Monday, April 28, 2008

Lack Of Sleep May Destroy Your Brain Cells And Your Mind and Body Health.

"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

"And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created."
D.H. Lawrence

The art of sleeping has its place in our lives. Yet, in these hectic times, more often than not, we encroach on our sleep so we can catch up on our homework, socializing, working and many other pastimes. Sometimes even when we wrap ourselves up in our bed to sleep, we scare sleep away because of our wondering mind. We free ourselves from the shackles of our restless mind only when we can train it to obey our will. By taming our mind, we can harness the benefits of a good night's sleep. If we miss this opportunity, we risk getting sick.

It appears that like a factory that has to shut down for maintenance, the brain does better when it goes to sleep. During sleep, the body rests and the production of stress hormones decrease. This gives the body the chance to repair its wear and tear. A recent study on rats by researchers from the Princeton University showed that lack of sleep in rats prevented the growth of cells in rats' brain area called hippocampus that is involved in forming memories. In two groups of rats, the group that had less sleep had higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone. When the investigators kept the corticosterone levels constant, the decrease in the brain cell growth was less. Even though the experimenters conducted this study in rats, it will be interesting to conduct the same study in humans.

The take home message is that sleep has its purpose in rejuvenating your body. Skimp on your sleep and you run the risk of stressing your body that would lead to increase stress hormones that may have effects on your brain and affect your immune system. The following are some suggestions to help you to sleep like a baby:
  • Don't go to bed angry as the stress from your anger will prevent you from sleeping and increase your steroid levels
  • Calm your mind before you go to sleep so you can have a stress free sleep.
  • One way of calming your mind is to meditate. By simply calming your mind, relaxing your whole body and taking deep breaths slowly in and out of your nose, your mind would be calm and help you to sleep better. Your relaxed stress free body will produce less stress hormones, help you to sleep and maybe spare your brain.
  • You may also read an inspirational passage that may calm your mind and give you less stress so you can go to sleep like a baby.
  • Some people find that they can sleep better if they exercise before they go bed.

O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my sense in forgetfulness?
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

Reference: BBC On Line.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obesity Can Give You Alzheimer Disease. Fight Obesity For A Healthy Mind And Body Health.

"All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed,

Become thereby healthy,

Well developed and age more slowly,

But if unused they become liable to disease,

Defective in growth and age quickly."


"People who are obese at 60 are twice as likely to develop dementia by the time they are 75"

Professor Clive Ballard

"Living a healthy lifestyle will only deprive you of poor health, lethargy, and fat."

Jill Johnson

I have many patients who request medications to help them lose weight. They are right to be concerned with their weight; however, they have the wrong approach to managing their weight gain. They want a short cut solution to their obesity-a pill that will melt the fatty tissue. A recent article that appeared on the BBC on line and the Washington Post showed that obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can lead to Alzheimer disease because they destroy the blood vessels in the brain and lead to the death of the brain cells. It will therefore appear that lifestyle changes can go a long way to prevent the disease. These are some suggestions:

  • You should buy into the concept that food is medicine so you can eat the right food at the right time.
  • Learn form the Nun study. The nuns who engaged their minds all the time were immune to the onslaught of the Alzheimer disease even though some of the nuns showed Alzheimer changes in their brain after death. This study gives us a healthy model to follow. It is a recipe for preventing Alzheimer disease.
  • Find time to exercise. Exercise keeps the brain alive by inducing the growth of new cells. It will also keep your weight down and help reduce high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels in your blood.
  • Eat fish or take Omega 3 fatty acids as they help prevent Alzheimer disease.
  • Embrace spirituality to help you reduce stress. When you are under continuous stress, your body comes under attack from the steroids you produce from the stress. The result of this steroid onslaught is to attack your immune system, your brain cells, your chromosomes and cause you to age prematurely. Spirituality gives you resilience and buffers you from stress so you can weather these stressful moments in your life.

"Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness."

Edward Stanley

"If exercise came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body."


"He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician."
- Chinese Proverb

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Daring To Challenge Your Life’s Frustrations Is a Recipe For Your Mind And Body Health.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;

whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again;

who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course;

who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly;

so that his place shall never be with those cold

and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

I have many patients who are frustrated with their jobs, partners, home situation and lives. They sound disappointed and would rather change their situation if they had the opportunity to do it all over again. However, living in this world is like going on a journey. You have stops to make to fill your tank with gas, perform ablution, change the deflated car tires, look for a toying truck to move your broken touring car for repairs, fight sleep behind the steering wheel and cater for your children in the back seats constantly asking you "are we there yet?" These interruptions and annoyances are part of the price we pay when we are on a journey to see our loved ones or go on vacation.

Sometimes, when you look at your life, you do not see any meaningful achievements you have made. Other times you may find many obstacles in your way preventing you from achieving your goals. If you can tolerate temporary annoyances on the road to visit your favorite grandmother, you can restructure your thoughts to be able to withstand the vicissitudes and idiosyncrasies in your life. These changes in your life are the necessary right of passage you need to survive in this world. You have to remember that the unchallenged life is not worth living. Hence, challenge yourself even in the face of adversity to be all you can.

The early explorers sailed the seas in search of the New World. The only traits they had were faith, hope and religion. They went through bolts, bars and arrows to conquer the land they discovered. If they became frustrated during their journey and made a U-turn to their comfortable environment, we may all not be here today. Hence, when the going gets tough and your stress hormones are giving you palpitations and urging you to quit, you should think about these few suggestions:

  • Nothing meaningful is easy to achieve. The more precious the jewel, the deeper you have to dig to get it. Even when you acquire your booty, you still have to keep it polished to prevent deterioration.
  • Cultivate hope like a little rose in your garden. Water it and prevent the weeds from choking it. For, that little plant can grow and give you flowers to brighten your life with color and sweet scents.
  • Share your passion and your achievements. Sharing helps other people and makes you richer.
  • In the face of adversity, be tenacious and have faith in yourself.
  • Do not go it alone. Have a social network you can tap into since sometimes you need someone to wipe your tears for you.
  • Cultivate spirituality to give you buffer as you will face disappointments. Spirituality will be your mantle and shield on those occasions and give you meaning for your quest.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem the worst that you must not quit.

Author Unknown

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

Alfred De Souza