Monthly Archives: March 2012
Nicotine is one of the worst addictions to break, and also one of the most dangerous addictions to your health. Some think that smokeless tobacco use isn’t as bad as, or as addictive, as smoking. Therefore, they think it can’t be nearly as difficult to break the habit and quit chewing tobacco or using snuff. And sadly, once the reality hits, they often give up and go back to using smokeless tobacco products. The best way to quit, therefore, is with a plan. After all, failing to plan is like planning to fail!
- Make a plan. Yep, the first step of your quitting plan is to make a plan. Set realistic goal dates–I will quit next Monday. This bag of mint chew is my last. I will only use snuff at home in the evenings. After two weeks, I’ll cut my use in half, then in half again in another two weeks. Whatever you choose–cold turkey or gradual–make sure it’s something you can actually stick to
- Set up a support system. There will be times when you will tempted to the breaking point. There will come cravings that you can’t stand. You’ll wonder how you’ll make it through the next moment, let alone the entire afternoon. You’ll need someone, or a group of someones, that you can call on. You may want to look into smokeless tobacco substitutes for those first few rough weeks when you don’t know what to do with your mouth after meals or while driving. Non-tobacco chew products may help cut the cravings, and they’ll certainly help with those “habitual” times associated with a good chew.
- Find substitutes. Not just substitutes for the tobacco, but for the places and times you normally used tobacco. Go for walks instead of sitting around the lunch room. Take up gardening or woodworking instead of watching the game at the corner pub every weekend. (You can listen to it on the radio while you work.) Join a bike club and ride out in the fresh air. Healthy substitutes for the smokeless tobacco use will benefit not only your quitting process, but also your entire lifestyle.
- Celebrate your milestones. Quitting is a big deal. It’s a difficult process. And you should be proud of yourself for breaking such a destructive, unhealthy habit. Totally tobacco-free for two weeks? Great! Last chew was 6 months ago? Wonderful! Have a party, go out for dinner, buy yourself a little treat. In fact, adding milestones and accompanying rewards to your plan is a great way to help you stick with it long enough to make a success of it!
Physical education is a necessary part of our children’s healthy growth and development. However, if the physical education program isn’t well-rounded and thought-out, it won’t do nearly as much good as it could. If students aren’t receiving a balanced and engaging physical education curriculum, they’re more likely to treat PE as they do spelling–learn it for the test and then promptly move on to something more interesting. Here are the three strategies of good PE programs that ensure successful and happy PE participants.
- Sports – Sadly, this is where many PE programs begin and end–with sports skills. While sports skill development is a good thing, unless every student is either engaged in after school sports or is a member of the school team, those skills aren’t going to be used much. And a program that focuses too heavily on skill mastery can discourage those students who simply aren’t adept in athletics. Sports DO have their place–teaching teamwork, introducing students to fun, fitness building activities, offering opportunities for those with talent to excel. But sports can’t be the be-all-end-all of any successful PE program. Too many students will be the losers in that particular game.
- Games – PE games are a great way for students to have fun, compete as a group or individually, and become physically active at the same time. Programs should include games, but should also remember the other elements for success, as well. A program too heavily game-oriented will find that few students can take what they are learning out of the class. Games typically require a crowd, and in today’s world of heavy homework loads, after-school activities, and smaller families, opportunities to engage with a large group of children outside of school for a game of Red Rover or Freeze Tag are few and far between.
- Solitary Activities – Teaching solitary activities rounds out a successful PE program. Why? Well, let’s look at it: Not all kids will have desire or talent for sports. Not all kids will have access to large groups of other kids for games. Nor will kids have access to physical education equipment like balls, cones, hoops, etc. So it just makes sense to teach kids solitary activities that they can engage in anywhere, anytime. Activities like yoga, jump rope, tumbling, and tai chi are all great for everyone. You need nothing except a jump rope (or a substitute) and a little free space.
Combining all three strategies will produce an interesting PE program that the students will look forward to each and every class period. And the benefits of what you’ll teach them will last a lot longer than Friday’s spelling test.
Quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco is a HUGE deal, and it’s an honor to be able to help someone make that enormous lifestyle change. You want to be there for them, and you want to do what’s best for them. To that end, you’ll need some guidelines, the do’s and don’ts, so you can make their quitting easier and smoother, and ultimately more successful.
- Help them establish a plan, or find a program or product that will better ensure success. Setting goal dates for those on a “gradual withdrawal” plan is a good idea. Finding “substitutes” for those early days–nicotine free chewing tobacco and snuff products, electronic “cigarettes”–are something that should be discussed together, which lead us to our next DO.
- Respect their authority and maturity in this situation. It’s their decision, their life, and ultimately, their success or failure. Presenting them with a smokeless tobacco substitute and announcing “Today’s the day you take your last chew!” won’t go over very well. Guaranteed.
- Be there. Babysit the kids for an hour or cook dinner one night a week to relieve some stress at home. Go along for a walk, swim, or bike ride to lessen the nicotine heebie-jeebies. Take the phone call in the middle of the night to “talk them through it.” Just be there. And if you can’t be there personally, send notes, flowers, emails, whatever. Just let them know that you’re with them through this, regardless of the need, regardless of the hour.
- Spend some time finding healthy alternatives to tobacco use. We’ve already mentioned some–walking, swimming, biking–that not only help beat the nicotine addiction, but build up overall health. Others might include a new hobby–knitting, sewing, gardening, scrapbooking. (Try and avoid food-related activities like cooking and baking, as many “quitters” experience cravings that can lead to overeating and weight gain.) Invite them to join a group with you–dance class, reading club, charity organization, golf team. Almost anything will do, as long as it takes their mind off the lack of nicotine.
- Remove all temptation and reminders from your home. No ashtrays or spittoons. And forbid others from using tobacco in the person’s presence. All it takes is one puff or pinch and all their hard work can go down the drain. Don’t place them in situation that could lead to that.
- Celebrate milestones. Quitting tobacco use is a BIG accomplishment. Staying off is BIGGER accomplishment. Party on!
- Nag, scold, tease, preach, judge or otherwise make a nuisance of yourself. Remember, this is a big deal. It’s something to celebrate and be supportive of. Negative behavior can add to the mental stress of quitting, as well as lower their self-esteem, both of which can lead to using again.
- Take any of their grumpiness or unpleasantness in the withdrawal process personally. Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to break, and it does some weird things with brain chemistry.The first few weeks can be rough on everyone. Hang in there and remember it’s the nicotine talking, not your loved one.
- Don’t offer advice unless asked and qualified to give it. Support is more important. And if you’ve never been there, little of what you have to say is worthwhile anyway. Remember, we’re talking brain chemistry here, not something that can easily be repaired to its original state with platitudes and Dear Abby columns.
We talk a great deal about helping our kids break the cycle of inactivity and unhealthy habits here on the blog. And some of you have asked a very good question: What is the difference between physical education and physical activity? So, today, inquiring minds, let’s examine the answer to your conundrum, shall we?
Physical education typically occurs in a classroom or group setting. From primary school “rules of the game” to the local community center’s swim classes, physical education involves teaching, and learning, of skills. That’s the entire gist behind the whole “education” part of the title. Physical education curriculum and physical education lesson plans are carefully crafted to take the student from beginner to master, from the basics to beyond. Elementary physical education classes and adult beginner classes are often used to introduce students to various forms of exercise, types of sports, and even styles of dance. Physical education lesson plans tend to break the necessary skills down into bite-sized chunks, even getting as basic as devolving a motion into its various smaller movements. In this way, the student is sure to master each vital element on the way to mastering the whole. Physical education classes are not meant to turn each and every child into an athlete, nor are they designed to even help a child establish or maintain a healthy level of exercise. However, the student can take what is taught and continue to practice outside of class time, and in many cases, probably should.
Physical activity, on the other hand, can be done completely solo. It can be something as simple as taking a walk or going for a run, or as complex as a weight training regime, a daily yoga routine, or preparing for a race. Physical activity is part of physical education, but doesn’t require a teacher or any particular set of lesson plans. Tossing a flying disc or a baseball in the back yard is physical activity. Gardening, housecleaning and washing the car are all physically active, but you won’t find those skills taught in elementary physical education classes.
In short, if you need a teacher or class to learn it before you can do it well, it’s physical education. If you can just pick up and go, or learn on your own, or simply do something that gets you up and moving, it’s physical activity. Phys. ed. needs to be physically active to be effective, but physical activities don’t necessarily require educating the person doing them.
Goodness knows our kids need wholesome, healthy activities to be choose from, what with all the unhealthy alternatives sadly available today. And with childhood obesity and diabetes on the rise every day, the more active the activity, perhaps the better. Let’s take a look at some healthy activities for your kids.
- Cheerleading – Adding a cheerleader or two to the squad may be a great way to include the entire family in the fun. As one or more play on the team, one or more could be cheering from the sidelines. Few activities offer as many opportunities for the boys as well as the girls as cheerleading. Cheer uniforms, soffe shorts, and other cheerleading clothes can cost a pretty penny, but the rewards of the physical exercise, camaraderie, and memories to last a lifetime are worth so much more.
- Running – I know, I know, it seems like your kids never walk anywhere, especially in the house. But running as an activity or hobby can be quite beneficial. The health benefits alone can make the cost of a good pair of running shoes well worth it. Best yet? No practice times, no class fees, no rain dates. Of course, your child could take his or her love for the run and talent for the track to the track and join the track and field squad at their school. Or they could turn all those miles to good use by participating in charity runs such as Relay for Life. Good for all! Oh and with indoor tracks becoming more and more prevalent, no need to cancel that run just for bad weather.
- Cycling – Cycling can become a family pursuit, as you take to the rail trail or bike line together. With trailers and special seats available, even the youngest members can go along for the ride. And with more and more parks and rail trails and safe, family friendly places to hit the pedals are just around the corner.
- Swimming – Science tells us that swimming is still one of the best physical activities we can engage in. And with many team opportunities available through schools and civic groups, a chance for an interest to gain a competitive edge may just be a sign up away.
Get your kids out and moving, engaged and motivated. It’ll do all of you some good, and maybe the community, too!
Peter, Paul and Mary, the folk trio from the 60s, sang this great little tune about a wonderful toy. The song is called “The Marvelous Toy” and the lyrics to the refrain go like this:
It went “zip” when it moved,
And “bop” when it stopped,
And “whir” when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.
Sometimes, when I hear, read, or experience modern medicine first-hand, I feel like the child in the song. All those marvelous medical “toys” zipping and whirring and bopping along their merry little way, and me not really knowing what they are, how they work, or what, exactly, they do. Oh, I know they help the health care professionals figure out what’s wrong, or set it to rights again. That’s what they’re for, right? But the exact specifics–they leave me wondering many times. So, I thought perhaps we might look at two of those marvelous medical toys and see if we can figure out just how all this technology saves lives.
- The Gamma Knife - The so-called gamma knife isn’t a knife at all. In reality, it’s a focused dose of radiation, commonly used to treat brain tumors. The term “inoperable” barely applies to brain tumors anymore, thanks to wonderful high-tech toys like the gamma knife. Even metastatic brain tumors that like to “hide” in strange places can now be treated and even cured with gamma knife procedures. The pinpoint radiation attacks only the tumor, slowing or stopping its growth, rendering it harmless. And all that without touching good healthy cells or invasive surgery!
- The da Vinci surgical system – Named for famed artist and inventer Leonardo da Vinci, this robotic surgical system is designed to make surgery less invasive and safer for the patient, while easier and less complicated for the surgeon. Less complicated is actually a relative term, as the system allows the surgeon to perform surgery using four robotic arms. Three arms can hold tools and instruments, like scalpels and clamps, while the fourth ends in an endoscopic camera, affording the surgeon a clear steroscopic view of the operating field. The da Vinci system is commonly used to perform prostatectomies in the case of prostate cancer. There is also increasing use in cardiac valve repair and gynecological procedures. The console where the doctor sits looks more like something out of a gaming arcade than an operating theater. A little PacMan, anyone?
Medicine’s marvelous toys are saving lives everyday. And that’s something to sing about!
The human body is susceptible to numerous diseases that can leave you sniffling at work or resting at home. Oddly enough, a few bodily processes can actually lead to health problems.
One of the most prominent of these processes is oxidation. While antibodies in advanced glycation CEL kits lead to research that can keep us healthy, it’s a good idea to at least know a thing or two about this bodily function and how it affects the body.
Glycation is the result of bonding a protein or lipid molecule with a sugar molecule, like glucose or fructose, without the controlling action of an enzyme. This can happen inside and outside the body. In the latter case, glycation happens when cooking food. Browning food, for instance, is evidence of pre-formed glycations.
Overall, the process might not seem like a big deal, but glycation is actually a haphazard process. Without those controlling enzymes, the process impairs the functioning of biomolecules, but the process is the least of your worries. It’s the resulting product you need to watch out for.
Some AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) are benign, but many are more reactive than the sugars they derive from. Research has shown AGEs to cause various age-related chronic diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Sensory losses like deafness
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to reduce advanced glycation end-products and, in some cases, inhibit their formation.
- Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) can reduce the generation of AGEs in the body. Thiamine can be found in a wide variety of foods. Foods high in fiber contain good amounts of thiamine. However, your body’s thiamine reserves can be depleted by chronic consumption of alcohol.
- Rytine is a natural flavonoid found in high concentrations in tomato juice. Rytine can effectively inhibit the formation of AGEs in the body.
- Carnosine, an antioxidant from meat, inhibits AGE formation. Simultaneously, carnosine prevents the modification of proteins by acting as a scavenger.
- Many people have taken to raw food diets, which do away with the possibility of AGEs created during the cooking process.
You may want to consider upping your intake of organic foods. Many food manufacturers add AGEs to their foods for enhanced flavor or appearance.
Today’s medical researchers have to have the curiosity of a three year old, the intellect of Einstein, the compassion and drive of Mother Theresa, and the computer skills of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates combined. Oh, and they have to have the latest medical and scientific technology put in their paths. Now, I find the curiosity and intellect fascinating, the compassion and drive inspiring, and the computer skills intimidating. But the high-tech medical research equipment? Somewhat confusing yet compelling… Although I’m not a medical researcher, we do have a few things in common, one of them being the curiosity of a three year old, so let’s get curious together and find out a little about two of these wonderful machines that allow medical researchers to conjure up their magic and wonder!
- Cell based assay equipment - Basically, cell based assays test the function of your individual cells. By monitoring the condition of the whole cell, certain diseases can be spotted. Many conditions linked to oxidation stress–Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue syndrome, ALS, even some forms of cancer–can leave behind certain telltale signs in the cells of the body. Most of these signs are in the form of enzymes produced during the cells’ normal functioning. Cell based assay equipment measures the amounts of these enzymes present in the cells. Too much of this enzyme can signal that condition, while too little of another can determine a different condition or disease process. Using other symptoms, family medical history and other factors can tell doctors which enzymes to measure to either confirm or rule out a particular condition. Researchers can also use cell based assay equipment to explore further cell functioning. Perhaps the cure (or at least prevention) of heart disease or stroke lies inside our own cells? Only time and research will tell.
- Molecular analysis equipment – Molecular analysis goes beyond the cells to look at the proteins that make up the cells. Yep, that’s right–if you thought x-rays, CAT scans, and airport security were invasive, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Anyway, molecular analysis equipment can monitor things like cell signaling and chromosomal translocations. Cell signaling has to do with the ways our cells communicate. Researchers and doctors can use cell signaling solutions to determine if there is a breakdown or malfunction in cell communication. This is often seen in cancers–the cells are told to mutate, or told to die, or told not to defend themselves. Chromosomal translocations are how tumors and cancers form. Hundreds of cancer-causing translocations have been discovered. Using molecular analysis equipment, doctors can more quickly and efficiently diagnose the type of cancer a patient has, shortening the time between symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.