21 September 2008

Why we need fats

Nothing else can stimulate the taste buds quite like the smell of fat. The human body comes adapted with a special affinity for this resource, according to evolutionary nutrition researchers S. Boyd Eaton, MD, and Stanley B. Eaton III (a father-son duo) (1998). Dr. Eaton and Eaton suggest early hominids eventually ate a greater amount of nuts and seeds and later, around 2.5 million years ago, humans on a hunter-gatherer diet might have preferred animal fat, specifically supplied in the brain and marrow—an alteration of diet that may have been a factor in supporting a larger brain (1998). This history of fat in the diet helps shape understanding of how vital fat is for the diet.

The body needs fat for various functions as well as other fat-related substances in the family of lipids. Most lipids in the body are of a type called triglycerides—three fatty acids with a glycerol backbone—which act as concentrated sources of energy stored in greater amounts in adipose tissue cells (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006, p. 46). Triglycerides are used as a “back-up” fuel source, as insulation to help maintain body temperature, and as “protective padding for vital organs” (Nix, 2005, pp. 34 & 40). The major lipid that makes up cell membranes is the phospholipid—two fatty acids with a glycerol backbone—along with other fat-related substances cholesterol and lipoproteins (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006, p. 46). Multiple types of lipids also play a role as a protective covering for nerve cells called a myelin sheath, which is also important for increasing speed of nerve impulses (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006, p. 410). To maintain proper amount of lipids in the body, dietary fat is important.

Dietary fat, however, occurs in various ways. The “building blocks” of fats are fatty acids, which can consist of short-, medium- or long-chains of carbon atoms with a methyl group on one end and carboxyl group on the other (Nix, 2005, p. 31). The fatty acids can also be “saturated’ or “unsaturated” (including polyunsaturated) depending on their amount of hydrogen atoms (p. 31). The saturated are generally from animal origin and the unsaturated from plant origin, although there are plants that contain saturated fat and animals will have unsaturated fat (p. 31-33). Essential fatty acids are specifically types of polyunsaturated fats that are necessary for the body (p. 33). Trans fats occur when unsaturated fats are chemically “saturated” to make them more solid at room temperature (p.35). With the various types of fatty acids, confusion may lie in how to best utilize food with proper amounts of each in the diet.

Too much fat is harmful, but so is not enough. When the diet is high in fat over time, higher incidence of chronic diseases (Nix, 2006, p. 39). Heart disease is a good example being the leading killer of men and women in the U.S.A. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), great amounts of fat, especially of saturated fat and trans fat, contribute to obesity and heart disease (2008). A low-fat diet, then can help protect the heart. However, when the body does not take in sufficient fat, however, essential fatty acid deficiency can occur (Nix, 2006, p. 39). Essential fatty acid deficiency is rare, but signs include scaly dermatitis, alopecia, thrombocytopenia and growth retardation (Morley, 2007). The key to the health is a correct balance.

Fat intake in the right amounts as well as the right kinds leads to a healthy lifestyle. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 20% to 35% of total fat, no more than 10% calories from saturated fat, and no more than 300 mg/day of dietary cholesterol (Nix, 39, 2006). AHA adds that it is best to avoid saturated and trans fats, replacing them with mono- and polyunsaturated fats “while still limiting” total fat (2008). Of the polyunsaturated, it’s important to remember that two are essential—omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 is the more important of the two. In 2002 AHA began recommending people without heart disease consume fish at least twice a week to help maintain a health heart as long as a close watch was instituted over intake of fish contaminants (e.g. mercury) (Kris-Etherton et al). Further, AHA recommends those with heart disease take at least 1 g per day of EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids in capsule form (to avoid contaminants of eating fish), and for 2 to 4 grams daily in capsule form for those who needed to lower triglycerides (Kris-Etherton et al). In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out a qualified claim about “reduced risk of coronary artery disease” for any whole food, packaged food or dietary supplement that contained both EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids (2004). The information suggests that a low-fat diet with an emphasis on polyunsaturated oils especially omega-3 fatty acids is best for health. Since the brain is made up of mostly omega-3 fats, that would explain why hunter-gatherers preferred the brain on the menu.


American Heart Association. (2008, Sept 21). Face the Fats. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3046074.

Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Heart Disease. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.

Eaton, S.B. & Eaton, S.B. III, (1998). Evolution, diet and health. [Scientific Session – International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Williamsburg, VA]. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.cast.uark.edu/local/icaes/conferences/wburg/posters/sboydeaton/eaton.htm.

Kris-Etherton, P.M., Harris, W.S., & Appel, L.J. (2002). Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 106; 2747-2757. Retrieved Sept. 22 from http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/106/21/2747.

Morley, J.E. (2007, June). Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency. The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. Retrieved Sept. 21 from http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec01/ch002/ch002d.html.

Nix, S. (2005). Williams’ Basic Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 12th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Tortora, G.J., & Derrikson, B. (2006). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 11th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

U.S. Food and Drug Association (2004). FDA announces qualified health claims for omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved on Sept. 21, 2008 from http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01115.html

Brittle Bones of a Jedi Master

After leading the fight against the Galactic Alliance, Luke Skywalker might have found himself with a developed case of osteoporosis and kidney stones. That's because space travel diminishes bone loss and a rise of calcium in the blood, according to NASA researchers (Hullander & Barry, 2001). The reason for the bone loss is weightlessness.

When the body is weightless (or immobile), bone cells act differently. The International Osteoporosis Foundation states that astronauts and bedridden patients share a state in which they "can lose up to 15% of mineral density within three months" (Sochaczewski, 2006). According to NASA, the weightlessness upsets the balance of bone-building to bone destroying (Hullander & Barry, 2001.) Thirty million people on Earth who suffer from osteoporosis in the U.S.A. happen to be going through the same demineralization of the bone, although slower (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006, p. 189). The key to prevent osteoporosis on land and in space appears to be continual weight-bearing exercise on the body.

Once safe on the forest moon Endor, Luke should perform plenty of squats or he might begin to look more like Yoda.


Hullander, D. & Barry, P.L. (2001). Space Bones. Science and Nasa [Web site]. http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast01oct_1.htm.

Sochaczewski, (2006, May 31). What's the link between astronauts and osteoporosis. International Osteoporosis Foundation: Bone research in space symposium, June 2, IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis. Retrieved Sept. 18, 2008 from http://www.iofbonehealth.org/wco/2006/downloads/pre_congress_whats_the_link_between.pdf.

Tortora, G.J., & Derrikson, B. (2006). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 11th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

19 September 2008

Health Hazards From Use of Technology

In today’s modern world, technology plays a predominant role in the lives of people. The computer is used for work and play. For many people, more time is spent in front of the monitor than anywhere else as a place to conduct business, go shopping, go to school, answer e-mails, converse with friends, and play video games. In conjunction to computer use, other technologies frequently used are digital phones, TV, and MP3 players. While all these facets of technology are seemingly advantageous, they do come with a downside. The body can show resistance to conforming to a technology-centered lifestyle by exhibiting signs of poor health and fitness.

Depending on how technology is used daily, the body’s anatomy and/or internal organs are at risk of becoming distressed and the distress may eventually result in damage. These risks can come from lack of movement entirely due to little exercise or simple movements such as using a mouse or typing on a keyboard. Finally, distress may result simply from posture or how or how long a person views a computer screen. Fitness and health ultimately suffers after sitting and typing on a keyboard while staring at a screen for regular durations of eight hours or longer a day. Computer use, especially when prolonged, places our bodies in a position that has potential to increase risk of health hazards.

Learning about the different problems associated with using computers offers opportunity for the better. Many of the health hazards have simple preventive measures. The education of these measures can millions who use computers to avoid serious health problems such as those associated with prolonged computer use. The main preventive measures that should be learned by those using computers for long periods of time are those associated with the brain, vision, neck and spine, hands and weight management.

Detrimental Impact of Technology on Health

Many parts of the body’s anatomy and internal organs are vulnerable to prolonged computer use. These include the brain, heart, eyes, neck, spine and hands. Becoming overweight and also obese is also a risk and can increase risk of other health problems such as diabetes. Many concerns are directly related to use of computers and others are indirectly related due to how the computer is used by the person. All these concerns could make a heavy impact on a person’s health.


When media is used for long periods of time during much of the day, no longer is a person burning enough calories to prevent the disease of obesity. Thus, it has become an epidemic and it’s even affecting children. According to the USDA’s Children Research Center, preschool children who watch television or use computers have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese (Mendoza, Zimmerman & Christakis, 2007). Unfortunately for these children, health concerns at such a young age can come with long-term consequences.


Technology offers plenty of opportunity for the brain to become engaged and exercised, but without regular movement of the body the brain can eventually be left lacking. Acclaimed neuroscientist John Medina, Ph.D., predicts that Homo sapiens evolved bipedalism to move across great distances—up to 12 miles daily—while conserving as much energy use as possible (Chap. 1, Locations 122-27, 2006). During these periods of exercise the brain benefited through improved circulation, which led to unique cognitive skills and exploratory skills. As people age, the lack of movement due to spending time in a desk in front of a computer can lead to decreased cognitive performance and risk of losing memory (Chap. 1, Locations 166-171). Loss of memory is the key symptom of age-related dementia.


When the computer is all it takes to bring home the daily bread and the television for entertainment, the cardiovascular system also suffers from lack of sufficient movement. Humans used to depend on physical activity to hunt and gather as well as for entertainment, but according to nutritionist Staci Nix, MS, RD, CD, inadequate cardiac output of today is now leading to progressively weakened heart muscles for many people (2005, p. 356). A diet of excessive carbohydrates and salt, which is a typical meal found in the nearby vending machine, offers little help and leads to hypertension (p. 356). Coronary artery disease has been named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the leading killer of men and women in the U.S.A. (2008). Ultimately it is linked partly to continuous lack of movement due to use of television and computers.


Eyestrain, or aesthenopia, can occur due to prolonged computer use and altered vision may become a problem over time. Mayo Clinic warns extended computer is largely to blame eyes become sore, tired, burning or itching, watery and dry; vision can become blurred, the neck can become sore and the eyestrain may cause headache and increased sensitivity to light (2008). Continuous irritation of eyes can induce complications such as unpleasantness and inability to concentrate, but serious or long-term consequences are uknown (2008). Continuous eye problems over time, however, may affect quality of life greatly.


Neck pain can result from wear and tear of tissues as a result of bending of the neck for long durations of time to see a computer screen. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, prolonged “wear and tear” of soft tissues of the neck, or cervical spine, can cause injury and cause neck pain (2007). The pain can ultimately lead to rheumatoid arthritis in the upper neck area, cervical disk degeneration, or make the head and neck more vulnerable to injury (2007). Long computer use can eventually cause serious neck injuries.

Neck and Shoulder

Neck and shoulder pain risk can increase due to mouse and keyboard use. Danish researchers found that use of mouse and keyboard could lead to pain in the neck and right shoulder due to rotator cuff syndrome and tension neck syndrome (Brandt et al, 2004). The risk of symptoms increased depending on how many hours per week the mouse and keyboard were used. Preventive measures for these serious problems should not be overlooked when using computer technology.

Lower Back

Lower back pain can be due to the office chair in front of the computer. According to Mayo Clinic, the “body can tolerate being in one position for about 20 minutes” before aches and pains begin to occur (2007). An awkward posture and a muscle tension added on can result in serious back pain. Pain and tightness can ultimately lead to injury.


Constantly at the keyboard are the digits of the hand. When the tendons of the digits beome inflamed causing a narrowing of the tunnel they pass through, a person experiences carpal tunnel syndrome (Tortora & Derrikson, 239). Carpal tunnel syndrome has plagued thousands of hands due to computer use and treatment is slow. Once affected, the hands develop extreme pain.

Possible Solutions to Health Hazards from Use of Technology

Many of the health problems that stem from computer use are solved easily with preventive measures. These can consist of easy-to-apply habits and, in some cases, changes of lifestyles. The education of these measures within the workplace and of children could affect their lives for the better.

Movement for Brain, Heart and Obesity

Out of the 1,440 minutes there are in a day, just 30 minutes could offer an enormous difference. According to John Medina, a half hour of daily aerobic exercise has been shown in the laboratory to offer the brain the benefit of cognitive performance enhancement (2006, Locations 181-186). This amount of exercise could be used to treat age-related dimentia and Alzheimer’s disease, but perhaps also depression and other neurological disorders. Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise two times a week could improve cardiovascular health. That’s all it takes, according to John Medina to decrease chances of a stroke by 57 percent (2006, Locations 191-196). Plus, the exercise could seriously make an impact on obesity due to burning of calories. In the age of technology opportunities for change abound with solutions for this problem.
Exercising while using technology may be key. John Medina points out that a work environment and entertainment environment that consists of a treadmill with laptop attached or in front of the television will be enough to stimulate blood vessels and increase blood flow across tissues of the body (2006, Locations 271-276). The increased circulation provides greater ability to think and perform better. Across the world, many kind of similar efforts could be created to perform exercise while working.

Eye Health is a Blink Away

A few tips for reducing vision complications can go a long way. According to Mayo Clinic, many people blink less when using the computer, which causes dryness and, eventually, induces eyestrain (2008). The clinic encourages making a “conscious effort to blink more often” and taking frequent “eye breaks,” at least five minutes every hour to focus on something besides the computer screen (2008). Educating computer users of such an easy task can make life easier in the long run.

Simple Activities for Neck and Back

Avoiding problems of the neck and back can be simple. Posture is key. Michael Cohen, DAc, DC, states that poor posture—sitting at the front of the office chair hunched forward—is what puts “considerable strain on the back” and should be avoided to prevent neck and back pain (2006). To maintain an upright posture and avoid the “natural tendency” to hunch forward, Cohen suggests placing a tennis ball between the middle back and the office chair and holding it in place (2006). Frequent breaks should be taken and include stretching, relaxation and movement. According to Mayo Clinic, taking a walk, performing deep-breathing exercises and stretching can make a significant difference in preventing back pain (2007). Taught accordingly to computer users, these activities can be applied easily.

Simple Activities for Hand Health

The hands could also benefit from correct posture and breaks. Arthur Schoenstadt, M.D., who encourages prevention and early intervention for those at risk, suggests taking frequent breaks to allow the hand to rest and recover as well as using correct posture and wrist position (2007). Schoenstadt states that even a 10- to 15-minute break every hour makes a difference for prevention. When preventive techniques are this simple, only awareness and a conscious effort are main factors.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2007, October). Neck pain. Retrieved on Sept. 19, 2008 from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00231.

Brandt, L.P., Anderson, J.H., Lassen, C.F., Kryger, A., Overgaard, E., Vilstrup, I. & Mikkelsen, S. (2004). Neck and shoulder symptoms and disorders among Danish computer workers. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 30:5, pp.399-409 [abstract]. Retrieved on Sept. 17 from http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=16198679.

Cohen, M. (2006, April 6). “Office chair advice.” Spine Health: Trusted Information for Pain Relief. Retrieved on Sept. 12 from http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/office-chair-advice
Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Heart Disease. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.

Mayo Clinic. (2008, July 12). Eye. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/eyestrain/DS01084

Mayo Clinic. (2007, Feb 7). Back pain at work: Preventing aches, pains and injuries. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2008 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/back-pain/HQ00955/METHOD=print.
Medina, J. (2008). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. Seattle: Pear Press.

Mendoza, J.A., Zimmerman, F.J., & Christakis, D.A. (2007, Sept). Television viewing, computer use, obesity, and adiposity in US preschool children. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4:44 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-44. Retrieved on Sept. 17, from http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/4/1/44.

Nix, S. (2006). Williams’ Basic Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 12th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Schoenstadt, A. (2007, Oct 19). Carpal tunnel Prevention. eMedTV. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2008 from http://carpal-tunnel.emedtv.com/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/carpal-tunnel-prevention-p2.html.

Tortora, G.J., & Derrikson, B. (2006). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 11th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

15 September 2008

Even a Caveman Can Eat Low-Carb

With good reason carbohydrates (carbs) are the staple fuel source for most diets in the world. Not only are they plentiful and cheap to produce—created by plant photosynthesis—but also utilized easily by the body. The body’s process, in fact, according to Staci Nix, MS, RD, CD, is “far more efficient than any man-made machine (2005, p.16). There are different types of carbs: the simple, which are quickly absorbed by the body, and the complex, which are more slowly absorbed.

Simple carbs have one sugar molecule such as monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose and galactose, or disaccharides such as sucrose, lactose and maltose (Nix, 2005, pp. 16-17). The complex carbs (polysaccharides) include starches, glycogen, dietary fiber, cellulose, noncellulose polysaccharides and lignins. With the exception of dietary fiber and noncellulose polysaccharides, the body breaks down these carb types, turns them into glucose and distributes the glucose through blood circulation to all the cells that need it in the body.

The glucose—whether produced by simple or complex carbs—is not only important for energy, but for sparing the need to use stores of protein and fat, which can be used to sustain the body in other ways (Nix, 2005, p. 24). More important is glucose’s role in supplying adequate fuel to the nervous system including the brain (p. 24). Unlike carbs, protein and fat energy cannot supply a constant stream of glucose to the brain, giving carbohydrates a role that is vital for life.

The amount of carbohydrates needed in the diet, however, has been a hotly contested debate. Nix mentions that sugar is not “the villain,” but that too much of its use is problematic (2005, p.24). Harvard nutritionist and physician Walter Willet, Ph.D. Willet agrees that the USDA food pyramid should be modified to steer people away from refined carb foods. They provide little nutrients, he says, but more detrimentally, they spike blood glucose causing higher needs for insulin only to bring glucose “crashing down” (Discover, 2003, http://discovermagazine.com/2003/mar/breakdialogue). The scenario happening regularly adds to higher risk of Type II diabetes. His “Healthy Eating Pyramid” stresses more focus on whole grains and fruits and vegetables and not the refined carbs (President and Fellows at Harvard College, 2008, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/index.html).

Low-carb dieting for encouraging weight loss has been led partly by some who have developed theories surrounding the diet of early humans. According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., (2002, Chapter 1 [digital version]) and Noel T. Boaz (2002, Location 2309, Table 7 [digital version]), both top-selling authors of books with collected research on human evolution and diet of Paleolithic populations, suggest that the body may be adapted to a diet of high-protein, high-fiber, and low-carbohydrates.

Significant health problems, however, can occur as a result of low-carb dieting and should not be overlooked. Without enough carbs the body has to use the body’s protein and fat supply for creating quick energy (p. 24). According to Nix, muscle may be catabolized for its protein, muscle maintenance prevented, and the break down of fat stores for fast fuel can result in “incomplete fat oxidation”, thus creating an excess of strongly acidic ketones (2005, p.24). The ketoacidosis that occurs can become toxic to the body.

Many may have found themselves with ketoacidosis when on an extremely low-carb diet. A report in The Lancet of a 40-year-old woman hospitalized while following the popular low-carb Atkins diet is just one of several reports (Groch, 2006,http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/DietNutrition/tb/2878.). She had eaten nothing but meat, cheese and salad for in the month before the event. Criticism along with the report included comments by Lyn Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Jennifer Nettleton, Ph.D., who said the ketoacidosis would lead to “constipation, halitosis, diarrhea, headache and fatigue,” and long-term ketoacidosis would create problems for the kidneys and bones. Note that the Atkins diet has since been revised, according to Atkins Nutritionals (2008, http://www.atkins.com).

Considered moderately low-carb, the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and monounsaturated oils may be a better choice. According to an Israeli study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on three typical diets—a typical low-fat diet, a pre-revised-Atkins diet and the Mediterranean diet (based on recommendations by Walter Willet)—all the diets were regarded as safe, both low-carbohydrate diets provided metabolism benefits, but only the Mediterranean diet showed significant improvement for glucose and insulin levels (Shai et al, 2008). When it comes to carbs, as Staci Nix points out, “moderation is once again is the key” (2005, p. 24).


Atkins Nutritionals Inc. (2008). “Thoughtful approach. Powerful science.” Retrieved on Sept. 12, 2008 from http://www.atkins.com.

Boaz, N.T. (2002). Evolving Health: The Origins of Illness and How the Modern World Is Making Us Sick [digital version]. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Cordain, L. (2002). The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat [digital version].New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Discover [interview with Walter Willett]. (March, 2003). “Nutritionist and physician Walter Willett—a voice of reason on diet.” Retrieved on Sept. 12, 2008 from http://discovermagazine.com/2003/mar/breakdialogue.

Groch, J. (2006). Atkins dieter develops life-threatening complications. Medical News: Diet & Nutrition. Retrieved on Sept. 13, 2008 from http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/DietNutrition/tb/2878.

Nix, S. (2005). Williams' Basic Nutrition & Diet Therapy. Philadelphia: Mosby.

President and Fellows at Harvard College. (2008). “The nutrition source healthy eating pyramid.” Retrieved on Sept. 12, 2008 from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid/index.html.

Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Yaakov, H., Sahar, D.R., Witkow, S., et al. (July, 2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean or low-fat diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359:229-241.

Yes, I live in Arizona so I have a higher risk of melanoma

Of the three types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious. It affects the melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin that gives skin its color. The cancerous melanocytes do not die when they should (apoptosis) and form a cancerous mass.

Melanoma can show up in a mole or other pigmented tissues such as the eye or intestines. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, more than 53,600 people find out they have melanoma each year. It is a figure that grows annually. The estimated amount of deaths is 8,420.

Those at risk that have many moles, fair skin, personal history of skin cancer, family history of skin cancer, weakened immune system or have had at least one severe, blistering sunburn.

To help prevent melanoma people should avoid midday sun, wear long sleeves, long pants and a wide-brim hat when outside, protect themselves from UV rays that penetrate clothing, windshields and windows, as well as those that are reflected by sand, water, snow and ice. Skin lotions, cream and gel may help. The higher the SPF the better protection. Sunglasses help too by protecting eyes and skin around the eyes.


U.S. National Cancer Institute. (2008). "What you need to know about melanoma." Retrieved on Sept. 15, 2008 from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/melanoma

14 September 2008

Man can't live by bread and water alone

Imagine you have been on a "bread and water" diet for three weeks and have noticed that a cut on your shin won't heal and bleeds easily. Why?

The inability to heal would largely be due to lack of vitamin C. Proper maintenance and repair of tissue depends on this essential nutrient (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006).

Once confirming a deficiency of vitamin C, assume signs of scurvy. According to Medline, along with skin hemmorrhages, general weakness, anemia, and gum disease.

Just an orange a day is sufficient for preventing scurvy, according to researchers from University of Toronto (Weinstein, Babyn & Zlotkin, 2001). The vitamin C in the citrus fruit serve as the right treatment.

My body would also need protein to produce healing. Nutrition consultant James Collier says the amino acids, along with vitamin C and zinc, are essential for the production of collagen and even a short duration of lack of protein can significantly slow healing (n.d.). Collier also suggests B vitamins, vitamin K, carbohydrates and fats are important. A few of these nutrients may have been supplied by the bread. Lack of protein would also significantly slow healing because your body would hold onto it for other vital functions (Tortora & Derrikson, 2006).


Collier, J. (n.d.). "Nutrition and wound healing." Retrieved on Sept. 14, 2008 from http://www.dietetics.co.uk/article-nutrition-wound-healing.asp.

Medline Plus. (2008). "Medical Encyclopedia: Scurvy." Retrieved on Sept. 14, 2008 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000355.htm.

Tortora, G.J. & Derrikson, B. (2006). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Weinstein, M., Babyn, P. & Zlotkin, S. (2001). An orange a day keeps the doctor away: Scurvy in the year 2000. Pediatrics, 108:3, p. e55. Retrieved on Sept. 14, 2008 from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/108/3/e55.

13 September 2008

What fluids should I use before my marathon?

Marathon runners can become dehydrated due to the extreme physical activity. What types of fluids should they consume in order to rehydrate their cells?

When you’re dehydrated, water is the hypotonic solution of choice for speedily moving via osmosis from blood directly into body cells that need rehydration (Tortora & Derrickson, 2006). Marathon runners, however, may need a little more solutes in the solution.

The physical exertion of running can create need of other nutrients for these athletes. Regular sweating and using up of glycogen calls for needs of carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose and salts for proper balance of plasma osmalility (Chen & Zimmerman, 1978). Sports drinks can offer an answer for proper running, but too many solutes in a drink would stop its hydration ability.

A good sports drink should remaining effective as a hypotonic solution, but still provide steady electrolytes, carbohydrates and possibly even vitamins. The extra sodium, according to British researchers of Loughborough University, results in improved performance (Merson et al, 2008). Thus, marathon runners should apply this knowledge for best results.


Cohen, I. & Zimmerman, A.L. (1978). Changes in serum electrolyte levels during marathon running. South Africa Medical Journal, 25:53(12):449-53.

Merson, S.J., Maughan, R.J. & Shirreffs, S.M. (July, 2008). Rehydration with drinks differing in sodium concentration and recovery from moderate exercise-induced hypohydration in man. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 103(5):585-94.

Tortora, G.J. & Derrikson, B. (2006). Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

06 September 2008

Should I see a nutritionist or stick to dietary guidelines?

We may all be made of flesh and blood, but each one of us has a body with unique differences. These varying individual distinctions can call for custom measures when it comes to needs for health. For these reasons good clinicians can accept established dietary guidelines as a general route for a population to make sensible eating choices, but, when appropriate, offer a tailored alternative to provide best results for a patient.

A suitable deviance from normal recommendations, for example, may be to take milk and cheese off the menu for patients of Native American and African ancestry. Lactose intolerance has been found by Cambridge researchers to affect these populations indiscriminately, which should lead clinicians to diverge from the US Department of Agriculture’s guidelines of dairy intake when caring for such affected patients (Scrimshaw & Murray, 1988).

For others increasing dietary intake of dairy may be useful. An athletic patient seeking nutritional advice may find herself or himself encouraged to supplement with protein from dairy whey directly after exercise since Australian researchers have just found that this practice may speed recovery of muscle (Buckley et al., 2008).

Customization of diet should not be limited to genetic and other physical variations in patients. The clinician who discovers a four-year-old girl’s inclination to refuse vegetables may recommend her concerned parents try a more-likeable chewable vitamin in place.

The examples given suggest person-centered care may be better for all. A community has benefited, however, from a fixed norm developed by public policy. Guidelines should not be considered as strict, but should help the grocery store and restaurant offer options while sensitive to the health of customers as well as help the lay person make smart daily food choices.

Selected References

Buckley, J.D., Thomson, R.L., Coates, A.M., Howe, P.R., Denichilo, M.O., & Rowney, M.K. (Sept, 2008). “Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. [Ahead of print]. Retrieved Sept. 5, 2008, from Pubmed online database.

Scrimshaw, N.S. and Murray, E.B. (Oct.1988). “The acceptability of milk and milk products in populations with a high prevalence of lactose intolerance.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 48(4 Suppl):1079-159.

04 September 2008

A&P? Can't I just memorize my vitamins?

If you just read the side panel of a Wheaties box while eating breakfast in the morning you'll already know you need vitamins A, Bs, C, and E. The milk carton next to the cereal you know is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Why should you know about anatomy and physiology?

Understanding the whole picture is, of course, why we break down a complex anything into its parts, including an organism. Cut the body apart into sagittal or transverse sections to discover its cavities and viscera and you learn quite a bit about how a little morsel of might end up in the mouth and through the gastrointestinal tract.

As you read these words, you begin to understand the direction of the point of this paragraph. Just as it is the job of a writer to understand how words can be used for impactful sentences that create powerful paragraphs, the nutritionist can use the alphabet of nutritional elements for supporting his or her patient's body at optimal levels.

The anatomy-physiology nutritionist considers bodily needs from a chemical and cellular level as well as analyzing detection and responsiveness of an organ-system. That kind of nutritionist is one that brings holistic results to a patient, one that does good and no harm, one that can be trusted, the type of nutritionist I aspire to be.