Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10 Healthy Sleep Tips

The following ten tips can help you achieve sleep and the benefits it provides. These tips are intended for "typical" adults, but not necessarily for children or persons experiencing medical problems.

Finally, if you have trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep, awaken earlier than you wish, feel unrefreshed after sleep or suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day or when you wish to be alert, you should also consult your physician. Be sure to tell him/her if you have already tried these tips and for how long.

1. Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends.

2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.

3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.

4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

6. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.

7. Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.

8. Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake.

9. Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep.

10. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

If you have sleep problems...
Use a sleep diary and talk to your doctor. Note what type of sleep problem is affecting your sleep or if you are sleepy when you wish to be awake and alert. Try these tips and record your sleep and sleep-related activities in a sleep diary. If problems continue, discuss the sleep diary with your doctor. There may be an underlying cause and you will want to be properly diagnosed. Your doctor will help treat the problem or may refer you to a sleep specialist.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 min Quiz: Check your Health Status NOW!

Both men and women should have regular medical check-ups. These are particularly important if you have a family history of disease.
Do you have regular check-ups?
Are you putting your health at risk by not looking after yourself regularly?

Test your risk with this quick 5 min quizzes...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Newest Ways to Boost Your Brain Power


Feeling scatterbrained? These simple solutions can improve your brain health. Here are the latest tips that will amp up your memory.

> You sleep, you win
If you’ve got a big presentation tomorrow, you’ll remember your speech better and dazzle the audience if, you get at least six hours of sleep.Researchers believe that sleep may help your brain consolidate and organize information so that it comes back to you correctly.

> Snack on some nuts
Nuts of all kinds are full of magnesium, a mineral linked to improvements in short- and long-term memory. A handful of almonds or cashews, in particular, boasts about 25 percent of your daily requirement.

> Cook like an Italian
With age, the brain starts to develop damage that can lead to difficulty with thinking and memory, but research shows that people who eat a Mediterranean diet are 36 percent less likely to have such damage.

> Go blue(berry)
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that the fruit’s wealth of anthocyanins—the antioxidants that create the blue hue—foster neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain, which may help delay memory loss.

> Relax to remember
Your busy life can make you so anxious that your brain simply can’t take in new info, let alone remember it. Regular deep breathing will help. A nature walk or yoga will quiet your mind, too.

> Play more Scrabble
Exercising your word skills might protect against memory loss, a study in Neurology found. Get help with a daily word e-mail—and pick up a book any chance you get.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend Breakfast Special: Spinach & Tomato Omelet Recipe

20 minutes to spare on a weekend for a luxurious healthy breakfast? Try out the 'Spinach & Tomato Omelet'

This colorful, flavorful omelet packs two servings of vegetables. Now that's starting your day off right!
1 serving
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach, washed, with water still clinging to leaves
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute, such as
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Spray a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and scallion and cook, stirring once or twice, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Place spinach on top, cover and let wilt, about 30 seconds. Stir to combine.
  2. Pour in egg substitute, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the egg is starting to set, about 20 seconds. Continue cooking, lifting the edges so the uncooked egg will flow underneath, until mostly set, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Sprinkle cheese, salt and pepper over the omelet. Lift up an edge of the omelet and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon water under it. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the egg is completely set and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Fold over using the spatula and serve.

Per serving: 152 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 3 g fiber; 619 mg sodium; 362 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (35% daily value), Vitamin C (30% dv), Calcium (15% dv).

1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegetable, 2 very lean meat, 1 fat

    Tips on caring for children - II

    Continuing our series of useful tips on caring for children, here's Child care tip #2

    The mistake: Fever phobia. Fever induces much parental panic, but fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. In children, a high fever has little to do with the seriousness of the infection. The highest fever the child will experience will be with the completely harmless disease — roseola — while many children with life-threatening infections will have low-grade fevers, said Belilovsky.

    A better way: "Notice how your child looks when his fever is down," said Cowan, author of "Figuring Out Your Child's Fever," a guide for parents that's included with her book, "Peeper Has a Fever" (The Hippocratic Press). "Children with fevers tend to look exhausted and 'wiped out,' listless and curled up on a sofa." If those children still look like that when their fevers are closer to normal, then a phone call is a good idea.

    Also, don't bother "bundling, feeding a fever/starving a cold, avoiding bathing, avoiding ceiling fans, alternating Tylenol and Motrin (usually unnecessary unless prone to febrile seizures) or bathing in cool water," said pediatrician Ari Brown, author of "Baby 411" (Windsor Peak Press). "These are all old wives' tales and fairly counterproductive."


    Newborn-3 months: 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)

    3 months-2 years: 102 degrees (39 degrees Celsius)

    Older than 2 years: 104-105 degrees (40 degrees Celsius)

    Source: Pediatrician Charlotte Cowan

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Tips on caring for children


    It's easy to blunder when it comes to children's health. Fortunately, the most common health mistakes can often be avoided. Here's a series of ways we jeopardize our children's health and ways to improve on it.

    Child care tip #1

    The mistake: Giving a child cough and cold medicine, which is "very nearly useless," said New York pediatrician Anatoly Belilovsky. "Oral decongestants are poor to mediocre in effectiveness; nasal decongestants can very easily make things worse, turning a cold into rhinitis medicamentosa," a condition of rebound nasal congestion.

    A better way: Studies have shown honey is a better cough suppressant than over-the-counter medicines. Offer children a simple anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen — Advil or Motrin) for aches and chills, said Boston-based pediatrician Charlotte Cowan.

    Watch out for more...

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    The future of wireless medicine - making healthcare easy!

    Eric Topol talks at TEDMED about the not so distant future of wireless medicine...all about making healthcare easy and more accessible.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    How to de-stress after work


    Carrying anxiety home from the office raises the risk of numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, headaches, depression and insomnia. Here are tips from psychologists:

    Listen to music in your car. Favorite tunes will help you relax as you transition from office to home.

    Don't just flop on the couch. Exercise, spend time outside and interact with family and friends to boost production of feel-good hormones. Or if you can, relax by reading, taking a hot shower or engaging in a favorite hobby.

    Think positively. When you reflect on your day, focus on at least one good thing that happened.

    Don't bring work home. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but the more your home is a separate sanctuary, the easier time you'll have relaxing there.

    Communicate. If you've had an especially tough day, share that with your spouse and children.

    Set boundaries. For example, you might tell your boss that you turn your cellphone and computer off after a certain time each night (if you can).

    Don't rely on substances. Too much alcohol actually increases anxiety levels — and puts you at risk for dependence — while the nicotine in cigarettes is a powerful stimulant.

    Eat if you're hungry. Low blood sugar causes anxiety and irritability. But stick to nutritious foods, because bingeing on unhealthy treats will only make you lethargic.

    Realize your limits. If there's nothing you can do about a work problem at home, tell yourself that fretting is a waste of time.

    Take time off. Use your vacation days, take mini-breaks during the day, delegate responsibility and learn to say no if you're swamped. None of that is easy, but otherwise your work — and health — will suffer.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    The pose that helps you doze!


    If you’re craving a good night’s sleep, the Legs Up the Wall Pose will coax your mind and body into relaxation mode. The move also eases tired muscles, helps restore circulation, and encourages your breathing to become deeper and steadier. So put on some comfy clothing, turn off distractions like the TV and computer, and do this pose each night right before bed.

    Do the Legs Up the Wall Pose:
    Sit on a mat with one hip touching the wall. Bend your knees, and with help from your hands, turn and raise your legs up against the wall, inching your butt as close to the wall as is comfortable. Lie back and bring your arms to the floor overhead or out to the side, palms turned up. Relax while breathing deeply and evenly for 5–10 minutes. If your legs begin to feel uncomfortable, bend your knees, slide your feet down the wall, and let your knees drop open.

    Good night, Sleep tight!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    9 Steps to a Stronger Core!


    When you think “core,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably washboard abs. But there’s so much more to your middle: along with your abdominal muscles, the muscles in your pelvis and hips and around your spine support your organs and stabilize your back, providing a solid center for your entire body.

    And if that isn’t enough, your marvelous midsection also houses the all-important digestive and reproductive systems. Read on to find out how to keep your core strong and running smoothly for years to come. Here are 9 steps to strengthen your core...and its never too late to start!

    1> Your 30s: Strengthen 360 degrees
    Many women overwork their abs but neglect other core muscles like muscles deep in the abdomen that get very short and tight, and the muscles on the outside of hips that don’t get any work. Pick an exercise program that focuses on body alignment and overall core strengthening (such as Pilates or yoga) rather than just mindless repetition of crunches.

    2> Your 30s: Baby your back
    During pregnancy, 50 to 70 percent of women complain about back pain, and weak or tight core muscles are often to blame. To stay pain-free, try the Cat and Cow stretch, suggests Desi Bartlett, a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor and host of the DVD Prenatal Yoga.

    3> Your 30s: Beat indigestion
    If your digestive problems persist for at least three months and are so frequent and severe that they interfere with your life, you could have irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. What can help: exercise. Try gentle modes of moving, such as walking and yoga, as hard-core workouts can worsen symptoms.

    4> Your 30s: Bulk up your diet
    If you don’t have IBS and are just dealing with occasional gastro woes, try eating more fiber to help keep your waste elimination system moving. Eat around the color wheel, which means a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.

    5> Your 40s: Hinder hidden fat
    On average, women gain a pound a year in the years before menopause. The pinchable bit under the skin may be what you notice, but it’s the fat surrounding the organs deep in your abdomen that can do real damage. This stuff, also known as visceral fat, has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. The best way to fight back: work out more. Aim for an hour a day, either all at once or broken up into smaller chunks.

    6> Your 40s: Work your floor
    Always running for the restroom? Leakiness can be due to a weak pelvic floor, which are the muscles that support your pelvic organs. Strengthen those muscles now, because later in life, a weak pelvic floor can lead to incontinence and, in extreme cases, uterine prolapse (where your uterus drops downward into your vagina).

    7> Your 50s+: Stand strong
    Perfecting your posture can help prevent the back pain that can come from years of wear and tear. Practice in front of the mirror: make sure your ears are over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, and your shoulders rolled back. Soften your knees and concentrate on tightening your abdomen and pulling your pelvic floor up and in.

    8> Your 50s+: Hit the big screen
    Your risk of colorectal cancer rises dramatically as you age. The good news: screening is highly effective at detecting this disease early; in fact, the death rate has been dropping for two decades. Have your first colonoscopy at 50 (or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer).

    9> Your 50s+: Be symptom-smart
    Don’t ignore bloating and pelvic pain; they could be symptoms of ovarian cancer, which strikes women in their 50s and 60s more often than younger women.

    For more details on these 9 simple steps, click here,,20386105_1,00.html

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Study: 10 minutes of exercise, hour-long effects

    Source: The Associated Press (Washington)

    Ten minutes of brisk exercise triggers metabolic changes that last at least an hour. The unfair news for panting newbies: The more fit you are, the more benefits you just might be getting.

    We all know that exercise and a good diet are important for health, protecting against heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. But what exactly causes the health improvement from working up a sweat or from eating, say, more olive oil than saturated fat? And are some people biologically predisposed to get more benefit than others?

    They're among questions that metabolic profiling, a new field called metabolomics, aims to answer in hopes of one day optimizing those benefits — or finding patterns that may signal risk for disease and new ways to treat it.

    "We're only beginning to catalog the metabolic variability between people," says Dr. Robert Gerszten of Massachusetts General Hospital, whose team just took a step toward that goal.

    First, in 70 healthy people put on a treadmill, the team found more than 20 metabolites that change during exercise, naturally produced compounds involved in burning calories and fat and improving blood-sugar control. Some weren't known until now to be involved with exercise. Some revved up during exercise, like those involved in processing fat. Others involved with cellular stress decreased with exercise.

    "Ten minutes of exercise has at least an hour of effects on your body," says Gerszten, who found some of the metabolic changes that began after 10 minutes on the treadmill still were measurable 60 minutes after people cooled down.

    Your heart rate rapidly drops back to normal when you quit moving, usually in 10 minutes or so. So finding lingering biochemical changes offers what Gerszten calls "tantalizing evidence" of how exercise may be building up longer-term benefits.

    Back to the blood. Thinner people had greater increases in a metabolite named niacinamide, a nutrient byproduct that's involved in blood-sugar control, the team from Mass General and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard reported last week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

    The extremely fit — 25 Boston Marathon runners — had ten-fold increases in that metabolite after the race. Still other differences in metabolites allowed the researchers to tell which runners had finished in under four hours and which weren't as speedy..

    Don't expect a pill ever to substitute for a workout — the new work shows how complicated the body's response to exercise is, says metabolomics researcher Dr. Debbie Muoio of Duke University Medical Center.

    Next up: With University of Vermont researchers, she's testing how metabolic changes correlate with health measures in a study of people who alternate between a carefully controlled Mediterranean diet and higher-fat diets.

    "The longterm hope is you could use this in making our way toward personalized medicine," Muoio says.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Coffee can keep diabetes at bay


    ANI report: A new study has offered fresh evidence that drinking coffee may help prevent diabetes and that caffeine may be the ingredient largely responsible for this effect.

    Previous studies have suggested that regular coffee drinking may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The disease affects millions in the United States and is on the rise worldwide. However, little of that evidence comes from studies on lab animals used to do research that cannot be done in humans.

    As part of the new research, Fumihiko Horio and colleagues fed either water or coffee to a group of laboratory mice commonly used to study diabetes.

    Coffee consumption prevented the development of high-blood sugar and also improved insulin sensitivity in the mice, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.

    Coffee also caused a cascade of other beneficial changes in the fatty liver and inflammatory adipocytokines related to a reduced diabetes risk. Additional lab studies showed that caffeine may be "one of the most effective anti-diabetic compounds in coffee," the scientists say.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    How to make your friends fat


    A tongue-in-cheek article on how to make your friends fat (rather a sarcastic note on what not to do!) Makes for an immensely entertaining yet informative read, here’s the summary of some of the key ones

    1. Be fat yourself: We pick up habits from our friends and those habits extend to eating as well.

    Decode: Be fit yourself

    2. Be thin and eat around a lot around your friends: A study found out that women unconsciously adjust how much they snack based on whether the person next to them is thin or fat.

    Decode: Be conscious of what you eat, do not let people around you influence the amount you snack

    3. Serve oversized portions: It’s been proven that people unknowingly eat more food if the portions are over sized.

    Decode: Serve small portions

    4. Get them into the gross food movement: If you want your friends peer-pressured into fattening up, send them to Bacon camp – as Bacon leads the gross food movement.

    Decode: Stay away from greasy and fattening foods like bacon, peanut butter, etc.

    5. Get them a TV: Studies suggest that a distraction like TV can also make you miss signals from your body to stop eating

    Decode: Do not eat in front of the television

    6. Stress them out: The body’s natural reaction to stress is to produce a hormone called Cortisol, produced in the adrenal glands. A later study also showed that a flush of Cortisol made us want to eat more and to crave sugary and fatty foods!

    Decode: Destress yourself

    The Changes of Aging


    If you ask people over 60 what they dread most, dementia is almost always in the top three on their list of health concerns. After all, it is memory that makes us who we are; without it we are forever trapped in the moment, with no window on the past or the future.

    There is some discussion among experts over what exactly constitutes early dementia, but they generally agree that it includes both a decline in memory (learning and recalling new information like “Where did I put those keys?” or “What did we do yesterday?”) and a decline in at least one other area of intellectual functioning. Among those areas are language (breadth of vocabulary, complexity of sentences), calculation (balancing a checkbook, figuring a tip), judgment (Is this a legitimate bill or a mail scam?), and visual-spatial orientation (becoming disoriented while walking or driving). Faulty memory alone is not enough to diagnose dementia, and the cognitive impairment must be a decline from a previously higher level of functioning.

    A basic diagnosis can be done after reviewing the patient’s vital signs and performing a basic physical exam, followed by formal tests. Extensive formal testing tools exist to evaluate memory, but most clinicians rely on the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) in their offices to screen for dementia. The test takes just a few minutes and is commonly used for detecting cognitive impairment. It includes a series of questions that test orientation to place and time, recall, calculation, reading, and executive function—carrying out a complex task, such as copying a drawing of two overlapping pentagons.

    Most patients display a characteristic lack of insight into their deficits that can be an early sign of dementia. Patients forget what they don’t know and so gain no self-awareness. The corollary is that patients who go to Doctors worried that they might have Alzheimer’s generally do not (There are exceptions, of course.) Alzheimer’s is the illness that is most often brought to a doctor’s attention by family members and friends rather than by the patients themselves.

    There is currently no way to reverse Alzheimer’s disease. There are, however, drugs that can treat its symptoms. It is also important for the family to understand the disease and support the patient through it – generally an Alzheimer’s support group is recommended for the same. The key really is to increase awareness so that timely diagnosis and treatment can be administered.

    Here’s a heart warming example of an old couple’s life and detection of Alzheimer’s disease:

    Don't skip brain food; eat your breakfast


    Are you suffering from acidity, obesity or reduced attention span? Perhaps you are skipping breakfast, also called brain food and the most important meal of the day.

    People in cities tend to give breakfast a miss perhaps due to hectic lifestyles or in the belief that it will keep them slim. But experts say it could end up making people obese.

    "People do not seem to have time for breakfast these days. They have every reason to avoid the healthy tradition of having a good nutritious breakfast," said Anita Jatana, chief dietician at the Batra Hospital.

    Describing it as a change in perception and lifestyle, she said: "People usually do not eat because of their tight work schedules, late night dinners, zero figure obsession or just anything else that keeps them away from a healthy breakfast."

    According to the dieticians, breakfast is most essential. They say breakfast must be balanced and should include nutrients like calcium (milk or milk products), proteins and fibre (sprouts or cereal), and some amount of antioxidants (apples, strawberries, banana, oranges, etc) and vitamins.

    "Often called 'brain food', breakfast needs to be wholesome and it should essentially contain all the vital nutrients that the body craves for," said Ritika Samadar, chief dietician at Max Hospital.

    A nutritious breakfast is necessary to keep the body's metabolism going properly.

    "Generally, there is a gap of 10 to 12 hours between the dinner and breakfast and it is anyway very long for the body to resist." In case, breakfast is skipped, "we add some more hours, hence affecting the body's metabolism", Samadar said.

    Jatana feels long gaps between meals can also cause digestion problems. "Not eating on time leads to a lot of ailments. Obesity, acidity, reduced attention span and ulceration are a few on the list."

    Owing a great deal to Kareena Kapoor's size zero, people have become obsessed with ultra thin figures and they feel not eating will help lose weight. But experts say it is the beginning of many problems.

    "People think that if they skip breakfast, they will lose weight. But it is a myth. They gain weight at a faster rate instead because they end up eating more than in the normal course," said Priti Vijay, head dietician at Max Hospital, Saket.

    "In the long run, if more meals are skipped in a day than just the breakfast, it can also lead to shrinking of the stomach and intestines," Jatana said.

    The ideal time for breakfast is between 8 am and 10 am Any delay results in weight gain.

    "Half of overweight patients have a tendency to skip breakfast," said Vijay. "Some 60 to 70 per cent patients who come to me with digestion or stomach-related problems or for advice on weight gain disclose that they frequently miss their breakfast."

    Perhaps it is time to take an old proverb seriously - "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper".

    Read more:

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Midnight snacking ups tooth loss risk

    London, June 2 (ANI): Eating snacks in the middle of the night can increase the risk of tooth loss, regardless of the type of food that is eaten, experts have warned.

    The team at Copenhagen University, which worked with colleagues from the US, blamed changes in saliva flow, as it tends to dry up at night.

    To reach the conclusion, boffins examined the medical records of 2,217 Danes already enrolled in a medical study, reports The BBC.

    "Practitioners should be aware of the oral health implications of nocturnal eating, increase screening and oral health education efforts among nocturnal eaters and make treatment referrals when appropriate," they said.

    Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: "Eating at night, when the mouth is driest and any food remains in the mouth longer, accentuates the impact of consuming sugary and acidic food and drinks.

    "To minimise damage, it is important to brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, with one of those brushes coming immediately before bedtime.

    "Where possible, consume only water for at least an hour before the final brush of the day." (ANI)