Thursday, 24 December 2015

DIETARY LIGNAN-Amazing health benefits

By Sam Maondu

Lignan is a phytochemical found in plants. Lignan contain estrogen called phytoestrogen which has an ability to mimic the mammalian estrogen and it binds to the mammalian estrogen receptors in the cell.

There are two types of lignan;-
  • Plant lignan
  • Mammalian lignan

Plant lignan is metabolized to mammalian lignan by a bacteria -normal flora- found in the intestines.

Sources of lignan

The sources of plant lignan include:-
  • flax seed
  • sesame seed
  • oat
  • barley
  • beans
  • yams
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • apples
  • soy seed
  • pumpkin seed

Possible health benefits of Lignan

Anti-cancer properties

Estrogen has been implicated with growth of cancer cells in the body. Lignan -a phytoestrogen- binds to the receptor sites of the estrogen limiting the total amount of estrogen available for the body. This has been associated with reduced risks of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Lignan also promotes prostate gland health and been linked with reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Lignan have an antioxidant effect in the body which helps to neutralize the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. These reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are responsible for destruction od the cellular genetic material which may then undergo mutation and epimutation resulting to formation of cancer cells.

Heart health

Bad cholesterol -Low density lipoprotein and very Low density lipoprotein- is deposited along the inner lining of the major blood vessels which poses a great threat in genesis of heart diseases. According to a study done in canada, lignan -SDG- helps to lower the level of bad cholesterol  and triglycerides in the body which helps in promoting heart health. Deposition of bad cholesterol along the blood vessel inner lining creates resistance of blood flow, elevation of systemic blood pressure and weakening of the heart muscles which results into heart failure. Studies have also shown that lignan helps in reduction of diastolic blood pressure. According to Wikipedia, Lignan plays an important role as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in prevention of disease processes.

Blood sugar control

Intake of food rich in lignans may help in promoting better glycaemic control especially in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is associate with overweight and obesity. People with high level of blood lignan level, especially enterolactone -a mammalian lignan- have lower BMI compared to people who have lower blood lignan levels.


Hot flashes and excessive night sweats in menopause

Estrogen is primarily produced by the ovaries as a result of stimulation of ovaries by an hormone called FSH. As menopause approaches, ovaries become less responsive to FSH resulting to production of less estrogen. This is associated with development of post-menopausal symptoms and in this context, hot flushes and excess night sweats occur.
This can be corrected by use of hormonal replacement therapy containing estrogen. Lignan are sources of natural estogen called phytoestrogen which helps to overcome post menopausal hot flushes and excessive night sweats but their effeciency may not be similar to that of synthetic estrogen supplements.


Supports hair growth

Dehydrotestosterone (DHT) is more potent androgen formed when testosterone is converted to DHT. DHT is stored in various parts of the body to include under the skin at the base of hair follicle where they exert their effect by inhibiting growth of hair follicles. Phytoestrogen blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT and is associated with growth of hair.


References
  1. British Journal of Nutrition, Impact of Lignan-rich diet on adiposity and insulin sensitivity in post meneopausal women
  2. PMC, US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.  Dietary lignan: physiology and potentialfor cardiovascular disease risk reduction
  3. Lignan- wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/lignan.
  4. 9th edition, Ross and Wilson, Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness, @2001

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

UNDERSTANDING HEALTH EFFECTS OF STRESS (No. 1 public health enemy)



By Mr. Maondu
(This article is jumbled with medical jargons) 

INTRODUCTION


When the we are under stress, the body functions are altered. Psychological instability, fasting state, extremes of temperatures, sickness, and fright are some of the things that can put the body under stress.

Response to stress involves a constellation of changes in the body functions. ‘Fight or flight’ is an immediate response activated when the body perceives a potential threat. This ‘fight or flight’ response results in production of adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones to prepare the body to face the stressful stimuli. 
Adrenaline and noradrenaline surge results in:-

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Self heart-beat awareness.
  • Constriction of blood vessels.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Rapid respiration with dilation of the bronchioles.

Similar post: 5 Evidence-Based Ways To Tame Mental Stress

When the perceived threat is eliminated, adrenaline and noradrenaline go back to normal and heart rate, blood pressure and respiration return to baseline levels. During the immediate response to stressful stimuli, the kidneys also produce hormone called cortisol (stress hormone) which mobilizes energy stores in the body to fuel the bodily functions. Similarly, when the stressful stimulus is eliminated, the cortisol level in the blood goes low and back to normal.


People who are under constant stress have functional deficit in memory marked by faulty decision making strategy. They tend to be more aggressive in habit-forming behavior, less flexible and full of aggression.

If activation of stress response is sustained for longer period, the body is chronically exposed to cortisol hormone which has a detrimental effect to the body functions. It results in stimulation of the adrenal glands on the kidneys to secrete hormones. These hormones are as follows:-


                CORTISOL (stress hormone- a glucocorticoid)



Cortisol is produced in the adrenal cortex of adrenal gland. It is the main glucocorticoid and has been commonly referred as a stress hormone because it is produced is high amounts during a disturbing emotional state. Production of this stress hormone is also governed by diurnal pattern being high in blood between 4 a.m and 8 a.m. Cortisol affects the body functions as follows:-

  • Increase in blood sugar.
  • Breakdown of energy substrates like fats and proteins.
  • Depressed immune status.
  • Cortisol has some effect in absorption of water and sodium back to the blood in urine. It also causes loss of potassium from the blood through the urine.


Extrapolating from this, the effects of chronically elevated blood cortisol level includes:-


Elevated blood sugar levels- leading due to formation of new sugars from energy substrates like fats and proteins. Cortisol counteracts effects of insulin in the tissues worsening the glycemic state.


Insulin resistance- elevated cortisol level may worsen diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It inhibits use of glucose in the  peripheral tissues.


Lowered body immune response- leads to high susceptibility to infections. Cortisol inhibits proliferation of immune cells (T-cells)
 
Impaired working and spatial memory- ‘fight or flight’ response results in adrenaline and cortisol surge which creates a short-lived protective experience and this memory may serve only to know what to do to avoid such an exposure or what to do in case it happens. (flash bulb memories) Cortisol impairs retrieval of stored memory, impairs learning and the resultant effect is diminished memory function.
 
Bone problems- high level of cortisol in the blood causes reduced absorption of calcium from the intestinal tract. This may result in reduced level of calcium in blood and the body compensates by trying to source for calcium from its stores in the bones. This leads to weak bony structure prone to fractures and osteoporosis.


Stretch marks- high cortisol levels propagates prevalence of stretch marks. High cortisol level in the blood reduces production of collagen under the skin. Collagen plays a vital role in maintenance of skin integrity and elasticity. When collagen function is reduced, skin integrity and elasticity is compromised and skin tears are common when the skin is overstretched


Formation of gastric ulcers- increased cortisol level leads to increased production of gastric acid which is a risk factor for formation of gastric or peptic ulcer.


During pregnancy- During the last trimester, high cortisol level are advantageous in that they help in maturation of the fetal lungs. Most of this cortisol is fetal in origin. High levels of cortisol early in pregnancy may yield no benefits at all. Infants borne of mothers with high levels of ;cortisol early in pregnancy may have low rates of BMI as compared to those infants born of mothers with normal cortisol levels early in the pregnancy.

Other effects of chronically elevated cortisol levels:-
  • High blood pressure resulting from water and sodium retention.
  • Prolonged wound healing period.
  • Suppression of the growth hormone production which may lead to stunted growth in children.
  • Muscle wasting, weight loss and thin skin due to high breakdown of fats and proteins in the body.


Treatment of chronic stress:-

  • Exercise
  • Body relation methods
  • Eating balanced diet.
  • Adequate rest
  • Use of prescribed drugs.
Common Posts;

Research Sheds Light on Persistent HIV Reservoir In Chatting To HIV Cure

REFERENCES:
Chronic stress- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/chronic_stress.
Endocrine diseases-textbook of Medicine by J. Axford and C.O’Callaghan. Page 818
Endocrine system- Ross and Wilson textbook of Anatomy and physiology. 10th edition. Page 211
Cortisol- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/cortisol

Saturday, 12 December 2015

STRETCH MARKS; causes and treatment

By Sam Maondu


Stretch marks or striae occur as a result of rapid stretching of skin occurring during periods of rapid weight gain or growth. During this period of rapid weight gain or growth, the skin lacks time to adjust and small tears occur under the skin.

Presentation of stretch marks;

Stretch marks are more common in areas where there are larger amounts of fat under the skin like the hips, belly, lower back, thighs, breasts and buttocks.
As the skin is overstretched, the inner layer of the skin is stretched too and its connective tissue breaks down. Small bleeds appear at the point where the skin breaks down appearing as purple or red when they are fresh. As the bleed resolves, the area of skin sunken and appears silvery with a soft touch.

Similar post: HEALTH RISKS OF OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY

Causes of stretch marks:


Hormonal variations- during puberty, the growth hormone is responsible for growth spurts which makes girls develop stretch marks at the hips, breasts and thighs.


Medical conditions- like Marfans Syndrome. People with Marfans have connective tissue disorder and are tall with slender limbs, toes and fingers and are at risk of developing stretch marks.

Prolonged stress- During fight or flight response the body is mobilized to produce an hormone called cortisol. Chronic stress has been linked to elevated cortisol levels in the body which has become public health concern in genesis of diseases in the body. The skin has collagen fiber which helps to maintain elasticity and integrity of the skin layer. Cortisol decreases the amount of collagen making the skin lose some degree of elasticity and more likely to develop stretch marks.

Rapid weight gain- body weight variation poses a stress on the skin to adjust to rapid weight changes. People who diet are at risk of weight spurts and are at risk of developing stretch marks.

Pregnancy- the growing fetus causes mechanical distension on the abdomen. There are also associated higher levels of hormone cortisol during pregnancy all which couples the risks for striae.

Drugs- people with inflammatory skin condition may have a topical corticosteroid prescription from the doctor. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and these drugs will have similar effect as cortisol. They decrease the amount of collagen fiber and skin is more likely to develop stretch marks.

Treatment for stretch marks.


Laser therapy- It uses light and basically functions to enable the body to produce more collagen to strengthen the skin. Different types have been employed in treatment of stretch marks using laser therapy but they don't clear stretch marks completely.

Topical applications- These are creams, gels and lotions accessible over the counter. They are basically skin moisturizers. Like Bio-Oil which is meant to improve the appearance of stretch marks without removing them completely.

Microdermabrasion- this procedure is not advisable for deep-sited scars. It uses an hand held machine which sprays an exfoliative tiny crystals on the skin. These crystals remove the outer skin layer leaving it to regenerate with time.

Most read: 5 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO BURN BELLY FAT

References.


Causes of stretch marks- NHS Choices. Address: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Stretch-marks/Pages/Causes.aspx
Marfan syndrome- NHS Choices. Address: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Marfan-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Cortisol Why "The Stress Hormone" Is Public Enemy No.1 
Stretch marks- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stretch_marks]
Stretch marks- treatment; NHS Choices. Address: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Stretch-marks/Pages/Treatment.aspx.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion- WebMD. Address: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/dermabrasion/cosmetic-procedures-dermabrasion?page=1

Thursday, 10 December 2015

CANCER OF THE CERVIX: risk factors and prevention



By Sam Maondu

INTRODUCTION:


Cancer prevalence rates are another ominous experience the public health sectors are going through. The treatment cost has been ironically hipped with very low success rates. Day care admissions for either chemotherapy or radiotherapy numbers are still growing with limited resources making clients seek for services in different countries. Cancer is a lifestyle disease and to some degree a disease of our own making. A slight shift in our lifestyle can be an essential tool to combat the rising cases. 



First let me take you though a crush course of anatomy. Cervix is an opening from the uterus to the vagina. Portio vaginalis is a part of the cervix that projects into the vagina and its surface is lined with flat cells called squamous cells which also extends to the vagina. When these cells undergo cancerous transformation maybe due to repeated Human papilloma virus infection, squamous cell cancer of the cervix develop. Majority of these cancers can be prevented by ensuring women who are above 21 years of age undergo cervical cancer screening.

COMMON POST: STRETCH MARKS; causes and treatment


Human Papilloma Virus has been implicated with precancerous cell transformation in the cervix. There are more than hundred types of these HPV with type 16 and 18 causing cancer of the cervix. Other types of HPV may have a propensity to initiate changes in the cervix which may resolve with time.  Interplay of factors may be involved in the progression from precancerous lesions in the cervix to cervical cancer.

RISK FACTORS.

  • Being sexually active at early age- women who become sexually active at an early age increases their risk of developing cancer of the cervix. This doesn’t mean that women who have cancer of the cervix started being sexually active at an early age but it is a risk factor.
  • Smoking- smoking in women has been linked to several health related problem in both male and female. It is associated with increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix in women.

Similar post: SECONDHAND TOBACCO SMOKE (the darkest side to active and passive smokers)

  • Body immune status- A strong immune system is essential to fend off diseases in the body. A weakened immune system is a leeway for diseases process to occur. Women with diseases like HIV/AIDS have lowered immune status and are at risk of developing cancer of the cervix.
  • Mental stress- According to Medical News Today, women with long standing stress risk developing cancer of the cervix as a result of lowered immune system. Prolonged stress lowers the body’s immunity and one may not be able to fight HPV in the body.
 UNDERSTANDING HEALTH EFFECTS OF STRESS (No. 1 public health enemy)
  • Giving birth at an early age- giving birth at tender age of 17 years may increase the risk of developing cancer of the cervix as compared to women who give birth to their first born at an age of 25 years.
  • Unsafe sexual behavior- Human papilloma virus is sexually transmitted virus. A woman with multiple sexual partners, woman with a partner who has multiple sexual partners or changing sexual partners frequently increases the risk of developing cervical cancer. In addition, those who are not consistent with use of condoms also risk contracting the virus responsible for cancerous cell transformation in the cervix.

CURRENT RESEARCH TRENDS IN HIV/AIDS CURE DEVELOPMENTS 

YOGA | PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASES 

 RESEARCH SHEDS LIGHT ON PERSISTENT HIV RESERVOIR IN CHATTING THE WAY TO HIV CURE

Prevention tips:

  • Eating a balanced diet to ensure strong body immunity. This will help to fight off Human Papilloma Virus infections.
  • Safe sex practices.
  • Screening for the cancer of cervix for any woman who is 21 years and above or 3 years after first sexual contact.
  • Avoid mental stress
  • Vaccination with human papilloma virus vaccine.

References:
Cervical cancer: causes, symptoms and treatment- MNT. Address: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159821/php
Cervical cancer- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/cervical_cancer.