Food for Thought – All You MUST Know About Eating Disorders

Did you know? Eating disorder is a psychiatric condition and causes the most deaths, more than any other disorders. When you hear eating disorder, does a stick thin looking figure come to your mind? According to World Health Organization (WHO), the normal Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. However, those suffering from an eating disorder may be on either side of the spectrum, depending on which type of eating disorder they have.

Common Eating Disorders You must know

Anorexia Nervosa: If you imagine the stick thin figures here, then you are correct. A person with this eating disorder restricts intake of food to a large extent and appear underweight. You or your loved one may not even know you have it. This condition is rather common with women than men.

Bulimia Nervosa: You will know you or your loved one has it when they binge food, uncontrollably and then feel guilty about it. They compensate the binge, either with laxatives or by vomiting the food out of their systems. It may or may not be done every day but there are episodes of such behaviour.

Binge Eating: Similar to Bulimia, a person with binge eating disorder may not have control over how much food they eat at a go. The difference is no use of laxatives or vomit. People with this disorder are obese and also, at a serious risk of high cholesterol and diabetes.

Avoidant Disorder: This condition is more common in males than any other condition. Here, the food is restricted in the diet because of a previous negative experience, for instance, choking. This disorder may begin in early childhood and continue in later years too.

Pica: If you see a pregnant woman with weird cravings, it’s one thing. But it’s quite another to see a regular person or child crave for chalks, dirt or hair. This eating disorder is associated with consumption of non-food substances.

It’s Important to recognise the seriousness of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions causing malnutrition, organ failure, and even sudden death. However, being a psychiatric condition, 50 percent of eating disorder deaths are from suicide. This was a burgeoning part of the plot in the movie “Black Swan” – have you seen it? The prima ballerina has an overbearing mother with high expectations of her daughter. The lead actor is obsessed with her perception of self-esteem and attractiveness, and the athletic endeavour of ballet only spawns the eating disorder some more, leading the issue of perfection to {Spoiler alert!} her ultimate suicide.

The Substance Abuse and other Connections

The people with a substance abuse problem, i.e. alcohol or drugs, then they are 5 times more likely to have an eating disorder too. There are studies that indicate girls who develop an eating order in younger ages are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem later on in life. Gay or bisexual boys or men are more likely to develop these disorders too.

So, what are the other causes of this life-threatening physical and psychiatric condition? It’s not just the media and the body image issues, but there are many underlying causes that give birth to an eating disorder for all men, women, and children.

  • Genetics
  • Family distress
  • Sexual abuse
  • Pressure to lose or maintain weight
  • Athletic endeavours

Eating disorders and thought patterns

People coming from a distressed home; have faced the death of a loved one or domestic violence, bullying or a simple case of not fitting in after puberty, etc., are more likely to develop an eating disorder to have a sense of control over their lives. It can be a coping mechanism, to have that sense of control where no one else can decide for them.

An opposite thought pattern is one to excel. If you are a perfectionist then, restricting food in your diet is a source of achievement, you could say no to that chocolate cake, yes, but having an eating disorder can be the wrong marker for achievement.

If you talk to a person with an eating disorder or if you have one, then this is important to know. Your inner critic is dominant and will say things or make you think of things that make you feel not-so-good enough about yourself.

The underlying themes of self-worth

If you wish you could go about without thinking about food, then see a professional, a therapist who can help you cope with this issue. You can also keep a journal as a cathartic exercise or get on a distraction hobby to indulge in, every time you feel the need to binge eat or follow any other forms of eating disorders.

 

10 Things to Help You Improve Your Heart Health

Did you know? One in every third person is killed by a Heart Attack in India. That’s a scary statistic. Here’s another statistic, smoking cigarettes increases your risk to a heart attack by 12 percent! Don’t be a statistic. If you want to lower your risk to heart disease, then here are science-backed ways to improve your heart health.

Listen to Music

Yes! You read that right. Listening to the music you love lowers blood pressure and your heart rate. The tempo matters here so if you are a heavy metal fan that will only increase your blood pressure. Listen to soft, mellow music that relaxes you and calms you down.

Stop Stressing so much

Stress has become the new normal. People easily accept it coming from work, finance, traffic, people relationships. But did you know? All this stress increases your risk of heart disease by 40 percent! If you experience office stress, take the time to reflect on what is causing you stress, identify the triggers and deal with them. You can also reflect on your personal relationships and see if any of those need mending, your love, and support to thrive.

Eat Chocolate

If you are die hard for chocolate, then this must be great news for you! Countless studies reverberate the same notion. Dark chocolate helps you reduce blood pressure. The cocoa in the chocolate is rich in antioxidants and the flavonoid compound helps create more nitric oxide in your body. This element helps your blood walls to relax and open wider. That’s how you lower blood pressure.

Drink Protein Shakes

Whey protein is plant protein and consuming 56gm a day of protein improves our heart health. It reduces the risk of heart attack by 8 percent. Now that’s a good chunk, considering how delicious and healthy your breakfast shakes will be when you add fresh or frozen fruit along with whey in it.

Go Easy on the Salt

If you like salty foods or too much salt in your sabzi then you need to think twice. Excess salt in your blood causes damage to your blood vessels, constricting them this increases the blood pressure, giving you high BP. There is sodium in salt and high sodium consumption is a major red flag for your heart. Ditch processed foods with sodium and eat fresh food sprinkled with natural salt.

Stay Hydrated

When your body is deprived of fluids, especially water, your heart has to work double time to make up for it. Your heart’s job is to pump blood in and out of your blood vessels to remove toxins and purify your blood. You need to stay hydrated by drinking more water every day. If you do workout, then it’s even more important to hydrate. Sip water instead of gulping down water only after meals. Bonus point? Water helps your skin, hair and fights bad breath too. It’s good for you in every other way.

Be Heart Strong with Running

Running is great for your heart health. If you ever thought of running as an exercise, then this is your cue to do it today. When you run, if improves your coronary arteries’ flexibility. This boosts the blood flow. Therefore, no lumps are formed in your arteries. Blocked arteries lead to heart attack. You don’t have to run 20 kilometers every day. Walking is just as good.

Have more Sex!

Sex can tire you out, it can excite you, increase your heart rate and blood pressure, but the great thing about sex is that it reduces the risk of heart disease by 50 percent because of all the happy hormones released by having sex. These hormones help you relax, reduce stress, improve relationships and help you get better sleep.

Get Adequate ZZZZs

Sleep deprivation contributes to high blood pressure, and that contributes to increased risk of heart disease too. You can stay active all day and go to sleep at least by 10.15 pm to get a full night’s rest. Improve our sleeping environment by dimming the lights, keeping away from smart devices and installing heavy curtains to block out external heat and light.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

The wearable revolution has made this so easy for you. Check it as often as you can remember and see if it goes above 120/80. After the age of 35, you have to schedule and learn your numbers with a full physical checkup. This should raise a flag and you must go see your doctor to discuss your options.

 

5 Technologies That Are Finding Their Home In Modern Clinics

In a doctor’s overscheduled life, the one thing that has elevated premium is ‘time’. Hospital visits, clinics, surgeries, and paperwork are just a few of the things that fill up a doctor’s day. With little or no time left in hand after doing the most important thing that they do, that is to look after their patients, managing a doctor’s diary is no mean feat. However, given the time that we are in, technology is making itself quite comfortable in the doctor’s clinic and helping that ecosystem become more organised, sorted and productive, which, at the end of the day, is making the life of the doctor easier to manage. In this blog, we take a look at five technologies that are making their home in modern day clinics and helping them function better, smarter and with greater efficiency

Appointment Management System

Managing multiple calendars for appointment management is a time-consuming task, one that is prone to the errors of overscheduling which leads to poor time management. Modern day clinics are leveraging appointment management applications that give them a bird’s eye view of the doctor’s schedule and helps them plan, schedule and organise patient appointment better and avoid overlaps. Since most doctors usually have more than one clinic to run, with the help of such a system scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments can be done with greater efficiency and each clinic can keep track of the daily appointment schedule without the burden of unnecessary overlaps.

Patient Data Management

In order to enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes, patient data management systems are being leveraged not only by large hospitals but smaller clinics as well. Having a central data repository that contains all the relevant patient information can be a huge boon for the doctors. There are so many times that the doctor and patient’s time is rendered unproductive because the patient is not able to provide some relevant report or health-related information at the time of the appointment. Having a record of all reports, x-rays, blood work, scans, lab reports, and other such test results and patient history etc. in one central database that can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures that the time spent with the patient is productive and constructive and unnecessary delays are avoided at all costs.

Smartphones aka mHealth

Since smartphones today are being used for everything from managing your banking and finance activities to shopping, why should healthcare be left behind? Doctors today are using their smartphone for a lot more activities than just checking their emails. Healthcare applications that allow them to manage their practice, access patient data and health records, check their clinic’s finances, referrals and resource utilisation etc. are witnessing increased adoption. With the help of technologies such as the cloud, all the information that a doctor could want to ensure that his/her practice is running smoothly is now readily accessible at their fingertips through their smartphone. Utilising such integrated healthcare management applications is helping doctors manage their time better as they can access any piece of information that they want, when they want, irrespective of where they are.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data has generated a lot of hype and the healthcare industry is no stranger to this technology. While for a decade or so, big data adoption was done primarily by larger medical outfits and pharma companies to improve their outcomes, accelerate innovation and drive research, big data analytics is now making its home in modern day clinics as well. Such clinics are utilising data analytics to meet their analytics and reporting needs and improve patient outcomes. For example, with the help of big data analytics, clinics dig deep into patient data and lab results to identify trends in a year when a particular ailment strikes more viciously than others. It can also help them identify patients who are ‘at-risk’ for these ailments and help them take preventive action. Data analytics is also being used in clinics to analyse the relationships between treatment plans and diagnostics, identify potential treatment plans, establish benchmarks for quality, optimise operational workflow management and also create data-driven patient population lists.

AI Diagnostics

While computers and Artificial Intelligence cannot replace doctors, they most certainly can help the doctors by providing them with clinically relevant data in real-time to better patient outcomes. Diagnostic AI systems are already in use in some modern day clinics and use biometric data clubbed with the patients’ health data to assess the conversation between the doctor and patient and make notes and suggest treatment plans. AI systems also send pop-up notifications to the doctor’s phones when they see that a particular medication might not work for a person for some reason such as a genetic trait. This allows the doctor to change the prescribed medication quickly. These systems can also help doctors identify which patients are more likely to require certain medications in the future and assess the risks associated with alternate medications etc.

Just like hospital management systems have made hospital operations better and have significantly helped in improving patient outcomes, adopting technology in the modern day clinic is only going to improve efficiencies, help doctors win the race against time, and enable them to keep their focus on the singularly most important facet of the entire healthcare ecosystem – the patient.

A Cheat Sheet for Winter Skincare

There’s a slight nip in the air and the woollens are out by now already. Unfortunately, to look and feel good, only wearing sweaters and jackets doesn’t suffice. As much as one would prefer covering up and stay warm and cosy, the low temperatures ultimately manage to affect the skin and cause damage. Ideally, following a good winter skincare regime is the way to go. That takes daily commitment for adhering to a schedule, of course. But worry not. If you are hard pressed for time, here is a cheat sheet to still manage to look radiant.

  • Hydration is the key. Dry weather can cause flaking and itchiness. This is even more prominent for sensitive skin. A simple trick for this is to stay hydrated. Though winter doesn’t make us feel as much thirsty, drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. Dry skin aggravates skin ageing so it is imperative to keep it moist internally.
  • For cleansing, use a cleanser with Aloe Vera as it helps restore moisture. It doesn’t have any harsh properties and, therefore, post cleaning leaves behind a soft feeling. For very dry skin, avoid soaps. If you follow the daily facial cleansing-toning-moisturizing routine, it is important to use an alcohol-free toner to avoid excessive drying. Look for ingredients such as chamomile and calendula when buying skincare products. These are non-irritants and have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
  • When choosing a moisturiser, someone with an oily skin tone should opt for a light moisturising body lotion whereas; for a dry to normal skin, a thick cream (but non-greasy) should work well. Apply lotion post a shower while the skin is still damp and refrain from excessive towel drying. It helps lock in the moisture. The best routine is to reapply a thin layer of moisturizer as and when you can throughout the day. Massage your hands and legs with argon oil before going to bed to wake up for a supple skin.
  • Speaking of showers, never take a very hot water bath during winter. Of course, the cold weather may want you to increase the water temperature a little more than normal. But that could cause more harm than comfort. Too hot water causes the skin pores to open up exposing them more to the cold air. Hence, go for lukewarm water. Use a detergent-free cleanser, again to avoid dryness.
  • Apply and re-apply a lip balm as and when possible. The thin skin on the lips cracks easily so applying natural protective oils will prevent chapping. The most easily available in this regard is the olive oil. Apply a little at bedtime so the lips too get their share of care.
  • For feet care, apply a thick moisturizer or even Vaseline on those cracked heels, nails, and all over the foot, actually, and wear socks at bedtime. At the salon, opt for a paraffin wax pedicure. Even for hands, for kitchen cleaning, use gloves whenever possible to avoid direct contact with detergents. Also, when you wash hands post some task, pat them dry instead of rubbing hard. For cracked hands and feet, Shea butter creams work wonders. Apply liberally and leave them overnight so they get enough time to recuperate.
  • Sunscreens are a must even during winters. UV rays cause havoc at any point in time and hence, use a broad spectrum sunscreen (for UVA and UVB protection) with minimum SPF 30.
  • If you have access to a humidifier, use one for creating warmth and putting moisture back in the air you are breathing. This also significantly helps in reducing nasal congestions and throat irritations, common due to the dry coldish air. People suffering from sensitive, dry skin completely vouch for the comfort they feel when around a humidifier.

Things to particularly avoid – excessive intake of salt and sugar, and err, alcohol. These will dehydrate your skin and are best to stay away from or at least limit their consumption to a minimal level. Instead, you can drink green tea with natural anti-oxidant properties to stay warm from within.

So get ready for all the New Year celebrations just around the corner. Remember to pamper your skin with all the hydration it needs and let it help you glow in turn.

The Dangers of Self-Medication

Nowadays, everyone feels like they have the qualities of a doctor. And hence, they often resort to self-medication. ‘Bad stomach? I know the pill for it!’ ‘Pain in the abdomen? It’s probably just acidity!’ While health issues like cough, cold, and fever can be treated at home, at times, the health issue at hand may be much bigger for which, visiting a doctor is an absolute must. The doctor is the only one who can give you a complete diagnosis of your situation and provide you with guidance regarding the steps you can take going forward, to enhance the healing process.

Self-medication is harmful due to a number of reasons. A study by Psychology Today explains that individuals tend to act as their own physicians in an attempt to handle the symptoms of the physical or mental health concern involved with it. A lot of times they want to hide their condition since going to the doctor may come across as a sign of weakness. Sometimes, they are scared or embarrassed, and at times, they simply want to avoid the expenses of getting the diagnosis of the problem from a professional. Truth is, self-medication can ruin a person’s life, the lives of others around him/her and can end up making the original situation much worse than it was.

Some of the important dangers of self-medication are:

Wrong Drug Dosage

When you decide to prescribe drugs for yourself, there is no one to tell you the right dosage for the pills you are using. Even if you have got the drug right, factors such as the dosage of the drug, how it needs to be taken, its composition and its side-effects or reactions, if any, also need to be considered. Ignorance and lack of awareness when it comes to these things can cause serious problems and can also lead to a fatality. According to a study by the non-profit group, Trust for America’s Health, nearly 52% of deaths were related to prescription drug overdoses where the patients did not even know that they have taken an overdose.

Side-effects

Many medicines tend to have side effects on your body. When you go to a physician, he gives you appropriate drugs to counter those effects and stabilize your body. He prescribes medicines keeping in mind your body type, your diet, your daily routine, etc. Self-medication, on the other hand, can lead to severe side effects such as allergic reactions, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Wrong Diagnosis

One of the major things that can go wrong when you resort to self-medication is the wrong diagnosis of the disease at hand. You may be suffering from some specific symptoms and will link those to a disease that you know of. You will end up taking the medicines for it but that probably will not work. This can complicate simple situations and also make it difficult for the doctor to correctly diagnose and treat your situation at later stages.

Self-medication for Pregnant Women

This one could probably be the most dangerous kind of self-medication. Wrong moves or intake of unfamiliar drugs could cause birth defects and congenital anomalies in the child. What the mother consumes during the pregnancy stage directly affects the child so it is very important that they find out all the information about the particular drug that they are consuming. Visiting a physician and taking his recommendations for the medicines would be the best way to go about it.

Addiction to the Wrong Drug

A lot of times, there are cases wherein a patient is taking a wrong drug and gets addicted to it. This is especially true in the case of medical conditions such as depression where the doses of the drug are very high and cause severe effects. If you are following self-medication, there is no one who can reassess the prescription for you. Strong pills and their overdose can lead to severe problems or even death. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,175 people died in 2012 due to an unintentional drug overdose.

Masking the Symptoms of a Serious Condition

The route of self-medication may also cause the patients to overlook the symptoms of a serious condition that they may be suffering from. For example, a patient may be suffering from a condition such as pneumonia but may pass it off as a case of the flu. At times, people tend to take this route to save themselves the embarrassment of being the victim of a serious disease. However, this is very harmful and the most inappropriate way of dealing with the problem.

Alternately, there are times when people tend to adopt the route of telemedicine. A lot of times, this may prove to be fruitful since it reduces the hassle of visiting the doctor in person and thus saves time and money. But where does the credibility come in? With so many portals offering medical advice, there are a lot of cases of spam and frauds. The advising authority may not have the right knowledge or skills to guide you with the best possible treatment. Carelessness and lack of precision from their end could lead to devastating results and also a case of fatality. When you are looking for doctors offering telemedicine, look for the credibility of the doctors and the portals which offer this service.

Don’t take your health very lightly. Always remember, Google is not your doctor – avoid self-medication. Always consult a doctor for the smallest of health issue. After all, the preservation of health is always easier than a cure of the disease.