Bribing kids to study in exchange for their favourite ice cream, targeting your elder sister to finish up some chores for you luring her with her favourite pizza or even getting your friend to come up with a project idea in exchange for your mom’s yummy parathas are in practice everywhere. If you notice, all the foods offered as bribes are mostly processed or fried foods that are loved by one and all. Vegetables or fruits occupy a place nowhere in this category of choices. Try giving your kid boiled broccoli as a treat for their good behaviour and all the goodness would evaporate into thin air immediately. Food, the very source of sustenance and nutrients has been made cheaper and cheaper (in terms of quality and health perspective) by using it as a means for procuring various other things. Angry, sad or happy we immediately reach out for a chocolate bar while there are some others who simply resist eating anything all through the day just to show off their feelings and unhappiness. Whom are we trying to punish here?
Science has never disappointed us and even the most ignorant of individuals must be aware of the fact that fruits and vegetables offer a plethora of nutrients helping individuals become healthier and fitter. Yet there are not many who try heartfully to fulfil the daily required five portions of fruits and vegetables consumption.
Advancements have made our life easier and simpler but the very same advancements have also ruined our health to a greater extent. Obesity and overweight rules the world, stress is omnipotent and depression rates are taking the uphill path. There might be several reasons behind depression including genetic origin, some specific event, certain circumstances and unavoidable happenings such as death or lifestyle choices. By lifestyle choices, it also includes the food we eat, the physical activity we do and the kind of life that we choose to live. There is no doubt that consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and proteins are essential constituents of a healthy life but upcoming data and research now show that healthy eating is advantageous not only to physical health but also to mental health. On the other hand, consuming unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, sodium and fats increase the risk of depression as the brain is deprived of the essential nutrients and the gut also becomes the origin for bad bacteria.
Well-being has until now been measured in terms of economic stability, personal achievements and social interaction and food as a resource for well-being has been given little attention till date. A study of more than 12,000 Australians showed that the advantages of eating a produce-rich diet extended beyond physical health. The study showed that for every added daily portion of produce consumed the happiness level increased slightly. When an individual consumed 8 portions of fruits and vegetables a day they gained as much satisfaction in life as someone who had procured a job after being unemployed.
The future is not far off when depression patients not only are recommended to visit a therapist for clearing out their mental illness but are also requested to meet a nutritionist who can correct their lifestyle and impart knowledge on the foods that must be consumed for mental well-being. There is a study on 67 depressed patients each of whom were split randomly into two groups-one group received nutritional counselling and the other group received one-on-one support where individuals were assigned to keep them company. At the end of the study period, it was seen that the group that changed its diet felt significantly more happier compared to the other group (https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2019/01/26/food-makes-you-happy-a-healthy-diet-improves-mental-health/#11e3361226f8). There are imaging studies that show that brains of people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet seem to be younger, have larger volumes and are metabolically more active than that of people who eat a Western-style diet. They are at a 33% decreased risk of suffering from depression compared to others due to their increased intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds.
So, even though you might not need the superpowers of all the fibre and protein the effect of nutritious food on happiness quotient is more than enough to make individuals take better efforts to eat their daily share of produce. Refrain from indulging in doughnuts, baked goods and other processed foods for both short-term and long-term benefits. This will help to increase the nutrients that go to the brain and the good bacteria that grow in the gut!
Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/well/eat/food-mood-depression-anxiety-nutrition-psychiatry.html
Here’s How Food Can Influence Your Mood: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/how-food-influences-your-mood/articleshow/70788338.cms
Boosting Happiness Through Fruits & Vegetables: https://www.readersdigest.co.in/health-wellness/story-news-from-the-world-of-medicine-124371
For someone habituated to gulping down three bananas, a bowl of cornflakes with nuts, some toast with butter and some freshly brewed coffee, cutting off butter or nuts from your diet schedule affects your mind greatly. You feel dissatisfied with the intake routine, your mind prompts you constantly to eat more and you find yourself with lesser energy to do your chores. Most individuals who cut down on their calorie intake ignore these cues and pacify themselves that the body needs sometime to adapt itself to the latest dietary patterns. Logically this seems to fit the bill but practically we are only partly right. Weight loss clinics and techniques have revolutionized the world bringing in people across borders and different parts of the world to places that flourish in achieving weight loss. None can forget the Egyptian woman Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty who flew down to Mumbai for a bariatric surgery and lost more than 300 kg of her 500 kg but sadly died due to other health complications. Crash diets are popularized in the Internet where people give positive feedbacks soon after slimming without knowing the long-term effects. Such is the weight loss craze of this modern world that seeks to lose weight by hook or by crook.
Weight Loss is Not the End but the Beginning
For those who cringe with pain and disdain after looking at the diet chart for weight loss, the positive results that follow this excruciating weight loss regimen brings upon sheer joy and confidence. This does not stay long and you find yourself hungrier than before after the weight loss journey but the one good point here is that you are not battling this alone and there are thousand others who feel similarly. A study shows that decreasing calorie intake is likely to spur your hunger hormone ghrelin and boost your appetite. Doesn’t this remind us of our early ancestors who sailed through frequent periods of famine and overfed later to compensate for all the lost energy intake? This ancestral effect might deviate long-term weight loss efforts which has been proved by a long-term research.
The study involved 35 morbidly obese patients who underwent a 2-year strict weight loss program. There were 22 women and 13 men who weighed around 125 kilograms on an average and marked as ‘highly obese’ by their physician after which they enrolled themselves to this weight-loss study. The first three weeks of the program involved inpatient training where the participants were put on a rigorous nutritional education, psychological counselling and daily exercise schedules. Four more such 3-week sessions were organized over the entire tenure of the program. All the participants consumed 500 calories less every day than what they were otherwise consuming to maintain their current weight. The calorie-restricted diet was composed of 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein.
Participants lost around 5 kilograms within the first three weeks of commemorating the program and about 11 kilograms by the end of the two-year study. One general notion that united all participants included increased hunger sensation after the weight loss effects. That’s mainly because of increased ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels that increased post the weight loss efforts and the decreased energy needs to perform everyday functions such as eating, walking, breathing and even sleeping following a drop in weight measures.
A Never-ending Battle
The research shows that all fingers point towards regaining lost weight over time making weight loss maintenance a great struggle. Weight loss programs that boast of achieving sharp weight loss in limited time are mostly incapable of maintaining the loss in the long run. Reputed RDNs suggest reducing calorie needs by 200-300 calories per day and exercising regularly to achieve a lower ‘set point’. By adhering to such criteria one can be ensured of long-term weight loss maintenance without much struggle. Dedicate an hour every day to exercise your way to good health. This can include anything that you are passionate about, maybe swimming, tennis, dancing or even kick boxing. To do it right, get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can help you achieve weight loss and also ensure that you are equipped to maintain the weight loss in the long run.
After months of meticulous planning and preparation you have been following a fitness routine diligently for the last couple of weeks. Be it the rain or sun, night shift or morning shift, festivities at home or yet another normal day you have made every effort to visit the gym, go for a walk or do physical exercise despite your busy schedule. But what if you are down with a running nose or pretty bad cold? This is nothing like your muscle cramp, joint pain or some other serious health problem that there is no choice but to take rest. After all, it’s the common cold and cough with which all of us do all our jobs irrespective of our body condition. If we were to abstain from work just because of a simple cold most of us would not be able to attend office or school 25% times. But this is not sitting at a desk and hitting off the laptop keys or trying to listen to your Mam in the classroom in between your comfy sleeping hours! Exercising needs much energy, strength and will power to perform and how many of you think that you can survive a vigorous exercise session with sickness?
Exercising for or Against the Immune System?
The rainy season is here and the doctor’s clinic is overflowing with patients suffering from common cold. It’s no secret that exercising is recommended for a great immune system but what remains unclear to many is whether exercising when sick can affect the immune system! If you suffer from heart disease or diabetes it is crucial that you take extra care of your body to avoid glitches in blood glucose or pressure levels due to overstrain. But logically, it seems to be ok to exercise when you have cold or sore throat. While it is not an outright yes, it depends on a general rule postulated by doctors: train moderately if the symptoms are above the neck such as a runny nose or sore throat but if you have symptoms below the neck such as coughing, chest tightness, joint pain or back aches it is best to avoid exercising for a couple of days. Having the flu or fever and trying to exercise is a completely bad idea! This brings us to an important part of discussion where many athletes have this misconception that exercising while having fever helps them sweat out and relieve the pain. Already our immune system fights hard to ward off flu and fever and when we try to exercise we are adding more stress on top of it and making the immune system’s job much more difficult. It was in 1990s that researchers in Australia found evidence that athletes who continued to exercise while having flu developed a form of chronic fatigue syndrome due to attack of the immune system (https://time.com/5167299/should-you-exercise-when-you-are-sick/).
In times of sickness, there is a general feeling of tiredness and lethargy experienced by the patient which makes him/her abstain from going to work or doing chores. Exercising at this point of time is not recommended as training will make you feel more tired and fatigue might set in. Muscles ache, body pain is felt greatly and general weakness is observed. It is always better to wait for an entire week before starting to exercise not at your regular pace but slowly. Start with a short walk, go for brisk walks, proceed to moderate-intensity exercises and finally get back to your exercise schedule once you are back to your own self. Just like a fracture or a sprain your body does need the time and rest to get back to its usual self before it can start acting as per your whims and fancies.
Listen to your body. It is not a strict rule that you should be in bed all day just because of a light sneeze but you should also realize that you can’t have the same amount of energy as you would if you were not sick! You might be a big-hearted person but it is not necessary that you should spread the infection to others in the gym too. Rather, go for a walk or a light job when down with a sneeze or cold.
Exercising is good for the mind as well as the body. Experts recommend doing at least 150 minutes of physical activity to stay healthy while we need to exercise even more to lose weight. Despite all this, when experts do recommend abstaining from exercising in times of sickness it is always better to follow it and take care of our health. After all, our body is the only place we’ve got to live a healthy life!
Should I work out when I am Sick? https://www.popsci.com/work-out-sick/
Testosterone, a steroid hormone, is the principle hormone released by the gonads whose levels increase tremendously in males from childhood to adulthood. Such a rise in testosterone levels is necessary for male physical development-such as the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics such as voice register, height and muscle mass. It also plays an integral role in bone growth, muscle size, appearance of pubic hair, sperm production and development of reproductive organs in men. In later life, it might even have a role in balding.
Presently, numerous couples suffer from infertility problems and men are said to be the causative factors almost 50% times. Sedentary lifestyles, inappropriate eating practices and abstinence from performing physical activities are some of the common contributors for rising infertility rates. But testosterone too plays an equally important role in contributing towards fertility. If you think that too much testosterone is good for the man making him all macho and muscular you are absolutely mistaken. Abnormally high testosterone levels in men lead to lower sperm count, shrinking of the testicles and impotence, all of which might surprise you. At the same time, too little testosterone production leads to lower libido, reduced sperm count and infertility problems. There is more to testosterone than what is assumed (that it’s simply a reproductive aid!). Men need optimal levels of this hormone to develop and function normally but we aren’t clear of what ‘optimal’ levels are really! Most of the infertility problems are the result of improper lifestyle practices that can be resolved with the help of reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
Factors that Determine Growth Hormone Levels
We simply say that genes determines a man’s testosterone levels which might be altered by dietary habits and exercise routines but a new study suggests that men growing up in challenging environments that house numerous infectious diseases are likelier to suffer from lower testosterone levels later in life compared to those who are brought up in a healthier surrounding.
This study comes as a challenge to all theories that propose that testosterone levels are controlled by genes or race. Men are at a higher risk of prostate cancer and high testosterone levels increase the risk even more. Hence, when hospitals screen for risk of prostate cancer in men it is absolutely necessary that it takes into account the man’s childhood environment as well. The research team collected data on height, weight, age of puberty and other health information from 359 men. Their saliva samples were also collected to test for their testosterone levels. A comparison between 5 groups of men were performed-men born and residing in Bangladesh, Bangladeshi men who moved to UK as kids, Bangladeshi men who moved to UK as adults, second-generation UK-born men whose parents were Bangladeshi migrants and UK-born ethnic Europeans.
The results showed that Bangladeshi men who grew up and lived as adults in the UK had higher levels of testosterone compared to those who grew up and lived in Bangladesh as adults. Bangladeshi men in Britain attained puberty at a younger age and were also comparatively taller than men who lived in Bangladesh throughout their childhood. The researchers feel the difference in testosterone levels to be the result of energy investment. When men dedicate their energy against fighting infections and strive hard for survival, they miss out on the ability to possess high testosterone levels. But it was also observed that a man’s testosterone levels were not influenced by the surrounding once he reaches adulthood. Hence, living in a poverty-struck area or in some place that requires much efforts to fight infections makes it hard for the man to grow up with normal testosterone levels showing that environment plays a greater role than genes in determining testosterone levels in men.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.