Health & Fitness


Health & Fitness
Health & Fitness

**Health & Fitness Articles Archive** (Page 2)

CuteFairy91 IF-Rockerz

Joined: 16 January 2005
Posts: 5424

Posted: 19 March 2007 at 8:16pm | IP Logged
Secret to slim kids? Just a little running around

BEIJING, March 20(Xinhuanet) -- Just 15 minutes a day of kicking around a ball or swimming might be enough to keep children from becoming obese, British and U.S. researchers said on Monday.

    A study of 5,500 children showed that those who exercised more were less likely to be obese -- and that short bursts of intense activity seemed to be the most helpful.

    Children who did 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise -- equivalent to a brisk walk -- were 50 percent less likely than inactive children to be obese, the researchers reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

    "Our data suggest that higher intensity physical activity may be more important than total activity," Andy Ness of the University of Bristol and colleagues wrote.

    "This study provides some of the first robust evidence on the link between physical activity and obesity in children," Chris Riddoch of Britain's Bath University, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

    Obesity is on the rise in many countries, including the United States, where 60 percent of the population is overweight or obese, Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

    It is clearly a matter of people eating more calories than they burn off, but experts cannot agree whether diet or exercise is more important -- and which kind of exercise might be best.

    Ness' team studied 5,500 children, with an average age of 12, who with their mothers have been taking part in a larger, long-term study of health.

    The children agreed to wear a device called accelerometer, which measures total activity, and they had X-ray scans for body fat. The researchers rated the children with the top 10 percent levels of fat mass as obese.

    The less the children exercised, the more likely they were to be obese, the study found.

    "These associations suggest even a modest increase of 15 minutes moderate and vigorous physical activity might result in an important reduction in the prevalence of overweight and obesity," the researchers wrote. .htm

friend_125 Goldie

Joined: 03 March 2007
Posts: 1847

Posted: 24 March 2007 at 8:21am | IP Logged

Fat Distribution and Spot Reduction

Body fat has a mind of its own. It appears where it wants to, and seems to disappear (under great duress) from all the wrong places. Is there any rhyme or reason to fat distribution?

Here is a complete guide to body fat distribution.

Types of Fat
We have adipose tissue all over the body. This tissue is made of adipocytes (fat cells) whose sole job is to store energy in the form of fat. Body fat distribution differs from person to person. There are generally two types of fat storage: visceral (surrounding organs), or subcutaneous (beneath the skin - about 80% of all body fat (src)).

When it comes to losing fat - it often does not go according to plan. Despite many claims of spot reduction (i.e. "lose belly fat first") - it rarely happens this way.

Gaining Fat

Basic Areas
    Women - generally around the buttocks and thighs (gluteofemoral): "pear-shaped".
  • Men - generally around the abdomen: "apple-shaped".
Note that these are the predominant patterns - but both 'apple' and 'pear' shaped distribution can be found in either gender.

Specific Areas

Knee Fat often builds up on the inside region of the knees in women.
Upper Arm Also common in women, fat build up can occur in the middle to upper area of the upper arm - typically covering the tricep area.
Abdomen Fat buildup around the navel area is common in both men and women. It is also one of the few fat deposits that are also found in slim women.
Inner Thigh Fat storage between the thighs is common in women - but also occurs with men. It is more noticeable in women due to the width of the pelvis that in turn influences the position of the thigh (femur).
Outer Thigh Sometimes called "Riding Breeches" - this area is the most likely place for the pitted or 'quilted' appearance of cellulite. This fat concentration also blends with fat tissue on the inner thigh and the buttocks.
Buttocks Without fat here - sitting would be quite uncomfortable. Fat is held in place by the gluteal fold. If significant fat is lost from the buttock, then only appropriate training can prevent the buttock from sagging down against the thigh.
Lower Back This fat concentration often merges with the buttock area.
Chest Breast tissue comprises the mammary gland (one's 'endowment') surrounded by fat. Men also have atrophied glands and fat in this area. Both sexes gain fat in this area. In men this can sometimes be mistaken for the condition of gynecomastia - a condition that includes not only fat build up, but growth in gland tissue.

Ethnic Variation
There is considerable research showing that fat distribution varies between ethnic groups. For example Asian adults are more prone to visceral and central obesity than Europeans. Mediterranean women are prone to fat gain in the outer thighs.

Losing Fat

Many people compare subcutaneous fat to the layers of an onion. Rather than disappearing from a particular place, it comes off layer by layer from the whole body.

Moreover, the way fat is shed is different from person to person. It tends to go from the most recent place it appeared. If your tummy started gaining first - this will be the very last place for the fat to disappear from.

This is why, for example, a man may complain of getting too thin in the face - and yet still have a small 'spare tire' around his waist. Or a woman may complain of a smaller bust, and yet the hips may have barely moved in inch.

This is further compounded by cellulite. With cellulite tissue, fatty acids are contained in a net of fibrous connective tissue. As fat loss occurs the net becomes compressed - making it difficult for the blood supply to readily remove the fat from these stubborn areas.

During weight loss, the following trends have been observed:
    Obese men tend to lose more visceral (internal) fat while obese women lose more subcutaneous fat (src).
  • Exercise seems to result in more subcutaneous fat loss. Diet alone results in more visceral fat loss (and less surface fat loss) (src). This explains how you can lose weight - but not necessarily have any radical change in appearance.

The Outcome

The upshot is - there is very little you can do to influence specific subcutaneous fat distribution. Exercise should always be a part of any fat loss program - but vigorously exercising a specific body part will not have any influence on local fat in that area. This myth has been debunked again and again. Neither will high-repetition (e.g. 20-30 reps) weight training lead to greater fat loss. In fact the loss of intensity may ultimately result in less fat loss than lower-reps with heavier weights. Higher reps are good for muscular endurance (more).

It can be very frustrating but everybody is different. Stay committed to your training and nutrition - and don't be dissuaded by the commercials and images that show perfectly proportioned clones. Understand how your body works, and set achievable goals accordingly.

-Khushiyana- IF-Rockerz

Joined: 02 September 2006
Posts: 7661

Posted: 12 April 2007 at 1:14pm | IP Logged
Unprocessed foods provide original nutrients that prevent deficiencies and
keep your body in peak condition to fight heart & artery decline.
FOODSTUFF HOW MUCH         &n bsp;  WHY
Veggies -especially but with some exceptions, the "above ground" type or portion.
To absorb their carotenoids you'll need some oil with the veggie.
Any amount; dark colored ones are best. Fresh & little processed [steamed] is preferred.
Go easy on the rapidly absorbed starchy carbs from potatoes.
The colored ones have many types of carotenoid [like vitamin A] & flavonoids [phytochemicals] that prevent all kinds of unhappy events (cancer, heart & vascular trouble, strokes, etc).
Especially the "above-ground" portions of veggies has fiber, slow-release energy and no fat. Cabbage, broccoli & Brussels sprouts are anti-cancer. Garlic is heart-healthy.

"All the way with 5 to 10 a day" --fruits and veggies that is.

Whole-grains & whole (brown) rice   The finer they are ground into a powder, the quicker their sugars are absorbed, increasing their "Glycemic Index". This is not good for heart disease and diabetes. Reasonable amouts - if tolerated.
When a product says enriched it ain't whole.

Basic food; contains many good components like fiber, minerals and vitamins that are removed in refining. Bran & germ are very high in B vitamins, minerals & betaine. Cheap.
The Harvard "Nurses Study" found a reduction of over 30% in heart disease (CHD) for those eating 2 servings per day of whole grain or rice products versus the group having them once a week (the US average being a serving per day). Here's your reference: AmJClNutr; Sept. '99 (my comment is the April 2000 issue).

Beans, soy and lentils (legumes) Reasonable amounts; combine with grains / again: if tolerated. Lower blood fats (triglycerides). High fiber, low fat. Combine with nuts & grains. Their protein may be good for the heart. Soy is good for health, heart & anti-cancer but there's discussion if its extracted protein and hormone like ingredients are healthy (veggie burgers, baby formula, sports-mixes]. Cheap.
Cereal bran & germ are amazing sources of betaine & choline. About 30 g/day, 2x the average US intake. 50g/day helps diabetes -NEJM May 11 '00 Often missing in processed foods. Aids elimination --reducing colon cancer risk by about 1/3rd. Helps cholesterol 'turn over' Found in whole grains (oat), fruits, beans, veggies. 2 tablespoons of crushed flax seed gets you most of your fiber and all your plant-based omega-3; it also lowers excess Lp(a) cholesterol and helps keeps you 'regular'.
Fruits & berries Lots, within reason Same as veggies. Lots of vitamins and fiber and no fats. Their flavonoids strengthen blood vessels and are strong antioxidants.
Eggs & Liver Regularly (if you like them; fresh) High in protein, B vitamins, lecithin and choline and low in fat. Proportionally raises good cholesterol more than bad [if you think that's important]. Avoid dried egg: it has oxidized cholesterol.
Oils Canola -rape seed is a uniquely cheap 10% source of omega-3 and otherwise much like olive. Flax oil has 5x that, but it must be used fresh and in tea spoon amounts.
Second choices for nonhydrogenated canola margarines in Canada (the great stuff of the Lyon Heart Study) are Our Compliments, Fleischmann's and 'Bertolli Becel'.

As of May 2006, the U.S. (Vt) had no margarines I'd eat apart from possibly Olivio. 95% of U.S. margarines are toxic with masive omega-6 (soy, corn, sunflower] and hydrogenated trans fats.
2 teaspoons of flax or fish oil, or 2 tblsp. canola or unhydrogenated soybean oil.

As luck has it, 3 of the cheapest oils are full of omega 3: flax, canola & soy.

5 pillars of heart health:


Potassium +

B vitamins

Fruits 'n veggies.

The only 2 essential oils -"vitamin F"- are linoleic (n-6 or omega-6) and alpha-linolenic (n-3 or omega-3). These 2 polyunsaturates are the feed-stock for 3 classes of hormones, and for nerve, brain, skin and cell walls (you may want to read that again).
The type you're probably lacking is omega-3, found only in fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, & sardines), in flax(lin)seed, canola type rape seed (colza), mustard seed, chia, candlenut, wheat germ, some melon seeds, hemp, walnuts and some green leaf veggies. It is also found in unhydrogenated soy and, for the record, in snake oil. [Snakes and cold water fish can't afford stiffness or arthritis in their joints and are therefore full of ultra fluid omega-3 oils.] GOOD FOR: heart, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood fluidity, Crohn's disease, asthma, arthritis, cramps, adult diabetes, brain, MS, & smooth skin.

Omega-3's vital role is compromised by heating and hydrogenation (most soy is), by shortening, by omega-6s and by most saturated fats (but coconut and palm-kernel oils are nutritionally unique with 50% lauric-acid which has immune system roles).

Buy oils in dark containers and keep cool; they will spoil. Rancid omega-3 and -6 are toxic so they're always safer with a capsule or 2 of added vitamin E, the fat antioxidant.

DON'T overdose on omega-6 (linoleic) from corn, soy, sunflower, safflower or cottonseed. For frying I'd use butter, virgin olive, tropical (safest) or peanut oil. Virgin olive is a great oil for daily use but has no omega-3. Here's a remarkable canola site, the heart-healthy oil.


1-2 glasses of red wine/day.

Avoid if there is any risk of alcoholism, or when pregnant

Low amounts reduce heart disease. Red wine with its flavonoids protects blood cholesterol. Best with foods containing B vitamins such as liver.* All alcohol raises the "good" cholesterol but white wine, liquor & factory beer are nutritionally a bit like sugar or white bread, lacking micronutrients.
* Alcohol + folic acid (a B vitamin) appears to be cardio protective while folic acid may well remove the risk of some cancers (breast) linked to alcohol intake. Less gall stones.

(factory soy based granules) 1-2 table spoons per day (also in liver, eggs, soy and beans) Emulsifies fat; improves types of blood fats. It is part of our nerves & brain; forms choline (makes neuro-transmitter) and betaine (lowers homocysteine). Health food store granules have nice fatty flavor. Refrigerate.
Meats Not essential. Some factory animal farming is ecologically, morally and nutritionally iffy As fresh as possible. Aging, drying and over-frying damages or oxidizes fats and cholesterol. Such damaged fats make the basically good LDL go "bad", and are best limited. Aging softens muscle from beef. Other meats are almost never 'aged'. Fish evidently never is -because of its fast spoiling -smelly- omega-3 content!
Water Lots -within reason Keeps things fluid & may cut bladder cancer by .   July 11th, 2006
-Khushiyana- IF-Rockerz

Joined: 02 September 2006
Posts: 7661

Posted: 12 April 2007 at 1:15pm | IP Logged
Health is determined by the nutrients you happen to not get.

SUPPLEMENT HOW MUCH WHY About safety, see [Comments]. Where & what to buy: see [Nuts & Bolts]
Vitamin E
Three very large studies found 40% heart disease risk reduction with supplements.

Anti-Alzheimer's; helps diabetes and dialysis problems and it's an important anti-inflammatory.
about 200 IU type 'd', not 'dl'. MIXED 'tocopherols' best. Relaxes arteries. Always take in oil or fatty meal -AJCN: 1-2004]
Here's a summary of the excellent 1999 book The Vitamin E factor
Antioxidant; protects blood fats; keeps cholesterol "happy". Prevents blood sticking, clots and artery damage. Like vitamin C, keeps blood and cell fats non-toxic.
Very important. Take during "fattiest" meal. Natural (d) type doubly effective --also consider: mixed "tocopherols" and possibly "mixed tocotrienols". Consider starting with lower dose. IF on Coumadin (warfarin), aspirin and/or high fish oil, use lowest dose: while preventing clotting, you could promote excessive bleeding.

As with the heart-healthy omega-3 oils, E's cardio benefits increase with time. The evidence for prevention is stronger than for E as a cure.

Vitamin C--not Ester-C
238 references in Am J Cl Nutr; June '99.

Beneficial roles of very high doses in disease are probable but not well established.
C, easy to take for granted, hard to underestimate!
1/2 - 4 grams.
At or above lower dose in health, higher in illness.
If prone to oxalate type kidney stones, stay below 1 g, drink sufficient water, consider vitamin B6, low salt, low protein and high calcium foods.
Antioxidant. Works with and recycles vitamin E; Keeps blood vessels healthy; raises 'good' & lowers Lp(a) cholesterol; speeds up bowel, reduces length & severity of colds. Improves general health: point 2 in [31 Comments] and the Linus Pauling Institute.
Anti-viral. At 4 /g, best health bargain around. 99.9% of animals make their own in "mega" amounts as do all plants. We, monkeys and guinea pigs do not. Very high dose is remarkably safe: "..take as much as you like" [from the L. Pauling Institute's Top Ten, May 2000]. Very important. Nature's nitroglycerin, like arginine & vitamin E.

The B's --No reported toxicity in doses mentioned.

(B2), B6, B12 & folic acid will lower artery toxic homocysteine in anyone.
Take as a multi and not individually unless there is a special reason.
B1   25-100 mg
B2   25-100 mg
B3 50-600 mg
B6   25-100 mg
B12 100 mcg+
B9 = folic acid 800 - 2000 mcg

Pantothenic acid (B5) 25-200 mg
They help digest fats and sugars, lower homocysteine (-best in higher than RDA amounts) and reduce plaque.
Very high dose plain B3 niacin (about 0.7g taken after each of meals) is by far the best & cheapest cholesterol "modifying" drug, raising HDL while lowering LDL, Lp(a), fibrinogen and triglycerides -must take with a daily multi. B3 is also good for your liver and brain.
The B's are needed for 100's of processes in the body. Ultra high doses of some have anti-Alzheimer's, schizophrenia & depression links.

The higher doses mentioned resemble Pauling's. Very important. Very high B6 may help carpal tunnel problems.

Calcium (see minerals, below) + Vitamin D, the sun shine vitamin (very important). I'd use calcium combined with magnesium. Calcium 1.2 gr. + Vitamin D 1200 IU (BMJ; Nov. 28 '98); up to 100 mcg = 4000 IU likely safe AJCN; Dec. '01) 1.2g Ca + 800IU D prevent bone loss and fracture at age 84! (here's your reference). Calcium is heart healthy: bone, boiled egg shell, oyster shell, dolomite, milk (may be) & soy, and green leaf or cabbage type veggie (which also have the bone-building vitamin K). D = extremely important: fish liver [oil], fatty fish, high-sun on skin; science ref's: "D"-council & Oregon State.
Magnesium (for more, and for potassium** see minerals, below) 1/2 - 1 gr. Crucial for heart function; it, and potassium** regulate heart beat. Mg is needed for 325 reactions, not least the lowering of toxic blood homocysteine. 90% of Mg is removed from refined grains and rice! Most Americans don't get the RDA of about 0.4 gr. Very important and few side effects.
Selenium (see minerals, below) 200 mcg (max. 800 mcg) Antioxidant, works with vitamins E and C. A lack causes heart disease, some virus diseases & cancer which are, in part, selenium deficiency diseases. Very important.
CoQ10 (CoenzymeQ10, or ubiquinone) 60 to 300 mg Essential for heart & blood pressure; larger dose for serious heart trouble or cancer; vital when taking a "statin" drug. Body makes less when older (using most B vitamins and magnesium). Safe but expensive ($1/100mg). Doubly absorbed when chewed in oily food.
Vitamin F -with the F from Fat ...
An old term that shouldn't be lost.
a-Linolenic; omega-3 (?-3 or n-3) type oil.

Linoleic; omega-6 (?-6 or n-6) type oil.
Omega-3: 1 to 2 tea spoons flax/lin or fish, or 2 table spoons canola oil [like: colza, rape, raap, kool, mustard], or soy -only if you can't find canola.
Other types of omega-3 in fatty fish.

Most people get too much n-6.
True vitamins: needed for heart-health. The only 2 fat types ("poly"-unsaturates) the body can not make itself.
Omega-3 type alpha-linolenic is scarce in the Western food supply but key to heart, general and mental health. Fish oil works like a-linolenic, see: [Good Food] and point 1 in [31 Comments] and lowers triglycerides.

Omega-6 type linoleic (corn, sun, saff, soy, cotton) is rarely lacking and is often excessive in relation to n-3 linolenic. Probably the most common "vitamin overdose" in Western diets at 2x-3x the ISSFAL maximum for most people. The cancer-link keeps on popping up in the high omega-6 research.

*Minerals are complicated as there are many and it is possible to overdose. Intakes depend on the degree of food processing and amounts in the soil. Plants make vitamins but must mine their minerals -if not in the soil, it won't be in the plant. Here's some info about their roles -not necessarily as supplements- in health and disease.
Selenium: vital: US Nat. Inst. of Health

200 mcg before and in HIV / AIDS & virus infections (book or free 700k pdf): low selenium lowers resistance -including to viruses that steal your selenium- making things seriously worse.
Low selenium makes every infection worse since it's needed in your T lymphocyte defense system.
NE, SE and NW N-Am. & North Europe, New Zealand, parts of China: under 50 mcg/day & often insufficient.
Southern Europe and a central N-S band in N-Am. seem to have adequate amounts in the soil. Large local differences (also: point 14 in Comments).

The higher dose is above what is generally accepted as safe but may well slash the US cancer death rate by about one quarter [my guess] as well as the spread of AIDS [someone else's guess].
Zero reported deaths from supplements. Toxicity likely at 2500 mcg/d.
Cancer, heart disease, heart muscle, muscle, cataracts, blood pressure, some virus diseases, aging
Overdose risk -as per the top link in the left column- should be weighed against potentially 6 fewer cancer deaths per 100 N. Americans on high dose selenium.

Some whole grains, fish, Brazil nuts, kidney and, more reliably, supplements:
Twinlab's Daily One Cap, a Best Buy, almost uniquely contains an excellent 200 mcg, see [Nuts, Bolts] for all sources.

Silicon 20 - 50 mg (not well absorbed) 5 - 10 mg or higher Bones, joints, heart, skin, poor (weak) collagen Unrefined plants and greens, whole grain, horsetail plant. Dietary fiber (oats, barley, and rice) and wine.
Chromium 30 mcg (US) often insufficient 200-400 mcg
with selenium Diabetes; helps insulin, cholesterol, acne, sugar use Liver, grains, root veggies, green pepper.
Vanadium 10 - 60 mg often insufficient 100 mcg+ Diabetes; higher doses replace insulin Shell fish, parsley, some processed foods, grains, beans.
Boron 1.5 mg often insufficient 3 - 9 mg Bone health, diabetes, infection, arthritis Water, fruits, veggies.
Manganese 2.5 - 4 mg often insufficient 5-15 mg Bone, cartilage, heart, epilepsy, diabetes, cataracts Unrefined vegetarian; not in animal products.
The ONLY nutrient deficiency known to raise LDL cholesterol.

Without it artery structure is not made, or repaired!
0.7 -1.5 mg often insufficient

1-2 mg (1/10th of your zinc intake)
Like selenium & iron, don't overdose on copper
Heart, arthritis, hair color, artery bursts (aneurysm, stroke), bad collagen, high LDL, poor clotting, Parkinson's Nuts, grains, bracelets, supplements. Soft or acidic water: excessive amounts from copper pipes.

Zinc --Part of 300 enzymes, the nutritional screw drivers, hammers and pliers of our body (protein and fancy oils being the nuts, bolts and batteries, and glucose or fats the fuel). 7-14 mg Low intake is linked to 1.4% of the world's deaths! [WHO]
Rules 2000 cell functions in addition to those 300 enzymes!
10 - 30 mg Arthritis, skin, infection, bad collagen, vision, prostate, diabetes, etc. Much more from BMJ; 2002-11-9. Shell fish, nuts, grains, beans, potatoes, fish and meat.
Molybdenum 75-250 mcg or less ? 75-250 mcg Organs, enzymes, cancer Whole grains, beans, liver.
Potassium** U.S. (AIM; 2000-9-11): young adults: 3.4 g/d; high fruit + veggies: 8 - 11 g/d; urban whites: 2.4 g/d; often elderly or Blacks: ~1 g/d.   20% of hospitalized patients have low potassium. varies; often insufficient --in relation to sodium i.e. kitchen salt; lost in processing. 2 - 5.6 gr (US RDA)**
Try to get it from your food

Heart, heart failure, stroke, hypertension, cell function, sweating, diuretics, irregular heart beat**, muscle, fatigue, nerves, etc. etc. Bananas, celery, fruits (prune, orange) and veggies (potato, broccoli, beets), meat, fish, salt substitutes.
Zero in: white flour, sugar & fats.

Sodium (salt) most often high or excessive 1/10th of potassium Cell function, always sufficient; raises blood pressure Salted foods; source of vital iodine -check your area.
Iron I'd only supplement -or use iron fortified foods- if a medical need has been established. 16 mg (Sweden) often insufficient 10 - 15 mg
don't overdose Blood; premeno- pausal women only; some infants, teens & elderly Liver, nuts, grains & greens; vitamin C increases absorption
Magnesium (see above) Mg has it's own amazing site here. Here's the US N.I.H. and here's a Medline heart disease link. 300 mg (Sweden)
often insufficient; very important 500 - 1000 mg (at least half of calcium intake) Heart, heart failure, irregular heart beat, bone, PMS, cramps, fatigue, diabetes, stroke, diuretic use, etc. Whole grains, nuts, soy, greens, root veggies & supplements
Calcium (see above) 500 mg (Belgium)
often insufficient 1000 - 2000 mg (1-2g) Bone, heart, general, blood pressure Bone, greens, grains, nuts & milk. Not in meats.

Mineral needs are complicated because each person's situation is unique while you or your health-advisor will never know which minerals were in the soil where your food was grown, how much was taken up, or by how much milling and cooking reduced their amount.
Each nutrient is important and wise supplementation with some minerals is a practical way to insure that you get the optimum amounts.
**POTASSIUM "It now appears quite possible that a lack of potassium in the coronary muscles may be the major cause of death from heart disease in humans " [Adelle Davis, '72]. 95% of potassium is inside cells, as opposed to sodium, and magnesium keeps it there. Because raw plant-based diets are high in potassium & low in sodium, well functioning kidneys remove potassium faster than sodium. Disposal of vegetable cook-water, high salt or low magnesium diets, sweating and most diuretics can cause fatal depletions of potassium and/or magnesium. References: 1.) irregular heart beat: JAMA; '99-6-16; 2.) blood pressure: JAMA; '97-5-28; 3.) stroke: NEJM;'87-1-29 [60% of risk at 4.3 vs. 2.4g/d]; 4.) review BMJ; '01-9-1 [10 mmole = ~0.4 g].
radha07 IF-Dazzler

Joined: 07 January 2007
Posts: 4841

Posted: 06 May 2007 at 6:07am | IP Logged
Sharad KelkarSharad Kelkar: Health and Fitness

Sharad Kelkar of Saat Phere shares his fitness tips. The former ramp model talks about his work out plan and diet and how Nach Baliye helped him lose 7 kilos of excess weight!

Sharad loves seafood:
Every morning I drink a juice of green pumpkin and capsicum. It's natural and very good to detoxify your body. Other than that I eat some eggs. I'm not particular and can eat any form of eggs for breakfast.

I have a normal lunch of two chapattis, and dal. I eat a lot of dal!

In the evening I usually have a sandwich from a place called Health Junction which sells health food.

Normally it's not a habit of mine to take dinner. It's not that I want to lose weight but I just don't like eating in the night. For me the evening meal may be just a soup or a piece of fish.

I can't resist fish and seafood. I just love crabs especially in garlic butter. That's one thing I can't refuse even with all that butter! Mango is another thing I just can't stay away from. If I see a mango I just have to eat it!

"Timing is everything"
I try to avoid a lot of things but I can't seem to manage it! I don't diet though. I eat only three meals a day and timing is very important. I have to have my meals at a fixed time. Lunch is between 1:30 and 2 and in the evening I eat between 6:30 and 7. I don't eat outside those times.

"I don't want a body builder's body"
I go to the gym everyday. If I'm shooting I have to adjust my timings to early in the morning or late in the evening but I make sure I go. I work out for about one and a half hours; everyday on different body parts. I do cardio four times a week and weight training the other three days.

I don't want a six pack, rock hard, body builder body. I just have to be agile and fit enough. I would rather be lean and muscular than big and bulky.

"I lost 7 kilos during Nach Baliye"
The first year I started working out I gained 14 kilos in two months! I was very lean and sleek. I have no muscles whatsoever and I immediately gained a lot of weight once I was exercising. People I knew would see my and say "Kya ho gaya?" Now I've been working out for 10 years. Earlier I used to do ramp shows and I had a good body. Now it's not that great. When I was doing two serials I had gained 8 kilos because it was so hectic. I managed to lose it with all that dancing in Nach Baliye. I lost 7 kilos there! The rest I lost and maintained through doing a lot of cardio exercises.

"I love my height"
I put on weight on my abdomen and my face. They are the first places that get bigger so I'm not too happy about that. I would like to have a more toned stomach and I'm working on that. In two months I should see a good improvement on my abs.

Among the things I love about my body are my arms. I think I have good arms. They're well toned. And I also love my height which is all of 6'1!

"I don't notice women's bodies!"
In this industry I think that Indraneil Sen Gupta has a great body. Among the women I'm the wrong guy to ask because I never look at them! (Laughs). There are a lot of girls who are maintaining themselves but I really wouldn't know about any of them.
-Khushiyana- IF-Rockerz

Joined: 02 September 2006
Posts: 7661

Posted: 21 July 2007 at 8:05am | IP Logged
Milk Allergy

People who don't have a milk allergy may think it's easy to avoid eating foods that are made with milk or milk products. You just say "no" to ice cream and pizza, right? (Yeah, like that's easy.)

But so many foods are made with milk and milk products these days that people with milk allergies have to pay attention to what's in just about everything they eat. And a milk allergy is not the same as lactose intolerance — some people with food allergies can become suddenly and severely ill if they eat or even come in contact with the food they're allergic to.

Some foods that contain milk are obvious, like pizza. But others, like baked goods, may not be so obvious. Plus, teens need calcium and vitamin D, which milk has lots of, because their bones are still growing. So what should a person who's allergic to milk do? Read on to find out.

What Happens When a Person Has a Milk Allergy?

People who are allergic to cow's milk react to one or more of the proteins in it. Curd, the substance that forms chunks in sour milk, contains 80% of milk's proteins, including several called caseins (pronounced: kay-seenz). Whey (pronounced: way), the watery part of milk, holds the other 20%. A person may be allergic to proteins in either or both parts of milk.

When a person who is allergic to milk eats a food that contains milk products, the body's immune system mistakenly sees the milk proteins as dangerous "invaders." The immune system responds by creating specific antibodies, which are designed to fight off the "invader." These antibodies - called immunoglobulin E (IgE) – trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, one of which is histamine (pronounced: hiss-tuh-meen).

So when a person with a milk allergy eats a food that contains milk, the immune system unleashes an army of chemicals to protect the body. The release of these chemicals can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and the cardiovascular system — causing allergy symptoms like wheezing, nausea, headache, stomachache, and itchy hives.

Milk allergy is like most food allergy reactions: It usually happens within minutes to hours after eating foods that contain milk proteins. Most reactions last less than a day and may affect any of three body systems:

  • the skin - in the form of red, bumpy rashes (hives), eczema, or redness and swelling around the mouth
  • the gastrointestinal tract - in the form of belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • the respiratory tract - symptoms can range from a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing to the triggering of asthma with coughing and wheezing

Most people have some of the reactions listed above, but a few people may have a very strong reaction called anaphylaxis (pronounced: ah-nuh-fuh-lak-sis). This severe allergic reaction causes swelling of the mouth, throat, and airways leading to the lungs, resulting in an inability to breathe. In addition, there is a dangerous drop in blood pressure, which can make someone dizzy or pass out, and may quickly lead to shock.

People often confuse milk allergy with lactose intolerance because people can have the same kinds of things happening to them (like stomach pains or bloating, for example) with both conditions. But the conditions are not related. Milk allergy is a problem involving the immune system, but lactose intolerance involves the digestive system. For someone who is lactose intolerant, the digestive system doesn't produce enough of the enzyme needed to break down the sugar in milk.

How Can Doctors Tell If a Person Has a Milk Allergy?

If your doctor suspects you might have a milk allergy, he or she will probably refer you to an allergist or allergy specialist for further testing. The allergy specialist will ask you questions. These may cover things like how often you have the reaction, the time it takes between eating a particular food and the start of the symptoms, and whether any family members have allergies or conditions like eczema and asthma.

The allergy specialist may perform a skin test on you. This test involves placing liquid extracts of milk protein on a person's forearm or back, pricking the skin a tiny bit, and waiting to see if a reddish, raised spot forms, indicating an allergic reaction.

You may need to stop taking anti-allergy medications (such as over-the-counter antihistamines) 2 to 3 days before the skin test because they can interfere with the results. Most cold medications as well as some antidepressants may also affect skin testing. Check with the allergist's office if you are unsure about what medications need to be stopped and for how long.

Some doctors may also take a blood sample and send it to a lab where it will be mixed with some of the suspected allergen and checked for IgE antibodies.

These types of tests are used for diagnosing what doctors call a fast-onset type of milk allergy. But for people whose allergic reactions to milk develop more slowly, skin and blood tests are not as helpful.

In these cases doctors try to diagnose the person using a food challenge. The person is told not to eat or drink anything made with milk for a period of time — usually a few weeks. Then, during the challenge, the person eats foods containing milk under a doctor's close supervision. If symptoms come back after eating milk products, it's a pretty sure bet the person has a milk allergy.

How Is It Treated?

To treat a milk allergy, the person who is allergic needs to completely avoid any foods that contain milk or milk products.

Avoiding milk involves more than just leaving the cheese off your cheese fries. If you are allergic to milk, you need to read food labels carefully and not eat anything that you're not sure about. It's a good idea to work with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan that provides all the nutrients you need while avoiding things you can't eat. Check out our section on Living With a Milk Allergy (below) for more tips.

If you have a severe milk allergy — or any kind of serious allergy — your doctor may want you to carry a shot of epinephrine (pronounced: eh-puh-neh-frin) with you in case of an emergency. Epinephrine comes in an easy-to-carry container about the size of a large marker. It's easy to use — your doctor will show you how.

If you accidentally eat something with milk in it and start having serious allergic symptoms, like swelling inside your mouth, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, you can give yourself the shot right away to counteract the reaction while you're waiting for medical help. Always call for emergency help (911) when using epinephrine. You should make sure your school and even good friends' houses have injectable epinephrine on hand, too.

Keeping epinephrine on hand at all times should be just part of your action plan for living with a milk allergy. It's also a good idea to carry an over-the-counter antihistamine as this can help alleviate allergy symptoms in some people. Antihistamines should be used in addition to the epinephrine and not as a replacement for the shot.

If you've had to take an epinephrine shot because of an allergic reaction, then you should go immediately to a medical facility or hospital emergency room so they can give you additional treatment if you need it. Up to one third of anaphylactic reactions can have a second wave of symptoms several hours following the initial attack. Therefore, you might need to be observed in a clinic or hospital for 4 to 8 hours following the reaction.

Living With a Milk Allergy

It may be challenging to eliminate milk from your diet, but it's not impossible. Because most people don't get enough calcium in their diets even if they do drink milk, many other foods are now enriched with calcium, such as juices, cereals, and rice and soy beverages. But before you eat or drink anything calcium enriched, make sure it's also dairy free.

Milk and milk products can lurk in strange places, such as processed meats. Chocolate is another product that may contain dairy — so be sure to check the label before you eat it.

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As of January 2006, manufacturers of foods sold in the United States must list on their labels whether a food contains any of the most common allergens. This means that you should be able to find statements like these somewhere on the label: "contains milk ingredients," "made with milk ingredients," or "processed in a facility that also processes milk products."

This new labeling requirement makes it a little easier than reading the ingredients list — instead needing to know that the ingredient "hydrolyzed casein" comes from milk protein, you should be able to tell at a glance which foods to avoid. But the government is allowing companies to use labels that were made before 2006, which means it's still a good idea to get to know the "code words" for milk products when you see them in the ingredients of a food.

Vegan foods are made without animal products, such as eggs or milk. You can buy vegan products at health food stores. Be careful to read the labels of soy cheeses, though. They may say "milk-free," but they could contain milk protein.

For your sweet tooth, soy- or rice-based frozen desserts, sorbets, and puddings are good substitutes for ice cream, as are ice pops. For baking, milk substitutes work as well as milk and some come out better. Dairy-free margarine works as well as butter for recipes and spreading on your bagel.

Try to avoid fried foods or foods with batter on them. Even if the batter doesn't contain milk products, the oil used to fry the foods may have been used to fry something that contains milk.

People are usually understanding when it comes to food allergies — nobody wants to risk your health. When eating out, order the simplest foods and ask the waitstaff detailed questions about menu items. At a friend's house, explain your situation and don't be embarrassed to ask questions if you're staying for a meal.

Having a milk allergy doesn't mean you can't still enjoy eating. In fact, some people think that some of the milk substitutes — like vanilla soy milk — taste better than regular cow's milk. As with any specialized diet, you'll probably find avoiding milk gives you the opportunity to explore and discover some great foods that you'd never have found otherwise!

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Posted: 21 July 2007 at 8:07am | IP Logged
Digestive System

What's the first step in digesting food? Believe it or not, the digestive process starts even before you put food in your mouth. It begins when you smell something irresistible or when you see a favorite food you know will taste good. Just by smelling that homemade apple pie or thinking about how delicious that ice cream sundae is going to taste, you begin to salivate — and the digestive process kicks in, preparing for that first scrumptious bite.

If it's been a while since your last meal or if you even think about something tasty, you feel hungry. You eat until you're satisfied and then go about your business. But for the next 20 hours or so, your digestive system is doing its job as the food you ate travels through your body.

Food is the body's fuel source. The nutrients in food give the body's cells the energy and other substances they need to operate. But before food can do any of these things, it has to be digested into small pieces the body can absorb and use.

Almost all animals have a tube-type digestive system in which food enters the mouth, passes through a long tube, and exits as feces (poop) through the anus. The smooth muscle in the walls of the tube-shaped digestive organs rhythmically and efficiently moves the food through the system, where it is broken down into tiny absorbable nutrients.

During the process of absorption, nutrients that come from the food (including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals) pass through channels in the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The blood works to distribute these nutrients to the rest of the body. The waste parts of food that the body can't use are passed out of the body as feces.

What Is the Digestive System and What Does It Do?

Every morsel of food we eat has to be broken down into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body, which is why it takes hours to fully digest food. In humans, protein must be broken down into amino acids, starches into simple sugars, and fats into fatty acids and glycerol. The water in our food and drink is also absorbed into the bloodstream to provide the body with the fluid it needs.

The digestive system is made up of the alimentary canal and the other abdominal organs that play a part in digestion, such as the liver and pancreas. The alimentary canal (also called the digestive tract) is the long tube of organs — including the esophagus, the stomach, and the intestines — that runs from the mouth to the anus. An adult's digestive tract is about 30 feet long.

Digestion begins in the mouth, well before food reaches the stomach. When we see, smell, taste, or even imagine a tasty snack, our salivary glands, which are located under the tongue and near the lower jaw, begin producing saliva. This flow of saliva is set in motion by a brain reflex that's triggered when we sense food or even think about eating. In response to this sensory stimulation, the brain sends impulses through the nerves that control the salivary glands, telling them to prepare for a meal.

As the teeth tear and chop the food, saliva moistens it for easy swallowing. A digestive enzyme called amylase (pronounced: ah-meh-lace), which is found in saliva, starts to break down some of the carbohydrates (starches and sugars) in the food even before it leaves the mouth.

Swallowing, which is accomplished by muscle movements in the tongue and mouth, moves the food into the throat, or pharynx. The pharynx (pronounced: fair-inks), a passageway for food and air, is about 5 inches long. A flexible flap of tissue called the epiglottis (pronounced: ep-ih-glah-tus) reflexively closes over the windpipe when we swallow to prevent choking.

From the throat, food travels down a muscular tube in the chest called the esophagus (pronounced: ih-sah-fuh-gus). Waves of muscle contractions called peristalsis (pronounced: per-uh-stall-sus) force food down through the esophagus to the stomach. A person normally isn't aware of the movements of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine that take place as food passes through the digestive tract.

At the end of the esophagus, a muscular ring called a sphincter (pronounced: sfink-ter) allows food to enter the stomach and then squeezes shut to keep food or fluid from flowing back up into the esophagus. The stomach muscles churn and mix the food with acids and enzymes, breaking it into much smaller, more digestible pieces. An acidic environment is needed for the digestion that takes place in the stomach. Glands in the stomach lining produce about 3 quarts of these digestive juices each day.

Most substances in the food we eat need further digestion and must travel into the intestine before being absorbed. When it's empty, an adult's stomach has a volume of one fifth of a cup, but it can expand to hold more than 8 cups of food after a large meal.

By the time food is ready to leave the stomach, it has been processed into a thick liquid called chyme (pronounced: kime). A walnut-sized muscular tube at the outlet of the stomach called the pylorus (pronounced: py-lore-us) keeps chyme in the stomach until it reaches the right consistency to pass into the small intestine. Chyme is then squirted down into the small intestine, where digestion of food continues so the body can absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream.

The small intestine is made up of three parts:

  1. the duodenum (pronounced: due-uh-dee-num), the C-shaped first part
  2. the jejunum (pronounced: jih-ju-num), the coiled midsection
  3. the ileum (pronounced: ih-lee-um), the final section that leads into the large intestine

The inner wall of the small intestine is covered with millions of microscopic, finger-like projections called villi (pronounced: vih-lie). The villi are the vehicles through which nutrients can be absorbed into the body.

The liver (located under the ribcage in the right upper part of the abdomen), the gallbladder (hidden just below the liver), and the pancreas (beneath the stomach) are not part of the alimentary canal, but these organs are still important for healthy digestion.

The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also makes a substance that neutralizes stomach acid. The liver produces bile, which helps the body absorb fat. Bile is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed. These enzymes and bile travel through special channels (called ducts) directly into the small intestine, where they help to break down food.

The liver also plays a major role in the handling and processing of nutrients. These nutrients are carried to the liver in the blood from the small intestine.

From the small intestine, food that has not been digested (and some water) travels to the large intestine through a valve that prevents food from returning to the small intestine. By the time food reaches the large intestine, the work of absorbing nutrients is nearly finished. The large intestine's main function is to remove water from the undigested matter and form solid waste that can be excreted. The large intestine is made up of three parts:

  1. The cecum (pronounced: see-kum) is a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine that joins the small intestine to the large intestine. This transition area allows food to travel from the small intestine to the large intestine. The appendix, a small, hollow, finger-like pouch, hangs off the cecum. Doctors believe the appendix is left over from a previous time in human evolution. It no longer appears to be useful to the digestive process.
  2. The colon extends from the cecum up the right side of the abdomen, across the upper abdomen, and then down the left side of the abdomen, finally connecting to the rectum. The colon has three parts: the ascending colon and transverse colon, which absorb water and salts, and the descending colon, which holds the resulting waste. Bacteria in the colon help to digest the remaining food products.
  3. The rectum is where feces are stored until they leave the digestive system through the anus as a bowel movement.

Things That Can Go Wrong With the Digestive System

Nearly everyone has a digestive problem at one time or another. Some conditions, such as indigestion or mild diarrhea, are common; they result in mild discomfort and get better on their own or are easy to treat. Others, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can be long lasting or troublesome. A doctor who specializes in the digestive system and who can be helpful when dealing with these conditions is called a GI specialist or gastroenterologist.

Conditions Affecting the Esophagus

Conditions affecting the esophagus may be congenital (meaning people are born with them) or noncongenital (meaning people can develop them after birth).

Some examples include:

  • Tracheoesophageal fistula (pronounced: tray-kee-oh-ih-saf-uh-jee-ul fish-chuh-luh) and esophageal atresia (pronounced: ih-saf-uh-jee-ul uh-tree-zhuh) are both examples of congenital conditions. Tracheoesophageal fistula is where there is a connection between the esophagus and the trachea (windpipe) where there shouldn't be one. In babies with esophageal atresia, the esophagus comes to a dead end instead of connecting to the stomach. Both conditions are usually detected soon after a baby is born — sometimes even beforehand. They require surgery to repair.
  • Esophagitis (pronounced: ih-saf-uh-jeye-tus) or inflammation of the esophagus, is an example of a noncongenital condition. Esophagitis is usually caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which the esophageal sphincter (the tube of muscle that connects the esophagus with the stomach) allows the acidic contents of the stomach to move backward up into the esophagus. GERD can sometimes be corrected through lifestyle changes, such as adjusting the types of things a person eats. Sometimes, though, it requires treatment with medication. Occasionally, esophagitis can be caused by infection or certain medications.

Conditions Affecting the Stomach and Intestines

Almost everyone has experienced diarrhea or constipation at some point in their lives. With diarrhea, muscle contractions move the contents of the intestines along too quickly and there isn't enough time for water to be absorbed before the feces are pushed out of the body. Constipation is the opposite: The contents of the large intestines do not move along fast enough and waste materials stay in the large intestine so long that too much water is removed and the feces become hard.

Other common stomach and intestinal disorders include:

  • Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by the abnormal response of the immune system to a protein called gluten, which is found in certain foods. People with celiac disease have difficulty digesting the nutrients from their food because eating things with gluten damages the lining of the intestines over time. Some of the symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. The disease can be managed by following a gluten-free diet.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disorder that affects the colon. When the muscles in the colon don't work smoothly, a person can feel the abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea that may be signs of IBS. There's no cure for IBS, but it can be managed by making some dietary and lifestyle changes. Occasionally, medications may be used as well.
  • Gastritis and peptic ulcers. Under normal conditions, the stomach and duodenum are extremely resistant to irritation by the strong acids produced in the stomach. Sometimes, though, a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or the chronic use of certain medications weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, allowing acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. This can irritate and inflame the lining of the stomach (a condition known as gastritis) or cause peptic ulcers, which are sores or holes that form in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum and cause pain or bleeding. Medications are usually successful in treating these conditions.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is chronic inflammation of the intestines that affects older kids, teens, and adults. There are two major types: ulcerative colitis, which usually affects just the rectum and the large intestine, and Crohn's disease, which can affect the whole gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus as well as other parts of the body. They are treated with medications, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove inflamed or damaged areas of the intestine.

Disorders of the Pancreas, Liver, and Gallbladder

Conditions affecting the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder often affect the ability of these organs to produce enzymes and other substances that aid in digestion.

These include:

  • Cystic fibrosis is a chronic, inherited illness where the production of abnormally thick mucus blocks the ducts or passageways in the pancreas and prevents its digestive juices from entering the intestines, making it difficult for a person to properly digest proteins and fats. This causes important nutrients to pass out of the body unused. To help manage their digestive problems, people with cystic fibrosis can take digestive enzymes and nutritional supplements.
  • Hepatitis is a viral infection in which the liver becomes inflamed and can lose its ability to function. Some forms of viral hepatitis are highly contagious. Mild cases of hepatitis A can be treated at home; however, serious cases involving liver damage may require hospitalization.
  • The gallbladder can develop gallstones and become inflamed — a condition called cholecystitis (pronounced: ko-lee-sis-teye-tus). Although gallbladder conditions are uncommon in teens, they can occur when a teen has sickle cell anemia or is being treated with certain long-term medications.

The kinds and amounts of food a person eats and how the digestive system processes that food play key roles in maintaining good health. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to prevent common digestive problems.

mellisai IF-Rockerz

Joined: 08 June 2007
Posts: 9440

Posted: 19 August 2007 at 11:40am | IP Logged
Baby scans: do we need them?
By Clare Murphy
BBC News health reporter

So is it just a waste of money?
For many women, the scan which shows their unborn squirming, kicking and sucking its thumb is one of the important milestones of pregnancy.
For the vast majority it provides reassurance that all is well, and it enables parents to prepare if all is not.

But an eminent ultrasound specialist is determined to kickstart a debate on the value of the scan within an NHS increasingly strapped for cash.

In a paper published in Ultrasounds this week, retired Dr Hylton Meire not only argues there is no scientific evidence to prove the 20-week scan is worthwhile, he also casts doubt on the reliability of the principal method of testing for Down's Syndrome - the nuchal fold measurement.

These tests do not give a yes or no answer to whether a baby has Down's, but an indication of risk. Those deemed to have a higher possibility are offered an amniocentesis, where a needle is inserted into the womb to give a much more accurate analysis.

Every amniocentesis carries a small risk of miscarriage, so women who are not carrying a disabled foetus in the first place can end up losing a perfectly healthy baby.

Using various figures, Dr Meire, formerly of King's College Hospital, calculates that as many as 3,200 healthy babies are lost in this way each year.

For every 50 live births of children with Down's Syndrome prevented, he says 160 women miscarry non-affected babies.

'Muddled measurements'

Dr Meire has reservations about aborting babies with Down's Syndrome in the first place, and admits this forms part of his hostility to testing for the condition.

The nuchal fold test involves measuring the fluid at the back of the neck of an 11-13 week old foetus.

Babies with abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid at the back of their neck during the first three months after conception, causing this clear space to be larger than average.

Age of the mother is one of the factors taken into account when risk is being calculated, and many hospitals also carry out blood tests to give an even more accurate picture.

Low risk is a result where the chances of having a baby with Down's syndrome is less than one in 800, while high risk is anything greater than one in 300.

Women are being referred on to amniocentesis on the basis of a very flimsy test and I think they need to understand just how inaccurate it can be."

Dr Hylton Meire

Dr Meire argues that blood tests notwithstanding, the test is hugely problematic because of the difficulties of measuring anything accurately on a blurry ultrasound screen.

"Women are being referred on to amniocentesis on the basis of a very flimsy test," he says.

"And I think they need to understand just how inaccurate it can be."

Jane Fisher from Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) says Dr Meire does have a point, but that most parents are all too aware the test is fallible.

Weighing up the various risks - a one in 200 chance of carrying a child with Down's syndrome against a one in 200 chance of miscarrying after an amniocentesis - is an immensely difficult decision.

"The problem is Dr Meire wants absolutes," she says.

"The technology isn't there to provide that yet, and in the absence of it, we have to make do with what there is. But of course counselling is important, and a proper discussion about what the risks are."

Spending money

In any event, ARC stresses that screening now means fewer older mothers have an amniocentesis as a matter of course, as was the case all the way up until 2001 when the scans became available nationally.

The test is offered in around three quarters of hospitals, but not necessarily to all women. Older women are at greater risk of having a child with Down's Syndrome, and some hospitals only screen those over the age of 35 or even 38.

But the vast majority of women in the UK - 95% - are offered the 20 week anomaly scans which Dr Meire also targets in his paper.

Costing between 25 and 50 a go, the specialist says there is no evidence to prove they are worth the money.

"There's no data that shows - in regard to children living or dying or succumbing to serious illness - that these scans have any effect in population terms. No-one has been able to prove otherwise," he says.

"We need to really think about why we do these, and the money we spend on them, and ask ourselves if it's really worthwhile."

Conditions detected at 20 weeks include serious problems such as heart defects, as well as more minor conditions like cleft palate.

Sometimes you've also got to look at things from an individual perspective, and what it means for the parents - maybe the pure joy of parents seeing their unborn child is something that's worth paying for

Patrick O'Brien

Obstetrics consultant Patrick O'Brien says it is very important to know in advance if a child has heart defects, as it means preparations can be made for delivery in a specialist unit if need be.

But he concedes that viewed at the level of pure statistics, it is possible to argue that scans only benefit a small minority of people. Often parents learn information which they do not necessarily need to know before the birth.

But while finding out a child is to be born with a cleft palate may not be necessity, learning through a scan means parents can be prepared for what can be a huge shock at delivery.

"They are shown pictures of what can be done and understand how easy it is to treat," says Mr O'Brien.

"I certainly wouldn't want to go back to the pre-scan days when horrified parents simply shunned the child when it was born."

"But sometimes you've also got to look at things from an individual perspective, and what it means for the parents.

"Maybe the pure joy of parents seeing their unborn child is something that's worth paying for."

Source: BBC Health

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