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Stand up for your health

You eat healthy and work out, but you may be sabotaging all of your good intentions. Recent research suggests that sitting can put you at risk for certain diseases and other health problems, and it can lead to an increase in mortality rates. Yes, sitting-what you might even be doing right now-has been shown to increase a person’s chances of dying.

It’s hard to conclude just how much sitting is too much, but the message is clear. To live longer, we need to sit less.

It seems to go against everything we’ve been striving for – high-end office chairs that allow people to work comfortably for extended periods of time, technology-enhanced lounge chairs for relaxing at home and various methods to get children to stay seated in the classroom.

But this somewhat new revelation isn’t likely to become a passing fad. In fact, the office equipment industry has added a completely new segment to help combat the ill effects of sitting. The office fitness category now offers products such as treadmill desks, standing desks, and sit-to-stand desks and tables.

Many companies already give employees

incentives to adopt healthier lifestyles, and now they will likely need to incorporate ways for employees to stay productive while spending less time sitting at their desks. But these types of changes do take time.

So what do you do when your daily commute and desk job not only have you sitting for hours on end but also leave you so exhausted that you can’t wait to get home to sit down and relax?

Well, according to research, you get back up again.

How to break your sitting habit

Of course, there are certain activities that require sitting, such as driving a car. However, unless sitting is absolutely essential, we need to find creative ways to remember to stand up and move around.

Sit for 1 and move for 2

The ability to stay focused is a highly praised attribute in both students and employees. But if it’s keeping you in your seat, it could be impacting your overall health.

One way to break your sitting habit is to get up and move for at least two minutes every hour. If you work in an office, set an alarm to remind yourself. A quick walk around the office or down the hall and back should do the trick.

In a classroom setting, younger students often change activities throughout the day, but teachers could take this a step further. Have the class engage in some form of physical movement, such as marching in place or doing a few jumping jacks, toe touches or arm circles, before settling in for the next activity.

Turn off the TV

If you’re a TV watcher, make a list of all your regular shows and add up the amount of hours you spend watching per week. If you’re shocked by the number, which many are, try replacing your TV time with some sort of physical activity for a week or two. You’ll likely notice a significant increase in your energy level. If cutting out TV seems like too much of a sacrifice, cut down on the time it keeps you sitting. For example, you could stand and fold laundry, iron your clothes or pack lunches for the next day.

While it isn’t very likely you can avoid sitting altogether, just be aware of how quickly your sitting time adds up. Whether you’re working on a project, catching up on social media or watching your favorite shows, make it a point to get up and get moving. Your life depends on it.

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A Drop of Sunshine (Vitamin D)

Vitamin D is the silent hero in our lives. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and it has also been suggested that it may also benefit in protecting us against colds and fighting depression.It can be found in fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. However, the body receives most (80%-90%) of its vitamin D from exposure to sunlight which is absorbed through your skin.

Sunlight is the best way to get your vitamin D. However, because of the associated risk of skin cancer, there are no official recommendations from Doctors to go outside to catch some rays. A small amount of sun exposure without sunscreen can do the trick. Just 20 to 25 minutes of exposure is helpful. Unfortunately if you live at higher latitudes, its winter, or your skin has a darker pigment, you are unlikely to get your daily needs.

When you can’t get enough sunlight, fatty fish is a great substitute. Common options of fish containing vitamin D include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. A 3-ounce sockeye salmon fillet contains about 450 international units (IUs) of vitamin D where 600 IUs is the recommended dietary allowance. A bonus to eating fatty fish is the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Canned tuna fish and canned sardines both contain vitamin D, and usually less expensive than fresh fish. They also have a longer shelf life, allowing you to stock up on vitamin D when they are on sale. Canned light tuna has the most vitamin D at about 150 IUs per 4 ounces. Canned albacore tuna has about 50 IUs per 4 ounces, while canned sardines have a little more than 40 IUs per two sardines.

Most types of cow’s milk sold in grocery stores are fortified with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of milk contains at least 100 IUs of vitamin D, while a 6 ounce serving of yogurt contains 80 IUs. You can also choose many orange juice brands that also fortify their juice with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of juice usually has around 100 IUs of vitamin D, but amounts can vary from brand to brand, so check the nutritional label.

And when all else fails, vitamin D supplements can help get your proper daily dose. The benefits of vitamin D supplements is you can take your dose all at one time. Too much vitamin D can be toxic so be careful not to consume too much. The IOM sets the upper limit at 4,000 IUs for people aged 9 and older (includes all sources – food, sun, and supplement). Talk to your doctor before choosing a dosage.

Breakfast can also help you get your daily intake of vitamin D. Eggs are a convenient way to get vitamin D. Vitamin D in an egg comes from its yolk, it’s important to use the whole egg, not just the whites. One egg yolk will give you about 40 IUs. But remember, one egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 300 milligrams a day for heart health. Many cereals are also fortified with vitamin D, such as Multi Grain Cheerios. A 1 cup serving of Multi Grain Cheerios with one-half cup of fortified milk is about 90 IUs. Add your 8 ounce glass of fortified orange juice and you’re up to almost 200 IUs.

Vitamin D has many uses and is essential for the formation, growth, and repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption and immune function. With the options listed above, you’ll get your daily dose of vitamin D, even if it is the dead of winter.

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Too Much Texting

We have become a society glued to our mobile phones. Texting has become one of the most popular ways to communicate with each other. But texting comes at a price. The more we text, the more pain we can experience in our neck, shoulders and back. It has similar side effects as what you would see from someone sitting at a computer all the time. The body is often positioned with stationary shoulders and back with neck down and slouched forward. People spend on average two hours a day looking down at their cell phones. Leaning over to text is equivalent to adding sixty pounds of weight on your neck. The hunch over position can also lead to breathing issues in your future as well.

The effects of long term forward neck posture can lead to long term muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees. To put the 60 pounds of weight into perspective, think of six sacks of potatoes, six large watermelons or an 8 year-old child. Good posture is when the ears are aligned with the shoulders and shoulder blades. Changing the spine’s natural curvature will lead to more stress over time and cause wear, tear, degeneration and may lead to the need for surgery.

Studies are now coming out showing that texting and using mobile devices for long periods of time could lead to a lower life expectancy. The hunched over posture adopted by phone or tablet users can cause breathing problems, leading to cardiovascular issues later in life causing an increased risk of death in older age. When you are hunched over you are causing strain on your heart and your ribs cannot move properly causing your heart and lungs not to function to their full effectiveness. Constantly being hunched over will cause future problems with your cardiovascular system.

Here are some tips for avoiding neck pain:

  • Use your eyes range of motion to look down rather than tilting your head down.
  • Keep stretching your neck muscles. Tilt your head, bringing your ear to your shoulder on both sides and hold.
  • Stand in a doorway, extend your arms and push your chest forward. This will stretch and strengthen your muscles you use for good posture.

Try doing those exercises and stretches twice a day while being conscious at maintaining good posture.

The popularity of texting for communication means it won’t be going away anytime soon but in order to preserve your spine, neck, back and breathing, be aware of your posture. Correct yourself when you feel you are hunched over. Maintaining good posture will help you eliminate the potential for future health problems down the road.

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Self Diagnosis – Why we shouldn’t

The internet is a vast source of information that we often turn to when searching for information on health problems or physical symptoms we may be facing. Experts have found that many of us will search online for health related information. This can be a concern – not everything you read online is necessarily accurate or applicable to your specific situation.

Many individuals will not take the time to get a proper diagnosis to a health or physical problem. It can be time consuming with visiting doctors and specialists, going for tests and taking time off work. Cost can also sometimes be a factor. All reasons to lead many to self diagnose their ailments by using the internet.

Here are some potential issues that you need to consider before self-diagnosing your condition

  • The diagnosis may be wrong.
  • The diagnosis may cause unnecessary anxiety.
  • Self-diagnosis may convince you that nothing is wrong – having you skip the visit to the doctor.
  • Without proper clinical diagnosis and medical attention, your condition may worsen.
  • In the case of a serious illness, a delay in proper medical treatment may lead you to serious complications.

A self-diagnosis can lead to misdiagnosis. The internet can be misleading and also confusing. There are hundreds of serious health conditions that share a number of similar symptoms. Choosing the wrong self-diagnosis can also lead to the use of drugs and drug abuse – using drugs that aren’t needed and in turn may cause more harm. The self-diagnosis can be misdiagnosed and leave you feeling anxious and worried about something that just may not be true. The added worry and anxiety can cause additional problems like abdominal pain and ulcers which may cause more misdiagnosis.

You also need to be aware of where exactly are you getting your information. Is it medical website, someone’s personal blog, social media? Is it credible? So, when it comes down to it, there really is no substitute for visiting your family doctor and taking the steps to determine what your health or physical issues are and how they should be properly treated. You can always use the internet to find more information on the issue, with the recommendation of valid websites from your doctor of course.

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Hidden Calories

The holidays are here and enjoying the season with friends and family usually includes having a nice beverage, alcoholic or not. A lot of the time, the drink we choose has a lot of hidden calories that do not help maintain your waistline and may negate all the hard work you’ve done at the gym.Holiday celebrations can translate into additional calories from drinks that you wouldn’t normally have. Before you reach for that glass of cheer, beware, many fancy holiday drinks are loaded with calories, fat and sugar. Eggnog, Hot Chocolates, Coffees, Cocktails are some of the well liked holiday drinks that will not help you when you go to step on that scale. There are ways to still enjoy a tasty beverage, while leaving some of those additional calories behind.

Here are some of the favorite high calorie holiday drinks and what it would take a 150lb woman to burn it off.

  1. Peppermint Mocha – a 16-ounce serving has 470 calories and equal to 1 hour of intense yoga.
  2. Pumpkin Spice Latte- a 16-ounce serving contains 410 calories and equal to 40 minutes of step aerobics.
  3. Hot Buttered Rum – 418 calories and equal to a 4-mile run.
  4. Margarita – approximately 9-ounces is 408 calories and equal to 60 minutes on the rowing machine.
  5. White Russian – 355 calories and equal to 30 minutes of jumping rope.
  6. Eggnog – 1-cup serving is approximately 350 calories and equal to 35 minutes of kick boxing.
  7. Hot Chocolate – 12-ounce serving is 320 calories and equal to 60 minutes of raking leaves.

To combat these extra calories, but still enjoy a nice beverage, you just have to make a healthier choice. Here are some suggestions to not let the holiday cheer get away from us:

  • Go for the lighter options such as, Light Eggnog, Lowfat Lattes, Sparkling Cider.
  • Substitute the milk in the drink to a low fat or skim milk instead of creams and high fat milk.
  • Drink lots of water before, after and during holiday beverages. You’ll find you won’t have as many if you are hydrated with water.
  • Plan ahead. Choose a holiday beverage instead of dessert. Or drink the beverage earlier in the day so you can work off the calories.
  • Avoid the alcohol. Order the drink as a virgin and save up to 100 calories per beverage. Plus, you’ll be a safe driver over the holiday season.
  • Skip the extras. Avoid the whipped topping, chocolate sauce, sprinkles or candy cane. Even go as far ahead and ask the barista to give fewer pumps of the flavored syrup.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of what you love. Enjoy your favorite, but limit the amounts you have over the season. One delicious drink here and there isn’t going to hurt too much.
  • Continue with your exercise routine over the holidays. You’ll find the little bit extra you consume over the season, won’t have too big of an effect on the scale.

If you’re sensible over the holidays you can enjoy the festivities without increasing you calorie intake too much. Happy Holidays and stay safe.

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Stop the Burn

I’m sure we’ve all suffered at one time or another with an occasional bout of heartburn, that uncomfortable, burning, pain in your upper chest. What can you do it about it? Heartburn or acid reflux, like every other pain in your body, is a warning signal. It is telling you that something must be changed.

Heartburn is a muscular problem. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a specialized ring of muscle located at the end of the esophagus, opens when you swallow to let food pass into the stomach. It then closes quickly to keep things in the stomach. When the LES doesn’t close quickly enough, or reopens at the wrong time, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. The acid on the sensitive lining of the lower esophagus causes a burning sensation.

True heartburn relief must make the LES operate properly. It must keep the LES from relaxing inappropriately, or it must strengthen the LES. The simple fix of over the counter medication such as TUMS and other antacids really only mask the real issue.

So, how can you get proper heartburn/acid reflux relief? Follow some of these suggestions:

  1. Diet. Everyone is different and what types of food causes heartburn for one person will differ for the next. Our stomachs produce differing amounts of gastric juices, with differing degrees of acidity. A type of food that may not agree with you and cause acid reflux may be fine for someone else who also gets acid reflux. Relief requires listening to your body. The next time you have heartburn, think back to what you ate. Keep a diary every time you get a bout of heartburn. After about a month, look back on the diary and determine if there is a pattern to the type of food that may be causing your problem.
  2. Actions. The failure of your muscle to keep the “door” closed between the stomach and the esophagus may be as simple as your actions. Eating too fast, eating too much, or not chewing food well can all contribute to heartburn. Also, things like bending at the waist right after eating or wearing tight clothing can also be common connections to heartburn. An overweight person may also have more acid reflux cases as the extra weight puts undue pressure on that area of the body, an action best corrected by losing weight. Going to bed on a full stomach or exercising too soon after eating will also cause heartburn. Look at some of these possible causes and see if they may have an effect on you. Eat slower and chew every bite before swallowing. Stop eating before you get full. Sometimes your brain and your stomach take a bit to “talk” to each other. Wait at least 2 hours after eating before exercising and at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  3. Water. If you suffer from heartburn during or after exercise, you may simply be dehydrated. Every muscle, including the LES that prevents backflow of stomach juices, needs sufficient water to function well.
  4. Garlic. Garlic provides heartburn relief for many, especially those that have H. Pylori (a bacterium found in the stomach). H. Pylori works with acid secretion to damage stomach tissue, causing inflammation and contributing to heartburn. Garlic helps eliminate H. pylori – try eating 1 or 2 cloves of fresh, raw garlic daily.
  5. Oxygen. As mentioned several times, the root cause of heartburn is muscles. Muscles demand oxygen for efficient functioning. Maybe your stress is high or you have poor habits and fail to breathe deeply and regularly and thus you deprive the LES of the oxygen it needs to be strong and operate properly.

Here are some other home-remedies that may work for you:

  • Tall glass of milk
  • Baking Soda (full glass of water with 1 tsp of baking soda)
  • Celery
  • Yellow Mustard (1 tsp mixed into half filled glass of water)
  • Raw Potato (clean, peel an average size potato and blend it with a glass of water)
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Fennel
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple

If you are experiencing heartburn or acid reflux on a more regular basis, please make sure you see your doctor to rule out any other underlying health concerns. Once the more serious concerns are ruled out, try some of these simple, non-prescription or non-medicine based options to get relief from uncomfortable heartburn

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Men vs Women – Weight Loss Styles

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. There is a lot of differences between men and women; let it be in physical appearance or in the functioning of the body’s organs. Do men lose weight faster?The simple truth is that men are larger and have more muscle than women due to the hormone testosterone. They are genetically designed to have a higher percentage of muscle and less fat, which works in favor of keeping them fit and allowing them to eat more calories.

Women are predisposed to store and retain fat. It’s in the genes. Women have higher levels of estrogen, a hormone that works to keep the fat on a woman’s body so it’s easier for her to get pregnant. That means women have to work harder to lose weight at the same rate as men. Women also have a smaller lung capacity than men, which can make women feel as though they are working harder than men even if the women are working at the same level. This can also make exercise feel harder in the heat or high humidity.

There is a difference in body composition. Every pound of lean body mass you have burns about 14 calories a day, while every pound of fat you have only burns about 2 calories. So, the more muscle you carry (and the less fat) the greater your daily calorie burn. There’s the benefit for men, not only are their bodies bigger, they tend to carry more muscle than women do too.

So what it boils down to is, the number of calories it takes for the average man to maintain his weight is higher than it is for the average woman. And that can be a big advantage to men when it comes to weight loss. A heavy-set guy who maintains his weight on 2500 calories a day can cut out 1000 calories or so from his daily intake, still have a reasonable 1500 calories to spend on his meals and snacks, and drop a couple of pounds a week. While, on the other hand a woman struggling to maintain her weight might be maintaining on only 1600 calories or so. To lose weight safely, she shouldn’t cut her intake to less than 1200 calories a day – cutting only 400 calories.

For either male or female, here are some weight loss tips that will help:

  1. Eliminate sugar. If you need to sweeten things up, try using honey.
  2. Exercise a ½ hour each day for 5 days out of the week.
  3. Eat more vegetables.
  4. Stop eating unhealthy snacks and living a sedentary life.
  5. Avoid high calorie and high cholesterol foods (no deep fried, creamy, breaded options).

Men and women are different beings, different compositions – it requires different work to get to the healthy weight you want. Eat healthy, have a good workout routine and patience. You’ll reach your goals with hard work and determination. Speak to your Doctor or fitness trainer to get more tips on weight loss and healthy eating.

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Getting Enough Zzz

Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, and inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles. Sleep is sometimes a luxury to many. Everyone needs to sleep. Getting enough sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

Everyone’s lives are busy and people are constantly on the go. Sleep is often compensated to make time for other activities. Over time this can be very dangerous to a person’s health because sleep is necessary for the body to function properly. While you are sleeping, your body uses that time to rejuvenate and prepare for the following day. As you deprive yourself of sleep, your body begins to wear down and becomes more susceptible to disease, poor health, and poor mental condition. Sleep is especially important when you’re involved in a workout routine. Sleep is the most important part of your workout program. When you are sleeping, your muscles are healing and getting bigger. Getting enough sleep should be a priority.

Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night to be productive. Kids need even more sleep than adults. Getting enough sleep has many benefits:

  • Get sick less often
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Boost your brainpower and your mood
  • Think more clearly and do better in school and at work
  • Make better decisions and avoid injuries

It’s an excellent idea to keep a good sleep ritual that will get you to bed at a reasonable hour each night. Try these key points to healthy sleep habits.

  1. Go to bed at the same time each night.
  2. Limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day, stopping caffeine after 4 p.m.
  3. Try to turn off the TV and computer an hour before going to bed.
  4. Have some tea (caffeine free), listen to soft music and read a book before bed.

Just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

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Flu Season – How to Protect Yourself

Runny noses, coughing, and that overall “icky” feeling, urgh – the Flu. Flu season may be starting soon and there are many ways to naturally increase your immune system to protect yourself from catching that annoying virus this year.It is important to have a strong and healthy immune system. By keeping up with your workout regime, you are actually helping build a healthy immune system as well. It can also be helpful to add a few things in your daily practices.

Vitamin D
Fall and winter are the times when the probability of getting the flu is higher. This is because of the lack of vitamin D absorption that we get from the sun. Vitamin D regulates the immune system by increasing production of broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptides which destroy the influenza virus. At the same time these peptides prevent the body from manufacturing an abundance of inflammatory cells which suppress the immune system. To increase your Vitamin D naturally (other than the sun) try salmon, sardines and cod liver oil.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C boosts the immune system by increasing the level of antibodies and white cell production. Vitamin C also strengthens the respiratory system by reducing inflammation and increasing collagen, which greatly increases our ability to fight against infections and viruses. Some natural sources of Vitamin C are oranges, grapefruit and sweet red pepper, which actually has twice the Vitamin C content of oranges.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E work in tandem with Vitamin C to build our immune system by reducing inflammation. Vitamin E protects the immune cells by protecting the membrane of the cell. It also increases the protection of lymphocytes called natural killer cells that kill germ and cancer cells and it increases the production of antibodies that eliminate bacteria. Natural ways to add Vitamin E into your diet are avocado, almonds, peanuts, dark leafy vegetables, wheat germ and mango.

Carotenoids
Carotenoids are phytonutrients that are responsible for the bright colors of fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are antioxidants that reduce inflammation by destroying free radicals that damage the cells. The main Carotenoids is Beta Carotene. The body converts Beta Carotene into Vitamin A. Beta Carotene increases immune cell production and protects the mucous membranes and lining of the lungs, which increases the ability to fight infections. Find natural Carotenoids in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s are essential for boosting the immune system. They reduce inflammation and protect the integrity of cell structure. Omega 3s also help to dilate the blood vessels, which helps cells to absorb important nutrients. Natural sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are salmon, cod liver oil and flax oil.

Water
Water is important for healthy cells. Water works as a transport for minerals and vitamins to our cells. Water aids in keeping cells plump allowing them to absorb important nutrients for cell metabolism and proper function.

Exercise
Keeping fit and active is important in keeping the immune system working. Exercise increases blood circulation which is very important. The body needs good blood flow to transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Exercise also decreases cortisol levels, helping alleviate stress which then allows the body to produce immune fighting cells.

Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential. Sleep allows your body to rejuvenate cells and helps the immune system function properly. Sleep also keeps cortisol levels down keeping immune cells at a good level and keeping your energy level up.

Other factors that can naturally help protect yourself from the influenza virus are good levels of:

  • Bioflavonoids
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Decreasing your stress, avoiding sugar, excess alcohol and caffeine is also extremely helpful to protect you from the higher probability of catching the flu.

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ALS

Thanks to celebrities, social media and news media lately, ALS has really gained some awareness. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a neurodegenerative disease that is rapidly progressive, affecting the nerve cells of the brain and the spinal cord. What happens in ALS is that the nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player from the New York Yankees who was the first to be diagnosed with this disorder back in 1939. ALS disease is a progressive and fatal disorder, and the most common cause of death among ALS patients is respiratory failure and pneumonia which occurs in two to three years after diagnosis.

Symptoms:

The common and early symptoms of this disease include weakness in the hands or feet, muscle twitching and trouble in swallowing or talking. Other signs include the inability to use the upper and lower extremities and “think speech” or the difficulty of projecting your voice. There will also be fatigability, constant dropping of things, tripping and slurred speech. As the disease progresses, there will be a difficulty in breathing and swallowing, shortness of breath, dementia and paralysis.

Cure:

At present time there is no proper cure for ALS and unfortunately no treatment. Treatment of ALS is symptomatic – the symptoms are the ones being addressed, not the disease itself. Supportive care is what is encouraged with the goal of improving the quality of life. Physical therapy, speech therapy, a diet that provides nutrients needed and eliminates the hazards of choking are the current treatment methods of ALS. A recent medication for ALS is Riluzole which helps in reducing the damage on motor neurons through decreasing the release of glutamate. This will prolong the survival of patients of ALS who have been using it.

ALS can be either periodic or genetic, and more genes are being recognized as likely causes of ALS. The fact is that a person can have the ALS mutation genes, but never get ALS, while a person without any particular gene can be prompted to this disease. Men have a 25% more chance of being diagnosed at an earlier age than women. However, once men and women reach into their 50s, diagnosis is about equal.

Thanks to recent Ice Bucket Challenges ALS has come out of the shadows and is getting the awareness it needs. Do what you can to help support research for a cure. Let’s all help in finding a cure before someone we know and love gets diagnosed with this crippling disease.

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