Kerala is on fire over Nipah virus ever since May 19th, 2018 when the Nipah virus disease (NiV) was first reported in the Kozhikode district of the state. Till now, there are 15 cases of confirmed deaths in the two affected districts, Kozhikode and Mallapuram in Kerala.
Tracing the Origin of the Virus
First outbreak of this virus was in the year 1998 in the Malaysian village Sungai Nipah (hence the name Nipah virus!) among pig farmers but there were no cases reported after that. Here, the virus transmission was traced to human exposure to pig secretions or contact with the tissue of a sick animal. Yet another outbreak occurred in Bangladesh in 2001 and the country has witnessed at least a few cases almost every year since then. Eastern India also witnessed rare outbreaks of the disease since 2001 (Siliguri in West Bengal was the first affected city in India). The disease outbreak in 2004 in Bangladesh and India were linked to the consumption of date palm sap contaminated by infected fruit bats (urine or saliva).
Later outbreaks in Bangladesh and India were mostly due to human-to-human exposure through people’s saliva or excretions. Almost 75% cases reported in the Siliguri city of West Bengal (2001) was within a health-care setting amongst hospital staff or visitors. According to WHO, the Nipah virus has claimed over 300 lives across Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and India between the years 1998 and 2008. Researchers have confirmed that the Bangladesh strain of the Nipah virus is the reason for this latest outbreak in Kerala (2018).
Nipah Virus: Zoonotic Disease
Nipah virus (NiV) is a zoonic disease (transmitted from animals to humans) that spreads via food or humans. NiV can also affect animals such as pigs severely and incur unwanted expenditure and losses for farmers. While the occurrence rate and numbers are low, the death percentage and severity are high making NiV a public health concern.
Signs & Symptoms
What makes this disease a deadly one is the incubation period which ranges anywhere from 4-14 days generally and even 45 days sometimes. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting and sore throat which is followed by dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness and neurological symptoms that indicate acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Rarely, people do experience atypical pneumonia, severe respiratory problem and fatal encephalitis.
Fatality rates exist anywhere between 40 and 75%. Mostly people with acute encephalitis recover fully but among them, almost 20% people are left with long-term neurologic conditions such as seizure disorder and personality changes. But if proper care is not taken within 24-48 hours after symptoms of delirium, drowsiness and confusion, it can turn into coma. Read more on encephalitis at www.firsteatright.com.
Symptoms include influenza-like ones, don’t present themselves immediately and are non-specific which can prevent appropriate intervention, delay detection and take proper control measures. Also, the virus strain is evident only during the acute and convalescent phase of the disease. ELISA, PCR, virus isolation by cell culture and RT-PCR are the various test methods used for detection.
As of 2018, there are no drugs or vaccines available for treating the infection and the only feasible option is to offer intensive supportive care 24×7. Firstly, all patients suspected/confirmed of NiV must be isolated and given support care. Although the drug ribavirin shows positive effects against the virus in vitro, further research is needed. Also, passive immunization using a human monoclonal antibody targeting Nipah G glycoprotein has been evaluated in the post-exposure therapy in the ferret (mammal) model and was found to be beneficial (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, United States). All treatment options are in the research stage and need further analysis. Given below are certain precautionary measures that need to be followed:
Weight fluctuations (rise and fall of weight measurements) over a person’s lifetime are common due to diet changes, exercise routines, metabolism changes as we age and lifestyle practices. Weight loss for no valid reason, especially when the loss is too high, can be attributed to different physical or psychological causes. Such dramatic weight loss is a warning sign to the individual to meet his/her physician immediately.
Obesity is a well-known risk factor for cancer and intentionally losing weight reduces levels of certain hormones such as insulin, estrogen and androgens that are related to cancer risk. Right from breast, kidney, pancreas and esophagus to liver, cervix, ovary and gallbladder cancer, overweight/obesity increases the chances of these cancers by multifold. At the same time, unintentional weight loss too is a great risk factor of this deadly disease. Obese individuals who wish to lose weight can get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com.
Individuals affected by cancer lose weight at some point. When an individual loses weight for no reason it is termed as ‘unintentional weight loss’. By ‘no reason’ it means that the individual is not under any diet program for weight loss, does not do daily physical activity or stay active but still keeps losing weight steadily. Such individuals keep losing around 4-5 kilograms of body weight which is the first sign of cancer. By the books, unintentional weight loss is defined as weight loss of at least 5% of the patient’s body weight that occurs within a period of 6 to 12 months and is not the consequences of treatment of a known illness. A new study has proved that when a patient experiences unintentional weight loss, it is the second highest predictor for some forms of cancer, such as the cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, stomach or lung.
For many patients, almost 40%, such unplanned weight loss is the first sign of cancer. Depending on the cancer type and the organs affected, patients experience nausea, lack of appetite, chewing difficulties and swallowing problems that decrease food intake levels drastically. Sometimes, cancer cells use body’s energy supply and alter the way food energy is processed by the body which can also result in weight loss. Cachexia and sarcopenia are two syndromes of such unintentional weight loss. Cachexia is characterized by decreased muscle mass due to some underlying disease such as cancer or advanced heart failure. All patients with cachexia witness unintentional weight loss but not all patients with unintentional weight loss have cachexia.
Studies on Cancer Risk Due to Unintentional Weight Loss
Researchers analyzed the findings of 25 studies collected from more than 11 million patients between 1994 and 2015. Results showed that:
Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide affecting people across age groups, right from an adolescent to an elderly person, leading to decreased quality of life due to restrictions in activity and common absence from work which in turn results in increased economic burden on the individual and his/her family. LBP is the second-most common reason for visiting a physician. All these factors lead to a major shift in treatment techniques for primary care of LBP.
During the 1980s, one week or more of complete bedrest was often recommended as the treatment for arresting low back pain. Along with this was given pain relievers, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants. But now, research shows this treatment procedure to be no better (or rather worsening) than taking rest for a day or two and then slowly increasing activity along with strengthening and stretching the back. Results force physicians to take upon a completely different approach to treat low back pain effectively.
While a recent study recommends physicians to stop prescribing NSAID drugs to treat LBP, the latest study goes one step further and advises doctors to stop all medications and drugs prescribed as a treatment procedure for LBP. The American College of Physicians has revealed this treatment option after completely studying and analyzing more than 150 studies on LBP.
Medications can only suppress pain, relief is temporary and the benefits are average. Such average outcomes have constantly kept researchers on their feet trying an alternative solution to pain-relief medications. The specifics however, depend on the type and duration of back pain.
When low pack pain strikes you for the first time and lasts less than 4 months try treatment options such as heat, massage, acupuncture and spinal care (such as chiropractic care). Only when all of this fail to produce the desired result, physicians are advised to prescribe NSAIDs or muscle relaxants. If LBP is chronic lasting for more than 12 weeks, researchers advise opting for physical therapy, acupuncture, mindfulness-based programs such as yoga and meditation and exercises (stretching, balance and strengthening core muscles). Absence of positive outcomes after practicing these techniques might push doctors to suggest NSAIDs, tramadol or duloxetine. But, opioids must be prescribed only after thoroughly evaluating the pros and cons.
Remember, any of these suggestions are relief methods for LBPs that arise as a result of simple causes such as strenuous exercising, lifting heavy load or shoveling manure while gardening. It cannot be applied as a treatment routine for severe cases of back pain resulting from major injury, cancer, infection and fractures.
After years of analyzing and witnessing innumerable cases, we now clearly know that back pain goes away on its own, regardless of treatment options. The hard work here has been to work out on certain techniques and practices that safely ease symptoms while waiting for relief and improvement.
When there is lasting pain despite non-medication approaches and medication-based treatments, physicians might advise taking an MRI or prescribe additional tests. Every person has different response rates, situations differ patient to patient and medications that don’t work well on average might work well for some individual.
Yes or No
99% of low back pain causes are trivial. But it is our duty to ensure that our causes don’t fall under the 1% clause that might lead to dangerous consequences. Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions and meet your doctor immediately even if your answer to a single question is undoubtedly a ‘yes’:
The result outcomes suggest treatment options that would have been declared unhelpful or incorrect if these were prescribed a few years back. Now, people are self-aware of lack of effective results from medications for LBP and come forward to try out alternative medicines or choose therapies such as yoga and tai chi to ease pain. Tai chi, also known as meditation in motion (reason behind this naming is available at the website www.firsteatright.com), is an excellent exercise form for those who have been inactive all these years but would like to start practicing physical activity hereon. In the long run, such non-pharmacological treatments for back pain could become the standard set of prescriptions for treating LBP.
‘Bear hugs’ are warm, cozy and satisfying. A dad hugging his daughter, a squeeze with your loved one or best friends meeting after a long, long time hugging each other are commonly witnessed. Hugs are a sign of love, compassion and friendliness. There is more to hug than these! Research proves hugs to provide health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and decreased stress. Hug more and love hugging!
Hugs Decreases Stress
Being hugged before a big presentation, a long journey, an important interview or examination calms down the individual, according to research. One study asked a group of girls to present an impromptu speech in front of a big crowd suddenly. Those who received a hug or call from their mom experienced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Hugs Increase Immunity
Hugging can decrease your risk of common cold! Researchers at a reputed university found that stressed-out people who were likely to fall sick when exposed to the virus responsible for common cold experienced reduced chances of being affected by the infection when they were hugged frequently. Even if they were attacked by cold, they developed less severe symptoms when they received frequent hugs.
Hugs Increase A Sense of Trust
Individuals feel closer and connected to each other when they hug and that’s not it. Hugging triggers the release of oxytocin, a chemical that induces bonding, trust and connection. Physical connection between two people increases emotional and psychological connection between them as well spreading a sense of calm and comfort.
Hugs are an Anti-depressant
Hugs induce release of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant, that triggers emotional well-being. We express affection towards our loved ones by hugging them, kissing them and spending quality time with them. Such behavior promotes emotional well-being and intimacy that are critical for a healthy relationship between two people. Babies love our sense of touch and when they miss out on it, they feel utterly depressed and start becoming cranky, stop eating food and misbehaving. Hug your loved ones at least for 3 minutes a day and kiss them at least once a day to keep your relationship going steady.
Hugs Lower Blood Pressure
Though not proved accurately, a small study of a group of 59 premenopausal women found that frequent hugs between women and their partners increased oxytocin levels and decreased blood pressure levels. Spouses start taking undue advantage of each other after marriage and hugging is a simple way to overcome disagreements and save your marriage from collision.
Newborns are cuddled and crushed with kisses and hugs by mom, dad, family members, known people and strangers as well. As the newborn grows, he/she is cuddled by mom and dad frequently for all the small or big things he/she accomplishes. Being in a constant state of touch since birth makes us crave for it even as we nurture into adults. Staying connected, hugging loved ones and showing affection towards them make us feel complete and connected to each other. Spread love, cherish being loved and share the joy of affection with people around.
There exists bacteria, fungi, virus and other pathogens that reside comfortably inside the human body. Our body proves to be a cool and comfortable place for formation of stones too! Kidney stones are hard mineral deposits that form when substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid become hard enough to adopt a stone structure inside our kidneys. More commonly witness among the male population compared to the female population, there is always a chance of recurrence of kidney stones within 10-15 years in almost 50% of people who have had one already.
Origin & End
Almost 80-85% stones comprise of calcium while the rest are uric acid stones in people with low urine pH levels. Once formed in the kidney, these stones can move down to the ureter thereby restricting urine flow. This might cause excruciating pain accompanied by blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting and flak pain (pain on one side of the body between the stomach and the back). When the stone passes down the ureter further towards the bladder there might be instances of frequent urination, bladder pressure or pain in the groin.
During such instances, it is advisable to meet a physician who will perform the required tests to confirm the presence of kidney stones, their size and numbers. The excretion of these stones varies anywhere between few weeks to months depending on the size and number. Medications prescribed help to reduce pain and discomfort until the stones are chucked out of the body. Sometimes, the stones are too large to pass naturally and are removed with the help of a surgical procedure called ureteroscopy.
There is no sure way to prevent kidney stones, specifically when you have a family history of it! Almost one in ten people will have a kidney stone in their lifetime. Proper diet, a healthy lifestyle and certain medications might reduce the risk of this condition. Get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to get tips and tricks that help a person lead a healthy lifestyle in a practical way. Simple tips include:
‘What’s trending in fashion this season?’ is a common question but “What’s trending in nutrition and foods?” is an often-quoted one these days as people are growing to be health-conscious. The instant answer to the latter question is millets!
Millet is the name given to a whole group of small-seeded grains in the grass family that needs minimal water and tends to be resistant to pathogens and pests that affect important crops like corn and wheat. As millets can withstand arid temperatures, dry spells and has a short growing season, it is one of the most-preferred crops in the tropics of Asia and Africa, especially India, Nigeria and Niger. In fact, millets overpowered rice as the universal grain in China and was the staple grain in Europe during the Middle Ages. These tiny grains have been consumed since the start of the ancient civilization dating back over 7,000 years. But these traditional foods were eclipsed by processed or ‘convenience’ foods until recently and its only now that all our healthy ancestral foods are regaining value for their nutritional benefits. Also, the past several decades have witnessed frequent periods of drought that led to poor crop yields and hence, farmers in drought-prone regions have also shifted their focus towards harvesting of drought-resistant crops such as ancient grains. Millets find their use as animal fodder, cereal crop or are also used as an ingredient in birdseed.
While proudly we can say that India is the world’s largest producer of millets, there are not many who utilize it for culinary purpose and the traditional millet dishes have been long forgotten which need to be revived.
The tiny millet seeds are packed with high nutrition content. They contain vitamins, minerals, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and zinc. It is gluten-free and has a low-GI value which makes millets a suitable dish for people with gluten intolerance or wheat allergies. One cup of cooked millet contains 20% or more of the daily value of copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus along with B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folacin, thiamine and riboflavin.
Magnesium in millets helps reduce blood pressure, risk of heart disease and migraine problems. The fiber in millets acts as a natural prebiotic (dietary fiber that helps in the growth of good bacteria in gut). The gluten-free grain carries a subtle, sweet, corn-like flavor that varies in texture depending on how its cooked. Millets cooked with less oil can be fluffy and light like rice/quinoa while those cooked with more oil seem like a porridge or mashed potato.
Millets are not a temporary diet fad and these versatile grains are only going to be increasingly used. Popular millet varieties include:
Millets cater to the diverse needs of individuals.
Heart attacks are not so dramatic in real life as they are portrayed in movies and you always don’t fall down holding your arms tight by your heart. There is a vast difference in what women think a heart attack would feel like and what it actually feels like. It’s a fact that next to the reproductive system, it is the cardiovascular system that functions extremely differently between the two sexes.
Never Ignore These Symptoms
Women have smaller blood vessels compared to men and are likelier to suffer from smaller, non-fatal heart attacks. While a recent research conveyed the news that men and women face similar symptoms during a coronary blockage, women mostly succumb to a silent heart attack which shows no symptoms. Every woman is different and experiences a different set of symptoms. Some of them mentioned by heart-attack survivors even take us by surprise:
Upper arms ache terribly sometimes when we get up after sleeping the previous night. Most of us ignore this ache blaming our improper sleeping position or gym workouts and it also turns out to be a trivial reason in most cases. Rarely can these be symptoms of a heart attack and they are present along with jaw and chest soreness.
Persistent Jaw Pain
Jaw pain occurs due to cold, sinus issue or a muscle problem. Problems in the jaw along with fatigue and arm issues can occur months before a heart attack occurs and intensify as the day fast approaches.
Nausea & Vomiting
A 2018 study showed that two-thirds of women who experienced a heart attack before the age of 55 suffered from gastric problems, indigestion issues, nausea or stomach pain while it was only 50% of men who experienced similar symptoms. Vomiting normally is a case of some digestive problem, but when it is present with other symptoms here, it can be an indication of a heart attack.
If you feel out of breath while talking rapidly in the middle of a meeting, doing household chores or even when you lie down simply, it can be an early sign of heart problem. This happens when the arteries are blocked unable to send oxygen to all parts of the body.
Fatigue is an often-ignored symptom by most women as they experience it every month during their menstruation or due to overburdening workload. Sometimes it shoots up past its reasonable levels, for instance people feel like taking a nap soon after shower, feel like sitting down on the steps after climbing one flight of stairs or feel exhausted only after standing for 10 minutes together. These changes are critical and need immediate attention as they are different from the everyday aches and pains that women put up with.
Similar to jaw pain, back pain can happen sometime before the attack hits you. Some experience it as a sharp pain between the shoulder blades while some others feel as though the pain is right behind their heart. Lower or upper back pain starts in the chest and spreads to these areas.
A tingling sensation in the chest or chest tightness is often ignored as it is accompanied by symptoms such as jaw pain, fatigue and stress. Some assume it to be gas. Chest discomfort is the most notable symptom of heart disease. Some feel their chest to be as heavy as an elephant sitting over it while some others say that it was simply a burning sensation.
Symptoms of Flu
Some people experience flu-like symptoms including fatigue, nausea and body aches which they ignore. If you feel that things seem out of place even mildly, get it checked immediately. It might turn out to be a normal flu, but you have ruled out the possibility of a grave disease.
Snoring is not an instant sign of heart disease and it is ok to snore when you snooze. Extremely loud snoring like a chocking or gasping sound is indicative of sleep apnea as you stop breathing for several moments while sleeping. Sleep apnea is extremely dangerous when left unattended. Get to know the symptoms and precautionary measures from the website www.firsteatright.com. Cardiovascular health can be maintained by following a healthy lifestyle that includes ample physical activity, a healthy diet and a peaceful work-life balance. Being aware of how your gender affects cardiovascular risk profile and taking necessary action can be even more helpful in letting you stay healthy.
Human body is an intricate art work that is delicately connected. As intricate as it is, our body also sends out strong signals when there is something going wrong inside it. Most women notice these warning signs weeks or months before the actual heart attack. Chances of recovery increase based on your reporting time of these symptoms-the sooner, the better. Meet your physician immediately if you feel that you are not normal or when you experience any of these symptoms continuously for more than five minutes.
Virtual reality games and videos captured the gadget market some years back and youngsters go crazy over these stuff in today’s world. Virtual reality (VR) is a scenario created artificially using software and presented to the user such that he/she believes it to be a real environment. VR makes it possible to experience anything, anywhere, anytime. Sound and sight are the two most-used sense organs while experiencing this virtual reality with the use of headsets, props or multi-projected environments that helps the individual experience the happiness of the artificial world, look around it and interact with virtual features.
Psychotic disorders are severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perceptions. Such people are far away from reality as they are always affected by delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are believing things that are not true and hallucinations are hearing or seeing things that are not present, hearing voices or feeling something that is not there.
Schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, substance abuse disorders, brain tumors, stroke and brain infections can cause psychotic symptoms. Read more on these diseases and disorders at www.firsteatright.com. Individuals with psychotic disorders are under constant paranoia and mostly avoid social situations due to utmost suspicion or anxiety. A group of researchers focused on such patients and have found that adding virtual reality cognitive behavioral therapy alongside medications as treatment for psychotic disorders can help reduce anxiety and paranoia.
The first group were asked to step into a computer-generated underground train carriage and a lift. This study helped the patients overcome fear of their situations and feel safe. One group was told to react in the normal way and avoid eye contact as a defense strategy while the other group was advised to lower their defense and try accepting that they were safe from the computer characters by standing toe-to-toe or staring at them. The second group who were asked to outgrow their fears showed substantial reduction in their paranoid delusions while the first group saw a small reduction in delusions.
The research team found that almost 1-2% of population have severe paranoia at some point in their lives and find it difficult to leave the comfort of their home due to their heightened sense of mistrust.
Individuals who were subjected to the underground virtual reality tube train session commented that they were devoid of any fears travelling by lift or tube trains after their VR sessions.
CBT is a widely used form of psychotherapy that combines cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. The underlying principle behind CBT is that feelings, thoughts and behaviors are interlinked and influence well-being. CBT differs from other traditional forms of psychotherapy in that CBT focuses on the current problem at hand and solutions to solve it rather than digging into the past problems.
Another study showed that 90% of people with psychosis assume that people around them exist to constantly harm them and hence, try to avoid other people’s company as much as possible. They either stay alone spending time by themselves or just have one or two friends.
The researchers divided people with similar psychotic disorders into two groups-one (intervention group) received the usual treatment along with VR CBT and the other group (waiting list control group) continued to receive only the usual treatment plan. Altogether there were 116 participants and 58 participants were assigned to each study group. All participants underwent assessment at the start of the study, 3 months after completion of the CBT treatment and once again at the end of 6 months. Assessment included perceived social threat, quantity of time people spend with others socially, anxiety and momentary paranoia.
There were altogether 16 VR CBT sessions with each session lasting for an hour over a 12-week period. Individuals were exposed to 4 different VR scenarios (bus, street, café and store). The scenario was customized for every participant and evoke situations which triggered fear or paranoid thoughts. The avatars present in these VR scenarios, their reaction to the participants and even their appearance was controlled by the research group.
Although there was no difference at the 3-month assessment, considerable social interaction and improvement could be found at the end of the 6-month assessment period. The result also showed that individuals in the VR CBT group showed reduced paranoia and anxiety at the end of both 3-month and 6-month assessment compared to the CBT group. There was no difference found in perceived social threat score between the two groups.
This shows that VR CBT can become a successful treatment form for psychotic disorders. Before that, much more research on its long-term effects is needed to clearly prove its advantage over widespread clinical use.
There is lot more to gardening beyond tagging it as a hobby. If eating local, fresh food that helps you save money and reap health benefits is your motive, start a home garden. Even more beneficial when you involve kids in this process. Even a journal studies shows that kids who grow up in a home with a garden ate more vegetables compared to kids who did not have access to a home garden.
Most multi-story apartments nowadays provide just the space needed for living and growing your own garden is unimaginable in some places. For instance, take the case of metropolitan cities where getting your own house is an unachievable dream for many people lifelong. Feasibility of a home garden becomes a big question mark in such places. Other issues such as time constraint or poor soil quality have paved way for the exotic concept of container gardening. Container gardening is a great way for kids to realize the actual place of birth of foods that we eat. Eating your own produce is an amazing feeling that not all people are blessed with.
Buckets and mugs are regular-style containers present in most houses. Use your creativity to come up with something flamboyant. Maybe a wheelbarrow, wooden boxes or small plastic stools can make a great pot! Hanging baskets seem good when there is extreme space restriction. Clay pots too are a worthy option for plants that don’t require much soil. Use containers suitable for the plant you grow-some plants need more soil and go deep compared to others. Seed packets can be referred to know more about the type of soil suitable for the plants.
Before using a wood container, get an opinion from the local hardware store about your container as some old woods might sometimes have harmful chemicals that can hinder the plant’s growth. Also, don’t use containers that previously contained toxic materials. Before using any containers, make a few holes here and there near the bottom (half-inch holes) to allow water to run out and prevent the roots from rotting. If water oozing from a plant worries you (surfaces get spoiled!), place a saucer underneath the pot and ensure to discard liquid at regular intervals from the saucer.
Heart of Gardening
Always start with a blend of different soils for maximized results and this is the right time to pull in your kids too! While it is easier to start with stuffs such as snap pea or cherry tomato, try growing vegetables that interest your kids. Many kids love to dig right into the soil to find their buried treasure. Carrots or potatoes are an excellent planting option for such kids and they grow well in a container too! Instructions on the seed packets help you decide when to plant each crop. Some seeds should be sowed indoors and then shifted outside or its better to put plants from a greenhouse into your container.
Take Good Care
Plants grown outside in soil naturally have abundant soil nutrients that take care of their needs. Plants grown in a container have restricted soil access and hence, must be replenished with nutrient in the form of compost material (prepared by yourself preferably) or commercial fertilizers. These plants need to be watered at least twice a day as there is less space for more water in one go. Ensure to remove dried leaves and buds to pave way for healthy new ones.
Finally, when it is harvest time, reap the benefits of your hard work by enjoying the yummy harvest. Sowing, growing and harvesting is an incomparable experience that’s beyond description. Kids who participate equally with their parents in all these phases of gardening realize the efforts of food cultivation and appreciate a farmer’s value. Such kids value food extremely carefully and avoid wasting them, eat all types of produce and look forward to growing plants repeatedly. Gardening is a fun, beneficial and a productive activity for the entire family. Read more on gardening and how this can be a valuable form of exercising at www.firsteatright.com.
The cold seasons witness frequent bouts of sinusitis cases in hospitals with doctors being surrounded by people sneezing and blowing their nose off due to common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infection. Earlier patients used to cut short their medication tenure by a day or two despite doctor’s prescription indicating longer days of medications. But now, people prescribed antibiotics for sinus infections are on medication for 10 days or longer despite infectious disease doctors recommending only 5-7 days of medication for normal cases, according to a new study.
The study analyzed over 3.7 million adults prescribed antibiotics for sinusitis and found that more than 70% of them were prescribed antibiotics for 10 days or longer. This is not what is desired as our body becomes susceptible to side effects and even more, longer use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance.
As the phrase suggests, antibiotic resistance is the ability of the bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic and reduce the effectiveness of the prescribed drug. Cold, many of the sinus infections, most coughs and bronchitis (chest cold) are all viral infections and viral infections should never be treated with antibiotics in the first place. Also, antibiotic resistance is existing as the world’s most pressing health problem and some antibiotic-resistant infections can result in serious disability or even death. Read more on antibiotic resistance at www.firsteatright.com.
Antibiotic use can cause dizziness, nausea and diarrhea in a person while serious side effects can also include life-threatening allergic reactions and Clostridium difficile infection. Beyond the point that antibiotics should not be prescribed for cold, these medications are still prescribed for patients. When prescribed, it should be for not more than 5-7 days as the patient starts recovering within a few days after treatment.
Azithromycin, an antibiotic that’s not recommended for sinus infection, was excluded from the study after which results showed that 91% of all antibiotics prescribed for sinus infections were for not less than 10 days. It might also be possible that the doctor prescribing the medication advised his/her patients to stop medication after 5-7 days unless the patient still experienced symptoms.
Earlier guidelines suggested that antibiotics usage for shorter time durations will not kill the bacteria and there is 100% risk that the infection would recur at any point following the treatment. But now, the opposite has been proved true. If the patient starts responding to treatment, 5-7 is good enough and there is no need for use of antibiotics for longer durations than that.
Cold or Bacterial Infection?
Sinus infections can be a viral or bacterial infection and the only way to differentiate is to swab inside the nose and grow a culture. Often, its not needed as sinusitis mostly goes away on its own but if it persists for more than 10 days, it is better to visit your physician. Almost 85% of the sinus infections clear out on their own and it is remaining 15% only that need medical treatment. Treatment becomes necessary here (15%) as antibiotics might help prevent complications that might arise when any dangerous sinus infection spreads to the brain or eyes. Eye complications are more common accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, redness and reduced vision which can sometimes, even lead to blindness. Rarely, infections that spread to the brain can result in meningitis and brain abscess. Such complications from sinusitis even made people suffer from death during earlier times, in the absence of antibiotics. Mostly the bacterial infection too goes away on its own when the individual has no other medical problems that need attention and individuals can stay calm. Be precautious and monitor your sinus infections and seek the guidance of a physician if any symptoms worsen. Until then, drink plenty of fluids and take rest to shun away the effects of sinusitis.
People often pity women and men are almost totally ignored in this process. C’mon folks, men too are humans who have a heart and ache for love, affection and warmth. We often correlate depression with women and men don’t stand a chance in this process. Sadly, for men, most mental signs are not so dramatic as that of women when it comes to depression and also our society functions on the ideology that men should be able to handle the mightiest of the problem because of the ‘testosterone’ effect.
The ‘Mars’ Effect
Men and women handle and express depression differently. While depressions faced by women are apparent, it is not in the case of men. It manifests in the form of tiredness, irritability, uninterest in work, family or hobbies and sleeping difficulties. While depressed women may attempt suicide, men are more likely to die by suicide. Despite all these, most men don’t seek help for depression as they feel reluctant and shy to disclose such a problem. But, depression is a serious problem that can affect a man at any age. At the same time, it is a real and treatable illness.
Most Common Depression Forms that Affect Men
Individuals express differently and show different signs. Common among them include:
The moment you realize that you are succumbing to depression, it is advisable to meet your physician and explain all your symptoms, their duration, when they started, the medications you take for other health problems and how long you have been feeling depressed. Doctor might suggest antidepressants or advise you to take a few therapy sessions to solve your problem. Individuals put on antidepressants must be monitored closely as an antidepressant can have side effects such as headache, nausea, sexual problems, agitation, nervousness and sleeping difficulties. The person on these medications might also feel suicidal at the start of these medications and hence, must never be left unattended. One thing to remember is that the advantages of using medications far outweigh the disadvantages of the same.
Conjunctivitis is common among adults and children residing worldwide and is one of the easily treatable medical conditions. Also known as ‘pink eyes’, conjunctivitis gets its name due to inflammation of the conjunctiva which is a thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. This inflammation makes the blood vessel of the eye much more visible, thereby giving our eyes its pink (or red) color.
Pink eyes can affect one or both eyes, is highly contagious and easily spreads between humans. It is of three main types namely allergic conjunctivitis, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is mostly due to the same virus that causes common cold and hence, individuals experience similar symptoms such as runny nose and cough.
Bacterial conjunctivitis causes continuous white discharge and it is due to the same bacteria that causes strep throat. It can be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment. Both, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis spread easily from person to person when there is direct contact with the infected person’s body fluids usually through hand-to-eye contact.
Allergic conjunctivitis is due to allergic reactions to pollens or animals and also due to cigarette smoke, car fumes, pool chlorine and other toxic substances. Symptoms usually include running nose, itchy eyes and puffy eyelids. This is not contagious.
Pink Eye Symptoms
Pink eye symptoms vary depending on the cause but commonly include:
Mostly pink eye conjunctivitis disappears on its own without treatment. Sometimes, it is essential to meet a healthcare provider for specific conditions such as intense redness in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, moderate to severe pain in eyes, a weakened immune system and symptoms that only get worse but never improve even after 24 hours of antibiotic use.
Most physicians prescribe topical antibiotic fearing that the infection might be bacterial as it is not easy to differentiate between bacterial and viral conjunctivitis simply by looking at it. Ophthalmologists condemn this policy of treating everyone just for being “safer” and even a study shows the problems faced due to antibiotic overuse to treat conjunctivitis. Patients experience side effects and allergic reactions, parents who administer antibiotics to infants and children face a greater challenge and continuous use of antibiotics increases antibiotic resistance making antibiotics less and less effective when we need them really.
Reduce Spreading of Pink Eye Conjunctivitis
As bacteria and virus are the common factors that promote spreading of conjunctivitis, it is possible to develop a secondary infection that is again contagious. Stop this by following these tips:
Newborns with Pink Eyes
When parents/caretakers notice pink eyes in newborns, it is required to meet your pediatrician immediately. It can be due to an infection, irritation or a blocked tear duct. When the same infection is due to a sexually transmitted infection, it is even more serious. When you doubt that you are infected by some sexually transmitted disease during pregnancy, get it immediately tested and treated by visiting your physician. Read more on sexually transmitted diseases at www.firsteatright.com.
Newborns are usually susceptible to bacteria present in the mother’s birth canal and this can rarely cause infants to develop ophthalmia neonatorum which needs immediate treatment to prevent causing permanent eye damage. As a precautionary measure, hospitals apply an antibiotic ointment to every newborn’s eyes to prevent eye infection.
Cardiovascular disease is often sidelined as a male-dominant disease and this leads to constant misdiagnosis, undertreatment and care in women. To prove these wrong, Australian researchers specifically took the case of heart disease in elderly women and proved few surprising facts.
Nutritionists and dietitians insist every individual to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to maintain good health and stay away from diseases. But how many of us do this is the big question here! As children, we are forced, pampered, taught or even beaten up by our parents to eat our veggies and fruits. As adults, how can we expect someone to be behind our backs to eat our veggies and benefit from it? Self-disciplinary action should come from within every individual after a certain age and no age is too late to start taking a positive action. A study on older women above the age of 70 has proved the same that no age is too late to start eating healthy veggies, especially crucifers such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers, as these might be helpful in decreasing the risk of heart disease.
The fact that healthy diets dominant in vegetables lowers risk of heart disease and stroke is nothing new. But, there are very few studies that convey that certain vegetables aid in preventing atherosclerosis, the main reason for strokes and heart attacks.
Veggies & Older Women
Researchers analyzed 954 older women aged above 70 years using ultrasound to analyze the thickness of the walls of the carotid artery in the neck and the severity of plaque accumulation within them to the total vegetables intake as well as intake of specific vegetables. The study found that women who ate more vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, had healthier carotid arteries. Cruciferous veggies are a unique group that come with their own set of advantages as listed down at www.firsteatright.com.
In comparison to women who ate less than two servings of vegetables a day, women who consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily had a 5% decrease (0.036 millimeters) in carotid artery walls. Also, a 10-gram increase in intake of cruciferous vegetables was linked to a 0.8% decrease in artery wall thickness.
But there is no rock-hard evidence supporting that cruciferous veggies enhance heart health and individuals should not misunderstand that eating crucifers alone can make them healthy. Instead, they should start eating all vegetables to lower risk of heart disease. Vegetables are brimming with vitamins and minerals that help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress-factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Inflammation is key to atherosclerosis and you are definitely doing good to your body by eating vegetables, especially crucifers. How you eat, either raw, cooked, steamed or sautéed, depends upon the individual as every style of cooking comes with its own set of advantages.
The question here is whether the same study will be feasible and hold benefits on men too? Also, as life expectancy increases and people grow old, we need to be aware of the diet choices, especially vegetables, that can impact overall vascular health and survival.
Water droplets falling from the sky are common. Ice cubes falling from the sky are a rare sight. But, now viruses and bacteria are falling from the sky. This is no Robin Cook novel, but a reality! Viruses are the most (10 to 100 times more) abundant cellular organisms existing on our planet and it would be of no surprise if we could detect their presence in other planets as well.
A new research has found that a breathtaking number of bacteria and viruses are falling from the Earth’s atmosphere. These viruses are being swept up from the Earth’s surface into the troposphere (the layer beyond the Earth’s weather systems but below the layer where jets fly). These viruses can be carried thousands of kilometers before they are deposited back into the Earth’s surface.
Every day, more than 800 million viruses are deposited per square meter above the planetary boundary layer. In simple words, it’s like telling that every person in Delhi has nearly 50 viruses falling over him/her. Such genetically identical viruses were perceived by researches around the globe in very different environments. This explains the reason behind the same disease caused due to a virus existing at the same time in different continents-the virus is swept up into the atmosphere on one continent and deposited in some other continent. They are swept up from soil dust and sea sprays. These particles are subjected to long-range transport unlike particles lower below in the atmosphere.
Viruses are comparatively prominently present than bacteria. The deposit rates for viruses are nine to 461 times greater than the rates for bacteria. If billions of viruses are deposited per square meter per day, only millions of bacteria are deposited. Rain and dust intrusions deposit these viruses and bacteria back to the Earth’s surface. Rain seems to be less effective in this process, however.
Researchers could also note that the majority of the viruses carried some identity that they have been swept up into the air from sea spray. Viruses also have the tendency to stay high up in the atmosphere for longer time periods. There is even the possibility of these biological entities existing in space, on which there is almost zero research done until now. Also, even when we get rid of a virus’s gene, it has the property to still infect. If research can figure out the reason behind the stability of these viruses, we can get a clearer insight into diseases such as AIDS and even Alzheimer’s. Read more on Alzheimer's and AIDS at www.firsteatright.com.
Summer months are here and each of us are worried about diarrhea and typhoid taking a toll on our health. Of course, there is chicken pox and shingles too that have become frequent visitors during peak summer time. One of the latest Hollywood news was on singer-actor Lin-Manuel Miranda who suffered from shingles. Different media and papers recorded different views on this issue and such conflicting views on an issue make one wonder if shingles is such a serious condition that can even lead to blindness.
Shingles is an infection that causes a painful rash. The infection is on an individual nerve and the surrounding skin surface that is supplied by the nerve due to the attack of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a member of the herpes family of viruses. VZV is the same virus that causes chicken pox and an individual who was affected by chicken pox as a child could have the virus hidden in nerves beneath the skin. This could erupt as shingles years later on the skin due to lack of immunity, stress, certain conditions or treatments such as chemotherapy. The logic is like this:
Signs & Symptoms
The initial signs of shingles include:
Contagious or Not?
Shingles is definitely contagious. A person who was not affected by chickenpox nor was fully vaccinated against chickenpox can develop chickenpox when he/she is in close contact with someone who has shingles. Shingles is never passed through air via coughing or sneezing but only through direct contact with fluid from the blisters. Less contagious than chickenpox, risk of spreading of the infection is less if the rash is covered.
Shingles is not life-threatening, but complications do arise in about one in 10 people who have shingles. Some of them include:
Presently, no ways exist to eliminate shingles virus from the body but there are ways to ease symptoms.
Shingles is a common disease that can become less frequent due to vaccination development. Complications are also rare, but when they arise it can be troublesome. Physicians can help you with vaccinations and provide protective measures for safeguarding you from the infection.
A mom is a baby’s first love. We know that a woman’s health and lifestyle (pre-conception health) practices such as smoking, drinking alcohol or increased stress levels can have a great impact on her chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. Research now claims that a dad’s pre-conception health too impacts pregnancy and baby health. A man’s diet, alcohol consumption, smoking and age may result in infants born with autism, birth defects, mental illnesses and other problems. Three different research papers published in ‘The Lancet’ journal details how the health of both a man and his wife affect the health of their offspring’s brain development and birth weight even before conceiving.
Preconception health is the health of men and women during their reproductive years. Mostly confined to women, only now people are becoming aware that a man’s health too is equally critical to help them become proud parents of a health baby. From a man’s perspective, preconception health helps him get healthy and stay so, encourage his wife to become healthy and as a father, it credits him of protecting his child against birth defects and diseases. This period can be seen from three different perspectives: from a biological view which indicates the days or weeks before embryo development; from an individual’s perspective as the period of wanting to conceive and go the family way and from a public perspective in terms of population as the woman is of childbearing age. The research also shows that underweight/overweight women prove to be a great risk factor for maternal and child health.
An in-and-out analysis of BMI among 19 million adults across 200 countries found that percentage of women suffering from underweight problems decreased from 15% to 10% by 2014 but those affected by obesity/overweight problems climbed up the ladder from 6% to 15% by 2014. Almost 50% of women in several countries suffer from overweight/obesity at the time of their pregnancy.
Beyond Sperm Health
A man’s job doesn’t get over once he passes healthy sperms to the ovary for the ovulation process. There are several important things beyond quality of sperms that affect pregnancy health. As the dad’s genes play a significant role in the development of the placenta and its nourishment, a man’s role in supporting his wife through pregnancy period, how he handles prenatal care for his wife-supporting her or troubling her during the period and any presence of sexually transmitted diseases can make or break the health of the infant.
The research conducted in-depth analysis relating a mother’s overweight/obesity, a mother’s underweight, paternal factors and the use of ART (assistive reproductive technology) for disease risk. Results proved that poor maternal and paternal physiology, body composition, metabolism and diet during the preconception period is a gateway to chronic diseases in offspring. Children born with the help of ART are at an increased risk of rare genetic imprinting disorders (affects nervous system) compared to children born of natural conception. When obesity is the cause for infertility, ART is not needed in such case and the parents can naturally conceive. Visit the website www.firsteatright.com to know more about tackling obesity with proper nutrition, regular exercise and lifestyle changes which promote the chances of pregnancy.
Pregnancy period is divided into three trimesters and some people even refer to the period after child birth as the fourth trimester. Why not consider the preconception period as the zero trimester? A man’s health during the zero trimester seriously impacts the baby’s health. Some key factors that cause such a lasting impact include:
Age: Children born to fathers above the age of 40 are at an increased risk of autism, schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome and heart problems. As the dad’s age increases, the risk factor too goes up.
Diet: Obese men mostly father children who tend to grow up with obesity along with diabetes, abnormal metabolism and certain cancers as obesity and improper nutrition cause certain gene changes that are directly linked to these diseases.
Alcohol: Studies show fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children born to fathers who regularly consume alcohol. Such kids may be born with a low birth weight, impaired brain development or learning disabilities. Irrespective of whether a mother consumes alcohol or not, dad’s alcohol consumption habit can impact a child’s genes.
Stress: Studies do show that increased stress levels in dads can nurture children with behavior problems and increased stress levels. Stress in men can even lead to depression sometimes when their baby is yet to arrive.
There needs to be a hardcore intervention strategy aimed at improving the preconception health of fathers. One study reported that almost 40% fathers were never questioned while accompanying their partners to prenatal care visits. Physicians who express concern over preconception care for women should show similar interest in the preconception care for men to benefit the health of the man, woman and the baby involved in the conception process.
Fathers-to-be too must ensure good self-care of their health and lead a clean lifestyle that keeps their stress levels to the minimal and benefits their baby to the maximal.
Many of us, including myself, have that one comfy little pillow which can never be shared with someone, even for a day. We take it with us anywhere we travel to and get a good night’s sleep only when our heads fall against this pillow. Seriously, has the pillow cast a spell on us or is there something more to this?
Days start on a brighter note when we wake up fresh after a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well has many strings attached to it and using the right pillow is one among them. Sleeping experts claim that anything that makes you comfortable helps you get a good night’s sleep and your favorite pillow does exactly the same-makes you comfy and positions your head properly. While the positive effects don’t go beyond this, using the wrong (it is not bad pillow but incorrect pillow) pillow can devastate your sleep and land you in health problems too!
Apart from causing neck pain, headache, shoulder and arm numbness, sneezing and wheezing, pillows used past their prime period might contain molds, fungus and dust mites that can contribute to more than 50% of the old pillow’s weight.
How do you choose the right pillow and when do you think it is time to change your pillow?
The general rule is to change your pillow every 12 to 18 months. Maximum is two years after which the pillow must be shelved.
Pillows for Every Type of Sleeper
When the neck is bent in an improper manner for long periods one feels uncomfortable and the main objective of using a pillow is to aid in ‘neck alignment’. Different types of pillows fulfill the needs of different types of sleepers:
For people who are used to sleeping on their back: You need a thin pillow to prevent your head from being thrown too forward.
For people who sleep on their side: You need a firm pillow to make up for the space between your ears and the outside shoulder.
For people who sleep on their stomach: You need the thinnest pillow, almost a flat one. Such people don’t require a pillow and can think about keeping one under the stomach to avoid lower back pain.
Choosing Your Pillow
Market is filled with pillows made from different materials, sizes and shapes. There are even pillows that track your sleeping habits and wake you with music (you pay the fancy price for these), keep you cool (designed specially for people experiencing hot flushes and night sweats), water pillows (help customize density and support), anti-snore pillows and positional pillows (helpful for any sleeper when chosen rightly).
Special pillows (such as your positional pillow or water pillow) can help people ward off heartburn problems. Even sinus problems can be brought down when people sleep with their upper body elevated at an angle.
While most people are behind pillows made of memory foam these days, traditional pillow materials too have not lost their charm. Pillows made of down and feathers go well with people, repel dust mites but might be hot and expensive whereas, pillows made of cotton, wool or synthetic cotton are less expensive but might attract dust might.
Many companies provide false promises that using their pillows can end your snoring problems, sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome or even sleep apnea. Read more on restless leg syndrome from the website www.firsteatright.com. But, truly none of these are possible and the right pillow can only help you sleep well and keep off some of the health problem symptoms and never will they eliminate such problems completely. Also, don’t go to the shop with the mindset that costlier the pillow, better is the comfort level. Most of the time, it is possible to choose a pillow that works just fine without causing a hole in your pocket.
Something to do with apes, stone age man or man from Mars?
Red man syndrome is the response to the antibiotic vancomycin which is prescribed to treat extensive bacterial infection, including that of the bone, blood and skin. This antibiotic can cause two types of hypersensitivity reaction, red man syndrome and anaphylaxis. While red man syndrome occurs either immediately after vancomycin consumption or some 4-10 min after an infusion, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening too sometimes.
How, Why & What Factors
While the syndrome was attributed to impurities found in vancomycin preparation, the symptoms continued to exist even after impurity treatment.
Vancomycin can change the way in which blood cells are produced resulting in low platelet count or change in white blood cell count. Individuals under the age of 40, especially children are most affected by this antibiotic.
Other antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, rifampcin and teicoplanin can also cause red man syndrome apart from vancomycin. The irony is that, the effect of the syndrome multiplies and becomes amplified when any of these antibiotics are combined with vancomycin which affect via infusion in the form of injections rather than oral medications. This indicates that the medicine affects the person via intravenous routes or sometimes through intramuscular and epidural routes too (for instance, into the membranes around the spinal cord).
Although red man syndrome is not an allergy, it has symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. On one side we blame antibiotics for this syndrome, but many cases occur in people who already have other medical conditions such as cancer (mostly lungs), HIV and graft-versus-host disease (reaction to a bone marrow transplant). Read more on these chronic diseases, their symptoms and treatment options at www.firsteatright.com.
The first step is to immediately stop administering the antibiotic and start (lower dosage) only when the symptoms vanish or reduce. If the symptoms are too severe, the patient needs to be hospitalized and monitored regularly with the administration of antihistamines and antibiotics. Also, giving these antihistamines and antibiotics prior to the administration of vancomycin drastically reduces the chances of red man syndrome. It is advisable to administer vancomycin over a period of more than 60 minutes in small doses as they are better tolerated by the body.
Our office is a home away from home where we spend most of our precious time. Some of us have all three meals at office canteens and also squeeze in one or two snack breaks in between. Most companies host frequent luncheons, parties, birthday bashes, offer evening snacks, have tough deadlines to meet which include prolonged working hours and frequent travels too! All these factors together make a person doubtful about weight loss targets which seem to be practically impossible.
Highly motivated workers indulge in eating their meals or snacks at desk to save time and work more which can prove to be disadvantageous sometimes:
Snacks are the best way to stop you from attacking food vigorously during mealtimes. They also prevent you from getting hangry (you become angry when hungry) and throwing tantrums at people around you. Hangry is a common term used off late to define people on the verge of hunger anger. Read more about ‘hangry’ feeling at www.firsteatright.com. Enjoy any of the above-mentioned snacking options and make your day fruitful and healthy at office.
Are you one of those who becomes angry every time you are hungry? Then call yourself ‘hangry’. This state of mind and body is a new state of being, hanger (anger + hunger=hanger). This is a spontaneous reaction with some definite scientific reasoning to it!
The stomach and brain are interconnected-feelings of hunger and satiety are sent to the brain from the stomach. Hanger can be defined as showing anger when hunger strikes. Humans realize when they are hungry, their tummy starts rumbling and the head might start spinning too, but mostly ignore this feeling and continue their work until they are pushed to get up from their seat and eat their meal. Such ignored hunger symptoms make a person feel angry, more the time delay in feeding your hungry stomach, more is your anger level. Even a study has found the link between hunger, feeling angry and having low blood sugar.
The hormone ghrelin initiates hunger feeling in the stomach and also anxiety feeling in the brain which together initiate hangry feeling. Anxiety or anger trigger a person to seek food fervently and prevent further damage to the body. Ghrelin causes hunger and eating food satisfies hunger and anxiety never shows up. If ignored, ghrelin stimulated anger, pushes hunger levels even higher and disrupts other hormones in the body.
Low blood sugar levels as a result of hunger releases stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that provoke a person to express hanger physically, emotionally and mentally. Physical changes include increase in heartbeat, blood pressure and respiration. Mental changes include temporary malfunctioning of long-term memory and also affects a person’s personality and self-control. Emotional changes include anxiety, stress, loss of patience and focus.
Ignoring ghrelin indications, cortisol and adrenaline spikes can initiate neuropeptide Y hormone that induce people to act aggressively towards other people. This also makes the individual crave for quickly digestible carbs and force the person to consume increased quantities of food. Summing up, hanger causes increased appetite, eating more carbs and makes a person feel stressed, all of these motivating the person to overeat.
Stopping Hanger Danger
Be mindful and look for clues. When you feel your irritation levels rising up, its time for a healthy snack break or meal. Never leave more than 4-5 hours of gap between meals. Such habits satisfy hunger, prevent blood sugar levels from rising and the emotional consequences as a result of increased hunger levels.
Always have healthy snacks handy, at office, while travelling or even when you go to your friend’s place. Any snack should contain all three macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) in the right proportion to reap maximum benefits. Our choice of macronutrients affects health depending on their composition in the foods we eat. Read more on macronutrients and their benefits at www.firsteatright.com. Whole-grain carbs help in raising serotonin levels and the fiber in them makes you feel full for longer time. Protein and fats also keep you full for longer. Carrying healthy snacks prevents you from grabbing any food (unhealthy ones especially!) you see due to increased hunger levels. Ironically, hangry people crave more for cookies, pastries, chocolate and candy which haphazardly increase sugar levels but never satiate a person’s hunger. Such increase makes the glucose levels fall as fast as it had increased. Avoid mentally, emotionally or physically tiring tasks until hunger is satisfied properly. Enjoy a healthy meal, indulge in some nutritious snacks or drink a low-fat smoothie to keep your mind and body under control.
Isn’t it interesting to know that a shark’s heart functions like a human heart with some major variations? While the human heart has four chambers, two upper chambers called atria and two lower chambers called ventricles, the shark’s heart has two chambers only. Sharks must keep swimming continuously to ensure that there is blood circulation throughout the body. If this movement was required in the case of humans too, there would be decreased rates of obesity/overweight existing worldwide. Human blood circulation is an involuntary action and the heart pumps blood to all other body parts by uniformly organized contractions of the four chambers. What would happen if the contractions do not happen in an organized fashion? It results in heart failure!
Heart failure happens when one or more chambers of the heart are unable to contract normally. Heart is not healthy enough to pump with enough pressure to push enough blood into circulation. All major risk factors, age and high blood pressure being the two most important ones, for heart failure must be detected at an early stage and kept under control. Any heart defects or failures when detected at an early stage, has more success rate and the chances of leading a heart-healthy life is also on the higher side. This is made simpler by a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com as the RDN helps you plan your eating habits, healthy lifestyle and stress-free life.
Physical activity includes anything that provides movement to our body and keeps us active. It need not necessarily mean working out at the gym, engaging in a sport, doing Zumba or brisk walking. There are many who don’t even put their slightest effort to get their body off that comfortable couch. For such people, even light activity can make a great change in their sedentary lifestyles.
Heart attack and stroke are major causes of death worldwide and we know that moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise can help reduce cardiovascular death risks to a great extent. But, much research does not exist on the benefits of low-intensity exercise.
A new study done by a reputed University proves that performing low-intensity physical activity such as standing, walking or doing household chores can benefit one’s health than previously assumed. To be precise, researchers have discovered that even replacing 30 minutes of sedentariness with day-to-day activities reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 24% and death from all other causes by 11%. This is a unique study as it analyzed more number of people (1,200) across a very long-time span (15 years).
Also, replacing sedentary time with just 10 minutes of moderate or intense workout sessions can decrease death due to cardiovascular disease by 38% and when the workout time was increased to 30 minutes per day, it decreased the risk by 77%.
This study comes as a pleasant surprise to all as we are generally fed with the thought that every person requires at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout or 75 minutes of intense workout sessions to stay free from diseases. Do your swimming laps, go for a jog with your buddy or decide upon a tennis match to play during the weekend to involve yourself in entertaining exercises. If you are a person who feels that allocating 10 minutes of time from your work schedule is a nightmare, try practicing at least light activities such as conducting walking meetings, standing and working at your office, climbing stairs to reach your work floor or doing some household chores. If you wish to follow a healthy diet along with your physical activity sessions, get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you lose weight and stay off diseases.
Until a few years ago, people were constantly analyzed, judged and categorized as left-brained or right-brained based on their skillsets. A musician, artist or stage performer who uses his/her creativity to produce things was classified as right-brained while a mathematician or an engineer who uses rational, logical and analytical thinking was classified as left-brained. Most of us are aware of the left/right brain dominance in humans that mark their thinking capability and personality. Now, this categorization is classified as a misconception and research too gives us a clearer picture that ‘left-brained’ or ‘right-brained’ may not truly exist in reality.
A little introspection into hemispheric dominance can help us understand why the classification is a misconception.
The brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres and either of these dominate the way in which we think or act. The left brain is the logical, rational, intellectual and analytical hemisphere and it analyses things by splitting them into sub parts. Any communication or numeric information is processed in a logical way in an orderly manner. Hence was the conclusion that the left hemisphere does a commendable job with reading, writing, language, algebra, mathematics and logical operations. The right hemisphere sees things wholly instead of stripping them out into parts. For example, it sees a forest rather than the trees in the forest. The right brain is supposed to be holistic, emotional, non-verbal and creative. Such people are talented at gathering, assembling, comparing and reshuffling ideas to help produce new concepts becoming artists, writers or take up any profession that requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking capability. Brain functionality can also be improved with daily physical activity. Even research supports the fact that children who are physically active perform better in academics. More details about the research is available at www.firsteatright.com.
Such assumptions and beliefs on left and right brain-ness does exist worldwide which might be actually faux! There is no denying that location does matter, and stroke is a classic example to prove this notion! The idea that some brain functions reside more on one side of the brain than the other is strongly proved by what is lost when stroke affects a particular part of the brain. Language ability and flair for languages is always controlled by the left side of the brain and the right brain controls movement of left arm and legs. If you split the brain into four halves, language holds power over left brain, right brain controls movement, mishaps to the front part of the brain is linked to reduced motivation, planning problems and decreased creativity and the back part of the brain merges visual information received from the eye.
Different brain parts supporting various functionalities is true but there is no conclusive evidence supporting different personality traits for different brain parts. Just for clarity, an MRI or CT scan of the brain of a mathematician or an artist will remain the same devoid of much differences.
Left Vs Right Brain Myth
Recent studies show that the left brain-right brain theory is incorrect and an assumption. The 2013 study looked at 3D pictures of over 1,000 people’s brains and measured the activity of the left and right hemispheres using an MRI scanner. The results showed that neither of the brain hemispheres dominated and the individual used both hemispheres of the brain. But, a person’s brain activity does differ depending on what task is performed by him/her. As mentioned previously, tasks related to language triggers the left brain whereas emotional and nonverbal communication is a specialty of the right hemisphere.
Almost 90% of the people are right-handed and genetics holds responsibility for this. Which side of the brain is used for every activity is mostly influenced by whether the person is left- or right-handed. A 2014 study shows that 90% of right-handed people have language centers in the left side of the brain and so do 70% of left-handed individuals. Hemispheric dominance varies from person to person with each different activity and we need further research to understand this entirely.
The entire left brain-right brain concept came into light in the 1960s, thanks to Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry who contributed immensely towards brain lateralization. But, exaggerations led to widespread beliefs on left-brained and right-brained personalities and their respective attributes.
Although this left/right brain theory might be a myth, there are differences in what the left and right hemispheres can do. Some of them include:
Emotion: Emotions are recognized and expressed by the right brain.
Language: The left brain holds precedence in language and speech as the two main language areas, known as Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are present in the left hemisphere.
Sign language: Deaf and dumb people who convey using sign language use the left brain to show speech-like brain activity.
Handedness: Left- or right-handedness can be noticed in individuals as early as they are in their mother’s womb, right from the 15th week. Some babies suck their left thumb while other babies suck their right thumb. Left/right handed people use their right and left brains differently.
Attention: Left brain takes in details of the internal world and the right brain is more interested in affairs of the external world.
Whatever type of person you might be, a creative artist, a renowned mathematician or an excellent singer, don’t let the left/right brain theories and ideologies affect your performance. There is ample scope for research to delve into what determines individual personality but in no way is it a dominant matter with respect to your thinking ability!
Sitting in your desk continuously seems to affect people in all possible way. We know that sitting continuously increases the risk of putting on weight due to lower energy expenditure and reduced metabolism. It might also pave way for back pain, neck pain and leg pain due to long hours in the chair with inappropriate postures. But now, sitting for long hours is associated with memory problems too!
Researchers have found that continuously sitting for a long time, like almost spending your entire day in the desk chair, is linked to changes in some parts of the brain that define memory levels in an individual. As we age, diminishing memory is not uncommon! But memory problems in middle-aged and above middle-aged people is unacceptable.
Researchers studied around 35 people aged between 45 and 75 years and asked about their physical activity levels and the number of hours per day they spent sitting. Every person’s median temporal lobe (MTL) underwent an MRI scan as it is the MTL region of the brain that’s responsible for memory. Sitting for extended periods leads to thinning of MTL and any amount of physical activity remains insufficient to negate the harmful effects of sitting. One noteworthy thing is that, this study does not prove that too much sitting causes thinner brain structures, but instead the fact that more hours spent sitting is related to thinner regions. Every participant reported that he/she spent 3-7 hours per day sitting in his/her desk and with every hour of sitting, there was a decrease in brain thickness. Also, while the study focused on the number of hours the participants spent sitting, it did not probe into the details of the same-whether the participants took any breaks sitting or not!
Alzheimer’s in old age is acceptable. Brain shrinks and the memory centers become pronounced in dementia, and the thinning of the cortex contributes to these greatly. Even before the onset of Alzheimer’s, density and volume of the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex changes.
Just because physical activity has no impact on cortex thickness, this cannot be a matter to celebrate for all couch potatoes. This also proves the point that it is sitting for long hours and not physical activity that becomes the more significant factor between the two causing harmful side effects. Even active people who sit for long hours can be impacted by this and people who are habituated to long hours of sitting cannot escape from the clutches of memory damage even with regular intense physical activity sessions.
If you wish to keep your brain sharp and revisit your happy memories in life later, get up, move around, stand while you speak over the phone, dance with your headphones on, go for a short walk post lunch and introduce walking meetings. Walking meetings are the latest trend and the website www.firsteatright.com gives you a complete insight on this. Absorbed in work, you might not seem to notice the clock ticking away and it is better to set hourly reminders to stand up, walk around and get back to your place. These help you stay active and fit.
Summer is here and so are Melons! With the temperatures soaring, our stress levels increasing and the sun not ready to show its compassion, we need as much refreshment as possible. Irrespective of the fruit variety, watermelons, musk melons or honeydew melons, any of these are a great source of hydration and nutrition on hot summer days. Some of the most interesting facts on melons are unknown by many:
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Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz of First Eat Right clinic, is the Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Bangalore. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Pune. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Hyderabad. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Chennai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Mumbai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Delhi. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Kolkata.