Smartliving123 Tips about life

August 25, 2010

Vet Invents Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD New Treatments

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — wayne @ 12:27 pm

Inspired by observations of pet behavior, Dr Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian and director of the animal behavior clinic at Tufts University, has invented several new approaches to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

OCD is a very common neurological disorder characterized by repeated occurrence of anxiety-provoking thoughts that must be relieved by repetitive behavior. This behavior may appear to others as strange or extreme and alienate people, and are often very time-consuming and decrease productivity. OCD sufferers are nearly always of normal intellect and personality, and fully recognize the irrationality of their behavior, but are helpless to stop the behavior.

Early in his career, Dodman realized that human OCD rituals are very similar to normal animal behavior that has been ritualized and carried to extremes. For example, a common ritual for OCD sufferers is repetitive hand-washing, which is basically a perversion of grooming behavior, common among all animals. Another common OCD ritual is obsessive hoarding, which is a perversion of the normal gathering and storing behavior of animals. The current mainstay of OCD treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, basically a form of psychological counseling and training which aims to acclimatize OCD sufferers to the anxious thoughts and train them to endure such thoughts without performing the rituals. However, this therapy requires extreme willpower for success. Current pharmacological treatment is mainly limited to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which often do not work.

Dodman had animal patients which also suffered from OCD, such as pet cats that lick their paws constantly, or dogs that chased their tails for hours. Obviously, cognitive behavioral therapy is not available to animals, and when SSRIs failed, Dodman was forced to experiment with other neurological drugs.

One of the first classes of drugs he tried were glutamate receptor blockers, including dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in cough medicine), and memantine, both of which are NMDA receptor blockers. He found that memantine, when combined with fluoxetine (an SSRI better known as Prozac), effectively prevented compulsive scratching behavior in mice. Based on Dodman’s initial animal work, a group of doctors at McLean Hospital has performed a small preliminary trial of memantine in human OCD sufferers, and found that memantine is effective in human patients .

Dodman has continued his animal OCD work, and has recently compared the genomes of Doberman dogs which displayed compulsive blanket/fur sucking behavior with normal Dobermans. He found that Dobermans which suffered from OCD has a different version of the cadherin-2 gene compared to normal Dobermans, according to his paper: A Canine Chromosome 7 Locus Confers Compulsive Disorder Susceptibility published on Nature. Cadherin-2 is a gene involved in neuronal synapse formation and stability, and different versions of cadherin-2 may cause certain neurological circuits to be strengthened or weakened, and may result in neurological symptoms. Scientists have now begun to study the cadherin-2 gene of human OCD patients to see if similar alterations are present. While there are no current drugs that target the cadherin-2 gene, the hope is that if this gene is proven to be a valid player in OCD, pharmaceutical companies will rapidly develop new drugs against this gene. Further work with animals suffering from OCD will no doubt lead to new better treatment options for human OCD patients.

January 3, 2009

10 Tips to Help You Lose Weight without Pain

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , — wayne @ 8:35 pm

1. Eat more protein enriched food.1-3-2009-losing-weightjpg
Studies indicate that eating high protein food can reduce appetite. So instead of having a pure vegetarian diet, you should try to add food with a high protein content such as chicken and fish into your lunch salad, which will suppress your food cravings more efficiently. However, a high protein diet may not be suitable for people with certain diseases, for example, kidney disease.

2. Eat non-fat or low-fat desserts.
Do you like cakes? Can you say no to cookies? It is hard to say “no”, right? If you worry about putting on too much weight by eating desserts, you should look for desserts made from margarine (vegetable oil) instead of butter. Vegetable oil such as olive oil is full of monounsaturated fat, which is good for your health. Unlike saturated fat, monounsaturated fat will not lead to high blood cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attack. Monounsaturated fat, instead, can help to suppress your appetite and lose weight in the long run.

3. Drinking juice gives you more calories compared to eating fresh fruits.
If you are thirsty, drink water. If you want something sweet, eat fresh fruits. Comparing to fresh fruits, juice contains more added sugar and less vitamins.

4. Eat snacks.
Don’t feel guilty about snacking as long as it is an appropriate amount and a healthy snack such as nuts and fruits. If you feel hungry, you should take some snacks instead of waiting for the meal. Hungry is not a happy feeling for anyone. And low blood glucose is not good for your health either. A small amount of healthy snacks can help you maintain a stable blood glucose level and keep you energetic. It also can help you control your food cravings.

5. Drink more water.
Many people confuse hunger and thirst. Sometimes you feel you want to eat ice-cream or chocolates, but actually what you really want is water. You are simply thirsty. Whenever you feel a craving to eat something, you should drink a cup of water first and wait to see whether that quenches your food craving.

6. Dine at home.
Statistics show that people eat more than usual when they dine out. Try to cook your meals at home. You can control the quality of the ingredients, and it is healthier and cheaper. If you really want to dine out, try to avoid food with high calories such as corn chips in Mexican restaurants and salad dressing in Italian restaurants.

7. Long duration is better than high intensity when you do physical exercise.
If you would like to lose weight by doing physical exercise, you don’t need to do it with high intensity, for example, running at a high speed. Intensive physical exercise challenges your heart and improves cardiovascular fitness, but may not help you lose weight. Intensive physical exercise can cause pain and cause you to quit. What you really want is lengthy moderate exercise, such as hiking. Therefore, 30 minutes of walking is much better than 5 minutes of running for losing weight. The key point is if you desire to lose weight by doing exercise, you have to do it regularly and as frequently as possible.

8. Walk at least 5000 steps per day.
If someone asks you “what gift do you want?”, your answer should be “ A step counter”. A step counter is a small device which can be put on your belt that counts how many steps you have taken. On average, people need to take 3000~5000 steps to maintain their body weight, which means if you want to lose weight, you have to take more than 5000 steps per day. So starting from tomorrow, take the stairs instead of the elevator to go to your office, and take a walk after your lunch outside, which also helps you get enough sunshine for your body to synthesize vitamin D.

9. Keep a record of what you ate.
Do you want to lose weight by changing your diet? Before you try to make the change, you need to know more about your eating habits. One easy way to know your diet structure is to write down whatever you eat. This way, it is easy for you to count your calorie intake later. Only when you are conscious about your energy intake can you start to control your body weight.

10. Relax
Don’t be anxious. Don’t stress yourself. Anxiety and stress can increase your appetite by perturbing your hormone system. If you feel stressed, try to relax by taking deep breaths, meditating, doing yoga, or taking a walk outside. If your negative moods increase your food cravings, do something interesting to distract yourself. Once you concentrate on something, your food craving may magically disappear.

January 2, 2009

Cholesterol : A Nutrient with Two Sides

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , — wayne @ 10:36 pm

Heart attack is the major cause of death for people aged more than 20, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Scientific studies indicate that high cholesterol in blood circulation may lead to coronary artery disease by narrowing blood vessels and restricting blood flow. That is why many people avoid cholesterol. But actually this nutrientl is also essential for maintaining a healthy body. For example, at the cellular level, it participates in regulation of cell membrane fluidity; and at the system level, it is the main precursor of vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption.

There are two sources cholesterol for your body. One is self-synthesis, the other is absorption from diet. The one produced by your body is enough to meet your body’s needs. What makes things worse is the extra cholesterol from your diet, especially animal products such as beef, pork, butter and egg. So a balanced diet is critical for managing your cholesterol level.

When you are managing your cholesterol level, you should know that there are two kinds of cholesterol: low density (LDL) and high density (HDL). HDL is the good one, which can clean arteries of debris, and LDL is the bad one, which can clog arteries and lead to heart attack. When you choose your diet, you want to increase HDL and decrease LDL levels.

Here are several ways to keep a healthy cholesterol level:

  1. Engage in vigorous physical exercise.
  2. Avoid coffee, switch to tea.
  3. No cigarettes.
  4. Eat less animal-based products and products containing saturated fat. For example: pork, beef, diary, egg, cake, cracker, cookies, candies, and chips.
  5. Increase intake of plant-based products and non-saturated fat. For example: vegetable, fruits, beans, nuts, fish, poultry, whole grains.
  6. Eat raw garlic.
  7. Take calcium supplements and vitamins.
  8. Drink small amounts of wine from time to time.

An interesting personal observation of mine is that eating more non-saturated fat enriched foods (avocado, nuts, fish…) helps to reduce my craving for meats and junk food. This not only lowers your cholesterol levels, but also reduces your weight, which also helps to prevent heart disease.

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