QUOTE FOR MONDAY:

“Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.  Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly.  Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object — such as a telephone or computer keyboard — and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.”

MAYO CLINIC

Influenza

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications.  There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

Influenza virus infection is so common that the number of people infected each season can only be estimated. These statistical estimations are based on CDC-measured flu hospitalization rates that are adjusted to produce an estimate of the total number of influenza infections in the United States for a given flu season.

The estimates for the number of infections are then divided by the census population to estimate the seasonal incidence (or attack rate) of influenza.

Does seasonal incidence of influenza change based on the severity of flu season?

Yes. The proportion of people who get sick from flu varies.

Period of Contagiousness

You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.  It spreads in the following time:

  • People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Signs and Symptoms:

Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

How the flu is treated:

One is through PREVENTION=Get Vaccinated, you can’t get it after you have it.

Usually, you’ll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids to treat the flu. But if you have severe infection or are at higher risk for complications, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), peramivir (Rapivab) or baloxavir (Xofluza). These drugs may shorten your illness by a day or so and help prevent serious complications.

Oseltamivir is an oral medication. Zanamivir is inhaled through a device similar to an asthma inhaler and shouldn’t be used by anyone with certain chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma and lung disease.

Antiviral medication side effects may include nausea and vomiting. These side effects may be lessened if the drug is taken with food.

Most circulating strains of influenza have become resistant to amantadine and rimantadine (Flumadine), which are older antiviral drugs that are no longer recommended.

QUOTE FOR THE WEEKEND:

“The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar.”

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

The Pancreas

The Pancreas and Its Functions

The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar.

Location of the pancreas:

The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the upper left abdomen. It is surrounded by other organs including the small intestine, liver, and spleen. It is spongy, about six to ten inches long, and is shaped like a flat pear or a fish extended horizontally across the abdomen.

The wide part, called the head of the pancreas, is positioned toward the center of the abdomen. The head of the pancreas is located at the juncture where the stomach meets the first part of the small intestine. This is where the stomach empties partially digested food into the intestine, and the pancreas releases digestive enzymes into these contents.

The central section of the pancreas is called the neck or body.

The thin end is called the tail and extends to the left side.

Sections of the pancreas labeled

Several major blood vessels surround the pancreas, the superior mesenteric artery, the superior mesenteric vein, the portal vein and the celiac axis, supplying blood to the pancreas and other abdominal organs.

The pancreas with surrounding vessels and organs

The pancreas with surrounding vessels and organs

Almost all of the pancreas (95%) consists of exocrine tissue that produces pancreatic enzymes for digestion. The remaining tissue consists of endocrine cells called islets of Langerhans. These clusters of cells look like grapes and produce hormones that regulate blood sugar and regulate pancreatic secretions.

Functions of the pancreas:

A healthy pancreas produces the correct chemicals in the proper quantities, at the right times, to digest the foods we eat.

Exocrine Function:

The pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce enzymes important to digestion. These enzymes include trypsin and chymotrypsin to digest proteins; amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates; and lipase to break down fats. When food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are released into a system of ducts that culminate in the main pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct to form the ampulla of Vater which is located at the first portion of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The common bile duct originates in the liver and the gallbladder and produces another important digestive juice called bile. The pancreatic juices and bile that are released into the duodenum, help the body to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Endocrine Function:

The endocrine component of the pancreas consists of islet cells (islets of Langerhans) that create and release important hormones directly into the bloodstream. Two of the main pancreatic hormones are insulin, which acts to lower blood sugar, and glucagon, which acts to raise blood sugar. Maintaining proper blood sugar levels is crucial to the functioning of key organs including the brain, liver, and kidneys.

The pancreas, gallbladder and duodenum

The pancreas, gallbladder and duodenum

Diseases of the Pancreas

Disorders affecting the pancreas include pancreatitis, precancerous conditions such as PanIN and IPMN, and pancreatic cancer. Each disorder may exhibit different symptoms and requires different treatments.

QUOTE FOR FRIDAY:

“It takes days of overeating for accumulated body fat to show up as measurable weight gain.

Once food is digested, its building blocks (such as glucose, amino acids, fatty acids) are absorbed into the bloodstream. Your cells use what they need for fuel and store the rest in fat cells for later use, a process that begins six to eight hours after a meal.  Which is what it takes to digest your meal and now in your bloodstream the breakdown products, ex glucose.

So, yes, consuming more calories than your body needs in one sitting (or over the course of a day) will result in some of them being tucked away as fat. But not enough to move the needle on scale. (Unless you really, really gorge or keep on eating those large meals during the holiday season.).”

TIME and The globe and mail

What happens to the body after a traditional Thanksgiving meal and more!

We’ve made countless jokes about our “Thanksgiving pants“ and planned belt unbuckling as we prepare to indulge in a big meal on Thursday. And, in case you missed it, we’ve also done our best to calculate the number of calories we might consume if we don’t rein it in a little bit. But what actually happens to your system when you overeat during the holidays?

We asked Dr. Jay Kuemmerle, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Daniel Hurley, an endocrinologist and consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester to walk us through how our bodies really handle the feast before us.

“The main difference that relates to Thanksgiving is the volume and constituents of the meal,” says Kuemmerle. “In large part the high fat can lead to feeling very full and slower digestion. This can cause the stomach to expand to a greater degree, which can be uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable how? Well, as the stomach gets more distended from overeating, the growing pressure is relieved by releasing gas — that means some people will experience acid reflux and the urge to belch. Kuemmerle suggests thinking of the stomach as a balloon: It has some elasticity, but eventually reaches a breaking point and must relieve pressure.

Our bodies have a natural stopping point, but the brain is capable of overriding the stomach’s wishes to stop eating. That’s particularly true during a holiday meal, where variety and abundance are prized.

“There’s some suggestion that a wide variety of food, like at the Thanksgiving meal, tends to increase food intake,” says Hurley. This is often referred to as the “smorgasbord effect,” according to the Columbia University Press.

Thanksgiving differs from other meals mostly in ritual: The holiday prizes tradition over digestive mindfulness, hence the problems with variety and satiety. But in all other ways, the meal looks about the same to your digestive tract. (Which may be a comment on our abundant year-round food supply and not this holiday of abundance).

Below, how digestion works — on Thanksgiving and on all other days:

It turns out the expression “feast your eyes” is pretty dead on. As soon as you sit down at the table, the sight and smell of the food sends a signal to the brain and then down to the stomach to prime your digestive system for the meal, according to Kuemmerle.

That means, at the very first bite, your stomach is primed and ready to go. “When the first bite of food hits the stomach, it’s already revved up: acid and digestive enzymes have been released,” says Kuemmerle. “The stomach starts to expand to accomodate the meal.”

Your mouth plays a role too. “As food is chewed, digestive juice from the salivary glands starts the digestion,” explains Hurley. “The teeth involved in mastication break down the food into protein, carb, fat and then in the stomach, breakdown continues.”

As you eat, your stomach stretches and secretes acid and digestive enzymes to help digest the food. Once you get to a point where your stomach feels full, stretch receptors — a collection of sensory nerves in the stomach — send messages to the brain to tell it that it’s time to stop eating.

Again, this is where your brain can really misguide your body. “When we eat, ghrelin — the hormone that stimulates back to brain to say I’m full or I’m hungry — increases and activates the hunger or satiety centers in the hypothalamus of the brain,” explains Hurley. “But your central nervous system can override the hypothalamus — it’s the same reason we can stay awake, even if our brain is telling us we’re tired.”

Once your body determines fullness, the stomach grinds the food down into two to three millimeter pieces — small enough to fit into the small intestine. As the stomach does this, it begins to contract and reestablish its tone, while pushing the ground up matter and digestive liquid through the pylorus and into the duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine.

This process can be slowed, depending on what you ate. “A high fat meal with gravy and butter delays emptying of the stomach because fat is harder to digest,” says Kuemmerle. In other words? Your stomach’s ability to efficiently process its contents may rely on how much butter your Aunt Mable put in those mashed potatoes. This can delay stomach emptying, which is an important step of digestion because the food’s presence in the small intestine signals the release of important enzymes from the pancreas and galbladder. These pancreatic enzymes and bile help to digest carbs and proteins and emulsify fats, breaking the food down into amino acids and simple sugars to be absorbed into the blood stream.

Of note, Hurley explains, our metabolism can actually increase if we eat too much to help with digestion, which requires energy. But don’t get too excited, he says, “it’s not enough to overcome the calories we don’t need — it’s just enough to help us.”

The release of sugar in the blood stream triggers insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar. Insulin and another hormone glucagon will store some sugar in the liver as glycogen (some fat is also stored in the liver). Every cell of your body requires glucose and muscles also requires a store of glycogen. What the body doesn’t use for these functions will be sent to fat tissue to be stored as fat — either subcutaneous fat or abdominal visceral fat.

As the digested material hits the end of the small intestine, specific vitamins get absorbed, bile gets reabsorbed and hormonal signals are sent to the brain.

Next, the body performs a really fascinating self-cleaning maneuver: As the matter continues into the colon (where water is reabsorbed and some additional nutrients are absorbed, according to Kuemmerle), the interdigestive period begins. All of the “indigestible material” — the detritus that didn’t make it through the first time — gets pushed through. The pylorus opens widely and the bigger stuff gets swept into the colon. A gallbladder contraction allows the pancreatic duct to get cleaned out. It is, Kuemmerle explains, a form of housekeeping to prep the body for the next meal.

“While the [conscious] brain is involved in chewing and swallowing and ‘starting’ the machinery,” says Kuemmerle. “The vast number of functions occur in the GI tract without us being able to regulate or be aware of it.”

And here you thought you were just sitting on the couch.

QUOTE FOR THANKSGIVING:

“Too stay healthy and not overeat, DRESS TO IMPRESS!  Save your baggy, comfy clothes for another occasion. Instead, break out a form-fitting garment — think skinny jeans or a curve-hugging dress. “You’ll be less likely to overeat if you’re wearing something a little snug, because you’ll start feeling uncomfortable more quickly,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. If you can make it through the meal without having to undo the top button of your pants, you’re in good shape.”

HUFFPOST ( www.huffpost.com)

Turkey versus Tofu?

  OR IS IT 

Some meat-eaters just can’t fathom the thought of ingesting tofu. It’s understandable; the juicy, colorless soy substance doesn’t exactly look appetizing. … Know this while turkey contains about 114 calories in a 3-ounce roasted skinless serving, chicken clocks in at 131 calories and is 21 percent higher in cholesterol than tofu.

Working enough protein into your daily diet can prove difficult if you’re a vegetarian or if you’re just not a fan of cooking raw meat. Meat takes a long time to bake thoroughly, can taste bland if you forget to marinade or add spices and might stump you altogether if you’re not crafty in the kitchen. However, protein is an important part of our meals. The average man needs about 56 grams each day while the average woman needs about 46 grams. In this case, tofu and poultry, which includes a range of domesticated birds like chicken, turkey and duck, offers a hefty amount in just one serving.

If you’re thinking about going meatless or sticking to the real stuff, you might want to consider which offers the most vitamins and nutrients. While poultry offers more protein, tofu could win in other daily dietary requirements. And if you’re still stuck in your ways of soy versus meat, you may want to reconsider which section you’re purchasing each option from. Because while organic might take a little more out of your wallet, it may save you from ingesting unneeded additives. So, should you reach for tofu or fowl the next time you’re mixing up a delicious dish?

Tofu

This meatless option is a staple for vegetarians, and rightfully so. It boasts more fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and folate than chicken and contains fewer calories, sitting at just 79 calories in a 3-ounce serving. Plus, this meat alternative offers these wonderful little things called isoflavones, which are compounds found in soy products known to give off antioxidant effects that stamp out free radicals and prevent premature aging. Beyond that, studies suggest regularly eating soy-based products can prevent breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

If diminishing your chances of developing cancer and other diseases hasn’t swayed your opinion, you might want to consider what else foods high in protein can offer. A study found that eating protein-rich food, like tofu, instead of those high in carbs or fat can make you feel fuller longer and may make it easier for you to stick to a reduced-calorie diet. Other studies show that regularly eating tofu can provide lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, so while you might need to eat more of it to equal the same amount of protein consumed by eating chicken (about 290 grams of tofu to 150 grams of lean meat), the anti-inflammatory agents and bone-strengthening benefits are higher than other protein options.

Ok, so now that you’re convinced from a nutritional standpoint, you might be thinking about how to prepare this strange substance. Try adding it to smoothies, soups, stir-fry and salads. To get the most flavor out of it, press out the water before marinating and if you do marinade, choose sauces that aren’t high in oil or soya, which can be high in salt and preservatives.

Poultry

Some meat-eaters just can’t fathom the thought of ingesting tofu. It’s understandable; the juicy, colorless soy substance doesn’t exactly look appetizing. Plus, its poultry alternative of chicken offers more protein, phosphorus, potassium, niacin and vitamin B6 in the same 3-ounce serving. But it falls short in terms of calories and cholesterol. While turkey contains about 114 calories in a 3-ounce roasted skinless serving, chicken clocks in at 131 calories and is 21 percent higher in cholesterol than tofu.

However, that niacin cited above? Well, just one large chicken breast will offer the recommended daily amount you need. This nutrient helps your body produce energy from all, yes all, of the foods you eat and regulates your nervous and digestive systems. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight or gain lean muscle, chicken helps immensely since it’s low in saturated fat and carbs. It’s also an optimal source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient you can only get through food which helps reduce inflammation and can potentially decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

If you just can’t put off poultry, consider staying away from the farmed and water-filled breasts. One study found that organic chicken had 38 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic chicken, while another found that non-organic chicken feathers contained prescription drugs and arsenic. So while it may be slightly more expensive to go organic, it could reap benefits you’ll be thankful for in the future.

The winner

There’s a reason why vegetarians keep tofu on hand. It’s high in calcium, iron and a number of other vitamins and minerals, and it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol—something chicken and other poultry options can’t say. While it might not contain as much protein as poultry, you can substitute in other options like Greek yogurt, cheese and eggs to jazz up your meals and pack in that much-needed nutrient your body needs. Keep in mind that typical soy and poultry contain GMOs, so whatever you choose, go for the organic variety. Because healthy really is the most delicious.  That’s one thing vegetarians and meat-eaters can agree on.

QUOTE FOR WEDNESDAY:

“Tofu, which originated in China and is also known as soybean curd or bean curd, is made from curdled soy milk, an iron-rich liquid extracted from ground, cooked soybeans. The resulting curds are drained and pressed into a block, sort of like the cheese-making process. The firmness of the tofu depends on how much whey is extracted, but it’s usually always at least somewhat custard-like and a shade of pale white.

“Tofu has a bland, nutty-like flavor that gives it a chameleon-like capability to take on the flavor of the food with which it’s cooked,” according to “The New Food Lovers’s Companion,” the fifth edition of the classic food bible. “Its texture is smooth and creamy, yet it’s firm enough to slice.” It’s kinda spongy too.”

Chowhound