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What is Ichthyosis?

The name might bring images of extinct sea creatures that look more horrifying than sharks, but ichthyosis is a name for a group of skin diseases that is characterized by thick, dry, and scaly skin which make the affected person look like a fish. It is a disfiguring disease that results in the isolation of the victim, because it is a condition that is misunderstood by so many. A study in 2012, however, showed that 200 to 400 cases of moderate to severe types of ichthyosis in Singapore are reported annually.

Types and Symptoms of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis can be acquired or inherited, the former usually resulting from malignant, inflammatory or hormonal diseases. Some doctors, however, cannot point the exact cause of acquired ichthyosis. Inherited ichthyosis is known to occur if there are mutations in more than 40 genes that are associated with the disease. Genetic ichthyosis will often show symptoms at birth and will affect the person for the rest of his/her life.

The symptoms of this disorder of cornification vary in every form, but the patients all suffer from dry and scaly skin, blistering, redness, skin shedding, pain or itching, and overheating. There are 22 types of ichthyosis that have been studied so far, with the inherited type usually altering the skin cells called keratinocytes found in the outer skin layer or stratum corneum. The 22 types of ichthyosis are grouped into 3; common, autosomal recessive congenital, and keratinopathic ichthyosis.

Common Ichthyoses:
1. Ichthyosis vulgaris
2. Recessive X-linked ichthyosis STS

Autosomal Recessive Congenital Ichthyoses:
1. Lamellar ichthyosis TGM1 and Others
2. Harlequin ichthyosis ABCA12
3. Congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma ALOXE3 and Others

Keratinopathic Ichthyoses:
1. Epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT1 and KRT10
2. Superficial epidermolytic ichthyosis KRT2
3. Ichthyosis Curth-Macklin KRT1
4. Congenital reticular ichthyosiform erythroderma

Other types of ichthyosis include, Collodion baby; Darier disease; epidermal nevus; erythrokeratodermia variabilis; keratitis- ichthyosis-deafness; Netherton syndrome; Pachyonychia congenital; palmoplantar keratodermas; Sjorgen-Larsson syndrome; Chanarin Dorfman syndrome; CHILD syndrome; Conradi-Hunermann; ichthyosis hystrix with deafness syndrome; Refsum disease; and trichothiodystrophy.

Treatments of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is diagnosed using prenatal testing for inherited ichthyosis, blood tests, and biopsy. Prenatal testing is recommended for parents who suspect that their baby might inherit the disease. The test will determine the levels of plasma cholesterol sulfate and confirm the absence in fibroblasts of steroid sulphatase. The blood tests and biopsy on the other hand will reveal the thickening in the stratum corneum, degeneration of suprabasal keratinocytes, and the absence of the filaggrin and granular cell layer.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ichthyosis to date, and the treatments focus on easing the symptoms experienced by the patient such as the use of ointments, creams and lotions. The affected person is advised to bathe in salt water or urea or salicylic acid to reduce the scaling, and to take retinoids or keratolytics if the symptoms are severe.

Infants born with the disease are closely monitored to avoid infection, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, flexibility, skin fragility, and ocular complications.


European Lifestyle May Reduce Depression Risk

We have already heard from fitness experts and sources that Mediterranean diet (a.k.a veggies, fruits, whole-wheat pasta, chicken, fish diet) is known to bring great health benefits. But a study conducted in Spain takes its known advantages up a notch. The findings suggest that correspondents with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, specifically obeying the way of living of people from countries like Italy, France, Greece and Spain lowered their risk of getting depression to 50% compared to those with lowest adherence. In short, Mediterranean lifestyle may also bring psychological benefits.

This Mediterranean lifestyle is composed of three (3) parts: Exposure to the well-known diet, physical activity and time spent with friends/family (socialization). Researchers ran and followed up the study for more than eight (8) years by the help of almost 12,000 university graduates. It turned out those participants who combined the three essential components had lower depression risks.

Although previous researches have shown the relationship of healthy diet and risk depressions, this recent study is the first to delve deeper on the association of overall, specifically Mediterranean lifestyle and depression itself. Researchers did not draw conclusion on the exact reasons why a balanced combination of physical activity, socializing and eating healthy diet is related to lower depression risk but according to Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, the lead study author and professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, certain ingredients in the Mediterranean diet such as fruit, olive oil and legumes have anti-inflammatory components which may be of use in inflammation prevention—which has been linked to depression in the past.

Exercising or physical activities have been previously linked by experts to help reduce anxiety and depression because during workout, our bodies release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Lastly, social interactions according to the study researchers comes with better psychological health—suggested mechanisms such as having social support during hard times may backup this correlation.

For Asians, a Mediterranean diet may not be widely practiced but for beginners, a Mediterranean-Asian meal plan would be a good starting point. According to an article contributed by Brittany, a healthy living blogger on skinnyfitalicious.com, Mediterranean and Asian foods are rich in taste and normally provide nutrients the body needs. Ingredients from both cultures can be infused to one healthy and tasty recipe for example, combination of fish and rice, olive oil and veggies etc.

Recipe books featuring Mediterranean pyramid and 100 recipes from 25 European countries are available online like the ones found in Kinokuniya Singapore. Either diet can be unhealthy (for example, fusion of tempura fish or vodka) but what matters is the principle of these diets that drive the real benefits, one of which is to take a minute to savor and enjoy the tasteful flavors because the value it bring is not only within the confines of nutrition but also for the mind as well.


Instant Relief from Blocked Nose  

 

Stuffy nose is really annoying and uncomfortable. There are many causes of stuffy nose like it being a result of a sinus infection or common cold, allergies or flu. For adults, breathing seems to be difficult how much more for little children? With this, it is important that we know some instant remedies from stuffy or blocked nose to help ourselves and the people around us.

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Here are some things that we can consider:

  • Inhale steam: Inhaling steam is an effective thing to do. Steam can help by thinning and draining our mucus in our sinuses and nose. This will surely relieve the congestion. We can make it better by putting few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint or mint to the water. Looking for these essential oils is easy here in Singapore so it is not a problem.
  • Hydrate: Drinking lots of fluid can help the body recover from blocked or stuffy nose. We can consider water but we can also try lemonade, tea and coconut oil to thin out, loosen and drain mucus. The fluid can actually help us expel the mucus easier. We should also consider chamomile, peppermint and ginger deal with our congestion. We have to avoid caffeinated beverages and coffee though.

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  • Oil: Some of us haven’t tried oils. Well, others tried adding oils whilst inhaling the steam but if we do not have time to inhale the steam, we can just put few drops of mustard oil in either our nostril by using a dropper. We should breathe in the oil and spit it out from our mouth. The pungent oil will make us sneeze thereby helping us clear our nose.
  • Humidify: Many Singaporeans suffer from chronic sinusitis. With this, we are advised to use a humidifier. The humidifier soothes our peeved nasal passage. We have to remember that low humidity dries the nasal passage and as a result, aggravates infection and inflammation. Moist air dampen the passage which can help us trap and eliminate the germs settling in our sinuses.
  • Saline Spray: Using saline spray is also effective. Saline sprays are available over the counter. It can help us by irrigating our dry nasal passage thereby reducing the inflammation. The good thing is that saline spray has no side effects so we can use it as long as we need to.
  • Antihistamine: If our blocked or stuffy nose is caused by an allergy, we can get rid of it by taking antihistamine medicines. Antihistamine may come as an oral medication or spray.

If this persists, we have to consult our physician right away because it may not be the simple stuffy or blocked nose.

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Benefits of Lemon Water  

 

We drink different things all throughout the day. We do not realize that some drinks do more harm than good. It is important that we know what to drink and what to avoid for optimum health. In this article, we will discuss about the benefits of drinking lemon water every morning. It is time for lemon waters to be introduced.

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Not all Singaporeans drink lemon water every morning maybe because we do not know its benefits. We have to know its benefits so we can start using it for our optimum health. Here are the benefits drinking lemon water every morning:

  • It can aid in digestion: Lemons are simple looking but we should never underestimate the things that it can do. Lemon juice has the power to flush out unwanted toxins and materials from our body. Researchers say that the composition of lemon juice is akin to our saliva and hydrochloric acid. Lemons can encourage our liver to produce bile which can aid in digestion. It does not end there because lemons contain vitamins and minerals that help release ama (toxins in the digestive tract). Lemon can help get rid of indigestion symptoms like bloating, heartburn and belching.
  • It can cleanse our system: It was mentioned earlier that lemons has the power to flush out unwanted toxins from our body by serving as a diuretic. Lemons can increase our urination rate thereby flushing toxins at a faster rate. This will keep our urinary tract healthy.

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  • It can boost our immune system: Lemons are famous for its vitamin C contents. Vitamin C helps us fight colds. Aside from that, lemons are also filled with potassium that can stimulate nerve and brain function.
  • It can balance pH levels: Diseases happen when the body is acidic. Sure, lemons are acidic but when they are inside our bodies, they are like alkaline. Since lemons contain ascorbic and citric acid, they help metabolize the body by permitting its mineral content to alkalize our blood. Drinking lemon water frequently can help eliminate overall acidity.
  • It can clear skin: We all want a smooth and glowing skin. Fortunately, we do not need to visit our dermatologist all the time because lemon water can do the trick. The vitamin C of lemons can act as antioxidants which help in decreasing blemishes and wrinkles.
  • It can freshen our breath: Drinking lemon water can freshen our breath. Aside from that, it can also relieve gingivitis and tooth pain. We should be aware that the citric acid has the power to erode our tooth enamel too. It is better to brush our teeth first before drinking the lemon water.

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5 Cancer Prevention Tips for Men  

Men of today’s generation are more prone to cancers of the skin, colon, lung, and prostate. However, the good news is that there are so many ways to reduce the risk. Read further to know for yourself what you can do to prevent such medical condition.

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  1. Exercise Regularly

This seems to be a no-brainer as exercise is always good for the overall health. However, to point out more precisely, men who exercise regularly—at least three times a week—have 70% lower risk of developing lung cancer and 40% lower risk of developing colon cancer, according to a study. This is likely because exercise boosts the immune system and reduces any inflammation.

  1. Take Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate is rich in good compounds, like isoflavones, polyphenols, and elagic acid, which help the body fight cancer-causing agents. It can halt the development of lung cancer and reduce PSA levels for those with prostate cancer. This may not be the cure, but pomegranate juice greatly helps in reducing PSA and preventing other types of cancers from worsening.

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  1. Avoid Fried Foods

A study states that men who regularly consume fried foods, such as fried doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, and the like have higher chances for prostate cancer. The reason behind is that carcinogenic compounds build up when a food is fried in very hot oil.

  1. Go High On Fibre

A person with a high-fibre diet is 20% less likely to have kidney cancer in the future compared to someone who consumes very little fibre. Fibre is good for the body as it has the power to wash out toxic compounds and prevent it from penetrating the kidney.

  1. Seek Help for Snoring Problems

If you’re a heavy snorer, you could be suffering from sleep apnea, which causes an oxygen deprivation in the blood when a person is asleep. Not enough oxygen in the bloodstream causes tumours in the body to develop more blood vessels so they can grow and spread faster to other parts of the body. Those who suffer sleep apnea have five times more possibility of dying of cancer compared to those who do not snore.

Cancer is a preventable disease. With modification of lifestyle habits, it’s never impossible to avoid even the most fatal disease.

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