Month: November 2016

The Health Benefits of Water

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste

Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.

Water Aids in Digestion

Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.

Water Prevents You From Becoming Dehydrated

Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

How Much Water Do You Need?

There’s no hard and fast rule, and many individuals meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking water when they’re thirsty, according to a report on nutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they’re thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in good shape. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated.

Allergies linked to obesity

Sometimes, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive. It’s meant to fight disease and foreign microbes. But at times it may inappropriately fight against healthy parts of its own body. This is known as autoimmune disease. Common examples include asthma and allergies. Children with such diseases face a higher than normal risk of becoming overweight and developing conditions that could lead to heart disease, a study now finds.

During an asthma attack, the airways in the lungs swell and fill with mucus, making it difficult to get air in and out.

National Institute of Health: National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute

Asthma is a disease affecting the lungs’ airways. It can make it hard to breathe. Eczema (EX-eh-mah) is an autoimmune disease that makes the skin rough, itchy and red. Allergies act up when the body thinks something harmless in the environment is actually dangerous and then tries to fight it.

Jonathan Silverberg looked for people with any of these conditions who had been interviewed as part of a major U.S. health survey. Silverberg works at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Ill. As a dermatologist there, he treats skin disorders, such as eczema.

For the new study, he reviewed data from interviews of more than 13,000 U.S. children and teens (and their families). Some 14 percent of children up to age 17 had asthma. Another 12 percent had eczema. And 17 percent had seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever. Then Silverberg looked beyond the autoimmune symptoms in these kids for signs of other underlying diseases. And he found them.

“Children with allergic disease have higher odds of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol than those without allergic disease,” Silverberg now reports.

Obesity has been ruled a disease. And children with eczema were slightly more likely to be overweight or obese, he found. Children who had asthma or hay fever were too.

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder to push blood through its vessels and arteries. Cholesterol (Ko-LES-tur-oll) is a soft, waxy substance in the blood. Although it helps the body function, too much of it can clog the arteries. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol can raise chances of serious heart problems, such as a heart attack. Children with asthma and hay fever were about twice as likely to have high blood pressure or cholesterol, Silverberg found.

Their overall risk of high blood pressure or high cholesterol was fairly small. And Silverberg can’t say whether asthma or allergies caused the high blood pressure or cholesterol. But it’s certainly possible, he notes.

Silverberg described his new findings December 8 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

What to make of the findings

Kelvin MacDonald is a pulmonologist. He treats people with lung problems, such as asthma, at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. MacDonald says that he and other doctors have been worried about a recent rise in childhood obesity and asthma. They’re also concerned that the two appear to be linked.

Explainer: Correlation, causation, coincidence and more

“It’s a chicken and an egg question,” MacDonald says. By that he means it is unclear which one comes first: the chicken or its egg. It’s possible, he says, that “you have asthma and you become obese because you’re inactive. Or,” he notes, it’s possible that “you start becoming obese because you’re being sedentary and that causes the asthma.” In the same way, scientists don’t know if asthma or allergies might cause high blood pressure and cholesterol or if it could be the other way round. For now, MacDonald says, nobody knows which is true.

Silverberg thinks there are several ways that having asthma or allergies might boost blood pressure or cholesterol. Inflammation, for instance, is the immune system’s response to injury or disease. And children with asthma and allergies usually have more of it. During inflammation, immune cells release proteins and hormones that cause changes in the body. For example, they can temporarily narrow blood vessels or irritate nerves. Scientists are still trying to understand how this might boost blood pressure.

Some children don’t get much exercise because it makes their asthma or allergies worse. They often take medicines. Silverberg points out that this medicine, the lack of exercise — or both — might affect blood pressure and cholesterol. But he adds that more research is needed to be sure.

MacDonald notes that different types of inflammation can occur. But the data used in this study did not identify which types of inflammation the sick children had. That makes it harder to understand what’s happening in their bodies.

“That’s the problem with all these types of investigations” that show provocative links between one thing and another, MacDonald says. They can find an association, but can’t show how it causes the problem.

But the study does suggest that allergic diseases and conditions like obesity are not separate problems. Indeed, MacDonald says, “It is interesting to think that the obesity epidemic and the allergy epidemic could be related.”

Meanwhile, for children and teens with asthma or allergies, it’s important to treat those diseases, Silverberg says. And to promote health, he adds, it’s also important to eat a healthy diet, to sit less and to move more.

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

allergen  A substance that causes an allergic reaction.

allergy  (adj. allergic) The inappropriate reaction by the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance. Untreated, a particularly severe reaction can lead to death.

artery  Part of the body’s circulation system, these tubes carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body.

asthma  A disease affecting the body’s airways,which are the tubes through which animals breathe. Asthma obstructs these airways through swelling, the production of too much mucus or a tightening of the tubes. As a result, the body can expand to breathe in air, but loses the ability to exhale appropriately. The most common cause of asthma is an allergy. It is a leading cause of hospitalization and the top chronic disease responsible for kids missing school.

autoimmunity   (adj. autoimmune) A process whereby the immune system turns against its host. This inappropriate reaction can cause disease instead of curing it. Autoimmune diseases can be quite severe and hard for doctors to treat. They include rheumatoid arthritis (affecting joints, such as knees), multiple sclerosis (targeting nerves and muscles), Crohn’s disease (affecting the gut), psoriasis and lupus (affecting skin) and the type of diabetes that typically develops in young children. In all of these cases, the immune system generates out-of-control inflammation.

cholesterol    A fatty material in animals that forms a part of cell walls. In vertebrate animals, it travels through the blood in little vessels known as lipoproteins. Excessive levels in the blood can signal risks to the blood vessels and heart.

eczema    An allergic disease that causes an itchy red rash — or inflammation — on the skin. The term comes from a Greek word, which means to bubble up or boil over.

epidemic  A widespread outbreak of an infectious disease that sickens many people (or other organisms) in a community at the same time. The term also may be applied to non-infectious diseases or conditions that have spread in a similar way.

high blood pressure   The common term for a medical condition known as hypertension. It puts a strain on blood vessels and the heart.

hormone   (in zoology and medicine)  A chemical produced in a gland and then carried in the bloodstream to another part of the body. Hormones control many important body activities, such as growth. Hormones act by triggering or regulating chemical reactions in the body. (in botany) A chemical that serves as a signaling compound that tells cells of a plant when and how to develop, or when to grow old and die.

inflammation  The body’s response to cellular injury and obesity; it often involves swelling, redness, heat and pain. It is also an underlying feature responsible for the development and aggravation of many diseases, especially heart disease and diabetes.

immune system  The collection of cells and their responses that help the body fight off infections and deal with foreign substances that may provoke allergies.

obesity   Extreme overweight. Obesity is associated with a wide range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

proteins      Compounds made from one or more long chains of amino acids. Proteins are an essential part of all living organisms. They form the basis of living cells, muscle and tissues; they also do the work inside of cells. The hemoglobin in blood and the antibodies that attempt to fight infections are among the better-known, stand-alone proteins. Medicines frequently work by latching onto proteins.

sedentary   Not physically active; an adjective for activities done largely while sitting.

Diabetes Health Center

A new nasal spray might make rescue care easier for diabetics who are woozy or even unconscious due to severe low blood sugar, a new clinical trial suggests.

The nasal spray contains powdered glucagon, a hormone that causes a prompt increase in blood sugar levels.

The trial results showed that the nasal spray is nearly as effective in treating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as the only option currently available, a glucagon powder that must be mixed with water, drawn into a syringe and then injected into muscle.

Because it is almost as effective but much easier to administer to an ailing person, the nasal spray could become the go-to treatment for severe hypoglycemia, said Dr. George Grunberger, a clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. He was not involved in the study.

“This intranasal spray is a big deal,” Grunberger said. “This is something which people have been crying for, for years. It was only a matter of time before something more practical came onto the market.”

People with diabetes trying to walk the tightrope of precise blood sugar control sometimes take too much insulin, which causes their blood sugar levels to drop drastically, the researchers said in background notes.

In mild or moderate cases, diabetics can correct their blood sugar by drinking some orange juice or sucking on hard candy. But the most severe episodes might require treatment using glucagon.

The only FDA-approved glucagon on the market is not shelf-stable, so it has to be sold in powder form. “Somebody has to have the vial of glucagon on hand, then they have to add water, shake it up and inject it into muscle,” Grunberger said. “This is a problem, because by definition the ones who need it are the ones who can’t inject it because they’re unconscious.”

The nasal spray needs no mixing. Either the diabetic or a bystander can shoot it up the person’s nose, where the glucagon is absorbed by the mucous membranes in the nasal passages, said Dr. Deena Adimoolam, an assistant professor of endocrinology and diabetes with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. She was also not involved with the trial.

To test whether the new nasal spray is as effective as the injection, researchers recruited 75 adults with type 1 diabetes at eight clinics in the United States.

All participants underwent induced hypoglycemia twice, and then received treatment once using the injection and once with the nasal spray.

The nasal spray worked about 99 percent of the time, while the injection was 100 percent effective, according to the trial results.

It took slightly longer for the nasal spray to suitably increase blood sugar levels — about 16 minutes, on average — compared with 13 minutes for the injection.

However, the researchers noted that an earlier study showed that it takes just 16 to 26 seconds to administer the nasal spray, versus 1.9 to 2.4 minutes to give the injection, depending on the training of the caregiver.

“It took a bit longer for intranasal glucagon to work, but given the situation it’s probably not clinically significant,” Grunberger said.

Adimoolam expressed more concern about the delayed reaction to the nasal glucagon.

“We don’t really know if clinically that delay matters,” she said. “In that time, you can have a seizure. You can lose consciousness. There could be catastrophic events. So it’s hard to tell whether the delay would be significant.”

The clinical trial also examined people who are much younger than those most at-risk for severe hypoglycemia, Adimoolam added.

The average age of trial participants was 33 years old. But, earlier studies have shown that people 80 years or older are twice as likely to wind up in the emergency room due to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and nearly five times as likely to require hospitalization than younger people, she said.

“I think it would have been even more interesting if this study looked at how this medication could help the elderly who are at even higher risk for insulin-related hypoglycemia than the age group evaluated in this study,” Adimoolam said.

Both forms of glucagon produced nausea in a little more than a third of users. People using the nasal spray were more likely to report head and facial discomfort.


The clinical trial received funding from Locemia Solutions, the original developer of the nasal spray. Locemia has since sold worldwide rights for the product to Eli Lilly and Co., which has announced that it plans to bring the nasal spray to market.

Grunberger couldn’t say how long it might take the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the nasal spray.

David Cameron pledges ‘assault on poverty’ with social reforms

Over 40,000 civil society observers, government delegation members, heads of state (from over 190 countries), lawyers, negotiators, policymakers, healthcare professionals, scientists, students (the list goes on…) gathered in Paris the last two weeks to come to a global agreement about where we stand, where we are headed, and more specifically, what needs to be done about rapid climate change and its impact on people and planet. That’s no small order.

This was my second time attending the UN Climate Negotiations. I have had the opportunity to work with both civil society organizations (last year at COP20 in Lima, Peru) and government delegations (this year, with the country of Seychelles and other small island developing states). On this global, UN level, I work to advocate for a fair, equitable, and legally binding global agreement, especially in terms of gender justice and human and indigenous rights.

This year, with better planning and more time, I was also able to incorporate the work that I like to be involved with on-the-ground – tropical forests and health care. After spending my summer in Sukadana, I wanted to understand how a program like ASRI fits into the global climate agenda.

With this in mind, I was keen on following not only how gender was being addressed in the Paris Agreement, but how the 190+ countries will 1) address the human health concerns of climate change, 2) allow emerging economies to continue economic development, and 3) still aim to protect Earth’s limited natural resources, namely tropical forests.

The Agreement

Forests, and especially tropical forests, are not typically figured into the climate negotiations or agreements as prominently as they should; same goes for health. This ignores the facts that deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and that a rapidly changing climate impacts human health in innumerable ways. A few champion countries and NGOs have battled for years to get forests, and health care, in the legally binding text – a way to inextricably tie them to climate change in a global accord.

So where does the new Paris Agreement leave us with this?

The Moment


I was sitting in the Closing Plenary as Heads of State, including John Kerry and Ibu Nur Masripatin, a representative from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, filtered in. Still frantically reading the final document that had been released (checking for the terms forest, health, and gender), I felt unprepared for the historic, emotionally overwhelming, moment that came. The COP President called out to the audience for any objections to the agreement – NONE from any of the Parties! The gavel struck. I couldn’t believe it! The agreement was final, binding, and officially accepted.

It is hopeful, but just a start.

Forests finally made it into this global agreement. Countries collectively recognized that the ecosystem services and benefits of buffering climate change through forests and reducing deforestation is a key part of tackling this issue. Specific mentions of forests were listed under the Finance section of the document, highlighting the need for developed countries to support developing countries in their efforts to curb emissions from deforestation, and work on on-the-ground solutions to protect their remaining forests. Another positive outcome from the agreement was highlighting how (finance for) climate adaptation is a central pillar in helping communities that are most vulnerable.

However, the mention of health and directly connecting it to the impacts of climate change were largely left out of the agreement. Thankfully, the right to health was mentioned as a key tenet to sustainable, safe development moving forward, especially when climate mitigation efforts are taken seriously.

The Aftermath

Again, countries coming together to agree on a global agreement is hopeful, but just the beginning. The real work comes when the details of the agreement are put into motion at the national and sub-national levels.

Thinking about my time at ASRI, I could not help but recognize how the model established by Health In Harmony contributes directly to the ideals put forth by the Paris Agreement. ASRI actively works to curb and disincentivize deforestation, provides the opportunity to the right to health (to communities that are most vulnerable to the health and long-term economic impacts of this very deforestation from slash-and-burn agricultural practices), and serves as a unique example of climate adaptation that tackles environmental degradation through behavior change and provision of essential services and basic rights.

In also attending the Global Climate and Health Summit and the Global Landscapes Forum, held over the weekend of the negotiations, one thing struck me – I never came across another program that made a connection between tropical forests, rural poverty, and health care access, or how this could relate to climate change.

Reflecting on both my experiences in Paris and in Sukadana, it is clear that Health In Harmony and ASRI definitely have a unique roll to play in fulfilling the reality of the global climate agenda set forth in the Paris Agreement at COP21.

FDA Moves to Keep Teens Out of Tanning Beds

Citing a rise in skin cancer among young people, the FDA proposed rules Friday that would keep anyone under the age of 18 from using high-powered UV sunlamps, such as those in tanning beds.

Under the new rules, anyone 18 and over will also be required to sign a waiver every 6 months that says they understand that using these lamps has health risks that include burns and skin cancers.

Tanning lamps give off ultraviolet radiation that’s 10 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun, said Vasum Peiris, MD, MPH, of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a news conference.

Skin damage caused by the UV radiation adds up over a person’s lifetime, so the concentrated doses delivered by tanning beds are especially dangerous for children and teens.

In 2014, the FDA reclassified tanning beds from lower risk to moderate risk devices. They also required them to carry the strongest type of safety caution, a black-box warning stating they shouldn’t be used by anyone under age 18, those with open wounds or injuries, or people with a family history of skin cancer. The agency also advised people who routinely use tanning beds to get regular skin cancer checks.

A month later, the surgeon general issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer that singled out the beds as a preventable cause of the disease.

But high schoolers have kept using tanning beds despite the beefed-up warnings, Peiris said, and that’s prompted the need for stronger action.

The Indoor Tanning Association, however, disputed the need for more oversight.

“The indoor tanning industry is heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels, and our customers are well aware of the potential risks of over-exposure,” the ITA said in an e-mailed statement.

“The ITA believes that the decision regarding whether or not a teen suntans, whether indoors or outside, is a decision for his/her parents, not the government.”

Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, and it’s on the rise, with the biggest increase in recent decades seen in girls ages 15 to 19, Peiris said.


Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have already banned indoor tanning for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 23 states require tanning booth operators to adhere to time limits set by sunlamp manufacturers.

Though teens are at greatest risk for the skin damage caused by sunlamps, they’re also some of the industry’s biggest customers — 1.6 million minors tan indoors each year, according to data from the CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Nearly 13% of high school students say they’ve used an indoor tanning device, and most of them are girls, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.<: justify;”>Dermatologists said they were thrilled by the FDA’s action.

“All the time we see young people who are diagnosed with melanoma,” said Jennifer Stein, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. “Anything that the FDA can do to try to protect young people from the dangers of tanning beds is really important.”

On top of the skin cancer risk, sunlamps are sometimes behind serious burns and other injuries. According to the CDC, tanning beds send about 3,000 people to emergency rooms every year.

In addition to keeping minors away from the devices, other changes the FDA is proposing to make tanning beds safer include:

  • Make warnings easier to read and more prominent.
  • Require an emergency shut-off switch, or “panic button.”
  • Improve eye safety by adding requirements that would limit the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear.
  • Improve labeling on replacement bulbs so tanning facility operators can make sure they are using the proper bulbs, lowering the risk of accidental burns.
  • Prohibit dangerous device modifications, like installing stronger bulbs, without re-certifying and re-identifying the device with the FDA.

Internal Medicine Specialist- the Doctor’s Doctor in a Nutshell.

Well if there are problems, there will be solutions. Similarly, if there are diseases, there will be treatments as well. But what if the disease never gets diagnosed? Then will the right treatment procedure be taken by the physicians? There’s enough discussion already done on it, and most of the experts have resented to one particular fact, without diagnosis treatment is definitely not possible. Internal medicine is that particular part of the medical world deals specifically with the diagnosis of the diseases and finds out preventive methods for the diseases in adults as well as non surgical health issues in the adults. Known, popularly as the internists, these doctors have even been given the title of ‘doctor’s doctors’ by many. The reason behind this is most of the physicians often need to take the help of these internal medicine specialists to diagnose the health problems which are puzzling as well as tricky.

Vijaya Prakash Boggala, a renowned name in the similar filed states that the key behind the success of the internal medicine specialists is their concept of treating the entire body as a whole, and not focusing on any particular section of the body. Many go by the pre conceived notion that the internal medicine specialists are eligible to take care of the inter organs strictly, but that is definitely not the case. The physicians who work in this particular medical capacity are also capable of treating the medical conditions routinely which are of external nature as well. Since they face patients with multiple problems, they get themselves accustomed with a wide array of conditions and this gives them the edge in the profession over the rest.

It is quite a common scenario, where the specialist doctors getting baffled with any particular disease, and hence considers it best to consult with the internal medicine specialist to diagnose before starting with the course of treatment. Even those who want to have a detailed academic pursuit in this particular field are open to sub-specialties that this particular field has got. Two of the common subspecialties are immunology and nephrology.  While the former deals with the problems in the immune system as well as allergies, the latter deals with the study of kidneys. Some other specialties worth mentioning are cardiology, oncology, hematology, rheumatology, endocrinology and many more.

Vijaya Prakash Boggala is an MD in internal medicine and has got expertise in a wide array of treatments. He can treat cancer and hepatitis along with multiple other critical conditions. One particular fact that must be known about the internal medicine specialists is, they treat only adults and do not deal with babies and children. They hardly indulge in surgeries and abstain themselves from treating the pregnant women as well. Even anyone suffering with orthopedic problems cannot expect much help from them.

But there’s no doubt that this broad areas of medicine encompasses multiple health concerns and have been successful in treating chronic conditions as well. They promise to deliver for many more centuries without any lack of devotion and dedication.