Try to Avoid Polyfluoroalkyl and Perfluoroalkyl

You may be surprised to find out that the extra cheese and greasy sausage may not be the most unhealthy parts of your pizza. Scientists are warning that the chemicals used to make pizza boxes resistant to grease may be far more dangerous. Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, which are also called PFAs, are a special class of chemical that prevents soaking of grease and water. They are used in thousands of products including waxed paper, carpet cleaner, footwear, electronics, tents, sleeping bags and fire extinguishers. While the companies that manufacturer poly fluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl insist that these items are safe, researchers disagree.

More than 200 scientists from around the world, including toxicologists and environmental health experts, signed a statement requesting that the production and use of PFASs be limited. Traces of PFASs can be found in the bloodstream for many years, and even though manufacturers have been increasingly relying on supposedly safer options, the older classes are still being found in people’s systems and have been linked to major health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. Newer classes may have just as many questionable properties, including one version that has been linked to liver damage, skin irritation and eye irritation.

In many cases, poly fluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl are found primarily in industrial applications, but as they become more prevalent in the environment, we can all be exposed as they leach into dust, soil and groundwater and eventually into food and drinking water. While supporting legislation to impose tighter controls on poly fluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl is perhaps the most important way to reduce the risk of exposure for not only current but also future generations, you can reduce your exposure through prevention.

Start by reading labels. If the product is manufactured with these compounds or contains them, simply do not purchase the product. This may include items that are non-stick, waterproof or stain-resistant, including carpet cleaners, upholstery cleaners and fabric treatments. Skip the delivery pizza and other processed foods that are wrapped in greaseproof or waxy papers. It may not be easy to minimize your exposure, but you can modify your lifestyle to reduce your dependence on these convenient products and make choices that are safer for you and your family.

Air Pollution: A Big Factor When Choosing Where to Raise Your Family

The World Health Organization reports that about 7 million deaths a year can be directly linked to breathing polluted air. According to the WHO, air pollution is the most significant environmental health risk and regular exposure is associated with serious long term health effects such as cancer, cognitive impairment in children, respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, strokes and other cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

The data includes deaths related to indoor and outdoor pollution, which affects urban, suburban and rural areas. Indoor air pollution was found to be responsible for 3.3 million deaths world wide annually. Outdoor exposures kill 2.6 million annually. Another million are believed to be linked to both indoor and outdoor pollution. The burden is heaviest in developing countries, and fetuses, nursing babies, children, asthmatics, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals are all more vulnerable to pollutants.

This new data reveals that the risks are higher than previously believed and demonstrates a real need to combat pollution and clean the air. Air pollution can be traced to heating and cooking fuel, including coal, wood, and dung. In the developed world, pollution is often due to energy, industry and waste management. The cost of the global burden of disease is estimated at $1.6 trillion dollars.

Supporting stricter clean air standards is one big way that you can make a difference, but you can also take steps to protect yourself in your own home. Common indoor air pollutants in the United States include mold, pet dander, dust mites and fumes from furnaces, fireplaces and other gas appliances. Increasing ventilation and installing HEPA filters are great ways to protect yourself. Keep a window open or use the ventilation fan when you cook on a gas stove. Limit your use of cleaners containing bleach and ammonia, and look for low or no VOC products when painting or performing other home maintenance tasks. Keep carbon monoxide detectors near gas appliances, and change their batteries when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Check radon levels particularly if you have a basement or crawlspace.

Overcoming Being Afraid of The Dark

Some may believe its a kid thing, but for many of us, a fear of the dark lingers into adulthood. Grown adults suffer from it too, but it’s actually a very natural fear that helped our ancestors survived. These ancient humans often lived nomadic lives with minimal shelter, and outside those shelters could lurk any number of dangerous things hidden under the cover of darkness.

Nyctophobia, as it is officially named, often begins in toddlerhood. Children who are around two and three years of age begin to develop vivid imaginations and are not always able to tell what is real and what is not. Their terrors come alive at night. Normal night noises such as soft squeaking, creaking houses, dogs barking and eerie winds are no longer innocent sounds but instead something dark and frightening. An ear perk up to listen, and many thoughts go through our heads. We may imagine that these are not the sounds of the house settling but are actually the sounds of someone crawling across roof.

Something inherit about darkness scares our imaginations make up for the lack of ability to see through shadows, but unfortunately, this can have some negative effects on our health. A study that was presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston found that nearly half of those tested suffered from poor sleep as well as night-time fears. Undiagnosed and untreated nyctophobia could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep as well.

If you suffer from night fears, you may know that its all mental, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to conquer. A nightlight or bedside lamp can help ease your discomfort. When the mind turns the sound of a nearby barking dog into a Baskerville hound, we can send those worries scurrying by laughing at our own over active imagination.

Knowing that this is modern day and we don't have to worry about lion attacks or real monsters can help ease the worries, but knowing that in darkest nights there is always a moon may not be enough to silence those fears. If your fears don’t seem to let up with lifestyle changes and conservative measures, you may need to talk to your doctor about cognitive behavioral therapy or other treatment options that can help you conquer your fears and get the sleep you need.

Epilepsy Awareness

On March 26, 2015, the world was awash in purple. Every continent, including Antarctica, participated in this special event. Purple Day is designed to improve epilepsy education, dispel common myths and provide support for those with the condition. It all began in 2008 when a young girl named Cassidy Morgan was motivated to create Purple Day by her own struggles with seizures. Her idea inspired many, and today, Purple Day is a global event that is marked by events around the world. Public and private schools, businesses, organizations and even celebrities get involved in 5ks and other events designed to boost educational efforts and gather donations for research into better treatments.

Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures when the brain’s nerve cells malfunction and send out the wrong signals. It affects between 200,000 and 300,000 Americans and can be caused by a variety of factors, including abnormal brain development, illness and brain injuries. During an epileptic seizure, a person may experience abnormal feelings, lose consciousness and have violent muscle spasms. Brain scans and other tests may be used for an accurate diagnosis. While there is not yet a cure, treatments are available that can control the frequency and intensity of the seizures and manage overall health. Special diets, medications, surgery and implanted devices may all be helpful. Online programs and apps are also available and can help you track medication use, lifestyle habits, stress, sleeping habits and other possible triggers.

Unfortunately in our society, many myths surround this common health condition. One of the goals of Purple Day and other educational events is to combat these myths. Seizure disorders are not mental illnesses, and those who suffer from them are not less intelligent or less capable than other people. We also cannot necessarily predict when a seizure is about to occur although some people do have auras, or sensations that precede a seizure. A person having a seizure will not swallow his or her tongue, but he or she may bite it. Never force anything into his or her mouth because this could cause injury. Keep the person on his or her side and away from any nearby objects. Call 911 if it lasts more than a couple minutes.

While scientists have made great strides and important breakthroughs in conquering this devastating disease, we still have a long way to go towards finding a cure. Raising awareness and promoting research can help us reach that goal.

Tackling Antibiotic Resistance

The White House has released a plan to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is the first and the boldest move of its kind by any administration, according to some analysts, and was created in response to the so-called superbugs that could devastate our current medical system. Drug resistance is a natural evolutionary process. Bacteria must adapt in order to flourish in spite of drugs designed to kill them, but the overuse of antibiotics is speeding the process. As more drug-resistant bacteria appear, we face new challenges that could undermine many medical advances and render our drugs useless in the near future.

Some health experts have put the looming crisis on the same threat level as that of terrorism, which is why the president has asked that the 2016 budget be doubled to help prevent and combat antibiotic resistance. The most common superbug infections include Clostridium difficile, MRSA and hospital-acquired Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. Conventional medications do not work against these strains, which can cause severe illness and death in many cases.

According to the new plan, a dozen federal agencies will work together to draft ways to limit our use of antibiotics, support clinical trials to develop new solutions, better track and understand the resistant strains and slow the emergence of new superbugs. They will also be tasked with developing rapid diagnostics that enable medical professionals with differentiating viruses from bacteria for more effective, targeted treatments.

The goal is to reduce overuse in outpatients by 50 percent and in inpatients by 20 percent, which will be accomplished by tracking use in hospitals, cracking down on unnecessary medication use and offering incentives and awards for those meeting the goals. Although 80 percent of the problem drugs are currently used in livestock raised for food, the planned measures will not address animals.

The FDA has already issued guidelines that we can follow to help overcome this problem. If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, take it as recommended, do not skip doses and complete the entire course as recommended. Do not save them and reuse them or offer them to anyone else. Together we can take steps to protect the health of our children and future society.

Kidney Health: Another of the Many Reason To Get Your Water In Daily

We may not think about them often, but we need our kidneys to stay healthy. These fist-sized, bean-shaped organs are nestled beneath your diaphragm and in your lower back, and they maintain water homeostasis. Every day, about 40 gallons of fluids can pass through your kidneys, and the thousands of nephrons, or tiny filters, they contain sift through the fluid to remove harmful wastes and excess water and nutrients before siphoning it into the bladder. Kidneys also produce hormones that activate vitamin D, control blood pressure and help make red blood cells. Maintaining our necessary water intake to flush out toxins out can be one of the best ways you can take care of your kidneys.

About 10 percent of American adults have some kidney damage, and this can result in water retention, toxin buildup and poor plasma ultrafiltration. Nephrons can become damaged and less able to filter body fluids properly. Over time, the nephrons become more impaired, leading to chronic kidney disease, or CKD. Many people have no symptoms until they have lost as much as 75 percent of their kidney function, which is why regular screening is so important.

Keeping your kidneys healthy does not require much more than a healthy lifestyle. Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, take medications only as prescribed, stop smoking, limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg. a day, limit your alcohol intake and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Perhaps most importantly, drink more water.

Several studies have linked proper fluid intake prevention of kidney stones and long-term kidney damage. Extra water can help flush toxins, excess sodium and urea from your body and allow you to safely excrete them. Research has found that people who drink about three liters of water a day have a significantly lower risk of CKD and are less likely to have declines in overall kidney function. Adequate water intake may also help to prevent development and growth of cysts.

You don’t have to load up on fluids, which can have unwanted health effects, but the research underscores the importance of keeping well-hydrated. Eight glasses of water a day is often recommended and can be a great starting point.

World Management System for Disease Control

In December 2012, a two-year-old boy in Meliandou, Guinea, became sick and died just a few days later. Within a week, his mother, sister and grandmother were all dead too. Several of those who attended the funerals along with a healthcare worker also became ill. By March, dozens had become sick and died, and the disease had spread from the little border town to nearby Liberia and Sierra Leone. Only then did authorities realize what they were seeing: ebola.

Over the past year, the world has watched in horror as the virus swept across the west African countries and killed nearly half of those it infected. The virus had never before been seen in this region, and the areas in which it first struck were torn by civil unrest. Impoverished as they were, their health infrastructures were weak and damaged. Doctors in Guinea had never seen an illness like this before, and neither the governments nor the international public health community recognized the ominous early signs that a devastating epidemic with terrifyingly high mortality rates was about to kill more than 10,000 men, women and children.

The international response was unprecedented once the killer was identified as ebola, and these efforts helped get the outbreak under control. However, the fast spread of the disease as it went unrecognized and the number of lives lost revealed critical weakness in the global public health system. According to a recent paper published in the online journal “PLOS Medicine,” earlier recognition and a more aggressive response may have significantly lessened the toll.

The paper’s authors, who were experts from Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, made several recommendations for addressing future public health emergencies, including closer attention to health system capabilities in affected regions, early identification of the need for international assistance, maintaining close communication with local authorities and organizations, developing culturally appropriate treatments and processes, strengthening ties with communities, ensuring adequate financial and human resources are available and supporting the development of stronger health infrastructure in underdeveloped and developing countries.

Learning how to better implement a public health response and reach those who most need help with the medications and treatments that could save their lives may help prevent the spread of infections and diseases and protect future populations.

Size of Space?

Our fascination with space is something that has been well recorded for many decades. The universe is obviously a vast place, and we still don't know for sure exactly how big it is. However, we are finding out more all the time about the universe via space stations and unmanned satellites that take pictures of what's out there in the world beyond planet Earth. It is a truly fascinating topic and it seems the more we learn about it the more we want to learn more.

How many of us look up to the skies every day or night and wonder about what's out there? Looking at the stars and thinking about what could be beyond them is certainly an interesting topic that definitely leads to more questions. And the beauty that we see when we look at pictures or through the powerful lens of a telescope cannot be ignored. Even pictures from the most inhabitable planets have a certain sense of grace. And no one can deny the breathtaking yet serene elegance of the galactic disk photographs that are captured by powerful high resolution cameras. These disks are created by gas and light from the stars and the visuals that result are pure artistry by the universe.

There are so many television shows and movies about the universe and the stars and planets that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all. It is a topic that is almost an obsession of those who love science fiction. Most of us, at one point or another have wondered about life beyond the planet we live on. The popularity of the Star Wars movie franchise and the television show Star Trek (and the movies adapted from that series) has only grown in the years since they first debuted.

It should come as no surprise that a recent study of the Milky Way shows its bigger than we thought. In fact, the general public can't even imagine the size of the universe, mostly because scientists and researchers don't have the capacity to truly measure it. It is a topic that has been talked about and debate for years, and those talks aren't going to end anytime soon.

Tai Chi

Tai chi was originally designed for self-defense, but it has become an increasingly popular form of exercise. It is particularly beneficial for those who are elderly and is popular for stress reduction but can be enjoyable and healthy at any age. Movements are gentle and flowing, and you will breathe deeply throughout the exercises and stretching. Many people experience reduced anxiety, increased energy, improved flexibility, enhanced strength and greater aerobic capacity as a result. Participating in this workout regularly may also help boost immune function, improve quality of sleep, decrease arthritis pain and improve overall well-being.

Getting Started

If you are pregnant or you have joint, back or other health problems, talk to your doctor first to make sure this is the best choice for you. Many communities, fitness centers and health club offer classes that can help you get started. The workout includes specific poses performed with a grace not unlike that associated with dance. Movements are gentle and circular in nature, and your muscles are never forced beyond their limits. The meditation that accompanies tai chi helps you stay mindful of your body.

The Philosophy

Although many people enjoy these movements solely for their physical benefits, the original workout was based on specific philosophies. Qi, or your body’s energy force, is believed to flow throughout your body but can become blocked. The movements are said to unblock and improve the ability of qi to flow freely and without obstruction. Additionally, it is believed to balance your yin and yang, opposing elements that can contribute to problems when imbalanced.

The Benefits

Studies show that this amazing exercise can be used in conjunction with standard treatments for treating and rehabilitating common age-related problems. It can be used to combat symptoms, improve function and increase a patient’s quality of life. It has been proven effective for improving upper and lower body strength and flexibility and has been shown to reduce falls by improving balance and coordination.

Milk Consumption and Fracture Risk

Most of us have been told for years that drinking milk was good for us. We were told the calcium builds strong bones that would be less likely to fracture. It is a known fact that a diet rich in dairy products is promoted to reduce likelihood of osteoporosis relate fractures. However, the latest medicine studies suggest otherwise. New research points out that dairy may actually lead your body to become more acidic. The big deal about this is that when your body is in an acidic state it actually pulls important nutrients and minerals (such as calcium) from your bones, therefore making them more brittle.

Other studies have shown that in countries that diary intake was high so was the incidence of fractures. So what if there's actually something to the theory that high intake of milk may be associated with higher risk of fractures? The truth is, there are plenty of other sources of calcium instead of milk. And there are plenty of people who do not eat or drink any dairy products - such as those who are lactose intolerant or those who have made a conscious decision to a certain type of dietary lifestyle, such as being a vegan. Vegans follow a plant based diet - they do not eat meat or dairy.

Bones need more than just mere calcium to be healthy and strong. They also need protein and potassium and other vitamins and minerals. You can get all of those substances without ingesting any dairy at all. And also keep in mind that lifestyle choices such as being physically active instead of sedentary also helps keeps bones strong. People who exercise regularly have strong bones and muscles. Women who exercise regularly can help reduce their chances of developing osteoporosis and arthritis.

Another recent development shows that there's a higher rate of death in both genders of people who are considered to have high consumption levels of milk. So it stands to reason to seek out what is healthy and what's not regarding your particular situation. Talk to your doctor and do your own research. Consider the sources before making any decisions and definitely make an informed decision about what goes into your body and what doesn't. After all, your health depends on it.