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The Health Benefits of Fasting

There has been much contention in the scientific field about whether or not fasting is beneficial to one's health. Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Many are dubious as to whether the physiological effects are as beneficial as the spiritual promoted by these religions. There is a significant community of alternative healers who believe that fasting can do wonders for the human body. This paper will look at the arguments presented by these healers in an attempt to raise awareness of the possible physiological benefits that may result from fasting.

 (1)   The benefits of fasting must be preceded by a look at the body's progression when deprived of food. Due to the lack of incoming energy, the body must turn to its own resources, a function called autolysis. 

(2) Autolysis is the breaking down of fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. The liver is in charge of converting the fats into a chemical called a ketone body, "the metabolic substances acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid" 

(3), and then distributing these bodies throughout the body via the blood stream. "When this fat utilization occurs, free fatty acids are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy." The less one eats, the more the body turns to these stored fats and creates these ketone bodies, the accumulation of which is referred to as ketosis. 

(4) Detoxification is the foremost argument presented by advocates of fasting. "Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin." 

(5). This process is precipitated by fasting because when food is no longer entering the body, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. "Human fat is valued at 3,500 calories per pound," a number that would lead one to believe that surviving on one pound of fat every day would provide a body with enough energy to function normally. 

Finally, the most scientifically proven advantage to fasting is the feeling of rejuvenation and extended life expectancy.

Health Issues Do cell phones pose a health hazard?

Many people are concerned that cell phone radiation will cause cancer or other serious health hazards. The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.

Cell phones emit low levels of radiofrequency energy (RF). Over the past 15 years, scientists have conducted hundreds of studies looking at the biological effects of the radiofrequency energy emitted by cell phones. While some researchers have reported biological changes associated with RF energy, these studies have failed to be replicated. The majority of studies published have failed to show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from a cell phone and health problems.

The low levels of RF cell phones emit while in use are in the microwave frequency range. They also emit RF at substantially reduced time intervals when in the stand-by mode. Whereas high levels of RF can produce health effects (by heating tissue), exposure to low level RF that does not produce heating effects causes no known adverse health effects.

The biological effects of radiofrequency energy should not be confused with the effects from other types of electromagnetic energy.

Very high levels of electromagnetic energy, such as is found in X-rays and gamma rays can ionize biological tissues. Ionization is a process where electrons are stripped away from their normal locations in atoms and molecules. It can permanently damage biological tissues including DNA, the genetic material.

The energy levels associated with radiofrequency energy, including both radio waves and microwaves, are not great enough to cause the ionization of atoms and molecules. Therefore, RF energy is a type of non-ionizing radiation. Other types of non-ionizing radiation include visible light, infrared radiation (heat) and other forms of electromagnetic radiation with relatively low frequencies.

While RF energy doesn’t ionize particles, large amounts can increase body temperatures and cause tissue damage. Two areas of the body, the eyes and the testes, are particularly vulnerable to RF heating because there is relatively little blood flow in them to carry away excess heat.

Women More Likely to Suffer Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Than Men: Study

After leaving an intensive care unit (ICU), women are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men, reveals study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care.

 
Patients in the ICU often suffer post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression due, not only to the illness or trauma that put them there, but to the very nature of the ICU and life-saving treatment. As a result, follow-up schemes have been put in to place to help alleviate these psychological problems. Researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital Solna and the Karolinska Institute compared patient's recovery from 2006, before a follow-up scheme was started, with that of patients in 2007 and 2008.

The scheme consisted of non-compulsory meetings at three, six and 12 months after being discharged from ICU with a nurse, physician and a physiotherapist, revisiting the ICU, and in severe cases being referred to a psychiatric unit for further therapy.Before the use of the follow-up scheme women had much higher scores on the Impact Event Scale (IES), which measures post-traumatic stress, than men. For women, after the introduction of follow-up, these scores were significantly reduced. However, the scheme had no effect on the IES score of men.

Dr Peter Sackey, who led this study, explained, "In general, for the same event, women are twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, recover more slowly, and are more prone to suffer long-term effects. We found this was also true in ICU survivors. The women with the highest IES scores were the ones who were most helped by the follow-up scheme. While it is not clear whether the scheme only helps patients at severe risk of PTSD, it does mean that these people have access to the treatment they need."

 
Root canal treatments

 

Root canal treatments are dental treatments done to save damaged and infected teeth. All teeth have root canals which have nerves and blood vessels nourishing the teeth. When dental decay progresses from the outer layers of the teeth to the root canals, these nerves and vessels get infected. They die and are replaced by infected material and pus. This causes pain and swelling necessitating a root canal treatment. If left untreated, they may cause damage to the bone surrounding the roots resulting in tooth abscess and draining pus.

However, they have been the most dreaded of procedures in the history of dental treatments. The horror in the patients’ eyes when advised a root canal is often akin to ordering a death sentence at a court. After absorbing the initial shock come a barrage of queries. I’ve listed some of the top ones along with the rationale/explanation for each:

1. “I’ve heard root canals are very painful. Do I really need it?”

If a root is infected badly and if the root canal procedure is done without giving a course of antibiotics, it might lead to pain. If the tooth does not have active infection, it shouldn’t pain. With modern anaesthesia, painless root canals are not a myth anymore.

2. “Isn’t it better to just extract the teeth instead of opting for root canal treatment?”

No. One does not realize the value of teeth when one has them. No artificial tooth can ever replace the real one. Once a tooth is extracted, the neighbouring teeth move into the space created by the extraction and cause gum problems, difficulty in chewing etc.

3. “Why does it take so much time for the treatment?”

Firstly, if a tooth has active infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics to reduce the pain and infection. After three to four days, the dentist would start cleaning the roots with instruments usually with local anesthesia. Once the roots are clean, they are filled with a material to seal the roots from re-infection. The tooth is then rebuilt after which a crown/cap is placed over it. 

4.”If there’s no pain, why is a root canal treatment required?”

Teeth that require root canals are not always painful. Sometimes, teeth may be dead for months or years and may not pain at all. Only when they get infected and cause a considerable anmount of damage in the tooth and in the bone holding them will they cause pain. If root canal is done at the right time before it starts causing pain, the prognosis of the tooth is always better.

5. “Once the doctor says the nerves are removed, why should I have pain?”

No. Some infected teeth might take a while to settle down after root canal treatment. Certain teeth which have not been in use for a while might feel tender and painful while chewing after placement of a cap/crown. 

In a few cases, there might be certain complications leading to reinfection and hence pain.Whatever the case, your dentist will be able to help alleviate the pain.

6. “Root canal treatment takes too much time, too many sittings”.

The root canal per se should not take more than two to three sittings. With modern equipment, endodontists (root canal specialists) can even finish the procedure in a single sitting. However, if the tooth is infected, has very difficult canals or if the patient compliance is less, it may require more sittings.

Moreover, the strengthening of the tooth after the procedure with filling and crowns/bridges may require more sittings.

7.  ”Aren’t we killing the tooth during the root canal?”

Root canal treatments are done when a tooth is dying or is dead. Dental pulp (blood vessels and nerves) in the tooth is removed during a root canal because it gets infected due to decay or gum disease.

8. “If i’m feeling alright after a root canal, why bother covering it with a crown/cap?”

A cap/crown may not be necessary in very few cases where a large part of the tooth is still retained and the tooth is not located in areas of high pressure. Since the dental pulp which nourishes the tooth is removed during a root canal, the nourishment to the tooth is completely cut off making it brittle and vulnerable to fractures in areas of high pressure during chewing. To withstand these pressures and for optimum function, your dentist would usually advise you to do a core filling or rebuild the tooth after which a metal or ceramic crown would be placed.

9. “I do not want ugly looking metallic crowns/caps”.

No, there are many options for crowns or caps. Earlier, either gold or metal crowns were used which used to look quite unsightly. However, these days there are ceramic, resin or ceramic-fused-to-metal crowns which look very life-like and aesthetic. Ask your dentist for options.

10. “Why do my child’s milk teeth require root canals. They are going to be replaced by permanent ones anyway”.

No. Depending on how close the tooth is to exfoliation (being replaced by a permanent tooth), your child’s dentist would suggest if a root canal is required for the milk teeth. It is very important to retain all milk teeth till their time since they act as very effective natural space maintainers for the permanent teeth to emerge. If extracted before their time, the teeth adjoining the area migrate in the space created reducing the space for the permanent teeth to emerge. This causes misalignment of the teeth requiring correction with braces.

Mystery of kidney stone solved

 A new study has provided evidence to explain why some people are more prone to developing kidney stones than others

The research was conducted in mice. Because kidneys function the same way in mice as in humans, the new findings can help scientists understand the root causes of kidney stones in patients.

Most kidney stones form when the urine becomes too concentrated, allowing minerals like calcium to crystallize and stick together. Diet plays a role in the condition — not drinking enough water or eating too much salt (which binds to calcium) also increases the risk of stones.

But genes are partly to blame. A common genetic variation in a gene called claudin-14 recently has been linked to a substantial increase in risk — roughly 65 percent — of getting kidney stones. In the new study, the researchers have shown how alterations in the gene’s activity influence the development of stones.

Typically, the claudin-14 gene is not active in the kidney. The new research shows that its expression is dampened by two snippets of RNA, a sister molecule of DNA, that essentially silence the gene.

When claudin-14 is idled, the kidney’s filtering system works like it’s supposed to. Essential minerals in the blood like calcium and magnesium pass through the kidneys and are reabsorbed back into the blood, where they are transported to cells to carry out basic functions of life.

But when people eat a diet high in calcium or salt and don’t drink enough water, the small RNA molecules release their hold on claudin 14. An increase in the gene’s activity prevents calcium from re-entering the blood, the study showed.

Hou and his team have found that claudin-14 blocks calcium from entering passageways called tight junctions in cells that line the kidney and separate blood from urine.

Without a way back to the bloodstream, excess calcium goes into the urine. Too much calcium in the urine can lead to stones in the kidneys or bladder. Intense pain develops when a large stone gets stuck in the bladder, ureter or urethra and blocks the flow of urine.

This research supports the theory that people with a common variation in claudin-14 lose the ability to regulate the gene’s activity, increasing the risk of kidney stones.

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