Category Archives: General Health Concerns

(Un)Healthy Obsession

At Beaming Health we are all about creating a healthy lifestyle. We have talked to you about eating right, working out and managing stress. We also try to walk the talk or practice what we preach and that’s how we come up with most of the stuff here. So where am I going with this, you ask? Well, I was working on another article and really getting into reading some interesting research on stress and weight-loss (which I’ll, share with you in my next article) and that’s when it hit me…

Almost every conversation I have these days (apart from work meetings, where we try and stay on the concerned topic) comes around to health. It could be a successful weight-loss plan, rediscovering ways to cook with mustard or coconut oil, avoiding moisturizers with parabens, trying out Taekwon-do instead aerobics or another person tuning into a 5k runner. It  doesn’t matter where we start and end the conversation, somewhere in between we get round to discussing some aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

In a way this sounds great. Isn’t it good news that so many people are getting conscious about being fit, strong and happy? Obviously it is, considering that we are a race (the human race) that’s currently dealing with crazy levels of sickness and disease. Awareness never hurt anyone right and maybe we can reverse the negative trend. So what’s my problem here?

Well, as with any topic, when we tend top discuss one subject all the time (say music, movies, relationships) we are generally considered obsessed with it. Any form of obsession has a tendency to take over a large part of our lives, in a slow but significant manner. Most obsessions are harmless as they tend to just define our personality more markedly, rather than have any sinister effect. However, this obsession with health, that I see all around, seems to be part of a cycle, dare I say a potentially vicious cycle.

People start with it to get their physical, mental and emotional selves back on track and to improve their quality of life. However, is our quality of life really better if our obsession with getting healthy contributes towards one more aspect of our ever growing stress.

Counting every calorie, worrying about pollution every time we have to walk down the street,  fearing an injury every minute of a run because everyone else has got fit by running, or sleep waking through the day because six hours of sleep was cut down to five to accommodate another workout.

News flash, there’s apparently a new eating disorder on the block called orthorexia. Orthorexia occurs when a person’s healthy eating habit becomes so extreme that it becomes unhealthy. It basically means a person who’s obsessed with food, and it usually starts with an intention to eat only organic, healthy, natural foods but then spirals out of control.

While we need to be aware of our internal health and the environmental factors that affect us, are we really doing ourselves a favour by obsessing over this all the time. Where do we draw a line and create a balance between leading a healthy life and simplifying our lives to reduce stress? What’s the point of an hour of meditation in the morning, if we’ve spent the whole night mentally planning every perfectly balanced meal for the next day instead of resting our minds?

I think, we humans as a race need to rediscover moderation. Moderation in eating, working out and life in general. Moderation does not mean doing less, it means doing things regularly and steadily for a sustained period of time. Let’s make leading a safe and healthy lifestyle a lifetime goal, for ourselves, our families and the world around us. Working out and eating well should improve the quality of of your life, not lead to mental and physical deterioration.

So how do you draw the line between being aware of your health and being obsessed?

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

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The Workout Series – Brain Health

A friend’s grandmother is used to meeting her Quiz club every month. Since she turned 80, the family insists that she not drive herself and rather get dropped and picked up on her outings. While, the old lady gracefully accepted the wishes of her family, she still finds it tough as occasionally the non-availability of family, to chauffeur her to her regular meetings, makes her feel depressed. The lady in question is in peak health with her only problem being slightly weakened eyesight and a sensitive stomach. According to this grandmother she feels physically older and mentally less capable, if she misses a few of her Quiz Club meetings.

This is apparently, not a psychological effect. Using her mental faculties actively on a regular basis has probably helped her stay younger than her numerical age. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a well-educated person, who has regular mental stimulus, maybe less likely to be affected by Alzheimer’s than a person who has had a minimum level of education. According to research, keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build its reserves of brain cells and connections. “You could even generate new brain cells.”

Once her family understood the benefits of her Quiz sessions on their grandmother’s quality of life, she has never been short of chauffeurs.

Here are a few tips from the Alzheimer’s Association on keeping your brain active everyday: 

  • Stay curious and involved — commit to lifelong learning
  • Read, write, work on crosswords or other puzzles
  • Attend lectures and plays
  • Enroll in courses that interest you
  • Play games
  • Garden
  • Try memory exercises

Another way to improve your mental stamina and concentration is to meditate. If you are new to medication, check out our simple tips here, to help you get started.

So, go on, start that Sudoku challenge that you have been putting off for years. It’s never too late or too early.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1, Image 2

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Not Such a Big Deal After All

If you have followed this blog, the last article we published on trans fats, was aimed at demystifying cholesterol and the totally impossible tongue twisters that are a part of discussions on the subject. Those nasty LDLs (low-density lipoprotein), the triglycerides and the gentlemen HDLs (high-density lipoprotein). Demystification apart, at a very practical level, I’m sure that you’re asking yourself, “Fair enough, but what is the bottom line at the end of the day? How does one go about reducing total cholesterol and LDL levels; and increasing HDL?”

If you have an abnormal “lipid profile” as it is technically called, your first step is to visit a doctor and decide whether you need medication or not. Once you are in safe medical hands, make sure that you get yourself tested regularly. Next on the to do list are making specific lifestyle changes that will enable you to stop, or at least reduce, your medication levels over the long run.

So what are these lifestyle changes?

Well it has to start with your diet right? So here we go. With the advent of affluence, and restaurants vying for your loyalty, the concept of portion control has been totally messed up.  But wait a moment, what is portion control? Sounds like some form of educational syllabus! Well, portion control is not a big deal really, it’s just a way to define the quantity of a certain food that a person should eat. A healthy portion of anything is a handful of it. Say, a piece of meat or fish, the size of your palm, is a healthy measure. A cup of rice, again needs to be a handful of cooked rice, and so on. Once you control the quantities you are eating, you are well on your way to good health.

Next we need to work on your diet content. First on the list is fiber, a seriously good guy who needs to be as widely incorporated in your diet as possible. Sources of fiber are raw vegetables, fruit and whole grain cereal that is processed as little as possible. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. They play a huge role in appetite control; since they fill you up, ensuring that you are not hungry for the unhealthy stuff anymore. Fiber is also the broom of the body, ridding it of toxins. Fiber even binds with fat molecules and removes them from the system.

Next up is fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines; are a great source of Omega 3 acids. Omega 3 acids are a way wonderful to lower LDL and increase HDL. Grilled fish twice a week is a great idea. If you are vegetarian, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts are also great sources of Omega 3. On the other hand, please remember the handful rule here. These nuts are fairly calorie intensive, and like we already know, calories not used by the body get stored as fat in one of its forms, something that needs to be avoided at all costs!!

You already know that trans fats are right up there with Dracula on the bad guys list. Omega 3 fatty acids, and unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive, sunflower or canola oil are part of the hero team. They can actually help you in the struggle to achieve a normal lipid profile. The only caveat is that any form of fat contributes nine calories per gram, and so even a small quantity can increase your total calorie intake very quickly. Always make sure that you read the food label before you buy a product that has fat, even if it says it is a zero cholesterol product. If the ingredient list has saturated or trans fats, drop it like a hot brick!

Next we come to exercise. Aerobic activities like running, walking and dancing; as well as strength training, are vital to improve your lipid profile. The exercise will help you burn fat, sleep better and reduce stress. All of which will go a long way in normalizing your lipid profile. In fact exercise is the key factor for increasing HDL levels. One hour of daily exercise, will go a long way towards keeping the good H guys alive and kicking in your system. Here we go back to the caution factor. Please get yourself medically cleared for exercise before you start, and take it nice and slow to start with. A gentle walk is a great way to begin. Increase the pace and duration steadily. Aim for a minimum of one hour’s exercise every day, and stay with it consistently for the rest of your life.

In the end, it always comes back to the same things – a healthy diet, daily exercise and seven to eight sleep hours every day. It’s also important to make a conscious effort to control stress. Once you know what it takes, it’s not such a big deal after all.

About the Author:

Sunitha Srinivasan is a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She has qualified with the National Association for Fitness Certification, Arizona, USA. She conducts workshops on wellness that she calls ‘A Celebration of Life’, counsels on the management of lifestyle diseases and writes for leading journals and magazines.

She can be contacted at sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Dietary Control – Our Food Laws

Food control in India is still in its nascent stage. Pre-independence legislation and other laws passed in the seventies and eighties focused on primary food. The legislative framework created multiple executive authorities that lacked coordinated efforts. With industrial growth paving the way for the Information Age – “The Third Wave” brought about changes in lifestyle. Processed food started taking center stage as a perpetual shortage of time became the norm, both at work and home. A legislation to control food quality and to ensure that regulations conformed to international standards, while working on a scientific basis, was the need of the hour in order to protect the health of the consumers.

Regulatory Background:

In 2005 the Government of India drafted the Food Safety Bill to consolidate the laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. This regulatory body would lay down science based standards for articles of food, while regulating their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import. It also aimed to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The draft was given life in the form of “Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006”, however the officially came into force only on August 05, 2011. A few of the highlights of the Act are:

  • A definition of the general principles of food safety are given and require standards to be established using risk analysis and by undertaking risk assessment based on available scientific evidence.
  • Restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of genetically modified food and foods for special dietary uses.
  • The seller is made liable for sale of food in specific cases, such as when the manufacturer was unidentifiable.
  • The purchaser is empowered to have food analyzed by an authorized food analyst.

What is happening today?

“Watch out for what you eat. It could be killing you slowly and sweetly” – screamed the  headline of a report by the Centre for Science and Environment, in March 2012, warning us of trans-fat content in junk food.

The study revealed the following:

  • Most junk foods contain very high levels of trans fats, salts and sugar – which inevitably lead to severe ill health and diseases like obesity and diabetes
  • CSE lab tests 16 major brands of foods relished by people, particularly the young
  • Finds companies resort to large scale misbranding and misinformation; many say their products contain zero trans fats, but CSE finds heavy doses
  • Danger lurking: Younger generation hooked to junk food, vulnerable to heart diseases in the prime of their life

Trans fat is short for trans fatty acid. Industrial trans fats like those in vanaspati are formed during the addition of hydrogen atoms to products to increase their shelf-life. The fats are associated with serious health problems, ranging from diabetes to heart diseases to cancer. They have been banned in a few European countries, such as Denmark and Switzerland, and in some of the cities in the US. But not all trans fats are bad for health. At least not the natural ones found in ghee, butter and cheese.

Are we winning or losing the battle?

On 11th January, 2012 a division bench of the High Court of Judicature, New Delhi ordered the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to draft guidelines or rules to ban junk food in and around schools. The court passed the order on a public interest petition by Uday Foundation, a non-profit organization in Delhi, which alleges that junk food damages the health and mental growth of children. The petition was filed in 2010. The foundation works on child nutrition and health; it has sought a ban on sale of junk food in schools and within 500 meters of educational institutions. The next hearing was scheduled for 25th July, 2012. I am unable to mine a report on this and hence have reason to believe that the matter rests with the court and hence sub-judice.

Food businesses which have been affected by the new norms have filed writs. One of these writs was heard and issued on November 08, 2011 by the Madras High Court. Another case was heard by the same court and interim orders were issued by the learned judge restraining the Centre from enforcing some of the regulations in the Act against the affected parties. The Honorable Justice has directed a Central Government Standing Counsel to take notice returnable by June 05, 2012. As of now, I believe the matter is sub-judice.

On one hand, we seem to have made strides with path breaking legislation, while on the other we lack the teeth for execution. Ultimately, the fight for ‘dietary control’ has to be a personal one, where each of us arms ourselves with knowledge and takes responsibility for ourselves and our families. As the famous saying goes “Forewarned is forearmed”.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

 Sources:

1 Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

2 The Hindu dated May 02, 2012

3 http://www.cseindia.org/content/watch-out-what-you-eat-it-could-be-killing-you-slowly-and-sweetly-says-new-cse-junk-food-and accessed on 01-Sep-2012

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

Rowing on Adyar River (Radhakrishnan at the front/stroke)

It was a cloudy Friday morning when he woke up, the last day of August, 2001. Radhakrishnan quickly got ready and left for his colleague’s housewarming ceremony.  After a lively reunion over breakfast, he drove straight to the office, where he worked in the highly competitive and stressful field of marketing. In the evening he had to attend the thirteenth day ceremony of his other colleague and friend, K.S.Visvanathan, who had passed away on the nineteenth of that month.

Being an uneventful day, he returned home early, such a rarity ironically happening when his wife, Meena was away on an excursion (with the kids at the school where she teaches music) and the son, Jagan was away on an official tour. His daughter Vidya and son-in-law Chandar, both of whom are architects, lived with their son Anirudh an arm’s length away, while his father a legendary Carnatic musician was ill and in his room under the supervision of a nurse.

Radhakrishnan started work with EID Parry Chennai in 1965 and in 1984 moved to Spartek Ceramics to head the marketing of their ceramic tiles. With stints in Hong Kong and then back to Spartek, Radhakrishnan went on to incept and run a very successful company under the banner “Campion Plastics”. He enjoyed playing cricket and fairly was good at it. He played for the First Division League representing Parry & Company; with the likes of A.G.Kripal Singh, S.Venkatraghavan, K.S.Visvanathan, B.R.Mohan Rai, H.T.Bhaskar Rao, M.K. Iqbal, M.K.Murugesh, D.L.Chakravarthy, Sudhir Gulvadi, M.R.Sreedhar and V.Chander. Their team had a huge following and drew crowds whenever and wherever they played. He was also great enthusiast of rowing, in addition to, running privately held marathons once a year.

A Wake-up Call

While Radhakrishnana’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels had always been high since his younger days, his natural interest in sport and rigorous exercise routine kept him going. He was also a smoker and loved his two large swigs once in a way.

That night after surfing through the not so exciting channels he decided to go to bed at 9pm. It seemed like a long time but just minutes had gone by when he suddenly felt pain building up in his chest. It was so severe that it felt like an elephant had rested its foot on his chest. Radhakrishnan’s friends have been through similar experiences and it had been discussed in many a forum. There was no shoulder pain or excessive sweating. He quickly recalled the steps to take and coughed while taking short breaths. He called out to the watchman who was outside, asked him to jump in to his car and drove to the nearest hospital (himself). He pulled up right in front of the emergency ward and asked for immediate medical attention at the duty doctor’s room.

The doctor recognized his symptoms on sight and asked Radhakrishnan to call his daughter immediately, while getting him admitted into the ICU. The ECG revealed it all – Myocardial Infarction. After three days in the ICU and seven days in the ward, he returned home after a thrombolysis removed the clot.

Days of careful recuperation went by and then came 9/11. Radhakrishnan was in his bedroom resting when he heard the noise and commotion in the living room. He knew something was wrong and ran down the flight of stairs in anxiety. The following tread mill test at his doctor’s showed that recovery was not normal and after further studies by his doctor an angiogram procedure was done. The procedure revealed a block in the left ventricle with a 90 percent lesion. “But don’t worry. You don’t need a by-pass surgery. Medical management will suffice, provided you start exercising regularly, as before, once I give you the go ahead.” said the doctor.

Then on Radhaksrihnan’s life changed, with a strict diet, regimented exercise and regular medical check-ups. The exercise regimen added rowing to his morning walk in 2007.

Life in the Present

Today, Radhakrishnan continues his rigors of walking and rowing in the mornings. He also trains young rowers at the club and works as a consultant in a manufacturing and marketing company. “I enjoy my morning walks and rowing. My age is not a limiting factor. My body speaks to me if I overdo it and I stop. I will continue until I can. I call on the youth of today through this media to set aside some time during the day to exercise. Do what you like best and avoid junk food. Eat on time and lead a healthy and happy life” says Radhakrishnan.

On July 04, 2012 Radhakrishnan turned seventy and we celebrated with a seven kilometer row up and down the Adyar river. I was honoured to be part of the crew. Previously, I’ve worked with Radhakrishnan in Parry’s and have rowed with him for the Merchants & Bankers and other regattas. I continue to row with him at least four days a week and I hope I will continue to do so for a long time – merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

Photo Credit: Provided by Radhakrishnan

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

“But there are no trees to climb…..

……and no wide-open spaces to run in, and even if there were, I don’t have the time to do so. There’s my face book page to update and emails to reply to. I’m addicted to my play station and I do have to spend some time everyday on school work.”

As a result, of variations on the above-mentioned situation, 24 percent of the adolescents and 12 percent of children in urban India are obese. This is a sad state of affairs considering the fact that this has transpired in the span of just one generation.

So what causes ‘childhood obesity’, a precursor to adult lifestyle diseases, and how can one prevent it? The answers always lie in a combination of the two basic health mantras – a healthy diet and lots of exercise.

 The Right Kind of Food

Perhaps the biggest myth that pervades most families, is that children should be allowed to eat anything that they want, because they are growing, and need the calories, besides which they can burn off the extra calories. Well, we are wrong on both counts. Typically a teenager requires approximately 2000 calories a day, to maintain his or her current weight. This is however an extremely rough figure, because it depends on the youngster’s body frame, activity level and gender. The numbers here are not important, what is important is that a teenager eats the right kind of food in adequate quantities, and is persuaded to avoid junk. This will ensure that the palette gets trained from a young age, so that even as an adult, it becomes extremely natural to eat healthy.

The basis of sound nutrition always goes back to the food pyramid, where the requirements are (by total calorific value):

  • 45% – 65% of carbohydrates;
  • 12% – 15% of protein and
  • less than 30% of fats

Where carbohydrates are concerned, it is important to remember  that, the less processed it is, the more nutritional value it has. Therefore, chappatis made of wheat flour, red or brown rice, and whole wheat bread what we should be opting for.

Protein is crucial in the diet of a growing child, because the deposits of calcium that are stored in the skeleton are like deposits in a bank. The more you deposit during the growing years, the less your probability of breaking a bone in your twilight years. Milk and eggs are some of the best sources of absorbable calcium. A teenager needs 3-4 glasses of skimmed, unsweetened milk every day. If your teenager is weight conscious, do inform him/her, that recent research has pointed out, that milk is one of the most powerful foods in a calorie watcher’s diet. In fact, it actually helps you shed the unwanted flab.

With rising levels of affluence, it has become a fashion to make sweetened cereals consisting of processed wheat or corn, breakfast staples, which is one of the primary causes for children being obese and improperly nourished. Pray what happened to the good old ragi, wheat or oats porridge? A cup of one of these (cooked with lots of milk and a spoon of honey, if required, for sweetness), with some fruit (dry and/or fresh) along with an egg cooked with as little oil as possible, makes for a perfect teenage breakfast. It contains all the nutrients to power the body and mind for the day ahead, without being heavy or oily.

As you go along the day, make sure that the young one’s diet contains large doses of fruit and fresh vegetables. Do not pander to requests for sweets and fried stuff. Reserve that for weekends or a special treat. Dry and fresh fruit will satisfy that sweet tooth perfectly, and a crunchy salad is a perfect substitute for chips and samosas. A little discipline on your part right in the beginning will ensure that your child has healthy eating habits for life, and does not have to spend his or her life yo-yoing from one crash diet to the next.

Staying Active

Then there is the exercise aspect. During the week, a child needs an hour or an hour and a half’s intensive exercise every day. This is crucial for the following reasons:

  • To ward off obesity and other lifestyle diseases
  • Full development of the skeletal system and organs
  • To combat the stress levels that most children are subjected to today

Make sure that your child takes part in a variety of sports and perhaps a form of martial arts. The various types of exercise need to be balanced, so that all three requirements of an exercise program are fulfilled:

  • Aerobic activity to develop the heart and lungs – running, badminton, a game of football maybe?
  • Developing strength – rowing or tennis are excellent to develop strength in the upper body
  • Flexibility – yoga or any form of martial arts will develop flexibly and strength

Strength or Resistance training can be started from the age of 12/13, but under the supervision of a well qualified instructor who will ensure that correct “form” is maintained, and that boys especially do not overstrain or injure themselves, by using weights that are too heavy.

Weekends are crucial in the life of a teenager, not only from a “thank God it’s Friday and school is out” point of view, but also because, you can make exercise part of a lot of fun activities including treks, cycling trips, rock climbing. This outdoor fun is the stuff memories are made of and let the children learn from an early age that exercise can be enjoyable, and that the wide open outdoors are their giant playground. In addition, you will reduce the time spent in front of that play station and television.

Ultimately it all boils down to the big C, common sense. Combine it with a bit of discipline, to ensure that your young one is set on the path of good health for life.

About the Author:

Sunitha Srinivasan is a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She has qualified with the National Association for Fitness Certification, Arizona, USA. She conducts workshops on wellness that she calls ‘A Celebration of Life’, counsels on the management of lifestyle diseases and writes for leading journals and magazines.

She can be contacted at sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Sweet Talk

Well who doesn’t like sweets – honestly?!! All of us do. Well I do. I have a sweet tooth. While a curry lunch is our first love, the love for the colorful sweets made at home or the more complicated ones from the sweet meat shop is a close second.

Many Indian sweets are fried foods made with sugar, clarified butter, milk or condensed milk. Although the combination of ingredients may vary by region, I’m sure most of us remember our mothers using these products quite often at home. Even tea and coffee, in our country is served with liberal doses of sugar.

Given this love of sweets, which we liberally indulge in during our numerous festivals, it should come as no surprise that India is rated as the world diabetes capital. The rise in the prevalence of diabetes in India is alarming. Various studies have shown that the high incidence of diabetes in India is mainly because of a sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress and consumption of diets rich in fat, sugar and calories.

Epigenetics and lifestyle are conspiring to inflict a considerable increase in the incidence of diabetes across the subcontinent. What with roadside shops selling traditional fried sweets, samosas, chaat and dosas; alongside fast-food joints selling burgers and fries; and shopping malls selling labour-saving appliances, we seem to be on a fast track to becoming a sick nation.

The three cornerstones in the treatment of diabetes are food, medications, and activity. Of these three, “activity” is often a first choice for the person who has diabetes. And that’s what I am going to talk about while reserving the first two points for our dieticians and the clinicians.

Moving toward a more physically active life is generally inexpensive, convenient, and relatively easy and usually produces great rewards in terms of blood glucose control and a comforting feeling of well-being. So our mantra here should be ‘exercise regularly’. If you are diabetic, check with your doctor for specialized advice for your specific situation. If you’re not diabetic, there is no better time than today for a great start, in order to avoid becoming another medical statistic.

Regular exercise can help prevent diabetes, and it can help those who already have diabetes to maintain better blood sugar control. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, five to six days a week is recommended. A recent study found that a combination of aerobic exercises, such as walking or dancing, most days combined with resistance training, such as weight lifting or yoga, twice a week helps control blood sugar more effectively than either type of exercise alone.

Whatever you choose, make sure the activities are enjoyable for you and take into account your abilities and condition. The activities don’t even have to be “exercises” in the traditional sense, as long as they get you moving. Dancing, taking your dog on long walks, cycling, gardening, and even walking the golf course, all count.

Vary them so you don’t get bored and fall prey to easy excuses. Choose some that can be done with others and some that can be done alone; some that can be done indoors, some that can be done outdoors; some that can be done when your schedule is light and some that can fit in when you’re strapped for time. Variety is definitely the spice of life and sometimes a little spice can save us from a potentially harmful overdose of sweetness.

Here’s to a sweet and healthy life.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Hearty Dispositions

The English language beats me even today. “Laugh” is pronounced “laf” and “nation” is pronounced “náysh’n”. Something I could deal with if it was just a question of twisting your tongue. Oh no, just when we are getting comfortable with our silent letters, the question of context steps in and what better example than one of our favourite words ‘heart’.

The heart has much more to it than any other organ of the human body. The heart has character and a personality. The dictionary meanings for the word “heart” are motion, core, sentiment, mood temperament, mind, soul, nature, character, compassion, affection, spirit, disposition and beloved. The meaning varies with every sentence:

It doesn’t stop here. We have strong hearted, the weak hearted, the good hearted, the heavy hearted, the lightened heart, the broken heart, and the brave heart. When we think of the importance literature has given this single organ, it does seem that earlier the generations knew something we are just coming to realize. The heart is the life line for any human being.

With the power of being Numero Uno comes vulnerability! Numero Uno’s are normally subject to attacks and so is the heart. Myocardial Infarction (MI) otherwise known as heart attack and other cardiovascular related diseases are today common ailments that strike humans. Incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in India is estimated to reach about 60 million in 2015. Today MI and CVD have the largest share amongst non-communicable diseases in India and prevalence rates amongst the urban population and young adults are likely to increase. The best way to fight any enemy is to understand them well, so let’s examine the most common causes of MI and CVD.

Know Your Enemy

Atherosclerosis is a gradual process, where cholesterol deposits build up on the arterial walls and narrow the inner channel of the artery making it difficult to deliver the required quantity of blood. This reduction in the flow of blood is said to cause MI and CVD. Smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes accelerate the condition.

Smoking cigarettes also poses a great risk. Nicotine is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease associated with smoking. Smoking causes atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and reduction in the flow of oxygen. Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the fatty deposits in the blood leading to atherosclerosis; which in turn raises blood pressure and the hence the risk of coronary heart disease.

Diet, physical inactivity, and obesity are three other common causes of cardiovascular disease. Lack of exercise reduces fitness of the heart and increases the risk of MI and CVD. A person who is obese is more likely to get high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, again increasing the risk of heart disease.

Prevention and Action

Knowing the common causes of heart attacks, what signs should we be watching out for? Sudden discomfiture; pain; pressure in the center of the chest that lasts for a couple of minutes; pain in one or both arms, neck, shoulder or jaw with or without the discomfiture in chest; shortness of breath with or without discomfiture of chest; lightheadedness and breaking out in a cold sweat are some symptoms that should not be ignored.

If you experience any of the warning signs don’t panic. Stay calm. Call the SOS number that you have stored in your mobile phone. If you do not have one, create one now. Call for an ambulance. Do not drive. Else get someone close by to drive you to the nearest hospital. The immediate treatment you may receive at the hospital if the heart attack is confirmed are clot dissolving (thrombolytic) medications and or a coronary angioplasty.

Preventive measures that we can adopt, as part of our daily lifestyle, to reduce the risk of MI and CVD focus on food and fitness. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, skipping and rowing are commonly recommended. Do consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise regime. A balanced diet with vegetables and fruit, whole grains, low calorie and low fat content will also help a lot, along with no smoking and moderate alcohol consumption.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle