Friday, July 30, 2010

The Science of Appetite


Nature prefers you fat, but you can take control. New research could explain better approaches to dieting and how to curb your appetite.

1. Eat Fiber
Unrefined foods, especially those that are high in fiber, stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones and make you feel full.

2. Brush your teeth
Take a break from that ice cream to brush. The flavor change helps you resist eating more

3.Be consistent
Eating breakfast and regularly scheduled meals keeps hormone levels steady and quashes hunger pangs

4. Slow down
It takes a while for the brain to realize that the stomach is stretching. Eating slowly gives the brain time to catch on

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DocBlog: The Difference between Normal and Abnormal in Psychiatry

Introducing DocBlog – a relevant and educational blog post written by EaseMyHealth doctors to simplify medical conditions and issues.

Here’s the 1st DocBlog post by Psychiatrist Dr. Sujay Prabhugaonkar demystifying basic concepts of normal & abnormal in Psychiatry.

Dr. Prabhugaonkar, M.D., D.P.M. is a qualified Psychiatrist and practices in Mumbai.

Sadness-Depression, Mood swings-Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety-Panic…are all conceptually very similar – so how does Psychiatry differentiate between Normal and Abnormal? The actual difference is in the degree - Specifically in severity and duration as well as the quality of socio-occupational functioning. Here are some simple examples to tell the differences.

What is the difference between normal sadness and depression?

In normal sadness the person is sad for a while, but in depression sadness lasts for at least 2 weeks along with loss of interest in activities, vegetative symptoms like sleep, sex and appetite disturbances, cognitive symptoms like loss of concentration, worthlessness and if severe - suicidal ideation.

What is the difference between normal mood swings and manic depressive psychosis or bipolar disorder?

In normal mood swings, the person alternates between happiness and sadness during the course of the day or week.

In bipolar mood disorder, there are severe mood fluctuations which lead to extreme happiness on one hand and extreme sadness on the other. During the phase of extreme happiness the person not only thinks that he is god or he has some special ability or talent, but also starts spending excessively, eats voraciously, drinks, gambles, shops till he drops or till he becomes bankrupt, changes jobs frequently, has sex with numerous partners, or generally talks excessively not only with family members but also strangers.

During the phase of extreme sadness, he/she becomes lethargic, does not want to go out of the house and sometimes becomes suicidal.

What is the difference between normal concern and anxiety?

During normal concern, the person worries about finance, home, family, job etc. but in Anxiety disorder, these worries not only become the predominant focus of person’s attention but they also spill over the physiological and cognitive functions. Thus he/she breathes heavily, has palpitations, sweating etc along with distractibility, crowding of thoughts respectively. Also one has secondary anxiety i.e. anxiety about the effects of anxiety like having bleeding ulcers or hypertension

What is the difference between anxiety and panic?

Normal anxiety is fear without a definite cause.

Panic disorder is like having severe anxiety in which the person fears he may die or go crazy, lasting for maximum half hour but so severely debilitating that young individuals in their 20s or 30s land up in hospital emergency rooms with chest pains which come out of the blue and their cardiograms turn out to be normal. One eventually has a fear of having further attacks in public because of which he/she restricts going out of the house.

What is the difference between fear and phobia?

Fear is due to the threat of a real danger e.g. when car races towards you, you may sense fear.

Phobia is an irrational fear of object or situation e.g. if one has social phobia, one not only is afraid of public speaking which is normal but also afraid to urinate in public urinals or even eat in restaurants in public.

What is the difference between normal concern about illness and hypochondriasis?

During normal concern about illness, one visits doctors, do the tests if advised, take the prescribed course of treatment and be reassured that our health is in safe hands.

In Hypochondriasis, the concern about the illness is exaggerated e.g. if the concern is about having a heart attack, one would check pulse and be alarmed at missed beats, heart beating heavily or slowly, do multiple tests: ECG, 2D Echo, cardiac angiography, wont be reassured by the doctors sometimes even accusing them that they missed something, doctor shopping, resorting to miracle cures, reading various health magazines and looking out for new invention of a technique or a machine by which finally their disease can be diagnosed and treated.

What is the difference between having repetitive thoughts and Obsessive compulsive disorder?

Repetitive thoughts like a song lyric, or the story we reading the newspaper come to our mind and pass away as we go about our routine activities.

But obsessions are thoughts that don’t pass away. In fact they intrude into our consciousness that we still have to clean our hands, that door was not locked while leaving the house, that things are not in a particular order, that we did not pray sincerely.

These obsessions lead to compulsions like washing, cleaning, checking, counting, praying etc. Compulsions reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions e.g. cleaning compulsions reduce the anxiety caused by fear of contamination, checking compulsions reduce the anxiety caused by fear of harm to loved ones

Dr. Sujay Prabhugaonkar will soon be available for online/tele consultation on

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight


Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced and healthy eating plan. There are many different ways to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Using more fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and lean meats, nuts, and beans is a safe and healthy one. Helping control your weight is not the only benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.

To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body uses.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to eat less food. You can create lower-calorie versions of some of your favorite dishes by substituting low-calorie fruits and vegetables in place of higher-calorie ingredients. The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes, so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

Here are some simple ways to cut calories and eat fruits and vegetables throughout your day:

Breakfast: Start the Day Right
- Substitute some spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one of the eggs or half of the cheese in your morning omelet. The vegetables will add volume and flavor to the dish with fewer calories than the egg or cheese.
- Cut back on the amount of cereal in your bowl to make room for some cut-up bananas, peaches, or strawberries. You can still eat a full bowl, but with fewer calories.

Lighten Up Your Lunch
- Substitute vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions for 2 ounces of the cheese and 2 ounces of the meat in your sandwich, wrap, or burrito. The new version will fill you up with fewer calories than the original.
- Add a cup of chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, beans, or red peppers, in place of 2 ounces of the meat or 1 cup of noodles in your favorite broth-based soup. The vegetables will help fill you up, so you won't miss those extra calories.

- Add in 1 cup of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions, or peppers, while removing 1 cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish. The dish with the vegetables will be just as satisfying but have fewer calories than the same amount of the original version.
- Take a good look at your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains should take up the largest portion of your plate. If they do not, replace some of the meat, cheese, white pasta, or rice with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens, or another favorite vegetable. This will reduce the total calories in your meal without reducing the amount of food you eat. BUT remember to use a normal- or small-size plate — not a platter. The total number of calories that you eat counts, even if a good proportion of them come from fruits and vegetables.

Smart Snacks:
- Most healthy eating plans allow for one or two small snacks a day. Choosing most fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat a snack with only 100 calories.

Snacks that are about 100 Calories or Less
a medium-size apple (72 calories)
a medium-size banana (105 calories)
1 cup steamed green beans (44 calories)
1 cup blueberries (83 calories)
1 cup grapes (100 calories)
1 cup carrots (45 calories), broccoli (30 calories), or bell peppers (30 calories) with 2 tbsp. hummus (46 calories)

Instead of a high-calorie snack from a vending machine, bring some cut-up vegetables or fruit from home. One snack-sized bag of corn chips (1 ounce) has the same number of calories as a small apple, 1 cup of whole strawberries, AND 1 cup of carrots with 1/4 cup of low-calorie dip. Substitute one or two of these options for the chips, and you will have a satisfying snack with fewer calories.

Remember: Substitution is the key.
It's true that fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than many other foods, but they do contain some calories. If you start eating fruits and vegetables in addition to what you usually eat, you are adding calories and may gain weight. The key is substitution. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of some other higher-calorie food.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Going nuts about peanuts!


Whole peanuts also known as earthnuts, ground nuts, or pygmy nuts contain high amount of protein, which makes it a preferred diet of those people engaged in body-building and also those who are underweight.

In fact, not many know this but the raw peanut butter with crushed skin contains much higher amounts of nutrient than refined ‘nut-only’ butter. But whichever form you prefer it in, there’s no denying its health benefits.
- Peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid. Roasting peanuts increases its p-coumaric acid levels, boosting it overall antioxidant content by as much as 22 per cent. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets.
- Unsalted peanuts are good for your arteries. One quarter cup of peanuts contains as much monounsaturated fat as a tablespoon of olive oil. Mono unsaturated fats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol.
- Peanuts’ high niacin content helps in the recovery of cell damage and provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive problems.
- Peanut contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Peanuts contain iron, that’s essential for the correct functioning of red blood cells.
- Peanut is rich in calcium which helps promotes healthy bones.
- Peanut has high bioflavonoid resveratrol. This bioflavonoid helps improve blood flow in the brain by as much as 30 per cent, thus reducing the risk of stroke. Adding even small amounts of peanut products to the diet can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 14 per cent.
- Peanuts’ fiber content helps lower the risk of colon cancer.
- Peanuts accelerate the growth of male and female hormones.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Study says: Have fun!


According to a study titled "Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being" by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, engaging in enjoyable leisure activities can lower stress hormones and blood pressure, make you feel better all over, and reduce your waist circumference and body mass index.

In the study, 1,400 people reported how often they participated in activities like vacationing, going to clubs, playing sports, or plain old loafing around. Folks who spent the most time doing many different fun activities reaped the most health benefits.

“When you’re under stress, the usual thing is to cut back on enjoyable activities because you’re feeling uncomfortable and you need more time to deal with the stress. But these data suggest that’s the wrong thing to do, and that continuing enjoyable activities can be helpful,” says study coauthor Karen Matthews, PhD, a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and psychology.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blueberries, green tea may boost memory in old age

A combination of nutrients called NT-020 - made from blueberries, green tea, and amino acids, such as carnosine-successfully promoted adult neural stem cell proliferation in aged rats and boosted their memory performance, found University of South Florida researchers.
The researchers were studying natural therapeutic approaches to promoting the health of neurons in the aging brain.

They tested two groups of aged laboratory rats; one group received NT-020 and another, the control group, did not. In the NT-020 group, the process by which neurons are generated-called neurogenesis- increased. The NT-020 formula was patented by USF and licensed to Natura Therapeutics, Inc.

"Aging has been linked to oxidative stress, and we have previously shown that natural compounds made from blueberries, green tea, and amino acids, such as carnosine, are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative activity. The combination of these nutrients, called NT-020, creates a synergistic effect that promotes the proliferation of stem cells in the aged animals," said Dr Sandra Acosta, the study's lead author.

The NT-020 group demonstrated increased adult neural stem cell proliferation in the two main stem cell niches in the brains and improvement in learning and memory.

In past studies, NT-020 has been shown to have beneficial effects on animals with simulated stroke.

NT-020 has also been shown to encourage the proliferation of adult stem cells, which have the potential to develop into tissue and bone cells and also migrate to areas of damage to help with repair. That increased stem cell proliferation coincided with better cognitive performance is significant.

They found that NT-020 treated animals had fewer activated inflammatory cells in the brain, reflecting a decrease in factors that reduced the production of stem cells.

"NT-020 may have not only a positive effect on the stem cell niche. NT-020 may have far-reaching effects on organ function beyond the replacement of injured cells, as demonstrated by cognitive improvement in the NT-020 group," concluded Bickford.

The study was published in the current issue of Rejuvenation Research.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to stay healthy in monsoon


It's monsoon time and so, enjoy the rain, but don't forget to keep the mosquitoes at bay or to wash your hands frequently to ward off infections. For, the humid conditions and moderate temperatures create perfect conditions for the spread of diseases.

The growth of bacteria is caused by high humidity and a temperature that is neither too high nor too low. It results in diseases like jaundice, malaria, typhoid, cholera, cough, cold, fever and flu. Here are some tips to be healthy and enjoy the monsoons.

- Ensure that the water you drink is pure. The household should be kept clean at all times and special attention should be paid to the hygiene of kids.

- The cleaning up of stagnant water bodies, overflowing drains, leaky walls and roofs is a must during the rainy season. Use repellants to prevent mosquito bites and the most important is the drinking water should be clean

- One should bathe regularly and wash hands with soap frequently to prevent fungal infections. Desert coolers should be cleaned once in a while and all water reservoirs and tanks should be covered, Gomber said.

The natural immune system becomes stronger and more capable of handling threats when it is successful in containing an infection on its own. Overuse of antibiotics, exposure to radiation, hazardous chemicals and widespread use of corticosteroids should be avoided, say experts. Building natural immunity is especially important in children whose immune systems are vulnerable to a large number of diseases. Doctors suggest that choosing a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet are the key to building a strong immune system.

- Immune-nutrients which are present in numerous food items should be consumed regularly as they help in building the body's immunity and enhance its ability to fight infection.

- Natural herbs like ashwagandha, guduchi and kesar are rich in immune-nutrients. They help in controlling stress, energising the body and rejuvenating the immune system.

- Foodstuffs like barley, rice, wheat, amla and shatavari facilitate and strengthen the digestive system.

- Consuming fresh fruits and green vegetables help in boosting the immune system as they are rich in anti-oxidants and micro-nutrients.

So stay fit to enjoy the monsoon to the hilt.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Health Benefits of Coconut Water


Coconut water is the liquid that is taken from unripe coconuts. If coconuts get ripe the liquid that is inside will harden and become a part of the white flesh of the coconut, which is used to make coconut milk. So, picking the coconut while it is unripe will ensure that the body gets all the benefits of coconut water.

Coconut Water Hydrates the Body
Coconut water is an isotonic solution which replaces the fluids and minerals that the body loses during physical activities. For this reason, many athletes and persons who work out regularly are encouraged to drink coconut water to replace all the minerals and fluid that they lose while working out. Even the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attest to the benefits of drinking coconut water when it fought for a patent in 2000 to market coconut water as the next big sports drinks.

Coconut Water Relieves Urinary Problems
If you consume coconut water on a regular basis it can reduce urinary problems. People who suffer from strangury, polyutra and other urinary ailments drink coconut water to relieve their symptoms.

Coconut Water Kills Intestinal Worms
Drinking coconut water with one teaspoon of olive oil for three days will kill intestinal worms and clear the stomach of worms, which makes for better digestion.

Coconut Water Breaks up Kidney Stones
People who have kidney problems and are plagued by kidney stones should drink coconut water in addition to taking their medication. Drinking coconut water regularly helps to break up kidney stones making them easier to push out.

Coconut Water is Used in Blood Transfusion
Coconut water is almost identical to blood plasma and this makes it easy to use for blood transfusion. In cases of emergency coconut water has been used as an intravenous hydration fluid instead of the standard IV fluid. During World War II many wounded soldiers were saved in the Pacific because of emergency transfusion using coconut water as plasma.

Coconut Water is an Antibacterial
Coconut water contains monolaurin, an antiviral, antibacterial and antiprozoal monoglyceride that is used to kill lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, Herpes, cytomegalovirus, flu and various pathogenic bacteria.

Coconut Water Controls Vomiting
Coconut water is great at reducing vomiting. People who have typhoid, malaria, fevers or other ailments that are known to induce vomiting drink coconut water to settle the stomach. As such, coconut water is also a good thing to drink during a hangover.

Green or unripe coconuts can be found in Asian and West Indian markets. All coconuts that they sell are closed up to keep coconut water from losing its nutrients. So, if you plan on buying a coconut, you can ask someone to chop the coconut open or you can open it yourself at home and drink it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Benefits of Sleep and The Power Nap


Why A Power Nap?
While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep. However, many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. And research shows that you can make yourself more alert reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning with a nap.

Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!

How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The body needs 7-8 hours of sleep per day; 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident.

The Effects of Missed Sleep: Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs Reaction time, Judgment, Vision, Information processing, Short-term memory, Performance, Motivation, Vigilance, Patience. Fatigued people also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout and more stress.

The Benefit of a Power Nap: Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own). The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.

How Long Should I Sleep?
When you sleep you pass through different stages of sleep, known together as a sleep cycle. These stages include light sleep, deep sleep (which is believed to be the stage in which the body repairs itself), and rapid-eye movement sleep, or REM sleep (during which the mind is repaired).

Many experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if your sleep deficit is relatively small. However, research has shown that a 1-hour nap has many more restorative effects than a 30-minute nap, including a much greater improvement in cognitive functioning. The key to taking a longer nap is to get a sense of how long your sleep cycles are, and try to awaken at the end of a sleep cycle. (It’s actually more the interruption of the sleep cycle that makes you groggy, rather than the deeper states of sleep.)

As there are pros and cons to each length of sleep, you may want to let your schedule decide: if you only have 15 minutes to spare, take them! But if you could work in an hour nap, you may do well to complete a whole sleep cycle, even if it means less sleep at night. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, just close your eyes; even a brief rest has the benefit of reducing stress and helping you relax a little, which can give you more energy to complete the tasks of your day.

Tips For a More Effective Nap: If you want to obtain more sleep, and the health benefits that go with getting enough sleep, here are some tips for more effective napping and sleep at night:
- Avoid caffeine after 3pm. It’s a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours!
- If you don’t want to nap a long time, set an alarm.
- If you don’t have time for a power nap, or don’t feel comfortable napping during the day, try meditation; it gives your body a rest and produces slower brain waves similar to sleep.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can't blame your genes for health related problems!

One way to change our genes is to make new ones. Another is to change our lifestyles.

Well, our genes are not our fate, and if we make some changes -- they're a predisposition, but if we make bigger changes than we might have made otherwise we can actually change how our genes are expressed.

Research shows that lifestyle has a more predominant role in deciding your health. Watch this short 4 minute ted video :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Preventive Health Checks: When is a good time?


What is a "Preventive Service"?
A preventive service might be a test, or it might be advice from your doctor. Preventive check ups can include the following:
- Tests (also called screenings) to check your general health or the health of certain parts of your body
- Regular measurements of weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Advice about diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, stress and accident prevention
- Immunizations ("shots") for both children and adults
- Special tests at certain times in your life, such as during pregnancy and after age 50

What preventive services do women need?
Adult women should have their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly. They should also have a Pap test at least every 3 years to screen for cervical cancer starting at age 21 or approximately 3 years after they have sex for the first time.
After the age of 50, women should have a mammogram every 2 years to screen for breast cancer. Women who have risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history of breast cancer, may need to have mammograms more often or start having them sooner. After the age of 50, women should be tested for colorectal cancer.

What preventive services do men need?
Adult men should have their weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked regularly.
Men older than 50 should be tested for colorectal cancer.

When is the right time to get a health check up?
The measures to watch out for depend on one's age, gender and risk level. We came across a good round up of the adult preventive care timeline and would like to share it with all our readers

If you cannot find this legible, please go to:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Burn Calories With Everyday Activities


When you think about exercise, do you automatically imagine yourself on a treadmill in a gym? Or doing laps in a swimming pool? If so, you might be surprised to know just how many calories you can burn doing everyday activities.

Housework is one chore that everyone has to do at some point. Rather than dread it, proceed briskly through your chores and you can have an excellent workout. A 150 lb person can spend as much as 140 calories by mopping the floor for a half hour. Vacuuming for 30 minutes spends about the same number of calories. Take off another 75 calories by ironing for a half hour.

Outdoor chores also provide great opportunities to burn calories. The same 150 pound person will burn 177 calories pulling weeds for half and hour and another 120 calories mowing the lawn. Because gardening often involves stretching and bending, it offers muscular as well as cardiovascular benefits. Save 300 calories by spending an hour washing your car. Bagging leaves and grass clippings burns 136 calories in 30 minutes.

If you like to entertain, you can make up for that slice of cake by cleaning up after the party. If it takes you an hour, you'll burn over 300 calories. If you wash the dishes as well, you'll burn another 152 calories. If you spend an hour rearranging furniture before and after your party, that's a whopping 450 calories. However, keep in mind that all these activities need to be performed at the same intensity level over time in order to receive the full benefits. Still, even if you only burned half the estimated calories preparing for and cleaning up after your party, that would still be 500 calories worth of cake.

Home improvement tasks can burn calories as well. An hour of indoor painting burns 204 calories. Removing and installing carpet spends calories in 30 minutes. Roofing burns a whopping 400 calories an hour, just be sure you drink a lot of water if you're spending the day up on a hot roof.

Even something as simple as going to the grocery store can be a calorie-burner. A half hour of brisk grocery shopping will spend about 130 calories. If you walk a half hour to the store, subtract another 100 calories from your daily total. Just don't spend all your savings on Oreos.

If all else fails, simply sleeping for 8 hours burns 50 calories.

Teaspoon 'child overdose' warning


Parents have been warned not to give their children medicine using an ordinary teaspoon because of the risk of overdose.

A study found that teaspoons vary from a capacity of 2.5ml to 7.3ml, meaning youngsters could be receiving an inaccurate dose.

Instead, parents should use the special spoon provided with a medicine or buy a syringe or spoon with measurements on it.

They should also consult the medicine's packaging to make sure their child is given the right dose for their age.

Experts from Greece and the US looked at 71 teaspoons and 49 tablespoons collected from 25 households.

They said a parent using one of the biggest teaspoons would be giving their child 192% more medicine than a parent using the smallest teaspoon. Some of the tablespoons were also twice the size of others.

The experts, writing in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, said that not only is there a risk of overdose, but some youngsters could be given too little medicine.

They said: "Teaspoons and tablespoons are unreliable dosing devices, and thus their use should no longer be recommended."

Professor Matthew Falagas, director of the Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Athens, was one of the authors on the study.

He said: "The variations between the domestic spoon sizes was considerable and in some case bore no relation to the proper calibrated spoons included in many commercially available children's medicines. We not only found wide variations between households, we also found considerable differences within households."

Contributed by: Anju Narayanan

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do you need to supplement?


Anyone pumping iron to build a firm and muscled body has to eat right. Two large sized banana shakes, 10 egg whites, two roast chickens, a bowl of sprouted chanas , 12 rotis , two servings of rice, two bowls of lentils and three servings of green vegetables…. this is roughly what your daily diet chart would look like! All of us know the connection between food and muscles. Working out and eating the right food helps break down your muscles to make way for new, bigger ones. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of food needed by your body to facilitate this process, but there are many who go a step further and supplement their diet with powders, pills and drinks to get results even quicker. While steroid- based products should be completely avoided, there are various other supplements which can help you to bulk up. It's important to know which kind are right for your purpose.

First and foremost, there is no law governing the fitness supplements in the market. These products are marketed as dietary supplements rather than medicines which is why they don't come under any drug regulation law. There is little or no uniformity among the products either. " Most supplements are imported from other countries. Duplicates are common and you never know what you are ingesting. Steroids are mixed into some for faster results, which are harmful in the long run. The best strategy is to buy only good brands from reputed stores," says Dr Pratip Mandal, consultant sports medicine, Moolchand Medcity.

Products containing creatine, whey powder, amino acids and caffeine are the most popular bodybuilding supplements available in the market. Creatine is an amino acid- based compound produced naturally in the human body. While red meat and fish contain a good amount of creatine, milk has a minimal amount. " Intake of creatine leads to reduction in muscle fatigue which means improved work capacity and you can lift heavy weights for longer period of time. All this leads to better muscle growth," says Sanehshwaran Reddy, centre manager, Elemention Gym, Gurgaon. But there are risks associated with creatine too. Potential short- term risks include cramps and dehydration.

There are reports that long term use of creatine can lead to kidney problems, hypertension, stomach cramps, and muscle cramps, but research on the matter is still inconclusive. Another popular supplement is whey, a natural by- product of the cheese- making process comprising about 20 percent of milk proteins. The benefits of whey protein include increased muscle growth and physical performance, weight management, healthy aging and improved wound healing.

Besides creatine and whey powder, there are various caffeine- based stimulants. The main aim of these supplements is to give your body a kick so that you feel energetic and your performance improves. However, many energy drinks contain higher amounts of caffeine, sugar and other substances which can have adverse effects like faster heartbeat, nervousness, impaired sleep and nausea.

So, what's the final take on supplements? " People who eat a normal diet generally don't need nutritional supplements, even if they exercise vigorously," says Dr Mandal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A diabetes breakthrough from India


A team of Indian scientists has discovered a novel form of insulin that could drastically reduce the suffering diabetics face in controlling their blood sugar.

For the diabetics, daily painful pinpricks to inject doses of insulin is a routine affair, now in a new discovery scientists claim a single shot of insulin could help keep sugar levels under control for more than a month. Today the effect of each insulin injection lasts at best for a day.

India is considered the diabetes capital of the world, with as many as 50 million people suffering from this chronic disease, so any new discovery is welcomed with open arms.

The team spent 2 million rupees and took two years to come with this novel solution. These scientists have already patented the technology, commercialized it and the new insulin could well become a big money spinner in times to come, feels the man who discovered this new form of insulin.

"It is a multi-million dollar technology transfer agreement with royalties once the product goes to the market and if I am not wrong it is one of the biggest scientific innovations to have come from a government owned research laboratory," said Professor Avadhesha Surolia, Director, National Immunology Institute, New Delhi.

The researchers treated natural human insulin at varying temperatures and chemical conditions and one such special formulation does the magic. In experiments done on rats, mice and rabbits the team could control the sugar levels like of these diabetic rats simply by giving an injection once every three months.

Imagine having to do away with multiple injections everyday to control the sugar problem. The simplicity of the discovery and its huge potential has attracted immediate attention.

"Both conceptually and for clinical practice it is an exciting discovery because it uses natural chemically unchanged insulin and clinically it is useful because it provides ease for patients by reducing the number of pin pricks," said Dr Ambrish Mithal, Diabetologist and president, Endocrine Society of India.

It is not often that new drug is discovered in India, but its use in humans could still be many years away.

The new insulin molecule discovered by Indians in India could become a blockbuster drug in times to come as it holds a lot of promise, currently being tested on animals like on rats, it will soon undergo human trials and then it may become available as drug for the treatment of diabetes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Calculate your calorie requirement and plan!

Do you know how many calories you need in a day? This will help you plan a diet and exercise routine to suit your objective of weight loss or gain (or maintain status quo!)

The USDA 2000 calorie diet is only a recommendation - You can use the tool given below to determine how many calories you actually need daily. Simply fill in the fields and hit "Calculate Daily Calorie Needs" below.

Plums - the lesser known fruit full of nutritional benefits!


There are very few fruits that have such a bright vibrant colour as the plum. On a trip to the local fruitwallah during plum season, they are very hard to miss. Did you know that when plums are dried, they are known as prunes and give large amounts of energy to the body?

Plums are an excellent source of vitamin A; vitamin K and vitamin C. Plums are zero in fat, saturated fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free. They are also an excellent source of fiber. A single plum has around 36 calories which makes it a dieters dream...less than a bread slice! Plums are one of the few fruits that are extremely suitable for diabetics as they are low in the glycemic index. Plums have also been tested to prove that they are good laxatives.

The vitamin C and phenols in plums have antioxidant qualities these as Ialways say are the little soldiers that help prevent diseases.

Plums are also beneficial for the eyes and helps prevent macular degeneration. They boost immunity and improve cardiac health as well. Plums have more nutritional benefits than anyone imagined!

Did you know that plums assist in iron absorption? So for all of you out there who are taking iron supplement: try a plum for a change. While buying plums, look for plums without cracks or soft spots. They should give way only when slightly pressed. If they are ripe when you buy them, they should be stored in the fridge. To ripen them, store them at room temperature. Plums have more nutritional benefits than anyone imagined!