Can the friendly flora protect us from colon cancer?

It seems to be coming more and more apparent that the human body is little more than a cluster of bacteria. From the moment we are born (especially if we are born through vaginal birth) our guts are lined withgut bacteria bacteria. These microorganisms seem to be more important than we have realized and not having enough of the good ones is being linked to a range of diseases. Research is showing that the bacterial flora can influence almost all if not all of our bodily functions, including mental health.

“Gut feeling” and colon cancer

Colon cancer has been in the limelight lately and it seems that we are being programmed to believe that the only thing we can do to protect us from it is to undergo colonoscopy when we reach a certain age. While having a colonoscopy is probably a good prevention if you have polyps that need to be removed it is not a procedure without side effects that in some cases can be serious. What if there are measures that we can take for protection that are easy and risk free? Measures like making sure that we have a healthy flora of gut bacteria? Researchers have found that certain types of bacteria called fusobacterium that are very rarely found among the usual gut bugs flourish in colon cancer. They also found that otherunhappy gut flora types of bacteria that typically live in the gut are depleted in colon cancer tissues. Colon cancer has also been linked to low diversity of gut bacteria  and research is beginning to show that a diet rich in probiotics discourages colon cancer. A recent Harvard study found that changes in diet quickly alters the types of bacteria living in the human gut, we’re talking about within a day. Keeping all this in mind it seems about time that we are being advised to watch what we eat and keep our gut flora healthy as a way of prevention.

How do we cultivate a healthy gut flora?

There is not much research to be found in regards to what would be the best dietapple-cider-vinegar-1024x768 to cultivate a healthy gut flora. What most seem to agree on (including the Mayo clinic) based on experience is that eating fermented food like sauerkraut, pickles and vinegar could help as well as eating fruits, veggies and yogurt cultivated with probiotic bacteria. Staying away from  processed food and sugar, t.e. the typical western diet, seems to be important too.

Yet again we are reminded of the importance of staying healthy with a natural diet.

 

 

 

 

Healthy pizza sauce

One jar tomato paste
6-7 tomatoes
1-2 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh basilika or coriander
salt + pepper
sprinkle of oregano

Mix all the ingredients together in a blender and spread the healthy pizza sauce on the pizza dough – enjoy!

Exercise – keep at it throughout the day

Moving around regularly in our daily lives has become less common over the years as more and more people have sedentary jobs and hit the couch in front of the TV when they come home from work. Doing just that promotes obesity as the nurses health study from 2010 shows. A recent Swedish study shows that people who are physically active in their daily lives are in better health than those who are less active regardless of whether they also participate in conventional exercise such as running er going to the gym.
Could it be that we have been overly focused on exercising in the gym three to five times a week instead of making sure that we move around throughout the day? Now we are even finding that vigorous exercise could possibly be detrimental as heart specialist James O’Keefe shows us in his brilliant lecture on Ted.com.

Once again we are reminded of the fact that moderation is they key. Sitting too much is bad and exercising too much is also bad. Our goal should be to add exercise into our daily lives; stand rather than sit at work, make an effort of walking as much as possible throughout the day, take the stairs whenever we  get the chance and fit short bursts of exercises into our daily routine. When we come home from work it should be natural for us to go for a walk or a run and use our bikes to go to the store. Since most of us do not do any lifting at work we also need to add weight lifting to our routine to sustain our muscle mass.

Keep in mind that the human body was madethe future of fitness to be used as a means of survival; mixing standing, walking, running, bending, lifting, sitting and lying over 24 hours. It was not ment to be confined to a chair all day long, go to they gym three times a week and spend every evening on a couch.

Is attitude everything?

The old saying “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is maybe more important than we could have imagined. It turns out that our attitude towards what’s going on in our lives matters a lot as recent research is showing us. A large study by Keller et al in 2012 shows e.g. that a positive attitude towards stress can protect us from the harmful effects of stress. When I read that it made me feel bad about always fussing to my daughter who from the age of fifteen and on has been using almost every minute of the day and well into the night getting all the things that keep her ticking done. What she can fit into her schedule is truly amazing. To my remarks about how her health would suffer if she kept going like a mad person she always replied; “stress is good for me, it keeps me going”. Now it turns out she was probably right. By having a positive attitude towards stress she made it ok for her health.  Fear of falling is another example of how our attitude matters. Some research has shown that people who are afraid of falling are more likely to fall (Friedman et al, 2002).

Why are we so prone to think negative thoughts?

If attitude is so important then why are we so prone to thinking negative thoughts? Why do we sometimes even feel like we have to think about all the bad things that could happen  and not allow ourselves to be too optimistic as that might even jinx the outcome? Are we systematically trained to keep a negative attitude with the aim of making sure that we will become realistic enough? Haven’t we all heard people tell us that we shouldn’t be so naive and that we have to take into account all the things that could go wrong? What if the ones among us, and throughout times, that have excelled and made history are the ones that didn’t adapt this negativity and kept an unbroken positive attitude despite all the warnings? Maybe we should change the way we train our kids and help them keep some of their naive attitude and feelings of being able to do anything instead of making sure that they will become realistic enough to handle lifes’ challenges. Maybe that’s the essence of a true leadership as Ralph Marston put is so well.being positive

According to the best knowledge of each time

hysteria (1)

Throughout the history of mankind people have believed that the various medical diagnoses and treatments used at each time were correct and indisputable. In the 19th century women were diagnosed with “hysteria” if they presented with almost any kind of symptoms – and no one dared to protest. I wonder which conditions of today, considered indisputable and beyond doubt by most, will be considered obsolete in the future. Fibromyalgia perhaps? Depression? Could it also be that with all the emphasis on complex diagnoses we have forgotten the basics? Like shortage of iron, vitamin-D or vitamin-B12 as the root cause of symptoms? Physicians of the 19th and 20th century knew that excessive head sweating of children at night-time signaled vitamin D deficiency. Do physicians of today possess this knowledge at all?

In any case it is interesting to compare the symptoms caused by deficiency of common vitamins and minerals with the symptoms of fibromyalgia:

Vitamin-D deficiency:D vítamín, mynd 2
Lack of concentration
Lack of energy
Disturbance of sleep
Widespread longstanding muscle aches
Muscle weakness
Iron deficiency:
Lack of concentration
Restless leg syndrome
Coldness of hands and feet
Heart palpitations
Headache
Lack of energy
Dizziness
Omega 3 deficiency:omega 3 rich food
žLack of concentration
Lack of energyž
Heart problems
žAnxiety
žPoor memory
žPoor circulation
žJoint pain
Mood fluctuations
žSleep disturbances
Depression
žDry skin
Vitamin-B12 deficiency:
Numbness of hands and feet
žLack of concentration
Lack of energy
ž“Brain fog”
Balance problemsB12
Anxiety
žPoor memory
Disturbances of sight
Muscle weakness
žDisturbances of sleep
žDepression
žUrinary incontinence
Magnesium deficiency:
Lack of energy
žNumbness
žRestless leg syndrome
Heart palpitations
žHeadache
žAnxiety
žSleep disturbances
žMuscle weakness
žUrinary incontinence
Symptoms of fibromyalgia

Depression/anxiety
Lack of concentration/amnesia
Symptoms from the heart and vascular system as well as digestive tract
Restless leg syndrome
Headache
Arthralgia
Lack of energy
Raynaud’s phenomenon (coldness of hands and feet)
Sleep disturbances, balance problems
Dizziness
Muscle weakness
Myalgia
Urinary incontinence

Can we trust that all physicians send patients they diagnose with fibromyalgia first for a thorough blood work?
Maybe we should look further than the best knowledge at each time….

 

 

 

 

 

To all the ones fighting cancer

Life‘s injustices can hit you hard
and catch you quite off guard.
When you feel like you need to scream and shout
sometimes it’s better to just breath in and out
let what‘s happening float slowly by
and stop asking the big old why.

Time will pass although you feel like you hit a status quo
and easier times will return before you know
you‘ll put it behind you but never be the same
and from then on as a hero play life‘s game

Children and the harmful effects of second hand smoking

Some would say that exposing children to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is one form of child abuse.

Children’s second hand smoking starts as early as in the uterus with the smoking of expectant mothers. It has been proven that exposure to second hand smoking in the uterus can cause lower birth weight and cot deaths. After birth exposure to second hand smoking has been linked to the build up of fluid in the middle ear, ear infections, respiratory infections especially during the first year, asthma, less ability to learn and mature, meningitis, cancer, leukemia, worsening of cystic fibrosis and decreased lung function. Exposure to second hand smoking also causes symptoms from the respiratory organs such as caughing and increased mucous and even food intolerance and excema. Such exposure has also been shown to cause blood clots later in life.

Even though the effects of the expectant mother being exposed to second hand smoking is less on the fetus than if the
mother herself smoked there are still provable effects such as miscarriage and lower birth weight. After birth the babies
of mothers that are exposed to secondary smoking produce breakdown components of nicotine that goes to show that they are exposed in uterus.

A lot has been said and written about how important it is for parents to be good role models for their children. Therefore it does not come as a surprise that children who are exposed to second hand smoking growing up are up to three times as likely to smoke later in life than those who are not exposed. Research has also shown that children are less likely to start smoking if they live in surroundings where there is a smoking ban in effect since they are more likely to regard smoking of adults as socially unacceptable.

In 2007-2008 an estimated 88 million nonsmokers in the United States were exposed to secondhand smoke and 53.6% of young children (aged 3–11 years). What is even worse is the fact that 18.2% of children (aged 3–11 years) lived with someone who smoked inside their home. Keep in mind that research has shown that up to 85% of children that were exposed to second hand smoking in their home measured with nicotine in their blood.

 

 

 

Vitamin D and fibromyalgia

A hormone rather than a vitamin
The importance of vitamin D is without doubt one of the hottest health topics of recent years.  In Iceland we had the good fortune of enjoying the presence of Dr. Michael Holick, professor at Boston University, as the main speaker at a conference held in October 2011 on this important vitamin.
Dr. Michael Holick, has spent a large portion of his life´s work researching vitamin D. His research as well as the research of other scholars has revealed that every single cell of the human body contains a receptor for vitamin D and that the vitamin is really a hormone rather than a vitamin. The body produces vitamin D in the skin from sunlight and throughout history most people have been getting their vitamin D through their skin as well as getting some from certain types of food like oily fish, cod liver oil, eggs and mushrooms. If sunscreen is applied our ability to produce vitamin D from sun exposure is greatly diminished.


 

Are we not getting enough vitamin D?
With increased usage of sunscreen and less consumption of oily fish there has been an increase in vitamin D deficiency all over the world. In his book „The Vitamin D Solution“, published in 2011, Dr. Holick explains the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the consequences of such a shortage. He states that at least 50% if not 90% of the American population is suffering from a shortage of vitamin D and that the situation could be described as an outbreak. The book also states that vitamin D shortage is in deed the most serious disease in the world and is connected to disease prevention and in many cases the treatment of diseases like heart diseases, cancer, stroke, infectious diseases, diabetes, depression, insomnia, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis,  psoriasis, MS and high blood pressure. It has also been shown that those who suffer from obesity are more often than not suffering from severe vitamin D deficiency that can keep the vicious cycle of obesity going.

 

Vitamin D and Fibromyalgia

One of the most serious forms of vitamin D deficiency known is a disease that most people think of as a disease of the past; or rickets. In the last few years there has been an increase in confirmed cases of rickets in the US and Europe, all connected to an increase in vitamin D deficiency. Another disease but less known and also caused by vitamin D deficiency is osteomalacia. Osetomalacia has also been called rickets of adults and is characterized by undefined aches and tenderness of bones and muscles as well as a relentless lack of energy. These symptoms are almost identical to the ones of fibromyalgia and Dr. Holick asserts that osteomalacia is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or even arthritis.
In Dr. Holicks´ experience 40-60% of those who seek his help and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are in reality suffering from osteolamacia caused by vitamin D deficiency. He has been very successful in treating these individuals with high doses of vitamin D and sensible exposure to sunlight. Dr. Holick warns that if physicians do not rule out vitamin D deficiency as a possible cause for undefined aches in muscles and bones the correct treatment can be delayed significantly.

 

 

Making healthy choices

You go to the clinic for a cure
you think they know it all for sure,
but why don’t they ask you what you eat?
Could explain the fungus on your feet
or the heartburn gnawing at your chest.
Is it the meat like once you guessed?

What if we all would see the light,
and make all our choices right
start exercising and healthy eating?
Our hearts would soon be happily beating.
Oh the joy of being with good health blessed,
even better than you could have guessed.

 

Smoking and muscuoloskeletal symptoms

In the year 2007 the author, Ingibjörg Loftsdóttir and Stefán Hrafn Jónsson, conducted a study at the University of Akureyri, Iceland on smoking an musculoskeletal symptoms

Symptoms from the musculoskeletal system, e.g. back problems, widespread pain and muscle aches, are common problems and often the cause for absence from work and diminished quality of life. The objective of the study was to explore if there is a connection between smoking and symptoms from the musculoskeletal system like some other research had implied.

Data and methods: The research was based on data from a questionnaire from the year 2000 administered by the Icelandic Research Centre for Occupational Health & Working Life among those employed in geriatric care facilities employing ten or more workers. The relationship between symptoms from the musculoskeletal system and smoking was explored while accounting for biasing factors such as the influence of body mass index, age, physical workload, profession, marital status, exercise, age and sex using multiple regression.

Results: Those who smoked daily and those who had stopped smoking had significantly more symptoms from the musculoskeletal system than those who had never smoked. Those who smoked less than daily did not have significantly more musculoskeletal symptoms than those who did not smoke.

Conclusion: Even though smoking only explained 2% of the variability of symptoms from the musculoskeletal system this explanation matters quite a bit in light of the fact that 14.2% of the nation still smokes daily according to a survey from April of this year (2012). The morbidity of musculoskeletal symptoms among the nation is also high as prior research has shown or 56% among men and 65% among women.