How to protect yourself from heatwaves

According to meteorologists, the sweltering temperatures with a heat index reaching past the normal range will hold steady for the next few days. The heat can drain you off your energy, making you prone to infections, prickly heat and low blood pressure. Moreover, the harmful UV exposure can cause dehydration and damage your skin in the cellular level.

Impact of heat waves on health

Scorching sun and heat waves can cause number of illnesses. From mild heat cramps to serious heat- strokes, it cannot be taken lightly. Especially, people with respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions need to take necessary steps to prevent further complications in event of extreme heat.  Listed below are the health effects of extreme heat, in decreasing order of severity:

Heat stroke:

The most serious type of heat illness is a result of overload of body heat Signs of heat stroke may include a core body temperature of more than 40°C/104°F.

Heat exhaustion:

It is caused by excessive loss of water and salt. Symptoms may include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, and nausea.

Heat fainting:

It is caused when our body tries to cool itself but heat exertion dilates the blood vessels to such an extent that blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Impact of heat waves on skin

Heat waves cause increased sweating that makes the small particulate matter from pollution more likely to stick to the skin, causing free radical damage. UV radiation and pollution act cause damage to skin in cycles, causing damage at a cellular level. Moreover, people might also experience eczema and psoriasis flare-ups as hotter temperatures cause increased blood flow to the skin, which can in turn intensify inflammatory skin conditions.

While we can’t possibly do anything about the heat, we can take measures to protect ourselves from the rising temperatures and stay healthy. Here, five simple steps for keeping your body healthy—and your skin cool.

1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is very crucial during summer as it ensures that your body keeps functioning normally. Excessive heat causes sweating, which lowers energy levels and electrolytes from your body. You can replace the lost electrolytes in your body by intake of some flavored water with mineral rich fruits like watermelon, lemon, kiwi, etc. Consuming fluids in any form like- slushies and lemonades- also helps your body regain the fluid balance.

2. Know when to act

Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and true heat emergencies (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke)

Image source:CDC gov

3. Watch your diet

watch diet

If you normally eat three meals a day, break that up five or six smaller ones to fight the natural fatigue that comes with heat. Avoid heavy, hot foods as well. (Meat and other heavy foods generate heat both when you cook them and when you digest them.) Stick with salads and fruit for something cool and satisfying.

4. Moisture your skin

moisturize

Sun’s rays can cause pigmentation and wrinkles if you don’t protect your skin during the warmer months, as increased exposure to the sun’s UVA rays is primarily associated with skin ageing.
Moisturising after shower is the best way to keep your skin hydrated.  Water usually moves from high concentrations to low, meaning that you are more likely to get moisture loss after you get out of the shower. In hotter seasons this effect is increased, which can lead to dry skin.

Remember to apply a good quality moisturizer after you shower to avoid this from happening. Moisturizing not only keeps your skin fresh and hydrated, but it will also help to maintain your tan.

Look for ways to keep your surroundings cool

Air conditioning is the best way to keep your body under optimum temperatures.

However, there are also downsides of using AC as people in over air-conditioned environments may experience chronic headaches and fatigue. Those who work in buildings which are constantly being pumped full of cool air may also experience constant mucous membrane irritation and breathing difficulties. Their skin also loses moisture content and makes skin dry.

It’s always best to use an AC just as much as needed and look for alternate ways to keep your environments cool, here’s an entire blog to guide you on this.

Special measures are needed to protect your body against heatwaves. Grab refreshing drinks, wear loose and comfortable clothes and keep yourself cool.

Do you have any thoughts to add?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ( PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder that affects women in their reproductive years.

It causes disruption in ovulatory and menstrual cycles, with an excess production of male type hormones- all of which contribute to infertility. PCOS are likely to be caused due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

PCOS can be associated with a number of complications like insulin resistance type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure. If not treated in time, PCOS can cause serious health complications in their reproductive health.

This article looks at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of PCOS.

Understanding PCOS

Most women with PCOS grow a number of small cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, on their ovaries.

pcos

Image source:         MANJ.com

The cysts are not harmful, but they can lead to an imbalance in hormone levels.

Of the many health conditions associated with PCOS, it mainly causes infertility in women –  as it can prevent ovulation and reduces the chances of conceiving.

Even  if women do conceive with the presence of PCOS, they have higher chances of developing complications associated with pregnancy such as miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and premature delivery.

Risk factors

The risk factors of PCOS aren’t identified. But the incidence of risk of PCOS are vaguely related with that of genes, Insulin resistance and stress.

  1. Genes: PCOS is thought to have a genetic component. A research study states that women with a family history of PCOS are 20-40% more likely to get affected with it.
  2. Insulin Resistance: PCOS isn’t only about infertility; it causes major metabolic problems, too. Women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance if they’re overweight, inactive, or have an unhealthy diet. However, there is also no clear evidence of the fact whether insulin resistance causes PCOS development, or if it’s the PCOS that leads to insulin resistance.

Associated health risks

There are several health risks associated with PCOS.

These include:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • infertility
  • high cholesterol
  • elevated lipids
  • sleep apnea
  • liver disease
  • abnormal uterine bleeding
  • high blood pressure
  • obesity possibly leading to issues with low self-esteem and depression
  • metabolic syndrome
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver (steatohepatitis)
  • depression and anxiety

Also, there is an increased risk of endometrial, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure,heart attacks and miscarriage.

Symptoms

Apart from the formation of cysts on the ovaries, the  symptoms of PCOS include:

  • irregular menses
  • excess androgen levels
  • sleep apnea
  • skin tags
  • infertility
  • acne, oily skin and dandruff
  • high cholesterol
  • male pattern balding
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes
  • pelvic pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • decreased libido

Tests and diagnosis

A doctor can diagnose the condition through medical history, a physical exam that includes a pelvic exam, and blood tests to measure hormone, cholesterol, and glucose levels.An ultrasound may be used to look at the uterus and ovaries.

Treatment

Though a definitive cure for PCOS is yet to be ascertained-  currently managing the  symptoms that affect an individual is the mainstay of treatment. Once the symptoms abate, slowly  it reduces the risk of PCOS. However, it’s also important to evaluate the purpose for treatment of PCOS- whether the individual wants to become pregnant or is it to reduce the risk of secondary medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

There are several recommended treatment options, including:

Birth control pills: These can help regulate hormones and menstruation.

Diabetes medications: These help manage diabetes, if necessary.

Fertility medications: If pregnancy is desired,  follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) medications are recommended.

Fertility treatments: These include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or inseminations.

Surgical options include:

  • Ovarian drilling:Tiny holes are made in the ovaries that can reduce the levels of androgens being produced.
  • Oophorectomy: This Surgery aims in removing one or both ovaries.
  • Hysterectomy:This involves removal of the uterus.
  • Cyst aspiration:Fluid is removed from the cyst.

Lifestyle changes

There is no cure for PCOS, but some home and lifestyle interventions can make a difference and relieve some symptoms.

These include:

    • eating a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
    • exercise regularly
    • maintaining a healthy weight in order to reduce androgen levels and reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
    • not smoking, as this increases levels of androgens and the risk of heart disease

Diet and PCOs

Women with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise. This can also happen if you’re insulin resistant, meaning you aren’t able to use the insulin you do produce effectively.

In such cases, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Too-high levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to control.

The bottom line

If you’re coping with PCOS or any of its symptoms, you may feel frustrated at times. Taking proactive steps regarding your health can improve your mood as well as reduce your symptoms. If your symptoms persist, speak with your doctor. They can work with you to identify the cause and recommend next steps.

A beginner’s guide to understanding Thyriod

Thyroid diseases are, arguably, one of the commonest endocrine disorders, that affects many worldwide. A recent study states that about 42 million people in India suffer from thyroid diseases- and majority of them are women. And that’s the count which excludes the part of the population who have a thyroid problem but are not yet diagnosed.

Detection and diagnosis of thyroid disorders is quite different from other regular diseases and a lot of people experience trouble interpreting their health with respect to the thyroid gland.
In this blog article, let’s explore the key information about various important aspects of thyroid disease.

Anatomy and functions

thyroid

Image Source:Alltohealth

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland, lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The thyroid has two side lobes, connected by a bridge in the middle. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it.

The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. It is produced when the thyroid gland takes iodine from your diet, combines the amino acid tyrosine and iodine to make the thyroid hormone.

The two key hormones produced by the thyroid are thyroxin( known as T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Everything in your body—including digestion, the growth of your hair and nails, your sex drive, and the function of your organs and glands relies on thyroid. The right levels of thyroid levels largely controls the metabolism, brain and heart.

The pituitary gland works with the thyroid gland and detects the levels of thyroid hormone circulating in your bloodstream and releases a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). When TSH is released, it stimulates the thyroid to produce more hormone and when the levels drop, it slows down production of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Conditions

There are a number of specific diseases that can affect your thyroid gland. The Thyroid conditions are caused typically due to the underlying thyroid disease.

Thyroiditis

This is a category of thyroid disease that involves Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.
The treatment depends on the type of thyroiditis and varies greatly from monitoring and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to antibiotics and thyroid hormone replacement medication and in some severe cases may necessitate the removal of a part or whole of the gland by a surgery.

Graves disease

This is an autoimmune disease where your immune system inappropriately produces antibodies, known as thyroid stimulating antibodies (TSI). These antibodies overstimulate your thyroid gland and cause it to overproduce thyroid hormone.The Graves’ disease is frequently accompanied by goiter and in some cases hyperthyroidism.

Goiter

It is a general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Hyperthyroidism

It is caused by excessive thyroid hormone production and is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule. The symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, panicky feeling, tremors, exaggerated reflexes, elevated heart rate, diarrhea or loose stools, feeling overheated and unexplained weight loss.

Hypothyroidism

It is caused by low production of thyroid hormone. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is the Thyroid damage caused by autoimmune diseases. The symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, inability to lose weight with diet and exercise, Constipation, Infertility, Feeling cold, Hair loss, Brain fog, Muscle and joint pains/aches

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is most often found in nodules (fluid-filled or solid lumps) in the thyroid gland. Depending on the cancer’s stage, it may spread to surrounding tissue. There are four types of thyroid cancer- Papillary, follicular or Hurthle cell, Medullary and Anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Signs and symptoms

The Symptoms appear in the neck and thyroid area. It includes:

• Discomfort in the neck
• Visible thyroid enlargement or lump
• Hoarseness
• Sore throat
• Difficulty swallowing

In some cases, thyroid diseases and conditions can have no symptoms at all, such as thyroid cancer or certain types of thyroiditis.

Causes and Risk Factors

The key risk factors for thyroid disease include:

• Iodine deficiency or excess
• Exposure to radioactivity
• Overconsumption goitrogenic foods
• Surgery or trauma to the neck area
• Pregnancy or recent childbirth
• Female gender
• Personal or family history of autoimmune disease
• Cigarette smoking

Treatments

The Treatment varies from person to person and may include monitoring, medication, surgery or radioactive iodine.

•Thyroid surgery (thyroidectomy):The surgeon removes all or part of the thyroid in an operation. It is performed for thyroid cancer, goiter, or hyperthyroidism.

•Antithyroid medications: Drugs can be used to slow down the overproduction of thyroid hormone in hyperthyroidism.

•Radioactive iodine: Iodine can be used with radioactivity in low doses to test the thyroid gland. Large doses can be used to destroy cancerous tissue.

•External radiation: A beam of radiation is directed at the thyroid, on multiple appointments. The high-energy rays help kill thyroid cancer cells.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a thyroid condition involves several key steps:

•A clinical examination.

•Blood testing: The blood tests include the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test, free thyroxine (Free T4) and free triiodothyronine (Free T3) antibodies testing to diagnose disorders of thyroid.

•Imaging tests: These tests include the radioactive iodine uptake (RAI-U), CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound to evaluate to further evaluate the size, shape, and function of the thyroid gland.

•Fine needle aspiration biopsy: Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is done when to test for the possible thyroid cancer.

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5 Actionable tips to beat exam stress

If you are  in school or college- stress during exams is completely natural. The real problem is,when it becomes excessive to an extent that lays a negative impact on health as well as the performance in the exam.
Help is at hand though, and there are strategies you can use to alleviate stress and for a smoother time during exams. But first, let’s look at the contributors of stress.

What is exam stress?

Exam stress occurs when you feel an increased sense of panic or anxiety during or after an assessment or test of some sort. At the point of stress, your brain is not in its best state to accumulate information and can lead to a vicious cycle of more stress and less work. It can make you forget the information you learned even if  you’ve put in plenty of hours in preparation.

Symptoms of Exam stress

The symptoms of test anxiety can vary considerably and range from mild to severe- from nervousness to panic attacks before or during exams.

  • Physical symptoms –It includes sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, sweaty palms,heart palpitations and nausea. The milder cases of test anxiety can cause ticklish sensations in the stomach, while more severe cases can cause students to become physically ill.
  • Cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Students tend to avoid the testing situations or source of fear. Some students attempt to self-treat their anxiety by taking prescription medications and alcohol and as a result fall prey to substance abuse. It is reported that there are situations when many people even blank out on answers to the test, even though they were sure that they knew the answers to the questions. Other cognitive symptoms include- Negative self-talk, trouble concentrating on the test and racing thoughts etc.
  • Emotional symptoms of test anxiety can include depression, low self-esteem, anger and a feeling of hopelessness. Students tend to berate or belittle themselves because of the emotional symptoms.

Actionable tips to curb exam stress

1. Practise mindfulness

mindful

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for reducing stress. This was initially created to help hospital patients, but now it is used by a broad range of people, including students.

Close your eyes and focus entirely on your breathing. Be aware of every breath and “follow” the air as it goes from your lungs and out through your nose.
You can also try lying with your back on the floor while keeping your eyes closed. “Move” your focus through your body, focusing on one area at a time. You don’t have to be sitting or lying down to practice mindfulness- you can even practice it while walking.

The more you practice mindfulness, the more you’ll start living in the present and the less stressed you’ll be.

2. Get enough sleep

sleep

Most of the students do the mistake of not getting enough sleep the day before exam. When you cut your usual hours of sleep, research shows that stress levels will tend to increase.

Practise these tips to get a good night’s rest every night:

  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps to set your body’s internal clock and optimizes the quality of your sleep.
  • Keep your regular sleeping hours, even on weekends-Aim to keep your sleep schedule as regular as possible. If you have a late night, try taking a short nap the following day, rather than sleeping in.
  • Keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom. The blue light emitted by your electronic devices (e.g. phone, tablet, computer, TV) is especially disruptive to sleep.
3. Learn and apply time management techniques

to do

A study involving students revealed that those who had been taught time management techniques showed lower levels of exam-related anxiety than those who had not.

Effective time management includes getting enough rest and a good night’s sleep, which leaves you feeling more energized so that you’re able to focus when studying.

Here are a few tips:

  • Take a break after studying for 40 to 50 minutes. For most students, working in blocks of 40 to 50 minutes helps them to be as productive as possible.
  • Block out time for studying. Put it in your calendar and treat it as if it’s a fixed appointment.
  • Allot time for rest: Like you allot time for studying, it’s necessary that you follow strict time for rest too. Long hours of break-less study can lower the efficiency and small breaks can boost it up.
4. Don’t multitask

Doing several tasks at once may seem like an efficient use of your time, but multitasking actually wastes time and reduces the quality of your work.

Here’s how to avoid multitasking:

  • Get rid of all distractions before you start studying
  • Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete for the day; work through the list one item at a time.
  • Set a realistic deadline for every task on the list.
5. Not being perfect is sometimes okay

Do you sometimes feel as if you’re not good enough? Do you think that you’ll never be able to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself?

If so, you may be a perfectionist.

Being a perfectionist may sound ideal, but it often causes undue stress.

These are some ways to deal with it:

  • Set realistic goals instead of trying to achieve the impossible.
  • Celebrate small and big successes. If you didn’t succeed on what you want to achieve, don’t be hard on yourself- set your next ideal goal.
  • Make sure you take time out from studying to do things you enjoy.

Over to you

Do you use any techniques to overcome exam stress that aren’t listed in this article?

Or maybe you have a question you’d like to ask.

Let us know by leaving a comment below!

The importance of maintaining oral hygiene

Good oral hygiene is crucial not just for your teeth and gums but also for keeping your body healthy. Mouth is a primary entryway into the body, hence problems with your teeth and gums can lead to diseases in other parts of your body — including dementia, diabetes and heart disease.

Various research studies suggest that your oral health mirrors the state of your body as a whole. For instance, when your mouth is healthy, chances are that your overall health is also good. On the other hand, if the condition of your oral health is poor then you might be susceptible to other health problems in future.

In this blog article, find out how vital oral health can be for you and your whole body.

The mouth-body connection

Most health problems start with the mouth due to the presence of bacteria built up around  the teeth. The bacteria which enter from the mouth can easily get into the bloodstream and cause infection and inflammation wherever it spreads. In this process, the gums gets infected  which gradually leads to inflammation. The inflammation releases chemicals that eat away the gum and bone structure that hold the teeth in place. This results in  severe gum disease, known as periodontitis.

Another common form of  gum disease is Gingivitis. It happens when plaque builds up on teeth and causes the inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. The Inflammation caused due to bacteria can also lead into health issues in other parts of the body, which is explained in detail below.

Health risks caused by poor oral hygiene

Heart Diseases

Experts do agree that there are plausible reasons why dental health and heart health may be intertwined. The same bacteria that cause inflammation of the gums and the periodontal disease can get into the bloodstream, cause the arteries to build up the plaque and harden. This leads to atherosclerosis and a series of  blood flow problems and heart blockages that increases the likelihood of having a heart attack.

Diabetes

Diabetes and periodontal disease are strongly interrelated. Not only are people affected with diabetes, susceptible to periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can also make diabetes more difficult to control. The immunity of the individual which is already low due to diabetes is further decreased. This can worsen the symptoms as the blood sugar levels go uncontrollable because of the gum disease.

Since the gum disease can lead to higher than normal blood sugar levels, a person with poor oral health is at an increased risk of developing uncontrollable diabetes.

Problems in Pregnancy

Inflammation and infection in the gums of pregnant women may interfere with the development of the fetus. Oral health problems in the mother such as periodontitis and gingivitis have been known to lead to premature birth and low birth weight in infants. Gum disease puts both mother and baby at risk for experiencing serious health issues.

Respiratory Infections

Bacteria in the mouth from infected teeth and swollen gums can be breathed into the lungs or travel there through the bloodstream. Once there the bacteria can lead to respiratory infections, pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and even COPD.

How to maintain oral hygiene

oral hygiene

It is very important to maintain oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene helps prevent dental problems, mainly, Plaque (soft whitish deposits that form on tooth surface) and Calculus (tartar) which are the main causes of cavities and gum diseases. Here are some common habits that you need to follow everyday to maintain good oral health.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. When you brush, don’t rush. Take time to thoroughly clean your teeth.
  • Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, which can reduce plaque and a mild form of gum disease (gingivitis) more than does manual brushing.
  • Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle — aiming the bristles toward the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
  • Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Try to keep it separate from other toothbrushes in the same holder to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast.
  • Replace your toothbrush occasionally. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular or hard.
  • Floss regularly. You can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum with a toothbrush. That’s why daily flossing is important. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an inter-dental cleaner — such as a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between teeth, a water flosser or wooden or silicone plaque remover.

When to see the dentist

To prevent gum disease and other oral health problems, schedule regular dental cleaning and examinations. Contact your dentist if you notice any signs or symptoms that could suggest oral health problems, such as:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
  • Changes in the way your dentures or partial dentures fit
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Mouth ulcers or sores

Remember, early detection and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good oral health.

5 essential nutrients your body might be missing

The old age adage “You are what you eat “can’t be truer. Your body obtains and converts energy only from the food you eat. And if you don’t track or streamline your food intake, you might be missing some of the essential nutrients required to promote growth and better health to our body.

However, getting all the nutrients you need doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, by just being mindful about a few specific nutrients, eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods and breaking down between essential and non essential nutrients, you can achieve better health faster.

But what are those nutrients and why do you need them? Let’s take a look at the 5 most essential nutrients your body needs and sources where you can obtain them. But first, let’s understand what essential nutrients are.

What are essential nutrients?

An essential nutrient is a nutrient required for normal body functioning which cannot be synthesized by the body and which can be only obtained through food sources.

Intake of essential Nutrients is quite important to health, as it provides us with energy, promotes repair, growth and substances necessary to regulate chemical processes. Shortage of essential nutrients can cause deficiency which could lead to health related shortcomings or problems.

5 Essential nutrients your body requires for optimum health

1.Carbohydrates

carbohydrates

Though Carbohydrates are known to generate fats, they are quite critical in normal body functioning. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is the primary source of fuel for brain and body.

Even on a low-carb ketogenic diet, you are still consuming a decent amount of carbohydrates here and there. According to the Dietary guidelines of America, carbohydrates need to make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily food intake.

Healthy Sources:

The type of carbohydrates matters as some carbohydrates are healthier than the other. Opt for whole grains, beans, and fiber-rich vegetables and fruits instead of refined grains and products with added sugar.

    2. Fats

    fats

    Healthy fat is much needed for many of your body’s function such as vitamin and mineral absorption, blood clotting, building cells and muscle movement. Including healthy fats in your diet can help you to balance your blood sugar, decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and improve your brain function. They’re also anti-inflammatory, and they may lower your risk of arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Healthy sources:

    You must be aware of the source of fats you are consuming.  Trans fats, for example, are a type of fat found in processed foods, baked goods has been shown to significantly increase the risk of heart disease and should be avoided at all costs.

    On the other hand, unsaturated fats can actually help protect the heart and aid in prevention of heart disease.
     Nuts, avocados, sweet potatoes, olive oil, flax seed and nut butter can be termed under healthy fat sources.

    3. Folate

    folate

    Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells. In particular, it supports healthy cell division and promotes proper fetal growth and development to reduce the risk of birth defects. To prevent folate deficiency, it’s recommended that healthy adults get at least 400 mcg of folate per day.

    Healthy sources

    Folate is one such micronutrient that is found in abundance throughout your diet.  However, folate specific food sources includes Legumes, Asparagus, Beets, Eggs, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds, bananas etc.

    4. Vitamin D

    sunlight

    Vitamin D is a very important nutrient that is difficult to obtain.

    The main job of vitamin D is to keep the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. These two nutrients work together to make your bones strong. If you don’t have enough vitamin D in your body, only a small amount of the calcium and phosphorus can be absorbed by your body, and without enough of these nutrients being absorbed in your body, your bones would become brittle and break easily. A recent study revealed that Vitamin D also reduces the risk of serious diseases like colon, prostate and breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and diabetes.

    Widespread deficiency has been deemed partially responsible for rising levels of depression and autoimmune disorders, laying the foundation for many chronic illnesses.

    Healthy sources:

    If you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight, all children and adults need about 800 to 1000 units (marked as “800 IU”) of vitamin D every day. The healthy sources of Vitamin D include Cod liver oil, Tuna canned in water, Sardines canned in oil, Milk or yogurt, Beef or calf liver, Egg yolks , Cheese etc

    5. Water

    water

    Water is a nutrient! Since the amount of water the body needs exceeds what it can actually produce, it is considered an essential nutrient. Moreover, your blood is approximately 90% water and is responsible for transporting nutrients and energy to muscles and for taking waste from tissues.

    Water is required for regulation of body temperature, digestion, and elimination of waste products. It also acts as a lubricant and allows for transportation of nutrients in the body.

    If you are not getting enough water, your body will react by pulling it from other places, including your blood. This causes the closing of some smaller vessels (capillaries), making your blood thicker, more susceptible to clotting, and harder to pump through your system. This can have serious implications in hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

    There are three ways we get water into our bodies. You can either get it by foods we eat, the fluids we drink, and as a by-product of metabolism. It is always better to drink pure water instead of soda, tea, or coffee. These products actually increase your need for fluids because most contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. Diuretics force out stored water along with certain essential nutrients.

    Takeaway:

    It’s vital to be food aware and break it down into what to eat, avoid and the amount of nutrients to be taken. If you are missing on essential nutrients your body gets prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance.

    What’s your thought on this article. Share it in the comments section.

Top 3 Health Fads debunked

The world of internet has created the trend of virality. There are a million of viral stories that many people believe to be true and they mindlessly follow the herd without exactly analyzing the facts and figures associated with it.  This especially implies with health fads where some people pompously promote their results and attract people towards using it. The trend of health fads has gone so far that there are successful businesses made out of it.

In this blog, our health experts debunk some of the famous health fads trending now.

Organic fruits and Vegetables

organic

The trend of organic was on almost a decade ago and because many of us staunchly believe in it, the organic market is still sustaining. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are often projected superior to mainstream alternatives and are usually more expensive.

The idea behind consuming organically grown foods is that it can reduce your exposure to pesticides and toxins, which have adverse effects on health, according to some studies. While its true for most extent, it’s really important to test it out before minting so much money on it.

What you should know?

First things first. Is your organic food really organic? In reality, the said label “organic” does not give you the full story on how the food was grown. We really don’t know at which point of time was it organically grown and whether it’s out rightly authentic or not.  So you can be ahead of the game (and research, to an extent) by choosing your organic produce.

Here are a couple of resources that help you check whether your food is organic or not:

https://www.foodqualityandsafety.com/article/testing-really-organic/

https://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-10-ways-to-find-out-if-your-food-is-organic-1995643

    Volumetrics

    v

    Losing weight by eating fewer calories yet still feeling full- does that sound like the ideal diet and a quick weight loss recipe for you?

    Though the name isn’t quite popular, this a science backed diet followed by most people. Volumetrics  proposes that foods that contain more water, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier because they have lower energy density than sugary and fatty foods. Less a fad diet than an approach to eating, Volumetrics is backed by sound research and strongly promotes eating to feel full.

    A number of studies have examined how energy density of food or the ratio between energy (calories) of food and weight can affect weight loss and weight maintenance. For example, a carrot, which contains a lot of water, would have a low energy density, since it does not contain a lot of calories for how much it weighs. A review published in April 2016 in the journal Nutrients looked at 13 studies and found evidence that suggests paying attention to the energy density of food could help people who are obese manage their weight. U.S. News & World Report has a comprehensive roundup of some of these studies in their profile on the diet.

    What you should know?

    Volumetrics can be more of a lifestyle that a health fad. While this research based diet plan really works, it’s necessary that you understand that this is a long term diet poaln rather than a quick fix. If you follow this plan, you may find yourself reaching for more fiber and more nutrients, for the better.

    If you have any pre-existing health condition, just make sure to check with your doctor before starting any diet

    3.Juices

    juices

    Juicing is considered to have an equal nutritional value that consuming the fruits as such. It’s perceived as  a convenient, tasty way to consume healthy foods.The high concentrations of vitamins can be beneficial healing agents for certain ailments- that’s what’s it is projected as.

    What you should  know:

    One risk with juicing is its high sugar concentrations. Juice goes down quickly, and can lead to a spike in blood sugars (this varies based on what ingredients you use and how quickly you drink).Juicing also typically removes the skin and pulp of the fruit, which contains many of the nutrients and most of the fiber. If easy consumption of nutritions is a drive for you,reclaim some lost nutrients by adding pulp back in or using it in another dish.

    What are your views on this article? Share us your comments in the comment box.

A Beginner’s guide to Keto Diet

Keto diet is the buzzword of Today. There are almost 2 million monthly searches on keto diet in the internet. And it’s popularity is worth the fact that it’s quite an effective and proven method in losing weight and improving the overall quality of life.

In this blog, you’ll learn what a keto diet is and how ketones help your body to effectively lose weight. You’ll also find 3 easy to make recipes to help you get started on your keto mission.

What does the word ‘keto diet’ mean?

Keto diet is a low carb diet that changes the way your body converts food into energy. It carbohydrates for fuel. The shortest way to get into such a metabolic state is by intermittent fasting. But obviously, nobody can fast forever.

In the 19th century, the ketogenic diet was commonly used to help control diabetes. In 1920 it was introduced as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children and also has been tested and used in closely monitored settings for cancer, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s effectiveness is due to the fact that ketogenic diets lowers carbohydrate intake, burns fats, improves insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance — two things that would also help women with PCOS and also to people affected with type 2 diabetes.

However, the caveat with ketogenic diet is that it contributes to insulin resistance due to the restriction of carbohydrates- which is why doctors recommend keto diet with slight diet variations.

The Science behind how Keto Diet works

Ketogenic diet for weight loss works because it takes the body in such a state that it uses up fat instead of glucose as a source of energy and burns it completely. If you deprive the body of glucose—the main source of energy for all cells in the body, which is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods—an alternative fuel called ketones is produced from stored fat (thus, the term “keto”- genic ). The brain demands the most glucose in a steady supply, about 120 grams daily, because it cannot store glucose. During fasting, or when very little carbohydrate is eaten, the body first pulls stored glucose from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release glucose. If this continues for 3-4 days and stored glucose is fully depleted, blood levels of a hormone called insulin decrease, and the body begins to use fat as its primary fuel. The liver produces ketone bodies from fat, which can be used in the absence of glucose.

3 Indian Keto-diet recipes you can try

Before delving straight into the recipes, you need to understand what to eat and what to avoid in a typical keto diet. If you are using Keto diet foe weight loss, you can follow this list, but if you are using keto diet for treating PCO’s, Type 2 diabetes or any other reason, it’s recommended to consult a doctor for modifications in your keto diet. As already pointed out, keto diet isn’t one size fits all.

What to eat?

Prefer low carb, high fat foods for a keto friendly diet. Here’s a basic overview from site Diet Doctor.

keto diet

Image source: Dietdoctor.com

What not to eat?

keto foods avoid

Image source : Dietdoctor

Consuming some restricted foods drains down your entire efforts. Along with the below image which covers the basic overview of what not to eat, it’s also recommended that you look into the 100+ foods to avoid in a keto diet in this link.

Recipes
1.Indian Spiced Whole Roast Chicken

recipe

Ingredients: chicken, garlic, ginger, garam marsala, ground hot chili, salt, lemon juice, tarragon, onion, ghee, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, chicken broth, fresh cilantro.

This spiced whole roasted chicken takes a bit longer to cook, but it makes a super tender and delicious dish that is worth the wait. Some of these spices might not be readily available in your pantry, but they are a worthwhile investment as those spices will help to make your keto dishes so much more flavorful.

2. Baingan ka bharta

keto recipe

Ingredients: eggplants, avocado oil, cumin seeds, white onion, garlic cloves, ginger, Serrano pepper, coriander powder, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, ground black pepper, paprika, tomatoes, cilantro.

This is a popular Indian dish with lots of different variations. Bharta means mashed vegetables and this dish contains lots of smoked eggplants mixed with tomatoes and tons of spices and seasoning. Serve with spaghetti squash or a large helping of cauliflower rice for a vegetarian (and vegan) ketogenic recipe.

 

3. Shrimp, Tilapia and Cabbage Curry

keto recipe

Ingredients: shrimp, tilapia fillets, cabbage, carrots, fresh spinach, chicken broth, extra virgin coconut oil, fresh ginger, curry powder, salt, coconut cream concentrate.

This curry is a delicious one-pan meal, with shrimp, tilapia, cabbage and spinach. It’s easy to whip up in no time and is a very creamy and filling recipe.

Some people experience health issues when they follow a keto diet. If it is so in your case, it’s required that you consult a doctor and revisit your keto plan.

What is your thoughts on this article? Share it in the comment box below.

How does lifestyle affect men’s fertility?

Poor Lifestyle choices could have a profound effect on a person’s health. In fact, the WHO states that 60 percent of health problems/risks are linked with a person’s lifestyle. And if you are wondering if fertility is on the list, then it’s a resounding YES! According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, in around 40% of infertile couples, the male partner is the sole cause or contributing cause of infertility.

One of the important reasons why this happens is the lack of awareness of young men who become prone to peer influence, get addicted to bad lifestyle habits and gradually find themselves trapped in the cycle of infertility problems. Sometimes the effects due to lifestyle choices are so detrimental that it may carry it forward to the future generations. In India, very little attention has been given to men’s preconception education and health care which indirectly cause infertility problems, making them less ready for their future life.

Looking at the brighter side, the effects can really be reversed by just a little amendment and discipline in your lifestyle. Learn about how some lifestyle choices you unknowingly make could cause devastating effects on your fertility health and what you could do to reverse it.

Give up tobacco and smoking

smoking

In April of 2016, European Urology published an analysis on the effect of smoking on semen health. The study revealed that toxins found in cigarettes are frequently to blame for bad health effects. Smoking exposes men to high levels of cadmium and lead, metals that have been linked to decreased fertility.

If you are a chain smoker, it’s quite necessary to quit smoking because in most cases, if you stop using these substances, sperm production eventually returns to normal. However, it can take at least one full cycle of sperm production (seventy-four days) before most sperm is healthy and show up in normal amounts in your semen.

Give up the excessive intake of alcohol and recreational drugs

alcohol

Studies reveal that heavy intake of alcohol was found to have a detrimental effect on both semen quality and the levels of male reproductive hormones. However, although the effects of alcohol on male reproductive function are dependent on the intake amount, a threshold amount of alcohol beyond which the risk of male infertility increases has not yet been determined.

Even in this case, the effect can be reversed, approximately in a sperm production cycle if you take effort in getting yourself de-addicted to the habit.

Watch your food intake

food intake

Problems with your weight can lead to fertility problems. Eating lot of junk foods at once can lead to your blood sugar spiking which may affect your fertility health. Obese males are associated with a decrease in sperm quality and a greater risk of infertility.

A recent study stated that weight loss can cause improvement in certain fertility parameters and restore fertility health to reasonable levels. If your BMI is ≥30 kg/m2, it’s strongly recommended to talk to a doctor and chalk out an exercise plan. Check your BMI often and try planning out your meals for the week, making easy choices with foods you enjoy.

Avoid self-medication

self medication

The casual habit of popping in an antibiotic could cause you more harm than expected. An excerpt from a study states the following findings:

“Antibiotics including tetracyclines, gentamicin, neomycin, erythromycin, and nitrofurantoin (in extremely high doses) can negatively affect sperm generation, movement, and density. Cimetidine, the active ingredient in Tagamet, can sometimes cause impotence and semen abnormalities.”
Not just on facets of fertility, self-medication is also linked with a rising health concern-antibiotic resistance. Read this blog to learn about in detail.

Try some stress busting activities

exercise

Though it’s not known as how stress necessarily affects male fertility, a few studies point to stress to directly affect the semen quality.

Another study states that stress could trigger oxidative stress – physiological stress on the body caused by damage from un-neutralized free radicals – which has been associated with semen quality and fertility. Stress is a common thing and there isn’t a way to cope out of it. Indulge yourself in stress busting activities and take time to relax. Here’s a blog article that could give you some practical ideas on how you could beat stress.

Get some sound sleep

get enough sleep

Poor sleep duration is one of the most common habits of millennial men and women today. Many don’t realize that the adversities of lack of sleep is much beyond just physical and mental health. A recent study linked poor sleep duration to men’s fertility. Among the 790 couples, researchers noticed that men who slept less than 6 hours a night had 42 percent reduced probability of conception in any given month. However, though the direct correlation between sleep and fertility has not been found,the study strongly suggests that 7 to 9 hours of sleep helps to optimize men’s fertility and their chances of contributing to a pregnancy.

The bottom line

Your health is not something that you own. It also belongs to your family as much as it does to you. It’s advisable not to put your health to stake for a few temporary pleasures. Anyways, it’s never too late to begin. You could take a new leaf anytime and watch your life turn for the good.
What are your thoughts on this article? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
For advice and expert guidance on conception, you can book an appointment with Dr.Sasikala Natarajamani from Crea Conceptions.

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277543.php

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090598X18300068

https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/making-fertility-friendly-lifestyle-choices

https://www.verywellfamily.com/bad-habits-to-break-to-increase-fertility-1959950

How to limit the damage caused by air pollution to health

For people in most parts of the world, air pollution is just a tolerable circumstance that does not cause immediate harm. But the reality check is that, air pollution is as dangerous as any other disease. The horror stories about China’s pervasive air pollution which costs the life of more than one million people every year are shocking and show no signs of improvement. Recently, Delhi had witnessed thick smog which enveloped the atmosphere just before Diwali. The effect of Delhi’s air pollution at that time was as severe as the effect of a person smoking 25 cigarettes per day. Moreover, Kolkata and Chennai were recorded with highest Particulate Matter levels last week which were termed as ‘unhealthy to breathe for the sensitive group’.

Considering the rapid urbanization, the question of how worse air pollution could get in near future is out of imagination and the only practical solution we can possibly implement right now is taking a personal commitment of playing our part in reducing air pollution and limiting the risk and the damage caused by it to our health.

The impact of air pollution on health

The Four key pollutants that can cause health risks if it exceeds the limits set by the WHO are particulate matter (PM), ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.
Nitrogen di oxide has a negative effect on lung function, especially in children with asthma. It is caused by the burning of fuels and heat. Sulphur dioxide is a colourless gas released when sulphur-containing fossil fuels are burned to produce heat and power. It causes High levels cause eye irritation, breathing difficulties and respiratory related problems.

PM 2.5

Particulate matter, in particular, affects more people than any other pollutant. It is a mix of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air and the smaller the particle is, the worse it is. The most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, (PM10), which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer,” says the WHO.

However, recently there has been an increase in the concentration of PM 2.5 (Particulate matter less than 2.5 micron in size). These PM levels are particularly dangerous as it is so tiny that it could directly enter the lungs or blood stream by mere breathing.

As of the Words Heath Organisation’s extensive studies, here are a list of the best and worst nations for air pollution around the world in 2017. All units displayed in this table represent levels of PM2.5.

PM LEVELS

The major sources of PM are

  • vehicles
  • power generators
  • industrial and agricultural emissions
  • residential heating and cooking
  • the manufacture and distribution of chemicals
  • forest fires
  • Self- prevention tips to limit the damage

    1. Wear a mask

    Post Delhi air pollution, government and businesses jumped into action by implementing effective measures to help limit the damage caused by air pollution. One such initiative taken by businesses is the launch of different variants of air pollution masks starting from a simple paper mask to advanced one that filters out the polluted air and supply clean air. N95 mask particularly is the most commonly used masks which are said capable of controlling pollution levels from mild to aforementioned extremes.

    air pollution n95 mask

    If you want to find out which mask suits best for you, Check out this well researched article from Gadgets 360 which gives you the entire details of different masks, comparison, price and reviews.

    2. Invest in Air purifiers if you have allergies

    Indoor air is twice as dirty as the outdoor air, so it’s quite necessary that you invest in an air purifier especially when you have allergies. While it’s quite evident that air purifiers needs high operating and maintenance cost, it’s worth the cost as it filters out the allergens and pollutants present in the air quite effectively. Study reveals that homes that use air purifiers have witnessed lesser symptoms of respiratory problems than those who don’t. If you still consider it a costly solution, you can consider using air purifying plants instead which is explained in detail in the next section.

    air purifier

    Image source: The Indian Express

    3. Air filtering plants- your air care buddy

    Given that people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, air quality matters . Furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit a variety of toxic compounds, like formaldehyde. Indoor air pollution can also be caused by pollen, bacteria, and molds, as outdoor air contaminants like car exhaust finds its way into buildings. The good news is there is a solution to beat the inside pollution and it comes from the natural world. Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. But that’s not al, microorganisms associated with the plants are present in the potting soil which are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect.

    air pollution plants

    Check out this article for different plants and it’s effect on pollutants inside home.

    4. Antioxidant rich food can help

    Before drawing parallels between food and air pollution, it’s required to understand how air pollution cause our health to deteriorate. When you breathe in polluted air, particulate matter and other pollutants penetrate and inflame the linings of your bronchial tubes and lungs. This leads to respiratory illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing. Antioxidant food which is rich in vitamin C, and E can help to clean your system, particularly your airways. Foods like olive oil, broccoli, avocado, tomatoes makes our body immune towards the harmful toxins and neutralizes them.

    antioxidant food

    This well researched blog on best foods which safeguards against pollution could be your go-to guide for easy future reference.

    Your action plan

    Environmental groups and Government are playing their part in helping to reduce air pollution within the safe limit. It’s important that you take the moral responsibility to support them in this initiative. Simple habits like choosing public transport over own transport, using eco friendly products, reducing energy use or avoiding smoking could make a huge difference in the scenario of air pollution.

    Be a part of the solution and not the pollution.