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Old Thursday, January 31, 2008
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Default Staying healthy

Exercise



Regular exercise is vital to help maintain good health. Exercise burns up extra calories in food and reduces the likelihood of these being converted into fat. Regular exercise makes you fit, gives a general sense of well-being, improves appetite and sleep and makes the heart and circulation, lungs and respiration work more efficiently. Exercise carried out for about 20 minutes three times a week is beneficial for the body.

Physical Fitness can be measured in various aspects such as your balance, stamina, strength and flexibility. It is often assessed by measuring heart rate after exercise. Fitness can also be measured in terms of the strength of specific muscles required to perform a task such as lifting weights. optimal Physical fitness requires both aerobic exercise and muscle - strengthening exercises.

There are three main types of exercises that can be included in your exercise program. These are- flexibility, strengthening, and fitness.

Flexibility exercises involves stretching, loosening up and bending. These exercise helps muscles and joints to perform their full range of movement with suppleness and ease and help to reduce stiffness and keep your joints flexible.
Strengthening exercises include both flexibility and fitness exercises as well as the use of weights and specially designed equipments in a gym. These exercises help maintain or increase muscle strength, leading to firming up of the body and an improvement in posture.
Fitness exercises help increase your endurance and stamina. Vigorous activities (Aerobic activities) such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, swimming along with many sports like football, tennis, badminton etc. improve fitness. The improvement can be seen after a few weeks of regular, fairly, hard exercise i.e. 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day. However, the level of fitness soon declines if the exercise regime is abandoned.
Walking: Walking is the best form of moderate exercise. Brisk walking help circulation of blood throughout the body. Walking can help people avoid a heart attack, peel off pounds and even develop a hard body.

An ideal walking schedule for beginners is 20 minutes 6 or 7days a week. As you develop endurance and loose weight increase your walking time gradually. If you don't need to lose body fat, you can stay fit by walking 20 to 30 minutes 3 days a week.
Walking.... go for it.
Research has shown that brisk walking regularly 3 days a week gives a 15 percent boost in mental functioning


Running or Jogging : Running improves cardiovascular fitness, promotes endurance and stamina and gives complexion a super fit glow. However, over exertion can cause fatigue, insomnia and rapid heart beat after the exercise.

Cycling : Cycling strengthens legs and thighs, heart and lungs and improve circulation. Fresh air, speed and sense of freedom allow the mind to soar. Ride at an even speed, instead of exhausting the energy by pedalling hard. The continual pumping action benefits the heart.

Aerobics : This vigorous form of exercising which is generally accompanied with music, will slim you down and improve the efficiency of your heart, lungs and circulatory system.

Swimming : It tones all parts of the body symmetrically. The crawl, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, all of them firm buttocks and thighs, broaden shoulders, slim torso and lift breasts. Swimming also gives a beautiful back and pressure tones the skin to a smooth polish.

Tennis , Badminton and squash : These sports help develop strong buttocks and leg muscles, strengthen wrists, reflexes, eye hand co-ordination and foot work ability. Warm up before you play. Drink plenty of liquids after play.

Other daily activities like climbing stairs, gardening, carrying groceries etc all count towards moderate exercises which help in burning calories.


Goals of Exercise
Improved motor skill
Increased muscular strength
Increased muscular flexibility
Increased endurance
Changed shape
Weight control or weight loss
Increased relaxation and improved moods.
Helps to live longer.
Some forms of weight- bearing exercises pumps Calcium into bones and helps to maintain their density and strength.
Helps to lower blood pressure


Regular Checkups




Regular checkups are a valuable tool in maintaining good health. Taking proper care of your health at the right time can prevent a lot of problems in the future. It's good to find out that you have a problem, before it is too late to cure it. So appropriate tests should be done at the right time.

The main aim of a check-up is to detect illness at an early stage, or better still prevent illness occurring in the first place. Some tests saves so many lives that it is definitely worth the money spend on it. In adults up to about 40 years, a check-up every two years is appropriate. Older adults should be seen every year or so.


Basic factors of a routine physical


Physical Exam: The doctor will check your height, weight and blood pressure, and listen to your heart beats, lungs and carotid artery for abnormalities such as a heart murmur or lung obstruction. A doctor who is very thorough may also check your mouth, ears, lymph nodes, thyroid and rectum and feel your abdomen for abnormalities, and scan your skin for signs of cancer.
Counseling: After the medical history and physical exam, your doctor should talk to you about any risk factors you may have and discuss what habits you should change to maintain good health. The physician will also tell you what lab tests you need and how often you should have them.
Lab Tests: Some tests, such as mammography and pap smears, are usually based on guidelines set by respected research organizations. In addition, your doctor may want to run tests for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis or prostate cancer, and to screen your heart, liver, kidney, blood and urine. The extent of other tests your doctor recommends will be determined by any risk factors you may have based on your medical or family history.


Ideal diet

The human body requires food to provide energy for all life process and for growth, repair and maintenance of cells and tissues. The dietetic needs vary according to age, sex and occupation. A balanced diet contains different types of foods in such quantities and proportions that the need for calories, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients is adequately met and small provision is made for extra nutrients to with stand short duration of leanness. Eating a well balanced diet on a regular basis and staying at your ideal weight are critical factors in maintaining your emotional and physical well-being. Being over weight/under weight can lead to certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.


Fluid intake in the form of water based drinks is also essential for good health. Water is essential for the correct functioning of the kidneys and bowels. At least 6-8 glasses of plain water should be drunk each day, more in hot weather.

Nutrients

Nutrients are substances derived from food during the process of digestion. There are three main groups of nutrients contained in food which are needed by the body in differing amounts. They are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. These major nutrients are needed by the body for growth, repair, maintenance and energy. In addition, the body requires fibre, vitamins and minerals which are present in varying quantities in different types of food. Good nutrition requires a balance of the right nutrients, that is, getting the proper amount, or proportion, of each one.


Our diet should provide adequate amount of all nutrients to maintain good health and physical efficiency. Daily food intake should be such that of the total consumption, about 15 to 20% is protein, 40 to 50% is complex Carbohydrates and 20 to 30% is fat.


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are organic compounds which may be simple and complex. It include sugars and starches. All carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose which is absorbed and utilized by the body in various ways. Glucose is required by red blood cells and is the main source of energy for the brain. It is also essential for the oxidation of fat and for the synthesis of certain non-essential amino acids. Simple carbohydrates like sugar and sugar enriched food is broken down easily and soon absorbed into the blood stream whereas complex carbohydrates like starches take longer time to be broken down by digestive enzymes hence providing a slower and more gradual supply of glucose.


Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy which provide about two-thirds of an individuals total energy needs. Sugars are found in glucose (its basic form) and sweets, biscuits, chocolates, pastries, honey, fruits etc. Starches are found in a wide range of foods including cereals, grains, pulses, bread, beans, potatoes, other vegetables and fruits which are far more useful as they contain accompanying fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is sensible to eat more starch rich foods as excess sugar rich foods may lead to obesity, high blood sugar, tooth decay and a possible increased risk of developing diabetes in later adult life.


Proteins

Proteins are the structural components of the body forming the basis of cells, tissues and organs. They are a large group of organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen atoms. Some contain sulphur and phosphorus also. When the proteins are digested they break down into smaller units called amino acids. Of the 20 basic amino acids 12 can be manufactured by the body and the rest, called the 'essential amino acids' must be obtained from food.


Proteins help to repair worn out or diseased tissues and to build new ones. It is used in the formulation of hormone, enzymes, red blood cells and antibodies. It also provides amino acids necessary for growth of fetus in pregnancy and for the production of milk proteins during lactation. Proteins are widely found in foods derived both from plant and animal sources. Plant sources include beans, peas, pulses, whole grains, nuts and oil seeds; while red meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs are obtained from animals. Red meat is a good source of essential amino acids and iron and is traditionally regarded as 'first class' protein. But too much consumption of red meat may be harmful as it is a major source of undesirable saturated fat. One can eat more fish or chicken without the fatty skin instead of excess red meat. Vegetarians can obtain plenty of both from plant sources, whole grain cereals and from low fat diary products. A protein deficiency especially in infants and growing children can cause growth retardation, severe wasting of muscle etc.

The dietary requirements of protein depend on age and physiological state. A part of the dietary protein is utilised or wasted to meet the energy requirements. So calorie intake should be adequate enough to meet the protein need or its maximum utilisation, taking into account the above factor
.


Fats


Fats are a group of organic compounds that occur naturally in plant and animal cells in the form of lipids, consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They are an important energy store, having twice the calorific value than carbohydrates. They are broken down into its constituents parts by enzymes called lipases.


Fats play a vital role in the human body and perform many functions. They are necessary for the absorption and utilization of certain vitamins like A, E, D and K. Fat deposit help to maintain body temperature against outside environmental influences and protects body organs such as the heart and the liver. Fats contain Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) which are essential for maintaining tissues in normal health.

Saturated fats such as cholesterol are found in meat and dairy products, i.e. whole milk, cheese, butter and eggs. Many processed foods have saturated fats added to them and they are widely used in manufacturing. Unsaturated fat are found in vegetable oils like soya bean, mustard, sunflower, ground nut, olive etc and corn, peanuts, seeds, olive, oily fish etc. The fat which should be eaten in excess is the unsaturated variety which is more beneficial. An excess level of saturated fats in the blood tend to raise the level of cholesterol contributing to hardening of the arteries causing strokes and various forms of heart diseases. It is advisable to limit fat intake to no more than 30% of the overall diet.


Fibre

Fibre is derived from plants and is found in fruit, green leafy and root vegetables, whole meal flour and bread, bran rich food, brown rice, cereals including oats, beans and pulses. Fibre plays a vital role in the digestive process by softening the bile wastes and speeding up the process of elimination of undigested food thus helping to prevent constipation. The presence of fibre regulates the absorption of fats and glucose into the bloodstream.


Insufficient consumption of fibre may lead to the development of Colon cancer and increase levels blood cholesterol. It is recommended that at least five portions(25gms fibre) of vegetables and fruit should be eaten each day to provide necessary vitamins, minerals and fibre. Increase your fibre intake gradually and as you increase your fibre intake make sure that you increase your fluid intake as well.


Vitamins


Vitamins are a group of organic substances that are required in minute quantities in the diet in order to maintain good health. A lack of a particular vitamin results in a deficiency disease. There are six vitamin groups such as Vitamin A, B, C, D, E , K and P.


Vitamins are classified as Fat soluble vitamins and Water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins include (1)Vitamin A and Carotene ( Provitamin A), (2) Vitamin D - Vitamin D2 (Calciferol, artificial vitamin D) and Vitamin D3 ( Irradiated dehydrocholesterol), Natural Vitamin D), (3) Vitamin E and (4) Vitamin K.

Water soluble vitamins include (1) Vitamin B complex - Vitamin B1( thiamine, aneurin), Riboflavin, nicotinic acid and Nicotinamide, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin) , Pantotnenic acid, folic acid, Biotin, Choline, P- Amino benzoic acid, Inositol and Vitamin B12 (2) Vitamin C (3) Vitamin P

Minerals are chemical substances such as calcium, sodium, iron and potassium which act as components of main body structures like bones, teeth, blood and soft tissues. They are found in green vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, seeds diary products, eggs and fish. A deficiency of minerals can lead to particular conditions. For example deficiency of iron can lead to some forms of anemia.

Vitamins and minerals doesn't directly provide energy but they contribute to nutrition by allowing chemical reactions to occur normally through out the body. These reactions known as metabolism are responsible for certain functions like converting fats and carbohydrates into energy and utilizing proteins to repair injured tissues by vitamins and the production of blood and bone and transmission of nerve impulses by minerals.

Fat Soluble Vitamins


Vitamin A (retinol) is needed for the normal bone formation, maintenance of skin and tissues. The main sources of vitamin A are fish liver oils, liver of animals, diary products like butter, ghee, milk and eggs. Green leafy vegetables, red palm oil, carrot, pumpkin and ripe mango are important sources of carotene. Carotene (Provitamin A) is converted to vitamin A in the intestinal walls. A deficiency causes night blindness and possible total loss of vision, and causes the tissues to be keratinised. Adults and older children require 750mg of Vitamin A and 3000 mg of Carotene daily. But excess of Vitamin A is toxic i.e children receiving daily large doses 30,000 to 1,50,000may have headache, a dry itching sin, swelling and brittleness of bones.

Vitamin D (Calciferol) controls calcium levels in the blood, prompting increased uptake of the minerals from the digestion of food and hence making it available for bone growth and repair. The deficiency of Vitamin D causes bone deformities. The dietary sources are fish liver oils (of cod, halibut, shark), fat fish ( sardine, salmon, Herring), egg yolk and dairy products( butter, ghee, milk). D3 (Cholecalciferol) can be formed in the skin from the sun's rays. The daily requirement of Vitamin D for adults is about 200 I.U and for infants, children, pregnant and nursing women it is 400 I.U. An excess can produce toxic symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting etc

Vitamin E comprises several compounds that are essential for the maintenance of cell membranes. It is essential for normal reproduction. The main sources are wheat germ oil, corn germ oil, vegetable oils ( Soy bean, cottonseed, sunflower, ground nut, mustard, coconut etc) cereals and eggs. Daily requirements are 25-30 mg for adults and 10-20mg for children.

Vitamin K or Phylloquinone, a Compound form, act as a coenzyme in protein synthesis in blood clotting. Inadequate intake of vitamin K by the mother may cause hemorrhagic disease of the new born. The deficiency is rare but if it occurs, the result may be severe bleeding. Green leafy vegetables ( spinach, cabbage, kale), vegetables (cauliflower, soybean, carrots, potatoes), wheat bran, wheat germ etc are good dietary sources.

Water soluble Vitamins


Vitamin B Complex includes B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) B3 (niacin or Nicotinic acid), B6 (Pyroxidine ), Pantotnenic acid, folic acid, Biotin, Choline, P- Amino benzoic acid, Inositol, B12 (Cyanocobalamin) etc. Vitamin B is required for the manufacture of Red blood cells, enzyme activity and for amino acid metabolism. It is essential to maintain the nerves in healthy condition, normal functioning of the skin and intestinal tract.

The main sources of B1 are dried yeast, rice polishings, wheat germ, whole cereals, liver and is found in minimal quantities in fruits, vegetables, milk etc.; Rich sources of B2, B3, B6, Pntothenic acid, Folic acid , Biotin include liver, dried east, whole and skim milk powders, peanut, rice polishings etc, good sources include meat, fish, eggs, legumes (pulses) and dhals, leafy vegetables, whole cereals etc. Vitamin B12 is present only in foods of animal origin. Liver is the richest source and meat, fish, kidney, brain and eggs are good sources. A deficiency in Vitamin B1, causes 'Beri Beri' characterized by numbness, muscle wasting and difficulty in walking; deficiency in vitamin B3 causes 'Pellagra', characterized by dermatitis (skin ailment) in the hands, feet and neck, diarrhea and dementia; while a lack of some of the others can result in Anemia and deterioration of the nervous system.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is needed for maintenance of cell walls and connective tissue including blood vessels and tendons. It helps in the rapid healing of wounds and in the absorption of iron. A deficiency causes fragility of skin, blood vessels and tendons characteristics of the disease known as Scurvy. General weakness, spongy bleeding gums, loose teeth, swollen tender joints, hemorrhages in various tissues and under the skin are symptoms. Main sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables (drumstick leaves, coriander leaves, cabbage). Gooseberry and Guava are rich sources. Orange, pineapple, lime juice, cashew fruit, ripe mango, papaya and tomato are good sources. Daily requirements are adults 50 mg and children, between 30-50 mg.

Vitamin P ( Bioflavonoids) is essential along with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in preventing capillary fragility. A deficiency causes decreased capillary (vessel) resistance leading to bleeding, accompanied by pain across the shoulders and in the legs. The main sources are fresh fruits (orange, apple, blackberry, cherry, plum) and vegetables (spinach, tomato, lettuce, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, pea etc.).


Minerals


Calcium

Among minerals, Calcium is present in the highest amount in the body mostly in the skeleton. Calcium is essential for the formation of bone and teeth, for clotting of blood, contraction of heart and muscle etc. A deficiency can cause 'Osteoporosis' in which decalcification of bone occurs. Even minor accidents can cause fractures. In children, a deficiency can cause a decreased rate in growth. Small fish eaten along with bones, skim milk powder etc are excellent sources and milk, milk products like curd, sesame seeds, ragi, green leafy vegetables like carrot leaves, drumstick leaves etc are other good sources. The daily recommended allowances for calcium is Adults 400-500mg, children between 400- 700 mg
.

Iron

A greater part of the Iron in the body is present as Haemoglobin. Iron deficiency causes anaemia and is widely prevalent among children, adolescent girls and expectant and nursing mothers. Cereals are the most important sources of iron for Vegetarians and the other important sources are legumes, green leafy vegetables and jaggery. Meat, fish and eggs are also important sources of iron. The daily recommended allowances for iron is Adults 20-30mg, children between15-20 mg, pregnant and nursing women need more iron
.

Iodine

Iodine is a constituent of thyroxine, the active principle of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland plays an important role in energy metabolism and in the growth of the body. A deficiency can cause enlargement of thyroid, resulting in the disease called goitre. In children, severe iodine deficiency may result in serious retardation of growth known as cretinism. Iodine requirements for adults are about 0.15 to 0.2 mg daily and for infants and children 0.05 to 0.10 mg daily. This requirement is normally supplied by a well balanced diet and by drinking water except in mountainous regions where the food and water is deficient in iodine. Crude common salt prepared from sea water and sea fish are good sources.

Sodium Chloride (Nacl)


All minerals except Sodium Chloride (Nacl) are usually present in sufficient amounts in a well - balanced diet. Sodium chloride is the only mineral which is taken in more or less pure form in addition to the amount present in natural foods. Salt taken in food is the source of Nacl. The requirements depend on the climate and occupation. People doing heavy work in hot humid climates need more Nacl. A deficiency can cause heat cramps- intense and painful contractions of skeletal muscle. But consumption of excessive amounts of Nacl causes Oedema in protein deficiency and increases blood pressure in hypertension. Foods of animal origin contain more Nacl than those of Vegetable origin. The daily requirements for tropical climates are Adults 10-15 (light work), 20-25 (hard work) and children 5-10g/day.

Potassium

The adult human body contains about 250g of potassium which is present almost entirely in the cells of different tissues, muscles, etc. Only small quantities are present in the extra cellular fluid. Potassium is the major basic of ion of the body cells. The functions of potassium are : Regulation of pH of cell contents, Regulation of the osmotic pressure of cell contents and Potassium ion increases the relaxation of heart muscle which is antagonized by calcium ion. Potassium deficiency causes weakness and muscular paralysis. But Consumption of excessive amounts of potassium also causes the similar symptoms. Deficiency seldom occurs as potassium is present in abundance of foods.

Stress relief

Stress can be defined as a state of physical and mental tension caused by certain external or internal factors in a person's life. The art of stress management is to keep yourself at a level of stimulation that is healthy and enjoyable. Life without stimulus would be incredibly dull and boring. Life with too much stimulus becomes unpleasant and tiring, and may ultimately damage your health or well-being. Too much stress can seriously interfere with your ability to perform effectively. By analyzing the likely causes of stress, you will be able to plan your responses to likely forms of stress. These might be actions to alleviate the situation or may be stress management techniques that you will use.

Some signs and symptoms of stress


Tiredness/ Exhaustion
Panic attacks and breathing difficulties
Insomnia
Irritability, impatience, angry outbursts
Pains almost everywhere, particularly digestive and abdominal.
Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, coffee etc.
Muscle tension
Loss of or increased appetite
Anxiety
Grinding teeth/clenching jaws
Nervousness/trembling
Cold, sweaty hands
The mind's reaction to stress is harder to predict. These mental reactions vary according to the situation and the person. They may include feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, annoyance or frustration. Prolonged stress is a serious condition can lead to life threatening illnesses particularly high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks.


Ways to reduce stress



Identify causes of stress. Make honest assessments whether stress is related to your home and family, work or other relationship.
Share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones.
Discuss the causes of stress, openly with those concerned.
Try to avoid unpleasant situations.
Realize that there are other people experiencing problems similar to yours.
Simplify your life.
Manage time and conserve energy. Make time for hobbies, recreational and social activities which will help divert attention away from problems.
Follow a regular exercise programme. Practice a relaxation routine involving exercises, breathing patterns and meditations.
Seek help from professional organizations or self-help groups which offers support and advise.
Try to stay healthy.
Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Try Yoga
An effective way of dealing with stress


Avoid smoking

Cigarette contains chemical such as tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine. The prime ingredients, tar and carbon monoxide are instigators of cardiovascular diseases and lung ailments. The cigarette's third main component, nicotine, affects the heart, lungs and stomach. There is definite evidence that this chemical effects the brain adversely in various ways
Effects of Smoking




Smoking and tobacco-related health complications are the single largest cause of preventable, premature death. Estimates are clearing that cigarettes are responsible for over 400,000 deaths each year. Smoking causes a significant increase in the risk for cancer (lung, larynx, esophagus), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema as well as diseases of the heart and coronary arteries. In addition, smoking is a major contributory factor in the development of many other cancers.
Beware....

A smoke can cost the life of a loved one.
Prolonged 'Passive Smoking' is known to cause lung cancer in a 'non-smoker'.
Stop Smoking, don't delay it...

Chewing tobacco and using snuff also dramatically increase your risk for cancers of the mouth and throat. A smokers baby is more likely to be a victim of cot death and, in childhood, suffers more respiratory infections, glue ear and asthma.


Smokers can successfully quit if they understand how to deal with their nicotine addiction, learn a relaxation technique to cope with their stress, get support from health professionals, family and friends and are able to change the behaviour and habits that are associated with smoking. Most long-term smokers are addicted to nicotine and will experience a craving to smoke and withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop smoking. Such individuals find it very difficult to give up their smoking habit. They, with the help of health professionals can make use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to quit smoking. But the majority of smokers can give up without any help from health professionals or drug therapy.



Prepare mentally before you stop smoking and understand what to expect

Make a resolution to give up smoking.
Think about why you want to quit and the benefits of quitting.
Set a definite time to quit. Let it be today not the next day!
Think ahead, how you are going to cope with craving or withdrawal symptoms you may experience.
Visualise a change in your usual routine to avoid temptation and high-risk situations.
Get all the support you can, from your loved ones.
Understand that breaking habits take time and need regular practice.
Be aware that there will be a constant temptation to go back and chances of a relapse. Think about the effort that has already been put in and don't look back.


The good news is that once you quit, your body begins healing itself almost immediately. This includes a reduction in your risk for cancer, heart attack, and stroke. If you also begin exercising and eating better, the improvements will be even more dramatic. There are many benefits of quitting smoke like more stamina for work and play, Whiter teeth and fresher breath, Decreasing risk of serious illnesses and saving your money.

The longer you don't use tobacco, the more your confidence will grow and the less likely you are to slip back to your old habits...


Avoid alcohol

Consumption and abuse of alcohol has been a major public health problem from time immemorial. Alchohol (Ethyl alcohol or ethanol) made out of Fermented grain, fruit juice and honey is a depressant, and if taken in small amounts relaxes the mind and reduce anxieties.

Alcohol is a very small molecule and is soluble in 'lipid' and water solutions. So when people drink, alcohol is absorbed into their bloodstream very easily. It slows the function of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions. It blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters your perceptions, your emotions, and even your movements, vision, and hearing. But moderate consumption dilates blood vessels and reduces the risk of clot formation.


Adverse effects of Alcohol
Chronic drinking can lead to dependence and addiction to alcohol and to additional neurological problems. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication. People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented. Intoxication can make people very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry. When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result. Alcohol poisoning is very dangerous. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom, as the body tries to rid itself of the alcohol. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.

Chronic alcohol use can cause a vitamin deficiency, damage to the frontal lobes of the brain, an overall reduction in brain size and increase in the size of the ventricles. The digestive system of alcoholics is unable to absorb vitamin B1 (thiamine) and deficiency of thiamine can cause various problems effecting the brain.

You can improve your life and health by cutting down on alcohol.


Some steps to reduce drinking
Identify the scale of drinking-Record honestly the amount of alcohol that you consume in a normal week.
If you are mainly drinking when out with friends, ideally make an excuse and stay in for one or two evenings and have two-no alcohol days each week. Fill the time with other activity which you enjoy. Plan a trip to the movies, the mall, a concert, or a sports event - anything that gets you out of the house and keeps you active and entertained. You might also organize your friends into a volleyball, bowling, or softball team - any activity that gets you moving.

Set a safe limit on the amount of alcohol you drink when out with friends and do not be deterred from keeping to it. Choose an occasional soft drink or low-alcohol or alcoholic alternative.
If drinking mainly at home, learn to practice self-control. Limit yourself to one or two evening drinks with your meal interspersed with non-alcoholic alternatives. Avoid keeping alcohol in the house.
Drinkers addicted to alcohol may need professional help to stop drinking. Typical symptoms of with-holding alcohol from someone who is addicted to it are: shaking (tremors), sleep problem, nausea, etc. More severe ' withdrawal symptoms' include hallucinations and even seizures. Treatment for an alcoholic needs admitting to a special clinic and involves detoxification and a programme of controlled withdrawal of alcohol using drugs. In some cases counseling and psychotherapy is needed to deal with the causes behind drinking and to avoid recurrence of the problem. There are also certain voluntary groups like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon (for families), Alateen (for teenagers) who provide support, help and encouragement for alcoholics
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