Impaired decision has effect on many lives

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir

Our Bodies, Our Lives

Two and a half years ago, my phone rang. “Tristi (sob, sob), Alli has been hit by a car.” A wave of disbelief raced through my body.

My 26-year-old compassionate, strong, beautiful niece had been walking along a road in the wee hours of the morning when she was hit by a car and left on the side of the road to die.

The woman who hit and killed her was only 22 years old and had been drinking all night.

This story and the tremendous grief that is left in its wake are all too familiar.

In June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published its findings that excessive drinking accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults in the United States — most commonly, the impact is as sudden as the lights of an oncoming car.

Any bartender can tell you that the less mixer you add to the alcohol, the stronger the kick. The natural “mixer” in the body is water.

As the alcohol is absorbed from the gut, it’s distributed in the water of the body. Continue reading

Mindful gratitude is healthy practice to participate in

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

The mind can only hold one thought or emotion at a time. With the noisy daily news of right vs. left, black versus white, Muslim versus Muslim, Democrat versus Republican, and so on, it is easy to slip into a pattern of negative thinking and low expectations.

Polarities in the world exist, of course, and it is worthwhile to pay attention to them.

However, we often can get pulled into reacting out of conditioned patterns of thought and emotion thus perpetuating the clamor and rancor rather than bringing politeness, perspicacity, and peace to situations around us.

Stress is in many cases self-induced and is always experienced personally. Choosing how to react in an healthy fashion often requires a few mindful steps — like pause, presence and proceed. Continue reading

Jumping into Schizophrenia

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Many think their genetic information is permanent, that whatever we inherit from our parents gene-wise is what we are stuck with — that genes don’t change. But that’s not the case. Genes can not only change throughout our lives, but they can move or jump from one place in the genome to another. Science shows these jumping genes are linked to certain diseases in humans, but they may have positive effects as well.

Most genes are located in the same place on the same chromosomes in everyone. But small pieces of DNA called retrotransposons, or jumping genes, can relocate to other parts of the genome. In their new locations, they can stay silent, create their own products, or alter the activity of nearby genes. Jumping genes have been implicated in some cancers and neurological disorders.

Autopsies of people with schizophrenia showed their brains had more of these jumping genes than other people. Furthermore, the more a schizophrenic had been exposed to environmental factors known to influence schizophrenia, the more jumping genes they had. Schizophrenia is a condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions and cognitive defects and occurs in about 1 percent of people. A number of genes and environmental factors are associated with developing schizophrenia. Continue reading

Google Sugar Lens

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Like the wearable glasses-style computer called Google Glass, Google Inc. has invented another new device for your eyes: a contact lens that measures blood sugar levels in the wearer’s tears.

Who needs to measure their blood sugar? The answer: the 26 million people (8.3 percent of the U.S. population) who have diabetes. Currently, diabetics must poke their fingertips, or a few other locations, with a needle called a lancet and place a drop of blood on a test strip that’s inserted into a blood sugar monitor. Many diabetics must repeat this multiple times a day, adding up to a lot of pokes — not to mention the cost of each test strip and lancet. But maintaining a healthy level of glucose, the basic sugar that is used by all cells of the body for energy, is crucial for people with diabetes.

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood. It occurs because the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the rest of the cells in the body do not respond properly to insulin or both. Insulin efficiently gets glucose into cells. Without it, glucose builds up and some of it is excreted in urine while the body’s cells are starved of this key nutrient.

If diabetics misjudge the amount of sugar in their meals and take too much insulin, the sugar levels in their blood will fall, causing headaches, sweating, blurred vision, trembling, confusion and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, this hypoglycemia can cause permanent neurological damage and death. On the other hand, too much glucose in the blood causes symptoms of increased thirst, urination, hunger and weight loss. However, in the long-term, it can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Hyperglycemia also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Continue reading

Shellfish are healthier than you realize

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

When I mention shellfish, do you think of it as healthy?

Shrimping, one of our primary local industries, brings us lots of wonderful shellfish, which are high in protein, essential minerals and actually low in saturated fat and calories. Surprised?

Well, so was I as I looked into the health benefits of shellfish. By now, we all know about the health benefits and anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids that come from cold-water seafood like salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines and herring.

Shellfish also contain significant levels of these healthy fats, though overcooking can reduce the levels.

Shellfish include lobsters, shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, crabs, prawns, squid, octopus and mussels.

Shellfish are quite low in fat. Even shrimp and lobster have less than 1 gram of fat per serving, and very little of the fat they contain is saturated fat.

Of course you can load on unhealthy fats by frying and adding heavy toppings. Broiling, boiling, steaming or grilling are heart-healthy choices. Continue reading

It Came From the Ice

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

From the ice, scientists hauled a monster of unimaginable size. It was larger than any of its kind, and it was alive. Luckily, it wasn’t the Yeti, but Pithovirus sibericum, an abominable snow virus of sorts.

P. sibericum is the largest virus ever discovered. It’s about 1.5 micrometers, larger than some bacterium (a single-celled organism). All things considered though, it’s still microscopic – 1,333 copies of P. sibericum would fit on top of a pin. Luckily, this gigantic virus only infects amoebas, single-celled protozoans that live in bodies of water including lakes, ponds, streams, rivers and even puddles. Some amoebas are associated with diseases such as dysentery.

This newly discovered virus was named P. sibericum because it was found in a sample of permafrost from Siberia, hence the word sibericum. The scientists who discovered it were French, and they were inspired by its shape to call it a Pithovirus from the ancient Greek word pithos, which were large containers used to store wine. They estimate the virus had been in the deep freeze for at least 30,000 years before they resurrected it this year. In 2012, the French scientists also resurrected an ancient plant from fruits buried in the same Siberian permafrost, which led them to search for the virus. Continue reading

Hope for those with rheumatoid arthritis

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

For the 1.5 million people in the United States who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there may be new hope. Scientists have discovered an inflammatory stress response that drives the development of RA and a specific inhibitor that could be used to block it.

While the immune system normally protects us from infections, autoimmune disorders like RA cause the immune system to attack its own body. RA produces chronic inflammation that can damage many organs, especially flexible joints. It mostly affects women between the ages of 40 and 60, although it can develop at any age. There appears to be a genetic component as well as an environmental trigger that contributes to RA. Continue reading

How to take the sting out of bee, wasp stings

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Summer is here and yellow jackets compete for our barbecued burgers and soft drinks while bumblebees in the clover can collide with big and little bare feet.

As many parents know, bee stings can put a damper on summer fun. Here are a few things to keep in mind if your little one gets stung.

Most bee stings cause a painful red bump, which often appears immediately.

If you notice a black dot in the bump, the stinger may still be in the skin and needs to be removed.

You can do this by simply scraping across the black spot with a striate edge, such as a plastic credit card or fingernail. Continue reading

Multiple factors drove the genetic mutation for lactase production

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Drinking milk might seem perfectly natural, but it’s actually anything but.

Humans are the only species who retain the ability to digest milk after childhood, or at least some of us do.

Up to half of adults worldwide don’t have the ability to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk, because their bodies stop producing the enzyme lactase after the age of 5.

About 65 to 75 percent of the population has some degree of lactose intolerance, the most common cause for digestive issues with dairy.

Lactase breaks down lactose into simpler forms of sugar that can be absorbed by the bloodstream. Without this enzyme, lactose is fermented by bacteria, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating. Continue reading

Hit the pause button

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

We, as a conscious species, tend to look at external events as determining the course of our lives.

Likely this was true in our prehistoric ancestors’ era when failure to respond to a hungry saber-tooth tiger would be a matter of not merely uncomfortable stress but rather the discomfort of getting chewed to death or at least bleeding rather heavily.

In our day, external threats, though they still exist in the battlefield and certain neighborhoods, are generally less pressing.

More common for most of us are internal threats, our own thinking, and how we choose to respond to the world around us.

Let me illustrate what I am talking about. At a recent talk I attended by Mary Mannin Morrissey, a well-known spiritual teacher and author, she gave an example of something she learned at age 22 that might be helpful to you.

One Sunday, she went to a church service where the speaker suggested a way to reverse the reflexive habit of an external action causing an immediate reaction. Continue reading