liver


The Internet is so convenient, so easy but yet it is so dangerous.

It came to light in Singapore that a man and a woman in their early 20s had suffered symptoms of psychosis such as hearing of voices, hallucinations, confusion and thyrotoxic symptoms such as anxiety and increased heart rate after using a product named Relacore, a product they bought over the Internet.

So what is wrong with this anti-‘belly fat and stress control’ dietary supplement?

This product was not declared to have included a Western drug, a potent substance known as Sibutramine. Sibutramine is a prescription drug marketed under trade names such as Meridia in the USA, Leptos in India, Reductil (read Want to slim down? Don’t count on weigh-loss drugs) in Europe and other countries. It is used as an appetite suppressant in the management of obesity. That means that it works by making you feel more ‘full’ with less food (it reduces appetite and enhances satiety).

On Wikipedia, it is documented that frequent encountered side effects from sibutramine are: dry mouth, paradoxically increased appetite, nausea, strange taste in the mouth, anorgasmia and delayed ejaculation, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain.

It can substantially increase blood pressure and pulse in some patients. Therefore all patients treated with sibutramine should have regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse.

Infrequent but serious ones that require immediate medical attention: cardiac arrhythmias, paresthesia, mental/mood changes (e.g., excitement, restlessness, confusion, depression, rare thoughts of suicide).

Symptoms that require urgent medical attention are seizures, problems urinating, abnormal bruising or bleeding, melena, hematemesis, jaundice, fever and rigors, chest pain, hemiplegia, abnormal vision, dyspnea and edema.

Could what they have consumed a counterfeit version? Health Science Authority (HSA) is investigating now. In HSA’s press release today, it has said that Given the borderless nature of the Internet and the ease with which this product could be bought and sold in different countries around the world, HSA has alerted its international network of enforcement counterparts to be on a lookout for the adulterated product and where appropriate, to act against websites selling this product within their respective jurisdictions.”

This is the second case in the last 6 years concerning slimming product that created adverse reaction. Slim 10 pills in 2002 hit headlines in Singapore after it killed a woman and caused severe liver damage to local actress Andrea De Cruz which would have killed her if not for an emergency liver transplant done with the liver donation from her then-fiance actor Pierre Png (now husband). The China-made diet pills contained fenfluramine, an appetite suppressant that has been banned in the U.S. since 1997 for damaging heart valves and which doctors later confirmed also caused liver failure.

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If anyone is between the ages of 30 and 60 and especially for men, gout (a type of arthritis caused by uric acid) is increasing becoming a risk. To reduce the risk, traditionally, the public is advised to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol as well as avoid eating food high in purines (see chart).

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Now, medical researchers in the US, UK & Canada are putting the blame on sweet drinks (non-Diet soft drinks) which contains a type of sugar called fructose.

They said that the increase in gout cases had coincided with a substantial rise in the consumption of soft drinks. A 12-year study covering 46,000 men aged 40 years and over with no history of gout concluded that with an intake level of five to six servings of sugary soft drink per week, the risk of developing gout was significantly increased.

The study suggests that “Men who consume two or more sugary soft drinks a day have an 85% higher risk of gout compared with those who drink less than one a month“.

Apart from sweet drinks, researchers said that fruit juice and fructose rich fruits (apples and oranges) were associated with a higher risk. So, they are advising patients with gout to reduce intake of apples and oranges.Last year, it was reported that coffee drinking reduces risk of gout. So for sure, coffee should now be preferred over sugary soft drinks, but over fruit juice?

What killed MC King?

The entertainment industry and local public were shocked to learn from the TV and radio on 4th January afternoon that MC King, the chubby and lovable actor/comedian has died suddenly from breathing difficulties. The day after, news of him hit the front cover with many pages coverage in the 2 popular evening Chinese papers, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News.

.Comedy icon MC King

So well remembered as the character in the TV Channel 8 series Friends Next Door, who was perennially on medical leave (MC), his awarded stage name MC King overshadowed his actual name, Lan Qin Xi (蓝顉嘻), aka Jimmy Nah.

It was reported that this healthy-looking 40-year-old actor/part-time radio deejay/events host does not smoke; does not drink alcohol; no high blood pressure or high cholesterol; did not have other medical history and was given a clean bill of health in a recently medical checkup.

So, what killed him ?

His fengshui master had analysed his destiny and cautioned him about his heart. In 2005, he was advised by the fengshui master that for the well-being of his acting career, he was to drop to below 84kgs from 94kgs or to increase to 102kgs.

An actor/comedian had commented that he once seen him gasping for air after laughing hysterically and joked with him that it can become fatal.

Other acting colleagues and radio DJ friends have reported that he had not been looking well and displaying an obvious sign of fatigue. He was known to be very stressed up with acting commitments, worried over payment for his house and car as well as worried if his contract with MediaCorp (broadcasting company) will be renewed next month.

He was said to be consuming weight-loss medicine as he was weighing over 80kgs. In 2005, following his fengshui master’s advice, he invented his own “carbo avoidance” slimming method. His daily dietary routine according to Shin Min was :-

Breakfast : just plain water with 1 apple

Lunch : eat anything but non-starchy food

Dinner : eat less and still avoiding any food containing starch.

After work, he will walk up the 16 storeys to his house and he swam 200 meters at least once a week. That routine reportedly helped him lose 10kg in a short 2 months.

However, he was seen eating without any reservation at a recent party which raised the suspicion that he might have switched to using weigh-loss medicine.

Beauty consultants and doctors Shin Min interviewed had cautioned consumers about using weigh-loss medicines such as those which contain ingredients such as ephedrine. Ephedrine or ma huang (麻黄)is a traditional Chinese medicine that treats symptoms of upper respiratory infections, headaches, fevers, colds, and hay fever. Because of its appetite suppressing capability, it is used as weight-loss medicine. However, some of the recorded side effects are nervousness, dizziness, tremors, rapid heart rate, headaches, jitters, palpitations, insomnia, increase blood pressure. When taken at higher levels, drastic increases in blood pressure, as well as irregular, faster or slower than normal heartbeat can occur.

It was reported that weight-loss medicine are not suitable for those with heart, liver, kidney or thyroid gland problems; pregnant women as well as those under 18 years or over 65 years old.

As for MC King, we’ll have to wait for the Coroner’s report (expected in 1-2 months time) to know the cause of his death. However, whatever it might be, heart attack, stress or both, judging by the 50 Mediacorp artistes, broadcasting colleagues as well as nearly one thousand people who wept at his funeral and sent him off to the crematorium today (7th January), he is definitely missed badly by them who had enjoyed his entertaining and cheerful bubbly face.

Dragon fruit
Also known as the Dragon Fruit, the Pitaya is a stunningly beautiful fruit with an intense colour and shape, magnificent flowers and a delicious taste. The fruit, apart from being refreshing and tasty, contains a lot of water and minerals with many different nutrition ingredients. It tastes light sweet and it’s good for liver, laxative, supplementing fiber and very suitable for diet.

Besides, dragon fruit is also good for person who has a high blood pressure. According to popular experience, obese person who has eaten dragon fruit regularly can reduce his/her weight naturally and have a beautiful balanced body but it does not influence on his/her health. Moreover, eating this fruit can stop and reduce diabetes. Hence, dragon fruit is a favorite fruit of many people especially Asian customers.

Benefits of eating the Dragon Fruit

1. Enhance the body metabolism (Protein)
2. Improve digestion (Fiber)

3. Reduce Fat (Fiber)

4. Improve memory (Carotene)

5. Maintain the health of the eyes (Carotene)

6. Strengthen bones and teeth development (Calcium)
7. Tissue development (Phosphorus)

8. Help to metabolise carbohydrates and produce energy (Vitamin B1)

9. Improve appetite (Vitamin B2)

10. Moisturise and smoothen skin and decrease bad cholesterol level (Vitamin B3)

11. Improves the immune system and promotes healing of cuts and bruises (Vitamin C)

USEFUL TIPS:

How to Select and Store
They should be full-colored and free of moldy spots. Dragon Fruit should be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to 5 days. Serve chilled.

Dragon Fruit Salad recipe
Dragon fruit salad
Ingredients needed :

1 package of ready to use pre-made sugar cookie dough
8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 dragon fruit, peeled and sliced

3 kiwi, peeled and sliced

1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1/4 cup apricot glaze

Directions
Rolled out cookie dough into a 12 inch round.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare fruit by washing and slicing it into 1/4 inch slices.

Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice.

When the crust is cool, top with the cream cheese mixture.

Lay fruit in a circle on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Spread apricot glaze over fruit.

Chill until ready to serve.

5 + 4 about Good Cholesterol.

Cholesterol, the fat-like substance is the word that most people especially the middle-age group and above hate to hear.

It is a constant advice that we should all cut down or avoid red meats, seafood and products from animal fats because they are high in cholesterol or are high saturated fatty acids which will raise the triglycerides (a form of fat made in the body) and cholesterol levels in the body. However, for most people, without the wonderful delicious pork, beef, mutton, liver, skin of poultry, ham, bacon; drunken prawns, chilly/pepper “Sri Lanka” crabs, “hum/tua tao/lala” (clam), “sotong” (squid, cuttlefish), lobsters; butter, lard, egg yolk, etc., life will be meaningless.

That is just negative which we remembers. The flipped side is that our body needs cholesterol for functions such as making hormones. Besides being found in those products above, it is also produced in our body.

There are good and bad cholesterols. They can’t dissolve in the blood and have to be transported through the bloodstream in different carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) deliver cholesterol to the body, while high-density lipoproteins (HDL or “good” cholesterol) take cholesterol out of the bloodstream to the liver which will then passes them out of the body.

We are told the higher your HDL cholesterol, the better it is. Now, I learned that biological reality is more complex as genes direct the body’s production of HDL and that many of us might not be lucky enough to inherit genes that result in a lot of HDL. Luckily, genes are only part of the story because lifestyle factors and, to a smaller extent, medications can strongly influence HDL levels.

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and the American Diabetes Association advise people to aim for HDL levels of at least 40 mg/dL. An even more protective goal, according to the NCEP, is 60 mg/dL or higher.

Why is having high HDL cholesterol is important?

At first, scientists believed that HDL was simply a garbage collector that picked up cholesterol from an artery’s walls and delivered it to the liver for disposal. That’s still considered the main role of HDL, but research is starting to suggest that HDL can help protect the heart in many ways:

  • Reverse cholesterol transport. HDL latches onto LDL embedded in an artery wall, lugs it back into the bloodstream, and carries it to the liver. The liver collects cholesterol from the HDL particles, packages it into bile salts and bile acids, and dumps it into the intestines for excretion.
  • Antioxidant activity. LDL cholesterol in the artery wall is bombarded by oxygen free radicals, which turns it into oxidized LDL cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is the stuff that’s actually responsible for arterial damage — and research shows that HDL can help protect LDL cholesterol from free radicals.
  • Anti-inflammatory action. HDL helps to quiet the inflammation of an atherosclerotic plaque. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) reflect the inflammation of such a plaque and HDL may neutralize CRP’s tendency to perpetuate the inflammatory cycle.
  • Antithrombotic activity. Plaque rupture triggers the formation of an artery-blocking blood clot. By halting the flow of oxygen-rich blood, the clot kills heart muscle cells (heart attack) or brain cells (stroke). HDL reduces clot formation and accelerates the healing process that dissolves clots.
  • Endothelial function. Blood vessels plagued with atherosclerosis sustain other damage. In particular, the endothelial cells lining the arteries fail to produce normal amounts of nitric oxide, the chemical that allows arteries to dilate (widen) when tissues need more oxygen. HDL helps preserve nitric oxide production and protect endothelial function.

How much does HDL help?

The Framingham Heart Study was responsible for many landmark discoveries about HDL cholesterol, and the Physicians’ Health Study helped confirm that HDL was protective, reporting that various HDL subtypes are all helpful. Data continue to show that the good cholesterol is very good indeed.

  • Heart disease. Low HDL levels are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, while high levels are protective. According to the Framingham Heart Study, cardiac risk rises sharply as HDL cholesterol levels fall below 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In general, each 1 mg/dL rise in an HDL cholesterol level can be expected to cut cardiac risk by 2% to 3%.
  • Stroke. Strokes come in many forms, but the most common type, ischemic stroke, shares many risk factors with heart attack. High HDL cholesterol levels reduce the risk of stroke; in several studies, HDL cholesterol is a much better predictor of risk than LDL cholesterol, particularly in people older than 75.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Normal erections depend on many things, including healthy arteries that produce good amounts of nitric oxide. It’s no surprise, then, that the Massachusetts Male Aging Study found that 16% of men with low levels of HDL cholesterol had erectile dysfunction, but none of the men with the highest levels did.
  • Longevity. Several investigations suggest that high HDL levels are linked to longevity, particularly exceptional longevity. Other research links high levels of HDL cholesterol to preserved cognitive function in old age. More research is needed to learn if HDL deserves the credit or if other genetic factors are responsible.

Ways to raise your HDL

  • Exercise. Exercise is an important way to boost HDL levels. On average, sedentary people who start to exercise regularly can expect their HDL levels to rise by 3% to 20%. The benefit can occur with as little as one mile of walking or jogging a day, but the more you do, the better your result. Brisk walking for 40 minutes a day is a good target, but if you need more help, aim higher.
  • Watch your dietary fats. Saturated fat won’t affect your HDL cholesterol, but it will raise your LDL cholesterol. The latest American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines call for limiting saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. Reduce your intake of trans fats to less than 1% of your total daily calories. Trans fat lowers HDL cholesterol and raises LDL cholesterol, a double whammy to health. But unsaturated fats like virgin olive oil may boost HDL levels, and the omega 3 fats in fish, nuts, and canola oil may promote cardiac health even if they don’t affect your HDL reading.
  • Watch your carbs! Or at least the types of carbs you’re eating. Diets that provide large amounts of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates are clearly linked to low levels of HDL cholesterol. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates in favor of coarsely ground, whole grain, unrefined carbs like whole grain bread, oatmeal, and beans.
  • Alcohol. Moderate drinking will raise HDL levels by about 4 mg/dL, which should cut cardiac risk by about 10%. This translates to one to two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women. For this “prescription,” count 5 ounces of wine, 1½ ounces of liquor, or 12 ounces of beer as one drink.
  • Weight control. Obesity is linked to low HDL levels, but weight loss can help. Exercise and diet are the dynamic duo for weight loss, but shedding excess pounds will boost HDL levels over and above the independent effects of regular exercise and a healthful diet.

Coffee Drinking Increases Cholesterol

Cafestol, a compound found in coffee, elevates cholesterol by hijacking a receptor in an intestinal pathway critical to its regulation, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the July issue of the journal Molecular Endocrinology. 

In fact, cafestol is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known, said Dr. David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology at BCM, and Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts, a postdoctoral student and first author of the report. Cafetiere, or French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso contain the highest levels of the compound, which is removed by paper filters used in most other brewing processes. Removing caffeine does not remove cafestol, however.

Studies by a co-author – Dr. Martijn B. Katan of Vriye Univeriteit Amsterdam, Institute for Health Sciences, The Netherlands – indicate that consuming five cups of French press coffee per day (30 milligrams of cafestol) for four weeks raises cholesterol in the blood 6 to 8 percent.  

However, while the cholesterol increase associated with cafestol had been identified previously, mainly through the work of Katan and his colleagues, the mechanism by which it acted remained a mystery. It was a mystery that Moore and Ricketts decided to address in the laboratory.

For a long time, Ricketts said she was stymied because of paradoxical effects of cafestol in the liver.

However, the discovery of a gene called fibroblast growth factor 15 or FGF 15 opened the door to understanding how cafestol affects farsenoid receptor X or FXR in the intestine. FXR was first identified as a bile acid receptor in studies in several laboratories, including Moore’s.  

“It is part of the body’s own way of regulating levels of cholesterol,” said Ricketts.

Through research in the test tube and in mice, she and Moore found that in the intestine, cafestol activates FXR and induces FGF15, which reduces the effects of three liver genes that regulate cholesterol levels.

While it is still unclear whether cafestol itself reaches the liver, the finding does confirm that the effect of the compound is in the intestine, which is directly involved in the transport of bile acids. 

Moore’s interest in cafestol began several years ago when his wife read an article on coffee’s effect on cholesterol. She suggested that he might change his brewing method, which involved a permanent coffee filter. The paper filters, the article suggested, removed the coffee oils, which contain cafestol.

Moore researched the problem, and found papers by co-author Katan. He was already working on FXR, and began to think about whether cafestol might be affecting that signal in the cholesterol pathway.  

Others who took part in the work include: Mark V. Boekschoten, Guido J.E.J. Hooiveld and Michael Müller of Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition, The Netherlands; Arja J. Kreeft, Corina J.A. Moen, Rune R. Frants of Center for Human and Clinical Genetics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Soemini Kasanmoentalib of the Department of Medical Statistics, LUMC, Leiden, The Netherlands; Sabine M. Post and Hans MG Princen of TNO Pharma in Leiden, The Netherlands; J. Gordon Porter of Incyte Corporation, Palo Alto, CA.; and Marten H. Hofker of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Funding for this study came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and the Netherlands Heart Foundation.

Note: This story was extracted from Science Daily and  adapted from a news release issued by Baylor College of Medicine.

Healthy Liver, Beautiful Skin

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Unlike the computer that I have faced for more than 20 years, the human body is a different and complex machinery that I have to learn now. As part of understanding my product Good Image Tea (green tea), I have to gather feedback from customers and friends on what effects it has on them after taking our uniquely formulated detox/anti-constipation/excess fat removal beverage.

Weight reduction is not so obvious unless the weight was measured before and after drinking the Good Image Tea religiously for a period of about 45 days.

What I heard commonly is that their skin complexion becomes obviously better, especially for those who have not or were unsuccessful in taking care of their skin.

It was explained to me that when the body is free from toxin, the organs like the liver will be healthy. The liver has many functions. They include:

  • Storing energy in the form of sugar (glucose)
  • Storing vitamins, iron, and other minerals
  • Making proteins, including blood clotting factors, to keep the body healthy and help it grow
  • Killing germs that enter the body through the intestine
  • Processing worn out red blood cells
  • Making bile which is needed for food digestion
  • Metabolizing or breaking down many medications and alcohol

I read that the liver shoulders a heavy workload for the body, plays an important role in the metabolism and almost never complains as it can also regenerate itself. The liver breakdowns and filters the oily fats from the food we take and excrete the waste through the intestines. If the liver is overworked or ill and is unable to filter effectively, the skin is the alternative venue for such removal. Otherwise, those oily fats can reach the kidney and adversely affect the function of the kidney.

We have a saying, “要美的起来,就须要健康 which translates as “Be healthy so as to become beautiful” .

Thus, with a detoxed body which translates to healthy organs reinforced with the antioxidants found in the green tea and other supporting herbs, the skin should naturally become better and more radiant.