The circadian rhythm is often referred to as the clock of the body. It is a control center of the human brain which is also known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It is a 24-hour cycle which regulates the body’s sleep. External stimuli such as variations in sunlight and temperature can easily affect the rhythm of this clock. When there is serious disruption to the circadian rhythm significant adverse effects can occur in the person’s sleeping and eating disorders, culminating into negative health outcomes. Chronic disruption of the circadian rhythm can be a risk factor for development of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and neurological problems such as depression or bipolar disorders as well as cognitive problems. In order to keep it synchronized, the circadian clock is said to be dependent upon visual cues of light and darkness which are communicated to the body via our eyes to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Meals and exercise regimens are other cues, which are reported to have the potential to influence the circadian clock. When a person experiences trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep or if they tend to wake up too early or have difficulty going back to sleep they are said to have circadian rhythm disorder. Other specific circadian rhythm sleep-related problems include delayed sleep phase disorder (DSP). People with this problem tend to stay awake until around 1:00 am and 2:00 am, and wake up later in the morning. Often this is more prevalent among young adults. The advanced sleep phase disorder (ASP) which is more common among people advanced in age happens when people tend to go to bed early; between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm and wake up equally early. Circadian rhythm is the reason why people get jet lag because the rhythm of their body clock is disrupted or misaligned by finding themselves suddenly in a different time zone. The more time zones they cross the more severe the problem. The rate of recovery is slower in older individuals than in younger people. Shift work can also disrupt the circadian rhythm particularly if it includes night shift. The situation can be exacerbated by susceptibility or the presence of disorders such as sleep apnea and psychiatric problems.
The National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute claims that sleep is has a critical role as far as maintaining good health is concerned throughout one’s life. Getting regular and quality sleep can protect your mental health as well as physical health. During sleeping hours your body is busy supporting healthy brain function and maintaining physical health because it is during sleep that the brain begins to prepare pathways that help you learn, grasp and remember new information the next day. That is why some studies claim that quality sleep improves learning. Sleep is also critical for development and growth in young children and teenagers.
At creation God established rhythms which were to control the earth. For example, He established the rhythm of light and darkness even before he created human beings or other forms of life. Scientists have discovered that both light and darkness are necessary for life for they both let our bodies know when it is time to secrete certain hormones necessary for functional equilibrium and homeostasis. In Psalm 127:2 the Bible treats sleep as a gift from God and it is usually during sleep that the body rests and is rejuvenated.
I hope one day I will be able to grasp this thing called Blogging in its entirety. I made another silly mistake. I was clicking around to view the details of one blogger who liked my post and I hit a button that said I had liked my own blog…AGAIN!!!
Last time I did this someone gave me a verbal thrashing-not that I blame them. It really smacks of being vain. My apologies again. I wish I could say it won’t happen again. But my teething phase with Blogging seems to be protracted…I don’t know for how long. For the kind friends who have given me tips, I am eternally grateful. Do not be surprised if I ask you for some more help again. Thank you, everybody, for your patience with me.
Scientists have been searching for more evidence with regard to pathogenesis and pathophysiology of depression and the resultant neurobiological effects thereof. But the elucidation of the underlying pathophysiology of this condition continues to be elusive. Some theories claim that depression is linked to a dysfunction of the dopaminergic and GABA-ergic system. Others assert that it is associated with a deficit of norepinephrine and serotonin exacerbated by an alteration in the expression of neuropeptides. Yet another theory claims that the overdrive of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal system is another risk factor for depression. Chances are that a combination of all these factors can certainly intensify the onset of depression. Depression can be draining. It can take away your energy, dampen your hopes for the future and your drive. It even cripples the desire to do what is needed to feel better. Scientists tell us that some of the symptoms of depression include agitation, significant low sex drive, being irritable, having digestive disorders, experiencing headaches, being fatigued, having feelings of guilty and helplessness as well as insomnia. But there are also times when depressed people might want to sleep all the time.
Although the word ‘depression’ does not appear in the Bible except in the New Living Translation, there are many people who manifested depressive symptoms in the Bible such as Elijah, Hannah, King Saul, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Job and many others. God does not get upset, nor does He punish us just because we experience discouragement and depression. These disorders are often triggered by events beyond our control such as the death of a loved one, divorce or loss of job. Living in a fallen, sinful world means that we will experience the tragic dimensions of life from time to time until the Lord comes to take us home. The joy of our salvation is in the confident assurance of God’s manward abundant mercies and in the realization that He responds to our hurts as a loving Father. The Bible says in Psalm 34:18 that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. It also says “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever,” (John 14:16). Furthermore, knowing that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53: 3) means that He is not a stranger to our suffering, and because He has already been there and has overcome, we also can overcome through Him. This is our hope and our strength through it all.
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In countries that do not have universal health care such as the United States homelessness is often linked to health. A serious injury or onset of a chronic or debilitating illness can easily exhaust one’s savings and make them lose their employment due to too much sick leave or due to an illness-induced erratic schedule at work, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries or any other industry requiring intense manual labor. For most people loss of a job means loss of employer-sponsored health insurance. When a person loses their job and their health insurance they no longer have access to continued health care to help them heal and go back to work. It becomes a terrible downward spiral for them, usually ending in declaring bankruptcy or on Skid Row and loss of accommodation. Statistics indicate that about 67% of bankruptcies are due to medical debt. Homeless people are exposed to a host of pathogens and other health threatening conditions. They are confronted with violence, cold, undernourishment and many others. Most of them develop conditions such as high blood pressure, respiratory problems and asthma. They have no way of maintaining a healthy diet as they often depend on food from soup kitchens and shelters, which is usually high in fat and sugar. It is not uncommon for the homeless to develop such behavioral problems as depression and alcoholism and worse. They face a convergence of co-occurring physical, psychological as well as social problems. Sometimes they succumb to substance abuse. Homeless individuals are four times more likely to die prematurely than their counterparts who are housed. Homeless people are people who are in need and God has a predilection for such people. As a matter of fact Jesus gives a powerful lesson regarding how we should treat those in need in Matthew 25:35, 36. On judgment day there will be two groups of people: one group is referred to as goats, the other as sheep. The goats are the wicked and the sheep are representative of the righteous. The reason for the condemnation of the wicked is that they neglected to help the needy (Matthew 25: 41-43). Jesus was Himself homeless at some point during His adult life (Luke 9:58). Sometimes He ate at His friends’ homes (Luke 10:40).
Although some countries have government programs to take care of the poor, this does not absolve Christians from the responsibility of helping those who are in need. As children of God (John 1:12) we look to God as our example of how we should live and treat each other, and He says: “…Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” (Isaiah 58:7). The homeless offer us an opportunity to exercise charity and benevolence which are both good for our health. It is a win-win situation.
Bad breath can be embarrassing although it is easy to cure unless it is a symptom of an underlying illness. From time to time almost everybody who eats solid food suffers from bad breath. The debris of the food that we eat gets trapped in between the teeth and on the tongue. As it breaks down through enzymatic processes food gives off gases with a bad odor such as hydrogen sulphide (FC&A Medical Publishing, 2008). Tooth decay and gum diseases are causative factors for bad breath. Additionally, some foods can also cause bad breath such as spicy foods, garlic chicken, onions and liver and fish. When chemical compounds of certain foods enter your bloodstream, your lungs respond by excreting the odor. One way to avoid bad breath is to brush your teeth at least two times a day. Ideally, it is best to rinse your mouth after each meal. When brushing your teeth do not forget to brush your tongue to get rid of bacteria and foul smell. There are special tongue scrapers one can procure and utilize for this purpose. It is also necessary to floss everyday-at least once. Mouthwash is helpful for deodorizing the mouth but this is not a long-term solution. It usually works for about 10 minutes to 1 hour. Further, alcohol-based mouthwash can tamper with the natural chemical balance in your mouth and cause to dry out, which can exacerbate bad breath.
Dentures can also be a source of bacteria and bad breath. That is why it is necessary to brush them every night. Removable dentures and braces and plates should be thoroughly cleaned. It is ideal to soak them in a safe disinfectant manufactured for that purpose. Drinking a lot of water is helpful since your saliva constantly washes down everything in the mouth including that which can cause bad breath.
Scientists claim that poor oral hygiene is linked to increased risk of heart diseases including angina and heart attack as well as problems of blood vessels. According to Patient.co.uk, a Scottish research trial conducted among 11,000 participants revealed that individuals who reported that they rarely or never brushed their teeth had a higher risk of developing cardiovascular problems than their counterparts who did clean their teeth. It is not certain yet whether poor oral hygiene is causative or merely associated with these health problems. But the link is real.
Although the Bible does not specifically address oral hygiene, it is true that the preservation of the health of the people received meticulous attention in Bible times. Before interacting with the people God gave instructions to Moses to tell them to prepare themselves for the encounter: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai,” (Exodus 19:10, 11).
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In most western countries where life is not communal loneliness is becoming a problem of concern particularly among the elderly. Unfortunately, the symptomatology, frequency and intensity of loneliness remain largely unexplored by psychologists, psychiatrists as well as sociologists. Song writers seem more concerned about loneliness than social scientists. So far no scientific theory has been developed with which people afflicted by loneliness can start coping with its manifestations. Harry Stack Sullivan was one of the four psychologists who showed interest in the pathology of loneliness in the 19th century. He claimed that “The fact that loneliness will lead to integrations in the face of severe anxiety automatically means that loneliness in itself is more terrible than anxiety.”
Loneliness is such a frightful experience that we try to do almost anything to avoid it and if we have experienced it in the past we tend to dissociate the sadness which accompanied it, according to MIT Press. The stigma often attached to loneliness only serves to aggravate the condition more. Society has a tendency to view lonely people as shy and intentionally reclusive individuals with a propensity toward self-pitying and deliberate self-protective isolation. All they need to do, we reason, is to get their act together and snap out of their self-inflicted emotional handicap, which tends to thrive in handouts of sympathy and pity. This mindset can intensify impatience against lonely individuals. But loneliness can be a comorbid condition along with depression and grief, thus making it even more complicated as a disorder. A study conducted by Steptoe and associates among lonely elderly people, revealed that decreased financial resources, natural vigor and mobility impairment as well as the death of peers and contemporaries can easily limit the scope of the social contacts of the elderly, thus squeezing them into a debilitating socioeconomic corner. In such cases loneliness can be a risk factor for cognitive impairment, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease and even mortality. However, membership to a support group can be a means for lonely individuals to get back to being themselves. It can also hasten the realization of their fundamental connectedness and intrinsic value to the world around them even in their separateness. An American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)-commissioned survey revealed that about 35% of respondents were lonely. Loneliness was also found to be a predictor for a general poor health profile among participants.
The Bible tells us to be kind to one another. That includes being sensitive and sympathetic to the lonely; refraining from the temptation to be judgmental about situations we do not fully understand. Scripture also tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2). What breaks God’s heart should break mine as well including the plight of a vulnerable and lonely person. This means carving out time to reach out and be part of the solution to the person’s problem of isolation.
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Some of the benefits of the strides of unprecedented development that have marked our era include longevity resulting from timely disease screening and treatment, and eradication of virulent diseases. In countries such as the United States, in the late 19th and early 20th century, life expectancy was only 45 years, average. By the end of the 20th century life expectancy had increased to almost 80!! The rate of infant mortality has been reduced from 26 per 1,000 births to less than 7 per 1,000 live births! Infectious diseases are under control due to rigorous immunization programs and aggressive treatment methods. Access to culturally nutritious foods and clean water is at an all-time high.
In spite of the above intensely remarkable developmental benefits for mankind, toxicologists, risk experts, environmentalists, geneticists and epidemiologists predict and caution us about a cumulative burden of development-related health threats in the form of pesticide-induced gene mutations, radiation-induced cancers, biotechnological agricultural mishaps, electromagnetic-induced fatigue and loss of libido, as well as inter-national spread of pathogens such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and tuberculosis; exacerbated by constant cross-continental travel. The abundance of food has ushered in the obesity pandemic with its associated chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These threats (and many others) have become sources of fear and apprehension among the general public. Whether these fears and apprehensions are based on true estimations or whether they are over-estimated phantoms of imagination and perception the fact is they have an adverse impact on health. Other equally pathological fears stem from lack of trust of each other and the people who are supposed to protect us such as corporate organizations and law enforcement systems; the dread of lack of control over one’s life in the light of cataclysmic events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Finally, people are fearful for their general safety particularly with the frequency of the incidence of sporadic and random mass shootings in public places. Being constantly worried about these things has real adverse effects on health. People live under constant stress and trepidation, which, in turn, trigger mental conditions and physical disorders including cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure. As one bard put it, modern man (generic term) has his feet firmly planted in mid-air.
Fear is a universal phenomenon and the Bible fore-saw all this turbulence currently around us and its potential effect on health: “Men’s hearts will fail them for fear and for looking upon those things which are coming on the earth…” (Luke 21:26). But Scripture also counsels us not succumb to this fear because it is not from God. It is the Enemy’s weapon against us: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” (2 Timothy1:7). By implication, therefore, fear debilitates us, incites (often) unjustified suspicion and resentment against others, and destabilizes the mind. An antidote for this is found in In Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:10). Knowing and trusting that our Father, the One who created our bodies and holds up the universe in its place, has pledged to help us is the pathway to peace and mental health.
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