Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shoulder Pains? Development, Prevention, and Treatment From Impingement to Frozen Shoulder

The shoulder is composed of several joints between the collarbone, shoulder blade, and arm. Ligaments overlap the joints to form joint capsules. Smaller muscles overlap the ligaments-most notably the rotator cuff muscles connecting the arm to the shoulder blade. On top of those muscles are bigger muscles known as global movers, which give us full function and power. Global movers provide gross force and direction while the smaller, underlying muscles provide minor corrections to smooth out and refine movements.

The shoulder is a complex and enabling joint. Its range of motion is greater than any other joint, allowing vast movement possibilities. The trade-off for such flexibility is less stability. Balanced muscular function is necessary not only for proper movement, but for providing structural support to the joint.

The path toward shoulder pain typically begins when the global movers are inhibited. Muscle inhibition is a nerve communication problem which results in weakness. It's not a muscle strength issue, otherwise a person could exercise their way out of pain. Instead, for one of many possible reasons, the muscle isn't getting the brain's message and fails to adapt when increased force is applied. Unfortunately, an individual doesn't feel muscular inhibition, but they can identify the effects or warning signs. Red flags include a feeling of upper arm weakness, tightness, or simply an indescribable feeling that something there "just isn't right." Can you put one arm behind your back and the other over your head, then grip both hands together? Inability to connect the hands signifies early shoulder dysfunction. Pain will likely develop with increased activity, if it isn't already present.

Muscles "turn off" like this for a multitude of reasons, and unfortunately, the average medical doctor, orthopedist, physical therapist, and athletic trainer have little to no education in this field. The expert to seek out is a professional applied kinesiologist or "AK doc," for short. Most AK docs are chiropractors with knowledge of acupuncture and nutrition. These are individuals trained to properly test the involved muscles for inhibition and rapidly diagnose the cause. Frequently, a solution will require joint adjustment, acupoint stimulation, homeopathic remedies, vitamins, minerals, herbs, or some combination.

If the global movers remain inhibited, the smaller muscles of the rotator cuff compensate by trying to do the work of the bigger muscles. Unfortunately, they don't have the power or mechanical leverage to achieve joint balance.

Ever drive a car for long periods with the alignment off? Doing so causes irregular tire wear and eventually a blowout. It's the same with joints. The shoulder will become inflamed and painful, not to mention prone to injury. Rotator cuffs are torn when a pitcher throws a ball and doesn't have global mover support. Imagine falling when global movers aren't up the task of cushioning the impact. When muscles fail to support joints and a stress is delivered to that joint, bones may break, and the muscles, tendons, or ligaments tear.

When any muscle fails, surrounding muscles must compensate by either increasing or decreasing muscle tone. Sometimes, if we eat and exercise properly, relieve mental stress, and get enough sleep, the body is able to heal on its own and reverse the process. However, in our modern lifestyles, this can be difficult. If a global mover fails, the smaller muscles do their best, but eventually become tight and fatigued or lethargic and weak. Time passes. Minor pains become sharp. The cuff becomes impinged, tears, or the arm can no longer be raised fully. When the arm can no longer be lifted above the shoulder, it is known as a frozen shoulder. These normally require 1-2 years for "thawing," but a good AK doc can usually fix it in 2-6 months. To find an AK doc, Google "ICAK-USA," and "Find an AK doc."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gynecomastia Is Associated With Several Risk Factors

Not every male gets gynecomastia, but more get it than you would think. This is likely because few people like to talk about it. If you have not been affected by this condition, there is no way to tell for sure if you ever will. However, there are some factors that may be able to tell you if you have a high chance of developing gynecomastia.

One of the most common culprits is the impact of hormones. For this reason, it is likely that if you develop this issue, it will be during puberty. Of course, this happens to be when many boys are already self-conscious and possibly being humiliated for unrelated factors, so adding excess fat on the upper body can lead to increased social issues. You should know, though, that hormones are unbalanced when you are particularly old or young, too. This means that you can develop this condition in old age, and even some newborns have it, so hormones can strike at any time and lead to excess chest fat.

If you take certain medications, you may have an increased possibility of developing gynecomastia. Not surprisingly, anything that alters you hormone levels can have an effect. This means androgens and anabolic steroids can increase your chance of facing this issue. Even anti-androgens, which are given when you are fighting certain types of cancer, can cause this problem. Additionally, your risk of getting excess fat on your chest increases when you are given medication to treat AIDS, infections, or ulcers. This does not necessarily mean you should refuse medication because of the slight risk of getting this issue. Instead, let your doctor know your concerns if you are worried about this.

Before you skip medications, it is important to note that some conditions can actually increase your risk of gynecomastia. Examples include kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and hypogonadism, and these are just a few conditions that can lead to excess fat on the chest when left untreated. For this reason, you should not avoid treatment for these issues just because of the slight chance of excessive fat.

In addition, self-medicating can improve your chance of developing gynecomastia. For example, if you regularly drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, you may be putting yourself at risk for excess chest flab, among other issues.

It should be clear by now that this condition has several risk factors. Some of them can be controlled, while others cannot. However, either way, you have some treatment options if you do notice flab in the chest region at any age.

Friday, September 28, 2012

How Are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?

There are lots of women who want to know how ovarian cysts are diagnosed; maybe due to their curiosity and in preparation for the future. Ovarian cysts are found when women undergo a pelvic examination. If the doctors suspect a cyst, they often advise the patient for further testing in order to know the type of the cyst and whether treatment is needed or not. But before you know about how are ovarian cysts detected, it is best that you know first what ovarian cysts are.

What are Ovarian Cysts?

Cysts are sacs that are filled with fluids which can form anywhere within the body. These cysts are formed on or in the ovaries. Functional cyst is the commonest kind of cyst in the ovary. This type of ovarian cyst is formed during menstruation. The two kinds are:

Follicle Cysts. These types of cysts are formed when the ovary sac doesn't break for the eggs' release and it keeps on growing. Follicle cysts often go away in 3 months.
Corpus Luteum. When the sac doesn't dissolve, these cysts are formed. Instead, it is sealed off when the eggs are released then the fluids are building up inside. They may cause pain but they're rarely cancerous.
How Are Ovarian Cysts Diagnosed?

Typically, doctors will ask first the patients some questions in order to know a diagnosis. Here are some of them:

Size. What is the size of the cyst?

Composition. Is the cyst solid, filled with watery substance or mixed? Cysts that are filled with fluid are not cancerous. Those considered as mixed or solid need further evaluation in order to determine whether a tumor is present or not.

If you want to know how are ovarian cysts detected, here are some of the procedures performed by doctors.

Pregnancy test

When a pregnancy test turns positive, it might suggest that the cyst you have is corpus luteum, which develops when the follicle (ruptured) that released the eggs reseals and then fluid build-up occurs.

Pelvic ultrasound

This is a painless procedure where a transducer is utilized to send as well as receive sound waves that are high frequency (ultrasound). The instrument is movable over the abdomen and your vagina, which creates an image or picture of your ovaries and uterus on a screen. The resulting image can be photographed then analyzed by the doctors in order to confirm whether a cyst is present or not, determine its state and identify the location.


An instrument called laparoscope is used in the procedure. It is a slim and lighted medical instrument that is inserted into the abdomen through an incision (small). After the instrument was inserted, the doctor can now see the ovaries and then remove the cyst.

CA 125 blood test

Women with cancer of the ovary often have elevated CA 125. If partially solid cysts are developed in the ovary and you have high ovarian cancer risk, the doctor will test the CA 125 levels in the blood in order to determine whether the cyst is cancerous or not. Elevated levels of CA 125 can occur in conditions such as uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory illnesses and endometriosis. Surgeries on how are ovarian cysts removed is also available in the treatment of this medical condition.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reasons to See a Knee Doctor Soon After You Notice Pain in the Area

For many people, a knee doctor is a necessity when they can no longer handle the pain. The discomfort can be in one or both knees, and it can range from mild to extreme. Whether you are suffering from pain that has been around for years, or have recently been injured, you should go to a specialist to get the care you need.

If you have a lingering injury in this part of your body, choosing the right knee doctor may allow you to finally get it treated. You should not have to live with constant discomfort. If it hurts to simply walk, you need to get treatment for the issue soon. Even if it only hurts when you are particularly active, such as while working out, you need help. It can be hard to stay healthy or get in shape when you have injuries in your legs, which means this issue can have a major negative impact on your life. Do not let your quality of life diminish because you have an issue that could be treated by a specialist.

If you recently got the injury, you should go to a knee doctor as soon as possible. Many people get these types of injuries in sports, keeping them from achieving their best. If you have impressive athletic abilities, do not let them go to waste just because your knees are out of commission. In many cases, surgery will be necessary. While this requires a recovery period, you at least have a date by which you can expect to start feeling well enough to play sports again. When you let injuries go untreated out of fear of what surgery will do, you face years of discomfort, and you may not even be able to play sports at all during that time. You certainly will not be at your best anyway.

Another reason to get the injury checked out is that it could spread to other parts of your body after a while. You may find that another area of your body has had to work harder to compensate for your knees, leaving you with additional problems. In fact, when you see a knee doctor, you may find out that you have a condition that starts in your knees and spreads to the rest of the body. Therefore, getting treatment early on can alert you about such conditions.

It clearly makes sense to at least get an initial consultation from a knee doctor near you. You will find out if you have to have surgery or if there is another treatment available. At that point, you can look forward to the pain finally going away in the near future.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Walk In Clinics For Fall Care

Walk in clinics tend to be busier during the fall and winter months. If you are getting sick, it is a good idea to visit a local facility to get the medical care you need. Doing so can help you to avoid some of the more devastating and difficult types of health problems that exist. During this time of the year, the demand for healthcare goes up. However, you do not have to wait in line at your doctor's office or deal with an ER visit that takes too long. Rather, just turn to one of these immediate care providers instead.

For Prevention

One of the main reasons to visit walk in clinics at the start of the fall season is to take steps to prevent illness. These providers can offer you a flu shot, for example. This can help you to ward off the more dangerous and more limiting types of flu that may be present this year. It may also help you to get a checkup so that you are well on your way to being healthy heading into the holiday season.

Sports and School

With the start of the school year, many of these facilities see an increase in the number of students that come in. Did you know that these facilities can provide you with a large list of services? The facility can help you to get the exams and health screenings necessary to enroll in school or sports programs. If you do get injured during a sport, they can help with the diagnosis of the problem as well as the treatment plan. In addition, many children need shots prior to heading into the school year. You do not have to wait for your doctor's office to have time for this. These facilities can do it for you, too.

Handling the Cold

Once people are back to work in closed quarters or in school buildings, the increase in the amount of illness present goes up. You are more likely to become ill during the fall months than in the summer. This is the prime time to go in and see these medical facility professionals for help. You can get medications that you need. You can make sure your child's fever is under control or get strep through cultures to rule out that condition.

Walk in clinics are fast and easy to use. You do not have to have insurance to make use of them either. They can serve as a simple tool to getting you back on your feet, back to school or back to work in no time. If you need medical care, turn to these facilities as a go-to solution that is right near you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guide To Recovery After A Breast Augmentation

Recovering from any type of surgical procedure is no fun. When you signed up for your breast augmentation, you may have spent your time daydreaming about how you will look and flaunt your new chest. Even though you were warned that it would be a little time before you would be able to see the final results, you still couldn't help but to run and buy some new lingerie and outfits to accommodate your new figure. Before you rush and start trying things on, you need to be aware that after a breast augmentation, your body needs sufficient time to heal. The best way for your body to heal is to rest. Surgery is a form of trauma to the human body. It doesn't matter that that the surgery was done to improve your health or appearance, you need to get a good amount of rest to help your body recover properly. In addition to following your doctor's orders, you need to listen to your body as well.

Many people have a hard time sitting still and doing nothing when they are required to do so. One would think that since you need to get a large amount of rest during your recovery, that it would be easy for you to comply. Unfortunately, this is the time when most people tend to test their limits. This is one time in your life where disobeying your surgeon's orders during your recovery can come back and haunt you. Not only could you end up with some serious health complications from your breast augmentation, but you could also ruin your final results as well.

When you doctor warned you about discomfort, they really meant pain. There is a reason why they prescribed you pain medication. If you don't want to feel the pain or any discomfort that occurs as your body heals itself after your operation, you need to follow the directions for that prescription. Don't abuse or take the painkillers improperly or you could wind up in the hospital fighting for your life.

Get help. This is one of those times in life where you should not be afraid to ask for some help and assistance around the house. Much of your daily movements involve you using and moving muscles that are in your chest. Since you just had a breast augmentation, the muscles and tissues in your chest area are going to be very sore. Your breasts are going to be wrapped in bandages for a few weeks to help prevent them from moving unnecessarily, keep them properly supported and to reduce the amount of swelling you will have. Your doctor will restrict you from doing too much as far as exercise, strenuous activities, heavy lifting and certain household chores such as vacuuming. This is to give your body time to heal with the implants properly in place and to keep them from slipping out of position. Have some friends and family help out so you don't do anything to affect your recovery and healing.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The First 3 Months After Your Knee Replacement Surgery

During your knee replacement surgery, you will be under general anaesthesia and there will be an incision made on your knee to allow surgical tools to move in and out of the knee. Once the damaged portions of the knee are removed and the artificial joints placed into the knee and attached using adhesive materials, the knee will be sutured together and you will be pushed to the recovery room.

The recovery period starts immediately after the surgery and even though you are still feeling the effects of the anaesthesia, you will be encouraged to start moving your knee. High chance are that you have not used the knee for physical activities for quite some time due to the pain which led to you undergoing the knee replacement surgery. As a result, the muscles are weak and you need to start building up and strengthen the muscles to allow better control of your new joint. A physical therapist will prescribe some physical therapy exercises for you to do yourself at home. You will be able to get discharged around 3 days after surgery and during this period, you will start to learn how to move around with the help of crutches until your knee is able to take your body weight. Once the knee is strengthened and is able to bear weight, you can slowly reduce your dependency on your crutches.

The first 3 months post surgery is a risky period as the replacement joint is still not fully attached to the surrounding muscles and tissues firmly. You knee can often give way so make sure you keep doing strengthening exercises to strengthen the region. You will also feel pain in the knees rather often during this period and this is perfectly normal. You will be prescribed painkillers but do not rely totally on the painkillers. If you notice any abnormal swelling or abnormal pain in the knee, make sure you go back to your surgeon for a check. Although the operating theatre is sterile, infection can still happen but this is rare. If you see any infection in the site of the incision, you need to go back to your surgeon as well. You should aim to regain your knee's full range of motion within this 3 months and this will help to prevent any scar tissues from building up or arthrofibrosis.

The first 3 months post surgery is totally about recovery and regaining back the functions of your knees. It is probably the toughest part of the whole surgery process and you will feel extremely useless. However it is the most important part and a bad recovery can lead to even more problems in future.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Home Yoga DVDs - The Advantages

The benefits of practising yoga are remarkable. Toned muscles, improved circulation, a less stressed life and increased flexibility can all be yours in exchange for a few stretches and poses. Attending classes can be fun, but those that opt to follow along to the professional guidance of that can be found on a home yoga DVD enjoy added advantages.

So what other advantages are there if you do decide to use DVDs to guide your yoga exercise sessions?

Firstly, you can set your own schedule. You won't have to rush to the local gym so that you can secure a space for your mat in a primary position so that you have a good view of the instructor. With a home DVD, you can practice at a time that suits you, whether this is first thing in the morning, last thing at night or before the children get home from school. You can fix your own schedule and make it fit with your day. You can always see the instructor as you have a front row view.

Secondly, you can use the DVD player to your advantage. If you are learning a new pose and you're really not sure whether you have done it right - you can rewind the scene. You'll be able to watch the instructor take you through the move again. If you were in a class, the other participants might not appreciate you stopping the class to ask the instructor to show you the move again. There's nobody to complain if you do this with a home yoga DVD.

Thirdly, you won't have to spend out on a fancy wardrobe of trendy yoga attire. You'll be able to wear whatever you find most comfortable to do your yoga in. Nobody is going to be judging what you look like as you stretch out at home working on your flexibility and poses. Welcome to the wonderful world of home exercise!

Fourthly, you'll be able to set your yoga exercise routine so that it suits what you want to achieve. If you have recently undergone surgery or you are recovering from illness or an injury, you'll be able to select the exercises that best suit your recovery. This just isn't possible in classes that cater to large groups of people.

Finally, beginners tend to have a much easier introduction to yoga when they start off with home yoga DVDs. They learn the proper techniques at a pace that suits them. This is not always possible in classes where everybody is at a different level of experience. The instruction has to cater to the group as a whole, not to the person who hasn't done it before and is feeling a bit lost.

In addition to the benefits that yoga offers, a home yoga DVD delivers many advantages to the beginner.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What You Need to Know Before Your Appointment for Annual Physical Exam

Did you know that many serious health issues might not show any symptoms until it's too late? A person with high blood pressure, for example, might feel completely normal, but is running a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and having a heart attack. A person could be on the brink of developing or already have a potentially deadly illness like heart attack, stroke, or even certain types of cancers or sexually transmitted infections but still feel totally fine. That's why health specialists recommend an annual physical examination whether you feel sick or not.

Annual physicals may vary from doctor to doctor, but most physicians try to check all the body's systems during an exam. This means examining the skin, listening to the heart and lungs, feeling for abnormalities in abdominal organs and lymph nodes, and testing vision, reflexes and neurological response time. Often times the examination of these systems by a doctor is supplemented with laboratory work in the form of blood and urine tests. Common blood work can measure blood count, electrolyte, blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and thyroid function. Routine sexually transmitted disease tests, check for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and hepatitis B and C. A urine test might also be used to measure kidney function. The doctor will also go over your immunization record and may update you on any necessary vaccines. Results of blood work and urine tests may take 3-5 business days, and a doctor or nurse will call you with those results once they are processed. Depending on the office, blood work and immunizations may cost additional fees, so talk to your receptionist or doctor beforehand if you have concerns.

One of the most important things to remember before going to your physical exam is that an accurate medical history is a critical component of an effective physical. Before your appointment, be sure you know the facts about your own and your family's medical history, as certain illnesses like high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart attack and breast cancer can be genetically predisposed. Your personal surgical history, as well as knowledge of any medications, supplements, or herbs you are taking, is important as well, so write them down and bring the list with you if you're afraid you'll forget. If you're going to a new doctor, try to get a copy of your old medical and immunization records to make the process easier. Most importantly, remember to be honest with your physician. Questions about mental health, sexual activity, smoking and drinking habits, and use of illicit substances all provide important information to your health care provider about how to best take care of you, so tell the truth, even if you feel embarrassed.

Most insurance companies cover annual exams, as preventative medicine is easier and less expensive for them, too! But even if you don't have health insurance, you should still try and get a physical annually, as it can save you a lot of medical bills in the long run! Many walk in clinics around the country have affordable preventative healthcare even for people without insurance, so check out clinics in your area for possible options.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Top Tips for Practising Yoga At Home

Doing yoga at home is all the rage these days and it's never been easier. With the availability of well put together DVDs that will support you through every pose, it's the ideal exercise for keeping bones strong and muscles supple. It's become an essential for many athletes due to its low impact toning and strength building advantages.

Here are some top tips for practicing yoga at home so that you can get the best from it:

Make some space

First off, give yourself enough room to be able to stretch out. You may need to move some furniture to the side so that you have enough space. Ideally your surroundings should be clean and peaceful. Some yoga at home practitioners enjoy decorating their yoga space with items that give them that peaceful feel good factor.

Invest in your equipment

A yoga mat is essential for comfortable exercising. With yoga mats on the market for everybody, you'll find a variety of styles, colours and prices. You may also want to invest in a yoga blanket that can be used to keep warm during relaxations. This can double up as a support for some of the poses.

Purchase your instruction

You don't need to spend out on a private tutor these days. There is a variety of yoga instruction DVDs on the market. A qualified teacher will take you through the moves and the benefit of using a DVD is that you can stop it playing whenever you like to readjust your position.

Read up

In addition to your DVD you may like to learn more about your new exercise technique. A wide range of yoga books and flash cards provide handy reference material and magazines can provide inspiration. The yoga community can be found online too, on blog sites, online magazines and in discussion forums. Another source of education are podcasts that are downloadable. Covering many different levels and interests, it's possible to learn more about what's new in the yoga world.

You can go mobile with your yoga

If you have to travel for work or leisure, you can easily take your yoga with you. The DVD will play on your laptop and it's not a lot of effort to pack your yoga mat into your travel bag.

Start off gently

When you start out with yoga at home, you should start slowly. Even 15 minutes can be plenty to get going with. Your body may not be used to stretching and your muscles will need a chance to adjust. Yoga was not created as a fitness method, but more as a way to stay supple and be in touch with the divine. Take it easy at first and you'll soon adjust to the moves and enjoy the benefits.

Set the scene

Many people enjoy listening to good music during their practice. You may want to set up speakers so that you can play something soothing in the background as you stretch out and go through your moves. After you've gone through your stretches, then it's time to mediate and relax. Meditation provides many benefits including stress relief, lower blood pressure and you can become more in touch with your intuition.

By following these top tips for practicing yoga at home, you'll set yourself up to enjoy your poses and reap the benefits of this excellent life enhancer.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting Gout on the Run

Amongst other diseases which have been exponentially on the rise in the past few years, gout has bloomed in the past twenty years and continues to afflict people of all ages and both sexes. So, it's not a surprise if you're suffering from this disease-but it's definitely painful and very difficult to live with, not to mention that if left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, diabetes and even death. It is caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in joints, particularly those of the feet, which leads to acute pain and swelling. Although it may start from the big toe, it can progress to the rest of the foot and even the knee.

Home remedies for gout, at least in the early stages, can not only provide symptomatic relief, but also cure for gout. It's important to remember that when this form of arthritis affects multiple joints, one shouldn't rely on home remedies alone and, in consultation with your doctor, use them in conjunction with allopathic treatments. Nonetheless, there are a lot of people who put these home remedies to use and testify to their usefulness, and it's possible that they work in the same manner for you.

A very popular and effective home remedy, which has been endorsed by health professionals as well, is that of fresh cherries. Both sour and sweet cherries are beneficial in curing gout as they contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants and relieve the inflammation in the joints. You should go for fresh cherries, because canned or stored cherries are likely to negate the positive effects of their natural anthocyanins. Apples are also great for gout as they contain malic acid which combats with the build-up of uric acid in the joints. A less enjoyable remedy, which you'd probably not want to go for, is to consume juice of raw vegetables. Vegetables like beetroot, carrots and cucumbers are a great way to 'detox' the uric acid, and if you're up for it the juice should be consumed once a day. Other than fruits and vegetables, vitamin C should also be consumed as research shows that it is very important for lowering blood uric acid levels.

Of course, where medication and home remedies might successfully get rid of your gout, they're no substitute for a healthy, safe lifestyle. There are many trigger foods and behaviors which should be avoided if you want to stay away from it, because it's no laughing matter. Generally, for gout it's important to maintain an ideal weight. Overweight people are a much higher risk for gout. However, one should not attempt to lose weight through very low-calorie diets or fasting, because both of those are equally contributive in uric acid levels. It's also important to consume a low-fat diet, with minimal meat and seafood as they contain high levels of purines which contribute to gout. Alcohol should also be avoided and consumed in moderation as it triggers high levels of uric acid which can then get deposited in the joints. With these little changes, you'll see a big difference in your health.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Save Money at Spas Using a Few Unique Methods

Not everyone has the money to visit spas at any time. The good news is that there are some ways to either save cash on every visit or even get services for free. You should find out some ways to get discounted or free treatments at spa locations near you.

Many spas regularly run contests in which they give out free or cheap services if you win. In many cases, all you have to do is enter a raffle, which means your name could be drawn at random. You should find out if your local spa offers this kind of contest. There may also be contests in which you have to do something special to enter, such as send in a picture of yourself getting pampered at the location you usually go to. Your name might then be drawn at random, or the contest might be judged by employees or other clients. Just find out the details of any contests you enter, and then find out what the prizes are if you win.

Most spas also offer gift certificates for services, so if you have a birthday coming up, you can ask for this as a present from loved ones. You can usually combine a few certificates to pay for the services you want, so even if you get several small denominations, you may be able to get an entire day of pampering without spending anything outside of a tip. Of course, your friends and family members may opt to go with you to the spa, and simply pay for the service you want. This can provide both a fun experience and free treatments of your choice. Just be sure your loved ones know this is what you want.

You can always choose the traditional route of using coupons or taking advantage of new customer discounts at local spas. Check your mail, newspaper, or the website of the spa you like, since coupons and special deals will usually be posted there. Even getting a small percentage or a few bucks off a treatment can make your day, since every dollar counts when you are trying to save money. This is especially helpful if you go often, since the money you save will add up fast.

Even if you are on a budget, you may still be able to get the services you have always enjoyed. Just consider these and similar ways to reduce the amount you spend getting pampered. It might require some hinting to loved ones, or some hunting for contests and coupons, but the result should be worth the work.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Things to Do After Your Tummy Tuck

Once you have completely healed from your tummy tuck, there are some things you can do to make sure your results are not temporary. The way you treat your body after your operation will do a lot to determine what shape and condition your stomach and abdomen are going to be in. In addition to eating properly, you also need to establish a good exercise routine.

Remember the trouble you had getting rid of that stubborn belly fat and love handles? Just because you had trouble before your tummy tuck, doesn't mean that you will have trouble keeping the fat off. Now is the perfect time for you to find a personal trainer or join a gym. A trainer will come up with a personal fitness plan that will help keep you in shape. They can also provide you with motivation to keep you focused on keeping your new figure toned up. If you don't want to hire a trainer or commit to a gym, you can also do some activities that will help you stay fit. Take early morning or lunch break walks. If you find walking too slow, try jogging with some music instead. Even if you don't have much time to commit to exercising, investing as little as fifteen minutes per day can do wonders for your body.

Become more social. Many studies show that people who tend to be more outgoing and social have less trouble when it comes to battling the battle of the bulge. The more involved you are in social groups and activities, the more likely you are to be physically active and stay in shape. Look online or in your local newspaper for events that interest you. This is a great way for you to meet new people, make new friends and become more socially involved and active.

Participate in sports. You don't have to be a professional player in order to reap the benefits of playing sports. By participating in sports, you are increasing your body's metabolism, which in turn increases the amount of fat your body will burn. Once you jump-start your fat burning system, you won't have to work so hard to keep the pounds and extra weight off. If you weren't too active before your tummy tuck, start off with low impact sports. You don't want to end up with any sports related injuries. Don't forget to stretch properly before you start any activities.

Invest in clothes that will make you feel good about yourself. The better you feel about your appearance the more likely you are going to work hard to maintain it. Don't take for granted the fact that you had a tummy tuck in the past. That doesn't always mean that you would be a good candidate for one in the future. Remember, the tummy tuck procedure is not to be used in place of losing weight by more conventional methods.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Laser Hair Removal Means No More Shaving

With laser hair removal, you may no longer need to pick up that razor and go through the torture of shaving. Even if you don't think it is that big of a deal, for many women, this process is anything but fun. It means spending more time in the shower every morning. It means dealing with nicks that seem to happen no matter how sharp the razor or steady your hand. It means having to deal with painful waxing when you don't feel like shaving every day. It may be time to look for another solution with more permanent results.

It's Long Lasting

One of the key reasons to get laser hair removal is that you can finally give all of that shaving up for good. When applied properly, this procedure creates permanent results. Because it works to damage the follicle just enough to stop it from producing hairs, that means that there's nothing to shave off later. This process does take time because every individual follicle needs treatment. However, once you finish this process, you can count on looking great all of the time.

It's Not Hard to Do

Contrary to what many people think about it, this procedure is very safe and easy to do. The fast treatment is effective as soon as complete. There is very minimal discomfort during or after the procedure. This method allows you to get rid of a small area or even a large area (even that back full of hair you wish you didn't have!) It can take between five and six treatments to completely remove all hairs from your target area. This is due to the cycle of growth present, not the technician's skills.

Why Should You Do It?

This process is one of the most sought after by those who want clear, hairless skin for good. The process is safe and effective. This is not a gimmick. Additionally, you can even justify the cost. If you pay for waxing, shaving or other products to minimize the presence of hair on your body, this method may save you money over the long term. You no longer need to buy any of these products or go through any of these procedures.

If you are thinking about having laser hair removal, now is the time to do it. Various treatment options are available that can speed up the process while reducing the costs. No matter if you have just a small area of your body you want treated or if you have the desire to remove it all for good, there are plenty of options available to you. Why waste your time with the razor when you could get permanent results you can really be excited about?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Basics of Human Digestion

We all have a very good idea about digestion. Let's revisit the basics. Digestion is the process of separating out the nutrients from the food and absorbing them into our body.

The human body is designed to keep up its normal functioning. In other words, the body tries to fight off sickness. Lots of under the hood activities happen inside the body to fight off sickness. Nutrients are needed for such maintenance. The body gets nutrition through the process of digestion.

Digestion happens along the digestive tract. The human digestive tract is very much a long passageway. Digestion is a two-step process.

First step is to crush the food into smallest possible particles. The aim is to expose the largest possible surface area of the food. This way the most amount of nutrition is available.

Second step is to mix crushed food with digestive enzymes. These enzymes break down the complex nutrient molecules into simpler molecules. That way nutrient molecules are easily absorbed within the digestive tract wall. Later on, nutrients are transported into the bloodstream.

The digestive tract has four main components. Mouth and throat are the first part of the digestive system. Esophagus joins the throat with the stomach. Esophagus along with stomach is the next part of the digestive tract. Small intestine, liver, pancreas and gall bladder form the hub of the digestive system.

Main digestive activities take place in the small intestine with the help of enzymes from liver, pancreas and gall bladder. Last part of the digestive tract is the large intestine. Bacteria ferment the remaining food in the large intestine.

Food is crushed and ground in the mouth with the help of teeth. Teeth are the hardest substance in the body. Strong jaw bones help crushing and grinding the food. The stomach has strong muscles, which vigorously churn and mix the food. Rhythmic muscular action - referred to as peristalsis - ensures that food keeps traveling along the digestive passageway.

As you can imagine, it is easy to crush soft and moist food compared to hard and dry food. There is either saliva or mucus present all along the digestive tract. This keeps food soft and moist.

There are different types of glands secreting different types of enzymes all along the digestive tract. Enzymes help the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the food.

One unique feature of digestive tract is that within the stomach and small intestine the internal lining has a fold like structure which provides for extra surface for nutrient absorption.

On top of this fold like internal linings, there is hair like structure called villi. They give an extra absorption area in addition to the folds. This way digestive tract ensures that there is plenty of surface area and opportunities for nutrient absorption along the passageway.

Muscular action keeps the food moving along the tract at the proper rate. Food should not get stuck along the path. As blockage would prevent nutrient absorption. Similarly if food passes too fast, the body would miss the chance at separating most amount of nutrition.

There are control mechanisms for regulating the food flow. For example stomach can stop the pyloric valve (a valve between the stomach and small intestine) and act as a storage unit if it finds out that the small intestine is very busy with the digestive process.

You might wonder what controls various processes, such as muscle movement and enzyme release. Autonomic nervous system controls most of the muscular movements and some of the enzyme release mechanisms. This means they are pretty much involuntary. One can not wish and stop the food moving through esophagus or intestine!

The nervous system will decide what is the correct action for muscular movement. Presence or appearance of undigested food at various points along the digestive tract controls much of the enzymatic release. For example, the undigested protein in the stomach would trigger release of protein digesting enzymes in the stomach and small intestine.

Enzymes also play a key role in conveying messages to the nervous system about when stomach is full and one should stop eating more. We should eat slowly and give enough time for this messaging to take place. That way we could receive natural stomach 'full' signals and voluntarily stop eating!

As food passes along the digestive tract, it has different names. Chewed food in the mouth is called bolus. Bolus also travels through esophagus and reaches stomach. It is called chyme as it leaves the stomach. At this stage it is thoroughly mixed, partially digested and mixed with stomach acids and enzymes. By the time it reaches the end of the large intestine, it becomes feces.

Our digestive tract is a very busy system. It is essential for our survival.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7 Ways to Stay Healthy This Fall

I'm overjoyed that fall is here. It's my favorite time of year.

Fall means pumpkins, mushrooms, apple cider, and soup. Some of my favorite foods.

Fall can also mean colds, flu, and low energy.

Is there a way to ward off such inconveniences? Well nothing is foolproof, but here are 7 suggestions to stay healthy this fall so you can enjoy all the festivities of corn mazes, apple picking, leaf peeping, pumpkin carving and football.

Eat those apples (and other seasonal fruit). Apples have been shown to strengthen your immune system. Other seasonal fruits such as pomegranates and citrus also help you ward off fall illness by giving you a big boost of vitamin C and phytonutrients. Aim for 2-3 servings of these nutrient dense foods a day.

Slow down. It seems like I've been going full-throttle lately. I know that for those with kids, the start of school is partial relief, partial stress creator. So as the air is turning colder, take some time out to relax and let your body renew. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day, sit in your favorite spot and watch the world go by. Maybe have a cup of herbal tea. Slow down and take in the crispness of autumn air.

Part of slowing down is also getting your 8 hours of sleep a night. I know it's hard to get 8 hours during the long days of summer. The shorter days make fall the perfect time to start a habit of getting to bed earlier and recommitting to 8 hours of sleep a night.

Get those fall greens. We often think of green for spring, but greens are also a perfect fall food. Greens grow better in the cooler weather, and are actually sweeter than when grown in the summer. So now is a perfect time to try kale or mustard greens, arugula or bok choi. Of course don't forget the broccoli and cauliflower.

Wash up. One of the easiest ways for germs to spread is through hand-to-hand contact. You don't have to get excessive about it, but be sure to wash your hands, especially after you sneeze or if you are traveling with lots of people. Plain old soap and warm water do the trick; so don't waste your money on expensive hand sanitizers or antibacterial soaps or sprays.

Spice it up. Spices have been used for centuries to boost your immune system. Try any of these spices to boost the flavor of your dishes, as well as strengthen your immune system. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper and more. For a wonderful relaxing drink that will help you slow down and boost your immune system at the same time, try some homemade chai - not the processed stuff with loads of sugar, but homemade goodness.

Check out my recipe:

In 10 ounces of water, boil the following: 4 whole black peppercorns, 4 whole green cardamom pods, 3 whole cloves, ½ stick cinnamon, ½ inch fresh ginger root. Let boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add ½ cup almond milk. Heat again, strain and enjoy.

Try some herbs. Many tout the benefits of Echinacea, but I have a big fan of Astragulus. It can even be taken by those with auto-immune conditions because it is an adaptogen. That means it is thought to help protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. Like many herbs, you don't want to take it forever. Instead, take it for week when you start feeling run down. Or if you're traveling, take it a few days before, during, and then a few days after your trip.

Hang out with the Fun-Gi. Mushrooms are great for increasing your white blood cells - the cells responsible for fighting off illness. Whether sautéed, marinated or raw, mushrooms are amazing foods. While maitake and shitake are the most coveted for the immune boosting powers, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, your standard white button mushrooms have recently been shown to be pretty powerful immune boosters.

Not sure how to add mushrooms to your diet? Try this easy and delicious recipe.

A Fall Celebration Salad

2-3 shitake mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and sliced 
juice of ½ lemon 
1 tbl Bragg's amino acids 
½ Asian pear, sliced thin 
hand full of walnuts 
hand full of dried cranberries (without sugar if you can find them) 
2 cups mixed greens


Juice of 1 lemon 
1/3 cup olive oil 
1 tsp sea salt

Place sliced mushrooms in a glass bowl. Pour lemon juice and Bragg's over the mushrooms. Stir. Let sit for 20 minutes or longer

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over greens. Place greens on a plate. Evenly distribute marinated mushrooms, pear, walnuts and cranberries on each plate.

Any other tips you like for staying healthy this fall?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Role of the Small Intestine in Digestion

The small intestine is the grand central of the digestive system. Most of the real digestive process happens here.

Most of the protein, fat and carbohydrate breakdown happens within the small intestine. Most of the nutrient absorption also happens here. It is roughly 22 feet long, muscular tube that sits between the stomach and the large intestine.

The small intestine connects to stomach through a muscle called the pylorus. This connection is the pyloric valve. Whenever small intestine is not busy with digestion, stomach releases chyme through the pyloric valve.

Small intestine works with liver, pancreas and gallbladder for digestion. There are digestive enzymes that secrete within its wall. But the digestive enzymes from liver, gallbladder and pancreas are also delivered here to help with digestion.

The liver sends bile to the gallbladder through the hepatic ducts for storage and concentration. Pancreas delivers pancreatic enzymes into the small intestine through the pancreatic duct. The gallbladder is connected to the pancreatic duct through the cystic duct and delivers concentrated bile.

The small intestine has three major parts, duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Duodenum is a Latin word and it means 12 fingers. It is about 10 inches long. Jejunum is also a Latin word and it mean empty at death. It is about 6 to 8 feet long. And the ileum is the last part, which could be up to 11 and a half feet long.

Chyme is partially digested stomach content. Stomach squirts chyme into the duodenum - the first part of the small intestine. The liver and gallbladder deliver bile through ducts to the duodenum. Pancreas delivers a very complex mix of enzymes through the pancreatic duct into the duodenum.

Pancreatic enzymes include alkalis such as bicarbonates, which neutralize the stomach acid. Besides alkalis, pancreas secretes 15 different enzymes that work on three major food components carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

The enzymes in the small intestine carry out two stage enzymatic breakdown of the nutrients. Complex nutrient molecules are first decomposed into less complex molecules and later less complex molecules are broken into most basic forms.

Bile salts emulsify large fat droplets and create an emulsion of tiny fat droplets. Thus increasing the surface area for enzyme action.

Pancreatic amylase converts long chain carbohydrates like starch into disaccharides (two molecule sugars) - mainly maltose sugar. Pancreatic lipase works on small fat droplets and converts triglycerides into monoglycerides and fatty acids. The pancreatic protease enzyme breaks down protein into short chain peptide and amino acids.

Remaining of the small intestine - jejunum and ileum - is the site for the last breakdown of the food and its absorption into the blood and lymphatic fluids. The bile and the pancreatic juices continue to work within jejunum and ileum, although intestinal wall also releases few enzymes.

The enzymes work within the lining cells and on their surface. These enzymes include lactase and maltase, which work on disaccharide carbohydrates and convert them into simple sugars like glucose and galactose. Intestinal peptidases convert short peptide chains into their sub-units amino acids.

This way, finally carbohydrates turn into simple sugars, the proteins turn into amino acids and fats turn to monoglycerides and fatty acids. These are the simplest form of molecules, easily absorbed into the blood stream.

Finger-like villi of the small intestine lining give a large area for absorption of nutrients resulting from digestion. Through the surface of the villi, nutrients enter into the blood stream.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Senior Fitness: Identifying Physical Activity Barriers

I haven't been physically active lately and look it. My weight zoomed up and I don't have the stamina I had previously. Though I'm still within the normal weight range, I have small bones, and the extra weight doesn't look good on me.

This fact hit home when my husband and I attended a weekend conference. Our picture was taken before dinner, developed during dinner, and given to us as we left. When I looked at the photo I couldn't believe my eyes? Who was that chubby woman? Who was the large man next to her?

"We've got to lose weight!" I exclaimed to my husband. This spiked my curiosity about the physical activity barriers many older adults face, and I searched the Internet for information. A Mayo Clinic website article, "Barriers to Fitness: Overcoming Common Challenges," lists five barriers: lack of time, attitude, self-consciousness about appearance, fatigue, and lack of motivation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites other barriers on its website. Fear of being injured is one barrier and I suspect it is a common one. Lack of safe parks and safe walking areas are other barriers. "Look upon your retirement as an opportunity to become more active instead of less," the CDC advises. Good advice, but how could I follow it?

I read a dozen articles or so and none of them -- not one -- addressed health barriers. What are some of them? These are my health barriers and you may face them as well.

1. Arthritis. During my last physical exam I told my physician about my painful right hip. She ordered x-rays and the results showed I had two arthritic hips, not one. When my hip is throbbing I'm not inclined to go for a walk.

2. Medications. I have high blood pressure and take several prescribed medications to control it. These medications slow my heart and my walking speed when climbing stairs.

3. Injury. Several months ago I fractured a bone in my foot. My foot was so painful I went to the hospital emergency department. I was given a prescription for pain killers, told to stay off my feet, and use crutches. Though my foot is healing nicely, every once in a while I get a stabbing pain in my foot.

4. Occupation. I am a nonfiction writer -- a sedentary occupation. In addition to writing books and articles, I write for two websites. As you might imagine, I spend hours at the computer.

5. Weather. Outside physical activity is difficult in Minnesota when the temperature is below zero and the wind chill freezes flesh. I know how to dress for the weather and enjoy walking in the snow, but have to be on constant alert for icy patches. The last thing I want to do is fall and break a hip.

Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma,also make physical activity difficult for older adults. Have you identified your physical activity barriers? If not, you may wish to take the "Barriers to Being Active Quiz," posted by the CDC.

Twenty-one barriers are listed on the left and rating possibilities on the right. The ratings: very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, and very unlikely. At the end of the quiz you tally your score. It will reveal your barriers, which include lack of time, social influence, lack of willpower, fear of injury, lack of skill, and lack of resources. Once you have identified your barriers, you can work on overcoming them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Treatise on Strength: Part 4, Conclusion

The purpose of this series was to give you a practical definition of strength, and I will give you what it is shortly. First, let's look at a few things.

"He who overcomes others is strong. He who overcomes himself is mighty" - Chinese Proverb
The De-strengthening of society:

The history of humanity is a history of the strong. Our ancestors have had to survive every possible terrain and climate you can think of. Look at where people live now. I come from Minnesota where the winter weather will sit 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero for weeks at a time. Living in a home with central heating and double-paned windows makes this easy, but the pioneers who settled the land did not have these luxuries.

The settlers made houses out of the earth, and before them, the Native Americans had animal hide shelters. In prehistoric times, Man had to fight for every scrap of food, for the right to mate, and to protect his home. During the Industrial Revolution children, would work up to 14 hours a day 6 days a week in coal mines and cotton mills. We have survived every natural disaster that has ever happened, and continue to live in places plagued by earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. These feats require strength. Not only has humanity survived these grueling situations; humanity has thrived!

At one point in time, it was survive or die. As stated in the previous instalments,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Longing for Longevity

If you had to rank the following activities in order of preference, what would your choices be?

___Floss your teeth every night.


___Get a colonoscopy.

___Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

___Go on vacation.

Now, if you had to guess what all of the above have in common, what would you say?

Give up? Believe it or not, the answer is that each of them can prolong your life.

You probably already know about the standard lifespan enhancers: Watch what you eat. Workout. Schedule regular checkups, routine tests, and immunizations. And if you smoke, quit. Sure, these sorts of efforts are 100% fundamental... but they're 0% fun. They're not the kind of things anyone would long for. That's what I wanted to explore. Was there any way we could put the "long" in longevity? I was happy to find that scientific studies tell us of at least three ways.

An article on the Psychology Today website by Dr. Wednesday Martin summarized research on vacationing and concluded, "skipping vacation can actually put your physical, mental, and fiscal health at risk." (Woo Hoo!! Caribbean here I come!) The article cited numerous studies, including the Framingham Heart Study and quoted University of Pittsburgh researcher Karen Matthews on the clear link between vacation and longevity: "The more frequent the vacations, the longer the men lived." The article also referenced a follow up study done by the State University of New York at Oswego that produced specific numbers: Men who go on vacations annually lessen their overall risk of death by an astonishing 20% and their risk of dying from heart from heart disease by 30%!

The next life-prolonger I discovered really shocked me. Did you know that flossing your teeth can put an extra 6.4 years on your lifespan? That's what Dr. Michael Roizen says in his book, The RealAge Makeover. Look at what a deal that is: Floss one minute a night and get maybe six more years of life. That's an incredible return on investment and the kind of bargain I'd take any day. I love a good bargain. A good bargain excites me. So I guess you could say I long for good bargains and when I find one, it can really motivate me. For years my dentist had been telling me to floss my teeth but frankly, I couldn't be bothered. That was until I came across studies that showed what an impact good oral care can have on longevity. I've been flossing religiously every night ever since. I no longer look at dental floss as a pesky little string. I now behold it as "The Fountain of Tooth." Isn't it interesting how a single bit of information... how viewing something in a new light can change your behavior overnight?

Last in the line of my favorite life-prolongers is a trifecta of treats: Eat. Play. Laugh. I was delighted to discover that dark chocolate and red wine are associated with longevity. And that a Swedish study found people who play golf live longer because they spend more time outdoors. And that research from Norway shows laughter can extend the lifespan. Who wouldn't long for all that? So here's my prescription for adding years: Book plenty of vacations with loved ones who make you laugh. Or if funny bones don't run in your family, catch a couple of comedies at the movie theater while you're away. Play golf during your trip or simply spend some time outdoors while you're savoring a daily dark chocolate bon-bon and sipping some red wine. And of course, don't forget to pack plenty of dental floss so you can add even more years to your life while you're adding years to your life.