Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

For all vegetarians, finding a good source of protein is always a challenge. While milk and soy does provide a good amount of protein, they are either not part of a regular diet or not liked by many. In addition, they are missing on one or the other amino acids. This makes the vegetarians feel inferior to their non-vegetarian friends high on amino acids from eggs and chicken.

Enter hemp seeds which have the levels of edestin and albumin proteins much higher than any other plant-based source. In addition, unlike soy it does not have high amounts of phytic acid which blocks absorption of minerals in your body.

While most people face problem digesting high-protein food, hemp seed is easily digestible due to high amount of fiber. The seed contains all 20 amino acids and essential fatty acids. The seed is made up of 35 percent protein, 47 percent good or healthy fat, and 12 percent carbohydrates. However, hemp seed health benefits are not restricted to high protein content. Being also rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin E, these seeds makes a perfectly natural food supplement.

What is hemp?

Hemp is known as one of the earliest plant domesticated by man. In fact, it is widely believed that hemp can sustain all of man’s dietary needs and since they are easy to add to any food item, the hemp seeds became even more popular. Besides being an excellent source of protein, hemp contains omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids which are not made by our bodies and should be supplemented from an external source to protect the skin and build the immune system. In fact, it contains seven times the amount of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish hence giving another reason for vegetarians to include hemp seeds in their regular diet plan.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have been found to be excellent in keeping the heart in good health since besides reducing the levels of cholesterol, they also remove plaque build-up in arteries of the heart which is the most common cause of a heart attack and stroke.

How to add hemp seeds in your diet

While hulled hemp leaves, seeds and nuts can be used commonly in various food items, they can also be pressed to get good quality polyunsaturated oil or made into flour to be used for baking and other purposes as a substitute for wheat flour. One of the easiest ways to increase your intake of hemp seeds is to sprinkle them over your salad.

Smoothie made of hemp seeds is very popular while you can also sneak in some of these seeds into oatmeal, vegetarian chili besides vegetable and pureed bean soups. The flour can also help as an alternative for those with gluten allergy. You can have hemp seeds as raw, sprout them or make them into hemp milk quite similar to soy milk.

Besides being excellent source of cooking, oil from hemp seeds can be used to nourish the skin since it gets soaked in the skin easily and prevents ageing because of high vitamin E content which is three times more than that in flax seed.

Hemp seed also contains lecithin which builds up the power of cognition; inositol that helps against problem of hair fall; and phytosterols to maintain hormonal balance. The hemp seed health benefits are numerous and including them in your diet will only increase your stake in good health.

Urinalysis Interpretation: Information on Urinalysis Values

Sample of urine

Sample of urine (Wikimedia Image)

We have still not been able to understand the human body which seems to be as perplexing as the universe we are a part of. However, with time we have developed certain techniques to dwell into the physiology and get exact reasons for some of the diseases that befall us. Lab tests involving sample of urine cannot only help the doctors diagnose but also observe medical conditions. One of these tests is urinalysis. The urine, which is adjudged by all as a body’s waste, carries important information about what’s going on inside and how things, if gone wrong, can be rectified.

Here’s how you can interpret urinalysis to diagnose various bodily issues.


Color of the urine is the most evident aspect in judging somebody’s help. You must have noticed by yourself that during sickness or when on certain medication, the color of urine changes to dark yellow. The hot weather also can result in yellow color. A red or reddish-brown urine color may occur because of a presence of either hemoglobin after breakdown from the blood, myoglobin from muscle breakdown, a food dye, and consumption of beets or due to intake of a drug.


Cloudiness in the urine sample can be due to excessive protein or because of crystallization of salts due to room temperature. People who have undergone bladder surgery often have cloudy urine because of presence of bacteria in the body. Urinary tract infection can also lead to cloudy urine.


As mentioned earlier, high protein levels in the urine can lead to cloudiness in the sample. However, detection of protein in the urine means kidneys are not functioning properly. Kidneys act as a filter and usually don’t let large molecules like proteins to get into the urine. Another reason for elevated protein levels can be intake of excess meat or urinary tract infection.


Our kidneys work overtime to remove the excess acid from our body. The acidity is generally picked up by pH of urine. Normal pH range is from 4.5 to 9.0 and anything beyond that indicates acidity or alkalinity. Low pH level can also affect the detection of other elements including nitrites which don’t show up even if present in the sample. High nitrite values indicate presence of bacteria in the urinary tract.


If the urine sample is tested positive for casts, it can be due to several reasons. While white casts can be due to kidney infection, red casts are a result of nephritic syndrome and muddy brown casts can indicate kidney failure.

Specific gravity

Specific gravity is another indicator that can be of great help in diagnosing various conditions. The normal range of specific gravity is 1.002 to 1.035 and any reading above this range indicates contamination or high level of glucose. A patient who receives intravenous dyes for radiography tests also gets a high reading.

Ketones and Glucose

Ketones are compounds that are produced when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver or kidney. Excess ketones are produced when the body is under starvation. Type I diabetics can also have excess ketones when the body is deprived of insulin and switches to burning fatty acids. Excess sugar in urine or glycosuria usually indicates diabetes mellitus.

Leukocyte Esterase

This test indicates if there is any infection present in the upper or lower urinary tract or with acute glomerulonephritis. A positive test will indicate presence of white blood cells which defend our bodies against infection. A negative test indicates there is no infection present.


Our genitals normally harbour bacteria because of abundant normal microbial flora of the vagina in females and external urethral meatus in both males and females. This is why only more than 100,000/ml of an individual reflects significant presence of bacteria.

All this knowledge can help you interpret urinalysis in a better way.[ad#afterpost]

Is Skin Tanning Cancerous?

Skin tanningSkin color has been the greatest divider in the history of mankind with wars fought, slaves tortured and communities stigmatised because of difference in skin tones. However, things have changed and we have become more acceptable to people of different appearance than others. In fact, there seems to be a reversal of trends. While in many countries people still wish to have fair skin, those with white skin are going crazy over tanning to make their skin appear darker because they feel that it is much sexier.

They are spending hours basking in the sun or sitting in the artificial chambers of ultraviolet (UV) radiations even though their grandparents always thought dark skin is associated with lower class. However, various research studies have shown that skin tanning causes cancer. Read on to know how.

Understanding tanning

Tanning is actually your skin’s response to UV radiation. The melanocytes cells in the skin produce pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the outer skin as a defence against further damage from UV radiation which is called tanning in common terminology.

However, this protection mechanism can also lead to skin cancer. When the UV rays damage DNA of the outer skin cells, body rushes certain enzymes to do the repairing job but since not every repair is perfect, the leftover DNA damage results in mutations and hence skin cancer.

It’s not that sun rays are always bad for you. In fact, moderate exposure is essential because it triggers the production of vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D has been found beneficial in reducing the risk of many forms of cancers, diabetes, and other diseases but natural food sources of this vitamin are limited. In comparison, just 20 minutes exposure to sunlight can help you maintain the optimal levels.

However, try to restrict this exposure to early morning because the wavelength of sunshine at early hours is most effective. On the other hand, avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm because during this time the sunlight is strongest and hence can cause skin burn and tanning, both of which have been linked to development of skin cancer.[ad#co-1]

Ultraviolet radiations

The ultraviolet radiations from sunlight are of different wavelengths are divided into UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer and hence is not deemed a threat while UVB is considered to be the most dangerous of all wavelengths.

UVA is present uniformly throughout the day and throughout the year while the amount of UVB in sunlight varies by season, location and time of the day.
There was doubt about the effect of UVA till some time back as many thought it was not harmful but according to recent studies the wavelength penetrates deeper causing greater genetic damage to the skin cells than UVB and hence being equally if not more carcinogenic. Moreover, sunscreens are more effective in blocking UVB than UVA which can only be barred to some extent by clothing.

Saloon owners have been selling their tanning machines by claiming that the artificial exposure is safer than outdoor tanning because they use UVA rays in a controlled manner. However, as the new studies have shown these machines are as much responsible for causing skin cancer as traditional sunbathing.

The message is simple: Skin tanning causes cancer so better avoid it. Your natural skin color is as good as any other.

Risk factors

Most skin cancers affect the body parts which are frequently exposed to the sun, including head, face, hands, neck, forearms, shoulders, back, chests of men, tips of the ears and lower legs of women.

Caucasians are more likely to get skin cancer because they have light skin which means less melanin to protect against harmful sun radiations. Those with a dark complexion have more melanin in their skin which acts as a sun blocker. Hence, a white skinned man will fall to skin cancer in lesser time than an Asian or an African. Even among fair skinned, those who get sunburns easily are at greater risk. Having a history of skin cancer in the family, having several moles, freckles or birthmarks on the body and being out in the sun a lot during childhood are some other risk factors.

The 12 Cranial Nerves and Their Functions

Inferior view of the brain and brain stem showing cranial nerves.

Inferior view of the brain and brain stem showing cranial nerves. (Wikimedia Commons Image)

Cranial nerves in humans consist of twelve pairs of nerves that emerge from the ventral side of the brain. The first two pairs arise from the cerebrum while the other ten pairs emanate from the brainstem. As in the case of spinal nerves which are named based on their origin from the spinal cord, cranial nerves derived their name from their close association with the cranium. The holes or openings in the skull serve as their passage to reach their targets throughout the human body. Some of these nerves send messages from our senses while other cranial nerves control muscle movement, glandular secretions and our internal organs.

A cranial nerve may also be classified as sensory, motor or both according to their mode of signal transmission. Motor nerves carry impulses from the brain to target tissues such as muscles and glandular tissues while sensory nerves transmit impulses from sensory organs to the brain. The table below shows an overview of the cranial nerves, their modality and function.

Table 1.

I. Olfactory Sensory Smell
II. Optic Sensory Vision
III. Oculomotor Motor Eye movement and pupil constriction
IV. Trochlear Motor Eye movement
V. Trigeminal Both Controls muscles for mastication (motor); somatosensory output from face, head and neck
VI. Abducens Motor Eye movement
VII. Facial Both Controls muscles for facial expression (motor); sensory input from anterior 2/3 of tongue (taste) and ear (tympanic membrane)
VIII. Vestibulocochlear Sensory Hearing and balance
IX. Glossopharyngeal Both Controls some muscle for swallowing (motor); sensory input from posterior 1/3 of tongue, tonsil and pharynx
X. Vagus Both For motor, sensory and autonomic functioning of the viscera (e.g. digestion, glandular secretion, heart rate)
XI. Spinal Accessory Motor Controls muscles used in head movement
XII. Hypoglossal Motor Controls muscles of tongue except palatoglossal


I. Olfactory Nerve

This nerve functions primarily for the sense of smell. Its name is derived from the Latin words ‘olfactare’, which means to sniff at, and ‘olfacere’, which means to smell. Among all the cranial nerves, this is the only one capable of self-renewal since it has the property to regenerate continually through adulthood. Also, aside from being the smallest nerve, the olfactory nerve doesn’t branch out into left and right entities. Instead, it consists of a collection of sensory rootlets that extend from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb as it passes through the numerous openings of the cribriform plate in the ethmoid bone. When a person inhales, molecules of air attach themselves to the sensory parts of the olfactory nerve which are located in the olfactory mucosa at the upper part of the nasal cavity. As these nerve endings become stimulated, electrical activity is generated and is transmitted to the olfactory bulb. The cells in the olfactory bulb in turn relay the electrical signal to the brain through the olfactory tract.

II. Optic Nerve

During embryonic development, the optic nerve arises from the diencephalon, thus considered a part of the central nervous system. As with other CNS components, optic nerves are covered with Myelin sheath rather than Schwann cells and are wrapped by meninges. Unlike the olfactory nerve, optic nerves are incapable of regeneration which increases the risk of permanent blindness when severed.

Optic nerve conveys visual information from the retina to the brain. When light reaches the retina, stimulation of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) occurs which triggers the production of electrical impulses. These are relayed to the bipolar cells which contain the optic nerve endings. The bipolar cells in turn transmit the electrical impulses to the CNS via the optic nerve. The optic nerves enter the CNS at the optic chiasm where they become the optic tract. From there, the electric signal is transduced to the lateral geniculate nucleus of each thalamus before going to the visual centers of the brain for interpretation.

III. Oculomotor Nerve

Oculomotor nerve has two components: 1. Somatic motor or general somatic efferent which controls muscles responsible for precise eye movement for visual tracking and fixation on an object and 2. Visceral motor or general visceral efferent provides parasympathetic innervation of the constrictor pupillae and ciliary muscles of the eye which regulate light accommodation by controlling pupil constriction.

The somatic motor component is further divided into inferior and superior divisions. The inferior division innervates the medial rectus, inferior rectus and inferior oblique muscles while the superior division supplies the levator palpebrae superioris and superior rectus muscle. The table below shows a summary of the function of the eye muscles controlled by the somatic motor component.


Eye Muscles Primary action Secondary action Tertiary action
Medial rectus Adduction
Inferior oblique Extorsion Elevation Abduction
Inferior rectus Depression Extortion Adduction
Superior rectus Elevation Intortion Adduction
Levator palpebrae superioris Controls movement of the upper eyelid


Table adapted from

The other two eye muscles not included in Table2 are the Superior oblique (Intorsion, Depression, Abduction) and Lateral rectus (Abduction) which are controlled by the Trochlear Nerve (IV) and the Abducens Nerve (VI) respectively.

IV. Trochlear Nerve

This nerve has only a somatic motor component which controls one eye muscle – the Superior oblique. As mentioned above, superior oblique carries out three different functions: intorsion, depression and adbuction.

Though this nerve only supplies one eye muscle, it has several characteristics that distinguish it from the other cranial nerves.

1.This is the only nerve that exit the brain dorsally.

2.This is the only nerve that decussate or cross which makes the nerve fibers supply the superior oblique muscle on the side opposite their origin.

3.This has the longest intracranial route.

4.This has the smallest number of neurons.

V. Trigeminal Nerve

The trigeminal nerve, as the name implies, is consists of three large branches: Ophthalmic and Maxillary which are both sensory, and the Mandibular branch which has both motor and sensory functions. The Ophthalmic branch innervates the forehead and the eye while the Maxillary branch supplies the cheeks. The Mandibular branch on the other hand controls the lower jaw and lower portion of the face. Since this nerve has both sensory and motor functions, it is responsible for sensing facial touch, pain, and temperature and controlling the mandibular muscles during mastication.

The three branches meet in an area called the Gasserion ganglion. The fused branches extends backwards to the brainstem, inserting itself into the pons. Inside the brainstem, the signals that pass through the trigeminal nerve arrive at a structure called trigeminal nerve nucleus. From there, the information is sent to the cerebral cortex where perception of the sensation is achieved.

VI. Abducens

This nerve has only a motor component which innervate the lateral rectus muscle of the eye. To make a lateral movement, inputs from the higher centers of the brain in the form of electrical impulses synapse at the lateral gaze center. From there, the signal travels through the longitudinal fasciculus to reach the abducens nucleus, which then sends the message to the lateral rectus muscle via CN VI , causing the muscle to be abducted.

VII. Facial Nerve

The facial nerve is a mixed nerve having both the sensory and motor components. It has approximately 10,000 neurons in which 70% of these are myelinated and control facial expressions. The other 30% are somatosensory and secretomotor in function. The table below shows the nature and function of the facial nerve.


Branchial motor
(special visceral efferent)
The largest component of the facial nerve 


Supplies voluntary control of the posterior belly of the digastric, stylohyoid and stapedius muscles as well as muscles involve in facial expression such as the buccinator, occipitalis and platysma muscles

Visceral motor
(general visceral efferent)
Comprise the parasympathetic constituent of CN VII 


Provides parasympathetic control over the submandibular, sublingual, and lacrimal glands


Innervates the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx and hard and soft palates

Special sensory
(special afferent)
Consists of fibers that transmit sensation of taste from the anterior 2/3 of the tongue as well as from the hard and soft palates
General sensory
(general somatic afferent)
Conveys sensory information from the skin of the concha of the auricle and from a small area of skin behind the ear 


Acts as a supplement to the Mandibular component of the Trigeminal Nerve to provide sensation at the wall of the acoustic meatus and the outer surface of the tympanic membrane


VIII. Vestibulocochlear Nerve

This is a sensory nerve that consists of two components – vestibular and cochlear. The vestibular nerve detects head and body motion while the cochlear nerve detects sound. Thus, the vestibulocochlear nerve functions for hearing and balance. Balance is achieved by conveying information to the vestibular component of the CN VIII which are done by the semicircular canal and the otolithic organ. The former detects angular acceleration while the latter detects linear acceleration.

For us to hear and recognize the sounds around us, the cochleat component of the CN VIII should be stimulated. This happens when sound waves collected by the outer ear travel through the ear canal and cause vibrations of the ear drum. The vibration of the ear drum moves the bones of the middle ear which in turn pass the vibrations to the fluid-filled cochlea. As the fluid inside the cochlea moves, it causes the cilia to vibrate and stimulate the sensory cochlear nerve. When stimulated, the nerve sends signal to the area of the brain where the signals are processed into the sound we hear.[ad#co-1]

IX. Glossopharyngeal Nerve

As the name implies, CN IX innervates the tongue and the pharynx and has both the motor and sensory components. The functions of each component are summarized in the table below.


Branchial motor
(special visceral efferent)
Provides voluntary control of the stylopharyngeus muscle which elevates the pharynx during swallowing and speech
Visceral motor
(general visceral efferent)
Parasympathetic component which innervates the parotid gland and the smooth muscle of the pharynx, larynx, and viscera of the thorax and abdomen
Visceral sensory
(general visceral afferent)
Controls the baroreceptors of the carotid sinus and chemoreceptors of the carotid body
General sensory
(general somatic afferent)
Transmits sensation of pain, temperature, and touch from the skin of the external ear, internal surface of the tympanic membrane, the walls of the upper pharynx, and the posterior 1/3 of the tongue
Special sensory
(special afferent)
Carries sensation of taste from the posterior one-third of the tongue

X. Vagus Nerve

The term ‘Vagus’ is a Latin word which means ‘wandering’. Vagus nerve fits its name since it wanders from the brainstem and extend to organs found in the neck, chest and abdomen. Table 5 summarizes the vagus nerve’s components and their respective functions.


Brancial motor
(special visceral efferent)
Supplies voluntary control to the striated muscle of the pharynx and larynx (except for the stylopharyngeus muscle and the tensor veli palatini muscle) as well as the palatoglossus muscle of the tongue
Visceral motor
(general visceral efferent)
Parasympathetic control of the smooth muscle and glands of the pharynx, larynx, and thoracic and abdominal viscera down to the splenic flexure resulting to increased GI tract secretion and motility, higher bronchiolar secretions and bronchoconstriction in the lungs and slower heart rate.
Visceral sensory
(general visceral afferent)
Transmits sensory information from the larynx, esophagus, trachea, abdominal and thoracic viscera, aortic arch and the aortic bodies
General sensory
(general somatic afferent)
Carries sensation of pain, temperature, and touch from from the larynx and pharynx as well as information from the skin of the back of the ear and external auditory meatus, parts of the external surface of the tympanic membrane
Special sensory
(special afferent)
Transmits sensation of taste from the epiglottic region


XI. Spinal Accessory Nerve

This is a motor nerve consisting of cranial and spinal parts that control muscles of the neck and shoulders to move the head. The cranial part (special visceral efferent) innervates muscles of the pharynx and larynx while the spinal part (special visceral efferent) controls the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. The trapezius muscle moves the scapula, acts as a support for the arm, assists in breathing, keeps the head in position and produces bending and rotational head movement. The sternocleidomastoid muscle on the other hand flexes the neck and turns the head obliquely.

XII. Hypoglossal Nerve

As indicated in its name, this nerve innervates the muscles found below (hypo) the tongue hence consists only of the motor component. It provides voluntarily control over the three out of four extrinsic muscles of the tongue which include genioglossus, styloglossus, and hyoglossus. Genioglossus muscle is responsible for protruding (or sticking out) the tongue while styloglossus draws up the sides of the tongue to aid in swallowing. The hyoglossus muscle on the other hand retracts and depresses the tongue for chewing and speech.[ad#afterpost]

Polydactyly: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments


Left hand of African woman with postaxial polydactyly.

Left hand of African woman with postaxial polydactyly (Wikimedia Commons Image)

Polydactyly is a congenital physical aberration in which a person has more than five fingers on his/her hand or if his/her foot has more that five toes each. The term is derived from the Greek words ‘polus’ which means ‘many’ and ‘daktulos’ which means ‘fingers’. The extra digit on either hand or toe may be rudimentary or fully formed with or without bones at all. For rudimentary polydactyly, the extra finger or toe is usually a piece of soft tissue. In rare cases, the extra digit may develop fully and become a functional finger or toe.

Polydactyly is one of the most prevalent inborn hand abnormalities which manifests in 1 out of 500 live births. Experts formed a classification for this congenital condition based on its extent and location. Fully formed digits having a complete number of bones and joints are classified as Type A polydactyly while rudimentary fingers or toes are classified as Type B polydactyly. Based on location, polydactyly can be preaxial, central or postaxial. Preaxial when the extra digit occurs near the thumb or big toe; postaxial when it is located near the pinky or near the smallest digit of the foot; and central when the extra digit arises between the  biggest and smallest digits of the limbs. Among Asians, an extra thumb is most likely to arise (preaxial polydactyly) while an extra finger on the small digit side is most common among African-Americans (postaxial polydactyly). Polydactyly may occur as an isolated condition or it may be expressed as a result of an underlying health condition such as Meckel syndrome, trisomy 13  and Grebe type Chondrodysplasia. In most cases however, polydactyly is caused by genetic factors.

Genetic Causes of Polydactyly

The gene that codes for polydactyly is found on one of the short legs of chromosome seven and has an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. Since it is autosomal, its occurrence among males and females is equal. And because it follows a dominant pattern of inheritance, a child with a polydactyl parent has at least 50% possibility to inherit and show the trait.

One of the genes behind polydactyly is GLI3. It serves its function by providing instructions for making a protein (GLI3 protein) that has the capacity to turn on or to turn off gene expression. During embryonic development, GLI3 protein plays a key role in shaping tissues and organs by interacting with other genes. When a mutation or a change related to the GLI3 gene in chromosome seven occurs, deletion or rearrangement of genetic materials for example, limb development becomes severely affected which can lead to polydactyly at birth.

Another gene that can cause polydactyly is the LMBR1 gene which is also located in chromosome seven. Similar to the case of GLI3 gene, a disruption in the LMBR1 region can alter the expression of a protein called Sonic hedgehog homolog (SHH) which regulates vertebrate organogenesis and growth of digits. Defects in this gene are associated with preaxial polydactyly while abnormalities in GLI3 gene are associated with both preaxial and postaxial polydactyly.[ad#co-1]


Physical examination after birth is the easiest way to diagnose polydactyly. Diagnosis can also be done before childbirth by looking at family histories and by performing several prenatal tests. One of the most commonly used method during pregnancy is a prenatal ultrasound called a sonogram. If polydactyly is seen in the ultrasound, other medical tests may be conducted to determine if the condition is associated with other genetic disorders. In cases where the result of a sonogram becomes unyielding, a method called embryoscopy is also employed. This test involves the the direct visualization of the embryo by inserting a fiber optic scope through the mother’s abdominal wall and uterus. For a more genetic approach and reliable result, amniocentesis is performed. This requires the analysis of amniotic fluid sampled from the mother’s womb primarily to detect chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.


Treatment for polydactyly depends on the severity of the disorder. X-ray is usually done to determine the extent of polydactyly so as to apply the corresponding treatment for such condition. For isolated cases where no major health consequences are likely to arise, surgery is used to remove the extra digit. For Type B polydactyly, the extra finger or toe can be surgically removed before the newborn is discharged from the hospital. Type A polydactyly on the other hand is more complicated and requires more surgeries compared to the other type and is usually corrected when the child is above one year of age.[ad#afterpost]




Is Body Building Safe for Seniors?

Body building is an intensive activity that many perceive to be only performed by the young and fit. This is not always the case as there is a small growing number of seniors engaging in this impressive activity. Although the lifting of weight can be deemed hazardous, with the proper guidance and care, these risks can be reduced.

Senior citizens face many risks due to their failing health, and to some, letting a senior citizen enter a body building gym is tantamount to manslaughter. However, with the proper care, these risks can be mitigated and body building made safe for senior citizens.

As a person ages, the ability of the heart to supply blood to the body gradually weakens. Cardiovascular endurance is a necessary trait to have when body building and at first glance, it may seem that senior citizens are incapable of exerting the suffice energy required to fully build their body. There are, however, ways to allow them to maximize, and gradually increase their cardiovascular potential. Senior citizens starting out in body building would do well to augment it with another set of exercise. They could do body building and other exercises on alternate days, or could perform them on different parts of the day. Walking, swimming and tai chi are good exercises to alternate with body building since they are low impact exercises that promote relaxation and relief for the body. It can also allow muscles strained from bodybuilding to remain used, but not overly so, enhancing the building effects while minimizing the stress.

The weight room is a veritable garden of danger. Weights may fall on limbs and feet, cables may snap, these and other hazards make the entrance of an elderly person such a risk. However, constant vigilance and proper supervision can minimize these risks. A senior citizen should never engage in a bodybuilding workout without the express, given, written approval of their doctor. They should never engage in any activity inside the weight room without supervision of a trained physical fitness expert and without a skilled medical person nearby.[ad#co-1]

Aging brings loss of coordination, slowing of reflexes, and loss of muscle strength. It is for these reasons that a competent spotter, someone fully capable of easily lifting whatever weights a senior citizen is lifting, is vital. Sudden muscle jerks,  a mistimed pull or a slipped grip can all lead to grave physical injury and may result in death. Having someone on hand in case of these emergencies capable of preventing weights from crushing the life out of a senior citizen can make body building for seniors exponentially safer. Weightlifting should be always taken slow when dealing with seniors.

A proper weight plan should also be implemented. This should consider the senior person’s physical condition and limitations in order to improve their capability to mold their body the way they see fit. A complete physical and a complete examination of the senior’s medical history is thus a necessity.

The weight room is a hazardous place for the careless. Young or old, if you take bodybuilding lightly, It is more likely that you will suffer bodily harm. Bodybuilding can be made safe by taking the proper precautions. Although at first glance it may seem dangerous, with constant vigilance, proper care and a suited fitness plan, body building can be made safe for senior citizens.[ad#afterpost]


  • Senior Bodybuilding: Keep It Light And Stay Safe.  Retrieved June 13,14 2011 from
  • Sutton, Lisa.  Senior Fitness retrieved June 14, 2011 from
  • Caramel,  (2010) Is Body Building Safe for Seniors? Retrieved June 16 2011 at

Benefits of Exercise for the 60-Plus Men

Tai chi

Outdoor tai chi practice in Beijing's Temple of Heaven

Exercise has long been touted for its numerous health benefits. Exercise can help one enjoy a strong immune system, large reserves of energy, and the advantage of feeling and looking good. Exercise has been said to prevent aging and delay the damage it does to our body. But would exercise still have the same beneficial effects for those who are already aged? What could be the benefits of exercise for the 60-plus man?

There are many misconceptions that prevent the elderly from enjoying the benefits of exercise in their twilight years. They may avoid exercise because they perceive that it is futile, that exercise would be meaningless for them who are already old. They may perceive that engaging in exercise activities would only put them into greater risk of injury. That they are too old and tired to try exercising, and that they would just get worn down more and accelerate their demise. They may have physical disabilities that prevent them from experiencing a wide range of motion, thus they see no benefit in even attempting to exercise.

Those who believe these misconceptions should see the truth; that exercise at whatever age can accrue numerous health benefits. Exercise, whether for the young, the middle aged or the elderly is sure to improve one’s life. Let us take a look at some of the many health benefits of exercise for the 60-plus man.

As a person ages, his metabolism gradually slows down. This leads to accumulation of fat, leading to obesity and other health disorders. A feeling of bloating, constant fatigue and lack of vigor characterize obese elderly men. Exercise helps burn those excess calories off that would eventually lead to weight loss which can help prevent the occurrence of many health concerns.

Aside from burning fat, exercise can also fine-tune the machinery of the body, making it more capable of performing daily tasks.  Exercise in 60-plus men can lower incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise can help strengthen their muscles and bones, preventing osteoporosis and muscle atrophy. Muscle and bone strength will also be beneficial in improving their mobility, flexibility and coordination to reduce their risk of incurring grave injury.

Aside from these great physical benefits, exercising can benefit the mental welfare of seniors. Exercise helps in prolonging their sleep as well as improving sleep quality. Engaging in exercise can also improve an elderly person’s mental well-being. It promotes a positive outlook in life, enhancing one’s self confidence, self-esteem and thinking. It also makes the brain active, increasing oxygen blood flow and enabling the elderly to avoid debilitating mental disorders.

Cardio exercises for seniors are sure to improve daily energy; rejuvenating them and making them feel young again. Strength training would enhance their ability to withstand and prevent injuries, making them more nimble, less clumsy, and more balanced and coordinated.

Exercises need not be tiring activities for seniors. Daily activities like walking, gardening and doing chores are already forms of exercise. Swimming, dancing and yoga are just some of the more low impact exercises the elderly may want to try to improve their health.

Exercise for the elderly induces many benefits. All that is needed is the willpower to start and try exercises that allow them to gradually improve their health. Growing old need not be and unhealthy prospect, and with the many benefits of exercise for the 60-plus man, it may lead not to a feeling of life slipping away, but of new life starting.


  • Sarah Kovatch, M.F.A, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., (2010) Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips How to gain energy and feel stronger retrieved from

How To Get Rid Of Lower Back Fat

There is something in our bodies that makes us store fat against our will. Scientists feel it’s because of the ‘thrifty gene’ theory according to which, early man used to face long periods of starvation before he could lay hands on a prey. The body adapted to such scarcity by saving energy as fat which could be used slowly over a long period. Though times have changed and now we have more than enough to gorge on, the human body is still in the mode of hoarding fat.

From double chin, potbelly to bulky thighs and saggy chest, there are several places where fat accumulation is absolute. Another place where fat can prove to be very stubborn is lower back also called “love handles”. Here we tell you how to get rid of lower back fat and acquire that perfect ’V’ shape that most male models are popular for.

Replace it with muscle

As you know whenever you do any exercise, it will reduce fat and replace it with muscles. Since the love handles are near your stomach and back, you have to build core muscles. This will not only give you a toned tummy, a stronger back but also lends a trimmed waist. Sit ups, using weights, front squats, and deadlifts are some of the exercises you can use. Exerting your core means more energy is required which will come from the fat which slowly and steadily gets replaced by muscles.

Lie down on your stomach and extend your arms above your head while keep your legs straight. Lift your right arm and left leg as high as you can. The position depicts a flying superman. Hold it as long as you can and repeat it with another side. Start with 10 reps and keep increasing as you go along.

Stability ball exercises can be another good option. Place your hips on the ball just under the highest point and stick your feet against a wall. Place your hands on the sides of your head and bend forward over the ball just like while doing stomach crunches. Lift yourself up by contracting your lower back muscles. Hold as long as you can and repeat.

Also, you have to concentrate on losing fat from all over, not just from lower back to achieve greater success because our bodies are not accustomed to shedding fat from just one particular area. A cardiovascular workout like jogging, cycling and even brisk walking can do wonders.

Anybody who has been to a gym knows that you also need to give equal thought to rest to let the muscles build up. Have eight hours of sleep so that your body recuperates from the workout and builds muscles more easily.

Follow a healthy diet

No amount of fat loss is possible by relying only on exercise. You have to keep a check on what you eat because if you continue to gorge on unhealthy food, the new fat will start replacing the one you burn in the gym and you are back to square one. Increase the amount of protein, minerals and vitamins in your diet by including egg whites, fruits and vegetables. Another good way to lose weight is portion control. Divide your three big meals in six smaller meals because this will help your body break up the food easily and hence the speed of metabolism increases which is what you should be aiming for if you want to lose weight.

Drink lots of water because it aids in fast disposal of stored fat. Prefer lean meats, fish and whole grains and cut back on salt, sugar, cheese and butter.

So grab those barbells or get a gym membership card now and start working out to get rid of that ugly lower back fat.

Understanding the Serum Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Test

Space-filling models of angiotensin I (left) and II (right).

Space-filling models of angiotensin I (left) and II (right). (Wikimedia Image)

Serum angiotensin converting enzyme test is a test that measures the amount of angiotensin converting enzyme in blood levels. Angiotensin converting enzyme is an enzyme that converts angiotensin I to angiotensin II. These two proteins play a vital role in regulating blood pressure. Angiotensin I is usually inactive, but when acted upon by angiotensin converting enzyme, it becomes angiotensin II.

Angiotensin II is the active form of angiotensin I. Angiotensin II causes the blood vessels to narrow. When there is a decrease in area, fluids (in this case, blood), flows faster, causing a resultant increase in blood pressure. Serum angiotensin converting enzyme test is primarily carried out to test for suspected cases of sarcoidosis, a disease that results in the formation of structures called granulomas in various organs. Granulomas are abnormal aggregations of inflammatory cells that, in some organs, form nodules.

Sarcoidosis may occur in an individual for years without any symptoms. When an organ is affected by sarcoidoisis, several symptoms may appear. These include weight loss, fatigue, arthritis and dry eyes. Skin symptoms may include rashes and lesions particularly on the face, neck and ears. The lymph nodes near the affected area may exhibit swelling (lymphadenophaty).

Sarcoidosis may also cause other symptoms depending on the area where it is located. When sarcoidosis affects the lungs, there would be lessening of the lungs air intake as well as blockages when severity increases. Sarcoidosis is usually asymptomatic, thus it is usually accidentally detected when undertaking mundane tests like x-rays, blood tests, CT scans of the chest area and lung biopsy.


High angiotensin converting enzyme levels are a sign of sarcoidosis. An individual afflicted with sarcoidosis would have elevated levels of angiotensin converting enzyme. This could be 50% to 80% more than normal. Serum angiotensin levels are also related to the severity of sarcoidosis; rise and fall of the levels signify intensity or improvement of the condition.

Testing for serum angiotensin converting levels requires obtaining blood from the patient. Normal test results would be from 8 to 27 U/ml (units per milliliter). Individuals below the age of twenty have naturally high serum angiotensin converting enzyme levels, which may mask the presence of sarcoidosis.

There are several causes if a serum angiotenesin converting enzyme test results show low level of the enzyme. Low levels of angiotensin converting enzyme may be caused by hypothyroidism, a disorder that signifies a decrease in thyroid production. This disorder is primarily caused by iodine deficiency though other factors like radioactivity, genetics and environment may contribute to the development of the disorder.

Low levels of serum angiotensin converting enzyme may also be caused by the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that generally manifests as a loss of any desire to consume food.

The disorders mentioned above can be very serious. They may escape the notice of several other tests. Undergoing a serum angiotensin converting enzyme test lets one know the possible occurrence of these disorders. This would better help him to take the appropriate steps to facilitate treatment and return to a healthy life.[ad#afterpost]


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Benefits and Side Effects of Castor Seed Oil

Castor beans

Castor beans

Castor seed oil is derived from the seed of castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). Many people all over the world use castor oil for its many health benefits. Castor oil however, also has several side effects that many users should be aware of.

Ricinus communis can naturally be found all over the tropics, but it originated from India, Eastern Africa and the South Eastern Mediterranean. It is easily cultivated and can grow to tree-like size. The seed contains a large percentage of oil (40-60%) that contains numerous triglycerides, particularly the compound ricinolein. It is this compound that is responsible for castor oil’s potency as a laxative.

Health Benefits

Castor oil has many health benefits. Cold pressed castor oil has traditionally been used as a skin application to treat rashes, eczema, wounds, and burns. When used on the skin, it can also improve texture and conditioning. It can also reduce outbreaks of acne and pimples. To apply for this use, simply dab a piece of cotton or cloth containing a few drops of castor oil into the area to be treated.

Castor seed oils can also be used to massage swollen joints and tendons, reducing swelling and easing pain. A castor oil wrap can be made by treating a piece of cloth with castor oil, and placing a plastic wrap over it. It can be placed over a tender region, especially sore muscles and arthritic joints. A heat source (warm bottle of water or a heating pad is then placed over the wrap to maximize the effect.

Castor oil has been used in Italy during Mussolini’s fascist regime to induce diarrhea as a form of torture. It can, in moderate amounts, be a very effective laxative. A teaspoon of castor oil taken with lukewarm milk, ginger juice or orange juice can purge the body of toxins and intestinal parasites.  The effect starts an hour after taking the concoction. The effect may be unpredictable and can sometimes cause abdominal pain.

Abdominal cramps and headaches can be alleviated by rubbing the oil on the affected area.

Castor oil can be rubbed on the sides of the nose, under the eyes and behind the ears to relieve sinusitis.

A small portion rubbed into the breasts of a lactating woman is traditionally believed to improve the quantity of milk produced.

Applied to hair and scalp, castor oil effectively reduces dandruff and improves hair growth and luster. It can also reduce hair loss.

Applied to fungal infections like athlete’s foot, castor oil is an effective remedy.

Side Effects

The health benefits of castor oil are numerous; however, ingesting castor oil can also lead to several side effects. Castor oil contains the toxic compound ricin which can cause death when ingested in high amounts. Moderately high doses of ingested castor oil exaggerate its laxative effects, causing extreme diarrhea and vomiting. Use of castor oil in persons with intestinal infections or inflammations would further complicate the illness. Pregnant women should take very special care when using castor oil, since it can lead to abortions or premature births. Children should also never take castor oil since it is easy for them to overdose, leading to death. People with kidney disorders should also avoid using castor oil.

Castor oil is highly effective for a number of illnesses. The myriad uses of castor oil makes having a bottle handy in every household a good idea. However, bottles of castor oil should always be kept out of reach of children. Correct castor oil dosage should be followed since it also contains a very potent toxic substance. Proper care should always be used when ingesting castor oil, preferably under a physician’s or herbalist’s guidance.


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