Gonorrhae Risk Factors

go risk , gonorrhea risk
The number of lifetime sexual partners is a risk factor for becoming infected with gonorrhea and other STDs. Those people with the highest number of lifetime partners have the highest incidence of STDs. Additionally, the more partners a person has within a short period of time, the higher the risk for STDs. This is because such people are likely having sexual intercourse with people they may not know very well. These sexual partners are also more likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse with multiple partners, which further compounds the risk.

Adolescents at Risk
Three million adolescents get an STD each year. To truly appreciate the incidence of STDs among adolescents, you need to remember that the STD rate is usually recorded in rates per 1,000 people. Of these 1,000 adolescents, only about half may be sexually active. This is a much higher rate than those recorded among 1,000 adults, of whom most are sexually active. There are many factors that place adolescents at increased risk to acquire an STD and can be divided into biological, behavioral, and social risk factors.

Biological Risk Factors
Biological risk factors can be attributed to the cellular changes that occur in the cervix as a young woman matures. Until young adulthood, the surface of the cervix is made up of what are called columnar epithelial cells; as the young woman grows, these cells are replaced by squamous cells. Columnar cells are much more susceptible to STD infection. Another biological risk factor is the immature local immunity and low number of
antibodies to STDs among most young people. Because of these factors, a teen’s contact with gonorrhea is more likely to result in an infection.

Behavioral Risk Factors
Behavioral risk factors have to do with the things young people may do that make them more susceptible to gonorrhea. Adolescents have higher rates of infections with no symptoms;
therefore, they are less likely than adults to seek treatment. In addition, they are frequently unaware that many infections may be asymptomatic and therefore falsely assume that it is safe to have sexual intercourse without a condom if the partner does not show any symptoms of disease. Other behavioral risk factors for the acquisition of STDs include multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use. Adolescents report that they do not use condoms because they believe their sexual partners will react negatively to the request for the use of a condom. They would rather take the risk of getting a disease than risk rejection from a partner. Sexual intercourse without a condom is mistakenly seen as an indication of love and loyalty.

Social Risk Factors
Social risk factors are related to barriers to access to health care for adolescents. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections, the infected partner pool gets larger. Adolescents may not seek care because of fear that their parents or guardians will be notified of the results of the testing. Since 1975, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, adolescents have been able to obtain confidential testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Yet only about one-third of adolescents are aware of this legal right. Access to care is also limited because adolescents are often uninsured or underinsured, and are unable to pay for the services they need for STD diagnosis and treatment.

Who Is at Risk?
Specific groups of adolescents are at increased risk; those in the juvenile justice system have the highest rate, probably because of a clustering of risk factors. Any adolescent with a history of ever having had a STD is more likely to contract another STD. Homeless and runaway youths are at increased risk of all STDs because of a lack of medical care for themselves and their partner pool. Trading sex for money and shelter also puts these young people at risk. Gay and lesbian youths also have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

These adolescents tend to have an earlier age of sexual initiation and engage in higher-risk sexual activity with multiple partners and without condoms. Because gonorrhea can lead to some devastating consequences
if not properly treated, it is essential for all people and teens in particular—to understand the disease and help
stop its spread.
Read More : Gonorrhae Risk Factors

Coping with Asthma Before Go Traveling

asthma coping , coping asthma before travelling
There’s a lot you and your family can do before you walk out the door to prepare for an asthma-free vacation. If you have allergic asthma, remember that the climate at your vacation spot and the season when you go may affect the sorts of allergens you’ll be exposed to. If you’re heading to the dry southwest, you’ll probably have fewer problems than if the tropics are your ultimate destination, where the dampness virtually guarantees lots of airborne molds. Warm, humid climates may boost your chances of being exposed to house dust mites and indoor molds, whereas cold dry air can be irritating to breathing passages.

Pretrip checkup
If you have active allergy symptoms or unstable asthma, consider asking your parents to schedule a doctor visit before you leave on vacation. Discuss what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going, and fi nd out if your doctor thinks you should adjust your medication.

Consider MedicAlert
If you have severe or unstable asthma and you’re going to be traveling (especially if you’re traveling alone or
without your parents), you may want to think about wearing a medical alert bracelet (such as a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace) to help medical workers understand your problem if you have an asthma attack. In fact, a MedicAlert tag is the fi rst thing emergency medical personnel look for when they respond to a call.

The MedicAlert organization provides members with an easily recognizable emblem available as a bracelet or necklace, engraved with your medical condition and a toll-free number accessible from anywhere in the world. Any doctor can call the number for more information about the patient’s medical condition (available in more than 100 languages). If a call comes through, the MedicAlert staff also tries to reach the patient’s family to let them know about the emergency.

Medications
Take along a medical kit that includes your asthma medications and your rescue medications, which may include antihistamines, bronchodilators, and a small amount of corticosteroids. Keep a complete separate set of medications in your purse, briefcase, or carry-on bag in case your checked luggage is delayed. (It’s a good

idea to have a second set in your checked luggage in case you lose your briefcase or your purse is stolen.) It’s always a good idea to pack more than you think you’ll need. When fl ying abroad, you must have your medication in its original container, which identifi es the medicine for custom offi cials. It’s always a good idea to keep medications in the original container anyway, in case someone besides you needs to administer your medication to you.

If your asthma is particularly severe, your doctor might prescribe oral corticosteroids for you to take with you when you travel. Your doctor will discuss with you when you might have to use it or when to call for instructions. Don’t forget to pack your peak-flow meter so you can monitor your condition. Also include your asthma action plan and a copy of your doctor’s phone number. If you use a portable nebulizer and you’re
traveling abroad, make sure you bring an adapter for electrical plugs in countries that use different electrical currents.

Contact information
Take your physician’s phone number with you, because you never know when you might need to call for
information.

Ask about travel medical insurance
Don’t forget to ask your parents about getting travel medical insurance (or check to see what your own health insurance policy covers) if you’re going abroad. You may need it if you must go to an emergency room while on vacation. See Appendix C for names of companies.

If you’re traveling abroad
If you’re planning an overseas trip, you’ll need to be able to locate a hospital or a doctor in an emergency. You might write down before you leave how to ask for a doctor or hospital in the language of the country you’ll be visiting.

Your parents should make sure that you have proper health insurance coverage. Most health insurance, HMOs, PPOs, and Medicare don’t offer such international coverage. If your parents’ policy doesn’t cover you when you’re traveling abroad, they might want to consider buying an international travel medical insurance policy. If your parents’ health insurance policy does provide coverage outside the United States, they should be sure to take their insurance policy identity card and a claim form and get copies of all medical bills and receipts from the trip. Doctors and hospitals overseas may want payment in cash for treating you, but they may accept a credit card.

If an American citizen becomes seriously ill while abroad, a U.S. consular offi cer can help fi nd appropriate medical services. If necessary, a consular offi cer can also help transfer money from the United States. Contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates abroad is included in Key Offi cers of Foreign Service Posts, which you can obtain through the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Offi ce, Washington, DC 20402. Or you can call the State Department’s Hotline for American Travelers at (202) 647-5225, or visit the State Department Web site at http://www.state.gov. For lists of doctors and hospitals abroad, visit the Department of State’s Web site at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1195.html. You or your parents might contact the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) at http://www.acaai.org to obtain the names of qualifi ed English-speaking physicians around the world.

Alternatively, you can obtain the name of a member allergist or immunologist practicing in your destination area from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s physician referral and  information line, (800) 822-2762, or its physician referral system on the Web site: http://www.aaaai.org.

Finally, you might check with the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, a voluntary Canadian group that offers a listing of qualified English-speaking physicians in other countries.
Before you leave the country, check with your physician for any immunizations you may need. Make sure to carry your physician’s phone number at all times. Take your asthma medications in their original containers, which are easier for customs offi cials to identify, and bring along a prescription signed by your doctor. If you use a nebulizer, be aware that you’ll probably need an electrical adapter because other countries’ electrical currents are usually different than those in the United States and Canada. The electric current in many
other countries is 220 volts, as opposed to the 110-volt standard in the United States. And if you use a portable nebulizer, be sure to have plenty of batteries.

Remember to complete the information page on the inside of your passport, providing the name, address, and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.

Making hotel reservations
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that hotel rooms often harbor large populations of dust mites
and molds in carpeting, bedding, and upholstered furniture, which can make your asthma symptoms worse. When your parents make hotel reservations, make sure they ask if there are allergy-proof rooms available. A few hotels reserve a few hypoallergenic rooms that typically have fewer allergens than traditional rooms, because they are equipped with carpetless hardwood fl oors, blinds instead of drapes, hypoallergenic bedding, and allergy-free mite-proof pillow and mattress covers. If the hotel doesn’t offer those, have your parents ask for a nonsmoking room with air conditioning. You also can try to see if the hotel will replace the air conditioning fi lter before you arrive.

If you’re sensitive to molds, a sunny, dry room away from indoor pools is a good idea. If you have pet allergies, fi nd out about the hotel’s pet policy and ask for a room where pets have never stayed. If you’re extremely sensitive to dust mites, you can always pack your own dust-proof, zippered covers for pillows and your mattress and bring your own air fi lter. If you’re allergic to feathers, bring your own special pillow.

Rental properties
If you and your family are staying at a cottage or cabin in a forest or at the shore, make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned and aired out before you get there for your vacation. This can reduce dust mite and mold concentrations.

Staying at a private home
You may think you don’t have to worry about allergies when you’re visiting friends or family, but that’s not necessarily the case. Animal allergens in pets’ dander, saliva, or urine can cause problems for some people even if the pet is moved outdoors for your arrival or barred from your room. If your friends or family members know about your asthma, they may be willing to take extra precautions, such as keeping the pets out of the room you’ll be using or isolating the pet. However, it takes months before the dander and residue of an indoor pet no longer triggers symptoms. If your friends have cats or dogs and you’re highly sensitive to pet allergens, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking medication or an inhaler before you go.

Some thoughtful hosts make a special effort to vacuum and dust before your arrival. But some kids, such as Andrew, 14, are so sensitive to pets that simply walking into a room where a pet has been is enough to trigger a major fl are. When Andrew’s family goes to visit his grandparents, they stay in a hotel because of the pet cats. He’s able to visit briefl y at his grandparents’ house, because they keep a wing of their home permanently closed to the animals.

Making your needs known beforehand isn’t rude—it’s vital for your health and comfort. And if it seems that staying at the house will probably trigger asthma attacks like it did for Andrew, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent them, consider having your family check into a hotel instead. Sometimes it’s just easiest to avoid staying in the homes of family or friends whose pets trigger your allergy symptoms.

Check pollen counts
Remember that pollens and molds vary from one region to the next, depending on the weather and time of year. Check pollen counts and weather reports for the part of the country where you’ll be traveling. It’s a good idea to try to visit at a time when you’re least likely to experience symptoms. You’re probably less
likely to have problems in very dry climates such as Arizona and New Mexico, but pollen counts are rising there as nonnative plants are being introduced. You may want to avoid traveling to the eastern half of the United States and Canada from mid-August through October if you’re sensitive to ragweed.

If pollens are a concern, you might consult the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s (AAAAI) Aeroallergen Network. The NAB is responsible for reporting current pollen and mold spore levels to the public. The Aeroallergen Network monitors pollen and spore levels with volunteers at about 78 counting stations throughout the United States and three in Canada. At the stations, volunteers collect airborne pollen and spores for microscopic examination. Pollen and mold counts are electronically forwarded to local, regional, and national media.
Also remember that very cold areas don’t usually have a big problem with dust mites, and snow kills mold spores.

Prepare for the airplane
If your nose is stuffed up as a result of allergies when you have to fl y, you’ll be more likely to have ear pressure problems during your flight. That’s why you should treat your allergy symptoms with decongestants and antihistamines before you leave. If you’re flying abroad, there may be some fl ights where smoking is allowed, so make sure to ask for a seat located as far as possible from the smoking section.

If you have severe asthma and you think you might need supplemental oxygen, don’t wait to ask for oxygen as you’re taxiing down the runway. You’ve got to arrange for this with the airline long before you take off. The airline can’t refuse to let you board because you need supplemental oxygen, but you must make arrangements in advance.

Many airlines will let you use a battery-operated nebulizer (except during takeoff and landing), but your parents should check this in advance. You should know that nebulizers aren’t typically included in aircraft emergency kits, because they’re so big. On the other hand, inhalers with spacers can be as effective as nebulizers in treating asthma, and they’re usually easier to carry around when traveling.

Investigate the ship
If you’re taking a cruise, your parents should check ahead of time to fi nd out about the ship’s doctor and staff and what type of health issues they’re prepared to handle. In general, the larger, reputable cruise lines will have some type of medical facilities on the ship. Have your parents ask for a smoke-free cabin on the ship. If you have severe asthma, your parents should tell the cruise operators ahead of time.

If you’re traveling on a river cruise or barge trip, remember that these cruises can fl oat through areas with heavy pollen and mold concentrations. For your room on the ship, you’ll want to follow the suggestions provided above for staying in a hotel.

Clean your car
If you’re taking a long car trip, don’t forget those pesky dust mites that could be lurking in the upholstery, carpeting, and ventilation system, along with molds and pollens. Before you leave on your trip, turn on the air conditioner or heater and open the windows for at least 10 minutes before you get into the car. Use a vacuum with a HEPA fi lter to clean up pollen, mite, and pet allergens.

Air conditioners collect all kinds of allergens, so spray your air conditioner with a dust and mold allergy removal spray. If your parents are going to rent a car, ask them to request a nonsmoking car. You’d be
amazed at how much smoke can cling to a car’s interior.

Traveling solo
If you’re going to be traveling alone (especially if you’re going abroad), give a copy of your asthma action plan and a list of your medications and emergency phone numbers to at least one adult you’ll be with. If you’re under age 18, have your parents provide written (and notarized) permission for another adult to provide you with emergency care.
Read More : Coping with Asthma Before Go Traveling

Basic Heart-Healthy And Cholesterol-Lowering Menu-Options

heart healthy food , cholesterol lowering menu
Fruit Salads
  • Try a fruit salad for breakfast, snack or a later meal
  • It has no YES THAT IS 0% cholesterol and good for you! It is even appropriate even for those who have very high cholesterol and battle cravings
  • The aromas, colors and flavors of different fruit combinations will allure and tempt you to try and eat MORE of them.
  • Chopping up some of your favorite fruits, berries, and lemons are easy to do and even fun activity for you and the kids coming up with ‘customized’ combinations and favorites. Eating healthy does not have to be boring or a punishment, depriving you of good tasty treats!
  • Frozen fruits ‘sorbet’ style, smoothies, layered masterpieces are all possible
  • Use lemon juice to avoid apples and other fruits from browning and keep unused portions refrigerated and covered.
Salads
  • It is NOT about what goes on top (preferably NOTHING!) It is about what is inside. Avoid croutons, bacon bits, whole milk products such as cheese, eggs, and other high-fat foods. Keeping it simple and drizzling with a little lemon juice (or fresh fruit juice) is all it takes to make for a healthy and filling meal.
  • Salads are quick meals and easy to do – there is no excuse here. You can opt to add in some red peppers, chilies, fruit (apricots) to make it more interesting, but still healthy and not rich in fat-content!
  • If you do want to add meat to your salad, opt for the lean cuts and again and preferably skinless chicken.
  • Simply chop up some favorite salad greens and add a few nuts and you are all set for a healthy meal or snack alternative. Healthy eating does not have to be boring or uninviting.
  • Customized, personalized salad dressings and combinations (an avocado with some herbs and lemon juice) make this a great experiment for your hand and palette. Mixing fresh herbs in (basil or thyme) and a squirt of lemon or even bottled/prepared dressings are options too. Ensure however that they are very low in salt and fats.
Pasta
  • Benefit from a great variety: try whole-wheat, fresh pasta or dried pasta, vegetable pastas and rice pastas.
  • Add the pasta and toss until the vegetables are the desired consistency.
  • Add your favorite fresh herbs and combine.
  • Combine the vegetables with some low-sodium and low-fat chicken or vegetable broth and cook until vegetables are softer but still crisp.
  • Pasta-meals are easy to prepare in record time and again can give wide variety to your taste-buds.
  • Make similar meals with rice or even low-fat tofu.
  • Many prepared pasta dishes use plenty of salt or cream-based sauces, but some combination of this recipe can give you a tasty meal with less fat.
  • Shred your favorite vegetables or cut them into very small pieces.
  • Simply cook the pasta in a pot and avoid using salt.
Sandwiches
  • What can be easier than a sandwich?
  • A word of caution: avoid highly processed deli and sandwich meats. They are not good for you.
  • Choose lots of vegetables for your sandwiches (try roasted eggplant, zucchini and red peppers for added flavor).
  • Use healthy breads or pitas or tortillas that are low in fat (preferably wholewheat)
  • Instead of mayo, use fresh sweet onions or mustard
  • Lean and skinless chicken or other poultry are best on the protein, animal product side.
Smoothies and blended treats
  • Blend your favorite combinations (even new and some veggies too!)with fresh fruit juice
  • Even consider steaming some vegetables like carrots, beets and spinach and adding some pineapple or orange juice to it for a refreshingly healthy treat.
  • Chilling or even freezing some of the fruit before serving can produce a nice chilled drink that is perfect for summer.
  • Combine until blended for an excellent and very healthy snack anytime and every time
  • Experiment with different fruit combinations to find different tastes.
  • Great quick breakfast on days when you are in a rush.
  • Use honey to sweeten it somewhat
  • If you are craving desserts, you can add a small amount of very low fat frozen yogurt to this recipe as well for a ‘smooth’ delicacy
  • Use frozen fruits to get a tasty and heart-friendly alternative to ice cream and other desserts.
Grilled dishes
  • Brushing vegetables and lean meats with lemon juice and herbs prior to grilling is healthy and yummy!
  • Grilling is easy to do and culinary excellence fast to create.
  • Enjoy fat-free good-for-you foods
  • A good example is a butternut or sweet potato, cut open or in pieces, brushed with olive oil and ‘roasted’ in the oven for a healthier alternative to ‘fries’ or fat-rich, starchy vegetables.
Desserts and Snacks
  • OCCASIONAL TREATS ARE OK! INDULGENCE and OVER-EATING NOT!
  • Control your weight and your calorie intake by keeping your sweet-tooth in check
  • The least sugar, calories, fat, and salt that you can muster in all your food choices should be your goal
  • Limit the intake of desserts and snacks
  • Occasionally eating low-fat desserts and snacks such as angel food cake, fig and fruit bars, low-fat yogurt, fruit sherbet, Jell-O, animal or graham crackers, wafers, puddings made with low-fat milk for lower-fat alternatives are acceptable, in moderation.
  • Overindulging will not keep your heart healthy and your cholesterol lowered and in check!
  • Desserts still do often contain sodium, plenty of calories and some fats
  • FIND AND MAKE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES. Try to ward off cravings with fresh fruit.
Lean meat dishes
  • Try planks of cedar, perfect for baking or grilling fish
  • Cover with lemon juice and possibly herbs
  • Marinating poultry and other meats in lemon juice and fresh dill or in pureed fruits and vegetables is a heart-friendly way to get plenty of flavors into your cooking
  • Prepare your meats, without adding MORE fat!
  • Cut off visible fat deposits and pieces, remove skin from chicken.
  • Eat MORE FISH!

Building a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

cholesterol diets, how to make cholesterol diets, building cholesterol diets, cholesterol diets builder
Pop quiz: Who said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”? No, it wasn’t John F. Kennedy, although he used it in a speech. No, it wasn’t Condoleeza Rice. No, no, no, it wasn’t Jon Stewart. The actual author of the quote was the ancient Chinese philosopher Laotzu.

Clearly, ol’ Laotzu, who lived 26 centuries before cholesterol was identified, wasn’t an expert on dietary fats and fiber, but he sure had a handle on human nature. And his admonition to just get going — take that first step — is great advice for anyone who wants to lower his or her cholesterol.

As you read, remember that the very first step in this particular journey is to set a diet strategy. Cut back on fats. Increase your consumption of foods high in dietary fiber. And put this all together so you can look forward to smiling as your doctor says, “Wow! Your cholesterol is down.” Frankly, I think Laotzu would approve. Don’t you?

Making Your Game Plan
I say, “Diet.” You think, “Calories.” No surprise there — for most people, diet is synonymous with weight-loss plan. But if I add cholesterol control to diet, the picture changes.

Choosing the Fat That Fits
All fats, including the fat on your bod and (more to the point) the fats in your food, are composed of fatty acids — long chain-like molecules of carbon and hydrogen atoms plus an oxygen atom or two. Folks in the know about fats put fatty acids into one of three categories:
  • Saturated
  • Monounsaturated
  • Polyunsaturated
The chemical differences between these fats are described in the “Demystifying saturation” sidebar later in this chapter. For the moment, the important thing to keep in mind is that a diet high in saturated fats raises cholesterol levels, and a diet high in unsaturated fats lowers them.

Dealing up close and personal with cholesterol
Eating a lot of foods high in dietary cholesterol increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood and raises your risk of heart attack. So, controlling the cholesterol in your diet reduces the risk of two potential problems in your arteries.

Cholesterol is a saturated fat found only in foods from animals: meat, dairy products, and eggs.
  • Dietary-cholesterol problem #1: As I explain before, cholesterol and perhaps homocysteine (an amino acid produced when you digest food — the jury is still out on this amino acid) can rough up the linings of your arteries, creating teensy little crags that snag cholesterol particles as they float by. The trapped cholesterol particles snag other debris floating through your blood, producing small piles of gunk (technical term: plaque) that narrow and may eventually block the artery, leading to the unpleasant event called a heart attack.
  • Dietary-cholesterol problem #2: Extra cholesterol in your diet may also increase the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in your blood. LDLs, also known as “bad” cholesterol, are the fat and protein particles that ferry cholesterol into your arteries, leading to problem #1. Conclusion? Adding foods high in cholesterol can mess up any diet, which certainly explains why every description of a cholesterol-lowering diet calls the diet low cholesterol and controlled fat. You keep the cholesterol low and you control the kinds of fat by following the 30-10-300 formula:
  • Less than 30 percent of your total calories each day from fat — predominantly unsaturated fats 
  • Less than 10 percent of your total calories each day from saturated fat
  • Less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, regardless of your calorie count
Showing fat who’s boss
After you decide to control your cholesterol by controlling the amount of fat in your diet, the question is, which foods work best and which foods aren’t that hot? Oh, what an easy one to answer! (Either skip ahead to the section titled “Building a nutritional pyramid” or take a slightly longer way through the following text.)
  • Grains: Grains have very small amounts of fat — just about 3 percent of their total weight — and most of the fats in grains are unsaturated. In addition, grains are filling, and they have dietary fiber, which I talk about a bit later in this chapter. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDA/HHS) says that a healthy diet is based on grain foods. Who am I to argue?
  • Fruits and veggies: Fruits and vegetables have only traces of fat, and most of it is unsaturated. Your diet should have a lot of fruits and veggies. But you knew that, right?
  • Dairy products: Dairy products are a varied lot. For example, sweet cream is a high-fat food. Whole milks and whole-milk cheeses are moderately high in fat. Skim milk and skim-milk products are low-fat foods. And for the record, most of the fats in any dairy product are saturated, but milk products are your best source of calcium, so balance the fats and get your calcium by sticking to low- or no-fat dairy products — and don’t forget the yummy low- or no-fat frozen desserts.
  • Meat and poultry: Meat is moderately high in fat, and most of its fats are saturated. Some poultry — chicken and turkey — are relatively low in fat. Other poultry — duck and goose — have higher fat contents. You can lower the fat content of any poultry serving by removing the skin. I know; I know. That’s the good part! But your cholesterol levels will thank you.
  • Fish and shellfish: Fish and shellfish are special cases. Some fish, such as salmon and herring, are high in fat, but guess what? Those are the best fish from a cholesterol standpoint because their fats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (more about them in the sidebar titled, “Omega-3 me”), polyunsaturated fatty acids credited with lowering your risk of heart disease.
  • Your body converts alpha-linolenic acid, the most important omega-3, to hormone-like substances called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA appear to protect your heart by reducing inflammation, preventing blood clots, and — get this! —preventing other fats like cholesterol from injuring artery walls.
  • Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in beef, pork, and several veggie oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, and sunflower), are chemical cousins of omega-3s, but they don’t protect your heart.
  • Fats and oils: Vegetable oils, butter, and lard are high-fat foods, but their actual fat content varies from heart healthy to are-you-kidding-me! This info is the subject of the “Linking fatty acids and dietary fat” section later in this chapter.
  • Proteins: Protein is an essential nutrient — so important that its name comes from the Greek word proteios, which means “holding first place.” A protein molecule is a chain of other molecules called amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Amino acids are molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, plus a nitrogen unit called an amino group. 
  • The amino group is essential for synthesizing (creating) specialized proteins, including the enzymes and hormones that make it possible for you to perform such basic functions as working your muscles and digesting food. So, when people talk about how much protein they need, what they really mean is how much nitrogen they need to synthesize specialized proteins.
  • Your body also uses proteins to build new cells and maintain tissues. Considering all that, you may be puzzled as to why it has taken me so long to get around to talking about protein. The reason is simple. Some protein foods are positively loaded with cholesterol and saturated fatty acids:
  • Animal protein: The only foods that add cholesterol to your diet are foods from animals — meat, poultry, fish, milk products, and eggs. Most of these foods are also high in saturated fatty acids. 
  • True, some animal foods have less cholesterol than others. True, some animal foods are lower in saturated fats. True, you can cut the fat and cholesterol content of animal foods by trimming visible fat. True, some animal foods are rich in special unsaturated fats called omega-3s that actually reduce everybody’s risk of heart disease. But generally, a diet designed to lower your cholesterol emphasizes foods from plants.
  • Plant protein: Getting your protein from plant foods is a more complicated task than getting your protein from animal foods. Blame it on the amino acids (those “building blocks” of protein). Proteins from animals are labeled complete, meaning that they contain all the amino acids human beings need to thrive. Proteins from plant foods are often characterized as limited, meaning that they lack sufficient amounts of one amino acid or another. It takes a little work to mix and match plants to get the proper protein balance, but with no cholesterol and practically no saturated fatty acids, plant proteins are worth the effort, don’t ya think? At least once in a while.
Complete reading: Building a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis , what is Arthritis
Arthritis is a general term for numerous conditions that affect bone joints. Scientists do not know exactly what causes arthritis. Some think the disease is genetic—something that is inherited from your parents. Others think arthritis is caused by infection, obesity, bone damage, or another disease.

Regardless of the cause or type of arthritis, people with arthritis experience chronic pain and swelling in their joints. More than 46 million people in the United States—and about 300 million people worldwide—suffer from arthritis. Many people think arthritis is a disease that older people get as their joints wear down. It is true that the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (AH-stee-oh-ar-THRY-tis), mostly affects people aged sixty and older. But people of any age can develop arthritis. In fact, more than 250,000 children in the United States have one of several forms of the disease.

Together these forms are called juvenile arthritis. Some young people develop osteoarthritis, but the most common form of juvenile arthritis is JRA—the disease that Daniel has. There are two main types of arthritis—osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They are quite different from each other. Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joints breaks down and wears away. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease caused by problems with the body’s immune system. To better understand the differences between the two forms of the disease, it helps to be familiar with the systems in the body that are most involved: the musculoskeletal system and the immune system.

The Musculoskeletal System
The musculoskeletal system is made up of the bones that form the skeleton as well as the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles that attach to the bones. Bones in the human skeleton have several purposes. They provide a framework for the body. They protect soft organs, such as the lungs and the brain. They also store minerals and produce red blood cells. Most important, the bones provide support that gives the body the ability to move.

A human baby is born with more than three hundred bones in his or her body. As a child grows, some of these bones fuse together. By adulthood, a human has 206 bones. Every bone (except one—the hyoid bone found in the neck) is connected to another bone by a joint.

What Is a joint?
A joint is a place where two or more bones meet. The purpose of a joint is to allow repeated and efficient movement. The bones in a joint must be flexible enough to move, but they must also stay in place so that they do not damage each other or come out of the joint. Ligaments keep the bones strapped together.

When a joint moves, the ligaments stretch to keep the bones inside the joint. But ligaments only stretch one
way, like a rubber band, so that once the movement ends, the ligament returns to its original length and brings the joint back in line. Some ligaments hold the bones together tightly to prevent the joint from moving the wrong way. For example, an elbow joint will only open and close or move side to side; it will not move
backward.

Tendons connect bones in the joint to muscles. They are slippery, but they do not stretch. When a muscle receives a message from the brain to move or to rest, the muscle pulls on the tendon and the tendon pulls the joint. Smooth and spongelike, cartilage covers the ends of the bones in a joint and gives the bones protection
from wear and tear. It also provides a cushion to absorb shock. Imagine a basketball player dunking the ball and coming back down to the court.

The weight of the player’s body could put enormous pressure on the knee joints. This shock would cause unbearable pain if the cartilage in the joint did not soften the blow. Bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments are all made of connective tissue. Strong and sticky, connective tissue is one of four types of tissue found in the body. It is usually made up of fibers as well as cells that keep the strands knitted together.

In a human embryo, most of the bones that form in the first five months are made of cartilage. Later, most cartilage hardens into bone. Other areas do remain as cartilage, such as parts of the nose, outer ear, rib cage, and trachea (windpipe). Cartilage also covers the bones inside joints with a smooth, slippery surface, allowing them to glide against each other easily. Unlike other connective tissue, cartilage does not contain blood vessels. Without the benefit of nutrients found in blood, damaged cartilage is very slow to heal.

Joints are covered in a capsule called a synovial capsule. This is a thin membrane that surrounds the joint and creates a joint space. The lining of the capsule releases a thick fluid called synovial fluid, which fills the joint space. Synovial fluid works with the cartilage to keep the area between the bones moving smoothly. It also gives nourishment to the cartilage and helps absorb shock.
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