Diabetes is a physical disorder but it does have a vast impact on the emotional, psychological, and mental state of mind of individuals. Treatment for type 2 diabetes, until now, has been predominantly based on medications and clinical approaches. It’s only during recent times that focus has shifted toward lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and physical activity to keep blood glucose levels under control. In the last decade, we have been hearing the terminology ‘diabetes distress’ quite often which is the emotional distress occurring as a result of having to live with and self-manage diabetes amidst social stigma and personal stress. All these prove that diabetes management needs a holistic approach that balances physical, mental, and psychosocial care in individuals affected by the disease.
Science has been constantly evolving and so is the field of medicine. Mankind has done an excellent job in bringing significant improvements to disease care and cure. At the same time, our focus now is also on mind-body therapies, alternative medicines, and mindfulness therapies to cure ailments.
Mind-body medicine is a field that focuses on “the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and on the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health.” Using this technique we can minimize stress and come up with solutions for chronic illness. One popular mind-body approach is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) that has a positive impact on people suffering from chronic illnesses including diabetes, anxiety, obesity, depression, hypertension, and more.
Adapting MBSR for Diabetes Management
Mindfulness is being aware of moment-by-moment thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings without any judgements. The technique, universally practiced worldwide, relies on meditation as its pillar of strength.
Stress is one of the biggest causes of diabetes, though not many consider it to be as important as genetics, diet, or sedentary behaviour. Mindfulness is a tactical way to manage stress, anxiety, and depression helping individuals accept the way they feel instead of waging a war against their own emotions.
Mindfulness-based techniques have proved to offer great support in diabetes management, enhance the clinical remedies associated with controlling blood glucose levels, and have an overall positive effect on both psychological and physical conditions of the body.
Coupling Meditation & Mindfulness
Been around for centuries, meditation focuses mainly on breathing techniques to relax the mind and the body helping individuals attain peace and calm.
There are several researches and studies that support the incorporation of meditation practice in daily life to cope with diabetes. One research presented at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) conference proved that mindfulness-based meditation greatly benefitted diabetics as this practice provides relief against anxiety and depression, two symptoms commonly found in people with diabetes. Meditating daily provides control over emotions and mind, elevates positive vibes, decreases negative feelings, and improves coping skills helping people realize their sense of identity and self-worth.
The Science Behind Meditation-based Treatment for Diabetes
Meditation has a profound impact on the human brain, extending to the grey and white brain matter, cerebellum, brainstem, cortex, and the neural networks extensively. Research studies show that practicing meditation daily is effective against oxidative stress, decreases the production of the stress hormone (cortisol), and increases the secretion of antioxidant enzymes that preserve youth and good health. It also changes the brain functionally and structurally.
Another study included coronary artery disease (CAD) participants and segregated them into two groups, the control group and the meditation group. At the end of the 6-month study period significant decrease in blood glucose and fasting serum insulin levels were observed in those who practiced meditation during the study period compared to the control group.
One study included 60 participants segregating them into three groups namely A, B, and C. Participants in group A practiced Raja Yoga Meditation (RM), those in group B followed a controlled diet and performed regular exercise only, and those in group C combined RM, diet, and exercise. Though all three groups reaped benefits, participants in group C achieved better favourable HbA1C levels comparatively.
The time duration is not a constraint here—it could be as short as 10 minutes to up to one hour or so. It’s been observed that meditating for 20 minutes a day relieves stress equivalent to sleeping for 6 hours. While the timeframe is entirely up to the individual’s choice, there have been companies and health centers that advertise the need for personalized meditation recommendations. Ironically, these organizations publicize that based on precision measurements, they fine-tune the meditation duration—such as decrease it to as low as 7-12 minutes. But, meditation is a universal practice that purely follows mindfulness techniques to relieve stress. When that’s the case, we are not bound to customize meditation timings, change the timings depending on precision values, or ensure precision in meditation duration depending on the individual. Just sit back, relax, meditate, and reap the benefits of this glorious technique that’s replete with benefits for the mind and the body.
Practice meditation to improve blood pressure and diabetes distress levels, achieve glycemic stability, and control weight besides achieving emotional balance. Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that transcendental meditation practice helped diabetics control blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure. Mindful meditation helps in making thoughtful decisions that include choosing what to eat wisely, ignoring desires to grab a piece of cake, and increasing the possibilities of going for a walk. Just like how regular exercise benefits the body, meditating regularly benefits the mind and must be a part of the diabetes self-management strategy. Before anything else, try practicing meditation regularly and then go into the nuances of time management. Never worry about short or long durations as you can meditate as per your time availability. Ignore the fine-tuning process without worrying about changing meditation durations based on rise or fall in blood sugar levels.
White sugar is a killer and we all know about it. Not only diabetics but even all other individuals are recommended to stay away from white sugar for its list of ill effects on health. When such is the situation, it is natural that we start looking into alternative sweetening agents that could have lesser disadvantages and better taste. Frankly, no sweetening agent is 100% good for health nor recommended for inclusion. Each sweetener has got its list of pros and cons which puts us in greater trouble—it’s entirely up to the individuals to choose an agent that satisfies their taste buds and prevents guilt from creeping up.
What is Palm Sugar?
An alternative to white sugar, palm sugar is a sweetener made from the sap/nectar of coconut palm trees. Commonly used in Asian, African and other tropical countries, palm sugar can be made from date or sugar palm trees as well. It’s known popularly under different names including jaggery, coconut palm sugar, palm jaggery, and more. Surprisingly, this sweetening agent has been in use for more than thousands of years in Asia but has become globally popular only recently because of its minimal processing, healthier nature, and lower glycemic index (GI). There are a number of evidences from published papers which clearly show that palm sugar has a GI value around 35.
Nutritional Profile of Palm Sugar
The carbohydrates and calorie content of palm sugar is exactly the same as normal sugar. Both of them contain sugar which is no surprise and this sugar is mainly carbohydrates containing glucose, fructose, and sucrose. The sugar proportion in cane and normal sugar is different and this is a key factor to consider. The sucrose content of palm sugar is comparatively lesser than many other sugars. Though sucrose is the primary content of palm sugar, it does contain glucose too in smaller proportions.
One tablespoon of palm sugar contains 15g of carbohydrates, 15g of sugar, and 54 calories. It exists as a good source of nutrients such as potassium, zinc, copper, iron, and phosphorous.
Why Palm Sugar Might be a Better Alternative to Sugar?
Though any form of sugar is not healthy for the body, we all need some sugar and spice to add color to life. In that line, palm sugar is definitely a better alternative to many other sugars, especially our refined sugar. Some key factors that support this fact include:
The high fructose content in palm sugar has the capability to shoot up blood sugar levels when consumed above recommended quantities. Overconsumption of the sweetener can have debilitating effects on the body resulting in heart diseases, increase in diabetes, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and more.
Though the GI value is lesser compared to white sugar, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that we treat palm sugar as an equivalent to white sugar owing to its similar carbs and calorie content.
Also, general increase in the consumption of sugar leads to tooth decay, weight gain, obesity risk, heart problems, and even increase in stress levels. Hence, overconsumption of palm sugar also elevates the risk of such problems.
Moreover, diabetics are naturally requested to minimize sugar intake, avoid all forms of processed sugars, and stick to fruits (in limited portions) for satiety. Hence, replacing white sugar with palm sugar doesn’t sound like a brilliant idea in the case of people with diabetes. But, choosing to make a pastry with palm sugar or indulging in a hot bowl of moong dal halwa made of some sweetening agent isn’t going to ruin everything in life.
Any form of sugar has higher calories and lower nutrient content. There are biological research papers and materials which show that there is no need for added sugars in our diet when natural sugars can be consumed in the form of fruits and vegetables. There are also studies showing that around 80% of palm sugar is actual sugar compared to 100% sugar in white sugar. Hence, there is indeed a small benefit of doubt that proves that palm sugar is definitely a better choice than white sugar but only when consumed in moderation.
Being mindful of what we eat, choosing natural fruits and veggies over sugar-based processed foods, and including sugar-based foods in moderation in the diet are some ways to monitor sugar intake and keeping it at bay. Getting in touch with a nutritionist/dietitian to plan a well-balanced diet that has more whole foods, less sugar intake, and modifying the lifestyle to keep diabetes under control is the best way to achieve good health.
Did you get the beauty sleep last night? If not, then there are higher chances of being victimized by Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Recommending individuals to sleep sufficiently to stay healthy and fit is easier said than done. In between busy work schedules, night shift jobs, household chores, and childcare not many are blessed to sleep well. Even if all these are managed, there are some others who binge watch series and movies these days. With such very many problems, getting a good night’s sleep is a luxury now.
Sleep and diabetes are intangible. We are aware that overweight/obesity issues and a sedentary lifestyle can trigger diabetes but sleep is yet another important factor that has a powerful impact on sugar levels:
Sleep Deprivation & Insulin Resistance
A majority of T2D patients suffer from insomnia or reduced sleep quality caused mainly due to very high (hyperglycemia) or very low (hypoglycemia) sugar levels during the night. Poor sleeping quality or sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance due to which the insulin hormone is improperly used resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.
Also, individuals already suffering from high blood glucose levels find it troubling/annoying to go to sleep. There are a couple of reasons behind this:
On the contrary, oversleeping is also dangerous when it comes to diabetes. Sleeping for longer hours without eating or medications could result in irritation, sweatiness, and confusion while awakening the next day.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is the body’s way of relaxing both mentally and physically. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that every adult needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep to stay healthy, be active, and perform our chores efficiently. Sadly, many diabetics hardly sleep well for 5-6 hours which is devastating to their health.
Research studies show that individuals with short sleep durations were at a higher risk of prediabetes compared to those sleeping for at least 7 hours. Incidentally, the effects of sleep deprivation is more pronounced in men than women. One study focused solely on men and found that sleeping for extended hours improved the body’s use of insulin and hence, reducing the risk of T2D.
The direct effect of lack of sleep is spike in insulin resistance but the other effects such as trouble with weight loss, improper functioning of the immune system, increase in BP levels, and an urge to binge-eat junk food indirectly promote the risk of diabetes. Each of us require quality sleep to start a new day with energy. Loss of sleep disrupts the individual’s decision-making skills and might even lead to faulty food choices that includes picking calorie-rich foods that promote weight gain. Also, sluggishness exists in some people due to lack of energy which institutes a sedentary lifestyle. Get in touch with nutritionist/dietitians to correct lifestyle practices, lose weight, and stay healthy. There are higher risk of smoking and alcohol consumption in individuals lacking enough sleep. Such behaviors are extremely unhealthy, each being a ticking time bomb on disrupting blood sugar levels.
There is also study evidence showing that diabetics who do not sleep well are at an increased risk of cognitive decline in their later stages of life.
Tips That Befit a Good Sleep
Given below are a couple of easy and practical ways in which individuals can improve their sleep quality.
It is a known fact that quality sleep is necessary for an active and healthy lifestyle. When it comes to people with diabetes, sleeping well becomes even more important to dissuade changes in blood glucose levels and other related issues such as increased risk of obesity. Failing to adhere to regular sleep schedules can result in further health-related problems. Hence, it is better to comply with the tips given above and sleep well for your well-being.
Sleep hasn’t always been on our priority list, at least for the present generation. A good night’s sleep helps us successfully pull through a busy day. But, the advent of the Internet, social media obsession, and streaming platforms have ruined our sleep routines altogether. We sleep during early morning hours and get up around late afternoons during weekends or during weekdays, get as less as 5 hours of sleep daily. Such insufficient sleep has a range of disastrous outcomes including negative performance at school/workplace, increased risk of obesity, lack of clarity, and higher risk for illnesses resulting in death sometimes.
Worldwide, more than 50% of the population complains about not sleeping well. It might seem like you are simply losing out on an hour of sleep everyday, but this accumulation can have the exactly same impact as going without sleep for an entire day. Though sleep duration and quality can differ worldwide, the notion regarding sleep remains the same—most individuals are dissatisfactory with their sleep duration. Many survive on consuming cups of coffee rather than reaching out for the required extra hour of sleep.
While most prominent reasons for sleeplessness are self-induced, there are some reasons that lead to decreased sleep quality—sedentary lifestyle is one of those prominent reasons that impairs sleep quality of individuals.
Ouch! Don’t Be a Couch Potato: Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Sleep Quality
Sitting has become our way of life, especially with the IT industry ruling our lives. Our lifestyle demands that we sit for longer hours in a sedentary position daily. A sedentary lifestyle has never been accepted nor recommended for good health. Most of us are aware of the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle which includes risk of obesity/overweight, elevated chances of diseases including diabetes, and decreased overall performance. But, besides all these, a sedentary lifestyle also has the ability to hinder sleep quality in an individual.
Sedentary behavior includes a sitting/reclining posture with energy expenditure in minimum. A thorough research was conducted to find out the significant of such sedentary behavior on sleep quality and sixteen studies matched the research requirements. A meta-analysis of all the studies showed that sedentary behavior induced sleep disturbance and elevated the risk of insomnia. Such disturbances in sleep in turn affect the activeness quotient of individuals during the daytime.
Another study divulged into the sleep routines of Korean adults. More than 2,00,000 participants were analysed for their sedentary lifestyle and its impact on their sleep quality. Results showed that compared to sleeping for lesser than 4 hours daily, leading a sedentary lifestyle and sleeping for more than 8 hours daily was linked to a greatly decreased sleep quality among both the genders. The study also showed that women had poorer sleep quality compared to men due to reasons such as menstruation, menopause, household chores, decreased leisure time, and pregnancy. As checked out by this research time, not only their study but many other studies also provide similar results associating between sedentary lifestyle and decreased sleep quality.
Several other studies clearly show that low levels of physical exercise decreased sleep duration and quality. It is also derived from these research data that better sleep led to better sleep quality and regular physical activity improved sleep levels. Also, older individuals who expressed sedentary behavior for 8-11 hours daily suffered from greater risk of sleep-related problems.
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, every individual must pursue at least one moderate-intensity physical activity and do it for at least 5 times a week for 150 minutes. The other two days could involve muscle strengthening activity. Any person who doesn’t follow this schedule falls into the category of leading a sedentary lifestyle. Such a lifestyle decreases overall sleep quality which in turn affects quality of life.
To avoid all these, why don’t we move more and lead an active lifestyle. Maybe, walk while talking over the phone, bring a close friend to walk together in the park, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and choose activity-based games.
Even while working, make it a point to get up from the desk every 1 hour or so and do some stretching. Include innovative ideas to stand and work, make it a habit to move more everyday, and set a goal for yourself to achieve it. Else, you will end up with reduced sleep quality that not only disrupts everyday routine but also instigates the risk of various diseases including cardiovascular problems and immune problems.
Individuals are comfort-seekers who love to indulge in the small pleasures of life and find happiness in the little things they do. We don’t feel good when our day-to-day routine is interrupted or when we have to go out of our way to fulfil some requirements. Beyond all this, when our health is disrupted, it not only affects our physical health but also brings unrest to our body. Any sort of health problems ruin our peace of mind and cause mood swings affecting not only the person involved but also others around him/her. The same holds good with diabetes, a disease that requires stringent lifestyle modifications and eating habits.
Stress is one of the risk factors for diabetes and the same could be an impact of the disease too. For instance, when someone with a sweet tooth is suddenly asked to give up on everything sugary, they are sure to become distraught. It is our feeling but in reality, let’s see whether glucose levels impact our mind and mood.
Diabetes Steals Away Mental Health Stealthily
There are times when each of the organs do their function, still the individual feels sick. That’s mainly because our body’s health is dependent on a multitude of factors including thoughts, attitude, feelings, and beliefs. The world is presently witnessing a sharp increase in depression rates and the hard fact is that people with diabetes are 2-3 times likelier to have depression compared to others. Also, the risk of poor mental health is double in case of women compared to men. We have different studies proving them too. A research study in 2020 showed that variations in mood and stress has a significant impact on blood glucose levels and glycemic variability. Another meta-analysis showed that depression is linked to hyperglycemia in diabetes and anxiety levels could be as high as 40% in those with diabetes.
Generally, scientific research has shown that hyperglycemia is linked with anger and sadness while lower blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) is linked with nervousness. We have a growing pile of evidence pointing toward the relationship between mood and blood sugar levels and haphazard glycemic levels reflect in poor mental health symptoms. Surprised? Don’t be, as our brain functions on glucose and variations in glucose bring variations in mental health.
Some of the symptoms of low blood sugar that hinders the mood of an individual include hunger nervousness, anxiety, personality changes, problems with decision making, confusion, and irritability. High blood sugar levels can induce tiredness, an unwell feeling, and difficulties in concentration.
Diabetes disrupts blood glucose levels and to keep it under control, people with the problem adapt to a disciplined lifestyle routine including a strict diet, regular physical exercise, and medications (if necessary). Hence, these might become overwhelming for the patient ruining their mental and emotional health.
A condition called as diabetes distress can sometimes affect people with diabetes. Also called as diabetes-specific distress or diabetes-related distress, this might be a result of the agony involved in managing diabetes every day. There could be days when diabetics might feel lonely, discouraged, or even tired of caring for diabetes —a feeling of the disease controlling the patient rather than the individual controlling the disease might set in. Also, during some scenarios, there are chances of being affected by some side effect of diabetes despite every action taken to keep it under control. All such scenarios are potential risk factors for developing diabetes distress. The condition might affect even those who have been managing their diabetes in good condition for decades together. It has been witnessed that during any 18-month period, almost 33-50% of individuals with diabetes suffer from diabetes distress.
Diabetes distress has the potential to affect 1 in 5 people with insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, 1 in 6 people with non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, and 1 in 4 people with type 1 diabetes. Some common symptoms of diabetes distress include:
Ways to Neutralize Diabetes Distress
Variations in blood glucose levels affect your mind and mood disrupting both mental and physical health. Feelings play an important role in dealing with diabetes. If you doubt that you feel lonely, anxious, stressed, or irritated, it is better to share them with your family, friends, and healthcare provider. Otherwise, diabetes can strain your relationships with the people around you. Sometimes, it has even led people onto suicidal thoughts. Let’s not take it that farther but slay the demon before things go out of hand. So, when your loved ones are a part of diabetes management and start providing support, the communication between people become better and the chances of strain reduce considerably. An increase in quality of life of the individual decreases the strain imposed on mental health thereby promoting overall health.
Diabetes mellitus thrives as one of the deleterious disease worldwide but a majority of the world’s population don’t have accessibility to diabetes care including the basic need of insulin as well. Diabetes is a disorder that needs constant lifestyle adaptations and regular monitoring to keep it under control. But, firstly, not many individuals come forward to get themselves tested, and even if they do, not many are cheerful enough to seek the guidance of a healthcare physician to maintain blood glucose levels with the help of medications whenever needed.
The diabetes rate has more than doubled since the 1980s—highly prevalent in low and middle income countries compared to high-income countries. Such high rates not only show the dreadfulness of the disease but also imply the presence of severe obesity/overweight rates around the world. Untreated diabetes can potentially result in blindness, amputation of the lower limb, stroke, heart attack, and even kidney disease. For this, the foremost requirement is that all individuals possess the knowledge to get themselves tested regularly and get onto the treatment regimen once diagnosed with the disease.
But that’s all we can do as individuals. Beyond testing and consultation, it’s not the individual’s duty to seek access to diabetes care. While people in high-income countries have complete access to all components of diabetes care, there are some countries where even the basic care isn’t of good quality or diabetes care remains totally inaccessible for most. While this lack of access can be a threat to controlling blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients, the inaccessibility to insulin becomes life threatening for individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Insulin Remains Inaccessible Even After 100 Years
The history of insulin bores great surprises. While the scientists who discovered insulin were warm hearted to sell the patent for just one dollar to benefit the people worldwide, businesses have made insulin production a multi-billion dollar business thereby making it out of reach for most individuals. The development of therapeutic insulin in 1921 was a big breakthrough in medical history until now saving millions of lives but the discrepancies brought about by its costing nature and unavailability to all questions the position of diabetics worldwide.
Insulin is the cornerstone for diabetes care especially for people with type 1 diabetes. It helps save the lives of millions, makes diabetes a manageable disease for more than 10 million people with type 1 diabetes and reduces the risk of kidney failure, amputation problems, and blindness in more than 50 million individuals with type 2 diabetes.
But sadly, every one of two individuals needing insulin for treating type 2 diabetes don’t get it. There are more than 520 million people with diabetes, almost 16% more than the numbers shown in 2019.
Three multinational companies control 90% of the insulin market hiking their prices consistently. 80% of diabetics live in low-/middle income countries such as Africa and Asia which are unable to keep up with the rising rates of insulin demands, especially when the rates are also quite high. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 1.6 million deaths occur annually due to diabetes. Such numbers don’t pose a burden to the individual solely but also affect the country’s healthcare system.
World Diabetes Day, Theme of the Year: Access to Diabetes Care
The underlying aim is to prevent the occurrence of type 2 diabetes and cure type 1 diabetes. There are various remission programs including low-carb programs and lifestyle modifications suggested to reverse or keep diabetes into remission. Such programs clearly prove that it’s possible for at least 1 of 4 diabetes-affected individuals to reduce or stop using insulin at one year of program. There are also programs developed for type 1 diabetes individuals.
Type 2 diabetes which was once thought as a progressive, chronic condition which lasts a lifetime has now become a reversible one. But, individuals must take every action possible to incorporate these—bring about lifestyle modifications, exercise regularly, correct food habits, and sleep well to minimize the risk of diabetes and control blood glucose levels.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021-2023 is access to diabetes care. We need to focus primarily on two things mainly: to reduce the cost of insulin to make it more accessible to individuals in low-/medium-income countries. Next, focusing on reversing diabetes to reduce burden on healthcare costs.
The centenary year of insulin discovery could be used in a very unique way to bring about meaningful changes to the lives of people suffering from diabetes. Diabetes, from an epidemic stage has become a pandemic of unrecognised proportions resulting in extremely high premature mortality and morbidity rates.
Besides diagnosing and enabling diabetes care, the world must focus on reducing the risk of the disease by pursuing a healthy lifestyle, seek the recommendation of dietitian/nutritionists to follow a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Above all, access to the right information is power—let’s stop spreading misinformation through electronic media and help in propagating correct information that helps individuals improve their quality of life.
Don’t be swayed away by the term ‘sugar alcohols,’ as these are nothing but sweeteners that resemble the structure of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules. Also known as ‘polyols,’ sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that are naturally present in some fruits and vegetables. These are commonly used as sugar substitutes and have become very popular among not only those with diabetes but also other individuals wanting to lose weight, keep a count on their calories, and those watching out for general health. But, it is always better to consult a dietitian/nutritionist and get their approval whether or not it is safe for use for your health.
Carbs & Calories
Though some imagine these sugar substitutes to be calorie-free, in reality, they contain about one-third to half the calories compared to normal sugar. Hence, they are termed as low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) instead of considering them as zero-calorie substitutes. Polyols can be anywhere between 25 and 100% as sweet as sugar without the equivalent calories and negative consequences such as tooth decay or increased blood sugar levels. It is predominantly because they take their sweet own time converting into glucose and require negligible or no insulin for metabolizing.
Potential Advantages of Sugar Alcohols
Due to their slow processing ability, sweets and candies containing sugar alcohols are a welcome treat to those with higher blood glucose levels as these individuals can consume such treats in moderation while maintaining their glycemic levels under control. Also, there are no potential hazards of tooth decay here as the bacteria present in the mouth don’t feed on these sugar substitutes.
Being low-digested carbs, when you consume any product with sugar alcohols, it is not completely absorbed by the small intestine but gets passed through to the large intestine where the bacteria take care of it—yet another advantage here as these substitutes are proud of contributing to the growth of good bacteria. All these make them one of the most-preferred sugar substitutes among diabetics as well as health-conscious individuals.
Potential Disadvantages of Sugar Alcohols
There’s no great harm in adding sugar alcohols to foods in limited quantities, but consuming them in larger quantities might result in digestive issues including gas, diarrhoea, and more. It might even trigger worse symptoms in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For those familiar with the acronym FODMAP, P here stands for polyols, and hence, individuals with IBS are recommended to consume a low-FODMAP diet. There have even been instances where doctors have prescribed sugar alcohols as laxatives for some people.
Eating foods with sugar alcohols multiple times daily might upset the tummy and during such times, it is better to find an alternative sweetening agent. Also, though sugar alcohols are low in calories they are no magic pill for weight loss. Eating them in excess could lead to calorie addition. The American Diabetes Association suggests taking sugar alcohols in moderation without consuming them excessively.
Do You Read the Nutrition Label?
Anyone trying to cut down on calorie or sugar intake would grab at the very first opportunity of reading the nutrition label in food packages. There are many food packages that come with the labelling ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no added sugars.’ But remember that even such foods might contain fats, sugars, and carbohydrates. If you look closely, the Nutrition facts would list sugar alcohol as one of the components of total carbohydrates and also its quantity present. If the food has only one or two sugar alcohols, they would be mentioned clearly.
Some popular sugar alcohols include sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol, lactitol, erythritol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH).
Sugar Alcohols Vs Artificial Sweeteners
There are various substitutes for sugar and two popular ones are sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. Both are not the same with the primary difference being that while artificial sweeteners contain zero calories, sugar alcohols might contain around 2 calories per gram. Another major difference is that artificial sweeteners have no carbohydrates and don’t pose any risk to increase in glycemic levels. But, sugar alcohols do contain carbs and could have some effect on blood sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners leave you with extreme sweetness being hundreds of times sweeter than normal sugar. There are many food companies that combine both sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners in preparing various food products to enhance their sweetness levels.
Generally, sugar alcohols are not used in everyday food preparation at homes but find a place mostly while making processed foods at factories. Most foods that have a label as ‘sugar-free’ mostly contain sugar alcohol and these include candies, chewing gums, soft drinks, energy bars, frostings, jams, ice creams, and cookies. As they don’t pose any risk to our teeth, sugar alcohols are used in the preparation of toothpaste and mouthwash as well.
These substitutes might be a smart pick for those with diabetes as they not provide taste but also improve gut health. But, as they contain calories and carbs, it is best to consume foods with sugar alcohol in moderation to stay healthy and maintain blood sugar levels under control.
Weight loss has always been the mantra for treating type 2 diabetes and this treatment protocol has worked magically. But what about people in normal weight ranges? Firstly, are they victimized by diabetes and secondly, if the answer is yes, would we suggest the same weight loss treatment method for such people to achieve diabetes remission or control? Let’s unravel the mystery.
Obesity/overweight does increase the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) but 5-15% (the numbers are still climbing) of individuals with T2D are in the normal weight ranges. Researchers feel that rather than blaming obesity for the cause of T2D it is, in fact, because the individual is too heavy for his/her body irrespective of the BMI number. Every person has a ‘personal fat threshold’ above which the chances of developing T2D increases.
While there have been various contemplations about the cause of T2D in normal people, an ongoing research program called Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes upon Normalization of Energy Intake in the Non-obese (ReTUNE) trial is looking into whether weight loss in normal weight people can help with diabetes remission.
In this study, the normal-weight participants were given a low-calorie diet (800 calories/day) for two weeks after which they were supported with maintaining the weight. The same procedure was conducted thrice and the results were amazing:
The results undeniably show that excess fat has a debilitating role in controlling the occurrence and remission of diabetes. Fat accumulation around the liver prevents normal insulin functioning while in the pancreas, it stops insulin production by beta cells both of which pave way for T2D.
A JAMA study showed that slightly obese/overweight people with reasonable weight sizes (in turn, reasonable belly fat) had better diagnosis compared to normal weight individuals suffering from bigger waists and at a greater risk of death.
Besides body fat and waistline, another important factor triggering T2D is muscle mass. Muscles help in burning sugar and hence, higher the muscle mass lesser the quantity of sugar that’s converted to fat. Let’s get this straight—a BMI of 30 and above needs immediate action irrespective of waistline but when the BMI range is between 18.5 and 29.9, waist size plays a key role in elevating the risk of diabetes. Increased waist size means increased belly fat (visceral fat) and this in turn means increased risk of T2D.
The height of a person has an impact on waist size. The maximum waist size permissible for a person is the number got when we divide the height by 2. For example, the maximum waist size permitted for a 5 feet (60 inches) tall person is 30 inches. Generally, women should have a waist size below 32 inches and men 35 inches or below.
It is clearly understood that the cause behind T2D in normal weight people is beta-cell dysfunction or fat deposition around the liver and pancreas due to which insulin secretion becomes a problem. Some effective ways to control or put diabetes into remission in such individuals include:
Never go near sweets, avoid eating those starchy potatoes, stay away from white rice—these are
some of the commonest phrases we have heard from people around us in connection with diabetes and diet. Friends, family members and colleagues advice out of goodwill but don’t you think that food-related suggestions and diet alterations are a doctor’s department? Why play the doc and block out an individual’s choices?
In reality, “there is no special diet for people with diabetes or those aiming for diabetes reversal”, and, this is not simply a theory but an authentic declaration by Diabetes UK, which exclusively deals with diabetes. Time and again, we have heard of several reasons lurking behind the occurrence of diabetes, one of which is overweight/obesity. Losing even 5% of the body weight has a humongous benefit on the health of the individual. Living in a world thriving on fad diets and fanciful packaged products, there are umpteen ways to gain or even lose weight. But the actual concern is whether or not the chosen path is healthy.
Choosing the right foods to eat goes a long way towards aiding weight loss, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and makes an individual feel better in all ways. So, rather than picking a particular diet plan or eliminating food groups altogether, let’s look at it from a practical perspective. With so many choices available, why don’t we create a well-balanced diet with the right types of foods in the right proportion to keep us healthy with diabetes?
The key to eating with diabetes is eating smaller portions, picking more of healthy foods, consuming less of processed foods, and munching on something healthy every few hours to stabilize blood-sugar levels.
Choosing a healthy diet mainly includes picking a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups in varying proportions to make it a balanced diet. The bigger plates, bowls, and cups are another factor for oversized waistlines. Cut down on portion sizes (which vary based on your age, sex, gender, and activity levels) to improve weight loss effects, take a bite of your favorite pastry occasionally, or don’t fret about eating that extra roti once a while, but never give up on eating healthy foods regularly. Understand, there is no special meal plan or a couple of foods that bring down sugar levels magically. It is a perfect blend of all foods that assist in reducing diabetes levels and keep the body in a healthy state.
Sleep is integral for a good quality of life despite which many of us ignore it prioritizing all other things in life. It is a universal phenomenon that helps a person get back his/her energy stores, prepares him/her for the next day’s hectic schedule and is the phase during which memories are created and even calories are burned. A life without sleep is impossible. All of us sleep but its only that our quality differs tremendously. Some of us go to sleep instantly once we hit the bed while it takes ample time for some others; some go into deep sleep mode while some others are light sleepers where the slightest of the sound or light could awaken them. In general, every adult’s sleep goes through sleep phases of REM sleep and NREM sleep with the NREM phase occurring first followed by a short period of REM sleep and the cycle starts over once again. There are 3-5 cycles of REM/NREM with an average duration of 90-100 minutes. The NREM sleep consists of four stages from 1 to 4 where each stage lasts between 5 and 15 minutes. Stage 1 and 2 are light sleep stages while 3 and 4 are deep sleep stages. During stage 1 the heartbeat, eye movements and breathing slow and the muscles relax and, these become further slower and more relaxed during stage 2. It is during stage 3 and 4 that heartbeat and breathing slow to the lowest level during sleep and muscles are in maximum relaxed state. The REM sleep occurs some 90 minutes after you fall asleep where the eyes move rapidly from side to side behind your closed eyelids. Breathing becomes faster and irregular and also heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels and this is also the stage during which dreams occur.
There is so much happening in our body while we sleep but all that we can remember is going to bed, experiencing few dreams rarely and waking up in the morning. Some get up in the middle to use the restroom while some others might wake up in a frightened state. There are devices that help the individual to sleep for some more time such as a snooze alarm; there are devices that dim the lights when the user falls asleep and switches on the light automatically when the user gets up or when its time to wake up and there are other devices mostly used for health purposes that monitor the health of the user and give out warning signs when normalcy is not prevalent. Most of these systems are either too simple which prevents them from providing all the required information or too complicated providing the user with results that further confuse him/her. There exists a need to come up with a user-friendly, simple but thorough sleep assist system that fulfills our requirements. The invention patented here relates to a monitoring system consisting of a sleep sensing unit and a base unit that helps us provide the exact kind of sleep assistance. The sleep sensing unit is provided with sensors (such as ballistography-based sensing functions) and the base unit is coupled to the sleep sensing unit set up to receive data from the sleep sensing unit and its own sensors too. It’s the function of the base unit to notify the user of his/her sleep patterns such as how many times the user entered the REM phase, how often he/she got up to use the restroom and also provide a detailed description of the sleep stages and cycles timings.
The sleep assist system developed comprises of a bedside device that is placed near the user’s bed and comprises of any of these-a loudspeaker, microphone, light source, light/temperature sensor, control unit, a first sensing unit adapted to be positioned in the user’s bed comprising of one or more sensors adapted to sense pressure or changes in pressure exerted by the user lying in the bed nearby and an additional sensor device that is in contact with the user’s body and also has contact with the bedside device. The system is configured to monitor the user’s sleep, assess sleep cycles, provide the user with at least one light and sound program and the additional sensory device helps in measuring the user’s heart rate level, respiratory rate level and skin temperature. The sleep assist system can also analyze whether or not the user suffers from sleep apnea and also has the ability to raise an alarm to whomsoever is concerned when the system is used by elderly people, those with medical conditions and pregnant women.
The sleep system designed here helps in both, monitoring and improving sleep quality. It also aims at offering information on the effect of environment on sleep quality and also enlighten each user on his/her sleeping patterns. With such information the individual would be able to understand the factors that wake him/her and compare past nights and compare with the meals and beverages consumed and the activity done the previous day. The user can also set up customized sleep and wake-up programs that includes wake-up time schedules too. The sleep environment information helps the user in understanding what can have a positive or negative impact on sleep quality and also get an insight on the elements that could have impacted sleep quality. The system also allows a mobile device to wirelessly connect to it and access all the data and information stored within it. This helps the user visualize his/her sleeping patterns, understand the reasons behind waking up each night and compare the data with past results. When the user sets up sleep- and wake-up programs the sleep assist system uses this data and starts sending wake up signals to the user at the most beneficial time of sleep cycle-the light sleep stage. The patent was published on Jan 21st, 2016 and for more details regarding the patent please visit any of the sites below:
United States Patent & Treaty Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=293&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)&p=6&OS=health+AND+exercise+AND+fitness&RS=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20160121&CC=US&NR=2016015315A1&KC=A1
World intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US154280677&_cid=P21-JZL084-82488-1
Patent: Methods and Systems for Treating Cancer & Other Age-related Diseases by Extending the Healthspan of a Human
Ageing is inevitable and remains the most familiar aspect of human biology. Almost 1/5th of the human population would be individuals aged above 60 by 2050 as the average life expectancy has drastically increased during the last couple of decades. How we age is a matter of concern here as ageing is often accompanied by metabolic disorders such as diabetes and health problems, atherosclerosis and neurodegenerations. Enormous research on ageing that has resulted in finding pharmacological agents that can extend lifespan and healthspan shows that ageing is malleable. The main issue that remains here is to live a longer life that’s devoid of age-related functional decline and fragility that includes diseases such as cancer. Cancer causes millions of deaths annually and in the future one in every eighth person would be a victim of this disease. Ageing can be delayed and so can cancer. Muscle atrophy is one definite side effect of cancer and cachexia (extreme weight loss and muscle wasting) is a positive sign of death in almost 22-40% cancer patients. Presently, cachexia is treated by improving the individual’s appetite with appetite stimulants and protein supplementation so as to supply the patient with nutrients. This, apart from improving chances of survival also improves the chances that the cancer patient withstands treatment procedures successfully. But these treatment procedures including physical rehabilitation and treatment for underlying diseases is not successful and what we need is an effective treatment protocol for correcting muscle wasting that helps in extending both, lifespan and healthspan.
We have always thought of procedures and treatments for inhibiting ageing in individuals which in turn helps to minimize the occurrence of diseases such as cancer. The invention patented here is of utmost use in each of our lives as it provides a method and system for extending healthspan and lifespan of humans as well as for preventing the onset of diseases such as cancer. Delaying ageing process delays/prevents the occurrence of debilitating illnesses such as cancer. The invention here looks at the large picture rather than its pieces in that rather than trying to deal with age-related pathologies one by one the invention tries to overcome age-related pathologies in general. By this, it focuses to bring an overall new approach to the current public health strategy which involves steps taken to prevent illnesses individually which can sometimes leave the patient susceptible to other illnesses in the treatment period.
Tomato fruit is mostly consumed by individuals in salads and curries and its consumption has greatly been associated with a reduced risk of inflammatory processes, cancer and non-communicable diseases that includes cardiovascular diseases (CVD such as heart disease, obesity and hypertension. One aspect of the invention uses a natural small molecule that’s been derived from tomato plants, tomatidine, that is associated with cell growth (majorly in skeletal muscle tissue). Basically, tomatidine is an inhibitor of muscle wasting and the invention here looks at providing cancer patients with bacteria that have been modified to produce tomatidine to address muscle atrophy linked to various cancers. Treatment for cancers are also linked to the production of p53, a tumor support factor. In one representation of the invention, cancer treatment was enabled by administering the microbiome of a subject with a bacterial combination that expresses p53 protein and tomatidine as in the case of breast, colorectal, kidney or bladder cancer. Particular agents and certain combinations are administered in various representation of the invention to lessen the occurrence of cancer which is due to the delay of ageing. One such agent is rapamycin (sirolimus), a bacteroid produced by the bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus. Administering rapamycin via microbiome helps in fighting against age-related diseases. Rapamycin is an inhibitor of mTOR complex (mammalian target of rapamycin) which is a serine threonine kinase and a regulator of protein synthesis, cell growth and cell metabolism. Excessive mTORC1 activity has been noticed in various types of cancers, inflammatory skin diseases, bowel disease and neurodegenerative diseases. Rapamycin is used in the invention to treat/prevent medical conditions by inhibiting the mTORC1 pathway. Tomatidine and rapamycin both are used to sort out cancer, ageing and cachexia as the former has the ability to preserve muscle mass while the latter reduces growth of muscles (basically prevents the growth of cancer cells).
The modified bacteria used in the invention are administered directly though the mouth to deliver the therapeutic directly to the gastrointestinal tract. Shortening of telomers is associated with ageing but trying to rebuild shortened ends using telomerase often results in cancer. Ageing can cause telomer damage in the nucleus which in turn can trigger the activation of p53 that can have different effects on the individual. p53 is a gene that inhibits damaged cells to grow and this gene prevents cancer in younger people but at the same time, it can cause ageing by impairing the body’s ability to renew deteriorating tissues. Physical activity, diet modifications and addressing hormone signaling are all practical ways to extend human healthspan but the problem here is that most individuals don’t follow it. Shortening of telomers and using enzymes to rebuild telomers thereby lengthening the telomers at a risk of cancer is due to the effect of such enzymes on p53 mutation which deprives the individual of the cancer-inhibiting wild-type p53.
One representation of the invention looks at producing resveratrol by using an individual’s microbiome to delay ageing as well as treat cancer as it has been viewed to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic and anti-cancerous effects. Hence, the basic principle of this invention is to achieve cellular rejuvenation by modifying microbes such that the individual’s own microbiome generates desired combinations of chemicals that extend life and health spans without altering the human genes. The patent was published on December 7th, 2017 and for more details on the patent please visit:
Untied States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=115&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&s1=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)&p=3&OS=health+AND+exercise+AND+fitness&RS=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US206640361&_cid=P20-JYIL0P-06069-1
One fine day you sit down to browse and surprisingly all the ads that pop up interest you-the all-new handbag collection, latest range of athleisure stuffs or interesting travel options. You are both surprised and happy, but there is a lingering doubt back of your mind-does the computer spy on me? Definitely no, but the marketing people are indeed spying on you by using big data to personalize ads that users view online.
Life sciences are not the first stream to utilize big data and most of us are aware of the information giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook that play a full-time role in applying algorithms and coming up with the movies you like to watch or the food you love to eat. Now, the combination of science and technology empowers researchers to analyze big data to save lives in the medical field as well. Reputed organizations are trying to gain access and pledge ownership to huge treasures of medical data to come up with innovative ways to reduce a person’s risk of developing or dying from stroke or heart disease.
A Bigger Picture on Big Data
True to its name, big data is larger, complex data sets that are extremely voluminous that no traditional data processing software can manage them. Scientists, businessmen, medical practitioners, advertisers and governments are few sects of people whose lives spin around big data.
Big Data & the Healthcare Industry
Already a successful venture in other industries, using big data in the healthcare sector started a little later which seems odd keeping in mind the earlier predictions that the medical industry would be one of the most-benefited sectors from big data technology. The role of big data in medicine helps to build better health profiles to diagnose and treat patients in a better way.
Healthcare industry is said to be complex due to the diversity of health-related ailments and their effects, the various treatment options available and their effects and due to the innumerable methods and approaches available for interpreting healthcare data. Despite its advantage and positive effect on the general public, there are certain criteria that make medical big data a complex one to practice:
Is There a Need for Big Data in Medicine?
Healthcare is a major money-generating industry apart from being the lifeguard for people affected by various illnesses. Despite its criticality, most countries look forward to improving their healthcare quality, patient outcomes, increased data availability and increased analytical capabilities. Big data use is already visible in the delivery of personalized medicines, deciding treatment and diagnosis options using educational messages via mobile devices to bring about desired patient behavior, fraud detection and prevention. Some important areas that need big data analytics to improve healthcare include:
Big data plays a key role in healthcare and is necessary but not sufficient as simply collecting huge amounts of data is of no value if the data cannot be analyzed and used to generate information that we can use to act upon.
Big data can play a key role in pharmacogenetics and healthcare. Its often observed that people with the same cancer subtype respond differently to the same chemotherapy. Scientists can make use of big data to analyze molecular aberrations in cancer types and also discover new aberrations. Also, almost a quarter of the population affected by diabetes, cardiovascular illness or high blood pressure are enrolled in online communities for such diseases and seek peer help and review. Social media offers a great platform for healthcare companies to obtain such data, predict major outbreaks and improve public healthcare.
Heart Attack Prediction
Accumulation of plaque is the primary cause of a heart disease. Presently, there is more data available than anytime earlier owing to medical records, telemedicine facility, insurance reports, genomics and sensor data. Hours before a heart attack troponin levels inside the body increase and measuring these levels help us identify risk of an attack. Recent advances have enabled measurement of troponin levels via a smartphone by implanting a troponin detection senor. Troponin-related data is sent to a monitoring center to analyze data in real time. Smartphones and fitness devices have the ability to capture and transmit health-related data to huge databases. Even a wrist watch can indicate heart condition, detect a forthcoming heart attack and call for help immediately. This reduces death rates dramatically and also decreases the chances of disability henceforth.
Data mining is of immense aid to healthcare institutions to take decisions regarding customer relationship management, single out the best treatment measures and help patients receive a better health service at an economic cost. There are different algorithms used to determine heart diseases. These algorithms use a weighted average calculation for determining heart disease symptoms.
Most of the risk factors and symptoms related to heart attack come from population studies. Researchers have analyzed data of thousands of people who had heart attack or stroke going back on their health habits and finding the causes behind the occurrence of the heart attack. That’s how smoking, high BP and diabetes have always been treated as well-known risk factors of a heart attack. Dietary intakes play a major role in predicting the risk of heart attack. Leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly are perfect ways to reduce the risk of the disease greatly. If you are at a risk of the disease, you can get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to get a diet plan customized for you*r requirements. Researchers feel that there might be 100s of such risk factors which manual intervention cannot predict. Big data comes to use here as a computer can digest billions of data and come up with all possible risk factors for a heart attack.
Retina of the Eye
Blood vessels of the retina are a reflection of the health of the blood vessels that run all over our body. Researchers have tried to predict heart attack risk with the help of human eye’s retina and other factors such as the individual’s age, weight, BP levels and smoking habits. An algorithm was created and the risk of heart attack was predicted using it with the help of subtle differences in the blood vessels that were visible from the photo. The study group compared the retina of individuals who suffered from a heart attack within five years of capturing the photo to the retina of individuals who did not suffer from an attack. The results of the algorithm were perfect 70% times. If this is proven in a large-scale population we might just skip on the traditional risk factors, avoid getting blood tests and simply take a shot of the retina to diagnose heart attack risk.
Smartwatches that define heart rate can also detect AFib. Almost 10,000 participants which included 347 patients with AFib were involved in a study. All of them used Apple watches and provided big data to researchers which they used to detect AFib using an app. They tested the app on 51 patients with AFib and the results were accurate but was only moderately correct in more than 1500 individuals who self-reported symptoms of AFib. If further research enables 100% success in figuring out AFib using a smartphone there can be numerous cases of death and disabilities prevented.
While big data seems to contain tremendous potential using it in healthcare industry seems quite challenging considering various factors. Firstly, there are not many evidences showing the advantage of using big data in healthcare and secondly, there are many scientific issues involved regarding data quality, data stability, limitation of observational studies, analytical problems and legal problems in accessing data. Big data needs to be integrated into clinical practice for utmost utilization of the available data. Once we solve the challenges with respect to privacy, security and ownership enjoying the benefits of big data in healthcare is not far off.
Wow! The baby’s out after hours and hours of labor. Umbilical cord-the magical connection between you and your baby that served as the primary means for exchange of nutrients and oxygen-rich blood is chopped off IMMEDIATELY. Running as a 20-inch long connection from the opening in the baby’s stomach to the placenta in the womb it’s still a fantasy that this cord having just a vein and two arteries helps to keep your baby alive through the pregnancy term and brings her/him into this world! Cutting off the cord from the placenta and from the baby’s belly (after leaving some 3-4 cms) within 10-15 seconds has been in practice since ages unknown. Why don’t we give the mom and baby some more time before cutting the cord when its going to be a better choice in terms of health for the little one?
Biblical Umbilical Cord
Its been shown that a transfer of 80ml of blood from the placenta occurs by 1 minute of birth increasing to 100 ml by 3 minutes. Before 1950s, early clamping was what that happening within 1 minute of birth and late clamping was what happened after 5 minutes of birth. But it was seen that almost 80-100 ml of blood transfer occurred within 3 minutes of birth and up to 90% of blood volume transfer was possible within first few breaths in healthy term infants because of which it became a practice to clamp and cut the cord within 15-20 seconds after birth. But recent developments have argued for delaying umbilical cord clamping by at least a few minutes after birth!
A new study finds that clamping the cord five minutes after birth is advantageous in forming the brain structure of the newborn. The research involved 73 babies that were grouped into two where in the first group of babies the umbilical cord was cut after a five-minute delay and in the other group the cord was clamped within 20 seconds. Four months into this world and each of the baby was subjected to a series of tests-MRI of the brain, a brain development test and a blood test to check their ferratin levels. Ferratin tests are a clear indication of the available iron in the blood as they are the main storage protein for iron in our body. Results showed that babies whose cords were cut after 5 minutes displayed increased levels of ferratin and their brain contained more of a substance called myelin. Myelin serves to protect our ‘grey’ matter and helps nerves communicate in a better manner. Also, more concentrated the amounts of myelin and ferratin are, better is the baby’s cognitive, motor, social and developmental skills as they are directly related to these components. Nourishment of the pregnant mom also plays an integral role in defining the health of the baby. Meeting a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com and getting a diet chart for your pregnancy term goes a long way in ensuring the health of the little one.
Previous studies in pre-term infants showed that delayed cord clamping (between 30 and 180 seconds) was linked to fewer infants needing transfusion to treat anemia, studies of delayed clamping supported decreased occurrence of intraventricular hemorrhage or enterocolitis too and others associated with improved circulation of blood in the infant’s heart and increased volume of red blood cells.
Studies of full-term infants showed that early clamping (within a minute) resulted in lower hemoglobin concentration at birth and also increased the baby’s risk of iron deficiency up to 6 months after birth. Children whose umbilical cords were cut early experienced delayed fine motor skills compared to those children whose cord was clamped later. Though there was a small risk involved due to increase in risk of jaundice in those infants subjected to delayed umbilical cord clamping, the benefits outweighed the risks overall.
Time to Change the Age-old Practice?
The World Health Organization insists that a preterm or full-term baby’s umbilical cord should not be clamped within a minute after birth until the newborn required positive pressure ventilation. While WHO recommends clamping the cord between 1 and 3 minutes after birth the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends clamping it between 30 and 60 seconds after birth.
Weighing the pros and cons, researchers find it safe to conclude that delaying umbilical cord clamping by 30-60 seconds in preterm and full-term infants is recommended. Maybe parents can put forth their suggestions with the physician and request for a delayed clamping. But none of these should be considered in times of emergency (either with the mom or baby) despite the benefits that go with it. Don’t you think the greatest benefit is to assure full care and health of the patient right away rather than work on something that might be needed for the future?
Who is ready for a pizza party at home? Irrespective of age (be it a toddler or an elderly person, adolescent or a middle-aged man) almost all of us raise our hands. Sophistication, advancement and modernisms are never curbed and we strive to achieve excellence and improvements when it is always for the better. Humans seem to have forgotten this concept when it comes to the field of nutrition. There have been aplenty new fruits and vegetables introduced, different cuisines and dishes tried and tested, ingredients revealed and healthy foods portrayed but individuals prefer eating tasty and processed treats. With decrease in health index of human beings there has been an inclination to eat more of nutrition-enhanced foods but still neither adults nor children have embarked on a nutritious journey to good health. The recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables consumption has never been met until now by a majority of the population while meat consumption exceeds dietary recommendations! Fats have been our favorite macronutrient with proteins following suit as they help us embark on our path to a muscular physique.
Nutrition, dietetics and health has become a major field these days with more and more people seeking the advice of registered dietitian nutritionists to improve their healthy intake and stay fit. Health programs that are conducted for children take place in various settings using various methodologies. But such programs are crucial as they form the foundation for strong eating habits as adults. The latest in trend is Social Marketing that is recommended by the World Health Organization to promote healthy eating patterns and lifestyle behaviors that’s good for the individuals. There are several reviews and programs suggesting that behavioral changes and eating behaviors (that included fruits, vegetables and whole grains consumption) improved greatly when Social Marketing strategies were implemented. There are increased insights revealing that web-based interventions are effective in changing behavior. Since long back we have noticed that our suggestions or recommendations go unnoticed with regards to anything be it studies, health or even general knowledge but the same gets high regards and is implemented when the knowledge is imparted by a professional who excels in the same field. Kids too regard their teachers as demi-Gods and there’s not a word that remains unfulfilled when it come from a teacher’s mouth.
Hence, nutritionists and dietitians are becoming an integral part of our lives as we live in a world that has forgotten to eat right. Rising obesity and overweight rates, widespread prevalence of health problems and diseases and the processed food culture have deviated our paths which now needs the intervention of an expert to take it right back to where it belonged- eating right. We have had several occasions where web-based interventions seem to be effective in changing behavior. You might meet the health expert in a face to face interview at the beginning but follow ups mostly happen via chats, messages or mails that help in reminding and encouraging individuals to bring in behavioral changes. We also have results showing that having something that’s beyond the web, such as messages or telephonic feedbacks do have a greater impact than email discussions and follow ups. Adults can take care of these follow up intervention methods but in the case of children it solely depends on the parent to decide how SMS or emails can improve their kid’s eating habits apart from web-based interventions.
A research study wanted to know whether providing additional support in the form of SMS or emails could improve a child’s eating behavior and lifestyle beyond web-based approaches. This study focused on Social Marketing nutrition program on kid’s food intake. The main focus was to know whether extra information and aids such as SMS follow ups would enhance behavioral changes of the kid instead of using only a web-based approach.
Looking Beyond Web-based Interventions for Improving a Child’s Nutrition Intake
The research took place in Switzerland, a country where only 55% girls and 40% boys ate fruits and vegetables daily. Data also shows that almost 40% of adults and more than 20% of children are either overweight or obese. A web-based social marketing program called ‘FAN’ was designed to encourage healthy food consumption and daily exercise performance among all people irrespective of their age group. Though parents used SMS, email and web services mostly on all days they were happier with the web-based intervention compared to the other two. The research team were focused on four different hypothesis: there would be an increase in healthy food consumption across age groups; there would be a decrease in unhealthy food consumption across age groups; email group would show greater improvement than web-only group and SMS group would show greater improvement than web-only group. Families were invited to participate and those who decided to participate had to complete a baseline (BL) survey. After this each of them were assigned to one of the three groups namely Web-only (group G1), web + email (group G2) or web + SMS (group G3). The study period was 8 weeks and during this period both the parents and kids received information on nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Content was decided based on the gender of the parent, number of children and the gender of each kid and also based on the behavior that was perceived as being difficult to perform.
Encouraging words sometimes work wonders and this study too implemented the same. Every Tuesday, the website updated its site with a new theme on nutrition such as “You are off to a good start and that is half the battle!”. During the fifth week another theme called “Lunch and snacks with imagination”. Apart from imparting knowledge about the need for a healthy nutrition the website also came up with innovative, healthy and easy tips and recipes for eating better and staying healthier. You also get to know about introducing new foods onto your table and make your meal as healthy as possible. Emails and SMS were used as means to remind parents in the G2 and G3 groups to visit the Website. The email contained the link to the website, a note on the theme of the week, an attractive image and links to different pages on the Website at the bottom. SMS also followed the same pattern: a link to the website and a motivational message beneath it such as “Are you left with little time to cook for your child’s lunch box but still would love to make your little one eat a healthy meal daily? Then it’s time to visit the FAN Website!
A total of 452 parents and 608 kids were involved in the study and they were allocated to three different groups: G1 (163 parents and 218 kids), G2 (144 parents and 196 kids) and G3 (145 parents and 194 kids). As web-based programs were already established to be effective, this group was set as the control group. Gender, height, weight and age of kids were collected at baseline (BL). All the kids noted all of the day’s consumption in a food diary. The study group identified 12 main food categories that included water, fruits, vegetables, starchy foods, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, fats, fat meat and fat fish, sweets and soft drinks. Frequency of each food was noted and mean frequency was taken as mean of daily intake. Mean age of the kids was 8.5 years and almost 49.3% were boys. A total of 195 parents visited the website with 261 children: 72 parents and 95 children in G1, 56 parents and 78 kids in G2 and 67 parents with 88 kids in G3. It was 39%, 30% and 39% kids in G1, G2 and G3 who visited the website on their own. Results showed that:
Thus, a social marketing program that’s web-based helps in improving the child’s consumption of water, fruit, soft drinks and sweets.
Canadian Study on Web-based Intervention
No country has been spared of the obesity epidemic and this includes Canada as well where obesity rates have doubled in the last 30 years with one in three kids and adolescents affected by it. Obesity during adolescence is extremely harmful as it leads to greater mental trauma, physical insecurity and low self-esteem. A Quebec health survey on youth showed that more than 50% of adolescents don’t consume the recommended Canada Food Guide servings for vegetables and fruits (V/F) and milk products (M/A). There have been several suggestions and school-based intervention programs which incorporate technology use has been widely suggested for improving V/F and M/A consumption and changing eating behavior of children.
The study consisted of 10 classes of grade secondary I and II (grades 7 and 8) from 3 different schools in Canada. They were segregated into intervention (n=6) and control (n=4) group. Every student was given login credentials to the website and during the entire six-week calendar tenure each of the participants was asked to record their consumption of V/F and M/A from Monday to Friday twice a week. There were two icons displayed every day representing V/F and M/A. The icons were an apple and a milk carton and by clicking on each of the icons the participant could add servings of each of the foods consumed during different meal timings. V/F and M/A were further split into different colors based on their nutrient density and this included green (veggies rich in folic acid such as broccoli), orange (V/F rich in beta-carotene such as carrots), purple (vegetables rich in potassium and folic acid such as red cabbage, yellow (fruits containing aplenty vitamin C such as oranges), red (fruits rich in potassium & vitamin C such as cranberry) and blue (M/A rich in calcium and vitamin D including milk, cheese and yogurt). The children were challenged to fulfill the average daily consumption of recommended servings of V/F (6 servings/day) and M/A (3 servings per day) based on Canadian food guidelines. Scores for the participants were given based on ‘quantity’ and ‘variety’. Quantity refers to fulfilling the recommended servings while variety included that consumption must be equally distributed into six categories of foods based on the colors. There were regulation periods assigned after every two weeks to help children overcome hurdles and set their goals in the right direction to fulfill requirements. Data was collected at the start and end of the study for a total of 282 participants (193 in the intervention group and 89 in the control group). There were 42 overweight and 25 obese students and results of the study showed that:
The study shows that introducing web-based nutrition programs help youth adopt healthy eating habits as adults too later in life.
Does Additional Support Provided through e-mail or SMS in a Web-based Social Marketing Program Improve Children’s Food Consumption? https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-018-0334-1
The Impact of an Innovative Web-based School Nutrition Intervention to Increase Fruits & Vegetables & Milk & Alternatives in Adolescents: A Clustered Randomized Trial: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644089/
Inflammation is not bad all the time! Think of those times when you have a cut in your finger or bang your elbows against a door and the surrounding area is inflamed-its acute inflammation and this is helpful in the sense that the body sends out an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area with visible swelling and redness. So, inflammation is nothing but the body’s natural response to protect itself against harmful stimuli and start the healing process. It is of two types-acute and chronic. Acute inflammation starts rapidly and also becomes severe in no time such as in the case of acute bronchitis or appendicitis but also here, inflammation is indispensable without which the infection could become deadly. Chronic inflammation is a response to unwanted substance in the body, a failure to eliminate the causing agent, an autoimmune response to a self-antigen or a chronic irritant of low intensity that stays on such as toxins from cigarette smoke or excess presence of fat cells. This is hazardous and has the ability to develop into serious complications such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If we take up the case of atherosclerosis, inflammation inside the arteries paves way for the buildup of fatty, cholesterol-rich plaque that the body considers as abnormal and hence, it tries to eliminate this plaque from the blood flow. If the walls break there are high chances that the plaque would rupture, and the contents might mix up with blood forming a clot that blocks blood flow. Such clots lead to heart attacks and strokes. So, inflammation is a necessary evil that has consequences depending on the type of inflammation that happens in every individual.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best anti-inflammatory agents that also have an immune-modulating effect in diseases and conditions where inflammation is the underlying cause. These nutrients are necessary for an individual not only after birth but also when he/she is a fetus as they are the building blocks of every membrane of the cell in the human body and also regulate most biological functions. Fish oils are the best sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) as the body cannot produce these fatty acids on its own and we are forced to procure them through the food that we eat. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic aicd (DHA) together comprise the omega-3 family. Walnuts, certain beans and olive oils are great sources of ALA while fish including fish oils and supplements contain DHA and EPA. Oxygenation metabolites such as resolvins and protectins are said to have potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory actions. These metabolites along with other metabolites such as lipoxins and maresins help in resolving the inflammation by removing leucocytes and cellular debris. Multiple research results show that a composition containing low oxidized fish oil and juice in an oil-in-water emulsion is a good cure against inflammation and diseases where inflammation is the underlying cause. The present invention in the patent too consists of a composition of fish oil and juice where the fish oil has a totox value below 20 and omega-3 content above 10% by weight depending on the total weight of the fish oil for fighting against inflammation and diseases whose underlying cause is inflammation. The invention uses the composition and focuses mainly on diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) including mild cognitive impairment (MCI), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and obesity/overweight whose underlying cause is inflammation.
ALS: 11 ALS patients were studied, their disability measured before and after therapy and baseline inflammation gene transcription in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was investigated. ALS patients commonly witness inflammation in the spinal cord and here, 3 patients in the study consumed the composition used in the present invention. Results showed that using the composition of this invention lowered expression of inflammatory mRNA and also slowed ALS progress.
COPD: Here, there is an abnormal inflammatory response to inhaled gases and particulates and the key inflammatory cells are macrophages. Individuals with COPD often follow a poor diet, their muscle function is compromised and there are greater chances of malnutrition. Participants aged between 45 and 80 years took part in the study which happened for 6 months. A cell study mimicking COPD-like conditions were conducted. There was an extensive reduction in inflammation after dispensing the oil-and-juice mix.
Asthma, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-operative cognitive decline, stroke, coronary disease, diabetes, metabolic frailty, inflammatory bowel disease, traumatic brain injury and recovery from stroke, cachexia and sarcopenia may also be treated with the composition of the present invention. The fish oil used in the invention might be selected from any fish oil preparation whose oxidation level is low and has a mild fishy odor and taste. The juice content is about 20-95% by weight based on the total weight of the composition. The fruits selected for the juice must be high in antioxidants and have minimum levels of metal ions functioning as oxidizing agents. For instance, fruits such as apricots, pomegranates, grapefruit, pineapple, cranberry, raspberry, watermelon, peach, grapes, apple, mango, kiwi, passionfruit and lemons might be used for making the juice. Also, beets, greens such as kale, spinach, parsley and celery, cucumber and carrots might be used. The juice can be fresh-pressed or made by adding water to juice concentrates and juice purees thereby resulting in a normal ready-to-use juice. The composition might further be added with yoghurt powder or other powders such as hemp milk powder, almond milk powder or oat milk powder. This helps in thickening the composition and might be around 5-10% of the total composition by weight. Its mostly that vitamins, mostly vitamin D, are also added as a part of the composition. Emulsifiers such as milk solids, whey protein, oat protein and pea protein are used to stabilize the oil-in-water emulsion comprising of fish oil and juice. The composition for administration may be at a dosage in a range from 300 mg/day to 5000 mg/day of EPA and DHA where the preferred ranges include 3000 mg/day, more preferred includes 2000 mg/day and most preferred includes about 1199 mg/day. The composition might be given as a drink in a volume range of 50-300 ml, preferably 100 ml and more preferably 200 ml. The individual is administered one or several unit doses of the drink per day depending on his/her body weight. The patent was published on December 31st, 2014 and for more information on the patent please visit the following sites:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=26&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=fitness&s2=%22exercise+weight%22&OS=fitness+AND+%22exercise+weight%22&RS=fitness+AND+%22exercise+weight%22
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=2&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20170616&CC=HK&NR=1221875A1&KC=A1
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2014209132&_cid=P20-K04XKM-74473-1
Fitness is a part of our everyday life irrespective of our place, nature of stay or time. A critical business meeting cannot make you forego your morning walk or a sought-after holiday trip should not deter your fitness intentions. Fitness training is indispensable for the health of an individual belonging to any age group doing any kind of activity. We are ready with excuses to justify our shortcomings when it comes to doing physical activity. Lack of time and space are quoted as top-most ones by many, especially those who wish to avoid exercising as much as possible. There are some others who exercise regularly at home but find it impractical to workout at their place of travel. There are all types of exercises that can be practiced even inside the hotel room if your heart permits! Resistance training exercises are commonly practiced by individuals including both body weight exercises and weightlifting exercises which bestows the user with health benefits such as increase in strength, muscle size, bone density, metabolic rate and increased overall fitness. Weight racks and exercise racks enable resistance training exercises practice using body weight or free weights and it includes those such as pull-ups, chest dips, leg squats and shoulder presses. These exercise programs must be practiced regularly without break and those individuals engaged in resistance training programs look forward to practicing these techniques daily even when they are travelling or so. But these weight racks are built for purposes such as gyms and for using them in a stationary place and not for travel. Whereas, those racks that are designed to be portable are lighter but this makes them less stable too compared to fixed racks-in terms of a person’s body weight, barbell or plates. The presence of a portable weight rack and exercise system that’s easy to carry, assemble and disassemble is the need of the hour. The invention patented here is a portable fitness device that includes deployment methods for use and also methods to disassemble the invention to enable transportation.
The fitness device described here consists of a connecting member and a frame coupled to the connecting member, the frame consists of a horizontal member and an adjustment attachment coupled to the horizontal member and finally, a vertical member to couple with the adjustment attachment. The fitness device uses a trailer hitch coupled to a frame of the fitness device to help stabilizing the hitch as a point of support and a generally immovable support structure for the device. The device designed here has been created with the intention of making it readily portable and coupling this to a stationary support such as a parked motor vehicle, fixed post or any support structure for the portable fitness device. The frame elements are made from materials that are strong and rigid including those such as metal or metal alloys such as steel alloys. All the elements comprising of the frame are coupled to each other by welding, fasteners such as screws, bolts, clips, clamps or likewise, by epoxy, by annealing or likewise.
Any or all of the components defining a portable fitness device is formed using different types of materials or a combination of them that can be made into different shaped objects with the only concern that the components selected match the intended use of the portable fitness device. The component may be of any material such as rubber, glass, carbon-fiber, aramid-fiber, a combination of them, polymers such as thermoplastic, thermosets, metals such as iron, steel, titanium, carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum, alloys such as titanium alloys, magnesium alloys or copper alloys or any other suitable material. All the components that make up the invention might be manufactured simultaneously and joined with each other. The invented was published on April 13th, 2017 and for more details about the patent please visit any of the following sites:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=191&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=4&S1=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)&OS=health+AND+exercise+AND+fitness&RS=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US201377089&_cid=P21-JZ9MK4-59790-1
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20170413&CC=US&NR=2017100624A1&KC=A1
It seems like we have forgotten to pamper our health! Time is precious and we are running behind money and other materialistic pleasures in life forgetting the fact that all these can exist only if we remain healthy. Overburdened daily routine and inappropriate lifestyle schedules have prevented most of us from involving ourselves in physical activity and exercises that can help us stay healthy and fit. We are leading a sedentary life, eating more processed foods and failing to exercise that has put us on an obesity epidemic of a plethora of diseases that result from such sedentary behavior. We are now left with no choice but to practice our basics of a healthy life-eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly and lead an active lifestyle. The first three letters of fitness, ‘FIT’ depicting frequency, intensity and time exist as basic principles which when applied to any physical activity gets converted to exercise. Sadly, fitness and physical activity are generally associated only with weight control, weight loss or obesity/overweight-related issues these days and fitness centers, gyms and health institutions prepare an exercise prescription based on the body composition of a person that includes fat ratio, water ratio and fat-free mass. Most of the exercise prescriptions are prepared without taking into account the risk factors (whether the person is sedentary or not, has a habit of smoking or not, family history of hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes or obesity history) and the fitness components that relate to the actual health of the person (muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and muscular flexibility).
The fitness exercise prescriptions prepared the traditional way don’t take into account the importance, ranking, intensity and ratio of the time spent for improving each component in comparison to total time of exercise. Also, such traditional exercise prescriptions insist on implementing exercises of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and muscular flexibility without any definite target in mind. The invention patented here solves all the insufficiencies/drawbacks of the traditional methods and improves exercise prescription methods thereby preparing and monitoring an exercise strategy and prescription.
Exercise is suitable for everyone but not all exercises are suitable for all kinds of people. One of the main objectives of this invention is to avoid including wrong exercises, prevent injury or unexpected deaths and to consider all fitness components before being prepared by the fitness instructor and given to the respective person who intensely wishes to become fit and healthy. The invention also ensures to prepare the most beneficial exercises and include a strategy of right and healthy exercises according to the person’s physical components. The invention here comes up with methods for preparing and monitoring a customized exercise strategy and prescription based on scientific and concrete data once the measurable fitness components that foresee the health of the individual are readily available in hand. The fitness components might include cardiovascular endurance component, muscle strength component, components of muscular flexibility and body composition by means of measurement devices to improve each fitness component of a person. Fitness score for each component, total fitness score based on all the components together and a fitness map by using specific calculations is done. The ratio of every component is analyzed and the biggest ratio is given to cardiovascular endurance component, the second biggest ratio is given to muscular strength component, the third biggest ratio is given to body composition and the fourth biggest ratio is given to muscular flexibility. An exercise strategy is planned based on this ratio dividing the timings between Cardio, Strength and Flexibility strategy. An exercise session is planned that helps to improve the person’s fitness components when the above rules are applied. The exercise strategy, exercise duration and scope are designed based on how much time and how frequently the person is willing to exercise every week.
The strength component is further divided into three sub-components: lower extremity strength, upper extremity strength and trunk strength. In total we get six fitness components that includes body composition too. The fitness map is created by figuring out component ratios and filling the map with these ratios. Exercise strategy is prepared and the scope of exercise is identified depending on the exercise frequency and time after identifying the type of strategy. The three main components (cardiovascular endurance exercise, muscular strength exercise and flexibility exercise) are arranged in an order of priority with respect to the importance of their effect on health. Cardiovascular fitness takes up 40% ratio in the fitness map sketching the largest proportion for itself in the exercise strategy. The patent was published on May 7th, 2015 and for more information on the patent please visit any of the following sites:
United States Patent & Treaty Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=222&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=5&S1=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)&OS=health+AND+exercise+AND+fitness&RS=((health+AND+exercise)+AND+fitness)
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20160929&CC=US&NR=2016283695A1&KC=A1
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2015065298&_cid=P11-JZE2LN-01624-1
Opting for infertility treatments exists as the last option for couples who are unable to conceive due to various reasons right from obesity problems, sperm/ovary-related problems and many others. Though using IVF/IUI methods for conception have become extremely common these days the associated risks in some cases are undeniable. There are even studies supporting the fact that women who undergo infertility treatments (specifically IVF) are likelier to face increased risk (by almost 40%) of pregnancy complications such as postpartum hemorrhage, ICU admission, sepsis and maternal morbidity. The risks are even higher in those whose maternal age is beyond 40 years or pregnant with twins/triplets. Infertility rates exist between 8-14% in India with almost one in six couples failing to conceive naturally. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a blessing for such people but what if you can correct your problems with the help of lifestyle changes, avoid spending lakhs of rupees, & escape from the clutches of physical and mental agony resulting from ART methods? It’s evident that the rise in infertility rates is primarily due to drastic lifestyle changes, rising obesity rates and inactivity. Why don’t you try overcoming these mistakes with the help of dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who are ready to help you with fertility nutrition plans? Remember, IVF/IUI methods are absolutely unnecessary unless there is an underlying fertility problem that cannot be reversed.
The gut bacteria in your stomach has the power to influence your mood, affect your immune system and alter your metabolism. In short, it has the reigns over you and your life. There are millions of bacteria inside the human gut and these exist with viruses and fungi to form the microbiota or microbiome. Not all bacteria and viruses are bad. There are many of those that are healthy for our body helping us to keep ourselves in tip-top condition. Not every human has the same set, combination or an equal number of these gut microbiomes. Each of us have our own unique combination of bacteria, fungi and viruses whose existence is determined by a number of factors such as our mom’s microbiota, the environment that we are born into and also depend upon our diet and lifestyle. While these microorganisms are present all over the body, it's those that exist in the gut that have a bigger share on our health and wellness.
Gut bacteria are predominantly present in our digestive system lining the intestines and colon. The quantity of these organisms and their quality too play an important role in affecting our health. There are research evidences showing that the gut bacteria in healthy people are different from those with diseases. Such people with illnesses have too little or too much of a particular type of bacteria which prevents the equal presence of other types of microorganisms. As we know, some are protective of our health while others promote illness. Having too much of illness-promoting bacteria or too little of health-promoting ones both result in disastrous consequences on our health. If you wish to get healthy gut bacteria the key to it lies in your diet and www.firsteatright.com is the perfect place to start working on this goal of yours.
One of the common side effects of such imbalance is inflammatory bowel syndrome where these individuals have lower levels of anti-inflammatory gut bacteria. The unhealthy bacteria has the ability to make our body affect our own intestines thereby paving way for diseases with open hands. Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) is a common disease occurring due to excess bacterial growth in the small intestine. This is very commonly seen in females, those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and digestive problems.
Domination of SIBO
SIBO occurs due when bacteria travel from anywhere in the digestive tract to the small intestine or there is excess presence of bacteria due to unforeseen multiplication of these tiny specimens. A new study says that small intestine bacteria overgrowth is commonly seen in those with restless leg syndrome (RLS). Generally, SIBO occurs in not even 15% of the people living worldwide but the study that focused on people with RLS showed that all 7 of the volunteers with RLS tested positive for SIBO. Though the study was a small-scale one the positive results on all the participants showed the effectiveness of the bacteria on people with RLS.
RLS is a condition that causes the affected individual to suffer from an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs and causes involuntary jerking of the arms and legs too sometimes. The symptoms are worse experienced after a definite period of rest, inactivity, after lying down or sitting down and are mostly present during late evenings or nights. Walking, moving around or staying active has the ability to minimize these symptoms or even totally relieve pain sometimes. While there are many who believe that a chemical called dopamine (responsible for muscle movement) might be the root cause for such involuntary actions there are other researchers who feel that RLS might be the result of iron deficiency. The researchers are taking this study a step further analyzing fecal samples for microbial composition. The participants were requested to fill a questionnaire concerning sleep and SIBO symptoms.
Another study showed that of the 32 RLS participants who were tested, 69% tested positive for SIBO and 28% tested positive for IBS. The researchers put down three positive theories for such results. Firstly, it could be because RLS patients are immunocompromised or genetically predisposed putting them at a higher risk of SIBO. Secondly, it could be due to autoimmune changes or thirdly, SIBO inflammation can lead to CNS iron deficiency thereby increasing the risk of RLS. But these need further research to prove anything.
Man can mimic God by cloning or by even making test tube babies but altering gene sequences and recreating genetic codes haven’t been successful until now. Maybe that’s why though we have been able to unravel the obesity gene we have not been able to do much to change its inception in humans. Obesity exists as a global public health concern putting the quality of life of millions of people at stake and paving way for numerous health problems that wouldn’t have seen the light of day otherwise. We now live in a world which has its lifestyle rewritten and daily routines modified to suit personal goals. For instance, shift work has become extremely common, fast food indulgence is almost seen in every person living in this world and sedentary lifestyle has taken over the active form due to scientific advancements and technological improvements. Obesity has become a challenging condition to control now as it is the effect of interactions between a person’s genetics and lifestyle.
Even kids these days are aware of various fad diet trends that’s taking the Internet by storm and grabbing the attention of individuals. One day it’s the Paleo diet, the next day it is intermittent fasting and some other day it is time for yet another new diet fad all of which are never approved by our physicians and health experts. All that doctors recommend are following a healthy diet plan that restricts total calorie intake depending on a person’s height and weight besides suggesting physical activity routines that suits the individual. But the confusion arises in terms of the types of exercises that best promote weight loss in those predisposed to the obesity gene. The attraction of walking and swimming is over as we now have innumerable exercise trends hovering over us every single day of life-HIIT, burpees, power yoga, boot camps and so on. Having external help in deciding over the best exercise forms that could provide maximized benefits would go well with the individuals as they are spared of the trial and error methods that help them find the best physical activities that could suit their body needs.
A study by researchers of the National Taiwan University comes as an intense relief to all of us as this research has identified the types of exercise that help in wading off the genetic effects that contribute towards obesity. The study included 18,424 participants aged between 30 and 70 years focusing on the interaction between the individuals’ genetics and self-reported exercise routine. Every participant was questioned on his/her personal information and lifestyle factors. Exercise included only those activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling, mountain climbing, yoga, dance, playing basketball, etc., and occupational activities such as physical work or heavy manual work was not included as performing ‘exercise’. The research team specifically focused on five critical measures of obesity including body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist-to-hip ratio. Results showed that jogging was the best form of exercise to combat obesity when compared with the five critical measures of obesity followed by walking, power walking, mountain climbing, dancing and long yoga practices that reduce BMI in patients who are at an increased risk of obesity. It was noticed that cycling, swimming, dance and stretching exercises did not work against the genetic effects of obesity.
This study clearly shows that having a genetic predisposition to obesity is not the end of world nor does it brand a person to be overweight/obese forever. Performing various exercises certainly is effective against obesity. Though we do have a number of other studies that displayed that regular exercise certainly nullifies the genetic effect on obesity all of their attention was solely focused on BMI but the current one also focuses on four other critical measures that have a strong link with metabolic problems. Such studies are the need of the hour as obesity rates are skyrocketing and their side effects are becoming graver by the day. If you are suffering from overweight/obesity problems get in touch with reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you lose weight in a scientific and practical way.
50% of parents are dads but still 99% of research on parenting focuses solely on the mothers! This is indeed frustrating and depressing for the dads who are trying to engage themselves in as much childcare as possible to the extent that many of them are even ready to become stay-at-home fathers to devote their entire attention to the child. Gone are the days when mothers held sole responsibility for bringing up children, teaching them good behaviour, attending to their educational needs and tracking their progress in life while a dad’s primary aim was to provide strong monetary support to ensure that his family’s needs are met. How many of you remember the days when 80s and 90s kids roamed around the streets wearing t-shirts with a caption stating “MY DAD IS MY ATM”? Now, the situation has progressed or even been reversed such that moms love providing kids with money while dads take pleasure in keeping their young ones happy and content showering them with love and affection. The idea of a ‘good father’ has seen a stupendous change over the decades and dads these days are supported for being sensitive, caring and attached. Researchers have now started showing genuine interest in the role played by a dad in his child’s life and how he can contribute towards well-being of the kid.
Celebrating the Birth of the Kid: Society’s Clause on Male Gender
Maternity leaves and the politics behind them have been unending and it has been only during recent years that some blessed women have started enjoying increased maternity leaves. Paternity leaves have never been a topic of concern and dads were never expected to take leave and stay at home with the wife and child. That’s how the male gender has been groomed by their parents! Guys availing paternity leaves might be looked down as being too emotional or it is even seen as a sign of emasculation. In Australia, only one dad of every 500 moms avail this leave, in the UK 40% dads choose not to avail the leave and in the US 76% men take lesser than a week’s time off after the baby is born. But if you are curious on what’s so important about the paternity leave then you are in for a surprise!
Research tells us that fathers are happier around their kids when it comes to childcare and that’s mainly because of the different roles played by both the mum and dad in the child’s development. We might be happy that dads these days come forward to offer childcare but we don’t see many of them changing their kid’s nappies or putting them to bed. It’s mostly the mums who do such work while dads enjoy playing outside with kids or taking them around. Paternity leaves help mums take some time off their stressful routine, help the dad establish an emotional connect with the child, learn all aspects of childcare including changing nappies and also gives the woman much more strength and a positive feel to return to work and excel. Dads who take paternity leaves experience more satisfaction as they get more time to spend with their kids.
The Fruits of Increased Father-Child Time
“Daddy only” time has a significant positive impact on the baby as the child connects emotionally well with the dad and dads too experience a hormonal boost when caring for their child. Research shows that babies with emotionally engaged dads show better mental development as toddlers and are less likely to suffer from mental problems later in life compared to other babies. In older kids too, those whose fathers display emotional support are more satisfied in life and also express better relationships with teachers and other kids at school.
Kids whose dads are involved right from birth display better cognitive skills and experienced fewer behavioral difficulties. Dads who take up paternity leave develop parenting instincts as good as the mums (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/10/want-better-dads-happier-mums-and-healthier-kids-make-men-take-paternity-leave). Its even been shown that the more time working fathers spend time with children likelier they are to get more satisfaction on the job and less desire they have to shift to another organization. Men spending more time with their kids feel better about their jobs (https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/01/12/the-more-time-dads-spend-with-their-kids-the-happier-they-are-at-work/#37311db1cc3b).
Its also been observed that parenthood brings about increased well-being of dads compared to moms. Fathers experience elevated levels of well-being, satisfaction, competence, autonomy and uplift compared to mothers and other men without children. Men also were found to be happy caring for their kids compared to performing other daily activities. Parental leave helps dads take up more childcare activity and this helps improve the well-being of the mother too who always has the notion that there is an uneven allocation of labour between the two genders and this is in fact true. It is time that men around the world start taking Finland as an example, the only country where fathers spend more time (an average of 8 minutes more daily) with kids than mothers.
Every dad today wishes to spend more time with his kids, is ready to opt for flexi work timings, work from home jobs and even compromise on work time to be happy with his baby. By doing this, he is offering more scope for the mother to focus on her job that gives her satisfaction and a sense of completeness. There are few fathers who still believe that it’s a mother’s job to take care of the kids! Parents are looking out for a work-life balance that needs to be understood by the employer as well to reap greater benefits from his employees.
Dds, you are heading towards the right path by wanting to spend more time with your newborn and young kids which makes you happier and satisfied in life. Cheers to all the dads who love parenting and are supportive to their spouses sharing childcare jobs. It doesn’t stop with providing financial support but has to be extended to emotional support and physical presence as well.
Parenting is More Likely to Make you Happy if You’re a Man: https://psmag.com/social-justice/parenthood-more-likely-to-make-you-happy-if-youre-a-man
Finland: The Only country Where Fathers Spend More Time with Kids than Mothers: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/04/finland-only-country-world-dad-more-time-kids-moms
Children Make Parents Happy, After All: https://www.economist.com/international/2019/07/10/children-make-parents-happy-after-all
The Secret of Being a Good Father: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190606-how-to-be-a-good-father-to-a-newborn-son-or-daughter
It’s not surprising to see elderly people live well into their 80s and 90s these days, following an active lifestyle and brimming full of energy. Though not something new, various studies keep reminding us that what you eat and how active you are exist as critical factors that affect the quality of life of an individual, especially aged individuals. Even if you have been not eating right your entire life no age is too late to start all over and eat right. That’s because, you get to reap the benefits of improved nutrition and fitness anytime you start following it. While younger years are built upon the energy provided by the food we eat, our food choices become drastically important in defining our health as we grow older.
Quality & not Quantity becomes Pivotal as We Age
Individuals normally eat well through their adolescent years and as young adults too. But as you cross middle age there is a need to cut down on portion sizes and once you grow older there is tremendous pressure to cut down calorie intake but maintain your quality of the nutrients that you eat. In fact, older adults need more of certain nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D for optimized health-both mental and physical. So, every morsel of food that goes into the mouth of senior citizens must be nutrient-rich to fulfill such demands. The elderly people depend on their saved money to lead their life and acquiring quality foods to fulfill nutrient needs might be a problem to some. We even have research showing that socioeconomic status of people determines their choice of foods and nutrition quotient of these foods. If you are one of those suffering from such problems learn to choose wisely. There are a number of options to fulfill your nutrient needs without spending much out of your pocket.
Old age is not the best period for fad diets, intermittent fasting or very low-calorie diets. Such diet changes might put you into more trouble as they tend to ignore many of the food groups causing a nutrient gap in your meals. Nutrients play a definite role in defining your health and an imbalance in nutrient intake would result in health problems. Rapid weight loss also leads to loss of lean body mass that’s dangerous for the health of the older people. The best is to eat within your calorie limits. If you wish to lose weight it should never be done on your own but only after consulting your healthcare provide or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who is the best person to balance your calorie needs, weight loss requirements and nutrient fulfillments. Get in touch with reputed RDNs at www.firsteatright.com to help you with your weight loss goal.
Each of us require a generous share of proteins throughout our life to keep us in good health. As youngsters there would have been a period during which our entire focus was to eat plenty of protein-rich meals to grow muscles and look strong. Whereas, the same goal fades away as we age and elderly people are the ones who get the least amount of this nutrient. Many of them don’t get enough of proteins to maintain muscle mass, fight infection and bounce back after a surgery. Even if they do wish to eat proteins, many find it difficult to chew on meat and other protein-rich foods. But mind you, meat is not the only go-to protein option but you have got aplenty others. Enjoy a bowlful of beans and other pulses, spread a generous serving of peanut butter onto your whole-grain crackers, mix low-fat cheese with your scrambled egg or add more milk to your soup or cereal rather than using water.
By eating healthy food, going for regular activity and staying relaxed you age gracefully, happily and in a more pleasant way.
Maybe its time now to change our warning messages before movie screening from showing the harsh effects of smoking to the devastating consequences of obesity in our lives. All the while there has been innumerable talks and write ups about obesity, its rise as a public health concern and how it became an epidemic. Time and again health experts warn us against its debilitating side effects, how the world has become unhealthier and this exists as the primary reason behind highest ever heart attack rates and more. What has been our contribution towards ending this epidemic? More gym memberships, increased prevalence of fitness centers that boast of hi-fi equipment, westernized physical activity schedules, higher number of eateries that charge exorbitant prices for providing healthier options of foods (such as wheat/ragi dosa, quinoa rice or low-fat cheese pasta). Despite such efforts we are heading nowhere in terms of controlling obesity rates-almost 1 in 3 individuals are obese!
Smoking prevails as a risk factor for a number of diseases and every physician enquires about our smoking and drinking habits before coming to conclusions regarding our health problems. But the same questions are not raised in terms of obesity-how long we have been above normal weight ranges or whether our cholesterol levels have been sustainably high for a longer period. Healthy competition is always appreciable and encouraged as it motivates individuals to fight against each other for better prospects in life when it comes to humans. But what about the same kind of competition between obesity and smoking? While thinking about the consequences seem dangerous to be frank, its effects are now visible in real life.
Obesity Serving Cancer with Open Hands
Smoking still exists as the number one cause of cancer worldwide but obesity has beaten smoking as the major cause of bowel, kidney, ovarian and liver cancer which is traumatizing to hear! Both are modifiable risk factors-we weren’t cautious with smoking and now we have been reckless with obesity as well. Smoking is an addiction and are we doing the same with eating as well? Well, maybe so. Comfort eating has dominated our lives and this paves way for dramatic calorie intakes. New statistics from the Cancer Research UK shows that people who are obese now outnumber smokers with a two to one ratio in the UK and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking. While you might now have a smile as this is the state of only UK the same trend is sure to happen in other countries in near future. Its been shown that obesity causes 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK every year followed by kidney (1400), ovarian (460) and liver (180 cases) cancer.
Researchers blame this on excess body fat that sends out signals to cells to divide more often and cause damage which over time raises the risk of cancer. Obesity causes 13 types of cancer. Smoking rates have come down drastically thanks to innumerable campaigns and advertisements that focus on the health hazards involved due to this dangerous habit. Maybe we need such campaigns and ads broadcasting the side effects of obesity as well to bring down overweight/obesity rates. Understand the debilitating effects of obesity from www.firsteatright.com and take up a suitable program to set right your lifestyle habits. There is so much struggle going on because of our present set up which advocates the consumption of junk food. We can bring in changes from our end by swapping them for healthier options and staying active by doing physical activity regularly. The government should also bring in changes from their end to improve the present situation and make it a lot better.
Understanding people and judging their emotions is an art that not everybody excels at. Intelligence can be acquired but emotions must be fairly natural to the individual. Many might post an affirmative reply if they are questioned on their intelligence but how feasible is it to get such affirmations when the same people are probed into their emotional intelligence? You might give yourself a distinction in all these but where exactly do you stand in terms of emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Foremost important is to understand what we mean by emotional intelligence. EI is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our emotions while recognizing, understanding, managing and influencing the emotions of others. Its all about being aware of your feelings, understand how your emotions affect your decision-making perspective and how they impact your interaction with others. There is more to EI than being nice, soft and amicable to others. Its all about realizing what’s happening in the spur of the moment and using your emotions to put back things in place.
Individuals with high emotional intelligence are more open to thoughts and suggestions, have the ability to look at things from a different perspective and are more equipped to handle challenges by overcoming hurdles that surround them. In general, people with EI are happier, healthier and effective.
While people might be recruited based on their intelligence and aptitude the same guys are often terminated for lack of emotional intelligence. The need to understand people, interact with them, motivate individuals to be better workers and influence their thoughts and actions is critical for success of the organization and in turn the success of the employee. An employee who lacks these skills is no asset to the company despite his enriched intelligence. People management too is absolutely necessary for surviving through the thick and thins of the company without which there is a persistent risk of being thrown out of the organization.
Are you Emotionally Intelligent?
There are different things that analyze your EI level.
Becoming Emotionally Stronger
Rather than introducing the concept suddenly it is better that children are trained to recognize emotions, understand them and respond appropriately to help themselves and the opponent in dealing with it. If you wish to become emotionally stronger as an adult it is pretty difficult but not impossible. Surround yourself with different people, learn something good from each of them and grow up in life. Come up with strategies to manage your emotions, for instance for anger management it is best to plunge yourself into yoga or meditation and analyze how well they have influenced you and people around you. Yoga and meditation have been the go-to help techniques for handling a variety of things other than anger and stress. Learn more about their advantages form the website www.firsteatright.com. The way we think (positive or negative) also affects the way in which we think about others.
Emotions are a strong feeling that have the ability to take mankind to a better state. When each of us appreciate others’ feelings, give space for their emotions, don’t restrict their own emotions too much and develop the skill to handle emotions the world would seem brighter and more positive.
If delaying your meal by an hour or so is sure to make you hangry (hunger anger) then intermittent fasting is not your cup of tea. But, even if delaying your meal or skipping food altogether doesn’t bother you, is intermittent fasting (IF) a heathy approach to weight loss or even good health?
Humans need no reminders that we are living in a world that relies upon quick-fix solutions and shortcuts to everything as we lack the time, energy or motivation (as a matter of fact, this is untrue) to rather work efficiently and produce the desired results. Food and health play a pivotal role in providing our body with the required energy and when an imbalance is created in our food system the entire day-to-day processes are shattered. Amidst this chaos, individuals feverishly wish to get in shape, lose weight or tone down to look good rather than feel healthy sometimes. Such individuals focus on results rather than the process which might land a person deep in trouble and ruin nature’s gift to us-a healthy mind and body. Intermittent fasting has become the latest craze amongst people who love to lose weight rather quickly.
Intermittent Fasting-Take a Break for Eating?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner-three square meals a day with light snacks in between has been the ritual followed by most people across the world. Skipping any of the meals has the potential to cause dizziness, stomach rumble or more in some of us. How does intermittent fasting as a method of weight loss rule in favor of the people of this world?
Intermittent fasting could be defined as an alternation between no food/minimal calorie consumption and periods of unrestricted eating. This can be defined more as a timed approach to eating rather than a fad diet with its history deep-rooted in traditional fasting that was practiced for spiritual purposes earlier. Fasting might include avoiding consumption of foods/beverages for more than 12 hours continuously or involve reduced consumption of certain foods/drinks. Getting into a diet routine can prevent weight loss after certain months/years of diet practice whereas intermittent fasting eliminates this problem by cycling between periods of eating food and starvation. Despite this, we don’t have definite proofs that intermittent fasting is a better approach comparatively.
Cycling between Eating & Fasting
There are several types of intermittent fasting practiced:
Alternate Days: This involves alternating between days of normal eating with days of consuming only one meal that provides about 25% of the calorie needs of the day. For example, if you eat normally on Monday, you take only one meal on Tuesday that satisfies 25% calorie requirements.
5:2 Approach: This is a famous practice where individuals eat normally five days a week and fast for the remaining two days. It could either be complete starvation on these two days or they might consume 25% of the calorie requirements for the day which amounts to almost 500 calories.
Time-based Fasting: This involves fasting on all days of the week based on particular timings. For instance, the person might eat a meal between 10 am and 5 pm while fasting during the rest of the day. This time frame might change every week or so.
While there have been studies and research conducted on intermittent fasting as an effective method to weight loss, we don’t have strong and conclusive evidences supporting it. In fact, the effect of intermittent fasting and other forms of diet have proved to be the same in the long run with respect to weight loss, weight maintenance or differences in blood pressure, glucose or heart rate.
The Final Word
A practical and scientific approach to weight loss would be to burn more calories than you consume by eating small portions frequently. The foundation of Intermittent fasting is totally opposite and hence, this brings about the question of whether IF can be treated as a sustainable and a healthy means to either lose or maintain health. On the contrary, it is not a sin to fast occasionally as this was the norm practiced during olden times when people missed out on meals for hours or days together as fetching food was a difficult task back then. But this approach can never become a reality for individuals who practice eating small portions frequently or even for those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes who ought to eat their meals on time. Other groups of people who MUST abstain from practicing intermittent fasting include pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescents in their growing stage, people who take medications for conditions and those with eating disorders.
Individuals who eat only two meals a day or leave a long gap in between meals might be able to comply with the rules of intermittent fasting. We cannot deny benefits such as lowered insulin levels which prompts the body to use stored fat resulting in weight loss, reduced blood pressure and total cholesterol levels. IF does not affect the ability to exercise too once the body adjusts to the new eating schedule. If losing muscles is a concern ensure to eat enough proteins when you are in the eating period and practice resistance training. Many of us have fasted even without our own knowledge during many occasions. For example, we would have had an early lunch and skipped our dinner after work due to work schedules. At the same time, intermittent fasting does not have the same effect on all kinds of people. Although we have impeccable data supporting the advantages of IF in rats, we don’t have the same in humans. But research studies do suggest that it’s the timing of IF that is crucial which can make it a practical, sustainable and realistic approach to weight loss and even an effective tool against diabetes prevention. Until then, we cannot recommend intermittent fasting as an effective tool against weight loss.
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