‘Laughter is the best medicine’ is not popular till date without some inner meaning to it! There have been numerable insights into laughter therapy and it was not until 1995 that laughter was introduced as an exercise form and laughter yoga was practiced in laughter clubs, public parks or gatherings by groups of people. An increasing population have recognized the benefits of laughter as an alternative medicine approach and they try using it along with their everyday medical therapies for added benefits. There are no side effects to this therapy, no fretting over overdoses or allergies, but still the medical community feels uncomfortable declaring laughter for a healthier and better community of people. Laughter does have its share of advantages:
Vascular function: Stress is a major inducer of cardiovascular disease and controlling stress is a great way to improve heart health. A study by the American Journal of Cardiology has proved that people who watch comedy movies have increased carotid artery compliance and their heart rate and blood pressure increased significantly.
Cardiovascular health: A research study focused on the link between how often a person laughs and its impact on heart disease and stroke. After adjusting factors such as high blood pressure, depression and BMI, results showed that people who never/almost never laughed were at an 21% increased risk of heart disease than those who laughed daily. Also, people who rarely laughed were at a 60% higher risk of stroke than others. Reputed heart organizations recommend laughter for reduced artery inflammation and increased production of HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol explained concisely at www.firsteatright.com is the good cholesterol in our body that is available in a variety of foods.
Natural Antidepressant & Stress Buster: Depression calls for an appointment with the psychologist/psychiatrist who recommends taking up CBT sessions and talk therapies to come out of it. None of them will be willing to recommend laughter therapy in place of these sessions. But a latest study that involved 42 individuals suffering from depression showed that laughter therapy that includes singing funny songs, laughing for diversion, healthy clapping, stretching and laughing aloud reduced depression and improved overall mood and sleep levels. Humor and laughter decrease levels of stress hormones (such as cortisol and epinephrine) and improve dopamine levels (this mediates between desire and motivation).
Blood pressure levels: Hypertension is a major problem worldwide and is an invaluable risk factor for heart disease and stroke. One research focused on laughter and music therapy for patients with high blood pressure. Results showed that BP levels decreased by 7 mmHg for those undertaking laughter therapy compared to only a 6 mm Hg change in those undergoing music therapy.
Anxiety & Other Negative Emotions: Laughter therapy seems to significantly reduce the impact of anxiety in patients generally, especially in those with Parkinson’s disease. It also helps to improve positive thoughts, self-esteem and reduce depression effects in menopausal women.
Pain relief: Early physicians used laughter as an analgesic for pain, for instance French surgeon Henri de Mondeville in the 14th century used humor to soothe or distract patients during surgery/recovery. Research shows that people who watched comedy movies needed lesser pain medications than the rest of the group.
Burn Calories: A 2014 journal studies proved that laughing helps to burn calories. A team of 45 people were split into two groups. One group was made to watch a comedy clip for 10 minutes and the other group was made to watch clips that were unlikely to stimulate laughter. Both groups were attached to a calorimeter that measured energy expenditure and heart rate. Results showed that people who watched comedy clips for 10 minutes lost around 10 calories in comparison to those who did not burn any calories.
All said, a major problem with laughter research is that it’s very difficult to determine cause and effect. For example, when a study shows that people who laugh are healthier, it might also be because healthy people have more to laugh about. Most studies on laughter have also been done on a small group of individuals. Studies on laughter mostly focus on reducing pain with humor. But we don’t know if it is the laughter that is causing decreased pain or any other distraction (a thrilling drama, for instance) could produce the same effect.
To conclude, there is no harm in laughing. In fact, you are doing good by spreading joy and happiness to people around you. Only take care that your laughter or jokes are not born due to other people’s weaknesses or aimed at them.
The latest fitness craze is cycling. We can see cyclers with head gears and other accessories voraciously cycling their way to work (even managers and CEOs) or doing it as a form of exercise. Bicycling is one of the best ways to commute between places as it is pollution-free, good for your health and inexpensive. Cycling is said to provide the same benefits as walking, swimming, jogging or other aerobic activities.
Many people often worry about the harmful effects of cycling on reproductive organs that might disturb sexual function and previous studies did support this fact. The latest news is that cycling does not negatively affect a man’s sexual health or urinary function. This study compared a cyclist’s sexual health with that of swimmers and runners.
Advantages Outweigh Disadvantages
Almost 2, 774 cyclers were involved in the study along with 539 swimmers and 789 runners and these people were provided with questionnaires that measured sexual health and urinary function. Individuals across all exercise groups fared almost the same with the only exception being that cyclists were more prone to urethral strictures (narrowing of urethra).
The study could not find any difference between vigorous cyclists-those who cycled for more than two years at least four times weekly covering almost 40 kilometers per day-and recreational cyclists.
Same Case, 2 Studies, 2 Results
The researchers involved in this study conveyed that the latest findings contradicted with previous results as the earlier study lacked comparison groups and was moreover dependent on a small sample size.
The latest study confirms that:
There is nothing to panic on hearing the word ‘hear failure’. Don’t presume that your heart has stopped working or that your life is over! It is used to describe the heart functioning rate-to notify that the heart is not pumping as efficiently as it should. Heart pumps blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to other parts of the body and when these parts are well-nourished, they perform their function accurately. During a heart failure, the heart is unable to perform its job of pumping blood and hence, other organs of the body are not supplied with enough nutrients and are unable to perform their activity. This leads to fatigue, breathlessness and even cough in some people.
Heart failure rates are increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, especially in our country. The International Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) study measured mortality rates in patients who suffered from a heart attack across a span of 1 year and found that India (23%) and Africa (34%) had the highest mortality rates! This comes as a disappointing piece of information at a time when we boast about advancements in technology and science, but in reality we are not doing much personally to improve on our health.
When we are in such a bad state, how would you like it when your doctor asks you to get onto a scale and predicts your risk of heart failure by looking at the scale values? This scale does not measure your weight alone but intimates your heart health! That’s the new study done by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine who have discovered a new risk factor for heart failure-leg bioimpedance. This study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association and shows that individuals who have a lower leg bioimpedance were at a higher risk for heart failure.
Impedance measurements garnered interest beginning in the 1940s when it was found that changes in impedance was related to changing blood volume. Since then, improvements in impedance techniques paved way for developing diagnostic and prognostic tools in cardiovascular medicine. Such developments have elicited interest in using impedance measurements to benefit in the field of heart failure management.
Impedance is a measure of the degree a substance resists the flow of electrical current of a given voltage. Practically speaking, impedance measures how well the body resists current flow through the human body when a small amount of current flows though it. Generally, blood and fluid show a lower resistance to current compared to something more solid, such as muscle tissues. Bioimpedance analysis is widely used in body composition measurements and healthcare assessments. Whole-body bioimpedance has been practiced for quite a long time but not much research has been done on leg bioimpedance for heart failure. Monitoring body weight and body fat percentage gives an idea about body composition changes and also helps to predict heart failure status. Combining the body weighing technique along with bioimpedance techniques helps to monitor heart failure status.
The researchers involved analyzed data of over 5,00,000 UK patients aged between 49 and 69 years to find any clues on new risk factors for heart disease. They used 3,646 variables pertaining to health, lifestyle and disease-related factors for every patient with the help of computer-assisted techniques and the results obtained are not surprising-occurrence of a previous heart attack, chronic heart disease and diabetes were top factors for heart failure. Along with these was a surprising addition-leg bioimpedance.
The excited research team focused on this factor as this is a new risk factor as well as an easily measurable one. They measured bioimpedance using a body composition analyzer which looked like a standard scale but with handlebars. Electrodes fit under each foot were used to send small electric currents and measure impedance (resistance) in the tissue. As stated above, fluids such as blood and water are strong conductors of electricity and hence, show less resistance compared to muscle tissues that show greater resistance.
The researchers predict that individuals who had lower leg bioimpedance could have already had some fluid buildup in their legs, a common sign of a heart failure. The low impedance rates could have determined water retention levels that were yet to be diagnosed by physicians and even before any signs of heart failure set in, such as fatigue or breathlessness. The researchers feel that there are a number of individuals who experience abnormalities in the hearts and lungs that cause symptomatic heart failure but sadly, don’t recognize/experience any of these symptoms as they are strikingly sedentary. Start leading an active lifestyle by getting in touch with a reputed RDN at www.firsteatright.com. Even after analyzing such a large group of individuals the researchers find it necessary to repeat the study to confirm the results thoroughly.
The team proudly feels that the simple algorithm they develop could help to predict the risk of heart failure within eight years. So, when you stand on the scale, you get double rewards-in addition to you body fat percentage you also get to know your risk of heart failure within the next 8 years! The formula would contain the patient’s age, sex and details whether the patient previously suffered from a heart attack or not. Leg bioimpedance could be a blessing in disguise for predicting the risk of heart failure in people who lead an exceptionally sedentary lifestyle.
Pregnant women hear everything right from ‘The way your tummy looks, it’s definitely going to be princess,’ ‘Your baby is going to pop out with lots of hair, don’t worry! Your heartburn is an indication,’ ‘Baby’s heartbeat under 140? It is a boy, my dear,’ to ‘If you have vomiting or nausea, the chances of a miscarriage are unlikely.’ While others face outright rejection as myths, the last one may be scientifically true (even this was ridiculed to be false until now) which comes as a warm welcome to all the superstitious and myth-believing candidates out there!
Are You Pregnant with Morning Sickness?
Pregnancy brings about enormous changes physically and mentally. The first few months (first trimester) might make the pregnant lady feel miserable with nausea, vomiting and other food choices taking a toll on the pregnant woman’s health. More than three-quarters of women complain of nausea with/without vomiting in early pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting that occur during pregnancy is called as ‘morning sickness’ and is named so as most of the symptoms begin in the morning and decrease/resolve as the day progresses. In general, both these symptoms diminish mostly after the first trimester but rarely, some women experience it even until their due date (extremely rare).
Morning sickness affects quality of life of pregnant women as it affects their daily activities and diminishes well-being. Despite being present unanimously in most pregnant women researchers are still inconclusive on the causes. They put forth their theory that this is one way of protecting the developing fetus against toxins and disease-causing organisms in foods. It might also occur due to the increased hormone levels in the body.
To bring some integrity and justice to the long-believed myth regarding morning sickness, a group of NIH researchers have gathered some of the most convincing evidence to date that nausea and vomiting, common symptoms of morning sickness, may indicate something critical and important-a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Reduced Risk of Miscarriage
Women experiencing morning sickness in their subsequent pregnancy after a series of miscarriages in earlier pregnancies were 50-75% less likely to miscarry than those without any signs of nausea or vomiting. The exact cause and the underlying reasons are not clear, but the facts do support the belief that morning sickness might be the result of biological factors that increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
The study followed-up on 1,228 women who suffered from one or two previous miscarriages and tracked them for up to 6 menstrual cycles as they tried to conceive. The average age of these women was between 18 and 40 years. Of the 1,228 women a total of 797 women became pregnant and these women were requested to maintain a daily diary of their pregnancy which contained details of whether or not these women suffered from nausea and vomiting. Between the 12th and 36th week, the remaining number of pregnant women (almost a quarter of them miscarried by the end of the first trimester) were given monthly questionnaires to describe their symptoms.
Based on the data in hand, researchers found that 20% of women started feeling nauseous only after two weeks of pregnancy and the numbers climbed to around 84% by week 8. Of these, almost 27% women suffered greatly from vomiting episodes. The risk of miscarriage reduced by 50% when women experienced nausea alone and reduced by 75% when nausea was coupled with vomiting. Although researchers are still not clear about the reason behind morning sickness and reduced pregnancy risk, they feel that nausea and vomiting might be signs of increased pregnancy hormones or the presence of a healthy placenta to nourish the developing fetus.
One needs to remember that nausea and vomiting might be good signs of pregnancy, but they are not confirmed tickets for a healthy pregnancy. Also, there is no need to panic in the absence of these two symptoms and rush up to the conclusion that your pregnancy is at risk. For any concerns or queries regarding your pregnancy, its always recommended to consult your doctor. Ensure a healthy pregnancy, stick to your healthy weight gain limits and eat nutritious foods before, during and after pregnancy to deliver a healthy baby. Get in touch with a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com to help you select the most-healthy foods that should be consumed during pregnancy.
You bend down to pick something and feel the entire room spinning around you and fear that you might faint anytime. We term this as dizziness and this can cause different sensations in different people. Dizziness can be the feeling that occurs when we stand up suddenly, the feeling of movement while we are standing still or light-headedness. Commonly affecting the older generation, it can affect a person of any age group. Almost all individuals experience dizziness at some point in their life and most of the times it is non-indicative of a disease. But, if dizziness is accompanied by double-vision, vomiting, trouble moving your hands/legs or problem doing work, it is better to give a visit to your physician immediately.
Some of the most common causes of dizziness include:
Poor Blood Circulation: If blood does not circulate oxygen properly throughout the body, the brain does not get its proper share of oxygen and the slightest movement of bending down or getting up can make the person feel dizzy. If this is the case, it is better that the individual visits the physician as it is an indication of a bigger problem such as a heart attack, abnormal heart beat or congestive heart failure.
Low Blood Sugar: Skipping meals makes us quite dizzy due to low blood sugar levels and this is specifically visible greatly in diabetic people.
Low Blood Pressure: Individuals experiencing low blood pressure levels feel dizziness when they move their head, bend to pick something or stand up suddenly.
Dehydration: Insufficient water levels in the body causes dehydration which might be due to vomiting, illness, exposure to hot weather, exercise and staying for a long time without drinking enough water. Such decreased water content causes difficulty in brain functioning leading to dizziness.
Anemia: Here again, there is less oxygen supply to the brain resulting in dizziness or lightheadedness due to lack of oxygen-rich red blood cells in our body (anemia).
Side Effects of Medications: Individuals put on new medications such as pain relievers, diuretics, tranquilizers, sedatives, antidepressants or blood pressure medications can lead to dizziness.
Inner Ear Problems: Inner ear is said to regulate a person’s body balance and ear infections can make a person feel dizzy when standing up or bending. A person might hear a ringing sound in the ear and face inner ear problems called vertigo which is common when calcium particle from one part of the ear moves to another part of the ear.
Other possible causes include stress, anxiety, migraine, motion sickness, atherosclerosis and labyrinthitis. Stress is a silent killer which is not obviously visible but takes a toll on your everyday life. There are simple yet tactical ways to deal with stress as given in the website www.firsteatright.com.
Do’s & Don’ts for Treating Dizziness
Dizziness does not need any treatment and usually goes away on its own. You can do a few things from your side to minimize its side effects:
It’s the second day of our weight loss journey and when our friends call up for a dessert meetup, we can’t resist the urge and land up eating more than normal. We take months together to get our body fit and ready for marathons, study for weeks together for exams or play a game of chess during every possible break to sharpen our skills before the inter-company tournament. While we take so much pain and care to prepare ourselves before such events, why don’t we even think twice before taking up some weight loss program?
Eat a cookie with your evening coffee today, do the same tomorrow and Eureka, your hand goes automatically to your cookie box the day after tomorrow! Good habits are not so straightforward and easy to follow. Researchers say that it takes 21 days to make/break a habit. Maybe this would go good with habits such as drinking water before and after your meals but not for the hardcore ones such as weight loss! Weight loss is a huge task left at your disposition and it depends on the individual’s mindset and willpower to pursue and succeed!
Right before relishing the fruits of success that come by way of physical changes, one must first prepare himself/herself mentally to dump off the unhealthy habits. Instead of aiming for a crash-diet kind of weight loss, think of a lifestyle change that can stay with you for a lifetime. Try to get into a habit that can stick with you in the future too. Once you decide to embark on your weight loss journey, shifting your thoughts about how to lose weight is the first biggest challenge. Don’t expect to witness magnificent physical changes without preparing your inner mind and thoughts.
Give me an answer to this question genuinely- ‘How many of you decide upon losing weight when you are in a clear state of mind, without any frustrations, a feeling of overwhelming body shaming or self-deprecation? Almost none! The decision to lose weight enters the mind only when you are affected by such negative thoughts and emotions. Any endeavor performed or decided upon in this state of mind will only focus on results-quick results. Hence, the weight loss task becomes a stressful affair that focuses primarily on quick fixes without caring about sustainability or health. This is destructive thinking-working on a task with a negative mindset without focusing on the positives such as better health, good quality of life, ease in performing daily activities and the prevention of health diseases; tasks performed in this frame of mind fail to succeed mostly.
Before jumping onto your weight loss goal, prepare yourself mentally by ensuring the following:
Define a workable goal: Your reason for weight loss might be anything from looking prettier or getting rid of the energy drain you suffer from dragging around your excess 15 kilograms to fixing health problems such as diabetes or blood pressure. Your goal should not be to lose weight but to fix upon smaller ones that help you succeed on your final result of weight loss. For instance, eating five portions of fruits and veggies or getting enough sleep are smaller goals that are achievable and gratifying.
Meet a dietitian: Once you are focused on losing weight please don’t google search for a diet or ask suggestions from your near and dear ones. Everyone is ready to help you, no doubt about it and the internet offers a plethora of diets and weight loss ideas, but the reason why many people fail to succeed in their decision is because they have chosen a plan that is completely unsuitable for their body type. Meet a dietitian and explain your core reason for weight loss. Once the RDN gets your goal, she will be able to come up with the best weight-loss program suitable for your body type, lifestyle, food habits and medical conditions (if any). An RDN can also help you mentally prepare yourself for the challenges ahead, guide you to overcome these challenges successfully, encourage you when you achieve smaller goals and help you accomplish the ultimate result. A dietitian/nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com would be the best guide to help you succeed and motivate you all through your weight loss journey.
Be positive: Try to be amidst positive people and those who have a positive frame of mind to approach any problem. This encourages you and keeps you emotionally healthy. Never hesitate to ask help or support when needed. You might have failed in your past weight loss efforts, but it is not mandatory that you will fail again. Don’t lose hope if you skip workout for a day or overeat a meal. It’s all in the game.
Redefine rewards and punishments: Neither food is a reward and nor is exercise a punishment. Both help to nourish your body and keep you energetic and strong. All of us need the right mix of both, food and exercise to stay fit and healthy.
Shun away from the calendar: Patience is the utmost important quality for a healthy weight loss in a sustainable way. When you set smaller goals, even daily ones such as covering 10,000 steps or eating five portions of produce and achieve them there is no need of constantly engaging with the calendar and worrying about results. Results would automatically fall in place sometime gradually.
Pick out ‘problem’ areas: Each of us have a few weak points when it comes to eating or exercising. Pick out these weak points and work over them. For instance, when you crave for something during stress, stop the craving by saying “STOP” aloud or count from 1 to 10 repetitively until the craving vanishes.
Stay away from the scale: While people regularly advice to note your weight every couple of days please don’t do so if you think that weighing scale measurements might cause negative thoughts and actions. Don’t weight yourself until you are convinced that the numbers on the scale don’t define your worth and it is your actual self who stands before these numbers.
Cheat occasionally: You are not a saint doing a penance but a human trying to work on achievable things. Don’t restrict yourself like an army man. An occasional cookie or potato wafers is not sinning. Feel free to eat something of your choice sometimes. This would motivate you even more to stay fixed on your goal and prove results.
Encourage yourself: You are your soul’s best friend. Talk to yourself. This might seem funny and people around might ridicule you for this. Do it in your personal space at the comfort of your home. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and keep imposing harder restrictions. This would become a punishment of sorts and we don’t want this! Pat yourself for your achievements until now, ponder on your mistakes and work on improving yourself to get better results.
Jot down rewards: Plan your rewards as you would plan your diet and exercise. Note it down in your food journal along with your daily food habits and exercise durations! But never make the same mistake of giving yourself a food reward. Maybe you can go for a relaxing spa or get yourself an accessory you have been eying along as a reward for achieving each of your smaller goals.
An infant’s first tooth protrusion is a delight to watch-white in color and peeping out of the gums the tooth holds a permanent place in our hearts until the second one springs up 😊 Such milk-white teeth turns brown or yellowish in color as we age due to different reasons. The shape and size also differ from person to person. Some people might have it in the form of brown lines while it appears as blotchy, irregular patches in others. Such spots are extremely common and treatments for tooth discoloration have become a money-spinning industry with sophisticated treatment procedures and options available.
Our all-over oral health is essential for nutrients intake, communication and host defense and our teeth is involved in all three of it. Any problems with the oral cavity or teeth can cause oral infections and also make it difficult for the individual to chew/swallow food or even affect phonation/pronunciation of words and sounds.
Tooth discoloration is a result of different intrinsic and extrinsic causes. Dental plaque, foods, beverages, tobacco, chromogenic bacteria, topical medications and other metallic compounds are common extrinsic causes while intrinsic dental stains are the result of dental materials, dental caries, trauma, infections, medications, nutritional deficiencies and other complications such as pregnancy problems, anemia, bleeding disorders, bile duct problems, genetic problems or hereditary diseases that affect enamel development.
Extrinsic discoloration is stain located on the outer layer of the tooth structure as a result of external agents. Factors such as enamel defects, improper salivation and poor oral hygiene make certain children and adults a victim of external stains. When enamel defect is the underlying root cause, it can lead to accumulation of stain-producing food, beverage, tobacco and other topical agents. Saliva is vital for oral protection aiding in cleaning of food debris and dental plaque and rarely, the salivary output decreases due to different reasons such as salivary infections, head and neck radiation therapy for cancer, chemotherapy and multiple medications such as antihypertensives and antihistamines.
Above all, the main cause of extrinsic discoloration is poor oral hygiene. The lack of ability to remove the stain-producing material or insufficient cleaning and polishing actions cause discoloration. Black or brown stains are in essence due to the accumulation of dental plaque, calculus and food particles. Plaque is a sticky, colorless substance that forms on the teeth and when this is not removed with proper oral care, it can create calculus (or tartar) which cannot be removed by the individual but does need the intervention of a dental professional.
Tea, coffee and other beverages can cause stain formation on the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth. Extremely dark brown and black stains are the result of tobacco stains due to cigarettes, pipes or chewing tobacco. Pan, a common betel leaf-based after-food freshener chewed commonly by people in South-Asian regions including India brings about the production of blood red saliva that causes red stains on the teeth and makes the person’s entire mouth including the lips and tongue too look red in color.
Metallic compounds can also cause dental discoloration due to the interaction of the metals such as iron, manganese and silver (black discoloration); mercury and lead (blue-green); copper and nickel (green to blue-green stain) and chromic acid fumes (Deep orange) with dental plaque.
Intrinsic discoloration is primarily due to dental restoration and aging also causes progressive loss of tooth enamel due to tooth wear or attrition revealing the natural yellow color of the underlying dentin. Also, frequent ingestion of acidic foods and beverages and acid regurgitation from the stomach can cause yellow tooth due to enamel erosion. This is commonly seen in patients with anorexia or bulimia due to acid reflux contact with the teeth.
Trauma to developing yet unerupted teeth or trauma that occurs to fully erupted teeth can also cause discoloration.
Other causes of tooth discoloration include:
Foods & beverages: Dark-colored foods and beverages contain a chemical called chromogen that can stain the tooth enamel. These stains can leave a lasting mark on the teeth if the person follows a poor oral hygiene routine. Also, those food products that contain artificial colors and dyes can cause tooth stains.
Nicotine & tobacco: Frequently using these products can cause particles from them to stick onto tooth enamel and develop stains.
Tartar: Plaque is inevitable and each of us keep it under control by brushing and flossing. Plaque hardens into tartar or calculus when proper oral hygiene is not maintained and this can be removed only by a dental professional. Apart from this, factors such as smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes, illness or medications that cause reduction of saliva in the mouth increase the risk of developing tartar.
Tooth decay: Plaque and tartar eat sugars that pass through the mouth and cause acid accumulation that can wreck the tooth enamel. As the enamel is weakened, it exposes the yellow layers of tooth below it making it appear yellowish-brown. Any small cracks or breaks in the teeth can also cause bacteria to enter and cause decay. Some people have dark spots of decay around their dental fillings or crowns when there is bacterial entry through the crevices.
Genetics: Each person’s natural tooth color is different. Some might have darker-colored teeth than others. Genetic factors including the strength of the tooth enamel, enamel response to acids and pigments, exposure of enamel to constant wear and tear, hereditary conditions and developmental conditions that hinder proper bone and tooth formation can affect the color of the teeth.
What causes the brown spots forms the basis for treatment. Individuals try home remedies such as brushing their teeth with baking soda and water every few days or rinsing the mouth with diluted hydrogen peroxide solution daily or every few days and rinsing the mouth again with water after that. Some over-the-counter medications that promise improvement within a week or two include:
Sadly, tooth discoloration associated with celiac disease is permanent and such long-lasting spots or discolorations can be prevented or hidden using crowns, veneers or white composite fillings.
The best way to avoid tooth discoloration is to practice excellent oral hygiene. Some tips mentioned here might prove to be useful:
There are certain other foods that can strengthen enamel and prevent discoloration. Foods rich in fiber and roughage can pull off bacteria and bits of plaque off the teeth. Consuming high-fiber foods such as whole grains and cereals, veggies such as broccoli and leafy greens such as kale and spinach, foods rich in antioxidants such as carrots, ginger and garlic, nuts and high-fiber fruits and veggies such as apples, plums, pears and celery are good for your oral health and overall body health. Know your healthy fiber-rich foods from the website www.firsteatright.com and eat accordingly.
Brown spots on the tooth are mostly due to poor oral hygiene, smoking or consuming dark foods and drinks. These can be removed mostly and prevented from striking our teeth again. Rarely, these spots indicate an underlying medical problem or might be the side effect of some medication. It is always recommended to approach a dentist when you are unsure about the problem at hand.
Men, are you planning to go the family way in near future? Then, it’s time to go nuts! Different kinds of nutty varieties have been praised for their nutritive values and promoted as a heart-healthy snack. Nuts have a long-standing list of advantages to their kitty and the latest one is mind-blowing, especially for all the men out there. So guys, grab a bowl of mix nuts, settle yourself peacefully on your couch and feel good about yourself after reading the article!
Declining Sperm Count
Most of us (Except for a few exceptions!) love to munch on a handful of hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or the ever-green cashews. A 14-week study has shown that including nuts in a regular diet significantly improves the quality and function of human sperms. This comes as a welcome news wherein there is an overall decline in sperm counts worldwide, especially in the developed countries. A colossal analysis reported a momentous decline of sperm counts between 1973 and 2011. This analysis made use of more than 40000 men’s semen samples available across 244 studies and found almost a 50-60% decline in fertility among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Sperm concentration declined by 1.4% per year and sperm count by 1.6% per year.
Diet Can Improve Fertility
Research shows evidence piling up supporting the odds of conception when a person consumed a healthy diet. Almost one of four couples suffer from infertility and almost 40-50% of the time, the problems can be attributed to the man involved.
The study was performed for a duration of 14 weeks with the cooperation of 119 young men aged between 18 and 35 years. These participants were either given their routine western diet along with 60 grams/day of mixed nuts such as almonds, hazelnut and walnuts or their regular western-style diet without nuts. The study team recorder sperm parameters as per WHO guidelines along with changes in various molecular factors such as sperm DNA fragmentation. Sperm and blood samples were analyzed before and after the research.
WHO guidelines state four semen quality parameters which include concentration (simply put, sperm count and the quantity should be at least 15 million sperm cells per ml semen), progressive motility (32% minimum), vitality (58%) and morphology (4%). All these four parameters play vital roles in measuring sperm quality. It has been clearly proved at the molecular level that genetic integrity of every sperm cell is crucial for healthy and successful fertilization. When DNA strands in these cells either become fragmented or damaged, they lose their head start to fertilize an egg and enable embryonic development. Several studies and research theorize that DNA fragmentation is the result of oxidative stress due to environmental and lifestyle factors.
Study results showed significantly increased levels of sperm count, vitality, motility and morphology in those men who consumed 60 g of nuts daily compared to the nut-free diet group. All the major factors associated with male fertility showed decent improvements on a nut-based diet.
This study is an additional proof that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and B vitamin folate improve fertility as nuts are rich sources of all these and many other nutrients too. One reason to frown is that, this study was conducted on men who were healthy and fertile. We have no data to prove if the same results would prove positive in the case of men with fertility problems too. On the other hand, evidence is mounting up in support of complying with healthy lifestyle changes and eating a healthy diet to promote conception.
We witness more cases of IVF and IUI technology-assisted fertility treatments and there are more and more couples opting for such methods fearing childlessness. Problems such as PCOS, ovarian count problems, infertility due to obesity/overweight and similar other ones can be combated with a diet rich in all five food groups in the right proportion. There are certain problems that cannot be cured by dietary changes (such as problems with the fallopian tube) and it is advantageous to go for fertility treatments in such cases. But why waste your time, body, money and mental agony to solve some issues that can be corrected in the simplest way with diet and exercise? The website www.firsteatright.com lists down a clear picture of how diet plays a vital role in solving fertility problems, what kind of problems cannot be resolved by nutrition and how diet and nutrition affects fertility and childbirth. Let’s take every step possible to reduce a man’s risk of infertility (major causes include aged 40 years and above, obesity/overweight, smoking, drugs, alcohol, exposure to radiation and high temperatures) and boost the intake of a healthy diet along with regular physical exercise.
You go to bed and the next thing you realize is your alarm clock ringing in the early morning hours. What happens in between stays a mystery for you but a nightmare for your partner in bed due to your long speeches, crazy text messages or berserk noises and grunts! Sleep is an integral part of your daily routine and as essential as food and water. We spend 1/3rd of our time sleeping and quality sleep is integral for brain activation and body functioning. Aware of the benefits and consequences, researchers/scientists are still inconclusive about the biological purpose of sleep.
Insomnia is the inability to sleep properly which all of us are familiar with. Sleep apnea interrupts breathing briefly and repeatedly during sleeping but what is parasomnia? This is a term that includes all forms of sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, sexsomnia, nightmares, sleep paralysis, REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep talking and aggression during sleep except sleep apnea. While some of these are seriously connected with sleep disorders some of them are normal physiological occurrences that occur either during start of sleep, during sleep or while getting up from sleep. While sleeping, the brain fluctuates between wakefulness, nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. NREM further consists of four stages (1-4) and parasomnia commonly occurs when the transition between these stages are blurred (prominently present during the stage 3-4 transition and the awake stage).
This is the most-popular type of parasomnia all-the-more popular due to its depiction in movies and stories! Sleepwalking is the result of a series of complex behaviors that occurs when the patient is in an altered state of consciousness. This happens mostly during the stage three NREM sleep, a stage during which individuals cannot be woken up so easily and hence, makes sleepwalking a bit terrorizing as the sleepwalker is physically active but still in a deep state of sleep.
Sleepwalking includes a series of activities and the most common ones include sitting up in bed in a confused state, fumbling with the bed cloth and then walking with open eyes. Heredity is the most common cause for this sleepwalking behavior while sleep deprivation, touch, noise, stress, anxiety, alcohol and medications are also potential causes. Sleepwalking rarely causes harm to the walker as well as the people around him/her.
Sleep terrors & Sleep starts
Sleep terrors last anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes where the individuals sits up in the bed, emits a loud scream and starts displaying intense fear. He/she may shout in a threatening manner and run out of the bed assuming something harmful and this might lead to injury to the individual or the people surrounding him/her.
While asleep, we often feel like falling off the bed or a tall mountain and our whole body gives a solid jerk trying to safeguard itself. Such jerks can occur in any individual of any age but mostly seen in adults 60-70% of the time. This is not a sleep disorder but is only due to muscle contractions that last for less than 1 second when the person is about to fall asleep or is in a light state of sleep.
This has no confirmed scientific evidence but sleep texting is commonly present among adolescents. Media reports exist where teenagers accept sending some meaningful or unmeaningful text messages to their friends during sleep. Texting among teenagers is at an alarmingly high rate and such individuals often send more than 100-200 messages each day. This prompts them to pick their mobile and send some message to some person unknowingly even during sleep.
Sleep-related eating disorder
This is often seen during sleepwalking when the individual gets out of bed, goes to the fridge, picks up a snack and eats it, all of these without waking up actually. It is mostly high-calorie foods and beverages that are preferred by the sleep walker and consumed in a rapid manner as though someone is going to curb their eating at any point of time. Rarely, the individual might even consume unusual foods such as uncooked butter slices or even toxic substances such as uncooked chicken directly from the fridge. The affected individual is totally unaware of his/her acts and all that can indicate such behaviors are leftover plates, empty food containers and wrappers strewn around the house the next morning. There are plenty other eating disorders apart from sleep-related ones explained at www.firsteatright.com. Please go through the list to rule out any of its presence in your life.
With only 95 cases reported till date, sexsomnia is mostly common among the male population (67-81%). A common form of parasomnia, sexsomnia involves display of sexual affection, using words that promote sexual acts, intercourse/attempted intercourse during sleep followed by morning amnesia. Just like sleepwalking, sexsomnia occurs in the NREM stage of sleep and is often embarrassing as the sleeper might disturb or end up assaulting his/her sleeping colleague/friend/family or partner. It is also disturbing when complaints are lodged against such individuals as they are totally unaware of their acts the previous night and have not done any of it intentionally. Some even consider suicide to put an end to all this misery. Treatment only involves psychotherapy sessions to manage stress and reduce the occurrence of this act.
REM sleep behavior disorder is characterized by performing actions while still asleep, something similar to sleepwalking. As the name suggests, this happen during the REM stage (dreams mostly come at this stage) of sleep. Individuals with this disorder either act out or respond physically to their dreams and this might not be good for the affected person and those around the individual too! Physical violence is not seen much and if displayed, it is present more in men than women with this disorder. Antidepressants used for the first time can cause this disorder and so can stimulants such as alcohol, coffee and chocolate. Often present in individuals above the age of 50, REM sleep behavior disorder is a well-established risk factor for neurodegenerative disease.
Dreams and nightmares are common in every person’s life. What if these nightmares occur multiple time every night? This is nightmare disorder which includes recurring nightmares that involve anger, anxiety or disgust that can leave the individual wide awake. More the nightmares, less is the well-being of the individual. Nightmare disorder can occur in both, REM and NREM states of sleep and is a part of both, acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
All the disorders listed above might seem fictional or something like a movie. Yes, they are fascinating and rare but need to be addressed immediately to avoid negative consequences. Improving sleep hygiene, avoiding substance abuse, using proper medications and avoiding sleep deprivations can promote deep sleep and prevent such disorders from ruining our lives.
Skin, the largest organ in the human body, works like a flexible rubber band. It stretches and adjusts matching to the growing body needs but can be damaged if it is stretched beyond its capability too quickly (just like how your rubber band breaks) causing stretch marks. In fact, between 50 and 90 percent of women bear stretch marks according to a study from the University of Michigan Health System. Gone are the days when mommies took pride in their stretch marks! Mommies today take pride in climbing the ladder of success at work through their ultimate efforts along with their responsibilities of child rearing and family commitments. Some regard these marks as a symbol of motherhood, some are extremely self-conscious about its presence and try to veil it over and few others are double-minded, they do feel embarrassed but also want to take it in their stride! Which of these categories do you belong to?
The Name Speaks for Itself
Women and pregnancy are all that get associated with stretch marks. But it can affect men, teenagers or any person of any age. There is no clue why these marks affect some people and leave the rest unaffected. But there is a journal study that suggests that women who get pregnant at a younger age are more prone to stretch marks and so do women who put on excess weight during pregnancy. As the name suggests, a stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. To understand how these marks make themselves visible, it becomes necessary to become aware of the skin layers in our body.
The epidermis forms the outermost layer of the skin below which exists the dermis. Dermis is composed of connective tissue and provides elasticity and strength to the skin with the help of collagen, the main structural protein of the connective tissue. Elastin is another protein of the connective tissue that supports many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. During periods of rapid growth in the body, the skin stretches abruptly which damages the collagen and elastin and ruptures them. When the skin stops expanding (that is, growth stops gradually), the epidermis appears wrinkled and stretched as the collagen beneath it is damaged and not available for support.
Puberty, pregnancy, rapid weight gain or increased muscle mass are some examples of rapid growth phases during which these marks begin to appear. Save yourself from excess weight gain during pregnancy by meeting a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can suggest a healthy diet and lifestyle plan to keep you and your fetus healthy. Certain people get affected by stretch marks after using creams containing steroids in them and these marks also make their presence felt in people with Cushing’s disease (excess weight gain is a critical symptom) and Marfan syndrome (a condition that affects connective tissues). Even having a family history of stretch marks puts you at a greater risk.
Most stretch marks appear discolored initially or sometimes with a red, purple, pink, reddish-brown or brown tinge depending on your skin color. They might itch and also have a distinct texture that is different from the surrounding skin. These marks start diminishing in course of time but never do they disappear totally in most people.
Stretch marks are not painful but it makes some individuals lose their self-confidence and might even seem disfiguring rarely. Due to these mental effects, there have been numerous research carried out for years together to find a remedy for these marks. But none of them provide 100% results but the different ways provide us interesting clues on reducing these marks as much as possible.
There are home remedies as well as clinical treatment procedures available for treating stretch marks.
Clinical Treatment Procedures
Various studies prove two ingredients to be useful for treatment-hyaluronic acid and tretinoin. Tretinoin is a type of retinoid that helps early stretch marks to fade and this is backed up by strong study results. Dermatologists also make use of the following procedures to make stretch marks less visible, but they do not completely leave them untraceable.
There are multiple home remedies prescribed for stretch marks but there are no valid proofs supporting their success. Some of the common treatments prescribed include:
Gels, lotions and creams: Individuals might see effective results when they apply any of these continuously daily for several weeks as soon as they find stretch marks appearing. But, dermatological associations don’t back up these and neither are there supportive proofs stating their success rate. Using a moisturizer on the damp skin soon after bathing can help keep the skin soft and supple. Pregnant women often find the skin on their belly itch prominently and using a moisturizer provides relief to some extent.
Applying Oils: Many people suggest massaging cocoa butter, almond oil, olive oil or vitamin E oil to diminish stretch marks. Research proves that none of these products aided in fading stretch marks. But none of these are dangerous too and people might sometimes benefit from using them.
Sunscreens: While sunscreen lotions don’t improve stretch marks, they help to improve skin’s health and appearance. Sunlight exposure makes these scars more noticeable and also makes the person more prone to stretch marks as sun exposure can break down collagen.
But before trying any of these remedies, pregnant women are advised to speak to their doctor regarding its safety as some of these products might contain ingredients such as retinol that can harm the fetus. Also, while some people advocate tanning as a remedy, in fact it makes the marks even more visible. But there are limited evidences that prove that products containing hyaluronic acid or the herb centella can help to prevent stretch marks.
Trying these treatment options is not wrong but don’t remain stubborn and determined to get rid of stretch marks at the risk of your health. Learn to love your natural body! Then, you would start realizing its beauty.
Head of the family might be the male, but the deciding authority and several other critical issues are predominantly dependent on the woman of the house. Marriage brings two people from very different backgrounds together forever. Married people are similar in many attributes such that even their footsteps start matching each other in sometime, obesity/weight loss of either of the couple affects the other and now the latest news is that, we can predict a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes based on his or her partner’s BMI. If you’re a man married to an obese woman, your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases by multi-folds. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the vice versa is not true.
Obesity-linked Study of Married Couples-First-of-its-kind
Studies sometime back focused on how spouses share similar body weights and the results were finally dedicated towards following the same kind of eating habits and exercise schedules. This is the first-of-its-kind study analyzing the sex-specific impact of obesity in married couples on the risk of diabetes.
Researchers examined data from over 7000 adults (3,649 men and 3,478 women) in UK who were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging cohort. This study garners importance due to the mind-boggling fact that more than 422 million adults suffer from diabetes (WHO statistics) out of which 1.5 million deaths occur annually.
Couples are often commented that they are made for each other. That’s mainly because we choose partners who share similar interests, thinking and mindset. They even share the same kind of body weight and dietary/exercise habits while living together. While researchers tried to understand whether the risk of type 2 diabetes of an obese woman was mainly due to her own body weight, one thing that surprised them was the different responses given by both the sexes to underlying problems that arise due to body weight.
A husband’s BMI did not affect the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for a woman, but a woman’s BMI definitely did affect! A man whose wife had a BMI of 30 kg/m2 had a 21% greater risk of developing diabetes than a man whose wife had a BMI of 25 kg/m2, all these irrespective of the man’s BMI. While researchers have not yet analyzed and concluded what causes such detrimental consequences in a man due to his wife’s obesity, there are few theories suggested. They feel that women decide what every person in the house eats and hence, administer greater powers over their spouse’s dietary habits. Also, women mostly decide what to cook, what to shop and how much of every ingredient/food to buy which makes other family members dependent on her for health and wellness mostly.
A Prilimenary-Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes can be controlled, prevented or postponed minimizing the number of years the patient would suffer from the disease. If left unattended to, it can cause multiple complications and damage the heart, kidneys and eyes. As per Danish Diabetes Association, almost 35% individuals experience complications by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes.
Early detection of type 2 diabetes suppresses the need of medical treatment and the patient can start with lifestyle changes such as eating healthy food and doing physical activity regularly to increases the potential for successful prevention and treatment. Also, there is more scope for early detection of type 2 diabetes if we change our approach to the disease. Rather than concentrating on the individual, our approach must be to focus on the entire household. Any woman who suffers from high-risk diabetes chances shares the risk probability with her husband too. Also, women tend to visit a physician even when they slightly doubt the presence of diabetes while men rarely go to meet one. Either the wife should take her husband along the next time she visits her doctor or the doctor himself/herself can suggest bringing the patient’s husband along with her to check for the presence of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is already prevalent worldwide on a large-scale basis due to risk factors such as obesity and family history which increase the risk of the disease. This study provides an additional risk factor for diabetes screening. Husbands of obese women can take their wife’s obesity as a warning sign and get themselves tested for diabetes. Recognizing such risks can improve detecting diabetes at an early stage and also motivate couples to start eating healthy food and perform physical activity daily. Physicians too can recommend couple-based interventions to increase intake of healthy foods that are not energy-dense and encourage doing physical activity regularly. Obese/overweight individuals, people suffering from diabetes problems and those struggling to lose weight can get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com for getting back in shape or becoming healthy
Time and again the medical fraternity insist upon the advantages of breastfeeding to the general public but still 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of life. WHO recommends every mom to feed her newborn infant with colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk secreted at the end of pregnancy. This fluid must be fed to the baby within an hour of birth as it is the perfect food for a newborn.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from August 1st-7th to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding, encourage more mommies to breastfeed and improve the health of babies worldwide. Despite its celebration since 1992, not many women take up breastfeeding as their duty and perform it whole-heartedly.
The theme for 2018 is Breastfeeding: The Foundation for Life. The core objectives of this year’s theme include informing people about the direct advantages of breastfeeding on good nutrition, food security and poverty reduction, anchoring breastfeeding as the foundation of life, engaging with individuals and organizations for large-scale impact and galvanizing actions to promote breastfeeding.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to a baby’s 6th month after which nutritious complementary foods must be introduces gradually along with breastfeeding for up to 2 years or beyond. Repeatedly, WHO insists on feeding the baby with colostrum which can also be termed as the baby’s ‘first vaccine’ owing to its rich nutrients and antibodies. For a good supply of colostrum, skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the baby should be initiated within an hour of birth. This creates an inseparable bond between the mommy and her baby which along with suckling at the breast stimulates production of breastmilk.
What Makes Breastmilk Stand Above the Rest?
Breastfeeding increases energy needs by almost 500 calories per day, increases the need for various nutrients and also makes it essential to eat a varied diet. The numerous hormonal changes that have occurred before, during and after pregnancy can make you eat more due to excess hunger and trying to restrict calorie intake might decrease both your milk supply and your energy needs. It is better to stick with your body fat for the first 3 months after delivery as any inclination to reduce calories or lose weight might decrease your milk supply.
Nutrients play a great role in affecting your breast milk quality. The amount of some nutrients consumed via your diet may affect their presence in breast milk while some other nutrients are transferred into breast milk regardless of your intake quantity. It is crucial that you eat a variety of foods rich in different nutrients to nourish your baby. Some foods that you must include while breastfeeding include:
Countries worldwide celebrate important events by assigning a specific day. On the global level, we have several important ones such as the ‘World Health Day’ and ‘World Breastfeeding Day.’ In India, the Indian Orthopedic Association (IOA) celebrates Bone & Joint day on Aug 4th every year since the year 2012. Fitting the occasion is the slogan, ‘Stronger Bones, Stronger India’ which imparts the critical message to people nation-wide that healthy bones are the foundation of a healthy society and hence, a strong nation.
Most problems start with bones and joints as we age. First comes the knee problem, then the back problem and so on. Even youngsters, as young as 25- or 26-year-olds are victims to knee and joint problems due to rise in obesity rates (greater the weight, greater the pressure on knees and sooner do the knees give off!) and lack of Vitamin D levels (Sun, the primary source of this vitamin has become the enemy for many! Individuals either cover themselves from head to toe while going out in the sun, turn on the air conditioner at home, work or travel or never step out of their house and order things from A to Z online). Hence, Bone & Joint Day is not a day just for celebrations and advertisements but a great platform to educate and sensitize the society about the dangerous effects of musculoskeletal conditions and promote/provide efficient and cost-effective prevention and treatment solutions.
According to the Indian Journal of Orthopedics, despite more than 60 years history of orthopedics in our country, we are not ready-enough to define optimum and current state of bone health nationwide. There are hundreds of bone-and-joint clinics everywhere, almost some person in every household suffers from some kind of an orthopedic problem and people have become less-tolerant towards pain and diseases, yet there are no ideal factors identified for poor bone health and state/national-level strategies taken to improve the bone health of our nation. Apart from pain and agony, impaired bone health affects work and performance capability and stresses the mind reminding us of tremendous musculoskeletal disease burden in the latter years of a youngster’s life due to weak bones. Keeping these things in mind, individuals too should take care and precaution, fulfill nutrient requirements and stay active to safeguard themselves from the clutches of weak bones and pained joints!
A Brief Insight into Bones & Joints Pain
Bone pain includes extreme tenderness, aching or discomfort in one or more bones and differs from muscles or joint pain in that, it is constantly present irrespective of whether or not you’re moving. Injury, metastatic cancer, bone cancer, infections and leukemia might contribute to bone pain but the No.1 reason due to which innumerable people across India suffer from bone pain is due to mineral deficiency. For strong bones, one requires vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D in balanced quantities. But, ironically these are two of the most deficient nutrients present in our bodies. Time and again physicians, nutritionists and dietitians have stressed upon including dairy products, leafy greens, beans, lentils, sardines, salmons, almonds and seeds in our diets in balanced proportions to equip our body with calcium. Also, they insist on pursuing weight-bearing exercises such as walking, tennis and dancing to strengthen bone mass and get some vitamin D too. The early-morning sun is good for your body and there is no doubt about it, but the best time to get enough vitamin D levels quickly is around midday when the sun is shining at its peak. But, what we do? Sit comfortably inside our offices, homes or shops and avoid the sunrays! Complete information on calcium and vitamin D including the foods that are great sources of these nutrients are available in the website www.firsteatright.com.
A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, elbow or shoulder. Arthritis is a joint problem that affects almost any part of the body, specifically targeting the joints and tendons resulting in pain, stiffness and inflammation. Almost 15% people in our country suffer from arthritis that can leave a person with debilitating side effects and affect the person’s quality of life.
Teenage years are when 40-60% of peak bone mass is built. It is the duty of every parent, teacher and the teenager to ensure that these adolescents get enough physical exercise, drink adequate milk, eat plenty of fruits and veggies and eat foods rich in calcium to promote bone formation. Avoid all kinds of soda and cola drinks that tend to contain high quantities of phosphorus that can interfere with the skeleton’s ability to absorb calcium and cause damage. It is only up to the age of 30 that bone mass keeps increasing and in our 30th year the bones reach their maximum strength and density, known as peak bone mass. In women, there is minimum change in bone mass from the age of 30 up to menopause. After menopause, women tend to experience a rapid deterioration in bone mass and every woman must ensure to supplement this loss effectively through food, supplements and exercise.
Events & More…
The theme for this year’s day is ‘Road Safety’ and the IOA plans to arrange several road safety rallies, distribute pamphlets and posters on road safety to general public, arrange guest lectures in schools, forums and social organizations, free medical camps, free surgeries and basic life support course for paramedics, drivers, students and general public. This theme is the need of the hour as there are more than 5 lakh road injuries that happen in our country and the worst thing is that, most of these accidents are preventable. Out of the 5 lakh citizens injured, almost 1.5 lakh people die, some lose their limbs and some are permanently disabled to different degrees. All these campaigns and activities are organized from August 1st to August 7th to not only create awareness about various orthopedic diseases but also with an intention of being useful to the general public.
Women choose either sanitary pads or tampons to address menstruation issues. Drugstores and supermarkets are lined up with a host of personal care and hygiene products nowadays right from wet wipes to gentle washes which are used on a day-to-day basis. Safety and the need for using feminine hygiene products is a rarely-discussed topic and women feel awkward to comment or open up on such ‘personal’ topics publicly.
Simply speaking, all you need to do to maintain hygiene of your vagina is to rinse/wash it. We complicate things fearing foul smell, infections and with the intention of taking extremely rightful steps to protect our intimate parts. We buy them in the hope that these feminine hygiene products will provide cleanliness without harming our skin unlike soaps that are often irritating and caustic.
Useful or Harmful?
A new study, the first-ever such kind of a study, finds that using these feminine intimate hygiene products isn’t that fanciful! The study was done by researchers in a Canadian University. Almost 95% Canadian women use intimate hygiene products, but they are likely to suffer from some form of infection and these products end up doing more harm than good.
Published in the BMC Women’s Health Journal, this study surveyed around 1500 Canadian women regarding their vaginal health practices, use of products and the potential problems faced. Most of these women admitted their use of anti-itch creams, moisturizers, lubricants and wet wipes for feminine care. The results showed connections between specific products to specific infections. Although the research does not define clearly if it is the product causing the infection or if these women used the product to curb/minimize infection, the results are strong enough to suggest that further research and in-depth analysis is required in the case of using these feminine hygiene products. Some startling analysis from the study include:
Our society has branded female genitalia as unclean and women view these vaginal hygiene products as something women need to attain levels of purity and neatness. It is seen as a requirement rather than a luxury. This causes a chain of problems that start occurring once the female starts using such products.
Sanitary Pads & Tampons
A woman uses more than 12,000 tampons or sanitary pads through her active years of menstruation. Safety of these products have been questioned by many people, but no proper results and research exist that either support or deny their use. This might be primarily because menstruation and female personal hygiene have been set aside as a taboo subject for a long time. Various women organizations in America have found the presence of chemicals such as dioxins, carcinogens and reproductive toxins in tampons and pads although the FDA and product manufactures vouch for the safety of these products.
There are research results that show that vaginal douching can increase women’s exposure to phthalates and chemicals that are related to various health problems (including developmental and behavioral issues in children who are exposed to these products in the womb). Two studies that specifically focused on the safety of tampons found that women are exposed to much higher levels of dioxins through use of tampons than what they eat and drink.
Some researchers feel that it is better to use pads compared to tampons, at least they are not inserted inside. Least, go for tampons made of 100% organic cotton which are better for the individual and the planet.
While sanitary pads and tampons have become almost mandatory for every menstruating female, the use of other female hygiene products at least can be avoided. Maintain vaginal hygiene simply by washing it. It’s the only one needed!
Vasectomy is a surgical procedure carried out on the man to prevent pregnancy as the tubes that carry sperms are permanently cut or sealed during the surgery. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and is 99% successful in preventing pregnancy while leaving your sexual function fully intact. Being such a simple, effective and an almost painless procedure with such a great advantage, the debate still exists whether this procedure would force individuals to become a bait to prostate cancer, the most common cancer in the male population. That’s because, there are several research papers that support or deny this clause and the results remain arbitrary.
It was initially during the 1980s that reports began to crop up and news spread linking the potential risk of prostate cancer due to vasectomy. Men hesitated to take up vasectomy, but the results were proved otherwise and normalcy returned. In 2015, yet another large study that worked upon the vasectomy-prostate cancer link showed a slightly higher risk of high-grade prostate cancer in men who had a vasectomy compared to men who didn’t. The latest study bares another dimension that shows no increased risk of prostate cancer or death due to the same in men who had undergone vasectomy.
The Grandeur Study
Researchers analyzed 53 studies that covered 15 million men who underwent vasectomy and followed up with them for 24 years. The team also controlled for the potential bias that men who had a vasectomy were more inclined to take care of their health by segregating the studies into three categories based on their risk of bias-high, medium or low. Matching their belief, researchers found that evidences linking vasectomy with prostate cancer was strongest in the more biased studies while the link chances were negligible in the low-bias study. There was no evidence showing any link between vasectomy and prostate cancer.
From the studies, the research team followed up around 50000 men who were aged between 40 and 75 years at the start of the study in 1986. They were followed up for 24 years during which a quarter of them (around 12000) had vasectomies. During the follow-up period, 6023 were diagnosed with prostate cancer amongst which almost 800 of them died from the disease. The researchers looked out for a comparison between men who were at a risk of cancer due to vasectomy and those men who were at a risk of cancer without vasectomy. Results showed that 12.4% of those who had a vasectomy developed prostate cancer compared to 12.1% of them who did not undergo the surgical procedure. Study results showed that overall, vasectomy was associated with a 10% increased risk of prostate cancer, 22% increased risk of high-grade cancer, 20% increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and 19% increased risk of prostate cancer with distant metastasis (cancer spreads to other body parts). This added only .3% absolute difference in cancer rates and given the huge nature of the study group, this difference is negligible.
The decision to opt for or opt out of vasectomy is highly personal and one must consider the pros and cons before deciding to go for it. You can always use a condom as these are 98% effective when used correctly and can also protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Read more on STIs and their effect on human body at www.firsteatright.com. Vasectomy reversal is expensive and not always successful if in case you change your mind about having children.
This is one huge study that is considerable solely based on its study size. The small potential risk of prostate cancer should not be disturbing and prevent one from having a vasectomy if the procedure is valued for its effective birth control method.
Every man has a small chunk of feminine traits and every woman has her share of male qualities within her that make themselves visible every now and then. Men and women are designed differently, each of them possesses a distinct physical anatomy and characteristics which make them special people on this Earth. What exactly defines masculine or feminine qualities and why do some people act more like the opposite sex?
Sex hormones are chemical substances produced by the sex glands and involved in the regulation of sexual functions and secondary sexual characteristics. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is involved in the development of male sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics (voice deepening, facial and body hair, penis growth) and estrogen is a female sex hormone involved in bringing about secondary sexual characteristics during puberty such as breast enlargement, menstruation and body shape changes. Men and women have both, testosterone and estrogen in their body. The only difference is that the proportion varies-men have testosterone mostly with a little amount of estrogen whereas women have estrogen mostly with minimum testosterone. This blend of sex hormones in every human attributes for the opposite-sex characteristics peeping out of us every now and then! Any changes or imbalance of these hormones in an individual can lead to differences in their body structure and functioning too. For instance, too much of testosterone production in a female can lead to increased facial and body hair or too much estrogen in men can lead to breast enlargement that usually seen in a typical male.
Estrogen are female sex hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics and play an important role in sexual and reproductive development. They are chemical messengers that instruct specific tissues to behave in a certain way. Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries and hold responsibility for structural differences that differentiate women from men, such as wider pelvis, smaller voice box that makes a woman’s voice shriller than males, brings about curves and contours to the body and makes body hair finer and makes the hair on a woman’s head more permanent (Sad! That’s the reason maybe we see more bald men than women). Estrogen does not hold a monopoly of the sex hormones in a woman but is a general term used to refer all other hormones that are chemically similar such as estrone, estradiol and estriol. Estrone is the main hormone found in post-menopausal women and present in most tissues of the body, mainly fat and muscles. The body can convert estrone into estradiol and estradiol into estrone. Estradiol is the primary sex hormone present in women of reproductive age and childbearing women. Produced by the ovaries, it plays a vital role in a woman’s bone health and also contributes to many gynecologic problems such as endometriosis, fibroids and women-specific cancers such as endometrial cancer. Estriol is produced from the placenta during pregnancy and is kind of a waste product that is made after the body uses estradiol.
At the onset of puberty, estrogen levels rise and play a dominant role in regulating body growth. It helps in the development of female secondary sex characteristics such as breasts, wider hips, pubic hair and armpit hair. During puberty, ovaries release estrogen according to every monthly menstrual cycle and these levels rise halfway through the cycle initiating the release of an egg. When the egg is not fertilized, estrogen levels drop and menstruation starts. If the egg is fertilized, estrogen works along another hormone called progesterone (this helps to maintain pregnancies and implant an egg inside the uterus).
Estrogen level rise during pregnancy and placenta produces high levels of estriol. Changes after childbirth such as lactation and other changes to the breast (during and after pregnancy) are also controlled and monitored by estrogen. During childbirth, estrogen stimulates muscles in the uterus to develop and contract. Contractions lead to delivery of the baby.
Estrogen levels start falling after menopause and this is a natural process in every woman between the ages of 40 and 55. Actually, estrogen levels start falling during perimenopause, the transition stage before menopause. During this stage the woman experiences numerable symptoms such as weight gain, irregular menstruation, vaginal dryness, night sweats, decreased sex drive and hot flushes due to drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. Overcome menopause changes with the help of tips from the website www.firsteatright.com. As the estrogen level drops, rebuilding bones slows down and postmenopausal women break down more bones than they build. This might be the reason why women, especially postmenopausal women, suffer from greater risk of osteoporosis compared to men.
There are many other changes that the hormone is responsible for in our human body. Estrogen helps to stimulate the growth of an egg follicle, promotes the growth of a thick muscular wall in the fallopian tubes, helps the vagina to grow to its adult size and maintain lubrication, plays a major role in maintaining the mucous membrane that lines the uterus and has a special rapport with other hormones in the breast (this enables growth of breast during puberty, pigmentation of the nipple and stopping milk flow once the infants stops feeding).
Fluctuating Estrogen Levels
There are many situations during which estrogen levels fall including hypogonadism, PCOS, hypopituitarism, pregnancy failure, anorexia nervosa, extreme physical activity or training, menopause, breast-feeding and using certain medications. Some other situations such as puberty, overweight, healthy pregnancy, high BP, diabetes, tumors of ovaries or adrenal glands and certain medications can increase estrogen levels.
Estrogen finds its major use in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Estrogen in the birth control pill prevents ovulation and avoids pregnancy. Some doctors prescribe these pills to regulate periods, ease cramps and severe bleeding and decrease perimenopausal symptoms. Consuming these pills have their own side effects including irregular bleeding, heart attack, breast tenderness and swelling, nausea, vomiting, stroke, blood clots and weight changes. Using them for a long time increases the risk of breast cancer.
HRT can relieve menopause symptoms to a certain extent. Estrogen HRT is used predominantly by transgender women to achieve breast growth, prevent body hair and undergo other changes required for changing from a male to female.
When the body does not have normal estrogen levels, one can experience mood swings, low sexual drive, depression, fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, light/heavy bleeding during menstruation or dry skin.
Estrogen can also elevate the risk of many cancers, especially breast cancer, and health risks too. It is vital that one consults a doctor before taking estrogen supplements.
Are you the type of person who avoids handshakes during meetings, dreads a sleepover party with friends during summer or hesitates to show off your pedicured legs wearing flip-flops due to sweating? That’s common and there’s nothing to worry about much. Sweating is one way of cooling the body and prevent it from overheating. People generally sweat on a hot day or while exercising or even when they are nervous sometimes. The same reaction when it happens when your body does not need to cool down can cause excessive sweating. Excessive sweating can happen without any reason, as a side effect of medication or because of another condition that you might have. Medically termed as hyperhidrosis, this is a condition where the body sweats when there is no need of cooling down. This is not a dangerous or life-threatening condition but can cause embarrassment, discomfort and affect the individual psychologically.
Excessive sweating generally happens in the hands, feet, armpits and groin due to excessive sweat glands present. When these glands are localized it is called focal hyperhidrosis (such as sweating on the palms and soles) and excessive sweating that happens throughout the body is called as generalized hyperhidrosis.
The condition might be present since birth or develop later in life. The most common time during which hyperhidrosis starts to happen is adolescence. While the condition is treatable, many individuals fail to seek solutions out of embarrassment or due to the lack of knowledge about effective treatments.
Bouts of excessive sweating occur at least once a week accompanied by symptoms such as:
While causes of primary hyperhidrosis was believed to be anxiety, stress or nervousness until now, recent research proves that it is the other way round-excessive sweating can cause mental and emotional trauma, anxiety and stress in these individuals. Some studies do indicate the presence of a gene that might be responsible for the condition making it likelier to be inherited. Also, most of the patients with primary hyperhidrosis have a sibling or parent with the condition. Certain nerves in the body trigger sweating and it is possible that when these nerves overreact, it causes excessive sweating.
Causes of secondary hyperhidrosis are clearly defined and include spinal cord injury, gout, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, pregnancy, respiratory failure, shingles, hyperthyroidism, infections such as HIV, malaria and TB, substance abuse and certain medications. Get a detailed explanation of each of these conditions and analyze their effect on your body from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Irrespective of whether you live in a hot or cold climate, you can be prone to hyperhidrosis.
Before starting the patient on any treatment, it is necessary to diagnose the problem accurately. The physician initially does a physical examination of the areas that sweat profusely and asks specific questions that helps the doctor understand why the patient is having the condition. Sometimes, the physician physically checks the patient by coating their skin with a powder that changes color (purple) when the person starts sweating.
Treatment depends on the type of hyperhidrosis and the part of the body that sweats excessively. The physician might recommend that the patient meets a dermatologist for getting treated. The dermatologist suggests medications to reduce sweat. Botox treatment might also be suggested which reduces sweating for at least 4-6 months and this can be repeated. When none of the treatments work, the surgeon might suggest surgery as the final remedy. The sweat glands are permanently removed or stop the nerve signals from sending message to the sweat glands to secrete sweat (sympathectomy). Any surgery carries a certain dose of risk and side effects. Meeting a dermatologist can help you seek effective treatments and control excess sweating which improve quality of life.
Certain modifications in lifestyle may improve symptoms:
How does it sound when a healthy ageing adult wishes for assisted-suicide as his/her birthday gift? Terrifying? Haunting? Sad? But this is the reality in today’s world where many old-age couples wish to end their lives while they are still happy and healthy as they fear loneliness or terminal illnesses that might strike them anytime.
Euthanasia is helping a terminally sick person to end his/her life to relieve him/her of suffering. This is a critical issue that garners extremely different views from people worldwide as every person’s view on life is different. A controversial and emotive topic, passive euthanasia (2 types exist) is legalized in India since March 2018 under rigid guidelines only when the patient is terminally ill or in a vegetative state. Let’s assume that your family doctor knows you for years together, has witnessed your physical/mental deterioration as you age and feel pitiable for your living. At this juncture, if this physician prescribes terminal illness drugs that are in practice not needed for your comfort (for example, sedative overdose or muscle relaxant) but prescribed with the only aim of ending your life, it is euthanasia, active euthanasia. But if the same doctor assists you in committing suicide or encourages you to commit suicide at your request, it is assisted suicide. It might even be your friend who purchases strong sedatives to help you end your life at your request. He/she is assisting you in your suicide venture and this too falls under the same category.
Sometimes, people withhold or withdraw treatments needed for maintaining life which can result in death of the patient and this is called as passive euthanasia. Patients themselves most of the times feel like giving up on living and wish for a peaceful death. In such cases, they request for voluntary euthanasia. Some other times, it is the family members of terminally-ill or ‘vegetative state’ patients who request for mercy killing as defined as involuntary euthanasia.
Parents who introduce us to this world become dependent on us for life as they age. They are left to plead and seek mercy from their sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law to be spared to live. Thalaikoothal is the illegal and traditional process of geronticide or involuntary euthanasia forced by family members over their elderly relatives which is commonly practiced in some parts of southern districts of Tamil Nadu. While reasons cited by the person performing the euthanasia is generally terminal illness, suffering or physical pain, the process is performed even due to greed of money, dispute between siblings for acquisition of will and many things more.
Motivating Factors for Euthanasia
While extreme pain is the first reason that strikes us when someone prefers euthanasia, there are other reasons that serve as equal contributing factors. Terminal illness that robs a person of his/her quality living due to conditions such as nausea, incontinence, vomiting, paralysis or swallowing difficulties and psychological factors such as depression, loss of control or dignity, feeling a burden or uninterest in leading life as a dependent are other strong factors that motivate a person to seek euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, South Korea and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC and California. Society today forces both parents to work in order to match expenses and the elderly people are left at the mercy of domestic aids or worse, themselves, for food and attention. This has pushed many healthy ageing couples to come forward and seek permission for assisted suicide to end their lives gracefully without much pain. Some other elderly people are tired of living, have lost the desire to explore life or feel it a pain to even do their daily chores and hence, choose such dying options. An Australian scientist, David Goodall, travelled to Switzerland to end his life via assisted suicide at the age of 104. Though not terminally ill, he was left with limited mobility, failing eye sight and had no desire to live anymore. Illegalization of euthanasia in countries force such citizens to undergo the pain of travel to end their lives!
A couple in Mumbai, India have sent a petition to the President of our country seeking permission for assisted suicide despite the absence of terminal illness or pain in either of them. The couple wish for this as they are satisfied of leading a fulfilled life and fear that either of them might pass away which would lead to mental agony, pain and dependency for the other. Is life so simple that we want to end it for such trivial reasons or are we the ones complicating it by forcing people to live without any interest in life? Situations might differ, opinions might vary and the reactions could be harsh, but the reality now is that more and more people wish for assisted suicide in all parts of the world!
Arguments For & Against Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide
Each of us have an opinion and like to raise our views/concerns on general subjects. What are the various reasons quoted by people for supporting or disapproving assisted suicide?
Coughing occasionally during winter, after getting drenched in the rain or affected by common cold are common causes of coughing and no one cares! Let the cough last for more than a week and you start taking some medication or trying home remedies as treatment. When the same cough remains for more than 3-4 weeks, it becomes a matter of concern and panic arises in the individual. Nowadays chronic coughing makes the individual worry about heart disease and cancer!
A cough can be a reflux one, consciously done or a voluntary act that starts with a gasp that sucks air into the lungs. Is there anyone who has never coughed? There can be none at all! Everyone coughs and none of us bother about it until it is an occasional one caused due to acute illnesses such as hay fever, common cold, bronchitis or pneumonia which resolve in a couple of days. On the contrary, a chronic cough lasts for few weeks, months or even years together.
Coughing is as common as sun and moon, but chronic cough interrupts our daily activities, sleep, causes fatigue, affects job performance and we lose the ability to focus on the work at hand. We live in an era of scary viruses and social interactions become greatly affected due to persistent coughing. Moreover, coughing affects a person physically too in the form of urinary incontinence, fainting and broken ribs. Severe chronic cause can even cause vomiting, lightheadedness and rib fractures sometimes. But the entire episode of chronic coughing vanishes away once the underlying problem is diagnosed properly. Chronic cough can occur along with other symptoms such as runny nose, a sensation of liquid running down the back of your throat (postnasal drip), frequent sore throat, wheezing, breathlessness, heartburn, sour taste in the mouth and rarely, coughing up blood too happens.
Common Causes of a Chronic Cough
Any physician would spontaneously quote smoking as the leading cause for chronic cough. It starts as a simple chronic cough but can lead to far serious conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and lung cancer which becomes a matter of concern for chain smokers. While there are numerous conditions that can cause a chronic cough, five conditions top the list and include:
A chronic cough isn’t all that serious until you experience symptoms such as fever (consistently high or prolonged), shortness of breath, weight loss, night sweats, wheezing, weakness, fatigue, chest pain that’s not due to the cough itself, coughing up blood, copious sputum production and loss of appetite which immediately calls for a physician’s attention.
Although not dangerous mostly, when you cough persistently it can land you in various problems including disturbed sleep, dizziness, excessive sweating, fractured ribs, urinary incontinence and passing out too!
A cough might be ‘dry’ or ‘wet’. A dry cough does not produce mucus and is predominantly visible in people who smoke and use ACE inhibitors whereas a wet cough produces mucus or sputum and is visible amongst people using a postnasal drip or having cystic fibrosis.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The doctor begins the diagnosis by questioning on the patient’s initial symptoms, time of appearance of the cough, what makes the cough better or worse and also about the patient’s history and lifestyle habits (mainly for smoking). Sometimes, the doctor suggests the patient to go for a bronchoscopy (lung view to check for irritation or disease), imaging scan or sputum sample test to check for any complications.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Doctor suggests decongestants or antihistamines for treating postnasal drip, lifestyle changes for GERD that include going to bed two hours post-meal, eating several small meals and sleeping with your head in a raised position, antibiotics, cough suppressants, inhaled-asthma drugs and acid blockers.
Home remedies that can be easily practiced by most people include sucking on cough drops, using a vaporizer to steam and drinking warm liquids such as warm water, tea, coffee or hot soup.
Gone are the days when our mommies and daddies went to the market early in the morning and purchased the required produce for the day’s meals. Such freshly purchased veggies and fruits not only taste great but also save time and effort consumed in storing them. Ironically, these days people don’t even go to market to buy vegetables but order everything online, right from your greens, herbs and spices to the daily produce required for cooking. Even on occasional visits to the farmer’s market or vegetable shop (which is mostly during the weekends) they purchase produce that lasts for more than a week! So, is there an option to keep them fresh or at least prevent them from rotting away inside the comfort of the refrigerators?
The vegetable/fruit vendor is always the scape goat who gets blamed for rotten produce that stales away inside our refrigerators before we get a chance to use them. What we miss out is that, every fruit or vegetable has its own qualities. Some fruits give off ethylene gas that can make the other produce ripen and rot faster than it can be consumed. Apricots, avocados, papayas, nectarines, tomatoes, banana, cantaloupe, mango, honeydew melons, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes and kiwis are the most-common ethylene-producing fruits that must be kept far away from ethylene-sensitive produce such as apples, asparagus, green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, eggplants, lettuce, potatoes, summer squash and watermelons. Mostly, it is due to improper storage techniques that produce rot away rapidly. Each produce must be stored in a different manner to retain its authentic nutrient qualities. Such careful storage techniques become even more critical when we try to store multiple produce together in the refrigerator.
Be the Perfect Host to Your Produce
Generally, produce can either be stored on the counter, inside the refrigerator at 40° F or placed on the counter to ripen and then stored inside the refrigerator. Few common mistakes or issues that can affect freshness quotient of produce include:
At room temperature: Bananas, basil, cucumber, eggplant, grapefruit, Beans, potatoes, oranges, lemons, sweet potatoes, Watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini
At room temperature but move to the fridge once ripe: Apricots, avocados, papayas, peaches, pears, nectarines, melons, kiwi, mangoes, pineapples, plums
Refrigerate: Apples, asparagus, blueberries, corn on the cob, cauliflower, cherries, cilantro, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, Dark leafy greens, grapes, leeks, peas, parsley, lettuce, pomegranate, strawberries
The job doesn’t end here and we need to clearly understand ‘how’ to store produce as well. In general, remember to store high-ethylene-emitting fruits away from other produce. But, the same set of fruits can also become advantageous when we wish to ripen certain produce faster. For example, if you want to ripen your avocados, you can place them inside a paper bag and keep them right next to the bananas. You would be amazed to find ripe avocados sitting right next to the bananas ready to be used in your smoothies, as a spread or to make some yummy dessert. So, ‘how’ to store your favorite produce?
Garlic & Onion: Garlic and onions gel well and bond together as they are both part of the allium family. There is no harm in storing them right next to each other in open containers in a cool, dry and dark space.
Mushrooms & Okra: Keep them unwashed in paper bags inside refrigerators as moisture makes them slimy and rot away.
Tomatoes: Most of us are inclined to pack any produce into the refrigerator and tomato too faces the same challenge. It is advisable to store them at room temperature (in a bowl away from heat and light) away from the cooling air inside the fridge to prevent quick rotting of the produce. It is even better to keep the stem side down as this prevents moisture from accumulating around the stem and spoiling the entire tomato.
Potatoes: These stay happy at room temperature. Place potatoes in a cool, dry space in your kitchen but far away from onions or apples (any fruit that emits ethylene) as this can make them wilt and sprout quickly. You can surely grow your own potato garden with the small sprouts that appear on these root veggies if they stay together with onions, even by mistake!
Carrots: These have a longer shelf life and can stay fresh up to 2 weeks when placed in an unsealed zip-lock bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.
Peas: Store them in plastic bags
Cucumbers: Avoid storing them in fridge but if the need arises never refrigerate them beyond three days. Place them in the front portion of the shelf wrapped in paper towels (you can keep these wrapped ones inside a plastic bag) where the temperature is pretty warm.
Leafy greens: Firstly, remove any rotten leaf from the greens before storing and place different greens in different bags. Wrap the leafy greens in paper towels and put them into plastic bags.
Banana: You can place them on the counter or use banana hangers to prevent the fruit from ripening too much
Berries, cherries and grapes: Any of these fruits must never be washed until you find it essential to use them. Keep them dry in covered containers inside the refrigerator.
Citrus fruits: All kinds of citrus fruits can be stored in the crisper drawer or in a mesh bag in the refrigerator.
Stone fruits: Plums, peaches and nectarines must be placed in a paper bag on the counter until they ripen and then stored inside the refrigerator.
Melons: Watermelons must be stored outside in a cool, dry place. Cantaloupes and honeydews can also be kept outside until they are cut.
Herbs: Herbs can be preserved just like flowers, keeping them in a vase filled with water. Before doing that, you can wash them, dry them and cut off the ends. You can even cover the top portion of the herbs with a plastic bag or a damp paper towel as this absorbs moisture.
Washing your produce is an art that needs to be mastered. This helps to get rid of as much pesticides and dirt as possible. You can get a list of the top 10 dirtiest and cleanest produce from the website www.firsteatright.com. So, store your produce the right way and wash them properly to enjoy a hearty meal with the essence of fresh and healthy ingredients. This is economical and saves your time too!
None would be unaware of the infamous story ‘The King & The Spider’ where a spider’s perseverance taught a much-needed lesson for the king. Such famous are these arthropods that there are more than 40,000 species of spiders identified worldwide and real numbers are estimated to be 4 times more than this number presented here. All of these are predators that feed on insects and other tiny animals. Spiders are air-breathing arthropods (largest species collection) that are diversely found ranking seventh in total species diversity.
Just like lizards and cockroaches, many of us are scared of these eight-legged creatures but spiders rarely harm humans or bite them unless threatened. No spider attacks a human for some reason, all the more bite someone. They inflict pain only when an individual accidentally harm it or when the spider misinterprets the person’s movement with that of a prey. History shows that there is only one aggressive spider till date, the funnel-web in Australia, which attacks humans without any reason or provocation.
Each of us would have come across or been victims of spider bites sometime in our life. Most of these bites are harmless, many of them blamed on spiders seem to have been inflicted by other bugs and sometimes, skin infections have also been mistaken for spider bites. Tiny might be the species, but its bite can rarely be extremely dangerous and damaging. Spiders have hollow tusk-like jaws connected at the base with poison glands that produce toxins delivered by the jaws. Amongst the 40,000+ species, few of them can penetrate human skin and even if they do so, most of these possess toxins that have little or no effect on humans. Rarest of the rare species have both the abilities-penetrating through the human skin and disposing toxic venom-together that can cause serious human disease. The severity of reaction to spider venom depends on numerous factors such as the quantity of the venom injected, site of bite, duration, age and health conditions.
Victims of spider bite experience pain and swelling in the site of biting, necrosis, respiratory distress, kidney dysfunction, hypertension and death. Some of the world’s most poisonous spiders and the available treatments are discussed here:
Brown Recluse Spider
Characterized by a violin-shaped marking on its back, this spider is a nocturnal creature that rests mostly during the daytime. Individuals wearing clothes or shoes displaying spiders are bitten. The bite is painless, but the degree of pain increases in a couple of hours manifesting as inflammatory, hemorrhagic and painful lesions. Antivenoms dispensed decrease the size of the necrotic area and faster they are dispensed, minimal is their manifestation. Recommendations are to dispense these antivenoms within first 4 hours of the bite, but certain investigations seem to find them useful even after 12 hours.
The spiders are names so because they like to hide away in undisturbed areas and prefer to live indoors, for instance, amongst the clutter of basement or attics, behind bookshelves and dresses and in unused/rarely used cupboards. Outside, they choose their quiet spot underneath rocks or tree stumps.
Black Widow Spider
One amongst the famous venomous spiders, black widow spider has a black hairless body and commonly found in North America and Australia. The entire body is pitch black with the exception of a red marking, in the shape of an hourglass, on the abdomen. The bite hurts minimally, similar to a pinprick. This spider bites during the warm summer months and mortality rates are as low as 1%. But rarely, especially in children, the bite of a dark widow or brown recluse spider results in death.
Symptoms include abdominal cramping, sweating profusely, fever, chills and body aches. Rarely the cramps can be such intense that they are mistaken for appendicitis or a ruptured appendix. Sometimes, the central portion of the bite turns dark blue or purple and emerge as an open sore (ulcer) that grows in size as the surrounding skin dies. The ulcer growth stops within 10 days after the bite, but complete healing takes months together and high degree of severity might result in grafting the affected site. Treatment consists of using muscle relaxants, narcotics, analgesics and antivenom.
The most dangerous spider in the world, this spider is aggressive even in the absence of provocation. The web formed by this spider is funnel-shaped and hence the name. Pain, hives, diaphoresis and piloerection are local symptoms. A funnel-web bite can cause drooping eyelids, double vision, swallowing difficulty, rapid heart rate, breathing difficulty, joint pain, muscle spasms, shivering, headache, coma, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Hives can irritate a person due to itching and also sting them. Read more on hives, their causes and treatments at www.firsteatright.com.
Treatment includes bandaging for blocking lymph nodes, limb immobilization and taking the affected person to the hospital as fast as possible. Antivenom must be given immediately after hospitalization along with other measures such as ventilatory support and tetanus vaccination.
A spider bite might produce a reaction similar to that of a bee sting and result in redness, pain and swelling. Treat spider bite by:
Most of you would be tired of the tried and tested de-stressing techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep-breathing exercises by now and would be hoping for livelier and ‘happening’ techniques. Even after trying out these techniques people are still stressed, and the stress level is only steadily increasing! There is no hard and fast rule that you need to adhere to only certain techniques that is practiced universally. If some technique works for you but not your friend, go ahead and enjoy its benefits.
Given here are some well-researched ways that have proven to be effective on certain people and you might be one of them:
Watch a swimming fish
Countless homes have a small aquarium tank, but rarely do they observe what’s happening inside it. One journal study has seriously claimed that looking at a fish inside a tank can calm you and induce serenity. Not only that, even looking at a fishless tank with moving seaweed can help you settle your stress levels.
Having a garden inside the house might not be practically possible for everyone. But, one can definitely grow a small houseplant to make your house greener. One study has proved that women felt an uplift in their moods and their stress levels too dropped when they looked at a bunch of fresh rose for just three minutes. Select a small flowering or an ornamental plant of your choice and keep it in your house to feel fresh and energized.
Become a sniff dog
At times of stress try sniffing your spouse’s clothes, chest or even socks. It might sound crazy or even gross, but women do find it relaxing and smoothening to smell their partner, even when they are not physically present. During periods of separation, increased stress levels or high-importance meetings it is always better to carry your spouse’s hanky or socks to smell and de-stress yourself!
Smiling is an evergreen way to decrease your stress levels. Even during times of distress forcing a fake smile would serve you better than totally avoiding a smile. It makes you happier and truly less stressed. If you are that “authentic” person who cannot fake a smile, the best way is to call upon a friend and talk to him/her who can make your lips curl into a bright smile in no time!
Stare at fractals
Modern art has got charm in its own way. Fractals are geometric figures that keep occurring repeatedly, but every time in a smaller scale. Seashells, mountains, snowflakes and clouds are natural fractals and the good thing is that fractals can also be created via art. This explains the soothing power of nature on humans and it serves you good to add some picture of modern art to your phone’s background.
Any animal lover would surely accept that locking eyes with pet can take off his/her stress intensity and burden. Even research proves that human-animal bonding generates oxytocin (the love hormone) and reduces psychological distress. It is not only dog but any animal that can help a person calm down. For instance, one study gave crickets (insect) to elderly population to take care of and the mental health of the study group improved considerably by the end of the study compared to the other group devoid of any pets. If you don’t find yourself in a position to adopt a pet of your own, you can volunteer yourself to work in animal shelters.
Bite on dark chocolate
Studies have proved that eating dark chocolate helps reduce stress levels and blood pressure levels as effective as prescription drugs. Antioxidants (polyphenols) present in these dark chocolates are responsible for these healthful benefits and the darker the chocolate, more the polyphenols it contains. The different opinions surrounding dark chocolate never vanish and for some interesting tit-bits about this mouth-watering delicacy, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Chew & Chew
Apart from preventing bad breaths, we should chew to beat stress too. One journal study proved that people who undertook a stressful task chewing gums felt less stressed than those who performed the task without the gums. Chewing gums contain the stress hormone cortisol and this triggers activity in people and helps them deal with stressful situations in a better way. Researchers feel that it might be due to the increased blood flow to the brain as a result of chewing.
For every physical trait or personality of ours, we have our genes to credit or blame upon. We might be our parents’, grandparents’ or forefathers’ replica or possess traits resembling them, but each of us have something unique to us and only us, and this is personal choice. With sheer willpower and effort, we can overpower most of these traits (except for physical traits and there is no need as well to change one’s physical self just for the sake of beauty!) to become a better person, health-wise and personality-wise, in life.
Scientists made wonderful progress studying the human genome more than a decade ago. This helps us relate genetics to certain diseases and disorders. Subsequent research proved further links between genetics and our increased risk of health problems such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, breast cancer, depression and obesity too! Many over-smart individuals now use this theory to mint unethical money by luring people to take up genetic tests for obesity. These individuals overcharge common man for the test and come up with fancy terms and high-profile words to provide justification for the high cost. But finally, the solution provided by them is the same-work out, eat smart and live healthy. What is the need for genetic testing in this case? Genes do play a role, but we have a long way to go before we can provide substantial solutions to obesity problems using gene knowledge. At the same time, Angelina Jolie took a bold decision of getting her ovaries removed and saving herself from ovarian cancer (unlike her mom who succumbed to death at the age of 56) after witnessing more than a couple of her family members die due to cancer. Genes have indeed saved Angelina Jolie her precious life! There is a gene named after her, ‘The Angelina Jolie Gene’, information about which is available at www.firsteatright.com.
On the brighter note, it is becoming more and more clear that genetics is only 50% of the cause for various ailments and it is our lifestyle that plays the hero role in reducing our risks of various diseases. We can never rewrite our genotype, but it is always possible to alter our phenotype. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression that don’t involve any changes to the underlying DNA sequence. Ongoing research is favorable to human species as we are finding that epigenetic changes are affected by our lifestyle choices, food habits, chemicals that we are exposed to and even our social environments. All these can modify our health at the level of the gene.
Inherited Heart Disease
Different types of heart disease can be passed down through families. Some are caused just by one or two genetic changes that have a powerful effect in causing the disease. But mostly, it is the result of multiple gene changes that result in coronary artery disease. Greater the number of gene variants, higher is your risk of disease as every variant increases your risk by 10%.
Exercise Vs Genetics
New research proposes that exercise, specifically cardio fitness, can outweigh genetics in affecting the risk of heart disease irrespective of the risk potential.
The study included almost a half-million participants who were between 40 and 69 years old from 2006-2010. Researchers followed up on individuals who did not show any signs of heart disease for about a decade tracking their activities and exercise patterns. They investigated the genetic profile of those participants who were at the greatest risk of heart disease and atrial fibrillation. These participants were put on a rigorous cardiorespiratory fitness routine that decreased their risk of coronary heart disease by 49% and AFib risk by 60%. This proves three important facts:
Save Your Gene
The fact that lifestyle affects genes to a great extent is good or bad depending on how we process this information. Those blessed with a genetic advantage against heart disease risk can revoke all these benefits by pursuing an unhealthy lifestyle. At the same time, genetics can even demotivate the most physically fit person when results show that the person is at the greatest risk of heart disease due to genetics. It can make the person feel doomed, negative and helpless. He/she completely forgets about his/her fitness level and focuses only on the gene results right then. This can cause stress, anxiety and ultimately raise blood pressure which is a major cause for heart disease.
We sometimes complicate our simple lives by introducing unwanted elements into it. Understanding that genes depend on our activities and reminding that we don’t rely on genes for survival is the basis for a stress-free and healthy life. Family history is definitely a primary factor to consider but we can overpower it with significant lifestyle modifications. We live in such a modern world that individuals can actually get to know their risk status which is both a blessing and a curse. It solely depends on us to raise our blessings by taking appropriate actions to move forward in life (in terms of health), decrease our curse by using the results in a positive way to become better and stay balanced between both.
Our Biology lessons on genes, inheritance and heredity always start with Drosophila Melanogaster or the common ‘fruit fly’. Its more than a century and the Drosophila continues to occupy a key role in science research in the areas of genetics, enlighten various aspects of human health and diseases. With tremendous scientific advancements, it keeps a person wondering what is extra-special about the fruit fly that encourages scientists to repeatedly use them despite profound development in research tools.
Are We Biased in Choosing the Drosophila for Research?
Using humans for research is terrorizing and next to impossible due to multitudinous ethical and practical issues. To satisfy the requirements of a study, a good model organism should comply with similar functions and pathways with humans on a molecular level. We use model organisms such as mice and fruit fly to study about cell functioning and genetics. Although agreeable that humans and fruit flies are dissimilar organisms, it is also surprising that the biological pathways and mechanisms overlap between these species. The well-known journal Science listed the genome sequence of Drosophila which in comparison to the human genome shows these key facts that make this insect a model specimen in science labs:
The similarity between the genome structures of humans and drosophila are critical for using the fruit fly to better understand human behavior, development and genetic diseases. The different human conditions and behaviors for which Drosophila has been used might surprise and fascinate any human. Genes nowadays are used to predict a person’s weight loss/gain ratio, but this still remains a field to be further explored and analyzed before coming into definitive conclusion. Read more on nutrigenetics/nutrigenomics and the impact of genes on health and weight from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Currently under study are genes linked to neurological diseases, cancer, hypoxic response, infectious diseases, etc. The fruit fly is emerging to be a critical research element in the clinical drug discovery process and is a potential model for wound healing. In the bioengineering domain, Drosophila embryos are utilized to test the safety of bioengineering technologies. New therapies to treat heart diseases will be a reality in the near future for which the research is already underway. All these together make Drosophila the numero uno choice of scientists for research purpose.
Crash diets crush your health and leave you with debilitating side effects. There were certain articles and news on crash diets even on reputed newspapers worldwide quoting that ‘crash diets DO work’ or ‘crash diets are not so bad after all!’ but these claims are untrue and one must take caution.
Weight loss is on top of the agenda list constantly for many people and they are ready to do anything to fulfill their wish. By anything, I mean it literally-from very low-calorie diets (crash diets), eating pills as meals, consuming meal replacement shakes or powders to getting themselves operated to get rid of excess body fat or starving to death! All of us would like to walk down the ramp with beautiful attires, don’t we? A healthy body weight is not the goal but a ‘glam’ body (for females) or a muscular physique (for males) that fascinates people around and make them long for such a figure is the dream of many individuals today.
Meal replacement programs or popularly known to the world as ‘crash diets’ are those that contain very low-calorie content of not more than 600 or 800 kcal per day pursued predominantly for weight loss, diabetes control and controlled blood pressure numbers. Such programs are vehemently followed and growing to be increasingly popular among individuals since the last couple of years. Americans spend billions of dollars, almost $66 billion to be precise, on weight loss products which is not surprising as more than 70% of adults living in the United States are overweight/obese (according to NIH). Two-third of Britons are on a diet most times and Indians are getting fatter by the day, almost between 8 and 38% of rural Indians as well as between 13 and 50% of urban Indians suffer from obesity. The status of people in other parts of the world are not any better with every country at the brink of obesity and the world succumbing to an obesity epidemic! Such desperation and inability to curb weight gain forces people to take up quicker alternatives to weight loss ignorant (or either unconcerned) of the resulting consequences.
If you are aware, any man requires around 2500kCal per day to maintain his weight on a healthy, balanced diet and a woman requires around 2000kCal every day and these values can vary depending on the person’s age, weight, lifestyle and metabolism predominantly. Comparing the calorie intake involved in crash diets with a normal diet shows stark differences which nonetheless indicates the grueling truth of crash diets on our health and fitness.
Effect on Heart Health
Crash diets are supposedly helpful in losing weight or maintaining blood sugar levels but what about their effect on heart health? Research scientists have already given clear warnings about the disastrous effects of crash diets which include weakened immune system, slowing down of metabolism and increased risk of dehydration and arrhythmia. The latest impact of these unhealthy diet forms is on our heart-the crux of our life!
The research that focused specifically on heart health risks due to crash diets used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the effects of a very low-calorie diet on human heart and the distribution of fat in the abdomen, liver and heart muscle. The study included 21 obese individuals around the average age of 52 of which 6 of them were men. All of them had an average body mass index (BMI) of 37 (way above the obesity demarcation!) and were made to consume a diet that had a calorie value between 600 and 800kCal per day for eight weeks. When an MRI was taken after one week of consuming this crash diet, total body fat, visceral fat and liver fat decreased by 6%, 11% and 42% respectively. There was significant improvement in fasting total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin resistance, glucose and blood pressure. Please don’t feel overjoyed by reading this as after the same one-week time, heart fat content had risen by 44%. Worse, heart functioning deteriorated and the heart’s prime job of pumping blood was affected badly. At the same time, at the end of the eighth week, heart fat content and functioning improved compared to what existed before the participants started following the diet and so were improvements in body fat and cholesterol measurements visible. The surprise element here is that, risk factors of heart disease such as liver fat and diabetes levels were controlled which is a strong indication to show improved heart functioning, yet heart function worsened in the initial week before starting to show improvements. Researchers quote that staggering calorie decline elevates fat release from different parts of the body into the blood and this could have been taken up by the heart muscle. Once the body became accustomed to the decreased calorie restrictions, heart functioning returned to its normalcy. Even though very low-calorie diets are rarely (rarest of the rare) suggested by physicians to combat obesity problems in people suffering from morbid obesity, a more sustained diet is what actually is fruitful in the long run.
Even if you consider such a dip in heart functioning to be normal in the case of heart-healthy citizens, what about people with heart problems who take up crash diets? The results would be worsening-it might aggravate breathlessness or increase risk of arrhythmias, symptoms of heart failure. With such dangers lurking around a very low-calorie diet, what is the need of taking up these for the sake of a healthy body? Something that we pursue for the sake of health must only help to elevate fitness and in no way must try to bring it down, even by a minimum percentage.
Any Kind of Diet Comes with Its Set of Disadvantages
Crash diets might seem the perfect choice for losing a few pounds/kilograms before your graduation ceremony, meetup with childhood friends or your wedding day. But, these lost pounds/kilograms don’t even stay off long enough for you to enjoy the pleasure of it and bounce back in a jiffy. Comparatively, gradual weight loss works better on the body resulting in much-sustained long-term weight reduction and less weight gain compared to rapid weight loss using a very-low calorie diet.
Don’t replace your lunch with a protein shake, never go for supplements/super foods that promise to help you lose staggering weight numbers in a week or two, avoid skipping meals or avoiding a food group entirely, don’t cut off your intake of animal proteins completely and finally, don’t give up on your healthy weight loss approach over some crash diet. Always remember that there is no short cut to success. Effectively lose weight by practicing a disciplined dietary routine with regular physical activity and a stress-free living. Balance your macronutrient intake, eat the required quantities of healthy fats and get your needed dairy to stay fit and strong. Get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to lose weight in the right way by sticking to correct portions of the required nutrients.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.