Cancer: Early Detection and Prevention Can Save your Life

Cancer….it’s a scary word, I know. What if there was a way for you to find out if you were genetically prone to a specific type of cancer? How about if you were able to detect cancer in your body at an early stage and still had time to reverse it? Well, guess what…there is a way! Certain types of cancer are hereditary, some types of cancer are more likely for women than for men, some are more likely for men at age 50 than 30, and so on. Point being, knowing which age to start getting annual check ups, finding out your familial medical history, and learning about ways to help lower the chances of developing a specific cancer you may or may not be genetically prone to can help save your life.

Cancer arises in the body due to mutations in our genes. These mutations may be spontaneous or may be inherited from a family member. When a gene is mutated, it can lead to abnormal cell growth, which can then cause a malignant tumor to form. This malignant tumor can then spread to other parts of your body, which is what is called metastasis. However, there are many tests that have been developed in order to prevent this from happening through early detection. It is recommended that women at the age of 40 should start getting annual mammograms since the chances of developing breast cancer increase around that age. If you are someone that has a mother, or even a grandmother who has had breast cancer, your annual check ups should start at an earlier age since breast cancer is hereditary. A colonoscopy every 10 years is recommended for people over the age of 50 in order to test for colon cancer, which can also be hereditary. Again, if you have a family member who has had colon cancer, your screenings need to begin at an earlier age and need to be more frequent. A simple blood test to measure the level of your thyroid hormones can detect early signs of thyroid cancer. Biopsies of abnormal moles on your skin can help prevent the growth of skin cancer. A biopsy of any abnormal bump on your body can be enough to detect most types of cancer for that matter. If you do not know what your past familial medical history is, there is something called genomic testing which can detect specific mutations in your genes that have been linked to certain cancers. If we have the resources available to find out what the future holds for us in terms of our health, why not take advantage of it?

Although each type of cancer comes with its own set of symptoms, there are some general symptoms that may also be indicative of cancer as a whole. Keep in mind though, some types of cancer do not present any symptoms at all. Some general symptoms, and I do emphasize the word general, include: persistent fatigue, unintentional weight loss (around 10lbs or more), chronic pain, regular fevers, and frequent night sweats. Do not become alarmed if you have these symptoms because, again, they are very general. However, if you do have 2 or more of these symptoms, it wouldn’t hurt to go get a check up just to make sure everything is alright.

Even though cancer does not discriminate and can potentially affect any of us, prevention can at least help lower the chances of its occurrence. For example, wearing sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, or even artificial tanning lamps, can help lower the chances of skin cancer. Abstaining from smoking can help lower the chances of mouth, lung and colon cancer. Avoiding excessive caffeine consumption can help lower the chances of thyroid and breast cancer. Exercising regularly can help build your immune system to help fight off all cancers. Eating healthy, nutritious food full of fiber and vitamins can help keep your body strong and prevent cancer as well. I know it is impossible to avoid all carcinogenic agents in this world, but removing the bulk of them from your life can make a tremendous difference.

Many of you may be young and do not think this post really pertains to you, and that you should worry about these things when you are older. However, even though it is more likely to develop cancer when you are older, cancer can happen at any age, unfortunately. Also, you could use this information for your loved ones. Urge your parents to get screened if it is time for them to do so. Make them aware of how important it is to detect cancer in its early stages because it will increase their chances of eliminating it quickly and without much complication. Unfortunately, ignorance is not always bliss. I hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.



The ABC’s of Protein and Why Your Body Needs It

Protein is one of the body’s main building blocks for not only muscle but bone, hair, skin, tendons, ligaments and other tissues as well. Actually, every cell in the human body contains protein as part of its structure. So, if you were to deprive your body of protein, you would be depriving your cells and tissues of the components they need to grow or even repair themselves when needed. For those of you who are vegetarians, protein can be found in many different forms other than animal meat including powders, meal replacement bars, beans, nuts, avocado, tofu and even dried apricot. However, be careful how much protein you ingest because too much can be toxic.

The recommended daily intake of protein for healthy adults is 0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day for the average man. For people who exercise vigorously, it is essential to have more protein after their workout in order to help restore and repair muscle glycogen, which is a molecule used as a fuel source for energy. Protein can also help you stay full longer than most other types of food, which is beneficial for weight loss. Most meal replacement bars and powders contain a high amount of protein specifically to help the body lose fat and build lean muscle. One of my favorite meal replacement bars is Think Thin. These bars do not contain any sugar but do pack a lot of protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins that will give you energy and keep you full for hours. Plus, they actually taste really good. A protein shake that I recommend is Shakeology. Shakeology has a protein formula unmatched by most other protein shakes and is also relatively low in calories so you will lose unwanted fat and increase lean muscle mass easily and quickly.

Protein may be good for the body, but too much protein is not. A diet in which protein makes up more than 30% of your caloric intake causes a buildup of toxic ketones in the body. Having a high level of ketones can push your kidneys into overdrive in order to flush these ketones out, which can cause you lose a significant amount of water as well. If your body loses too much water, you may be at risk for dehydration, especially for those who exercise a lot. Along with losing an excessive amount of water, you can lose muscle mass and bone calcium in your urine too. Also, dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy since excessive water loss may lower your blood pressure to an abnormally low level, which also puts a strain on your heart. Last but not least, a high level of ketones in the body can cause really bad breath!

So, protein is an essential part of one’s diet, but like almost everything else in this world, too much may be harmful. Stick to the daily recommended intake of protein and you will not only feel better but look better as well. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.




Cold, Flu, Infection, Fever, Cold Sore…What’s the Difference?

Being the second child, I seem to get sick much less frequently than my older brother. This is most likely because my parents weren’t as cautious with me as they were with him while growing up. As bad as that sounds, that is how it is with almost any parent. With the first child, parents are more careful and scared because it is their first time having a baby. Once the second child rolls around, they are more relaxed, which means I probably ate more sand from the sandbox than my brother did. What does all this mean? I have been exposed to more germs and pathogens while growing up so my immune system is stronger than my brother’s is today. I am not mentioning this in order to brag or to make you think you should go feed your child sand, but to make it easier for you to understand how the immune system works. We hear all these terms such as cold, flu, fever, infection, virus, bacteria, and cold sore; however, how many of us know the difference between them? That is what I am here to talk about, as well as how to lower the chances of getting sick through proper preventative behavior as well as taking the right supplements.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses, not bacteria. The difference between a cold and a flu is as follows: fevers, headaches, body aches and exhaustion are more common with the flu; sneezing, sore throat, congestion, and coughing are more common with a cold. There is no cure for a cold, there is only medicine that will help mask the symptoms. When you have a cold, you just have to wait it out until it subsides. The only way to prevent it is through good hygiene, which means wash your hands regularly and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when your hands aren’t clean since viruses can enter the body that way. As for the flu, you can take anti-virals to help treat it, such as Tamiflu, however treatment should be sought within 48 hours of any signs of sickness. You can prevent the flu by getting annual flu shots and also practicing good hygiene as mentioned above.

If you notice your mucus or sputum is colored, such as yellow or green, you most likely have a bacterial infection and are in need of antibiotics. Antibiotics only kill bacteria, NOT viruses. If your mucus is red or even brownish, that may be a sign of something much more serious and you should seek medical attention immediately. It may be that your lungs are irritated from coughing too much, but it could also be something worse.  A fever is also indicative of an infection, but it can come with both a viral and/or bacterial infection.

Cold sores do not necessarily appear only when you are sick. They can occur at anytime and are due to a virus, not bacteria. Cold sores may be something you are prone to from birth, or can be from a virus contracted through contact with someone else’s saliva. Either way, there are topical creams as well as supplements one can take to help treat and prevent cold sores. Lysine is an amino acid (something found naturally in our bodies) that can be found as a supplement over the counter. If you tend to get cold sores often, taking supplemental lysine on a regular basis can help lower its occurance. Lysine also comes as a topical ointment which you can apply directly to the cold sore to help shorten its duration. There are also other topical creams such as Herpecin or Abreva that can help shorten the duration of a cold sore, but should be applied as soon as any sign of a cold sore arises. Carmex is a good chapstick that, if applied regularly, can help prevent and treat cold sores.

There are also supplements found over the counter as well as home remedies that can boost your immune system to help prevent and treat a cold or flu. Zinc impairs the ability of viruses to enter cells, thus preventing infection. Garlic and honey are thought to have antibacterial properties. Vitamins A, D and C help build the immune system, but be careful on how much you take because they can be toxic if taken at high quantities. Astragalus root is a traditional Chinese remedy that is thought to have antiviral properties. Echinacea is an herb that boosts the immune system, but is usually effective only when taken at the very early stages of a cold. Elderberry has been shown to prevent the flu virus from sticking to our cells. Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic medicine used to fight off flu symptoms, but is most effective when taken at the very early stages of the flu. My personal favorite is drinking hot water with lemon and honey. This soothes your throat and gives you the vitamin C and antibacterial effects of honey all in one.

Hopefully, now you will be able to understand what your symptoms mean and in turn you will be able to pick the appropriate treatment for your sickness. Again, do not feed your children sand! Stick to the remedies mentioned above 🙂 Thanks for reading, hope these tips help! This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

Alcohol Can Actually Be Good For You

Shots, shots, shots, shots! I know we’ve all heard this before and probably yelled it ourselves at one point, but I am not here to advocate that kind of drinking. I’m here to talk about drinking in moderation. Alcohol has gotten a bad wrap over the years only because people have abused it to the point where the negatives have completely masked the positives; however, I am here to remind people that alcohol can actually be good for you.

First, let me talk about the negatives so you guys don’t go haywire and start drinking like fish because I told you alcohol isn’t that bad. Drinking excessively can lead to some serious problems. Other than increasing the likelihood of embarrassing yourself by falling over or professing your love to your high school crush, alcohol can slowly destroy your liver. Drinking too much can elevate your liver enzymes and eventually lead to cirrhosis. Your liver is a very important organ that has a role in almost every function of your body including digestion, metabolism, detoxification, protein synthesis and even hormone production. Without proper liver function, your whole body can shut down. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain. Believe it or not, alcohol is full of calories! For example, a 1 ounce shot of tequila has 70 calories. Also, when you drink too much, you usually do not have control over what you eat because your judgment  is compromised. Some people like to drink to become more social and to attract the opposite sex. However, overconsumption can lead to sexual dysfunction and the inability to perform, not to mention developing beer goggles. Lastly, your immune system can be lowered, which would make you more susceptible to infection and illness.

Now, on to the positives. Drinking one glass of alcohol a day can actually have many benefits. It can reduce the chances of heart disease by lowering blood pressure. This is because alcohol acts as a vasodiolater, which causes your blood vessels to open by relaxing the smooth muscle around them. Lowering your blood pressure decreases the chances of developing hypertention, which is a major factor of heart disease. Alcohol can also help with high cholesterol by raising the amount of HDL in your body. HDL helps by picking up excess cholesterol that’s roaming around in the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver where it can be broken down. This is beneficial because high cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke. Lastly, alcohol can help reduce stress and anxiety. For people with demanding jobs or fast paced lifestyles, one glass of alcohol can help them relax and wind down at the end of the day. Wine is a great choice to turn to when you want a drink because it is derived from grapes, which are full of antioxidants. As mentioned before, antioxidants help protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals that readily arise from common metabolic processes in the body.

Don’t forget, drinking in moderation is different than going out and having 5 drinks and 3 shots in one night and not drinking the next couple days to make up for it. Drinking moderately means one glass of alcohol a day and no more than that. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.