Saturday, January 8, 2011

Care for your nails

Clean and well-manicured nails often help to make a good impression and we often spend a lot of time and effort in trying to beautify them.

But nails are more indicative about a person than just the hygiene habits. They are also good health indicators and a sure-shot give-away for many diseases. These symptoms are different from the nail-related diseases and it's important to be able to read the correct tell-tale signs, as they may warn you about a disease that you may be unaware of. Though the nail in itself is nothing but a dead tissue, the areas under the cuticle and the nail are alive and these areas make the nail vulnerable to damage or infection. Hence diseases can easily manifest themselves on nails.

"It is true that nails often give us clues to diseases occurring inside the body. Not only do they tell you about your present health, but also about your past trauma or illness. For instance, horizontal lines and depressions medically termed as Beau's lines can tell you about about your past illness or white spots/white lines on a nail suggests a random injury to the nail bed," says city-based health writer Dr Parul R Sheth.

Calling them windows to an individual's overall health, head or dermatology Dr Nina Madnani explains, "When we examine a patient we always examine the nails too. Like the skin, nails are excellent indicators of what's going on inside your body. If your nails are healthy — smooth and pink with a slightly curved surface — your body is probably healthy too."

Talking about the possible reasons, she adds, "The discolouration or disfiguration could be due to several reasons and they may be systemic or a result of a local nail infection. For example, the yellowing of nails could be due to excessive use of nail polish or nail hardeners, but it could also indicate jaundice."

Nails also tend to absorb various substances, so it isn't uncommon to notice slight discolouration in the nails of a person who smokes regularly or a person who deals with certain chemicals having nails of a bluish tinge. "Any change in tone and texture should be looked into immediately," says dermatologist Dr Sunil Tahiliani.

What nails indicate:

- If you have brittle nails, then you may be iron deficient. They are also indicators for biotin deficiency, kidney disorder, thyroid or circulation problems.

- Thickening of nails indicate circulation problems.

- Concave nails (bent inwards) are a symptom of iron deficiency and/or lack of Vitamin B12.

- The deficiency of Vitamn C makes the nails to split or become frayed.

They could also indicate psoriasis, or a lack of folic acid and proteins.
- Clubbing of nails could be because of oxygen deficiency in the body, due to lung, heart or liver problems.

- Nails with pits are usually a symptom of psoriasis.
- Lines and grooves on the nails are often associated with various diseases. The vertical ridges appear due to arthritis, while horizontal ridges are a result of too much stress.

- B12 deficiency is signified by dark nails.

- Pale nails could be due to anemia or problems with the kidneys/liver.

- Red nails are often due to heart disease.

- Blue nail beds are the result of lack of oxygen in the blood, most likely due to asthma, emphysema or other lung and heart diseases.

- Grey nail beds are a symptom of diseases like arthritis, glaucoma, cardio diseases or excessive malnutrition.

- Yellow nail beds indicate liver disorders, diabetes, lymphatic diseases or chronic bronchitis.

Taking care:

It is very important to take good care of nails and not ignore or avoid any symptom, but some of the symptoms can also appear in healthy individuals. So, don't be alarmed at every slight looking change or if you happen to have some of these symptoms. "Though nails sometimes do tend to change the colour sometimes, it's better not to ignore only if the change seems permanent. Often women tend to hide any discolouration or disfiguration by painting the nails. Ignoring such signs and viewing them as only an aesthetic problem could be dangerous to your health and may only worsen the condition. The wise thing to do is to visit your doctor to rule out all causes of the abnormality," says Dr Madnani.

Read Rest Here:

True beauty of being

In Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, Soames, the rich and acquisitive Man of Property, is enthralled by the beautiful Irene.

He wants to possess her beauty, the way he possesses the grand mansion he buys for her, full of exquisite and expensive works of art. But the harder Soames tries to claim her as his own, the more he repels Irene. The only man she is comfortable with is the elderly Jolyon. While conscious of her beauty, the ageing Jolyon has no desire to possess it. In the twilight of his life, he basks in her radiance as a man warming himself in front of the glowing embers of a fire on a cold day.

Soames and Jolyon represent two very different perceptions, not only of beauty but of consciousness itself. Like most of us, Soames wants to lay claim to the beautiful – which is another word for perfection – and make it his own. In his case, the beautiful, or the perfect, is represented by a woman. In the case of a poet or an artist, the beautiful could be represented by the music of language or the splendour of a sunrise which the creative imagination seeks to capture in a line of verse or by brush strokes on canvas.

But beauty can't be owned by an individual: the poet and the artist know that what they create is of value only if it belongs to the whole world and not to themselves alone. Unlike Soames, the Man of Property, Jolyon, like the poet and artist, understands that beauty can never be a possession; it is always and essentially a celebration, a glimpse of perfection all the more haunting in its elusiveness. As William Blake said: "He who bends to himself a joy/ Does the winged life destroy;/ But he who kisses the joy as it flies/ Lives in eternity's sunrise."

Soames wants to possess Irene's beauty, and is doomed to fail; Jolyon celebrates her beauty and is rewarded by the glow of her presence. These two ways of perceiving beauty belong to two distinct categories of consciousness: being and having.

Being is consciousness without the attached strings of attachment and ego. Being is a way of seeing the world, and everything in it, through the consciousness of a poet, or an artist, or a sage. Being has no title deed, no desire of possession, no stamp of ownership.

The polar opposite of being is consciousness in the mode of having. The world and everything in it – beauty, wealth, power and fame – is perceived as possession, something to have and to hold on to at all cost.

If being is pure consciousness without ego, having is pure ego without consciousness. In having, the ego becomes all-consuming: my wishes and desires that must be fulfilled, my ideal home, my perfect family, my enviable collection of art and beauty, my good name and reputation, the world as my private property to do with as i will.

Without Irene and her unattainable beauty which he covets to keep for himself, the Man of Property becomes a spiritual vacuum. Without the desire to have and to possess, Soames's counterpart, Jolyon, is enriched beyond measure by Irene's beauty. Jolyon has discovered the beauty of being.

Read Rest Here

Babies understand words in a grown-up way

A new study has found that even though babies are too young to talk, they can understand words and process them in a grown up way.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, showed that babies process words they hear with the same brain structures as adults, and in the same amount of time.

And they don't just process the words as sounds, they grasp their meanings too.

"Babies are using the same brain mechanisms as adults to access the meaning of words from what is thought to be a mental ''database'' of meanings, a database which is continually being updated right into adulthood," said Katherine E. Travis.

To conduct the study, the team MEG – an imaging process that measures tiny magnetic fields emitted by neurons in the brain – and MRI to noninvasively estimate brain activity in 12 to 18-month old infants.

In the first experiment, the infants listened to words accompanied by sounds with similar acoustic properties, but no meaning, in order to determine if they were capable of distinguishing between the two. In the second phase, the researchers tested whether the babies were capable of understanding the meaning of these words.

For this experiment, babies saw pictures of familiar objects and then heard words that were either matched or mismatched to the name of the object: a picture of a ball followed by the spoken word ball, versus a picture of a ball followed by the spoken word dog.

Results shown through the scans indicated that the infants were capable of detecting the mismatch between a word and a picture, as shown by the amplitude of brain activity.

The "mismatched," or incongruous, words evoked a characteristic brain response located in the same left frontotemporal areas known to process word meaning in the adult brain.

Tests repeated in humans showed the same results.

"Our study shows that the neural machinery used by adults to understand words is already functional when words are first being learned," said Eric Halgren.

"This basic process seems to embody the process whereby words are understood, as well as the context for learning new words."

The researchers say their results have implications for future studies, for example development of diagnostic tests based on brain imaging which could indicate whether a baby has healthy word understanding even before speaking, enabling early screening for language disabilities or autism.