Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Health

Claudia Hammond examines what causes the wince-inducing sound, and sifts through the evidence to see whether it actually damages your joints.

Some people crack their knuckles by pulling the tip of each finger one at a time until they hear a crack. Others make a tight fist or bend their fingers backwards away from the hand, cracking the lot at once.

If you are one of those people who sits and cracks your knuckles while others wince, at some point somebody is bound to have told you that cracking your joints gives you arthritis.

For some it’s a nervous habit; for others the sensation brings relief. Depending on which research you read, between 25 and 54% of people do it, with men more likely to do so than women.

Whichever method is used, the noise is created in the same manner. The space between the joints increases, causing the gases dissolved in the synovial fluid bathing the joint to form microscopic bubbles. These bubbles merge into large bubbles which then get popped by additional fluid which rushes in to fill the enlarged space.

Once the joints have been cracked they can’t be cracked again for about fifteen minutes. This gives the space in the joint time to return to its normal size and for more gases to dissolve in the fluid, ready to form bubbles which can then pop all over again.

Taking an engineering approach, cracking the knuckles repeatedly over many decades could in theory damage the cartilage covering the joint. Comparisons have even been made with the mechanical wear and tear accrued over time by ship’s propellers, but the evidence that the same is happening in people’s hands is thin.

Close to the knuckle

In fact, very few studies have been carried out at all. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the self-inflicted research rewarded with an Ig Nobel Prize in 2009. For more than 60 years, a Californian doctor called Donald Unger cracked the knuckles of his left hand at least twice a day, leaving his right knuckles uncracked. His conclusion? “I’m looking at my fingers, and there is not the slightest sign of arthritis in either hand,” he said.

There have been some other, perhaps more formalised studies carried out. In 1975, twenty-eight residents in a Jewish nursing home in Los Angeles were asked whether they had ever cracked their knuckles habitually. Those who had were less likely to have osteoarthritis in their hands later on.

In a larger study conducted in Detroit in 1990, researchers examined the hands of three hundred people over the age of 45. Knuckle-crackers appeared to have a grip that wasn’t as strong, and 84% of them had signs of swelling in their hands. The authors say this means knuckle-cracking should be discouraged, but I wonder whether the people who crack their knuckles might feel more discomfort in their hands in the first place. Could this indicate a predisposition towards problems later on, rather than a cause? It’s worth pointing out that when it came to the crucial question of whether the joint-crackers had more osteoarthritis the answer was no.

The most recent study, published just last year, is the most comprehensive so far, because it looks not only at whether people ever crack their knuckles, but also how often they do it. You might guess that cracking your knuckles every fifteen minutes could have a very different effect from doing it once a day, but again it made no difference to rates of osteoarthritis. In fact, there was no difference in the prevalence of osteoarthritis between those who did or did not crack their knuckles.

Crack on

So how did the idea of a relationship between knuckle-cracking and arthritis emerge? It’s true that people who already have arthritis sometimes find their joints crack because the cartilage of the surface of the joints has been damaged. However it’s unusual for this to be the first symptom and it seems more likely to be a consequence of damage, rather than a cause. The risk factors of arthritis that have been established are age, a family history of the condition, and previous accidents with hand, or a lifetime of working with your hands doing heavy labour.

OK, but could cracking your knuckles cause other forms of damage? There are isolated reports of accidental self-inflicted injury from knuckle-cracking, with injured thumbs and sprained finger ligaments, but these are rare.

So if you like cracking your knuckles then by all means carry on, but just bear in the mind the conclusions of the doctors who carried out the research in the LA nursing home. They said: “The chief morbid consequence of knuckle cracking would appear to be its annoying effect on the observer.”



Get buff for the bedroom

By Jamie Beckman
From Health magazine

ImageThere are two secrets to great sex that nobody talks about: strength and flexibility. Sculpting and stretching key muscles can mean the difference between finishing strong and kinking up (or conking out!) mid-session.

Integrate these targeted exercises into your usual workout routine to feel much more pleasure tonight—and tone up while you’re at it.

For super flexibility

Try: Frog stretch

ImageWhether you’re dying to test out a new move, or just want to be able to wrap your legs around him, this stretch from Leslie Howard, a yoga instructor in Oakland, California, will help. It opens up the inner thighs and pelvic floor, limbering you up for any position.

• Lie facedown on the floor with two rolled-up towels supporting your pelvis and thighs and your arms reaching out in front of you. Bend arms and legs at 90-degree angles, into a position that resembles a frog. Hold for 3 minutes, then release.

For lower body power

Try: Ball-wall sits

ImageCertain positions, like you straddling him, can exhaust your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. To go the distance, Los Angeles–based personal trainer Nancy Krank prescribes this “wall sit.”

• Place a stability ball against a wall and lean back on it so the top of the ball hits the small of your back, but still touches your lower back and tailbone.

• Place hands on knees, shift weight onto heels, and, with back touching ball, begin to squat down until thighs are parallel to floor (keep knees behind toes). Hold for15 seconds, stand back up, rest for 30 seconds; repeat 5 times.

For stay-on-top-all night strength

Try: Spider-man push-ups

Image“This move puts more force on your arms than a regular push-up,” says Amanda Russell, fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City. “By doing it, you’ll be better able to hold yourself up in different positions.”

• Assume a push-up position, with your arms straight (drop your knees if this is too challenging). As you bend your arms to lower your body, bend your left knee and bring it toward your left tricep.

• Bring the left leg back to starting position as you push up, then repeat on the right side. Do 2 sets of 10–15.

For pain-free nooky

Try: Airplane leg lifts

ImageDo your hips and legs ache the morning after? Working your abductor muscles, located in your outer hips and upper glutes, will minimize soreness and reduce hip muscle strains, Russell explains. Here’s how:

• Begin on hands and knees, in tabletop position. Extend your left leg straight behind you, foot relaxed. Keeping the leg parallel to the ground, slowly swing it out to the left until it forms as close as possible to a 90-degree angle with your body; flex your foot.

• Hold for 10 seconds and release, bending knee and returning to tabletop; repeat on right side. Do twice on each side.


Keep your shoes smelling fresh

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Health

Smelly shoes? I believe everyone has had issues with this at least once in their lifetime. It is surely embarrassing to have smelly shoes or footwear especially, when you have to take them off at a point in time in the day. Our feet sweat on a daily basis and that is the basic cause of smelly shoes.

Here are few strategies that you may want to put to use in order to keep your shoes and footwear in general smelling fresh.

  • The primary strategy is to buy quality shoes. Although quality shoes won’t automatically prevent smelly shoes, non quality shoes are a major contributing factor to getting smelly shoes. Footwear’s made out of synthetic products are toxic to your feet because they hinder ventilation.
  • You should at least own more than one pair of shoes or footwear. Do not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. This allows your shoes to have enough time to take in some air and also for the sweat to evaporate. It is a good practice when you get home to put your shoes somewhere out in the open. When you put on a pair of shoes that’s been ventilated, you feel so comfortable. It’s like you have new shoes.
  • Also, get a shoe rack or find an open space to keep your shoes. Do not keep them in a box. The heat could ruin your shoes and also cause them to smell.
  • Here is another strategy; change your socks often but it is most advisable to use a clean pair of socks every day. If you use the same socks as yesterday, your shoes and feet are likely to develop an unpleasant odor. And make sure you wear socks made of cotton or even wool, because nylons will produce heat and also do not absorb sweat.
  • If you have sweaty feet, wear sandals or peep toe shoes. You can also remove your shoes when at your desk at work to allow you feet to dry and breathe. Sandals allow enough air around your feet throughout the day so consider this choice and keep your feet healthy and smelling fresh. You can’t stop a sweaty foot but you can stop them from getting smelly.
  • Do you already have smelly shoes? Then use baking soda because it will neutralize the smell because it is a deodorizer and will help the smell.
  • To get smells out of shoes, just scatter a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) inside each shoe. Give it a shake and leave overnight or about 8 hours. Next morning, shake out the residue and the smell will have gone.
  • If you want to avoid loose powder in your shoes, then put the baking soda in the middle of a paper towel and gather the corners into the centre and secure with an elastic band and pop it inside the shoe overnight.
  • Another strategy is to pay attention to your feet when taking a shower. This is because, smelly shoes lead to smelly feet so you need to pay extra attention to your feet to prevent any bacteria infection. The feet is as important as your armpit and the genital areas. Simply washing your feet with soap and water is not enough.
  • There are abrasive stones and sponges you can easily purchase from the market to properly clean your feet. They remove the dead layers of the skin on your feet, the one that causes most of the bad smell.
  • Preferably, I would suggest you use an anti-bacteria soap will easily kills germs and other harmful bacteria.

By: Efua Idan Osam/

5 ways to sit less every day

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Health

Weight gain, heart related diseases, joint pains amongst others have been largely attributed to the sedentary lifestyles of most people who work in a corporate environment. 

Need help to be less sedentary? Here are the best ways to sit less and move more, from easiest to hardest.

Pace on the phone 
Invest in a two-way speakerphone, super long phone-to-ear cord, or quality headset so you can be more mobile while you chat.

Even if you simply stand while on the phone, you’ll naturally shift from leg to leg.

Putter or move about after eating 
Take a quick walk post meals. The fat levels in your bloodstream are highest after eating, and simply moving around afterward increases the activity of lipoprotein lipase, which spurs your metabolism.

Opt for bar seats at restaurants 
Sit on the front third of the barstool; spread your feet just wider than hip distance, so they’re supporting a fair bit of your weight, and gently roll your hips forward, arching your back slightly.

This position is called “perching”—it maintains an S-shape in your spine, and distributes your weight more evenly.

Do stuff in person 
Instead of e-mailing or calling a co-worker; walk over to his or her desk. Stand in your colleague’s office to discuss things, or suggest taking a walk to chat.

“Within two weeks, you could get addicted to walking and working,” says James Levine, MD, an obesity researcher at the Mayo Clinic.

Create multiple workstations 
They can all be at the same desk. The idea is to allow your body to rotate between different positions throughout the day.

Create an area where you can stand while doing work (try putting a box or milk crate covered by fabric on top of your desk, to rest your computer on), a stool to perch on (and a perch-level surface—slipping a few books under your monitor will do), and, if you can, a floor-level seating area, where you’ll land to read that oh-so-important memo.

Sitting cross-legged naturally rolls your pelvis forward and maintains the S-curve. Move from one area to the next as you feel like it. 


It’s a lifestyle and not a diet

Posted: August 28, 2012 in Health

If you want to look a certain way (lean, defined, in shape) you must adapt new habits as part of the way you live, not as a temporary fix.

It’s interesting that by definition, the word diet as a noun means “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”, but as a verb it is defined as “To restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight”. 

The trends and fads over the years that have demonized fat, carbs, dairy, grains, etc. have led people to believe that in order to achieve a better physique, we must give up all the foods that we like and (by definition) “restrict oneself to small amounts or special foods”. Just the thought of having to completely cut out food groups has overwhelmed people, caused a lot of procrastination, and maybe even discouraged people from ever really trying.

The secret is: there is no magic. There is no one right way. There are no magical foods. There are no magical pills. The real secret is learning about nutrition and your body and how to make the “lifestyle” work based on your preferences, tastes, habits, and schedule. 

First, if your goal is to lose fat, you must get your body in a caloric deficit for it to turn to fat stores for energy. You cannot eat whatever you want in whatever amounts all day, but that does not mean you have to starve either. Educate yourself on what’s in the foods that you commonly eat and also educate yourself on the three basic macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. 

They each have their role in providing energy and you do not have to cut any of them out to lose body fat. Having a basic understanding of each macronutrient will help you make better choices and will help you plan your meals.

Dieting is very much like managing your finances – you have a certain number of calories (in the form of Carbs, Protein, and Fat) and you need to “spend” them wisely on the foods that will give you the most nutrients and keep you full and satisfied. 

Each meal must contain all three macronutrients for sustained energy, and it’s up to you to figure out what ratios make you feel your best and still yield results. 

You must find a way of eating that is sustainable. This means that you can maintain your good eating habits without feeling deprived. If you can’t imagine yourself eating cabbage soup all day everyday or living off of a “liquid diet” then don’t even go there! Don’t set yourself up for failure! Yes, you may have a friend who tried one of these crazy fad diets and lost 10lbs in a week, but did they keep it off? Body change takes time. These new habits that you develop are going to keep you in the shape you desire.

My advice for making your fat loss plan sustainable is very simple: eat what you like! If you happen to especially like foods that are high calorie, such as pizza, pasta, burgers, ice cream and other desserts, you will need to get creative and find ways to satisfy your taste buds with fewer calories. 

Quite simply, eat smaller frequent meals built around lean protein and vegetables. Reduce the amount of starchy and sugary foods you eat and focus on whole grains rather than refined.

Now, this is the fun part- dress up your meals with the flavors you crave! You can make chicken and vegetables with different spices and condiments. Find ways to make pizza with low fat cheese and a “cleaner” crust without refined flour, or lower fat turkey burgers and baked fries. Incorporate one 0r two small “treats” daily, such as a few chips, a mini candy bar, a cookie….whatever you feel is hardest for you to give up. 

Remember, the food will still be there tomorrow and the next day and you are not restricting anything, so don’t eat like the world is going to end! 

You may still be wondering if you ever get to eat your favorite indulgences and the answer is yes! Not every day, and not in crazy amounts, but if you are sticking to your plan and choosing reasonable portions of clean and healthy foods 90% of the time, go ahead and have 1-2 treat meals a week! 

Yes, the full fat, full sugar versions of whatever you like, but keep it to just one meal and stick to your plan the rest of the day and the day after. This should give you something to look forward to and keep you from over-indulging regularly. 

Over time, especially once you have experienced some progress, you will find that this lifestyle gets easier and you no longer crave the foods that were holding you back before! 


Individuals who suffer from the effects of hangovers can now breathe a sigh of relief as the panel of doctors on Vodafone Healthline takes viewers on a journey on how the human body, specifically the Liver, handles alcohol and educates them on simple steps they can follow to ease the symptoms of a hangover. 

A hangover is the body’s reaction to drinking too much alcohol than the liver can process which results in an increase in the amount of sugar the body needs to survive, and produces toxic chemicals in the body that generally can be discomforting to sufferers. 

Hangovers have been found to be one of the conditions that affect the liver in adverse ways if not treated, or managed.

The fourth episode of Healthline will see the panel of doctors educating viewers on how simple activities like drinking water, eating fruits that are high in potassium, drinking a glass of milk, drinking tomato juice, among others can fight a hangover and help victims to overcome them. 

Viewers will be taken through practical step-by-step approaches in the ‘Treatment Room’ on how they can, on their own, cure or abate a hangover.

Dr Bryite Asamoah reveals how drinking tomato juice, for example, can stop a victim’s crave for alcohol and cure a hangover. ‘What happens when you take a lot of alcohol is that, it increases the acid content in your stomach and makes the hangover worse. So you can just take a glass of milk which acts as an antacid and neutralises the acid in your stomach’. 

This week’s episode also highlights the touching story of Rita Acheampong, a 27 year old lady from Koforidua with a tumor in her jaw bone which has been growing for the past five (5) years, causing her immeasurable pain. Rita was transferred from Koforidua to Ridge Hospital in Accra as a result of excessive bleeding. 

She needed surgery to remove the debilitating tumor, but could not afford it. Thanks to Vodafone’s timely intervention to pay for her surgery, Rita is now in good health, totally tumor-free. 

Vodafone Healthline airs on Sundays on TV3 at 5.00pm, GTV at 8.30pm, eTV and Top TV at 8.00pm; it is then repeated on Wednesdays on Metro TV and Crystal TV at 8.30pm.


Usually, underarm stains are an unfortunate phenomenon we try not to acknowledge, much less discuss in a public forum.

But hated spots are going are a part of our weather. So, with the longevity of our favorite garments in mind, we have assembled the best ways to protect our shirts and dresses and tops.

1) Don’t go outside
Telecommute to work. Have your groceries delivered. Hire that kid you used to babysit in high school to walk your dog. The easiest way to avoid sweating is not to put yourself in a position that would make you sweat in the first place, meaning anywhere that’s out of doors is not where you want to be.

2) OK, fine. Go outside. But know how to treat your deodorant
If you apply gobs and gobs of deodorant right before you leave the house, you’re basically guaranteeing a stain. More isn’t necessarily better. Applying a thin layer and allowing it to dry completely before you put your shirt on will help you avoid excess staining.

3) Just say no … to aluminium
If you’re using a deodorant that has aluminium in it (we’re talking to you, Axe Phoenix antiperspirant stick users), it’s possible that ingredient is causing staining. Switching to a product that doesn’t have aluminium will help prevent those nasty-looking yellow rings on your white shirts.

4) Just add water
Soaking your shirts in ice-cold water will help to remove some of the sweat you accumulated fighting for that last blueberry muffin at the bakery this morning. As soon as you get home, peel yourself out of the layer you think you’ve stained and give it a good rinse — and there’s no need to add ice. Cold tap water will do just fine. And be sure to wash your sweaty shirts as soon as possible after wearing them.
If you perspired clear through a dry clean-only shirt, well, that was an unfortunate decision on your part. Luckily your dry cleaner will probably know what to do about that.

5) If all else fails, keep your guard up
As much of a hassle as they might seem, underarm guards are a lifesaver when it comes to preventing stains. They provide the same stain-fighting protection of an undershirt without the extra heat so often caused by another layer of fabric. And because they’re made of thicker material than the average cotton shirt or camisole, they’re better suited to absorbing your sweat, making it less likely that it’ll show up on your shirt.