A Health Guide to Using Aerosol Sprays

Aerosol sprays have developed an image problem and concerns about their adverse effects on health have mounted: they harm the environment and they contain CFCs, which destroy the ozone layer. Health advocates suggest avoiding aerosols at all costs. But are all these concerns true? Experts say that in the past, yes. Today, no.

For years, aerosol products contained chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were used as spray propellants. In the 1970s, CFCs were found to damage the ozone layer, and in 1978 the United States banned their use in commercial products; other countries (Canada, Norway, and Sweden) shortly followed suit. Records show that by 1996, CFCs were almost entirely phased out. They are currently used only in certain industrial machines (recycled in refrigerators and air conditioners) and medical products (inhalers).

Experts warn, however, that even the new generation of aerosols presents potential health hazards. Many of them contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a group of propellants and solvents that are highly flammable and contribute to smog. The most common VOCs are combinations of propane and butane. VOCs are found not only in aerosols but also in many fast-drying products, including pump sprays, perfumes, and hair gels.

The biggest danger of using an aerosol is inhaling the chemical spray. The spray’s fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and are easily absorbed by the bloodstream, possibly causing a variety of health problems.

A growing number of teenagers inhale vapors from aerosol cans in search of a cheap high. The practice, called “huffing,” deprives the lungs and brain of oxygen and can cause brain damage or death. Parents should be aware of the signs of aerosol abuse: changes in a child’s appetite or sleep patterns, a rash or blisters around the mouth, mood swings, and a chemical smell on the breath.

If you must use an aerosol spray, follow these precautions:

– The first basic rule is to be sure to read – and heed – the label.

– Always use aerosols in a well-ventilated area and do not inhale the vapors. The chemicals in the vapor can be absorbed by the lungs and the bloodstream, potentially causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory problems.

– Avoid misdirected spray; it can harm the eyes and skin.

– Keep aerosol cans away from heat and flame. Even the heat of a nearby furnace can cause a can’s pressurized contents to expand and explode.

– Dispose of the cans in your regular trash. Even though many of them are now made of recyclable materials, recycling centers do not usually accept them because they may explode. Never disassemble, puncture, or incinerate an aerosol can.

Musculoskeletal Health Guide

Good posture is an essential and integral part of a person’s overall health. In fact, a person is not on top of their game if they do not observe correct posture. This is because improper posture can compromise one’s health and prevent them from functioning 100%.

Causes of Bad Posture

Most people are unaware that they are slipping into bad habits and would only realize it when their health is already compromised. This can be seen while watching TV for prolonged periods of time, doing sedentary work such as desk jobs and wearing of restrictive clothes or shoes which can result to injuries or accidents. Lack of exercise also contributes to weight gain, weak muscle as well as lack of sleep due to poor sleeping supports.

Bad posture can lead to a person experiencing fatigue, aching muscles as well as pain. Lack of exercise compounds the problem and limits the muscle’s mobility. A person may also develop imbalance which makes them susceptible to accidents and degeneration of other body parts compromising the musculoskeletal health. Not only does poor posture affect the musculoskeletal system, it also creates havoc in the body’s other systems such as in the respiratory system where prolonged periods of sitting can cause shortened front muscle that leads to difficulty of breathing. It can also cause poor blood circulation, indigestion and back and neck problems. Poor posture can happen in three areas of the body – lower leg area, lumbar area and the upper extremities of the body.

Correct Body Posture

Good posture happens when the whole body is in perfect alignment meaning that the joints are aligned and are properly supported by their own support network and balance is created. To be able to correct one’s posture, it is first important to determine and assess one’s body position. This way one would be able to remind oneself if they fall into the incorrect posture. There are simple to advanced exercises that one can follow to improve their posture including stretching and yoga poses. Although improper posture can be self-corrected, it takes a great sense of dedication and repetitive action to develop the habit.

Taking a picture of the correct sitting position and sticking it to the place where you work can help prompt you to prevent slouching and remind you of the correct way of sitting. When you are sleeping, it is important to level your head with your spine; one can do this by using a small pillow below their head. Do sleep on your side to keep your spine aligned. For bending motions, it is best to bend your knees and keep your back straight before lifting or reaching.

Wine and Health Guide

“Is wine good for you?” – perhaps one of the top 10 most regularly asked questions in our wine tasting events. It’s always interested me that this question is at the forefront of many wine drinker’s minds, and it’s clear this is linked to the increasing interest in what goes into wine, and how it is produced.

It’s regularly notedthat wines (particularly reds), when consumed in moderation help combat cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and even Alzheimers. Epidemiologists for instance have consistently shown that the moderate consumption of alcohol and wine helps lower cardiovascular events such as heart failure. Why? Well although alcohol is a toxic substance, in moderation amongst other things, it is an anticoagulant (which in turn prevents blood clots).

It’s not only alcohol however – phenolic compounds present in wine are also known to be beneficial. One of these, Resveratrol (seemingly the wonder compound) seems to have an extraordinary breadth of benefits, from attacking cancer cells, protecting the heart and brain from damage, reducing inflammation, and lowering the instances of diabetes. Resveratrol has even been credited with reducing age related illnesses. Interestingly, 100 times more resveratrol is absorbed by the mouth than by the stomach. Because of this, it’s recommended you sip wine, rather than knock it back.

On this point, it’s not just how much you drink, but how you drink that matters. A further study (in Italy) has shown that consuming wines with a meal significantly reduces the risk of a heart attack.

THE FRENCH PARADOX

The perceived benefits of wine drinking are not new however. The well known French Paradox (essentially the observation that the French have a relatively low incidence of coronary disease, despite having a diet rich in fat) was first brought to light by an Irish doctor by the name of Samuel Black in 1819.

This phenomenon was revisited in 1991 on 60 Minutes, a CBS news program in USA, with the suggestion that red wine decreases the incidence of cardiac arrests. The follow-on? A 44% increase in red wine consumption, with US based wineries lobbying for the right to label their wines as “health foods.” The reaction from the American public was so great that wine brand Gallo had to put their Hearty Burgundy wine on allocation.

Inevitability, there have been dissenting voices, not least the statistics collected between 1990-2000 by The World Health Organisation who have shown coronary disease in the French may have been underestimated, and may be similar to those of neighbouring countries in Europe.

Despite all the research, as usual it’s all about moderation. Moderate drinkers have been defined by some as those who consume two 5 ounce glasses of wine a day, although sex, age, build, and general health all make generialisations risky. We know where the limits are – go overboard and all the adverse effects of excessive drinking are yours for the taking (liver disease, pancreatitis, cardiovascular disease..).

Prostate Health Guide

The prostate is a gland that surrounds the urinary passage at the end of the bladder of males. Typically small among babies, this gland grows as the child goes through the process of puberty as a response to the production of more testosterone, the male hormone. This said gland functions primarily to produce secretions that add up to the total amount of seminal fluid, promoting healthier sperm cells by protecting them from the acidic environment of the vagina. Additionally, the prostate gland also secretes an enzyme called prostatic specific antigen (PSA), where an elevation in the said enzyme might indicate some prostatic problems such as benign enlargement of the prostate and prostate cancer.

As more males indulge into unhealthy lifestyles and vices such as cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol drinking, the homeostasis of the body gets compromised, and that certain disorders involving the various parts of the body becomes more prevalent. Prostatitis, the inflammation of the prostate gland and the most common disorder among young males, would be one of the prevailing disorders of the prostate these days, and this said disease is often associated to bacterial infections and other underlying health conditions. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, on the other hand, are often related to the inevitable process of aging, as a result of free radical accumulation from food and cell destruction from the wear-and-tear process of the body.

As the male ages, his prostate gland, goes through an unavoidable degenerative process. As such, the gland loses its integrity; thus the start of some prostatic disorders, which are often classified into three common types. First in line would be prostatitis. As the term suggests, this problem is often associated to bacterial infection or sometimes, to an underlying or pre-existing health condition. On the contrary, benign prostatic hyperplasia and the dreaded prostate cancer are age-related by nature. Alongside with unhealthy lifestyle and vices like cigarette smoking, these disorders are basically attributed to the long-term effects of aging and cellular damage. On this note, it is therefore advised that males, especially for those whose ages would be from 40 and above, to go through a diagnostic procedure called digital rectal examination (DRE) to assess impending abnormal tissue growth that might indicate prostate problems.

Since diet, along with stress, participates as one of the chief reasons for prostate problems like prostate cancer, it is crucial that males become aware of the foods that are encouraged to be taken and advised to be avoided. Among the various recommended foods that should be taken would include natural food sources like fruits and vegetables. Additionally, fresh fish that are enriched with fatty acids are also very helpful. On the other hand, meat products that are rich in fats and salty foods are two of the foods that you should eliminate in your diet. The foods rich in hydrogenated oils such as donuts, cakes, cookies and margarine, and other processed foods are among the additional things you should also consider removing from your diet list to help promote a healthy prostate gland.

The treatment of prostate cancer will basically be based on certain factors such as age, the total health status of the person and the extent of tumor. For tumors that are found inside the prostate gland, radiation therapy and the use of radical prostatectomy are two of the most common alternative treatments. Additionally, a treatment called “watchful waiting”, where no treatment is introduced until the tumor enlarges, is another option. This said approach is considered by many as the best choice especially for older men, since they have a greater risk of dying from something else other than the cancer of the prostate itself. Hormone therapy is a yet another option for treating prostate cancer.

Nutrition Food Pyramid

The Food Pyramid has been used for decades to show people what type (and how much) of individual foods they should eat every day for optimal health. Redesigned in 2005, the new pyramid sports a rainbow of colored, vertical stripes that represent the five major food groups, plus fats and oils.

Not sure what the colors stand for? Here’s a quick reference:

Orange – grains.

Green – vegetables.

Red – fruits.

Yellow – fats and oils.

Blue – milk and dairy products.

Purple – meat, beans, fish, and nuts.

The food pyramid is a used to illustrate the variety of foods people need to eat to stay healthy. The skinnier the band of color, the less foods you need to consumer in that category, and vice versa. As you will notice, eating a variety of healthy foods is best. The goal is to eat foods from each color band each and every day.

As you’ll notice when reviewing the new pyramid, some bands are fat on the bottom and get thinner as they reach the top. Why? Because foods are not created equal. While apple pie contains apples, it is not as good for you as a freshly picked apple straight form the tree! The same is true for a tomato vs. ketchup. The less nutritious variety of the food is depicted at the top thinner part of the pyramid, with the more nutritious item featured on the bottom.

One of the most important aspects of the food pyramid is the way it explains how many servings of individual categories a person should eat every day. This includes:

Grains:

It’s important for children to eat 4-6 ounces of grains every day, depending on their age, while adults need more than 6 ounces to meet their daily requirements. Remember, whole grains are best.

Vegetables:

Vegetables are especially important to a healthy diet. Children should eat ½ to 2 cups per day with adults consuming 2 ½ cups or more.

Fruits:

Fresh fruit is a very important nutrient for a well balanced diet. Keep in mind that while fruit juices and packaged fruit count on the slimmer part of the pyramid, fresh fruit is always best. So, how much fruit should you eat every day? Children need 1-½ cups per day, and adult 2 or more.

Milk and Other Calcium-Rich Foods:

Calcium builds strong teeth and bones and should be consumed on a daily basis. Children need a minimum of 1-2 cups of milk (0r other calcium rich food) every day, while adult (especially women) should be consuming 3 or more cups of dairy a day.

Meats, Beans, Fish, and Nuts:

For all of the iron and other important nutrients you need to stay healthy eat 3-5 ounces per day (for children) and 5-8 ounces (for adults).

Not sure that you’re eating the right amounts of food every day? Be sure to check your diet against the new food pyramid guidelines on a regular basis to ensure that you’re eating a well balanced diet for optimal health and fitness.