Is It Time for Your Next Dental Check-up?

The high-stress lifestyle which we all live these days leaves us with very little time to take care of one the most important things – our health. There is simply no time to take precautionary measures. The doctor ceases to become someone we visit only when there is no getting out of a health scare, and that too when we are unable to treat the problem ourselves! Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly an appropriate way to go. Timely checks help us avoid last minute tensions, and in turn, time and money so to say.

On that note, we realised that somehow the most ignored health aspect is taking care of our teeth. Unless someone is grappling with a toothache or maybe a loose tooth, there hardly is a time when we visit a dentist on our own. So much so that in the process we fail to see the long-term repercussions of missing a dental check. According to National Oral Health Programme, only 50% of India’s population uses a toothbrush and just 2% of the population visit the dentist.

Teeth are an indicator of not just a clean mouth but also a healthy heart! Yes, you read it right. During a routine dental exam, a dentist will check for any gum problems, decaying of teeth, and any tartar or plaque build-up. However, the overall oral condition will also indicate if you suffer from any vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamin C), and other serious problems such as diabetes or oral cancer. Dentists are also ideally supposed to check for the movement of your lower jaw joints (TMJs) to indicate any joint problems and peripheral head and neck issues. But most importantly, there is a strong link between healthy gums and our heart. Apparently, the oral bacteria easily spread through the body worsening any impending heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and other inflammatory conditions. No, we don’t mean to scare our readers at all. Just trying to reiterate the importance of dental hygiene for the overall wellbeing.

Even if you brush twice a day, floss, avoid harmful substances such as tobacco and cigarettes, it is vital to go for a dental exam every six months. That is what the American Dental Association recommends for all, young and old. Just schedule a 6-monthly appointment with your dental practitioner so there will be no hassle in remembering the dates. Do check with the doctor if the daily dental routine you follow is on the right track; if the brushing and flossing technique you use are correct; if there’s anything more that needs to be done for the maintenance of the teeth and gums. At such appointments, you will be checked if the previously done fillings are still strong or need rework. That is critical because the way we chew the food has a direct effect on our entire digestive system. Sometimes, dentists may even ask you to take an x-ray to check for any root damage. That again is very important since it will avoid significant pain, if some tooth root does show to be problematic, in the later days. Hence, dental exams allow a thorough complete protection against future concerns and thus are absolutely indispensable on a periodic basis.

Before any dental procedure, don’t forget to share your medical history with the dentist. It is important that they know about your medications, medical history, heart diseases, diabetes, pregnancy etc. It is also always recommended that you share your health concerns, allergies, or anxieties with the dentist. In today’s age of smartphones, you don’t really need to carry too many files with all such details with you. All you need to do is maintain your medical history through a mobile app, and share the information with the doctor during your visit!

The sound of the drilling by some dental devices or pain experienced during treatment in the past may be keeping you off such visits. However, don’t be nervous. Do remember that it is all momentary. And also, something for your own good. Once the check-up/ treatment is done you are good to go for another couple of months without any worries. Your teeth will look cleaner, you will feel so fresh and healthy, and more than anything else, the bright smile will be so worth it!

 

Digital Detox is Not Just a Fad. Here is Why All of Us Need It

Before we even complete that first yawn in the morning most of us are already staring into our smartphone screen doing a status check. It could be checking our emails or seeing the latest crazy cat video on Facebook or Snapchatting away before we even brush our teeth. Somehow, before we even start our day, our gadgets consume most of our waking hours. Most of us will immediately reach for our smartphone as soon as we hear the ‘ding’ of a message. Even at work, our minds are continuously multi-tasking, shifting between the task at hand and the distractions of our favorite gadget. While technology and the great digitization are supposed to help us become more productive, we give them complete control over our lives. As we get increasingly drawn into the world behind the screen, most of us find ourselves frazzled, less productive and even unhappy (yes, studies link heavy use of social media to depression!)

We simply cannot look away from the fact that digital addiction is just as real as any other form of addiction that gives a dopamine hit. So if you find yourself increasingly addicted to your digital devices to plan your life or to even keep your entertained, a digital detox might be in order. In this blog, we take a look at why a digital detox is a good idea.

The Physical and Mental Impact

Excessive use of devices not only have a behavioral impact but also affects our bodies in a negative way. For starters, increased device use impacts our sleep quality as the glow of the devices delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. It’s not just our sleep that gets affected by heavy device use. Some other physical implications of heavy gadget dependence are listed below:

  • Excessive use of electronic devices can lead to brain restructuring and lead to shrinkage of gray matter, inhibit white matter’s ability to communicate, impede cognitive performance, and increase cravings.
  • It increases the risk of Metabolic Syndrome which is a combination of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. The effects of sitting down still in one place for a long time cannot be undone easily. A study published in the Journal of Public Health establishes the relationship between screen time and metabolic syndrome in young adults and shows that “screen time was associated with an increased likelihood of MetS in a dose-dependent manner independent of physical activity.”
  • Excessive texting or playing games on tabs or smartphone can lead to soreness and cramping in the fingers, forearms, and wrists and lead to pinched nerves and muscle strain.
  • Staring at your smartphone increases the stress on your cervical spine and lead to its early wear and tear, spinal degeneration and might need surgical intervention. On an average, people spend over two to four hours hunched over their smartphones. That amounts to approximately 1400 hours of excessive stress on your spine as every inch that your head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine increases. Pinched nerves, herniated disks, and change in the natural curve of the neck are just some of the effects of increased screen time.
  • The blue light from digital devices not only keeps us awake but also damages the retina. One study published by the Review of Optometry shows that increased exposure to Blue-Violet Light causes the maximum death of retinal cells.
  • Increased screen time leads to attention problems, increased anxiety, and depression, especially amongst children and young adults.

The Behavioral Impact

The need to ensure a charged phone so that you don’t miss a late night text might seem harmless enough but sends your stress levels through the roof. Our bodies need some solitude to recharge and by constantly staying glued to our devices we are depriving our bodies of that much-needed alone time. A report by Digital Trends reveals, “People in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour, if not more”. It further goes on to reveal that the average American spends more than 4.7 hours a day on the phone…that’s approximately one-third of our awake time!

When people get overly attached to their devices, they start spending more time on their devices and less on human face-to-face interactions. The need to spend time with their devices supersedes attending to essential activates such as work or even spending time with family. When checking emails or messages becomes a greater priority than completing a task at hand, when your smartphone relationship begins to have a productivity impact and when you see yourself getting defensive about your digital behavior and find yourself checking your smartphone every hour or feel the need to respond to or at least check your email as soon as it hits the inbox, it might be time to consider a digital detox.

Going in for a digital detox has many advantages…the foremost ones being giving an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the real world, increasing your capacity to self-govern and giving yourself the opportunity to actually do things that can make your happy and fulfilled. Taking a break from the digital world helps you reclaim your time, your health and your life. It’s a break that’s worth exploring.

 

Who Says Vegetarians Can’t Get Enough Proteins?

Since the historic time of Home Sapiens, the human species is used to getting their dose of nutrients and proteins by feeding on other animals and creatures. But over the years, things changed. We, humans, became more aware of our health and the food we intake to keep our bodies fit. Due to our concern for the environment and other species, and our love for animals, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming increasingly popular among the masses. However, a lot of critics claim that a purely meatless diet is not as nutritious, one of the major reasons being the lack of proteins in it.

Protein as a nutrient is essential for the human body. Having healthy hair, skin and muscles all depends majorly on the amount of protein your body receives. A deficiency of protein in the body can lead to various problems such as fatigue, muscle weakness, hair loss, etc. So how can we stick to our personal food preferences and yet ensure that we achieve optimal health for our body? Worry not, because this is definitely possible even without including meat in your diet! As opposed to the popular myth that vegetarians will always face a lack of nutrients for their body, choosing the right kind of food can keep you healthy. Here are some of the food items that are purely vegetarian and still contain high amounts of proteins and vitamins:

Nuts

The easiest answer for proteins for vegetarians is nuts. Right from almonds and cashews to peanuts and hazelnuts, all kinds of nuts can be consumed at any time of the day and are rich in nutrients. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein with 4 gm per tablespoon. All you need to do is watch the salt if you consume these on a regular basis. Choose regular instead of salted to keep the sodium intake low.

Lotus Seeds or Makhana

A food item which is catching up on the popularity meter is Makhana. With tasty versions of it being introduced in the market, Lotus seeds are a great source of nutrients for the body. Along with being rich in protein they are anti-inflammatory and act as a great antioxidant. You can eat them raw, roasted, ground or boiled and can also add them to soups, salads, and also desserts.

Dairy

If you are a vegan, this section will not be applicable to you but if you are not, CHEESE is the answer to everything! Cottage cheese, cheddar, parmesan, they all are high in protein and can be eaten in all forms. Low sodium parmesan makes it to the protein heavyweight category with 42 gm in a 100 gm serving. Other products falling in the dairy category such as milk and ice cream also provide the body with a lot of protein, along with calcium.

Beans

Rajma chawal or beans on a pile of cheese nachos, whatever be the form, as long as you’re having beans, you know that your body is receiving a wealth of proteins. Black beans have the most proteins so try to include them in your diet as often as possible. Low in cholesterol and high in magnesium, half a cup of beans yields up to 7.5 gm of protein.

Soy

Soy is another food item packed with protein and is considered as a great alternative for meat by a lot of chefs. Tofu, tempeh, natto or soy milk, whichever form of soy suits your pallet, you know that it is going to be healthy. Tofu contains an impressive 20 gm of protein in every half cup, whereas soy beans have 14 gm per half cup.

Quinoa

Catching up soon into the world of good food, quinoa is another food item which chefs are eyeing and incorporating in new recipes. This tiny little seed is the only seed that provides all the nine essential amino acids which the body needs. It is rich in magnesium, iron and fibre and is a great resort for those suffering from diabetes. It can easily be chosen as a healthy substitute for pasta or rice.

So the next time someone gets to your head about the lack of protein your diet, you do not have to worry about it. With appropriate ingredients in the good proportions in your diet, you know that you are doing it right!

Health Track – Six Health Parameters Should You Care About Everyday

How do you manage your health? Ask anyone this question and they will rattle off a list of health and fitness apps they use. From tracking the number of steps you take each day, to monitoring your heart rate every hour…there is an app for almost everything related to your health. While most of us cram our smartphone with the latest ‘fad’ app, few of us know what really we should be monitoring every day when it comes to managing our health better. So, in the spirit of making the smartphone a useful health accessory, here’s a look at some of the key health parameters you should care about every day.

Step Tracking

Yes, step tracking has assumed a sort of cult status at the moment. Since we have suddenly woken up to the fact that ‘sitting is now the new smoking’, everyone is jumping on the 10,000 steps bandwagon for its obvious health benefits. Whether it is 10,000 steps, or more, or less, getting a means (app or wearable) to track your basic activity level helps in managing your sedentary life better. Exercise tracking apps make sure you stay put on the health track by helping you set and achieve your goals, give you work out ideas, quantify the calories burnt v/s calories ingested and track your progress. Time to roll off the couch and be active!

Diet Tracking

We are what we eat…but do we watch what we eat? A cookie here, a sip of soda there, a so-called light workday lunch at your favourite salad bar could be potentially derailing your weight loss initiatives and keeping you from being your fittest best. Health apps can help you scan, save, track and calculate the calories that you consume and also provide information on the nutritional content of the food that you have eaten. You can also use these apps to track your daily calories, fat, carbohydrate and protein intake to make sure that you have the scales tipping in your favour.

Caffeine Tab

Can’t sleep too well? What’s your caffeine intake on a daily basis? Most people think that caffeine in their system comes only from the cup of coffee that they drink. However, apart from the cups of coffee that you drink regularly, caffeine is a very common ingredient found in soft drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages. Coffee tracking apps make it easier to see how much caffeine you already have in your system and will intimate you when you need to take that ‘coffee –break’…literally.

Sleep Tracking

Want great health? Sleep well. Sleep tracking applications come in handy when you want to monitor and analyze your sleep cycles and review your sleep and wake patterns. Analysing these patterns help you figure out what’s tampering with your sleep and make the necessary adjustments to help you sleep easy.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Are you sure you are working out at the right intensity? Heart rate monitoring apps check your real-time heart rate and help your heart rate become your personal coach. These apps give a clear evaluation of the condition of your cardiovascular system during physical activity and can keep you informed is you need to increase or pull back your workout intensity or if you have found your perfect workout groove.

Water Tracker

Most of us don’t drink enough water and can benefit from a time to time aqua alert to make sure we stay healthy. Using a water drink tracker application not only gives you timely reminders on when you should drink water but also tracks how much water you should actually drink keeping your height, weight and activity levels in mind.

To manage your health better you need to monitor it well. So go ahead, take control of your health in your own hands (literally!) and enjoy a fit and healthy mind and body.