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7 Important tips before getting pregnant

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Being able to create life is undeniably one of the most beautiful gifts bestowed on women. Deciding to start or grow your family is exciting. Preparing your body and mind is one of the best things to do before getting pregnant. There are things you can do now before you try for a baby that will affect your fertility and the health of your baby. To optimize women's fertility, taking better care of their bodies is a good first step. But what else can women do to improve their odds of having a healthy baby?

Tips.

Get out of toxic intakes

If you smoke or take drugs, Before pregnancy is the time to stop. Many studies have shown that smoking or taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birth-weight babies. There are others you might not know about, such as vitamin A, found in over-the-counter skin care products. Pesticides and other chemicals can also be dangerous, as well as unpasteurized dairy products. Do your research, and consult with a medical professional if you have concerns.

Start taking prenatal supplements

Make sure your body is in great shape before getting pregnant by eating a healthy diet and taking a prenatal supplement. These supplements contain folic acid and vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy conception, fetal development, and pregnancy. Folic acid needs to build up in your body to provide maximum protection for your baby against neural tube defects. Many women conceive within one month of trying so it is advised to start taking folic acid two months before you stop contraception.

Also check to make sure that your multivitamin does not contain more than the recommended daily allowance of 770 mcg RAE (2,565 IU) of vitamin A, unless most of it's in a form called beta-carotene. Getting too much of a different kind of vitamin A can cause birth defects.
Talk to your health care provider about any supplements that you currently take or if you got any uncertainty about the kind of supplements to take ; some of them may not be suitable for pregnancy, and you may need to switch them out before getting pregnant.

Stop contraception.

This might seem obvious, but if you have a hidden form of long-term birth control, you might forget about it during preconception. Hormonal contraception can require a bit more planning. All you have to do to reverse the effects of the Pill, the patch, or the ring is to stop using them a couple of months before you plan to even start trying. This gives you a bit of time to see what your natural menstrual cycle is like (27 days/ 32 days), so you can figure out when you're ovulating, the time of the month when you're most fertile. If you've been taking the pill for a while, your cycle could be different from what it was before you started. It can take a while for hormone levels to get back on track after you ditch the pill, but if your period's still MIA after three months, you should see your doctor.

Schedule a preconception visit.

Many experts recommend booking a pre-pregnancy checkup at your ob-gyn at least three months before you plan to start trying, especially if you don't see the doctor regularly. You'll want to make sure you're up-to-date on vaccinations, checked for STDs, tested for heart-health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and make sure that any chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or thyroid problems, are in check. 

Male partners too need to visit an internist, most men see doctors far less regularly than women. A regular physical can help ensure he has no chronic conditions or is taking medications that may affect sperm count or cause other fertility problems.

Eat right

When you're thinking about having a baby, it's really important to eat a  right healthy food. Eating a healthy and balanced diet will help you stay well throughout pregnancy and be good for your baby’s health. The best foods include wholegrain, unsaturated fats and vegetable proteins such as lentils and beans.

Seafood are highly nutritious but before pregnancy it is important to understand which types of seafood are healthy to eat and which are not. Some seafoods contain mercury which can cause birth defects, and women can inadvertently consume it through fish during pregnancy. You should avoid species like swordfish and king mackerel during  preconception to make sure your system is clear when you conceive. During pregnancy, you should limit fish like tuna and salmon to a couple of servings of a week, so get into this habit now. Don't eliminate fish altogether — when eaten as recommended, it provides healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Also consuming too much caffeine while you are trying to conceive can increase the risk of miscarriage. The research shows that this applies to both women and men. Too much caffeine in pregnancy has also been shown to be harmful to the developing baby.

If you’re planning to conceive, you and your partner should consider limiting your caffeine intake to 200mg a day.

Do research on your family’s medical history

One of the important things to do before getting pregnant is looking into your family's medical history. Talk to your mom , sisters, aunts, and grandmas, if you can. Did it take them a long time to conceive? Were there any complications, like preterm labor or having a breech delivery? Certain health conditions tend to run in families, and it's a smart idea to brush up on your history and share any relevant information with your doctor. But don't worry too much. Just because it took your sister a year to get pregnant doesn't mean you'll necessarily have a hard time too. Many common fertility problems, like poor egg quality (due to age) or blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, are not hereditary, but some, like fibroids or ovarian cysts, can be. Your doctor can help you understand which, if any, family issues can affect your fertility or pregnancy so you'll be better prepared to deal with them later.

Visit your dentist

It may seem totally unrelated to fertility, but getting your teeth and gums checked out before pregnancy is another wise move.Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby. Women with unchecked gum disease are more prone to miscarriage, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. In fact, brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly can cut your miscarriage risk by up to 70 percent.






5 Wellness benefits of Avocado


Avocados are a fruit belonging to the Genus Persea in the Lauraceae family. They have the highest fiber content of any fruit and contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Avocados contain four grams of protein, making them the fruit with the highest protein content. 

These days, the avocado has become a popular food among health-conscious individuals. It’s often referred to as a superfood, which is not surprising given its health properties.

Even though they mature on the tree, avocados only ripen after harvesting. The easiest way to ripen avocados at home is by keeping them in a brown paper bag at room temperature for 2-4 days.You can speed up this process even more by adding a banana to the bag. The bananas will release ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that aids in ripening fruit.

Health Benefits

May prevent against cancer
There is limited evidence that avocado may be beneficial in cancer treatment and prevention.
Avocado extracts have shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in a laboratory.  A report in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry stated that the carotenoids and tocopherols (chemical compounds which may have vitamin E activity) in avocado were shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cell lines in an artificial environment (in vitro).


Extracts from Hass avocados kill or stop the growth of pre-cancerous cells that lead to oral cancer. Hass avocados are year-round fruits known for their distinctive bumpy skin that turns from green to purplish-black as they ripen.
However, these studies were done in isolated cells and don't necessarily prove what may happen inside people. Human-based research is unavailable.

May Improve heart health
Avocados are a source of “good” fats, technically called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are also cholesterol-free making them a great replacement for spreads such as butter or mayonnaise. 
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation and eaten in place of saturated or trans fats, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide heart-healthy "good" fats. 
If you’re aiming to promote heart health, consuming one Avocado a day would be a great start.

May Improve Vision.
Avocados are rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals which can help protect and maintain healthy cells in your eyes. Lutein is a natural antioxidant that is said to help maintain eye health as you age. According to The American Optometric Associate  lutein is a carotenoid that filters harmful blue light from the sun and other light sources, this helps to maintain healthy cells within your eye.

May Improve Digestion.
Avocado's beneficial fiber helps promote healthy digestion. Fiber doesn't break down into energy as it passes through your digestive tract, but instead absorbs water to soften and loosen your stool. This helps combat constipation. 
Avocados also are packed with essential nutrients, such as potassium, which helps promote healthy digestive function. It’s also a low-fructose food, so it’s less likely to cause gas.

May help depression
Avocado is rich in tryptophan which may help with serotonin(feel-good chemical) production in your brain.
Consuming monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce depression. (And balancing fat intake may help control depression).



Moyamoya Disease: Meaning, Symptoms, Prognosis and treatments

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Moyamoya disease (MMD) is a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked carotid arteries at the base of the brain in an area called the basal ganglia,reducing blood flow to your brain. 

Tiny blood vessels then open up at the basal ganglia in an attempt to supply the brain with blood. The word "moyamoya" means "puff of smoke" in Japanese, a term describing the appearance of this cluster of tiny blood vessels.

These tiny clusters of blood vessels cannot supply the necessary blood and oxygen to the brain, resulting in temporary or permanent brain injury.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan has defined 4 types of moyamoya disease: ischemic, hemorrhagic, epileptic, and “other.” The ischemic type has been shown to predominate in childhood, while the hemorrhagic type is more often observed in the adult population. 

The highest prevalence of MMD is found in Korea and Japan, with a higher female to male ratio. Some individuals with Moyamoya disease have a close relative who is also affected; in these cases researchers think that Moyamoya disease is the result of inherited genetic abnormalities. Studies that look for the abnormal gene(s) may help reveal the biomechanisms that cause the disorder.

Symptoms

In children, the first symptom of Moyamoya disease is often stroke, or recurrent transient ischemic attacks (TIA, commonly referred to as “mini-strokes”), frequently accompanied by muscular weakness or paralysis affecting one side of the body. 

Adults may also experience these symptoms that arise from blocked arteries, but more often experience a hemorrhagic stroke due to bleeding into the brain.  Other symptoms may include:

  • seizures
  • headaches
  • disturbed consciousness
  • involuntary movements
  • Difficulties with speaking or understanding others (aphasia)
  • vision problems
  • cognitive and/or sensory impairment.

These symptoms can be triggered by exercise, crying, coughing, straining or fever.

Causes

The exact cause of moyamoya disease is unknown. Moyamoya disease is more common in Japan, Korea and China, but it also occurs in other parts of the world.

Researchers believe the higher concentration of moyamoya disease in these Asian countries strongly suggests the disease may have genetic causes.

Changes in the RNF213 gene have been associated with the condition. There are other gene changes involved in moyamoya disease, that remain to be found. 

Moyamoya is also associated with certain conditions, such as Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, neurofibromatosis type 1 and hyperthyroidism.

Prognosis

Moyamoya disease is progressive and without treatment can be fatal due to intracerebral hemorrhage(bleeding withing the brain). 

Without surgery, the majority of individuals with Moyamoya disease will experience mental decline and multiple strokes because of the progressive narrowing of arteries. 

In studies with long-term follow-up of untreated patients, progressive neurologic deficits and poor outcome were reported in 50 to 66 percent.The overall mortality rate from Moyamoya disease is about 10% in adults, and 4.3% in children.

Treatments

Treatment for Moyamoya disease does not reverse primary disease process, but protects againsts further strokes by improving hemispheric blood flow. 

Medications may be prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke or to aid in seizure control. 

Several types of surgery can restore blood flow (revascularization) to the brain by opening narrowed blood vessels or by bypassing blocked arteries. 

Children usually respond better to revascularization surgery than adults. Some individuals have no further strokes or related problems after surgery. 

Drinking red wine improves your Gut health, says study

Red wine drinkers have better stomach health and are less likely to suffer from obesity and bad ­cholesterol than those who choose a different tipple.

Scientists at King’s College London analysed more than 900 twins to look at the effects of beer, cider, white wine, red wine, and spirits on the gut microbiome – the millions of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract and help you digest and process food. 

They found that the gut microbiome was more diverse among red wine drinkers than in those who had other drinks. Researchers reckon this could be due to a higher amount of defence chemicals called polyphenol in wine, which could act as an antioxidant.

Polyphenols are defence chemicals naturally present in many fruits, ­vegetables, nuts and legumes such as beans.

They have many ­beneficial properties – including antioxidants – and act as a fuel for the microbes present in 
our system.

Dog Ownership Could Boost Heart Health, Research Suggests


Dog lovers know how much warmth and comfort their canine companions add to their lives. But they might not know that a growing body of evidence suggests that having a dog may help improve heart health.

The research published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings involved 1,769 people aged between 25 to 64-year-old living in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. The participants had healthy hearts, and provided information including their BMI, diet, physical activity levels, whether they smoked, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar level. Of the total, around 42 percent owned a pet: 24 percent owned a dog, while 17.9 percent another type of animal.

Compared with owners of other pets, dog owners were more likely to report physical activity and diet at ideal level. The comparison of dog owners with non-dog owners yielded similar results

Dr Andrea Maugeri, a researcher with the International Clinical Research Centre at St Anne’s University Hospital in Brno, said: “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level.

“The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”

He added that the study findings supported the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.

Dogs' calming effect on humans also appears to help people handle stress. For example, some research suggests that people with dogs experience less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress. That means that their heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal more quickly, dampening the effects of stress on the body.

If you own a dog or are thinking about it, the potential benefits for your heart health are a nice plus. However, pets should not be adopted for the primary purpose of reducing heart disease risk. And definitely don't add a dog to your life if you're not ready or able to take care of one, including making sure it gets enough exercise.

British Packaged Food Sold in Supermarkets Crowned the Healthiest in the World, New Study Reveals

A global survey has found that when it comes to having the healthiest packaged foods and drinks, the UK tops the charts, with the USA in 2nd place and Australia coming in at 3rd.

The study, conducted by the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford, analysed more than 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries using Australia’s Health Star Rating system – which measures the levels of the nutrients such as energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat as well as protein, calcium and fibre and assigns a star rating from ½ (least healthy) to 5 (the most healthy).

It found that the UK had the highest average Health Star Rating of 2.83, followed by the US at 2.82 and Australia at 2.81. India got the lowest rating of just 2.27 followed by China at 2.43 with Chile coming third from bottom at 2.44. 

The results were published in Obesity Reviews.

Lead author Dr Elizabeth Dunford said: “Globally we’re all eating more and more processed foods and that’s a concern because our supermarkets’ shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick. Our results show that some countries are doing a much better job than others.”

Co-author professor Bruce Neal, acting executive director of The George Institute, agreed, adding that the rise in packaged foods is a real cause for concern.

“Billions of people are now exposed to very unhealthy foods on a daily basis,” Neal said.

“We have to find a way that the food industry can profit from selling rational quantities of quality food, rather than deluging us with unhealthy junk. There are few greater priorities for human health.''

The report notes that many of the world’s major food and drink manufacturers have signed up to the International Food and Beverage Alliance and made pledges to reduce levels of salt, sugar and harmful fat and that these findings could provide an impetus for companies to improve the healthiness of their product ranges.

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