Easy Lifestyle Changes To Make You Healthier

‘Health is wealth’ – a very simple yet wise saying. No matter how successful you are in your career or how big your bank balance is, none of it matters unless you are fit and healthy to reap the benefits of your hard work. While people are becoming more selective and sophisticated in their lifestyle, more often than not, it’s all about the small changes you make which give results in the short as well as long run. Here we list out some simple changes which you could try to inculcate in your daily routine.

Get your biological clock in sync

Sleep is the best repairing mechanism of the body. A full night of uninterrupted sleep can give you enough energy and freshness to last a day, boost your productivity and maintain your immunity. Each person has his/her own biological clock, according to which the sleep cycle runs. Maintaining a correct sleep cycle not only reduces your overall sleep time but also keeps away lethargy and sleepiness away which you might feel if you have irregular sleep patterns. Listen to your body and its needs, as you know what is best for yourself.

Hydrate yourself religiously

There are many myths and advice floating around related to water consumption– one common thing you will find is that all of those recommend drinking ample amount of water. Keeping yourself hydrated keeps your body fresh and mind alert. It also helps in digestion and maintains the glow in your skin. So, start your morning with lukewarm water. Mix it with honey for added help in weight loss. Although there is no hard and fast rule on the amount of water to consume, listen to your body and keep the thirst at bay.

Break a sweat

There is always debate on the different types of exercises and their positive effects on the body. While how hard you go with your exercise regime depends on your body, the main motto of exercise should be to ‘break a sweat’. You should focus on getting your heart-beat up. Exercising for at least 30 min daily should be on your agenda – choose from cardio, yoga, pranayama, hitting the gym, or even simple jogging. Exercise helps in improving blood circulation, oxygenation, and lung capacity, which has a direct effect on your mental alertness, productivity, and your quality of sleep. So make sure you include some form of exercise in your daily routine.

Eat your veggies

With more and more nutrient deficiency related diseases coming to the limelight, one cannot ignore the merits of including vegetables and fruits in the daily diet. Fresh vegetables and fruits have tons of nutrients, antioxidants, minerals and have low calories and fat, making those an ideal part of daily diet. From fibres to different vitamins there are some essential nutrients which are only found in green vegetables. They are also easy to digest and help maintain a regular bowel movement. So keep your plate green and fresh.

Cut down on sugar and include more healthy fat

Keeping in mind that not all sugar is harmful, sugar mentioned here is referred to crystalline sugar. Processed sugar does the maximum damage to the heart and hence you should try to reduce processed sugar from your diet as much as possible. Try including more natural sugar like sweet potato, fruits, jaggery, etc. Also, try adopting monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in your diet instead of going for a low-fat diet. A balanced diet is going to give you wholesome nutrition rather than a more specific diet. So watch what you keep in your plate.

Manage your meals

While eating healthy is important, it is not enough. Apart from what you eat, when and how much you eat also has a huge impact on your body.

  • Divide your two or three big meals in five or six small snacks. Eating stomach full makes you lethargic and slows down digestion and mineral absorption in the blood.
  • Try having your last meal three hours before bed so that you have ample time to digest your food.
  • Don’t drink too much water before sleep so that you don’t have to wake up for washroom breaks and you get uninterrupted sleep.
  • Also, make sure you have a hearty breakfast so that you make up for the intake between dinner and breakfast.

Plan your leisure time

A healthy lifestyle does not revolve around what you feed your body, but what you feed your mind also matters. So instead of working your fingers on that smartphone, start reading more. Make a target to read one book of your choice every week. Reading makes your mind more open to new ideas and helps boost your productivity. You can also opt to work on a skill, hobby or anything which helps you utilize your leisure time better.

Meditation

The secret to a healthy body is a fully functional mind. Meditation is one of those precious tools whose merits are unattainable from any other means. A 30 minutes meditation every day is scientifically proven to increase the grey matter in your brain; the part which is responsible for intelligence. Meditation also has been known to control your blood pressure along with breathing pattern – this, in turn, helps you control your emotional surges and stay calmer and composed.

Keep away from bad influences

It’s an already known fact that smoking, drinking, etc. are injurious to health. But in spite of that, people become victim of these addictions. Try to stay away from addictions as well as any triggers that provoke you to get involved in these, especially if you are a recovering. It takes big willpower to control your temptations but just a moment of weakness to get plunged in it again.

Make healthy decisions

A healthy lifestyle is not just a part of your routine but is the routine itself. Apart from all the given points, a healthy lifestyle includes making healthy decisions like taking stairs over lift, choosing healthy snacks over junk food and fruit juice over a beer. Every small decision collectively makes up what you are. Remember, every choice matters!

10 Common Health Notions Examined Closely

Have you heard the notion about not swimming or taking a bath after you’ve eaten? There are many ways to become healthy, all roads lead to Rome kind of situation. Here are 10 common health notions dissected and presented so you can understand the truth thoughtfully too.

Drinking milk every day is good for you.

Call it aggressive marketing or an old wives tale, adults and even senior adults seem to have their hopes for health pinned on drinking milk every day. Milk is miraculous only up to a certain point for humans. Most grownups want to drink milk for their calcium and vitamin D fills. However, now compelling research now shows there is no direct link between drinking milk and less number of fractures in your life. On the contrary, there is a link with drinking milk and a higher rate of mortality in humans.

The 5-second rule of eating food dropped on the floor.

Have you heard this before? If you drop something on the floor, it’s ok to grab and eat it within five seconds of it falling. Now if it’s the last second chip from your pocket or your only piece of chocolate to sweeten your day – what would you do? Since you’ve heard of this common health notion before, you pick it up and eat it without a second thought, no? First, bacteria and virus don’t need seconds, they get attached to your food within milliseconds of falling on the floor. So give this notion a pass the next time your favourite food falls on the ground.

Don’t eat ice-cream when you have a cold

Most people find ice-cream comforting but if your kid has a cold ice-cream is a strict no-no in the house. Did you know? If you have a sore throat or are sick with a cold, ice-cream can soothe you. Besides, the notion “food the cold” stays true and ice-cream can give you those much-needed calories you otherwise may not get by starving yourself from sickness.

Sugar is bad for kids, it makes them hyperactive

One of the recent and most common notions is that sugar makes children hyper or refined sugar causes attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in kids. Be comforted that many scientific studies were conducted and these have failed to prove this notion.

Spending 1 hour a day at the gym is good for health 

Going to the gym and exercising an hour a day is great for you. However, did you know? Sitting at the desk or on your couch for five hours straight is equivalent to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes. Yes! Your one hour at the gym is one thing but you have many other hours in the day. Make the most of them too for better health.

Flu vaccination is only for babies

We all need a flu vaccination! Having flu is a serious illness and it can cause serious damage to your body, even cancer! Once you get the vaccination, before the flu season starts, it works without giving you side-effect. Prevention is always better than cure and so, flu vaccinations are critical even for adults and specifically the senior adults.

Taking supplements keep you healthy

Popping pills are fine but if you skip meals and then take supplements to make up the loss is a whole different matter. Vitamins don’t work that way. Taking vitamins or supplements without a go head from a physician is risky. Studies have now found a link between overuse of supplements and increased risk of cancer.

Drink 8 glasses of water daily to lose weight

Drinking water and staying hydrated is important but strictly eight glasses? If you replace caffeinated drinks with water or replace your canned fruit juices with water, you will consume fewer calories in that perspective.

Cure a hangover by drinking one more of whatever you had last night

No, that one shot of tequila again in the morning will not help your hangover. Even coffee is bad to follow up after all the alcohol binging. You are dehydrated so drinking more alcohol or coffee will prolong the effect rather than help it. Drink lots of water and get breakfast instead.

Sugar causes diabetes

Diabetes is complex and there are is no compelling research to suggest a direct link of sugar with diabetes disease. However, if you consume sugary drinks and sports drinks, you can become overweight and weight gain is associated with many diseases, not just diabetes.

With so much information right at your fingertips now, you can’t help but examine these common health notions that people throw at you every day. So the next time you hear something, question it and do the right thing for your health.

 

 

The Shifting Goalposts Of Popular Health Parameters And What Those Mean For Us

Here’s the irony we all seem to live with – while technology is giving us more and more opportunities to stay ahead of time, somewhere it is also making us too dependent on circumstances. The changing focus on health concerns rightly compliments this argument. While every person, irrespective of profession and gender, ideally needs to take care of health and stay fit, this is all the more true for working professionals who deal with long and stressful work hours. Consequently, diabetes, cholesterol, and thyroid top the list of most common health concerns faced by the working class.

Change in Health Parameters

Earlier the parameter set to identify if a person was diabetic, for example, was if the fasting blood sugar level was above 140 (i.e. 140 milligrams of glucose per decilitre of blood). However, in 1997, the Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus brought down the number to 126. This was probably more from a preventive point of view wherein; experts felt that sooner a condition was treated better the chances of a person from avoiding the dreaded health condition altogether. Unfortunately, this decision meant that all of a sudden almost 1.6 million people who were otherwise “healthy” (since their blood sugar level was in the previous good range of 126-140) suddenly were declared diabetic. The same goes for measuring cholesterol. While the cholesterol level earlier was considered a risk at 300, over the years as research progressed it came down to 240 and eventually has settled at 200, thus bringing in almost 42 million people in the category of high cholesterol patients.

The other health problem which is seen to greatly impact the population is thyroid. Thyroid, too, was always a concern but never with the same gravity that it demands now. Hypothyroidism affects about 4-5% of the people across the globe and in India, one in ten adults go through it. Statistics state that women are much more at a risk and need to take precautions from early on. Such numbers further promote research and force the medical fraternity to take the results even more seriously. However, the more focus the problems get, the more the number of people seem to “suffer” from it.

Change in the Treatment Outlook

As a result, the treatment patterns also have considerably undergone a change. Everyone now stresses on preventive measures vis-à-vis earlier times when a health problem was treated as and when it occurred. It could be because of the fact that since there is so less time to spare, people prefer taking extra cautions to stay healthy rather than later spend time making visits to a doctor. From the doctors’ perspective, they would prefer avoiding an unwarranted health scare by prescribing medicines to counter a possible situation than having to deal with it at a later stage. It also implies monetary profits for the healthcare business sector. That makes the increasingly lowered threshold levels slightly difficult to accept. But for the common man, the risk seems too great compared to money spent.

Resultant Situation

More importantly, what this situation has resulted in is an over-cautious generation. Lowered ideal health range levels may make people take cognisance of their eating habits, exercise routines, and so on. But they also forget the fact that excessively worrying about a certain health aspect will not take away the problem entirely; while cholesterol is the primary cause of a heart attack it can also occur due to unhealthy lifestyles, smoking, etc. Another example is of the BMI (Body Mass Index). In the beginning, BMI was essentially used as a measure for body weight, and, thus, to basically remain in the healthy bracket. It helped in predicting cardiovascular diseases or nutritional competencies. Now, as with other health parameters expanding their scope, so has this simple figure. Health specialists have lately arrived at a Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) which when used along with the BMI apparently better predicts more serious disorders such as diabetes, lipid problems, atherosclerosis, and so on.

In some ways, this sounds greatly helpful. Yet, it is also important to remember that over-diagnosis can be problematic as well. Imagine the number of medicines one consumes these days. Somewhere it makes the body immune to certain strains of those medicines and hence when the real need arises, it is doubtful if that medicine will really have a positive effect. Many times, people even ignore the side effects of taking extra medications, just to ward off a future possible concern. The number of treatments available is endless as well. It is thus up to the educated us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be supposedly called “unhealthy” and where to stop in this vicious circle.

 

Improve Your Heart Health with These Super Foods

Heart health is no longer a matter of concern for the elderly only. Even in their early twenties, men and women suffer from health ailments that can be fatal. According to a senior consultant cardiologist at a well-known hospital, India is currently witnessing around two million heart attacks a year with a majority of the victims being the youngsters. One person dies every 33 seconds because of a heart attack!

While some heart conditions that cannot be prevented, most concerns can be avoided. With these superfoods in your daily diet, curbing a heart attack will get easier.

Superfoods

Although superfoods have been around for a long time, the health benefits have come to light only recently. Superfoods are super rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are beneficial for one’s health and can prevent terminal illnesses. Here are some of the superfoods you may love or hate, but can tremendously help in improving your heart health!

Walnuts

Walnuts top the nut list for heart-healthy superfoods. The distinct ‘brain’ shaped nut is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain higher quality antioxidants that fight free radicals responsible for heart diseases. Craving for a sugary snack? Snack on a handful of walnuts every day. The goodness they give you is more than your daily portion of fruits and vegetables, combined!

Salmon

Salmon is the star on the heart superfood list. This oily fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and super rich in proteins, Vitamins B and D. Regular consumption of Salmon lowers triglycerides by 50%. Triglycerides is the bad fat that increases the cholesterol in your body. This Omega-3 rich fish has proven to lower the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat). It also reduces the mortality rate of those with congestive heart conditions.

Oranges

An orange a day keeps your arteries healthy! This citrus fruit is high in flavonoids that help lower heart conditions caused by clots. Vitamin C present in oranges is linked with lower heart diseases. Oranges are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and beta-carotene too. Several studies have shown that the chemicals present in oranges reduce blood cholesterol levels by 20-25%. Beware of the hidden sugars in the packaged orange juices, though.

Garlic

Garlic is a blood thinner. Garlic makes the blood consistency such that it easily passes through blood vessels. Garlic is high in bioflavonoids and contains sulfur which gives protection from calcium deposits and reduces the size of arterial plaque. It promotes adequate blood circulation. Regular consumption of garlic in your diet lowers the risk of blood stagnation and passage blockages by unhealthy fats.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has got a plenty of attention for being good for the heart and here is why. The cocoa bean is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. This is the perfect recipe for a healthy heart. Flavanol is the main flavonoid present in chocolate. It helps lower the blood pressure and improve the blood flow to the brain and heart. It also enables blood to clot by making the blood platelets less sticky.

Kale

Kale has risen to fame over the last couple of years. Kale is a nutrient-packed superfood. It has minerals, vitamins, and much more. It even has bile acid sequestrants which help lower the cholesterol levels. A study showed that consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased the level of ‘good’ cholesterol. Kale is also known to be one the world’s best sources of Vitamin K.

Oatmeal

Another superfood for your heart is the humble oatmeal. It is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It is rich in fiber which is good for the digestive tract. This superfood can lower the levels of bad cholesterol and keep your arteries clear. Oatmeal helps curb type 2 diabetes and helps in weight loss as well.

Avocados

Avocados are nutrient packed and good for your heart. They have good fats and are free from sodium and cholesterol. This superfood cuts down your saturated fat intake without compromising on calories. Just eating healthy fats is not enough. Ensure that you are exercising to burn off the calories consumed too!

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the secret to the healthy hearts of the Mediterranean folks. It prevents the formation of blood clots and excess blood coagulation. It raises the level of good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

Acai Berries

Known as the miracle berry, this berry is full of antioxidants and vitamins. Acai berries are high in flavonoids that prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. They increase the capillary strength, prevent inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.

Of course, simply adding such superfoods in your diet won’t keep you disease-proof. You also need to follow a healthy routine, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly.

Did we miss a super food? Comment here and let us know.

Allergic Rhinitis – Here Is What You Need to Know

A multi-centre study conducted by the Asthma Epidemiology Study Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research found that allergic rhinitis is prevalent among 3.5% of the population in India. In another study, 21.27% of school girls between the ages of 4-17 years were seen to be suffering from allergic rhinitis. So what exactly is allergic rhinitis? Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system of the human body. In layman’s terms, it is caused due to how your body responds to specific allergens. An allergen is a normally harmless substance that tends to cause an allergic reaction in your body. The most common allergen is pollen.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, coughing, frequent headaches, excessive fatigue, itchy and watery eyes, a runny, stuffy and itchy nose, dark circles under the eyes and extremely dry, itchy skin that often causes blisters. You may see one or more of these symptoms after your body comes into contact with an allergen. Severe headaches and fatigue are extreme symptoms which may occur only if your body is exposed to allergens for a long time.

Causes of Allergic Rhinitis

Many times, it may not be easy to decipher the cause of your allergic rhinitis. Essentially, it is caused due to the release of histamine in your body, which occurs when your body comes in contact with an allergen. Histamine is a natural chemical which defends your body from the allergen. Along with pollen, few other things that can cause allergic rhinitis are grass, dust, pet hair, animal dander, dust mites, and cat saliva. Perfumes, smoke from cigarettes and diesel exhaust can also tend to trigger hay fever in the human body. Although tobacco is not directly related to allergic rhinitis, a study on MedIND showed that 55% of people suffering from allergic rhinitis were tobacco users. In some cases, allergic rhinitis occurs due to a family history of allergies. Cold temperatures, humidity, the wind, air pollution, hairspray, and fumes may also trigger or worsen the situation of allergic rhinitis.

Types of Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis can be categorized into two different types – seasonal and perennial. Pollen-based allergies are usually seasonal and occur around the summer season. This kind of allergic sensitivity may even be caused by allergens from grass, trees, and weeds. Perennial allergic rhinitis, on the other hand, shows symptoms all your year round. It is caused due to substances you may come in contact with on a daily basis such as dust mites, pet hair, or cockroaches. At times, hidden food allergies may also result in perennial nasal symptoms.

Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis

If you experience any of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, you can visit your doctor for further diagnosis. The doctor can check the inside of your nose to spot nasal polyps. These are fleshy swellings that grow from the lining of the sinuses, the small cavities inside your nose. Another common method of diagnosis is the skin prick test in which the doctor places the allergen on your arm and pricks the surface of your skin to let it enter it into your immune system. This is done to check how your body reacts to it. If you are allergic to it, a small itchy spot will appear. Another way to go about the diagnosis is through a blood test. This helps in checking the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody in your blood. This antibody is produced in your immune system in your response to a suspected allergen.

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis

Mild allergic rhinitis can be treated by the intake of antihistamines. Regularly cleaning your nasal passages with a salt water solution, also called as nasal douching or irrigation, can also help. You can consider using eye drops or nasal sprays as they help in relieving the itchiness and other symptoms for a short time.

For severe allergies, a lot of doctors recommend immunotherapy or allergy shots. This begins with taking the shot one to three times per week for three to six months. This is called the build up phase. This is followed by the maintenance phase where you visit your doctor once in a month for a course of three to five years. Once your body starts getting used to shots, the allergy symptoms will start fading slowly and eventually disappear altogether. Another popular method of treatment is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). This involves placing a tablet on your tongue, which contains a mixture of several allergens. This method may have some side effects such as itching in the mouth or irritation in the throat.

The best way to keep your allergies under control is to keep yourself and your environment as clean as possible. Identify the things or situations which cause you allergies and try to stay away from those. Don’t let the symptoms hamper the quality of your life – Remember, prevention is always better than cure.