefits start accumulating. These include clearer skin, improved oral health, more stable hormones, a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of many types of cancers.

Some other benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • After 20 minutes–12 hours: Heart rate and carbon monoxide in the blood drop to normal levels.
  • After 1 year: The risk of a heart attack is much lower, as is blood pressure. Coughing and upper respiratory problems begin to improve.
  • After 2–5 years: The risk of stroke drops to that of someone who does not smoke, according to the CDC.
  • After 5–15 years: The risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer is reduced by half.
  • After 10 years: The risk of lung cancer and bladder cancer is half that of someone who currently smokes.
  • After 15 years: The risk of heart disease is similar to that of someone who never smoked.

Nicotine is an addictive drug and can cause withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using it. These symptoms including cravings, increased appetite, and irritability. Cravings and other effects typically subside over time.

Popular in: Smoking / Quit Smoking

Personal Note:

I experimented with smoking at a young age. I would steal cigarettes from my dad’s pack of smokes hide somewhere and I would cough and smoke that cigarette. Why I do not know. My dad was aware of what I was doing and there came that dreaded day when he caught me smoking one of his cigarettes.

I thought I would end up with a big lecture, instead, my dad handed me a fresh pack of cigarettes and got me to smoke all the contents. It made me sick and that was my end to smoking. As time went by and I entered High School I started to pick up the habit again, all the cool people were smoking and I wanted to be one of them. For some reason, the habit did not stick for a long time.

During the years I watched my father’s smoking habit increase along with a constant cough and shortness of breath. Eventually, due to illness, he had to give up smoking, but the damage had been done.

I understand it is one of the hardest habits to quit. I started searching the web for alternatives that I would like to share with you.

Ways to help you Quit Smoking if that is what you want:

The use of herbs and supplements such as Lobelia, St. John’s Wort, Oat Straw, Valerian, and Ginseng, have not been scientifically proven to help quit smoking. The idea behind herbal remedies is to help reduce the effects of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Images and methods that may help, if you want to quit smoking: Please click on the URL below

https://www.pinterest.ca/sherardm/help-to-quit-smoking/

Thank you for reading,

Michael.

Comments are welcome

Artificial Intelligence and Health

Artificial Intelligence and Health

Your Health and Artificial Intelligence.

How safe would you feel if you were diagnosed and treated by artificial intelligence by a machine, so to speak?

First, let us take a look at the definition of artificial intelligence and what it is all about.

Artificial Intelligence and health

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer program or a machine to think and learn. It is also a field of study which tries to make computers “smart”. They work on their own without being encoded with commands. John McCarthy came up with the name “artificial intelligence” in 1955.

In general use, the term “artificial intelligence” means a machine that mimics human cognition. “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the way health care happens—everywhere.

“Even in rural Uganda, a patient can confirm her provider’s authenticity with a text message, and a community health worker can use Google to learn symptoms and treatments,” says Wayan Vota, IntraHealth’s director of digital health.

Now artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are changing the way we manage our health in and outside the clinic. We’re starting to see more instances where health workers and researchers can use AI to diagnose eye disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

And then there’s the DIY health tech. Want someone to talk to? There’s a chatbot therapist app for that. Want to have AI on your computer analyze your keystrokes and predict whether you’re developing a neurodegenerative disorder? You can sign up for that here. Want to track and record your every move to stay fit? Keep reading. All these new tools and applications are changing the way we take care of ourselves. They’re also generating scads of health data, which present their own challenges.

What is Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare?

Machine learning has the potential to provide data-driven clinical decision support (CDS) to physicians and hospital staff – paving the way for increased revenue potential. Machine learning, a subset of AI designed to identify patterns, uses algorithms and data to give automated insights to healthcare providers.

Examples of AI in Healthcare and Medicine

AI can improve healthcare by fostering preventative medicine and new drug discovery. Two examples of how AI is impacting healthcare include:

IBM Watson’s ability to pinpoint treatments for cancer patients, and Google Cloud’s Healthcare app that makes it easier for health organizations to collect store, and access data.

Business Insider Intelligence reported that researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center used IBM Watson’s Genomic product to identify specific treatments for over 1,000 patients. The product performed big data analysis to determine treatment options for people with tumors who were showing genetic abnormalities.

Comparatively, Google’s Cloud Healthcare application programming interface (API) includes CDS offerings and other AI solutions that help doctors make more informed clinical decisions regarding patients. AI used in Google Cloud takes data from users’ electronic health records through machine learning –creating insights for healthcare providers to make better clinical decisions.

Google worked with the University of California, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago to generate an AI system that predicts the outcomes of hospital visits. This acts as a way to prevent readmission and shorten the number of times patients are kept in hospitals.

Benefits, Problems, Risks & Ethics of AI in Healthcare

Integrating AI into the healthcare ecosystem allows for a multitude of benefits, including automating tasks and analyzing big patient data sets to deliver better healthcare faster, and at a lower cost. According to Business Insider Intelligence, 30% of healthcare costs are associated with administrative tasks. AI can automate some of these tasks, like pre-authorizing insurance, following-up on unpaid bills, and maintaining records, to ease the workload of healthcare professionals and ultimately save them money.

AI has the ability to analyze big data sets – pulling together patient insights and leading to predictive analysis. Quickly obtaining patient insights helps the healthcare ecosystem discover key areas of patient care that require improvement. Wearable healthcare technology also uses AI to better serve patients. Software that uses AI, like FitBits and smartwatches, can analyze data to alert users and their healthcare professionals on potential health issues and risks. Being able to assess one’s own health through technology eases the workload of professionals and prevents unnecessary hospital visits or remissions.

Fitbit_Versa_InBoxSE
FitBits use AI to analyze data to alert users and healthcare professionals on potential health risks
Fitbit

As with all things AI, these healthcare technology advancements are based on data humans provide –meaning, there is a risk of data sets containing unconscious bias. Previous experiences have shown that there is potential for coder bias and bias in machine learning to affect AI findings. In the sensitive healthcare market, especially, it will be critical to establish new ethics rules to address – and prevent – bias around AI.

FitBits catalog and prices

 

Fitbit Inspire Hr Heart Rate & Fitness Tracker, Black, One Size (s & L Bands Included)

Fitbit Versa Lite Smartwatch, Lilac/silver Aluminum, One Size (s & L Bands Included)Fitbit Versa 2 Health & Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-in, Sleep & Swim Tracking-Bordeaux/Coppper RoseFitbit Versa Lite Smartwatch, Charcoal/Silver Aluminum, One Size (S & L Bands Included)

Future of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

The use of AI in the healthcare market is growing due to the continued demand for wearable technology, digital medicine, and the industry’s overall transformation into the modern, digital age. Hospitals and healthcare professionals are seeing the benefits of using AI in technology and storing patients’ data on private clouds, like the Google Cloud Platform. AI allows doctors and patients to more easily access health records and assess patient’s health data that is recorded over a period via AI-infused technology

AI in technology and storing patients’ data on private clouds, like the Google Cloud Platform.
Google

Health tech companies, startups, and healthcare professionals are discovering new ways to incorporate AI into the healthcare market; and, the speed at which we
improve the healthcare system through AI will only continue to accelerate as the industry dives deeper into digital health. Artificial intelligence in health care carries huge potential, according to experts in computer science and medicine, but it also raises serious questions around bias, accountability, and security.

“I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg right now,” said Yoshua Bengio, a computer scientist and professor at the University of Montreal, who was recently awarded the Turing Award, often called the “Nobel Prize” of computing. Bengio is one of the pioneers of deep learning, an advanced form of AI, which he believes will advance health care. In deep learning, a computer is fed data, which it uses to make assumptions and learn as it goes — much like our brain does.

Scientists are already using AI to develop medical devices. At the University of Alberta, researchers are testing an experimental bionic arm that can “learn” and anticipate the movements of an amputee. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a tool that can look at your retina and automatically detect signs of diabetic blindness.

Emergency Room Waiting Times

At Humber River Hospital in northwest Toronto, AI is speeding up perhaps the most frustrating part of a patient’s experience: the emergency room. In the hospital’s control center, powerful computers are now accurately predicting how many patients will arrive in the emergency department — two days in advance.

The software processes real-time data from all over the hospital— admissions, wait times, transfers and discharges — and analyzes it, going back over a year’s worth of information. From that, it can find patterns and pinpoint bottlenecks in the system. “If you add up all those tiny delays — how long it takes to see your doctor, how long you’re waiting for your bed to be cleaned, how long you’re waiting to get up to your room — if you measure all of those things and can shorten each one of them, you can start saving a lot of money,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at Humber River Hospital.

According to Gardam, it’s working: patients are now moving through the system faster, allowing the hospital to see an average of 29 more patients a day.

Risks With AI and Health

For machines to learn, they need vast amounts of information. Since that initial data comes from humans, some of that information can be tainted by personal bias  especially if the algorithm isn’t fed a diverse data set.

“In dermatology, you take a look at a number of different photographs or slides of moles. If you happen to be pale-skinned, some of the machine learning associated with that imagery is great. If you’re darker-skinned, it’s not,” said Dr. Jennifer Gibson, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto. She’s not against the integration of AI in health care but warns that anything involving big data, profit-driven companies and health care should be heavily regulated.

“In our hunger for more data, in order to power these tools, we may be introducing a form of surveillance within our society — which is not really the intended goal,
but might happen accidentally,” Gibson said.

Gardam doesn’t share those concerns; he believes humans — not machines — will remain in control.”It’ll still be a long time before we fully accept information coming from a computer system, telling us what the diagnosis is,” he said. “Humans are still going to be reviewing it until we’re very comfortable we’re not
missing something.”

Some governments aren’t waiting for that to happen. In the U. S, the FDA recently announced that it is developing a framework for regulating self-learning AI products used in medicine. In a statement to CBC News, Health Canada said it also engaging with national, international, industry, academic and government stakeholders “to discuss the challenges and opportunities in regulating current and emerging AI technologies in health care.”

What The 21st Century is Bringing To Us As Far Health Care and AI

In the 21st Century, the age of big data and artificial intelligence (AI), each healthcare organization has built its own data infrastructure to support its own needs, typically involving on-premises computing and storage. Data is balkanized along organizational boundaries, severely constraining the ability to provide services to patients across a care continuum within one organization or across organizations.

This situation evolved as individual organizations had to buy and maintain the costly hardware and software required for healthcare, and has been reinforced by vendor lock-in, most notably in electronic medical records (EMRs). With increasing cost pressure and policy imperatives to manage patients across and between care episodes, the need to aggregate data across and between departments within a healthcare organization and across disparate organizations has become apparent not only to realize the promise of AI but also to improve the efficiency of existing data-intensive tasks such as any population-level segmentation and patient safety monitoring.

The rapid explosion in AI has introduced the possibility of using aggregated healthcare data to produce powerful models that can automate diagnosis and also enable an increased approach to medicine by tailoring treatments and targeting resources with maximum effectiveness in a timely and dynamic manner.

However, “the inconvenient truth” is that at present the algorithms that feature prominently in the research literature are in fact not, for the most part, executable at the front lines of clinical practice. This is for two reasons: first, these AI innovations by themselves do not re-engineer the incentives that support existing ways of working.

A complex web of ingrained political and economic factors and the proximal influence of medical practice norms and commercial interests determine the way healthcare is delivered. Simply adding AI applications to a fragmented system will not create sustainable change. Second, most healthcare organizations lack the data infrastructure required to collect the data needed to optimally train algorithms to (a) “fit” the local population and/or the local practice patterns, a requirement prior to deployment that is rarely highlighted by current AI publications, and (b) interrogate them for bias to guarantee that the algorithms perform consistently across patient cohorts, especially those who may not have been adequately represented in the training cohort.

For example, an algorithm trained on mostly Caucasian patients is not expected to have the same accuracy when applied to minorities. In addition, such rigorous evaluation and re-calibration must continue after implementation to track and capture those patient demographics and practice patterns which inevitably change over time.

Some of these issues can be addressed through external validation, the importance of which is not unique to AI, and it is time that existing standards for prediction model reporting are being updated specifically to incorporate standards applicable to this end. In the United States, there are islands of aggregated healthcare data in the ICU, and in the Veterans Administration. These aggregated data sets have predictably catalyzed an acceleration in AI development, but without broader development of data infrastructure outside these islands, it will not be possible to generalize these innovations.

Artificial Intelligence and Health Care. YouTube Video

The Google Cloud, Health and AI

Elsewhere in the economy, the development of cloud computing, secure high-performance general use data infrastructure and services available via the Internet (the “cloud”), has been a significant enabler for large and small technology companies alike, providing significantly lower fixed costs and higher performance and supporting the aforementioned opportunities for AI. Healthcare, with its abundance of data, is in theory well-poised to benefit from growth in cloud computing. The largest and arguably most valuable store of data in healthcare rests in EMRs. However, clinician satisfaction with EMRs remains low, resulting in variable completeness and quality of data entry, and interoperability between different providers remains elusive.

The typical lament of a harried clinician is still “why does my EMR still suck and why don’t all these systems just talk to each other?” Policy imperatives have attempted to address these dilemmas, however, progress has been minimal. In spite of the widely touted benefits of “data liberation”, a sufficiently compelling use case has not been presented to overcome the vested interests maintaining the status quo and justify the significant upfront investment necessary to build data infrastructure.

Furthermore, it is reasonable to suggest that such high-performance computing work has been and continues to be beyond the core competencies of either healthcare organizations or governments and as such, policies have been formulated, but rarely, if ever, successfully implemented. It is now time to revisit these policy imperatives in light of the availability of secure, scalable data infrastructure available through cloud computing that makes the vision of interoperability realizable, at least in theory.

To realize this vision and to realize the potential of AI across health systems, more fundamental issues have to be addressed: who owns health data, who is responsible for it, and who can use it? Cloud computing alone will not answer these questions—public discourse and policy intervention will be needed. The specific path forward will depend on the degree of a social compact around healthcare itself as a public good, the tolerance to a public-private partnership, and crucially, the
public’s trust in both governments and the private sector to treat their healthcare data with due care and attention in the face of both commercial and political perverse incentives.

In terms of the private sector, these concerns are amplified as cloud computing is provided by a few large technology companies who have both significant market power and strong commercial interests outside of healthcare for which healthcare data might potentially be beneficial. Specific contracting instruments are needed to ensure that data sharing involves both necessary protection and, where relevant, fair material returns to healthcare organizations and the patients they serve. In the absence of a general approach to contracting, high profile cases in this area have been corrosive to public trust.

Data privacy regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or California’s Consumer Privacy Act are necessary and well-intentioned, though incur the risk of favoring well-resourced incumbents who are more able to meet the cost of regulatory compliance thereby possibly limiting the growth of smaller healthcare provider and technology organizations.

Initiatives to give patients access to their healthcare data, including new proposals from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services are welcome, and in fact, it has long been argued that patients themselves should be the owners and guardians of their health data and subsequently consent to their data being used to develop AI solutions.

In this scenario, as in the current scenario where healthcare organizations are the de-facto owners and guardians of patient data generated in the health system alongside fledgling initiatives from prominent technology companies to share patient-generated data back into the health system, there exists the need for secure, high-performance data infrastructure to make use of this data for AI applications.

If the aforementioned issues are addressed, there are two possible routes to building the necessary data infrastructure to enable today’s clinical care and population health management and tomorrow’s AI-enabled workflows. The first is an evolutionary path to creating generalized data infrastructure by building on existing impactful successes in the research domain such as the recent Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability
(STRIDES) an initiative from the National Institutes of Health or MIMIC from the MIT Laboratory for Computational Physiology to generate the momentum for change.

Another, the more revolutionary path would be for governments to mandate that all healthcare organizations store their clinical data in commercially available clouds. In either scenario, existing initiatives such as the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard that create a common data schema for storage and transfer of healthcare data and AI-enabled technology innovations to accelerate the migration of existing data will accelerate progress and ensure that legacy data are included.

There are several complex problems still to be solved including how to enable informed consent for data sharing, and how to protect confidentiality yet maintain data fidelity. However, the prevalent scenario for data infrastructure development will depend more on the socioeconomic context of the health system in question rather than on technology.

A notable by-product of a move of clinical and research data to the cloud would be the erosion of the market power of EMR providers. The status quo with proprietary data formats and local hosting of EMR databases favors incumbents who have strong financial incentives to maintain the status quo. The creation of health data infrastructure opens the door for innovation and competition within the private sector to fulfill the public aim of interoperable health data.

The potential of AI is well described, however in reality health systems are faced with a choice: to significantly downgrade the enthusiasm regarding the potential of AI in everyday clinical practice, or to resolve issues of data ownership and trust and invest in the data infrastructure to realize it.

Now that the growth of cloud computing in the broader economy has bridged the computing gap, the opportunity exists to both transform population health and realize the potential of AI, if governments are willing to foster a productive resolution to issues of ownership of healthcare data through a process that necessarily transcends election cycles and overcomes or co-opts the vested interests that maintain the status quo—a tall order. Without this, however opportunities for AI in healthcare will remain just that—opportunities.

References:

Panch, T., Szolovits, P. & Atun, R. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and health systems. J. Glob. Health 8, 020303 (2018).

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I wonder whether to be worried about this or accept it with confidence. Whatever goes into artificial intelligence is provided by humans. How would this work with medical bills? What about the real Doctor?

I think about the incorporation of AI into automobiles. Again Google is right there amongst other AI automobiles like Tesla.

The autopilot system has been around for several years, but its functionality is relevant to flying the plane once it is already in the sky and everything is going smoothly. It can not land the plane or deal with complications if there were problems.

Will this be like the health care system of the future?

Thank you for reading,

Michael.

Comments are welcome

Alcohol Addiction Facts

Alcohol Addiction Facts

Alcoholism the sometimes misunderstood disease.

Definition of alcoholism:

In a medical context, alcoholism is said to exist when two or more of the following conditions are present: a person drinks large amounts of alcohol over a long time period, has difficulty cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use.

Why can someone drink alcohol on a social level and with a level of responsibility? While someone else has to drink to get drunk, and sometimes lose that feeling of responsibility to a point of slurred speech and perhaps even stagger and finally pass out.

What is the difference between these two people?

For the longest time alcoholism was regarded as a conscious choice one makes to get drunk. Yes, sometimes there is the person who drinks for the sole idea of getting drunk, perhaps a social occasion, help them overcome a traumatic event or just because everyone else is drunk.

The hangover, the realization of knowing this was just a brief encounter and now it is time to get back to doing the things you need to do to become that responsible person again. In most cases, this is acceptable behavior and laughed about after. The is the social drinker widely accepted by everyone.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. There are those who have that one drink, then two and proceed to a level of total intoxication.

Casual drinking, alcohol abuse, & alcoholism:

Let’s start with casual drinking. Unless you have religious or personal restrictions, there’s nothing wrong with a few drinks with friends, maybe some wine with dinner, or the occasional bubbly at a party. The problem starts, though, when you begin abusing the substance.

Many people use the terms “alcohol abuse” and “alcoholism” interchangeably. However, alcoholism refers to alcohol addiction or dependence, where the individual has a physical or psychological compulsion to drink alcohol. Alcohol abuse refers to a pattern of behavior where a person drinks excessively in spite of the negative consequences.

Ten Warning Signs You’re An Alcoholic:

The following are ten warning signs of alcoholism that might help answer the question “Am I an Alcoholic?”:

  • Drinking alone and in secrecy
  • Losing interest in other activities that were once enjoyable
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Making drinking a priority over responsibilities, such as employment and family
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (sweating, anxiety, etc.)
  • Extreme mood swings and irritability
  • Feelings of guilt associated with drinking
  • Having a drink first thing in the morning
  • Continuing to drink, despite health, financial and family problems
  • Inability to stop or control the amount of alcohol that’s consumed

Symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol addiction:

Alcoholism is the physical and/or mental dependence on alcohol.

If you find yourself regularly thinking about your next drink, or if you’ve tried to cut back on drinking and never quite succeeded, you may have an alcohol addiction.

Alcoholism begins with tolerance. Alcohol is a drug, and as you drink more, the body becomes less susceptible to its effects. And with enough repetition, it comes to expect the presence of alcohol. This leads to alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), when the body reacts to a heavy drinker stopping the supply.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Jumpiness or shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Not thinking clearly

It may take a few hours or days for these symptoms to show, and they may get worse in the days following.

Withdrawal can be dangerous, but a detox program can help you move past the negative symptoms safely.

In some cases, the individual may experience the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens. The can cause agitation, fever, hallucinations, confusion, and seizures. For this reason, heavy drinkers who are looking to end their addiction should seek medical assistance.

In the past, a person with this condition was referred to as an “alcoholic.” However, this is increasingly seen as an unhelpful and negative label. Health professionals now say that a person has an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), in 2015, 15.1 million American adults (6.2 percent of the population) had an alcohol use problem.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, 3.3 million deaths every year result from the harmful use of alcohol.

Causes:

Young person drinking alcohol in park.
Causes and risk factors include peer pressure, drinking from a young age, and depression.

Alcohol dependence can take from a few years to several decades to develop. For some people who are particularly vulnerable, it can happen within months.

Over time, regular alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance of:

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain
  • glutamate

GABA controls impulsiveness and glutamate stimulates the nervous system.

Dopamine levels in the brain rise after consuming alcohol. Dopamine levels may make the drinking experience more gratifying.

Over the long- or medium-term, excessive drinking can significantly alter the levels of these brain chemicals. This causes the body to crave alcohol in order to feel good and avoid feeling bad.

Possible risk factors:

Some risk factors may also be linked to excessive drinking.

  • Genes: Some specific genetic factors may make some people more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol and other substances. There may be a family history.
  • The age of the first alcoholic drink: A study has suggested that people who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 years may be more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life.
  • Easy access: There appears to be a correlation between easy access to alcohol — such as cheap prices — and alcohol abuse and alcohol-related deaths. One study registered a significant drop in alcohol-related deaths after one state raised alcohol taxes. The effect was found to be nearly two to four times that of other prevention strategies, such as school programs or media campaigns.
  • Stress: Some stress hormones are linked to alcohol abuse. If stress and anxiety levels are high, a person may consume alcohol in an attempt to blank out the upheaval.
  • Peer drinking: People whose friends drink regularly or excessively are more likely to drink too much. They can eventually lead to alcohol-related problems.
  • Low self-esteem: Those with low self-esteem who have alcohol readily available are more likely to consume too much.
  • Depression: People with depression may deliberately or unwittingly use alcohol as a means of self-treatment. On the other hand, consuming too much alcohol may increase the risk of depression, rather than reducing it.
  • Media and advertising: In some countries, alcohol is portrayed as a glamorous, worldly, and cool activity. Alcohol advertising and media coverage of it may increase the risk by conveying the message that excessive drinking is acceptable.
  • How the body processes (metabolizes) alcohol: People who need comparatively more alcohol to achieve an effect have a higher risk of eventually developing health problems related to alcohol.

More Risk Factors:

This information I know I have repeated it, there is a reason. Too many people are dying, too many families are suffering from watching a loved one on his or her journey to an early death. The mood changes, sad, happy depressed and yes suicidal. I will repeat myself, my words may be redundant but I am an alcoholic, and I do not want to go back to being sick again. Yes, I will repeat, I am scared.

Alcohol use may begin in the teens, but alcohol use disorder occurs more frequently in the 20s and 30s, though it can start at any age.

  • Steady drinking over time. Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can lead to alcohol-related problems or alcohol use disorder.
  • Starting at an early age. People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.
  • Family history. The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol. This may be influenced by genetic factors.
  • Depression and other mental health problems. It’s common for people with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
  • History of trauma. People with a history of emotional or other trauma are at increased risk of alcohol use disorder.
  • Having bariatric surgery. Some research studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder or relapsing after recovering from alcohol use disorder.
  • Social and cultural factors. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcohol use disorder. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much. For young people, the influence of parents, peers and other role models can impact risk.

Diagnosis:

For AUD to be diagnosed in the U.S., the individual must meet the criteria laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APS).

The criteria include having a pattern of consumption that leads to considerable impairment or distress.

At least three of the following criteria should have been present during the past 12 months:

  • Alcohol tolerance: A person needs a large quantity of alcohol to feel intoxicated. However, when the liver is damaged and cannot metabolize the alcohol so well, this tolerance may drop. Damage to the central nervous system may also reduce tolerance levels.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: When the individual abstains from alcohol or cuts down, they experience tremors, insomnia, nausea, or anxiety. They may drink more to avoid these symptoms.
  • Beyond intentions: The person drinks more alcohol, or over a longer period than they intended.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down: The person is continuously trying to cut down alcohol consumption but does not succeed. They may have a persistent desire to cut down.
  • Time consumed: The person spends a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol consumption.
  • Withdrawal: The individual withdraws from recreational, social, or occupational activities that they previously participated in.
  • Persistence: The person continues consuming alcohol, even though they know it is harming them physically and psychologically.

Some signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse may be due to another condition. Aging can lead to memory problems and falls, for example.

A person may go to the doctor about a medical condition, such as a digestive problem, and not mention how much alcohol they consume. This can make it difficult for a doctor to identify who might benefit from alcohol dependency screening.

If a health worker suspect alcohol may be a problem, they may ask a series of questions. If the patient answers in a certain way, the doctor may then use a standardized questionnaire to find out more.

Complications:

Sad woman covering face with hands.

Complications of this condition may include memory loss, confusion, mental health issues, and problems with work or home life.

Drinking alcohol usually elevates a person’s mood at first.

However, a person who has been consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol for a long time is likely to become sedated when they drink.

This is because alcohol depresses the nervous system.

Alcohol may undermine a person’s judgment. It can lower inhibitions and alter the drinker’s thoughts, emotions, and general behavior.

Heavy regular drinking can seriously affect a person’s ability to coordinate their muscles and speak properly.

Heavy binge drinking could lead to a coma.

Eventually, regular heavy drinking may cause at least one of the following problems:

  • Fatigue: The person feels tired most of the time.
  • Memory loss: Alcohol affects short-term memory in particular.
  • Eye muscles: The eye muscles can become significantly weaker.
  • Liver diseases: There is a higher chance of developing hepatitis and cirrhosis, an irreversible and progressive condition.
  • Gastrointestinal complications: Gastritis or pancreas damage can occur. These will undermine the body’s ability to digest food, absorb certain vitamins, and produce hormones that regulate metabolism.
  • Hypertension: Regular heavy drinking is likely to raise blood pressure.
  • Heart problems: There is a higher risk of cardiomyopathy (damaged heart muscle), heart failure, and stroke.
  • Diabetes: There is a high risk of developing diabetes type 2, and people with diabetes have a high chance of complications if they regularly consume more alcohol than is recommended. Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver, resulting in hypoglycemia. If a person with diabetes is already using insulin to lower their blood sugar levels, hypoglycemia could have serious consequences.
  • Menstruation: Excessive consumption of alcohol can stop or disrupt menstruation.
  • Erectile dysfunction: There may be problems getting or sustaining an erection.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome: Consuming alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects. The newborn may have a small head, heart problems, shortened eyelids, and developmental and cognitive problems.
  • Thinning bones: Alcohol interferes with the production of new bone, leading to a thinning of the bones and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Nervous system problems: There may be numbness in the extremities, dementia, and confused or disordered thinking.
  • Cancer: There is a higher risk of developing several cancers, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, prostate, and pharynx.
  • Accidents: There is a higher chance of injuries from falls, road traffic accidents, and so on.
  • Domestic abuse: Alcohol is a major factor in spouse-beating, child abuse, and conflicts with neighbors.
  • Work or school problems: Employment or educational problems and unemployment are often alcohol-related.
  • Suicide: Suicide rates among people with alcohol dependence or who consume alcohol inappropriately are higher than among those who do not.
  • Mental illness: Alcohol abuse increases the risk of mental illness, and it can make existing mental illnesses worse.
  • Problems with the law: People who consume alcohol are significantly more likely to spend time in court or in prison, compared with the rest of the population.

Later on, I will be talking about treatment. Personally I do not think there is anything that that can be considered treatment to the elimination of alcoholism. I was an alcoholic know that if I pick up any addictive substance, I will end up going back to drinking alcohol. I have to watch out for cough mixtures, Tylenol with codeine (Tylenol 3). There is no cure, only permanent and absolute abstinence. Yes, I am fearful I may pick up a trigger. I have to watch out what kind of social functions I attend.

What causes it?

The cause of alcohol use disorder is still unknown. Alcohol use disorder develops when you drink so much that chemical changes in the brain occur. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings you get when you drink alcohol. This makes you want to drink more often, even if it causes harm.

Eventually, the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol use go away and the person with alcohol use disorder will engage in drinking to prevent withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be quite unpleasant and even dangerous.

Alcohol use disorder typically develops gradually over time. It’s also known to run in families. It has not been proven but it is supposed to attack the male’s in the family try. Indications imply it may skip one generation. Within this said family it may skip all the females. This is not conclusive but it happens all too often to be dismissed.

How is it treated?

Treatment for alcohol use disorder varies, but each method is meant to help you stop drinking altogether. This is called abstinence. Treatment may occur in stages and can include the following:

  • detoxification or withdrawal to rid your body of alcohol
  • rehabilitation to learn new coping skills and behaviors
  • counseling to address emotional problems that may cause you to drink
  • support groups, including 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • medical treatment for health problems associated with an alcohol use disorder
  • medications to help control addiction

There are a couple of different medications that may help with alcohol use disorder:

  • Naltrexone (ReVia) is used only after someone has detoxed from alcohol. This type of drug works by blocking certain receptors in the brain that are associated with the alcoholic “high.” This drug, in combination with counseling, may help decrease a person’s craving for alcohol.
  • Acamprosate is a medication that can help reestablish the brain’s original chemical state before alcohol dependence. This drug should also be combined with therapy.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a drug that causes physical discomfort (such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches) any time the person consumes alcohol.

You may need to seek treatment at an inpatient facility if your addiction to alcohol is severe. These facilities will provide you with 24-hour care as you withdraw from alcohol and recover from your addiction. Once you’re well enough to leave, you’ll need to continue to receive treatment on an outpatient basis.

What’s the outlook for a person with alcohol use disorder?

Recovering from alcohol use disorder is difficult. Your outlook will depend on your ability to stop drinking. Many people who seek treatment are able to overcome the addiction. A strong support system is helpful for making a complete recovery.

Your outlook will also depend on the health complications that have developed as a result of your drinking. Alcohol use disorder can severely damage your liver. It can also lead to other health complications, including:

Alcoholism is a result of a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental and social factors. The more risk factors a person exhibits, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. And sometimes those risk factors are entirely out of the person’s control. Let’s cover some of them below:

1. STRESSFUL ENVIRONMENTS

While not every person turns to alcohol to relieve stress, some people do. When a person has a stressful job, for example, they may be more likely to drink heavily. This is often the case with certain occupations such as doctors and nurses – their day-to-day lives can be extremely stressful. To lower this risk factor, take the time to de-stress with healthy methods, like reading a good book, exercising or taking a nap.

Eight percent of high school students have reported binge drinking alcohol to the point of vomiting. Twelve percent of students have reported participating in a drinking game with their peers.

2. DRINKING AT AN EARLY AGE

According to the Mayo Clinic, those who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to have an alcohol problem or a physical dependence on alcohol as they get older. Not only is this because drinking may become a comfortable habit, but also because the body’s tolerance levels may increase.

3. MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS LIKE DEPRESSION

Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or other mental health issues can increase the risk of alcoholism. It’s easy to turn to alcohol when a person is feeling anxious or depressed – and the effects of alcohol may seem to temporarily ease those feelings. They can resort to drinking more and more, leading to alcohol addiction.

4. TAKING ALCOHOL WITH MEDICINE

Some medicines can increase the toxic effects of alcohol on the body. When a person continually takes alcohol with their medications, they may become addicted to the effects that follow – some of which have the capability to be very dangerous and even life-threatening.

5. FAMILY HISTORY

If you have a parent or other relative who is an alcoholic, your risk of alcoholism automatically increases. Part of this is due to genetics, but the other part has to do with your environment. Spending time around people who drink heavily or abuse alcohol can influence you to do the same.

Multiple factors can play a role in a person’s risk of alcoholism. While the above may not directly be considered “causes” of alcoholism, they can play a role in its development. It’s important to understand your risk and do what you can to lower it as much as possible.

  • More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.
  • More than 65 million Americans report binge drinking in the past month, which is more than 40 percent of the total of current alcohol users.
  • Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
  • Drunk driving costs the United States more than $199 billion every year.

ALCOHOL AND WOMEN:

  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 5.3 million women ages 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder.
  • Approximately one in two women of child-bearing age drink, and 18 percent of women in this group binge drink (five drinks per binge, on average).
  • Excessive drinking can interrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to infertility.
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Women who drink while pregnant increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause mental and physical birth defects.
  • Binge drinking dramatically increases the risk of sexual assault on women, especially those living in a college setting.
  • More than 45 percent of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last month, and 12 percent of these report binge drinking.
  • Alcohol abuse disorder in women has increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013, according to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  • High-risk drinking, defined as more than three drinks in a day or seven in a week for women, is on the rise among women by about 58%, according to a 2017 study comparing habits from 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
  • Death from liver cirrhosis rose in women from 2000 to 2013.

The rapid increase in deaths due to alcohol-related liver disease:

The deaths linked to the end stages of liver damage jumped by 65 percent with alcohol a major cause, adults age 25-34 the biggest victims and fatalities highest among whites, American Indians and Hispanics.

Liver specialist Elliot B. Tapper, M.D., says he’s witnessed the disturbing shift in demographics among the patients with liver failure he treats at Michigan Medicine. National data collected by Tapper and study co-author Neehar Parikh, M.D., M.S., confirms that in communities across the country more young people are drinking themselves to death.

The data published in the journal BMJ shows adults age 25-34 experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths — about 10.5 percent each year. The rise was driven entirely by alcohol-related liver disease, the authors say.

Other Treatments for Alcohol Addiction:

Acupuncture for Alcohol Addiction:

Acupuncture (a needle-based therapy long used in traditional Chinese medicine) is often recommended to help reduce alcohol cravings, relieve withdrawal symptoms, and ease the anxiety and depression frequently experienced by alcoholics.

Indeed, a 2002 study of 34 alcoholics found that two weeks of acupuncture treatments (combined with carbamazepine, a drug sometimes used in managing alcohol withdrawal) helped decrease the participants’ withdrawal symptoms. However, a systematic review published in 2009 concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support acupuncture’s effectiveness in alcoholism treatment.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), an herb rich in the antioxidant silymarin, is often touted as a means of restoring liver health and protecting against alcohol-induced liver damage. While preliminary research indicates that milk thistle may offer some benefit to those looking to treat alcohol-related liver disease, more studies are needed to draw any definitive conclusions about the herb’s effectiveness in enhancing liver health.

In a 2003 study on laboratory rats, scientists discovered that feeding the animals extract of kudzu (Pueraria lobata) helped curb their alcohol dependence. What’s more, a small study published in 2005 showed that taking kudzu supplements helped reduce alcohol intake in humans.

Detoxing Herbs for the Liver & Blood:

Dandelion Root (Taraxacum offinale), Artichoke Leaf (Cynara scolymus) and Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) are excellent herbs to cleanse and strengthen the liver when recovering from long-term alcohol use.
Burdock Root (Arctium lappa), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) are blood cleansers that start the gentle process of cleansing toxins out of your blood and body.  Drink plenty of water to assist your body in the detoxification process.
Apple Cider Vinegar is another natural way to stimulate your liver, digestive system and alkalinize your body.  Mix 1-2 tsp of unpasteurized, organic ACV in 1 cup of water, drink before meals, 3 times daily for best results. If you are doing a detox this July, this is a great drink to include in your regime.

Herbs to Overcome Cravings:

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestris) is an amazing herb to regulate blood sugar – many people are surprised how much of their alcohol habit is really a secret sugar addiction!

Kudzu (Peuraria lobata) is one of the oldest known herbal medicines, used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for reducing the craving for alcohol and as a hangover cure. A recent Harvard Medical School study corroborates this use.

More at Home Help:

If using natural methods to home-detox, take a dose of a vitamin-B complex, plus a thiamine (vitamin B1) supplement and large doses of vitamin C, selenium, magnesium and zinc. A combination of amino acids or a large dose of L-glutamine will help combat cravings.

Milk thistle and alpha-lipoic acid supplements can help the liver recover after prolonged alcohol abuse.

An over-the-counter sleep remedy such as melatonin or valerian can help with insomnia bought on by alcohol withdrawal.

Home Detox Steps:

Abruptly stopping drinking when you have withdrawal symptoms is not advisable without medication. For hundreds of years, long before medications were available, people have successfully used alcohol for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The optimal drink to use is beer, as anything stronger will likely lead to drunkenness.

The idea is to drink small amounts of beer, tapering down gradually until all possibilities of suffering withdrawal symptoms have passed. Usually, within 24 to 48 hours the patient is able to stop drinking the beer safely.

The amount of beer will depend on each individual. Generally, 12 ounces every hour is a reasonable starting point, then slowly reduce the amount of beer, or increase the amount of time between taking the beer. After three hours, you should be able to safely take only 8 ounces per hour, which can then be reduced to 4 ounces every two or three hours.

Combine the beer tapering with your vitamin supplements, and drink plenty of water. Lemon juice added to the water will also help your body detox.

Eat only light foods, such as fresh fruits or vegetables, and then only if you feel hungry. Do not force food because you feel you should be eating. Your body has enough to cope with eliminating the alcohol, and it will let you know when it feels ready for food. By eating before your body is ready, you are simply putting more of a burden on overworked organs.

Related stories: Please click on the titles for more information.

My name is Michael, and I am a recovering alcoholic.

Thank you for reading.

Comments are welcome.