Smorgasbord Health A – Z of Common Conditions – Dehydration – At 75% water our bodies do need a top up from time to time!


Recently I noticed that there were a few articles by the experts in the field of nutrition on the subject of hydration. What worried me in particular was that they were touting the belief that you don’t need to drink anymore than your usual cups of tea and coffee as you will obtain sufficient from the food that you eat.

It is true that eating fresh vegetables and fruit will provide you with some fluids but it is still not enough to supply your body with life giving fluids.

We can live for around 6 minutes without air, 6 days without fluids and 6 weeks without food. The very young and the elderly however have a much shorter window than 6 days before dehydration begins to cause severe health issues. In my experience of elderly care most are suffering from borderline dehydration resulting in urinary tract infections, increased symptoms of dementia and if not reversed can become life-threatening very quickly.

Why do we need fluids?

We are as humans made of protein with the few other bits and pieces thrown in. Protein has an extremely high water content and if we were wrung out to dry we would lose approximately 75% of our body weight. It would be a great way to lose weight if we could just plug in a hose and siphon off a couple of gallons from time to time but unfortunately that would be another failed fad diet.

We need oxygen, fluid and food in that order and we can live for about 6 minutes without air, 6 days without water (in a cool and wet environment) and 6 weeks without food.

There are a number of people who will tell you that drinking water is not necessary as we can absorb enough fluid from the food that we eat (also water containing) and from drinking tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks.

It actually goes back again to the quality of the fluids that you then are taking in. If you are eating a highly processed diet the fluid in the food will be contaminated with artificial flavourings, colourants and hydrogenated fats in many cases. Coffee is caffeine, which acts as a diuretic, and alcohol is a toxin that not only dehydrates but also impairs your kidney and liver function preventing them for removing those toxins from your body.

There is no substitute for water full stop. Here are the symptoms of dehydration that reinforce that concept.

Fatigue and sluggishness.

Our bodies are about balance and they work very hard to maintain the equilibrium whether it is between calcium and magnesium, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, acidity and alkalinity. Even the smallest changes in fluid balance can affect all the other functions within the body including heart function as the organ has to work harder in order to supply the body with the oxygen and nutrients it requires.

As you become more dehydrated your body will begin to make some executive decisions in order to ensure its survival if fluid intake ceases altogether. It redirects blood to the muscles and away from skin areas resulting in a malfunction in our cooling and heating system. We heat up internally resulting in muscle cramps, light-headedness and fatigue.

Because most of us take in at least some liquid our bodies are left in a state of readiness, not quite dehydrated but not receiving the essential fluids it needs to perform efficiently. This means that we are in a constant state of near exhaustion and with inefficient processing power.

Headaches

As in any part of the body, the brain relies heavily on fats and fluid in the correct balance to function. Loss of fluids thickens the blood, causing the heart to work harder to pump oxygen and nutrients around the system. The brain function is dependent on both oxygen and nutrients and if you are dehydrated it will be affected to varying degrees. Headaches will also vary in severity to mild, just behind the eyes to full blown migraines.

The other consequence can be a feeling of disorientation similar to mild forgetfulness with a touch of dizziness and vertigo.

Skin problems.

There are two issues regarding our skin health and dehydration. One is the inability to flush out toxins from the body, which accumulate in the tissues and in the kidneys and liver. This can result in dry, scaly skin and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Additionally water is nature’s moisturiser not only keeping our tissues moist and flexible but also keeping the nutrient rich blood flowing to the tiny capillaries near the skin. Water is actually one of the most effective anti-ageing agents you can use and it is very cheap.

Painful joints and muscles.

Cartilage has a very high water content and dehydration will affect its ability to cushion joints preventing friction, pain and swelling.

I have already established that with sufficient water you can dilute toxins and help flush them from the body but if you are hydrated the immune system controls are unable to function and bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, poisons accumulate. If you combine lack of exercise to stimulate the circulatory system and dehydration you will suffer both joint and muscle pain.

Poor digestive function.

The digestive process requires fluid. If you drink a pint of water half an hour before a meal (you should not drink excessive amounts with a meal as it dilutes the stomach acid needed to process food) it will pass through the stomach into the intestine and back into the mucous barrier of the stomach. This barrier retains sodium carbonate, which is needed to neutralise acid as it passes through the mucous. If you are dehydrated too much acid passes through and causes cramps.

Food intolerances and immune system malfunction.

When the body is dehydrated and toxins have accumulated the body’s defence mechanism is activated and histamine is released causing a reaction to anything else that you then put into the system such as food. There are certain foods that have a profile that is allergenic, for example, wheat, tomatoes, spinach, strawberries, seafood, aubergines and peppers. If your body is on the defensive the whole time it will react negatively within a very short space of time. This immune system overload obviously leads to an inability to fight infections, resulting usually in antibiotic intervention and a vicious circle develops.

Thirst and hunger.

There are two issues here. One is the lack of nutrients that are getting around the body in a timely fashion and the other is the hunger/thirst triggers for the body.

Lack of fluids kills the body within about 6 days and over our evolution the body has set up a communication system that will flash messages from the brain to your mouth which will then get dry and uncomfortable until you drink water. Unfortunately we override this messaging system by drinking anything we can lay our hands on in the form of sugar-laden soft drinks, coffee, tea and alcohol. As these really do not satisfy the body’s requirement for pure water to work with you end up being thirsty again in a very short space of time. We develop cravings in an effort to satisfy the demand, which usually includes salty or sweet foods.

Hunger pangs are other signals that your body requires nourishment but if the body is dehydrated it can get confused with the thirst messages. After two or three days of drinking sufficient fluid in a day you will notice a marked reduction in both cravings and hunger pangs.

How to drink fluids.

I have a large glass first thing in the morning – in the winter I have hot water with the juice of a lemon. This not only gives me a shot of Vitamin C but has an alkalising action on the body. Viruses and bacteria thrive in an acidic environment.

I drink a normal tea and a coffee in the morning and three peppermint or green teas in the afternoon.

I have a litre bottle of water on the go all day that I sip from when I am working.

During the summer months with warmer temperatures I will add an extra litre per day.

If I am on the treadmill for 30 minutes I also have an extra glass (of water)

And I might have a glass of wine… but more than that and it begins to have a dehyrating effect.

I hope you have found helpful. As the warmer weather begins make sure you have a bottle of water in the car, out for a walk and make sure small children are kept hydrated with small drinks regularly throughout the day. This also applies to pets who can only pant to cool down and should always have fresh water available. Many of them will also enjoy an icecube as a treat.

Please feel free to share – Thanks Sally

You will find the other posts in the A-Z of Common Conditions in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-condition/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Bruce Springsteen, Books and Blogs and A Musical


Welcome to this week’s round up of posts you might have missed. The weather is still a bit erratic but on our morning walks there are signs of spring. Daisies are appearing on the grassy parts of the park we walk in and there is a smell of garlic in the air.  There is wild garlic growing abundantly along the paths and into the woods so apart from snakes, it looks like we don’t have vampires here either.

Now the weather is a little more stable it is time to pick up the house refurb again and we have 14 windows and a new back door on order for a few weeks time. We noticed this first winter here that despite having new insulation in the roof and attic we were still bleeding heat. The windows are the old metal doube glazing in most of the house so they will be replaced. Then there is the jungle outside.. We cleared a huge amount last year but already with a little sunshine and plenty of rain spring has sprung.. The birds and wildlife love it and having put birdseed out all winter we are delighted with the variety of birds who visit us.  We want to make sure that we keep their habitat whilst bringing some sort of order to the garden.. bring me my rake and hoe and into battle we go!

Thank you as always for dropping in this week and for your lovely comments and shares. Do please also remember that you are very welcome here as a guest in either an author or blogger promotion or with a post of your own. Here are the options for you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-free-author-and-blogger-promotion-2017/

On with the week ….

William Price King meets some Legends

Part two of the Bruce Springsteen story and Bruce’s career begins to take off.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/william-price-king-meets-some-legends-bruce-springsteen-part-two/

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss.

Thomas the Rhymer

Paul is writing exclusive posts every three weeks for Smorgasbord but has kindly thrown open his archives for us so that we can enjoy some of his older posts on his blog for a second time. BTW.. I have been reading Thomas the Rhymer this week and really enjoying it..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/writer-in-residence-extra-kopi-luwak-or-civet-coffee-by-paul-andruss/

Serialisation of the Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin – life in Waterford in the 1930s

Two more chapters from my father-in-law’s first book the Colour of Life and this week life before television and putting food on the table during tough times.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/the-colour-of-life-the-rules-woodstown-of-pitch-and-toss-and-how-to-play-it-1933-and-cricket-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/the-colour-of-life-the-art-of-making-snares-1934-by-geoff-cronin/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview with Mary Smith.

Mary is my guest this weekend and has already received some great questions. Please read about her fascinating life in Afghanistan and Pakistan and her interesting work as a journalist.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-reading-at-the-cafe-and-interview-with-mary-smith/

Creative Artist Interview

This week poet, storyteller and blogger Kim Blades talks about her life and work.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/creative-artist-interview-poet-storyteller-and-blogger-kim-blades/

Blogger Promotion – please leave a link to your most recent post in the comments section of any of the following posts.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-13th-march-2017-john-howell-anne-r-allen-alligator-for-lunch-donna-parker-and-caribbean-writers/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-14th-march-2017-judith-barrow-sacha-black-colleen-chesebro-kelly-lacey-and-marlena-smith/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-15th-march-2017-hugh-roberts-sue-vincent-with-darlene-foster-ali-isaac-susan-scott-and-balroop-singh/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-16th-march-2017-dr-rachele-baker-irwin-lengel-suzie-speaks-dan-alatorre-annette-rochelle-aben-and-ritu-bhathal/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-st-patricks-day-pamela-s-wight-brigid-gallagher-jacqui-murray-oyia-brown-and-elizabeth-melton-parsons/

Book Promotion – Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

This promotion is for authors who have not been promoted here on Smorgasbord before and would like to join the other authors on the shelves of the bookstore. Once there all authors can enjoy regular updates of their new releases, great reviews of offers on their books.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-wake-of-the-dragon-a-steampunk-adventure-by-jaq-d-hawkins/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-bumpkinton-tales-volume-one-by-matthew-drzymala/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-promised-soul-by-sandra-j-jackson/

Book Promotion – Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

This promotion is for authors already on the bookshelves and whilst I do check every author every four to six weeks it does help if you let me know if you have news you would like to share.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-deborah-a-bowman-gigi-sedlmayer-and-nicholas-rossis/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-d-g-kaye-malia-ann-haberman-and-dariel-raye/

Book Promotion – Collaborative Anthologies

This promotion is for anthologies with several collaborating authors.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-collaborative-anthologies-be-their-voice-an-anthology-for-rescue-volume-two/

Personal Stuff

A woman has had a tough week in the office and needs to talk through her problems with a friend on the drive home.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/smorgasbord-short-story-the-system-administrator/

A trip down memory lane and gratitude for a very patient prickly pear farmer.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/grazzi-hafna-from-sally-aged-seven-to-the-old-prickly-pear-farmer-and-his-donkey/

St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Weather – The Musical

A musical tribute to the ever changing face that is the weather here in Ireland.. bring your dancing shoes and brollies.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/st-patricks-day-special-irish-weather-the-musical-narrated-by-renowned-author-i-v-e-mildew/

Health

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-heart-and-the-stress-link/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-heart-stress-strategies-and-foods-to-support-you-2/

Humour

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/the-afternoon-video-that-haunted-house-expect-the-unexpected/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/time-for-some-laffs-the-double-entendre-and-a-touch-risque/

Thank you once again for being such an important part of my blog.. you are welcome anytime.  Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Heart – Stress – strategies and foods to support you.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

In the last post I covered the basics of stress both acute that is happening right now.. And chronic which builds up over time and can be very dangerous… I will be looking at diet later in the post.

Firstly though some basic techniques to help you manage whatever stress you do have in your lives. It would be a perfect world where we had absolutely no worries whatsoever but I am afraid there are only a few people who live in that serene an environment.

  1. It is easier said than done, but you must find a way to relax that suits you. Think carefully about what makes you feel alive but calm, that gives you satisfaction and creates a feel good factor. For you as an individual it could be skiing down a mountain or it could be walking along a sandy beach at sunset. As unique as the causes of stress are so are the ways that we find to counteract the tension. It might be that you have several physical, mental and emotional activities that you find distracting and calming. Perhaps a game of tennis, followed by doing the Sunday crossword and then watching a weepy movie. Certainly you will find it very beneficial to learn some deep breathing techniques. Counting to ten before blowing your top can actually be very effective. Breathing exercises
  2. If you really cannot think of anything on your own then find yourself a professional advisor who can help you find your bit of space and peace. It is always a good idea to find someone who has been referred by a friend or family member but your G.P should also be able to recommend someone.
  3. Keep to a regular sleep pattern, although people do need varying amounts of sleep the average is seven hours. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time even at the weekends. Lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of stress. After several nights of less than your normal quota you will begin to feel stressed and also very tired.
  4. I am afraid that stimulants such as cigarettes and alcohol and recreational drugs are absolutely the wrong things to rely on during a stress episode, as hard as it may be, avoid these at all costs.
  5. In the first post I mentioned that others can induce both acute and chronic stress on you and your life. Sometimes it is difficult to manage if the person is someone dependent on you; an elderly parent for example. In my experience a lack of reaction is probably one of the best strategies in those circumstances as a calm response is no fun at all! Walking away is not always an option but if you are to remain both physically and mentally healthy you need to fix  the situation or ask professional advice.

A Word about Diet and stress

A healthy diet is absolutely necessary whatever lifestyle we have but if we are under excessive levels of stress then it becomes critical.

Make sure that you are hydrated. Dehydration is a leading physical cause of stress and you need at least 2 litres of fresh, pure water per day and more if you are on holiday or living in very hot climates.

Seven good reasons to drink water

  1. Your body consists of between 60% and 75% water.
  2. Each day our body loses 2 litres of fluid through urination,
  3. Breathing and through our skin.
  4. We require even more fluids in warm climates or if we have a higher activity level.
  5. Not drinking enough fluids puts a great deal of stress on the body. Kidney function particularly will be affected and there is a danger of kidney and gallstones forming. Immune function is impaired leaving us more prone to infection.
  6. Lack of water causes a number of problems that we tend to shrug off. Headaches, irritability (especially first thing in the morning and in children) aching legs, water retention, poor skin tone, circles under the eyes, dull and lifeless hair, lack of energy and poor emulsification of fats.
  7. Drinking water helps prevent water retention. Your body knows that it will die very rapidly without fluids so it tends to keep as much as it can in reserve.
  8. If you are taking regular medication basis you need to make sure that you flush your system daily to ensure that there is no build- up of toxins in your cells, kidneys and liver.

There are some vitamins and minerals which the body needs to handle stress especially as during a stress interval the body will use up additional reserves of many nutrients. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are necessary and here are a few of the particular nutrients that will help you handle the stress in your life.

  • Vitamin A mops up the toxic residue of elevated stress hormone levels. (Liver, fish oils, butter, cheese, Free range eggs, oily fish and Beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin A from carrots, green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli, orange and red coloured vegetables such as apricots)
  • Vitamin B1 improves your mood and is vital for nerve function. (Whole grains, seeds, peas, beans and nuts.)
  • Vitamin B3 helps you regulate your sleep patterns. (Liver, brewer’s yeast, chicken, turkey, fish, meat, peanuts, whole-grains, eggs and milk.)
  • Vitamin B5, better known as Pantothenic Acid, controls the action of the adrenal glands, which play a vital part in the stress response. (Liver, yeast, salmon, dairy, eggs, grains, meat and vegetables.)
  • Vitamin B6 is essential for the manufacture of the brain chemical serotonin, which is also called the feel good chemical. (Potatoes, bananas, cereals, lentils, liver, turkey, chicken, lamb, fish, avocados, soybeans, walnuts and oats.)
  • Vitamin B12 is necessary to help produce brain chemicals such as serotonin (dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish, for vegetarians in Miso and Tempeh both fermented soybean products)
  • Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that is used up very quickly during a stress reaction and needs to be replaced immediately as a deficiency leads to increased levels of anxiety and irritability. Smokers should take in Vitamin C in their diet and under the supervision of a professional should also take supplemental Vitamin C. (found in all fruit and vegetables but best sources are blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruits, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, parsley, peppers, rosehips, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.)

Minerals necessary to help the body manage stress

Calcium helps you relax and studies have certainly shown that for women it can help reduce the symptoms of stress related to their periods. (Dairy, sardines, canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and soy products such as tofu.)

Magnesium works with calcium and also helps to reduce stress. (Whole grains, beans, seeds, wheat germ, dried apricots, dark green vegetables, soybeans and fish)

Chromium stabilises blood sugar levels that create stress. (Brewer’s yeast, onions, whole grains, shellfish, liver and molasses)

The aim of a healthy diet is to provide your body with the necessary fuel in the right proportions to enable it to achieve homeostasis, or balance. If you are living a very stressful lifestyle then you need to ensure that you address that balance as quickly as possible. If you suffer from low to moderate levels of stress you will find that by adopting relaxation techniques and giving your body the correct fuel to deal with the situation will have long lasting and very beneficial effects on you now and also years ahead in the future. Don’t allow your stress levels today creep up on you unawares in 20 years time, deal with it today.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998- 2017

Please feel free to share the post and also I welcome your feedback. Thanks for dropping by.. Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Heart and the Stress link


Smorgasbord Health 2017

One of the leading causes of heart attacks in men and increasingly in women is stress. It is a silent killer that lies in wait and pounces when you least expect it.  It is not helpful that the stress that we experience is as unique as our own bodies.

What is Stress

You need stress in your life, does that surprise you? Perhaps so, but it is quite true. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting. Stress adds flavour, challenge and opportunity to life. Too much stress, however, can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. In recent years several high profile personalities have died suddenly and we recognise that most of them lived highly stressful lives, which finally took its toll. But how many times have we been surprised by the premature death of someone we know, a friend or family member, who on the outside seemed to be healthy and active with a good diet. Unfortunately, what is going on with major organs inside the body tell a different story. Stress is silent and can be deadly.

What causes a stress reaction?

Stress is the modern day equivalent of our ancestral ‘flight or fight’ mechanism that was necessary in the highly competi­tive and predatory world throughout our evolution. There may no longer be sabre-toothed tigers or mammoths in our world but the modern day alternatives can be just as daunting.

A threatening or tense situation triggers this stress response demanding that we take physical action. Unfortunately most modern day stress involves situations that we cannot run away from; such as relationship issues, a demanding job and boss and not forgetting the traffic jams on the way home.

There are two types of stress, Acute Stress and Chronic Stress, and both have very distinctive patterns.

radio stress

Acute Stress is a short-term response by the body’s sympa­thetic nervous system and the response may only last for a few minutes or a few weeks. How many times have you said that your heart stopped or your stomach lurched during a moment of intense stress such as an accident? We have all heard stories of mothers and fathers who have been suddenly infused with superhuman strength and able to lift cars and other heavy objects off their trapped children. They are empowered to do this by the actions of their body in a moment of crisis.

Blood sugar levels rise and additional red blood cells are released to carry strength giving oxygen levels a boost. The pulse quickens, blood pressure rises and the digestive process stops to enable the focus to be entirely on regaining safety.

stress three

Chronic Stress is when this acute stress response is repeated on a continuous basis. Whilst the body, after a hundred thousand years, is well able to handle the occasional stress response and in fact uses it positively, if the response becomes a normal way of life, other parts of the brain and body become involved leading to long term damage.

For example, ongoing stress causes the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which are the master controllers for the body, to release a chemical called ACTH  (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce and release cortisol which disrupts sleep patterns leading to increased levels of stress.

Our bodies are simply not designed to live at high alert for sustained periods of time; it just wears it down leading to illness.

How can we manage this modern day stress that is going to be a part of our lives in one way or another?

A major challenge in this stress filled world today is to make the stress in your life work for you instead of against you. Stress is with us all the time. It comes from mental, emotional and physical activity. It is unique and personal to each of us because we all handle it in a different way. So personal in fact that what may be relaxing for one person may be extremely stressful to another. For example, my husband loves the challenge and rush of downhill skiing on the most difficult of runs. When I tried skiing I created so much stress and fear for myself that I lasted about two days. I was terrified and it made me feel physically sick.

Another example might be a busy high level executive who can find ‘taking it easy’ at the beach on a beautiful day extremely frustrating, non-productive and upsetting. You can be stressed simply doing nothing.

Too much emotional or mental stress can cause physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, ulcers and heart disease, whereas physical stress from work or exercise is not likely to cause these problems. The truth is that physical exercise can help you relax and to handle your emotional and mental stress. Following a healthy diet that provides you with all the essential nutrients to help your body manage stress is even more important.

Symptoms of stress can be subtle such as fatigue, insomnia, depression, headaches, back or neck pain, irritability and sudden weight loss or gain. The less common but more damaging are heart palpitations, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, nausea, panic attacks, inability to concentrate and chronic fear.

Many people resort to stimulants such as smoking, alcohol or even drugs in the efforts to calm themselves down but in fact they are merely stoking the fires and increasing the levels of stress on the body, which can lead to disease.

Others create stress for themselves and those around them. They love the drama it creates and they rarely know how damaging this behaviour is for all concerned. We have all had drama queens in our lives and knowing how to handle them to prevent a knock on effect on your own health is essential.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2017

Next time some strategies to combat stress and some nutritional support from foods that you eat regularly.

Please feel free to comment and to share. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Round up – Bruce Springsteen, Book Readings, Creative Artists and Top to Toe.


Welcome to this round up of posts during the week and a second chance for me to showcase the guests and authors and bloggers who have featured.

This blog is sustained by the everyone who comes to visit whether as a guest or to view the posts. I am not very good at talking to myself and whilst I love to write it is so much more satisfying when it is read.  So a huge thank you for stopping by and collaborating with me here.

Special thanks to William Price King for his new series on the iconic legend that is Bruce Springsteen. I have most of his music and since working on the new series I have been playing my favourite tracks and also revisiting some of his earlier work. I was only 17 when his career began and we in the UK were behind when it came to appreciating his work. I must have been in my early 20s when Born to Run hit the charts in 1975 and I have been hooked since then. Part two this coming Wednesday.

Paul Andruss is now firmly into his tenure as Writer in Residence and in addition to new and exclusive posts for the blog every three weeks, he has opened up his archives so that we can also enjoy some of his earlier posts in the intervening weeks.  This week it is an original in the form of Dorothy – My Gift from God.  At a time when Paul was in need of a work mum, Dot stepped in to offer a shoulder and a sense of humour that lifted his spirits. I am sure that when you read the post you will identify someone in your life who has occupied a similar role.

The new interactive interviews are going very well and I am delighted that so many are takiing the opportunity to ask their own questions of the guests. There are two formats for Creative Artists across every talent and the Book Reading in the Cafe for authors. Earlier in the week storyteller Raili Tanska who lives in Australia shared her live and work with us and you can still ask her questions in the link below. Yesterday author, poet and blogger Sue Vincent was in the hot seat and is looking forward to responding to you.

I would like to remind you that your participation is always valued and that if you are an author the Cafe and Bookstore with its various promotions is there for you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

If you are a blogger and would like to share your most recent post then all you have to do is let me know. Either in the comments section of the Smorgasbord Blogger Daily or by email sally.cronin@moyhill.com

But for now it is time for a recap of the week’s posts…. enjoy.

New Series William Price King meets some Legends – Bruce Springsteen.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/new-series-william-price-king-meets-some-legends-bruce-springsteen-the-early-years/

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss – Dorothy – My Gift from God

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/writer-in-residence-paul-andruss-dorothy-my-gift-from-god/

Creative Artist Interview – with Raili Tanska of Soul Gifts – still open for questions.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/the-creative-artist-interview-blogger-and-storytellerraili-tanska-of-soul-gifts/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview – Sue Vincent – still open for questions.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview-sue-vincent/

The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin – My father-in-law’s stories of life in Waterford in the 1920s onwards.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/the-colour-of-life-chapter-two-my-grandfathers-story-1930-by-geoff-cronin/      Chapter Two

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/the-colour-of-life-chapter-three-the-crane-1930-by-geoff-cronin/  Chapter Three

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/the-colour-of-life-chapter-four-the-miser-1931-by-geoff-cronin/ Chapter Four

Book Promotions – How to get the best out of a book promotion here or any blog.

Book promotions are more effective with a joint effort and to get the most out of them you need to have some basic essentials in place. Help me to share your work.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview-sue-vincent/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-greenbeard-the-pirate-pig-by-andrea-torrey-balsara/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-not-by-design-getting-to-mr-right-series-by-carol-balawyder/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-modern-waste-by-marc-d-crepeaux/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Author Update

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-john-w-howell-alyssa-drake-and-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-update-ailsa-abraham-j-e-spina-and-lauren-linwood/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Another 25 bloggers in the spotlight.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-6th-march-2017-skin-cancer-bullies-local-history-book-marketing-book-reviewing/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-7th-march-2017-mary-smith-john-fioravanti-anas-lair-fiona-mcvie-linda-bethea/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-8th-march-2017-olga-nunez-miret-geoff-le-pard-d-g-kaye-christy-birmingham-and-norah-colvin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-9th-march-2017-sue-vincent-christoph-fischer-phillip-t-stephens-smashwords-sarah-brentyn/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-10th-march-2017-madelyn-griffith-haynie-kevin-morris-jessica-norrie-pamela-wight-and-nicholas-rossis/

Health – Top to Toe – Heart Health

Smorgasbord Health 2017

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-your-heart-is-only-as-good-as-the-food-you-eat/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-heart-attack-warning-signs-and-symptoms-men-vs-women-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-conditions-dandruff-snow-on-your-shoulders/   Dandruff

Personal Stuff

A look back at some exceptional people doing ordinary things is an inspiring way.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/thank-you-mrs-miller-luv-sally-age-four-n-haf-influencers/

Humour

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/afternoon-video-toddler-conducts-the-choir-behind-you/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-and-aahh-moments-what-life-look-like/

Thank you again for being part of my week.. look forward to seeing you again. Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – Heart Attack warning signs and symptoms men vs. women.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

The problem with diagnosing a heart attack is that there are a number of conditions that can present with symptoms in the chest area that are not related to the heart. Also, women can have a variation of the accepted symptoms of a heart attack that are not typically experienced by men.

Not all heart attacks present the same way for every individual and it is likely that a person will only have one or two of the symptoms depending on the severity and cause of the attack.

What is vital; is noting any sudden changes to the way your body functions and if those changes do not revert to normal within a couple of days you need to see a doctor. Sometimes we get run down, have an infection or are going through a particularly stressful period at work or in a relationship, but it may also indicate that you have a deeper and more serious health problem.

I covered angina and the more common heart diseases in the post last week… But I have been asked to clarify the difference between the symptoms experienced by men vs. Women.

A heart attack results in the reduction of blood flow through the heart blood vessels; causing the heart muscle cells to die.

Early signs of an impending heart attack in men.
Men typically will ignore the early signs of a heart attack and put it down to over exertion, indigestion or a pulled muscle. If they have been diagnosed with angina they will become sensitive to the risk, but many will not know they have heart disease until they have a massive pain in their chest.

Whilst I do not encourage hypochondria; I do think that all men and also women should be checked out annually by a doctor for the key indicators of heart disease such as high Blood Pressure, Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and Blood Sugar. That way risk factors and early signs of heart disease should be picked up.

Here are the typical symptoms that a man is likely to experience during a heart attack.

  • Severe chest pain,usually to the left side, that feels as though you have a ton weight sitting on your chest accompanied by a contracting sensation that might be intermittent or constant.
  • Pain in the entire upper body including particularly the left shoulder, the arms, in the neck, mid back, jaw or stomach.
  • The heart will be beating very rapidly and is likely to have an irregular beat.
  • Stomach cramps similar to what you might expect if you have eaten something tainted and possibly acid reflux as you would in indigestion.
  • Breathing becomes restricted and it is difficult to take a deep breath.
  • Dizziness and feeling as though you are about to faint.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.

Early symptoms of an impending heart attack in women.

Again the early signs of a heart attack can be ignored, especially by a woman who is naturally busy throughout the day with work and family. However this is where the differences might occur between the early signs of a heart event between men and women.

We all get tired from time to time and have sleepless nights but if that becomes a pattern and normal then you need to get yourself checked out. This is particularly important post menopause when the protective hormones have decreased and we are more at risk of heart disease.

I covered those risk factors in the posts last week and if you fall into a high risk category because of family history, long-term smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol; you need to be particularly vigilant with the following symptoms.

It is important to remember that each person is different and may experience some or all of the symptoms depending on the nature of their particular heart event.

  • Unusual tiredness that is constant and is not relieved even when you have rested.
  • Onset of shortness of breath even doing normal daily tasks.
  • Flu like symptoms that do not improve after a week or so.
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances that are out of character for your normal routine.This could include waking in the early hours of the night and unable to go back to sleep again.
  • Feeling stressed all the time with more than usually high heartbeat rates or skipped beats.
  • Sudden onset of indigestion and occasional chest pains.

The acute signs that a heart attack is taking place in a woman.

  • As with men there is likely to be pain in the chest area and other parts of the body during an attack.
  • Pressure of a heavy weight on the chest,
  • Onset of a severe ache in the upper back,
  • Painful neck and shoulders,
  • Pain in the arms particularly the left arm
  • Tightness and pain in the jaw and throat.
  • As with men there may also be nausea, rapid heartbeat, cold sweats and dizziness.

As I mentioned in the introduction the key here is to recognise the possible early symptoms of an impending heart attack so that you can consult your doctor right away.

Also it is important to understand your body and how it functions on a day to day basis so that you recognise the changes that might indicate you are at a higher risk of a heart event.

I hope that has clarified the differences between men and women and please do not hesitate to ask questions.

I would also remind you that this post in no way is classed as medical advice and that you should always consult your doctor if you are in any way concerned about your heart or general health.

©sallcronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017

Next time – the involvement in stress in heart disease.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to share.. Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe -The Heart – Angina, Arrythmia and Valve disorders


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

One of the main causes of angina and heart disease is atherosclerosis and that is where we should start when looking to change our lifestyle and diet.

Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries as a result of plaque that has built up in the arterial walls narrowing the blood vessels and restricting the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart and other organs such as the brain. Atherosclerosis accounts for almost 75% of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Plaque build up in arteries

What is Angina?

Angina (angina pectoris) is a type of temporary chest pain. There are a number of types but the two, stable and unstable both indicate that there is likely to be coronary heart disease.

Stable angina attacks occur after vigorous exercise that requires additional blood to be sent to the heart. An attack might last from one or two minutes to fifteen minutes. Activities that also increase the risk of an attack are cigarette smoking, stress, abrupt changes in temperature or altitude, heavy meals that are not given time to digest and sudden exertion such as running for a bus or upstairs. These types of attack are also described as “predictable” as they tend to happen between early morning and noon. One reason for this may be the body’s inability to go from a state of complete rest to fully active immediately on getting up in the morning. Like an old car, it takes time to get all functions working efficiently especially if arteries are blocked and oxygen is in short supply.

Unstable angina is more dangerous as it is also unpredictable and will last longer than fifteen minutes. It can occur at rest and without any previous history of heart disease and should be treated as an emergency as it could indicate that the person is just about to suffer a full heart attack.

What are the symptoms of Angina?

People who suffer from angina describe the pain as crushing, burning behind the breastbone and as if there is a weight resting on the chest. The pain can radiate out from the chest and affect the neck, arms, jaw and the abdomen. Women are more likely to experience abdominal pain during an angina episode and it makes it more difficult to establish the problem. The person might also feel light headed and experience a faster than normal heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Some attacks are accompanied by nausea, sweating confusion and dizziness. These kinds of symptoms, particularly in the elderly add to the difficulty of diagnosing the problem.

Whether the episode lasts a minute or longer you should get it checked out. There is a strong possibility that if the attack occurs after eating a very heavy meal that you might be suffering from indigestion. But, if this is happening frequently the causes need to be identified and treated.

However, if the pain has moved from under your diaphragm and you are experiencing discomfort in any of the other areas that I have mentioned above, and the attack lasts for more than a few minutes you should definitely seek medical help.

What are the treatment options for Angina?

The medication most commonly prescribed is Nitrates such as nitro-glycerine that dilates the walls of the blood vessels allowing more blood and therefore oxygen to reach the heart. If there are repeated angina episodes then there could be the addition of beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.

Beta-blockers slow the heartbeat and also reduce the strength of the muscle contractions taking some of the load off the organ.

Calcium channel blockers block the entry of calcium into the cells. This dilates the coronary arteries and increases the heart’s blood flow.

Antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs inhibit the formation of blood clots by inhibiting the platelets that normal bind together. Aspirin is often prescribed in a relatively low dose, which a patient can take daily.

There are a number of surgical options for advanced stages of atherosclerosis and therefore increased angina attacks. These include angioplasty, stenting and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Blocked artery 3 - Baloon inflated

Angioplasty is a procedure where a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted in the blocked coronary artery and inflated. The balloon compresses the plaque against the walls of the artery, which increases the blood flow. This is usually combined with the inserting of a stent via the catheter. A stent is a small mesh tube that holds the damaged artery open allowing for increased blood flow.

A coronary bypass is a far more invasive procedure, which involves the grafting of the patient’s own veins and arteries, from other parts of the body, around the damaged blood vessels thus by-passing the blockage.

What can we do to prevent Atherosclerosis and Angina?

One of the most important preventative measures that you can take is to learn about your own body and also the medical history of your immediate family. It is more likely that if your parents, grandparents suffered from heart disease or diabetes then you may also be at a higher risk of the same problems. Diabetes sufferers are more likely to suffer from heart problems and monitoring this through regular blood tests is important if there has been a family history of the disease. Having this knowledge gives you the opportunity to make lifestyle choices that reduce your risk of developing heart disease in your own lifetime.

First and foremost you must give up smoking cigarettes, as this is a major contributor to heart disease.

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, it greatly increases risk. Smoking increases blood pressure, inhibits oxygen uptake during exercise and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.

In the last three years I have written several blogs regarding both the unhealthy type of LDL cholesterol which has smaller platelets and when oxidised (likely with a poor diet of refined sugars and industrially produced foods) it clumps in the arteries causing blockages and narrowing the blood vessels. You can also read about elevated blood pressure as well.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Other common heart conditions.

Apart from Angina, there are a number of other conditions that affect the heart. The good news is that most are either preventable or can be supported with a few changes to your lifestyle.

Arrhythmia and problems with your heartbeat

  • Arrhythmia is an erratic and abnormal heart rate. This is most commonly caused by blocked coronary arteries.
  • Sinus tachycardia is a regular heartbeat but too fast, usually over 100 beats per minute. It can also be caused by over exertion or stress.
  • Atrial fibrillation is caused by abnormal electrical activity and the result is a heartbeat between 300 to 500 beats per minute.
  • Ventricular tachycardia is caused by damaged heart muscle resulting in an ineffective heartbeat of between 120–220 beats per minute without the power to push the blood through the system.

Heart murmurs

We normally cannot hear the blood actually flowing through the heart but sometimes there may be some unusual noises that are called murmurs. These indicate that the smooth flow of blood has become unstable due to structural damage inside the heart. This is commonly caused by damage to the valves between the atria and the ventricles which causes either narrowing or leaking.

Heart valve disorders

As with any part of the body, the heart valves are subject to wear and tear. Our heart function is totally dependent on the pumping action and therefore on the health of the valves. There are two types of abnormality, stenosis which is a narrowing of the valve, allowing less blood through and an incompetent valve which allows blood to leak back down into the ventricles through an improperly closed valve.

Some valves can be corrected surgically but it is quite common these days to have the valves replaced completely restoring normal heart function. The replacement valves are made from metal and plastic, which may require medication to prevent clotting, or animal or human tissue which is not as long lasting but does not cause clots.

Next time some foods to include in your diet to help maintain a healthy heart. It may also help you lose weight and if you have read yesterday’s post you will know that the heart beats over 3 billion times in a lifetime and as with any pump it wears out.

Just losing a stone in excess weight can reduce the number of times your heart has to beat every day significantly – saving a million heartbeats a year will extend the life of your heart and therefore your life.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2017

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis. Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Brain – Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

Dementia is actually a collective name for progressive degenerative brain diseases, which affect our memory, thought, behaviour and emotions. It is not a normal result of ageing and it does not seem to have any specific social, economic, ethnic or geographical links. It can effect different people in different ways, which makes it difficult sometimes to diagnose and to treat.

Certain dementia, such as vascular dementia, where plaque is blocking the blood vessels in the brain are linked to lifestyle related causes such as heavy alcohol consumption. Most dementia is likely to have an element of environmental, diet or lifestyle involved in its development.

There is no known cure, but there are ways that we can modify our lifestyle to reduce our risks of brain degeneration and to slow down any process that has already begun.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for around 60% of all cases. The disease is degenerative over a period of years and destroys brain cells and nerve cells causing a disruption to the transmitters, which carry messages in the brain, particularly those that are responsible for our memories.

As the disease progresses, the brain shrinks and gaps develop in the temporal lobe and hippocampus. These areas are responsible for storing and retrieving new information. The damage results in a reduction in a person’s ability to remember events that happened in the short term, to speak, think and to make decisions. All this is both frightening and confusing, as a person will be aware of these lapses in the early stages of the condition.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s

In the beginning, there may be infrequent lapses in memory, forgetting where keys have been left or perhaps failing to switch off electric cookers or other equipment. A person will start to forget the names of everyday objects or people that they are usually very familiar with. They can also suffer from mood swings and panic attacks.

As the disease progresses these symptoms worsen and there is an element of confusion over completing every day tasks such as shopping, cooking and more dangerously driving.
The changes in personality are often attributable to fear and the awareness that something is very wrong. In the earlier stages people tend to try and hide the symptoms. This happens because, much of the time, they will be aware that there is a problem and will not want to accept that this could be as serious a condition as dementia.

In the advanced stages it is not only extremely stressful for the person concerned but also very distressing for their immediate family. We have experience of the problem with a close family friend who was in his 80’s and was looking after his wife who had Alzheimer’s for two years before she went into a home. At that point he was no longer able to cope. She was in danger of hurting herself as she was wandering off in the middle of the night, falling over and hurting herself as well as becoming terrified and disorientated. My own mother in the last two years of her life became increasingly confused but she was nearly 95 when she died. She had family and remained in her own home but for future millions who perhaps have not surviving family it will be a challenge for them and the care services.

What are the risk factors?

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of dementia, but there are several probable links that have been the subject of research in recent years.

There is some evidence of a genetic link to the disease, but that is not proven. Lifestyle most definitely will have played a contributory role as exposure to toxins from smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or work environment will cause damage to the body as a whole and certainly to the brain. There is obviously natural age related degeneration of the entire body and its systems to take into account and any previous head trauma may be part of the problem. There are links to chemical contamination including poisoning from mercury – which can be found in some of the fish that we eat – and also from aluminium, which is most commonly linked to the metal in some of our cooking utensils.

Some recent statistics suggest that at least 10% of those over 65 and 50% of those over 85 years old will be suffering from varying degrees of dementia. We unfortunately have no control over natural ageing, or our genetic background, which means that we should be looking at ways to prevent or minimise the risk of us developing the disease from a much earlier age than our 60’s.

What preventative measures can we take – starting today?

  1. The key factors to reducing your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in particular are very simple and effective.
  2. Your brain is a major organ of the body that requires nutrients to function efficiently and to repair and protect itself. There are specific foods that provide those nutrients and including them in your diet on a very regular basis will be effective.
  3. You need to keep your heart and arterial system clear of oxidised LDL cholesterol and working efficiently to enable vital nutrients and oxygen to reach the brain. However, cholesterol is essential for the body and is involved in many processes including the production of hormones and therefore brain function. Reducing total cholesterol can therefore impact your brain health. Healthy fats are essential in various forms.
  4. You must work the brain as you would any muscle in your body. Stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them and may even create new nerve cells.
  5. We all need people around us and it is even better if we involve ourselves in activity that requires mental and physical co-ordination.
  6. Physical exercise maintains healthy blood flow to all our organs including the brain where it will prolong the health of existing brain cells by preventing any further damage.

The one way to deal with an overwhelming fear is to face it and take control of it. For me that has meant a radical change in lifestyle. At one time I smoked over 40 cigarettes a day and drank more than was good for me. My diet was atrocious and I was morbidly obese. I was certainly in a high-risk category for declining brain health, if I had lived long enough to develop the disease.

That is not to say that you have to totally abstain from everything that gives you pleasure. We only have one life and whilst I am totally anti smoking these days, I do believe that we should balance our lifestyle with our pleasures factored in. You will often find me quoting my 80/20 rule. If you follow a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time and the other 20% indulge yourself a little then you will be on the right track.

Reduce the Risk

  • Good Nutrition and hydration.
  • Low levels of plaque in our arteries so that oxygen can get to the brain
  • Exercise your brain as well as your body
  • Social interaction

If you would like to know more about the foods that provide a balanced diet and health, including for the brain.. here is a link to both the nutrients required and the foods that supply them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-nutrition-directory/

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 1999 – 2017

Thank you for dropping in today and please feel free to share the post. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – How the brain develops from conception through life.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I appreciate that many of you who have been kindly following the blog for a long time will have seen this post before. However, if you are new to Smorgasbord, I hope you will find interesting.

In the series Top to Toe I will be covering the major organs in the body and their health.

How the brain develops.

We are hard wired and from the moment of conception there will be enforced changes to the structure and function of our brains. Whilst the process of development is beyond our control, there is still a powerful external influence on how well that programming is carried out. Before birth the health, nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices of the mother can impact both the rate of brain development and the health of the brain cells. After birth during the formative years up to age 15, environment, nutrition and stimulation of those brain cells is critical and if they do not receive sufficient amounts of all of these there is a chance that irreversible damage will occur.

The development of the brain does not follow a straight upward line it comes in waves with certain parts of the brain achieving full function at different times. There is however a sequence that every brain will follow.

Egg surrounded by Sperm

At conception the sperm and the egg form a single cell combining to form the genetic blueprint. Over 60% of our genes are committed to forming our brain which is after all the control centre for all our other functions. Around three to four weeks into development a thin layer of cells form in the embryo, which then fold and fuse to form a liquid filled tube. This minute start is vital as it is the first stage in the development of the brain and spinal cord. This is followed by the production of nerve cells called neurons.

Embryo 54 days

A miracle occurs as cells in the neural tube accelerate at an amazing rate reaching around 15million neurons an hour. This rate of growth continues for the first six months of a foetus’s development.

At around 14 weeks with millions of cells in place a change occurs as they begin to migrate to specific parts of the neural network and the inbuilt GPS usually sends them to the correct address. Some do however get lost or damaged in transit and die off.

Rarely however, some do reach the wrong destination and form incorrect connections and this coding error can lead to certain disorders such as autism or epilepsy, slower physical and mental development and in some cases more severe mental health issues.

At 20 weeks about half the existing cells are shed and those that remain are organised into compartments within the brain that govern virtually every automatic function in our bodies and also our senses and skills.

Scan12a - Sally

At birth we have around 100 billion brain cells and we begin the next stage in our development. Most of the connections between the neurons are barely formed and will need to be strengthened by the time we reach the age of three. A baby has most of the senses working at birth such as sight, smell, hearing and the ability to respond to touch. Immediately with that first breath the brain kicks into overdrive and forms trillions of connections and pathways enabling learning.

As with the early development of the brain, it is vital that the environment, nutrition and stimulation are available to enable the brain to process and learn from experience.
These experiences trigger the electrical activity necessary to enable the brain to develop connections and grow. These connections are called synapses. The connections are formed by each neuron putting out a long tentacle like fibre called an axon. The neuron uses the axon to send messages to other neurons. The messages are sent as electrical signals and picked up by thousands of short, hair like fibres called dendrites (also produced by the neurons). Each neuron is able to connect up with thousands of other neurons.

It is then that ‘practice makes perfect’ comes into play as repeated experiences, sights, smells or movements form well-worn paths within the brain that we remember for a lifetime. By age two our brains have developed trillions of these pathways and although they continue to form throughout our lifetime they have reached their highest density.

Our higher functioning ability is usually operational by age three and we begin to think for ourselves, use language effectively and have developed personality traits.

Scan7a - Sally

After three years old we continue to absorb knowledge and experience like a sponge and the constant practice etches the functions into the brain. If that absorption ceases for some reason and we stop practicing certain functions, we can lose them completely as the brain discards little used pathways in favour of more travelled routes.

This pruning process and strengthening of the connections in the brain is most active in the teen years. The prefrontal cortex is the last to mature and it involves the control of impulses and decision-making. Anyone who has had children going through this phase will have a clear understanding of the ‘challenges’ that arise during this phase! This powerful surge in the brain is accompanied by the added influx of hormones which results in a chemical and electrical ‘perfect storm’.

There is a strong element of voluntary change at this stage of the development of the brain. It is around this age that we start making choices about what we eat, the amount of exercise we take, to take up smoking or drinking alcohol and to stop formal education. All these elements will affect the few years left of brain development we have left and therefore our mental capacity.

sally wedding day 1980The brain continues to defrag the mainframe and the strongest connections survive. By our early 20s our brain development is matured into a powerful and functioning organ with approximately 500 trillion pathways.

At around 30 years old the physical changes will wind down in the brain and this is where even more of a voluntary contribution to growth, experience and maintenance is required to keep the pathways clear of debris such as plaque so that they continue to function efficiently.

Sally for trafford 1

This phase lasts for the next 35 or 40 years. The brain cells are active and we contribute to their health by diet, stimulation and avoiding lifestyle choices that kill them off. Such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not taking exercise, eating a diet rich in components that block our arteries and blood flow to the brain……you get the idea.

After 65 years old there is a natural dying off of cells in certain parts of the brain. This does not mean that you will lose all your mental capacity, but little things will begin to make an impact on your daily functioning. For example brain cells lost from the Hippocampus where we process memories will result in forgetfulness.

Sally Cronin

You are NOT destined to develop full blown dementia and you can make sure that you support your brain function by eating a healthy balanced diet, getting plenty of oxygen and regular exercise, reducing stress and interacting with others and events to stimulate the pathways to remain open. More so than at any other time in the lifespan of your brain, the voluntary choices and changes you make to your way of life will bring huge benefits.

©sallygeorginacronin 1999- 2017

Next time a more detailed look at dementia and how we can take preventative action at any age to minimise the decline in brain function.

Smorgasbord Health – A -Z of Common Conditions- Nothing more common than a cold!


smorgasbord health

In recent years we have had a number of scares as high infectious and contagious diseases that swept through populations. For example the Ebola outbreak in 2014 which actually got very scary for a time.  Whilst there is some debate on how the disease is passed, there is no doubt, that it is the vulnerable with either immature or compromised immune systems that are at the greatest risk.  As with any virus, Ebola is opportunistic and wants a host that provides all that it needs.

This is post is not about Ebola but a very much more common viral diseae that does already impact billions around the world every year. Although it does not have the devastating effect of Ebola, constant and repeated cold infections does weaken the immune system and make you vulnerable to more dangerous pathogens.

The common cold.
This time of year many immune systems are compromised by the short days and variable if non-existent sunshine. Vitamin D has been in short supply since October for many of us, and unless we have taken steps to keep our immune system up to scratch with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit as well as plenty of fluids and moderate exercise… we are at risk of catching a cold and being its host for a week or more.

Colds are spread by contact with another person suffering from one and we need to take some basic hygienic precautions to help prevent contagion but we also need to build up our own defences so that we shake off any unwanted bugs that fly in our direction.

What What exactly is the common cold?

  • A common cold is an illness caused by a virus infection located in the nose but which can also affect the sinuses, ears and the bronchial tubes.
  • There are very few people who do not suffer at least one cold a year and some individuals can suffer 7 to 10 infections.
  • As we mature and we are exposed to more and more viruses our body learns to deal more effectively with them by producing more antibodies.
  • Babies and the elderly are the most vulnerable and likely to develop chest infections. Also at risk are patients on immune suppressing medications or whose lifestyle and diet have suppressed their ability to fight off infections.
  • Remember too, that, in this modern age, viruses are jet setters and can move swiftly from continent to continent on aeroplanes.
  • The symptoms include sneezing and sore throat for the first 24 to 36 hours followed by blocked nose, scratchy throat with possibly headaches, feverishness, chilliness and coughs.
  • A cold is milder than influenza but a light case of influenza will share the same symptoms.

There is an old saying that “if you treat a cold it will last a week and if you let it run its course it will only last 7 days”. A mild dose may only last a couple of days, particularly if you have a strong immune system or you react quickly with lots of vitamin C in foods and drink. For someone who has a compromised immune system, the symptoms could hang around for up to 2 weeks or longer if it develops into a bronchial infection.

The common cold is not just one virus.
There is not just one cold virus there are over 200 and this makes finding the ultimate cure very difficult. Rhino viruses are the most prevalent and cause over half of the colds we catch.

Cold viruses can only thrive in a living cell, which means your nose. If someone sneezes or coughs on you the first response is to wipe your body off with your hands. The hands are now contaminated and you then touch your mouth and nose passing the virus on. The virus is also passed hand to hand or by touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles.

A cold develops between two and three days after infection.
Cold viruses only live in our human nose and that of our relatives the chimps and other higher primates. Other mammals are lucky and when your cat sneezes it might be down to too much catnip!

Travelling on trains, buses and aircraft are great collecting points for cold and influenza germs with aircraft being the biggest Petri dish of them all.

What causes the symptoms of a cold?
It is not actually the virus that causes all the unpleasant symptoms of a cold. The virus attaches itself to a small proportion of the cells in the lining of the nose. It is in fact the body’s response to the invasion that causes all the problems. The immune system is activated and also some of the nervous system reflexes.

A number of white cells from our defence system, including killer cells, are released into the bloodstream. These include histamines, kinins, interleukins and prostaglandins. When activated, these mediators cause a dilation and leakage of blood vessels and mucus gland secretion. They also activate sneezing and cough reflexes to expel infection from the nose and the lungs.

It is these reactions, caused by our own killer cells, that is treated by the “over the counter” medications, not the actual virus itself. By suppressing our bodies own reactions to the virus we can drive it further into the system causing more harmful infections, particularly if we have already got a weakened immune system.

After the killer cells have dealt with the initial infection antibodies are released that help prevent re-infection by the same virus. This is why as we get older we should suffer from fewer cold infections. Unfortunately, with so many cold viruses available to us we may not have produced enough different antibodies to give us total immunity.

What precautions can we take to prevent catching the cold virus?
There are two main ways to protect yourself from catching a cold virus. One is to minimise the risk of infection through contact and the other is to build up your immune system to enable you to deal with viruses if they do attach themselves to you.

It is almost impossible to avoid contact with people. Some of those people are going to have a cold or influenza and short of doing a ‘Howard Hughes’ and retreating into a sealed room with decontaminants you will have to make do with the main simple but effective precautions.

  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid passing the virus into your nose.
  • Use a natural anti-viral hand barrier cream. (I use Grapefruit Seed Extract)

There are some interesting areas of contamination – apart from door handles – for those of us who shop, trolley handles have usually passed through many hands…apparently in public toilets the least contaminated surface is the toilet seat but the most concentrated bacterial and viral load is on the tap handles and loo roll holder!

Also, you should exercise regularly in the fresh air and avoid over-heated, unventilated living spaces. If your nasal passages dry out they are more likely to become infected and this applies to those of us who live in air-conditioned and centrally heated environments most of the year.

oranges

Boosting the immune system
The second way to protect yourself is to boost your immune system and both Vitamin C and Zinc have been found to help boost the immune system and help with the symptoms for centuries. If you are not able to get out into the winter sunshine at least three times a week with some skin exposure then I do suggest you are eating the few foods that contain vitamin D.. or that you consider taking a supplement during the winter months.

You will find full details of these three vital nutrients in the directory below that gives a breakdown of all the essential nutrients. In the food pharmacy section you find onions and garlic, two very useful ‘over the kitchen counter’ remedies for colds.

pumpkin seeds

A handful of pumpkin seeds as a snack each day will help you boost your Zinc intake.

From a dietary perspective, your diet needs to include all the necessary nutrients for our general health. If you are consciously working on boosting your immune system then certainly you need a high proportion of fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet which contain high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients essential for the immune system.

lemons

Drink the juice of a lemon in hot water every morning when you get up and leave 10 minutes before eating your breakfast – a quick shot of Vitamin C before you start the day and also great for getting the body up and running.

Stress plays a large part in the health of our immune system. If you work or live in a stressful environment then you need to find some way of relaxing on a regular basis. Whilst exercise is very good for this, lying on the sofa listening to your favourite music is also very effective.

What do we do when we have been infected?

Cold symptoms are miserable and I realise that to function in this modern world of ours we are sometimes forced into the situation of taking something to suppress those symptoms.

If you work or have a young family, you cannot suddenly take to your bed for three days until the symptoms subside. However, if possible it is better for you and your cold to work with your body and not against it.

It is important, especially within your own family to limit the amount of contagion and the easiest way to do this is to all wash your hands very frequently. Do not share towels, toothbrushes or flannels and do not share drinks from the same cup or glass. When you use a tissue, use once and then discard safely into a plastic bag that you can dispose of later.

Fluids are very important especially as your appetite is likely to be suppressed. High content vitamin C drinks such as hot lemon with ginger, green tea with a slice of lemon and fresh squeezed juice drinks are the best. Other teas that you may find palatable are mint and elderflower or cinnamon with some lemon and a spoonful of honey. These tend to help sore and itchy throats and warm the chest.

A bowl of hot vegetable soup with carrots, spinach, onions and garlic will help warm you and as you will see from the post on onions and garlic they may help you fight off the infection faster.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/the-medicine-womans-larder-beware-vampires-onions-and-garlic/

onions

For centuries eucalyptus and menthol have been used to alleviate the symptoms of congestion and you can buy the essential oils in any health food shop. You can put a few drops of eucalyptus onto a hankie and inhale the aroma or dilute in massage oil and rub on your forehead, chest and upper back. Over the centuries the herb  Echinacea has been used to both boost the immune system and also alleviate the symptoms of a cold.

There have been rumours for many years that a cure for the common cold is imminent but in the meantime we may have to resort to some old fashioned remedies to ease the symptoms and help our body do the job it is designed to do, which is protect us.  The cynic in me does wonder at times if a cure for the common cold is ever on the cards since worldwide we spend billions each year on medications that are supposed to ease the symptoms!

You will find more information on Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D in this directory along with the foods that supply our body with them.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/nutrient-directory-a-brief-overview-of-the-nutrients-we-need-and-the-foods-that-supply-them/