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It's Okay To Go A Little Nuts About Nuts

I know it may not seem like nuts are healthy if the only person you ever saw eating them was that chubby guy at the end of the bar at Happy Hour, but trust me nuts are good for you. Some are better than others though so let's take a look.

According to leading nutritionists today, you can eat almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and even Brazil Nuts without increasing your risk of a heart attack from clogging your arteries. The truth is that eating nuts will actually make you healthier and unless you just eat them by the bowlful they will not make you overweight. According to studies at Penn State, it seems the more nuts you eat the lower the risk of heart disease.

The difference is the type of fats that are in nuts. Polyunsaturates and monounsaturates which are found in nuts are good for you plus nuts are high in protein, vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber. Eating nuts as a regular part of your diet will help to lower bad cholesterol and blood fats while keeping good cholesterol high and cutting the risk of heart attacks.

In the average nuts one ounce has 4 to 8 grams of protein with 14 grams of fat, the majority of which is unsaturated. This is about the same amount of protein is about 8 grams. Nuts are also digested very slowly which helps keep you from being hungry and helps control blood sugar.

A tablespoon of peanut butter or an ounce of nuts five days a week reduced the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes by 20 to 30 percent in a 2002 study by Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard. A recent Australian study suggested walnuts can lower diabetes risk. Another Harvard study showed that men who ate nuts five times a week were significantly less prone to gallstones. And, several studies have shown that people who eat nuts tend to be slimmer, not fatter, and that eating nuts helps people stick to their diets and lose more weight, according to a letter from Hu to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has even allowed the companies packaging nuts place heart healthy labels on peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. Nuts like cashews, macadamias, Brazil nuts, and some others are not given the same treatment due to what the FDA considers too much saturated fat.

Another great thing about nuts is that they are easy to add them into your diet. You can put them on salads, in stir-fry, or just eat them raw. They are great for parties and football game get togethers. You just have to eat them in moderation if you are watching calories since one ounce of almonds for example, can have 180 calories. You only need one ounce a day, five days a week to get the health benefits so the idea is to replace another food with the nuts.

So, what are you waiting for go buy a variety of nuts and get a great platter to put them on for your next party.


Asthma: the Common Chronic Disease

Asthma is a common chronic disease. It refers to the constriction and inflammation of the airways in response to environmental triggers. The constriction can be accompanied by mucus along the airways which further restricts breathing.

Symptoms of this disease include wheezing, coughing, difficulty of breathing etc. Increased attention is being paid to asthma due to its mounting prevalence among urban populations. Estimates say that as many as one in four urban children suffer from asthma. Medical studies continue to probe into the causes of asthma.

The best understood cause of asthma is the body's response to inhaled allergens. An allergen is a substance that initiates an immune-system response even though the substance is not technically harmful. Research suggests that genetic characteristics are the reason for each individual's response to allergens.

For asthmatics the inhalation of allergens causes the body to produce mucus in the lungs along with chemicals that cause inflammation of the airways. This combination of inflammation and congestion in the airways produces the symptoms associated with asthma. Because the body treats the allergens as it would a bacterial or viral infection the immune system stores a memory of the allergen in order to fight it off more effectively should it return.

This response of the auto-immune system helps prevent symptoms of legitimate repeat infections, but the automatic response to allergens makes it impossible for asthmatics to ignore the complications of losing airflow through the lungs. Another way of describing this phenomenon is to say that asthmatics have "hypersensitive" airways, being hypersensitive to certain triggers (e.g. allergens).

Besides allergens other triggers include pollution, various sulfite compounds produced by industry, chloride based compounds found near pools, certain medications including aspirin, psychological stress and even simple changes in temperature. Since the list of triggers goes on asthmatics need to identify the trigger causing their asthma and take the necessary steps to treat the disease.

The most simple treatment is simply limiting or stopping all exposure to the identified cause of asthma. For example, if pet dander induces an asthma attack in someone, that person should avoid pets and other animals as much as possible.

However, because the source of asthma can be complex, other treatment options should be considered: the use of inhalers for immediate relief or even long lasting relief, oral medications, and possibly alternative methods like the Buteyko method which teaches a specific way of breathing.

In all instances patients should discuss treatment with a competent and trusted physician in order to formulate the best treatment plan possible.


Be Aware Of Health Conditions That May "Run In The Family"

When people think about family traits being passed down from generation to generation, they are more likely to think of Grandpa's piercing blue eyes or Great Grandma Myrtle's long tapering fingers which were ideal for piano playing. But did you know that your mother's struggle with diabetes may also become yours? Here are some conditions which are known to or are suspected of running in families.

First, it's important to point out that family members sharing health problems may not necessarily be related to genetics alone. There are a variety of environmental and habitual factors which must be considered in the equation. For example, a family of Type 2 diabetics may develop this condition because of shared eating habits and obesity. They may not have a genetic predisposition at all, but have simply developed this condition because of their environment.

-- Breast cancer is one of several types of the disease which may have a genetic component. Two genes called Breast Cancer Gene 1 and Breast Cancer Gene 2 have been identified as being able to be passed along, especially on the female side of families. All women should have regular breast exams, of course, but if you have a close female relative who has suffered from the disease, consult with your physician to find out if there is more you should be doing to prevent the disease.

-- Another cancer with a possible familial predisposition component is ovarian cancer. If a close female relative has had this type of cancer, your risk of developing it increases to 5%. This may seem like a low percentage, but it's not worth taking the risk when prevention measures are simple. Have regular pap smears.

-- Certain types of skin cancer are deadly, particularly melanomas. Left untreated, a malignancy can metastasize rapidly. The tendency to develop this type of cancer knows no sexual bounds: it affects men and women alike. Knowing that your parent or grandparent has had a melanoma is great advantage because you can be on the lookout for problems with your own skin.

If you have lots of moles, have noticed a change in their shape or if they are causing you pain, contact a doctor immediately. Even if you have no reason for suspicion, it's best to be checked regularly by a professional if you have a family history.

-- Cancers are by no means the only health problems to watch for in families. Hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol and glaucoma are just a few of the conditions which may be common among family members. It's best to keep your eyes open, ask lots of questions, interview older generations, and keep meticulous records. Knowledge is power.


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