There is a layer of smog that covers up the city sometimes and we can never be pleased with it-its not the fog due to chillness but one due to smoke and other air pollutants. Air pollution is reaching newer heights every day with almost every family owning a two-wheeler and many of us having one or even two cars sometimes. Energy use and production contribute majorly to air pollution which not only affect climate change but also gets aggravated by the same and also raises earth’s temperature. There have been numerous health effects of air pollution discovered and they include a host of respiratory ailments (such as asthma), cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes (preterm birth) and sometimes death too. It was not long back in 2013 that the World Health Organization declared outdoor air pollution to be carcinogenic to humans. Almost more than 90% of us live in places where air quality exceeds WHO guidelines. Get more information about air pollution by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
We do know that exercise keeps us healthy, elevates our mood, takes off depression, anxiety and stress, keeps us in good spirit and reduces the risk of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease risk. On the other hand, pollution has the potential to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma and COPD. So, the question does arise whether air pollution and poor air quality cancel the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health. Researchers have looked into this issue by evaluating exercise levels (which includes gardening, cycling, sports and walking) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2 is mostly the result of traffic) levels of 51,868 adults aged between 50 and 65 years. Over the 17.7 years period 2,936 of them were hit by heart attack for the first time while 324 suffered from recurrent heart attack.
Researchers could associate the link between increased levels of NO2 with more frequent heart attacks but the risk was lower among those who were physically active. While moderate cycling for around 4 hours every week cut down risks by 31% the risk further decreased by almost 58% when all four types of physical activity discussed above were performed. Also, those who practiced sports had a 15% lower rate of initial heart attack and a 9% lower risk coming from the benefits of cycling irrespective of the air quality. But those residing in areas where exposure to NO2 was greater faced 17% increased risk in first-time heart attack and 39% for recurrent heart attack.
This study clearly shows that performing physical activity regularly has the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness in individuals despite higher air pollution levels. While pollution can cause damage to health it cannot bring down the benefits exercise can have on an individual. Also, one needs to understand that moderate-intensity exercises are good enough to bring about benefits to individuals living in polluted areas. Maybe you can cycle to work, catch a bus from your second-nearest bus stop or walk daily to improve health.
Are you blessed with a cherished childhood experience? If yes, then you are one of the lucky fellows who got to grow up with love, affection and happiness. Some grow up oblivious to what’s been happening in the outside world that’s full of disappointments, sadness and misery and there are others who know about it but don’t/can’t do anything about it. Children are our prized possessions with their hearts pure and their thoughts clear. A child is like wet mud-just like how we can use the mud to create designs of our choice we can mold our kids to evolve into a person with the attributes and personality that’s been nurtured during their younger years. Though nature bestows certain personalities in kids its mostly nurture that dominates these attributes-the family that we grow in, the environment surrounding us and the people we interact with. Growing up in a family filled with love, care and joy surely affects the child in a positive way making him/her a good person at heart and a loving one to interact with. Whereas, children who have a bad childhood experience often grow up with depression, anxiety and other emotional problems that would take the efforts of another loving person who could cross their paths to sort out their traumatized childhood. Bad childhood experiences could be growing up in poverty, malnutrition, absence of love or care from parents and so on. Some others such as witnessing fights between parents, going through parents’ divorce traumas, being with a parent who suffers from mental illness or substance abuse problems or suffering from sexual, physical or emotional abuse are what we term adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Take Care of Kids, Spare them of the Trauma
ACEs puts the person into stress which in turn affects the mental and physical health of the person putting their successive generations at greater risk. The severity of the outcome depends on identifying the adverse event in the child’s life at early stages and the future of the child’s health depends on the severity of these outcomes. The question that lingers in each of our minds is whether the risk of ACEs could be reduced or minimized when there are people who care and love for the kid at home or in the neighborhood? A study was conducted on 65,680 children aged between 6 and 17 years to find out answers to this question. Of the total lot almost 44% hadn’t suffered from ACEs, 25% were exposed to one type of ACE, 11% to two types of ACEs, 7% to three types and 13% to four or more types.
Research results published in Pediatrics journal shows that the number of ACEs was inversely proportional to school performance. On a comparative bases, those children exposed to four or more ACEs were 2 times likelier to repeat grades at school, 4 times likelier to regularly skip homework and thrice likelier to have a ‘don’t care’ attitude about school, studies or their improvement. But when the number of protective factors increased the outcomes at school too improved. Protective factors include safe neighborhoods, enough nutrition, absence of second-hand smoke and a positive parent-child communication, the last factor being the most important of all found in this study. The study shows that a parent who can communicate openly and meaningfully with the child opens the child to positive outcomes and improvements in life pushing away the ACEs from the child’s mind. In short, the parent’s relationship with the child can have a great impact on the child’s life. Kids who had six or more protective factors were less likely to repeat grades, skip homework or act carelessly about school in comparison to those with no more than three protective factors.
Identifying protective factors that are feasible for your family and implementing them can go a long way towards improving the child’s health and school performance. School outcomes determine a child’s wellbeing and health as it affects both, the mental and physical health of the kid. To understand how emotional wellbeing is important for an improved quality of life please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. When he/she studies more it means living longer and healthier which are attributes that can be passed over to the next generations as well.
You and I started to walk long back when we were one-year-olds clinging onto our moms/dads as a lifeboat to save us when we trip and fall! Its well-known that habits last a lifetime and one can be sure that there is no chance in this world that we forget to walk correctly. But our fears have come true and there is no way that our quality of walk is better than before. And, that’s most probably because many of us have simply forgotten to walk more sitting in front of televisions, computers and video games. It’s now time that we start re-learning our walking techniques and get back to the basics of a proper walk.
Glorifying your Gait
Walking helps in improving overall physical fitness of your body, improves mood, takes off stress, reduces risk of chronic diseases and protects cardiovascular health. It is one of the best forms of exercise that can be practiced by individuals of any age group, any time of the day and anywhere. Most of us refuse to take it as a good exercise form just because we walk everyday-from the living room to the bedroom, from the office pantry to the washroom and from our apartment to the road outside to catch an auto. This is all that we walk but we talk too much on the effectiveness of this exercise form. Don’t you think that many of your walking styles might be totally incorrect and even affecting your knee?
Children usually copy the walking styles of parents and if in case the parent is doing it wrong it leads to a series of side effects. Maintaining symmetry is extremely important and your footsteps must be rhythmic to ensure that you are walking in the right track. It is always necessary to strike the ground heel first and then put your forefoot forward. You need to balance it right with the perfect style that includes speed, step width and step frequency. Its necessary to hold your head straight, avoid tilting it and refrain from slumping your shoulders. Your arms too play a critical role in affecting your walking style and speed. Bend your arms at 90-degree length and swing them briskly in tune with your opposite leg to maintain balance. Think of a pendulum and move each arm briskly back and forth. If any of these aren’t in place it can badly affect you-a bad posture and shoes that don’t support your brisk walk can enforce more strain on the muscles thereby leading to joint problems and muscle aches.
Footwear plays a crucial role in determining your walking style. If you use something that’s more than a year old and you have been walking daily then its time for a change of footwear. Pace too is definitely important while walking and this determines your calorie-burning capacity. You can walk slowly for one minute followed by three to four minutes of a brisk walking pace. You can also mix and match your own interval with your suitable pace and intensity. Motivation too keeps you going forward with your activity with much more enthusiasm. Maybe you can use a pedometer to track your steps, calories burnt and heart rate. Wearing a heavier vest (https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/improving-your-walking-routine.html?intcmp=HEA-HL-FEED) or carrying a load on your back triggers greater weight loss in the same stipulated time duration.
Its seen that individuals develop a specific walking style by the age of 7 which follows him/her through adulthood. We sometimes identify a person by the way he/she walks and the walking style too tells a lot about the person. Someone who is constantly rushing is mostly stressed, a person who takes bigger strides has got a purpose in life while someone who walks with drooping shoulders and crossed arms maybe depressed and lacks a motive in life. Decide upon your style-do you want to take bigger strides in life or stay unfocused?
There are different walking formats that can be interesting and worthy giving a shot. For instance, Nordic walking uses poles to help you move forward while you walk, power walking helps you achieve around 7-9 km/hour and rambling makes you enjoy scenic beauty and nature trails while motivating your body to exercising too.
Choose the right walking style, maintain your posture and pace to achieve best results from your activity.
How to Change your Gait? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/magazine/how-to-change-your-gait.html
How to Walk Properly? https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/health-wellbeing/exercise-fitness/how-to-walk-properly
Reunion of friends is a pompous affair especially for women who get to meet their buddies not very often! In one such reunion I found one of my besties treating herself to a cup of caffeine-rich beverage and adding a pinch of artificial sweetener to it. Taken by surprise I probed into it and enquired whether she was a victim of diabetes but I was taken aback by her reply. She has been using these since a few years as they are low in calories and prevent weight gain! So, we are ready to do anything and everything that’s going to prevent us from putting on fat and in this process, we are putting our health in a self-destruction mode. The controversies surrounding such sweeteners have been resolved and in fact, we have been getting more and more evidences that help in proving their negative impact on our body.
Artificial Sweeteners: A Not-so-sweet Affair?
Peaking obesity rates have forced many countries to levy extra taxes on overweight people and some countries have introduced sugar taxes too to improve the health of their citizens. This move has forced many companies in the food industry to include low/zero-calorie sweeteners instead of white sugar to meet the rising demands on low-calorie and low-sugar foods.
Sweeteners offer 0% nutrition and they are substances that have been used for improving taste but nothing else. This world has witnessed an increase in consuming these sweeteners in foods and beverages owing to rising obesity rates. Its not only oily food but also sugar which is a major culprit when it comes to calories. One gram of sugar contains 4 calories and if you are including a teaspoon of sugar in your beverage it amounts to 16 calories plus your milk plus your cream. Do you know that consuming one of your favorite donuts adds upon more than 250 calories to your body? Don’t take sugar lightly though it might be white and as pure as milk!
Artificial sweeteners, a substance that was invented to prevent increase in blood sugar levels is now proven to act as a bait for diabetes. Our very own discovery has backfired! A new study now shows us that artificial sweeteners have the ability to promote metabolic syndrome and put people at an increased risk of prediabetes and diabetes especially when the individual suffers from obesity. Metabolic syndrome is a dangerous one that puts an individual at a greater risk of high blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Abdominal fat increase is also highly likelier putting the individual at an increased risk of heart attack and strokes and, increasing the risk of diabetes by 3-5 times. Read more about artificial sweeteners and various evidence proving its benefits and disadvantages from the website www.firsteatright.com.
The stem cell-based study on animals by researchers showed that low-calorie sweeteners increased fat accumulation in cells depending on the quantity of the sweeteners used. When obese individuals were tested for fat samples after consuming these sweeteners, they displayed a change in gene expression. This research comes as a warning sign for obese individuals especially those affected by diabetes/prediabetes as they are already at an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Moreover, they suffer from increased insulin resistance and increased glucose levels in the blood.
In another research, biopsy samples of abdominal fat of 18 subjects who consumed low-calorie sweeteners were taken. While four of them were on a healthy weight the other 14 of them had obesity. While gene expression of the healthy-weighted candidates was not significant the obese individuals showed increased glucose transportation and overexpression of fat-producing genes.
So, have we come to a dead end with regard to artificial sweeteners? The ones that were introduced as sugar-friendly ones have proved to have disastrous effect on humans. While avoiding sugars as much as possible is the healthiest option it is not practical in real world. Most of us like our coffee and tea with sugar. Sweets are unavoidable during a celebration or announcement of some good news. But, understand that moderation is the key to everything. Cut down your sugar intake, use artificial sweeteners minimally (I would personally recommend against using them) and lead a healthy lifestyle with nutritive meal plans and regular exercise schedules to keep blood sugar levels under control.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.