• Things you should know about multiple sclerosis

    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Due to this disorder, your immune system attacks myelin, which is the protective sheath covering the nerve fibers. As a result, communication between your brain and body is hampered.

    Causes of multiple sclerosis

    The exact cause of multiple sclerosis is still uncertain. However, some factors that cause this disorder are as follows:

    1. Immune system

    If the immune system is compromised, it may attack the CNS. The myelin protective sheath is affected, thereby disrupting the functioning of your brain, resulting in multiple sclerosis.

    1. Infection

    Certain viruses and bacteria can cause multiple sclerosis. Some viruses cause inflammation that breaks down the myelin, triggering multiple sclerosis. It is possible that brain-cell-like bacteria and viruses can cause the immune system to erroneously identify normal cells as foreign cells, thereby destroying them. Some of the viruses and bacteria that can cause multiple sclerosis include Epstein-Barr virus, measles viruses, and human herpesvirus-6 causing disorders like roseola.

    1. Genetics

    One can be highly susceptible to multiple sclerosis if one has a family history of this disorder. The possibility of one developing this disorder in such instances increases by 2.5% to 5% in the country. For an average individual, the possibility is roughly 0.1%. Multiple sclerosis patients are born with genetic susceptibility to unfamiliar environmental agents, which triggers an auto-immune response.

    1. Environmental factors

    Epidemiologists have noticed a higher number of multiple sclerosis patients in countries that are far from the Equator. This may be a correlation with Vitamin D as it is believed to be highly beneficial for the immune system. Since people living in countries closer to the Equator receive plenty of sunlight, their bodies produce more Vitamin D, which reduces the risk.

    Symptoms of MS

    Symptoms vary and depend on the affected nerves and extent of nerve damage. Severe multiple sclerosis patients may be unable to walk independently, while some patients may experience long periods with no symptoms. Some common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

    • Weakness or numbness in the limbs of one side of the body, or trunk and legs
    • Unsteady gait, trembling, and lack of coordination
    • Lhermitte sign, where you may feel electrical shock-like sensation with neck movements especially while bending forward
    • Issues with vision, such as partial or complete loss of sight in one eye, experiencing pain while moving the eyes, blurry vision, or long periods of double vision
    • Sexual, bladder, and bowel functioning trouble
    • Slurred speech
    • Pain or tingling sensation in various parts of the body
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue and tiredness

    Risk factors causing MS

    • Although the disorder may appear at any age, people between the ages of 16 and 55 years are more commonly affected
    • Smokers who may experience MS-like symptoms initially are more likely to relapse
    • Women are twice or three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than men
    • Autoimmune disorders like inflammatory bowel disease or type-1 diabetes can increase the possibility of developing multiple sclerosis
    • Countries with temperate weather conditions see a higher number of multiple sclerosis patients
    • Infections and lack of Vitamin D can also trigger multiple sclerosis
  • Top 10 superfoods that help maintain optimal health

    Have you been feeling tired, bloated, or struggling to concentrate lately? If so, it may be time to review your daily food intake and add some of the most nutritious superfoods. These nutrient-dense foods are combinations of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that provide substantial health benefits. Incorporating these powerhouses into your meals can help boost energy levels while promoting overall well-being. Keep reading to learn about superfoods you can easily add to your meals.

    Best superfoods for optimal health

    Blueberries have antioxidants that protect your body from damage caused by harmful unstable molecules called free radicals. They also contain fiber and vitamin C, reducing inflammation. Blend some blueberries into your breakfast smoothie for sustained energy throughout the day.

    Kale is a leafy green vegetable with high vitamins A, C, and K and calcium and iron. It is one of the top superfoods for optimal health and is rich in antioxidants and fiber, helping digestion.

    Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, helping heart health. It is also high in protein and vitamin D, promoting the overall growth of body parts.

    Almonds are high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They are also a good vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium source. Add some almonds into morning pancakes and evening curries or eat them blanched.

    Avocado is a fruit high in healthy fats and fiber, aiding easy absorption of food and digestion. It is also a good source of vitamin C, K, and potassium, promoting overall well-being.

    Quinoa is a gluten-free grain high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus. It makes for a healthy, tasty, fulfilling breakfast and goes well with sauteed vegetables.

    Sweet potatoes
    Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. They are also rich in antioxidants and have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes, helping control blood sugar.

    Greek yogurt
    Greek yogurt contains protein and calcium, facilitating the proper growth of bones, hair, and teeth. It also contains probiotics—beneficial bacteria that can improve gut health. Focus on plain yogurt instead of flavored, sweetened variants, which can spike your blood sugar.

    Broccoli is a low-calorie vegetable with vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and antioxidants. It makes stir-fried dishes fulfilling and pizza and pasta healthy.

    Dark chocolate
    Dark chocolate contains high antioxidants and flavonoids (natural compounds), which benefit heart health. It is also a rich iron and magnesium source. However, since chocolates are everybody’s favorite, overeating them is easy, which may lead to high blood sugar. Therefore, eating in moderation is vital to maintain optimal health.

    Incorporating these top superfoods into the meal plan may help improve your overall well-being. These powerful and nutrient-packed foods will provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other healthy compounds the body needs. Consider including one or two superfoods in your daily meals to reap their numerous health benefits. However, be careful not to overfill, as any food, even if considered a superfood, can have adverse effects when overeaten.

  • Foods to eat and avoid for macular degeneration

    Macular degeneration is a condition that deteriorates the center of the retina, resulting in compromised vision. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry, both of which lead to loss of sight. However, wet macular degeneration also accompanies leaky blood vessels that grow under the retina as a symptom and impacts said condition. This article discusses foods to eat and avoid to relieve the symptoms associated with macular degeneration.

    Foods to eat:

    • Corn, carrots, collard greens, spinach, red peppers, and sweet potatoes
      Colorful and pigmented vegetables are great for one’s overall health, but they’re especially recommended to protect the cells responsible for vision. Vegetables high in carotenoid should be one’s go-to option to maintain good vision and find relief from macular degeneration.
    • Berries, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, and pineapple
      Vitamin C is another potent source for good eye health. Apart from preventing vision loss, it also helps the body build collagen that helps build strong blood vessels in and around the eyes. This helps avoid the leaky blood vessels that tend to grow under the retina in case of wet macular degeneration.
    • Fish, nuts, and seeds
      These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can potentially lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and slow down the symptoms of the condition. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamin E, can reduce clogged blood vessels, making the appearance of the eyes and the skin around it much better.

    Foods to avoid:
    Foods that clog the blood vessels pose a high risk of macular degeneration, as the process can also damage the blood vessels in the eye. To find relief from macular degeneration, one must avoid the foods listed below.

    • Processed foods
      These foods are high in fats, sodium, and preservatives that can cause blood vessels and arteries to close up. This, in turn, can affect the blood vessels in the retina.
    • High-fat dairy
      Dairy products high in fats can increase the intake of saturated fats in the body, causing arteries to narrow down and lower blood circulation. It can also contribute to excess weight, which puts pressure on blood vessels and slows down the blood flow.
    • Palm and coconut oil
      These oils contain excess amounts of fatty acids as compared to other oils. The fatty acids contribute plenty of saturated fats that can narrow down the arteries and blood vessels.

    A complete eye exam determines the condition and stage of macular degeneration that helps doctors recommend the course of treatment. Some of the medications used to treat macular degeneration include bevacizumab (avastin), ranibizumab (lucentis), aflibercept (eylea), and brolucizumab (biovu).

    These medications are injected into the eyes at regular intervals to recover vision and relieve the symptoms associated with macular degeneration. 

  • 10 gut-friendly foods for those with Crohn’s disease

    Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition that is characterized by irritation in various parts of the digestive tract. It is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD) and can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, pain in the abdomen, nausea, and even loss of appetite. These can lead to secondary conditions such as dehydration and malnutrition. Read on to learn about 10 foods that are safe to eat with Crohn’s disease.

    Yogurt is a great food for those who have Crohn’s disease. It is also available everywhere and, most important, can be eaten on the go. Yogurt is also a rich source of calcium essential to manage Crohn’s.

    Hummus is a chickpea spread that is nutritionally dense and is suitable for those who want to maintain a healthy weight.

    Bananas make for a tasty snack. They are loaded with potassium and other essential nutrients that keep the body healthy. Those with Crohn’s can eat bananas at any stage of ripeness except for when it is green.

    Aside from bananas, there are other fruits that can be consumed even with Crohn’s disease. Fruits are packed to the brim with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are great for the body. They are also rich sources of natural sugars and fibers that help with bowel movement. You can try fruits such as papayas and avocados.

    When recovering from a gut inflammation or Crohn’s flare-up, it is important to get the right amount of proteins in the body. Proteins that come from animals help the body repair tissue and boost cell growth. But, at times, animal meat can lead to more digestive troubles. This is why it is safer to opt for eggs. You can try having them hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled.

    Oatmeal contains soluble fibers that break down in the stomach. They absorb water and allow for better absorption of nutrients. They also slowly pass through the digestive system, ensuring gut health and preventing flare-ups.

    Lean meat
    Foods that are high in fats could worsen the symptoms of a Crohn’s flare-up. Instead, you can opt for foods high in protein and other nutrients. For example, skinless chicken and turkey are good meats to eat with Crohn’s disease.

    Soy is also a great source of lean protein. This makes it suitable for those who have Crohn’s disease. Some studies have shown that it also contains bioactive peptides that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help manage the symptoms of Crohn’s.

    Green tea
    Studies have found that the chemical epigallocatechin-3-gallate present in green tea can help fight inflammation. More research is needed, but adding green tea to your daily meals will only benefit you as it is a rich source of antioxidants.

    Curcumin is a compound that is found in turmeric. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help fight the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It also adds flavor to your meals without impacting gut health.

  • 7 telltale signs of kidney cancer

    Kidney cancer is a formidable adversary that silently affects thousands of people in the country each year. Unlike some more prominent diseases, kidney cancer often hides in plain sight, with its symptoms easily mistaken for other common ailments. Early detection is a potent weapon in the fight against this insidious disease. The signs of kidney cancer may be subtle at first glance, but understanding them can mean the difference between successful treatment and a more challenging battle.

    7 signs of kidney cancer
    Blood in urine
    One of the most common signs of kidney cancer is hematuria or blood in the urine. This can manifest as pink, red, or brown urine. While hematuria can result from various conditions, it’s crucial not to dismiss it, especially if it’s persistent or accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

    Lower back pain
    Kidney tumors can cause dull, aching pain in the lower back or side. This discomfort may be mild initially but can become more severe as the cancer progresses. If one experiences persistent pain in their back or side, they must consult a healthcare professional.

    Persistent high blood pressure
    Kidney cancer can occasionally lead to persistent high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This occurs when the cancer affects the adrenal glands, which are responsible for regulating blood pressure. While high blood pressure can result from various factors, if it’s consistently elevated and not responding to treatment, it may be a sign of underlying kidney issues, including cancer. Monitoring and addressing persistent hypertension is essential for overall health and can help detect potential kidney cancer concerns.

    Feeling fatigued, even after getting adequate rest, can be a sign of kidney cancer. The cancer can disrupt the production of red blood cells, leading to anemia, which, in turn, causes fatigue. If someone finds themselves inexplicably drained of energy, it’s time for them to seek medical advice.

    Loss of appetite
    A sudden loss of appetite can be another indicator of kidney cancer. As the disease progresses, it can affect the patient’s metabolism and lead to changes in their eating habits. If one notices a significant decrease in their appetite, they must consult a healthcare provider.

    Swelling in the legs and ankles
    Kidney cancer can sometimes affect the blood vessels, leading to fluid retention. This may result in swelling in the legs and ankles, a condition known as edema. While edema can have various causes, it’s essential to investigate the underlying reason, especially if it persists.

    Fever and night sweats
    In some cases, kidney cancer can cause fever and night sweats. These symptoms may be attributed to the body’s immune response to the cancer. If one experiences unexplained fever or night sweats, it is best to consult a doctor.

    Recognizing the signs of kidney cancer is vital for early diagnosis and effective treatment. While these symptoms can also be associated with other health conditions, they should not be ignored. Moreover, kidney cancer, like many other cancers, has a higher chance of being successfully treated when detected in its early stages.

  • 10 warning signs of eczema to look out for

    Eczema is a skin disorder that causes inflamed and itchy skin. The kind of rash you get and where it appears on your body can vary depending on your eczema. Generally, eczema symptoms don’t always persist. For example, your skin may be perfectly okay before suddenly becoming extremely itchy and inflamed. Read on to identify the warning signs of eczema and what to do if they stay for long, causing trouble in day-to-day activities.

    What are the symptoms and warning signs of eczema?
    Eczema is a skin disorder that causes dry, itchy, rough skin. Each type of eczema has its unique set of signs and causes, and here are a few common signs of eczema to look out for:

    Dry skin
    When you have eczema, your skin may feel tight and dry even before it itches or becomes red. However, the dryness shows that your skin barrier isn’t functioning correctly.

    Red or brown patches
    You can tell if you have eczema by looking at the color of your rash. Eczema is possibly to fault if the skin is cracked and red or brown.

    Worsening of rashes
    Another eczema warning sign is if you experience a flare-up followed by prolonged periods of remission. It is renowned for its ups and downs; various factors can set off flare-ups in different people.

    Nail changes
    These can appear in people with chronic dyshidrotic eczema. The nails may grow thick and discolored and form pits and ridges.

    Fluid-filled tiny blisters
    The little blisters appear in the palms, the sides of your fingers, or the bottoms of your feet. The skin around your blisters may be highly irritating or painful. A few individuals experience groups of blisters that expand into more prominent blisters when they merge.

    Uneven and swollen skin
    You’ll see swollen and discolored skin when you observe a rash. The enlarged skin often appears red in those with white skin. Darker skin tones see a subtler color change that might range from gray to violet-brown.

    Scaly and thick rashes
    One of the most prevalent warning signs of eczema is having extremely thick, scaly skin that frequently looks leathery.

    Tearing up of your blisters
    Oozing occurs when the blisters rupture, naturally or due to scratching, and fluid flows onto the skin’s surface.

    You notice hives
    Hives are little, raised bumps that might develop after exposure to an allergen during flare-ups, workouts, or a hot bath or shower.

    Your skin is infected
    The blisters are highly irritating, and scratching them might cause a skin infection. This could occur if you scratch the blisters, allowing bacteria to enter. Swelling, redness, and yellow crustiness where you have blisters are indications of a skin infection. Get medical attention if you exhibit infection-related symptoms.

    Bottom line
    Get on your eczema prescription (or consult a dermatologist if needed) and be vigilant about applying a non-irritating lotion that helps strengthen a weak barrier. Humectants like glycerin and fatty acids like shea butter and ceramides are beneficial. Avoid the trigger if you can. It could be impossible to prevent eczema warning signs if you’ve been exposed to a stimulus.

  • 7 physical activities that help manage diabetes symptoms

    Diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body does not generate enough insulin or cannot use it efficiently to control sugar levels. The condition affects about 37 million people in the country and is also a leading cause of kidney failure and adult blindness and a reason for lower-limb amputations. Some remedies help manage this condition; however, one can also curb symptoms by regularly following exercises. Check out some of such helpful activities below.

    Daily walks
    Walking is an ideal way of managing diabetes. Try brisk strolls for half an hour three to four times a week, or take your pet dog for a walk. You can also track your walking progress through fitness apps to make exercising fun.

    Swimming enhances the muscles in the upper and lower body. Strong muscle movements while swimming helps burn calories, lower cholesterol, and improve heart health. Swimming also does not strain the joints as other exercise routines would.

    Trying dance routines
    Dancing helps lower stress levels, burn calories, curb blood sugar, and benefit the heat. Dancing for around half an hour every day for three days a week will help improve symptoms of diabetes.

    Those experiencing diabetes symptoms should consider cycling for about 30 minutes daily, three to five times a week. The activity will help burn excess blood sugar and improve heart rate. Cycling is also known to help one get in shape without affecting the knees and other joints.

    Climbing stairs
    Climbing stairs helps the heart and lungs work faster, which benefits people with type 2 diabetes. Going up and down stairs for three minutes after an hour or two following a meal will help burn blood sugar.

    Gardening works as a strength training exercise and an aerobic activity. An individual may kneel, walk, and bend while digging, lifting, and raking the garden. This activity lowers stress levels and blood sugar.

    Yoga is a traditional low-impact exercise that helps improve balance, strength, and flexibility by practicing various motions, poses, and breathing techniques. The method helps reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

    Apart from the exercises mentioned above, one can hire an International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) certified personal trainer. The trainer can help people achieve any health and wellness goals. An ISSA trainer may charge approximately $100 per training session. However, this cost will vary between individuals depending on their exercise regimes and other factors.

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