Friday, March 30, 2012

Ways to prevent summer sun damage

The skinny on some of the undesired side effects of stepping out in the sun this season, and how to evade them
With winter fading, and the summer sun rearing its head, new skin problems emerge. If not protected, brown spots, wrinkles, and dehydration could damage the skin. "People often come rushing to myclinic with red rashes on their face, neck and arms. They complain of irresistible irritation and itching on these spots. Sometimes, it is not only one particular spot or place where the rashes appear; they can affect entire body," says Dr Swati Srivastava, dermatologist, VLCC, Mumbai.
Though there are many reasons for these rashes, from allergies to hormonal imbalance, a majority of the problems turn out to be the result of excessive exposure to the sun.
Sun damage ages your skin
If you compare the skin tone and complexion of skin exposed to sunlight daily, you will notice the difference. "Skin that has been minimally exposed will look decades younger," says Dr Srivastava.
The damage from UV rays is cumulative and can take years before it is apparent and prominently visible. It is generally by the time we reach our mid-thirties that the long-term effects of UV exposure start becoming prominent in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, changed skin tone and colour.
Allergy from the sun
A skin allergy from the sun is actually a reaction of the immune system, which is trying to protect cells from the harmful UV rays of the sunlight eventuating in red and itchy rashes.
The most common locations are the 'V' of the neck, the back of the hands, the outside surface of the arms and the lower legs. If you carefully observe the pattern of the places these rashes appear, they are mainly the areas which get exposed to sunlight even when one is clothed. "I have seen my share of rare cases where the rashes appear even in clothed areas in the form of hives or small blisters. The rashes could be itchy or burning and may last a few days," says Dr Srivastava.
Sunburn versus allergy from the sun
People often confuse sunburns and allergy from the sun. There is a fine line between the two. Sunburns appear on sun-exposed parts of your skin when technically your body's protective skin pigment melanin - which is supposed to fight harmful radiations and germs - falls weak and fails to protect your skin well enough from UV rays.
On the other hand, in cases of allergic reaction from exposure to the sun, your body's immune system reacts against the harmful rays and fights hard to protect your skin and this is what causes breakouts. It is also called hypersensitivity to the sun, or Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE). A skin allergy from the sun can occur within minutes of exposure to the sun, and also goes away much quicker after sun exposure has stopped compared to the time taken to revive from sunburn.
Sunburn can cause more grave problems than mere temporary pain and redness. Over time, frequent sunburn can contribute to premature ageing of the skin, and even lead to skin cancer.
What the sun can do to you
1. Thickening of skin, mainly on the back of the neck resulting in coarse wrinkles, a condition better known as elastosis.

2. Thinning of skin causing fine wrinkles.
3. Even within a short period of exposure to the sun, UV rays from the sun might cause the walls of the blood cells to go thinner leading to bruising.
4. Appearance of freckles and white spots on hands and legs respectively.
5. Three major types of skin cancer - melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
quick tips to prevent sun damage
1. Sunscreen is an absolute must during the warmer months, so looking for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20 is recommended. A moisturiser with SPF is also a good alternative for those who are looking for versatile products.
2. Always wear a sun protector half an hour before stepping into the sun. Don't forget to apply the sun protector onto your ears and neck. If you have sensitive skin, use a sun protector which is oil-free and light in weight.
3. Drink a lot of water to prevent your body cells from dehydration.
4. Wear clothes that cover your body.
5. When you must be exposed to intense sunlight, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, broad-brimmed hats and UV-protective sunglasses.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cocoa may help diabetes, heart failure

Patients with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes showed improvement after three months of consuming epicatechin-enriched cocoa, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. Francisco J. Villarreal of University of California, San Diego, said epicatechin is a flavonoid found in dark chocolate.

The researchers examined five profoundly ill patients with major damage to skeletal muscle mitochondria -- structures responsible for most of the energy produced in cells. These "fuel cells" are dysfunctional as a result of both type 2 diabetes and heart failure, leading to abnormalities in skeletal muscle, Villarreal said.

Patients with heart failure and diabetes experience abnormalities in both the heart and skeletal muscle that can result in impaired functional capacity. They often complain of shortness of breath, lack of energy and have difficulty walking even short distances.

Trial participants consumed dark chocolate bars and a beverage with a total epicatechin content of approximately 100 milligram per day for three months. Biopsies of skeletal muscle were conducted before and after treatment.
After three months, the researchers looked at changes in mitochondria volume and the abundance of cristae, are internal compartments of mitochondria necessary for efficient function of the mitochondria.
"The cristae had been severely damaged and decreased in quantity in these patients," Villarreal said in a statement. "After three months, we saw recovery -- cristae numbers back toward normal levels, and increases in several molecular indicators involved in new mitochondria production."

The findings were published in the journal Clinical and Translational Science.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keep skin hydrated to combat winter skin

When the temperature drops, dry, flaky winter skin can develop. You can prevent the itchy, red and tight feeling with a few simple tips. Drinking plenty of water is one way to help hydrate skin. Unfortunately, this alone is not enough during colder months. Often you will need to change your skin care method, dermatologists recommend. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can keep your skin moist and dewy, year-round.

Keep the air humid
The key to preventing winter skin is to stay hydrated, inside and out. Outdoors, the harsh winter winds dry out your skin. Inside, the hot air from heaters dries out your skin. But, there is a way around this dilemma. Return moisture to the air (and to your skin) by using a humidifier in your room and workplace, if possible.  Also, make sure that the heat in your house is not at an unnecessarily high temperature during these winter months.

Protect against the unforgiving climate
Make sure to bundle up when you step outside. Your hands are particularly vulnerable this time of year. To avoid spreading diseases, we often over-wash our hands and over-use alcohol-based (i.e. drying) hand sanitizers, according to experts. Try to take it easy on your hands and remember to wear gloves when you walk out into the cold!

Use a gentle cleanser
The same over-washing problem can affect the face as well. Many people use a facial cleanser that is too strong because they want their skin to be perfectly clean. Make sure you aren’t using an excessively harsh cleanser that robs your skin of the natural oils it needs to keep you hydrated.

Keep away from hot water in the shower
Hot baths and showers sound delightful, especially when it’s cold out, but the lasting effects might not be worth the heat.  It may sound like a paradox, but spending more time drenched in water does not add to your skin’s hydration. Hot water can break down the lipid barrier of your skin, which robs your skin of moisture. You should use warm, rather than hot, water to cleanse and limit your time in the tub.

Moisturize, and don’t forget the SPF
Moisturizers can work wonders in keeping your skin healthy and in countering the drying effects of the season. You might need to use a thicker, more substantial moisturizer in the winter. The goal here is to lock in hydration that could be escaping under dry air. You should moisturize once in the morning and once before bed. During sleep your body repairs itself in many ways, and this includes your skin. 

Read more:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Top 10 Tips for Preventing Weight Gain

Shedding some weight can be hard. For many men, keeping it off is even harder. Diets become stale and depriving. Training becomes overly laborious and boring. Follow these 10 tips to keep off the weight that you’ve worked so hard to lose.
No. 10 - Throw out junk food
No matter how disciplined you are, if junk food is there, you’ll eventually eat it. All it takes is a long day at work or a rushed meal to push you toward grabbing the quick fix. Do a quick search through your house (cabinets, refrigerator, under your pillow, and so on) and get rid of unhealthy snack food. If your spouse, significant other or kids have junk in the house, throw their stuff out, too. They’ll thank you later.
No. 9 - Stay hydrated
Consuming a couple cups of water before you eat will fill up your stomach and cause you to eat less. Research has shown that people using this strategy lose more weight than people who don’t. If you don’t like water, try adding a lemon or lime to it or try drinking a zero-calorie beverage with a little more flavor like green tea or POWERADE ZERO. The important thing is that you’re staying hydrated and filling up your stomach with liquid while not taking in additional calories.
No. 8 - Get a dog
A big part of keeping weight off is maintaining an active lifestyle. It sounds ridiculous, but research has shown that people tend to become more active when they have a pet. Letting your dog take you for a walk at night will get you off the couch and keep your hand out of the junk food that you should have thrown out already.
No. 7 - Eat breakfast
Your metabolism plummets while you sleep; you go into a state of catabolism (read: breakdown). The best way to jump-start your metabolism and give your body the fuel it needs for the day to come is to eat a quality breakfast. At a bare minimum, your breakfast should have at least one serving of fruits and vegetables, a lean protein source and a glass of water. You can also add a quality whole-grain carbohydrate source, such as steel cut oats, to your breakfast.
No. 6 - Avoid sugars, pasta and white bread
When you take in a whole-grain carbohydrate source, it takes time for your body to break down the food. As a result, you receive a slow, consistent supply of food, similar to a time-release drug. On the other hand, foods like pasta, white bread or anything high in sugar are rapidly digested and give your body a quick supply of a ton of energy. Since your body doesn’t need all of this energy at once, it defaults to storing it as fat. Overall, these foods have little nutritional value and generally lead to metabolic damage and fat storage.
No. 5 - Learn how to cook
Short-term diet interventions never work long-term. In order to keep weight off, you need to change your lifestyle to make it conducive to keeping weight off. This sounds simple, but for some men it can be a rough transition. If you associate healthy eating with bland foods, you probably won’t continue to eat healthily for too long. Learning how to use spices and prepare foods in different ways that you enjoy will help ensure that you’re eating the right foods for the rest of your life. You can start by perusing the grocery store for prepackaged spices like Cajun, Italian seasoning, Montreal steak and/or chicken, and seasoned salt. Eating healthily does not need to be boring.
No. 4 - Lift weights
Muscle has a significantly higher metabolic rate than bone and fat. Simply put, this means that it takes more energy (read: calories) to fuel muscle than it does other tissues within the body. By lifting weights and adding some muscle mass, you keep your metabolism and the number of calories you burn at rest high. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a quality fat-loss program and is essential as part of a weight-loss maintenance program.

Read more: