I an allergic to a monotonous routine and I guess, so are many others. Don’t mix this up with the daily chores and routine each of us follow to lead our lives. Its not about doing something different every day but doing the same things differently by introducing small changes to them. We need to get up, finish with morning chores, cook, eat, work at office, sleep and repeat the same the next day. The routine remains the same but why is it that some people enjoy it while some others dislike it? Its mostly those who handle things/people with passion and interest who treat every day as a blessing while it is a chore for those who see life as a ringmaster and do their work for the sake of duty. Exercise too follows the same principle. Its not wrong to get up at 6’o clock in the morning and go for a walk every day in your life irrespective of rain or sun until you enjoy doing it. If you are one of those who gets easily demotivated or distracted doing the same stuff repeatedly you surely need fresh ways to motivate yourself and accomplish goals.
Self-motivation is a gift and not everyday do you see people encouraging themselves to achieve bigger feats in life. Obesity/overweight is raging high everywhere and most people worldwide are into sitting jobs that don’t require much movement. Advertisements promoting fitness, apps that stare right into your face while you surf through Instagram/Facebook and people around who exercise and eat healthy are blatant examples that insist upon the importance of a healthier you. We are strong as a rock when it comes to such issues and we don’t give heed to anything around until danger strikes. So, how do we motivate such people to exercise and make them literally workout?
A group of researchers have come up with a solution that calls for turning everyday exercise into a game. They designed a web-based game that can be played by anyone with a smartphone and a Fitbit called as MapTrek. Data is synched between the fitness device and the game. The web-based game moves a virtual avatar along a map depending on the number of steps taken by the participant. Participants were split into groups and they competed against each other in weekly walking challenges every week. The race is virtually held at different places on the map such as the Appalanchian Trail, the Grand Canyon and likewise every week. The participants also use the map feature to view their current position in the map and fasten the pace to walk or race through different locations. The game reminds users to wear the fitness band, provides encouragement and gives them the option of taking part in daily challenges to earn bonus steps.
On the whole 14 participants took part in the study. All of them were sedentary workers aged between 21 and 65 years who spent their day at work sitting for at least 75% time. These people were split into two groups and both the groups were given the Fitbit band but only one of the two groups used the band along with the MapTrek game. Each of their activities were monitored in the Fitbit’s activity monitor. When results were compared some 10 weeks after the study it was seen that the Fitbit and MapTrek group walked 2,092 more steps per day (equivalent to almost 1.5 kilometers) and accomplished 11 more active minutes of per day compared to the other group. Active minutes are defined as those that got the participants take more than 100 steps.
Researchers feel that 2,000+ increase in steps every day improves overall health and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 10% in the long run. Heart health is not only based on physical fitness but depends a lot on mental well-being too. Keeping your mind and body healthy is the best way to protect your heart and there are even studies supporting this theory which have been elaborated at www.firsteatright.com.
Gamification is the process of using games to tackle problems such as inactivity and smartphone engagement. Nowadays people are taking a particular workout regimen and fusing it with game mechanics to motivate and encourage people. This activity-cum-game concept has become popular with people.
The foremost question here is sustaining the health improvements. But we are well-aware that humans love to engage in things that they enjoy doing. Gamification is growing to be a great choice and people are loving it already. Work stress and lack of time prevents people from working out, but gamification makes them feel like they are playing a game instead of working out. Wearing wearable activity trackers for gamifying exercise and fitness is encouraging, advantageous and motivating.
‘Love handles’ might sound alluring and seductive but there isn’t much to love about love handles. Rather, they are a pain to hang around with! Any wild guesses on what part of the body does ‘love handles’ refer to? If your thoughts didn’t go anywhere beyond the hands, thighs, legs or muscles, you are absolutely mistaken.
Love handles refers to the excess fat that sits on both sides of your stomach resulting in a ‘muffin top’ appearance. It hangs over the top of your pants dangling around and dancing to its own music. This is one of the few places in our body that is extremely challenging to conquer. If you think that you are smart enough to dissuade it with ab workouts and abdominal crunches, sorry but this will lead you nowhere. Approach any fitness expert on sorting out this issue and his/her first advise that no amount of abs workout will do the trick if you don’t focus on your diet and exercise would surely sound discouraging. Another false hope that encourage most individuals is the term ‘spot reduction’. Fat loss is never possible with spot reduction and there is not the minutest chance of targeting a specific area.
Not As Bad As Visible
Though quite detestable, your love handles contain subcutaneous fat that are way far better than the visceral fat that hangs around internal organs and causes health risk. These love handles dangling from your abdomen sides look like a muffin top and act stubbornly. Alas, even the cunning visceral fat gives away to your demands with consistent exercise and diet but the extra fat around your hips don’t budge easily. Even if your waist size is greater than 35 (in case you’re a woman) or 40 (in case you’re a man) it is the deep visceral fat that dissolves first. One needs abundance of patience, perseverance and discipline to help your love handles (including excess fat around your buttocks, hips and thighs) to hate your body and run away from it.
There is no one specific diet for losing love handles but it is always recommended to follow a meal plan that you can follow long-term, but this is hard stuff, especially for the men whose weight loss efforts are seen lastly around the hips. Some clear-cut ways to enable fat loss around your love handles include:
Clean Eating: Eating healthy food is one of the most critical and result-oriented steps while trying to lose fat anywhere in your body. Added sugars are capable of increasing fat portions, especially belly fat. Your sweetened beverages that contain fructose have the tendency to increase belly fat greatly. Rather than adding empty calories to your body, try indulging in healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil and fatty fish for a narrow waistline as such fats keep you full for longer periods resulting in fewer calories consumption through the day. The same holds good for fiber too as eating fiber-rich foods keeps you fuller by slowing down digestion. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans and oats.
Active movement: Staying active and finding ways to keep moving around as often as possible keeps you healthy and fit. With most people nowadays involved in desk work, long sitting hours and a sedentary lifestyle are bad influences on your waistline. While trying to focus on specific body parts is normal, it is always advisable to exercise for the entire body which also takes care of the love handles. Rather than wasting time on spot training, add aerobic exercises that take care of your whole-body movements.
Cardio & Weights: Cardio workouts don’t necessarily involve vigorous-intensity exercises such as running or spinning. Start gradually from low-intensity aerobic exercises, go for a brisk walk or swim to get your required 150 minutes of workout every week. While aerobic activities help you burn more fat during your workout, resistance training helps the body build lean muscles and burn more calories at rest. Try doing weight training exercises along with your cardio workout to reap greater benefits in a short time. Cardio along with strength/ resistance/weight training leaves you with the best results.
Stress & Sleep: Stress and sleeplessness can increase weight gain due to the increase in cortisol levels in the body. Studies have proven that people who sleep for 7-8 hours are at lesser risk of weight gain compared to those who sleep for lesser than 6 hours. Avoid stress too as it triggers the release of cortisol (stress) hormones which in turn causes negative side effects such as anxiety, headache, digestive issues and weight gain. Do meditation or involve yourself in some activity that you enjoy to stay peaceful and rest your mind. There are various other options at www.firsteatright.com which can help you relax your mind and body.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water for staying healthy. Many people indulge in sports drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages and juices to quench their thirst and finally gain fat around the waistline. This is more dangerous as liquid foods don’t restrict our quantity intake and we might drink more quantities adding up too much of calories to our body. Refrain from alcohol as this is one of the major reasons for belly fat and fat around the midsection.
Become fit and stay chic losing your love handles. Lead a healthy lifestyle by sticking to a healthy diet plan, exercise schedule and an active lifestyle. Follow the above-given tips to lose your love handles as fast as possible.
A hero munching a chewing gum and lashing criminals is often the introductory scene shown in movies. Since long, chewing gums have been idolized as a symbol of style. Kids often challenged against each other on making the biggest bubbles using these gums and children loved showing off this talent to their friends. Otherwise, people pop in a chewing gum when they are restless, bored, relish eating one or even as a style statement. This universal product has faced many controversial comments and still continues to surprise us with different results that support as well as deny their benefits.
We’ve heard our parents complain against our usage of gums as they are laden with sugars and artificial colors. At the same time, we have also heard that munching on these gums are an excellent jaw exercise, also keeps us from feeling hungry, freshens breath, improves memory and even overcome food cravings. Feeling stressed? Munch on a chewing gum as this increases blood flow to the brain. This explanation is only theoretical and there is no solid proof backing it up. Research even suggests that sugar-free gum is good for the teeth as it prevents tooth decay and plaque formation. Despite such research and news, we are still unsure whether chewing gums are good or bad for health.
Healthy Gummy Bears
There are studies denouncing the use of these gums as they are likelier to reduce the consumption of healthy snacks but also highly unlikely to prevent the consumption of junk food. The latest of all is a study that shows the effects of chewing gum while exercising. This study focused on the physical and physiological functions of munching chewing gums, especially on middle-aged and elderly men.
The study involved 46 participants both male and female aged between 21 and 69 years who took part in two different trials. In the first trial the participants were asked to chew on two pellets of chewing gum of 1.5 grams and 3 kilocalories each while walking normally for around 15 minutes (after an hour of rest). The second trial was a control situation where the group was asked to repeat the same procedure with the only difference that instead of the gum, they swallowed a powder containing the same ingredients as the gum. During both the trials the participants’ resting heart rate, mean heart rate and distance covered were measured. Each participant’s energy expenditure was also calculated from their walking speed and body mass. Results showed that mean heart rate of every participant increased while walking when they munched a chewing gum meanwhile.
In order to confirm whether age and sex affected physiological results the research team split the participants into groups of male and female, and young or middle aged (18-39) and above (40-69). Study found that:
Some say that chewing gums leads to weight loss. There is no direct effect and one research that looked into the walking speed of participants who chewed a gum showed that speed increased while chewing a gum. This in turn led to greater weight loss due to burning more calories. But this is feasible only when the individual eats a nutritious diet in recommended portions and does his/her physical activity daily. For the right advice on eating healthy food and exercising regularly please get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
While going for a chewing gum it is always recommended to choose sugar-free ones. While some research say that chewing gums burns about 5% more calories comparatively and reduces calorie intake by 50-60 calories the tried and tested method is to follow a well-balanced diet plan, stick to your exercise schedule, lead a healthy lifestyle and minimize stress in life. There is no harm in chewing a gum or two for the love of its taste but don’t try too much of it.
New Year is fast approaching and all of us are gearing up for another round of goals and targets to be implemented in the forthcoming year. We are never short of promises and oaths but what we lack is the consistency in staying true to our words and accomplishing them. Losing weight or staying fit is a mandatory goal that’s taken up on January 1st of every year but loses its charm even before the month of March sets in. Amidst all the promises and failures to abide by our health-related goals, fitness centers, health studios and gyms are the ones that experience a boom in their business and enjoy a steady flow of income during the months of Dec-Jan-Feb. Its good to wish for something positive and take the first step (investing money in memberships, clothes or gears) towards it but in case of most individuals it stops with this. They don’t move forward anywhere beyond it.
A Big Dent in your Life Owing to a Sedentary Lifestyle
Exercise is good for the heart, health and longevity but what we have been unaware until now is the fact that a sedentary lifestyle garners outputs far worse than smoking, diabetes or heart disease. According to the study, procuring results that declare a person as unfit on a fitness test has negative results equivalent to hypertension and diabetes. It can be termed as a disease whose medicine is exercise. This comes as a shocking news as we have known until now that a sedentary lifestyle or being unfit has some risks but never has any of us imagined that it could be compared to a disease. Even more troubling is the fact that comparing those who lead a sedentary lifestyle with those who excel in exercising leaves the first group at a 500% increased risk of death comparatively and comparing between those who don’t exercise much to those who exercise regularly leaves the first group at a 390% increased risk of death. This leaves us with one solution-get up and exercise regularly. Walk, jog or run-do whatever you can to stay fit and keep moving.
With such a disheartening news on one side we have better news that’s sure to raise your hopes and motivate yourself to workout more. There are results showing that even short bursts of physical activity can be good for the health, according to the U. S’s physical activity guidelines. While old guidelines insisted on being active at least 10 consecutive minutes to stay healthy the latest guidelines nullify this. According to it, even simple things such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator or walking while talking over the phone is sure to elicit benefits. There is an advantage in doing something rather than doing nothing at all. The same guidelines promote doing moderate-intensity exercise between 150 and 300 minutes a week and vigorous-intensity exercise between 75 and 150 minutes a week for substantial health benefits.
Its not only walking, treadmill or cycling that’s mandatory in your exercise list. It can be a group dance class or a game of frisbee in the backyard with your spouse to trigger your urge to workout and garner benefits. On a cold winter day, it can even be as simple as taking a walk inside a mall and doing window shopping without burning a hole in your purse. The only prescription to a healthy body and mind is exercise. The only difference is that this prescription can be taken at your pace and frequency rather than following doctor’s instructions. Customize the activity duration recommended as per your lifestyle, schedule and work culture. All that you need is a will and you will surely find a way to achieve it. Get in touch with reputed nutritionists and dietitians at www.firsteatright.com to get hold of the perfect diet plan and exercise sets suitable for your body type and work towards success right from day 1.
Which mode of transport best suits your preferences? Flights are a fantasy for many, some are passionate about car travels, few love the seas and look forward to the soothing waves that stay throughout the cruise trip while for a limited few travelling is sickening. Vacation trips are the perfect gateway to relaxation and spending quality time with your beloved ones. More than the trip itself, it’s the prior planning and purchasing of stuffs that’s even more exciting and refreshing. Children are busy listing down their needs, moms are busy visiting Zara and Mango for their Western outfits and dads are of course busy sorting financial needs while buying a shirt or two for themselves. On the day of journey, you start your vacation in high spirits and board the car. You feel a bit dizzy but stabilize yourself looking forward to your trip. But once you board the flight for the journey, you feel sick in your stomach and start puking. Motion sickness has got the better of you!
Any mode of transportation-car, bus, train, sea or air- can cause motion sickness. Though sickness caused when travelling by boat or ship is called as sea sickness, in large it is motion sickness only. There are no prior indications and it strikes you suddenly starting with uneasiness and cold sweats resulting in dizziness and vomiting but stops as suddenly as it started once your travel stops. Serious symptoms include short breaths, sweating, pallor and nausea. Motion sickness can affect any person who has a functional vestibular system but is more common in pregnant/menstruating women, children and people under certain medications.
Any disturbances in the inner ear causes motion sickness. Our brain senses any movement via signals from the ears, eyes and muscles. When the signals don’t match it results in motion sickness. Any person who lacks the motion-sensing organs of the inner ear can never be victimized to motion sickness. For example, sitting inside a train your ears sense movements around you but your eyes don’t see any movements miraged by a static view. This conflict between sensory organs triggers motion sickness.
There are effective ways in which we can reduce motion sickness and they include:
Treatment generally includes prescribing medications depending on different factors such as intensity of sickness, duration of stimuli and the individual taking these medications. Any medication for soothing motion sickness works better when consumed before the actual symptoms of the sickness begin. Antihistamines are the commonly prescribed medications for motion sickness although these are not approved by the FDA for dispensing them to children.
We might not be Cristopher Columbus on a voyage mission around the world. But each of us love to explore the world around us, meet people from different cultures, visit beautiful places, experience different cuisines and bring home memorable memories. Taking prior care to reduce/prevent motion sickness helps us enjoy or trips and tours without much discomfort and pain.
It feels good to exercise, sway your hips to some music during the Zumba class or jog around your building after taking up a challenge to lose weight or become healthy. All the positive energy surrounding you lift your determination a notch higher. But after a few hours or a day, every part of the body starts aching, muscles feel sore and even walking down the stairs or brushing your teeth seems to be a strenuous task after lifting weights at the gym. All the determination and challenge seem to crumble down before your eyes as you are unable to even get out of bed the next day! Most individuals would have gone through this experience soon after embarking on their fitness journey. What exactly is the process that happens inside our body when we exercise for the first time or after a long time?
Muscles that Do the Trick
According to any fitness expert muscle soreness/ache that starts after exercising is normal and is a good sign of your improving fitness level. When the body is subjected to any new physical activity the muscles are also subjected to stress and the soreness that comes along is a natural reflection that exists at the start of any new exercise routine. This soreness, ache or discomfort that occurs between 24 and 48 hours after activity is termed as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is extremely common when an individual starts a new exercise routine, changes the routine or jumps over to a difficult one that involves more repetitions or intensity.
Muscles are used to the way in which individuals utilize them. When there is some deviation from the normal and they are required to work harder it causes microscopic damage to the muscle fibers resulting in muscle soreness/stiffness. Many believe it to be due to the work of lactic acid buildup which is actually untrue.
Don’t Doom the DOMS Effect
While the DOMS effect might perturb the first timers, it is essential to understand that even elite athletes experience it at times. The onset of the effect is an indication that the body is adapting itself to increased stamina and strength and the muscles are recovering. Any action or movement that you are not used to can cause DOMS. It might be as simple as starting to exercise or increasing your workout intensity to extreme levels. It is basically an effect of any exercise that causes the muscles to lengthen when under tension termed technically as ‘eccentric exercise’. This effect decreases as the body adapts to the new physical routine.
There are many speculations and theories surrounding DOMS. Its been said that the forces generated during the eccentric movement damage the muscle structure and connective tissues and causes imbalance of calcium that leads to the soreness. The person might also experience inflammation which triggers the pain nerves within 48 hours of the activity along with swelling as well, both of which cause extreme discomfort to the individual. The soreness is sure to decrease as the muscles get used to it. DOMS can last anywhere between 3 and 5 days starting after a day or 2 after exercise. The main problem with individuals who start exercising for the first time is that once pain starts after the first day or so, they start worrying that they have not done their exercise properly or that they have hurt themselves. Some even feel that its better to stop exercising altogether rather than experiencing more trouble. Its better to be aware of the DOMS effect before starting to exercise as this prepares you mentally. The gym instructor or the fitness coach can also intimate the new member about it.
Soothe Your Muscles the Smooth Way
While no single way has proven to be a 100% cure for treating DOMS, many of the solutions given here are said to be much effective than the rest. It is recommended to choose anything between heat, ice pack, massage, anti-inflammatory medications and rest to reduce pain. While some studies deny the advantages of using ice as a treatment method some studies show that wearing pressure garments after workout, drinking milk protein after workout or using foam-roller massages can help to alleviate pain. To stay on a healthy diet while following your exercise routine get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
In most cases there is no requirement for medications and the pain subsides gradually with enough rest. Its better to start off with a fitness program gradually in a subtle way such that the muscles are given enough time to adapt to the new movements. At the same time, there are not many evidences that support that warming up before exercising will prevent DOMS from striking. Stretching is helpful in reducing your chance of injury and improving performance.
The initial few days it is better to take things easy as your body is still adapting itself to the changes imposed. There is no harm in exercising with DOMS although you might feel uncomfortable initially, but the aches and pains disappear once your body gets used to this routine. While resting between exercising is allowed it is better to focus your exercises on the less-affected muscles giving time to the other affected muscle groups to heal and become normal.
Having taken up an activity that helps you become healthier, it is better to face the small hurdles that occur in between bravely and continue with your activity.
There are not many who are unaware of the worldwide hit of the Old Spice advertisement ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ primarily owing to its surprise ending. This brings us to a much more important topic of debate about body odor. While the cosmetic market is predominantly a woman’s affair, most deodorants and body sprays advertised are for the male population which again makes one wonder whether men are likelier to have profound body odor comparatively. Also, have you ever wondered why kids don’t use deodorants while every adult goes crazy over the latest ones advertised and has them stockpiled in their cosmetic shelves? That’s because our body produces body odor starting only from puberty due to the growth of the apocrine sweat glands. Until then, they are present in the body (even in a 6-month-old fetus) in an inactive state and hormonal changes in puberty triggers these glands to start functioning in a full-fledged way.
I hate it when someone talks to me the first thing in the morning without brushing his/her teeth. Not even the most beautiful lady or the most handsome man on this Earth smell good after getting up from a good nights’ sleep. And, it’s absolutely humane when your breath smells a little bad in the morning, especially when you have slept with your mouth open as dry mouth are thriving places for bacteria. Bad breath is often the work of bacteria sticking to your teeth and tongue. These parasites are capable of making compounds that have sulfur. Don’t let your minds wander to the chemical labs during school days as indeed you are right. These compounds are stinky smelling like rotten eggs or onions. Brushing your teeth and using a mouthwash is the best way to flush away these parasites but if your breath still smells bad despite this, its better to consult your dentist immediately. It might be clues of decaying teeth, gum disease, sinus, throat infection or lung infection which needs to be diagnosed by a physician.
You Exhale More than Just Air!
The human body is a great work of art interconnected from head to toe intricately. Just as how two different organs residing in very different places, the brain and gut, are revealing to be interconnected in various ways, the breath from your nose or mouth might also be indicative of diseases present elsewhere in your body. Gassy compounds from different other organs in your body reach the lungs through the bloodstream and you exhale more than just air.
Fruity breath might just not be the papaya or jackfruit you had as dessert but might be an indication of a very serious health problem such as diabetes. This is quite popular in individuals suffering from type 1 diabetes in which a condition called diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs. Due to DKA the body lacks sufficient energy to function properly and because of which it breaks down fatty acids for energy. This creates a buildup of acidic chemicals called ketones one of which is acetone causing the fruity smell. This condition can sometimes be lethal resulting in death. So, when you notice a fruity smell more often accompanied by dry mouth, breathing difficulty and abdominal pain it is better to meet your physician immediately.
Other common triggers for bad breath include:
Kidneys: Kidney failure can make your breath smell like urine or ammonia due to improper excretory functioning.
Liver: Liver disease gives out rotten egg smell, garlic smell or musty smell
Armpits: This is one of the most common places that smell bad. Stress often causes smelly compounds to be released as sweat in your armpits and skin. Even in the absence of stress, our armpits can smell due to the presence of hair and moisture, both of which are thriving places for bacteria. This makes it essential that you bathe, shave and use deodorants to maintain hygiene
Sleep apnea: Interrupted breathing can make your mouth go dry-a very common reason for bad breath. Sleep apnea leaves a person with decreased energy due to lack of proper sleep and also at a greater risk of diabetes, stroke and heart problems. Read more about sleep apnea at www.firsteatright.com.
Feet: Increased sweatiness due to tight-fitting shoes, unexposed feet or contamination via towels etc. can lead to stinky feet surrounded by dry skin with rashes all of which are indications of an athlete’s foot.
Urine: Urination produces a pungent smell sometimes giving clues of a urinary tract infection (UTI). E.coli is mainly responsible for UTI which needs a physician’s attention.
Stinky stools: Most commonly due to lactose intolerance. Stools are more odorous after drinking or eating dairy.
Self-monitoring Body Odor
Maintain personal hygiene by taking a bath regularly and keeping your armpits clean. Wear clothes that are clean. When it comes to food habits, it is advisable that people prone to body odor refrain from eating foods that are spicy, dominated by garlic or rich in red meat. Despite all these efforts, if you still smell bad, it might be due to an underlying medical condition for which a physician is the right person to judge your case.
Obesity epidemic has swept across nations, age groups and sex against which people strive incessantly. The world has witnessed an alarming rise in obesity levels paving way for numerous health risks. But, researchers, scientists and physicians are still bothered by the one vital question-what defines obesity, especially in post-menopausal women whose body composition is drastically different from the rest of the women population. A couple of decades back, NIH (USA) decided to bring down BMI cutoff point for defining overweight from 27 to 25. Despite this, obesity rates and waist circumference measurements amongst people in the United States continued to rise sharply. Since then, it is only now that another team of researchers have come up with a requisition to bring down BMI cutoff points ever lower for postmenopausal women. This is mainly because wrongly assuming overweight postmenopausal women to be of normal weight can sometimes even obstruct physicians from starting such people on treatments for reducing obesity-related health problems, especially cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Decades back, physicians made use of weighing scales to measure up a person’s health based on his/her weight. Now, the scales are same, but the results vary categorizing people into different sectors based on BMI values. The word ‘BMI’ became an instant hit among the common man as it enabled you and me to realize our health status and take definite precautionary steps to save our health. Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of body fat based on weight relative to height. Despite its popularity, people in the medical fraternity doubt the reliability of this measure on older adults as it does not take into account the location of body tissue used for storing fat, fails to differentiate between fat mass and lean mass nor bothers to include variations in body composition. These variations become even more conspicuous once a woman experiences physical changes in the postmenopausal stage such as redistribution of body fat tissue, decreased muscle mass and height and increased weight, especially around the abdomen.
WHO’s decision to introduce BMI as a one-size-fits-all solution to classify people might really not work practically. While it can be a measure for calculating population-based overweight and obesity (as BMI values are common for both sexes and corresponds to all age groups), it can never be used for determining body composition of an individual accurately as every individual has varying fat stores inside.
Weight Remains Constant But Fat Percent Changes
‘Where’ fat is located plays a great role in determining health despite BMI’s ignorance of the body shape of a woman (individuals with a pear-shaped body whose fat stores are concentrated in the hips and thighs are treated in the same way as those with an apple-shaped body whose fat predominantly resides in the midsection). A group of researchers collected information from more than 1,300 postmenopausal women aged between 53 and 85 years. The study group defined obesity as a BMI of 30 or higher or a body fat percentage greater than 35%.
Women lose greater bone and muscle mass as they grow old and these are heavier than fat. Hence, a lady who weighs the same as she weighed two decades back must probably account for more fat-induced weight compared to bone and muscle weight. Even fat distribution does not remain the same as it used to be during her previous years. The woman possesses more visceral fat (riskier type that is associated with higher total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein and insulin resistance) in the abdomen compared to subcutaneous fat stores. The research team found that most women who had a BMI lesser than 30 had body fat percentage values greater than 35% or more. There is no denial that men too account for some portion of visceral fat in their body but the increase in this type of fat stores is drastic in the case of women. A woman starts with lesser visceral fat stores compared to a man but between her 25th and 65th birthday she loses around 6 kilograms of bone and muscle mass while her visceral fat stores increase by four-folds. In contrast, a man’s visceral fat stores only double between the same age bracket.
Some researchers feel that moving BMI range even further might cause panic among postmenopausal women and even discourage them greatly. It’s not a small deal to ask a postmenopausal woman to lose 9-13 kilograms suddenly. Rather, these women should focus on a healthy lifestyle which includes daily physical activity and a well-balanced diet regimen. If you are confused about your calcium and vitamin nourishments needed post-menopause, get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com. Any woman whose waistline does not change much over the years and does her exercises regularly can stay devoid of BMI fears and fat deposits. While it might seem favorable to lower BMI cutoffs for obesity in postmenopausal women, there are no strong evidences portraying their advantages strongly.
Social media gave us friends, relationships, recipes, knowledge and above all, reasons to perform delivery of a child at home by referring YouTube videos and naturopathy practices. A couple in Tamil Nadu, India after deciding to attend to labor at home successfully delivered a healthy baby with the help of social media and naturopath friends but finally lost the new mum as they were unable to stop excess bleeding after delivery. One can name it insanity, foolishness or anything but the harm caused cannot be reversed! People perform ceremony rituals online, treat patients through chat sometimes and now, even deliver babies. Social media exists as the most reliable source of information to people nowadays who don’t even think of seeking guidance from experienced professionals, families or friends. Suffering from back pain, just google the symptom and perform the exercise suggested; undergoing some operation-thoroughly check the procedure, imagine the whole episode and get scared about it even more before the actual procedure happens; before delivery what a pregnant woman does not experience is only the actual labor process apart from which she reads through every case of delivery pain, complications and hurdles that could happen throughout pregnancy term and delivery.
Mental Pain but No Labor Gain
Pregnancy is a special period in every woman’s life which she looks forward to! What should be a joyous and rewarding journey turns out to be a frightening and bothering experience for some women due to self-induced problems. Anxiety and fear during the pregnancy term is common among women as they bear a life inside them. But when the fear of pregnancy heightens such that it leads to avoidance of pregnancy and pathological fears of the same, it is termed as tokophobia. Tokophobia can be primary or secondary. Primary tokophobia is morbid fear of pregnancy in women who don’t have prior experience of pregnancy and secondary tokophobia is extreme fear in a woman who faced traumatic pregnancy complications during first pregnancy but also possible due to stillbirth, miscarriage, termination of pregnancy or even after the delivery of a normal and healthy baby.
People use social media to update others on their everyday activities: birth of a child-announce it immediately on FB; vacationing abroad-click random pics with funny captions and post it on Instagram; check-in your current location and activity every time on your favorite social media platform and even announce break-up too! The same media uploads the details of heart-breaking pregnancy complications and problems shared by millions of new moms regarding pregnancy and childbirth experiences. A woman planning for pregnancy or the one already pregnant and surfing the net for advises/ideas on delivery gets anxious, starts fearing about unwanted complications and lives under constant fear until the baby plops out! Social media could be a major source for rising rates of tokophobia. Just Google the term ‘pregnancy’ and you are met with unending number of horror experiences. To-be moms join forums and keep posting questions on each and every trivial issue. Every person’s journey to parenthood is different and each replies her own experiences which could never match your physical health or parenting journey. Yet, we compare, debate and start matching these experiences with our own!
Common to Every Woman
Pregnancy is fearful due to the extreme labor pain involved and almost 75% women report fear of childbirth and pregnancy. Different reasons that elevate fear include talking to women who have experienced traumatic births, changes in the anxiety regulating mechanisms of the body, lack of belief in proper medical care by physicians and hospitals and psychological factors such as childhood experiences of depresses and absence of confidence. While these fears are common, some women take the drastic step of avoiding pregnancy by resorting to contraceptive pills or even don’t hesitate to abort the growing fetus. The happiness and joy associated with pregnancy quickly vanishes in some women once they realize that they have to undergo the dauting pain of labor and delivery sometime in the future.
Rarely do we come across stories of encouragement or positivity about labor and pregnancy across social media sites. True that giving birth is a tedious process but don’t we need to pen down the actual experience rather than our feelings and emotions that blocked our minds while the experience happened? Talking about loss of blood, losing consciousness or suffering from 72 hours of labor pain continuously is not going to encourage woman to become pregnant or those nearing labor to stay positive. Rather, also discuss about the fruits of such hard labor pain and the joy experienced the very first time you saw your infant. This would bring a smile on each person reading about your experience and look forward to delivery visualizing her baby in mind!
Googling for each and everything regarding your pregnancy too is not good. Our mothers and grandmothers delivered babies without the existence of social media. Then why are we so addicted in reaching out to it for help every time rather than discussing with them? Take pregnancy in your stride, stay positive throughout, surround yourself with good thoughts and deeds, look forward towards a nice labor pain (only then will your infant come out fast!) and stay focused on delivering a healthy baby. If you would like to seek the guidance of a professional in eating the right kind of food and staying healthy, get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com. Ignore all other things that try to lure you. Mainly, just shun away from these pregnancy groups, forums and sites as you might get addicted to it and spend your time reading endless experiences of people online.
Loneliness is not being devoid of people around but feeling emotionally or socially disconnected from others. You might be amongst an ocean of people but still feel isolated and left out because of your thoughts and attitude. Social media platforms, chatting apps and smartphones connect people living across different countries. Then why has loneliness surpassed obesity and smoking as a greater public threat to the society?
Social relationships remain integral to every individual’s well-being and there are sound research material backing the fact that social interaction and support protect against increased mortality rates. Despite such clear indications and results there is nothing much individuals and the society in general have done to curb this loneliness epidemic. That’s mostly because, the lonely individual as well as the people surrounding them mostly are unaware of the existence of loneliness in the person. Ironically, it isn’t straightforward and even well-appreciated when you talk about the ill-effects of obesity or smoking to a friend suffering from such habits, yet we do it out of concern. Why aren’t we showing the same concern, care and interest to approach a loved one/friend whom we doubt is suffering from loneliness?
The World is a Lonely Place
Loneliness has the power to make a person stressed, depressed, irritable and disconnected increasing the chances of premature mortality by as much as 26%. Economy and social status might remain higher in industrialized countries which also contribute as primary reasons for a third of the population affected by this condition and almost 1 in 12 persons suffering from extreme loneliness. Research shows many other conditions alongside premature mortality associated with loneliness. These conditions include increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and depression. Apart from all these physical damages, the impact of loneliness on your physical health is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day thereby decreasing your chances to live by almost 8 years.
Total detachment or being entirely cut off from the outside world increases the risk of depression in such individuals and can even be a cause of suicide in old age. When people are not mentally stimulated they are at a higher risk (almost by 64%) of developing dementia. Even a long-term Harvard study proves that loneliness is toxic! More isolated people are, less happy they tend to be and brain function as well as physical health declines drastically. Check out on simple relaxation techniques to relieve yourself from depression and stress from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Loneliness is a contagious disease just like your cold and cough. Individuals who are lonely spread loneliness wherever they go and lose even the very few friends/contacts they have in their social list. We can argue and debate that people feel disconnected and lonely in a crowded place, but statistics and studies show that what people miss the most is the presence of a person or simply being together. Older people feel deprived of simple things such as a tight hug, sharing a meal together, holding hands, walking or going for a vacation with loved ones.
Being unmarried is a crucial cause for loneliness. At the same time, one cannot assure that marriage can make a person feel happy. It ultimately depends on the quality of the relationship. Even after living with spouse and in-laws, the girl/boy might feel lonely as he/she is emotionally disconnected and yearning for love.
From Sixteen to Sixty
Surprisingly, loneliness is not confined to the elderly population only and there are a shocking number of adolescents and young adults who feel lonely and left out. Loneliness takes a sharp dip from young adulthood through middle age and surges back in numbers not until oldest old age.
Children today are engaged with their smartphones and don’t have time even for parents. They sleep, study, eat, go out and even attend functions/restaurant eat outs with their mobile phones connected over people across the world. Alas, they miss the physical contact, conversation, laughter and closeness of people around them absorbed in their online chats.
Another major issue nowadays is that family sizes have shrunk and most children live in nuclear families where both parents are working to make both ends meet. Even grandparents don’t live with these families anymore and the child is left at the mercy of caretakers, television, mobile phones or daycare centers. Such kids spend time by engaging themselves in activities that include only themselves or rarely do they get to mingle with friends and share some fun. These grow into serious cases of loneliness and isolation affecting the physical and mental health of the individual greatly.
Unite Together & Laugh Forever
Take some time and think about a friend who has just lost her/his spouse or loved one, someone who has gone through a divorce or a person who might feel lonely or isolated despite being surrounded by people around. Reach out to them, laugh together, eat together and ease the isolation or loneliness and remind each other strongly that people do care and love.
People in our neighborhood, communities, families and associations must come forward and take solid steps to solve the loneliness problem. We can organize activities and fun shows for the elderly population, schools can take students to visit individuals living in home care, those with limited mobility or locked into their houses and families can arrange for reunions and ensure to meet their dear ones at least once a while to stay happy and make others happy as well. If you think, there are numerous other options as well to stay happy together with people.
Kids learn from their parents, teachers, friends and people around. When parents live together with many other family members, they are living examples of sharing, caring and affection. A mom laughing with daadi, a dad going for a walk with naani or nieces and nephews playing together are cherished moments of love, affection and goodness which can never be compensated by monetary benefits or socioeconomic status. Teaching children the need to exist together with compromises and compassion will take our society to the next level. We can witness less of old-age homes, young suicidal deaths or divorces.
Shun away seclusions, warm up to people around and try to socialize more to push loneliness into darkness and shine light upon your life. Loneliness will not disappear on its own. Creating awareness, discussing openly and efforts from every person living in the society can tremendously impact loneliness and it is upon us to make this happen.
Gymnasiums and fitness centers have established their presence strongly in almost every corner of the road alongside eat outs. Every other day we notice parks and playgrounds brimming with health-conscious people engaged seriously in a brisk walk, exercises or a session of yoga with their group members. Still, 1 in 4 adults worldwide remain inactive globally. This amounts to almost 28% of the global population or a figure close to 1.4 billion individuals which even comes across as 1 in 3 adults being inactive in a selected few countries, according to World Health Organization. Despite improved awareness regarding the benefits of fitness among people, global inactivity levels remain unchanged since 2001.
The new study by WHO shows that 1 in 4 four people are inactive which puts them at an increased risk of health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases and also at a greater risk of disrupted mental health and reduced quality of life. The study group analyzed 358 different population surveys in 168 countries and came up with few of the most shocking revelations:
It is natural that wealthier countries lean towards the inactivity graph as people there use motor transport for commuting, take up sedentary jobs for salary and make use of every luxury available to make their lives as comfortable as possible. Whereas, in low-income countries people rely mostly on public transport for commuting, walk to work, do most of the chores by themselves using their physical stamina and work hard for a decent living. Sedentary jobs are not the way people in these countries earn. There are various other physically exerting jobs that keep them fit and healthy.
Heading Towards Darkness
If this is going to be the state of the world for the next couple of years, fulfilling WHO’s target of reducing global inactivity by 10% would be missed. On the positive note, not all countries are witnessing diminishing physical activity rates unlike in the case of health conditions and diseases. Still, quarter of the adult population globally suffers from insufficient physical activity rates. Despite repeated studies and research data available on the benefits of exercising and a healthy diet (one study says that exercise, a healthy diet and a couple of other factors can extend a person’s lifespan by 10 years or more), what curbs people from physical activity-laziness, lack of time or ignorance? It can be either of these or a combination of all! Sadly, we don’t forget to brush our teeth or sleep due to lack of time. This again shows how people prioritize things. Physical activity mostly does not come in the priority list of most people. If sticking to your diet or lack of motivation to stay active is your problem, get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you overcome inactivity in the right way.
Also, we need to address the reason behind the inequal distribution of physical activity levels between men and women to try achieving the 2025 WHO target. It’s the duty of every nation to ensure that their women are given opportunities that are safe, accessible and justifiable.
While economic development paved way for easy commuting options and more desk jobs, governments worldwide must now take steps to help people to be more active by forming separate tracks for cyclists alongside normal traffic roads, make it easier for walkers and foremost, make people aware of the side effects of an inactive lifestyle. Some countries have started levying extra taxes for obese people to bring down rocketing obesity rates and some restaurants too make people pay for the unused food! Slowly, by incorporating effective changes we can witness a better world filled with healthier people.
Obesity/overweight is unhealthy, whatever form it might take. Recent studies, research and discoveries familiarize people with fancy names such as ‘healthy obesity’, ‘fat but fit’ and so on. Newton’s law of motion never changes forever, likewise, obesity/overweight can never become healthy. There might be variations here and there which make some overweight/obese individuals comparatively healthier than others, but these people can never become a role-model for health until they reach their healthy weight ranges. When we understand this basic yet confused concept, our goals in life become clearer and we start working towards good health and well-being.
A pair of studies by a research team at the University of Michigan surprises people with its results that overweight people who break down fat speedily are less healthy than their counterparts who store fats more effectively. One might instantly go wild reading this as obese/overweight people exercise and diet to get rid of fat tissues and reach normal weight. Such results are ought to cause confusion and irritation among public as individuals are perplexed on their next course of action regarding their weight loss!
The study’s intention is not to confuse the individual but to convey the fact that when fat breaks down, fatty acids released from the adipose tissue don’t get flushed out but get stored elsewhere in the body. Repetition of this process frequently leads to harmful accumulation of fatty acids in every other tissue and organ paving way for insulin resistance-typical risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Most of us know that obese people are prone to developing insulin resistance, but the same concept had a boomerang effect on one-third of the study participants as they did not develop insulin resistance. Samples of the adipose tissue showed that the healthier study participants:
The second study involved collecting fat tissues from two groups (one group exercised regularly and the other didn’t) of overweight individuals after their aerobic session. The post-exercise blood vessel count is another clear indication of the immediate benefits of just one session of exercising-new blood vessels erupted and the regularly exercising group was equipped with more blood vessel count. Blood vessels play a crucial role in determining health of an individual and many problems start when supply through these vessels is hindered. Increase in weight increases demand of blood flow to fat tissues and when this does not happen, it results in a series of unhealthy conditions.
Don’t Get it Wrong-Adipose Tissue
We are all allergic to the adipose tissue as we feel it to be the sole cause for diseases and obesity problems but all it does is to store energy in the form of fat. Generally situated beneath the skin, sometimes the tissue also surrounds internal organs. All the excess energy accumulated when we eat too much gets stored in the adipose tissue. Now, who is to be blamed for the excess fat storage-the person who eats inconsiderate of portion sizes or the tissue that enables storage of energy from this food? But don’t get the study wrong, in no way does it recommend people to overeat/remain obese. All that it suggests is to have a safe place to safeguard the excess energy produced. Regular physical activity equips the person with a healthy fat-storing environment which becomes of utmost use when individuals overeat (excess energy gets stored in this environment). Get your queries cleared and your diet planned to enable healthier fat accumulation by getting in touch with reputed dietitians/nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
Individuals might have equal portions of body fat but those individuals who rigorously train their body (with physical activity) to accommodate excess fat using the adipose tissue in the right way might remain much safer from type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.
The fancy weighing machines in railway stations, restaurants and many other public places attract children, but the sight of it makes an adult shudder. Pity that these are installed in restaurants where people eat to their heart’s content and walk out unable to push themselves forward due to overconsumption. The printed tickets rolling out of these machines create double trouble-not only do they make us stare at our never-decreasing weight, but they also predict the fortune of the day. Alas, machines are machines and they can never understand that our weight printed on the slip determines our mood and in turn our day at office/home.
Some love to admire themselves in front of the mirror while some others love to weigh themselves day in and day out. Standing on a weighing machine is just like brushing teeth or eating food for these people. It becomes a part of their daily chore. How good is this habit?
Weighing Pros & Cons
Weight loss or maintaining the lost weight, monitoring your weights is a critical step in succeeding. Eons of hard work and pain taken to lose weight must never go down the drains owing to our carelessness in preventing the lost kilograms from coming back. Its generally said that most people regain almost two-thirds of their lost weight within two years. None of us wish for this and if you seriously want to avoid this situation, it is better that you weigh yourself daily. Fluctuating weights capture your attention immediately and you start working towards eliminating the small weight gain eventually.
A vast majority of the general public benefit tremendously from daily weigh-ins because even small weight chances don’t escape their eye and this motivates them to pursue a healthy lifestyle. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that 294 female students belonging to a University who weighed themselves daily displayed decreases in BMI and body fat percentage. Another analysis that reviewed 23 studies showed that weighing daily never disturbs a person psychologically with the exception of the teenage, young adults and women population who had the opposite effect after checking their weights daily. In fact, men are seriously better off weighing themselves every day as they treat this too simply in number form without attaching emotions to it. So, who are the ones who benefit from daily weighing?
Maybe Not for You & Me but Good for So Many
No one principle works good for all. For some dieters, seeing their weight motivates them to work harder and see better results but for some others, looking at the scales does not work well at all. It can frustrate, mislead and demotivate them. Your weight keeps fluctuating every single day depending on various factors despite regular physical activity and a well-balanced diet. Some days, the scale might show anywhere between a 0.5—75-kilogram increase in weight which totally crushes the dieter’s heart. It might be water retention, but the individual assumes it as fat overload. During these times, daily weigh-ins might compel the person to rely upon crash diet programs or exhaustive work out schedules to lose the target weight within the specific period. He/she might even skip meals to witness immediate results. This might cause stress, depressions and ultimately the dieter might even totally sack the scale and start binge eating to cope with his/her lack of positive weight loss effects. Stress is a serious weight loss offender which might further aggravate the weight gain process.
Shhhh! Not Only People but Scales Too Can be Misleading
My cousin always checks her weight at a specific machine placed in the railway station since she always weighs a couple of kilograms less on those scales. Yup! Weighing scales can surely be misleading and this is one of the main reasons for any of us to avoid daily weigh-ins. For example, you might weight a kilo or two less tomorrow comparatively which is impossible scientifically. Losing around 2 kilogram of weight requires a person to show 7,000 calories deficit in a day and even if you starve through the day it can never be possible to lose 1-2 kilograms weight by the end of day. Losing it in one week’s time is challenging enough.
Weight fluctuations happen daily due to changing water levels in the body. Every 0.5 kilogram of fat is made up of 3,500 calories and to lose this, one must create a 500-calorie deficit every day for seven days by following a strict diet combined with regular exercise.
How Frequently Can You Weight Yourself?
The best practice is to weigh yourself once a week at the same time each week. This equalizes water content changes in the body and gives us a better accurate reading of body fat percentage ups and downs. Such weekly weigh-ins help you determine when you are off-track and guide you to correct your lifestyle suiting necessary changes.
Rarely, some people don’t notice considerable weight changes but are granted definite inch loss! These people must measure their hips, waist, arms and thighs to track their weight loss results. Subsequent inch loss can lead to definite weight loss in course of time for these individuals. Inch loss is a definite indicator of body fat loss which gives a positive feedback on the person’s weight loss efforts. To know how to measure your hips, waist and thighs, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com where guidelines to note down these measurements are shown with diagrams. Our RDNs can effectively help you lose body weight with healthy diet plans and workout schedules. So, keep your machines in one corner of your room and don’t ever go near them before the designated time of week to check your weight.
You may cheat yourself into believing that you have not put on weight despite the flabs in your stomach, but you cannot cheat your sperms whose concentration and count automatically decrease as you become overweight/obese. Obesity is a worldwide problem that’s been the root cause for various diseases such as heart attack, diabetes, cholesterol and other impending disorders. Reproduction is the basis for continuity of life. Overweight/obesity impacts fertilization hindering the continuity of human existence greatly.
Life Begets Life
Its been more than a decade since we’ve known that maternal obesity hinders embryo development. We’ve also been witnessing increasing number of couples seeking the help of artificial reproductive technologies (ART) for conceiving babies. As a society, we have started accepting that its not only the female but also the male who can be responsible for infertility issues. There is an increasing awareness that male obesity reduces sperm quality and quantity, dad’s health cues are passed over to the offspring and also theories that dad’s obesity makes the offspring susceptible to developing obesity. All the while the society has been advising women in childbearing age to take care of their health as they are the ones who would be producing offspring. Sadly, the husbands are sidelined and almost ignored. Recent studies and evidences are increasingly probing on the health nature of the dad whose conditions might affect offspring conception and development.
A new study shows that widening waistlines might narrow production of sperms decreasing sperm numbers. A study by Indian scientists on 1,200 men found that increase in weight was associated with a decrease in sperm volume, sperm count and concentration. Among the participants the researchers found that obese men had lower sperm numbers, decreased concentration and inability of the sperms to move at normal speed towards eggs compared to normal-weighted individuals. Also, these sperms were sometimes defective possessing thin/pear-shaped heads all of which together complicated pregnancy chances be it through natural conception or IVF. It even affects the ability of the sperm to move towards the female reproductive tract lowering chances of conception. We already know that obese women can delay conception and now it’s proved that obese men too can delay the process of conception. Men in Western countries are already trending towards decreased sperm health which has become a worrisome news for many. Such stark decline in sperm numbers and count can greatly affect reproduction. Along with growing obesity rates are declining sperm quality rates. Although this study does not specifically deal with infertility it does indicate a future that would trend towards it and this is extremely disturbing.
Another study by a group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that overweight men were 11% likelier to have a low sperm count and 39% likelier to have no sperms in their ejaculation. Obese men were 42% likelier to have a low sperm count and 81% likelier to produce no sperms compared to their normal-weighted counterparts. There are also emerging observations and research that food habits of parents can be passed over to the offspring. So, everything again boils down to the point that health and normal body weight affect our quality of life to a great extent. Nutrition-induced changes to sperms affects both the fertility chances of the dad and the health of the next generation. Eating nutritious foods, staying active and exercising daily is recommended not simply because it is the norm but also because it helps you lead a smoother life and improve your quality of living. If you are facing obesity issues and skipping to conceive, it is better to get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you lose weight, conceive and produce a healthy offspring. We have ruined our health to a great extend by indulging in junk foods and irregular meal timings. At least, lets try to save our future generation’s health to some extent by reviving our healthy eating habits.
Days at home never start without a refreshing cup of coffee/chai. The smell of caffeine is good enough to enliven our energy levels and shake us off our sleepiness. Else most of us would be zombies moving around the house in half-sleep states! The logic behind brewing a fresh cup of coffee the first thing in the morning now makes utmost sense. Cheers to our earlier generation people who discovered this even before we coined the term ‘caffeine’. Coffee in the morning makes us feel better, feel good, much alert and wide awake. Has this really got something to do with a reaction happening in the brain or are we tricked into believing that caffeine helps us stay awake and energetic?
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) causing increased alertness and wakefulness. It also diminishes the effect of adenosine receptors thereby increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and glutamate in the CNS. This increase eventually leads to wakefulness, alertness and energy. Adenosine receptors are primarily involved in negating the effect of these neurotransmitters.
There are mounting evidences that uphold the fact that caffeine improves attention, alertness and mood, to a greater extent when we are tired. Some might choose to go with coffee while others grab a bottle of soda during their break. One cup of coffee contains around 80-100 milligrams of caffeine while soda has 30-60 milligrams. What about exercise? Does it have any positive effects on fighting off fatigue? If yes, its time again to debate upon the best of the two energy-producing activities-drink a caffeine-rich beverage or do small bouts of exercise? A very tiny study compared these two activities and came up with its result. The study included healthy but sleep-deprived individuals who were subjected to a dose of caffeine, stair-climbing exercise and placebo. Surprisingly, the research team found that 10 minutes of stair-climbing boosted energy levels far more than a cup of caffeine-rich (50 mg) beverage. Though a small-scale study (involved around 20 participants only), this provides us with a generalized opinion about the better of the two fatigue-fighting sources. This might be the starting point for further studies and research in this field down the lane.
Yet another study went one step further and compared the benefits of exercise alone against the benefits of exercise with a dose of caffeine on cognitive tasks. Exercise along with caffeine intake proved to provide greater benefits than exercising alone. Results are not surprising as combining two instances of energy-rich actions rather than conforming to one always increases output. Normally caffeine takes around 30 minutes to start producing positive effects on the body and it is recommended to consume it some half an hour prior to workout for improved performance.
Weighing the Pros & Cons
Caffeine intake in coffee form is an often-debated topic and every other day we see some new piece of information about its advantages/disadvantage that make it difficult for the common man to judge. Proving to be beneficial in reducing the risk of certain types of dementia, cancer, high BP and diabetes caffeine also occupies the limelight for increasing the risk of bone loss, rheumatoid arthritis and making a person feel more nervous/anxious. How much of caffeine is too much? Check it out yourself at www.firsteatright.com.
There are various studies that throw light over the benefits of exercising such as improved mood levels, cognition, fitness and function. Ageing population and those with dementia are shown to attain maximum benefit from exercising.
Caffeine helps to boost alertness and energy levels for some time but the same is possible with some quick exercising too. Moreover, while caffeine has both pros and cons, exercising only has benefits attached to its kitty. With such clear evidences one can say without doubt that involving yourself in small bouts of exercise does you good than sticking to a cup of coffee in times of fatigue.
Who doesn’t love to cuddle and kiss a chubby baby who exists as a look-alike of a sumo wrestler? Flabby stomach, rounded thighs and roly-poly cheeks seem to be the best traits of an infant. People across the world feel that fat is how babies should be and are least bothered about the baby’s overwhelming weight gain and health. We are committing a grave mistake by ignoring baby fat assuming it to be a temporary trait but scientifically this never remains a periodic one and neither is it healthy. As parents, we need to protect our baby’s health and ensure that the infant stays right on track. By this, I don’t mean putting our tiny ones onto diets, weight-loss meals or activities. Its just that we need to channelize their eating habits and activities right from a young age.
There is no age barrier to start living healthy. Exercising and eating good food don’t require a minimal age criterion. What is needed is the right frame of mind and willingness from parents to nurture their infants in a nutritious manner and groom them into health-conscious adults. There are a number of simple steps that can be taken by parents to keep their baby on a healthy weight and sketch their path to future wellness.
It’s not wrong to compare a kid to a talking parrot. The only difference is that while a talking parrot only repeats what you speak, your child talks, acts and mimics whatever he/she sees around through his/her camera lens-eyes. Maybe, the energy bee is the walking CCTV who monitors you, digests all the information and exhibits his/her knowledge as and when time demands. So, it is literally necessary to create a serene environment that benefits the child as well as the adult in all ways including mental, physical, emotional and overall well-being. Thus, with much guidance, perseverance and channelization from parents, kids can be taught healthy eating and physical activity habits that can last a lifetime.
Kids Bear the Brunt of the Situation
I feel sorry for this generation kids as they are expected to eat healthy, do physical active and restrict portion sizes to stay well within their healthy body weight. All this help direct a kid’s mind and body towards good health but the only problem these days is that it has become a rigorous task rather than an enjoyable affair. Staying fit is expected from kids of any generation and the variation comes only with the methods followed and the instruction fed into a child’s brain.
The present-day children face restrictions in ghee, butter, cheese, oily foods and sugary foods intake but kids of the previous generations enjoyed the liberty of eating dollops of ghee, fried papads and all sorts of sweet. So, where does the difference lie? Decades back, there was no availability of burgers and pizzas, numerous sweet shops as today and almost every food item from A-Z was homemade. Also, adulteration of food was minimal or almost non-existent. Coming to physical activity, kids enjoyed climbing trees, playing hopscotch or swimming in the rivers which fulfilled their activity requirements even without their knowledge. The absence of all these puts kids these days to suffer from strict ring masters (parents) who are forced to monitor their kids’ every meal and activity. Call it a curse or burden, this is the real scenario existing these days.
Start Young, Stay Young
When kids are active and eat right they face minimal chances of becoming obese, one of the top health problems in today’s world. Children who enter obesity during childhood or adolescence are likelier to grow into obese/overweight adults. When a person starts eating healthy and staying active from an early age, he/she tends to continue these habits in the long run. This is applicable for adults who can self-regulate their needs, but children require supervision and encouragement to make healthy choices. Parents can stimulate healthy or unhealthy habits by the kind of environment they set. This is because:
Parents gained weight in due course of time but even after 10 years, more than 40% of kids who worked with their parents had maintained at least 20% of weight loss. Also, even if parents fall back to their previous eating styles and activity, kids are mostly likelier to stick with their healthy lifestyles.
Start your infants and preschoolers on a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy to familiarize them with these foods and also to help them develop a liking for them. Even studies insist starting your kids on a healthy eating pattern right from a young age-‘the earlier, the better’ is their suggestion.
Fight On, Don’t Give Up
There is no denial that young children are not open to eating fruits and vegetables and some parents take hasty decisions in avoiding them when the child avoids it once or twice. Exposing children to these foods often, maybe anywhere between 9 and 15 times will help them develop a liking towards the food. It might be that your child does not show a positive response to the food immediately but still keep trying. You can ask your child to taste just a bite of the new food offered but see to that you don’t create a scene or inflict stress upon the kid to eat it.
Kids prefer to try out new foods when they are seated in a relaxed and pleasant environment. One of the biggest concerns now is portion control. Kids below three years of age stop eating once they feel full but older children are forced to clear their plateful of food, hungry or not! Parents must avoid this clean plate strategy (For more details, visit www.firsteatright.com) otherwise be prepared for the negative consequences following it. Serve small portions of foods and give kids the space to ask for another serving if they still feel hungry. Guide your kids to realize their fullness or hunger feeling without disturbing peace. When your child asks for another serving, it is better to comment something like ‘Oh dear, you are extremely hungry tonight isn’t it’ rather than saying, ‘No beta, that’s more than enough food you have consumed’ When they avoid finishing food on their plate it is never wrong to comment, ‘Dear, you must feel full I guess.’ All these help a child understand hunger and fullness.
Every small change in the house can have huge effects on the physical activity. For instance, you can put the skipping rope somewhere in a place which is accessed by your kid often or enroll your child for swimming, squash or basketball classes which promote healthy activity alongside being a hobby. Try playing hopscotch, bicycling or racing against your kid thereby convey to your little one that you are game for ample physical activity anytime.
“What kind of a personality are you compatible with?” or “What is your personality?” is an often-asked question by people worldwide. Personality refers to the individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, according to the Encyclopedia of Psychology. A person’s personality makes people around him/her develop an affinity/repulsiveness towards the person. A charismatic individual is liked by all, a comic person is a pleasure to have around, an ill-tempered/angry person is a trouble to hang around with and a helpful/caring person is a boon for people in contact with the person. Every personality has certain aspects that define the person and his/her actions in life.
Obesity, at one point of time, was considered a sign of affluence but now, it has become a worldwide health crisis that needs to be immediately dealt with. Obesity contributes as much as smoking in terms of diseases and can act as a trigger factor to many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and decreases life expectancy. We may blame food quality, quantity and the availability for increase in obesity rates but how many of you realize that personality traits constantly influence controllable behaviors that lead to obesity? Numerous studies totally focus on food, nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle’s influence on obesity. But, if you ponder for a minute, don’t you realize that all of these factors are impacted/influenced by one’s personality?
Your Behavior & Thoughts Direct Actions
According to a 50-year data analysis whose results have been published by the American Psychological Association, people who possess personality traits of high neuroticism and low conscientiousness are more likely to suffer from altering cycles of weight gain and weight loss throughout their lives.
Body Weight Affects Every Aspect of Life
Body weight is a very affluential factor when it comes to living-it has a strong impact on the way we lead our lives. Apart from affecting physical health greatly, it also disturbs psychological processes such as well-being and perception. Obese/overweight people often suffer from depression (but, in today’s scenario most of us go through a depression phase, for instance the famous Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone went through a depression phase sometime back in life but she wasn’t overweight!), are seen as a negative vibe by others, are branded with certain traits due to their body size and above all, many people don’t like to be associated with an overweight person as they fear of negative evaluation.
Generally, the traits in the five-factor model of personality (FFM) that include Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness are associated to health behaviors and outcomes generally and fluctuating weights particularly. Now, which among these five do you think is strongly linked with weights? It is conscientiousness and individuals having a higher degree of this trait have lower adiposity. That’s because these individuals are orderly, stick to their meal schedules, refrain from binge eating and drinking and follow an organized lifestyle that keeps them lean and strong. Binge eating can prove to be detrimental to health and for the complete set of side-effects due to eating disorders, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. On the contrary, Neuroticism is strongly linked with abnormal weights. Underweight individuals, those who suffer from eating disorders and overweight/obese individuals (these people suffer from psychiatric issues) score high on neuroticism. Surprisingly, both kinds of extreme weights are strongly linked with this personality trait. The other three traits are not as dominant as conscientiousness and neuroticism in affecting weight.
Researchers assessed data from a longitudinal study of 2,000 people who were followed over a period of 50 years to understand whether personality traits are likely to affect weight and BMI and if so, list down the most common traits that affect weight. There were equal number of male and female participants involved in the study who were well-educated and healthy. The researchers assessed these participants on the Big-five traits of the FFM model along with 30 other subcategories of these traits. Results showed that:
The plane starts to descend smoothly, but your ears start paining. You hear a ringing in your ears and sometimes your ears get clogged too, just like a nose block. There are many instances during which our ears get clogged due to factors both outside and inside the ear. Anyone can suffer from blocked ears, but children are likelier to suffer from blocked ears, especially during cold. Some of the common reasons for clogged ears include:
A stuffy nose can mean a lot more than a constant headache, fatigue and body pain. It can also cause pain, dizziness and discomfort to your ears. A stuffy nose can lead to stuffy ears because the swollen membranes block the opening of the Eustachian tube. Sinus and ears are connected in your head and the stuffiness can cause pressure in your ears. Try to use nasal sprays, humidifiers, decongestants, pain relievers and other home remedies to treat your sinusitis. Sinus can make flying a painful affair. Don’t wait for the ear pain to strike before trying to relieve pressure. Use a nasal spray, oral decongestant or pills at least 30 minutes before your flight journey to clear off your blocked nose.
The Eustachian tube is a membrane-lined tube that connects the nose with the middle ear. Air in the middle ear is maintained is being absorbed by its membranous lining and supplied again by the Eustachian tube. This maintains air pressure on both sides of the eardrum and you get an ear block when this air pressure is not equal.
Flying high includes rapid changes in air pressure. The Eustachian tube opens frequently and wide enough to equalize the pressure changes, especially when the plane is landing. This is because the earth’s atmospheric pressure is higher and when we land from a low-pressure zone to a high-pressure zone, we need to be much more cautious. This is seen not only during flight journeys but also among deep-sea divers, swimmers who dive down to the bottom of the pool and even while riding the elevators. Divers and pilots are taught to equalize air pressure and it is possible for anyone to learn the tactic too.
Medically termed as barotrauma of the ear, almost 5% of adults and 25% of children who fly get their ears blocked, according to a research published in a famous journal. But some other sources quote that almost 20% of adults and 55% of children experience this pain.
The Big Question: Why?
The middle ear connects to the environment through the Eustachian tube. This narrow channel runs from the middle ear to the back of the nose. The Eustachian tube equalizes pressure between the ear and the back of the nose. But what happens during air travel is that, the environmental pressure inside the plane changes rapidly, during both taking off and landing, and the Eustachian tube may not be able to keep up. This creates a pressure difference between the cabin pressure and the middle ear and affects mostly children, infants, people suffering from cold, allergies or those whose Eustachian tubes don’t work properly.
‘How’ To Solve This!
Swallowing helps to unblock ears during air travel as it activates the muscles that open the Eustachian tube. Chewing a gum or sucking on candies prove to be helpful before takeoff and during landing. You can even purposefully yawn to unblock your ear but never fall asleep as you would not swallow as much as you do while being awake.
If yawning or swallowing doesn’t help, close your nostrils with your fingers. Take a mouthful of air and direct the air to the back of your nose (as though you are blowing the nose gently). This can make you feel a buildup of pressure but take care to never let the air out your mouth. Oral or nasal decongestants can help to shrink mucous membranes, including those of the back of the nose and the Eustachian tubes. Although decongestant tablets and sprays can be purchased easily, it is recommended that people with irregular heart rhythm, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, heart disease and excessive nervousness avoid it.
Babies cannot do any of these and the only way to pop their ears is to help them with a bottle or pacifier. Suckling milk or a pacifier relieves a blocked ear and ensure to never let the baby fall asleep during ascend or descend. More children are vulnerable to blockages as their Eustachian tubes are narrower than in adults.
Ways to Treat Clogged Ears
Earwax accumulation is common and it forms a barrier between the opening of the ear and the inner ear. It helps to block foreign objects from entering the ear and serves as a defense mechanism. But sometimes, the glands that create earwax sometimes overdo it and this accumulation can cause the wax to become hard. This buildup can block the entire Eustachian tube as well. Common signs of earwax accumulation include a ringing sound in the ears, earache and feeling dizzy. Ear drops are the most commonly used treatment procedure for clearing away the excess wax. Please don’t try to dig your ears by using cotton swabs as these can push the earwax deeper into the ear.
Any allergy or infection can cause a blocked ear which can also be the result of a runny nose, sinusitis, coughing, sore throat or fever. Here again, you can try steaming, yawning, swallowing, chewing or gently blow the nose with the nostrils shut until a popping sound is heard. Read more about allergies and infections that are bound to hit individuals during the cold winter at www.firsteatright.com.
Meeting a Doctor
It is advisable to meet a doctor if home remedies don’t work or if blocked ears are accompanied by symptoms such as fever, pain, hearing loss, failure to unclog or refusal to clear on their own. Rarely, the clogging might be due to acoustic neuroma, a benign growth that can pressurize the ear and close the Eustachian tubes of the ear. If this is the root cause, the physician will remove the growth through surgery.
Clogged ears are not something dangerous and it depends on the person involved to abstain from making it a dangerous affair. Most people can relieve clogged ears using home remedies and when this is not possible, it is advisable that the individual meets a physician and gets it treated.
Diet, weight loss and slimming are also associated with decreased calorie intake. The first thing someone advises when you ask them for a weight loss suggestion is to cut down on your food portions. A new study by renowned researches might turn the table upside down as it has found that people who eat plenty of healthy foods without worrying about portion control or calorie count while avoiding foods that contain added sugars, refined grains and the highly processed ones showed increased weight loss over a one-year period.
Also, this strategy worked for both sets of people-ones who followed a healthy low-fat diet or a healthy low-carbohydrate diet. We should also be aware of the fact that the strategy worked irrespective of the insulin-response or genetic code which again disproves the increasingly popular idea that diets should be recommended based on a person’s DNA code or his/her carbs/fat-tolerance level. If you are surprised by the same weight loss measures obtained through a low-fat or a low-carb diet which proves that both diets are equals, visit the website www.firsteatright.com for the actual study.
Continuous research on dietary guidelines proves that calories do matter but relying on food quality is as important and integral to promote weight loss/prevent weight gain. Buy high-quality, healthy foods and minimize intake of low-quality foods. High and low quality don’t refer to the amount spent or purchasing power of the customer but refer to the types of food. By ‘high’ quality foods, we mean those foods that are minimally processed such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, unrefined and those that contain healthy proteins/fats. By ‘low’ quality we include all those that highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, refined sugars, fried foods, those foods high in saturated/trans fats and high-glycemic index foods such as potatoes.
While researchers are trying to arrive at the best diet plan based on the three macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), comparing each of the diets that ask individuals to add varying proportion of these nutrients and their effect on weight loss, evidences are still abstract which leaves the researchers with no proper concluding results.
We need to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet for all as every individual is different with a unique lifestyle, height, weight, body composition and environmental factors. It depends on the person to choose a healthy and workable diet plan that is flavorful, tasty and diverse.
A constant throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head can ruin your day. Yes, migraine not only ruins your day but impacts your social life, personal life and emotional well-being. There might be multiple reasons for migraine to hit you hard on your head (literally too this is what happens) but what about people blaming it on the weather as the primary reason for their migraine attack?
Thoughts that Bring About Actions
We feel sick before an examination, children complain of fever/stomach pain right before boarding the school bus (believing they can bunk classes for the day) or our body aches with pain before a presentation at office. In most cases, these are false attacks that vanish once the actual presentation/examination/school day is over. On second thoughts, we arrive at a conclusion that these are mostly mental blocks that stimulate a virtual pain/feeling in order to avoid things/activities. Effect of weather on migraine might be on similar terms with this. While most people think that weather changes trigger a migraine headache most scientific studies have been unable to bring about a solid link between weather patterns and migraine.
A small study of not more than 20 migraineurs came up with the conclusion that only a small sub-group of them were weather sensitive. Another study involving 238 participants revealed that the effect of weather changes on migraine is almost negligible. Migraine is a complex disease that can be triggered by numerous factors and weather might be the primary reason for migraine only when there is a dramatic change in it. Also, weather might be an additional trigger owing to certain other reasons such as fatigue, stress or lack of sleep. Weather changes might not be a triggering factor in all people with migraine. Even when it is one, the weather that triggers the disease actually differs from person to person.
Sun or Rain, which Causes More Pain?
Each migraineur has a definite set of triggers and likewise, the type of weather that triggers a migraine differs from individual to individual and also depending on the country’s climatic condition. We insist on a country’s climate as the amount of sunshine seems to induce migraine in people according to some studies. A study from Austria shows that sunlight for more than three hours a day can induce migraine while another Norwegian study showed that migraines were likelier during the long summer days in the Arctic. Falling barometer pressure or strong wind also induce migraine headache in some people.
Other weather-related triggers include extremely bright sunlight, dry air, sun glare, wind and storm and extreme heat or cold.
Move Out of Your Country
If certain kinds of weather influence the attack of a migraine on certain people, would it prove useful if these people moved from one country to another where the weather conditions suit their requirement? It might, but you cannot escape from weather altogether.
The country where you relocate to might have much stable weather conditions, but you cannot be sure of avoiding migraine triggers as you don’t know what weird weather conditions prevail there. The only way to keep weather triggers to a minimal is by minimizing other migraine triggers during times when the weather might be a problem for you. Ensure to get a good night’s sleep, eat meals at scheduled times of the day, drink water, don’t skip meals and most importantly, manage these triggers well during times when weather might be a problem for you.
Its understandable when people are irritated over migraines owing to weather changes because nothing is in our hands to control the weather. We might not be Lord Vayu or Indra to control the wind or lightning, but we can take every step possible from our side to minimize its impact on migraine. If you feel that the weather outside might impact you please stay indoors. To diagnose the weather that impacts you the most, try to maintain a diary listing down every migraine occurrence, when it occurred, how long it lasted and the circumstances under which it occurred. This helps to determine some specific pattern that finally lands you on the weather change causing it (if weather is a reason!). Above all, lead a healthy lifestyle by balancing your meals and activity routines to reduce the frequency and severity of a migraine attack. Get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to start practicing healthy food changes and physical activity routines for adapting to a better lifestyle.
International Day of Persons with Disability (Dec 3rd 2018)
Disabled people are looked down with empathy. There are not many great changes in terms of treating people with disability. People normally associate disability with failure, dependency and an inability to perform tasks and hence, feel sorry for them and sympathize with them greatly. Contrarily, surveys report that disabled people account for a better quality of life than the rest of the population.
A Detour from Normal Life
Disabilities can impede normal daily activities which are trivial for others. This does not make it a disease or sickness and neither does the affected person suffer from restricted abilities-he/she can work, play and enjoy a healthy life with the help of mobility aids and assistive devices that make daily activities easier to perform. A lack of such devices and aids makes the disabled person over-dependent on his/her family members which obstructs both, the disabled person and the family member from leading a socially active and an economically safe life. We cannot refute the fact that disabled people have several of their needs unmet as support services are not given primary importance in several countries worldwide which makes them rely on family members for assistance. By support services I mean:
Healthy Life: First and foremost, one must understand that disability does not stop a person from leading a healthy and active life. All it requires are the right information and method to make healthy choices and prevent illnesses. A disabled person must understand that any health problems (such as depression, pain or certain diseases that occur as side effects of the disease) related to his/her disability can be treated. It is understandable that disabled people have a harder time becoming healthy and staying fit compared to those without any disability. There are a few guidelines that can help these people live a healthy life:
A normal life is very difficult for a person with difficult and so is for the person who cares for the disabled person. In fact, it affects the entire family as it puts the families in abundant stress, emotional, physical and financial too. Psychologists and counselling people can offer support and help in dealing with the challenges of living with disability or taking care of someone with a disability.
Not long back were HIV patients treated as untouchables. People hesitated to talk, laugh or be in the presence of HIV-affected people fearing communication of the disease. But thanks to various awareness programs and days such as the World AIDS Day that has proved all of this wrong and helped people with AIDS lead better lives.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that can leave a person with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) for a lifetime. Its unlike certain other viruses that leave the body with progressive treatment. Here, a person remains affected by AIDS for life once you get HIV. The virus reduces the number of CD4 cells (these cells help the immune system fight off infection) thereby leaving an individual vulnerable to other infections and diseases as well. Read more about our body’s immune system and how its functioning affects us at www.firsteatright.com.
AIDS is the last stage of HIV and people living with it are at a greater risk of diseases such as cancer too. AIDS-affected patients survive on medications every single day of life but by taking these survival rates of these people are equivalent to the survival rates of other individuals (when diagnosed during early stages of the disease).
A person can be infected with HIV for years before it becomes AIDS. The infection occurs through blood, semen or vaginal secretions. These secretions enter the body via vaginal/oral sex, blood transfusions, shared needles/syringes and from a pregnant/breast-feeding mother to her child. One must also clearly understand that HIV doesn’t spread through hugging, kissing, dancing or a handshake and neither can it spread via air or water.
Though different symptoms exist the only reliable way to confirm the disease is to get it tested. The disease progresses through four different stages of which AIDS is the last stage. Common symptoms during the initial stages include fatigue, fever, weight loss, diarrhea, shingles and swollen lymph nodes. AIDS leaves a person’s immune system damaged badly and the common signs at this stage include weight loss, skin rash, chronic diarrhea, recurrent fever, continuous fatigue or persist white spots on the tongue.
Although AIDS has no cure nor is there a vaccine for HIV it is possible to protect yourself by taking certain precautionary measures:
Humanity has come a long way since 1988 when the campaign was first initiated by WHO and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the World AIDS day. Still, we have a longer road to travel as there are more than 1 million individuals who die from HIV because many of them don’t realize that they have the virus, seek treatment very late or don’t seek treatment at all. Above all, there are around 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide making these figures the highest till date of which a quarter of them are ignorant that they have the virus.
The theme for this year is ‘Know your status’ and it seems to fit the bill perfectly as many people are still hesitant to take up a HIV test. Most do it only after falling sick and showing symptoms. WHO hopes to encourage people to test for HIV and motivate those with HIV to seek treatment. Its good to know that three of four people with HIV know that they have the disease, but they still don’t know how to protect themselves. Even the discrimination and stigma surrounding the disease remain a reality till date. World AIDS day provides the perfect platform to improve monetary funds, raise awareness and fight discrimination.
Educational qualification and your work profile may not always reflect your choices or thoughts and in many cases are taken up due to social pressure and monetary restrictions/needs. A hobby comes as a breath of fresh air in between all this. We have heard of none who has taken up a hobby owing to external factors. Hobbies provide an enriching personal experience and act as stress busters in this hectic world.
The craze for collecting stamps or currency notes/coins of various countries has been a part of most of us during our childhood days. Don’t we all still possess the treasured stamp book? In fact, the smell of aging currency notes stacked in our cupboards fill us with refreshing memories of our sweet past. Some of us have even been crazy enough to collect our bus tickets or bills and load up our draws. These hobbies have been our savior rescuing us in times of boredom or relieving us of our exam stress. But are you aware that these hobbies can do good to our mental and physical health as well?
Hobby for Health
There’s no second opinion that we take up a hobby only because we enjoy doing it. The world has become health-conscious and I am sure that taking up something that would benefit your health would only be a welcome change in your monotonous life. Leading a healthy life includes much more than eating right and doing exercise. It includes overall wellbeing which in turn depends on doing things you love, spending time for yourself and being happy engaging in leisure activities. These boost productivity, activate brain cells and make you feel wholesome. There are a number of hobby activities that can be quite engaging, fun-filled and healthy as well. For each of you wanting to bet on your good health pursue any or all of these:
Dancing: Not long ago in our apartment a friend of mine came with an innovative dance class offer to all residents. She knew a master who excelled in various dance forms and he was conducting classes that combined quite aplenty dance varieties in the form of a physical exercise class. Basically, it was dance form-based exercise. The experience was great and we are still continuing the class with the number of registrations only increasing. Aerobic classes were one of the initial exercise forms that involved dance steps and the latest trend is Zumba.
Dancing doesn’t need much-not even a pair of shoes but only yourself, some fast-paced songs and maybe some good company to keep you lively. If you are not yet ready to dance on the dance floor you have always got your cozy home. Make up a few steps and dance to the tunes unconcerned about anyone or anything in the room. Firstly, dancing is fun and above all, it is an excellent cardiovascular workout. Any cardio workout benefits health by strengthening bones and muscles, improving cardiovascular health and improving stamina. Studies show that dancing improves balance in the older population and also improves brain activity thereby decreasing the risk of dementia.
Cooking: Cooking is a great pastime that opens to you a plethora of new recipes. Passionate about cooking? This is the right hobby to eat nutritious meals that are healthy and tasty too. Try your hands on different healthy dishes, cook up interesting salads and try different mains sticking to your portion sizes while eating them.
Gardening: While gardening was not appreciated sometime back, nowadays more and more individuals are in love with the sowing, digging and reaping process. Getting your hands soiled is a great way to improve hand strength, decrease stress and getting a dose of vitamin D. Pulling out weeds, planting seeds and plucking flowers activate our muscles, improve stamina and add to aerobic exercise. Not only this, you get to enjoy the lush greenery surrounding you, the deliciously fresh veggies and juicy fruits right from your backyard garden. Read more about gardening, its advantages and the studies supporting it from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Music: This is not something new and mankind has relied upon music and instruments to relieve stress, feel relaxed and be happy. Just a silly thought but this has never escaped my mind whenever I listen to music-We find solace in listening to songs but do musicians and singers too find the same? I’ve always been a person who has always relied on music to boost my confidence, make me feel stronger and also during happy times. Listening to music benefits both physical and mental health. Even a few studies show that music is advantageous on the immune system, decreases stress, anxiety and keeps depression at bay. Listening to music right before a surgery decreases a person’s anxiety far better than taking prescription drugs as music was linked to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol.
Keeping pets: Newspapers and magazines are filled with more and more articles on the advantages of owning a pet. Having an animal at home improves well-being, decreases stress, increases self-esteem, lowers BP and keeps you active. Pets at home also decrease the feeling of loneliness among the elderly population. Though studies exist showing that having a pet keeps a person healthier these studies do doubt whether it is the other way round-it might just be that healthy people are those who have a pet.
Pen down your thoughts: How on earth can sitting at your desk and writing be beneficial for your health? Writing your thoughts on a sheet of paper or on your laptop helps you express your feelings, reduce stress and improve sleep. Blogging or creative writing is a great way to bond with others and build new relationships with people having similar interests.
I hope that after reading through many of you would have already prioritized these hobbies according to your interest. Take up any of these hobbies to improvise your health, well-being and quality of life.
Toddlers as well as parents are anxious and overwhelmed with emotions on the child’s first day of schooling for very different reasons. Children obviously feel perplexed and uneasy thinking about the new environment and people after enjoying thoroughly at the comfort of their home. Parents are equally anxious thinking about their children and hope that everything goes well for their kids. As parents, we would have done our duty of searching for a great school that satisfies our individual priorities (some might prefer schools that excel academically while others might wish for extra-curricular activities too) and admitted our children into one of the best schools. All these aside, have we ever taken a minute to ponder and check whether our kids are school-ready?
Pediatricians set milestones for the child as soon as he/she is born assigning tasks such as rolling over at the age of three months, crawling at the age of six months and so on. Doctors assess newborns between 1 and 5 minutes after birth and declare the Apgar score for the baby based on five different categories. Frequent visits to the doctor keep the parent up-to-date on the baby’s health status. Despite all these, problems with speech, senses or language go unnoticed and the trouble begins once the child starts attending school.
Sensing Your Child’s Sense-readiness
Parents fully equip their children with books, stationary and bags while sending off kids to kindergarten or class 1. Satisfying these needs don’t sound convincing enough but parents rarely look beyond these to gauge whether their kids are ready for school. One must fully understand that a child learns to enjoy schooling only when his/her hearing, vision, speech and language are fully developed as per age. Any disparities regarding these must be addressed first before packing off your kids to the school.
As you read this, some might even brand this measure as ‘over-precaution’, but this strongly exists as a mandatory requirement for the wellness of your child. You might have sent your toddler to the daycare without any complaints or he/she might have seemed fine at home. That’s because rarely problems pertaining to the senses, speech or language are not detected or the child might have a lazy eye or slight hearing loss that goes unnoticed.
Ears to Hear
Almost all infants are screened for hearing and vision soon after birth and when any newborn is diagnosed with hearing loss/impaired vision, the physician arranges for necessary intervention such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. These standby aids must start no later than the infant’s sixth month so that children with hearing loss can develop language skills that help them converse and share their happiness. It might also be possible that the kid suffers from no hearing loss problem since birth but suddenly develop it later due to many different reasons such as head injuries, meningitis or repeated ear infections.
A noisy classroom proves to be a tough fight for kids suffering from mild hearing problems and the teachers might even misunderstand the unnoticed hearing loss as attention deficiency in such kids as these children miss out on many instructions and lessons simply because they don’t hear clearly.
Hearing others speak helps a child learn new words and understand different concepts. Children become functional with a new language by listening to others and engaging in conversations. When hearing impairments are present, the kids might lack a full-fledged comprehension of the language nor do they possess 100% speech skills. Another kind of language problem called the specific language impairment or developmental language disorder affects around 7% of children in kindergarten. Children with this problem do not possess the ability to learn new words, might have minimal vocabulary skills or might speak grammatically incorrect sentences.
Blame on Parents
Sometime back, the blame was shouldered by parents entirely for their child’s language disability. They were accused of spending less time reading books or speaking with their kids, but research shows multiple other causes too related to this. A study that included children with learning disabilities or dyslexia directed the cause to genes, meaning that language impairments tend to run in families. Genes can inject dyslexia into a person, but it also remains within the person’s territories to delay or minimize its impact on the person with a healthy lifestyle and exercise. Read more about this at www.firsteatright.com.
Despite continuous learning, kids don’t overcome language impairments completely. While their vocabulary expands and their language skills improve they do suffer from side effects even after graduation or starting to work. To bring this to bare minimum it is advisable to diagnose specific language impairment before kindergarten and start the kid on language therapy.
Eyes to See
Small kids too can suffer from poor vision and this is common among preschoolers who tend to ignore the problem owing to lack of knowledge. These children feel that its normal to see double or to possess a blurry vision. But this might lead to headache, straining the eyes to see clearly or attention difficulties due to lack of clarity to view the blackboard. Improper vision is mostly due to amblyopia or lazy eye which happens when the two eyes point in two different directions or when one eye produces a better image than the other.
Some kids have trouble reading words on the blackboard (nearsighted) while rarely some kids might find difficulty reading books that produce a nearby image (farsighted). Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct this problem.
Screening Before Learning
The best way to identify the problem at the earliest stage is to screen preschoolers for hearing loss or vision impairment. But, screening only identifies the problem and it is advisable that the child goes for regular examination to an eye specialist. Detecting the problem at an early stage and treating it help kids achieve better a hearing, vision and language experience. Overall, they get to enjoy a full-fledged learning experience.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.