Disclaimer - I Am Not A Doctor

Not A DoctorThis is a personal weblog generally revolving around the topics of health, nutrition, fitness, disease prevention, anti-aging, longevity, etc. The opinions expressed here represent my own and should not be relied upon in any way by anyone. I am not a doctor nor am I training to be one.

The opinions expressed in the comments section are those of their authors, not my own. I do not endorse them in any way though I do encourage reader participation in the comments and the general discussion of ideas.

Cited content obtained from various sources, which I attempt to note at all times in post content, should not to be relied upon in any way. The authority of the originator of the aforementioned content should be taken into account by the reader. Much of what I have to say on this blog is of my own opinion. My opinions are often not based on verified fact. I am not a professional; I am merely an interested and opinionated party. Thank you.

Click through to learn more about me and this site.

Photo Credit
The Doctr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkmabus/

An Unnecessary Antibiotic Treatment

Many Doctors Are Prescribing Placebo Antibiotic Treatments

placebo antibiotic treatmentMany people go to the doctor when they come down with a particularly nasty bug. Many of these same people are prescribed antibiotic treatment for the ailment all well. What is unknown however is how many people who receive these antibiotic treatments are actually receiving antibiotics. Apparently placebo usage in this area is ramping up. Can anyone say "the high cost of health care?"

Placebo Usage in Medicine

"Placebos have been used in medicine since ancient times, and remain both clinically relevant and philosophically interesting," says Rachel Sherman, a fourth year medical student at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. As placebos have become a stalwart of clinical trials and have been shown to offer some of the same benefits of actual medicine it has become increasingly clear that in some situations the use of placebos in treatment of patients is appropriate however a recent survey of a group of Chicago internists show that the line between appropriate and inappropriate treatment is wearing thin.

Because of this it is becoming much more important to challenge your doctor to describe what he or she is actually prescribing you rather than to just blindly follow. Antibiotic treatment which are just sugar pills are an unnecessary expense.
In a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 45 percent of physicians reported using placebos in clinical practice. Some doctors are giving patients sugar pills, and others are going so far as to recommend antibiotics for a virus.

A growing number of doctors believe there is a strong connection between the mind and body. 96 percent of the doctors surveyed said they think placebos have therapeutic benefits. But because antibiotic resistance is a growing national health problem, it’s important not to take antibiotics unnecessarily.

Antibiotic Treatment Versus Placebo: You Choose What’s Best

What’s important to remember is that there are many positive benefits to using placebos but their use is not appropriate in all cases. Antibiotics will never cure a virus and as a result they will simply incrementally worsen antibiotic resistance (a topic I've only slightly covered in the past).

If your doctor tells you you have a virus and then prescribes an antibiotic it is important to make sure it’s actually necessary. You don’t necessarily need to know if you’re getting a placebo but you should know that you’re being treated.

A Placebo Antibiotic Treatment for a Cat?

An interesting story: My cat came down with a respiratory infection not too long ago and the vet prescribed both an antiviral and an antibiotic. When I got home I researched the antibiotic treatment that had been prescribed prescribed and found it to be nothing more than a nutritional food supplement akin to Airborne meant to help boost the immune system.

Now, this is not exactly the same thing as treating humans with placebos but it does illustrate that your doctor will often not adequately describe what is being prescribed if you don’t press him to do so. Had I pressed the vet to describe the meds and the theory behind the prescription I might have opted to simply drop the nutritional supplements which were completely unnecessary. Seriously for a cat is there even such things as a placebo?

Is This Pill Really Necessary?

Best Life offers one simple and effective piece of advice on this topic. They say to "beware of catch-all doctor phrases such as ‘This may help and won’t hurt’ and ask your doctor if the pill or antibiotic being prescribed is really necessary." At the very least you might avoid taking a needless antibiotic treatment and save a few dollars at the same time.

Best Life, Apr. 2008
Journal of General Internal Medicine, Jan. 2008
Medical News Today - http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/93044.php

Does Running Make You Live Longer?

how to live longer with running
I am personally very interested in living longer and I would assume you are too if you are here reading this post. My wife and I have been talking quite a bit about exercise these days as we’re approaching two years of marriage and we’ve managed to avoid the after marriage weight gain that seemingly hits most couples.

Long Life & Weight Loss

My wife obviously is quite aware of my fixation over living long and increasing my life expectancy rate.  She's well aware of my exploits here on this blog and she knows just as much as I do that carrying less weight is closely associated with longer life. We’ve decided that making sure we keep our weight in check is something we should emphasize in our lives.

On this blog I’ve often alluded to my constant struggle to exercise frequently. Eating right is not a problem for me but getting off my butt has been my trouble spot. She is more disciplined than me however and has been much better in recent months about exercising that I have. Despite this I am recommitting to exercise once again and hopefully this time it will stick.

How To Live Longer With Running

So what’s my motivation this time? I just read a new finding to me published in the Archives of Internal Medicine a couple years back which said that running is a valid way how to live longer. In fact the journal said that running 30 minutes a day five days a week is enough to add four years to your life.

I expect the reasoning behind this conclusion to be because of the heart healthy benefits of running and the resulting weight loss and management running causes. Surely running five times every week is good enough to help you lose 10 pounds or so and help you live a longer life.

I have a friend that I just talked to this past weekend who told me he was taking up running every day. We then talked about the benefits of running and I told him it was a something I had considered before. Now I say it is how I intend to live longer and stay in shape.

As my wife keeps up her exercise regimen I intend on joining my friend in running and hopefully I can prove this study and finding correct by increasing my heart health and living a longer life.

If you want to know how to live longer by means other than exercise (such as your diet and lifestyle) I’d encourage you to take a look at my post How to Live a Longer Life. It provides a basic road map to the entire process of extending life expectancy and decreasing one's risk for major diseases. Thanks for reading!

How Does T Cell Activation Occur

T Cell ActivationToday I wanted to bring up a topic that I touched on a few months back in my posts on dendritic cells, T cells, and white button mushrooms and my post on raising T cell count with Selenium. In those posts I highlighted some findings showing that mushrooms could help promote the maturation of dendritic cells. This is important because this aids in T-cell activation.

T Cell Activation

T cell activation is a complex process and it is not solely influenced by mature dendritic cells. T cell activation occurs in most cases via a two-step process. Both the T cell receptor and the CD28 molecule must be activated.

Dendritic cells, as I previously stated, work by increasing t cell count. This is overly simplified but true in basic form. What I left out in that past post, and thus far in this one, is that this is only half of the T cell activation process because the mature dendritic cells only stimulate the first half of the two-step process. For proper immune function T cell activation must occur. Both steps must complete othwise the T cell will not survive.

Step 1 - Activating The T Cell Receptor (TCR)

The first step in activating t cells is accomplished by stimulating or activating the t cell receptor by the major histocompatibility complex peptide, which is satisfied through dendritic cells that are positively influenced through a diet rich in mushrooms as previously stated in simplistic terms.

Step 2 - Activating The CD28 Molecule

The second part of the t cell activation process however is in the stimulation of the CD28 molecule with B7 proteins. --Let me reiterate here as I feel this is important. I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. I am an interested party who both loves medicine and science but who works in finance. I’m pushing my limits with this post. I feel it’s important to follow up my last post with the other half of the equation because it’s not right to mislead by highlighting only half of the t cell activation process.-- Anyway, back on topic.

What Are B7 Proteins?
B7 proteins aid in the T cell activation process by stimulating the CD28 on the T cell… but what are B7 proteins? They are peripheral membrane proteins or usually parts of various pathogens or broken down cells. Without their influence on CD28 molecules on the T cell the second half of the T cell activation process can not really occur.

Unlike the first step, we’re not really concerned with enhancing the B7 proteins like we are concerned with enhancing the maturation of dendritic cells. In this step we are more concerned with allowing the stimulation between B7 proteins and CD28 molecules to occur. This is important to recognize because the stimulation can easily be blocked and without it the T cell will not survive.

How then do we support the stimulation of B7 and CD28? This is after all the important question in tandem with how do me support maturation of dendritic cells. We ensure that the body does not block the CD28. Think of it like this. We don’t want to put a cork in the CD28. We want it wide open for B7 proteins to come into.

Blocking CD28
The cork in this case is when the T cell presents CD152 on its surface in addition to CD28. If CD152 is present the B7 proteins are drawn to it instead and the stimulation never occurs. Part two of the two step process halts and T cell activation fails. Interestingly through my research on the subject this is the area which befuddles science as this process is easily messed up. Basically science doesn’t fully understand the mechanism for CD152 and thus can’t fully manipulate it.

The way that I understand things is this. In healthy people CD152 is in balance with CD28 on the surface of the T cell. T cell activation occurs properly when the ratio of CD152 to CD28 is in balance. If immune response is warranted less CD152 is present and if immune response is not desired CD152 is more prevalent. When things aren’t working properly scientists are still working on figuring out how to manipulate CD152 for the benefit of the patient.

You Can Only Do So Much To Encourage T Cell Activation

To bring this back home and re-relate it to my previous post, there is really nothing known that you can do to encourage proper function of the second step of the T cell activation process. Yes, we can encourage the first part of the process by enhancing maturation of dendritic cells which stimulate part one of the activation but with the second part of T cell activation we are flying blind and hoping everything works out.

It’s important however, to focus on what we can do even though it doesn’t address the entire problem. As my previous post said, mushrooms aid in the maturation of dendritic cells. Assuming they are doing their job you are at least positioned to support full T cell activation when the time is right and the body and immune system is working. Do what you can and hope for the best.

Sidenote: My apologies for anybody out there that really knows the science behind all of this. I have tried my best but I’m sure this essay is not fully correct. Please if need let me know if I said anything out of line via email and I will amend this post as appropriate. This post, though it is a stretch for me to understand and explain, is very necessary to show the other side of T cell activation and how it boosts T-cells and relates to living a longer and healthier life. My previous post made it seem very easy to control when if fact it is not. Thanks for reading.

Immunol Lett, 2008 January 15; 115(1): 73–74.- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/eutils/elink.fcgi?dbfrom=pubmed&retmode=ref&cmd=prlinks&id=18035425

Asthma Control

Asthma Control - Cleaning Sprays May Be A Cause of Asthma

asthma controlIn the ever present search for your causes of asthma you may find that your efforts to clean up allergens may have been the cause of asthma all along. According to this study an acceptable asthma control is to simply dump certain cleaning products from your routine.

Asthma Control Finding
According to group of Spanish researchers who tracked 3,500 people for nine years, your risk for developing asthma is increased by 50 percent if you use cleaning sprays or deodorizers even once a week around the house. The researchers speculate that exposure to cleaning products could be the cause of asthma in as many as one in seven adult asthma cases.

Cleaning Products and Asthma Control

This finding is interesting in that it alludes to the possibility that the cause of asthma is with the airborne cleaning solution and not with the cleaning solution itself. It makes you wonder if the Asthma cases would not be elevated if everybody mixed a bucket of water with cleaning product and wiped it onto surfaces with a cloth instead of spraying it through a bottle.

This also makes me wonder which cleaning products cause asthma and which ones don’t. I can’t imagine the trigger is uniform. After all, some people clean with white vinegar and water which is hardly the same thing as Clorox Cleanup or Febreze deodorizer.

Asthma Control With Air Purification
I guess the lesson here is if you’re using a household cleaner it might be marginally wiser to wipe it on your surface rather than spray it on. It's also probably wise to try and control asthma by cleaning your air with a home true HEPA filter. After all you can't live longer if you can't breathe.

Best Life Magazine - February 2008

How To Improve Insulin Sensitivity Naturally

Improve Insulin Sensitivity With ALA

ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid) plays a fundamental role in converting glucose to energy according to Dr. Stephan Jacob, of the University of Tübingen, Germany. He recently described a study he conducted of 74 diabetic people who were given at least 600 mg of ALA supplements daily. The ALA supplements stimulated insulin activity, which safely lowered and stabilized blood glucose levels in the patients. This is very notable for diabetics and pre-diabetics looking to reverse insulin resistance.

Diabetes and Poor Insulin Sensitivity

As I’ve previously stated in past posts, the early signs of diabetes is predominantly characterized by insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity. Poor insulin sensitivity can cause blood glucose levels to remain elevated beyond the healthy and normal blood sugar range. This can cause lethargy and fatigue among other symptoms. Some people can feel very sleepy after meals and the result of the fatigue is often diminished activity levels compounding the problem of poor insulin sensitivity.

ALA Supplements
improve insulin sensitivity with ALA
As my last post recommended including citrus peel extract to help reverse insulin resistance my advice today is to take a tip from the good doctor and try supplementing with ALA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike other omega-3s this is not found in abundance in fish but in plants. You can also easily find ALA supplements in many health food stores or online.

Food Sources of ALA
For those who want to stay natural and get your nutrients from your food the best food source for ALA is flaxseed and walnut. You would need to consume about 1.6grams of flaxseed to get 600mg of ALA. To aid in the cause try using flaxseed oil or walnut oil in your cooking and pick up some purslane from your grocer if you can find it.

Purslane is a leafy green containing a lot of omega-3 fatty acids including ALA. It is sometimes considered a weed in the US so you may have to look real hard for it in stores… or in your backyard. And don’t forget, statistically it has been shown that wine drinkers typically have higher levels of circulating omega-3s in their blood. Have a pinch of wine each day for your heart health and to support your omega-3 ALA levels.

Live Longer By Managing Insulin Sensitivity

Improving insulin sensitivity is one major step in reversing the building blocks of diabetes. Those who develop diabetes have noticeably shorter life expectancies and they experience more expensive health maintenance costs with all the medicine and accouterments they have to buy such as insulin pump supplies, diabetic support socks, and other miscellaneous required items. Make sure to get your ALA in addition to the many other ways to manage insulin sensitivity. Do them all and you can safely expect to live longer and healthier.

…and thanks for reading How To Live A Longer Life.

Life Sciences, Volume 61, Issue 8

How To Reverse Insulin Resistance Naturally

Reverse Insulin Resistance with Citrus Peel Extract

New research reported by Dr. Rachel Li indicates that citrus peel extract, which contains specific flavones (Polymethoxylated or PMFs), may help reverse insulin resistance and prevent diabetes. This new clinical research indicates that a daily supplement of citrus peel extract could improve insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance in those who are at risk for developing diabetes.

What Is Insulin Resistance
So what is insulin resistance exactly? Why are citrus peel extract supplements a good idea for at risk patients? The answer is both simple and complex. Insulin resistance is simply the body’s gradual lack of response to circulating insulin in the blood.

Very basically speaking, the pancreas produces insulin to filter glucose (sugar) out of the blood. When we eat foods our blood glucose levels increase (our blood sugar levels increase) and then insulin metabolizes the glucose back into the cells of the body.

In people who are at risk for developing type-2 diabetes blood glucose levels are often elevated routinely due to a couple factors. (1) They eat more and thus their blood glucose levels elevate more frequently and second because blood glucose levels are often high insulin is always working to metabolize the glucose. Eventually if you are overweight or have other risk factors your body slowly stops responding to the insulin and the glucose levels in your blood remain elevated. This is the simple and watered down answer to the question: What is Insulin Resistance?

Signs of Insulin Resistance
How then do you know if you have insulin resistance; and how do you know if your insulin resistance is getting worse? Insulin resistance is characterized most frequently by fatigue. In fact fatigue is the most common symptom or sign of insulin resistance is it wears people out. This is particularly destructive because one of the best treatments for insulin resistance is exercise, weight training, and general physical activity in addition to an insulin resistance diet. Naturally fatigue makes this harder and the death spiral sets in.

Other signs of insulin resistance include mental fatigue characterized by poor memory or creativity, hypoglycemia, and feeling annoyed, jittery, and moody. After eating it is not uncommon to notice extreme fatigue as a sure early sign of insulin resistance. If you feel that these symptoms are present in your life you may want to learn how to reverse insulin resistance sooner rather than later. You don’t want to wait until it is too late.

A Treatment for Insulin Resistance

Citrus Peel Extract
Reverse Insulin Resistance with Citrus Peel ExtractThere are many documented ways to reverse insulin resistance in people who care to and are willing to do the work. Reversing insulin resistance is most “easily” done by simply exercising every day and losing weight. It is also accomplished by changing your diet by adding more vitamin K, chromium, and fiber. I discussed just yesterday the concept of insulin production and fiber; check it out if you missed it. Today however I wanted to throw out this little known nugget about reversing insulin resistance with citrus peel extract as it is a lesser known treatment for insulin resistance than the standard laundry list.

Citrus peel extract is obviously obtained from the citrus peels and thus you can easily add it to your diet by grating some citrus peel zest into your dishes but there’s always the option of finding some citrus peel supplements to do the job on a daily basis. As a previously stated clinical research has shown that the PMF flavones in are an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance. Check out the source below for more detailed information.

Want more ideas for reducing insulin resistance? Drop your email in the box below for access.
Insulin Resistance Resources
Again, citrus peel extract is just one of many ways you can work on reversing insulin resistance. I have a page on this site listing many other insulin resistance treatment options at your disposal. I encourage you to check it out: 11 Ways to Reverse Insulin Resistance. Remember if you don’t identify the signs of insulin resistance and treat it early you may find yourself developing type-2 diabetes down the road.

In addition to insulin resistance a number of other factors can lead to diabetes. Eating too many Brazil nuts and diabetes is one of the lesser known correlations and a more obvious signs might be excess weight.  The point being letting these problems spiral out of control is not conducive to living longer. That is after all the point of this site: living longer and healthier lives.

Update - There are of course numerous additional ways to help reverse insulin resistance and stop diabetes in its tracks. If you want more structured guidance on how to reverse the early stages of diabetes, this guide on improving insulin production and reversing insulin resistance may be something that you may want to consider paying for. The sales page linked to above has a ton of info on the program so give it some time to read through it all.

Thanks for reading.

The Journal of Life Sciences (Vol. 79, pp. 365-373)

How To Improve Insulin Production Naturally In The Body

Fiber May Reduce Insulin Production In Those At Risk For Diabetes

Eating high fiber foods such as fortified cereals and have been shown to help manage insulin production in men with high insulin levels. This suggests that fiber and foods containing fiber could be a simple and effective treatment for those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to various reasons. Managing insulin production, after all, is a main problem for those with diabetes so keeping it under control through your diet should be an easy call to make.

Insulin Production & Diabetes
High levels of insulin production is a sign of insulin resistance in the body. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. As increased insulin production and insulin resistance occurs, blood glucose levels increase as the glucose is not processed properly and thus the pancreas over-compensates and exacerbates the problem by producing more insulin, resulting in even higher levels of the hormone.

Fiber & Healthy Production of Insulin
insulin productionA recent study led by Dr Thomas Wolever from the University of Toronto published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that consuming high-fiber cereal "reduced the rise in peak insulin compared with that seen after a low-fiber product." The team looked at the blood glucose levels and insulin production responses of 77 men after eating two different cereals each containing different amounts of fiber with all else being equal. In the end it was determined that the high fiber cereal caused a decreased rise in blood glucose levels and moderated insulin production whereas the low fiber cereal did not.

What made the study fairly interesting in my opinion is that the moderation of the blood glucose response was only noted in those who hyperinsulinemic and not on those who were control subjects. This seems to indicate that if you have trouble regulating blood sugar and keeping insulin production in check eating high-fiber cereals or anything containing high fiber is a must.

The authors of the insulin production study also noted that "further studies are needed to investigate whether cereal could play a role in the ongoing management of insulin resistance." That’s standard speak from the researchers on reversing insulin resistance with diet, but it’s hard to bet against the concept of eating more fiber to increase wellness if not to regulate or increase insulin production in the pancreas.

Buy Foods Which Promote Health & Longevity
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases and regulating insulin production is a key action in it’s treatment. Even if you are not at risk for diabetes there’s no reason you should let this stop you from getting more fiber. Keep this in mind the next time you’re walking through the grocery store. Food does not just keep us from feeling hungry; buying insulin producing foods can help us live a longer and healthier life. For more on this topic let me encourage you to read this recent post on how to increase insulin production.

Diabetes Care (27:1281-1285)

What is Critical Illness Cover?

what is critical illness cover
To put simply, critical illness cover is a form of insurance that an individual will take out with any health insurance provider. It can protect them financially from the burdens caused through the process of being diagnosed with a serious or life threatening illness.

As we are only too aware, serious illness or disease can strike at any time, therefore there are many around the globe that will protect them through some form of health insurance like this. The financial payout they will receive once diagnosed will be tax free and is used more times than most, to take care of dependants and loved ones who relied on the policy holder.

The value of the money that gets paid to the policy holder is down to the agreed monthly premium arranged by both the individual and the insurance company, obviously the higher the monthly premium the bigger the payout shall be.

As mentioned, the critical illness cover payout is sent to the individual once they have been professionally diagnosed with a serious or life threatening disease. The disease or illness will have to be specific to the cover of the policy. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you are diagnosed and your illness is not included in the cover, you will not receive any financial lump sum.

You will find however that most critical insurance cover policies will protect you from a core group of illness. Usually this can be viewed in a list form from the insurance company and will contain things such as heart attacks, cancer, kidney problems, strokes etc. These will often always payout but it is important to clear this up with whatever company you decide to go with before you sign any agreements.

If you make a successful claim, you will find that there is a long waiting period of around a month to two months. This is natural and is all a part of the legal process of the claim.

The Process of Applying for Critical Illness Cover

The process of application usually involves completing a form provided by the insurance company. This will always ask you personal questions on your health situation, topics such as your medical history will be discussed.

It is always advised that you be honest when filling out these forms, yes it may mean you pay a higher premium but it shall reduce any risk you may have of losing any appeal when you are diagnosed with a problem you were already aware of when filling in the form, yet did not mention to the insurance provider.

To round up there are of course many advantages to having this kind of policy for yourself. It will give you a good piece of mind and shall protect you and your loved ones in case of any emergency, heaven forbid you be diagnosed with an illness and your family is left to fend for themselves.

This is why many individuals are using critical illness cover to their advantage and are making sure that their futures are as safe as can be. If you are considering applying for this then get in touch with your local health insurance company.

Leading Causes of Death

Heart Disease is easily the leading cause of death in America. One of the major contributors to heart disease is cholesterol. See the following posts for more on lowering your risk for heart disease:

How To Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels Naturally

Welcome to How To Live A Longer Life! This site focuses on human longevity and shows you how you can live longer by improving health and nutrition and by preventing disease. If you want to learn how to live longer then consider subscribing.