Tag Archives: diabetes

A Cup a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

A cup of green tea a day keeps cancer and wrinkles away.

Actually it’s 3-5 cups a day and you can add tooth decay to that line above. It’s not called a cup of magic for nothing.

Now, here’s a little story for you. A long time ago (around 2737 B.C.) Emperor Shen Nung was relaxing under a shady tree with a drink of freshly boiled water, when a leaf floated down and softly landed in his cup. A gentle aroma soon rose from the water and when the emperor took a sip he was rewarded with the delightful flavour of the world’s first cup of green tea. I’m not sure how much of this story is fact or fiction, given that tea leaves do not grow on trees, however, over the next 2000 years or so the delights and benefits of this gentle brew spread from China to Japan, and other parts of Asia.

Today, while the whole world is drinking this bittersweet brew, because it’s ‘the thing to do’, most of us are not fully aware of the benefits we’ll be reaping. Here are a few pointers you may want to share with the last few non-green tea-drinkers on planet earth.

Oxidative stress plays a crucial part in a number of human diseases, including the much dreaded cancer . One way to protect our bodies from anti-oxidant stress is to maintain an optimum level of anti-oxidants in our system While, Vitamin E and C are well-known anti-oxidants, green tea is supposed to be 24 times more effective than the former and 100 times more effective than the latter! Specifically, it is thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

In an extension of the previous point, anti-oxidants reduce and even prevent cell damage, thereby acting as both a deterrent to heart disease and helping with recovery after a coronary attack. Green tea has the ability to accelerate glucose and lipid metabolism, which can help with diabetes, cholesterol and obesity. So both a diabetic grandparent and a teenager fighting puppy fat can benefit from a few cups a day. Talking of older people, the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea can even help with rheumatoid arthritis and other common joint complaints. Matter of fact, in controlled human trials, green tea as shown to increase fat oxidation by 17% and energy expenditure by 4%.

In Asia, particularly India and China, green tea has been used for centuries as an astringent, stimulant, diuretic, as well as, to deal with flatulence, to regulate body temperature, to control the levels of blood sugar, and as an aid to digestion. It even kills bacteria which affect our teeth, thereby improving our dental health and reducing the risk of infections.

You want that make-up-advertisement-like glow? Get it the natural way, with no make-up. Sip a cup of green tea while reading your glossy magazine! The best part, that little bit of tummy bloat from too much weekend indulgence will come down and you can cut down on your dental bills at the same time.

So now we know it helps our bodies, inside and out, but what about our minds? Well, here’s something all of us know, green tea contains caffeine. Scientific studies have shown that, cafffeine can improve our moods, increase vigilance, reduce reaction time and sharpen the memory. The problem is the ‘jitteriness’ it causes our bodies to undergo. Green tea has cracked that problem. How?, you may ask. On one hand green tea contains close to the ideal amount of caffeine that the human body needs to stay alert. On the other it holds an amino acid called L-theanine, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and which research has shown to have an anti-anxiety effect on our brain! Ultimately, what you have is a slower, more stable release of energy, with increased productivity.

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 2013 (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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Treasures in the Kitchen

From the beginning of time, Indian cuisine has always been associated with the word “spicy”. The word itself rolls of the tongue in a variety of ways – spicy, as in mouth watering and delicious, or else spicy with a tinge of guilt, rather like a forbidden delight, or best of all just as a matter of fact – spicy is how Indian food is. We have eaten it this way for centuries, and it certainly has not harmed any of us, so maybe it’s not so bad? Perhaps it’s even quite good for us! Now this is where the conversation gets interesting.

In actual fact, most of the common spices found in the kitchen are among the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants being, of course, our greatest allies in the war against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. They can even slow the aging process (let’s see anyone say ‘no’ to that).

Unfortunately, as pizzas and burgers become easier and hipper to eat, the average Indian is consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates and fat, cooked with very little spice; rather than the traditional Indian fare that includes a lot of vegetables, having large doses of fiber, cooked with hand ground spices. Preventive medicine has clearly established that almost all spices contain chemical compositions that have profound health benefits, which help to protect the body from numerous illnesses and, in many cases, act as effective treatments for established diseases. In addition, some spices also have chemicals that induce a “feel good” factor, with pepper being a great example.

In terms of their preventive health benefits, there are a few spices you don’t want to miss. Cinnamon, clove, ginger and garlic are great antioxidants, while mustard, turmeric and black pepper ward off the big ‘C’, cancer. Fenugreek and coriander are a great help if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels are high, while cloves and cinnamon are a boon to diabetics.

The only time when spices begin to harm you are when they are cooked with too much oil to make a rich curry or biryani. Obviously, the culprit here is the excessive use of oil, not the spices.

The best part about using spices as preventive medicine is that there are absolutely no side effects, and they are not really “medicines”. So when someone invites you over for a spicy meal, please accept. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

About the author:

Sunitha Srinivasan has qualified with the National Association of Fitness Certification in the USA as a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She focuses on helping people with their struggle to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle,  given the time constraints and stress present in today’s world.
She also conducts workshops on Wellness, Stress Management and Work-Life balance.
She can be reached at Sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2013 (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.

Is Work Making You Sick?

The alarmingly sedentary!

Wake up call, coffee, news, bath, dress and drive

To office!

Tooth in your ear, words ringing, sometimes chewed –annoying!

Mails and meetings, lobbies and coffee shops, traffic snarls-galling.

Spouse and kids already in bids

The movie is always on time.

Burger in hand and Diet Coke for dowsing,

Eyelids drooping.

And back!

Mattresses depressed anew.

Sedentary alarm!

Wake up call.

The sedentary lives of potato couches. Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Unwittingly we tend to get ourselves entangled in this corporate vortex, which is not a great state of affairs and obviously needs immediate correction. Awareness is the starting point and the best way is to make physical activity a part of our daily lives.

I’m not suggesting that all of us try to structure the rigor of an exercise schedule into our 24 hour-plus day. Instead it could just mesh in with our daily routine. Here are a few ideas:

  • BREAKFAST MOVES – Do a set of stretching exercises while watching your favorite news channel in the morning before breakfast. Add-on a bit off on the spot running and/or skipping to the morning stretches
  • ON THE GO – Avoid the lift and take the stairway to your parking bay while you carry your laptop bag and lunch yourself. You can also plug in your ipod and headphones office and take the stairs upto your office. Alternatively, get off the lift one or more floors floor below and walk up
  • POSTUR’ING’ – Maintaining the right posture, especially while seated, increases blood circulation and helps us  stay and feel more productive. Sit on a chair with your legs bent at right angles and feet flat on the ground. Push your lower back against the base of the chair to maintain the natural curvature of your spine. Lengthen your spine by stretching the top of your had toward the ceiling, while tucking in your chin. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • TALK THE WALK – In the office, if you tend to talk for long durations on your mobile, take the opportunity to walk up and down the corridor while doing so rather than being seated at your desk
  • ACTIVE SIESTA – After lunch, shut off your mobile and take a quick walk down the garden path if there is one in your office. Else, you could walk in the car park area for five minutes. While working, take two minutes off your work-time every hour to stand, stretch your arms, legs and body, and blank out your mind to give it some rest
  • SOCIALIZE – Instead of using the intercom or internal telephone to speak to a colleague, get up and visit their space. This gives you an excuse to stretch your legs, while a face to face conversation usually yields quicker results than a call or email
  • WORK ‘OUT’ – Use the office gym, if your office has one, or do some desk workouts

This way the required physical activity gets built-in and becomes regular without affecting our daily office routine and will help us perform much more efficiently in a highly stressed corporate environment.

The Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA says, in one of their blogs, that a sedentary lifestyle carries with it a risk of obesity and type 2 Diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning that a sedentary lifestyle could very well be among the ten leading causes of death and disability in the world. By choosing physical activity as the theme for World Health Day, WHO is promoting a healthy, active and tobacco-free life style. The aim is to prevent the disease and disability caused by unhealthy and sedentary living.

So let’s pack in some physical activity as part of our daily routine or better still build in an exercise program over a week that we plan to sick to, come what may. Exercise, keep fit and live a 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.

“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.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle