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Archive for the ‘Food and Drugs’ Category

Tips for helping your New Year’s hangover

About two years ago, I did a post about why hangovers happen and what can be done to “cure” them. Basic idea from that post: there is no real cure for a hangover.

Hangovers are the result of a night of heavy drinking. The medical term for a hangover is acute ethanol withdrawal. When you wake up in the morning, all the alcohol has already been flushed out of your system by now, assuming the last time you had a drink was over 4 hours ago. People say that binge eating cheeseburgers and fries or taking a hot shower are all cures for a hangover. While there is no one-step solution to getting rid of a hangover, there are lots of methods to help you feel better.

Drink lots of water. Lots and lots: Most of the symptoms from hangovers can be attributed to one problem: dehydration. The alcohol not only zaps all the water from your system but prevents your brain from releasing chemicals reminding you that you’re thirsty for water! The headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain literally shrinking because it is dehydrated. It would be wise to drink as much water as you can. Try to aim for 32 oz an hour for 4 hours, then if you’re starting to feel better you can bump it down to 16 oz an hour.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol:  Caffeine makes you dehydrated, which you already are beyond your belief. And if you do drink coffee with a hangover, the caffeine will rush to your head and make your headache feel worse because now all your neurons are firing off and are more sensitive. And although a beer might make you feel better for maybe an hour, your headache will come back with a vengeance and you’ll be curled up on your bed swearing you’ll never drink again.

Eat asparagus and bananas, but don’t binge eat: The amino acids in asparagus help protect the liver from the toxicity of ethanol. Asparagus also makes you pee more which will help rid your body of toxins more quickly. Bananas are also good for replacing the salt and potassium that you’ve lost. Crackers, toast, really any bread product can help bring your blood sugar up and give you some carbs.

Do yoga and drink Gatorade: It’s true that working your body will help eliminate the toxins faster, but doing a full on workout will dehydrate your body, which you know by now is the last thing you want. Yoga is a great way to stimulate the body and get yourself moving without having to lose more water. Drinking Gatorade or any other sports drink will also help since the fructose in the drinks metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

Take a Advil, then nap: Chances are you didn’t get your 8 hours sleep last night, with all that tossing and turning and waking up to either pee or wolf down water. Take one Advil, not two or three, ONE Advil and then try to sleep. The combination of painkiller + sleep will help calm your brain and could help relieve that headache. The reason I say to take one Advil is because your liver is already exhausted after converting all that alcohol. Excess acetaminophen is actually dangerous, and could lead to some unpleasant stomach pains.

There are also other things you can do while you’re out drinking to minimize the effects of your hangover the next day. Alternate drinks with one glass of water. Don’t smoke cigarettes, they’ll just send more chemicals into your body that your organs will have to process and they’ll hate you for it. Mix drinks will a little more soda than rum. Shaving off ounces of liquor from your drinks can spare you some pain. And although this is weird, if you’re really concerned about a hangover only drink clear or light-colored liquor. Darker liquors are more potent and thus can pack more a punch when it comes to hangovers.


Rising Rates of Autism: How and Why

With the election soon approaching, people will say anything to get people to vote for Obama or Romney. One of the things I saw on Twitter seriously irked me. It was a tweet from Donald Trump regarding the high rates of autism:

@realDonaldTrump: “Autism rates through the roof–why doesn’t the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try.”

So Donald Trump is suggesting two things here: 1) The president has a direct influence over the rates of autism in the country (I’d like to see how that can be proved) and 2) Doctor-inflicted autism is a thing.

So first of all, if Obama should be blamed for the rise in autism, then I think Bush deserves equal blame for the rise in obesity, diabetes, infertility, and cancer during the 2000’s. Just sayin.

Secondly, there is absolutely no hard evidence that doctors can inflict autism on children without getting caught. There are a lot of modifiers to that sentence so I’ll break it down.

Most people think autism is administered via vaccines, even though all the research done on that theory has been debunked and it was proved that law firms payed researchers to botch data to publish those theories. So if your child is given a vaccine, with your consent, and develops autism, it’s not the doctor’s fault. It’s either the vaccine companies fault (which it has been proved dozens of times that it isn’t, hence the hard evidence) or your child just has autism that was either triggered by a prominent immune response (which is extremely rare) or your child just has autism. Parents assume vaccines give their kids autism because kids are taken for their MMR vaccines when they’re 12 months old, the same age when they start exhibiting signs of autism! Go figure!

Now, if your doctor had given your child a vaccine, without your consent, and your child developed autism, then it would be fair to say that the doctor was at fault however the doctor would be sued for medical malpractice and never be allowed to practice again. That’s the without getting caught part.

Now to understand why doctors can’t deliberately inflict autism or how the president has no control over autism rates, we have to understand autism. Unfortunately, autism is not extremely well understood because it is hard to research.

Autism is a developmental disorder that delays mental development of toddlers and children. It is typically diagnosed around age 2, but doctors are working on more methods to diagnose it earlier. The sooner autism is diagnosed, the more ways there are to treat it. Symptoms of autism include difficulty talking, difficulty making eye contact, attention deficit, lack of facial expressions, among others. Autism is also associated with mental retardation. About 75% of children born with autism are also mentally retarded. But what’s the difference between autism and retardation? Retardation involves a lack of the capacity to learn while autism is primarily a delay in learning. Some of the smartest people in the world are also autistic.

What causes autism? Certainly not vaccines. There is no definitive proof as to what causes autism because most researchers believe it happens with brain development while the baby is in utero. It can also be hereditary, considering autism affects boys 4 times more than girls. The rarest cases of autism come from infections, where the immune response damages the brain and causes autism-like symptoms.  Childhood infections have also been linked to OCD, ADHD, and other mental disorders. Crazy parents use this theory of immune response against vaccines since vaccines produce a similar immune response, but the immune response in vaccines is not nearly as powerful as a real infection.

So why the rise in autism over the years? It’s actually several factors: 1) Women are having children at older ages. In the 20th Century the average age for having a child was in the late 20’s. Now in the 21st Century it’s in the low 30’s. While having a child when you’re 32 doesn’t pose a lot of risk, it’s usually the age when risk factors begin to rise. After age 35, the risk of a child being born with a mental defect doubles after every year. So imagine women having children when they’re 40, even 45 years old. Modern medicine has allowed women to get pregnant, but older mothers really shouldn’t be too surprised if/when their children are born with a defect.

2) Because women are having kids at older ages, they are using IVF more. IVF, in-vetro fertilization, is used when the woman has exhausted all of her options of getting pregnant sexually. A fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus during the woman’s peak hormonal fertility. IVF is a fairly new procedure, and the more research is done about it, the more risks are being discovered. IVF has been linked to cancer and is now being linked to hormonal abnormalities in babies.

3) Environmental factors. We live in an age where some sort of preservative is in all the food we eat and everything is made out of BPA. We don’t know how these chemicals directly affect the growth of babies and children, but we know it’s not good. These chemicals can influence the fetus in utero and can also impact the baby after it’s born. The same environmental factors have also been linked to increase in cancer, genetic disorders, allergies, etc.
There is tons of research being done on autism, but as I said earlier research as to why kids get autism is difficult. Any research being done on a fetus in utero is difficult because researchers want to get answers but at the same time don’t want to risk the health of the baby. There are several treatment options being researched and doctors are looking into specific genetic sequences that could cause autism. But as for research as to why autism happens, that answer could be years, even decades, away.

So how do you avoid having a child with autism? Any doctor wishes they knew the answer, but there are several ways to cut the risk of your child developing autism. Having children at an early age is always beneficially for your baby. The earlier, the better. Woman are most fertile in their early 20’s, but since women are getting married later they’re having kids later. It’s generally wise not to have kids after the age of 32, especially if you or the baby daddy has a history of autism or genetic disorder. My mother had me when she was 34, but that was in 1991 and my mother is the healthiest person I know. If you want to have a kid, try to get pregnant anytime between ages 25 and 32.

Avoid IVF or any other drugs that could influence your endocrine system. The endocrine system influences fertility and development in the woman, and if thrown off balance could be disastrous for a baby. If you need to use IVF as a last resort than do it, but always try to get preggers naturally first.

Get rid of BPA in your home. BPA can be found in any and all things plastic, and can also be found in make up, a product women are very fond of.  Getting rid of plastic tubberware and kitchen ware is a good place to start. Avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles. Throw out make up for more natural, organic make up that is specifically labelled BPA-free.

Lastly, if you think your child might have autism, take him/her into the doctor’s office as soon as possible. The earlier autism is diagnosed, the easier it can be treated. Usually if autism is caught within the first 12 months of life, those children can go on to lead a pretty normal life as teens and adults.

And if you don’t like what science has to say about autism, well you can always blame the president for it.

Nobody Nose the Common Cold Better than Your Nose!

It’s that time of the year! The temperature gets cooler, the leaves change color, and the common cold spreads like wildfire. But you don’t need to tell me that since I’m currently suffering from it! And this virus hit me HARD.

Commons cold truly are unavoidable because the virus is so adaptable. Humans have been suffering from the common cold since they first evolved into human beings. Adults catch a cold, on average, twice a year. Scientists believe there are over 200 different types of the common cold and during your lifetime you’ll probably catch around 60-80 forms of the virus. But as you age, you become more and more protected against it because you’ve been more exposed to it.

The most common, and complained about, symptom of a cold is nasal congestion. That’s how the common cold got its scientific name rhinovirus, rhino obviously meaning nose. There is a myth that cold weather is the most prominent cause for colds (hence the name cold), but that myth has little evidence to support it.

The production of mucus in the nose is a natural response to the common cold. Medication can help relieve a stuffy nose, but there’s no real where to cure it because there’s no way to turn off the body’s natural immune response. And even if there was, that would put you in more danger since you’d be susceptible to other infections.

The virus can be transferred in many ways. Hand to hand, mouth to mouth, doorknob to hand to nose, even just by breathing in the airborne virus. Depending on how the virus is transmitted, that’s how the symptoms start.

My first symptom was a sore throat (I’ll remember to rinse my mouth out with Listerine he next time I kiss a guy :P) and my congestion came a couple days later. For some people, the congestion comes first and then the infection moves down into the throat. It really all depends how the body responds to the virus.

When the virus is absorbed into the nose, the body release a chemical known as a histamine, that drastically increases blood flow to the nasal cavity. This histamine is also the same chemical responsible for congestion caused by allergies. The increase in blood flow causes the nasal tissue to swell, and the inflamed tissue produces massive amounts of mucus as a response.

Diphenhydramine is a popular anti-histamine that is used in most cold and allergy products. However, it can also make you drowsy so you should only take it at night and avoid driving. Saline rinses can also help relieve a stuffy nose, but those can be uncomfortable for those who haven’t tried it. Vitamin C is also shown to help reduce the duration of a cold. The real cure for a stuffy nose is time. Once your body clears the infection, the histamine response will go away.

Always remember that blowing out is better than sniffing in. It’s tempting to keep sniffing in the mucus, but mucus can build up and create pressure in the nasal cavity, which can result in sinus infections and sinus headaches. When you blow out your mucus, it should be a clear or slight green color. If your mucus turns a darker green or yellow, or there’s blood it in, you should see your doctor as soon as possible since it could be a more serious sinus infection.

Other symptoms of a cold include sore or scratchy throat, swollen glands, chest congestion, headaches, and mild fever. Severe colds often have fevers over 101.5 and can cause some nausea. If you have a fever, you should probably stay home from work. If you’re still healthy enough to work, carry tissues and a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Just because you experience a cold one way, someone else could respond to it much worse. And if one of your coworkers gets sick, that means more work for you 😦

If you have a mild to moderate cold, don’t go to your doctor and demand a prescription for something!!! There is no prescription drug, no antibiotic that can cure a cold. Antibiotics only work on bacteria, and the cold is a virus. And if you take antibiotics while you have a cold, you could kill the natural bacteria that reside in your body and make yourself vulnerable to other infections.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent yourself from getting a cold. You can wash your hands every half hour of every day and you’ll still get sick. To help raise your odds though, you can try taking Zinc supplements to boost your immune system.

So remember to keep eating healthy, avoid dairy products (they also promote mucus production), and constantly was your hands. And if the cold brings you down, here’s something optimistic to remember: Your body creates a signature antibody for the infection so it knows to attack it whenever it sees it, so you’ll never get sick from this type of virus again!

Undestanding the Complexity of (sometimes) Complex Seizures

Earlier this week, Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned sighting his seizure problems (he allegedly committed two hit and runs while seizing) and was leaving his office to seek treatment. So the next time I get caught running someone over in Grand Theft Auto and I can’t make it to the car garage, I’ll be sure to tell police I had a complex partial seizure and they’ll let me off the hook, right?…that was a joke, just fyi. People being run over in Grand Theft Auto is a serious problem.

Although people often associate seizures with violent thrashing, seizures come in several forms of unusual physical effects. About 4% of people experience an unprovoked seizure by the time they’re 80. Out of those people, 30 to 50% of them will experience a second seizure. Seizures can produce a wide variety of effects from violent thrashing to deja vu to paralysis and syncope (fainting). There are several different kinds of seizures, both epileptic and non-epileptic.

Epileptic seizures occur where there is access number of neurons sending off electrical signals in the brain. There are several different speculations as to why seizures occur but there is no cure for epilepsy. About 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy and 90% of those people live in developing countries. Some cases of epilepsy, such as photo-epilepsy, seizures brought on by bright or flashing lights, can be controlled. Most epileptic seizures occur without warning and can lead to serious injury depending on the environment the seizure is taking place in.

Types of Seizures

Seizures are classified by two categories, location of neural activity and whether or not syncope occurs. If the electrical activity is localized to a specific area of the brain it is a partial seizure. If the activity is widely distributed it is a generalized seizure. If loss of consciousness does not occur it is a simple seizure, otherwise it is a complex seizure. If a partial seizure develops into a generalized seizure, it is then classified into one or more categories: abscence (short, 20-second syncope), myoclonic (twitches or jerks), clonic (muscle contractions or relaxations),  tonic (sudden, rigorous, and extreme contractions), tonic-clonic (tonic stage with violent shaking after),  and atonic (loss of muscle tone). Those six categories only apply to generalized seizures.

In the case of John Bryson, he suffered a complex partial seizure, meaning the area of  activity was localized and he experienced syncope. It is unclear what part of the brain it affected, though. The type of seizure most people define as a “seizure” and is featured the most on medical shows is a complex generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

Causes of Epilepsy

The most common cause of epilepsy in people under 18 is an infection in the Central Nervous System or a congenital defect. As people age, the chances of developing epilepsy grow because there are more potential causes such as stress, trauma, brain tumors, drug or alcohol withdrawal, and cerebrovascular disease (a condition that limits blood supply to the brain).

However, the most severe and uncontrollable cases of epilepsy are the result of a genetic mutation.  When your brain sends an electrical signal, it uses sodium and calcium to deliver the electric charge. When this genetic mutation occurs, the sodium gates stay open for too long and causes the release of glutamate, a transmitter that makes the nerves hyper sensitive.  The release of too much glutamate results in the release of Calcium molecules that carry an electric charge. The nerves get overloaded with signals and thus a seizure occurs.

Treatment Options

The most modern medicine suggests that people who are susceptible to epilepsy have a weak blood-brain barrier, a sheath that separates the blood vessels in the brain and the raw brain matter. It moderates the transportation of proteins to neurons and prevents pathogens from destroying neural matter. Most of the anti-seizure medications available are used to help the blood-brain barrier function. These anticonvolusant medications do carry side effects, however.

In severe cases of epilepsy, for people who experience over 4 seizures a day, surgery may be the only way to treat seizures. A lobectomy, the removal of one of the lobes of the brain (usually the temporal), might be necessary. In children 2-5, a hemispherectomy, the removal of the entire left or right hemisphere,  is also an option. Most seizure activity stems from the hippocampus, a portion of the brain that separates short term and long term memory and is also responsible for spacial recognition. A hippocampectomy is shown to be effective for those kind of seizures. Other methods such a deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and radiation treatments are known to reduce or remove seizure activity. However, some surgical options are only used as a last resort effort and carry high risks.

Difference Between Epilepsy, Non-epileptic Seizures, and Provoked Seizures

Many people are diagnosed with epilepsy even when the do not have a seizure disorder. There are several different kinds of episodes that may look like epileptic seizures but are not, or there are seizures that have a treatable outside cause. Provoked seizures are often caused by other medical conditions including dehydration, sleep deprivation, a cavernous malformation, infection and fever, withdrawal, metabolic disorders, head injuries, and more. These types of seizures usually occur once and are often caught by doctors. If you or someone you know experiences a seizure and you think there might by an underlying cause, alert a doctor of any potential physical abnormality. Don’t ever assume it’s epilepsy.

Non-epileptic seizures are episodes that often mimic epilepsy. It is more common for children to be misdiagnosed than adults. About 40% of children who suffer non-epileptic seizures are misdiagnosed with epilepsy. In adults, the figure is around 26%.  They are caused by pathophysiological effects including vertigo, repetitive behavior, tics, migraines, night terrors, CNS lymphoma, and more. Most of these conditions can be treated or even cured, either with medicine or some sort of psychological therapy.

What happens if you or someone you know has a seizure.

If you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy or are known to be prone to experience seizures, make sure your close friends and family know proper protocol. If someone experiences a seizure and they lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately. If the person is thrashing and moving violently, do not attempt to stop them from moving. Move any objects he/she could hit out of range and put your hands around the head to attempted him/her from sustaining a head injury.

Red Meat: America’s Worst Enemy

It’s unfortunate the foundation of a classic American diet is based on red meat. Hamburgers, hot dogs, beef, steak: all of these are difficult to pass up when living in America. But now it’s no wonder the U.S. has the highest rate of obesity and heart disease in the world. With a diet revolving around red meat, it’s inevitable.

A new study released earlier last week shows all red meat is bad for you. That’s right, ALL red meat. Although red meat has some good qualities, it is not the sort of food to put at the center of your diet.

Red meat is very high in two types of chemicals called myoglobin and haemoglobin. These two chemicals can be difficult to convert and digest which can damages your intestinal tract and lead to cancer. Red meat intake has been correlated with several forms of cancers included intestinal, colorectal, esophageal, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancer. But that’s not the main reason red meat is bad for you.

Red meat also has a high percent of saturated fat and trans fat. The saturated fat and trans fat clings to our bodies because of its chemical form. A study done between vegetarians and non-vegetarians showed that vegetarians had 30% lower BMIs. Obesity then leads to other problems such as diabetes, acute coronary syndrome (stroke), and heart disease.

Why is red meat so high in fat? Well what is meat exactly? Meat is the flesh taken from animals that is then eaten by us. Usually, meat is the skeletal muscle taken off the legs and abdomen. Take a look at your own legs and abdomen. Sure, you have muscles there. But what surrounds your muscles? Fat. Animals are exactly the same way. And with the high-paced way red meat is processed and packaged these days, I don’t think ranchers are too concerned about the content of fat in their meat.

The key to red meat, like any other type of food that’s bad for you, is moderation. The FDA recommends  eating no more than 300 grams (11 oz) of lean red meat every week. Lean red meat has less fat and cooked more healthy than other meats.

Another way to make red meat healthier is to try cooking it in different ways. By slow cooking red meat, you can allow the proteins in meat to convert more easier and that way the meat doesn’t lose all its nutrients and doesn’t gain a ton of fat.

Of course, it would be wise to quit red meat entirely. White meat has the same kind of nutrients without all the fat, so it’s a good substitute. Certain nuts and fish are also high in iron and protein and can replace those nutrients lost by cutting red meat out of a diet. There are iron supplements you can take as well, but those aren’t as healthy, wholesome, and natural as getting your nutrients from food itself.

And honestly, who knows what chemicals are used to process red meats these days anyways?

What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Coke

I found this post when I was browsing Tumblr this afternoon. Amazing how much one can of soda pop can impact the human body. And some people drink 3-4 cans of soda a DAY. And if this is only what a soda does, imagine what kind of effects alcohol and energy drinks have on the body.



  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

Sunday Seedling: 3 Easy Ways to Lose 3 Pounds in a Month

Losing weight is not as difficult as people make it out to be. You have to have realistic expectations of your weight loss. There are easy ways to cut out calories and fat from your diet.

1) Cut out any salty foods or anything high in sodium. When you eat salty foods, the salt absorbs the water from your body and reduces your metabolism. Eating too much sodium can also cause fat to build up. Potato chips, candy, Chinese food, french fries, all are foods that can easy to avoid and keep track of in your diet.

2) Drink more cold water. Four to six 8 oz. glasses of cold water a day is shown to boost metabolism. Plus drinking a full cup of water an hour before a meal is shown to curb an appetite as well.

3) Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast typically weigh three to five pounds less than those who don’t. Eating breakfast allows your body to jump start it’s metabolism early and allows your brain to be more productive, which is great since your brain uses 20% of your daily energy intake.

Also a friendly tip. Cutting 250 calories from your diet every day for a week can help you lose half a pound! You can go to the gym as much as you like but if you don’t change your diet you’ll never make any real progress as far as losing weight and staying underweight.