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World Health Day_ Unlock the Secrets of Healthy Ageing

April 5th, 2024 by

Embrace longevity and superior age care this World Health Day. Discover how to feel vibrantly young with our timeless wellness secrets.

In a world that’s obsessed with the quest for eternal youth, as we celebrate World Health Day, we often find ourselves sifting through countless tips and tricks promising the secret to ageing gracefully.

But what if the true secret lies not within the latest anti-aging serum but in adopting a lifestyle that’s been time-tested across different cultures?

India is on the brink of becoming an ‘old country’ by 2050, with an estimated 350 million people expected to fall into the senior citizens category. Meanwhile, Japan is leading the charts with one of the highest longevity rates worldwide. As we recognize World Health Day, let’s unlock the secrets to healthy ageing.

But first, let’s look at some facts!

The Indian Scenario: A Contrast in Aging

India presents a fascinating paradox. On one hand, it’s grappling with the challenges of an ageing population, with the United Nations Working Group on Ageing predicting a significant shift in demographics by 2050. Currently, the proportion of older persons in India is projected to leap from 8% in 2015 to 19% by 2050. Yet, the story of ageing in India varies dramatically from urban to rural settings.

In urban areas, life is a whirlwind of stress, pollution, and sedentary lifestyles, contributing to a rise in non-communicable diseases. Cities, pulsating with economic growth, unfortunately, falter in nurturing health and well-being.

For instance, India’s urban population, set to reach 675 million by 2035, faces unprecedented levels of air and noise pollution. This urban lifestyle starkly contrasts with rural India, where the pace of life is slower, communities are tighter, and diets are more natural.

This dichotomy is not just anecdotal; it’s backed by studies suggesting that rural populations often enjoy better baseline health metrics, attributed to more physical activity and less processed diets.

And do you know how it’s impacting us?

  1. Non-communicable diseases are estimated to account for 63% of all deaths in India, making them the leading cause of mortality. Of these, cardiovascular diseases are the most prevalent, contributing to 27% of total mortality. They are followed by chronic respiratory diseases at 11%, cancers at 9%, diabetes at 3%, and other NCDs making up the remaining 13%, according to the World Health Organization.
  1. The economic repercussions of non-communicable diseases in India are significant, with these conditions being responsible for the majority of out-of-pocket expenditure on health. The estimated economic output lost to NCDs, excluding mental health conditions, is projected to be USD 3.55 trillion between 2012 and 2030.

This staggering figure highlights the extensive strain NCDs place on individuals and the nation’s economy. Of course, India isn’t alone and the world will soon experience similar issues. But how is that this one country is doing it in the way it’s supposed to be?

Japan: A Blueprint for Healthy Ageing

Japan stands as a stark contrast, not just to India but to much of the world, when it comes to ageing. It’s no secret that Japan boasts one of the highest life expectancies globally, a feat attributed to a variety of factors.

Diet plays a crucial role, with the average Japanese diet rich in fish, whole grains, vegetables, and soy products. However, it’s not just what the Japanese eat but also their approach to life.

The concept of ikigai, which translates to “a reason for being,” imbues daily life with purpose and satisfaction, contributing significantly to mental health and longevity.

Moreover, Japan’s societal structure supports ageing in place, enabling the elderly to live independently yet interconnectedly within their communities. This holistic approach to ageing—where physical health, mental well-being, and social integration are all prioritised—offers invaluable lessons for the rest of the world.

Turning the Tide: How to Embrace Ageing Gracefully

So, what can we, regardless of our geographic location, learn from India’s rural vitality and Japan’s longevity secrets to defy ageing?

Here are actionable insights and strategies:

  1. Embrace Physical Activity: The sedentary lifestyle is a modern plague. In rural India, daily routines naturally incorporate physical labour, while in Japan, practices like walking and tai chi are prevalent among the elderly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily to boost heart health, manage weight, and improve mood.
  1. Prioritise a Plant-based Diet: Both traditional Indian and Japanese diets emphasise fresh, plant-based foods. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and support a healthy weight.
  1. Find Your Purpose: Ikigai isn’t just for the Japanese. Reflecting on what brings you joy and purpose can enhance mental health and resilience. Whether it’s a hobby, volunteering, or career passion, pursue what makes you feel fulfilled.
  1. Connect with Community: Loneliness can be as harmful to health as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Both in India’s rural communities and in Japan, strong social ties contribute to longer, happier lives. Invest time in building and maintaining relationships.
  1. Regular Health Screenings: Early detection of health issues can make a significant difference. Follow recommended guidelines for health screenings, including those for cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer. Regular check-ups can catch problems before they become more serious.
  1. Adapt and Adopt Mindfulness Practices: Stress management is key to healthy ageing. Practices like meditation, yoga (originating from India), and mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

The journey to ageing gracefully doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all roadmap. It’s about making mindful choices every day—choices that reflect respect for our bodies and minds. By looking towards cultures that have woven the art of ageing well into the fabric of their society, we can start to redefine our relationship with ageing.

Ageing is inevitable, but how we age is something we can influence. Whether it’s adopting a more plant-based diet reminiscent of rural India, finding our ikigai like the Japanese, or simply deciding to move more and stress less, the power to age gracefully is within our reach.

Start with one small change today, and who knows? You might just find yourself feeling 30 at 40 and beyond.

Ready to embark on this age-defying adventure?

Remember, it’s the small steps that lead to big changes. Here’s to embracing each year with health, happiness, and a zest for life that knows no age limit.

Embracing Autism_ A Path to Comfort & Acceptance

April 2nd, 2024 by

Understanding and Accepting Autism. Bringing comfort to those in need.

Explore the importance of understanding and accepting autism, offering practical tips to support autistic colleagues and create an inclusive environment. Dive into the world of autism awareness and acceptance and discover how you can bring comfort and support to those with autism, fostering a culture where everyone thrives.

Imagine walking into a world where sounds, sights, and even the light touch of fabric feel intensely different. Where words get lost not for want of thoughts but because they simply can’t find their way out.

This world is a daily reality for approximately 18 million people in India diagnosed with autism, a spectrum of conditions that affects 1 to 1.5% of children aged two to nine years.

With the theme for World Autism Awareness Day 2024 being “Light It Up Blue,” it’s a global call to not just understand but truly accept and celebrate the unique perspectives and contributions of autistic individuals in every sphere of life.

This article aims to peel back the layers of autism, offering a glimpse into the minds of those on the spectrum and providing actionable steps for you to foster an environment of comfort, acceptance, and support. Are you ready to make a difference? Let’s dive in!

Fostering Autism Awareness and Acceptance

In a world rich with diversity, understanding and accepting autism stands as a beacon of empathy and inclusion. We need to understand that autistic individuals often bring remarkable skills to the table—be it an unparalleled focus, an exceptional memory, or a unique way of solving problems. By understanding their world, we can better support their integration into ours.

And for that to happen, improving acceptance for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is crucial for creating a more inclusive and understanding society. Here’s how we can all contribute to a more accepting and aware world.

  • Practice Patience in Communication: If you’re conversing with someone on the spectrum who may need more time to respond, give them the space and time they need without pressuring them. This patience can make communication more comfortable for them.
  • Create Sensory-Friendly Spaces: At home or in shared spaces, consider adjusting lighting, noise levels, and textures to create a more comfortable environment for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Simple changes, like using dimmable lights or having a quiet room, can make a big difference.
  • Use Clear and Concise Language: When giving instructions or sharing information, be as clear and straightforward as possible. Avoid idioms or phrases that can be taken literally, which might confuse someone who interprets language more directly.
  • Educate Your Circle: Share what you learn about autism with friends, family, and colleagues. Dispelling myths and spreading understanding can change attitudes and behaviors in your community.
  • Offer Support in Social Situations: If you notice someone on the spectrum feeling overwhelmed or left out in social settings, gently offer your support or help them find a quiet place to regroup. Sometimes, just knowing someone is there to help can alleviate stress.

Every action, no matter how small, can make a big difference in fostering acceptance and understanding. Here’s a table offering communication tips that align with autism acceptance:

TipDescriptionExample
Be Clear and DirectUse straightforward language, avoiding idioms and metaphors.Instead of saying “It’s raining cats and dogs,” say “It’s raining very hard.”
Allow Processing TimeGive time to process and respond to information without pressure.After asking a question, wait patiently for a response without hurrying them.
Use Visual SupportsSupport communication with visuals like pictures or written words.Use a picture schedule to outline the day’s activities or tasks.
Avoid Sensory OverloadMinimize potential sensory triggers in the communication environment.Lower the volume of background music during conversations.
Encourage Non-Verbal CommunicationSupport and understand gestures, sign language, or writing as valid forms of communication.If speaking is difficult, suggest drawing or using gesture-based apps for communication.
Be Patient and ReceptiveDisplay patience and openness, valuing the effort to communicate.If the person is taking time to form a response, nod encouragingly without interrupting.
Clarify UnderstandingConfirm comprehension gently and clarify if there’s confusion.After explaining something, ask “Does that make sense?” or “Can I explain this differently?”
Respect Personal SpaceRecognize and adhere to the individual’s comfort with physical proximity.Notice if stepping closer makes them uncomfortable and adjust by stepping back.
Adapt Your Communication StyleAlter your method of communication based on the individual’s preference and effectiveness.If verbal instructions are misunderstood, try demonstrating the task or writing it down.
Foster a Judgment-Free ZoneEnsure they feel safe expressing themselves without fear of negative feedback.Respond positively or neutrally to all attempts at communication, avoiding criticism.

These tips aim to foster a more inclusive and understanding approach to communication, aligning with broader goals of autism acceptance.

How does Autism Awareness and Acceptance Help ASD Individuals?

Acceptance plays a pivotal role in transforming the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), initiating a positive shift that reverberates through their experiences and interactions. Here’s a concise overview of how acceptance fosters change:

  • Adequate Validation of Their Condition and Emotions: Recognizing and validating the unique sensory and communicative experiences of individuals with ASD affirms their reality, encouraging a supportive atmosphere where their feelings are acknowledged without judgment.
  • Improved Self-Acceptance, Confidence, and Mental Health: Acceptance nurtures self-esteem in people with ASD, enabling them to embrace their individuality. This bolstered self-image propels them to face new challenges and reduces feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
  • Better Relationships with Peers: Acceptance from peers enhances social inclusion, offering autistic individuals vital support, opportunities for emotional development, and a sense of community, facilitating a more understanding and inclusive society.
  • Increased Quality of Everyday Life: When accepted, individuals with ASD experience fewer barriers to inclusion, receive necessary support, and feel valued within their communities. This leads to a more manageable daily life, allowing them to pursue their interests and contribute meaningfully to society.

In sum, acceptance is not just beneficial—it’s essential for enabling individuals with ASD to lead fulfilling lives, underscoring the importance of cultivating understanding and inclusivity at all societal levels.

Conclusion

In wrapping up our exploration of understanding and accepting autism, it’s clear that embracing individuals on the spectrum is not just about acknowledging their presence in our lives and communities.

It’s about actively participating in creating a world where comfort, acceptance, and support are the norms, not the exceptions. From the poignant insights into the inner experiences of those with autism to practical advice on promoting acceptance, every aspect underscores the importance of seeing beyond the diagnosis to the individual.

5 ways to include muscle strengthening in your

February 29th, 2024 by

5 fun ways to strengthen your muscles

If you are someone on a fitness journey, you might have heard frequent mentions of muscle strengthening from your gym trainer or fitness influencers. Muscle strengthening exercises make your muscles work harder while boosting muscle health and bone density.

Regular muscle training has been linked with health benefits like better posture, reduced joint aches, lower risk of sustaining injuries, and slowing the pace of bone and muscle loss.

When you add muscle training to your fitness regime, over time you are likely to enjoy perks like better blood sugar levels, weight management, emotional state, and more confidence. According to a 2022 meta-analysis, people opting for muscle strengthening just 30-60 minutes a week are at a lower risk of dying prematurely than those who don’t.

The experts who conducted the study explained that muscle-strengthening exercises are recommended as they can lead to better physical functioning. The benefit can, in turn, lower the risk of lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

How to work on muscle strengthening

Despite its advantages, the lack of awareness about muscle strengthening is impacting people’s health levels across the country. There are also myths like muscle training being strenuous that discourage people from trying their hand at it. In a study by InBody, seven out of 10 Indians were found to be suffering from poor muscle health and needed to gain muscle mass. Conducted across eight cities, the survey observed the fitness levels of citizens between the ages of 30 to 55 years.

Unlike what many people think, muscle strengthening doesn’t always involve hitting the gym or working out for hours. It can be as easy as climbing stairs, doing a couple of jumping jacks or push-ups, or heavy gardening. Let’s get to know how we can incorporate muscle strengthening into our daily lives.

1. Dancing: Put on your favorite playlist and start dancing. There’s no right or wrong way to dance. Along with burning calories, dancing aids the development of lean muscle mass.

2. Taking the stairs: By ditching the elevator and climbing the stairs, you engage your leg muscles to carry your weight, step after step. The activity when repeated every days can lead to robust leg muscles.

3. Heavy gardening: As messy as weeding, digging, planting, and mowing your lawn sounds, your muscles are going to thank you. During heavy gardening, you strengthen your muscles by engaging the ones in your limbs, abdomen, shoulder, and back. Gardening also helps in improving mobility and muscle endurance

4. Cycling: The next time you are going to a nearby spot, choose cycling over driving. The activity targets your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, making your legs stronger.

5. Push-ups or squats: These exercises are among the most effective forms of physical training which is why you will see them included in almost every kind of workout. By engaging all muscles of the body, they can make your core stronger and improve your upper body strength.

Why nutrition is important for muscle strength

If you are committed to muscle training but are not focussing on nutrition, you are missing out on a key parameter for good health. If exercise keeps you in good shape, nutrition is the fuel that keeps you going. There’s more to muscle building than lifting weights and working out and nutrition is an important component in your fitness journey.

According to nutritionists and dietary experts, nothing can replace a balanced and nutrient-dense diet. They also warn people against consuming supplements without medical advice as they can do more harm than good.

For gaining muscles, the two crucial nutrients to take care of are calories and protein. Being the building block of your body, protein rebuilds muscle tissue. By having adequate calories each day, you get the energy to get going. Here are a few examples of foods that can help you achieve your muscle strengthening targets easily: 

  • Egg: Apart from healthy fats and vitamins, each egg has six grams of protein. Serve them sunny side up, scramble them or rustle up a classic omelet, you are never running out of options with egg.
  • Chicken: The reason why your dietician’s top recommendations include chicken breast is because it is an excellent source of lean protein.
  • Cottage cheese: If you are a vegetarian, cottage cheese can be your go-to source of protein. You can create a number of mouth-watering dishes with it that satisfy both your taste buds as well as nutritional needs.
  • Tofu: This is a protein source that’s ideal for both vegetarians and vegans. Made from soybean, tofu is also rich in calcium.
  • Beans: Kidney beans, flat beans, black beans, or pinto beans are good sources of lean protein. Plus, they add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your diet.
  • Tempeh: It’s another popular vegan protein source. It’s sometimes preferred to options like tofu as it’s less processed, so it can retain more macronutrients.
  • Greek yogurt: If you are looking for a protein-rich snacking option, this one’s recommended by fitness experts too. You can top it up with fruit and nuts, add it to a smoothie, or even have it plain.

Conclusion 

A quick search on the internet will show you how muscle strengthening is linked to long-term health benefits and lower mortality risk. On the other hand, the lack of muscle strength and endurance can lead to fatigue, poor metabolism, and impaired muscles. You can start small and at the pace you want and gradually build up your strength levels.

If at any point you feel confused about the technique or frequency of an exercise, consult your trainer to up your muscle training game. As your form becomes better, you get more confident and can challenge yourself to new fitness regimes.

6 Health Trends that Influenced 2023 and Outlook for 2024

December 28th, 2023 by

Explore the pivotal health and wellness trends of 2023 and what will stay popular in 2024.

In 2023, wellness saw revolutionary trends like biohacking and plant-based diets take a firm hold, while functional fitness and digital health solutions rose to meet the era’s challenges.

As we look towards 2024, anticipate a continuation of these robust trends, alongside emerging practices in mental health motivation and outdoor activities, promising a more integrated and personalized approach to health and well-being that resonates with our evolving lifestyle and environmental consciousness.

1. Stepping Up: Walking Revamped Its Rep in 2023

Can an activity that’s as straightforward as walking truly become a trendsetter? In 2023, walking transformed from a simple activity into a trendsetting movement, igniting creativity and mindfulness among the youth.

Innovative forms like “weird walking” and “analogue walks” encouraged explorers to engage deeply with their environments, while the “silent walk” became a viral sensation, promoting a 30-minute daily retreat into mindfulness and serenity. Far from just a tranquil journey, walking evolved into a versatile fitness activity, adaptable in intensity through guided classes and personal pacing strategies.

2. Mini Workouts: The Mighty Game Changer of 2023

In 2023, mini-workouts solidified their place as a favoured fitness strategy for those short on time yet eager for intensity. These brief, potent sessions fit neatly into busy schedules, offering a flexible, efficient way to exercise without committing to lengthy sessions.

Research validated their efficacy, showing comparable health benefits to longer workouts when maintaining similar intensity. People embraced these compact exercise bursts, incorporating them as three 15-minute sessions or even quicker 5-10-minute spurts throughout the day. This method aligned perfectly with contemporary life, allowing for targeted training and recovery. 

3. Biohacking Breakthrough: Tailoring Health in 2023

In 2023, biohacking emerged as a significant trend in self-improvement and wellness, offering a method for individuals to enhance their performance, well-being, and appearance through deliberate bodily modifications.

This DIY approach to biology encouraged personal experimentation and customization, particularly through nutrigenomics, which explores the relationship between diet and genes. Biohackers utilized this knowledge to tailor their nutrition for improved health, mood, and cognitive function.

As they decoded their genetic makeup, individuals could fine-tune their diets for optimal energy and well-being. The year saw a growing number of people adopting biohacking techniques, moving beyond passive health management to actively shaping their physiological destiny with informed, personalized strategies.

4. The Enduring Appeal of Functional Fitness in 2023

In 2023, functional fitness solidified its role in the fitness community, emphasizing real-life movement exercises to boost day-to-day functionality, strength, stability, and coordination. Popular activities included compound exercises and dynamic routines like kettlebell swings and battle ropes.

This approach, recognized for its practicality and effectiveness, addressed the modern lifestyle’s physical demands, aiding in the prevention of health issues often attributed to sedentary living. Functional training transcended traditional workouts by focusing on movement efficiency and motor control, benefiting everyone from office workers to athletes.

It offered personalized regimes to enhance life quality, advocating for a holistic approach to health and fitness. As 2023 ended, functional fitness’s transformative impact on health and well-being was evident, making it more than a fleeting trend but a permanent fixture in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.

5. The Rise of Plant-Based Diets in 2023

In 2023, plant-based diets transcended trend status, becoming a widespread choice for those prioritizing health and sustainability. A dramatic increase in the adoption of diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains was noted, driven by the diets’ health benefits, environmental sustainability, and ethical considerations.

The movement gained momentum from a growing awareness of its role in reducing the risks of major diseases and the availability of a wider variety of appealing plant-based food options. Enhancements in plant-based proteins further facilitated this shift, offering viable nutritional alternatives to animal products. The trend was bolstered by support from celebrities and influencers, alongside an increase in accessible educational resources and plant-based options in dining and retail.

Ultimately, 2023 marked a significant turning point, establishing plant-based eating as a mainstream, sophisticated, and ethically conscious lifestyle.

6. The Digital Turn in Self-Care: Generation Z’s Embrace of Wellness Apps

In 2023, over half of Generation Z gravitated towards mental and physical self-care apps, marking a significant shift towards digital wellness solutions. These young, tech-savvy individuals leveraged apps for a range of purposes, from meditation and stress management to personalized workout plans, reflecting a broader trend towards preventive healthcare and personal growth.

This rise in app usage signified Gen Z’s proactive stance on health and wellness, valuing immediate, accessible, and customized care. This movement wasn’t just a trend but a testament to the growing demand for digital health solutions, promising continued innovation in the wellness technology realm.

Wellness Wonders: Embracing a Holistic Health Outlook in 2024

As 2024 unfolds, wellness takes a dynamic and integrative approach, focusing on enriching both the mind and body through innovative and nature-infused practices. Here’s a glimpse into the top wellness trends that are shaping a more vibrant and healthier tomorrow.

Trends to Watch:
  • Revamped Routines: Individuals are seeking joy and enrichment by trying new activities and shaking up their everyday habits, driven by the belief that diverse experiences boost happiness and brain health.
  • Getting Active Outdoors: More people are moving their workouts into the great outdoors, drawn by the physical and mental benefits of engaging with nature.
  • Upgraded Walks: Walking is recognized for its numerous health benefits, becoming a popular and accessible way for people of all ages to stay active and healthy.
  • Creative Sleep Solutions: A quest for quality sleep leads to the adoption of innovative technologies and strategies, understanding that rest is pivotal for overall well-being.
  • Mental Health Motivation: There’s a significant shift towards exercising for mental well-being, as individuals recognize the deep connection between physical activity and mental health.

As we step into 2024, these trends reflect a collective move towards more personalized, engaging, and sustainable health practices, emphasizing the importance of adapting to our evolving lifestyles and the world around us.

COVID-19 (SARS CoV 2) JN.1 Variant: A Health Advisory

December 20th, 2023 by

What is JN.1 Variant?

  1. The JN.1 (BA.2.86.1.1) is a descendant of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86 lineage (Pirola) of SARS CoV 2 (COVID-19). The SARS CoV 2 is continuously evolving, changing and circulating in all countries. BA.2.86 carries more than 30 mutations in the spike(S) protein indicating high potential for immune evasion.
  2. JN.1 is currently being considered as a variant of interest (VOI) by the WHO.
  3. Currently the symptoms of COVID-19 tend to be similar across all variants with no ‘specific’ symptom identified related to JN.1 variant – The symptoms may fall on a spectrum ranging from asymptomatic to critical; most infections are not severe. Mild disease (no or mild pneumonia), Severe disease (e.g., with breathlessness, hypoxia or >50 percent lung involvement on imaging within 24 to 48 hours), Critical disease (e.g., with respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction).
  4. So far, JN.1 has been reported in USA, China, Singapore, and India.
  5. It is important for us to know about this variant and take necessary protective measures and further actions in case of suspected infection.

Common Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Cough, body aches and headache are the most reported symptoms among patients with symptomatic COVID-19 infection.
  • Other features may include diarrhoea, sore throat, and smell or taste abnormalities.
  • Mild upper respiratory symptoms (e.g., nasal congestion, sneezing) appear to be more common with this JN.1 variant.
  • Pneumonia is the most frequent serious manifestation of infection, characterized primarily by fever, cough, shortness of breath, and bilateral infiltrates on chest imaging.
  • There are no specific symptoms or signs that can reliably distinguish COVID-19. However, development of shortness of breath approximately one week after the onset of initial symptoms may be suggestive of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 may present as ILI (Influenza like illness) or Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Risk Factors for severe illness

  • Increasing Age (esp. those aged above 60 years of age)
  • Comorbidities (such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/kidney disease, auto-immune disorders, cancers etc.)
  • Others: Physical inactivity, Morbid Obesity, Smoking

Warning signs or Red Flag symptoms

  • Shortness of breath/Breathlessness
  • Low oxygen saturation (less than 94% through pulse oximeter)
  • Chest pain
  • Thrombotic complications (like deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, acute stroke).
  • Confusion, dizziness, seizures, loss of consciousness

How does JN.1 variant spread?

Similar to earlier variants of COVID-19, the JN.1 variant can spread through:

  • Direct person-to-person respiratory transmission (i.e. close-range contact within approximately six feet or two meters via respiratory particles): The virus gets released in the respiratory secretions when a person with infection coughs, sneezes, or talks, thereby infecting another person.
  • Through contaminated surfaces: Infection might also occur if a person’s hands are contaminated by these secretions, or by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces followed by touching their own eyes, nose, or mouth.

Preventive and Protective Measures

  • Hand hygiene. Washing hands with soap and runny water frequently. Use of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a reasonable alternative to hand washing if the hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Respiratory hygiene: Covering the cough or sneeze with a tissue paper or bent elbow.
  • Appropriate ventilation of indoor spaces: This includes opening windows and doors, placing fans in front of windows to exhaust air to the outside, running heating/air conditioning fans continuously, and using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems.
  • Avoiding close contact with individuals who are or appear to have COVID-19 infection.
  • Wearing masks, especially when going out or even indoor spaces like office where other individuals are present. 
  • Seeking medical help without delay: If symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 occur, please seek medical advice promptly, staying home away from others, and getting tested for COVID-19. 
  • Employees should notify their supervisors and stay home if they are sick. Any sick employee coming to office should be separated from other employees and provided with medical assistance and guidance.

Vaccination

  • Covid-19 Vaccines in routine use are expected to provide protection against JN.1 variant also, though further information is still awaited.
  • Wide coverage of vaccination and subsequent non-symptomatic infections help augment herd immunity thus providing protection at community level. Data suggests that most Indians have been exposed to Covid-19 at least twice and have also received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, thus contributing to a good level of immunity in the population that should help prevention of severe disease.

Health advisory for travellers visiting Singapore

  • Plan your trip only if it is essential.
  • Seek medical advice before planning your trip, which should include your travel health risk assessment and guidance, including advice on vaccinations required or prophylaxis recommended before travel.
  • Follow the latest guidelines/instructions being issued from the countries of origin, lay-over and destination.

Keep yourself updated on the latest guidance/instructions (The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has issued its advisory on 18th December 2023).

Say Goodbye to Winter Gloom: Tips for a Brighter, Happier Season!

December 20th, 2023 by

Beat the winter blues with our guide. Embrace sunlight, stay active, eat a rainbow (colorful diet), and maintain a sleep routine for a joyful, energized winter season. Stay happy and healthy this winter.

Are you feeling the chill of winter not just in the air but also in your mood? As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, many of us find ourselves grappling with the winter blues. In India, where the rhythm of life is vibrant and colorful, experiencing a dip in spirits during winter might seem out of place.

Yet, it’s a common phenomenon, affecting a significant portion of the population. It’s important to understand that feeling low, tired, or disinterested in usual activities during winter is not something to brush off.

But don’t worry! There are simple and effective ways to keep your spirits high and enjoy the season to its fullest. From lifestyle tweaks to mindset shifts, we’ve got you covered with practical tips that resonate with you. So, let’s dive in and turn those winter woes into winter wows!

  1. Let There Be Light: Embrace Outdoor Sunshine

Even when the cold nips at your nose, it’s essential to step outside and bask in the natural light. Despite the chilly weather, make it a point to wrap up warmly and take a brisk walk for at least 10 minutes each day. This simple act can have a profound effect on your mood.

The science behind this is both fascinating and practical. When sunlight enters our eyes, it triggers the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, two crucial neurotransmitters that govern our mood. Serotonin is often dubbed the ‘feel-good’ hormone, playing a key role in uplifting our spirits and keeping our mood balanced. Dopamine, on the other hand, is linked to our feelings of pleasure and reward, making those sunlit moments not just pleasant but also emotionally rewarding.

Incorporating this into your busy schedule can be easier than you think. Consider a short walk during your lunch break, or even a brief stroll in the morning as you start your day. The key is consistency and making the most of the daylight hours, especially in the winter when daylight is at a premium. Remember, a little sunshine can go a long way in dispelling the winter gloom and recharging your spirits.

  1. Sweat it Out: Energize with Movement

It’s time to shake off the winter lethargy and get moving! Exercise isn’t just about staying fit; it’s a powerful tool to combat the winter blues. Whether it’s hitting the gym or choosing the stairs over the elevator at work, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can make a significant difference in your mood.

Aerobic exercise, in particular, is a potent mood booster. Activities like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling stimulate the production of endorphins, often known as the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals. These endorphins help to elevate your mood, bringing about a sense of well-being and happiness. It’s not just about the physical benefits; exercise is a great stress-buster, helping to dissipate the tension and anxiety that often accompany the colder months.

Moreover, exercising in a gym or as part of a group adds a social dimension to your workout routine. Social interaction plays a crucial role in warding off feelings of depression and isolation, especially during winter. It’s about connecting with others, sharing experiences, and building a supportive community that uplifts each other.

  1. Color Your Plate: Feast on Winter’s Rainbow

Winter often tempts us into comfort foods rich in carbs and sugars, but it’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet to combat the winter blues. The chilly months can derail our healthy eating habits, but with a colorful approach to meals, we can keep our spirits and energy levels high.

Historically, humans evolved to overeat and store fat during winter as a survival mechanism against potential starvation. This study from the University of Exeter sheds light on why we might crave more during colder months. Today, we no longer face such seasonal survival threats, but the ingrained urge to over-consume, especially unhealthy foods, remains strong.

To counteract this, focus on eating a variety of colorful, seasonal foods. Think of your plate as a canvas, painting it with the vibrant hues of winter produce. Include bright orange carrots and squashes, which are not only pleasing to the eye but also packed with essential nutrients and fibers.

Add greens like minty cabbage and fennel, rich in vitamins and offering a fresh taste. Don’t forget about the deep, blood-red beets and winter-white cauliflower, each bringing their unique flavors and health benefits.

This ‘eat a rainbow’ strategy ensures you get a wide range of nutrients, helping to keep your body and mind in optimal condition. It also helps in staying hydrated, a key factor often overlooked during the colder months. Integrating these colorful foods into your meals isn’t just about nutrition; it’s a delightful way to bring joy and variety to your winter diet.

  1. Dream Right: Master Your Sleep Ritual

Maintaining a consistent sleep routine is vital for uplifting your mood during winter. Dr. Kelly Donahue, a psychologist, emphasizes the importance of sleep in regulating our circadian rhythm. Disruptions in this rhythm can lead to imbalances in cortisol rhythms and hormone production, affecting our overall well-being.

To enhance the quality of your sleep, consider these guidelines: Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This regularity helps in synchronizing your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. Develop a simple bedtime routine that signals your body it’s time to wind down. This could include activities like taking a relaxing bath, dimming the lights, or sipping a warm cup of herbal tea. These rituals act as cues for your body to prepare for rest.

Pro-tip: Unburden Your Mind: Before bed, write down any worrying thoughts on a piece of paper. This practice can help clear your mind and reassure you that these concerns are noted and can be addressed in the morning.

Conclusion

Beating the winter blues is achievable through simple yet effective strategies. Embrace outdoor light, stay active, eat a colorful diet, and maintain a consistent sleep routine to uplift your mood and energy.

How long hours at the desk are hampering your spinal health?

December 20th, 2023 by

The long work hours you spend sitting in front of your computer in cramped cubicles might be good for your productivity but not for your spinal health. Lack of ergonomic furniture, bad posture, erratic breaks from work, and sedentary lifestyles are among the few reasons why spinal health is often an afterthought in corporate workspaces.

The spine gives the body a structure and allows one to move freely with flexibility. It also protects the spinal cord – a column of nerves that connect the brain with the other parts of the body. Given how important the spine is for the body’s movement, any problems related to spinal health can impact one’s overall well-being, productivity, and quality of life.

The muscles and joints comprising your spine might also weaken over time due to age or an injury, thereby hampering your body’s flexibility and ease of movement. These reasons underline how important spinal health is to live a fulfilling life. According to a study published in The Lancet Rheumatology in 2023, India reported around 87.5 million cases of low back pain. The study also claims that over 840 million people across the globe will suffer from back pain by 2050 mainly due to an increase in population and aging.

What causes spinal problems?

The modern-day workplace typically involves employees glued to their computer screens while chasing deadlines. The prolonged sitting hours put additional pressure on the spine and result in incorrect posture. What adds to the problem is increased dependence on digital devices which causes back and neck strain.

Often mental stress is another reason why people develop back pains. Stress can cause muscle tension which can impact the spine. In a 2022 survey conducted by a leading Indian furniture brand, it was found that 64% of employees sit for over nine hours a day while working. The survey which studied the behavior of more than 500 individuals from India, also claimed that around 73% of the individuals did not know what they could do to avoid sitting for long hours.

These factors coupled with unhealthy lifestyle choices and lack of exercise can be counterproductive for the spinal health of corporate employees.

What you can do?

If it’s habits that have affected your spinal health, you can always form new ones to correct the mistake. These new habits may not be big changes but just simple steps that you can easily accommodate in your life. These steps range from eating healthy to sitting in the right position and just getting some exercise. At the same time, if you feel overwhelmed you can always get in touch with a doctor, a nutritionist, or a physiotherapist to guide you along the way.

Here are a few tips on a balanced approach to boosting spinal health:

1. Check your posture

If you are someone who works long hours while slouching, you are putting extra pressure on your spine, neck, and back muscles which may cause pain. Likewise, those who spend too much time on the phone with their necks arched are risking spine damage. Maintain an upright posture so that your neck and lower back align. You can adjust either your computer’s height or get an ergonomic chair to help you fix your posture.

2. Take breaks now and then

It’s always advisable to take short breaks between work hours to help your body relax. You not only give your spine some relief but also avoid screen fatigue and burnout. If you have been experiencing back pain, sitting in the same position for an extended period will only cause you more discomfort. Hence, try incorporating small walks or just some stretching every couple of hours during your work shifts.

3. Get your daily dose of exercise

A sedentary lifestyle can cause your spine and lumbar muscles to weaken and lead to back pain. You can remedy this problem by opting for simple stretching exercises like hamstring stretches, knee-to-chest, and shoulder or neck rolls to add fluidity to your joints, spinal discs, and muscles. If you are suffering from a chronic medical condition that impacts your joints or bones, you should consult a doctor before choosing an exercise regime. There are several low-impact exercises like brisk walking which if done regularly can help you relieve spinal pain.

4. Nutrition matters

Eating a balanced diet can bring you relief from spinal problems. The nutrients and vitamins can nourish the discs, muscles, and bones in your spine. If you are experiencing back problems, you should opt for a diet that’s rich in calcium and protein but low in fat. A balanced diet will help you maintain weight and reduce the pressure on the spine.

What can employers do?

It takes all hands on deck to ensure that a company has a healthy professional environment. As per the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, poorly designed workspaces contribute to 3% decrease in productivity on average. 

Here are a few ways in which corporate workplaces can promote spinal health:

1. Creating ergonomic workstations

Ergonomic furniture is designed to help people work more efficiently and without discomfort. It can reduce the strain on the spine, especially while sitting for long hours. Offering employees adjustable desks, chairs, footrests and ergonomic keyboards that support a good posture and spinal alignment can go a long way in avoiding spinal health problems. According to research, ergonomic workstations can potentially improve cycle time and lean processes by 18% and 27%, respectively.

2. Scheduled breaks

corporations should encourage a supportive environment for employees to take short breaks and promote desk exercises. As employees move around and stretch during breaks, it can lower their risk of developing spinal problems.

3. Educational workshops

Corporates can also organize educational workshops that spread awareness about spinal health problems. During these workshops, experts can talk about specific exercises that can improve employees’ spinal health.

4. Supporting mental health

Mental stress and burnout can lead to muscle tension and aggravate spinal health problems. To avoid such situations, companies can offer their employees access to stress management and counseling programmes and help them work on their mental health.

5. Creating spine-friendly workspaces

According to yoga, the spine is the source of all energy. Metaphorically, having a spine is akin to being able to call a spade a spade. Irrespective of how you see it, your spine has a key role to play in your physical and mental well-being.

Corporate workspaces might not always be designed to achieve optimal health levels, but more companies are now gradually realizing the importance of employee wellness. They are relooking at the workplace atmosphere and even prioritizing decisions that could keep their employees healthy. Right from having more ergonomic furniture around to normalizing regular breaks during shifts to organizing educational workshops on the importance of spinal health, they are now working with their employees to foster a healthier workplace.

HCL Healthcare has been driving impact with its employee wellness programmes for corporate companies for years. With a holistic approach, these programmes strive to promote employees’ well-being by keeping professionals healthy and motivated. They channel the potential of counseling, relationship management, conflict resolution, and work-life balance to drive change in corporate workspaces.

Boost Your Brainpower: Daily Tips for an Active Mind

December 20th, 2023 by

Discover key strategies to keep your mind sharp all day. From brain exercises to lifestyle tips, learn how to boost focus and mental agility. Explore 5 effective ways to maintain mental sharpness. Boost your brainpower with daily habits, exercises, and smart lifestyle choices for peak focus. Using the brain effectively is key. It’s like flexing a muscle – the more it’s used, the stronger it gets. But it’s not just about mental marathons; it’s also about knowing when to take a breather.

In the following guide, we’ll explore 5 practical tips that can help anyone keep their mental gears running smoothly throughout the day.

  1. Engage in Mental Exercises

Engaging in mental exercises is like taking your brain to the gym. These activities, such as puzzles, Sudoku, and crosswords, are not just fun; they’re brain boosters, enhancing problem-solving skills and cognitive agility. Even during a busy day, you can incorporate these exercises.

For instance, solve a quick crossword during your coffee break, or play a Sudoku puzzle while commuting. Learning new skills, like a language or an instrument, can be integrated into your routine too.

Dedicate a few minutes in the morning or before bed to learn new skills or practice a musical instrument as a relaxing evening activity. These practices not only break the monotony of a hectic day but also keep your mind sharp and engaged.

  1. Opt for Physical Exercises in your Daily Routine

Physical exercise is crucial for both body and brain health. Activities requiring coordination and balance, such as yoga or dancing, not only tone the body but also boost brain function. Exercise boosts memory and thinking by reducing insulin resistance and inflammation, and stimulating brain-protective growth factors. It also indirectly enhances mood, and sleep, and reduces stress, countering cognitive impairment.

For those with busy schedules, integrating exercise can be simple. Opt for a brisk walk or a short jog during lunch breaks or choose to walk part of your commute. Even short bursts of activity, like a 10-minute yoga session in the morning or a quick dance break between tasks, can significantly enhance blood flow to the brain.

This increased circulation aids in improving memory and cognitive abilities, making physical exercise a key component of a mentally active lifestyle.

  1. Incorporate a Holistic Healthy Diet

A healthy diet plays a pivotal role in keeping the mind sharp. Incorporating brain-boosting foods into your busy day can be simple yet effective. Start with a breakfast rich in omega-3s, like a salmon avocado toast or a handful of nuts. Snack on blueberries or include a spinach salad in your lunch for a midday brain boost. These foods, known for enhancing brain function, are easy to integrate into meals and snacks. Equally important is staying hydrated.

In addition to specific brain-boosting foods, nutritionists stress the importance of a holistic healthy dietary pattern. This includes consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Aim to source protein primarily from plants and fish, which are not only beneficial for the brain but also for overall health.

Keep a water bottle handy and take sips throughout the day. Adequate hydration is essential for cognitive function, helping to keep your mind clear and focused.

Source:

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for mental clarity and stress reduction, even amidst a busy schedule. Regular meditation, even if brief, can significantly clear the mind and enhance focus. In fact research shows that meditation helps calm the sympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and emotional reactivity. It fosters a mindful response to life’s challenges, enhancing overall mental clarity and activity.

For instance, start your day with a five-minute meditation session or take a short meditative break during work. Deep breathing exercises are another convenient method, easily integrated into any part of the day.

Practice deep breaths while waiting for your coffee to brew, in between meetings, or even during a short walk. These practices help in reducing stress and keeping the mind alert, contributing to improved concentration and memory.

  1. Social Interactions and Recreation

Social interaction and recreation are vital for stimulating the brain and enhancing emotional intelligence, even during a hectic day.

Engaging in social activities, like a quick chat with a colleague over coffee or a brief phone call with a friend during a break, can invigorate different parts of the brain. These interactions don’t have to be long; even short, meaningful conversations can boost cognitive skills and mood.

A Journal of Health and Social Behavior report highlights the mental health benefits of a social support network. Reliable friends and family reduce stress, aiding overall brain health and activity.

Incorporating hobbies and recreational activities into a busy schedule can also be manageable and rewarding. For instance, dedicate a few minutes to a hobby you love, like sketching or playing a musical instrument, during your lunch break or after work. These activities provide a mental diversion from daily stressors, keeping the mind engaged and contributing to overall happiness.

Even simple recreational activities, such as a quick walk in the park, listening to a favorite podcast, or engaging in a short gaming session, can act as effective stress busters. They offer a much-needed break, refresh the mind, and help maintain a balance between work and leisure, crucial for mental well-being and productivity.

Conclusion

Maintaining an active mind throughout the day involves a blend of mental exercises, physical activity, a nutritious diet, mindfulness practices, and social interactions. Each element plays a crucial role in enhancing cognitive function, reducing stress, and improving overall mental well-being.

By incorporating these strategies into daily routines, even amidst a busy schedule, one can effectively boost brainpower, enhance memory, and foster emotional intelligence. It’s about finding balance and making small, consistent changes that collectively contribute to a healthier, more active mind.

Paving the way to health through habits

December 18th, 2023 by

Essential Steps to Healthy Habits: From Intention to Action

Discover how to turn your health goals into reality. This blog explores the stages of building healthy habits, offers practical tips, and suggests five key habits for a balanced life.

“Old habits die hard.”

This adage rings especially true when we consider our health and lifestyle choices. Many of us aspire to be more active, eat healthier, and lead a more balanced life. However, the journey from intention to action, and finally to a sustainable habit, is often fraught with challenges. In this blog, we’ll explore the stages of building healthy habits, offer practical tips, and suggest five healthy habits to incorporate into your daily routine.

Building Healthy Habits: Your 21-Day Guide

Have you ever wondered why it’s hard to start a new habit like eating better or exercising? It’s because our daily routines are hard to change. But there’s good news! It’s said that if you do something for 21 days in a row, it can become a new habit. We will help you understand this 21-day rule and figure out where you are in your journey to healthier habits.

Why 21 Days?

The idea is that if you do something every day for 21 days, it starts to feel normal. These 21 days are a small part of the year, but they’re important. Think of it like this: eating one unhealthy meal won’t ruin your health, just like eating one healthy meal won’t make you instantly healthy. It’s what you do most of the time that counts. You don’t need to be perfect, just consistent.

The Four Stages of Building a Habit

  • Contemplation: This is when you’re thinking about making a change but haven’t started yet. You might be here if you know you want to be healthier but aren’t sure how to start.
  • Preparation: Now you’re getting ready. You’ve decided to make a change and are thinking of ways to do it.
  • Action: This is when you start doing the new things you planned, like eating better or exercising.
  • Maintenance: You’ve been doing your new habits for a while, and they start to feel like a normal part of your life.

5 Habits that will pave the way for a healthier YOU

  1. Eat Right: Focus on incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins like fish and chicken, and whole grains. These foods are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A plethora of studies confirm that eating a balanced diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also helps in maintaining a healthy weight and improving overall health.
  1. Regular Exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (like running) each week. This helps you to strengthen the heart, improves circulation, and helps in weight management. It also releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
  1. Managing Stress: Engage in stress-reduction activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Maintaining positive social relationships and seeking professional help when needed are also vital. Good mental health enhances your ability to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. It’s essential for personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to contribute to the community or society.
  1. Adequate Sleep: Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Adequate sleep helps in maintaining cognitive functions, such as attention and memory. It also plays a role in regulating mood and is linked to better heart health, hormonal balance, and weight control.
  1. Routine Health Checks: Schedule regular visits to your healthcare provider for screenings like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other potential health indicators. Preventive healthcare helps in the early detection of disease and opens doorways for better treatments.

How to Stick to Healthy Habits?

Adopting and maintaining healthy habits is a common challenge many of us face. Whether it’s eating better, exercising more, or managing stress, the key to success lies not just in making these changes but in sticking to them. How do we transform these good intentions into lasting behaviors? Here are three effective strategies that can help you maintain your healthy habits over the long term.

  1. Habit Stacking: Habit stacking involves integrating a new habit with an existing one. This pairing creates a natural trigger for the new behavior. For example, if you already have a habit of drinking a cup of tea every morning, you could stack a new habit of reading a health-related article during this time. This association makes the new habit easier to remember and follow.
  1. Start Small: Beginning with small, manageable goals makes the process less daunting and more sustainable. Instead of aiming for an hour of exercise daily, start with 15 minutes and gradually increase the duration. Small successes build confidence and motivation, paving the way for more significant changes.
  1. Consistency: Consistency is the cornerstone of habit formation. Regular repetition of an action reinforces it as a habit. Set a specific time for your new habit, like a 10-minute walk after dinner. The regularity of this practice helps to solidify it as a part of your daily routine, eventually making it second nature.

Conclusion

Embarking on the path to healthier habits is not just about making changes; it’s about transforming your life. While the journey may seem daunting, remember that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Start small, be consistent, and gradually, these habits will become an integral part of your life, leading to a healthier, happier you. Remember, the best time to start is now!

Explore the genetic link to diabetes and learn how family history impacts risk.

November 14th, 2023 by

Discover the hereditary aspects of diabetes and effective strategies to reduce your family’s risk. Prevention begins with understanding the genetic ties.

If diabetes is a frequent guest in your family gatherings, your chances of hosting it increase. But here’s a silver lining: genetics isn’t destiny. While 11% of Indians silently juggle pre-diabetes, awareness is your torch in the dark. Knowing your family history is the first step toward changing the narrative. You have the power to adopt a healthier lifestyle and embrace habits that could defy your genetic script.

Let’s unravel the ties that bind you to diabetes and learn how to loosen the knots.

Diabetes: When Genetics and Lifestyle Intersect

Diabetes often runs in families, like a shadow following a legacy, making the risk of children inheriting the condition markedly higher compared to their peers. The dice of diabetes risk are rolled differently depending on which parent suffers the condition and at what age.

Playing the Numbers: Understanding the Risk

A child’s dice roll with diabetes yields a 1 in 17 chance if the father has type 1 diabetes.

For mothers with type 1 diabetes, the child’s odds shift. If born before the mother turns 25, the chance is 1 in 25, but it drops to 1 in 100 if the mother is older.

  1. If both parents were diagnosed before turning 11, the child’s risk intensifies to between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4.
  2. A mix of diabetes with thyroid issues and immune disorders might skyrocket the child’s risk to 1 in 2.

However, it’s not all written in the stars or the DNA strands. Type 2 diabetes, although it has a hereditary throne, can often be staved off with lifestyle changes.

Type 2 Diabetes: The Genetic-Environmental Tango

  1. Kids face a 30% risk if dad has type 2, slightly more if mom does, and a steep 70% if it’s a parental duo.
  2. Genetic suspects include TCF7L2, ABCC8, and others that manage the glucose-insulin dance.

Environmental factors lead to their own dance, with obesity, a sedentary life, and poor diet as the main partners.

Dodging Diabetes: Your Blueprint for a Healthier Future

Diabetes doesn’t have to be your destiny, even if it’s etched in your family history. With a proactive playbook, you can outmaneuver the shadow of diabetes looming over your genetic horizon. Here’s how to pivot away from its path:

  1. Yearly Health Screenings: Your Early Warning System

Make annual checkups your ritual. These are not just routine; they’re your strategic assessments to foresee and forestall diabetes, especially if you’re in the high-alert bracket due to family history or past health hiccups like gestational diabetes.

  1. The Exercise Equation: Movement is Medicine

Lace up and get moving. Regular physical activity is like a Swiss Army knife for health – it trims your waistline, tames high blood pressure, and tunes up blood sugar levels. Remember, every step counts, from a post-dinner walk to a weekend swim.

  1. Fork Over Sugar: The Diet Makeover

Your plate is a powerful tool. Choose whole grains over white bread, water over soda, and treasure troves of nutrients over empty calories. Eating patterns matter, too – timing your meals can help keep blood sugar levels steady.

  1. Snuff the Puff: Quitting the Smoke Screen

Cigarettes are not just smoke and mirrors when it comes to diabetes risk – they’re a direct threat. Kick the habit to curb your risk.

  1. Soak Up Some Rays: The Vitamin D Factor

A bit of sunshine goes a long way. Vitamin D plays a covert role in insulin function, so bask in some natural light or discuss supplementation with your doctor.

  1. De-stress to Impress: Keep Calm and Carry On

Stress throws your body’s sugar balance off-kilter. Find your zen through meditation, deep breathing, or a heart-to-heart chat – your insulin will thank you.

  1. Pressure Points: Keeping a Lid on Hypertension

High blood pressure and diabetes often go hand in hand. Keep yours in check to stay on the safe side of the health fence.

  1. Weighing In: The Balancing Act

A healthy weight is your shield against type 2 diabetes. It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy. And if weight creeps up, show it the door with smart eating and active living.

  1. Lifestyle Detective: Uncover and Overturn Risks

Examine your daily routine for hidden diabetes triggers. That desk job? Counter it with regular stretches or a walking meeting.

Team Up: You’re Not Solo on This Journey The road to prevention is paved with support – from dietitians, online resources, or your own circle. Share your goals, track your progress with tools like CGMs, and embracing these strategies. You are not just dodging diabetes; you are crafting a lifestyle that is rich in health and low in risk.

Manage Diabetes the right way: Mind, Meal, Motion

November 14th, 2023 by

Unlock the pillars of diabetes management: tailored exercise, balanced diet, and mindfulness for a healthier lifestyle and optimal blood sugar control.

Discover a holistic approach to diabetes management. Incorporate exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness to improve health and stabilize blood sugar levels.

This article will guide you through weaving these tools into the fabric of daily life, crafting a tapestry of management that not only addresses the condition but also enhances overall well-being.

Balanced Bites: Diet Essentials for Diabetes

Managing diabetes effectively requires a vigilant approach to diet, a fundamental pillar in controlling blood sugar levels. It’s not just about what you eat, but also how much, and the synergy of food types on your plate.

Key Dietary Strategies:

  • Carbohydrate Counting: Grasp the amount of carbs in each meal to manage insulin accurately. This could mean knowing that one cup of cooked pasta equals roughly 45 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Portion Sizing: Utilize tools like measuring cups or a kitchen scale to ensure you’re eating the right amount of food, thus keeping your carbohydrate intake in check.
  • Balanced Meals: Aim to include starches, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats in every meal. For instance, a balanced lunch could include a grilled chicken breast, a side of quinoa, steamed broccoli, and slices of avocado.

Three Tips for Effective Diabetes Dietary Care:

  • Coordinate Food and Medication: Align your eating schedule with your medication regimen to prevent blood sugar dips and spikes. Discuss with your healthcare provider the best way to synchronize your meal and medication timings.
  • Choose Low-Glycemic Foods: Incorporate foods with a low glycemic index (GI) that won’t cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly. For example, instead of white bread, opt for whole grain alternatives.
  • Fiber is Your Friend: Increase your daily fiber intake to help manage blood sugar levels. Begin incorporating more fiber-rich foods like oats, lentils, and berries into your meals gradually to reach the recommended 25-30 grams per day.

Three Foods to Limit for Better Blood Sugar Control

When managing diabetes, certain foods can undermine blood sugar control and overall health.

Here are three types of foods to limit or avoid:

High-Sugar Beverages: Steer clear of drinks high in sugars, such as sodas, sweetened teas, and fruit juices. These can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels due to their quick absorption rate.

Refined Carbohydrates: Foods like white bread, pastries, and other baked goods made with refined flour have a high glycemic index and can lead to increased blood glucose levels.

Processed Snacks: Chips, crackers, and other processed snacks often contain simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats that can disrupt blood sugar and contribute to weight gain.

Physical Activity: A Cornerstone in Diabetes Management

Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s lifestyle is a crucial aspect of managing diabetes, as it helps to maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood sugar levels, and boosts insulin sensitivity.

Key Exercise Strategies for Diabetics:

  • Consistent Schedule: Establish a routine that includes a mix of aerobic and resistance training exercises. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as brisk walking or cycling, along with two to three sessions of strength training.
  • Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Checking blood sugar before and after exercise can help you understand how your body responds to different activities and prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity to stay hydrated, as dehydration can affect blood sugar levels.

Three Tips for Integrating Exercise into Diabetes Care:

  • Start Slow and Build Up: If you’re new to exercise or have been inactive, start with gentle activities and gradually increase intensity and duration as your fitness improves.
  • Include Flexibility and Balance Training: Incorporate activities like yoga or Tai Chi to improve flexibility, balance, and muscle strength, which are especially important as you age.
  • Be Prepared: Carry a source of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets or a small snack, in case your blood sugar drops too low during or after exercise.

Three Considerations When Choosing Physical Activities:

  • Personal Preference: Choose activities you enjoy to ensure you stick with your exercise regimen. Whether it’s dancing, swimming, or team sports, enjoying your workouts is key to long-term success.
  • Safety First: Wear proper footwear and use equipment correctly to avoid injury. If you have neuropathy or other diabetes-related conditions, choose low-impact activities to reduce stress on your feet and joints.
  • Consult with Professionals: Work with your healthcare team and possibly a certified fitness professional who understands diabetes management to create a personalized exercise plan that’s safe and effective for you.

By incorporating these strategies and tips into your diabetes management plan, you can use physical activity as a powerful tool to maintain control over your diabetes and improve your overall health.

Role of Mindfulness in Diabetes Care

Mindfulness plays a significant role in diabetes management by encouraging patients to engage in present-moment awareness. This practice can lead to improved decision-making regarding food choices, physical activity, and medication adherence. It also serves as a stress-reduction technique, which is essential since stress can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate.

By adopting mindfulness, individuals with diabetes can better recognize their body’s signals, respond to stress in healthier ways, and maintain a more focused and balanced approach to their daily diabetes care routines.

Types of Meditation

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Use mindfulness meditation to center yourself and reduce stress, which is crucial for blood sugar management. Sit quietly, focus on your breath, and observe thoughts without judgment for short daily sessions.
  • Transcendental Meditation: Transcendental Meditation is ideal for deep relaxation and mental clarity. Choose a mantra, repeat it silently, and let your mind settle into a peaceful state, helping with diabetic fatigue and stress.
  • Moving Meditation: Moving meditation, like Tai Chi or yoga, combines movement with breath for stress reduction and physical balance. It’s beneficial for those seeking a more active form of meditation that also promotes gentle physical activity.

When integrating mindfulness and meditation into diabetes care, consider the following tips:

  1. Avoid setting unrealistic goals. Start with short meditation sessions and gradually increase the duration.
  2. Don’t practice meditation immediately after eating or when you’re likely to be interrupted.
  3. Avoid being harsh on yourself if you find it difficult to focus. Mindfulness is a skill that develops over time.
  4. Do not use meditation as a substitute for medical treatment but as a complementary practice to your existing diabetes care plan.

Remember, mindfulness and meditation practices are most beneficial when performed consistently. With patience and regular practice, they can become valuable tools in managing diabetes.

End Note

Embrace a holistic diabetes management approach combining exercise, balanced nutrition, and mindfulness to enhance health and maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Debunking Diabetes Myths Separating Fact from Fiction

November 14th, 2023 by

India is standing at a crossroads, with a staggering 100 million individuals battling diabetes and a further 136 million on the cusp as pre-diabetics, as revealed by a recent ICMR study. This isn’t just a statistic; it’s a wake-up call echoing across the bustling streets of Goa, which leads the tally, to the quieter lanes of Uttar Pradesh, which shows the lowest prevalence.

This alarming data paints a vivid picture of a nation in urgent need of a health revolution. It’s time for each of us to take a hard look at our daily routines and consciously pivot towards healthier habits.

But, in the realm of healthcare, “Busting Myths and Understanding Facts” is crucial, especially when it comes to chronic conditions like diabetes. Misinformation can lead to unnecessary fear and stigma, while knowledge empowers individuals to manage their health effectively.

By dispelling common misconceptions, we can approach diabetes with the clarity and precision it demands, ensuring that those affected can lead healthier, more informed lives. Let’s dive into some of the most persistent myths and uncover the truths behind them.

Join us as we delve into the heart of India’s diabetes dilemma and discover how we can turn the tide, one healthy choice at a time.

Myth 1: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. While a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, sugar alone isn’t the direct cause. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells and is not caused by lifestyle factors.

Myth 2: People with diabetes should eat diabetic foods.

Fact: Diabetic foods can still raise blood glucose levels, are expensive, and may also have a laxative effect. A balanced diet with portion control, including a variety of foods containing carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat milk, is generally recommended over special diabetic foods.

Myth 3: Insulin injections are painful.

Fact: With the advancement in medical technology, needles have become very fine, and injecting insulin is not as painful as people imagine. Many diabetes patients find that the anticipation of injecting insulin is worse than the actual injection.

Myth 4: If you have diabetes, you can’t eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: People with diabetes can eat sweets and chocolate if they are part of a healthy eating plan or combined with exercise. Moderation is key, and sweets should be eaten in small portions as a treat and not as a regular part of the diet.

Myth 5: Diabetes is not a serious disease.

Fact: Diabetes is a serious condition that, if not managed properly, can lead to various complications like heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-limb amputation. Proper management of diabetes is crucial to prevent these serious complications.

Myth 6: People with diabetes should not exercise.

Fact: Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. Regular physical activity helps your

body use insulin more efficiently and helps control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, according to guidelines.

Myth 7: Diabetes is contagious.

Fact: Diabetes cannot be transmitted from one person to another. It is not like a cold or flu. While factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes, such as environment and genetics, can be shared within a family, it is not directly transferable.

Myth 8: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Although being overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, it is not a certainty that an overweight individual will develop the disease. There are other factors at play, such as family history, age, and ethnicity. Moreover, many people who are overweight never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

These facts emphasize the importance of understanding diabetes as a complex condition influenced by various factors, and they highlight the need for personalized care and management of the disease.

How to separate diabetes myths and facts?

Separating diabetes myths from facts is essential for proper management of the condition and for leading a healthy life. Here are three tips to help you discern the truth:

  1. Consult Healthcare Professionals:

Always seek information from credible sources such as certified healthcare providers. Doctors, dietitians, and diabetes educators have the expertise to provide accurate information about diabetes management. They can help you understand the nuances of the condition and guide you in distinguishing between myths and evidence-based facts.

  1. Educate Yourself with Reputable Sources:

Turn to reputable health information websites, peer-reviewed journals, and publications from established diabetes associations. These sources undergo rigorous review by medical experts and are updated with the latest research findings, ensuring that the information is both current and credible.

  1. Be Skeptical of “Quick Fixes”:

Be wary of any advice or products that promise a quick fix for diabetes. Managing diabetes typically involves a balanced approach, including diet, exercise, and sometimes medication. Any claim that seems too good to be true probably is. Always verify such information with a healthcare professional before considering it.

4. Regularise your preventive health check-up

Remember, a stitch in time saves nine. Periodic health check-ups not only keep you informed about your body condition, it can also help you make the right lifestyle choices to prevent diseases such as Diabetes. If you know the risk factors well in time, diabetes can be well managed and even reversed if you catch the disease at a pre-diabetic stage.

By following these tips, you can navigate through the sea of information on diabetes with a critical eye and make informed decisions about your health or the health of loved ones

End Note

As we conclude our exploration into the intricate world of diabetes management, let’s carry forward the understanding that knowledge truly is power. By learning how to separate myths from facts, we empower ourselves to make informed decisions that enhance our well-being.

Together, we can navigate the complexities of diabetes with confidence and clarity. Stay informed, stay healthy, and let’s transform our approach to diabetes into one of empowerment and positivity.

Zoom Into Eye Health During Work Hours

October 12th, 2023 by

Ever tried working with your eyes shut? Ludicrous, right? Yet, many of us may be unknowingly heading towards a future where our vision might not be as crystal clear as it is today, all thanks to our screen-dominated lives!

So, let’s spare some time on the topic that subtly sneaks into our lives, slowly creeps into our daily routines, and then, without a warning, wreaks havoc – the silent and steady impact of screen time on our precious peepers.

This World Eye Care Day 2023, let’s delve into a tale of eyes and potential problems arising from our every day schedules. Imagine: a nation’s economy being blindsided, quite literally, by an INR 646 billion ($29.4 billion) loss, all due to vision impairments impacting productivity!

Shocking? There’s more. A recent survey by furniture mogul Godrej Interio throws light on an alarming scenario where 65% of the screen-immersed workforce is gradually succumbing to the perils of eye-strain and other optical obstacles, while almost half of them are being haunted by relentless headaches and fatigue.

Hang tight, because together, we’re going to dive deep into the world where our eyes meet technology, and explore how we can navigate through the digital age without sacrificing the health of our sight. Ready to blink less and see more? Let’s zoom in!

Impact of Eye Issues on You

Compromised vision due to eye issues not only affects the ability to perform visual tasks but can also lead to physical ailments like headaches, migraines, and neck or back pain, stemming from strained reading or compromised posture.

In a work context, poor eye health can result in reduced productivity, increased error rate, and potential safety risks, especially in jobs requiring precision and focus. Additionally, consistent visual strain might lead to further deterioration of eye health, perpetuating a cycle of physical discomfort and diminished work efficiency.

1. Digital Eye Care Tips

Embrace the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to rest your eyes.

  • Adjust Monitor Settings: Ensure your computer monitor’s brightness and contrast are adjusted to be in harmony with the surrounding ambient light.
  • Utilize Blue Light Filters: Implement blue light filters on digital screens or invest in blue light filtering glasses to shield your eyes from potentially harmful blue light.
  • Mind the Position: Place the screen at an arm’s distance away and ensure it is placed slightly below eye level.
  • Opt for Suitable Text: Use dark characters on a light background and choose readable, sans-serif fonts, like Arial or Verdana, for digital text.

2. Creating Eye-Friendly Environments

  • Adopt Adequate Lighting: Ensure proper lighting in the workspace to prevent glare and shadows that could cause eye strain.
  • Minimize Glare: Position monitors and lighting thoughtfully to prevent glare and consider using screen protectors to further diminish light reflections.
  • Choose Calming Colors: Utilize neutral or soft colors on walls and furnishings to decrease eye strain and create a visually calming environment.
  • Implement Ergonomic Furniture: Utilize chairs and desks that support an ergonomic posture and help in maintaining an optimal distance and angle from the computer monitor.

3. Exercises to Improve Eye Health at Work

  • Eye Rolling: Gently roll your eyes in a circular motion, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise, to provide a brief break and refreshment to the eye muscles.
  • Focus Shifting: Periodically shift your focus from the computer screen to a distant object and back, which can be particularly helpful in reducing the risk of computer vision syndrome.
  • Palming: Rub your hands together until they feel warm, then gently cup your closed eyes with your palms without putting pressure on them. Take a few deep breaths and immerse your eyes in darkness for a brief, rejuvenating respite.

Conclusion

Remember, integrating eye care into your daily routine, especially during work hours, is vital for maintaining eye health and preventing eye strain in the digitally dominated world. Regular breaks, eye exercises, and creating an environment conducive to eye health are key to sustaining your vision and overall ocular well-being.

Spirituality and Mental Health

October 9th, 2023 by

Merging Paths: Spirituality and Mental Health

Life can be like a wild, bumpy ride, right? Sometimes, keeping our minds happy and healthy gets forgotten with all the rushing around and never-ending to-do lists. It’s like we’re always “on,” and somehow, peace of mind slips through the cracks, making everything feel harder. But guess what? In this busy-bee life, there’s a quiet, peaceful spot waiting for us – it’s called spirituality. And having a guru, a kind, wise guide, is like having a friendly light showing us the way to keep our minds steady and happy. Enter Spirituality and the comforting presence of a guru, crafting a path that’s not just peaceful but also a boon to our mental health.

Spirituality, Not Just a Word

Spirituality is much more than just rituals and beliefs. It is like an open door to a world where we find deeper meanings, feel connected to big, beautiful energies like nature or the universe, and most importantly, find a little peace in our often-buzzing lives.

But How’s Mental Health Fitting into All of This?

Think of your mind like a super busy highway – thoughts zooming by, emotions honking loudly, and sometimes there are traffic jams of stress and worry. Now, when we invite spirituality into our lives, it’s like we’re creating this quiet, peaceful park right next to the hectic road. A place where we can step aside, breathe, and find a moment just for ourselves away from the hustle and bustle.

Merging Paths: Spirituality & Mental Health

  • The Quiet Corner: When we practice spirituality, it’s like finding a silent corner in our minds. It helps us to turn down the volume of the everyday noise, and suddenly, our thoughts get a little quieter, and emotions seem a bit calmer.
  • Happy Chemicals, Anyone?: Engaging in spiritual practices like meditation or mindful walking can actually change our brain! It helps to release chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, which are our body’s natural way of making us feel good and relaxed.
  • Emotional Balance Beam: Spirituality often nudges us to deal with our emotions in a healthy way. It’s like learning to walk on an emotional balance beam – we become better at handling our feelings without tipping over into extreme stress or anxiety.
  • A Stress-buster: The calming practices often found in spiritual paths – think meditation or simply spending quiet time in nature – have a lovely side effect: reducing stress. They give our minds and bodies the chance to hit the reset button, washing away some of the mental dust gathered from daily stresses.

Guiding Light: The Vital Role of a Guru

Embarking on a spiritual journey, where our souls seek serenity and minds hunt for peace, having a guru can be a game-changer. Why? Here are three simple reasons:

  • Navigational Support: A guru acts as a spiritual navigating force, providing direction and ensuring our spiritual quest remains balanced and enlightening.
  • Wisdom Wellspring: Gurus, with their enriched knowledge, become a source of timeless wisdom, helping us comprehend and absorb profound spiritual insights.
  • Emotional Anchor: In our mental and spiritual walk, gurus stand firm as emotional pillars, offering a secure space to explore, question, and understand our internal landscape, enhancing our mental wellness amidst the exploration.

A guru becomes a beacon, lovingly guiding us through the intertwining paths of spirituality and mental tranquility.

Let’s Get Started

  • Small Steps: Start simple – a little meditation, some introspective moments, and a dash of mindfulness in daily activities.
  • Find Your Guru: Seek a guru or a spiritual guide whose words resonate with you and whose teachings feel comforting.
  • Slow and Steady: Remember, no rush! It’s about a gentle, steady journey of exploring and understanding your spiritual self.
  • Make Time: Dedicate a few moments daily to just be with yourself, embracing spiritual practices that elevate your spirit.

Concluding Thoughts: A Peaceful Path Awaits

Weaving spirituality and the guiding light of a guru into our lives isn’t about complexity. It’s a simple, serene, and beautiful journey where our mental health finds a loving partner, creating a space where tranquility, clarity, and positivity gracefully bloom. So here’s to gentle explorations, kindred spirits, and the nurturing of our mental and spiritual selves. May your journey be filled with light and peace.

Six ways walking helps you become healthier

October 9th, 2023 by

Get your shoes on! Six ways walking helps you become healthier.

Research shows that for every 2,000 steps you walk, you reduce the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular diseases and even suffering a premature death by 10%. Following the 10,000-step-a-day rule will help you maximize the benefits. At the same time, the rule can lower the risk of developing chronic diseases like dementia and boost your heart’s health. These numbers are part of extensive research and evidence available today that positions walking and running as a virtuous form of exercise to attain optimal health.

What’s more, is that walking is the easiest form of exercise that one can opt for. Be it a beginner or a regular gym-goer, walking is a versatile activity that can pave the way for several long-term benefits. A key reason why many doctors recommend walking for even the elderly is because it’s age-friendly. Also, you don’t need an expensive gym membership or follow a fad diet while walking. You can start anytime or anywhere you may want.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

While walking and running are good for your health, how can you maximize their benefits? In two studies conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Neurology in

2022, researchers found a strong link between the number of steps walked daily, the speed of walking, and the quantum of health benefits. The two studies recommended walking 30 minutes daily for optimal health levels. The studies also claimed a faster pace will aid in increasing the benefits of walking.

And, if you ever feel left out when your gym buddies are boasting about their workouts just remember walking for an hour every day helps you build stamina, conditions your lungs and heart, strengthens your legs, and prepares your body to handle physical activity better. You don’t even need leg days because walking involves using the glutes, calves, quads, hamstrings, and your core. You can even add a bit of challenge to your regular stroll by walking uphill. Quick fact: Walking uses 200 muscles of your body. No wonder, its benefits rival those of multiple fitness regimes.

How walking can improve your health

1. Counteracting obesity-promoting genes: Harvard researchers studied over 30 weight-promoting genes among 12,000 people to determine how their genetics contributed to obesity. The researchers discovered that among participants who went on brisk walks for 30 minutes every day, the impact of the genes was reduced by half.     

2. Helping with your sweet tooth: If you are someone who can’t lose weight because of your love for desserts, walking can come to your rescue. Two studies conducted by the University of Exeter showed that a 15-minute walk can reduce cravings for chocolate in stressful situations.

3. Lower breast cancer risk: Putting on your shoes and going for a walk can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. In a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, researchers noticed that women who walked at least seven hours a week had 14% less chance of having breast cancer than those who walked for fewer hours. The benefits of walking were seen even among women who had breast cancer risk factors like obesity or were using supplemental hormones.

4. Relief for joint pain: There are multiple studies that have noticed the positive impact of walking on people experiencing arthritis-related pain. It is recommended for arthritis patients as it’s a low-impact exercise. Moreover, it keeps your joints flexible, improves bone health, and lowers the chances of developing osteoporosis.

5. Improves mental health: Physical activity has a lot of potential to enhance one’s emotional well-being. Even a 10-minute brisk walk every day can increase one’s mental alertness, reduce stress, and help with anxiety. According to observations made by the American Psychological Association, adults who got just 2.5 hours of brisk walking in a week saw a 25% lower risk of depression.

6. Speedier recovery: As per a study published in Sports Medicine, engaging in active recovery like walking after an intense workout or strength training can promote blood flow to muscles and support recovery. The cool-down period helps in preventing stiffness of muscles and aids a speedier recovery.

Struggling with walking? Here’s how to make it more fun.

Despite the wide array of health benefits associated with walking, a lot of people shy away from it. The reasons vary, while some find it too slow-paced, others struggle with committing themselves to a targeted step count. Here are a few ways in which you can make walking a lot more fun:

  • Set practical and achievable goals that don’t overwhelm you. Rather than shooting for the moon right from the get-go, start by setting smaller targets like 10-minute brisk walks or walking 2,000 steps a day.
  • Track your progress by wearing a fitness device. Also, reward yourself when you achieve a goal.
  • Put on some music to make your walk more fun
  • Get a walking or running partner to keep you on track
  • Train for a marathon and connect with a community of like-minded people

The all-rounder form of exercise

Walking has in store a whole bunch of benefits that can promote your physical as well as mental well-being. You can start by taking the stairs every day to work or a small walk after lunch hour. Walking during a work call or catching up with a colleague while completing your daily target for steps are some of the other ways you can meet your daily walking target. What’s important to remember is that it’s now how far you have come that matters but the fact that you are showing up every day.

Breast Cancer: Hitting lacs of lives every year in India

September 28th, 2023 by

Every four minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in India, according to a study conducted by Globocon 2020. What’s more is that every eight minutes, breast cancer claims a woman’s life in India. That’s roughly 90,000 lives lost to the disease in a year.

The figures are among the latest set of statistics that highlight how the number of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in India has been constantly on the rise. Over the years, breast cancer has surpassed other types of cancer to become the most prevalent one among Indian women. If experts are to be believed, India sees around 1,78,000 cases of breast cancer every year.

A global problem

Breast cancer is a growing concern not just in India but globally as well. According to WHO estimates, the disease claimed 685,000 lives in 2020, with women being the majority of its victims.

What adds to the problem is the low rates of survival. As the cancer progresses, recovery tends to become difficult. In India, post-cancer survival for women was reported to be around 60%, as compared to 80% in the US.

A common misconception about breast cancer is that it only affects women. As both women and men have breast tissue, both genders are susceptible to the medical condition. Albeit, the number of men being diagnosed with breast cancer is much lower than women. The WHO estimates that around 0.5–1% of breast cancers occur in men. It also happens to be a disease that’s found in every country of the world.

Scope of the problem

Breast cancer is a medical condition when there is abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth in the breast and it leads to the formation of tumors. If left untreated for long, these tumors can spread throughout the body and can even be fatal. While early stages of cancer might not be life-threatening, as the cancer spreads to nearby breast tissue it can create lumps or tumors. More invasive forms of cancer can spread to other organs leading to metastasis which can be life-threatening.

At the same time, there’s a lot of contention about the probable causes leading up to the disease. Doctors believe that factors like old age, obesity, excessive use of alcohol, sustained exposure to radiation, and reproductive health can increase the risk of breast cancer. However, it is not uncommon to see women develop cancer without any identifiable risk factor other than their gender and age (above 40 years of age).

According to medical experts, a family history of breast cancer can also increase the risk of developing the disease. However, as many women are often not well acquainted with their genetic history, they end up being diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced stage.

There is also a group of experts who feel lifestyle factors like a sedentary lifestyle, excessive smoking, drinking, calorific diets, exposure to pollution and chemicals, and insufficient sleep can put women younger than 40 years of age at risk of developing breast cancer. In a 2023 study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-Delhi, doctors found that 30% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in the national capital were below the age of 40 years.

Progress made so far.

Several medical experts claim that breast cancer can occur in women at any age after they attain puberty. However, the chances of women developing breast cancer rise as they grow older. A look at the evolution of medicine shows that there was little change in breast cancer mortality between the 1930s and 1970s and surgeries were the primary mode of treatment. Things changed in the 1990s as more countries recognized the threat that the disease posed and rolled out early detection programmes. These programmes offered comprehensive medical treatment along with effective therapies.

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched several programmes to spread awareness about breast, oral and cervical cancer under the National Health Mission. These programmes are implemented with the help of frontline healthcare workers and also offere screening facilities to promote the early detection of breast cancer.

Treatment possibilities

Breast cancer is commonly treated through a combination of procedures like radiation, oncology, and medical oncology. However, the treatment options also depend on the age and health of the patient, their genetic history, the stage and type of the cancer, and the stage of the tumor, among others. The most common types of treatments that are combined include:

  • Surgeries to remove tumors.
  • Radiation therapy to lower the risk of remission of cancer
  • Medicines that kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. These medications include chemotherapy, hormonal therapies, and targeted biological therapies.

Symptoms you should be looking out for

The thing with breast cancer treatments is that they are likely to be more effective if they are taken at an early stage. The earlier the cancer is detected, the higher the chances of you being able to beat it. To detect cancer early, medical experts recommend women perform a simple breast self-examination every month to spot any irregular lumps or thickening. During these self-examinations, here are five warning signs that you shouldn’t ignore:

  • Any lumps in the breast or armpits
  • Any swelling or thickening
  • Irritation of skin
  • Flaky skin
  • An unusual pain or pulling sensation.

Though there are vaccines available for treating and preventing other kinds of cancers, scientists are yet to make such progress with breast cancer.

Preventive Care to combat the disease.

Prevention is always better than cure. There’s ample research that highlights how rapid diagnosis is linked to effective cancer treatments. Rather than staying ignorant, start by educating yourself about breast cancer. The more educated you are about the disease, the more equipped you will be to fight it. Modern medicine makes it possible to cure cancer and the chances of survival go up if it is detected earlier. Remember by taking out just 30 minutes for a breast self-examination every month, you are adding years to your life.

If you are above the age of 40, it’s time to take better care of your health. Being more mindful about the food you’re eating, the way you are exercising, and prioritizing your preventive health check-up can go a long way to keep you healthy.

Listen to Your Heart: World Heart Day’s Vital Message

September 28th, 2023 by

World Heart Day emphasizes the urgent need for heart health awareness. Its core message advocates for proactive care and tuning into our body’s vital signals.

Did you know that heart health is becoming a pressing concern, especially in the post-Covid era? Recent statistics reveal that Indians, already susceptible to dietary habits and prevalent conditions like diabetes and hypertension, are witnessing a sharp rise in sudden heart attacks.

Shockingly, even the younger generation isn’t spared. As we grapple with this alarming state, it’s imperative to ask: Are we doing enough for our heart health?

This World Heart Day let’s delve deeper into this issue and pledge to prioritize our cardiovascular well-being.

The Stagnation and Surge of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have long been at the forefront of global health concerns. While there have been strides made against CVD, the present landscape paints a concerning picture:

  • Surge in Numbers: Over 20.5 million lives have been claimed by CVD, amounting to nearly a third of all global deaths. This marks a significant jump from the previously estimated 121 million CVD-related deaths. Presently, cardiovascular diseases affect more than half a billion people worldwide.
  • The Preventable Tragedy: The most alarming factor is that up to 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. We’ve seen unprecedented advancements in cardiovascular medicine over the past 50 years. Yet, a vast proportion of global populations, particularly those in dire need, lack access to diagnostic tools, preventive measures, and treatment for CVD.
  • A Concern of Health Equity: The majority of CVD deaths, about 4 out of every 5, occur in low- and middle-income nations. Conversely, progress in CVD health is predominantly seen in high-income countries. This stark disparity underlines a pressing need to address the evident health inequities.
  • Localized Solutions for a Global Problem: Addressing CVD requires a nuanced approach tailored to specific populations. Factors like tobacco and alcohol consumption, sodium intake levels, exposure to detrimental air pollution levels, and physical activity rates vary by region. Policymakers and stakeholders must meticulously analyze these risk factors in their respective regions to identify and address the areas that need urgent attention.
  • In essence, while we’ve made commendable progress in battling CVD in the past, the current rates are alarming. A tailored, inclusive, and aggressive approach is crucial to steer the global community back towards a healthier trajectory.

World Heart Day 2023: A Call to “Use Heart for Every Heart”

Every year, World Heart Day is observed to emphasize the importance of heart health, shedding light on the ways we can keep our heart beating strong. This year’s theme, as declared by the World Heart Federation, resonates with both our physical and emotional well-being: “Use Heart for every Heart.” Let’s dive deep into the essence of this theme and the various dimensions it touches.

1. A Dual Message for Heart Health

While most might assume that World Heart Day solely emphasizes physical heart health, this year’s theme urges us to look beyond. It encourages not only ensuring our heart’s well-being but also to tap into the emotional realm and consider the hearts of others.

  • Tending to Emotional Bonds:

Our hearts aren’t just pumping machines. They are deeply interwoven with our emotions and sentiments. This theme invites us to be more empathetic, understanding, and sensitive to the emotions of those around us. It’s about leveraging our feelings to connect, support, and uplift others.

  • Leading by Example:

When it comes to the physical aspect, it’s about setting a precedent. Guiding society towards heart health by exemplifying good heart practices ourselves.

2. Three-Fold Approach to Heart Health

Heart for Humanity: A staggering 75% of cardiovascular diseases manifest in low to middle-income countries. To genuinely use our hearts for every heart, it’s paramount that we step up, spread awareness, and provide aid to these regions, whether in the form of financial help, resources, or knowledge dissemination.

Heart for Nature: Our actions have led nature to retaliate, with 25% of heart-related deaths linked to air pollution alone. It’s high time we shift our efforts towards restoring the environment. A cleaner planet means healthier hearts for its inhabitants.

Heart for Ourselves: The old adage goes, “Charity begins at home.” Taking care of our heart by adopting healthy lifestyles, managing stress, and practicing regular check-ups ensures we are in a position to help others.

Revitalize Your Heart: 5 Proven Steps to Cardio Bliss

  1. Commit to Daily Physical Activity:
  • When: Ideally in the morning or late afternoon.
  • What to Do: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. This helps lower bad cholesterol levels and increases good cholesterol.
  1. Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet:
  • When: Every meal.
  • What to Do: Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Limit saturated fats, sugars, and sodium. Opt for whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and veggies.
  1. Regular Health Check-ups:
  • When: At least once a year or as recommended by your doctor.
  • What to Do: Keep tabs on blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. These metrics provide critical insights into your heart’s health, enabling timely interventions.
  1. Stress Management Techniques:
  • When: As often as needed, especially during stressful periods.
  • What to Do: Engage in mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. They not only rejuvenate the mind but have proven benefits for heart health.
  1. Limit Alcohol and Quit Smoking:
  • When: Immediately and continuously.
  • What to Do: Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels (up to one drink a day for women and up to two for men). If you smoke, seek help to quit. Both alcohol and tobacco have detrimental effects on heart health.

To Sum it Up: The Essence of World Heart Day

Understanding the severity of heart diseases and their widespread impact makes the commemoration of World Heart Day more crucial. It serves as a reminder to introspect, evaluate our habits that could be detrimental to our heart, and rectify them promptly.

In embracing this year’s theme, let’s pledge not only to use our hearts to ensure its physical health but also to extend values of empathy, understanding, and care towards every heart out there. Because every heartbeat matters.

Are you facing constant burnout?Identifying and Addressing Possible Interventions.

September 20th, 2023 by

Caught in a ceaseless cycle of exhaustion, feeling like you’re just running on empty? You may be facing burn-out, a state of chronic fatigue that blunts life’s vibrancy. This blog acts as your compass, guiding you through this murky terrain.

Spotting the Smoke: Identifying the Warning Signs of Burn-Out

Burn-out, a stealthy thief, quietly saps our energy and motivation, often going unnoticed until it becomes a raging blaze. It emerges from chronic, mismanaged workplace stress, manifesting in subtle signs like constant fatigue, reduced focus, and dwindling enthusiasm.

 Emotional indicators may include heightened sensitivity, while physical signs point to a constant state of exhaustion. Cognitive symptoms can include impaired concentration and decision-making. Recognizing these early wisps of smoke is vital to controlling the fire, making it crucial to be vigilant about our mental and physical health.

It’s often said that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. When it comes to burn-out, the first wisps of smoke may seem innocuous, but they can quickly grow into an uncontrollable blaze if left unchecked. While everyone experiences burn-out differently, common warning signs to watch out for include:

  • Chronic fatigue: You’re feeling tired all the time like you’re “burning the candle at both ends.”
  • Insomnia: When sleep refuses to come, despite you being exhausted.
  • Forgetfulness: Important details are falling through the cracks, like “losing the plot”.
  • Physical symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, or frequent colds, your body’s way of telling you that you’re under too much stress.

If you’re experiencing these warning signs, it’s time to pay attention to the smoke signals. They’re your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down before you burn out completely.

Understanding the Impact of Burn-Out on Your Life

Burn-out, like an uncontrolled wildfire, can seep into all areas of your life, stalling your professional growth and straining personal relationships.

At work, it hampers productivity, turning even routine tasks into uphill battles. It leaves you feeling drained, hampering your ability to engage and enjoy personal relationships. Over time, the joy derived from hobbies and accomplishments wanes, casting a shadow over your overall life satisfaction.

Understanding the expansive impact of burn-out is essential, not only to recognize the seriousness of this condition but also to inspire proactive steps towards healing and recovery.

Effective Interventions for Battling Burn-Out

If you’re feeling the heat, it’s time to douse the flames with some effective burn-out interventions.

  1. Re-evaluate Priorities: It’s easy to lose sight of what’s truly important, especially when you’re knee-deep in work and responsibilities. However, think of it as “separating the wheat from the chaff”. What are the things that truly enrich your life and align with your values?

What are the tasks and obligations that drain you without providing substantial returns? Discarding what doesn’t serve you and focusing on what does, is the first step to prevent yourself from “spreading too thin”.

  1. Set Boundaries: The importance of setting boundaries cannot be overstated. As Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, wisely noted, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me.” Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life.

Don’t bring work home, resist the urge to check your work emails after hours, and learn to say no when your plate is full. Remember, you’re not a superhero and it’s okay not to “burn the candle at both ends”.

  1. Practice Self-Care: Self-care is not about “papering over the cracks” but building a solid foundation of wellness that supports your overall health and well-being.

This involves three critical elements: regular physical activity to release pent-up stress, a balanced diet to nourish your body, and adequate sleep to provide your mind and body with the rest they need to function optimally. Think of self-care as the fuel that keeps your engine running smoothly.

  1.  Seek Support: Dealing with burnout can be a lonely experience, but you don’t have to “go it alone”. Reach out to supportive friends and family, join a support group, or seek professional help from a mental health expert.

As research professor Dr. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” There’s strength in seeking help, and it can be the lifeline you need when struggling with burn-out.

  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation practices into your daily routine can serve as “a breath of fresh air”, helping to mitigate the symptoms of burn-out.

Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress, increase your sense of well-being, and enhance your resilience to life’s stressors. These techniques are not about escaping reality but rather equipping you with tools to better navigate the challenges life throws your way.

  1. Rekindle Your Passions: Engaging in activities that you’re passionate about can act as a natural “pick-me-up” and remind you of the joys life can offer beyond the daily grind. It might be a forgotten hobby, a side project you’ve been wanting to start, or a social cause you care about.

Doing something you love can rekindle your passion, provide a sense of accomplishment, and serve as a powerful antidote to the monotony that often fuels burnout.

  1. Take a Break: Sometimes, you just need to hit the pause button and take a breather. Consider it as taking “a step back to leap forward”. Short, regular breaks during your workday can help maintain your energy and focus.

Use your vacation days for rest and rejuvenation, not just for tackling your growing list of household chores. If the situation allows, consider taking a longer sabbatical. This break from routine can provide valuable perspective and help you return with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

Conclusion

Burn-out needn’t consume your life. By recognizing its signs and implementing effective strategies, you can extinguish these flames, reclaim your vitality, and restore balance. Remember, it’s time to thrive, not just survive.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is burnout and how is it different from regular stress?

Burn-out is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by cynicism and detachment, resulting from prolonged and excessive stress. Unlike regular stress, which can lead to over-engagement, burnout manifests in disengagement, a lack of energy, and reduced productivity.

  1. Is burnout a medical condition?

While burn-out itself is not classified as a medical condition, in 2019 the World Health Organization included it in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. It can lead to several physical and mental health issues if not addressed.

  1. As a manager, how can I prevent burnout within my team?

Proactively cultivating a healthy work environment is key. Encourage work-life balance, recognize employees’ efforts, provide opportunities for professional growth, and ensure workload is manageable and fair. Open communication about stress and well-being can also help in the early detection and prevention of burnout.

  1. I’m a high-performing professional. Am I at risk of burnout?

Yes, high-performing individuals can be at greater risk, as they often have high standards and responsibilities, work longer hours, and may struggle to balance work and personal life. Recognizing this risk is the first step toward prevention.

  1. Can taking a vacation cure burnout?

While vacations can provide a short-term respite from stressors contributing to burnout, they aren’t a complete solution. Addressing burnout effectively often requires fundamental changes in your work habits, environment, and lifestyle.

Cherishing Moments: World Alzheimer’s Day and Dementia Support

September 20th, 2023 by

World Alzheimer’s Day underscores the global effort to combat dementia. India’s initiatives, like the Dementia India Alliance, showcase commitment to early detection, care, and widespread awareness.

Blog Body

Every year, as the calendar flips to 21st September, a silent call to action reverberates across the globe: World Alzheimer’s Day. But why is this day so crucial? Consider this: over 4 million people in India alone grapple with some form of dementia. Yet, a staggering 90% of these cases remain cloaked in shadows, undiagnosed due to stigma and unawareness.

Imagine the countless stories, memories, and experiences fading away, unnoticed. This month, as communities worldwide unite in hosting memory walks, fundraisers, and awareness campaigns, we’re not just marking a day. We’re embarking on a journey to unravel the tales behind the stats and explore the profound impact of awareness.

Turning the Tide: ‘Never too Early, Never too Late’

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s no different. This World Alzheimer’s Month 2023, we’re focusing on a simple yet powerful message: ‘Never too early, never too late’.

So, what’s the big idea? Well, imagine catching a problem before it gets out of hand. That’s what this campaign is all about. By spotting the early signs and making smart choices, we can change the course of our future. And if someone already has a diagnosis? It’s like the old saying goes, “Better late than never.” There’s always room to make positive changes.

Here’s food for thought: our actions today can shape our brain’s health tomorrow. And with the number of people with dementia expected to triple by 2050, it’s high time we sit up and take notice.

India’s Proactive Approach to Dementia Care

In a praiseworthy initiative, the Dementia India Alliance (DIA), a charitable entity, introduced a national dementia helpline and DemClinic, a digital platform for memory assessment.

DemClinic stands out as a groundbreaking platform offering specialized cognitive evaluations for seniors, addressing dementia care needs in India.

Navigating the Maze of Alzheimer’s: Signs, Symptoms, and Early Detection

  1. What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It’s the most common cause of dementia, a broader term for cognitive decline severe enough to interfere with daily life. Over time, the disease damages and kills brain cells, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

  1. Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For:
  • Memory Loss: Forgetting recent events, names, or appointments, especially if it’s happening more often.
  • Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks: Struggling with tasks that were once routine, like preparing a meal or driving.
  • Confusion with Time or Place: Losing track of dates, and seasons, or having trouble understanding events that aren’t happening immediately.
  • Trouble with Visual Images: Difficulty reading, judging distances, or distinguishing colors.
  • Problems with Words: Struggling to follow or join a conversation, repeating oneself, or grappling to find the right word.
  • Misplacing Things: Putting items in unusual places and not being able to retrace steps to find them.
  • Decreased Judgment: Making poor decisions, like giving away money or neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Withdrawal from Social Activities: Avoiding hobbies, social events, or other engagements.
  • Mood Changes: Experiencing mood swings, depression, or becoming easily upset.
  1. Cognitive Tests for Early Detection:

Early detection of Alzheimer’s can make a significant difference in managing the disease. Here are some tests that can help:

  • Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE): A brief 30-point questionnaire testing various cognitive functions, including arithmetic, memory, and orientation.
  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA): Assesses different cognitive domains: attention, concentration, executive functions, memory, language, visual construction skills, conceptual thinking, calculations, and orientation.
  • Clock Drawing Test: A simple task where the individual is asked to draw a clock and set a specific time. It helps assess visual and spatial functioning.
  • Neuropsychological Tests: Comprehensive assessments that measure memory, problem-solving, attention, language, and other cognitive abilities.

Taking these tests can be the first step in understanding one’s cognitive health. If you or someone you know is showing signs of cognitive decline, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. Early detection and intervention can pave the way for better management and improved quality of life.

Steering Clear of Alzheimer’s: Proactive Steps for a Healthier Brain

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually erodes an individual’s memory, thinking, and behavior. While aging remains its most significant risk factor, there are proactive measures one can adopt to mitigate its onset.

Steps to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk:

  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise is paramount. It not only benefits your heart, circulation, and mental well-being but also reduces the risk of dementia. Whether it’s aerobic activities that get your heart pumping or strength-building exercises, the key is consistency and enjoyment.
  • Eating Healthily: A balanced diet can lower the risk of dementia and other health issues like heart disease and diabetes. Embrace a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red meat and sugars.
  • Don’t Smoke: Smoking harms blood circulation, including the vessels in the brain. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia.
  • Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can elevate the risk of dementia. It’s recommended to limit alcohol to no more than 14 units a week, spread across several days.
  • Stay Mentally and Socially Active: Engaging in brain-challenging activities can delay or even prevent dementia. This includes puzzles, reading, learning new skills, or even social interactions. Remember, a lively mind is a healthy mind.
  • Take Control of Your Health: Regular health check-ups can detect potential risk factors. Conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, when managed effectively, can reduce the risk of dementia.

By adopting these measures, one can not only lead a healthier life but also create a robust defense against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Remember, it’s never too early or too late to start making these positive changes.

To Sum it Up

In recognizing World Alzheimer’s Day, we spotlight the urgent need for awareness and support surrounding dementia. India’s proactive steps, like the Dementia India Alliance’s initiatives, exemplify the global commitment to early detection and care. Together, we can pave a path of understanding, compassion, and hope for those affected.

A Shared Responsibility: World Patient Safety Day Advocacy

September 19th, 2023 by

World Patient Safety Day underlines shared responsibility, emphasizing a collaborative approach for safer healthcare outcomes through advocacy.

When we step through the doors of a healthcare facility, there’s an inherent trust, a silent hope, that we are entering a sanctuary of healing and care. We all envision receiving the pinnacle of medical attention, unmarred by flaws. However, reality often paints a different picture, reminding us of the pressing need for continual improvement.

World Patient Safety Day isn’t just a date on the calendar; it’s a clarion call. A reminder that the journey towards optimal healthcare is ongoing, and every individual deserves not just care, but care that is safe, undiluted, and of the highest quality.

Diving into Numbers

The idiom “First, do no harm” should resonate in the corridors of every healthcare facility. Despite this, evidence suggests that up to 1 in every 10 patients is harmed during medical care. A deeper understanding of the stats paints a clearer picture:

  1. As much as 80% of harm in primary and ambulatory settings can be evaded.
  2. Common causes include medication errors, unsafe surgical procedures, and patient falls, among others.

Globally, the indirect cost of patient harm equates to trillions of US dollars each year. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. But, in this context, prevention ensures that there is no need for further cure.

The Common Culprits

Several common sources of negligence of patient safety include:

  • Medication Errors: They affect 1 out of every 30 patients, with half being severe.
  • Surgical Errors: Despite the high number of surgeries, 10% of harm is attributed to surgeries.
  • Healthcare-associated Infections: These add additional burdens to patients and the system.
  • Diagnostic Errors: Surprisingly, most people will experience a diagnostic error in their lifetime.

The list doesn’t end there. From patient falls and venous thromboembolism to pressure ulcers and unsafe transfusion practices, the risks are myriad. This only underscores the urgency to improve safety protocols and measures.

Towards a Safer Health System

The root cause of these harms often stems from systematic issues rather than individual negligence. For safer healthcare, emphasis should be on:

  • Prioritizing safety.
  • Ensuring safe work environments.
  • Continuous training of healthcare workers.
  • Engaging patients and families in policies.
  • Regular reporting of patient safety incidents for constant learning and improvement.

Elevating the Voice of Patients: World Patient Safety Day 2023

On 17 September 2023, World Patient Safety Day is observed, shedding light on the paramount importance of involving patients, their families, and caregivers in the safety protocols of healthcare. This initiative celebrates the indispensable role these individuals play in making healthcare safer and more effective.

What’s India’s stand here?

India is actively enhancing its healthcare quality and patient safety. Key frameworks include the Consumer Protection Act and Clinical Establishment Act, addressing medical negligence and patient rights respectively. Institutions like NPPA and DCGI monitor medication and device safety. The NHSRC sets quality standards for public health institutions, while the NABH accredits hospitals.

Regular national health reports are issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Programs like Adverse Events Following Immunization and Pharmacovigilance Program assess unsafe care. National guidelines focus on cleanliness, hygiene, and infection control. Additionally, standard treatment protocols, drug quality checks, and strict standards for blood banks are in place.

HCL Healthcare

At HCL Healthcare we are fostering a culture of Patient Safety First. Our clinics are NABH accredited and follow the highest standards of patient safety. To ensure well-being and quality of care, many initiatives have been undertaken under the ambit of the highest standards of patient safety.

  • Experienced and efficient team of healthcare professionals
  • Emphasis on Patient Safety and Quality as Organizational Culture
  • Maintaining high standards of Infection Prevention and Control
  • Periodic hazard identification, risk assessment, and mitigation
  • Regular Assessment and Reporting of Occupational Health Hazards
  • Training on Emergency response preparedness
  • Focus on Emotional and Mental Wellbeing
  • Leadership Involvement and Employee Engagement and Participation in developing safety programs

The Transformative Power of Physical Therapy: Celebrating World Physical Day

September 8th, 2023 by

In the bustling heart of the corporate world, where deadlines loom large and the hum of computers is constant, there was a man named Ravi. Every morning, as the sun painted the sky with hues of orange and pink, Ravi would wake up with a stiffness in his shoulders.

Some days, it felt like a weight was pressing down on him, not just from the pile of work on his desk, but from the frozen shoulders that made even the simplest tasks feel like a mountain to climb.

As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the pain traveled from his shoulders to his back. Every time he bent down to pick up a file or sat for long hours in front of his computer, a sharp pain would shoot up his spine.

But like many in the corporate world, Ravi wore his pain like a badge of honor. He believed it was a small price to pay for success. Little did he know, this constant neglect would lead to consequential illnesses.

One fateful day, Ravi collapsed in his office. The constant pain had taken a toll on his overall health, leading to high blood pressure and severe stress. His body, which he had ignored for so long, was now screaming for attention.

What do you think he missed?

Ravi’s story is not unique. Many of us ignore the initial signs of discomfort until they escalate into major health issues. Had Ravi paid attention to his pain early on, he could have consulted a physical therapist.

Physical therapy is not just for post-operative care or sports injuries. It’s a proactive approach to understanding your body, and identifying and addressing potential problems before they become severe.

A physical therapist would have assessed Ravi’s posture, the ergonomics of his workstation, and his daily routine. They would have provided exercises to strengthen his muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.

When done regularly, simple stretches can alleviate the symptoms of frozen shoulders and back pain. Moreover, a therapist would have educated Ravi on the importance of taking regular breaks, maintaining a good posture, and using ergonomic furniture.

If you find yourself relating to Ravi’s story, it’s time to act. Here’s what you should do:

  • Listen to Your Body: The first sign of discomfort or pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Don’t ignore it.
  • Consult a Physical Therapist: Whether it’s a niggling pain in your back or stiffness in your neck, consult a physical therapist. They can provide a proper assessment and a tailored exercise regimen.
  • Incorporate Daily Stretches: Simple stretches can make a world of difference. Incorporate them into your daily routine, especially if you have a desk job.
  • Maintain Proper Ergonomics: Ensure that your workstation is set up correctly. Your chair, desk, and computer should be in proper alignment to reduce strain on your body.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Every hour, take a 5-minute break. Stand up, walk around, and stretch your muscles.
  • Stay Active: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Keep your body moving, whether it’s a walk during lunch or a quick workout session after work.

The Transformative Power of Physical Therapy in Daily Work Lives

In today’s fast-paced work environment, physical therapy emerges as a beacon of relief. It’s not just about recovery; it’s about integrating wellness into our daily grind. By incorporating targeted exercises and stretches, employees can combat the strains of prolonged sitting and repetitive tasks.

Physical therapy offers tools to correct postural imbalances, reduce mental stress, and enhance overall productivity. As we navigate the challenges of our professional lives, embracing the transformative power of physical therapy ensures we’re not just working hard, but also working smart, prioritizing our well-being alongside our ambitions.

To Sum it Up

This World Physical Day, let’s pledge to prioritize our health. Physical therapy is transformative, not just in healing but in preventing potential health issues. Remember, your body is your most significant asset. Treat it with the care and attention it deserves.

Navigating Workplace Relationships with the Power of Positive Office Bonds

September 6th, 2023 by

Workplace relationships play a pivotal role in shaping our mental health. Discover the profound connection between positive office interactions, enhanced morale, and a boost in overall employee productivity.

Ever felt like you’re walking on eggshells around a colleague? It’s no secret that our relationships at work can make or break our day. Just as “birds of a feather flock together,” we naturally gravitate towards those with whom we share a good rapport.

But what happens when the waters get muddied? In this exploration, we’ll delve into the profound impact of workplace relationships on our mental health.

The Ripple Effect of Office Dynamics

Ever played with dominos? You know, when one falls, it makes all the others fall too? That’s kind of like the “ripple effect.” Imagine if one domino was a bit grumpy and knocked others down in a not-so-nice way. It would change the whole game, wouldn’t it?

Similarly, in an office, when your colleague is happy or sad, it can affect everyone else too. Just like those dominos!

The Science Bit:

Now, let’s sprinkle in some science! Our brains have something called “mirror neurons.” Think of them like tiny copycats. When we see someone smile or frown, these neurons make us feel a bit of what they’re feeling. So, if someone’s happy or sad at work, it’s like our brain’s copycats want us to join in on the feeling too!

Isn’t it cool how we’re all connected in some way? Just like a chain of dominos or a pond with ripples!

Beyond Hours: The Mental Perks of Work Bonds

The modern workplace isn’t merely a space for task completion; it’s an ecosystem where interpersonal relationships play a pivotal role in determining well-being and productivity. Forming close bonds with colleagues has distinct psychological advantages.

  1. These bonds offer emotional support. Facing challenges, meeting tight deadlines, or navigating workplace politics becomes more manageable when one has allies to lean on. The camaraderie built on shared experiences can act as a buffer against workplace stress, mitigating feelings of isolation and burnout.
  1. Such relationships often lead to increased job satisfaction. Knowing that the workplace houses friends rather than just colleagues can transform one’s outlook, making daily routines more enjoyable. This positive attitude can, in turn, lead to higher motivation levels and enhanced performance.
  1. Work bonds facilitate open communication and collaboration. Trusting relationships foster a sense of safety, encouraging individuals to voice opinions, share ideas, and seek feedback. This collaborative spirit not only advances innovation but also promotes personal growth.

In essence, the psychological benefits of forming bonds at work extend beyond immediate emotional support. They create an environment where individuals feel valued, understood, and motivated, leading to both personal and organizational success.

From Colleague to Confidante: Finding Balance

Striking a balance between professional obligations and personal connections at work is both an art and a science. This balance is vital, given that both dynamics can significantly influence mental well-being and job satisfaction.

1. Recognize the Value of Both: Personal connections can act as a refuge from work-related stressors, offering emotional support and camaraderie. On the other hand, a purely professional dynamic ensures efficiency, focus, and role clarity. Both are integral to a fulfilling work experience.

2. Set Clear Boundaries: While it’s wonderful to have friends at work, it’s crucial to draw boundaries. Personal issues shouldn’t impact professional decisions, and work disagreements shouldn’t spill over into personal friendships. Establishing these boundaries early on can prevent misunderstandings.

3. Prioritize Open Communication: Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing potential conflicts or issues stemming from personal relationships. Open dialogue can preemptively address and resolve many problems.

4. Celebrate Diversity of Thought: Encourage team members to appreciate diverse perspectives. Personal connections shouldn’t lead to echo chambers where dissenting views are unwelcome.

5. Separate Feedback from Personal Feelings: When giving or receiving feedback, ensure it’s based on work performance and not influenced by personal feelings. Constructive criticism helps in professional growth and should be devoid of personal biases.

6. Engage in Team Activities: Organizing group activities that mix both personal and professional elements—like team-building exercises—can help in meshing these two dynamics harmoniously.

Conclusion

Personal connections at work can be incredibly enriching, but they require mindful management to ensure they coexist harmoniously with professional roles and responsibilities. When done right, they can be pivotal in fostering a work environment characterized by trust, respect, and holistic well-being.

From Zero to Zen: The Mindful Way to Tackle Office Stress

September 6th, 2023 by

Unlock the power of mindfulness for office stress relief. ‘From Zero to Zen’ offers tailored techniques to achieve calm and focus at work. Begin your mindful journey now!

Ever felt like a fish out of water in the hustle and bustle of the office? You’re not alone.

For many, the modern workplace can seem like a pressure cooker, bubbling with looming deadlines, incessant emails, and never-ending meetings.

This relentless pace can leave even the most seasoned professionals gasping for breath. But what if there was a way to navigate this sea of stress, charting a course from flustered to focused?

Mastering the Mind: The Basics of Mindfulness

Think of the mind as an ocean, sometimes calm and at times tumultuous. Practicing mindfulness helps us navigate these waters without getting overwhelmed. Similarly, it ensures we’re not on autopilot in life, but actively engaged and present.

Scientific studies show that mindfulness and meditation can rewire the brain’s response to stress, enhancing working memory and executive functioning. Neuroimaging studies confirm these benefits. Mindfulness practices help manage difficult emotions effectively, promoting equanimity and better stress management in the workplace.

Office Oasis: Techniques for Daily Calm Amidst Chaos

Amidst the swirling tornado of tasks, emails, and meetings, the workplace can often feel anything but serene. But with the right techniques, you can transform your office environment into an oasis of calm and focus. Here are five techniques to help you do just that.

  1. Deep Breathing
  • The Science Behind It: Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, activates the body’s relaxation response. It reduces the production of stress hormones, leading to a state of calm.
  • Expand Your Practice: To amplify the benefits, incorporate visualization with deep breathing. Imagine each inhalation bringing in calmness and each exhalation expelling stress and negativity.
  • Quick Tip: Set hourly reminders on your computer or phone to take a couple of deep breaths. Over time, this practice can significantly reduce overall stress levels.
  • Situations it Helps With:
    • Pre-meeting Jitters: Those few minutes before an important meeting can be anxiety-inducing. A deep breathing session can help center you.
  • Conflict Resolution: If you’re amid a heated discussion, a few deep breaths can help you respond calmly.
  • Overwhelm: When the workload seems insurmountable, taking a deep breathing break can help to regain perspective.
  1. Desk Yoga
  • The Science Behind It: Even simple stretches can enhance blood circulation, ensuring that oxygen reaches all parts of the body and brain, thus boosting energy and focus.
  • Expand Your Practice: Consider incorporating a mini-routine of 3-5 stretches each morning and afternoon. Over time, you might find that not only does your mental clarity improve, but physical aches and pains diminish.
  • Quick Tip: Share the benefits with colleagues by initiating a 5-minute group stretching session. It’s a great way to break the ice and boost team morale.
  • Situations it Helps With:
    • Prolonged Sitting: If you’ve been at your desk for hours, some stretches can alleviate the stiffness.
    • Mid-afternoon Slump: Instead of reaching for another coffee, some simple desk yoga can rejuvenate you.
    • Post-lunch Digestion: Gentle stretches can help stimulate digestion, especially if you’re feeling sluggish after a meal.
  1. Mindful Breaks
  • The Science Behind It: Regular breaks can prevent decision fatigue, a cognitive decline that occurs after making too many decisions in a short time.
  • Expand Your Practice: Try a technique called the “5-4-3-2-1” sensory grounding exercise. Identify five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. This practice swiftly grounds you in the present moment.
  • Quick Tip: If you’re working from home, consider stepping out for a brief nature break. Just a few moments of listening to birds or feeling the wind can be immensely refreshing.
  • Situations it Helps With:
    • Decision Fatigue: If you’ve been making decisions all day, a mindful break can help reset your brain.
    • Creative Block: When you’re stuck on a problem or project, stepping away mindfully can help you return with a fresh perspective.
    • Post-task Transition: After completing a significant task, a mindful break can help you transition smoothly to the next activity.
  1. Visualization
  • The Science Behind It: Visualization can prime the brain for success. By imagining a task’s successful completion, we can train our brains to create pathways for the actual performance of that task.
  • Expand Your Practice: Beyond calm scenarios, visualize yourself handling difficult situations with grace, be it a challenging conversation or a tough project.
  • Quick Tip: Visualization becomes more potent with consistency. Carve out 5 minutes daily, preferably in the morning, to set a positive tone for the day.
  • Situations it Helps With:
    • Preparation for Big Projects: Visualizing the steps and successful completion can boost confidence.
    • Public Speaking: If you’re nervous about a presentation, visualize yourself succeeding and receiving positive feedback.

Conclusion

By integrating mindfulness practices, individuals can navigate professional challenges with grace and poise. The techniques offered are not just coping mechanisms, but tools to cultivate inner peace and boost productivity, making the workplace a more harmonious environment.

Uncovering the Key Signs of a Resilient Mind

August 21st, 2023 by

Uncovering the silent signs of mental strength. From emotional resilience to self-control, these subtle indicators reveal the power of the mind often hidden in plain sight.

Have you ever wondered, “What makes a person mentally strong?” It’s not as clear as black and white. Mental strength isn’t just about weathering the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, maintain a positive outlook, and keep going when the going gets tough. It’s about resilience, self-control, and the capacity to turn challenges into opportunities.

In this blog, we will delve into the key signs of mental strength, helping you to recognize and cultivate these traits within yourself.

Decoding The Science First

Mental strength involves the dynamic interplay of our brain’s neural pathways, hormones, and other physiological processes. It hinges on neuroplasticity, our brain’s capacity to adapt and change. When we engage in resilience-building activities, we develop more robust neural connections, enhancing our capacity to manage stress.

Additionally, our bodies regulate hormones like cortisol, known as the stress hormone, and endorphins, which elevate mood. Practices such as mindfulness and exercise influence these systems, modulating stress responses, and promoting mental strength. Therefore, mental strength isn’t merely a psychological attribute, but a biologically rooted trait interweaving our minds, brains, and bodies.

How to find out if I am mentally strong?

Recognizing mental strength in oneself can be an enlightening journey of self-awareness and personal growth. It’s about gauging your ability to navigate life’s complexities, your resilience in the face of adversity, and your capacity for emotional regulation. To assist in this exploration, here are five key signs that you may possess considerable mental strength:

1. You’re the Captain of Your Emotions

Mental strength is often reflected in emotional regulation. Rather than being a “leaf in the emotional wind”, you demonstrate control over your feelings, understanding them without letting them overwhelm or dictate your actions. For example, you might feel frustrated with a work project, but rather than succumbing to anger or despair, you take a deep breath, recognize your emotions, and focus on finding a solution.

2. You Turn Lemons into Lemonade

This means making the best out of difficult situations, a characteristic feature of mentally strong individuals. When life throws curveballs your way, instead of viewing them as insurmountable hurdles, you see them as opportunities for growth. For instance, losing a job can be devastating, but you use it as an impetus to explore new career paths or to develop new skills.

3. You’re an Emotional Rock

Being an ’emotional rock’ signifies your ability to maintain calmness and composure during stressful situations. Your ability to stay grounded, even when things around you are chaotic, signifies mental strength. For example, in a crisis, while others may panic or freeze, you stay calm, think logically, and work on addressing the problem at hand.

4. You Dance in the Rain

This suggests that you don’t merely endure challenges, but you embrace them. You accept hardships as part of life and perceive them as valuable learning experiences, not just unavoidable suffering. For instance, a challenging health diagnosis may spur you to adopt a healthier lifestyle and inspire others with your journey, rather than simply lamenting your circumstances.

5. You Know When to Hold ’em and When to Fold ’em

Adapted from a popular song, this phrase implies that mentally strong individuals know when to persist and when to let go. Stubbornness isn’t always a virtue, and sometimes, conceding, changing paths, or admitting that you were wrong shows more strength than holding on. For example, if you’re in a toxic relationship, acknowledging it and having the courage to walk away exemplifies mental strength.

Enhancing Mental Resilience: Two Practical Exercises to Build Mental Strength

Building mental strength, like physical strength, requires dedication, consistency, and targeted exercises. Here are two effective exercises designed to enhance your mental resilience: practicing mindfulness and engaging in cognitive reframing.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that cultivates presence and awareness, allowing you to better manage stress and emotions.

Steps:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep, calming breaths.
  • Gradually shift your focus to your breath, noticing the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation of air entering and leaving your nostrils.
  • If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath. The goal isn’t to empty your mind but to observe your thoughts without judgment.
  • Start with 5 minutes daily and gradually increase the duration.

2. Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing involves changing negative thought patterns into positive ones, promoting mental flexibility and resilience.

Steps:

  1. Identify a situation that induces stress or negative emotions. Write it down.
  2. Note down the thoughts you associate with this situation. Be honest, even if they’re negative.
  3. Challenge these thoughts. Are they factual, or are they based on assumptions or worst-case scenarios?
  4. Now, reframe these thoughts positively. For instance, if you’ve noted, “I’ll never succeed at this project,” reframe it to, “This project is challenging, but I will learn and grow, regardless of the outcome.”
  5. Repeat this exercise regularly to develop more positive and adaptive thinking habits.

Takeaways:

Building mental strength is a lifelong journey, not a destination. Embrace these exercises as part of your routine to cultivate resilience, improve emotional regulation, and navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and confidence.

Sugar-Coat Not: The Hidden Side of Ultra-Processed & Sweetened Foods

August 21st, 2023 by

Unmask the hidden truths behind ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners – explore their complex health implications and possible long-term side effects with us.

Blog Body:

In today’s world of convenience and haste, ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners have become the ‘bread and butter’ of many diets. Yet, beneath the appealing wrapper of these ‘quick-fix’ meals and ‘sugar-free’ delights, lurk complex realities. Researchers alarmingly assert that nearly 60% of our caloric intake stems from such foods. Remember the adage, ‘You are what you eat’?

This blog aims to turn over a new leaf in your understanding, by unmasking the intricate dance between the seemingly attractive benefits and potential long-term side effects of these modern dietary ‘norms’.

Spilling the Beans: The True Nature of Ultra-Processed Foods & Sweeteners”

Let’s face it: in today’s fast-paced world, convenience often trumps quality, especially when it comes to food. Ultra-processed foods – the ‘big cheeses’ in our daily diet – are those products that have undergone several stages of processing, often laden with additives, preservatives, and, most notably, artificial sweeteners. They are the poster child for the idiom “fast food, fast problems”.

Research reports that ultra-processed foods make up almost 60% of total dietary energy in the United States. This statistic might not ‘sit well’ with most of us. Imagine your diet as a large pie; over half of it is filled with foods such as pre-packaged snacks, sodas, ready-to-eat meals, and a myriad of products often high in sugar, salt, and fat – a recipe for health troubles.

Artificial sweeteners, the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, give us the illusion of enjoying sweetness without the caloric guilt. Saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, among others, are common substitutes that allow us to have our cake and eat it too.

But should we? Stay tuned as we slice through the sugar-coated myths and lay bare the often-overlooked realities of these dietary staples.

Silver Lining: Unveiling Benefits of Ultra-Processed Foods & Sweeteners

While ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners often get a bad rap, there’s a reason why they’re ‘selling like hotcakes’. The truth is, there are some undeniable benefits nestled within these ‘guilty pleasures’.

Ultra-processed foods are often the ‘apple of our eye’ when it comes to convenience. In our ‘rat-race’ lives, these foods – ready meals, snack bars, and processed meats – offer the luxury of time.

Meanwhile, artificial sweeteners play the role of ‘saving grace’ for individuals managing weight or blood sugar levels. By mimicking the sweetness of sugar sans the calories, these substances ‘hit the sweet spot’. The American Diabetes Association acknowledges its utility in managing carbohydrate intake without compromising taste.

But before we ‘put all our eggs in one basket’, it’s crucial to acknowledge that these benefits come with a side of caution. Delve deeper with us as we continue to peel back the layers of ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners.

Tip of the Iceberg: Long-Term Side Effects of Ultra-Processed Foods & Sweeteners

As we ‘navigate the waters’ of the world of ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the potential ‘hidden rocks’ – the long-term side effects. The potential harm of these convenient culinary options might just be the ‘tip of the iceberg.’

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked with a 14% higher risk of mortality. Ultra-processed foods can be a ‘double-edged sword’; while they save us time, they could potentially ‘shave off’ years from our lives. These foods tend to be high in sodium, leading to increased blood pressure – a ‘silent killer’.

Artificial sweeteners, despite being ‘sweeter than sugar,’ may have a ‘bitter aftertaste‘. Research indicates a potential link between these sugar substitutes and an increased risk of glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome, ironically the very conditions they’re often used to combat. Let’s take each one of them and understand why you must be mindful of your choices.

Health Complexities of Ultra-Processed Foods

Long-term consumption of ultra-processed foods can lead to several health issues due to their high levels of sugar, fat, salt, and additives, along with low levels of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

  1. Obesity and Weight Gain: Ultra-processed foods are typically high in calories and low in nutrients, leading to overeating and subsequent weight gain. A study published in BMJ found that people who eat more ultra-processed foods have higher risks of obesity and rapid weight gain.
  1. Heart Disease: Due to high levels of saturated and trans fats, regular consumption of ultra-processed foods can increase levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood, potentially leading to heart disease. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study correlating ultra-processed food intake with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  1. Diabetes: Ultra-processed foods often have high sugar content, contributing to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Research in JAMA Internal Medicine found a connection between ultra-processed food consumption and increased risk of developing diabetes.
  1. Cancer: Certain studies, such as one published in The BMJ Today, suggest a link between ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of cancer, although more research is needed to definitively establish this connection.
  1. Hypertension: The high sodium content in many ultra-processed foods can contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  1. Nutrient Deficiency: Despite their caloric content, ultra-processed foods often lack essential nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies if these foods constitute a large part of your diet.

Long-term side effects of Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, also known as sugar substitutes, are commonly used to sweeten food and drink products without the calorie load of sugar. While they’re often considered a healthier alternative, potential long-term side effects have been studied and suggested by scientific research. It’s important to note that research on artificial sweeteners is ongoing and sometimes offers mixed results.

Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes: Contrary to their intended purpose, some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners might contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. This is thought to occur because they may negatively affect gut bacteria and trigger changes in metabolism.

Weight Gain: Despite being low or zero-calorie, artificial sweeteners could contribute to weight gain. One theory suggests that they may increase cravings for sweet food and drink by conditioning the taste buds to a higher level of sweetness.

Heart Disease: Some research, including a study from the American Heart Association, hasfound a correlation between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Gut Health Issues: Artificial sweeteners could negatively affect gut health by altering the microbiome, potentially leading to digestion problems. This is still an emerging area of research.

Neurological Effects: Some sweeteners, like aspartame, have been linked in certain studies to headaches and migraines. There are also ongoing debates about potential neurological effects, including a potential increased risk of conditions like depression and Alzheimer’s disease. In conclusion, while ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners offer convenience and taste, they may pose long-term health risks. Balance and moderation in our diets are key to a healthier lifestyle.

A stitch in time saves nine – Why basic life support training is a must for corporate workforces. 

August 8th, 2023 by

In India, more than 50% of cardiac arrest patients reach the hospital late, according to available data. Not only this, every second heart attack patient in India is taken to a hospital over 400 minutes late – that’s almost 13 times the ideal window of 30 minutes. As per medical experts, the absence of medical care beyond 18 minutes of a cardiac arrest can cause irreversible damage to the body due to the absence of blood supply.  

Scary, isn’t it? The availability of timely and accessible medical care can save hundreds of lives every minute, but such assistance might not always be available. And it’s not just cardiac arrest but emergencies like accidents, fire, smoke inhalation, or drowning also require immediate medical attention and sometimes waiting for an ambulance or for a doctor to arrive can lead to more harm than good. 

Take the case of road accidents. It is estimated that lakhs of people injured in road accidents in India succumb to their injuries within an hour due to not getting immediate medical attention. The few hours or even seconds after an emergency are crucial for a patient and can impact their chances of survival. To that end, basic life support (BLS) training can be a life-saving skill to combat medical emergencies in corporate environments.  

A BLS training module teaches individuals about how to administer critical life-saving techniques like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to manage a medical emergency and possibly save the life of a patient. Although BLS training cannot replace a paramedical or doctor, it can prevent a person’s health from deteriorating any further. 

What comprises BLS training?  

According to the Red Cross, BLS is typically the kind of care that first responders, healthcare professionals, and safety experts are trained to provide to the patient in a medical emergency like respiratory distress, obstructed airways, or cardiac arrest. The training includes the knowledge and confidence to perform life-saving techniques in patients of every age. 

With the advancement of technology, it is now possible to leverage a wide array of digital tools for training corporate employees in BLS skills. Companies can rope in certified professionals to help their employees learn new skills and be equipped with the knowledge that can potentially save lives.  

How can BLS training benefit a company and their employees? 

A BLS training is a hands-on training and a knowledge session that corporate companies organize for their employees to make them more aware and skilled in dealing with emergency care. With staff trained in emergency medical care, companies can avoid unnecessary panicking during a health emergency while ensuring that a patient gets the required help at the right time. Here are a few ways in which BLS training can help both companies and their workforces thrive: 

1. Help in saving lives 

You never know when someone’s health might fail them. Rather than waiting for help to arrive, an employee trained in BLS skills can help out a colleague and save their life. If a person suffers a cardiac arrest, the next few seconds are a matter of life and death. Hence, a procedure like CPR can keep the person’s blood flowing and organs functioning for the time being.  

2. Curb accidents and medical emergencies through awareness 

Having an entire workforce trained in BLS or even first aid can make a significant impact in reducing workplace accidents. The knowledge about these life-saving techniques makes employees more aware of their safety, which can potentially lead to fewer accidents and injuries. At the same time, safety training and more awareness can motivate employees to take better care of their health.  

3. Increased focus on safety 

As medical emergencies don’t knock on your door before arriving, learning skills like CPR or first-aid can be helpful for corporate employees not only in their workplace but at home as well. You might be at home or out for dinner with friends, your knowledge about basic life support and awareness about medical procedures can save someone’s life. 

4. Shortens recovery time  

If a person gets the required medical attention on time in case of a health emergency, there’s a high chance that their recovery period will also be shorter. For instance, in case an employee suffers a cardiac arrest, a procedure like CPR can not only save their life but also lessen its impact on the body. At the same time, a reduced recovery time can also lead to lower medical costs. 

5. Motivates employees 

If a company invests resources in training its staff in a critical skill like BLS training, it goes on to show how the management is constantly looking out for its workforce. By including BLS training in a company’s safety culture, the management can boost employee morale and ensure the well-being of the employees. As a result, employees are also motivated to put in their best for the company’s growth. 

Conclusion 

India Inc has slowly started to understand the importance of having a workforce trained in BLS skills. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, more corporates are taking the route to ensure that their employees can work in a healthier environment, and having a BLS-trained staff is a step in the right direction. Not to forget, such initiatives make workspaces more employee-friendly and help boost cohesion between teams. 

Are You Eating Right? Discover How Nutrition Wards Off Chronic Diseases!

August 8th, 2023 by

There’s an old saying, ‘You are what you eat.’ In our fast-paced world, the age-old wisdom holds more relevance than ever. As we juggle between deadlines and commitments, we often bite off more than we can chew when it comes to unhealthy eating habits.

But do you know that your daily sustenance can be a double-edged sword? It can either serve as a magic bullet against chronic diseases or be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

By tipping the scales in favor of nutritious foods, you pave the way for a healthier future. It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff and discover the role of nutrition in preventing chronic diseases.

The Ties that Bind: Unraveling the Link between Diet, Nutrition, and Chronic Diseases

The adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ rings true when we delve into the intricate relationship between diet, nutrition, and chronic diseases. Our dietary habits, whether they’re a bed of roses or a ticking time bomb, can have a significant impact on our health in the long run.

A diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars, or one that lacks sufficient fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can tip the scales towards poor health.

Such a diet can lead to weight gain and obesity, elevating the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

On the flip side, a nutritionally well-balanced diet can serve as your knight in shining armor. Essential nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, and lean proteins not only cater to the body’s daily functioning but also help build resilience against chronic conditions.

For instance, diets rich in fiber can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can help protect against cell damage and fight chronic inflammation, a root cause of many chronic diseases.

In essence, your diet is not just about satiating hunger; it’s a powerful tool for disease prevention. By making mindful food choices and creating balanced, nutrient-rich meals, you can pave your path to a healthier future and keep chronic diseases at bay.

Fueling the Fortress: What is a Nutritionally Well-balanced Diet?

A nutritionally well-balanced diet is like a symphony orchestra, where each nutrient plays a crucial role, and together they create a harmonious health melody. It involves consuming a variety of foods in the right proportions to achieve and maintain optimal health and prevent chronic diseases.

Here’s what makes up a balanced diet:

  1. Macronutrients: The big three – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy, proteins are essential for growth and repair, and healthy fats support various body functions including the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  1. Micronutrients: These are your vitamins and minerals. They may be required in smaller amounts, but they’re critical for various physiological functions, from maintaining healthy skin and vision to supporting the immune system and bone health.
  1. Fiber: Often overlooked, dietary fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and plays a significant role in preventing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  1. Hydration: Water makes up around 60% of our bodies and is crucial for every cell and function. It helps regulate body temperature, supports digestion, and aids in nutrient absorption.

No single food can supply all the nutrients in the amounts you need. Thus, variety is key. A diet filled with different kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein sources, and healthy fats ensures a broad spectrum of nutrients for optimal health.

A balanced diet doesn’t mean you can never indulge. It’s about moderation and making mindful choices. Remember, the goal of a balanced diet is not perfection, but progress towards healthier choices that can become sustainable habits.

It’s a cornerstone of good health, paving the way to a vibrant, disease-free life.

Navigating the Nutritional Map: Dietary Recommendations for Chronic Disease Prevention

Yes, specific dietary intakes can act as the North Star guiding us towards chronic disease prevention. While it’s crucial to remember that individual nutritional needs can vary, some universal recommendations can help fortify your health fortress.

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: Aim for at least 5 servings a day. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they are a cornerstone of a disease-fighting diet.
  1. Whole Grains: Make half your grains whole. Whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread are high in fiber, which can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  1. Lean Proteins: Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. These can provide necessary proteins without excess saturated fats.
  1. Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources of unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids.
  1. Limit Added Sugars and Sodium: Keep these to a minimum as excessive intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems.
  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to keep your body hydrated and support all its vital functions.

Remember, balance and variety are key. No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs, so it’s important to include a diverse range of foods in your diet.

Pair these dietary habits with regular physical activity for a comprehensive approach to prevent chronic diseases. As they say, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’

Conclusion

Harnessing the power of a nutritionally balanced diet is integral in the battle against chronic diseases. By embracing a variety of nutrient-rich foods, moderating our intake, and making mindful choices, we can steer our health ship towards a safe harbor, effectively warding off the storm of chronic conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a nutritionally well-balanced diet and why is it important?

A nutritionally well-balanced diet includes the right proportions of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), and adequate fiber and hydration. It’s important because it provides the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly, supports growth and repair, and strengthens the immune system. It also plays a key role in the prevention of various chronic diseases.

  1. How do diet and nutrition impact chronic diseases?

A poor diet, particularly one high in saturated fats, sugars, and sodium, can contribute to weight gain, increase inflammation, and lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. On the other hand, a nutritionally rich diet can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and offer protection against these diseases.

  1. What are the dietary recommendations for preventing chronic diseases?

Recommendations include consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, opting for lean proteins, incorporating sources of healthy fats, limiting added sugars and sodium, and staying hydrated.

  1. How can I incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet?

Try to include fruits and vegetables in every meal. They can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Add fruit to your breakfast cereal or yogurt, include vegetables in your sandwiches and wraps, make a veggie stir-fry for dinner, or enjoy fruits and vegetables as snacks.

  1. What are the differences between micronutrients and macronutrients and why are they important?

Macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are nutrients the body needs in large amounts. They provide energy and are essential for growth and repair. Micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, are needed in smaller quantities, but they’re essential for various physiological functions, from bone health to immune support.

  1. How do I make sense of the nutritional information on food labels?

Food labels can help you understand the nutrient content of a product. Look for the serving size and how many servings are in the package. The % Daily Value tells you how much of a nutrient is provided in one serving. Aim for low percentages (5% or less) for nutrients like saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, and high percentages (20% or more) for beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

  1. Can dietary changes alone prevent chronic diseases, or do I need to make other lifestyle changes as well?

While a healthy diet is a powerful tool in preventing chronic diseases, it’s most effective when paired with other healthy lifestyle habits. Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, getting sufficient sleep, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption are all crucial for overall health and disease prevention.

Step Up Your Game: Physical Exercises for Health

August 8th, 2023 by

Unlock the magic of movement! Dive into the sea of benefits that exercise offers. From boosting physical health, and enhancing mental wellness, to improving life’s quality, exercise truly serves as the linchpin for a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn’s words resonate more than ever in our fast-paced, convenience-driven world. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s all too easy to neglect our health, but this path, trodden by too many, often leads to a dead-end.

A recent survey conducted by ICMR reveals that 41.3% of Indians fail to meet the WHO’s recommended physical activity levels.

Urban areas show higher inactivity, with over 60% of women and 44.2% of men not being sufficiently active. The survey also highlights the low practice of yoga, with only 3.5% of adults engaging in it.

These findings shed light on the sedentary lifestyle prevalent in the country, urging the need for more active habits for improved health and well-being

But, you might ask, how exactly does lacing up your sneakers or unrolling your yoga mat make you ‘Fit as a Fiddle’?

Let’s dive into the fascinating science behind exercise and its transformative effects on our bodies and minds. It’s high time to jump on the bandwagon and discover why hitting the gym or simply going for a walk in the park could be your best health insurance policy.

Hold your horses, folks; it’s going to be an invigorating ride.

Fit as a Fiddle: Unveiling Exercise’s Health Perks

Physical exercise is the golden ticket to bolster overall health and well-being. It’s the heart’s personal trainer, enhancing its pumping efficiency and reducing cardiovascular risk factors.

Exercise helps you go the “extra mile” in weight management, burning calories, and sculpting lean muscle. It’s a “hard nut to crack” for bone ailments, enhancing bone density and fending off osteoporosis.

As the ultimate “mood booster”, exercise dispenses ‘feel-good hormones’, alleviating stress and anxiety. It’s the “secret ingredient” for quality sleep, sharp cognition, and robust immunity. Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can have you “fit as a fiddle”. So, let’s get the ball rolling and embrace movement!

The Journey from Couch Potato to Fitness Fanatic

Embarking on a fitness journey can transform a couch potato into a fitness fanatic. Starting slowly, embracing challenges, and optimizing workouts are key.

  1. Couch to 5000 Steps a Day: A Challenge to Embrace

If you’re unsure where to start, consider the ‘Couch to 5000 Steps a Day’ challenge. Just like learning to crawl before walking, this challenge encourages you to start with a small, achievable goal and gradually increase your steps each day.

Think of it as climbing a ladder: You don’t attempt to jump straight to the top; instead, you climb one rung at a time. The American Heart Association recommends at least 10,000 steps a day for optimal health, but starting with 5,000 is a great first step towards this goal.

  1. Burning Rubber: Making the Most of Your Workouts

Kick-starting a fitness journey is about training smarter, not just harder. Interval training, with its mix of high-intensity bursts and low-intensity recovery, is a trailblazer for optimizing workouts. It boosts aerobic capacity, lowers blood pressure, and enhances insulin sensitivity, making every workout more effective.

As you swap the couch for your trainers, it’s not about rushing the race, but ensuring you move forward. Lace up, step up, and set sail on your journey from couch potato to fitness fanatic. Remember, progress is progress, no matter the pace. Embrace the joy of movement and find yourself “fit as a fiddle”.

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball – Exercises for Specific Health Issues

Regular physical activity is crucial for overall health, but some exercises are particularly beneficial for certain health issues. Tailoring your workout regimen to tackle specific health concerns can significantly improve your condition, boost overall health, and enhance your quality of life.

  • Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming strengthen the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. These exercises improve circulation, and lower blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Bone Health: Weight-bearing and resistance exercises like weightlifting, walking, or dancing can improve bone health, essential for those dealing with osteoporosis. They stimulate bone formation and slow down bone loss.
  • Diabetes: Regular physical activity, especially resistance and aerobic exercises, can help control blood glucose levels. They increase insulin sensitivity and assist in managing body weight.
  • Arthritis: Low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming or cycling, strength exercises, and flexibility exercises can help alleviate arthritis symptoms by reducing pain, improving joint function, and slowing disease progression.
  • Mental Health: Mind-body exercises like yoga, tai chi, and pilates can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. They promote relaxation, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function.
  • Obesity: High-intensity interval training (HIIT), resistance training, and regular aerobic exercises aid in weight management and prevent obesity-related health conditions.
  • Asthma: Breathing exercises and controlled aerobic activities can improve lung function and reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
  • Chronic Pain: Gentle exercises like swimming, walking, and stretching can help manage chronic pain. These activities increase mobility, improve mood, and boost overall physical function.

Remember, before starting a new exercise regimen, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a qualified fitness professional, especially when dealing with specific health issues.

More than Just Flexing Muscles – The Role of Meditation

Physical health isn’t just about moving the body, it also involves calming the mind. While exercise strengthens our muscles, meditation fortifies our mental resilience. Let’s delve into the harmonious blend of meditation and exercise, and how they foster our well-being.

  1. Calming the Storm: Meditation for Mental Health: Just as you would flex your biceps to build arm strength, flexing your mindfulness muscle through meditation can foster mental resilience. Meditation acts as an anchor in the stormy sea of life, helping us navigate turbulent emotional waters with greater calm and clarity.

According to Harvard Health, regular meditation can alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s akin to providing your mind with a peaceful sanctuary, shielding it from the chaotic hustle and bustle of daily life. Incorporating even just a few minutes of meditation into your daily routine can start a ripple effect of improved mental health and overall well-being.

  1. Keep Your Cool: How Meditation Complements Physical Exercise: Meditation and physical exercise may seem like different realms, but they’re two sides of the same coin when it comes to health. A jog might pump up your heart rate, but meditation helps to slow it down, creating a balanced state of being.

One research found that a combination of meditative practices and physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression by a staggering 40%. This duo can also improve attention span, reduce anxiety levels, and enhance overall brain health.

Conclusion:

So, as you embark on the journey to become ‘Fit as a Fiddle’, remember that exercise is more than just breaking a sweat. It’s about nurturing your mind as well as your body, to embrace a holistic approach to health.

Nutrients on my plate: Frequently Asked Questions

August 8th, 2023 by

Harnessing the power of a nutritionally balanced diet is integral in the battle against chronic diseases. By embracing a variety of nutrient-rich foods, moderating our intake, and making mindful choices, we can steer our health ship towards a safe harbor, effectively warding off the storm of chronic conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a nutritionally well-balanced diet and why is it important?

A nutritionally well-balanced diet includes the right proportions of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), and adequate fiber and hydration. It’s important because it provides the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly, supports growth and repair, and strengthens the immune system. It also plays a key role in the prevention of various chronic diseases.

  1. How do diet and nutrition impact chronic diseases?

A poor diet, particularly one high in saturated fats, sugars, and sodium, can contribute to weight gain, increase inflammation, and lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. On the other hand, a nutritionally rich diet can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and offer protection against these diseases.

  1. What are the dietary recommendations for preventing chronic diseases?

Recommendations include consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, opting for lean proteins, incorporating sources of healthy fats, limiting added sugars and sodium, and staying hydrated.

  1. How can I incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet?

Try to include fruits and vegetables in every meal. They can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Add fruit to your breakfast cereal or yogurt, include vegetables in your sandwiches and wraps, make a veggie stir-fry for dinner, or enjoy fruits and vegetables as snacks.

  1. What are the differences between micronutrients and macronutrients and why are they important?

Macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are nutrients the body needs in large amounts. They provide energy and are essential for growth and repair. Micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, are needed in smaller quantities, but they’re essential for various physiological functions, from bone health to immune support.

  1. How do I make sense of the nutritional information on food labels?

Food labels can help you understand the nutrient content of a product. Look for the serving size and how many servings are in the package. The % Daily Value tells you how much of a nutrient is provided in one serving. Aim for low percentages (5% or less) for nutrients like saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, and high percentages (20% or more) for beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

  1. Can dietary changes alone prevent chronic diseases, or do I need to make other lifestyle changes as well?

While a healthy diet is a powerful tool in preventing chronic diseases, it’s most effective when paired with other healthy lifestyle habits. Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, getting sufficient sleep, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption are all crucial for overall health and disease prevention.

Should You Exercise When You Are Ill?

August 8th, 2023 by

When you’re under the weather, the common query that often pops up is whether you should push through your regular workout routine or take some time off to recover. Many subscribe to the belief that you can ‘sweat out a cold,’ implying that vigorous exercise might help speed up the recovery process.

But is there any truth to this widely held belief, or is it a mere myth?

Scientific research offers some insights. According to a study, moderate-intensity exercise can boost your immune system’s response to respiratory viruses. However, the same research also shows that prolonged, high-intensity workouts can temporarily suppress immune function, potentially worsening your symptoms or prolonging the illness.

Additionally, the American College of Sports Medicine advises that if your symptoms are ‘above the neck’ – such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, or minor sore throat – light to moderate exercise isn’t likely to harm you. It might even make you feel better by relieving congestion.

However, if your symptoms are ‘below the neck,’ like coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, it’s best to rest and refrain from exercising. So, while mild exercise might not be detrimental when you’re battling a simple cold and could potentially make you feel better, it’s not going to ‘sweat out’ the illness or accelerate your recovery. Particularly when dealing with severe symptoms or systemic illnesses, the priority should always be to rest, hydrate, and nourish your body to aid in recovery.

Always remember, every individual is different, and while these general guidelines can be helpful, it’s crucial to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional if you’re unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How often should I exercise each week?

The World Health Organization recommends adults do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week.

  1. What is the best time of day to exercise?

This largely depends on personal preference and lifestyle. Some people find they have more energy in the morning, while others may prefer to exercise in the evening.

  1. Should I eat before or after I exercise?

It’s important to fuel your body before a workout, but the type and timing of meals can depend on the intensity and duration of exercise. A mix of carbohydrates and protein after a workout can help with recovery.

  1. Can I exercise every day?

While daily physical activity is beneficial, it’s also essential to allow your body time to rest and recover. This is particularly important after intense workouts.

  1. How long should I rest between workouts?

This can depend on the type of exercise and your fitness level. As a rule, it’s often suggested to take at least one rest day per week and avoid training the same muscle groups two days in a row.

  1. Can I exercise immediately after a meal?

It’s typically recommended to wait at least 1-2 hours after a large meal before exercising to allow for digestion and prevent discomfort or gastrointestinal issues.

  1. How can I prevent injury while exercising?

Proper form, warming up and cooling down, gradually increasing intensity and duration of workouts, and wearing appropriate gear can help prevent injury.

  1. How much water should I drink when exercising?

Hydration needs can vary based on the intensity and duration of exercise, as well as individual factors like sweat rate. A common recommendation is to drink water before, during, and after a workout to maintain hydration.

  1. I have been diagnosed with a health condition; can I still exercise?

Exercise can be beneficial for many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, as it can help manage symptoms and improve overall health. However, the type, intensity, and duration of exercise may need to be adapted to suit your specific condition and fitness level.

For instance, with heart disease, gentle aerobic activity may be recommended, while with arthritis, low-impact exercises might be preferable. Those with diabetes can benefit from regular activity, but monitoring of blood sugar levels around exercise is important. Many people with asthma can safely exercise. It’s important, however, to manage your asthma properly, which may include using inhalers before exercise if advised by your doctor.

In contrast, if you’re dealing with an acute condition like a respiratory infection or influenza, it’s generally recommended to rest until your symptoms improve.

Every situation is unique, so it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified exercise professional for personalized advice before starting or altering your exercise routine. They can help develop a safe and effective exercise plan considering your current health status, limitations, and personal goals.

Keep moving, keep breathing, and keep your cool because health is a perfect symphony of body, mind, and spirit.

8 Self-Care Types to Keep Your Spirits High

August 8th, 2023 by

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is an intentional practice of actions and behaviors aimed at nurturing one’s physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s not simply about pampering yourself, but rather, consciously making choices that foster good health and reduce stress. This can range from regular exercise and healthy eating to setting boundaries and making time for hobbies. Ultimately, self-care is about recognizing your needs and taking steps to meet them.

8 Self-Care Forms for a Better Feeling You

Self-care is a powerful tool that serves as an anchor, allowing you to be the best version of yourself.

  1. Physical Self Care

Physical self-care is a foundational pillar of well-being. It involves the actions we take to maintain and improve our health, such as exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking care of our hygiene.

There are many ways to practice physical self-care.

  • Regular exercise, like walking, cycling, or yoga, can greatly improve your physical well-being.
  • It’s equally important to nourish your body with a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Regular medical check-ups and addressing health concerns promptly is other aspect of physical self-care.
  • Good hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing your teeth, taking regular showers, and washing your hands frequently, also fall under this category.

To incorporate physical self-care into your daily routine, start by setting small, achievable goals.

For example, aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, or five portions of fruits and vegetables.

It could be as simple as replacing a sugary drink with water, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. Make it a habit to listen to your body and give it what it needs, whether it’s rest, movement, or nourishment.

Remember, it’s not about drastic changes, but consistent small steps that lead to a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Emotional Self Care

Emotional self-care involves acknowledging, understanding, and properly expressing your feelings. By practicing emotional self-care, you create a safe space for your feelings, which is crucial for maintaining a balanced mental state and cultivating a sense of self-love and acceptance.

Techniques for managing and expressing emotions healthily are diverse and can be tailored to individual needs.

  • One of the most effective is mindfulness, which involves staying present and allowing yourself to feel without judgment.
  • Journaling can also be a therapeutic way to process emotions, acting as a private outlet for self-expression.
  • Speaking to a trusted friend or a mental health professional about your feelings can also provide significant relief and perspective.

Enhancing emotional health is a continuous process that involves nurturing a positive relationship with your emotions.

  • Regularly set aside time for self-reflection, where you check in with your feelings and emotional state.
  • Embrace a variety of emotions, understanding that it’s okay to feel sad, anxious, or angry sometimes.
  • Engage in activities that make you feel good, such as listening to your favorite music, spending time in nature, or pursuing a hobby.

Remember, self-compassion is key in emotional self-care – be as kind to yourself as you would be to a dear friend.

  1. Social Self Care

Social self-care focuses on nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships with the people around you. It’s the bridge that connects us to others, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual support. It’s as crucial as the threads that weave a social fabric, holding us together and enriching our lives with shared experiences, love, and companionship.

The role of social connections and relationships in self-care is significant.

  • Positive social interactions can boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress, and provide a support network for when times get tough.
  • They are like the cheerleaders on the sidelines of life’s marathon, providing encouragement, support, and a sense of community. Moreover, healthy relationships can provide opportunities for personal growth and understanding different perspectives.

Nurturing positive relationships involves regular and meaningful interactions.

  • It could be as simple as sending a thoughtful message, making a phone call, or planning a meet-up.
  • Showing genuine interest in others, practicing active listening, and providing support when needed can also strengthen social bonds.
  • It’s also essential to set boundaries in relationships to ensure they remain healthy and respectful.
  • Joining clubs, groups, or communities with shared interests can be a great way to form new relationships and connections.
  1. Intellectual Self-Care

Intellectual self-care involves activities that stimulate your mind and expand your knowledge and creativity. It’s like a workout for your brain, keeping it sharp and flexible. This form of self-care can increase your understanding of the world, promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and contribute to personal growth and self-confidence.

There are countless ways to stimulate the mind and promote intellectual growth.

  • Reading books, listening to podcasts, or watching documentaries can broaden your horizons and introduce you to new ideas.
  • Engaging in thoughtful discussions and debates can also challenge your viewpoints and stimulate intellectual growth.
  • Other activities might include pursuing a new hobby, learning a new language, or taking a class in an area of interest.

When it comes to intellectual self-care, the key is to find activities that you enjoy and that challenge your mind.

  • Set aside time each week for these activities, whether it’s curling up with a good book, completing a crossword puzzle, or learning to play a new musical instrument.
  • Consider joining a book club, attending lectures or workshops, or exploring online learning platforms.

Remember, the goal isn’t necessarily to master a new skill or subject, but to enjoy the process of learning and challenging your mind.

  1. Spiritual Self Care

Spiritual self-care involves nurturing a connection to something larger than us. This can involve religion, but it can also relate to nature, the universe, or a sense of life’s purpose. Exploring personal values and beliefs is a core aspect of spiritual self-care.

  • This can involve reflecting on your purpose in life, understanding your moral compass, and aligning your actions with your values.
  • Pursuing inner peace can also be a central part of this, achieved through mindfulness, meditation, prayer, or simply spending quiet time alone.

Practicing spiritual self-care is highly individual and can take many forms. Some people might find spiritual connection through religious practices such as prayer or attending services. Others might find it through meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature.

Journaling can be a valuable tool for exploring your values and beliefs. The key is to find activities that resonate with you, providing a sense of peace and connection, and making regular time for these in your life.

  1. Environmental Self Care

Environmental self-care refers to the actions you take to ensure your surroundings are positive, healthy, and nurturing. Whether it’s your home, workspace, or the outdoors, fostering a comfortable and appealing environment can significantly impact your mental and physical health.

Your surroundings can profoundly impact your overall well-being. A cluttered room might leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, while a well-organized, clean space can promote feelings of calm and control.

Creating a positive and relaxing environment can be achieved through a few simple steps.

  • Keep your living and workspaces clean and organized. A tidy space can help you feel more productive and less stressed.
  • Introduce elements of nature into your surroundings, like indoor plants or natural scents. Choose lighting that’s comfortable for your eyes and adjust your room’s temperature to a comfortable level.

Remember, it’s not about creating a picture-perfect environment, but about shaping your surroundings in a way that feels good for you and supports your well-being.

  1. Occupational Self Care

Occupational self-care pertains to how you balance your work life with leisure and rest. It’s about finding fulfillment in your work and ensuring it doesn’t compromise your health or personal life.

Striking a balance in your work and personal life is akin to a well-tuned orchestra where each instrument – work, rest, play – contributes to a harmonious symphony of life. Strategies for occupational self-care include:

  • Setting boundaries, such as designating specific work hours and sticking to them.
  • Taking regular breaks during work to prevent burnout.
  • Consider prioritizing tasks and learning to manage work when your workload becomes overwhelming.
  • Cultivate a positive work environment by maintaining healthy relationships with colleagues and superiors.
  • Don’t forget to take time off to recharge and pursue hobbies and activities you enjoy outside of work.

Remember, your worth is not defined by your productivity, and it’s okay to rest.

  1. Financial Self Care

Financial self-care involves taking steps to achieve and maintain financial health. It’s about building a sustainable relationship with money, budgeting wisely, saving for the future, and avoiding unnecessary debts.

Financial stability plays a critical role in reducing stress and promoting self-care. Constant worry about money can lead to chronic stress, affecting mental and physical health. Like a safety net, financial stability can provide peace of mind, allowing you to focus on other aspects of self-care without the constant concern about making ends meet.

Practicing financial self-care involves:

  • Creating and sticking to a budget, which allows you to understand where your money is going and plan for future expenses.
  • Regularly review your financial goals and adjust as necessary.
  • Building an emergency fund for unexpected expenses and striving to save a portion of your income regularly.

Remember, financial self-care is not just about wealth management, but also about control, stability, and growth.

Conclusion

In essence, self-care isn’t a luxury, but a necessity for a balanced and fulfilling life. By tending to your physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and financial needs, you’re investing in your overall well-being. Remember, you’re worth the care. Start today, one step at a time.

The Indian Food Pyramid: Guiding people to eat healthy since 1970.

July 21st, 2023 by

We are what we eat, they say. Indeed, what we put inside our bodies determines our health. To that end, the food pyramid has served as a guide to balanced eating for years. A food pyramid is a visual representation of the optimal servings of food that one should consume from each food group. This information is arranged in the form of a pyramid which is how the method derives its name.

The origin of the food pyramid could be traced back to the 1970s when it first evolved in Sweden. In 1992, the US Department of Agriculture also adopted it with minor tweaks. Since then, many countries have adopted various versions of the food pyramid to guide their citizens in adopting healthy diets.

What’s in a food pyramid?

The food groups that comprise a healthy eating pyramid include whole grains, dairy, supplements, nuts and seeds, meat and poultry, vegetables and fruits, and healthy oils, among other categories.

There are additional sections related to exercise or alcohol consumption that are included by some countries in their food pyramids. The tool has helped countries across the world guide people on various aspects of health like weight control, multivitamin supplements, exercising, and deficiency of nutrients like Vitamin D.

According to the pyramid, one should consider whole grains as the primary dietary source, followed by fruits and vegetables. The pyramid guide suggests moderation while consuming meat, fish, poultry, milk, and their alternatives while reducing fats, oil, salt, and sugar intake. The guide also suggests that people prefer cooking techniques that require less oil or opt for low-fat recipes. People can also choose to steam, stew, simmer, boil, or even cook with non-stick cookware to reduce their oil consumption.

The Indian version of the food pyramid

The Indian version of the food pyramid has four categories:

There are some additional guidelines also mentioned:

  • Ample food and healthcare should be ensured for children and adolescents.
  • One should eat a variety of foods for a balanced diet and avoid overeating.
  • The diets of elderly people should include foods that are rich in micronutrients.
  • One should drink plenty of water.
  • Ensure the consumption of safe and clean foods.

Why do we need a food pyramid?

One of the reasons why the food pyramid became a popular tool among healthcare educators and medical experts was because it helped people consume the right foods. As different foods have different nutrients, it might not be possible to derive all required nutrients from a single source.

The diet suggested by the pyramid requires people to eat foods from all groups so that they meet their body’s daily nutritional requirements.

The second reason is that it advises people about the right quantities of different foods to be consumed. Both eating too much or too less can lead to adverse health outcomes. A dedicated guide like a food pyramid can help us ensure that we are consuming the right foods in ample quantities.

The debate around food pyramids

While the food pyramid has served as a useful dietary tool in educating people about their nutritional needs, it has also been subjected to a lot of debate for not being customizable. There is a section of experts who have argued that the food pyramid of a country might not be suitable for all its citizens due to factors like geography, access to food, and weather.

The creators of the food pyramid have also drawn flak for “oversimplifying” the concept of the “ideal diet”. They have also been criticized for not educating people about how to differentiate between carbohydrates and instead only focusing on the number of servings. Likewise for fats. Different fats have varying nutritional profiles. In most food pyramids, people are advised to consume fats in lesser quantities. However, this categorization ignores the fact that unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats and are essential for maintaining good health.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, the food pyramid can be a good starting point for anyone who’s looking to lead a fitter lifestyle. All of us need a specific quantity of nutrients every day to maintain good health. The overconsumption or underconsumption of any of these nutrients will only hamper our health. Therefore, the food pyramid can serve as a handy tool for knowledge about how a healthy diet should be planned.

The science behind eating right: Understanding the dos and don’ts.

July 21st, 2023 by

From fad diets to fitness challenges and viral healthy recipe reels on social media, the world’s fascination with healthier lifestyles grew during the Covid -19 pandemic and has since only picked up pace. According to a survey, around 78% of adults living in urban India made conscious efforts to build their immunity, amidst the pandemic. While the pandemic-induced consciousness about health might goad us into becoming a fitter version of ourselves, there’s also a lot of misinformation doing rounds.

Given the deluge of information available online, nutritional advice is often confusing. What might work for one, may not for another. A locally-sourced ingredient available in one state might not be found in another. It’s not uncommon to see people lose sight of basic nutritional advice like eating on time, avoiding processed food, or exercising regularly in their rush to follow the latest diet that’s gone viral on social media. That brings us to the question – how does one eat right?

The science of eating right

Eating might be a physical reaction to hunger but what follows next is purely science. Once you eat your food, it mixes with digestive juices in the gastrointestinal tract. Next, molecules break it down into even smaller molecules which are then absorbed by the intestine.

Given that a healthy diet supplies the body with all the necessary nutrients, eating right shouldn’t be more complex than choosing the right foods. Then, how is it that so many of us struggle with our diets? There are multiple reasons why this might be happening, but the most common ones are related to misinterpretation of nutritional advice.

For instance, for many people ‘eating consciously’ would automatically mean starving themselves. Contrary to starving, dietitians recommend people to eat mindfully rather than less. The focus should be on feeling full rather than the quantity of food. So, the next time your heart and stomach are at war over an extra slice of pizza, always listen to your stomach.

Another example would be the consumption of healthy foods. Low-fat biscuits, zero-cholesterol chips, juices, and low-calorie sweeteners, we all have fallen for these products in our pursuit of being healthy. What many people don’t realize is that not every low-calorie or healthy food would be nutritious for them. Many of these products have added sugars, artificial colors, high sodium levels, and preservatives that may hamper your health. Experts have estimated that ultra-processed foods contribute around 90% of the total calories that are obtained from added sugars.

The same goes for ultra-processed foods. Choosing bread or a sugar-rich cereal over a nutritious breakfast option like upma isn’t going to magically help you lose the extra kilos. There’s ample research that highlights the link between high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes.

The Good vs Bad food argument

Having made the said argument, the next question that arises is what food should be ideal for a healthy diet and

  • how does food become good or bad?
  • Is the occasional eating out affecting your health?

Thanks to restrictive diets and unverified nutritional advice, a lot of us unknowingly end up demonizing food by labelling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

The truth is that healthy eating is different for everybody. For instance, a post-dinner dessert might not do much to your health but can seriously affect a diabetes patient’s physical well-being.

Giving in to the occasional craving does not make you an undisciplined person. You need fuel to function as it provides your body the required energy and nourishment to function. So, the enemy here is not calories but how you consume them. In fact, such restrictive eating may also lead to eating disorders or binge-eating cycles.

The Verdict on the Traditional Indian diet

We are definitely eating a very diverse diet than what our parents and grandparents did. As traditional Indian cuisine evolves over time, there are a lot of doubts cast about if it’s healthy and balanced enough. This is again a myth that needs to be busted. Take the example of pulses. You won’t find a diet that has so many vegetarian protein options.

The spices used in Indian cuisines are replete with healthy compounds and aromatic properties. Next, the diverse range of vegetables we consume supply the much-needed fiber that our body needs for functioning well. Then there are options like millets which are great for gut health. So, the next time you want to hit the supermarket for vegan and gluten-free options, just check your pantry first.

Sure, not all of these ingredients might be good for everyone but that’s where lifestyles factor in. As we lead very different lifestyles than our parents or grandparents, our bodies also react very differently to these traditional Indian ingredients.

Undoing years of unhealthy eating might take time but that doesn’t mean that you should give up on it altogether. Instead, you can start small. You can start with a few changes in your lifestyle and diet and gradually build up a new routine. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Focus on quality and not quantity.

Eating right doesn’t have to be rocket science. It’s more about intuition and focusing on having balanced meals. As you start prioritizing quality over quantity, you would get more comfortable with listening to your body and eating mindfully. If you are having trouble figuring this out, you can always seek professional help from a dietitian or nutritionist to help you eat the right way.

Master Monsoon Health: Don’t Rain on Your Parade

July 21st, 2023 by

Monsoon season paints a beautiful picture of rain-soaked landscapes and misty horizons and ushers in significant environmental changes. The rise in humidity and fluctuations in temperature can impact our health in various ways.

As we experience these atmospheric shifts, adjusting our diet and exercise regime becomes crucial. Adapting our lifestyle habits safeguards us against monsoon-related ailments and helps us enjoy this enchanting season to the fullest.

This blog will equip you with effective tips for modifying your diet and fitness routine during the rain.

Why is tweaking your diet and exercise plans necessary during monsoons?

Before we head to “why you should tweak,” let’s clear one thing. Everyone is different; what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. It’s always recommended to consult a healthcare professional or a nutritionist for a personalised diet and exercise plan.

1. Why should you tweak your diet during monsoons?

During the monsoon season, the humidity in the atmosphere increases, leading to various digestive and health issues. Tweaking your diet is vital to boost immunity, maintain digestive health, and prevent monsoon-related illnesses.

This season sees a surge in water-borne diseases and infections; hence, including nutrient-rich foods that strengthen immunity can help ward off these ailments. Monsoons also tend to slow down metabolism and digestion. Including easily digestible food, rich in fibre and probiotics, supports digestive health. Consuming fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables is beneficial as they contain essential vitamins and antioxidants.

2. Why should you tweak your exercise schedule during monsoons?

Adapting your exercise routine during monsoons is important due to various factors.

Firstly, the weather conditions make outdoor activities like running or cycling challenging, even unsafe at times due to slippery surfaces and reduced visibility.

Secondly, the humidity during monsoons can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature effectively, increasing the risk of overheating or dehydration during intense workouts. It becomes crucial to modify the intensity of workouts and stay well-hydrated.

Finally, consistent physical activity is essential to keep the metabolism active, especially since monsoons can induce a state of lethargy and a propensity for fried comfort foods. Tweaking your exercise routine to align with these changes can ensure you stay fit, active, and healthy during the monsoon season.

How to adjust your diet for the monsoon season?

During the monsoon season, consuming foods that strengthen the immune system, are easy to digest, and help maintain your overall health is crucial. Here’s a list of monsoon-friendly foods:

But let’s be honest. It might be tempting to indulge in different varieties of foods which aren’t healthy during monsoon. Definitely, we can’t stop you all the time.

So, the next time when you’re dining out during the monsoon season, a bit of caution can ensure you enjoy your meal without compromising on health.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Opt for Cooked Food: Stick to hot, cooked dishes instead of raw salads or cold sandwiches, as the latter might be washed or prepared with unfiltered water. Steaming hot food is less likely to harbour bacteria or viruses.
  2. Avoid Street Food: As tempting as it may be during the rains, street food is best avoided as you cannot ensure the hygiene standards, or the water quality used.
  3. Choose Grilled or Roasted Dishes: Opt for grilled or roasted foods rather than deep-fried snacks. These are healthier and less likely to cause digestive issues common during the monsoons.
  4. Hydrate Wisely: If you order a drink, ensure it’s a bottled or purified option. Avoid juices made with tap water or beverages with ice of unknown purity.
  5. Choose Reputable Restaurants: Dine at places known for their quality and hygiene standards. Reviews and ratings can be helpful indicators of this.
  6. Watch Your Portions: During monsoon, our physical activity may decrease, and our metabolism may slow down. So, be mindful of your portion sizes to prevent overeating.

Things to Remember: Tips to Avoid Foodborne Diseases

  1. Water Quality: Always ensure the water is purified or boiled, as monsoon is the peak time for water-borne diseases.
  2. Proper Food Storage: Ensure your food is stored correctly and refrigerated to avoid bacterial growth.
  3. Thoroughly Wash Fruits and Vegetables: Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly in clean water, preferably with a few drops of vinegar or baking soda to remove any external contaminants.
  4. Cook Food Well: Ensure food, especially non-vegetarian items, is well-cooked to kill bacteria or pathogens.
  5. Avoid Raw Foods: During the monsoon, avoid raw foods like salads and juices from outside as they have a high chance of carrying germs and viruses. It’s safer to eat cooked food.

Always remember maintaining personal hygiene, like washing your hands before eating or cooking, is equally important to prevent foodborne diseases.

How to adjust your exercise plans for the monsoon season?

Monsoons can make outdoor workouts difficult, but you can still stay active. Here are a few indoor workout ideas:

Safe Outdoor Exercise Options During Monsoon:

Outdoor workouts during monsoons require extra caution. Here are a few safe options:

  1. Walking/Running: If the weather permits, walking or running can be beneficial. However, ensure that the ground is not slippery and that you have the proper footwear to prevent injuries.
  2. Cycling: Cycling can be a great workout only when it’s safe. Make sure you have proper rain gear and choose a safe path.

Remember, listening to your body and avoiding overexertion during any workout is essential. If you’re new to exercise or have health concerns, consult a healthcare or fitness professional before starting any new workout routine. While switching up your diet and exercise plan during the monsoons is important for your overall well-being, it is equally crucial to prioritise vaccinations as a preventive measure.

Let’s explore the importance of vaccinations during monsoons.

As the monsoon season arrives, it brings relief from the scorching heat and rejuvenates the environment. However, along with the refreshing showers, this season also brings its fair share of health risks.

To ensure your well-being during the monsoons, it is crucial to prioritise your health by taking necessary precautions, including vaccinations. Here’s how it helps:

  • Prevention of waterborne diseases: Monsoons create an ideal environment for the proliferation of waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A. Vaccinations can provide crucial protection against these illnesses, reducing the risk of infection and potential complications.
  • Protection against mosquito-borne diseases: Mosquitoes thrive during the rainy season, increasing the transmission of diseases such as dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. By getting vaccinated against diseases like dengue and taking appropriate preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of contracting these illnesses.
  • Boosting overall immunity: Monsoons are notorious for seasonal flu and common cold outbreaks. Vaccinations such as the influenza vaccine can help boost your immune system and protect you from respiratory infections, minimising the chances of falling ill.

Conclusion

Navigating the monsoon season healthily requires an adaptable diet and fitness routine. You can enjoy the season without compromising your health by integrating monsoon-friendly foods into your meals and reshaping your workout regimen.

The key lies in striking the right balance. So, embrace these adjustments, and let the monsoon season be an enriching, revitalising period for your overall well-being.

Is midnight snacking costing you your digestive wellness? Here’s how

June 7th, 2023 by

It starts with that nagging feeling that maybe you are hungry. As you start to wonder about your options, your feet automatically take you to the fridge or the pantry, where you stock the essentials. And, before you know it, you have polished off an entire packet of chips or cookies. Sounds familiar? Indeed, midnight snacking is a flaw that most of us are guilty of.

Having said that, as harmless as it might sound, post-dinner snacking is costing you your health.

You have heard doctors and gym trainers warning you against the habit, but what can some harmless snacking in the late hours do? Turns out a lot. According to a 2022 study by the Harvard Medical School, late-night eating was found to be linked with hunger and higher obesity risk. And it’s not just weight gain, doctors claim that making midnight snacking a habit can lead to a myriad of health problems including acid reflux, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and sluggish metabolism, among others.

“Midnight cravings aka nocturnal eating has many side effects on our wellbeing. At night, our metabolism is slow. Consuming calorie-rich snacks may not be burned efficiently which may cause discomfort as it puts a strain on our digestive system. It may even lead to acid reflux, indigestion, or discomfort. Not only do these interfere with our sleep and overall wellbeing but also contribute to weight gain. Moreover, midnight cravings affect appetite hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, potentially leading to increased hunger and difficulty in regulating appetite. Excessive late-night snacking also increases the risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases,” says Afreen Dilshad, Senior Dietician, HCL Healthcare.

Why do you get those hunger pangs?

The reason why you reach out for a snack post-dinner might vary with your lifestyle, routine, and health levels. Let’s explore a few of them.

  1. Improper nutritional levels: The lack of nutrition in your body will end up making you feel weaker and hungry more often. The same goes for irregular meals. If you skip a meal, it leads to lower blood sugar levels and your body will work to balance it. So, every time your blood sugar level dips, you tend to become hungry. This can lead to midnight cravings for food if the intervals between your meals are too long.
  2. Hormonal changes and emotional responses: An imbalance in hormonal levels can lead the body to crave calorie-rich foods and sugar. The same stands for emotional responses or mental health. People diagnosed with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety tend to use food as an emotional crutch. Hence, they tend to binge eat or snack late at night whenever they might be feeling anxious or depressed.
  3. Dehydration: Sometimes when it’s food you crave, it’s water that your body needs. So, when you feel the hunger pangs, try drinking water first. If experts are to be believed, it’s common for us to misinterpret our body’s need for hydration for hunger. So, keep a bottle of water handy and keep your body hydrated.
  4. Not sleeping enough: When you don’t sleep enough, it impacts hormones that regulate your appetite. By sleeping less, you tend to eat more during your waking hours and also crave junk food.
  5. Night Eating Syndrome (NES): NES is a kind of eating disorder that leads people to eat after having dinner and whenever they are awake at night. Those diagnosed with the disorder experience low hunger levels in the morning and feel more hungry towards night time. The erratic eating pattern interferes with sleep patterns and ultimately promotes midnight snacking.
What can you do to tame the hunger monster?

There’s little that we can’t achieve once we put our minds to it and midnight snacking isn’t any different. All you need is a bit of self-restraint. Here are a few simple ways to follow:

  1. Try eating balanced meals: It’s one of the most common pieces of advice but among the most ignored too. Balanced meals ensure that you get the energy and nourishment that your body needs to keep you going. So, you keep full throughout the day.
  2. Pack up the protein: According to experts, protein can help keep you fuller for longer hours. So, try including protein-rich foods like leafy vegetables, cottage cheese, lean meats, and dairy products in your meal to curb cravings at night.
  3. Get enough sleep: Have you noticed that you tend to eat more when you are tired or stressed? The lack of sleep affects leptin and ghrelin – better known as the ‘hunger hormones’ – which leads to increased appetite.
  4. Try eating mindfully: Eating mindfully or intuitively helps you tune into your instinct and stop when you feel full. Experts suggest the practice of intuitive eating as it focuses on rationale, emotions, and your instinct to unlearn eating mindlessly. If you are someone who is struggling with emotional eating, it’s a great practice to improve your body’s relationship with food.
  5. Get creative with your food options: When you feel hungry at night, don’t reach out for the ice cream in the fridge or the jar of cookies. Instead, look for healthier options. For instance, you can microwave a bowl of popcorn or munch on some nuts to stave off hunger. If you don’t mind putting in some effort, you could rustle up a light salad or yogurt with fruit or even peanut butter on toast.

Obesity and diabetes: Leading to greater health complications.

June 7th, 2023 by

* Around one-fourth of all men and women in India are struggling with obesity.

* More than 77 million Indians above the age of 18 years are suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

The above-mentioned two facts might be about two completely different health conditions but have an underlying connection that is often ignored – one of how being obese can increase your chances of developing diabetes. Research studies over the years have established a strong causal relationship between diabetes and obesity. Studies have also highlighted that obesity is a common health risk that can lead to a person developing Type 2 diabetes.

How obesity leads to Diabetes

To understand how being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing diabetes, you first need to understand what the disease is all about.

Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to move glucose from the blood to either the muscles or the liver. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it means that your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. The lack of insulin will lead to increased blood sugar levels causing health problems like cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, and loss of vision, among others.

Now, if you are obese, the cells in your body will inhibit the movement of insulin which ends up increasing glucose levels in your bloodstream. In addition, the part of the liver where excess glucose is stored is now occupied by fat. With the space in the liver occupied, the excess glucose ends up entering your bloodstream. As the glucose is now stuck in the bloodstream, the pancreas overworks to produce more insulin to do the job. The cycle continues until the pancreas wears out and starts reducing lower levels of insulin which puts you at a higher risk of diabetes.

The ‘unsavory’ side of artificial sweeteners

In the pursuit of a healthy weight, people sometimes also use healthier variants of calorie-heavy ingredients like artificial sweeteners and low-sodium salt. Their USP is that they provide the required taste without impacting your health. Their high demand has created a thriving market for low-calorie products that target calorie-conscious people.

While these products can help you regulate your calorie intake, they’re not ideal for long-term use and can even lead to serious health issues. The WHO recently released guidelines wherein it has advised people against using non-sugar sweeteners (NSS). According to a 2022 study, the sustained and daily usage of artificial sweeteners was found to be linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

There’s a lot of debate about whether artificial sweeteners are worth the hype. The common reason why a doctor might advise you to use one is that artificial sweeteners provide the calories or glucose needed by your body without activating the body’s insulin production – which can lead you to consume more calories to feel full. However, there’s a flipside to this. Now, that your brain has become more tolerant to sweetness means there’s a risk of overeating which might lead to weight gain.

The overconsumption of artificial sweeteners can change your body’s ability to process real sugar by disrupting the functioning of gut microbiota and insulin levels. Over time, such disruption can create conducive conditions for developing conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Why a healthy lifestyle matters

If you are obese, you can lower your chances of developing diabetes by making a few changes in your lifestyle and diet. These small steps can go a long way in helping you not only control your weight but also improve your overall health. Remember every bit counts, so a small step today can mean a healthy habit after a few weeks and a healthy lifestyle in a couple of months. Here are a few steps that you can take to reduce your chances of developing diabetes:

  1. Exercise more often: Not just weight management, regular exercise can lead to multiple health benefits. When you exercise, it boosts your insulin sensitivity which in turn helps in burning calories and avoiding diabetes.
  2. Watch what you’re eating: You can significantly improve your diabetes-prone health by opting for healthier meals and cutting down on processed foods. Eating more of fiber, cereals and probiotic foods will help you reach your targeted weight faster.
  3. Get enough shuteye: Getting at least six to seven hours of sleep can be crucial to how you manage your weight levels. Lack of adequate sleep can increase insulin resistance which affects hormones that regulate your metabolism and appetite. As a result, you wake up feeling hungrier and may not feel full enough despite having hearty meals.
  4. Cut down smoking: Did you know that the chances of people who smoke developing Type 2 diabetes are 30-40%  higher than those who don’t? Kicking the habit can not only help in weight management but also increase insulin sensitivity. According to doctors, the other benefits associated with giving up smoking include an improved metabolic rate, reduced calorie intake, and higher energy levels.
  5. Maintaining a calorie deficit: When you maintain a calorie deficit, you consume fewer calories than what your body uses up. Rather than opting for a crash diet, consult a certified nutritionist or dietician to get guidance on how you can achieve a healthy balance of calories through your meals.

Many times a person might be obese due to factors that are not related to their diet or exercise routine. Sometimes factors like genetics and underlying health conditions can also impact weight levels. In case your efforts to attain a healthy weight are not yielding results, it is advisable to consult a doctor for guidance. A doctor can help you not only determine a healthy weight but also to build an optimal diet and exercise routine to achieve it.

Health Advisory for H3N2 Virus

March 15th, 2023 by
It is a seasonal virus, and the occurrence of this infection normally peaks during seasonal changes. In India, H3N2 cases are on the rise which has become a matter of serious concern for all.
What is the H3N2 virus?

H3N2 influenza is a type of influenza virus that can cause respiratory illness in humans. It is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe sickness, and in some cases, can be life-threatening, especially for those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.

It is a seasonal virus, and the occurrence of this infection normally peaks during seasonal changes. In India, H3N2 cases are on the rise which has become a matter of serious concern for all. The drastically changing weather from severe cold to sudden warm temperatures are also a reason to blame.

Current Situation in India:

So far, India reported 9.66 lakh cases of flu in 2023, and 15,826 affected patients were hospitalized with severe acute respiratory

illness. Out of these, 451 were confirmed cases of H3N2, and two infected patients succumbed to the virus.

How is it spread?

H3N2 influenza is highly contagious and can spread in the following ways if adequate precautions and preventive measures are not followed.

  • From person to person through droplets generated when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes.
  • By touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching one’s mouth or nose.

Vulnerable Group:

The virus usually preys on individuals below the age of 15 years or above 50 years of age. Children and those with co-morbidities like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions are at a higher risk.

What are the common signs & symptoms of H3N2?

H3N2 carries symptoms that are similar to any other seasonal flu. These include chronic cough, fever, body ache and headache, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and extreme fatigue. In some cases, the flu may lead to nausea, vomiting, and also diarrhea. Occasionally, an infection caused by H3N2 generally lasts for five to seven days and the fever starts turning away after three days. However, the coughing can persist for up to three weeks.

What are the Do’s & Don’ts?

Cautions

  • Avoid self-medication and do not take antibiotics without consulting a doctor.
  • Avoid contact with people suffering from H3N2 or any other seasonal flu.
  • Avoid going in crowded or public areas if you feel infected with any of the symptoms.
  • It is also advised to those who are at higher risk for severe
  • illness from the flu, such as the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions, to take extra precautions to protect themselves. This includes avoiding large gatherings and maintaining social distancing whenever possible.

Precautions

  • Regularly wash your hands with water and soap.
  • Wear face masks, especially in crowded areas.
  • Avoid touching your nose and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth properly while coughing and sneezing.
  • Stay hydrated and consume plenty of fluids.
  • Always carry a pocket sanitizer.
  • A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can also play a significant role in improving immunity.
  • Maintain social distancing wherever necessary.
How effective are Flu Vaccinations?

The flu vaccination protects us against various types of influenza and reduces the chances of severe symptoms, hospitalization, and other complications. Therefore, it becomes relevant for everyone but more so for the elderly and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. to take the vaccination.

HCL Healthcare Medical Helpline

At HCL healthcare, we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff during the flu season. This includes regular disinfection of our facilities, wearing masks and other personal protective equipment, and screening patients for flu-like symptoms.

Succession Planning Challenges in 2022

September 29th, 2022 by
Jayeeta Sarkar

Head- L&D, HCL Healthcare

About the Author

Jayeeta heads the Learning & Development function at HCL Healthcare and comes with over two decades of cross-industry experience. She is a certified NLP practitioner and a Certified Coach. Known for her creative training methodology, she injects a catalytic blend of positive energy and resonant experiences throughout her training. Her leadership qualities & ability to influence are perfectly suited for this critical HR domain.

Succession Planning

Challenges in 2022

A well-aligned and thought-through succession planning is critical for organizations to ensure business continuity, career progression, success, and achievement of business goals. As leaders we all believe in its urgency and importance, however, implementing the same is a challenge. Here are some challenges that are being seen in 2022.

Lack of Readiness Data: One cause for this, is qualitative data, as business succession planning, for most human resource managers is still a subjective process susceptible to human bias, both conscious and unconscious. Judging the potential of human performance and readiness for a new role is based on a manager’s perception and biases. We must have proper data or more so the desire to fish out the data.

Poor Mapping of Goals to Skills: The new role may require new sets of competencies and skills. The data is mostly collected from performance appraisals and goal sheets. During the goal setting process the new skills and competencies are not mapped or accessed. It’s imperative that organizations have well carved out competency models and mapping done on key critical business skills.

Changing Dynamics: Today’s work dynamics post-Covid has surely seen a change in work dynamics. The work environment is changing fast and so are opportunities. In many organizations, managers do not map the career progression road map with the career aspiration of the employees. So, while they may have selected X role for an employee but the employee actually wants to do or aspires for Y role. Also, with many employees preferring to work from home, managers are facing an additional challenge in identifying a willing successor.

Succession Induction: HR books talk of completely linked processes for induction to settle in. Then a structured KPI process with a fair appraisal and finally career progression. In this journey an employee goes through learning and training. However, training hours invested are not mapped with career progression in the organization. The employee ends up asking “am I generally picking up skills or is there a complete plan to the process”. A correct way should be to identify the performers, identify roles available at expected timelines. Post that, have a career aspiration discussion and structure the same with a good learning & development plan that follows the 70:20:10 principle.

The Comp & Ben Factor: Compensating the new incumbent to the role as per market standards is very important to ensure the system is effective. Consider this example, X is a great performer and we see that he/she can scale up and be a great supervisor in the team. We keep assigning X work and X delivers. All are happy. Suddenly there has been attrition and the earlier supervisor leaves. Management sees a position vacancy and promotes X to the new role. However, doesn’t make changes in the compensation and benefits of X but changes the designation. Initially, X works but gradually looks for opportunities and leaves. This proves to be the killer of succession planning. If the successors are compensated adequately, this entire cycle will be well-oiled, thereby reducing the challenges.

Managing Attritions: 2022 is the era of an apparent “post covid” world. The Great Resignation and the Big Quit are phenomena that are realities of today. The Pandemic taught employees certain indelible life lessons which contributed to making high attrition, a reality. The rising gig economy has exacerbated it. This is highly likely to continue. Despite best efforts, attrition management may not work as desired by the managers. Thus, we must be prepared for the same by ensuring more potential resources in the talent pipeline.

Ownership of Responsibility: Succession planning is mostly seen as the responsibility of the HR function. It is high time now that the onus of succession planning should not rest predominantly in the hands of the HR department. It must be a collective effort, with the business team also made equally responsible and accountable. This should be the talk in every leadership meet and every leader in the organization should have a well-filtered second line. Even while hiring, leaders and managers must not only hire for the position but they must hire for future potential as well.

Opportunity Profiling: Many times, lack of providing opportunities is an important factor in not being able to identify talent for succession. Playing the part, once key potentials are identified, they should be given opportunity. It’s a great way to test various leadership competencies like problem solving, people management, and very importantly, the Emotional Quotient of the person. One would be surprised to see that while playing the role we may find out new skills and latent talents.

Effective succession planning increases employee engagement and the overall employee value proposition with an added contribution to reducing attrition, thereby creating a tangible business impact.

MONKEYPOX

August 8th, 2022 by
Health Advisory

(Authors: Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta MD, MBA and Dr. Roopesh Gupta MD)

Monkeypox is a viral infection, first discovered in monkeys, that can also transmit to humans and cause symptoms and complications. Of late, its incidence has risen globally, with cases reported from more than 75 countries, including India. On 23rd July 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monkeypox as a global health emergency.

How does Monkeypox infection happen and spread?

person can catch this infection from an infected person, an infected animal, or through contaminated objects and surfaces.

Human-to-human transmission mostly happens through close contact – either direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a Monkeypox rash, or, less commonly, by touching items (such as clothing or bedding) that have encountered an infectious person’s sores or bodily fluids. Unprotected sex can also spread this infection. Infected pregnant women can pass this virus to their babies in the womb.

Common Symptoms of Monkeypox Disease

An infected person may remain symptom-free or develop symptoms after an incubation period of 5 to 21 days. Common symptoms include:

·      Flu-like illness (fever, headaches, body aches, etc.)

·      Swollen lymph nodes

·      Blister-like rashes

Although it may mimic the erstwhile Smallpox (which has already been eradicated several decades ago), the Monkeypox Disease is much less severe and rarely fatal.

The Monkeypox rash generally appears on the face, arms, legs, genitals, and even inside the mouth. It presents as multiple lesions with fluid-filled blisters which may be itchy and painful.

Most persons with this disease improve within 2-4 weeks, without any complications. However, a few may develop complications such as pneumonia, sepsis, secondary infections, and eye involvement (which may lead to loss of vision).

Individuals at High Risk

Pregnant women, young children, and persons with underlying immune deficiencies are more likely to have severe symptoms and complications. At present, it is not clear whether having COVID-19 or Post COVID-19 condition (Long-COVID Syndrome) puts a person at an increased risk of Monkeypox.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Monkeypox Disease

Monkeypox infection can be suspected in a person if suggestive symptoms appear within 21 days of risk exposure (such as close contact with an infected person, animal, or object and/or travel to a country or region reporting such cases).

The diagnosis can be confirmed through RT-PCR testing on an appropriate sample, particularly the fluid from blisters and dry skin crusts. At present, these testing facilities are available at select government labs only. Symptoms often go away on their own without the need for active treatment.

However, the following caution is advised:

·      The infected person is advised to stay in isolation to prevent the further spread of the disease

·      The affected skin should not be scratched and should be protected from further damage.

·      The person should eat well, drink plenty of fluids, and take adequate rest and sleep.

·      Common symptoms like fever, aches, itch, etc. can be alleviated by using appropriate anti-fever, painkiller, and anti-itch medications.

The Do’s and Don’ts to follow

• Be aware and generate awareness among others about Monkeypox and its precautionary measures.

• If you suspect that you or someone at your home has Monkeypox (due to suggestive symptoms or relevant risk exposure):

·      Seek medical assistance without delay and follow the advice.

·      Isolate yourself as per the medical advice.

·      Employees should inform their HR and Reporting Manager.

• One must Continue to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour (as the COVID-19 Pandemic is yet not over and the relationship of COVID-19 with Monkeypox is yet not clear):

• Practice safe sexual habits with your partner (s) and take precautions.

• Avoid contact with any substance or materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a patient suffering with Monkeypox.

• Avoid unprotected contact with wild animals, particularly those that are sick or dead.

• Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat (important for those countries and regions where Monkeypox is endemic and reported in animals).

• Avoid unnecessary travel to an affected area. If you or your partner have traveled through an affected area, talk to your doctor for advice.

• Wear masks and gloves when caring for patients.

The Role of Vaccination

·      Some studies suggest that several vaccines that have been developed for the prevention of Smallpox may also provide some protection against Monkeypox. However, these vaccines are yet not widely available. Moreover, researchers are still trying to understand the benefits of such vaccination.

Studies also suggest that people who have been vaccinated against Smallpox in the past will also have some protection against Monkeypox.

Maintaining the Workplace Safety

·      Raising awareness of this disease and its preventive & protective measures is the key.

·      Screening and surveillance at the workplace, including facilitating a sick employee for prompt isolation and further support can help stop the spread of Monkeypox.

·      Routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces (such as workstations, countertops, doorknobs, lift buttons, etc.) by using the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas.

·      Keeping appropriate preparedness and response measures in place (including contact tracing).

 

About the Authors – The authors are medical doctors cum public health experts and part of the Central Quality Team at HCL Healthcare

Why you must encourage your parents to Stay Physically Active!

June 2nd, 2022 by

Why you must encourage your parents to Stay Physically Active!

Authored by –

Dr. Deepa Mehra & Dr. Neelam Bisht

Heard of the term ‘Use it or lose it? This phrase is not just applicable to the cognitive function of the brain but even to the muscular tissues. Muscles are the anchor of the body that keeps the body mobile and erect. Of course, bone and joints have a very important role in locomotion (basically movement) but today we are going to discuss about a less talked about Medial Condition called ‘Sarcopenia”. According to the Lancet ‘Sarcopenia is a progressive and generalised skeletal muscle disorder involving the accelerated loss of muscle mass and function that is associated with increased adverse outcomes including falls, functional decline, frailty, and mortality.

Which basically means that the body starts losing muscle mass and function which may result in fall & frailty. It is basically an age-related muscle loss and is a natural part of aging. As we grow old the natural wear and tear increases in the body including the muscles. After age 30, one begins to lose 3 to 5% of their muscle mass per decade. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes.

Less muscle means greater weakness which in turn means less mobility. And there starts the vicious cycle of less muscle, less mobility, increased weight leading to lesser mobility and further lesser muscle mass!! This also increases the risk of fall and fractures. A 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.

The symptoms of Sarcopenia include weakness and stamina loss. This can affect the ability to carry out physical activities. A reduction in activity then leads to further muscle mass loss.

Now let’s talk about the various Causes of Muscle loss (sarcopenia) – The most common cause of this medical condition is decreased physical activity throughout the day. Other Causes of Sarcopenia may include:

·     Reduction in the nerve cells that send signals from brain to muscles to move

·     A lowering of hormone levels

·     A decline in body’s ability to convert protein to energy

·     Not consuming enough daily calories and protein to maintain the muscle mass

·     Inflammatory diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes mellitus

But just because the muscle mass is lost it does not mean it is gone forever. it is never too late to rebuild muscle and maintain it. And the solution is quite simple.

How to Avoid muscle loss

1.    Exercise Regularly- This is main mantra to stay away from this condition. Encourage your parents to get into the regular habit of following any exercise routine. It may mean a 30 min regular walk or yoga or gardening or going to a gym.  Anything and everything that ensures that the regime is there as a rule and not as an exception! Don’t limit moving around because they are old, have maids to do the work, Everything is home delivered (from grocery to medicines) it’s too hot or too cold to work out etc etc….. Ensure staying mobile and active is a part of their daily routine. If someone must take rest because of a medical condition, then try to get back to the routine of exercise as early as possible. Lying down for a week loses at least 5% of muscle mass! And in old age it is very difficult to get these muscles back.

2.    Consume a protein rich balanced Diet – Ensure that the diet is rich in protein, as a lot of wear and tear happens in old age. Protein helps in building the muscles. So, ensure that the diet is not calorie deficit and 30 to 50% of these calories are coming from proteins. It is helpful to know the health status by getting a Health Check minimum once a year. It helps in knowing the status of basic parameters of the body. And based on that status a more individualist approach can be planned.

3.    Keep a check on the Body weight – Data suggests that it becomes more difficult to lose weight once you cross the age of 50. Specially if one has never exercised before. The usual tendency is to start eating less to lose weight. It becomes a double whammy because the muscle mass is lost because of less activity and then eating less means consuming calories / nutrition deficit diet, further reducing the muscles mass. So, getting in touch with an expert like a Clinical Nutritionist will help in reducing weight without compromising the Nutrition.

So encourage your parents to stay Active and Stay fit!!

Are you fatigued weeks after COVID? You may have Long COVID

June 2nd, 2022 by

Are you fatigued weeks after COVID?

You may have Long COVID

In the last two years of the pandemic, more than 517 million were infected with COVID-19. Most of them recovered from the infection but some continued to face health issues even after months of testing negative. These symptoms are part of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PACS) which is commonly known as Long COVID. Those who suffer from Long COVID often call themselves ‘long haulers’.

 

Almost 40% of COVID survivors suffer from long-term impact of the infection one month after the infection, according to a University of Michigan study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases on 22 April 2022. According to its findings, it is estimated that there are more than 200 million people who are suffering from Long COVID across the world.

 

Who is likely to suffer from it?

Various studies show that those who have been hospitalised for COVID-19 had a higher chance of suffering from Long COVID. Also those who suffered from severe COVID-19 are more likely to suffer from it than those who had a mild infection. Similarly some studies suggest unvaccinated individuals are more likely to suffer from Long COVID than those who are fully vaccinated.

 

The Michigan study, mentioned earlier, reviewed 50 studies from 17 countries and found that Asians (49%) followed by Europeans (44%) and those in North America (39%) had more likelihood of suffering from Long COVID. It also found that women (49%) had a higher likelihood of suffering from it than men (37%).

 

Pre-existing conditions like Asthma increased the likelihood of Long Covid. Other risk factors identified in the study were initial illness, older age and underlying conditions like obesity and hypothyroidism.

 

The most common symptom in the review was found to be fatigue which was found in 23% of the survivors followed by memory problems (14%), shortness of breath (13%), sleep problems (11%), and joint pain (10%).

How long do the symptoms last? 

Across the world, prevalence of Long COVID was 37% after 1 month of diagnosis, 25% at 2 months, 32% at 3 months and 49% at 4 months according to the Michigan study.

 

Another study published in the medical journal The Lancet in July 2021 showed that 91% of Long haulers took 35 weeks or about 9 months to recover. Researchers surveyed nearly 4,000 sufferers with confirmed or suspected COVID from nearly 60 countries, with illness of a month or longer. During their illness, survivors experienced symptoms across nine organ systems. The most frequent symptoms after six months were fatigue, post exertional weakness and cognitive dyfunction like memory loss, problems with attention span and problem solving.

 

What are the symptoms?

Long Covid can be varied and can impact different people differently. In the Lancet study, participants experienced anything from ear numbness, vision loss, reduced sensitivity to medicines, new allergies, suicide ideation and facial paralysis.

 

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, following symptoms are reported by long haulers.

 

General symptoms

●    Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life

●    Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)

●    Fever

Respiratory and Heart symptoms

●    Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

●    Cough

●    Chest pain

●    Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

Neurological symptoms

●    Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)

●    Headache

●    Sleep problems

●    Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)

●    Pins-and-needles feelings

●    Change in smell or taste

●    Depression or anxiety

Digestive symptoms

●    Diarrhoea

●    Stomach pain

Other symptoms

●    Joint or muscle pain

●    Rash

●    Changes in menstrual cycles

Source: US CDC

POTS 

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS is a condition where heart rate increases by at least 30 beats per minute after a person moves from sitting or lying down to standing. This is because their autonomic nervous system is unable to control their blood pressure and heart rate to make for your change in posture. There is recent evidence that those who have had COVID-19 are vulnerable to be POTS.

 

Long COVID in children

It is now emerging that even children are affected by Long COVID. Some of the symptoms that children show are different from adults. Usually children have complained of chest pain, cough fatigue, joint pain, loss of smell or taste and memory fog.

 

Living with Long COVID

Treating Long COVID is not straightforward or simple since it manifests differently for different people. Some of the symptoms may get better with time and others would require medical assistance. With growing awareness, there are doctors and clinics that specialise in helping people with Long COVID manage their symptoms.

 

Some general tips: 

Modify the way you work: You may need to take breaks between your work days to take care of your fatigue. Find what time in the day you feel most refreshed and aim to finish a major chunk of your work at that time. Speak to your colleagues and boss if you need more time to finish work and ask for help whenever you need it.

 

Get good sleep: In order to recover, you need to give your body good 7-8 hours of restful sleep. Use a fitness app to track your sleep to monitor if you are getting deep sleep. Reduce stress, keep away gadgets in the evening and exercise to maintain good sleep hygiene.

 

Seek help: Long COVID can leave you feeling tired, frustrated and lonely but know that help is available. Speak to a doctor well-versed with treating post COVID symptoms and ask for help. Seek help from a psychologist if you feel low. Get a physiotherapist’s help to begin working out gradually. Speak to your friends and family and tell them about how you are feeling, their support will be crucial in your recovery.

 

Get a health check up: If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above long after your infection, it is a good idea to go for a full body health check up that can give you a status update on the health of your body and help your doctors pinpoint the exact cause that is causing the symptoms.

 

Resources

To join the Long COVID India Survivors group on telegram: https://t.me/+3SHOL_cmzpkyYzdl

Follow @LongCOVIDIndia on twitter for latest news

For more information on Long COVID, go to https://www.wearebodypolitic.com/covid-19

Smile without a worry: 4 Dental problems and their solutions

June 2nd, 2022 by

Smile without a worry: 4 Dental problems and their solutions

 

‘A smile is a curve that sets everything straight’ – Phyllis Diller.

As very rightly said, a healthy smile not only makes a good first impression it also has an impact on your social circle, relationships and Career, yet many of us hesitate to smile fully. We feel self-conscious about our ‘less than perfect’ set of teeth and hide our smile.

 

Our smile is defined by the Shape, size and orientation of our teeth as well as the health of our teeth, gums and surrounding structures.

 

Healthy teeth are important to cut, eat and chew our food. So it is important for us to regularly monitor the health of our teeth and thus always have a beautiful and healthy smile.

Here are some of the most common dental issues and the treatment for them.

 

Yellow or discoloured teeth: You may get yellow teeth if the outer coating of your tooth called enamel is eroded and the dark(Yellow) inner coating of the tooth called dentin is visible. Smoking or drinking too much tea or coffee can also cause discolouration in teeth. Sometimes too much fluoride in toothpaste and water can cause white-brown spots on your teeth. Lastly teeth may be discoloured due to some traumatic injury to the tooth

 

Solution: Treatment depends on the extent of discolouration and etiology. Sometimes simple over-the-counter bleaching agents/toothpastes do the job. However in most of the cases a proper in-office bleach is recommended for better results. In worse cases Your dentist can also do composite/Ceramic veneers  which are thin shell types of materials fixed on your teeth or ceramic crowns to change their appearance.

Cavity: Cavities occur when your teeth decay and it affects the inner and outer coating of your tooth. Cavities occur when high carbohydrate foods stay on our teeth which are broken down by oral bacteria into acids. These acids with saliva and food debris become plaque that sticks to your teeth. Over time, the acid in the plaque erodes enamel creating pits known as cavities. Initially, you may not see a cavity but experience sudden pain, sensitive teeth, bad breath and pain when you bite down.

Solution: The course of action will depend on the extent of damage. The dentist will remove the affected area and fill the cavity using dental fillings. If the root of the tooth is damaged, you may need a root canal where the dentist removes the pulp that contains nerve endings that cause pain. If that option is not possible, you may need to extract the tooth and get a dental implant in its place to ensure your teeth do not shift and your biting isn’t affected as well as the appearance remains intact.

 

Broken Teeth: Teeth can break due to accidents, biting too hard or cavities. Minor tooth chipping or breaking doesn’t hurt but if it has chipped too much, it can cause pain. The pain may come and go and intensifies on chewing. The sharp edge of the tooth may even hurt your tongue while chewing or talking.

Solution: You will have to visit the dentist as earliest as possible. The dentist may polish the tooth if the chip is minor. Sometimes the dentist will fill the crack with filling material and a crown on top. If the pulp of the tooth is affected, you may need a root canal treatment.

Irregular Teeth: Heredity and genes play a role in having irregular or crooked teeth. Sometimes, it is difficult to clean between the irregular teeth which increases risk for dental problems. They interfere with chewing and may impact speech and personality of the person.

Solution: If you have decided to seek correction for your irregular teeth, you may need to visit an orthodontist. Based on the health of your teeth, gums and your age, they may suggest Removable, fixed or Aligners. Most commonly used fixed appliances for teens are Braces, You can select metal, ceramic or transparent braces based on your preference and budget. For working professionals Aligners (also called invisible braces) is also a great option. In some cases, orthodontists may suggest additional surgery to correct your alignment if it affects your chewing or speech.

 

Some general tips to take care of your teeth:-

●    Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft brush and floss once a day. Flossing ensures that plaque deposited between your teeth is flushed out, preventing cavities and bad breath.

●    Quit smoking as it causes discolouration of teeth, gives you bad odour and increases your risk for gum disease.

●    Avoid too many sugary items and high carbohydrates foods as they can lead to plaque formation and tooth decay.

●    Visit your dentist at least twice a year to prevent gum disease and dental problems. ‘Prevention is better than cure’

How to build stamina

June 2nd, 2022 by

Tips to Build Stamina and Conquer your Fitness Goals

 

It is one thing to be accurate in your line and length and another to bowl at 150 km per hour. For South African pacer Dale Steyn, both came easy. Called one of the best and the “most complete” fast bowlers of his generation, Steyn dominated the number one spot in ICC Test rankings for a record 263 weeks between 2008 and 2014 in his peak. Whatever the weather conditions or the pitch; Steyn’s bowling was accurate, lethal and a pleasure to watch.

 

What gave him an edge when other fast bowlers suffered near constant injuries?

“What bowlers should be doing is making sure they can train their muscles for taking part in battle for a long period. You want your quick bowlers bowling at 140km/h at the start of the day and just as quick in the late afternoon,” Steyn said in an interview once. He said rather than building muscles, bowlers need to train their muscles to bowl with endurance and durability rather than bursts of power.

 

What Steyn hinted to was building stamina which gives you the ability to sustain any prolonged physical or mental activity. It is not just fast bowlers who need to have good stamina to perform at their best. All of us need stamina in our day to day lives–be it to play with your children, shop for hours, not pant when taking the stairs or going for a hike.

 

Stamina is a combination of endurance (ability to endure a difficult activity without giving up) and strength (ability to lift heavy loads). With time and effort, you can build your stamina and watch your overall performance improve.

 

Here are some tips that can help you-

 

Long Walks: One of the simplest ways to improve your stamina as a beginner is to go on long walks. Walking for 30 to 60 minutes improves your cardiovascular health, fitness, puts less strain on your muscles and can improve your mood. Start by walking for 20 minutes for a few days and keep increasing the time by 10 minutes after every few days. Do a light stretch before you begin walking and walk at a medium pace to get proper exercise.

 

Interval Training

Interval training which combines high energy bursts of speed with slow, recovery spaces is a powerful way to improve endurance and stamina. Interval training ( for example take small sprints of 30 seconds every 3-4 minutes and walk) twice a week helps you burn more calories, avoid injuries by repetitive movement and helps you increase training intensity without burnout. Some tips to begin interval training: assess your fitness level, start slowly, warm up before you start and keep a steady but challenging pace throughout.

 

Play Sports

A cool way to increase your stamina is to play sports. It also helps to break the monotony of workouts in the gym or running. Playing sports involve different movements for example playing badminton involves running, picking up the shuttlecock and hitting with the racquet. This kind of intermingling uses different muscle groups and improves your stamina.

 

Lift Weight 

It may seem counterintuitive but weight training also improves stamina. A meta analysis of various studies has shown that lifting weights improves endurance and speed and economy of your workout (improves the time taken and energy required to finish your workout). If you have never lifted weight before, start with working out with a trainer who can assess your form and gradually increase the weights you lift. Also consult a doctor before weight training if you have pre existing diseases, injuries or illnesses.

Dance

Another fun way to break the monotony of workouts is to dance regularly. Dancing helps improve your cardiovascular health as well as improve your muscle strength. Dancing improves mobility, balance, increases agility, strengthens bones and reduces stress. What’s more, you can dance together with your family or friends and it would be a great activity to do together and de-stress.

 

Listen to music when you exercise

What pumps up your mood when you go to the gym or come home tired from home? Usually it’s the music. Listening to high-energy music while exercising helps you workout more, distracts you from the strain of the workout, changes your perception of fatigue and makes exercise feel easier. So keep a fast-paced playlist ready when you are lifting weights in the gym or go for a run.

 

Eat healthy and get adequate rest

Eating healthy food with an adequate portion of protein, fats and good carbohydrates is important to find the energy to workout. Also getting 7-8 hours of sleep is crucial for your body to rest and recover after a workout so do not scrimp on sleep. Also undergoing vitamin deficiency tests will also tell you if there are vitamin deficiencies that are making you feel lethargic and tired all the time.

 

With these tips, you will improve your stamina in no time and conquer your fitness goals.

7 Diabetes Myths you shouldn’t believe

June 2nd, 2022 by

Diabetes is a household name these days. Almost all families have at least a member with diabetes in it. Changing diets and sedentary lifestyles have led to an explosion of diabetes in the country. There are 74 million diabetes patients in India, second to only China. The incidence of diabetes is increasing in both urban and rural parts of the country.

As common as it is, there are still many misconceptions about diabetes, from what causes it to how to manage it. We bust the most common myths about diabetes so that you can break the cycle of misinformation

1.   Diabetes is caused due to eating sugar

Given that it is called “madhumeha” in Sanskrit, literally translated as a condition that causes sweet urination, diabetes is attached to eating sugar in most people’s minds. This is not entirely true. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down as glucose. Our body then produces the hormone insulin so that this glucose is available to the cells for their energy needs. In diabetics, the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin well leading to excess glucose in the bloodstream. Over time, the excess glucose in the bloodstream causes issues with the kidneys, heart, vision etc. This is why diabetics are asked to avoid foods that are sweet and high in simple carbohydrates which will be converted to glucose quite easily.

 

2.   Diabetes isn’t that serious

Many believe since many have the disease, diabetes is something that comes with age and has to be lived with. Complacency is a wrong approach to have because diabetes harms indirectly through complications. Longer that you have diabetes and the more uncontrolled the diabetes, the higher is the risk for complications. Some of the most common complications of diabetes are cardiovascular problems, nephropathy or kidney damage, neuropathy or nerve damage, retinopathy or eye damage and foot damage that can cause amputations.

 

In 2015, 3.46 lakh Indians died of complications related to diabetes. This is why regular follow up with the doctor, managing blood sugar and regular check ups are important.

 

3.   Diabetics should avoid sweets

Like we said earlier, diabetes isn’t caused just by eating sugary foods or sweets, but sweets do increase blood sugar drastically, so they need to be eaten once in a while and with consideration. For example, fruits also contain a lot of simple sugar, but they also contain fiber, various antioxidants, and vitamins that are good for the body. On the other hand, cakes, loaves of bread, and biscuits do not contain fiber and hence are broken down quickly increasing blood glucose level so they have to be eaten once in a while as a treat. Also recent research shows, it is not just what you eat, the order in which you eat also impacts the glucose spike. The recommended order is vegetables, followed by protein and fat and starches and other carbohydrates in the end. This also ensures that you remain full longer.

 

4.   Herbal medicines can cure diabetes

People are attracted to herbal remedies because they are promised they are free of side-effects and can cure disease. However most herbal medicines that promise to cure diabetes have not been pharmacologically tested, do not have quality assurance and some are even toxic in nature. Yet, many believe these “cures” rather than relying on tested and evidence-based medicine that has been proven to work for decades often leading to serious harm. Remember, before you replace your diabetes medicine with something “herbal” or natural, speak to your doctor first.

 

5.   Those who take insulin are more serious than those on oral medicines

Those who have type 1 diabetes need to take insulin as their bodies do not produce the hormone anymore. Others with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin shots as their disease progresses and is not controlled by oral diabetes medicines alone. Not taking insulin does not mean your diabetes is milder either, your doctor may choose to manage diabetes with whatever treatment option is the most suitable for you.

 

6.   If your parents don’t have diabetes, you will not have it

While having diabetes in your family increases your risk for it, not all diabetics have a family history. Other risk factors for diabetes are: obesity, age, prediabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, and race (Indians have a higher likelihood of diabetes than Caucasians).

 

7.   Only those who are fat are prone to diabetes

While excess weight gain and obesity do increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, it is not the only risk factor for diabetes. In India, diabetes especially happens at a much younger age and in people with lower body mass index. In diabetes, as with other metabolic diseases, abdominal fat is a more important marker than just your weight. So going for an annual health check which includes a blood glucose test is a good idea in your 30s.

 

Also, there is a condition called prediabetes where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. This condition is a precursor to diabetes. However, you can still make lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent diabetes at this stage.

 

Diabetes may not be curable, but it is manageable with regular health checks, the right kind of medication, a diet plan, exercise, and a change in lifestyle. At HCL Healthcare, we offer a complete care consortium to HCL employees and their dependents, through our health and wellness facilities right on your campus as well as in the comfort of your home.

“Diabetes is a great example whereby,

giving the patient the tools,

you can manage yourself very well.”

― Clayton M. Christensen.

Power to the patient How employees can make better health decisions

May 4th, 2022 by

Power to the patient How employees can make better health decisions

Power to the Patient How can employees make better health decisions?

After two years of the COVID pandemic, we do not need to reiterate how important it is to take care of one’s health. All of us have witnessed enough health scares around us to know that just age or weight are not the factors that can indicate the status of our health. Like we pay attention to our workplace deliverables and our finances, we need to monitor our health parameters and take preventive steps so that we stay fit and healthy.

In this article, we discuss how to take control of your health so that you remain on top of your health game and use the facilities provided, to the optimum. A little proactiveness and three words – Know, Access, and Act – can help you take charge of your health and thus your life. Read more to find out how:

KNOW

  1. Annual Health Check-up: One of the first steps to taking control of your health is to know your health parameters and the easiest way to do that is to undergo regular health check-ups. “Only if a person goes for a health check-up, will the doctor be able to guide the patient to prevent health issues in the future like to quit smoking, go for vaccination or make dietary modifications,” said Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, Senior Consultant and Head, Medical Services and Quality, HCL Healthcare. Most employers provide annual executive health check-ups that cover most of the basic tests that tell you the status of your heart, liver, kidneys, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, other blood profile parameters, etc. Remember, it is common to feel anxious and want to avoid health check-ups but keep in mind, that it is better to know about your health issues now than suffer later.
  • Health Insurance: A sudden hospitalization can strain your finances and cause unnecessary worry. Thankfully, most employers provide health insurance cover for their employees and to some extent their families. This means you can make the best decision for your health without worrying about how much it will affect your bank balance. But just knowing you are covered is not enough, go through your employer’s health insurance documents to know what is covered, if there is any waiting period, what are the limits? If you think that the cover is not sufficient, you should invest in a personal health insurance cover that provides the additional protection you need for the health of you and your loved ones. Remember to inform your family also about these arrangements in case of emergencies.

ACCESS

  1. In-house services: Once you know how your health parameters are, you should access the health services and expertise that are available to you. For example,

 HCL Healthcare provides virtual doctor consultations by specialists including internal medicine specialists, gynaecologists, paediatricians, dermatologists, dentists, physiotherapists, and dieticians. For seeking consultation and guidance, you can book appointments with these experts by using the registered number given on their website.

  • Health management plans: It is important to know that chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and thyroid issues require constant monitoring and customized planning. Therefore, you should opt for disease management plans which will give you doctor consultation, regular follow-up, detailed health examinations, and diet advice. Being proactive about managing conditions will help you prevent complications that follow these chronic conditions.
  • Emotional wellbeing: Do not forget your emotional well-being when you think about your health. Like any other condition, it is important to seek help from trained counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists if you have mental and emotional issues. These experts have a neutral perspective, have great listening skills, and can offer skills that will help you feel better.

ACT

After getting to know your health status and getting a consultation from the doctor, it is now important to act and implement those lifestyle changes and medicines if advised. We give you a list of things you need to pay attention to irrespective of your age and health status.

  1. Sleep: The importance of getting a full night’s (7-8 hours) sleep cannot be stressed enough. Those with sleep deficiency have a greater risk of many health complications including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity according to the US’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. A good night’s sleep is also important for memory, cognitive functioning, and mood regulation. Experts recommend getting sun exposure during the daytime, reducing screen time exposure during evenings, having a fixed sleeping schedule, and taking melatonin supplements to sleeping better at night.
  • Diet: In order to improve your fitness level, you have to improve your diet. Few tips include avoiding packaged foods, including green leafy vegetables and fruits, and increasing protein intake. There is growing evidence that a low-carbohydrate diet can help manage diabetes, reduce weight, control blood pressure, decrease bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol.

HCL healthcare has in-house dieticians who can guide employees wanting to make modifications to their diet.

  • Exercise: It is important to spend at least 30 minutes each day in some form of exercise. Physical activity has been proven to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression, osteoporosis, and premature death. To be consistent, choose a form of exercise that you will enjoy, be it sports, swimming, dance, or gymming. To start small, start by walking 10 minutes each day and increase it to reach 30 or 60 minutes in about a month. It would be a good idea to seek consultation from a physical trainer or physiotherapist before you begin any new workout.
  • De-stress: It is important to counter stress from day-to-day life by spending time doing activities you enjoy, be it art, spending time in nature, cooking, playing, or indulging in another hobby.  Meditation is also an excellent way to counter stress. If you are short of time, try finding at least 10 minutes each day in mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness has been shown to increase cognitive ability, improve working memory, counter stress, and improve focus.

With these steps, you can proactively take measures towards making a healthier ‘You’ and live your life to the fullest.

Is Sitting the New Smoking

May 4th, 2022 by

Is Sitting the New Smoking

The short answer to the question whether sitting is the new smoking is– No. 

Studies conclusively show that while both sitting for long durations and smoking are harmful, smoking is a great deal, much worse.

 

Researchers from Canada, the US and Australia said that while excessive sitting (more than 8 hours a day) increases the risk of premature death and some chronic diseases by 10-20%, it is nowhere close to smoking. Smoking increases the risk of premature death from any cause by 180%. The findings published in American Journal of Public Health in 2018, finally put to rest the myth that got popular in media and health circles in recent years.

Hence, it is not fair to compare a sedentary lifestyle with smoking, but it is important to know that sitting has many harmful effects on the body.

Sitting increases risk for diabetes, impacts heart

Sitting for long, harms your heart and increases risk for diabetes. A study found that men who watched more than 23 hours of TV a week, had a 64% higher chance of suffering a heart disease compared to those who watched only 11 hours of TV a week.

 

There is more, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 18 studies found sitting increased the risk for Type 2 Diabetes by 112%, increased the risk for heart attack and stroke by 147%, and risk of death due to heart problems by 90%.

 

Increases risk for Cancers

Increased sitting increases the risk for cancer. A 2020 study published in JAMA oncology of over 8000 individuals showed that sitting increased the risk of death by cancer by 13%. It further showed that those who are extremely sedentary had as much as 80% more risk of dying by cancer than those who sit the least.

 

Weakens your muscles

When we sit for the whole day, the muscles in the lower body get weak increasing the chance of injury and pain. For example, sitting causes the hip flexor muscles to shorten, causing lower back pain and difficulty in mobility. Similarly, when we sit at work, we slouch forward to look at the screen that causes weakening of the chest muscles.

 

Weight gain

Sedentary behaviour affects the body’s ability to process fat. It reduces the production of lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme that helps break down fat. This causes the body to store fat instead of burning it.

 

What can you do?

Even a little exercise helps counter it: The JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) study that showed sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk for cancer also showed that for individuals that exercised for 30 minutes instead of sitting, the risk of dying from cancer fell by 31%. Even if they substituted exercising with gentle strolling, housework, gardening or light-intensity activity, the risk of dying from cancer fell by 8%. 

 

Another research showed that 60-75 minutes of moderate–vigorous intensity activity everyday was necessary to counter all the harms of sitting. Given how difficult it is to do half an hour of activity every day, it is important to keep yourself active throughout the day rather than relying on exercising alone.

 

Take breaks: There is evidence that taking frequent breaks (once every 30-40 minutes) helps. A 2017 study shows walking between prolonged sitting or light exercise helps reduce inflammation that can lead to heart problems and increase good cholesterol. Breaking your posture also improves blood circulation and prevents weakening of muscles.

 

Find reasons to move: One way to prevent prolonged sitting is by moving more while working and during leisure. This means walking up to your colleague for a chat instead of sending an email, taking a short walk break during lunch break or teatime, having standing meetings and stretching in your seat whenever time permits. When you are at home, it is important to not spend all the time watching TV, lounging, or scrolling your phone–play with your kids, play a sport, stroll a garden, take walks, and help around the house to get in more activity.

 

Don’t forget the evils of smoking

 

Let us again remind you that sitting may be harmful, but smoking is much worse. While smoking is becoming unpopular in rich countries, 80% of smokers today are from low and middle income countries where it is expected to kill half of the smokers prematurely. Those who smoke have a doubled risk of dying from any cancer and heart disease and they have 23 times more chance of getting lung cancer than non-smokers. Smoking not only impacts those who smoke but also has a harmful impact on those around them through second hand smoke.

 

So, quitting smoking and getting more activity throughout the day could be the kindest thing you can do to your body.

New Variant of Covid-19

May 4th, 2022 by

HCL HEALTHCARE | 11TH APRIL’ 2022

On 6 April 2022, India reported the first case of XE COVID-19 variant when a 50-year-old South African lady was found to be positive in Mumbai. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which reported the case, said the patient does not have any severe symptoms and has tested negative on RT PCR. The Union Health Ministry has said further tests are required to confirm whether the variant indeed is XE.

The news caught media attention because the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week said that the XE variant is more transmissible than previous variants of Omicron.

Even though it is not clear yet if it is indeed XE, it still is a matter of concern given that the number of COVID-19 cases has been at its lowest in the last couple of weeks and COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates have been relaxed in many parts of the country including Delhi and Mumbai.

If you are wondering about the variants and their precautions, here is a primer on all that you need to know about the new COVID-19 variant so that you are not caught off-guard.

What’s new about this variant?

Almost 90 percent of all the infections reported in 2022 were of the Omicron variant. It has two main sub-variants–BA.1 and BA.2. In India, BA.2 was the most common during the third wave, reported Indian Express.

BA.2 was found to be more transmissible than BA.1, even though it was not found to be more dangerous. According to WHO at the moment, 94% of all samples sequenced across the world were of BA.2. 

XE is a recombinant –which means it contains the mutations present in both BA.1 and BA.2. XE was first found in the United Kingdom in January 2022 and has been reported in 623 cases in the country. Recently, Thailand and New Zealand have also found XE variant in their samples.

What is recombinant?

Recombinant variants occur when an organism is infected with two variants of the virus and their genetic material mixes together or through DNA technology in the laboratory.

Other than XE, there is also XD which is a recombinant variant of BA.1 and Delta and which is found in Belgium, Denmark and France and XF which is a recombinant variant of BA.1 and Delta and found mostly in the UK.

Is XE more dangerous?

It does not seem so, yet.

The WHO on 29 March reported that XE has a “10% transmission advantage” as compared to BA.2 which means it spreads 10% faster than BA.2 variant. This finding requires further confirmation, it further said.

Now, XE is being tracked as part of the Omicron variant till significant differences in its transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, may be reported, the global health agency said.

“There was no evidence, yet that XE was any more serious in disease severity, with all Omicron variants so far shown to be less severe”, the WHO said.

What are the symptoms caused by the XE variant?

Symptoms caused by XE are the same as those by Omicron including fatigue, dizziness, headaches, sore throat, fever, heart ailment, and palpitation. Some also experience loss of taste and smell.

What can you do?

Completing your COVID-19 vaccination doses, and getting a booster dose if you are eligible, will help in protecting yourself against severe disease.

At the moment, it would be wise to follow all the existing COVID-19 appropriate behaviour including wearing a face mask when outside, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowded places, seeking medical help, and testing yourself if you experience any of the symptoms.

Remember, this is not a time to lower your guard, “People think it is summer which hinders infection but that’s not true, these viruses are now perennial.

Especially those with respiratory allergies and long-term diseases are more prone to infection-related complications, so they must take extra care,” said Dr. Amit Kumar Gupta, Senior Consultant and Head, Medical Services and Quality, HCL Healthcare.

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTI)

April 28th, 2022 by

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTI)

Author: Dr Saiful Hassan, MBBS, DEM, General Physician, HCL Healthcare

Urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of your urinary system — Kidneys, Ureters, Bladder and Urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.

Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to kidneys.

Cause: Urinary tract infections typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Although the urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, these defenses sometimes fail. When that happens, bacteria may take hold and grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract.

 

Risk Factors in Females:

  • Female anatomy.A woman has a shorter urethra than a man does, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
  • Sexual activity.Sexually active women tend to have more UTIs than do women who aren’t sexually active. Having a new sexual partner also increases your risk.
  • Certain types of birth control.Women who use diaphragms for birth control may be at higher risk, as well as women who use spermicidal agents.
  • After menopause, a decline in circulating estrogen causes changes in the urinary tract that make you more vulnerable to infection.

 

Other Factors:

  • Urinary tract abnormalities. Babies born with urinary tract abnormalities that don’t allow urine to leave the body normally or cause urine to back up in the urethra have an increased risk of UTIs.
  • Blockages in the urinary tract. Kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can trap urine in the bladder and increase the risk of UTIs.
  • A suppressed immune system. Diabetes and other diseases that impair the immune system — the body’s defense against germs — can increase the risk of UTIs.
  • Catheter use. People who can’t urinate on their own and use a tube (catheter) to urinate have an increased risk of UTIs. This may include people who are hospitalized, people with neurological problems that make it difficult to control their ability to urinate and people who are paralyzed.
  • A recent urinary procedure. Urinary surgery or an exam of your urinary tract that involves medical instruments can both increase your risk of developing a urinary tract infection.

 

When is a UTI suspected:

Urinary tract infections don’t always cause signs and symptoms, but when they do they may include:

  • Fever with chills
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine and strong-smelling urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy, Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
  • Pain in the flanks or Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone.

When treated promptly and properly, lower urinary tract infections rarely lead to complications. But left untreated, a urinary tract infection can have serious consequences.

Complications of a UTI may include:

  • Recurrent infections, especially in women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year.
  • Permanent kidney damage from an acute or chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis) due to an untreated UTI.
  • Increased risk in pregnant women of delivering low birth weight or premature infants.
  • Urethral narrowing (stricture) in men from recurrent urethritis, previously seen with gonococcal urethritis.
  • Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, especially if the infection works its way up your urinary tract to your kidneys.

Investigations for diagnosis:

The doctor will advise for Urine Routine analysis or Urine Culture for detection of bacteria, in addition, Complete Blood Count (CBC) and other higher investigations like Ultrasound, Intravenous pyelogram, Cystoscopy, CT scan may be done as per your doctor advice.

Treatment:

Based on the signs and symptoms and the lab investigation reports, the doctor will prescribe medicines to relieve the symptoms and Antibiotics are prescribed to clear the bacteria. The treatment may vary from 5-7 days.

Prevention: You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:

  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you will urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.
  • Drink cranberry juice.Although studies are not conclusive that cranberry juice prevents UTIs, it is likely not harmful.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene, especially of the genital area. Wipe from front to back.Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
  • Empty your bladder soon after intercourse.Also, drink a full glass of water to help flush bacteria.
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products.Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
  • Change your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth.

*If you feel that you are getting the above symptoms and signs, feel free to visit to HCL Healthcare clinics or through Virtual consult through the helpline.

PARENTING DURING PANDEMIC

April 28th, 2022 by

PARENTING DURING PANDEMIC

(Dr Naghma Javed, Life Coach, HCL Healthcare, Lucknow Clinic)

The ongoing Covid 19 Pandemic has changed our lives in many ways and, all the social distancing measures designed to keep individuals physically distanced from others are, though necessary, are causing widespread mental health issues, including depression and frustration, in old and young alike.

The basic problem for children during pandemic happens to be a lack of structure in their lives. Structure is important in everyone’s life especially children as they thrive in predictable routines and structures and feel lost if they don’t know what’s happening next; and so, it’s very crucial for their emotional and psychological development. The consistency of schedules, predictable rules, and set expectations teach children how to behave, develop self discipline, and impulse control.

Another important factor in parenting happens to be that children often learn many things by observing the behaviour of their parents and other care givers. Since during the pandemic, everyone is spending a lot of time together at home; and there is no space for people to hide their strong emotions from children. Children are often witnessing how their parents are behaving with their office staff, what kind of language is being used, how they themselves are following routines and structures, and to top it all being together in the confines of home twenty-four by seven is testing everyone’s patience.

Before we try to find solutions, it is important for all to realize that this is indeed a very tough time for everyone, and it’s important for all of us to find ways to stay positive and try to create a structure to our days as it’s no longer a few days, weeks, or even months; it has been more than a year.

MALE INFERTILITY

April 28th, 2022 by

MALE INFERTILITY

INTRODUCTION : 

  • Infertility incidence
  • Male Factor Rising up off of the Population

Male Infertility

  • Responsible for 1/3rd of IVF treatments
  • Off of the cases idiopathic or unexplained
  • Mainstay of treatment ART ( IVF/ICSI )
  • Live birth after ICSI – 25-30% PER (fresh ) treatment cycle 

CAUSES :  

Lifestyle Factors and Male Infertility : 

Obesity and Weight Loss :

  • Statistically Significant relationship between obesity & semen analysis parameters
  • Obese men more likely to be oligospermic or azoospermic
  • Paternal obesity negatively affects ART outcome
  • Conflicting results regarding effect of significant weight loss on semen analysis parameters

Diet :  

  • Vegetables , fruits , fish , poultry , cereals & low-fat dairy products – positively associated with sperm quality
  • Processed meat , full-fat dairy products , alcohol , coffee & sugar-sweetened beverages – poor semen quality & lower fecundity rates
  • Favourable effects of selenium , zinc , omega-3 fatty acids , coenzyme Q10 & Carnitines on Semen Parameters

Vitamins and Antioxidants :

  • Oxidative Stress (OS) can impair sperm motility, reduce fertilizing ability & cause sperm DNA damage
  • Antioxidants can protect cells from OS
  • Many antioxidant supplements commercially available , but none has high-quality clinical data
  • Antioxidant use : increase live birth rate (OR 1.79) increase clinical pregnancy rate (OR 2.9 )
  • Overall low quality evidence

Cigarette Smoking and vaping : 

  • Smoking negatively affects semen quality but underlying mechanism not yet clear
  • No definite relationship between smoking & male infertility but current available evidence supports smoking cessation & decreasing tobacco exposure for couple trying to conceive
  • Smoking associated with decrease semen count , motility & abnormal morphology – leads to decrease in sperm quality in both fertile & infertile men ( higher effect in infertile )
  • Worsened semen quality in moderate & heavy smokers
  • Oligospermia more prevalent in smokers ( RR 1.29 )
  • Paternal smoking adversely affects ART outcomes
  • Risk of treatment failure (specially miscarriage ) reduces by 4 % in former smokers with each additional year following smoking cessation
  • Vaping refers to e-cigarettes which contain propylene glycol , vegetable glycerine , nicotine , food-grade flavouring & water . Generally viewedas less harmful but does have negative effect on spermatogenesis & OS

Alcohol :  

  • >50 % men drink alcohol yet effect on male fertility not understood
  • Overall –lower semen quality but variable & dose – dependent effect on semen parameters
  • Habitual alcohol intake – decrease semen quality & changes in reproductive hormones
  • Semen volume , sperm count , motility & number of morphological normal sperm ALL decreased significantly

Caffeine :

  • Apparently unaffected semen characteristics but male coffee drinking associated with prolonged time to pregnancy
  • May be associated with sperm aneuploidy & DNA breaks but no other DNA damage

Stress : 

  • Psychological stress – decrease sperm concentration , progressive motility & increase fraction of sperm with abnormal morphology
  • Primarily caused by suppression of testosterone by increase corticosteroid levels
  • Antidepressants drugs – Negatively affect sexual function & semen quality
  • Manage stress non – pharmacologically – CBT , Psychotherapy , fertility counselling & support   

Sleep :

  • Slepp duration associated with testis size in healthy young men
  • Sleep disturbance may contribute to male infertility
  • Testosterone has diurnal pattern & increase coinciding with REM Sleep ( rather than melatonin )
  • Prolactin increase during sleep & levels are sleep – dependent
  • Co-effects if stress / depression & poor sleep on fertility
  • Long –term use of hypnotics – not recommended

Sperm assessment and selection

Semen Analysis ( SA ) 

  • Essential in evaluation & initial lab test
  • Single SA usually sufficient to decide the most appropriate management pathway
  • If initial SA ≥ 1 abnormal parameters – consider Repeat
  • Men with risk factors or abnormal semen parameters – refer to male reproductive specialist for full evaluation

Sperm DNA Fragmentation 

  • SA has limited diagnostics accuracy & cannot predict ART outcomes
  • Association between high Sperm DNA Fragmentation & poor reproductive outcomes in natural conception / IUI but unable to predict with ART outcomes
  • No treatment for high Sperm DNA Fragmentation proven yet 

New developments in sperm selection in ART :

  • Sperm selection –Standard methods are density gradient centrifugation or swim-up both with similar ART outcomes
  • Live births after ICSI – 25-30% per ( fresh )treatment cycle

Genetic testing in male infertility :  

  • Genetic Testing and karyotyping– in klinfelter Syndrome ( 47,XXY), testicular disorder of sex development ( 46 , XX ) , translocation ( balanced or unbalanced ), inversions, insertions or deletions

COVID-19 VACCINATION IN WOMEN

April 28th, 2022 by

COVID-19 VACCINATION IN WOMEN

(Dr T Kabila Raje, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, HCL Healthcare, Madurai)

·       All Individuals above the age of 18 years including pregnant and lactating women are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

o   Symptomatic pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease.

o   Pregnant women above the age of 35, with obesity and / or other pre-existing long-term diseases (comorbidities) are at higher risk of complications.

o   Babies born to COVID-infected mothers are at higher risk of being pre-mature and having low birth weight and other complications.

o   However, the COVID-19 vaccines’ long-term side effects on the mother and their babies are not yet established.

·       Hence, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for pregnant and lactating women with informed consent as the benefits outweigh potential risks to them and their babies.

·       The currently available COVID-19 vaccines are largely safe for pregnant women.

o   Minor side effects like pain at the injection site, mild fever, headache, and body aches may be seen after vaccination, but these generally subside within 2-3 days and can be managed and treated with Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines.

·       COVISHIELD can be given at any vaccination centre with a recommended gap of 12-16 weeks between the two doses.

·       COVAXIN is recommended in women with high-risk pregnancies such as those with Gestational Diabetes (GDM), Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), Epilepsy, severe anaemia, and those on blood thinners like Aspirin or Heparin group. They should be vaccinated in tertiary care centres under medical supervision with a recommended gap of 4-6 weeks between the two doses. These women should seek medical advice before vaccination.

·       Pregnant ladies can be vaccinated anytime during the pregnancy.

·       A pregnant woman who gets infected with COVID-19 during her pregnancy can be vaccinated 90 days after recovery from the acute infection OR soon after the delivery.

·       Injections of the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered on the same day. Similarly, Anti-D injection can also be given on the same day but at a different site.

·       A nurse or healthcare worker should accompany a pregnant lady during COVID-19 vaccination, and a regular follow-up should be done to check for any Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI). Such cases are to be duly reported to the vaccination centre and the treating doctor (Physician/ Obstetrician).

·       Women on long-term contraception and with a previous history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or other clotting disorders should seek medical advice before COVID-19 vaccination.

·       Rh-negative women and those with previous caesarean operation are not categorised as high-risk group for COVID-19 vaccination.

·       The COVID-19 vaccination status with the date of vaccination should be entered in the RCH card.

HEALTH ADVISORY FOR WORKING WOMEN

April 28th, 2022 by

HEALTH ADVISORY FOR WORKING WOMEN

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Women empowerment is one of the most important factors in overall growth and development. Four key pillars of women empowerment are in terms of women’s health, education, income, and participation in decision-making, out of which health is of paramount importance. As the working women are contributing immensely in the overall social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, ensuring their health would not only lead to their own good health but also result in greater productivity, growth, and development of the entire society. Let us see as to how working women can maintain their own health while remaining connected to their office jobs as well as caring for others.

Know yourself!

Every woman has her own uniqueness in terms of physical, mental, and personal health status. Some women may need to take extra care of their health due to such reasons as monthly periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and certain women-specific health issues. A good self-awareness can help you take necessary steps for prevention and management. Talk to your doctor for further help and support.

Prevent spread of germs!

Every season is a season of its characteristic infections such as flu, stomach infections etc. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 30 seconds; ensure it especially before eating your food or snack. Take care of your workplace too. Use an appropriate disinfectant cleaner or spray to clean your desk, keyboard, mouse, phone etc.

Maintain good personal hygiene!

Importance of personal cleanliness, daily bathing and wearing clean clothes is known to everyone. However, working women need to take extra precautions during their special days every month. Poor maintenance of personal, physical, and reproductive hygiene can pose risk of various infections, other health problems and gynecologic issues. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist for further information and guidance.

Take a balanced diet!

Ensure that your diet contains not only sufficient calories but also adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Women with certain health condition like as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level and hormonal problems may need to take further precautions in their meals. You can seek advice from your doctor and dietician, if required.

Do not skip meals, you can have working snacks!

Never skip your meals due to work pressure. Plan your day for work as well as meals. Take your breakfast, lunch and dinner on time and do snacking in-between at least twice (that is, between breakfast & lunch and between lunch & dinner). Plan a healthy working lunch or choose a healthy snack. Prefer salads, fruits, nuts and multigrain food items over oily fast foods, candies, and other junk foods in your snacks.

Keep yourself well-hydrated!

Drink plenty of water and healthy beverages like green tea, warm milk, buttermilk, limewater, and vegetable soups.

Instead of fresh juice, eat the fruit with its pulp and fibre which is a healthier practice. Drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water and other liquids daily (which means a glass of water after every 1 to 2 hours). Avoid too much of coffee, cold drinks and other aerated soft drinks.

Exercise at workplace

As per your liking, stamina, and feasibility, choose any exercise such as morning walk, jogging, cycling, yoga, swimming, or any other outdoor sport, and make it a part of your daily routine. At your workplace also, you can do certain exercises such as stretching of your neck, arms, and legs. So, leave your office chair after every 2 to 3 hours of continuous work and exercise for 5-10 minutes, or simply go for a walk. After that, you can resume your work with more freshness. Controlling weight not only keeps you fit and freshened but also prevents or delays the onset of such diseases as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and osteoarthritis (problems of joints).

Be smoke-free and avoid alcohol!

Do not start smoking; and if you do smoke, quit it now. Also avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking poses greater health risks to women, especially during pregnancy and after delivery. Avoid alcohol and other habit-forming bad substances (such as sleeping pills). During pregnancy and breastfeeding, such habits can affect the mother as well as her baby.

Take adequate sleep!

Do not remain engaged for so long periods at your work and household chores that deprive you of your sleep. Lack of adequate sleep can affect one’s health adversely. Ensure that you get sound sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours daily. Before going to sleep, you can read a book, do some meditation, or condition yourself to any other task of you interest so that you get a sound sleep.

Manage stress!

Working women are more prone to have stress due to their higher requirements to maintain a work-life balance. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, spend quality time with family & friends, and get plenty of sleep. Have some “Me Time” in your daily life and vent your daily stress out during that time. Also, know your rights at the workplace such as your rights for prevention of sexual harassment at workplace and your entitlement to the use of personal protective equipment to prevent occupational hazard. If needed, meet the life coach at HCL Healthcare clinic with whom you can share your personal concerns under strict confidentiality and seek necessary guidance and support to make your life happy and stress-free.

Do self-breast examination regularly!

This examination in done in different postures and every woman should know how to do it. It can help you detect any lump or other abnormality in breast at an early stage so that you can take further action well in time. When needed, no woman should hesitate and must seek help from her doctor or gynecologist immediately. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist for further information about it.

Get your health check done!

Take advantage of cashless health checks available for you and your family members. If you have history of any illness either in you or your family, speak to your family doctor or gynecologist for health check-up and advice. There are also certain women-specific screening tests (such as Pap test for cervical cancer), which help in prevention, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment of respective women-specific diseases. Talk to the clinic doctor/gynecologist for further information and guidance.

Take extra care for the special and vulnerable ones!

Many working women suffer silently due to their women-specific health problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menstrual problems, gynecologic infections etc. Women with certain chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, asthma, heart disease, morbid obesity etc., have higher risk of infections, other health problems and their complications. Similarly, women need extra care and support during pregnancy and after delivery. Moreover, many women experience problems while moving towards their menopause and after the menopause. If you are one of these special and vulnerable ones, do not delay in seeking help in case you have any symptom or health issue.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

HEALTH TIPS- BUILDING IMMUNITY THIS MONSOON

April 28th, 2022 by

HEALTH TIPS- BUILDING IMMUNITY THIS MONSOON

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Common cold can account for up to three years of the average person’s life! The reason behind this rather depressing statistic is not easy to pinpoint, and in contrast to what many believe, have nothing to do with the approaching chill in the air!

While it is the most common illness among humans it does not occur because of wet hair, stress, a change in temperature, cold feet, or bad weather. The fact of the matter is that when the weather

forecast is at a low, our immune systems are weakened making us more susceptible to cold attacks. Do not let colds and flu stop you this monsoon. Follow these tips and hints and you can continue to get more out life despite the weather forecast.

Clean Hands!

Hands are described as a germ factory for a reason, so be sure to wash your hands several times throughout the day using a sanitizer. While warm soap and water also work, make sure you do not rush the process and wash your hands for at least 30-seconds to kill all germs. Use paper towel to dry your hands and close the tap so that you do not come into contact with germs once again after washing them. Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth wherever possible so that they do not attract additional germs. And if you need to sneeze, try to do so in the crook of your arm so that the germs on your hands do not come into contact with your nose.

Exercise!

Exercise to build your immunity. Research suggests that by working out and making your heart pump a little faster you strengthen your immune system. If you are already sick, the general rule of thumb is that you can continue to do so if the symptoms are experienced above the neck, such as stuffy noses and sore throats. If, however, you have a temperature and are experiencing aches and pains in your body you should rest and give the gym a skip.

Eat and sleep!

Get at least six to eight hours sleep a night to prevent your immune system from weakening and making you more susceptible to colds and flu. Eating large quantities of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables supports your immune system so make sure your diet is designed to protect you.

Stay Hydrated & drink clean water!

Drink plenty of water and water-based drinks such as green tea during monsoons because the increased humidity makes us sweat more and leaves our bodies dehydrated & more susceptible to falling ill.

Take a shower if you get wet in the rain! 

The shower will wash off any infection or germs that might have passed on to you. Also, avoid sitting in an air-conditioned room with wet clothes or hair so that you do not fall sick

Maintain a high level of personal hygiene! 

Infection and bacteria multiply at an alarming rate especially during rainy season when the surroundings are already polluted, dirty and contaminated. Stay away from mosquito infested areas and avoid walking through puddles of water. Use an antiseptic soap & hand wash.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

HEALTH TIPS ON CANCER AND ITS PREVENTION

April 28th, 2022 by

HEALTH TIPS ON CANCER AND ITS PREVENTION

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Cancer is a serious and life-threatening health condition worldwide. Of late, it is emerging as a major public health problem in India also (here it has become one of the ten leading causes of death). Cancers of mouth, lungs, breasts and cervix make the largest proportion of this disease. The irony is that many cancers manifest late in an advanced stage when the disease has already spread from its primary site (organ of origin) to other organs (metastasis) thereby increasing the risk of further complications (including death). However, appropriate changes in lifestyle and other identified measures can help in prevention, early diagnosis and prompt treatment of many of such cases.

To raise awareness on cancer and encourage people for its prevention, detection, and treatment, we observe World Cancer Day on February 4 every year. Let’s know about cancer and how we can prevent and manage it.

Causes and risk factors

Although multiple factors may play roles and contribute, most cancers (90-95% of cases) are linked to environmental factors and only a small proportion (5-10%) occurs due to genetic factors.

Smoking and tobacco chewing: They form the single most important modifiable risk factor for cancer. In addition to the cancers of mouth, lungs, voice box, throat and food pipe, they can also lead to cancers of pancreas and kidneys. Passive smoking (second hand smoking) also results in increased risk of cancers among non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke.

Alcohol: Alcohol intake is associated with cancers of liver, mouth, throat, voice box and food pipe. Alcohol and smoking habits together can further increase the cancer risk significantly.

Sexual and reproductive factors: These are associated with breast and cervical cancers. Sexual behaviour factors (like young age at first sexual activity, multiple sexual partners and poor sexual hygiene) and infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) have been linked to cervical cancer. Late age at marriage, not having any kid and late menopause increase the risk of breast cancer.

Dietary factors: Diets high in fresh vegetables and fruits tend to reduce the risk for cancer whereas diets rich in animal fats (especially red meats) increase the risk. Other specific dietary factors linked to certain cancers include smoked fish, lack of dietary fibre, high fat diet and certain food additives & food contaminants.

Occupational exposures: They include exposures to benzene, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, vinyl chloride, asbestos, polycyclic hydrocarbons etc. The risk of developing cancer is higher among certain industry workers such as rubber tyres makers, textile workers, ship & dockyard workers, wood workers and those working in chemical & pharmaceutical plants. The risk increases further in smokers.

Certain viral infections: They include chronic infections with hepatitis B and C viruses (liver cancer), HIV (Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), HPV (cervical cancer), certain other viruses.

Genetic factors: Primarily, they are inherited genetic defects (mutations). Carriers of such mutations are at increased risk of developing cancers. More common ones among such cancers are breast cancer, ovarian cancer, certain blood cancers (leukemias) and certain gut cancers. A person having a family member with such a cancer is also at an increased risk of developing that cancer.

Other factors: These include certain parasitic infections, exposure to radiation, certain pesticides etc.

Clinical manifestations

Most cancers do not cause any symptom in their initial stages. Some cancers have a pre-cancerous stage (in which the affected body tissue becomes borderline abnormal but yet not fully cancerous). When manifest, the symptoms may appear slowly (such as a lump that increases in size slowly, causing discomfort, pain or other local symptoms depending upon the type and location of the cancer). In advanced stages, the cancer may spread to other body organs, which can lead to further symptoms due to it. In addition, there can also be certain nonspecific or general symptoms common to most cancers.

Pre-cancerous conditions and features: They may include:

A white or reddish patch on the inner side of cheek (esp. in smokers/tobacco chewers)

An ulcer-like skin lesion or a slowly growing lump on or under the skin

A lump within the belly or in an organ (such as breast) that a person can feel.

Local features: These generally occur due to the cancerous mass or its ulceration. For example:

  • Localised pain (though a mass or swelling may be painless initially)
  • Cough, blood in phlegm (in lung cancer)
  • Changes in bowel habits, blood in stools (in gut cancer)
  • Anemia, progressive weakness and fatigue (in blood cancers)
  • Abnormal and heavy periods (in cervical and uterine cancers)

General (systemic) features: The following non-specific features may occur in many cancers:

  • Progressive loss of weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever without an apparent cause
  • Generalised lethargy and weakness
  • Skin changes

Features upon metastasis:  As a cancer spreads to other body organs, following feature may appear:

Enlarged lymph nodes (glands in neck, armpits, groin etc)

  • Enlarged liver and/or spleen
  • Bone pains and easy fractures
  • Neurological features (unexplained vertigo, epilepsy, paralysis etc)
  • Warning signals for cancer

These may be spelled out with the pneumonic “CAUTION” :

  • C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A: A wound that does not heal
  • U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
  • I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
  • N: Nagging cough or hoarseness of voice

All people should be aware of these warning signals. Merely the presence of any of these features does not mean a definitive diagnosis of cancer, however, any such sign not responding to appropriate treatment warrants immediate medical attention and prompt management.

Diagnosis

Periodic health check-up and screening are very important in early diagnosis of cancers. When a patient visits a doctor for one problem, the doctor can also utilize that opportunity to screens him/her for another specified condition (for example, screening for a reddish patch in mouth). During medical evaluation, doctors pay special attention to early warning signals and those with suspected cancer are investigated with various medical tests. A definitive diagnosis generally requires confirmation through histopathological examination (such as biopsy and liquid cytology). Further tests may be required for determining the disease extent, deciding the treatment options available and evaluating the patient during follow-up.

As a preventive measure, certain screening tests can be done to detect potential pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions, esp. in those who do not yet have clinical manifestations. They help in early detection, timely treatment at an early stage, and reduction of further risks & complications.

Pap test: This test screens women for pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions of cervix. In this test, the gynaecologist scrapes and collects cells from the surface of the cervix, which are then examined for any abnormal cells (including pre-cancerous and cancerous cells). Pap test can also be combined with the human papillomavirus test (called as the Pap-HPV co-testing) which can be done in single sitting and is considered better than an isolated Pap test.

Self-breast examination: This is an important screening method used for detecting early breast cancer in women, in which the woman herself looks at her breasts in the mirror and feels each breast for possible lumps, distortions or swelling, and then seeks professional help if indicated

Mammography: This test uses low-energy X-rays to examine the breasts for screening and early detection of breast cancer.

Tumour markers: Some cancers release specific biochemical substances which can be measured in the blood and are useful in the detection and diagnosis of those cancers. Such tumour markers include:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer
  • Alpha feto-protein (AFP) for liver cancer
  • CA-125 for ovarian cancer
  • Carcinoma-embryonic antigen (CEA) for gut cancer

Histopathological tests:  These include tissue biopsy and liquid cytology (such as on blood, bone marrow and other body fluids). They not only confirm the diagnosis and differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous lesions but also provide further details about the cancer’s nature (like type, stage, grade etc).

Other tests: They may include blood tests (such as liver and kidney function tests to know functions of these organs), X-rays, ultrasonography, CT scan, MRI scan, radio-nuclear scan, and endoscopic tests.

Treatment

  • In a given case, depending upon the type, location and grade of the cancer, the facilities available and the patient’s overall health and wishes, the following treatment modalities may be needed (alone or in combination):
  • Surgery:  It is done primarily to remove isolated solid cancers and improve quality of life. For some types of cancer, this is all that is needed for a good outcome
  • Chemotherapy: Various anti-cancer drugs have proven useful in different cancers
  • Radiotherapy: Use of radiation helps cure or improve the symptoms of certain cancers. It is typically used in addition to surgery and/or chemotherapy.
  • Palliative care: This involves symptomatic and supportive care in advanced cancers to reduce physical, emotional, spiritual and psycho-social distress and make the patient feel better. It may help improve the quality of life of such patients and their families facing such serious conditions.

Prevention

More than 30% of cancer deaths are preventable and we can reduce the cancer risk by choosing a healthy lifestyle and maintaining good personal habits. Many of the cancer-related environmental risk factors are also controllable through such simple measures as give below:

Quit smoking and tobacco chewing: If needed, talk to your doctor and life coach who can provide help and guide you through various programmes on smoking cessation and tobacco de-addiction. Avoid passive smoking (second hand smoking) including spending too much time in polluted air (such as during heavy traffic on roads).

Stop alcohol: Controlling alcohol consumption is no more a difficult task. Meet your doctor and life coach today.

Take healthy, balanced diet: Include fresh vegetables, fruits and fibre in your diet. Avoid junk foods and food items that are rich in fats (esp. animal fats/red meats).

Do regular exercise and control weight: Regular physical activity and exercise are good for both patients as well as healthy persons. You can take up any exercise of your choice and capacity (such as jogging, morning walk, outdoor games, yoga etc) to control your weight and keep you fit and freshened.

Maintain good personal, sexual and reproductive health: Keep good physical & sexual hygiene. Avoid high-risk sexual behaviours (like starting sexual activity at a young age, having multiple sexual partners, and having casual sex with unknown or risky persons). Talk to your doctor for further advice.

Be aware: Health education focused on various cancer-related risk factors & risk behaviours and on their preventive measures can help reduce the risk. Talk to your doctor; read health articles, participate in relevant group sessions; and take necessary steps actively. HCL Healthcare and Benefit Box periodically release newsletters and organize group sessions on these topics.

Get health checks done: Take advantage of cashless health checks available for you and your family members. Your doctor will evaluate including screening against common cancers & pre-cancerous conditions. Appropriate clinical examination and necessary investigations (such as Pap test in women and PSA in men) help detect problems at an early stage so that they can be handled promptly and further risks reduced.

Do self-breast examination regularly: This examination in done in different postures and every woman should know how to do it. When needed, no woman should hesitate and should seek help from her doctor or gynaecologist immediately.

Get your vaccination:  The risk of certain cancers can be reduced through vaccination (such as HPV vaccine for cervical cancer and HBV vaccine for Hepatitis B). Talk to your doctor for further information and advice.

Avoid unwarranted drugs and radiation: Do not indulge in self-medication and getting unnecessary radiation (like x-rays, CT scans etc). Always follow your doctor’s advice in this regard.

Protect against occupational exposures:  In case your workplace has risk of harmful occupational exposure (such as carcinogenic chemicals in certain industries), the risk can be reduced by such measures as use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), frequent rotation of the workers, mechanized handling of such chemicals etc. Talk to your work manager and doctor for further information and advice.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

HEALTH ADVISORY: ZIKA VIRUS INFECTION

April 28th, 2022 by

HEALTH ADVISORY: ZIKA VIRUS INFECTION

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Zika fever or Zika virus disease is a viral infection which gets spread through biting by an infected mosquito (just like malaria and dengue). It is an infection of public health concern, especially because it can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby (foetus) and result into serious complications in the brain and other organs of thus impacted baby. With no specific treatment available so far, this infection is primarily managed through symptomatic treatment and other supportive measures only.

Recently several cases of this infection have been reported from Kerala, India, and the entire State has been put on high alert to prevent further spread of this infection and control the situation from getting worsened. So, in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know about the Zika virus infection also so that we may take appropriate measures of prevention and control.

What is Zika?

Zika is a viral disease caused due to infection with the Zika virus. Just like malaria and dengue, this infection spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Typically, this mosquito first bites an infected person to become infected itself and then the infected mosquito bites a non-infected person to infect him/her too. Apart from mosquito-bites, this virus can also get spread through sexual contact, blood transfusion, and from pregnant woman to her baby (foetus) during pregnancy or at the time of delivery.

Symptoms

Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms. When manifested, symptoms are generally mild and usually appear 3 days to 2 weeks after the bite of an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes, muscle and joint pain, headache, and generalized weakness. Symptoms typically last for 2 to 7 days. Importantly, these symptoms resemble those seen in Dengue and now even in COVID-19, which should be ruled out through appropriate testing.

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can result in adverse pregnancy and foetal outcomes such as miscarriage, foetal malformations, and pre-term birth. Zika virus infection in adults and children can sometimes lead to serious neurologic complications. Although death is not a usual complication, the negative impacts on pregnancy, brain malformations in foetus, and neurological complications in adults are serious concerns in this infection.

Diagnosis

Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (such as travel to or residence in an area with active Zika virus transmission). A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids (such as urine, saliva or semen).

Treatment

Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with this infection should take adequate rest, drink plenty of liquids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines (such as paracetamol but avoid aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical advice and care.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect against Zika virus disease, though several candidate vaccines are under research phase and clinical trials.

Prevention

Since mosquito bite is the most common reason for spread of this infection, getting rid of mosquito breeding sites and taking other steps to prevent mosquito bites are the key to control this disease. Other measures include controlling the spread of infection through sexual contact and blood transfusion.

Protect yourself against mosquito bites. Wear full-sleeved clothes. Keep doors & windows closed. Use window screens. Sleep under mosquito nets. Apply mosquito repellant to skin, clothing, or mosquito net.

Pay special attention to protect pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and young children from mosquito bites. Use mosquito nets to protect them.

Avoid unnecessary travel to an affected area. If you or your partner have travelled through an affected area, talk to your doctor for advice. Proper use of condom is helpful in situations when you are not sure of the infection status of your partner

If you are living in an affected area, follow the above basic precautions to protect from mosquito bites.

Eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Don’t let water to get collected around homes, schools, and work sites. Cover water storage containers. Clean up trash and used tires. Remove standing water in flowerpots. Clean, scrub and dry your desert coolers every week and keep them dry when not in use.

Support local governmental initiatives and public health programs to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Don’t use aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat fever. Paracetamol is safer.

For further information or advice, talk to your doctor.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

BEAT YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL EXAM STRESS

April 28th, 2022 by

BEAT YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL EXAM STRESS

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Oh! It’s exam time…

For most of us, school time has always been a fun except when it is exam time. Not just the students but their parents also tend to experience considerable stress during exam time. Many parents feel as if these are not their children’s exams but some kind of exams for themselves! In the modern world of high ambitions and neck-toneck competitions, a given result of annual school exams is treated to have significant bearing on a student’s academic future, social attire and many-a-times the direction of his/her further professional pursuits. Therefore, it is obvious that students as well as their parents and other family members may perceive school exams as a huge burden – both physically and mentally.

School exam stress is an inevitable part of student life that can be a tough nut to crack. If not tackled properly, an undue stress of school exams can be harmful. It may affect a student’s overall performance and sometimes lead to other complications. However, we can beat this stress easily if we want to do so. We can channelize the school exam stress into positive vibes and greater energy by following certain simple steps. Let’s understand how this can be done…

Change your and your child’s perception to school exams

Any stress is nothing but our body and mind’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It is only our perception – an event, which is exciting and pleasurable to one person, may be painfully stressful to another

If we look at the school exams as a challenge (positive stress), our bodies will react by releasing good chemicals into the blood, which will give us more energy and strength offering greater potential gain.

Also, devise an outlet for release of this extra energy and strength, which can be academic (such as revising what you have read earlier) or even non-academic (such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, listening to music, or simply chatting with family or a friend). Let your child spend some time in such activities that make hm/her feel happy and relaxed (but make it for short periods only, say 5-10 minutes).

Motivate your child to take the exams as a challenge and prepare strategically but don’t let him/her attach any emotions with future/probable outcome of the exams.

Watch your child for signs of exam stress

Recognition of school exam stress is the first step in learning how to deal with it. When anyone experience exam stress, his/her body and mind show the effects in the form of certain physical and mental manifestations to which we must pay attention. Some of them may include:

  • ‘Nervous’ behaviour (anxiety, twitching, fiddling, talking too much, nail biting, teeth grinding, pacing, other repetitive habits, tiredness, dryness of mouth)
  • Faster heartbeat and breathing
  • Excessive sweating and cold hands, feet or skin
  • Feeling sick to the stomach (‘butterflies‘
  • Muscle-tightening and tense-feeling
  • Frequenting the bathroom
  • Change in appetite (poor interest in food or eat more than normal)
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Difficulty in sleeping, bad dreams
  • Headache
  • Anger, resentment, irritability and conflicts
  • Isolation and hopelessness
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Some tips to beat school exam stress

Time management. Help your child to plan well for the exams. It is very important to make a realistic study plan (with timetable for preparations, revisions, practice papers etc) and then adhere to such a plan. A good time management will help prevent any last-minute nervousness or panicky behaviour in your child. Since there is usually a gap of 1-2 days between two consecutive exam subjects, make your plan with an active involvement of your child in order to utilize such time optimally.

Give your child a balanced diet. Make sure your child eats well. Give him/her a nutritious diet that should also contain seasonal fruits and vegetables. A good diet will make your child feel good to prepare well and ease exam stress. Avoid too oily or fatty food items. High-caffeine items and junk foods should also be avoided. And obviously, prefer not to give your child any eatables from outside that could be unhygienic; after all you will never want your child to fall sick during school exam period!

Make sure your child sleeps well. See that your child gets adequate sleep (about 6-8 hours at night). It will improve his/her concentration and thus exam preparedness. Insufficient sleep can cause fatigue, anxiety and irritability. Ensure an ambient and peaceful environment at home so that your child can take a sound sleep and then wake up with fresh mood and greater energy.

Support your child to study. Know your own capacity and help your child in his/her studies. Provide a good ambience (such as a peaceful room and proper study table & chair) for preparation. Also, understand your child’s limitations and give more attention to those subjects in which your child needs more support. For this purpose, you may do such works as discussion on key study concepts, help in doing numericals, and listening to your child’s crammed answers as part of revision. Help your child in using mnemonics and utilizing other tactics for better cramming, understanding and memorizing important things for the exams.

Allow time for fun and relaxation. Provide your child with some time for relaxation and enjoyment also. Studying for a long stretch is less effective than doing it in intervals; so allow your child to take a break of 5-10 minutes after every 45-60 minutes of continuous study. During such breaks, facilitate your child to do some relaxation activities. During exam periods also, let your child play, watch TV, perform a hobby, or do physical exercise for about 30 minutes daily as it will keep him/her calm and stress-free. Other options may include meditation, yoga, prayers, listening to relaxing music, spending quality time with pets/nature etc.

Talk to your child. Allow your child to talk to you as a friend. Discuss and try to understand his/her concerns and provide appropriate support and guidance rather than scolding, criticizing or adding to the already existing pressure of exams. Such a good talk on regular basis will not only improve love and bonding between you and your child but also allay his/her exam fears. Talking to parents and other family members will improve your child’s confidence and reduce his/her exam stress.

Maintain balance at home. During exam periods, when your child is more involved in studies, he/she is likely to forget some other activities. It may lead to such situations as not taking adequate diet, keeping the room untidy, forgetting to do other household works etc. Stay calm and support your child on priority, even if it is at the cost of some compromise at your end. Don’t burden your child unnecessarily with trivial issues, family arguments and works that can be postponed. After all, you are making efforts to benefit your child and ease his/her exam stress.

Support and guidance of peers. Many-a-times, your child’s peers, friends and schoolteachers can also prove to be of great help when your child shares his/her concerns and worries. You may first talk to such peers who will then talk to your child in a positive and optimistic manner. Their support and guidance can thus lessen your child’s school exam stress.

Before the exams. Always support your child for the exams in a positive way. Before an exam, tell your child that you love him/her and will continue to do so irrespective of the exam results. Always emphasize that the life will remain beautiful for your child even if any exam does not go well. Your child needs a stress-free mind before and during exams so as to put in his/her best efforts. On the exam day, make sure that your child is ready on time and is not late.

On the exam days. Ensure that your child has taken adequate sleep and is refreshed. Make sure that he/she is ready on time and is not late for the exam. In case of exam being held physically at school/ centre, ensure that your child possesses his/her school ID or exam admit card and has all necessary exam logistics (such as pen, pencil, eraser, geometry box, colours etc). In case of exam being held online from home, ensure to provide an ambient environment with adequate internet connectivity, good light and no external disturbance from other persons, noise etc. Reassure your child and remind him/her to take the exam calmly and strategically. Your child should learn to do appropriate time allocations to various questions in the exam at the beginning. It is generally a good idea to attempt the easy questions first followed by the more difficult ones.

After the exams. Encourage your child to discuss his/her exam paper with you. During such a discussion, keep motivating your child. Don’t criticize him/her for any wrong answer to questions; rather, highlight your child’s positive acts and reassure how he/she can do further better. Always emphasize that the life will remain beautiful for your child even if any exam does not go well. Upon completion of the exams, you may like to give a treat to your child or even throw a party.

Consult an expert. In case there is a need, don’t hesitate to consult an expert for counselling and advice. If there seems to be too much of school exam stress either before or during the exams and your child is unable to cope, approach the right person such as a child counsellor, a psychologist, or a doctor who will help your child to beat the stress in a better way. Similarly, if your child has some negative/warning signs that are persistent even after the exams are over, it would be prudent to seek the expert’s advice. Nowadays, many schools, education boards and even governmental agencies provide help through their online portals and helpline numbers to counsel school children and their parents so as to beat school exam stress. When required, take help through these services also.

OK. What is the next step now? 

Plan well for your child’s school exams and follow the plan to beat the exam stress. Happy school exams…

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

HEALTH ADVISORY: BREAST CANCER

April 28th, 2022 by

HEALTH ADVISORY: BREAST CANCER

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting the women worldwide. Adequate awareness about breast cancer and its preventive measures can help us take necessary steps for avoiding this disease and seeking timely, appropriate help to minimize harms in case of an actual disease.

In India, breast cancer accounts for nearly one-fourth to one-third of all cancers among women. Almost half of the breast cancer victims are below the age of 50 years, and more than half of the patients present in late stages with poor outcome. Only 60 out of 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to survive for more than 5 years. The most common reason for such a rising prevalence of breast cancer and its toll on women wellness in this country is a lack of awareness about this cancer and the screening for it. We can reduce the risk of breast cancer and its adverse impacts by having adequate prior knowledge about this disease and taking necessary steps for its prevention, screening, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment.

Structurally, the human female breasts are composed of fat tissue, lobules of milk glands and their ducts that open into the nipple. During adolescence, they start growing under the influence of body hormones (especially the female sex hormones) and attain their adult size and function. During pregnancy and at delivery, further changes occur in the breasts so that mothers can breastfeed their babies with the most natural meal – the mother’s milk.

Breast cancer can occur in a woman due to multiple reasons such as:

  • Genetic (hereditary) factors: The risk of breast cancer is higher in those women who have a history of this cancer in their mothers, sisters, daughters, or first-degree cousin sisters.
  • Hormonal imbalance: This is the most common reason for breast cancer. It is largely a problem of estrogen hormones which also affect menstrual periods and motherhood (fertility) in women. Breast cancer has been reported more commonly in spinsters, never-pregnant middle-aged women, and those having their first full term pregnancy at an advanced age.
  • Environmental influences: These include radiation to chest, radiotherapy for other cancers etc.
  • Bad lifestyle: Smoking, alcohol intake, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, inadequate physical exercise, and nonbreastfeeding (or early weaning) increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Women can reduce the risk of breast cancer by avoiding such high-risk behaviours and adhering to a healthy lifestyle.

Combination of one or more of these risk factors ultimately causes unregulated growth of cells in the breast tissue resulting in abnormalities of structure and function of one or both the breasts. The cancer in one breast can spread locally in and around that breast, or to the other breast, or to various other organs in the body thereby leading to further symptoms and complications accordingly

Women with breast cancer may not have any symptom at all in its early stage. Later they may have some subtle manifestations; and recognizing them is important for early diagnosis and prompt action.

Common symptoms and signs of breast cancer are:

  • Visible or palpable lump in one of both the breasts
  • Dimpled skin over the breast
  • Colour changes in the skin overlying the breast
  • Texture changes in the skin overlying the breast
  • Inward bending (inversion) of the nipple
  • Abnormal discharge from the nipple
  • Lump in the armpit

If you have any of these symptoms and signs, don’t ignore them. Seek help from your doctor or gynaecologist. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history, perform a clinical examination including breast examination, and may advise certain tests such as mammography, needle aspiration/biopsy etc. if the initial work-up suggests breast cancer, further tests may be required for know the extent/stage of the cancer and the plausible options for its treatment.

Treatment of breast cancer depends not only upon its extent, severity (stage) and clinical type but also on the concerned patient’s age and overall health status. Keeping all these factors in mind, the plan of treatment is finalized after a detailed discussion with the patient and considering her preferences. It may include surgery, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or simple supportive/palliative treatment (in case of a very advanced stage disease). Modern medical advances such as breast reconstruction surgery and artificial breast implants have added to cosmetic rehabilitation after surgical removal of breast. So, timely diagnosis of breast cancer and its proper treatment can help such patients live a good, cancer-free life subsequently.

However, it is said that prevention is better than cure and it holds true for breast cancer also. For this purpose, always remember the following:

  • Healthy lifestyle: Avoid smoking and alcohol intake. Maintain a healthy weight. Take healthy, balanced diet. Exercise regularly (it helps even if you are nor overweight). Take sound and adequate sleep for at least 6-8 hours daily.
  • Self-breast examination: This is a very important screening method used for detecting early breast cancer in women. In this method, the woman herself looks at her breasts in the mirror and feels each breast for possible lumps, distortions or swelling. The examination in done in different postures and every woman should know how to do it.
  • Breastfeeding: Give you baby his/her right to the mother’s milk. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the protective effect against breast cancer.
  • Periodic health check: Know your health status through regular (at least annual) health check. Never skip your routine health check due to reasons of busy schedule or other excuses. If you have a family history of breast cancer, tell you doctor about it and have discussion for your own health benefits. Follow your doctor’s advice for any needful test (such as mammography).
  • Gynaec consultation: An expert’s advice is always good, especially for health education and counselling of adolescent girls and adult women. If you have any breast-related or other gynaecological problem or concern, don’t hesitate in seeking help from your gynaecologist who will examine you and can give you proper advice and treatment, if required.

Avoid unnecessary drugs and radiation: Never do self-medication. Always take drugs as prescribed by your doctor. To manage symptoms of menopause, some women may need hormonal therapy which should be taken only after consulting your gynaecologist. Similarly, avoid any unnecessary radiation (including any unnecessary chest x-ray not advised by your doctor).

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

BREASTFEEDING: HEALTH BENEFITS TO THE BABY AND THE MOTHER

April 28th, 2022 by

BREASTFEEDING: HEALTH BENEFITS TO THE BABY AND THE MOTHER

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

Breastfeeding is a sacred gift from a mother to her baby that lasts a lifetime. It has been scientifically proven that breast milk is the best natural source of nutrition for your infant’s health, and its benefits are unrivalled. The cells and the antibodies found only in mother’s milk cannot be obtained from any other food source. Together, they play a vital role in immunity build-up of your child from the early stages of life.

The several benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to your child’s growth and development only, but they are also associated with your fair health in later life. You will gradually realise that what’s good for your baby is good for you too and when you follow nature’s course for feeding, you benefit your body too!

Let’s have a look at the many benefits that breastfeeding provides to you and your baby:

Breastfeeding fullfills the ideal need of nutrition for your baby as mother’s milk contains the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate, minerals, and vitamins. Also, the composition of mother’s milk changes as per the baby’s requirement of nutrition.

The vital antibodies present in breast milk make your infant’s immunity stronger and help ward off development of many allergies and several diseases. As compared to formula-fed babies, the breastfed babies remain healthier. The first milk called ‘Colostrum’ makes your baby more resistant to infections and diseases in life.

Babies who are breastfed have higher IQ and better cognitive skills than the formula-fed ones. It has been observed that such babies are able to solve various puzzles and problems very early in life. Also, they develop fewer behavioural, psychological, and learning problems when they grow older.

Many studies have established that breastfed babies have lesser chances of developing risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in later stages of life.

Women who breastfeed their babies encounter less instances of breast cancer later in their lives as well as have reduced risks of osteoporosis and ovarian cancer.

The feeding mothers experience a delightful feeling from the physical and emotional communion gained through the nursing of their babies. Breastfeeding causes greater release of hormones like oxytocin in a feeding mother, which not only help her uterus to return to its normal state more quickly but also benefit her by reducing the duration and the pain of postpartum bleeding.

Above all, breastfeeding is the best way to bond with your baby – both emotionally and physically. It helps strengthen the bonding between you two as the ‘tiny little life’ feels safe in the warmth of your arms and remains comfortable knowing that you’re around. These benefits make your baby a superbaby and you a supermom!

If you wish that you breastfeed your baby properly, you might have to make some lifestyle changes and follow a timely schedule of feeding. After delivery, therefore, it is a good idea to consult a Paediatrician.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)

DENTAL IMPLANTS

April 28th, 2022 by

DENTAL IMPLANTS

Are you abstaining yourself from the little joys of life? Not anymore, as you can now relish what you want with dental implants!

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a metal post, placed surgically in the jawbone, that replaces the root portion of a missing tooth. An artificial tooth as the crown part is placed on an extension of the post as an abutment on the dental implant. The implant gives a person the look and the feel of a real tooth.

The dental implants are a better option than the fixed bridgework or dentures as these implants won’t slip, make noise, or cause any damage to the bone. Also, the material used for dental implants (most of the time it is Titanium) can’t decay like your own teeth supporting bridgework can.

Types of Dental Implant

Considering the various advantages and with the growing demand for the implants, lots of clinics are providing dental implants, including the HCL Healthcare clinics. Let’s have a look at the different types of dental implants.

  • Subperiosteal dental implants: This type of dental implants is placed under the gum but on or above the jawbone. These implants are specifically used for the patients who have a shallow jawbone.
  • Endosteal dental implants: These are typically small screw, cylinder or plate shaped implants and are placed in the jawbone.
  • The dental implants clinics can provide you with different choices of dental implants to satiate your individual requirements. You can get them in different sizes and heights (including standard and narrow types). Your dental implant expert can help you determine the right kind of dental implant for you, depending on the tooth or teeth that need to be replaced.

Advantages of Dental Implants

The dental implant acts as a perfect replacement for your missing tooth or tooth roots. In order to form a fully functional replacement tooth, the dental implant is topped by a dental restoration such as a crown, a bridge or a denture.

Dental implants are the most durable and long-lasting form of dental replacements and recommended for all having a dental issue. Amongst the innumerable benefits of dental implants, let’s have a look at some of the important ones:

  • These replacements have nearly the full chewing power of natural teeth.
  • The implants reduce the load on the remaining oral structures by offering independent support to the adjoining parts.
  • As compared to the conventional bridgework implants, the dental implants don’t need any cutting of the adjacent teeth and thus help preserve the natural tooth tissue.
  • Dental implants significantly reduce bone resorption and deterioration and thus prevent the loss of jawbone height.
  • Dental implants are also effective in reducing the need for subsequent restorative interventions of the adjoining teeth.
  • Dental implants can be used to replace either a single tooth or all missing teeth in a jawline.
  • They also help in supporting a removable or fixed denture. The number of dental implants needed for a given patient depends on the final restoration and the amount of bone density available for the procedure.

POST COVID TRAVEL

April 28th, 2022 by

POST COVID TRAVEL

Precautions on travel in post COVID times / COVID – 19 Travel Advice

(Author: Hina Datt, HCL Healthcare)

“Life imposes things on you that you can’t control, but you still have the choice of how you’re going to live through this.” – Celine Dion

Considering travel during Pandemic?

Take precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19

Covid has had a huge impact on the way of living.

Widespread vaccination holds promise for ending coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19) pandemic, but it will not happen overnight.

Ask yourself few basic questions before you plan to travel.

Self-Questionnaire:

(Please speak to the doctor if any answer to the below question is Yes)

AIR POLLUTION – HEALTH TIPS

April 28th, 2022 by

AIR POLLUTION – HEALTH TIPS

(Author: Dr Amit Kumar Gupta, MBBS, MD, MBA)

A clean environment is directly related to good health whereas a bad or polluted environment poses risk of various

diseases to the population. Of late, the incidents of various environment-related health problems – particularly those

associated with air pollution – have been increasing rapidly and there is a need for a collective effort to control this

problem and make our environment clean and safe. In this backdrop, air pollution has become an important public

health concern and we need to know how we can protect ourselves from it ill effects. Let’s see what we can do

proactively to control air pollution and avoid or minimize its harmful effects.

WHAT IS AIR POLLUTION?

It is the presence of toxic or harmful substances in the air, at such high levels that pose health risks. Major air pollutants include harmful gases, dust particles and aerosols, which are largely produced due to biomass burning, vehicular emission, industrial processes, civil construction works, diesel genset exhaust, wildfires, mining etc. Polluting fuels and unvented, low-performing heating and cooking stoves are the major causes of indoor air pollution.

Such air pollutants can affect us either directly by coming in contact with our skin, eyes, airways etc., or indirectly by

lowering the air quality with resultant damaging effects. Rising vehicular smoke, mass stubble burning, indoor air

pollution and dust storms have added to air pollution and posed further health risks to the exposed people.

HEALTH HAZARDS OF AIR POLLUTION

Air pollution and inhalation of dust particles can affect our health adversely, resulting in mild symptoms to serious health problems. More common symptoms include:

  • Eye redness and watering
  • Sneezing, runny nose
  • Cough, repeated throat clearing
  • Shortness of breath, wheeze, asthma attacks
  • Chest tightness, chest pain
  • Hay fever
  • Dizziness, giddiness, nausea
  • Headache, irritability
  • Inability to concentrate, low productivity
  • Reduced visibility due to dusty environment, with more risk of accidents

Persons having an existing chronic respiratory condition (such as asthma, chronic bronchitis etc.) are at a much greater

risk. In addition, smokers, heart patients, people working in dusty workplaces (like certain factories and occupations),

children and the elderly are also more vulnerable to health problems due to air pollution.

Prolonged exposures to outdoor and indoor air pollution have been linked to chronic lung disease, lung cancer, heart

disease, brain stroke, frequent chest infections and other complications. Even many normal healthy young individuals

are also getting affected due to the worsening air quality, with a negative impact on their productivity.

TIPS TO CONTROL AIR POLLUTION

Steps at individual level:

  • Avoid spending time in polluted air and dusty outdoor (esp. in mornings and evenings)
  • Exercise indoor (rather than in dusty outdoor)
  • Keep yourself well hydrated (drink water and relish on other beverages like soups, lime juice, fruit juice, milk
  • shake, lassi, buttermilk etc. in adequate quantities: average 2-3 litres daily, or even more in summers)
  • Don’t indulge in activities that increase air pollution or dust pollution
  • Show your environment-friendly actions:
  • Do carpooling or use public transport system to reduce burden of vehicular air pollution
  • Don’t burn leaves/garbage
  • Follow statutory guidelines for control of air pollution
  • Motivate your friends, colleagues and family members to reduce air pollution
  • Keep your house, office etc. clean, smoke-free and dust-free:
  • Use vacuum cleaner and do wet-mopping (rather than dry sweeping)
  • Use curtains to further reduce dust entering your living space
  • Sprinkling of water in and around your house can help settle the dust particles down
  • Protect yourself by getting your flu shot (ask your doctor for more information)
  • Use protective face masks (like N95 masks) in more polluted areas
  • If you have any symptom that might be related to air pollution, seek medical advice without delay.
  • Steps at mass level:
  • Focus on controlling the origins of air pollution and dust particles
  • Strict implementation of standards and regulations for pollution control (industry license, motor vehicles)
  • Continuous monitoring of air pollution indicators
  • Sharing information in public domain on key air pollution indicators
  • Legislative actions to prevent air pollution and mitigate its hazards
  • Prudence in civil construction activities
  • Curbing deforestation
  • Promotion of green drives, afforestation and vegetation buffers
  • Awareness generation through mass media, emailers, group talks etc.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

Be proactive to prevent, reduce and control air pollution. When needed, seek medical help without delay. Talk to your

doctor for further information and advice.

(The author Dr Amit Kumar Gupta is a medical specialist cum public health expert working as

Senior Consultant – Medical Services & Quality at HCL Healthcare. He can be reached out at Amit_Gupta@hcl.com)