Predicting Alzheimer’s?

Prediction of an incurable disease could become more a curse than a help. As of now, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease comes when there is already a significant amount of brain damage. New technologies are moving toward an early prediction of the so-far incurable condition.

In the future, doctors may be able to test a patient’s sense of smell as an indicator of developing Alzheimer’s. People who are unable to identify between certain odors are more likely experiencing cognitive dysfunction. Early stages of dementia, and possibly Alzheimer’s, are believed to be when the brain cells for sense of smell are destroyed.

Another more reliable method to predict the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease is through the use of blood tests. Research performed in Georgetown University Medical Center found that seniors with low levels of 10 specific lipids in their blood were predicted to get Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment with up to 90 percent accuracy.

On the bright side, finding this disease earlier on could help to slow down the symptoms and eventually find a cure, On the other hand, many people really would not want to find out that they had an incurable disease. Some see the knowledge as a curse or something hanging over their head as they wait for death and others are more than grateful for the knowledge to prepare. I guess it all depends on the person and the severity of the situation.

See full article at cnn.com

Parkour for Seniors?

Yup! You read correctly! Parkour – the daredevil activity of performing jumps and flips through urban environments like an obstacle course normally thought of as a “young man’s” sport. Not anymore.

 In London, about a dozen men and women over the age of 60 get together to practice the main elements of the sport. The movements are brought down to a level of adaptability for anyone to be able to handle. Even those with replacement joints and other medical conditions are able to increase their strength and flexibility in their daily activities.

Could this trend of seniors learning Parkour possibly grow to a worldwide phenomenon?

See full article at yahoo.com

Technology’s All Encompassing Health Effects

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Since the invention of the wheel, technology has always and will always have an effect on humanity’s livelihood. In this day and age, we can’t imagine the world without it. Information from all over the world is ready to download into personal files at the touch of a button, making the world accustomed to moving and living that much faster.

To say that we could somehow live without technology would feel like telling some sort of fairytale. We can hardly go a day without using some type of advanced technological equipment, whether it is the latest iPhone model or a hairdryer. It’s just how our lives are. Our tools affect us in more ways than making human existence easier. Our physical and mental health is affected by the daily uses of technology.

Physical Health

I am sure that many people have been told at some point in their lives that using this or that device will cause you to go deaf, blind, get carpel tunnel or some other horrible injury to your body. Are there any of these rumors really true? Not really, but there are a few. Let’s take a look at some of the possible risks of affecting your body while using technology.

“Turn that down, you’ll hurt your eardrums” is probably the phrase that we hear most often. It might be wise to listen to their advice. Listening to anything higher than 85 decibels with ear buds in could damage the small hair follicles in the inner ear which cannot be replaced. If too much damage is done, permanent hearing loss could occur.

Damaging your eyes from using something like a computer or tablet is a different matter. You really can’t go blind from staring at a screen all day. True, your eyes may become tired or irritated after a full day of work, but that’s not permanent damage. It is called computer vision syndrome and it is usually triggered by not blinking and not taking focusing breaks leading to dry, burning eyes.

Texting or typing is one of those things that ‘everyone’ is doing now. I remember when I bought my first cell phone and started texting, my grandma told me to be careful that I don’t get carpel tunnel. There is no reason to worry about that.  It’s just a myth. My fingers could obviously get stiff or sore from over typing or texting, but carpel tunnel is something completely different.

Using devices the wrong way could end up affecting other parts of your body, but these risks are easily avoidable. For example, if you own a tablet and place it frequently on your lap, you could hurt your neck muscles over time by bending your neck down so often. This is easily fixed by propping it somewhere and letting your neck remain in a neutral position. There is also a risk of a lap top being hurtful to the reproductive health in a man. Leaving the device on your lap for extended periods releases excess heat and radio-frequency electromagnetic waves which could compromise sperm quality and mobility. Avoid this by putting a cooling device under it or moving to a different surface.

Mental/Social Health

Using a laptop, cell phone or iPad late at night might cause more problems than not, starting with messed up sleep cycles. Staring at a bright screen before you turn in for the night would throw off your mind’s ability to normalize your sleep patterns, and could eventually cause sleep disorders.

With all of the use of social media on phones and computers now, more social and mental issues have been emerging from the use of the technology. Studies have shown a link between those who constantly use their cell phones and their reports of depression or anxiety. Other studies have shown that those who abuse technology have enough time with their devices to trigger the addiction-oriented parts of the brain.

Obsessively using gadgets possibly leads to other real problems. There is a real fear now in users described as “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO. People feel the pressure of society to attend every event, share every experience and read every posted update. Isolation, insecurity, and anxiety are all related to the fear of “not being there” while it happens. Sure, having the ability to connect with anyone at all times has its benefits, but we must also remember that there could be very real social and mental side effects.

What about the future?

Technological advances have reached nearly every aspect of living in a big way except for medical advancements. Giant leaps in communication, business, home improvement, and even entertainment have brought about a society that people used to fantasize over in literature. It’s now the medical field’s turn to change the way we look at things like our health and systems of diagnosis.

The digital age has now made it possible for digitizing humans using wireless biosensors. We can now continuously monitor every body function. We can image any part of the body and form a three-dimensional reconstruction to eventually be able to print an organ. Miniature hand held devices can capture critical information anywhere including someone’s genome sequencing. Devices will be able to diagnose and treat patients at an individual level instead of the current method using the whole population. Information can be updated continuously and early indicators can present possible diseases before they even begin. How much better would you feel if you knew a loved one could have an impeding heart attack or stroke and had the time to prevent or treat the problem?

Possibilities of substantial growth in medicine and hospital procedures are endless. Eventually our sci-fi stories could become reality even more dramatically than we already know. Hopefully, it will all be for the better of us all.

Gender Differences in Fat Metabolism

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Men and women have different bodies. Well, yes. Obviously. But the differences are a lot more than just the obvious. The separate genders actually burn and store different things pertaining to what they need. Let’s look at some of the distinctions between the two.

A woman’s body needs much more essential fat than a man’s body would. This is mainly because a female body must always be ready for reproduction. She will carry the extra weight in her lower body in order to help support the possibility of a child. Women will normally need about 13 percent of their bodyweight to be fat content. If the fat content is less than that, their bodies may become easily fatigued and the menstruation cycle could be thrown off or stop completely. Men, on the other hand, need much less essential fat to remain healthy, the lowest being about three percent of bodyweight. They also store fat in the upper part of their body first because they have no need to store the fat content that a woman does. The amount of healthy fat in anyone’s body will change also as people get older.

For more facts on gender differences, see marksdailyapple.com.

Body Language and Social Health

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As humans, we live out each day with a hope that tomorrow will be better. We try to live life out higher standards and make our experiences fuller and more meaningful. Many times, we have no control over what happens to us and life gets us down. Nevertheless, we still try to do what we can to improve our situations.

Healthy life choices bring about a better tomorrow. People attempt to create a healthier lifestyle through improving their physical, mental and even spiritual fitness. Exercise and a healthy diet are sought after, and the mental and spiritual states are fed and fueled according to each individual’s needs. But I think we may be forgetting something; how often do we make an effort to improve upon our social health?

I cannot express how many times people have been told ‘don’t be a wallflower,’ or ‘perhaps you should work on your confidence,’ or ‘learn to make new friends.’ From personal experience, I can say I had no idea how to grow socially, and I am willing to bet I am not the only one. When it comes to social health, people tend to accept that they are either an introvert or an extrovert and nothing would change their social status for the better.

Even I believed that. I was, and still am an introvert, but I have been able to learn more about social health and find skill sets and techniques to improve on and find success in my social life. I am talking about the understanding of and uses for body language.

Let’s face it; we interact with other human beings pretty much every day of our lives by sending messages through verbal and non-verbal communication. Contrary to popular belief, the verbal communication is not the most important part of communication. Usually, 60-75 percent of communication is non-verbal making body language a huge part of understanding people and being able to comprehend healthy relationships. Just like exercising your body for physical fitness or learning stress relievers for mental fitness, there are ways to enhance our social physique to become more successful with other people and yourself.

Uncovering the Truth

Words are unreliable on their own. Everyone knows this as truth. Anyone can say one thing and mean something else entirely. One of the ways to improve your social interactions is to understand when someone is lying or if they are telling the truth. No one wants to deal with swindlers and cheats and they especially do not want to be associated with such people. So what are some of the key giveaways that a person’s honesty is compromised?

The first thing to remember about dishonesty is that it is not ‘natural.’ If someone is lying, they usually move a lot less than the people around them, retracting movements of their arms and legs in the belief that moving will give away their position or draw attention to their guilt. Most of the time people who are not guilty will look around and move fluidly. So be weary of the statues.

Another tell of a dishonest person is how they place their feet. If what someone is saying does not quite sit well with you, look down and see which way their feet are pointed. Are their toes facing the nearest exit? Is one foot facing away from you? They are probably not being truthful, or they really just don’t want to talk to you. People who are misleading will subconsciously point themselves away from interrogation and be ready for a quick exit.

Most people believe that when you are telling a lie, you look down or away, unable to keep eye contact, when in fact the opposite is true. People will tend to stare someone down when lying as if purposefully trying to convince the other person of their honesty. When speaking truthfully in a normal conversation people naturally look away, remember things, pick at clothing, etc. Only about 60 percent of the time is spent in eye contact with another person.

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Healthier Interactions

Now that we have a basic understanding of when someone is not being honest with us, we can chose our relationships more carefully and more to our personal advantage. Now let us look at how we can make our relationships even better by enhancing and easing communication through the use of building rapport.

Rapport is a state of harmonious understanding between two or more individuals. Sometimes, rapport occurs naturally when you end up “hitting it off” with someone without having to try. Friendships are often built this way because it is easy and effortless, but rapport can be built and developed from the ground up by finding common view points and developing an empathic bond.

Meeting someone for the first time can be stressful so building rapport is essential to help reduce the tension. Start out with being polite. I understand that this might sound unnecessary to point out but it is very important. People tend to appreciate selfless attention to what they are saying when they are in a conversation more than listening about someone else. Small talk helps to establish knowledge of shared experiences and interests that eventually raise more topics for the conversation. It is also useful to inject humor. Laughing with someone (though not at the other person’s expense) automatically creates a natural harmony.

Building rapport with someone contains a small percentage of the topics/nuances of conversation, but it is mostly the connection of non-verbal communication. As was said earlier, most of communication is non-verbal, so it makes sense to realize that we need to connect with other people on a non-verbal level. Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, gestures in body language, tone/pitch of voice and the physical distance between communicators.

Non-verbal messages allow people to reinforce or modify what is said in words, convey information about the emotional state, define or reinforce relationships between people, and provide natural feedback. With that in mind, it is important to convey an open and welcoming attitude to the other person when starting a conversation. Sit or stand in a relaxed and attentive state. Uncross your legs and lean forward slightly to show that you want to listen.

Matching or mimicking a person’s body and voice also helps to enforce a connection. When mirroring someone’s body movements and positions, it gives the subconscious mind the idea that the people involved are very similar and can readily relax. Matching someone’s voice tone and pitch provides an even stronger correlation between speakers. If someone speaks quickly and excitedly, or slowly and with more weight, matching their verbal patterns gives the other person more subconscious cues suggesting that they are on the same page with you.

Close relationships will always begin with some form of rapport, whether it is natural or manipulated. For those relationships that are difficult or regularly avoided, learning to build rapport in these situations can actually change the outcome of the connection. Subtly acquiring the ability to get along with anyone you chose to makes social situations that much easier to walk into.

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Taking Things Further

Like any kind of exercise, it takes time to ‘get in shape.’ Practicing social skills and techniques will better current relationships and make new ones easier to work with from the get go. But like any other fitness, there are ways to further one’s study and understanding of uses and effects of verbal and non-verbal communication.

In many business situations, it helps to have the ‘upper-hand’ or ‘control of the room.’ This is actually possible to obtain in any given situation including that stressful business negotiation. Practicing building rapport can guide a person to learning how to lead a group of people. Establishing a baseline of connection in a room of people, or leading a crowd, becomes a beautiful asset in social living and business structures.

There are also many more aspects to the human body and how it reacts to certain thing and displays its emotions. If desiring to dig deeper into human behavior, there are meanings to eye-movements, hand-movements and voice changes to consider.

One of the most influential people to study human behavior and deception is Dr. Paul Ekman. Dr. Ekman was the man to discover some of the universal facial expressions and micro-expressions. The Ekman Group, a foundation started by Ekman, offers training and support in online communities about such topics. Training is offered to the general public alongside the training for law enforcements and national security agencies. Dr. Ekman wishes it to be possible for anyone to become more adept to better understand and connect to people around them.

For a better grasp on the idea of micro-expressions and deception training, check out the television show Lie to Me. The show is a fictional representation of what goes into the study of human emotion and how hard it actually is to hide strong emotions. It can be a great point of learning some of the basics while having an entertaining aspect.

If even after reading this, someone is still skeptical about the influence body language has over our social life, then I would dare them to test it out. Attempt to purposefully build rapport with the first new person you meet or have a conversation with someone you don’t typically get along with. Match their personal rhythms. See what happens. There is nothing more satisfying than realizing you can exercise all the aspects of your life and have as much control over your health and fitness as possible.