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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Israeli Researcher: Chewing Gum Cause of Migraines in Teens

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Teenagers who love chewing, smacking and bubble-popping gum may be giving themselves a headache, according to research by Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center. His findings, published in Pediatric Neurology, could help treat countless cases of migraine and tension headaches in adolescents without the need for additional testing or medication.

Dr. Watemberg noticed at Meir’s Child Neurology Unit and clinics that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers. Teenage girl patients were particularly avid chewers — a finding supported by previous dental studies.

He asked 30 patients between six and 19 years old who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily to quit chewing gum for one month. After a month without gum, 19 of the 30 patients reported that their headaches went away entirely and seven reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. To test the results, 26 of them agreed to resume gum chewing for two weeks. All of them reported a return of their symptoms within days.

“Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution,” said Dr. Watemberg. “Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms.”

Aspartame, a common ingredient found in sugarless gum, has long been suspected of causing neurological damage. Prior to the European Food Safety Authority recently declaring the artificial sweetener as safe, studies have suggested it may provoke headaches in susceptible individuals. However, the Israeli researchers believe that the amount of aspartame released in gum is likely to be low because the flavor of gum is typically lost after the first few minutes of chewing. Rather, they believe the likely reason for the link between gum-chewing and headaches is the stress on the TMJ.

“Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches,” Dr. Watemberg said in a statement. “I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

A possible explanation for the association that exists between chewing gum and headaches is the stress placed on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), where the skull and jaw meet. Chewing gum causes unnecessary wear and tear of the cartilage that acts as a shock absorbent in the jaw joints, which can lead to pain and discomfort, Dr. Ben Kim, who is not not involved in the study. told the website Medical Daily.

Gum chewers use eight different facial expression when they chew. If used excessively, this can create chronic tightness in two of these muscles that are located near an individual’s temples. Therefore, the nerves that are on this area of the head feel extreme pressure, which can lead to chronic, reoccurring headaches.

Fertility Problems? Join the ‘Breakfast Club,’ Researchers Say

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

A new study by researchers at Tel Aviv and Hebrew universities reveals that eating a good breakfast can have a positive impact on women with problems of infertility.

In recent years, nutritional research has found that weight is affected not only by the level of calorie intake, but also by the question of when to consume large amounts of calories.

New research concludes that a big breakfast increases fertility among woman who suffer from menstrual irregularities, according to Prof. Oren Froy of Hebrew University and researchers from Tel Aviv University and Wolfson Medical Center.

The study examined whether meal times have an impact on the health of woman with menstrual irregularities due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which affects approximately 6-10 percent of women of reproductive age, disrupting their reproductive abilities.

This syndrome creates a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in male sex hormones (androgens), and can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp though increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and future diabetes.

The experiment was carried out at Wolfson Medical Center on 60 women over a 12-week period. The women, from the ages of 25 to 39, were thin with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.

The women were divided into two groups and were allowed to consume about 1,800 calories a day. The difference between the groups was the timing of their largest meal. One group consumed their largest meal, approximately 980 calories, at breakfast, while the other at dinner.

Researchers wanted to examine whether the schedule of calorie intake affects insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among woman suffering from PCOS. The women kept records of exactly what they ate.

The findings, recently published in the journal Clinical Science, showed improved results for the group that consumed a big breakfast.  Glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8 percent, while the second group (“dinner”) showed no changes.

Another finding showed that among the “breakfast” group, testosterone (one of the androgens) levels decreased by nearly 50 percent, while the “dinner” group level stayed neutral. In addition, there was a much higher rate of ovulating woman within the “breakfast group” compared to the “dinner” group, showing that eating a hearty breakfast leads to an increase in the level of fertility among woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

“The research clearly demonstrates that indeed the amount of calories we consume daily is very important, but the timing as to when we consume them is even more important,” according to Prof. Froy.

Davening–Praying Can Be Good for your Health

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Davening – praying – may not top physicians’ prescribed regimens for boosting health, but it benefits both mind and body beyond the spiritual elevation that comes with it.

Davening provides mental stimulation that helps keep the brain healthy, as an active mind has less chance of memory loss over time. With prayer services of substantial length, davening requires focus, concentration, discipline, and proper articulation, not only to get through the prayers and passages but to finish them on time, since in a minyan you’re praying together with others.

It could be argued that with the repetition of the same prayers week after week, year after year, the congregant is more or less able to daven by rote. That may be true, but there are a lot of words to recall, so even when the prayers are recited by rote, the mind is still stimulated. Indeed, whether one davens from memory or finds new challenges with each recitation, davening, for those of us who do so regularly, is like a daily mental workout.

If Hebrew is not your native language or one in which you are fluent, carrying out this endeavor has additional mental benefits; the recitation is even more challenging and therefore provides a better workout for the brain.

Davening is not a sedentary act; there are specific motions that accompany particular passages. During the course of the service the davener stands, sits, stands, bows, straightens up, turns, takes steps backward and forward, sits, stands, sits, stands, bows, and so forth. It’s not running, it’s not bench pressing, it’s not a high-energy workout, but it’s movement – and that can only be counted as positive.

For some people, particularly the elderly, davening may be one of the few forms of exercise they get. Done multiple times daily or weekly, it contributes to the minimum daily exercise recommended by various health authorities to increase longevity.

There are ancillary benefits that may be associated with davening. How does the davener get to synagogue? Walking is, of course, always healthy, particularly at a brisk pace. Davening at shul is a communal activity, and the camaraderie can lead to higher self-esteem and well-being and thus to better mental health. Singing prayers as part of a group can have similar benefits.

Some who daven are able to read or recite the Hebrew in the siddur but don’t know what the words mean. It behooves the davener to be able to translate the words properly in order to get the full benefit of davening. This provides further mental stimulation.

Because the text has so many layers of meaning, even the seasoned davener who understands what is being recited may discover new interpretations or challenges, which also helps keep the mind active.

Of course, correlations have been made between faith and well-being, and some elderly people have attributed their long lifespan to their faith. So these are benefits on top of the act of davening itself.

Davening can be a conduit to a sharp mind and a limber body. For religious fulfillment and mental and physical stimulation, it is a win-win practice. It’s never too late to start davening your way to good health.

Abusing Clout

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

There is an article in the  New York Times that discusses the clout Chasidim in America have achieved. And it does not paint a flattering picture. Some might say that this is just typical New York Times bashing of religious Jews. But I’m not so sure it is. Let us examine the issue.

Chasidim do have clout. There is no question about it. How did they get so much clout? Prior to the Holocaust, Chasidim in America barely existed as an identifiable entity.  But they grew exponentially into huge numbers since the Holocaust. Chasidim tend to get married early (in some cases both bride and groom are in their teens) and have many children. A family of ten or more children is not uncommon. As a result, now over sixty years later they are a force to be reckoned with.

Although I have argued that – despite their rate of growth –  their current numbers do not necessarily predict their future dominance as a culture in Judaism… their numbers are very definitely huge as is their current influence in government. This is mostly seen in the power of their vote. If their rabbinic leadership tells them to vote for a certain candidate, they tend to do so in large numbers without question and without needing to know what that candidate stands for. This gives Chasidim as a group out-sized political power!

This power does not go to waste. This community uses it to their full advantage. When they make a request to a government official, he pays attention. And often sees to it that the request is granted.

I have no problem with using one’s clout to get things done for your community. There is nothing wrong with petitioning your government for your cause. It is no different than any group lobbying for their particular agenda. In that sense Chasidim are no different than – say – the gun lobby. It is the right of every American citizen – no less Chasidic citizens – to petition their government.

The question arises when petitioning for rights becomes pressuring for rights.  Requests then turn into demands with unspoken threats of political defeat in the next election if those demands aren’t met. Although it may be legal to do that – it can easily be interpreted as a form of political extortion to get what they want  – sometimes at the expense of others.That can only result in resentment at best… and at worst create (or expose latent) anti-Semitism.

First let me say that I view it unethical to vote for a candidate without knowing what he stands for just because you were told to do so by a rabbinic leader. I understand why they do this. It is obvious. It gives them an extraordinary amount of power over elected officials.  But one ought to vote for a candidate because of believing what he stands for – not because it will give your group collective power over him.

This is not good citizenship. And it makes religious looking Jews look bad. How does this affect the image of religious Jews in the world? Does this result in a positive image of Chasidim – or a negative one? What about the rest of Orthodox Jewry? Will we all be judged the way?

And how necessary are those demands? Are they Halachic or cultural? Let us look at some examples (described in the Times article) of achievements their clout has brought them.

How important is it for Chasidic women  to demand a female lifeguard at their beaches that are apparently sex segregated? Although I understand their request – it is a not a Halachic requirement to have a female lifeguard.  Is it worth exercising the community’s clout to get one?

I also do not understand why they insist on well water for their Pesach Matzos. They apparently object to chlorination. What does chlorine have to do with Chametz? It is not a leavening agent. It is a poison which if used in small quantities kills bacteria and has no harmful effects on human beings.

Separate – sex segregated public buses are now the norm in their neighborhood. Men in the front and women in the back. That is no doubt illegal. But since they do it voluntarily, no one bothers them. Is that so necessary? I know Chasidim consider separate seating on a bus to be more modest. But is violating the law the right thing to do if it isn’t a Halachic necessity – even if no one bothers them about it?

Yesh Atid, Revise Your Platform

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In a recent account of his first Knesset term, Dov Lipman writes that “Yesh Atid Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron is hard at work making major changes to improve the education system.” I wonder what values he brings to that project since Piron and other Yesh Atid cabinet members gave key votes to free 104 terrorists .

Looking at Yesh Atid’s statement of beliefs , one finds several sections that need to be revised and clarified given its role as a liberator of murderous Jew haters. Below are some examples with proposed revisions in italics:

“We believe that every person in Israel must have their fundamental rights met…”

Not applicable to terror victims and their families’ fundamental right to justice.

“We believe it is the duty of the state to care for the health of its citizens.”

Not applicable to health damage inflicted upon bereaved families by freeing their relatives’ murderers—depression, loss of sleep , etc.

“We believe in a unified society and the principle which says ‘all Jews are responsible for one another.’ ”

Not applicable to terror victims and their families.

“We believe that it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens.”

Not applicable to incentivizing terrorism by freeing murderers.

“We believe that it is the duty of the state to care for all its seniors to enable them to live with dignity and enjoy their retirement years without worry or distress. These words are particularly focused on Holocaust survivors who live among us.”

Not applicable to the dignity of murdered Holocaust survivors and their families.

 

Israel Hosts Global Conference to Promote Women’s Rights

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Hebrew University Stand With Us Campus Coordinator Lee-El Lewinsohn recently accompanied 25 students to the International Women’s Conference, which focused on women’s rights in Israel and promoting worldwide gender equality. Leading Israeli public figures, including politicians, activists, businesswomen, journalists, and religious leaders, spoke at the conference. Commenting on the conference, Lewinsohn noted, “Israel faces many challenges, and so do the women in Israel, but our strong pluralistic and democratic society has achieved many goals and is constantly in flux, changing, growing and improving.”

Participant countries of origin included Nepal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, and even the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Shelisa Martin Clarke, a public health administrator who came from Nevis, said she learned “from the Israeli perspective” how to deal with domestic and gender based violence in her country. Sabina Deshemaru, a Nepalese student at the Hebrew University, noted, “I want to approach the Nepalese army and to see if there is a chance to replicate the idea of how Israel works with people who have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Rilwan Raji, a Nigerian doctor, emphasized that Israel “is an inspiration” with regard to women’s rights, noting that he is consistently impressed by women serving in high level positions in the IDF, the Knesset, and Israel’s foreign service. “Basically, the most important thing is how women are integrated into the political system, for the more women are in politics, the better will be the plight of the girl child. For me, it’s unbelievable that Israel has so much to offer despite the conflict. It shows that the security situation is not an excuse for lack of development,” he said. He claimed that Nigeria frequently uses the existence of the Boko Haram Islamist terror group, which attacks schools, healthcare clinics and churches, as a pretext for lack of development.

Luchuo Engelbert Bain, a doctor from Cameroon, learned from the Stand With Us conference how to communicate pro-women’s health messages that emphasize that the “problems of women are the same the world over, even though the degree differs.” He also noted the importance of inspiring men to take an interest in promoting women’s rights. According to Bain, the information he gathered at the Stand With Us Conference will help him educate women about the dangers of HIV and the need to protect themselves against risks in Cameroon posed by arranged childhood marriages, forced marriages to deceased husbands’ brothers, and prostitution, all of which lead to the spread of HIV.

Visit United with Israel.

Video Games Can Help in Stroke Rehab, Says Israeli Research

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Common interactive video games may be  an affordable and effective alternative to traditional therapy for stroke victims, says Tel Aviv University’s Medical School Dr. Debbie Rand.

patients undergo hours of rehabilitation after a stroke to restore movement, speech, and overall functionality, but many still return home without the ability to perform daily tasks, such as dressing, cooking or driving.

Dr. Rand’s recent study, in collaboration with a team from Sheba Medical Center, found that people recovering from stroke who use video games as a therapeutic method are more physically active during rehabilitation sessions, making more movements overall than those who experience traditional motor therapy.

Interactive game consoles require players to move continuously to interact with the virtual games, Dr. Rand explains. In her study, not only did the players perform double the number of arm movements during each session compared to patients in traditional therapy, but all of their movements also were purposeful or “goal-directed” and not just repetitive exercises.

When individuals plan their movements and move deliberately in order to accomplish a specific goal, it is likely to have a positive impact on brain plasticity — changes in the brain that are crucial for recovery from brain damage caused by stroke, Dr. Rand notes.

Players’ movements require precision and balance, and there is a cognitive benefit in that video games require strategy and planning. The individuals are motivated and enjoy the activity, making it  more likely that they will continue the treatment regime long-term, she believes.

She tested the effectiveness of interactive video games compared to traditional therapy comparing individuals who had experienced a stroke one to seven years before the study began. They  were randomly assigned to one of two groups of 20 participants each — a traditional therapy group, who completed traditional rehabilitation exercises, and a video games group which played video games using Xbox Kinect, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii gaming consoles. Each group received two sessions a week with occupational therapists for a period of three months.

Although both groups showed improvement in functions such as grip strength of their weaker and stronger hands and gait speed, participants in the video games group continued to improve their grip strength for three months following the intervention, while the traditional group did not.

Beyond the physical advantages, Dr. Rand believes that video games could be an excellent alternative to traditional therapy simply because they’re more fun. In the video game group, 92 percent of participants reported enjoying the experience “extremely” or “very much,” opposed to 72 percent of the traditional group.

If patients are enjoying the therapy experience, it’s more likely that they will adhere to the therapy regime long-term, noting that game consoles are now widely available and fairly inexpensive. Participants who were in the video game playing group reported: “It was lots of fun,” “it stimulated all of my senses,” and “I finished the sessions wet from sweat, which proves that I really worked hard.”

The group environment also contributed to the success of the therapy, Dr. Rand says. Often, individuals with stroke are isolated and don’t have a very active social life. This program allowed them to connect with people like themselves, and encourage and support one another’s efforts.

In future studies, she intends to investigate whether these interactive video games will be as effective if they are used independently by patients at home to keep up activity levels — a crucial element of rehabilitation following a stroke.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/video-games-can-help-in-stroke-rehab-says-israeli-research/2013/07/02/

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