Relatives and friends visiting our home is a welcome relief in a world that’s dominated by nuclear families and day-care centers. Ironically, the pleasure of such get-togethers is not long-lasting these days unlike earlier times when such gatherings were governed by yummy home-cooked meals, playing dumb charades, laughing our heart out discussing childhood memories or even enjoying a simple game of cards. Meetups these days mostly revolve around discussing the latest series that’s worth watching in Amazon Prime or Netflix, ordering take-aways or online delivery of foods, boasting about our kid’s achievements, bragging about the latest materialistic addition or worse, each of us ruined by the 6 inch smartphone that grabs every attention of ours detaching us from the present situation engrossed in the virtual world that would take us nowhere! The first question that pops out of someone visiting our homes are a request to access our Wi-Fi password, be it a child or an adult alike. Each of us are aware of the words Wi-fi, mobile data and Internet all of which have intruded our lives as much as possible but beyond what we see there are numerous impacts of using these technologies related to our health which we remain unaware of!
Wi-fi is a wireless networking technology that allows computers, laptops and other equipment to interface with the Internet. There is an Internet connection established through a wireless router and when you are connected to Wi-Fi you are connecting to a wireless router that allows your Wi-Fi-connected devices to interface with the Internet. There are towers erupted in certain individual houses or in open spaces near our apartments that enable connectivity to the surrounding areas. While many individuals have given approvals for raising such towers in their flats there are also concerns raised from neighboring people regarding the dangers linked with such towers due to the radiations emitted from them. Though telecommunication people and groups are absolutely sure that Wi-Fi creates no impact on our health the incremental usage of these networks have raised concerns on Wi-Fi usage on our health. Hence, given below is an assessment of Wi-Fi using 23 controlled, scientific studies that discuss its effects on animals and humans.
Scientific Studies Showing the Effects of Wi-Fi on Human Health
Studies show that exposure to Wi-Fi have bad impact on the testis cumulating towards male infertility, oxidative stress, apostasis, cellular DNA damage and neuropsychiatric changes including EEG and hormonal changes. The effects discussed here are mostly results from multiple studies focusing on Wi-Fi and previously confirmed by non-thermal exposures to other microwave frequency EMFs. The U.S. office of Naval Medical Research study reported decreased testosterone leading to lowered testis size, histological changes in testicular epithelial structure, gross testicular histological changes and decreased spermatogenesis. A review published by Tolgskaya and Gordon on rodents showed that the heart, testis and the nervous system were the three most sensitive organs in the body to non-thermal microwave EMFs. 7 effects of Wi-fi have been repeatedly reported by a number of studies throughout: oxidative stress contributes much towards chronic human disease; cellular DNA damage can cause cancer contributing partially towards EMF as a cause for cancer as DNA damage occurs in sperm cells producing a mutation that can affect future generations; calcium overload is said to be the cause for the following effects: apostasis plays a primary role in neurodegenerative diseases; neuropsychiatric effects are caused by the impact of EMFs on brain structures.
Meta-analysis shows decline in sperm count and quality by almost 50% in all advanced technology countries which worries researchers highly as it can lead to human extinction as we now know the impact of EMF exposures on sperm count and quality in human and animal studies and, surely the results on male fertility are depressing.
There are three types of EMF patterns each of which has its own importance but has been conveniently ignored by the telecommunication industry. The foremost of them is that pulsed EMFs are biologically more active than non-pulsed (continuous wave) EMFs of identical frequency and intensity. Wi-Fi and other similar wireless devices communicate via pulsation which makes them more dangerous. Pulsation and EMFs are directly related to each other with higher pulsation meaning greater damaging effects of EMF. Another point is that artificial EMFs are polarized which makes them extremely dangerous on the living cells.
Impact of low-intensity EMFs on animal brains were reviewed and results showed that initial 1-2 months exposure produced modest changes in brain structure and neurons but when exposure stopped these changes disappeared showing that such changes are largely reversible. But prolonged exposure to these EMFs brought about severe impact on the brain and neuron structure which are irreversible. Magras and Xenos put pairs of young mice in cages on the ground at two different locations both having a different exposure to an antenna park. The exposure levels were well within the recommended safety guidelines which makes it clear that there should be no biological relevance. Mice go through a gestation period of 30 days. At higher levels of exposure, the pairs produced one litter of lower than normal size and a second litter with lowered number of pregnancies after which all the mice became sterile or had very low fertility rates. On the other exposure site, the mice produced four litters followed by a decrease in the number finally resulting in complete sterility. Both the groups were given another chance to mate under no EMF exposure but still the fertility effects were not reversed. Such absence of reversal of EMF effects on the brain could happen in humans too. Studies show that the brain damage to animal brains, neuropsychiatric effects in human brains, reproductive dysfunction in mice and mutational effects are cumulative and might be completely irreversible. Hence, short-term studies of Wi-Fi might greatly underestimate the damage Wi-Fi might do over a longer period. The cumulative effect of Wi-Fi placed in restaurants, at our homes, schools, hospitals, colleges and everywhere else might lead to debilitating effects on humans.
Greater Effect on Smaller Children
Young kids have smaller skulls and lesser skull thickness comparatively and the microwave frequency EMFs might be much more damaging to these kids. There are proofs showing that EMFs show maximum effect on embryonic stem cells. Children have higher densities of stem cells with fetuses having the highest which shows that EMF effects are also the greatest in young kids. Such EMF exposure that can cause irreversible DNA damage makes young kids increasingly susceptible to cancer risk and disrupts brain development, yet another risk factor for autism. Placement of Wi-Fi in schools and colleges disrupt the health of small kids and young adults placing even more danger to a pregnant teacher whose fetus might be maximum affected due to its radiations.
EMF Effect on Non-thermal Health
24 different studies showed the effects of low-intensity EMFs could be blocked by calcium channel blockers, drugs that are specific for blocking voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and also showed that such VGCC activation in human and animal cells could produce non-thermal effects. In plant cells too, the EMFs activate similar calcium channels and have a similar kind of effect on oxidative stress, cellular DNA damage and calcium signaling. A study published by Pilla found that pulsed EMFs produced an “instantaneous” increase in calcium/calmodulin-dependent nitric oxide synthesis in cells in culture. [Ca2+]i produces many important regulatory effects and over activation of these effects can have large pathophysiological consequences and such sustained elevation of [Ca2+]i produces major cell damage.
EMFs have the capability to react with one or both radicals changing their spin state and lowering the ability to react back with each other generating increased free radicals and oxidative stress. Several studies show that there is a magnetoreception mechanism found in animals that can detect and respond to the very low intensity geomagnetic field. Most of them are on bees and birds that use this mechanism for navigation purpose have tiny magnetite particles that might be tethered through a microtubule to a mechanosensitive channel such that tiny magnetic forces could open the mechanosensitive channel allowing cation flow into the cells. The magnetic particles linked in honeybees to an undefined calcium channel produces increase in [Ca2+]i. Many birds fail to get the precise direction owing to the presence of these radiations and frequencies that disrupt their natural flow of direction.
Risks Due to Exposure to Radio Frequency
Mankind’s exposure to radio-frequency radiation (RFR) is prominent owing to the frequent use of cell phones and other wireless devices. Apart from disrupting human health RFR also causes physiological effect on bees, plants and trees.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorized RFR from cell phones and other WTDs as possibly carcinogenic to humans. A large number of case-controlled studies on cell phone exposure and glioma and acoustic neuroma showed increased risk that showed further increase with increasing latency, cumulative duration of use and earlier exposure age. Research by the Hardell group found that being exposed to cell phone radiations before the age of 20 maximized the risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma. The Central Brain Tumor Registry of the U.S. showed a significant increase in incidence of radiographically diagnosed tumors of the pituitary, increase in meningitis rates across age groups (15-85+ years), nerve sheath tumor and vestibular Schwannoma rates.
A meta-analysis by Roosli et al. showed that epidemiological evidence does not show increased brain or salivary gland tumor risk with mobile phone (MP) use but there are doubts when the use prolongs for more than 15 years and MP usage as kids. A Swedish study found reduced survival rates in those patients (suffering from glioblastoma) with long term use of smartphones. The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) showed increased prevalence of glioma and malignant Schwannoma in animal carcinogenicity studies which were exposed to RFR. Organs such as brain and heart also showed evidence of DNA damage.
A study focusing on the exposure of kids aged between 3 and 14 years to RFR showed that having a cell phone against the head of a child exposed deeper brain structures to almost twice the radiation doses of that in adults and the marrow in the thin skull of kids absorbs almost 10-fold higher local dose than that found in the skull of an adult male. RFR also affected neurodevelopment in foetuses when pregnant women used more of these cell phones during the pregnancy period. Rago et al. found altered sperm DNA fragmentation in subjects who use mobile phones for more than 4 hrs/day especially in those who place their cell phones in their trouser pockets. 5G technologies pose risk to mankind in terms of oxidative stress, altered gene expression, effects on skin and systemic effects on immune function.
This modern world doesn’t allow us to live devoid of smartphones and technology. Avoiding radio wave exposure is impossible in present scenario where the exposure rates are only increasing. All that we can do is to keep wireless devices away from us as much as possible and turning them off when not in use which minimizes exposure rates.
Risks to Health & Well-being from Radio-frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones & Other Wireless Devices: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6701402/
Wi-Fi is an Important Threat to Human Health: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935118300355
Healthy muscles are imperative for normal functioning of the body. Men are hyper-excited about bodybuilding and six-pack abs while women mostly settle down for a well-toned body. Its rare to find a woman excited about increasing muscle strength or building muscles except for some of those specializing in that domain. Since time immemorial women have been raised to think, act and behave gently refraining from doing boy stuffs or acting rash like a guy. But women today are breaking such barriers, involving themselves in every domain possible, riding Harley Davidsons or taking care of a family single-handedly. They are dominating every stream of life with their talent and skill. Despite this, myths and fancies surrounding strength training continue to exist. While researchers are busy exploring and discovering reasons to explain why weights are good for the lady there are not many women who come forward to lift weights fearing the oversized development of muscles! Some women who’ve tried it are also not super-excited about the results and have often heard pacifying comments from people around them encouraging them with the standard dialogue that women cannot build muscles like men owing to their lack of testosterones. So, how much of this is true?
Every woman’s body responds differently to different situations. While women suffering from lack of muscle growth even after lifting weights do exist there are also cases of those women who have hit the gym with the strong notion that they wont build muscles and had gained muscle weight a couple of weeks after training hard. So, if testosterone was the culprit behind lack of muscle strength then why does this differentiation arise? This proves that testosterone is only partially responsible and the rest lies within our DNA. Our genes play a greater role in deciding what type of muscle fiber we have and where it is distributed in the body. Genetics even decides upon the way in which we respond to exercises, the ratio of testosterone versus estrogen and where fat is stored in the body. Above all, genetics determines our body type. If you are someone interested in knowing the role of genetics in determining our body weight as well, www.firsteatright.com is the right place to look for clear explanations and insights.
Exercising for the Body Type
Every woman falls under one of these three body types or is a combination of them.
Mesomorphs show a greater response to strength training by building muscle mass compared to ectomorphs despite the fact that both of them follow a similar training regimen. Endomorphs must lose body fat to reap the fruits of their strength training. While strength training might not help the ectomorphs build muscles mass quickly, they do become stronger with resistance training exercises.
Focus on the Heart Muscle
Strength training relies on the basic principle that overloading a muscle helps it increase in size. For instance, stair climbing or step training change the size and shape of the lower body muscles which increase further with increasing the height of the step or doubling powerful movements. Hence, if you wish to avoid muscle building it would be helpful to reduce step height or lower impact of the movements. This decreases the overall overload on the muscles decreasing the chances of building muscles.
Stick to the Rules
Go by the tried and tested principles that to stay stronger one needs to work with heavier weights and do fewer repetitions. Contrarily, to increase endurance one has to do more repetitions and work with lighter weights. Doing this way, women too experience a 20-40% increase in muscular strength after several months of resistance training.
Follow the nuances of exercise and enjoy the experience rather than looking forward to only witnessing changes in your body. It is crucial to understand the body type and realize how you might respond to exercises in order to set your goals. Also, make it a point to never compare with others as no two people are alike. Accept your body and realize it’s worth. This is a sure shot way to overcome the guilt and frustrations lurking inside. This doesn’t mean that you must overlook the weight gain part. All that I am trying to tell is that keep working and eating the right foods. Automatically you would see a sea change in your weight and activeness quotient.
Are you a heart or brain person? Do you think from your brain or feel from your heart? Your answer can determine your quality of life. Though heart and brain are two very different organs, they are interrelated in different aspects. Heart is the organ that pumps blood throughout the body helping each part of the body perform its duty and enable survival of the human. Damage to blood vessels can cause serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and dementia. Hence, blood vessel occupies prominent roles in keeping both your heart and the brain going strong and healthy.
A new study published in a reputed journal shows that individuals who are diagnosed with coronary heart disease are at a higher risk of cognitive decline later in life. This study is yet another valuable proof for how the heart and brain work in coordination together. Such clarity is possible because there are more and more people experiencing heart diseases, surviving them, undergoing operations and given medications.
The study involved stroke-free adults who were followed up for 12 years and had been diagnosed with a heart attack or angina where the former led to rapid memory loss compared to the latter problem. Researchers give many reasons for the effect of heart disease on brain functionality and most important is the impact of small blood vessels that could prevent oxygen supply to the brain. Many unhealthy habits and health conditions play a role in determining blood vessels health. These include sedentary lifestyle practices, obesity/overweight issues, high blood glucose levels and high blood pressure levels.
While the cognitive impairment might seem minimal initially these changes over the years can increase the risk of dementia greatly. And till now, we don’t have a cure for dementia and there are only measures available to keep the patient as comfortable as possible over the years. All that we can do is to take every step possible to detect, prevent or intervene during initial stages to stave off the problem or address it as efficiently as possible.
Heart patients must also be taught to analyze and report every concern regarding memory and cognition. Many times, many patients fail to comply with these suggestions and refrain from reporting any deviations in their normal cognitive routines to their physician. Both the doctor and the patient should interact with each other, go over the medications to ensure that they are taken properly, discuss on lifestyle routines, be sure about sleep routines and analyze mood swings (if any) to gauge the overall health of the patient and improvise on those areas that need attention.
It is recommended to meet a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can recommend a healthy eating plan for your health requirements. Generally, eat more of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, don’t smoke, abstain from drinking alcohol, keep your blood pressure levels under control, ensure that diabetes is well under normal ranges and stay active. Every individual is recommended to perform at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week which comes to around 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Even small activities such as taking the stairs, walking while talking or parking your car further away from the parking lot counts in your activity list.
Nuts aren’t like chocolates or wafers-they are not every child’s favourite! Today, nuts stand as an excellent value-addition to our daily dietary routine offering a wide variety of nutrients for good health. Yet, the discussions and controversies surrounding these tiny fruits with inedible hard shells and a seed is huge. There have been talks about these food sources being a versatile nutrient resource, a rich source of dense calories and also one of the best snacks to consume. Still, people, especially those with diabetes (both adults and kids), are perplexed whether or not it is advisable to consume nuts. Don’t succumb to any of these doubts as the rich nutrient presence in the form of magnesium, vitamins such as B and E, fibre, protein, good fats and more makes nuts one of the most valuable food choices for those with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2).
Nutrients in Nuts Promote Optimized Glucose Levels
The combination of protein and fats optimize blood sugar levels while magnesium affects insulin activity, the major hormone involved in controlling blood sugar levels. Studies show that people with type 2 diabetes generally suffer from lower magnesium levels and it is also true that the general population too lack in magnesium. Though its true that proteins and fats promote sugar control it is also extremely necessary to take care of portion sizes as nuts are powerhouses of calories too and overconsumption can ultimately result in weight gain.
Its been shown that taking nuts along with a high-carb food helps in lowering blood sugar levels to a greater extent than when consuming them alone. A study showed that eating nuts with white bread lowered sugar levels to a greater extent than consuming them alone while another study showed that eating pistachios with pasta/rice also limited rise in blood glucose readings after consumption. Every nut tastes differently and has its own blend of nutrients and it depends upon you to choose a wise combination of them for maximum benefits. Pair them with the right kind of foods: add chopped almonds or pistachios in yogurt and salads, spread almond butter on sliced apples, peanut butter on bread slices or mix walnuts in trail mix. You can even give your kids a small bowlful of mix nuts including almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts and cashews as a tasty evening snack.
Calorie-Dense Yet Friends of Weight Management
Time and again we have insisted that nuts contribute towards increase in weight if portion control is not maintained but we also have studies that show that frequent nut eaters are leaner than those who eat nuts infrequently. That’s mainly because, nuts increase satiety levels decreasing hunger levels thereby leading to less food intake. Also, nuts in shells such as pistachios take a longer time to crack making the individual spend more time finishing off the snack which ultimately increases satisfaction and decreases overeating. Read more about nuts, the different nutrients present in different nuts and their beneficial effects on health by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Still, every 30 grams (Around 24 almonds, 48 pistachios, 14 half walnuts) of nuts contains around 150-200 calories and hence it is recommended to restrict kids to not more than 30-45 grams of nuts per day. Also, two tablespoons of almond/peanut butter equal 30 grams and it is the duty of every parent to ensure that their kids don’t overeat. In case they do so, they not only reap benefits of all the nutrients present in the nut but also become victims of weight gain!
Beyond looking at overall fitness and figure the world had taken one step forward focusing on every part of the body for attaining perfectly toned structures! Exercising is an age-old concept for weight loss which has gone through different phases and still is resurfacing with aplenty new discoveries-but all of them have the fundamental notion of weight loss. I once remember my grandma excitedly telling me about her latest interest in exercises-one of the effects of being an avid book reader! She went on speaking about the different exercises that have been proposed for working out different parts of the body and keeping them in shape. She went one step ahead and performed them right in front of me. This old lady seriously has some health goals in mind and this motivated me too to read more about how exercise can be an effective guide for losing weight from different regions of the body. It was during this venture that I came across the term ‘spot reduction’ which opened a whole new sea of information.
Men and women put on excess fat in different parts of the body. A woman is prone to fat addition mostly around her thighs, hips and buttocks while men put on excess fat around the midsection. During perimenopause and menopause there is a shift in fat addition from hips to belly in woman owing to hormonal changes. Apart from this, gender, age, genetics and lifestyle affect weight gain and addition of stubborn body fat in certain regions of the body. This weight gain frustrates the individual, especially those who have a normal overall body weight but move around with excess fat peeping from their arms or tummies. There are some others who carry fat unproportionally in certain regions that makes them appear more awkward than the ones who carry it all over their body. All these individuals look at ways to reduce fat from certain regions of the body before proceeding to lose overall body weight. For such individuals, spot reduction has been proposed as the best way to achieve their target!
Targeting the Unachievable
Crunches for abs, curls for arms and lunges for butt seem to be the latest talk of the town. Spot reduction is a type of targeted exercise performed with the goal of burning fat in specific body areas. We have been vigorously working out on our different muscles for losing fat but neither does the fat disappear nor do we get rid of this concept. It is saddening to see instructors and experts abandoning the concept of spot reduction come up with side bends for attacking ‘muffin tops’, abdominal crunches for our ‘multiple spare tires’ and outer thigh exercises for ‘saddlebags’. For someone who is already lean performing these exercises might help in defining muscles in the specific areas but if your aim is to lose fat, tone muscles or build them pursuing these exercise formats leaves you disappointed and frustrated for sure.
While learning an exercise the instructor also asks questions on the muscle that’s getting triggered meaning that the exercise helps in working out the specific muscle of the body. Though you might feel the pain or activation of the muscle spot reduction simply doesn’t workout because it targets muscles that are small with exercises that are trifling in enhancing fitness and strength. Trying to focus on small muscles without paying heed to the bigger ones is ridiculous. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that six weeks of abs workout brough about no changes to the performer’s midsection. Another study showed that 12 weeks of one-armed workout led to less loose skin in the exercise-performing hand but zero fat loss. Exercising for some part of the body doesn’t help you trim it down but it might favour fat burn in certain other body parts and stomach is a classic example of this (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-weight-loss/4901936/weight-loss-stomach/).
Time and again we repeatedly hear that spot reduction is only a myth. Performing ‘n’ number of crunches is not going to give you a six-pack abs when the body fat percentage is too high. But it is also good to understand that no exercise is a waste of time. Some of the fat deposits are more responsive and metabolically active comparatively and exercising at high intensities helps you lose more of the metabolically active body fat. Scientific studies also back the concept that spot reduction is not possible by exercising the specific body part. But beyond that, if fat burn does happen its ok to enjoy the good result. If it doesn’t happen please don’t repent for it. Don’t go behind those pretty ads and posters that claim to help you target those ‘fat-laden’ areas of the body with certain exercises. Get going with performing a variety of physical exercises and eating a healthy diet which helps you target not only one specific part but enables weight loss all throughout the body.
Weight Loss & Spot Reduction: Does it Work? https://time.com/collection/guide-to-weight-loss/4901936/weight-loss-stomach/
Myths & Misconceptions: Spot Reduction & Feeling the Burn: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3629/myths-and-misconceptions-spot-reduction-and-feeling-the-burn
There are innumerable satirical comedies and banters surrounding individuals who are loud snorers. Often people sleeping besides the snorer are shown to protect themselves in different ways using props such as pillows or cotton. In worse case, they escape to another room to get some peaceful sleep. We do pity them but do you realize that this is only a short-term or temporary problem and the actual effect finally falls on the snorer. There have even been cases where some marriages have failed as either of the couple was a heavy snorer and the chapter ends there for the party affected badly by the snoring spouse and a new chapter starts for the snorer in terms of devastating health effects if snoring is too much or for too long!
Obesity has been the culprit for a number of health conditions such as heart attack and stroke but it also prevails as the major reason behind some of the risk factors for these conditions as well. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleeping disorder that’s become increasingly prevalent in developing countries that stands as an independent risk factor for stroke and the primary reason behind this exists as obesity. Discovery of diseases and conditions are the results of great efforts by scientists but do you know that a first description of OSA was not from a scientist but from our beloved Charles Dickens in a series of papers titled ‘The posthumous papers of the Pickwick club’ in the form of a character (obese boy) who suffered from excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring and right heart failure? But the formal connection between sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and stroke was first observed in the 19th century and did not achieve prominence about research studies until the 1980s.
SDB is an umbrella term for a constellation of sleep-related breathing disorders and abnormalities of respiration during sleep that do not meet criteria for a disorder and OSA is one of the main disorders included under this umbrella.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is the most common type of SDB which involves repeated narrowing or complete collapse of the upper airway despite ongoing respiratory efforts that’s terminated by arousal from hypoxemia (abnormally low concentration of oxygen in blood) or efforts to breathe. The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is calculated by adding together the number of episodes of apnea (absent airflow) and hypopnea (reduced airflow) and then dividing them by number of sleeping hours. AHI values above 5 are defined as OSA with the severity level depending on the AHI value: 5-15 is mild, 15-30 is moderate and AHI greater than 30 is severe.
OSA is very common in stroke and ischemic stroke patients and also exists as a risk factor for all stroke patients. The awareness on considering sleep apnea and snoring as risk factors for arterial hypertension (HTN), cardiac arrhythmias, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction came into prevalence only during the late 20th century. Those with untreated sleep apnea are at a higher risk of cardiovascular mobility than those with treated sleep apnea. It is essential to note that one-third of strokes are due to the effects of previous stroke and untreated OSA in patients with stroke could also be a reason for recurrent strokes. Stroke prevalence has a strong connection with the intensity of OSA and with every increase in AHI values the risk of developing stroke goes up. There are 50-70% chances of OSA occurring in patients with stroke. OSA might precede stroke occurrence, worsen during acute stage and linger on after the acute phase. There are various studies since the last couple of decades establishing a bi-directional relationship between SDB and stroke-SBD as a cause and a consequence of stroke. It is better to examine the relationship and understand clearly which dominates the other.
The Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS)
There are more than 18 million stroke cases happening annually of which one-third of them are fatal. Besides being the second leading cause of death, it can leave the person with severe disabilities forever which makes it our duty to identify the risk factors and take preventive steps as much as possible to prevent its occurrence. Diabetes, smoking, atrial fibrillation and hypertension are major risk factors and recent research includes OSA too. The SHHS focuses on understanding whether OSA is an independent risk factor for stroke. It is a cohort study that deals with the cardiovascular consequences of OSA.
The study initially included 6,441 participants but some of them were excluded due to various reasons leaving the research team with 2,462 men and 2,960 women. At baseline, all of them were given questionnaires asking about their sleeping habits, general health and medicine use and at intervals of 3 and 5 years after baseline a survey on the diagnosis and treatment for OSA was performed. Blood pressure and blood sugar levels were measured. Obstructive apnea hypopnea index (OAHI) was defined as the average number of obstructive sleep apneas plus hypopneas per hour of sleep. Arousal index is the number of arousals per hour of sleep which had a within-score interclass correlation coefficient of 0.70 to 0.75 and between-scorer interclass correlation coefficient of 0.69 to 0.75.
The study consisted of 5,422 participants all of whom were free from stroke and untreated for OSA followed up for around 8.7 years. In this period 193 of them suffered from ischemic stroke corresponding to an incidence rate of 4.4 ischemic strokes per 1,000 person years.
Results showed that in both men and women ischemic stroke was linked to increasing age and systolic blood pressure, use of antihypertensive medications and atrial fibrillation. In women, the incidence of stroke was linked to race and diabetes but BMI, smoking and alcohol use did not influence both men and women. Men and women who suffered from ischemic stroke during the study had moderate or severe OSA that was 30% more common in them at baseline. The odds ratio (OR) value of 2.26, the increased odds of incident stroke for someone with OSA compared with someone without OSA, is equal to the increased risk associated with a 10-year increase in age. The OR value was much lesser, around 1.65 in the case of women. In both genders, a higher incident rate of stroke was observed with increasing OAHI. Men who had OAHI >19 events/h were at a 3-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke compared to men with an OAHI less than 4.1 events/h. But in women, stroke risk was dependent on age, diabetes, hypertension medication use and smoking but not with OAHI quartiles or desaturation levels. Women with a higher arousal index had decreased chances of stroke incidence-women with an arousal rate greater than 12 had a 40-60% decreased hazard rate of ischemic stroke compared to women with a lower arousal index.
OSA & Stroke
Observational study by Lee et al. heavy snoring increases the risk of carotid atherosclerosis but the Oxford Vascular Study by Mason et al. did not find significant link between repeated snoring episodes and occurrence of carotid atheroma, stenosis or plaque type. There are some studies that show that while sleep apnea indirectly increases the risk of stroke due to its effect on vascular risk factors it is also an independent risk factor for stroke. A study by Yaggi et al. found that AHI≥35/hour in patients with a HR of 2.24 increased the risk of stroke and mortality rates despite controlling for stroke risk factors such as HTN, AF, smoking status, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia. Another study on 394 patients (all of them were males) aged between 70 and 100 years with an AHI≥30 were at a high risk of ischemic stroke. An AHI score ≥20 in 1189 patients increased the risk of stroke in them for the next 4 years. A study by Marin et al. showed that severe OSA increased the risk of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events while CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment reduced the risk. The Wisconsin sleep cohort study showed a higher cardiovascular mortality risk when SDB was left untreated irrespective of age, sex and body mass index (BMI). The SHHS study also proved that men in the highest quartile of AHI had a HR of 2.86 for stroke and did those in the moderate sleep apnea category. Every 1 unit rise in AHI increased stroke risk by 6% in men while in women the risk existed only in those in the severe sleep apnea group.
A 2010 meta-analyses of 29 studies showed that 72% of patients who had a stroke had an AHI >5 and 29% had severe OSA. Prevalence of stroke increases risk of OSA about 5 times more than in the general population. A case-control study by Lipford et al. identified a strong link between OSA and cardiometabolic stroke with paroxysmal AF as a causative factor. Yet another retrospective study on 5,000 patients showed that stroke was more common in patients with the comorbidity of AF and OSA. Poli et al. showed that AF followed by cardioembolism is a major risk factor for stroke on an analysis of 134 patients showing twice the proportion of cardioembolic stroke in SDB patients.
OSA & Stroke Have Certain Common Risk Factors
There are many shared as well as independent risk factors for OSA and stroke. There are studies that show OSA to be a high-risk factor for hypertension which is one of the primary risk factors for stroke and studies do link OSA with other risk factors such as atrial fibrillation (OSA increases risk by 4 times), heart failure, coronary artery disease, insulin resistance and arrhythmia.
When OSA increases stroke risk directly or indirectly those with untreated OSA after stroke suffer from worse functional outcomes and higher mortality rates-it can cause cognitive decline, decreased concentration, excessive daytime sleepiness, prolonged hospitalization and compromised rehabilitation participation.
Obesity is one of the most common risk factors of stroke with increasing BMI linked to increased OSA prevalence. But obesity becomes a less-significant risk factor in those who have had a stroke compared to others. Also, being a male in his advanced years makes you vulnerable to OSA as 65% of post-stroke patients are men.
OSA: How Does it Increase Risk of Stroke?
OSA is ruled by intermittent hypoxemia and arousals resulting in conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, hearty failure, pulmonary hypertension and stroke. Changes in vasodilator and vasoconstrictor substances due to endothelial dysfunction and inflammation happen and these play a role in the atherogenic and prothrombotic states induced by OSA. Blood circulation to brain is altered due to partial pressure of carbon dioxide (Pco2). Sleep apnea causes rise in Pco2 levels causing vasodilation and increased blood flow. Apnea is followed by hyperpnea decreasing Pco2 levels and vasoconstriction. In those with vascular disease increased vasoconstriction can lead to ischemia.
There is indeed a bidirectional association between OSA and stroke as both of them share common risk factors. Besides increasing stroke risk in OSA patients it also elevates functional outcome in these patients. Stroke too has the potential to cause SDB.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea & Incident Stroke: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913239/
Sleep-disordered Breathing and Stroke: Chicken or Egg? http://jtd.amegroups.com/article/view/25986/html
A Sleeping Beast: Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Stroke: https://www.mdedge.com/ccjm/article/201629/sleep-medicine/sleeping-beast-obstructive-sleep-apnea-and-stroke?channel=133
Sleep Apnea and Stroke: https://svn.bmj.com/content/1/4/185
Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Stroke: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340906/
Early Diagnosis & Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea After Stroke: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3721244/
Sleep is a potent medicine to good health that has no harmful effects when taken in the prescribed quantity, neither too less nor more. But as we know, many individuals are not of the habit of pursuing something that’s good for health which includes sleeping too. The present-day world offers people with too many options that keep them entertained, in the form of online games, thrilling online series and social media platforms, that individuals often don’t think about sleeping. We don’t even bother to get the right amount of sleep at least few days of the week hooked up to our mobiles through the night. This leads to sleep deprivation, a condition from which many of us suffer these days, and such insufficient sleep has been linked to disrupted brain functioning resulting in impaired alertness and cognitive skills. But now, we see that sleep loss is connected to disrupted energy regulation in humans which can have grave impact on weight gain and other health problems as well.
The utterance of the word ‘fat’ creates panic but its not the nutrient that’s the cause for tension here (as it is integral for different vital functions performed by the body) but the individual who does not control his/her consumption portion that exists as the root cause for many problems. Sleep’s effect on glucose metabolism has been studied but its impact on fat metabolism is quite unexplored until now. This interested researchers with a group of them focusing on 15 healthy men in their 20s observing them for sleep-related changes in their body. All of them spent a week getting plenty of sleep at home and then checked into a sleep lab for a ten-night study. During five out of 10 nights each of them did not spend more than 5 hours in bed each night. The rest of the time during the days (where participants got only 5 hours of sleep) was spent in an engaging and positive way by playing games, interacting and talking with the research team members and among themselves. All of them were given a high-fat dinner consisting of a bowl of chili mac after four nights of restricted sleep. The food was energy-dense and tasty which could be found from the empty bowls of food as the participants had no trouble eating it. But all of them felt less satisfied after eating the same meal while sleep deprived compared to when they had eaten it after a good night’s sleep.
Blood samples showed that sleep restriction affected postprandial lipid response leading to faster clearance of lipids from the blood after a meal-this is a high-risk factor for weight gain. All of them had Friday and Saturday nights where they could sleep for as much as ten hours to catch up for all the lost sleep. After the first night they ate one last bowl of chilli mac and satisfaction measures showed that though the participants were better satisfied than they were when they lacked proper sleep still they did not achieve the baseline healthy level of recovery. An optimal number of hours is required every day to stay healthy. Trying to compensate for the lost hours of sleep during weekdays on weekends is not going to benefit the individual in the long term.
It was no surprise when my mom who was a role-model for her perfect physique started gaining weight as she started growing older. She was an epitome of fitness ensuring to eat healthy food, exercise regularly and stay in shape. This change in her body weight and the ever-growing weight measures almost pushed her into depression. This is not the story of one individual but the startling truth that happens to almost every person who crosses his/her 40s, 50s and 60s. Does it point to our change in metabolism or simply makes us realize that we become less and less active as we keep getting older.
Ageing brings about numerous changes in our body, hormones, organs and their functioning and weight gain is an impact of too. Some people suffer to stay within normal weight ranges even during their teens, 20s and 30s owing to their genes, metabolism and activity levels and, these are the ones who fall into overweight/obesity ranges as they grow older owing to an inability to keep their weight gain under control. Such weight gain is inevitable even in the case of normal people who stay on a healthy body weight simply by leading an active lifestyle. The struggle of any person who has crossed 30s to lose weight is understandable. A study done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has discovered the root cause behind such weight gain.
The study on fat cells that happened over a long span of 13 years included 54 men and women. During this time period, unconditional of the fact whether the subjects gained or lost weight, there was a decrease in lipid turnover (rate at which fat in the fat cells is removed and stored) in the fat tissue. Those participants who did not reduce their calorie intake to compensate for this decrease in lipid turnover gained around 20% extra weight according to the same study. The researchers also examined lipid turnover in 41 women who underwent bariatric surgery trying to understand how their lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight loss off for at least 4-7 years after the surgery. It was seen that those participants who had a low lipid turnover rate before surgery were the ones who were able to increase the same after surgery and maintain weight loss. That’s because these individuals had room to expand their lipid turnover rate unlike others who had already reached the maximum threshold before surgery.
According to the researchers, processes in our body fat tissue regulate changes in body weight while ageing and this is independent of other factors. This fact could be valuable in helping researchers probe into new ways for treating obesity. We already know that performing physical activity increases lipid turnover in fat tissues and when this is applied for weight loss surgery patients as well it could multiply their chances of keeping off the weight loss for a longer time.
Obesity and overweight problems are becoming global epidemics affecting both the adult and the children population equally. The advent of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are the major causes behind such weight gain problems. Besides calorie restrictions imposed on our daily diet the most efficient way to burn calories is to exercise at any age. Take the stairs, play a sport, walk or hit the gym to burn calories and stay active. Besides becoming less active as we grow older, we also become less proactive about our nutrient needs. Get in touch with a reputed dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to help you overcome nutrient barriers and reap benefits of a healthy body.
Once dominated by families that had 4,5,6 or even 10 kids, families these days either have one or at most 2 kids after thinking for quite some time! Even with these 1 or 2 kids parents hire maids, nannies and more to take care of these children. Kids are the cornerstone of happiness, fun and the sound of laughter at home. There are many who would agree on the fact that returning home to your kids is one of the biggest blessings available to mankind. Its different reasons that couples these days quote for anything from not wanting to have kids to restricting to a single child. The whims and fancies surrounding the positives and negatives of a single child have always been present in our families but at the end of day we have always supported the presence of a sibling.
Being the eldest, youngest, middle one or even twins has its own pros and cons in life. While the eldest is expected to take responsibilities the youngest is always pampered making him/her lack certain qualities expected while the middle one in any family exists as the most neglected human being. Twins have their own share of worries as there is a competitive edge between them and the world keeps comparing these children for anything and everything that they do. Yet, siblings share a bond of their own relishing the presence of each other, relying onto each other in times of distress and supporting one and other when situation demands. Its only very rarely do we see sibling rivalry taking upon serious turns in life with the siblings staying out of sync with each other forever.
Going in for the Sibling Love
Besides having someone to shoulder them in times of need the presence of a sibling is a blessing in many other ways. Kids learn to share things, care for other people, learn to co-exist, adjust for others’ needs and above all, constantly have someone with whom they can spend quality time. Now, we have evidence that quality of relationship among siblings affects these kids’ mental health and risky behaviour. Siblings with positive relationships engaged in less risky behaviour and those with negative relationships engaged in more risky behaviour. Hence, it is essential that parents encourage their children to spend quality time with each other as this helps them develop a close bond and motivate them to take care of each other. Such positive sibling relationships during childhood makes these kids maintain the same through adulthood as well.
The relationship between siblings decides upon their risk of depressive symptoms and involvement in risky behaviour including that of sexual risks in life. Negative relationship between siblings is greatly linked to anti-social, aggressive and delinquent behaviour that includes even substance use while a good relationship between siblings is totally linked to positive adjustments, improved peer and romantic relationships, academic adjustments, positive mental health and well-being. It is even suggested that teaching children to communicate in positive ways, help them come up with win-win situations and making them understand that both belong to the same team instead of treating each other as competitors helps siblings show self-control, social confidence, perform better in school and display minimal risks of depression compared to those siblings who are not in tune with each other.
While siblings are a blessing and having a brother or sister can be a welcome relief a sister-sister relationship is the best of the lot. Young or old, having a sister improves your well-being and increases your affinity for performing good things in life (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/oct/28/sisters-good-for-mental-health-report).
While elder children would have been a bit apprehensive when a younger one arrives in the family even trying to garner attention by indulging in negative stuff, studies clearly show that kids with younger siblings are less likely to be obese. Single kids and even mothers of singleton babies are likelier to be obese themselves. This change in weight status in kids in the presence of a sibling is surprising but when we look into the issue there are quite a few logical stuffs that do make sense. Having a younger child in the family makes the elder one more active as he/she starts running around the toddler to engage the little one; families also are likelier to take kids to the play area or park when there are two instead of one child; elder kids stop engaging with television but start to engage in pretend play sessions and other such activities with the younger sibling; above all, parents start loosening their grip on the elder child and his/her eating habits as they find it exhaustive to focus all their attention to the child’s eating behaviour. Moms start letting off control to the kids themselves allowing them to respond to their satiety cues and self-regulate their eating habits. This helps the child get on board a healthier weight pattern compared to a child without a sibling.
Though you might fight like Tom and Jerry, can’t stand the presence of each other, envy one another and feel good when the other is not at home all these are temporary feelings. The basic love and affection for each other is everlasting which grows stronger as siblings grow into adults. Close or distant, busy or free the relationship remains rock solid and powerful as families stay strong forever and the sibling bond stays stronger through the thick and thin of life. So, thank your blessings and cherish your sibling for there might come a day where you don’t get to thank enough for his/her presence in your life.
Adult Siblings can Make Our Lives Healthier & Happier: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/11/23/565362158/adult-siblings-can-make-our-lives-healthier-and-happier
Having a Younger Sibling May be Good for Your Health: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-obesity-siblings/having-a-younger-sibling-may-be-good-for-your-health-idUSKCN0WD2CN
Is it Better for Children to Have Siblings? https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23778123
Why Sisters are Good for You: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/oct/28/sisters-good-for-mental-health-report
Good Relationship between Siblings can Keep Risky Behaviours at Bay: https://www.indiatoday.in/lifestyle/relationship/story/good-relationship-between-siblings-can-keep-risky-behaviors-at-bay-266387-2015-10-05
Dementia rates are believed to triple in number by the end of 2050 as the ageing population is steadily increasing in number and so are sedentary lifestyles and environmental toxins that can accelerate the onset of dementia including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD is a progressive disease that primarily affects movement (balance and coordination are impaired) causing tremors. Some individuals suffer greatly such that even holding a glass of milk in their hand becomes a problem! Though there are several medications available exercise remains the foremost important intervention in the life of a PD patient as it helps in restoring mobility, balance and the ability to perform daily routines. Even research shows that Parkinson’s patients who exercise for at least 150 minutes every week experience a minimal decline in quality of life. Read more about dementia, its impact on the person affected and attending and also about Parkinson’s disease by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Exercise is a great intervention not only for PD patients but for the general population as well for their well-being but not many people acknowledge its advantages and pursue physical activity on a daily basis. Following a regular workout schedule becomes even more difficult for people with chronic illness such as Parkinson’s as their physical and mental illness act as greater obstacles. To derive a solution for this problem, a study funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research & Development called the Park-in-Shape study tried for a practical solution to overcome this hurdle. All the participants were divided into two groups and members in each group had motivational apps that showered them with rewards on completion of their exercise schedule. One group was the control group that performed only stretching exercises while the other was the active intervention group that was asked to cycle on a stationary bicycle for 30-45 minutes at home on at least three days a week.
Those on the active bicycle group were also given the option of motivational games that helped them improvise on their exercise routine, race against their own previous performance or even against another group of cyclists. The levels depended on the patient’s heartbeat and the challenges increased in levels as the participants got fitter. All the participants in the intervention group followed the exercise schedule diligently for 6 months at the end of which each of them had better cardiovascular fitness. Motor disability of this group was almost lower by 4 points compared to the control group which was significant compared to medical drug interventions generally used on Parkinson’s patients.
Exercise improves PD patients in two ways-first, it helps them manage their symptoms in a better way by reducing stiffness and improving mobility and balance. Second, it slows disease progression by reducing the risk of falling and preventing changes in the brain that are effects of PD progression.
The fact that the exercise routine could be carried out at home without any external intervention is a great advantage of this study as it is hardly feasible for those with PD to go out for activity on a regular basis. The gaming approach used while exercising is a great way to motivate patients to work out regularly and this could also be used in those with other disorders to benefit them.
One’s age can be a reminder of his/her achievements, accomplishments and happy moments. It can also be a constant reminder of the ticking clock, lost moments of hope/belief and wasted years of hatred and animosity. Sure, it does depend on the way you consider ageing but one thing is for sure-it’s inevitable, unavoidable, not winnable or reversible. But you can surely age gracefully! If you are someone who has never had an echo or even an injection almost throughout your life, even until your 60s its good for you but still the changes in your health happen slowly and gradually. It’s the quantum of changes that determine the quality of life.
Signs of Ageing
Age-related changes don’t wait for you to reach your 50s and 60s as some of them start occurring as early as your 30s. To prove it with an example, a normal person’s maximum attainable heart rate declines by about one beat per minute per year and his heart’s blood pumping capacity decreases by 5-10% every decade. That’s because after 35 or 40 years the blood inside the body changes in attribute becoming more thicker and stickier making it harder to pump it throughout the body. Blood vessels also start thickening and blood pressure too increases. Bone density starts decreasing right from 30s, muscle mass decreases, joints and ligaments stiffen, flexibility reduces and weight gain starts happening. As we clearly know that muscle mass decreases with age all that we gain is fat putting us into a critical situation.
The nervous system starts showing gradual changes as reflexes become slower, you fight for proper coordination and strive hard to keep things in your memory. Sleep also becomes a problem to most of them and you don’t need an alarm clock to wake you up but you keep staring at one for helping you get right out of bed when its time to be awake! All these changes might create a fear of ageing but one must always remember the truth that we cannot prevent ageing but only minimize its impact.
Exercise might not be your magic drink for staying young forever but it does act as your energy booster, health booster and vitality booster. Fitness experts, health professionals and RNDs insist on exercising regularly but a Texas study has proved the importance of exercising to a great extent.
Ending the Quest for Bed Rest
When a group of five men who volunteered for a research study were told that they had to spend three weeks of their summer vacation resting in bed they were more than elated to hear the news. Alas, they did not feel the same way at the end of the trial. There was a huge difference in different aspects-faster resting heart rate, higher systolic blood pressures, a fall in the heart’s maximum pumping capacity, increase in body fat and fall in muscle strength. In the 21-day period these five 20-year-old volunteers experienced physiological changes comparable to men twice their age. After the 3-week period the researchers put the volunteers on an 8-week exercise program that did more than reverse the grave impact of exercising. This study was the turning point in medical history as it helped encourage physicians to advise patients to start doing activity soon after some illness or surgery.
When the same research was continued on the same volunteers some 30 years later the age of these volunteers was around 50 and all of them were still healthy. Still, these men gained an average of around 20 kilograms and their body fat doubled from 14% to 28% of body weight. All the volunteers were put on a 6-months exercise routine that included walking, jogging and cycling. Although the men lost only 4-5 kilograms at the end of the 6-month period their resting heart rates, blood pressures and pumping abilities reached normal levels as in their 20s. This training helped reverse the 30-year decline in health equating it to as good as their 20s. Endurance training exists as the best way to keep the body’s metabolism from ageing-it helps in reducing body fat, lowering blood sugar levels, increasing HDL levels and decreasing LDL levels, elevate mood, improve sleep, avoid depression and delay memory-loss as much as possible. Whatever might be your exercise start gradually. Maybe do some 30 minutes of brisk walk daily and increase it to maybe 250 minutes of exercise every week.
Involve yourself in resistance exercises, flexible training and balance exercises to stay fit. Keep moving to stay as young as possible. Know more about each of these by taking a look at www.firsteatright.com.
The Tonic to Nourish: Exercise
Exercise helps in delaying ageing-related changes and stave away chronic illnesses too. Hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease are common problems that anyone can face as they age. Exercising helps to reduce the risk of these diseases too. Stroke and exercise are two major killers during old age. Exercising reduces these risks greatly and puts the body’s well-being above everything else.
A Harvard study has shown that man can gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of exercise. This adds a mere two years of extra life over the course. Exercising regularly and staying active is needed. Just whiling away your time at the gym or strolling instead of walking is not going to solve your problem. Walk for only 30 minutes but do it as brisk as possible to enhance your health. The beauty of exercise is that people respond to it in a positive way at any age. For instance, the volunteers responded to exercise training in the same way in their 50s as they did in their 20s. Apart from exercising there are quite a few other ways to age gracefully:
Follow these simple tips in life, enjoy your stay in this beautiful world, collect cherished memories and reap greater benefits in terms of health, good friends and love.
The search for the best mode of exercising and diet plan to lose weight is a never-ending process with newer ones emerging every other day. Man has never been able to control his cravings nor is he ready to accept the fact that he is no longer in a position to lose weight instantly. ‘Desire for everything’ might be a good proverb but it doesn’t seem to help us with weight loss in any way. Fad diets play their part, fitness centers try to lure people with different activity lists and great food tries to make the man/woman involved go overboard and forget about weight at all. Reputed fitness experts and exercise guidelines support the fact that any individual who wishes to lose weight must perform at least 420 minutes of physical activity per week (this amounts to at least 60 minutes of activity daily). Oh my, don’t get disappointed now seeing these high numbers. Its only the cream of the population that is able to meet these requirements in losing weight. For many, exercising even for 30 minutes continuously seems to be a distant dream.
Continuous or Intermediate?
Walking leads the charts but those eager to lose weight are taking up other exercise forms such as Zumba classes, aerobics, gym training or even a sporting activity to help them lose weight faster and also to keep up the energy levels pretty high. Kick boxing, boot camps and other forms of activities are also becoming famous enough to attract the attention of many of us. Researchers wanted to know whether interval training was on par with moderate intensity workout for overall weight loss (which includes loss in body fat and fat mass).
When we talk about interval training the two most important ones include high intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint interval training. While the former includes various sets of exercises the latter includes running, jogging, speed walking and cycling. The specialty of interval training is that this training includes performing intense exercises for some time along with a cushion time (or recovery time) given for recovery. The interested research group gathered as much information as possible with the help of studies that happened over a period of at least four weeks to find out any leading sources of information on which type of exercise between the two-interval training or continuous moderate intensity exercises-were advantageous for weight loss. To their good luck, they found data from 41 different studies involving 1115 people which could help them in their analysis. Comparison showed that:
Despite such advantages we must also be aware of the risks associated with high-intensity exercises. There are greater chances of injury, cardiovascular stress and higher discomfort as well. So, before you eagerly jump into HIIT or sprint training methods it remains necessary that you keep in mind all these risk factors as well. Also, the numerous interval training programs calls for the individual to use his/her discretion and decide the right one necessary for his/her requirements. Its your body health that holds the primary key beyond goals of weight loss, muscle gain or so. Getting in touch with a reputed dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com can help you decide on the best course of exercise plan along with a healthy diet (diet plays the most-important role in a weight-loss program) plan for achieving your desired goals.
“Are you a lefty?” is a great conversation starter that makes it easy for the left-handed person to feel at ease amidst unknown people. The world is not in short of assumptions regarding any matter and when it comes to this too, we are of the thought process that left-handed people are more intelligent, more smart, artistic, more competitive and out-of-the-box thinkers. Everything except one—out-of-the-box thinking-remains true and a conflicting study of more than 1,000 people proved this to be wrong as not one dominant side of the brain but both sides are involved in creativity. But, the very fact that only 10% of the total population is left-handed which makes them very special and unique indeed! All of us have special talents that pertain to our genes and wiring of the brain and we use one side of the brain more than the other. Left-handed people are right-brained which clearly implies that they are better at communication and verbal skills, analytical skills and have a command over language which makes them excel at leadership roles, discipline and self-control. To find out whether you are a left- or right-brained person please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
There aren’t many around us who are left-handed as its 1 of every 10 people who possess this trait. When we look into the science behind this, it is seen that genes have a partial role in determining handedness and this has been verified by a study of twins that shows that 25% of the variation in handedness can be attributed to genes besides other factors such as chance and environment too playing a critical role. It shouldn’t be a surprise if you come to realize that there are quite a few people in your family tree who are lefties too! Scientists have been under the impression that it was a single gene which contributed to this attribute but studies tell us that it might be up to 40 of them that can contribute to this trait. Still, there has not been clues regarding which of the genes hold responsibility for the trait in the population. A new study conducted by scientists from the University of Oxford that was published in the Journal Brain is the first to identify which genetic variant separate the lefties from the righties.
Writing Down the Gene
The research team identified genetic variants linked to left-handedness by analysing the genome of about 4,00,000 people from the UK Biobank in which 38,332 of them were left-handers. The researchers were able to isolate four genetic regions associated with left-handedness of which three of them were linked to proteins that play a dominant role in moulding brain structure and development. All the proteins were connected to microtubules, a component of cell ‘scaffolding’ or the cytoskeleton. Its cytoskeleton that has a strong impact on left-right symmetry in other species and in humans, it helps in determining the structure of cells as well as the way in which they operate within the body.
The team focused on 10,000 participants and found that it was the same genetic variants linked with left-handedness that was also linked to differences in the brain’s white matter tracts. It has been shown that the language areas of both sides of brain communicate in a more coordinated way which brings us to the important fact whether left-handers are the best verbal communicators. But we have also been able to see that handedness-associated cytoskeletal differences are visible to the brain. Such impact was seen in animals such as frog and snails that the effects are caused by early genetically-guided events and this even makes it possible for future development of handedness to start appearing in the brain in the womb. While this is a great beginning the study has found only the first 1% of the genetic component that too, only in the British population. We need a lot many other studies to come to conclusions as to how people ultimately become left- or right-handed.
If you have been thinking body image pertains to your weight or size always then you are absolutely mistaken. A young woman might have the perfect curves and physique yet she might have a negative body image. Body image is what you think and how you feel when you look into the mirror or imagine yourself. Feelings of what you think about your own body-height, weight and color-negative or positive can have a huge impact on your behavior and mindset. This body image has trapped many young adults and adolescents into the imagination world where they dream of themselves as models who have a great physique and a skinny body. The flashy magazine cover photos, actors on television/movies and fashion divas give our young generations sleepless nights as they dwell over they body image, end up having a low self-esteem and resort to unhealthy eating practices that later on grow into eating disorders. Such people also constantly worry about their eating practices and exercise schedules, develop a feeling of negativity and suffer from increased risks of going into depression.
Its sad to know that it’s mostly women and young girls who suffer from a negative body image as females are always related to beauty, and beauty is always related to a super-thin body and fair complexion. But, this might also be due to the portrayal of women onscreen and in books. A bike ad showcases a woman model alongside it and even an after-shave lotion ad needs a woman model to bring it alive. Women endorse beauty, a woman is praised for her beauty more than her brawn and the media also focuses on females who are thin, fair, tall and young. This makes young girls and adults living in this society (who are unaware of the graphics and technology inputs that are used on the images of women portrayed in the media to make them glamorous and beautiful) to try achieving feats that don’t practically exist in this world.
Parents play a crucial role in sowing the seeds of body image into their children. When the mom or dad constantly focuses on her/his body image and weight, the child automatically gives priority to physical beauty. Rather, parents should showcase a positive body image to their kids by refraining to comment about their own body image or that of others. Don’t emphasise on the beauty of your child, don’t repeatedly praise your child for his/her looks and refrain from encouraging those things that have nothing to do with their skills, talents and abilities.
Food: The Heart & Soul of Body Image
Food is closely related to body image. The first step towards having a healthy body image is to accept your body, overcome emotions and channelize it in the right way such that food becomes a source of pleasure and self-love. Planning to eat a balanced meal is the best way to avoid the problems and issues relating to body image. You can take the help of registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to have a healthy body image as their excellence in nutrition and health is sure to channelize you into having a positive body image. Given here are reliable ways to develop a healthy body image:
Eat a Balanced Diet: Any healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins such as lean meats, tofu and beans, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy and vegetable oils. Please do include chips, sweets and desserts rarely and by this I would like to emphasize that there is no need to exclude any food from your list unless you have a medical condition. Instead of branding certain foods as bad it is required that we cut down on the portions of these foods and also limit the frequency of their consumption.
Size Up Exercise: Physical activity is essential to maintain a healthy body weight. It's appreciable when you work out regularly but when you feel guilty, overweight, depressed, obsessive over workout or sad when you miss out even a day’s workout it is a sign that you need external help. Every person needs at least 150 minutes of activity per week. It might be walking, dancing or a gym session. Practice resistance training at least twice a week to strengthen bones and muscles. Try your hands on swimming or some sport to make your workout interesting and fun filled.
Engage with Others: Its not all about social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter where people pose pics of their slim and trim body to garner likes and comments. I’m talking about being social with other people in real life. Surround yourself with positive-minded people who help you take a positive approach to life and develop a positive body image. Social support from friends and neighbors boosts your confidence levels and you develop a positive body image.
Parents of young children need to keep an eye on their child’s social media account to ensure that these children are not diverted from their healthy mind sets and are focusing on developing a positive relationship with their body. Teenage is a time when these kids become fussy eaters avoiding many food items quoting them to be calorie-laden. Ensure that your child eats the right portions of foods and doesn’t eliminate foods from a particular food group altogether. Teach your children about making smart food choices, talk them through the benefits of regular physical activity and always refrain from using the word ‘dieting’ in front of your child. Guide them towards eating healthy food and boost their confidence by maintaining a positive aura at home. By this, I mean that you must refrain from complaining about your weight, body shape or physique, never talk about following crash diets or link beauty with body weight.
Sleeping is divine and deep slumber is a blessing that many of us don’t experience these days. Blame it on anything, stress, irregular work hours, binge-watching or being active on social media, but many of us spend sleepless nights in bed. Besides ruining our circadian rhythm and affecting mind clarity we become victims of unhealthy food habits as well. Late-night snacking has been practiced commonly these days when the person is still wide awake but occurrence of snacking followed by sleeplessness is also on the rise. Time and again we have heard our moms requesting us to drink a glass of warm milk before going to bed as this helps in getting some peaceful sleep. But we choose some carbonated drink or worse, coffee or tea that keep us wide awake. So, getting up in the middle of night, its only right to go after a glass of warm milk but your hand forays into the refrigerator grabbing the last piece of chocolate cake or potato wafers! You want to gorge on anything that’s sweet, salty or starchy!
Poking Your Nose into Fatty Food
Leptin and ghrelin are the hunger hormones that define our hunger and satiety levels. I’ve always been confused on which hormone represents what even after reading about it for a couple of times. So, relating things is always easy to remember and let me teach you the trick of remembering what each hormone represents. Remember them by their first letters ‘l’ and ‘g’. ‘L’ in leptin is for lose as this hormone supresses appetite contributing to weight loss and the ‘g’ in ghrelin is for gain where the hormone leads to weight gain. Sleep deficits result in a spike in ghrelin levels and a dip in leptin levels leading to increased hunger. Ghrelin and leptin act differently in different individuals leading to weight changes and for more information on this please visit www.firsteatright.com. All this is fine and the hunger is imaginable after sleeplessness but if you ask what’s the need to choose fatty food read further!
According to a new study the desire to eat fatty food starts from your nose that’s affected in two ways by sleep deprivation-it goes into hyperdrive sharpening food odours for the brain (in order to differentiate between food and non-food odours). But we see a breakdown in the communication with other brain areas that also receive food signals and decisions on what to eat changes with that. Lack of sleep disrupts information transfer to these areas of the brain and we compensate for it by choosing foods with richer energy signals that can penetrate all areas with the information. Sometimes, it might also be that these areas fail to keep tabs on the sharpened signals in the olfactory cortex thereby making the sleep-deprived individual choose doughnuts or French fries.
The study involved 29 men and women aged 18 to 40 years who were divided into two groups. One group received normal sleep but four weeks later they slept only for 4 hours and the other group that received only 4 hours initially got normal sleep after 4 weeks. All of them were served all three meals besides being offered a buffet of snacks. It was observed that participants chose different foods under different circumstances-they preferred doughnuts and potato chips after being sleep deprived-basically, they preferred energy-rich foods. The participants were made to smell different food odours to observe the functioning of the piriform cortex, the first cortical brain region that receives input from the nose. This region then sends information to the insular cortex that receives signals important for food intake such as smell and taste also keep a tab on the quantity of food in the stomach. But when a person is sleep-deprived the connection from the piriform to the insula cortex is not so strong and this decides the choice of foods of the individuals. Lack of sleep makes us highly sensitive to aromatic foods and it’s better to avoid having such foods in the house or it’s even better to sleep well to avoid any confusion at all.
Aspirin is touted to be a heart patient’s best friend helping him/her shun out another heart attack or stroke in life. Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death worldwide in both men and women, and the rates are only increasing more and more given the unhealthy lifestyle practices of today’s generation. In an era where we talk about antibiotic resistance aspirin stands out of the general medicinal community as its being dispensed generously by physicians as a precautionary measure against another attack in patients. There have also evidences that aspirin might help prevent a heart attack or stroke in people who are at a greater risk for such heart-related conditions. But does the same medicine reduce the risk of heart attack in healthy older adults without a history of cardiovascular problem?
Aspirin is mainly used to thin the blood and avoid a blood clot. A blood clot has dangerous consequences on the patient as it blocks the artery and prevents blood flow to the heart. Taking aspirin helps a person avoid the reoccurrence of the disease. Physicians recommend taking an aspirin daily if you are one of those who have suffered a heart attack unless you’ve got a history of bleeding. Some self-prescribe this medication for simple things such as a headache, fever or body ache which can have debilitating effects on the individual sometimes. Also, its never advisable to start taking aspirin on your own after an attack without the green signal from the doctor. A doctor usually suggests taking aspirin daily in any one of the below scenarios:
How Good is it Anyway?
While talks have continuously been going on about the pros and cons of using aspirin as a safety measure against heart attack in older adults a group of researchers decided to investigate this and bring light onto the subject. The research team enrolled more than 19,000 participants in the trial in the year 2010. All of them were above the age of 65, none suffered from health conditions such as disability, dementia or previous cases of heart attack/stroke. All the participants were randomly assigned into one of the two groups-one that received 100 mg of aspirin per day and another than was given an inactive placebo. All these patients were followed-up for almost 5 years and their health outcomes were measured. Results showed that:
The trial shows that while millions of people are taking aspirin daily to minimize their risk of heart disease in old age, they are not likely to benefit from it. The researchers came to the conclusion that aspirin does not benefit elderly people without known risk for cardiovascular disease and neither does it reduce the risk of any cardiovascular event. In fact, it put them at an increased risk of hemorrhage and death too.
This trial exists as a knowledge opener to physicians on prescribing aspirin for preventing the risk of heart diseases in healthy people. Aspirin is best for those at an increased risk of heart disease and those who had suffered from a heart attack previously. So, go by your physicians advise. Don’t take aspirin without a doctor’s approval nor stop taking it without the doctor’s approval.
How scared are you of darkness and night time? On a scale of 1-5 if you quote a number that’s above 2 (5 being most scared) then I am sure you are not someone who sleeps in a pitch-dark room without even a small bulb that provides some light to your room. Individuals talk, laugh and act brave in the morning but once its night they undergo radical transformations-some can’t stay alone inside the house. Some can’t sleep alone in their room and some others need a companion even while visiting the restroom!
People are of different kinds-those who cannot sleep with a light on in their room and those who cannot sleep without one! Even during the night when our kids are done watching television there is always a debate on who would off the TV switch. Sometimes we are all either too lazy or too tired that we skip this step and wait for the automatic cut off from the television to help us out. But now we have research published in a reputed journal which shows that sleeping with a television or light in the room might be a risk factor for weight gain/obesity, according to scientists at the National Institute of Health. The research team used data from more than 43,000 women aged between 35 and 74 years with no history of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, daytime sleepiness, shift work or pregnancy. The participants were asked whether they go to sleep with no light, a small nightlight, light outside the room or a light or television on in the room. Weight, height and waist measurements were taken at baseline and at follow-up five years later.
Results varied depending on the answer provided by the participants on the night lamp query: a small nightlight was not linked to weight gain while those women who slept with a light or television on were 17% likelier to have gained 5 kilograms or more during the follow-up period. Having light come from an adjacent room outside had an average effect. Researchers feel that those residing in urban areas are more exposed to street lights, neon signs and likewise which supresses sleep hormone (melatonin) and the natural 24-hour light-dark cycle of circadian rhythm. Day and night exist not without reasons and our bodies are adapted to light during the day and darkness during the night. Being exposed to light during the night disrupts this natural light-darkness cycle changing hormone balance and biological processes such that it raises the risk of health effects such as obesity.
We are already at a juncture where overweight and obesity love us, junk food is present all around us and laziness has become our best friend. Besides eating a nutritious diet focusing on portion control, working out regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle why don’t we take these small efforts from our end to lose weight faster and efficiently? Get in touch with reputed dieticians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to get yourself a healthy diet plan meeting your body requirements and nutrient needs.
Ever wondered why most people go for a coffee or tea break at office very often? Indeed, it might even be their cigarette break but what’s the need for others? Kids are given a small 2-minute break between two classes, seminars too are planned with a couple of breaks in between and people working take some time off to relax. So, besides fulfilling our hunger cues and nature calls these breaks fulfil an even greater intention!
As students, learning is an everyday routine where we learn new things and load our mind with ample information. Most schools have 7-8 periods in their time table and nowadays it has become a routine to start a new period with some brisk actions, a small joke, a witty one-liner or likewise as its been proved that exercising between class hours improves cognitive skills and focus. As we grow our need to spend more time on studies becomes crucial and we are locked up in our rooms continuously for hours together during holidays. Though it might please our parents it squeezes our spirits as we yearn for some quality break time! Most kids study on their own but their study timings and relaxation timings are often regulated by parents who have an upper hand most times. I had the freedom to take a break every hour for 5 minutes before sitting down for another gruesome study session. This helped me focus more and be efficient. But not all are handed over such a freedom in a golden plate! But now, we have information from authentic source stating that taking a break while learning a new skill, this includes learning new information as well, helps the person master the skill faster and stronger.
A study by researchers at National Institute of Health showed that the brain keeps intact the memories of new skills we practised a few seconds ago by taking short rests in between. ‘Practise makes a man perfect’ but there are a few if’s and but’s to it. Its generally believed that our human brains strengthen memories and our leanings from a new skill by taking a good night’s rest but when this study team had a look at the brain waves of healthy volunteers with respect to learning and memory they were in for a surprise. A good night’s rest is advantageous in multiple other ways too and for details about it please visit www.firsteatright.com. The study involved a group of volunteers who were made to sit on a chair and shown a series of numbers on the computer screen. They were made to type the numbers as many times as possible with their left hand for 10 seconds, take a 10 second break and repeat the same pattern of typing and taking a break for another 35 times. While the participants’ accuracy improved greatly during the first couple of trials it began to level off around the 11th cycle. The researchers found that brain waves showed much change during rest periods than during typing periods.
The researchers found that performance improved during short rests and not during typing and the small improvements added up together for overall gains made during the day. This gain was more than the ones seen after the volunteers returned to try again the next day implying that early breaks were critical for better learning as equal to the practicing itself. The brain established strong memories during the rest period. This might be helpful for students and those learning new skills but most importantly, it exists as a potential piece of information for those patients recovering from stroke or other neurological injuries as they are obliged to relearn their lost skills. Taking a break is never a waste of time but in fact, an investment for better learning! So, when you are into some new field learning something new ensure to take small breaks in between to allow your brain to digest the new information before you can feed it plenty more!
It's totally understandable if you are shocked, angry, irritated or disappointed with this kind of a headline popping up on your smartphones when you have been striving extremely hard to lose a kilogram or two in your 30s and 40s with not much hope. How on Earth losing weight after 50, especially after menopause in most, going to be a reality which would benefit you from multiple aspects? Obesity/overweight is a public health concern that’s growing to be worse than expected with the rising rates every day. This is a risk factor for various diseases and conditions and doctors have indeed known obesity to be a serious risk factor for breast cancer in women after menopause.
During puberty and menopause women undergo innumerable hormonal changes that affect their physical health in different ways. Generally, weight loss in women is much harden that in men. For instance, two of my friends started their weight loss journey together following a specific exercise routine and a dietary pattern. While the boy lost around 5 kilograms in two months the girl hardly lost 2 kilograms. Isn’t this sad? We take the same efforts but reap different benefits which is basically due to our body formats! So, when we are already aware than weight loss is more challenging for women, it is no secret that we put on more weight after menopause, especially around the hips and tummy. Weight loss after menopause is even harder with the reduced metabolism, decreased physical activity but the consumption of food remains unchanged with respect to calories. If you are interested in losing weight and staying healthy irrespective of your age, get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can provide you with the best course of action in a scientific and reliable way suiting your body needs.
High body mass index is a well-established factor for postmenopausal breast cancer and we are advised to control weight gain but what has now been proven true is that losing weight can reverse the risks compared to staying in the same weight. Researchers from reputed institutions such as the American Cancer Society and Harvard School of Public Health compiled an analysis on more than 1,80,000 women aged 50 and above from 10 different studies. Each of the participant’s weight was analysed three times over 10 years-at enrolment of study, after 5 years and then 4 years later. Results showed that greater the weight loss in women, lower was the risk of breast cancer. Those who lost 2-4.5 kilograms had a 13% lower risk compared to women with stable weight, women who lost 4.5-9 kg had a 16% lower risk, those who lost >9 kg had a 26% lower risk and those who lost ≥9 kg and gained some weight back had a reduced risk compared to those whose weight was stable. Even a modest weight lost definitely lowered the risk of breast cancer compared to no weight loss. It was also found that results were more favourable for women who were overweight or obese at the start of the study. It was also seen that only 19 of the total women population lost between 2 and 4.5 kilograms of weight and regained some of the lost weight.
Weight loss is not the only concern for elevated breast cancer risk which is also dependent on other factors such as regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and abstaining from alcohol apart from family history and genetics. Hence, losing weight is not going to nullify your chances of cancer risk but can only minimize the risk greatly. But this study is definitely a reminder that overweight/obesity does increase the risk of breast cancer besides elevating the risk of diabetes and CVD. Also, it also encourages people to strive hard to lose weight after the age of 50 showing that it is never too late to shed off a few unwanted kilograms from the body.
The richest man, the greatest bowler or the highest scoring student is popular and remembered while the second-highest or the second-best (Despite losing it by seconds or few points) is neither remember nor applauded by most. We do this with nutrients such as vitamins too remembering only those that have the maximum nutrient ignoring the rest. So, what’s your first thought on the mention of the word Vitamin C? Its none other than oranges which have monopolized vitamin C for centuries together being depicted as the trademark source for this vitamin despite the fact that kiwis and bell peppers are also enriched with this nutrient. Vitamins are organic compounds that must be acquired from the diet we eat due to two main reasons-one, because the organism doesn’t have the enzyme necessary to synthesize it or two, because it cannot produce them in sufficient quantities. Our body is a magic land that’s been fully equipped to fight against health calamities with its inbuilt nutrient stores and inflowing nutrient additions that happen. Surprisingly, humans cannot synthesize vitamins such as A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, E and K but can readily produce B3 and D. Vitamin C is quite contrasting in this regard that while it can be synthesized by most of the vertebrates and invertebrates humans are unable to do it on their own. It’s quite intriguing given that we belonged to a species that once were producing vitamin C on their own. Evolution not only changed the synthesis of vitamin C from the kidney to the liver once in bids and once in mammals it also brought about a strong genetic evolution where mammals such as gorilla, apes and our very own humans lost the magical power to produce vitamin C internally!
Vitamin C Synthesis
The biosynthetic pathway includes multiple steps and in each one a substrate is converted into a product in a reaction catalysed by an enzyme. Different animals, birds and amphibians go through all these steps successfully which enables them to produce vitamin C successfully but humans cannot perform the last step of Vitamin C biosynthesis-conversion of l-gulono-g-lactone into ascorbic acid catalysed by enzyme gulonolactone oxidase. While the gene that codes for the enzyme is present in humans it is not active due to multiple mutations that’s nullified its presence. If one looks at the chain of species that’s lost this ability it includes humans, gorillas, chimps, orangutans and some monkeys indicating that the genetic flaw could have happened initially in one of our primate ancestors. Evolution is the process where the survival of the fittest happens and if so, species with vitamin C synthesis ability should have survived through but the opposite has happened.
Vitamin C regulates a key stress-induced transcription factor H1F1α, a protein, which when activated oversees the expression of hundreds of stress-related genes. Insufficient vitamin C levels trigger activation of H1F1 α. When regulation of vitamin C levels is in our hands, we can foresee H1F1α activation. The protein becomes active in the presence of a deficiency and less active when vitamin C levels meet requisite criteria. Hence, we can modulate the protein expression by getting to know about our nutrition status and performing the required action thereon.
Discovery of Vitamin C
The death of millions of sailors to scurvy (occurring as a result of acute vitamin C deficiency) shed light on this vitamin and this is an often-retold story. Though James Lind, in his first controlled clinical trial showed that scurvy (he called it as lassitude) could be treated with citrus fruits the remedy was not taken seriously until after several decades. You can even quote scurvy as the hallmark disease of vitamin C characterized by symptoms resulting from loss of collagen that weakens connective tissues which include hair loss, swelling/bleeding gums leading to teeth loss, spotting in the skin seen as a result of bleeding and bruising from broken blood vessels and delayed healing of skin-related wounds. The prevalence of the disease is extremely rare now and has almost disappeared from developed countries. Still, it can occur in individuals having access to limited food varieties.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin known primary for its role in supporting a healthy immune system and has been touted as a great antioxidant due to which it has been widely proposed and promoted as a means to cure/treat various health conditions.
Cancer: Epidemiologic evidence suggests that vitamin C intake lowers the risk of certain types of cancers but there are other studies that don’t prove so. Most of the clinical trials show that modest supplementation of vitamin C alone or in combination with other nutrients aren’t a safety belt against cancer. Vitamin C has the ability to limit the formation of carcinogens such as nitrosamines, optimize immune responses and prevent oxidative damage thereby safeguarding the body against cancer. It has been observed that plasma concentration of vitamin C is lower in those with cancer compared to others.
There have been studies on cancer patients to see whether administering this vitamin could prolong their life or improve their quality of life. Here too studies showed conflicting evidences but other emerging studies suggest that the route (oral or intravenous) of vitamin C administration could bring about changes. Intravenous administration produces better results compared to oral administration but further research is needed to check whether supplementing the body with vitamin C might interfere with chemotherapy and radiation.
Cardiovascular Disease: Oxidative damage is a primary contributor of cardiovascular disease and intake of aplenty fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants has the property to reduce the risk of cancer. Vitamin C is a good antioxidant that helps to reduce monocyte adherence to the endothelium, improve endothelium-dependent nitric oxide production and vasodilation and reduce vascular smooth-muscle-cell apoptosis, which helps to prevent plaque accumulation that can lead to atherosclerosis. Here again, studies that dwell on the effect of vitamin C intake on cardiovascular disease show conflicting results and results from most clinical trials too don’t have promising results.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts: These are two of the common problems that can result in vision loss in ageing adults. Vitamin C is seen as the solider in shining armour against both of these conditions as their underlying cause is none other than oxidative stress. There are studies supporting and denying the effect of high levels of vitamin C in protecting individuals against these conditions. But we do have the landmark age-relate eye disease study (AREDS) which showed that people at high risk for the disease who consumed 500mg/day of vitamin C alongside beta-carotene, vitamin E and zinc helped cut down the progression of advanced AMD by 25% and visual acuity loss by 19%. What is sure is that vitamin C intake does not pave way for occurrence of AMD but it might as well slow progression of the disease in people at a high risk of developing advanced AMD.
Common Cold: We come to the most popular theory behind vitamin C intake-using it as a means to prevent common cold or as a treatment option for those suffering from it. Neighbours and family members often advice those suffering from inadmissible episodes of cold frequently to consume plenty of oranges-a fruit that actually aggravates cold. Oranges are said to provide protection against the disease reducing the chances of occurrence when we eat them beforehand as they improve the immune system-and cold is a manifestation of a compromised immune system. A meta-analyses of 29 placebo-controlled trials which administered 200 mg or more of vitamin C doses orally showed the following results: prophylactic use of vitamin C supplementation had no effect on the incidence of common cold on the general population but had a modest effect in reducing the duration by 8% in adults and 13% in kids besides optimizing severity of symptoms. This has been the most promising evidence till date as common cold causes 23 million lost days of work annually and even a slight improvement could lead to better results. But trials including marathon runners, skiers and soldiers who undergo severe practise and are exposed to extreme cold environments showed that prophylactic use of vitamin C (between 250 mg/day to 1 g/day) reduced occurrence of cold by 50%. Treating common cold with vitamin C is ineffective. Studies do show that megadoses (above 500 mg) of vitamin C don’t have any effect on common cold but might be able to decrease the severity and duration of the problem.
If you want to reap the benefits of vitamin C against common cold it should become a part of everyday your lifestyle-consuming fruits and vegetables rich in this nutrient-and not some kind of a tablet that you take at the start of the symptoms. Though we do have studies showing that massive supplementation of vitamin C can help prevent common cold it is not feasible in real life-as the doses prescribed are 8000 mg/day and at doses above 400 mg/day vitamin C is excreted via urine and doses above 2000 mg/day bring on symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and disrupt blood test results too. Though the research and contradictions on using vitamin C as an effective aid against common cold has been going on for more than 70 years manufacturing companies and certain people in the health industry have taken advantage of this claim in selling out their supplements and products.
What to Eat?
As we know oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and there are other fruits and vegetables that are richly packed with this nutrient. This includes strawberry, broccoli, cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, kiwis, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lemon and grapefruit. While vitamin C is not naturally present in grains it is added to some fortified breakfast cereals.
It is normally advisable to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in their raw form for maximized benefits and there is no exception with citrus fruits as well. Vitamin C can be destroyed by heating and cooking. Hence, it is advisable to avoid cooking them at high temperatures for a prolonged time. As this is a water-soluble vitamin there are greater chances for it to become dissolved with the cooking liquid and get lost forever when we don’t consume the dish along with the liquid. It is advisable to use quick heating methods or even use minimal water (stir-frying or blanching) to preserve the nutrients in the food. But, for ultimate benefits it is recommended to consume them in raw form choosing those that are fully ripe (for more benefits) and thankfully most of the produce rich in vitamin C taste great in raw form. Vitamin C intake improves the absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plant foods such as beans and quinoa, and consuming vitamin C-rich foods in combination with iron-rich foods in the same meal can be a double bonanza, for vegetarians especially whose only source of iron are plant-based foods.
Vitamin supplements are also widely prescribed and taken in the form of ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate and other mineral ascorbates.
Recommended Doses of the Vitamin
The 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) the recommended mean intake levels for individuals include 105.2 mg/day for adult males and 83.6 mg/day for females. For children and adolescents between 1 and 18 years of age the recommendations are between 75.6 mg/day and 100 mg/day. In case of newborn babies, breastmilk contains sufficient vitamin C levels needed by the child. When observed, you will notice that the recommended levels of vitamin C has increased from 10mg/day to almost 100 mg/day over the years.
Though its recommended to eat at least five servings each of fruits and vegetables not many fulfil this requirement and despite the availability of vitamin C in various produces not many consume them too. Almost 35% of adults take multivitamin supplements and12% take exclusive vitamin C supplements. Even 29% of kids take some form of dietary supplement that contains vitamin C.
The upper limit recommendations include 2000 mg daily beyond which the person might suffer from side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal cramps, increased formation of kidney stones in those with kidney disease or history of kidney stones, increased levels of uric acid and increased absorption of iron which doesn’t affect normal individuals. But in those suffering from hemochromatosis it could case tissue damage.
Though supplements and foods are absorbed equally it is always better to consume recommended levels in the form of natural fruits and vegetables as these foods contain essential vitamins and minerals alongside vitamin C that have a positive influence on health.
The Mystery of Vitamin C: https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-mystery-of-vitamin-c-14167861/
Vitamin C: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/vitamin-c
Can Vitamin C Prevent a Cold? https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/vitamin-c
Vitamin C Physiology: the Known and the Unknown and Goldilocks: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959991/
Sick with cold or throat pain even as adults we expect our family members to avoid ordering desserts at the restaurants as it might tempt us as well! This is our level of willpower and tolerance to other’s needs. If we are trying to lose weight once again it is expected that the entire family cooperates. Even experts suggest family cooperation when it comes to weight loss goals as this motivates the person from attaining his/her target and this is in fact healthy for the entire family as well. Families love us, wish for us to be healthy, don’t expect anything in return for what they do and are ready to join hands and help in times of need but can we expect the same from people in our neighbourhood or the shops that line our streets? This would be insane and beyond our limitations as a matter of fact!
Obesity rates have doubled since last decade and we have been speaking about this profusely until now. Its good to discuss, bring upon new ideas and enrol yourself for different activities but it should stop with this. Absence of such continuous performance of exercise or healthy eating has led us to this state of life where obesity/overweight levels have affected kids equally. I needn’t keep reinstating the fact that a child’s parents are his/her first role models as we have been speaking about this for almost more than a year in many of the articles published at www.firsteatright.com. English, math and science can be taught at school but good manners, healthy habits and polite words start from our own homes, especially from our moms and dads. Children love to imitate their parents, so when you eat healthy food, they surely do try eating healthy as well. But there are other factors too that affect the deciding choice of small kids.
A study published in the journal Obesity reported that children’s choice of foods depends majorly on the availability of food sources close to their neighbourhood. The study was conducted on more than one million kids aged between 5 and 18 years living half a mile from a fast-food joint and studying at the New York City public schools. Results showed that 20% were obese and 38% were overweight. Likewise, living within half-block from corner stores or a bodega (a small store that sells grocery and wine) made 21% kids obese and 40% overweight. For every half or full block away that these kids lived from these stores lesser were their chances of becoming obese (obesity rates dropped between 1 and 4 percent based on the type of food outlet).
The location of food outlets plays an integral role in deciding the health of the individuals residing in the area. Outlets located at a conveniently close place from our house greatly increase the risk of obesity while those located even a block farther away and less accessible decreases a kid’s chance of putting on weight greatly. Even such a small decrease in risk helps many children from avoiding the health hazards of overweight/obesity. It is also advisable to restrict placement of processed food shops at a definite distance from the house to avoid risk of overconsumption. Parents can also support in this regard joining hands with their kids and avoiding getting take away food as much as possible though it might be a relief from cooking after a long day at work! All these are motivating factors for children to eat healthy, eat out less frequently and stick to portion sizes.
How important are relationships to you? How much do you value them and how ready are you to sacrifice a few things to save your valuable relationship with others? Not many of our answers would be positive nor encouraging. We humans have started valuing materialistic things above everything else, even above emotions, feelings and affection. Sitting abroad, the son or daughter talk with their parents advising them to take good care of their health but is this going to give these old people the satisfaction of being in their physical presence? Never! Mankind is ready to lose a few relationships to gain a couple of millions or do business with more people. At the end of day, we all love to go back to our family, spend happy time with them and cuddle with our kids to wake up feeling refreshed the next day, right? But if we are not ready to sacrifice a few thousands for our kids or miss out on a business celebration to take our ageing parents somewhere out there is no meaning to our existence. At the same time, the relationships that we endure should keep us happy, content and peaceful.
Being in a marriage is not going to help if both the spouses constantly fight like cats and mice. A tangled relationship only breaks the heart and staying single is better in all ways. Whereas, staying in a positive relationship can help you become a better person in a thousand ways. Learn more about how a happy marriage can improve your health by visiting www.firsteatright.com. For instance, understanding spouses help each other achieve greater heights in life, are supportive of their needs and are there to offer a supporting shoulder whenever required. Likewise, a good relationship with your family and friends provides greater opportunities for doing better things in life as you constantly have their backing and support.
We even have positive response from a meta-analysis that spanned over two decades of research and was published by the reputed American psychological Association. The research team analysed 52 studies involving more than 47,000 participants looking at the effect of self-esteem on social relationships over time and also vice-versa. The studies included multiple countries and of different ethnicity. The analyses helped prove that positive social relationships, social support and social acceptance help improve the self-esteem of individuals (aged between 4 and 76) over time. According to these researchers, positive relationship with parents cultivates self-esteem in children which in turn helps these kids develop a positive relationship with their peers during adolescence and this helps these adolescents bolster their self-esteem as adults. But the researchers are unsure whether all kinds of relationships have such a lasting effect on the individual or whether certain relationships become important at certain ages. The mutual effect between self-esteem and social relationships has a positive impact on people as they live through their life but when either of them is low, it can have a negative impact on the individual affecting other factors and causing a downslide in his/her life creating the need for an immediate intervention to stabilize the life of the affected person.
Stay connected with people, understand their emotions and reciprocate to their needs. This will not only help you boost your relationship but also improve your self-esteem and keep you happier in life.
Bread tastes delicious when it is soft, murukku (a South Indian snack that gets its name from its ‘twisted’ shape) must be crunchy, ice cream must melt in your mouth and dosa seems to be great when its soft yet a bit crispy. There are different textures available for different foods that remain standard throughout. Individuals too differ in their texture preferences. For instance, some like soft dosa while some others like it to be as crisp as possible. Flavor might occupy top spot while we savor a mouthful of a delicacy but the absence of the right texture spoils the food’s acceptability. How about eating soggy pasta or rice despite the presence of taste and flavor in these dishes? Kaju katli might be sweet and heavenly but it is never fulfilling when the mithai is too hard or too soft. Sensory properties including the presentation of the food and its texture occupy an intense role in guiding our preferences, our portion selection and our satiety after eating food.
There is no denial that difference in taste and smell preferences causes difference in liking and intake quantities but now the same might be true in the case of texture too. Some individuals don’t bother much about the texture of the food when it tastes good but there are some others who are better at detecting even minor differences in consistency. These people are not choosy, they are not fussy but its simply because their tongues can perceive particle sizes.
A research team from the Penn State University tested their hypothesis on texture preference on 111 volunteers who had their tongues tested for physical sensitivity and were asked for their opinion on different chocolate textures. The researchers tested whether texture had any impact based on perception of particle size for which they used a device called as Von Frey Hairs. Participants were slit into groups based on pressure-point sensitivity-high and low acuity. This proved the existence of a significant relationship between chocolate-texture discrimination and pressure-point sensitivity for the high-acuity group on the center tongue but not on the lateral tongue.
Chocolate manufacturers take utmost caution in grinding cocoa and sugar to the right particle size for optimal acceptability by consumers. Oral texture plays a critical role in differentiation chocolate quality and value based on the grittiness property that’s primarily involved in differentiating bulk chocolate from premium chocolate. This research on food texture might even help people with feeding/swallowing problems or dementia. People, kids and adults alike, with dementia often reject foods based on texture perception and a clarity regarding texture does motivate individuals to prepare more acceptable foods based on individual difference in preferences. Read more about dementia, how it affects nutritious food intake and more by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Food texture-firmness, crunchiness, smoothness, thickness and creaminess-can be altered to be more harder, viscous or chewier without adding calories to bring about more acceptance, reduce calorie intake and improve satiety. If your mushrooms are rubbery or your poha hard to chew there is no denial that you are not going to like it. While some might ignore this and finish off with it the same is not possible in the case of everyone and now, we know why! Its all in your tongue.
The number of smartphones outnumber the number of people living in this planet as most people, right from young kids to elderly people across age groups are proud owners of a mobile phone. Some even two, three or even four of these devices for multiple purposes. These 4-, 5- or 6-inch devices have become an indispensable part of our lives, Youngsters do everything right from paying pills and booking tickets to searching for houses and ordering takeout on their smartphone which leaves them with ample time for other activities but the very big question here whether they do indulge in other activities besides spending time on their smartphone. If we pause and ponder, two-wheelers and four-wheelers made life simpler which also meant less walking and movement. Now with everything just a click away we don’t even move out of our homes during weekends. Shopping is done online, vegetables and fruits are purchased via online grocery sites and we even feel content watching movies that are streamed in online movie sites or find pleasure in binge watching online series. Such incessant use of smartphones for all our activities has made us worse!
In an already-dominant world of couch potatoes the arrival of the smartphone has only worsened the situation. People who went to the banks for at least collecting or depositing money have started using online banking. Smartphones are the easiest escape route to those who wish to stay at home! Such prolonged use of smartphone paves way for sedentary behaviour, decreases physical activity in an already stagnant world, increases the risk of premature death, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and muscular problems as well.
Using your Phones for More than 3 Hours? Its Time to Put them to Rest
A recent study on the impact of prolonged use of smartphones by university students revealed its true effect on their health manifesting in the form of increased obesity risk. The study consisted of a total of 1060 students of which 700 were women and 360 were men with an average age of 19-20 years. Of the lot, men were 36% likelier to be overweight and 42% likelier to be obese. Women were 64% likelier to be overweight and 57.4% likely to be obese. Research results showed that their risk of obesity increased by as much as 43% if smartphones were used for five or more hours per day. The researchers felt the reason for such high risks was due to that all of them were habituated to eating more processed foods, drinking carbonated and sugar-sweetened beverages and performing decreased physical activity. 26% of overweight participants and 4.6% obese participants spent more than 5 hours locked up with their cell phones.
The researchers were left with a couple of unanswered questions by the end of the study-whether the participants were introverts who found pleasure spending time with their phones rather than participating in activities and whether the repeated use of digital device led to a lack of ‘self-control’ in the individuals making them crave for foods. The smartphone has made us all accept a certain level of sedentary behaviour and there are some who don’t go out for weeks finding pleasure in the four walls of the house with a smartphone in their hand.
Living without a cell phone has become unimaginable and no one’s going to give heed to such suggestions as we have surpassed the stage long back. The one thing we can do is to make productive use of the device-using it as a reminder to walk more, helping us discover our own physical activity levels, count the number of steps taken during the day, warn us if we have used too much screen time or have been too sedentary and encourage us to go out for a walk to breathe some fresh air and stay active. The smartphone can also help us note down our daily dietary intake thereby suggesting diet changes or portion changes. Technological exposure is a sure risk factor for obesity. While we cannot avoid it we can take steps to use it to our advantage as much as possible to curb rising obesity rates. Obese or overweight? Get in touch with reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can come up with healthy diet plans suiting your requirements.
Its juicy meat that’s the favourite of most non-veg lovers and fish is losing its popular spot in each of our lives, especially in those pregnant owing to concerns regarding mercury and other contaminations in seafood. People indulge in savouring processed foods that are high in fat content succumbing to hazardous side effects that affect their health. All fats are not created equally and and unsaturated fats always occupy a special place in every health expert’s heart for their multitudinous benefits and, fatty fish such as salmons, sardines, herring, lake trout, cod, mackerel and tuna contain abundant omega-3 fatty acids that’s been proposed to safeguard heart health and prevent heart failure-related deaths.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed by our body and occupy primary role in the buildup of cell membranes throughout but sadly our body doesn’t make this nutrient on its own. Eating food such as fish, nuts and leafy greens rich in omega 3s or taking supplements is the only way to obtain this nutrient. High fatty deposits called plaque that buildup on the inside of the coronary arteries decrease or block blood flow to the heart muscles and this process is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes coronary heart disease (CHD) and the root cause for all of these is high levels of cholesterol and triglyceride deposits. Avoiding such deposits by consuming unsaturated fats in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids helps in lowering the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, lowering triglyceride levels, blood pressure and preventing inflammation. Read more about atherosclerosis and how to prevent it with healthy eating habits by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
We have studies showing that CHD is a risk factor for dementia as not only blood supply to the heart is affected but blood flow to the brain also becomes disrupted due to plaque buildup. There are studies showing that plaque buildup can lead to both coronary artery disease and dementia (vascular dementia). Now, we have a new study quoting that taking omega-3 supplements improves brain health in people with coronary artery disease who are already at an increased risk of dementia. 250 individuals with CHD were involved in a 30-month long study during which half of them took omega-3 supplements and the other half was treated as the control group. At the end of study it was observed that the group taking the supplements had better coordination, reaction speed, memory and recall at 12 months and at 30 months compared to the control group. While there have been studies administering omega-3 to people once they were affected by dementia the research team here used the highest FDA-approved dose of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil on cognitively healthy people whom they though could benefit from omega-3 fatty acid before they start showing signs of decline. As assumed, the researchers could find that the team which took the supplement before decline did not see any signs of it even after 30 months and in fact, saw benefits compared to the control group.
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