Category Archives: Health

Staying Healthy!

I am by no means what you would call a “health nut”, but I am careful about what I eat, as I want to keep my body in as near as possible the same shape as it always has been. I am certainly not convinced that “Middle-aged spread” is at all unavoidable, and have managed so far to avoid most of the problems that people incur when they put on weight.

After watching “Sugar – The Bitter Truth”, which is an .avi file by Robert H. Lustig, and reading “Pure, White, and Deadly” (PDF) by John Yudkin, I was even more determined to restrict my sugar intake to an absolute minimum.

Sugar, however, is not the only source of unwanted body fat, and now Robert H. Lustig has come out with a new publication called Fat Chance_ Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. This I downloaded from http://ebookscart.com/ , where it was available in “Mobi” format. I don’t use this format on my computer, but I can convert it to “Epub” using the “Calibre” program.

Unfortunately, when I loaded it into “Calibre” to start the conversion, the file was unreadable, so I searched around for an alternative. It was available as a torrent from the following source:-
https://1337x.to/torrent/2778693/Fat-Chance-Beating-the-Odds-Against-Sugar-Processed-Food-Obesity-and-Disease-Robert-H-Lustig-epub-mobi/
and this had the advantage of already being in “Epub” format, and so would not require any conversion. I did check the “Mobi” file in “Calibre”, however, and it loads without any problem.

Note.
You might think that the material is as “dry as dust”, but this is not strictly true. Robert Lustig does try to liven things up a little at times. In fact, before the contents, he writes –

“This book is written only for those of you who eat food.
The rest of you are off the hook.”

If you need any further proof that doctors can be funny, try this:-

Warning! Make sure your bladder is nearly empty before reading this – or there could be accidents! It really is a scream in places.

This book is available as a free download from http://ebookscart.com/

And don’t forget:- “Laughter is the best medicine!”

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Too Important to Miss!

This is a real eye-opener. I just had to re-blog it!

App lets you be eyes for the blind

ByBIGAD SHABAN CBS NEWS

Whether he’s making his way down some stairs, or down the block, Julian Vargas can find his way just about anywhere. The 45-year-old has been blind most of his life and enjoys being independent, but says there are moments when he — and others who are visually impaired — need help.

“When we are trying to get some information or detail that’s only available visually, we’ll joke around and say does anyone have a pair of eyes I can borrow right now?”

A new, free app for smart phones, called Be My Eyes, aims to solve that problem. Using a phone’s already built-in accessibility features, blind users can run their fingers over their phone to pull up the app, which then uses the phone’s camera and microphone to get instantly connected to sighted volunteers.

Vargas spent an afternoon with CBS News correspondent Bigad Shaban to demonstrate how it works.

After entering his local pharmacy, Vargas used his phone to access the app, which then started calling volunteer Elvira Medina.

“How can I help you today?” Medina said over the phone.

“I’m not as familiar with the aisles here, so I was thinking you could maybe be my eyes and help me find some things I need?” Vargas replied.

He then pointed his phone’s camera in front of him, as Medina navigated him through the store.

Since the app launched last month, Medina has helped blind users locate medicine, figure out expiration dates, and even learn about art.

“Just someone curious walking the hall, touching a frame and wondering what the picture is,” Medina said. “A guy called me up to see how his sunglasses looked, one day. So I told him he looked great and he rocked them. So, it’s small things like that.”

The idea for Be My Eyes came from a 50-year-old furniture maker in Denmark who started losing his vision.

The service is available in 80 languages. So far, more than 115,000 volunteers have signed up to help the roughly 10,000 visually-impaired people who have enrolled.

If a sighted volunteer happens to be busy when they get a call from the app, they can simply hit a button on their phone so that another volunteer is contacted instead.

Vargas says it’s making an impact you don’t have to see to believe. And as for the volunteers: “They’re giving us something that we need the most at that given second — a pair of eyes.”

To learn more about the app, you can visit
http://www.BeMyEyes.org

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Get the app!

Open their eyes!

Spread the word!

All of a Twitter!

This blog has been inactive for a while now, unfortunately, and although it has caused me some concern to leave it alone so long, I have had other matters to attend to that had to take priority.

What I jokingly referred to as “Fat Feet Syndrome”, was not just a temporary problem caused by higher temperatures, as I had expected, but a sudden drop in urinary output for some unknown reason, which was ongoing.

My doctor diagnosed this as Burger’s disease, and uttered those dreaded words “STOP SMOKING”.

Every time he had said that before, I had studiously ignored him, and told him that I wasn’t going to do that. This time was different, however. I could see that he was completely serious about it. He also said that if I didn’t stop, I would start to lose body parts at the extremities, as the blood supply to them would just not be sufficient to maintain them in good condition.

Besides which, my swollen feet didn’t feel like my feet any more. Walking, although not exactly painful, was no longer comfortable. I realised that If I couldn’t walk any more for any reason, life as I knew it would be thing of the past, and I didn’t relish the thought of what would replace it!

Although I had tried giving up smoking before, I’d had no success with it – probably because I had no real incentive to do so. Now I had. And it made all the difference. I went cold turkey! I have not smoked since the end of August 2014, and have no intention of starting again.

Although not writing anything in the blog, I have not been completely inactive. On the contrary, I have become much more familiar with the niceties of Twitter, and am now quite active on that program. You can now follow what I am doing there very easily, as I have now fixed the connection, and the links are displayed on the left side of the page.

For those of you that are considering giving up smoking, and are having difficulties, you may be able to use the same trick as me. Whenever I found an urge to smoke getting too insistent, I went to sleep. By the time I woke up, the problem had gone away! Ok, for me its easier – I am retired. But if you have the time available, and need the extra help, its heartily recommended.

Pesticides? Use Your Loaf, Minimise Your Intake!

PAN_logoFor those unfamiliar with the expression, “use your loaf”, it means “use your head, use your brain – Think!”

It seems that we no longer have a choice over whether we consume pesticides or not. GM companies like Monsanto have been pushing hard to get the residual content of their pesticides in the harvested crop increased. The results are now plain to see.

Over 60% of breads sold in the UK contain pesticide residues, tests show
and
Loaf-threatening: More than half of British breads contain ‘toxic’ pesticides

The chemicals in question are “Roundup” (Glyphosate), a defoliant, “Chlormequat”, a plant growth regulator, and “Malathion”, an insecticide.

Bread

The average figure for pesticide residues in non-organic bread from 2000 to 2013 is 61.49% – much higher than the overall figure for pesticides residues in all produce combined which is approximately 40%. Disturbingly, pesticide residues in bread have risen from 28.24% in 2001 to 63.43% in 2013. That would equate to three out of every five non-organic bread products you buy. In 2005, we see a huge peak of 80% of all bread tested contained residues, which would be four in every five.
(Taken from http://www.pan-uk.org/files/Pesticides%20in%20Your%20Daily%20Bread%20guide%20-%20FINAL%20(1).pdf)

I think most of us are convinced by now that these chemicals are not doing us any good at all!

But just in case there are a few of you that are still undecided, you can do your own research at the following links:-

And according to Pesticide Action Network, bread is not the only source of concern. See
Pesticides on a Plate

For those of you that are prepared to take the risk, carry on as if you had never seen this post at all!

For those of you that wish to protect themselves, and especially those who are considering starting a family, eating organic food would be an excellent choice.

The alternative – a starvation diet –
is not recommended!

When the Rot Sets In.

Decay“Why is it that British people have such bad teeth?” asked the dentist standing next to me, between bouts of drilling, filling and polishing – or whatever else they do in there while your mouth is at their disposal.

The question surprised me, and puzzled me a bit. I could think of an immediate answer for one section of the public – poor diet after World War II – but as to the rest I really had no idea.

The dentist, who probably hadn’t expected any great enlightenment anyway from a single patient, went back to his task, which immediately cut off any further response from myself.

I could see other obvious differences too. The “Great American Mouth” immediately springs to mind, with this double row of immaculately groomed pearly whites flashing at anybody within distance of that smile. The Brits just didn’t do that!

One would have expected that over the years British dental standards would have improved, but apparently that is too much to expect, unfortunately. See –
Teeth problems are top reason for young children’s hospital admissions

Note that we are not talking about hereditary tooth problems, with extra teeth being grown in the wrong places, but about decay – and this is horrifying!

“Figures show 25,812 children aged five to nine with tooth decay have been admitted for multiple extractions in a year.”

“Kathryn Harley, former dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, told the paper: “We have children who require all 20 of their baby teeth to be extracted. It beggars belief that their diets could produce such a drastic effect.””

“Harley said many of the children presenting with problems could need four or even eight teeth out, with “quite a few” having as many as 14 extracted.”

I am not going to say anything about parents neglecting their children’s health, or bad diet causing excessive tooth decay – there is enough said about this already. I will just say that help may be at hand, (or mouth), in the near future. See –
The new tooth decay treatment that could see fillings become an unpleasant memory”

“Fillings and the dentist drill could soon become an unpleasant memory after scientists developed a technique to rebuild teeth using tiny electrical pulses that could be available within three years.”

And an alternative treatment –

“Last month researchers from the US government’s dental research team found a blast of intense light from a laser beam activated a chemical in the mouth which “woke up” stem cells within the tooth.”

“The stem cells then formed new dentine, the hard core of the tooth that can easily rot away, around twelve weeks later. Just five minutes under a laser was enough to kick-start the healing process inside the mouth, researchers found.”

This can’t come fast enough!

Just imagine – smiling as you leave the dentist!

A Breath of Fresh Air? – Not In London!

Air pollution in heavily populated areas is nothing new to the UK.
If you go to “History of Air Pollution in the UK
you will find list of some 38 different attempts to deal with it since 1273, when the use of coal was prohibited in London as being “prejudicial to health”, and culminating in the “Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” of 2000.

One item should be added to the above list, and that is the New Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC.

They all have one thing in common – they have failed to solve the problem!

There could be reasons for this of course, such as the goalposts being moved periodically. The problem in 1273 was coal, whereas the problem today is apparently nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from diesel cars and trucks. The target date for fixing this was supposed to be 2010, but London, Leeds and Birmingham could still be above these goals in 2030.

More detail on the current state of pollution can be found at
EU Commission launches legal action over UK air quality, and
UK admits that air quality targets will be missed by 20 years“.

Apart from the fact that the latest scientific evidence shows NO2 has similar effects to PM2.5, which the government says causes around 29,000 premature deaths in Britain each year, the legal process could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice where the UK would face huge fines if found in breach of the 2008 directive.

There are measures that can be taken, even for the areas such as Oxford Street, which is 3.5 times above the legal limit, (during peak episodes it’s ten times the legal limit). The answer here is to turn them into pedestrian zones, and exclude traffic altogether. This system has been very effective in Germany, where some 60 low emission zones have already been implemented. The ones I know in Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main really are a pleasure to visit.

Another possibility is to watch what the Finns are doing in Helsinki. “Finland’s capital hopes a ‘mobility on demand’ system that integrates all forms of shared and public transport in a single payment network could essentially render private cars obsolete”
See “Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years“.

“Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.”

Its not as if there is a shortage of ideas that will work.

What we don’t want to see is what is happening in Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas,
see “Venezuela’s airport ‘breathing’ tax

And while we are at it, lets make sure we get fresh air where it is most needed –

In Parliament!

FGM is un-Islamic, states the Muslim Council of Britain!

Finally we have a pronouncement, which states that “FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur’an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute.”

The above text was taken from –
Muslim Council of Britain says female genital mutilation is ‘un-Islamic’

However, just because we have a pronouncement, we cannot expect the matter to be immediately resolved. We are dealing with traditions here, and those that are supported by women – the very people that have to undergo the suffering.

There is another disquieting factor here – “Group issues explicit guidance for the first time, condemning practice which it says is no longer linked to religious teaching”. This implies that it has been linked up till now, although there is apparently no religious basis for it.

At variance with the pronouncment above, Wikipedia reports that “There is no mention of FGM in the Bible or Quran. Although its origins are pre-Islamic, it became associated with Islam because of that religion’s focus on female modesty and chastity, and is found only within or near Muslim communities. It is praised in several hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required, along with advice that the milder forms are kinder to women.”

Be that as it may, the practice has roots in traditions dating back to Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, c. 1991–1786 BCE. , and traditions die very hard.

We cannot afford to relax our vigil against this terrible practice. The pronouncement is a useful tool in the fight against it, but nothing more.

Sweden, the first country to outlaw the practice, still has a battle on its hands, with estimates of some 42,000 women and girls in Sweden having been subjected to the controversial procedure, of whom some 7,000 are less than 10 years old. They are now planning an on-line campaign against the problem, which is increasing due to increased immigration.

See:- Sweden to battle female genital mutilation with online course

It occurs to me that a much more radical approach could be effective – refuse entry to any person who has had FGM performed, and deport those who allow their children to suffer the same fate.

Lets hope it doesn’t come to that!

Can the NHS Withstand this Onslaught?

NHS ImpactHardly a day goes past without a mention of the woes that the NHS is undergoing at the moment. The links below indicate how serious the problem is.

NHS will face £30bn funding gap by 2020, official warns
NHS in Wales faces £2.5bn funding gap
Hospitals to be paid by NHS to claw back costs of treating foreigners
Nurses vote against fee for GP services
GP surgeries are not fit for purpose: BMA
NHS Direct ‘failed dying three year-old’

And more recently:-
Lib Dems to demand emergency £2bn bailout for the NHS – reports
Poll: NHS decisions should be left to doctors, say majority of Britons
Jeremy Bowen’s father left without food and water in hospital
Wounded soldiers failing to receive the care they are entitled to
NHS cash problems will get worse next year, finance chiefs believe
Jeremy Hunt plans disclosure drive to reduce medical errors

I’m sure if you dig a little deeper, you will uncover more such horror stories.

The can be no doubt that the NHS has really serious problems, but this leads to two pertinent questions:-
1. Who is causing them?, and
2. How do we fix them?
In my view, the NHS is suffering from “Politicians Disease“. If there had been a real motivation on the part of the government over the years to do something effective to solve the problems, it would have been done. Instead, it seems that the intention is to let it run on starvation rations until it implodes, and has to be bailed out with a massive injection of Privatisation.

The answer to question 2. is much more complicated. First, we have to make the government understand that the NHS must remain “free at the point of use”, as was always the intention, and the funds to do the job have to be found at the expense of lower priority demands on money, such as wars, nukes, and increases in MP’s salary or expenses.

Then we must convince the government that politicians are not capable of running the NHS at all;- it needs to be properly managed by an independent body that is not likely to change at every election cycle.

And, as I have said before, there must be an agreed long-term plan to work to.

This won’t happen unless YOU get off your butt, and do something about it!

Don’t forget, we are all ultimately responsible for our own bodies. We can improve our personal situation by our choice of lifestyle, and maintain our good health ourselves. Think: – Thin is Beautiful!

You want to keep the NHS?

Then fight for it!

The Worst Place in the World to be a Woman!

HangedThe recent spate of reports of rape, hanging, murder and senseless violence against girls in India has reached a new peak. This must be the worst place in the world to be a woman.

Rape is the penultimate violation of a female’s human rights, and unfortunately it is often followed by the ultimate violation – murder.

Where are the police? It varies between unwilling to accept a victim’s statement unless no other option is available, to being actual perpetrators themselves. A culture exists where police officers tell reporters “If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it”, and remains prevalent in India.

The politicians? Babulal Gaur’s opinion is that “sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong”. If that is his opinion, why is he the home minister responsible for law and order in the BJP-run central state of Madhya Pradesh?

More information here:-
India state minister on rape: ‘Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong’
Another girl found hanging in Uttar Pradesh, rape attempt on judge
Horrified at Reports of Violence Against Women in India: US on Badaun Rape Case
Photos: Police use Water Cannons on Women in India Protesting Rape

We need to take action!

Avaaz

Join the AVAAZ campaign!

If this doesn’t do the trick, a Boycott will!

Sold Down The River!

PillsAs far as the NHS is concerned, I am more convinced than ever that the British public is being ‘sold down the river’. If there was the political will on the part of government to defend the NHS at all costs, it would have been done. Unfortunately, the opposite appears to be true.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the government is hell-bent on an American-style health system, knowing full well that the British public would not tolerate it at all. How would they go about making the change, without having to accept the blame for it?

The lack of an overall long-term plan is the first step. Putting the NHS at mercy of successive politicians acting as Health Minister, with each of them free to enact their own particular fantasies is a great help. The NHS is pulled one way, then the other, according to the political dogma holding sway at the time, with each change soaking up billions of money in the process – and achieving nothing.

The next item is to starve the NHS of qualified personnel. This forces the need to employ ‘temporary’ staff at vastly inflated rates, and soaks up more money. See:-
NHS hospital pays finance chief rates of £600,000 a year

You can see how well their privatisation measures are doing here:-
‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs

Another measure is to centralise everything, on the grounds of so-called “efficiency”. Any properties surplus to requirements after this process can be sold, and the money dissipated on other worthless projects. It is very unlikely to be held in reserve should the NHS need it in the future!

Now, Simon Stevens, the new NHS chief executive, has laid out plans for an expansion in community services to bolster the country’s small hospitals, and provide more care for the elderly. He wants to de-centralise again! I am not saying that he is wrong, but the amount of money that will need to be invested has to come from somewhere.

Otherwise we will end up with this:-
NHS patients ‘could be forced to pay bed and board’
and the American-style system in the UK will become a fact of life!

Of course I blame the politicians! For me the questions are simple enough:-

    Do I need nukes, or do I invest in healthcare?
    Do I go to war in some foreign country that is really none of my business, or do I look after my own people?
    Do I continue to give aid to foreign countries, (that may or may not need it), when more and more of my own citizens are falling into the poverty trap?
    Do I spend vast amounts on flagship projects, or do I use the money wisely to safeguard the things that are of real value to the community?

There is not so much time left to get this lot sorted out, with general elections about a year away. The NHS cannot wait that long.

We need to get the existing politicians to understand that the people want the NHS to be maintained in the spirit in which it was formed.

If we fail to do that, then make damned sure that in the next election we get politicians who will do the job we need.

Don’t forget, politicians are past masters at making the outcome of their political choices seem as though it is inevitable, and the only option available.

If you haven’t understood that yet, you deserve what you get!