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Whenever the question of the effectiveness of birth control comes up, abstinence is often proclaimed to be best option. However,there are flaws in this argument stemming from factors that are inherent to the nature of abstinence and how they interact with human behavior. Abstinence has both positive and negative aspects,and should not be taken as the only possible solution.

The Pitfalls and Positives of Abstinence-Only Birth Control

The Pitfalls and Positives of Abstinence-Only Birth ControlThe effectiveness of birth control is something that can be difficult to properly measure on many levels. Each form of birth control is only effective up to a certain percentage, with condoms being only effective 80% of the time and such. However, that is not taking into account various other factors that either the people making the chosen method of contraception or the people using it have direct control over. Regardless, the question regarding the "effectiveness of birth control" and which ones are known to be completely reliable will continue to be asked. That doesn't mean that there's ever going to be any concrete answers outside of the quasi-traditional abstinence response, but that's never stopped people from asking before. Chances are, it never really will.Abstinence, when it comes to discussions of the effectiveness of birth control, takes the prime spot. You simply cannot get pregnant in a practical manner (as practical as pregnancy can be, at least) if you're not having sex. There are ways around this thanks to medical science, but those require the tacit consent of at least the female half of the equation. However, this is strictly coming off from the raw material, of sorts. Abstinence is guaranteed to prevent conception, but only if certain external factors do not come into play. The fact is, while conservative groups will proclaim that abstinence is the only real effective form of contraception, they are ignoring a number of critical points.First and foremost, abstinence only works if you're actively practicing it. This should be plainly obvious, but the moment that a couple ceases to abstain is the moment pregnancy becomes a concrete possibility. It may seem like common sense that if you're committed to abstaining and you stop, you're risking pregnancy, but it apparently isn't. Couples who abstain then have sex without the intention of having children often forget about using birth control methods. Clearly, this puts them at risk of pregnancy, without even the partial protection that a condom or a birth control pill can afford them. This has often been attributed as a fault of abstinence-only education, though that is arguable.It should be also noted that being effective is not the only factors that people keep in mind when selecting a form of contraception. Abstinence may be absolute in preventing both pregnancy and the transmission of a number of STDs, but if people don't have the discipline to stick to it, then it isn't worth a whole lot. This is particularly true for couples with raging hormones and not a whole lot of self-control, which some cynics point out is a lot more common than people would like to believe. Of course, some people have pointed out that abstinence-only education does not really factor in human behavior, and even when it does, the media is blamed for everything. While these are arguable points, the reality is that most abstinence-only educated couples take great risks whenever their discipline wavers.A practical solution to the problem might involve discarding the notion of abstinence-only or birth control-only, because neither option is completely effective. From a purely practical standpoint, abstinence is still the only completely effective birth control, but couples should be aware that of what they can use in place of it should they ever want to stop abstaining.

Long live the Mediterranean Diet!

Long live the Mediterranean Diet!

The ancient Mediterranean civilization is rich with stories of grandeur and historic events. It is one of the most distinguished civilizations that have positively influenced other cultures around the world. The geographical location of the Mediterranean allowed its people to influence the other continents. The Mediterranean became a cauldron for cultures from Mesopotamia, India, and China. The history of the Mediterranean region is the history of the interaction of the cultures and people of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It was the ancient central superhighway of transport, trade, and cultural exchange between diverse people. Its history is important to understanding the origin and development of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, Phoenician, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Arab, and Turkish cultures. In fact, the Mediterranean is crucial to understanding the development of the Western civilization.However, the Mediterranean not only contributed to humanity in terms of history. The word Mediterranean is now closely associated with a popular and effective diet. The Mediterranean diet is a nutritional concept which is founded on the principle that the consumption of olive oil and wine will lower the risk of heart disease and obesity. There are many variations of Mediterranean diet due to social, political and economic differences between Mediterranean countries. However, the Mediterranean diet does share one common characteristic, it is the large consumption of olive oil, which dominates all Mediterranean meals.In contrast to the standard American diet, the diet of the Mediterranean people includes primarily fresh, seasonal vegetables rather than canned or imported produce. The diet contains low to moderate amounts of dairy products, fish and poultry, very little red meat, eggs, wine, and beer.The diet contains a fairly high amount of fat, yet the people have less heart disease because they eat healthy fats like olive oil. The fish tend to be oily fish like sardines that are high in Omega-3 oils. The diet eliminates fried foods that have been cooked in rancid vegetable oils or trans fats.People who tried the classic Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, cereals and fish are said to live longer and are healthier. But a study in Greece has shown that it is the diet as a whole, rather than any specific individual component, that confers health benefits.Researchers from the University of Athens and the Harvard School of Public Health recorded the eating habits of 22,000 Greek people, and followed their subsequent health and mortality for an average of 3.7 years. It shows that people who ate a diet rich in typical Mediterranean ingredients were less likely to die, suffer coronary heart disease, or cancer during the follow-up period.Such results of low incidents of heart disease and death rates in the Mediterranean countries has resulted from other countries to look for help from their Mediterranean neighbors with their diet. However, before anyone should try a Mediterranean diet, more studies are needed to find out whether the diet itself or other lifestyle factors account for the lower deaths and heart diseases.If these studies prove that the Mediterranean diet is an effective way of reducing heart disease then it will have significant effect for the health community. It also goes to show that the Mediterranean never stopped giving us reasons to rejoice and be in this civilization.

Chocolate-- The Newest Health Food?

Chocolate-- The Newest Health Food?

There are now even more reasons for chocolate lovers to rejoice! As more amazing research news comes in about chocolate, the substance is moving from a bad-for-you candy to an important health food. Those of us who had always continued to indulge in occasional chocolate treats can stop feeling guilty and now easily justify our cravings.You may have already heard that chocolate contains beneficial flavonoids and antioxidents. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant foods that are full of recognized health benefits. There are more than 4,000 flavonoid compounds, which are a subgroup of a large class called polyphenols. Phenols are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease by helping prevent atherosclerosis. The flavanols in chocolate appear to help the body use nitric oxide, which is crucial for healthy blood flow and blood pressure, which means that chocolate might help reduce hypertension as well.Red wine is know for its high phenol content, but an average bar of dark chocolate contains more phenols than 8 ounces of red wine. Scientists at Cornell University and Seoul National University examined the cancer-fighting antioxidant content of hot cocoa, red wine, and tea, and found that cocoa had nearly double the antioxidants of red wine and four to five times more than tea.Holland's National Institute of Public Health and Environment found that dark chocolate contains 53.5 mg of catechins per 100 grams. (Catechins are the powerful antioxidants that fight against cancer and help prevent heart disease). By contrast, a cup of black tea contains only about 14 mg of catechins and green tea has about 30 mg of catechins.A study at University of California Davis found that participants who ate chocolate showed a reduction in platelet activity. This means that chocolate has an anti-clotting, blood-thinning effect that can be compared to aspirin.A Harvard University study of 8,000, with an average age of 65, revealed that those who consumed chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who did not. Those who ate one to three candy bars per month had a 36 percent lower risk of death (compared to the people who ate no candy), while those who ate three or more candy bars per week had a 16 percent lower risk.A study of older men in The Netherlands, known for its chocolate, showed that those who ate the most chocolate, an equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day, had lower blood pressure and a 50 percent lower risk of death. The researchers also noted the men eating the most cocoa products were not heavier or bigger eaters than the men who ate less cocoa.And it's not just dark chocolate that is the only healthy type of chocolate. Most studies talk about the benefits of dark chocolate, but some of the most recent news about chocolate includes good news for milk chocolate lovers, who have been left out in the past.The Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia did a study that shows that milk chocolate seems to boost brainpower. The groups in the test consumed, on different occasions, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, carob and nothing. Then they were tested for cognitive performance including memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem solving.According to Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, "Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions." The study also found that consumption of milk and dark chocolate was associated with improved impulse control and reaction time. It seems that by consuming chocolate you get stimulating effects from substances found in chocolate, such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, which then lead to increased mental performance.Chocolate really does make you feel good, too. It is known to stimulate the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the "runner's high" a jogger feels after running several miles. Chocolate also contains a neurotransmitter, serotonin that acts as an anti-depressant. Studies in England show that even the aroma of chocolate gives a bout of euphoria and will help lift the spirits.And now people are looking at chocolate for skin care. According to Marlies Spinale, director of Tru Spa, "Like many other antioxidants, cocoa polyphenols are thought to offer the skin protection from free-radical damage caused by sun, pollution, stress, alcohol consumption and other factors. I believe that we will hear more about the benefits of chocolate in skin care."Some people have been avoiding chocolate because one of the main ingredients of chocolate is cocoa butter. It was thought that it was an unhealthy fat, but actually cocoa butter is not unhealthy. It is made up of the beneficial fatty acids-- oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are healthy forms of saturated fat. Plus chocolate contains vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, as well as potassium, sodium, and iron.So go ahead and indulge in a little chocolate, in moderation of course. I would recommend that you try to find organic chocolate, and stick with darker chocolate because it has more chocolate flavonoids and less sugar. (Sugar weakens the immune system; so don't consume sugar if you are ill.) And a little bit of milk chocolate is alright when you need an occasional milk chocolate brainpower boost, such as before a test. All you students take note!Chocolate as a health food-- can life get any better?By Dianne Ronnow, 2006 Mohave Publishing.If you need a little extra help losing weight, I have good news for you. I found an excellent safe diet aid that really helped me lose weight, burn fat, and get my metabolism going!

Are People Really Exercising More? Or Is It All Just A Hoax?

Are People Really Exercising More? Or Is It All Just A Hoax?

Exercise rates among adults are going up, or at least that's what researchers are being told. In a number of separate studies and surveys, the number of people saying that they're getting physical is on the increase, going up by around 47% in 2005. That's a significant increase from the 41% increase recorded in 2001. The latest statistics show that the trend is still on, with some reporting anywhere from 48% to 50% increase in adult men who regularly exercise and spend time to gain muscle fitness. The numbers, however, are much lower among women. However, when one takes a look at related statistics, such as the number of people who are overweight and obese, then the data from the two sides don't match well.Theoretically, if more people are exercise and engage in weight training, then there should be some sort of decrease in the number of people who are suffering the effects of a lack of physical activity. While statistics show that more people are into fitness, the number of reported cases of diabetes and obesity are still on the rise. In adults, heart disease is also starting to become more and more prevalent, despite the fact that exercise is supposed to help reduce the risks of such problems. This presents an interesting question with a number of possible answers, none of which are particularly pleasant.The first possible answer is that the people who answered the exercise question did not answer honestly. That would imply that while people are aware of the benefits and that they should engage in regular exercise, they simply don't care enough about it to actually do so. Either that, or the mental health mechanism known as denial is helping them associate common activities, such as raking the leaves or mowing the lawn, as exercise. This, in theory, is not entirely false, but it does not help reduce problems caused by another potential factor in the disparity of the statistical evidence.Another possibility is that, even if exercise and "muscle fitness" numbers are on the increase, people aren't paying enough attention to their diet. It doesn't particularly matter even if you're exercising several hours a day and are lifting enough weights to put Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame, so long as your diet is full of grease, fat, and cholesterol. People may pay more attention to their exercise programs, but as long as the necessary dietary changes are not made or even touched upon, then things like heart ailments, obesity, diabetes, and the like will still continue to rise. If this theory is correct, then people are focusing solely on exercise and may not be taking the whole picture into account. A case of seeing the tree, but not the forest, as it were.The research divided their results along a variety of lines. The racial groups with the highest rates of physical activity daily were whites and blacks. The age bracket encompassing college students and young professionals showed the highest exercise rates when the results were categorized by age. However, researchers admitted that most respondents were not likely to accurately report just how much physical activity they engage in on a daily basis.

How to Choose a LASIK Eye Surgeon

All in all, LASIK eye surgery is relatively less complicated than other kinds of surgery. However, if carried out in an imprudent fashion, LASIK "eye surgery" may cause an irreversible damage that would make you repent for the rest of your life. Therefore it is gravely necessary to choose the best surgeon available. There are various ways that help you locate and choose the best surgeon in your vicinity.Advertisements can be a viable source for finding a LASIK surgeon. However, there is a caveat. Some ads provide a detailed explanation of the inclusive features of their package, while some tout discounted prices but dont give out the details. Not all people are eligible for discounts, and hence an ad should not be the only criterion for choosing a LASIK surgeon. Experience is what counts the most, so choose a surgeon with plentiful experience.Leading LASIK surgeons recommend that you should choose a doctor who is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Alternatively, you may visit the American Academy of Ophthalmologys website at www.aao.org, where you could carry out your quest for an experienced LASIK surgeon. Another valuable resource for LASIK candidates is the website of the Eye Surgery Education Council (ESEC) www.lasikinstitute.org. The website offers useful tools to locate a surgeon in your neck of the woods. Asking for a referral from your regular optometrist is also a viable option.It is imperative that experience be the number one factor governing your choice for a LASIK surgeon. Having, acquired a list of available surgeons, you can narrow down on the basis of experience. There is no dearth of LASIK surgeons, but the point is that you want the best surgeon for your eye surgery. Just go through the recommended resources and you will surely find what you need.

How to Manage the Risks of Pregnancy

During my internship I have met and interacted with a lot of special children and their parents. These children, because of their condition, have then become my patients. As part of providing an affective management for them, it is important for me to know the congenital history of their condition. Thus, I am required to ask their parents, usually their moms, regarding the details of their pregnancy. Most of the children's conditions such as autism, cleft of the lip or palate, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and mental retardation are congenital in origin and thus can be related to the events that had occurred during their conception. A number of previous researches have indicated that most women who get pregnant beyond the age of 35 may have a higher risk of having children who have mental retardation or have Down's Syndrome. Some studies also show that exposure of pregnant women to teratogens such as rubella virus and radiation, has caused their children to have hearing impairment or cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, most of the mothers I have talked to are not aware of the risks they encounter during pregnancy as well as the various effects of these risks on their babies.Congenital problems of children may be caused by various factors or the interaction of those factors. Some problems such as mental retardation and congenital malformations may have compounding causes, while some conditions, like autism, may not even have a definite, proven cause. Most parents I have talked to, especially those that have not yet consulted with any doctor, are surprised to learn that their children's conditions are a consequence of something that they had done or had taken (in cases of medication in-take) during their pregnancy. Some of them even mentioned that they had hoped to have known earlier about the risks of being pregnant, back when they can still do something to prevent it from affecting their children. Other, on the other hand, have expressed their fear of having another child with the looming possibility of their next baby having the same condition.I felt that as part of my profession it is my responsibility to help inform parents, especially mothers or soon to be mothers, about the risks they face during pregnancy and what they can do about it. I have identified three most common risks; namely, stress, in-take of medications, and smoking and alcoholic drink in-take, that may adversely affect the congenital development of infants. I have also included some options that pregnant women can choose to follow to avoid the said risks and their effects.Stress During PregnancyResearchers have been contending about stress among pregnant women and its effects to infants. A previous research has claimed that stress during pregnancy does not affect the condition of the baby in any way. However, recent studies show that this can actually cause pre-term labor among women and low birth weight of infants. The feeling of being stressed may be due to different reasons. Among pregnant women this may be attributed to hormonal and physical changes they experience as well as changes in their lifestyle. There are a lot of things that pregnant women can choose to do to avoid feeling stressed. Among these stress management activities is learning to plan their activities and taking note that those are achievable relative to their current situation. Setting activities that cannot be attained may only frustrate them. Also, they need to remain in control of their lives, but be open to some changes as well. Never take for granted communicating with their husbands or families and learning more about pregnancy as a condition. Lastly, they should always take time to relax and reflect.Taking Medications During PregnancyDuring my encounters with my patients' mothers, they have mentioned that they experienced having urinary tract infection during their pregnancy and their doctors have prescribed some medications for them to take. However, when asked what those medications are, they cannot recall the exact prescriptions anymore. The same story is reported by some moms who had experienced having a fever or flu instead during their pregnancy. Some medications are really dangerous to be taken during pregnancy and doctors will probably not prescribe medicines to pregnant women if those are known to be harmful. Illegal drugs are out of the questions because those are definitely dangerous even to women who are not pregnant.What women should do during their pregnancy is to consult their doctors regarding any medications that they plan to take for any illness. Avoid taking unprescribed medications, if possible. Also, note down or record every medication that has been taken; the name of the medicine, when it was taken, how long it was taken, for what illness or condition and the name of the physician who prescribed it. Through this, they can have a source for future references. Also, a list of safe medications are indicated in various sites in the internet and they can easily search for it. However, doctors are still the best persons to consult regarding matters of medications.Smoking and Taking Alcoholic Drinks During PregnancyTobacco and alcoholic drinks are among the most common teratogens that often cause abnormalities in infants. Other famous teratogens include rubella virus, radiation and illegal drugs. Women who have a history of smoking and drinking during their pregnancy are most probably also the mothers of children who have congenital malformations and cognitive problems. These teratogens can also cause low birth weight or premature deliveries of babies. In some cases, infants even die before they are born because of those substances. Aside from direct smoking, constant or regular exposure to secondhand smoke can also affect pregnancy in the same way as firsthand smoking, thus, should be avoided.The option to this risk is quiet simple. Avoid such activities that are definitely harmful to pregnancy. There is no other possible, good option. Also, be aware when in doubt of possible pregnancy. Some mothers I have talked to reported that they were not aware of their pregnancy when they were still smoking or drinking. When they finally learned about their condition, it was already too late. Therefore, women should carefully take note if they suspect of their possible pregnancy.Throughout the nine months of a child's conception, it is therefore necessary to learn much about being pregnant. A lot of people, places and books may be consulted or used as resources or references for this. One common mistake I have noted among all the mothers I have talked to is their lack of knowledge regarding pregnancy. The risks may not so much affect the mother herself but they will definitely have a negative effect on their babies. Like all other problems or illnesses, it is important to bear in mind that prevention is better than cure. Rather than provide a solution to the conditions of their children as an outcome of being exposed to various risks, it is much better if they initially avoided letting their children be at risk of having those conditions.

Summary

Whenever the question of the effectiveness of birth control comes up, abstinence is often proclaimed to be best option. However,there are flaws in this argument stemming from factors that are inherent to the nature of abstinence and how they interact with human behavior. Abstinence has both positive and negative aspects,and should not be taken as the only possible solution.