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Food / Easy to make healthy breakfast ideas
« on: September 14, 2015, 02:27:28 PM »
Breakfast plays a key role in weight management and provides the necessary nutrients for the proper daily functioning of the body.

In fact, healthy breakfasts are scientifically associated with better health, increased longevity and less occurrence of chronic conditions. Skipping breakfast, or gobbling a hurried breakfast grudgingly, might seriously affect our health as the duration between our last meal (dinner) and breakfast is rather long. This may lead to reduced alertness, low productivity and low blood sugar. All this can be overcome if we follow these simple, easy to make healthy breakfast ideas...

Eggs (scrambled or boiled): Simple and easy to cook, eggs are must-haves for a healthy breakfast. They are a rich source of vitamins like folic acid, B and K and are particularly important to women's health. Recent studies have demonstrated that if you eat eggs for breakfast, you remain full for a longer period and therefore, you have smaller meals during the rest of the day. This implies that you have more chance of losing any extra calories. Moreover, eggs are also good for the brain as they contain a nutrient called choline vital for brain functions and health.

Whole grain breads: They are often regarded as a hearty choice for a healthy diet. All you need to do for a quick and healthy breakfast is to spread your favorite flavor of sauce or butter on pieces of toasted bread and you are good to go for the whole day. Grains being naturally low in fat, they help in avoiding any kind of weight gain. Moreover, they are also linked with low risk of certain types of cancers, diabetes and heart disease.

Fresh and canned fruits: Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to obtain your daily nutrition level is by consuming fruits for breakfast. You can either opt for fresh fruits or canned fruits. Try consuming two servings of fruits every morning to ramp up your energy levels. They are easy to digest and the sugar content in fruits is in a form (glucose) that can be easily converted to energy in your body. Besides this, you have a variety of options to choose from. From apples to cherries, grapefruits and strawberries - select whatever you prefer the most and provide your body the much needed energy supplement to lead a healthy life.

High-fiber cereals: High fiber multi-grain cereals containing millet, brown rice and corn grits are easily available in the market and are equally easy to prepare. Gone are those days when the very thought of hot cereals used to make you cringe. Today, many tasty variants of hot cereals are available that can be consumed either with water or low-fat milk. To add extra flavor to your cereal breakfast, you can even add piece of your favorite fruit or reduced calorie syrup.

Scrambled tofu:
Many consider scrambled tofu to be even more delicious than scrambled eggs. High in nutrients, you can add jazz up your scrambled breakfast by adding some onions, a little soya sauce, some black pepper and eating with whole-grain toast.

Fresh berries with yoghurt: Add some ripe fresh berries with either low-fat yoghurt or soy yoghurt and serve with your favorite variety of cereal. Easy to make, this interesting combination will provide you with all the necessary nutrients that your body requires.

Reduce Fat /Weight Loss / Is desk job making you fat?
« on: September 13, 2015, 03:12:18 PM »
Don't let your desk job make you unhealthy and fat. Here are a few exercises and diet tips to stay fit in spite of a sit-down job

Many people complain about this. Increasing stress and inactivity at work leads to weight gain. Here's what to do...

Exercise at your desk
For a toned stomach
: Sit tall and straighten the spine. Clench the abdominal muscles tightly pulling the naval into the spine. Hold for one to five seconds and repeat 20 times. Try doing this at least three times in a day.

For great thighs: Be seated with knees together. Keep them together in a way that no one can pull them apart even if they try their best. Squeeze your inner thigh muscles in one-second pulses. Do this at least three times daily.

For a shapely butt: Start to stand up and tighten your butt and thigh muscles; then pause for a beat. Sit back down and stand up as you normally would. Do this every time you get out of your chair.

Nutrition chart
Eat more of nuts and seeds:
The vital nutrients that your body requires - protein, magnesium, vitamin B and healthy monounsaturated fats are found in favorites like almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. They help keep blood sugar under control. Have them in the earliest part of the day - they will pack you with lot of energy.

Raw vegetables and cold cuts: Consume foods that are high in fibre. Vegetables like broccoli and celery are rich in plant compounds that regulate blood sugar. Also, go for cold cuts like turkey and cheese slices that are high in protein.

Have eggs daily: Egg is the highest quality protein you can have. They increase nitrogen stores in muscles and make them firmer so they burn more calories even when your body is at rest. Moreover they are loaded with vitamin D and prevent fat from trapping.

Sip oolong tea: Oolong tea balances blood sugar and cortisol levels - this reverses the fat-storing mechanisms caused by office inactivity. Consume one to three cups while you're at work.

Health Tips / Can excessive use of Wi-Fi trigger headaches, allergies?
« on: September 13, 2015, 03:06:59 PM »
Addressed with skepticism by most, the term electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) or wireless allergy or gadget allergy, is ascribed to a range of non-specific symptoms like headache and fatigue apparently due to heavy use of wireless communicating devices, especially those that emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

Common sources of this Wi-Fi tsunami include mobile phone signals, Wi-Fi hotspots, Wi-Fi enabled devices like tabs, cellphones, laptops and a plethora of other gadgets.

The controversial issue was recently thrust in the limelight when a French court in a landmark ruling granted disability allowance to a 39-year-old woman who claimed to be experiencing discomfort from alleged EHS. She was forced to live in a countryside barn far away from the Wi-Fi and the internet.

Despite such examples, the legitimacy debate rages on - is it a real thing or cooked up - fueled by the absence of hard evidence and conclusive research.

According to WHO, EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link its symptoms to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure, but it also says: "The symptoms are certainly real and can vary widely in their severity. Whatever its cause, EHS can be a disabling problem for the affected individual."

Experts in India who have been studying such emerging problems (for example, the link between EHS and cellphone usage) say that with the introduction and expansion of wireless communication technologies, complaints related to mobile phones, base stations and gadgets have become more prominent.

"The radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (RFR - a type of electromagnetic radiation) exposure levels have amplified manifold because of the extensive use of mobile phones and other devices," Neeraj Kumar Tiwari, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering, SRM University, Lucknow, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

"Very common symptoms and sensations of EHS are irritation, headache, stammering, hearing loss, dizziness, ringing delusion, disrupted sleep, stress, fatigue and restlessness," he added.

Further at the genetic level, electromagnetic radiation from mobiles cause damage if their exposure time and level are high, said M. Y. Khan, Dean, School for Biosciences and Biotechnology, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), Lucknow, who has extensively dealt with the issue as a scientist.

In fact, he said, the situation in India compared to the West is worse. "Because we tend to use cheap mobile sets made by companies which do not follow the standard norms about the radiation safety," Khan, Professor and Head, Department of Biotechnology at the varsity, said in an e-mail interview.

The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Tiwari added that children may be more vulnerable than adults to EMF effects due to their "developing brain, greater absorption of energy in brain and a longer span of exposure over their lifetime".

But all said and done, the fact is Wi-Fi, mobile phones and the internet are a necessity today, so much so that the number of internet connections in India has swelled to 300 million.

And, in a population of 1.25 billion, there are 980 million mobile connections, as per the latest data released by telecom regulator TRAI. Factor into this Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' initiative which will be driven by mobile technology.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) states EMFs produced by the antennae on mobile towers and mobile phones are at the lower end of the electromagnetic emission spectrum and are 'non-ionizing radiations', which means that the energy carried by them is not enough to break the chemical bonds between molecules.

"The Indian government has adopted one of the strictest global safety norms for EMF, which is one tenth of the emission levels (recommended by WHO) followed by most of the countries in the world.

"The government's support and guidance in allaying the misplaced fears regarding EMF emissions from towers in the minds of the people would be paramount in addressing the issue of misplaced EMF fear psychosis, and help develop and deliver the Digital India dream of the government," COAI Director General Rajan S. Mathews told IANS.

While EHS battles an existential crisis and as teenagers get more and more hooked to gadgets, Tiwari and Khan suggested 'green communication' - an approach to minimize the risks or defects associated with wireless communication systems.

Madhumita Dobe of the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health stressed on more research on EHS in India.

Hypertension / High BP, poor diet leading risks for global deaths
« on: September 12, 2015, 02:55:57 PM »
A 25-year-long-study has revealed that high BP and a bad diet have replaced child maternal malnutrition and unsafe water-sanitation as the leading risks for death over the last two and a half decades among both men and women.

This comes as red alert for Indians, with 139 million of them suffering from high BP which stands at 14% of the global burden of uncontrolled hypertension. WHO says that since 1980, the number of Indians suffering from high BP rose by 87 million.

The study , conducted by researchers working on the Global Burden of Disease project looked at 79 risk factors for death in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. Their findings say that high BP in 2013 contributed to 10.4 million deaths around the world, while its impact on mortality grew by 49.1% between 1990 and 2013. High BP grew 39.9% for women as against 59% for men. High BP, smoking, high body mass index and diabetes were the top risk factors for death , the study says.

Health Tips / Best ways to treat bug bites
« on: September 12, 2015, 02:54:09 PM »
Romantic as the approaching monsoon might be, it is also during this stormy season that we suffer from bug bites, which bring with them disease and distress.

When it comes to treating bug bites there are endless options. But have you ever wondered which treatment works best for you? Today we are digging into the most popular and trusted tips to treat bug bites. Read on...

Treating bug bites using household items. Try and rub ivory soap over the itched area. If ivory soap is not available, try and use dry soap as much as possible. Do remember to treat the infected area with a dab of running alcohol and then with a piece of tape. Try and apply ice packs or ice cubes over the area for instant relief.

Treating bug bites using dabbers. Try and apply a quicker on the infected area for faster relief. A few of the topical suggestions, which you can apply directly to the affected area, are nail polish, toothpaste, mouthwash, honey or a few drops of rubbing alcohol. Apart from this, you can also try rubbing a hot tea bag on the affected area.

Treating bug bites using homemade pastes. As soon as you get a bite, mix a mixture of the below mentioned fresh pastes. Make sure that the consistency and thickness of the paste is smooth, so that it stays on the affected area and does not run down. The pastes you can make at home are:

- Salt and water
- Aspirin and water
- Meat tenderizer and water
- Baking soda and water
- Aspirin and alcohol mixture

Treating bug bites using commercial products, creams and lotions. Some of the lotions that you must try and use as soon you get a bug bite are caladryl, calamine lotion, benadryl cream, orajel, tiger balm, bag balm and the gold bond medicated powder.

Treating bug bites using essential oils and herbal leaves. As far as the application of essential oils is concerned, try and apply cedar oil, lavender oil, astringent or tea tree oil. Make sure these are advised oil applications for pre-teens and small children, if the mosquitoe bite is bearable in size. One can also crush the fresh leaves of basil and apply on the affected area for instant relief.

People from higher social classes have fewer friends outside of their own country, according to a new research that analyzed 57 billion friendships on Facebook.

Researchers found that despite the fact that, arguably, people from higher social classes should be better positioned to travel and meet people from different countries, when it comes to friendship networks, people from those groups had lower levels of internationalism and made more friends domestically than abroad.

Researchers said that the results are in line with the hypothesis that high-social class individuals have greater resources, and therefore tend to be less socially engaged, particularly with those from groups other than their own.

The research team conducted two studies - one local and one global, with the global study using a dataset of billions of Facebook friendships — and the results from both supported the idea of restricting social class.

However, the researchers said the fact that those of lower social status tend to have more international connections demonstrates how low-social class people "may actually stand to benefit most from a highly international and globalized social world".

"The findings point to the possibility that the wealthy stay more in their own social bubble, but this is unlikely to be ultimately beneficial," said co-author Aleksandr Spectre, from the University of Cambridge's Department of Psychology.

"If you are not engaging internationally then you will miss out on that international resource - that flow of new ideas and information," said Spectre.

For the 'local' study, the team recruited 857 people in the US and asked them to self-report their perceived social status, as well as an objective indicator in the form of annual household income.

The volunteers also provided researchers access to their Facebook networks. The results from the first study indicated that low-social class people have nearly 50 per cent more international friends than high-social class people.

For the second study, researchers used data provided by Facebook on every friendship formed over the network in every country in the world at the national aggregate level for 2011. The dataset included over 57 billion friendships.

The researchers quantified social class on a national level based on each country's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita data for 2011 as published by the World Bank.

After controlling for many variables the researchers again found a negative correlation between social class - this time on a national level - and the percentage of Facebook friends from other countries.

For people from low-social class countries, 35 per cent of their friendships on average were international, compared to 28 per cent average in high-social class countries.

(The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.)

Health Tips / Symptoms of depression in men
« on: September 11, 2015, 05:49:14 PM »
Contrary to the popular misconception that only women suffer from clinical depression, depression affects men as well.

However, depression in men may present itself differently and may have different symptoms as compared to women. Moreover, men are less likely to admit to symptoms or seek help. According to a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) research, most men are unaware of the physical symptoms associated with depression. But, if left untreated and undiagnosed, it can have shocking consequences. Here are some important signs and symptoms of depression in men.

Difficulty in focusing: Are you finding it difficult to concentrate at work lately or do you feel that you have been focusing more on negative thoughts? People suffering from depression often face difficulties in concentrating due to which their performance at work or school suffers. Depression interferes with a person's ability to think clearly, take proper decisions and perform complicated tasks.

Constant anger or irritability: Another common sign of depression is increased agitation or irritability. This is because, unlike women who give vent to their pent-up emotions in the form of tears, men resort to anger or aggression. Some even manifest depression by being hostile to a situation or another person. Apart from this, men often find themselves being cranky and irritated at simple circumstances. Adequate encouragement and support from friends and family can make a lot of difference in such situations.

Frequent substance abuse: Many times, men try to mask their depression by resorting to some form of substance abuse. But what they don't realize is that depression and alcohol problems often go hand-in-hand. What they usually resort to for seeking solace actually adds to their woes. Alcohol, being a depressant, further blunts the effects of stress hormone and leaves a person feeling worse than ever.

Diminished sexual drive: Although many people refrain from admitting openly, depression is often associated with loss of sexual desire and erectile dysfunctions. This is because depressed people usually feel withdrawn and believe that they are unable to raise enough energy to follow the normal routine. The general damping down of brain activity during depression leads to a feeling of hopelessness and this, in turn, causes loss of libido and sexual dysfunctions.

Chronic pain and digestion problem: According to a research by the Harvard Medical School, pain, particularly chronic pain, is as much an emotional condition as a physical condition. In fact, men with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing depression as compared to a normal person. Another study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that apart from chronic pain, depression is also associated with digestive disorders. This can be treated using prescribed medicines as well as counseling and psychological therapy.

Sleep imbalance: Too much sleep or too little sleep is another common indication of an underlying depressive condition. Usually, people with depression complain about waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep. Some even wake up frequently during the night or find it hard to get out of the bed in the morning.

Extreme tiredness: General feeling of tiredness or fatigue has also been reported by many people suffering from depression. Most of them experience a persistent sense of tiredness and lack of motivation to complete regular chores.

Heart / “Happiness medicines” may be good for the heart
« on: September 10, 2015, 02:36:40 PM »
Clinical depression is a serious condition that affects an astonishing number of people worldwide. Depression is frequently associated with heart disease.

Unfortunately, it is often not diagnosed and therefore not treated. Untreated depression leads to increased cardiac morbidity. Antidepressant medications do not just improve the feeling of well-being, but as shown in recent studies they also reduce cardiovascular events. Antidepressants are prescribed to patients with moderate or severe depression, and typically take a few weeks to exhibit an effect.

Most antidepressants regulate the levels of certain molecules in the brain, such as serotonin, thus alleviating the symptoms of depression. Researchers have sought to examine the effects of these drugs on other systems in the body, such as the heart, and a recent study presented at the annual conference of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that antidepressants may offer protection from heart disease.

The study was conducted over a 3-year period and included 5311 patients with moderate to severe depression. Depression screening questionnaires evaluated factors such as mood, sleep and appetite to assess the extent of depression in the patients. Data regarding death, heart disease and stroke was analyzed with reference to the level of depression and its treatment, and the results suggested that risk of those three events was lower in patients who were being treated with antidepressants than patients who were not. This was true in cases with moderate or severe depression, but not in people with mild depression. In addition, there appeared to be no additional benefit from heart medication, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, in patients who were on antidepressants. Although the mechanisms by which antidepressants reduce the risk of heart disease are unknown, this research provides the foundation for further exploration of the previously unknown benefits of these drugs.

Caution however needs to be exercised as their effectiveness has only been shown in moderate and severe depression. Indiscriminate and inappropriate use of anti-depressants, especially without doctor's prescription has the potential to cause more harm than benefit.

While depression is not something to be joyful about, the silver lining in this cloud is that the medicines that make you happy can possibly make your heart smile as well.

1. May H. et al., Annual conference of the American College of Cardiology, March 2015.

The article has been contributed by :
Dr. Suvro Banerjee, Senior Consultant- Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata.

Fast Food / Is your veg sandwich healthy?
« on: September 10, 2015, 02:33:19 PM »
Veg sandwiches are no longer just seen in health food zones and vegetarian food counters, they're everywhere.

You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the occasional change of taste and health benefits of a vegetarian sandwich. But is a veg sandwich, or veg burger as some call it, really healthy all the time? Is a veg burger a healthy snack simply by virtue of being a vegetarian snack? Today Ms. Sunita Pathania - Sr. Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator, Healthy Living Diet Clinic, Mumbai, helps us understand the what and how behind the seemingly innocent veg 'burger'.

Why we think that a veg burger is healthy...

One of the biggest reasons why veg sandwiches fall in the healthy food category is that they contain less saturated fat. Sunita says, "A regular, normal veg sandwich consists of approximately four to seven grams of saturated fat." Beyond that what makes a sandwich healthy and nutritious is its size. Since, a veg 'burger' or sandwich does not contain red meat it is considered, sometimes erroneously, to be the healthier snack option.

However, this is subject to many considerations. For instance: Is the vegetable patty fried, steamed or grilled? Is it fried in palm oil? Is it loaded with cholesterol-ridden cheese? Is it layered with unhealthy mayo? A normal, veg sandwich weighs approximately 71-100 grams and has approximately 70 to 150 calories each - IF (and this is important) - it's ingredients are healthy and prepared using healthy methods. Depending on size and the content added to it, the health qualities of a veg sandwich may be high or low in calories, fat and fiber.

When can a veg sandwich be unhealthy?

Even though a veg sandwich is made of various vegetables, it can be unhealthy due to the amount of processing the ingredients have gone through. Besides, some veg burgers are loaded with excess amounts of sodium, which can cause trouble to your heart and kidney.

Additionally, watch the amount of butter or oil used in a veg sandwich before categorising it as healthy. Beyond that, size does matter. If your veg sandwich is loaded with extra toppings and cheese, then it may contain calories greater than 1,000 - which is half a day's calorie intake for a person who's approximately 6 feet tall!

Sunita says, "A veg 'burger' contain a harmful compound known as Hexane - it is a by-product of gasoline refining that is used to separate whole soybeans into soy oil, protein and fiber. This compound can cause serious health problems ranging from nerve problems which can lead to pain, numbness, muscle problem and digestion problem."

Word of caution

"Veg sandwiches can definitely be healthier than normal meat burgers, but be cautious while choosing one," says Sunita. And if you want the best out of your veg sandwiches, then it best to make them at home. It is simple and you will also be aware of exactly which ingredients are added.

Here is the dietician's pick for a healthy veg sandwich recipe:

15 ounce of black beans
½ diced onion
½ diced red pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the above ingredients in a food processor. Shape the mixture into patties. Spray a pan with cooking spray and cook the patties on medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side.

Add the patty to whole grain buns or bread slices, add some tomato and onion slices, and voila! Your healthy veg sandwich is ready.

Health Tips / Tobacco use kills over 1.3 mn every year: WHO
« on: September 09, 2015, 03:11:24 PM »
Over 1.3 million people die of tobacco consumption in Southeast Asia every year, with the region consisting of 250 million smokers and nearly the same number of smokeless tobacco users, according to a senior official of World Health Organization

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for South-East Asia, said: "We know that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths."

She was speaking at the inauguration of the WHO's South-East Asia regional committee meeting here where health ministers and officials of 11 countries are meeting to set health priorities and discuss the health agenda for the region.

"Worldwide, tobacco use kills nearly six million people annually with over 600,000 deaths due to exposure to second hand smoke," she said at the inauguration, attended by Timor-Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo, who was earlier the country's health minister.

Timor-Leste became the first new state of the 21st century when it achieved sovereignty on May 20, 2002.

WHO has reiterated several times the number of deaths occuring because of tobacco use in Southeast Asia and other regions.

Singh said the region was one of the largest producers and users of tobacco products in the world. "Many types of smoking and smokeless tobacco products are used in the region, which poses difficulties to harmonise taxation and regulations for controlling tobacco use," she added.

But, she said, she was encouraged by the fact that the member state in the region had intensified their tobacco control activities.

When asked later at a press conference on steps taken by India on tobacco control as compared to its regional partners, she said, India had "expressed an intention" to increase the size of pictorial warning on one side of the tobacco pack from 40 percent to 80 percent of the packet.

She, however, declined to comment whether India would go ahead with its earlier commitment on pictorial warning. Singh said WHO would continue to give advisory to India on tobacco control.

She said that the best thing about the regional meeting was that the countries got to know the best practices of other countries to adopt.

Thailand, she said, had graphic pictorial warning on both sides of the pack covering 85 per cent of the area, while Sri Lanka had 85 percent and Nepal 83 percent. The latter intended to go up to 90 percent of the packet, she said adding that more countries were in the process of adopting larger warnings.

Many countries had established smoke-free public places and banned advertisement of tobacco products, Singh said.

Indonesia, she said, was not a signatory to the WHO convention on tobacco control, but on its own it had required 40 percent coverage of the cigarette packet with pictorial warning about the dangerous effects of smoking cigarettes.

Although India is signatory to the WHO convention on tobacco control. India was not represented at the ministerial level at the regional meeting. J.P. Nadda is the minister of health.

The meeting is from September 7 to September 11 at the state capital of the country which lies between Indonesia and Australia and occupies a land area of 14,874 km.

Life Style / Lifestyle changes to boost your health
« on: September 09, 2015, 03:07:28 PM »
Fitness fads and different diets come and go. And while there is no harm in trying them out, don't be disappointed if they don't give you the results you expected.

However, certain lifestyle changes can go a long way in giving your health that much needed boost. Great for overall well-being, here are some easy to follow tips...

- Instead of sticking to that boring gym routine that seems like a chore to complete every other day, try something different. Did you know that dance is also a type of a cardio workout. Join a dance class in your neighbourhood and see how much you enjoy yourself. Alternatively, if you don't want to stop going to your gym, break up your workout regime between your dance class and the gym. A high energy dance workout will help you burn fat and is also fun at the same time.

- Minimise your intake of sugar to the bare minimum. Not only is sugar high in calories, it is also addictive and can cause health problems in the long run. Excess sugar is also bad for your skin because it causes wrinkles among other things.

- Are you addicted to tea? If you're among those who needs at least five to seven cups of tea daily, switch to green tea instead. Or have your regular cup of tea in the morning and have green tea during the day. There is a wide range of flavours available in the market today and the benefits of regular consumption of green tea are well documented. Filled with antioxidants, green tea removes toxins from your body and is great for easing digestion problems, among other things.

- Thanks to technological breakthroughs in recent years, almost everything is now at the tips of your fingertips. So, why not make use of it? Download some fitness apps on your smartphone. These include reminders to work out, drink water and even help tell you how many steps you take in a day!

- Another thing that has become fairly popular in recent times is the use of organic beauty products. Using only natural ingredients, these products work wonders on the skin and easy on the pocket as well.

Life Style / Must-know cycling tips for beginners
« on: September 08, 2015, 03:17:24 PM »
Taken up cycling as a hobby or a way to stay fit? Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind...

- One of the very first things you need to do once you've decided to pursue cycling is to make sure that you buy the right bicycle. Unless you plan to cycle on rough terrain (you require mountain bikes for that), a town bike is ideal for a city like Mumbai. There are a number of shops that sell different types, sizes and brands — invest in a good brand, so that you know it will last you for a long time.

- If you're going to be cycling on a busy road, wearing a helmet is extremely important — not only because you think you might fall off but because there are other reckless drivers, on the road who might cause an accident. Invest in a sturdy helmet and gloves or knee caps as a precaution.

- When you start initially, your legs will hurt for days due to the strain on the muscles. Don't get discouraged though. This happens when you pursue any sport actually. Start with small distances and gradually increase once your body starts getting used to this new hobby.

- Wear comfortable clothing when you cycle. Avoid flowy clothes because that increases the risk of the cloth getting stuck in the wheel and causing an accident. Wear tights or shorts with a tee and you're good to go.

- Make sure that your bicycle tires have enough air. You can either buy a pump or get the tyres filled at your local mechanic's garage or a petrol pump.

- It is also important to make sure that you bicycle's brakes, chain and gears (if any) are working properly.

Headache / Things you don't know about migraine!
« on: September 08, 2015, 03:16:00 PM »
As Migraine Awareness Week kicks off, we explain the condition and what you need to know to tackle the debilitating pain head on Migraines can have a huge impact on sufferers' lives.

Chances are, you suffer from them or know someone who does. It's a painful, debilitating disorder that is the cause of many sick days around the world. It isn't pulling a sickie or an excuse to shrug off an unwanted cuddle from hubby. "Migraine is not just a headache, it has other symptoms and has a major impact on life," says Dr Mark Weatherall, a consultant neurologist who runs the London Headache Centre. "A migraine headache is usually an intense, throbbing pain on one, or sometimes both, sides of the head. Besides pain, migraine also can cause nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.Some people may also see spots or flashing lights or have a temporary loss of vision."


Like it or not, your favourite party grubs, cheese and wine can be triggers. But it is often genetic -up to 90 per cent of sufferers have a relative who is also a sufferer. While the exact cause is unknown, researchers believe the migraine prone brain to be much more sensitive to stimuli. Fortunately, a lot is understood about the triggers that cause them. The triggers are usually found in the patient's description of the history and pattern of the headache.

A doctor will ask you to keep a diary of your headaches and make note, for example, of hormone changes, food triggers (typically cheese, red wine and citrus), sleep patterns or stress.


Pain relief: Stop a migraine with over-the-counter pain-relief drugs, or talk to your doctor about trying a class of prescription drugs called triptans.Preventative drugs: Used daily, many of these drugs were designed to treat other health conditions, such as epilepsy and depression and can help a lot.Preventative drugs can reduce the frequency of attacks by approximately 50 per cent and therefore improve the individual's quality of life.
Lifestyle changes: Manage the triggers you can control, such as hunger or stress. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Try not to skip meals.Engage in regular physical activity. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.Alternative treatments: Complementary treatments do help some people and there is some evidence that acupuncture can alleviate the condition.


DO Take pain relief as soon as symptoms begin. New research by Nurofen Express and Migraine Action shows that one in five mistakenly believes that their treatment will work better if they wait until the symptoms become unbearable before seeking pain relief. Pain relief works most effectively if taken at the onset of symptoms before the pain escalates.

DO Talk to your doctor to get the right medicine. Different kinds of pain relief work in different ways.Seek treatment.

DON'T Give up.Two of the main reasons that the preventer drugs 'don't work' is that the dose isn't high enough to be therapeutic and the drug isn't taken for long enough. In order to give a drug a fair and realistic trial, experts recommend at least three months as a therapeutic dose.Improvement often occurs on a month by month basis.

DON'T Do it alone. People suffering from chronic migraine often feel isolated and depressed, so it's very important that they get support from family and friends.


Be smart about pain relief. People who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week, or more than 10 days out of the month, can set off a cycle called medication-overuse headaches (MOH).

Some people with bad headaches increase their dose of painkillers over time, till they get dependant on them. The first thing to do is to recognise the pattern. Patients are often embarrassed about what they're taking and they get to the point where the medicines stop working and even begin to trigger headaches. But the good news? Patients may be scared about stopping medication, but about a quarter of them will start feeling better within a few weeks.

Food / Smart plan to cut down on salt
« on: September 07, 2015, 02:40:54 PM »
Our body needs salt to function. Too much raises risk of heart disease and stroke. A smart plan to cut it down

Catch the daily culprits
More than 40 per cent of our sodium intake comes from food we tend to binge on every day. The major culprits are bread, pizza, chicken soup, cheese, pasta, meat dishes such as meat loaf, and snack foods such as potato chips (including canned tomato sauce), and butter popcorn, which you find at the movie halls. To bypass these sodium traps, compare nutrition labels on your favourite foods because different brands vary in sodium content. Replace pre-packaged canned food with fresh food.

Study food labels
While there is sodium in almost everything we eat, the amount of this mineral in condiments are shocking. When you read a food's ingredients, salt (sodium chloride) isn't the only thing you should be looking for. There are other sodium-containing compounds such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate, which will up the total sodium count. For instance, one tablespoon of soy sauce has 920 mg of sodium; even those labelled "low sodium" have 575 mg of sodium. Other big offenders include tomato sauce (640 mg per half cup) and barbecue sauce (420 mg per two tablespoons). If you overdo it at one meal, make sure you balance it out by making lowsodium choices the rest of the day. Also, low-fat doesn't mean lowsodium. When food companies take out fat, they often replace it with salt to enhance flavour.

Find other spices
Instead of sprinkling salt over the dish, use fresh or dried herbs and spices like garlic, basil, cumin, chili peppers, rosemary, ginger or cinnamon to enhance the flavour. You can also try flavoured vinegars, such as fig, pear and cranberry. Premixed blends of spices often contain salt. Nutritionists recommend that you go for 'no or low-sodium' labels.

Eat out wisely
Stick to restaurants where your food is cooked to order rather than eateries where food may be pre-packaged (like soup, gravy). Choose simple items without gravies or sauces and ask them to be prepared without salt. Simple measures may also help. Order baked potato instead of the mashed potatoes with your sizzlers, but don't eat the skin, which may have been oiled and salted before baking. Add a salad to fill up on greens, but avoid dressings since they're often loaded with sodium. Request that grilled entrees, like fish and chicken, be cooked without salt.

Watch portion size
You may think you're doing fine because you only had a packet of chips. However, check out the label for serving size. A handful of potato chips are 170mg of sodium. If you are going to indulge, measure out your portion so you don't overdo it.

Time to adapt
Your taste for salt is acquired, so it will take you time to get used to a lower-sodium diet. When you first cut back, food may taste a little bland. Decrease your salt intake gradually, and after a few weeks, you probably won't even miss it.

Daily sodium allowance
Medical experts say daily intake of sodium for healthy adults is 2300 mg. If you're older than 51, it's only 1550 mg. It may sound like a lot but it's surprising how quickly your meals can add up to your daily allowance. The best way to ensure that you're consuming the right amount of sodium is by treating it like it's money and you're on a budget. Eat it wisely and keep a watch on what you consume. Try not to exceed 600 mg of sodium per meal and snacks.

Reduce Fat /Weight Loss / High blood pressure: Exercise and tips
« on: September 07, 2015, 02:36:53 PM »
Commonly referred to as a 'silent killer', high blood pressure or hypertension is a leading cause of death globally.

This is largely due to unawareness regarding early detection and cure. In India, around 16 per cent of people above 20 years of age suffer from high blood pressure. However, a single high reading does not necessarily imply that you have hypertension. Moreover, even if you were informed recently that you have the condition; there is absolutely no reason to panic. All you need are some basic lifestyle tips and a well-planned exercise routine and you will be as fit as a fiddle.

Overview: High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition when the difference between the maximum (systolic) and minimum (diastolic) pressures exerted by the circulating blood on your blood vessels increases the desirable value (above 90-119 systolic and 60-79 diastolic).

Prime risk factors: Some of the major factors that increase your risk of developing the condition are:

Age Increased levels of blood pressure are closely associated with age and the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle gradually build up.

Ethnicity Generally, it is observed that people belonging to the African-Caribbean and South-Asian communities have increased probability of developing hypertension.

Family history Having a family history of high blood pressure places you at a greater risk of developing the condition.

Lifestyle issues It is a well-known fact that your lifestyle can affect your risk of developing it. Major lifestyle flaws include high intake of alcohol, excessive smoking, too much salt and not eating sufficient fruits and vegetables.

Tips to prevent and control: One of the primary steps to ensure that you do not develop the condition is by adopting a healthy lifestyle. By healthy lifestyle, we refer to the complete cycle of following a healthy eating plan, and moderate indulgences. Broadly, the prevention and control tips can be segregated into:

- Maintaining a healthy weight - Practice moderation if you drink alcohol - Quitting smoking - Regulating the excessive intake of salt and sodium - Frequent regulation of your health by visiting health care professionals at periodic intervals.

Exercise tips for managing blood pressure: Becoming active and incorporating regular physical activity in your day-to-day living helps make your heart stronger. This, in turn, can lead your heart to pump more blood with less effort, thereby lowering the force on your arteries and the subsequent reduction of blood pressures.

Aerobic training This form of training can have a major influence on your blood pressure levels. This can include anything from walking, running and hiking to biking and even swimming. On an average, target at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity for most days of the week. In case, you are unable to manage this time set, you can also opt for shorter bursts of activity as they count too.

Weight training Although these exercises can lead to sudden spikes in your blood pressure levels, they can have long term benefits. Make sure that you consult a physician before embarking on any weight training programs.

Yoga and meditation In order to prevent this condition, yoga postures and meditation techniques should also be incorporated in your daily routine. The prime effect of these fitness programs is that they help combat stress and saturate the mind with tranquility.

Deep-breathing exercises According to a recent research published in the American Journal of Hypertension, a person can regulate his blood pressure level by 'harnessing' the body's own natural pressure regulator. Breathing techniques are easy and effective ways to curb elevated levels of blood pressure. Regular and right breathing techniques can help you maintain normal blood pressure.

However, for long term effects, always remember that you will have to follow these exercise and lifestyle tips on a regular basis. The benefits last as long as you continue with the planned fitness regime.

(Sources: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Blood Pressure Association, NHLBI)

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