Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eating Better (from Sisterswhoblog)

I wrote this post for Sisterswhoblog and wanted to share it here as well because I think a lot of us can relate to this (on a side note: please join this network. If you’re not a sister, then you should follow the blog).

I recently took a class titled ‘Neurobiology of Learning and Memory’ and one of the topics of the lectures was the connection between eating disorders and the brain. In earlier lectures, we had talked about Depression and Alzheimer’s. Both of the latter two are causes of either a decrease in activity of the brain, or death of neurons in the hippocampus (part of the brain involved in memory and learning), respectively. However, with eating disorders, it’s very different. The attitudes, emotions, and feelings that arise during an eating disorder are actually caused by the starvation, not by an underlying neuronal problem.

I do not want to bore the readers with any biological mumbo jumbo (even though I kind of already have), but the real purpose of this post is this next idea: Most anorexics and bulimics have a high recovery, as well as a high remissive rate when they follow the correct way of eating.

Basically, the idea behind a new treatment plan for patients with eating disorders is teaching them the difference between hunger and satiety. It’s like learning to eat like a kid again! Children will eat when they are hungry, and will let you know when they are done. As adults, we become ‘deaf’ to our bodies natural eating pattern. We eat when we’re hungry and continue to eat long after our body has reached it’s satiety level.
This new system was developed in Sweden and it uses a device called a Mandometer. This device is plugged in a computer and you place your plate of food on top of it. You eat while the plate is still on the scale. The mandometer will tell you your speed of eating and ask you of your satiety levels. Eventually, the patient’s goal is to adjust his/her curve to the ‘normal curve’ for eating. More information can be found here.

The reason I found this to be interesting is because of two reasons: 1) it resembles the way our Prophet (SAW) ate and 2) it works with other eating problems like obesity, as well. So, if any of you are ever in need of a diet plan, just read the Sunnah of the Prophet (and follow it too). This goes first and foremost for myself.

"No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath." – Prophet (SAW); narrated by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah

“It’s not what you eat, it’s how you eat it.”- Professor M

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Community News

Welcome to the first ever community news, where I will tell you what a few of my peeps are up to. This has been a very exciting week for so many. New challenges and adventures have made their way into the lives of many fellow bloggers.

Sister Is-za Jelass just had a new addition to her family. She is still in awe at this newfound happiness that her little Sultana has brought her. Go and congratulate her.

In the meantime, over in Alaska, Single Infertile Female is getting pregnancy-ready. She just had an implantation and now she anxiously awaits the results. This lady has been through so much and she holds it together like no one else. Get to her blog to give her some encouragement.

Now, lets plan out YOUR day for tomorrow.

For breakfast, head on over to Muslim Wife’s Kitchen for some great recipes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make it special.

Before you head out the door, check out some advice from Little Auntie. Who knows? She might enlighten you with some great wisdom. Auntie might be little, but she’s got a lot to say.

Next stop, off to work. We all know that work can get boring. Especially if you have a job that is repetitious, your brain can get fried easily. If that’s the case, then check out some of Kanwalful’s ‘do and don’ts of grammar’.  If you happen to fall in one of the categories, then stop immediately.

Then, since you don’t feel like concentrating on your work anyway, check out Sisterswhoblog Network and join, if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to make new friends online and get some followers to your blog.

Now, you’re going to head home. If you’re a guy, go buy some flowers for your wife (if you’re married).

When you’ve arrived at home, sit back, relax, and read some advice that sister Nachida gives for Muslim converts. She has some great advice to share with y’all.

Finally it’s bedtime. You’re exhausted and just want to cuddle up in your bed with your favorite blankie. Before you do that, make sure to check out recommendations from Ummah Reads for some great books you can read to your children before you put out the lights. (My parents never read to me when I was little, but I strongly encourage you all to do that with your kids)

Now go to sleep! Sweet dreams!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


A month ago, I had chest pain on two different days within the same week. The chest pain was in the lateral left chest region. The pain wasn’t too bad. It was minor pain that felt a little tingly. However, a couple days later, as I made my way into the Microbiology final, two of my fingers went numb on my left hand: thumb and index finger. That scared the heavens out of me! I kept thinking, “I hope it’s not a pre-heart attack .”

I called in the next day to make an appointment and when I told the operator my symptoms, I was promptly connected to a nurse, who asked me some questions:

“Where was this pain?”

“Are you feeling it right now?”

“When was this?”

“Do you have difficulty breathing?”

“Do you have trouble standing?”

“Do you think you will pass out?”

“Are you in any pain right now?”

(Note: If I was really having some kind of emergency, I would have been dead and gone by now)

After the nurse made sure I was okay, I was connected to a receptionist. He asked me some of the same questions and then made an appointment with a doctor for the same day (in fact, just two hours later!). Usually, I have to wait a month for an appointment with a doctor, but I guess I said some keywords that prompted Kaiser to handle the case a little differently.

As it turns out, according to the doctor, it was not heart-related. Instead, he asked me some questions about my computer/typing habits and he speculates that it is probably related to a pressure on a nerve that runs the length of the hand.

Here are some tips he gave me on using the keyboard safely:

-Make sure your wrists are lying flat

-Make sure your fingers are not awkwardly curved like this:


-Sit at a comfortable distance from the computer. Don’t sit too close.

-Your fingers should be flat and slightly curved:


He then gave me a hand brace that I am supposed to wear at night to keep my hand in a neutral position. I loved the brace so much that as soon as I got home that day, I wore it around the house for the next couple of days. It made me look like an amateur gladiator, who could either not afford to make a hand armor out of metal, or ran out of metal because his body armor took too much material; hence the title of this post.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Ten Things

Here are ten things about me that you probably don’t care to know, but since Sister Zaufishan had tagged me in my comments, I couldn’t give up this opportunity.

1. I should be studying right now. In fact, when I am supposed to be studiously looking over my textbooks and filling my brain with information, I end up going online and either reading other blogs, or writing a post myself.

[I am taking Human Anatomy at a community college because I need this as a pre-requisite for admission into optometry school. And this class has become a real challenge since it’s a semester’s/quarter’s worth of material crammed into 6 weeks.]

2. I got lost yesterday. Actually, I have this innate capability to get lost, even if I have treaded those same streets since the day I was born.

[I have a blog called Destination Orange County and there is a Library challenge that I have signed myself up for. I’m supposed to be visiting all the libraries in Orange County in the year 2010. Yesterday, I went to Seal Beach branch and got lost on my way there.]

3. I volunteer at the Braille Institute of America. I basically assist the teacher in one of the classes. The Braille Institute of America is a non-profit organization that conducts classes for the visually impaired. These classes are meant to help these students develop self-confidence and awareness so that they can live independently.

4. I also volunteer with an organization called Hospice Touch. I get assigned to an elderly patient that is terminally ill and visit her once a while in order to provide her comfort as well as social interaction.

5. I have signed up to be a volunteer at the Upper Newport Bay, where I will be helping with tour groups, as well as with other cool things.

[I don’t know exactly what I will be doing just yet, but there is a training held in July which I will be attending.]

6. I help out at the Golden West College garden. Basically, I weed and weed and weed, but love every bit of it.

[I mention these volunteering responsibilities so that maybe others can realize that there are so many different ways to help out in the community.]

7. I miss my mommie. Yes, I didn’t think it was possible. My ammi is visiting Pakistan after 6 years and she went alone this time. She left at the end of June and will come back at the end of August.


8. I love to sleep. I can never sleep enough!!

9. I love to eat. I eat everything! (unless I don’t eat it due to religious restrictions) I love buffets. I love Thai, Chinese, Mexican, American, Pakistani, Indian, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Japanese cuisine. Note that these are what I could think of at the moment. Basically, I just love to eat.

10. When I become an optometrist, I want to work in either Vision Therapy, or Low Vision Therapy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In Simple Terms: Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease occurs when there is an increase in neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is involved in learning, memory, as well as with emotional responses. If you are going to lose neurons in this part of the brain, this will obviously have an effect on your learning and memory. Brain imaging from Alzheimer’s patients shows atrophy (or degeneration) of the brain in areas that are involved in learning and memory.

Risk factors of Alzheimer’s include:

1. Age- risk increases after the age of 6o and doubles every decade after that

2. Genetics- if your relative has the disease, your chances of having it increase

3. Cholesterol-high levels of cholesterol are related to an increased risk

4. Injury- a head injury will likely increase the risk

5. Gender- this disease is more common in females than in males

6. Lack of mental stimulation

The critical and toxic molecule in Alzheimer’s disease patients is beta-amyloid, a protein that forms plaques in the brain. Beta-amyloid is formed when an Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) is cleaved into Ab-40 and Ab-42 (both beta-amyloids) by an enzyme called gamma-secretase. Of the two, Ab-42 is the toxic substance that forms plaques in the brain. An increase in Ab-42 causes degeneration of neurons in the brain. Drugs that inhibit gamma-secretase activity have been found to be effective in reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The mechanism by which beta-amyloid induces death of neurons is through its interference with the reuptake of glutamate. Glutamate binds to the NMDA receptor in the brain, which in turn lets calcium ions flow into the channel. However, if too much calcium comes in, it induces activation of calcium-activated proteases, which leads to cell death. Drugs that inhibit NMDA activity (like Memantine) are also used as treatment for Alzheimer’s.

DNA damage within neuronal cells is also prevalent during the course of the disease.
Even though the Alzheimer’s brain increases DNA repair enzymes as well as BCL-2 ( a component that protects against cell death), the battle between damage and repair is ultimately won by the degenerative neuronal cells. Thus, there is more damage than repair occurring in the brain of these patients.

Here’s what YOU can do to slow this degenerative process:

1. Crossword puzzles. Sudoku. Anything that keeps your mind alive.

Learning and mental stimulation enhances BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a neurotrophin that supports the cells and makes them ‘feel better’.

2. Take a hike.

Physical activity increases BDNF.

3. Eat healthy

Diets high in fats and sugars decrease BDNF activity.


Sleep enhances the activity of BDNF.

5. Quit stressing

6. Get your Vitamin E

Vitamin E slows the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Other interesting facts:

-Patients with rheumatoid arthritis that take Ibuprofen do not get Alzheimer’s because Ibuprofen affects the activity of gamma-secretase in such a way that it reduces the production of beta-amyloid.

-Bilinugals have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s

Reference Websites:

*Lecture at University of California, Irvine

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