Friday, January 28, 2011

We Are What We Eat

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What Your Bowel Movements Are Telling You About Your Health
By Sally Wadyka for MSN Health Fitness

It may not be a topic typically talked about at the dinner table or a cocktail party, but most people are actually somewhat obsessed with it. And with good reason: The state of your gastro-intestinal tract (as well as the quality and quantity of its output) is a great barometer of the health of your body. “The GI tract is a processing unit that metabolizes all of the nutrients you take in and eliminates all of the body’s waste,” explains Dr. Amy Foxx-Orenstein, president of the American College of Gastroenterology. “What comes through it is reflective of how well or how ill the body is.”

Hard and dry
The amount of time it takes for the food you eat to make its way through the gastro-intestinal system and exit into the toilet will have an impact on the consistency of your stool. “Intestinal transit averages 40 to 45 hours from when you eat to when it comes out,” says Foxx-Orenstein. If it stays in the GI tract for longer than that, fluid is re-absorbed into the body and the stool becomes harder and dryer. Certain medications—like blood pressure drugs, antidepressants and histamines—can slow down the GI tract. Constipation, which has a myriad of causes, will lead to harder, drier stools (since you’re going less often, your stool will stall in the system and the fluid re-absorbed). For some people, a diet high in dairy can be a cause of constipation, so if you are experiencing problems going (and have dry, hard-to-pass stool when you do finally go), it is worth reducing your dairy intake for a week or two to see if that helps. And being dehydrated can also lead to this problem because if the body is lacking in water, it will draw it—and conserve it—from wherever it can find it.

Little lumps
“An ideal stool looks like a torpedo—it should be large, soft, fluffy and easy to pass,” says Foxx-Orenstein. But when conditions are less than ideal, the stool may become more like little deer pellets. Again, transit time may be part of the issue because slow-moving stool will lose fluid, making them less fluffy and lumpier. A lack of fiber in the diet may also to be to blame. Beware if you’re following a weight-loss plan (such as Atkins) that focuses on increasing protein and decreasing carbohydrates, since that can leave you with a diet that’s low in fiber. And since fiber holds on to fluid, a lack of it will lead to harder, pellet-like poops that may be more difficult to pass.

Reflections On My Visit In the Malay Archipelago

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by Dr Muzaffar Iqbal

For some unknown reason, it was only after landing in Jakarata that I felt the “adrenaline rush”, although the main event of my trip was held in Kuala Lumpur, where some 300 people had gathered in the auditorium of the Mahsa University College for the second Abdullah Yusuf Ali Lecture, for which I had chosen the theme, “Between Believers and Disbelievers: Qur’an in the Contemporary World”.

The lecture was jointly organized by the Islamic Book Trust and Yayasn Pendidikan Islam in honor of a man whose translation of the Holy Qur’an has helped millions of human beings since 1938, when it was first published by a publisher in Lahore.

The inaugural lecture of the series was delivered by M. A. Sherif in December 2008. Sherif is the author of Searching for Solace, the only book-length biography of Abdullah Yusuf Ali who was found sitting on the steps of a house in Westminster on a harsh winter day of 1953. On that Wednesday, December 9, the confused old man was taken by the police to Westminster Hospital. The next day, he was discharged from the hospital and taken to a London County Council home for the elderly situated on Dovehouse Street, Chelsea. The next day, he suffered a heart attack, was rushed to St Stephen's Hospital in Fulham where he died three hours later.