The seven poor health habits

Physical inactivity[1]
Scientific literatures have reported the beneficial effects of regular physical exercises on health. Aside from strengthening muscles and bones, they protect the heart from the so-called myocardial infarction (heart attack) because through physical exercises, the small blood vessels supplying the heart with blood are assured of being open most of the time, in addition to the development and opening of others, medically known as the collateral coronary arteries.
Smoking[1]
Again, scientific literatures are laden with findings that cigarette smoking is bad for your health. Aside from definitely causing cancer of the lungs, they induce the blood vessels to become inelastic and non-extensiblecontributing to, and causing, the development of hypertension. Based on most health statistics of different countries, hypertension as a cause of death ranks as one of the top ten.
Drinking too much alcohol[1]
Too much intake of alcohol will lead to the development of the so-called liver cirrhosis. In this disease, formation of fibers and scarring take place in your liver, making it ineffective to do itsvarious functions for your body, such as eliminating some waste products and forming new and useful substances. Damage of the liver is so critical because when it fails, other organs will subsequently fail.
Being overweight[1]
If your weight is more than your so-called ideal body weight, you will soon develop hypertension; and since hypertension has a lot of complications, you will soon have more medical problems than you have thought and imagined. Aside from diseases in the heart and blood vessels, if you are overweight, you will also have problems pertaining to your knees and other joints, aside from the fact that you will be prone to having bone fractures.
Eating between meals[1]
If you take light snacks in between meals, then that is okay and tolerable. However, if you take a lot of foods prior to, and after, your regular meals, then that spells a lot of difference because intake of large amount of foods could cause sudden rise of your sugar, cholesterol, or triglycerides in your blood depending on what type of foods you took in. Scientific literatures suggest that taking in small quantities of foods—even if more frequently than usual—is more healthy thantaking big amounts of foods even if taken at a lesser frequency.
Skipping breakfast[1]
When you take your dinner at 7:00 o’clock in the evening and take your breakfast the following day at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, the time difference in between the two meals is 12 hours. If you take your lunch at 12:00 noon, the time difference is only 5 hours. And if you take your dinner again at 7:00 o’clock in the evening, the time difference is only 7 hours.Among your regular meals, breakfast has the longest time difference from the previous meal. Thus, it is called breakfast because when you take it, you are actually breaking your fasting! This is the reason why breakfast is so important because you need to replenish a lot of substances consumed by your body in the last 12 hours.
Sleeping too little or too much[1]
Most scientific references recommend that you sleep at least 7 hours every night. If you sleep less than 7 hours, you feel drowsy and your concentration in doing your work is below the optimal level. If you sleep more than 7 hours, you will feel lousy and you are not efficient in doing your work. What is more alarming is that when you lack sleep for several days, your heart will suffer. You will have irregularity in the beating of your heart.It will lose its normal rhythm until you get the right number of hours of sleep!
Reference:
1. Glover, Bob, Shepherd, Jack, and Glover, Shelly-lynn Florence. The Runner’s Handbook. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.

Medical implications of diabetes mellitus combined with lipid abnormalities (Part 2)

Complications of diabetes

Hypertension

When your blood sugar is very much elevated, this will promote the deposition of fatty substances along the internal lining of your different blood vessels—medically known as endothelium. With the deposition, the endothelium is thickened, and, to some extent, it becomes inelastic. With this development, the blood pressure rises.

Lipid abnormalities

Lipid abnormalities refer to the elevations—over normal values—of the blood concentrations of either cholesterol, triglycerides, or low-density lipoprotein, or combinations of them. The more elevations there are, the worse will be the outcome in the years to come.

Complications of lipid abnormalities

Coronary heart disease

With persistent elevations of the lipids, the small vessels supplying the heart with blood—otherwise known as the coronary arteries—are little by little deposited with fatty substances leading ultimately to their partial obstruction or, worse, total obstruction. When your coronary arteries are partially blocked, you will start to experience chest pain which is precipitated or provoked by physical exertions, such as lifting heavy objects, going up the stairs, running, or being excited on something. The worst part, however, is when the obstruction is total or complete wherein a certain area in the muscle of your heart is completely deprived of blood supply. When this happens, you will have heart attack, or medically known as myocardial infarction, and you may die from it.

Hypertension

With increased levels of lipids in your blood, the deposition of fatty substances, known as plaques, in your endothelium is hastened. This deposition does not only narrow the opening of your blood vessels; it further injures your endothelium making it more inelastic. This will surely lead to the development of hypertension.

Commonalities of diabetes and lipid abnormalitiesin terms of complications

Based on the discussion in the preceding sections, you will find out that there are commonalities of diabetes and lipid abnormalities in terms of complications. Both of them could cause hypertensionand coronary heart disease. Therefore, the occurrences of these life-threatening diseases would be very likely—almost 100 percent—if you have both diabetes and lipid abnormalities. Life-threatening as they are, the situation is made worse whenhypertension starts in your systems, because it could also start new, and exacerbateexisting, complications, such as damage of the kidneys, heart, and the eyes. Since these organs have been very much damaged previously by diabetes, then their destruction is very much faster than when only one—diabetes or lipid abnormalities only—exists. Thus, the combination of diabetes and lipid abnormalities is extremely dangerous!

Management of this life-threatening situation

The most appropriate time to start managing this medical situation is when the two problems have been noticed for the first time, as revealed by blood chemistry examinations. Once it has been established that diabetes co-exists with lipid abnormalities, you need to consult your medical doctor at once and without delay, even if you have not been experiencing any discomfort or complaints lately. You need to start your medications at the soonest time possible. If your problems are discovered when you are still young, your taking of the most appropriate medications will greatly delay the onset of the various complications. However, when they are discovered when you are relatively older, say 60 or 70 years old, the different complications have already set in, and you will surely need an array of medications! You will surely need medications for diabetes and   lipid abnormalities—and most probably hypertension. You will surely spend so much for your medications.

Thus, the moment you find that you have both diabetes and lipid abnormalities, consult your medical doctor immediately and take your medications as religiously as possible. This is the only way you can avoid having the complications soonest and avoid taking a number of medications, reducing significantly your expenses.

(Last of a series of 2)

Medical implications of diabetes mellitus combined with lipid abnormalities (Part 1)

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a medical problem wherein your fasting blood sugar (FBS) is above and over the normal range. The normal range of FBS is 70-100 mg/dl. Hence, if your FBS is greater than the said range, you are suffering from diabetes. If you discover that you are a diabetic, waste no time! Visit your medical doctor for consultation and follow faithfully and religiously all the instructions that he will give you. Specifically, take all the medications that he will prescribe to you, follow the diet that he will tell you, and do the physical exercises that he wants you to pursue.

Complications of diabetes

If your elevated fasting blood sugar is not treated for a number of years, you will reap the complications of diabetes. Since it is a systemic disease, it adversely affects several of your important organs, such as your eyes, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Consequently, you might go blind, your skin becomes insensitive to touch, you may experience chest pain due to heart problem, and your blood pressure rises.

Coronary heart disease

One adverse effect of having elevated blood sugar for so many years is the development of coronary heart disease wherein the small blood vessels which supply the heart with blood—otherwise known as coronary arteries—are gradually being clogged by fatty deposits. When the clogging becomes total—that is, the opening of one or more of yourcoronary arteries is completely blocked—you might suffer from heart attack!

Glomerulonephropathy

The other complication of diabetes is the destruction of your kidneys medically known as diabetic glomerulonephropathy, wherein their ability to filter the blood is gone. They cannot remove the waste products of metabolism in your body, such as the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and blood creatinine, so their concentrations in the blood are elevated and beyond the normal values. If your BUN and blood creatinineare very much higher than the normal range, then your kidneys are compromised. You may need dialysis!

 

Retinopathy

In your eyes, at the back area of your eyeball, there is a structure called retina. It is very sensitive to the light that is entering your eyes, and it transmits the light to the brain for interpretation, in terms of color, intensity, temperature, and other characteristics. If your blood sugar has been elevated for a decade or more, without taking proper medications, the retina will be destroyed, and you might go blind!

Neuropathy

The nerves responsible for the sensations coming from the skin are not spared from the complications of diabetes. They are damaged when the small blood vessels—medically known as the vasa nervorum—are blocked as a result of lingering diabetes. When these small blood vessels are blocked, preventing the flow of blood, the nerves reaching and supplying your skin are damaged, resulting in the loss of sensation. Thus, diabetic patients, after so many years of harboring the disease, could not feel from their skin. Their skin is numb and deprived of the much needed sensations.

Cardiomyopathy

Aside from causing coronary heart disease wherein the small blood vessels—known as coronary arteries—are blocked and occluded, diabetes also damages the heart at the cellular lever. This means that the smallest parts of the muscles of the heart are damaged, resulting to what is known as cardiomyopathy. Consequently, all the muscles could not do their proper function, and the heart fails—known as heart failure. You should remember thatcardiomyopathy is different from coronary heart disease; however, both of them—at the end—will disable the heart.

(To be continued)

Muscle cramps (Part 3)

How can you prevent muscle cramps?

Have adequate hydration

For intense physical exercises, there are quantitative guidelines on how to hydrate yourself. However, for light physical exercises, there are two rules of thumb that you can follow and remember: (1) the moment you feel being thirsty, feeling of dryness in the throat, take enough water to quench it, and (2) if you are not sweating in spite of having your usual physical exercise, it is possible that you are not properly hydrated. As mentioned previously, maintain the intensity and duration of your physical exercises; do not drastically change it. If you have been following that, but now you are not sweating ascompared to previous ones, then it is highly probable that you are not well hydrated. Take whatever hydrating fluid you have, but plain water is still the best!

Adequate stretching before physical exercises

It was stated in previous article of Powertec the need to have stretching prior to, and after,   havingphysical exercises. In most gyms, there are illustrations pasted and displayed on the wall showing how to properly do them. Follow the instructions, and this will help you prevent having muscle cramps.

Let existing injury heal first

If you have an existing injury, don’t be in a hurry to re-start your physical exercises! At the very least, what you can do is to adjust the intensity and duration of your physical exercises to what you can well afford to do, or totally avoid it for the moment! Before you return to the gym, secure medical clearance from your physician to protect you from aggravating your existing injury.

Do not drastically change your usual regimen

Fatigue of muscles is one of the causes of muscle cramps. For this reason, do not drastically change the intensity and duration of your physical exercises. If ever you want to intensify, do it gradually. If you have been out of the gym for so long, bereft of the usual periodic physical exercises, when you return, do not immediately plunge yourself to your usual work out! Start from your baseline intensity and duration and gradually build it up again. Of course, you will feel that your body could very well adjust to the building up! You will easily catch up and return to your usual work out because you have been exercising for so long, and you had been investing in improving your health; your building up will be much easier and faster compared to someone who would start having physical exercises for the first time! You will feel the difference!

Take vitamins and minerals

The different vitamins and minerals are necessary for some chemical reactions in the body to proceed and take place. Without them, vital processes in the systems will be curtailed. Hence, you will feel some discomfort in your body—one of which is muscle cramps! Daily, take ascorbic acid, vitamin B complex, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and glucosamine sulfate tablets. Consult previous articles of Powertec for the right dosages.

However, if you want to lessen your intake of vitamins and minerals in tablet forms, you can take the following foods:prevent muscle cramps

References:

Internet Website:

www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page2.htm

Book:

Roth, Ruth A. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.

Suggested further readings:

  • Powertec article titled: Eleven basic rules in doing gym exercises: Importance of proper form in strength training and how Powertec machines help in reducing the risk of injury
  • Powertec article titled: Causes of injury while doing physical exercises
  • Powertec articles titled: Muscle cramps (Part 1 and 2)

Muscle cramps (Part 2)

What are the other causes of muscle cramps?

Low potassium

Low potassium level in the blood could cause muscle cramps. However, this is more associated with muscle weakness.

Body fluid shifts

In his lifetime, if a person has drunk a lot of alcohol for some decades and if he was afflicted with hepatitis, the liver will be injured. When these injuries heal, scarring will be produced, and a lot of fibers will be formed in the liver. This medical condition is known as cirrhosis of the liver.Workout for Health

When the liver is cirrhotic, or filled with scarring and fibers, the flow of blood coming from the (1) hepatic artery and (2) hepatic portal vein through the liver is obstructed. Consequently, fluids (represented by the olive green representations in Figure 1) seeping out from both the hepatic artery and hepatic portal vein will spill in the abdominal cavity, ultimately producing a collection of fluid consisting of proteins, glucose, and electrolytes, like sodium and potassium. This movement of fluid from the blood vessels into the abdominal cavity is called body fluid shift.

When there is body fluid shift, not only fluid distribution is disturbed but also the distribution of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. When potassium is taken out from the circulation, this could produce muscle cramps!

Alteration in the distribution of potassium could also take place during dialysis and in some cases of kidney failure. Thus, muscle cramps could also take place in these situations.

Intake of some medications

Intake of some medications could cause muscle cramps. Foremost is the diuretic called furosemide, whose brand name is Lasix, which could effect vigorous removal of body fluids, leading to depletion of some electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. When these electrolytes are significantly removed from the circulation and tissues, they could cause muscle cramps.

Other medications that could cause muscle cramps are the following: donepezil for Alzheimer’s disease, neostigmine for myasthenia gravis, raloxifene for osteoporosis, tolcapone for Pankinson’s disease, nifedipine for high blood pressure, terbutaline for asthma, and lovastatin for lowering cholesterol.

Vitamin Deficiency

Some vitamin deficiencies may lead to muscle cramps. These are deficiencies in thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine (B6).Thus, for individuals who go to the gym regularly, and also for some of those who do not, a daily intake of vitamin B complex tablet is recommended, containing around 100 mg of thiamine, 5 mg of pyridoxine, 5 mg of pantothenic acid and 50 mcg of cyanocobalamine.

How can we treat muscle cramps?

Stretching the muscle

Stretching the involved muscle can be used to stop the cramp. For some cramps of the feet and legs, the concerned person can stand up then walk around. For a calf muscle cramp, there are two ways of treating it: (1) the person can stand around 2 to 2.5 feet from the wall (more if the person is taller) and lean by placing the forearms against it with the knees and back straight and the heels in contact with the ground or floor, or (2) while still lying down, the ankle is flexed by pulling the toes up toward the head with the leg extended as straight as possible. For a writer’s cramp, the hand will be pressed against the wall with the palm in contact with it. This will stretch the flexor muscles of the fingers, finally stopping the cramp.

 

Muscle cramps (Part 1)

What are muscle cramps?

Normally, when we move, there are skeletal muscles involved in it. To execute a particular move, a muscle or a group of muscles will have to alternately contract and relax. In some instances, however, suddenly and without warning, one or more muscle(s) contract(s) in a sustained manner, and the person involved in it has no control over the muscular contraction. This is called muscle crampor true cramps. It is painful, and the concerned individual, in most of the times, will be forced to stop from whatever s/he is doing. The sustained muscular contraction could take place for a few secondsor up to a quarter of an hour.

What are the causes of muscle crmuscle cramp amps?

Injury

When there is an existing injury in the musculo-skeletal system, a muscle cramp takes place because the body tends to protect the injured part. In this situation, there is a need to treat the existing injury, lest the muscle cramp keeps on recurring!

Fatigue of muscles

When a muscle or group of muscles isoverused in a physical activity, such as in a gym or outdoor physical exercises, a muscle cramp may take place. Overusing of muscles takes place when a person suddenly executes a physical exercise whose intensity and/or durationis(are) beyond what s/he used to do. If, for instance, you have been doing a treadmill exercise for only 30 minutes in a day, but suddenly you increased it to one hour, you might experience muscle cramp, either during, immediately after, or several hours after the physical exercise.

If you have been doing weightlifting, usually lifting 10 kilograms of weight, but, without proper preparation and training, you suddenly used 15-kilogram weight, you may also experience muscle cramp.

Improper positioning

Proper positioningwhile working or playinggreatly contributes in the prevention of muscle cramps. For instance, if you are using the keyboard of a computer or a laptop, ensure that your wrists are well rested on the working table, and not left hanging beyond its edge! Ensure that your head is well rested at its back against a head support structure of your chair! Ensure that your eyesight level is in line with the computer screen, not very much lower or higher! When you play a particular sport, play it with the right form!

Improper and awkward positioning while asleep could be another cause of muscular cramp! Since you cannot really control your sleeping position, the least that you can do is to have firm and flat bed that will prevent your body from sagging!

Dehydration

When you work out in a gym, or engage in an outdoor sport, you will have perspiration that will release the extra heat generated in your body. However, it is not only water and heat that are released; included is the electrolyte, sodium, that plays a very vital role in maintaining the blood pressure. When significant amount of sodium is taken out from your body, arising mainly from intense physical activity and/or use of medicine, such as diuretics (medicines that promote urination), occurrence of muscle cramp is very likely.

Low blood calcium and/or magnesium

Scientific literatures have established that low calcium and/or magnesium level in the blood could cause muscle cramp. The main reason is that when the blood levels of said electrolytes are low, the excitability of the nerve endings and the muscles being supplied by that nerve is high! Hence, with the slightest provocation, the muscle contracts, producing muscle cramp.

Low calcium and magnesium levels in the blood are caused by pregnancy, vomiting, use of diuretics, vitamin D deficiency and hyperventilation (fast breathing).

References:

Internet Website:

www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page2.htm

Suggested further readings:

  • Powertec article titled: Eleven basic rules in doing gym exercises: Importance of proper form in strength training and how Powertec machines help in reducing the risk of injury
  • Powertec article titled: Causes of injury while doing physical exercises