Friday, October 29, 2010

Slim doesn't always mean healthy

You may be slim and still have dangerously high levels of fat within you, according to the British Medical Research Council.

Using MRI body scanners doctors demonstrated that even super-slim people could have high levels of internal fat collecting around the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. These people, dubbed "skinny-fats'''', could be seriously putting their health at risk.

"The fat we can see on overweight people is subcutaneous fat," The Daily Telegraph quoted Dr Ron McCoy, Melbourne-based spokesperson for the Royal College of Australian GPs, as saying. However, what could be more dangerous is visceral fat or the fat we can't see but which surrounds vital organs.

Dr McCoy said: "Visceral fat is metabolised by the liver, which transforms it into cholesterol. Cholesterol circulates in the blood and can collect in your arteries, creating heart disease and high blood pressure."

Visceral fat is also believed to produces more hormones and proteins than subcutaneous fat, affecting glucose levels and leading to the onset of type 2 diabetes and other health problems like cardiovascular disease.

But the question is if one is thin then how does fat accumulate inside the body.

Lack of physical exercise is the biggest reason. Sam Mower, an exercise physiologist, said: "If your body isn't moving, it doesn't metabolise the fat that's building up - either outside or inside."

Diet is another factor. "If you're eating foods high in saturated fat, such as butter, cheese, cakes and biscuits, it's nearly all stored as visceral fat," Mower said.

The menopause and sugar intake by way of alcohol consumption are among other causes.


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lying on Your Left Side Eases Heartburn

THE FACTS For people with chronic heartburn, restful sleep is no easy feat. Fall asleep in the wrong position, and acid slips into the esophagus, a recipe for agita and insomnia.

Doctors recommend sleeping on an incline, which allows gravity to keep the stomach’s contents where they belong. But sleeping on your side can also make a difference — so long as you choose the correct side. Several studies have found that sleeping on the right side aggravates heartburn; sleeping on the left tends to calm it.

The reason is not entirely clear. One hypothesis holds that right-side sleeping relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, between the stomach and the esophagus. Another holds that left-side sleeping keeps the junction between stomach and esophagus above the level of gastric acid.

In a study in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, scientists recruited a group of healthy subjects and fed them high-fat meals on different days to induce heartburn. Immediately after the meals, the subjects spent four hours lying on one side or the other as devices measured their esophageal acidity. Ultimately, the researchers found that “the total amount of reflux time was significantly greater” when the subjects lay on their right side.

“In addition,” they wrote, “average overall acid clearance was significantly prolonged with right side down.”

In another study, this one in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, scientists fed a group of chronic heartburn patients a high-fat dinner and a bedtime snack, then measured reflux as they slept. The right-side sleepers had greater acid levels and longer “esophageal acid clearance.” Other studies have had similar results.

THE BOTTOM LINE Lying on your right side seems to aggravate heartburn.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Melt that fat with yoga!

Yoga offers a safe alternative to busting those not-so-cute dimples. Yoga experts suggest asanas to melt those fat pockets...

Ushtra Asana
Kneel down with your heels facing the ceiling, toes turned outward and arms hanging loosely by the sides. Breathe in. Raise arms gently to shoulder level, then higher, and finally backwards such that your palms touch the heel of the corresponding foot. Stretch your neck letting your head fall backwards. You will feel the stretch in your spine. Gently push the pelvic region forward, improving upon the curve of the spine. Breathe normally. Breathe in and return to the starting position. Repeat two to three times. Each time try to hold the stretch as long as you comfortably can.
Why it works
This asana stretches your entire upper body — the neck, chest and stomach. These places house the lymph glands such as the thymus, tonsils and the spleen. They are primarily responsible for filtering out bacteria and other waste from the blood. Inefficient lymph glands lead to inefficient drainage and collection of fat. Ushtra Asana mobilises the lymph glands, hence preventing cellulite. The increased blood circulation and faster cell rejuvenation within these regions helps bust existing cellulite, slowly but surely.

Virya-stambhan Asana
Stand with feet spread wide apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Turn the right leg at a 90 degree angle. Then bend the right knee. Hold your right wrist with your left hand behind your back, bend to your right and gently attempt to touch your big toe with the tip of your nose. However ensure that as you bend, your right knee or right thigh doesn't come in way of your right shoulder. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds. Inhale and slowly return to the start. Repeat the exercise with your left leg. Repeat the asana two to three times.
Why it works
This asana really stretches the inside of your thighs. Rising back from the bend strengthens the thighs, exercising them is similar to working with weights in a gym. This helps burn fats in the thighs. It also exercises the lymph nodes present in the groin area and improves the blood circulation in lower region, thereby busting cellulite pockets.

Purna Shalbh Asana
Lie on your stomach. Make a fist. Position it under your thigh, elbows straight. Breathe in. With the support of your folded fists, lift up both legs without bending them at the knees. Tighten the back of thighs and buttocks, holding on to the final pose for as long as possible. Relax the tightened thighs and buttocks. Breathe in. Now, holding your breath, gradually lower the legs to the ground. As your legs touch the ground, release your breath and breathe normal. Repeat two to three times, each time trying to hold on to the final pose for as long as possible.
Why it works
Lifting the legs and trying to hold them for a long time requires strength. As you try harder, the fuel required to get that energy is generated by burning up the fat in thighs and buttocks.

Paschimottan Asana
Sit down with your legs outstretched in the front, touching each other, your arms to your sides. Keep your spine erect and raise both your hands above your head, while the inside of your arms touch your ears. Exhale and pull the stomach in and bend forward, stretching your hands towards your toes. Now try to hold your toes with your fingers and subsequently with practice, try to touch your forehead to your knees. Hold this final pose for as long as possible, after which you inhale and gradually come back to the starting position.
Why it works
As your body bends forward, your entire back area (considered your west side in yoga) is stretched. The bending movement affects every part from the heel's tip to the neck (inclusive of the hamstring muscles, buttocks, waist, back and the medulla oblongata).
This extreme stretch works the major muscles of the back, along with the skin. The stretch causes better blood circulation within the region and prevents build up of fat. The skin too is stretched leading to better elasticity and over time can aid in reducing the dimpled look that cellulite is characterised by.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Peas

Green peas are actually a member of the legume family. They are a good low calorie source of protein. A 100-calorie serving of peas (about ¾ cup) contains more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter and has less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

Fresh green peas should be refrigerated. Half of their sugar content will turn to starch within six hours if they are kept at room temperature. Low temperatures also preserve their texture and nutrient content. Look for pods that are firm, have glossy pods with a slightly velvety feel, filled to appear almost bursting, and peas should not rattle loosely in the pod. Pods should not be dull, yellowed, or heavily speckled.

It is best to serve all types of fresh peas the day they are purchased. If they must be stored, place them in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash them before they are stored. Shell green peas right before you cook them.

Rinse peas before shelling them. To shell peas, pinch the stem off with your fingernails and pull the string down the length of the pod. The pod will pop open and the peas can be pushed out of the pod with your thumb. When finished, wash all peas.

Health Benefits of Peas:
- They’re Heart Healthy: Peas are a natural when it comes to heart health. Not only are they fat-free, but a whole cup has four grams of heart-healthy fiber to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Snap peas are also a good source of folate – a vitamin that’s important for heart health. Diets low in folate raise levels of homocysteine – an amino acid associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
- They’re Good for the Waistline: Peas are so low in calories you can munch on them without a second’s guilt and the fiber makes them quite filling and satisfying. It’s a healthier alternative to non-nutritional, high calorie snacks.
- Better Immune Health: Did you know that a cup of peas has almost as much vitamin C has a medium-sized orange? Vitamin C is important for keeping the immune system primed to fight off infection and plays an important role in wound healing. It also keeps skin and joints in great shape. Peas contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene which may help to protect against certain types of cancer. Vitamin C and the carotenoids found in sugar snap peas are a powerful antioxidant combination.
- Other Health Benefits: Peas are an excellent source of vitamin K to maintain strong bones and ensure that the blood clots properly when the body is injured. It’s also a good source of iron to build healthy, red blood cells.

Source: and

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pill can trigger a woman's jealous side, says study

Sex hormones in the contraceptive pill make a woman more possessive and more likely to fret about her husband or boyfriend's fidelity. Those taking brands with the highest levels of oestrogen may even find their hormone-driven suspicions place their relationship in jeopardy, researchers have warned.

The finding is one in a long line of 'emotional' side-effects attributed to the pill, which is taken by many women. The drug is also credited with making women broody, changing their taste in men and even boosting intelligence.

Working with the Dutch psychologists, Stirling University's Craig Roberts in Britain asked 275 women a series of questions designed to gauge how much they trusted their partner. Topics included how they feel when their other half flirts with another woman, whether they were worried that he would leave them for another woman and how possessive they were.

The women, who were aged between 17 and 35, had all been taking various versions of the combined pill, containing synthetic forms of oestrogen and progesterone, for at least three months. Comparing the brands used with the women's answers revealed a clear link between the drug and envy.

Progesterone, however, was not implicated in jealousy, suggesting that progesterone-only versions of the pill play less havoc with women's emotions. With previous research suggesting that simply going on the pill heightens jealousy, the researchers said that women should be aware of the phenomenon. Roberts said, "It seems that women, and perhaps pharmaceutical providers, are not fully aware of the range of potential psychological side-effects associated with pill use and more specifically brand choice."


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are you picking the right 'cereal'?

For sometime now, doctors have debated on the permissible level of sugar in breakfast cereals, especially of the coloured and sugar-frosted varieties. Despite it all, the ' health conscious' lot continue to have cereals for breakfast, and with relish. And why not, they are easy to fix, digest easily, and supposedly low on calories. But this time make sure you check the nutrition value of the breakfast cereal before you buy it. Our quick checklist should help you make the right choice.

- Check sugar content: Most cereals have sugar content as high as 25 per cent, making it an unhealthy breakfast idea. Go for the ones low on sugar.

- For muesli type cereals: Muesli no longer is as healthy as some years back, for most brands doing them add very high levels of sugar. But if you are an addict by now, go for the unsweetened varieties; there are plenty on the market. By adding fresh fruits to a bowl of muesli you can restore its sweet flavour, not to mention, make it healthier.

- Artificial colouring and salt content - While picking the right breakfast cereal, do not just settle for 'whole grains'. Do take a glance at the quantity of other ingredients such as refined grains, salt, fibre and colouring.

- More than one ingredient - Always go for the ones with multiple grains such as oats, wheat. Why not try making your own muesli at home by shopping for some oats and grains from a health food shop.

- High fibre content - Doubly ensure your breakfast cereal is rich in fibres, and has very little artificial sweetener.

- Low fat content - If the packaging is attractive then who cares how loaded with fat it is! Precisely why, it is imperative to note the fat content before buying.

It is best to serve all cereals with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. But never with sugar!

Once you know what to look for in breakfast cereals, it is a case of which one to go for. Nutritionist Dr Shikha Sharma makes it easy by sharing with us the health benefits of popular breakfast cereals:
- Porridge: Porridge is the most healthy breakfast idea. It is rich in minerals and has high fibre content that keeps blood sugar under control. Use a little jaggery if you wish to sweeten it, otherwise you can top it with fresh fruits or sprinkle some raisins and almonds.
- Cornflakes: Abundant in carbohydrates, iron and Vitamin B complex, cornflakes work very well for school kids and elders too. It is a particularly good breakfast in the rainy months because the body starts holding water owing to high moisture in the air.
- Wheat flakes: It is a modification of wheat porridge and is a nice change from run-of-the-mill breakfast cereals. But unless fortified with extra calcium, it is not much use having just wheat flakes for breakfast.
- Oats: A bowl of oats in the morning is great for those suffering high cholesterol and diabetes, provided you don't add extra sugar to it. The high fibre content in oats balances the blood sugar, and relieves people prone to depression.
- Muesli: Muesli is a great breakfast choice as it has raisins, almonds and four different grains. The comparatively high sugar content in muesli keeps growing children and those into sports, energetic. It can be served with both milk and curd. You can so much as substitute muesli with evening snacks for kids.
- Poha/rice crispies: The poha version of rice crispies is popular in Indian households, and makes for a light and healthy breakfast. But make sure your poha is only lightly sautéed.

Aside from the usual cornflakes and oats, there is a whole assortment of chocolate, honey and fruit-flavoured breakfast cereals that find takers among young kids. Just how good or bad an idea is it? Says Dr Shikha, "Although it is best to go for natural cereals, it is alright to break free from the mundane breakfast chart once in a while. The purpose is to serve up a good mix that is both appealing to the taste buds and has nutritional value."


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homeopathy 101: Know more about this branch of Alternative Medicine

Homeopathy has its origins in Germany and has today spread all over the world after its evolution as a leading branch of alternative medicine. However, a lot of its aspects remain unknown to the masses. Here's EaseMyHealth's attempt to simplify and educate our readers about Homeopathy

1. What kinds of conditions can homeopathy treat?
Homeopathy is effective in a wide range of complaints. Hormonal, digestive, skin, respiratory, urinary, menstrual, musculoskeletal, reproductive, circulatory, emotional and immune problems - including infections and allergies – are all within its scope.

2. Does homeopathy have side effects?
No. Because of the way homeopathic medicines are prepared they do not carry with them the kinds of adverse effects that conventional medicines have.

3. Are homeopathic medicines safe for newborns and in pregnancy?
Yes, in fact babies and young children respond particularly rapidly to homeopathic medicines and treatment in pregnancy will benefit both mother and unborn child. Because homeopathic medicines are so safe they can be used at all stages of life.

4. How does homeopathy work?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. Simply put it is likely that homeopathic medicines modulate our response to disease agents such as viruses, bacteria, stress and injury.

5. What is the difference between conventional medicine and homeopathy?
Mainstream medicine has specific treatments for specific diseases and the emphasis is on the illness rather than on the patient. In contrast homeopathy places the emphasis on the patient rather than the disease and treats accordingly. It is the difference for instance, between targeting bacteria or boosting the immune system.

6. What is the difference between herbal medicine and homeopathy?
Whilst homeopathy uses many plants that herbalists also use, medicines in homeopathy are, in addition, also derived from other sources and all are prepared and prescribed in a way that is unique to homeopathy.

7. What are homeopathic medicines made from and how are they prepared?
Homeopathic medicines are made from plants, minerals and in some cases members of the animal kingdom. About 3000 different homeopathic medicines are currently in use and they are all made according to a process known as potentisation. This involves a process of sequential dilution and vigorous shaking of solutions. It is this procedure which has attracted most critical attention from the medical and scientific communities, since homeopathic preparations contain no molecules of the original substance from which they are made. Whilst millions of patients worldwide will testify to the efficacy of homeopathic medicines this paradox needs to be explained and is the subject of current research.

8. How long is a course of treatment?
This depends on the illness. Acute complaints respond rapidly to treatment, chronic complaints more slowly. A very rough rule of thumb tends to be that for every year of illness a month of treatment is likely, but even then many chronic illnesses respond more quickly than expected. In contrast the more severe an illness, the more treatment is probably going to be required.

9. What happens during a homeopathic consultation?
You will be asked for a complete medical history and all the issues physical, emotional and social which you and your practitioner feel are relevant to your state of health. A full consultation will last around one hour. The purpose of such a comprehensive approach is in order to find the medicine which benefits you as a whole person as well as your particular illness or illnesses.

10. Are there any dietary restrictions which one should observe whilst on homeopathic treatment?
Homeopathic treatment itself requires no dietary restrictions. However, any restrictions connected with your illness should of course be observed until such time as sufficient improvement has occurred to review the situation.

11. Do conventional medicines have to be stopped before homeopathic treatment can begin?
No. However, as homeopathic treatment progresses it clearly makes sense to review your drug regimen in conjunction with your conventional medical practitioner. Some drugs can be safely stopped relatively easily, and it is the aim of homeopathic treatment to ultimately reduce dependence as much as possible on all medication.

12. What are the limitations of homeopathy?
Situations of medical emergency requiring surgery e.g. severe injury and other life threatening events such as heart attacks and strokes are usually beyond the immediate scope of homeopathy. Nevertheless, homeopathy can still be of great benefit once the situation has stabilised.

Homeopathy@EaseMyHealth: You can consult EaseMyHealth's Homeopathy specialist Dr. Lajja Vaidya at EaseMyDocAdvice (click to read profile or start consultation). Dr. Vaidya has trained and practised Homeopathy in India & Germany and offers excellent consultation for all diseases/conditions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fruit of the Week: Pomergranate

Pomegranates are grown in California and throughout Asia and the Mediterranean countries.

Selection and Storage
Select fruit that is heavy for its size with bright, fresh color and blemish-free skin. You can refrigerate whole pomegranates for up to 2 months or store them in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Pomegranate seeds packed in an airtight container and stored in the freezer will keep for up to 3 months.

Uses & Preparation
Pomegranates are a versatile fruit and can be used as a garnish on sweet and savory dishes or pressed to extract the juice.

Nutritional Facts of Pomegranate:
Pomegranates are rich in fiber and vitamin C. They also contain minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium, along with other nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin E. This fruit is referred to as a super fruit. This fruit contains antioxidants that help to reduce harmful effects of free radicals or oxidants as well as repair the damaged cells. 100 grams of raw pomegranate contains 68 calories. Nearly 8oz of its juice contains about 130 – 150 calories. It does not contain fat or cholesterol but contains 32 grams of sugar.

Following are the health benefits of pomegranate:
- Pomegranate juice can be directly applied on the skin for curing sun burns and also to have the healthy skin.
- This fruit is also used in preparing several creams, exfoliating scrubs, lotions and many cosmetic products.
- Pomegranate juice extracted from certain fruit strains may be used as the eye-drops. It slows down the development of cataracts.
- These fruits are used in the treatment of common conditions such as skin disorders, digestive disorders, urinary infections, coughs, sore throats and also to expel tapeworms.
- This also protects neonatal brains from the damages due to injuries. This is one of the major health benefits of pomegranate fruit during pregnancy. This fruit is a good source of folic acid, vitamin E and potassium.
- The bark of pomegranate tree can be used for the treatment of intestinal parasites, diarrhea and dysentery.
- It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, while the antioxidant property prevents skin cancer.
- Pomegranate seeds help the digestive system to get rid of the fats and the juice is a tonic for throat and heart.
- Juice of pomegranate increases the oxygen and blood supply to heart, reduces cholesterol levels, normalization of blood pressure, strengthens joints and bones, prevents plaque on teeth. It also prevents and slows down Alzheimer’s disease and fights against anemia.
- The most important health benefit of pomegranate is that it prevents heart attacks, heart disease and strokes. It also increases blood flow to heart, reduces blood pressure, reduces plaque in arteries as well as bad cholesterol while developing good cholesterol.
- It is also proved that pomegranate is useful in the treatment of certain serious diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, skin cancer and prostate cancer. Extracts of this fruit slow down deterioration of the cartilage in osteoarthritis.


Friday, October 15, 2010

5 foods every woman must eat

We bring to you five nutritional eats that every woman should include in her diet. Happy eating!

Leafy vegetables
It is not possible to meet your nutritional needs without having leafy vegetables in your diet. Spinach, legumes, asparagus, lettuce, fenugreek leaves, broccoli are available in abundance and are huge sources of fibre, Vitamin C and K, folic acid. It is also a vision protector and provides four essential minerals, i.e. calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Try to have it daily in your diet and darker the better.

Whole grains
Whole grains have up to 96 per cent more fibre and essential nutrients and vitamins than refined grains. Advises diet expert Honey Shah, "I advise my clients to have whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice as they are high in essential nutrients and do not contribute to weight gain. You can start your day with whole wheat cereal or a whole wheat bread toast."

Make nuts an essential ingredient in your diet. Sprinkle it on salads or breakfast cereals or stir them into yoghurt because they are an excellent source of protein, magnesium and B & E vitamins. They are useful in fighting heart disease and cancer. Nuts are high in fat calories, but their fat is the heart-healthy kind. You can also eat them as an evening snack. But make sure you don't overdo them. About a quarter cup or about 15-20 almonds, cashews, walnuts are good enough a week.

Low fat or plain yoghurt is a great source of vitamins, protein and calcium. It also has healthy bacteria which can fight diseases. "Three to four cups a week is good enough for your diet. But make sure you don't add sugar to it. Instead choose plain yoghurt and add fruits or berries to it," suggests dietician Pinky.

Ever wondered why most of the diet fibre products have berries in them? Reason being berries are high in fill-you-up fibre and also helps curb weight. Berries have more protective plant antioxidants than almost any other food. These antioxidants not only lower your disease risks, but also help prevent memory loss. You can have a bowl full of them thrice a week. It could be fresh or frozen, benefits stay!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Balancing Act: How to tackle festival excesses the 'SMART' way!

Here's a nice column by celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar that we came across in the latest issue of the Outlook magazine. She insists that there's no need to give up on late night parties, great food, drinking and cards. Just be smart about it.

I kind of hate my e-mail inbox post Diwali and the festive season. No, not because I have loads of e-mails from prospective clients but because I have any number of them from journos who want quick quotes or want a ‘few’ questions answered on how to ‘detox’ post Diwali.

Now, am I NOT averse to journalists, but I certainly am to the idea of ‘detox’, the silliest urban myth around. When you stuff your stomach when it would rather be in sleep mode, you damage your system and wearing white clothes, fasting, juicing, steaming and the like will not undo that damage.

The way out of this seemingly difficult situation is to reduce the damage without dampening your festive spirit. What I’m saying is: No need to give up on late night parties, great food, drinking and cards. Just be smart about it. Here’s a quick way to remember:

S—See all the food laid out before you, but choose only two items. Do not ‘try’ (the usual euphemism for eating) other foodstuff. There will be another party to go to tomorrow, even maybe with the same caterer.

M—Mithai should not be within 50 feet of you. Give away every box you receive. Eat homemade mithai, as far as possible, and just one piece a day, not with your meal, but as a snack by itself.

A—Act as if you are drinking, but don’t drink at every party you attend. Restrict yourself to consuming alcohol just twice a week; decide how much before you enter the room, and stick to your decision. And remember: always eat before you drink.

R—Rest to recover from all the hectic partying, hosting and gossiping. Lack of sleep upsets your body’s metabolic pathways. A good oil massage from a trained therapist will also help you.

T—Train your muscles, which basically means exercise. If you typically work out for one hour, make it 30 or 20 mins during this ‘hectic’ season but don’t skip. Working out is a foolproof way of preventing the bloating that is often the return gift from all the partying.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rare 3-in-1 stent surgery in Mumbai

MUMBAI: As he walks around the doctor's clinic taking small, quick steps, Kalwa resident Madhukar Ghadigaonkar doesn't give the impression of being a man who needed a drastic medical rescue operation just a week ago. But the 67-year-old had three types of blood vessels—two attached to the brain, two to the kidneys and one of the heart—operated on in one session on October 7. Dr. Vijay Surase, who treated him along with his team at Thane's Jupiter Hospital, says this is the first time a triple-vessel procedure such as this one has been attempted.

Stents were placed at five blockages across these arteries to "revive" the former government servant who had been fainting and feeling sluggish for about a month. His doctors are happy that the grandfather recovered well enough to go home within four days.

Two aspects make this case different. First, the extent of the patient's disease—atherosclerosis or deposition of plaque—had spread to the arteries in his heart, brain and kidneys. The vessels had narrowed considerably, leading to Ghadigaonkar's fainting spells.

Others in the medical fraternity are, however, a bit cautious. "It is lucky for the patient that everything went well. The patient could have suffered a stroke or shock during the procedure," said a senior doctor who didn't want to be identified.

Doctors across the world prefer to tackle each system separately. If the brain or carotid arteries are fixed in one session, the renal or heart are done in another. But this was different.

Source:; The Times of India (Mumbai Edition), page 1
SPECIAL NOTE: congratulates leading Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Vijay Surase on this rare feat!
Do you have any query related to cardiac problems, hypertension, etc.? Need a second opinion?
You can now have an online or tele consultation with Dr. Vijay Surase at EaseMyDocAdvice on

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Butter versus margarine!

For years we have been discouraged from eating butter, largely due to its high fat and calorie content and nutritionists have often suggested margarine as a healthier substitute. However, a recent study conducted by Harvard University, suggests the contrary. Although they are both sources of fat, butter and margarine contain different kinds of fat, which is important when deciding which one of the two is a healthier option, suggests the study.

What is margarine?
Margarine is used as a substitute for butter and it contains saturated fats. These are produced when hydrogen is heated in order to harden vegetable oils. It is often claimed that margarine contains polyunsaturated fats that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils which are essential fatty-acids, but the body cannot manufacture them. However, the high temperature needed to produce margarine, destroys and vitamin E and other nutrients left in the oil. The final product contains trans-fatty acids which increase inflammation in the body. One of margarine's supposed virtues is that it can help reduce cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, and thereby afford some protection from 'cardiovascular' conditions such as heart diseases and strokes.

Difference between margarine and butter:
Both Margarine and butter contain the same amount of calories present in them. On the contrary butter contains natural fats, which are essential for the strengthening the bones and has many nutritional benefits.

Ill-effects of margarine:
Excess intake of margarine can worsen illnesses such as colitis and arthritis. The hardening agents used in the production of margarine include nickel and cadmium. Nickel is a toxic metal that when consumed in excess, causes lung and kidney problems. Cadmium is among the most toxic of the heavy metals. It may contribute to serious diseases such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and malignancy. The study conducted at Harvard University, found that a diet high in trans-fat, which doubles the chance for heart attack and decreases life expectancy.

The best way to control the rising cholesterol levels, is by eating everything in moderation and not anything in excess. All products such as eggs, full cream milk, etc. contain minerals and proteins which are essential for the bones and cutting out these products will only lead to further health hazards.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Fruit of the Week: Orange

Oranges are highly valued for their vitamin C content. They are a primary source of vitamin C and they also contain sufficient amounts of folacin, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin and magnesium. Most of the consumption of oranges is in the form of juice.

Look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with bright, colorful skins. Skin color is not a good guide to quality. Fruits may be ripe even though they may have green spots. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins; this indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly.

Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Fresh-squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen, but whole citrus fruit should not be frozen.

An orange is one of nature’s “Power Fruits”. Adding an orange to your diet every day can have amazing benefits:
- Studies have shown that the pectin present in oranges can help to suppress appetite for up to four hours after eating. This means that oranges are an excellent food for dieters.
- Oranges help to activate the body’s own detoxification process and even the skin and zest of this fruit contain anti-oxidants which help to transport oxygen around the body and protect the skin from free radicals which cause signs of aging. In other words, eating oranges can help to keep the wrinkles away.
- Recent research also suggests that oranges contain a natural skin cancer fighting chemical. This isn’t an alternative to using sunscreens, but it does help.
- Oranges are an excellent source of dietary fiber and can be added to salads. Slices of orange can really liven up a boring salad, especially if you are watching your weight.
- Tests have shown that oranges contain large quantities of citrus lumonoids which are thought to give some protection from cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.
- Limonoids have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in human cells. Oranges contain water soluble pectin which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
- Oranges are a good source of vitamin B folate which helps to prevent birth defects and protects the heart.
- One orange provides more than 7% of the daily requirement of potassium which is needed to keep the fluid levels within the body in proper balance.
- An orange is a real powerhouse of phytochemicals which may help to prevent age related illness.
- An average sized orange contains approximately 50mg of vitamin C, which is around two thirds of our daily requirement. Vitamin C helps with wound healing and resistance to disease.
- According to a study in Finland, women who ate oranges regularly had 50% less risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t eat them regularly. This is thought to be because the flavanoids in this fruit are helping to protect the cells.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Improve your posture in 3-steps: For Working Professionals

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or laying down. Good posture involves training the body to stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments.

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia's Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Greg Thielman has now offered simple exercises and solutions to improve the posture, and keep aches and pains at bay. "Poor posture can lead to loss of shoulder motion, chronic pain, walking deficits, neck-related headaches, the inability to exercise, and more," said Thielman. Aside from contributing to a good appearance, the long-term benefits of proper posture include helping to decrease abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, lessening stress on the ligaments of the spine, preventing the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions, and preventing backache and muscular pain.

Dr. Thielman shared the following exercises and tips to help you keep your spine healthy:

Evaluate your workstations
A workstation is anywhere that an individual spends a notable amount of time daily and for many of us, our primary workstation is standing or sitting at a desk. "If you're sitting, don't drop a ton of money on an ergonomic chair. Instead, position the chair to provide lumbar, shoulder, and if needed, head support,'' said Thielman

Perform daily exercises
Thielman has recommended regularly exercising the large muscles on the front and back of the thigh, the abdominal muscles, and performing three exercises daily:
- Pelvic tilt : While sitting, push your pelvis back into the chair, hold it for three seconds and then relax. This tightens and strengthens your abdominal muscles.
- Chin tucks : While sitting, put your pointer finger on your chin and push straight back. Be sure your head isn't tilted up or down and this exercise will realign your spine and combat forward head position.
- Lean back : Lastly, most of what we perform at our workstations forces us anterior, so we're constantly bending forward. To straighten the spine, stand-up, put your hands on your lower back, and lean back. This exercise combats the effects of being in a forward position.

Invest in supportive shoes
Stiletto heels may look good, but Thielman has warned that they don't do women any favors in the posture department. "There is no such thing as a good high heel shoe." Shoes that cover the top of the foot are ideal. "Each brand fits differently, but the key is to find one that works for you and that gives the much-needed overall support,'' said Thielman.

Thielman also cautioned against carrying backpacks that weigh more than 20 pounds, attempting to lift objects that are too heavy, and repetitively making the same moves without taking frequent breaks. In his opinion, any one of these actions encourage the forward leaning motion that causes poor posture and back problems.

A common misconception about good posture is that it can be maintained by only doing occasional strength training. Good posture is more than just standing-up straight and holding your shoulders back, and if you don't have the muscle strength, you aren't going to be able to hold that posture for very long. By maintaining your strength and being consciously aware of your posture, you can maintain proper posture and mobility well into your mid-60s, before the natural onset of aging.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Common Cold 101: Home remedies & Prevention

We call it the “common cold” for good reason. There are over one billion colds in the United States alone each year. You and your children will probably have more colds than any other type of illness. Children average three to eight colds per year. They continue getting them throughout childhood. Parents often get them from the kids. Colds are the most common reason that children miss school and parents miss work.

When someone has a cold, their runny nose is teeming with cold viruses. Sneezing, nose-blowing, and nose-wiping spread the virus. You can catch a cold by inhaling the virus if you are sitting close to someone who sneezes, or by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus.

People are most contagious for the first 2 to 3 days of a cold, and usually not contagious at all by day 7 to 10.

- Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Over-the-counter cold remedies may help ease your symptoms. These won't actually shorten the length of a cold, but can help you feel better.
- Antibiotics should not be used to treat a common cold. They will not help and may make the situation worse.
- Chicken soup has been used for treating common colds at least since the 12th century. It may really help. The heat, fluid, and salt may help you fight the infection.
- Alternative treatments that have also been used include Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc

The symptoms usually go away in 7 to 10 days. Try home care measures first. Visit your health care provider if breathing difficulty develops or symptoms worsen or do not improve after 7 to 10 days.

It might seem overwhelming to try to prevent colds, but you can do it. Children average three to eight colds per year.

Here are five proven ways to reduce exposure to germs:
- Always wash your hands: Children and adults should wash hands at key moments -- after nose-wiping, after diapering or toileting, before eating, and before preparing food.
- Disinfect: Clean commonly touched surfaces (sink handles, sleeping mats) with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
- Switch day care: Using a day care where there are six or fewer children dramatically reduces germ contact.
- Use instant hand sanitizers: A little dab will kill 99.99% of germs without any water or towels. The products use alcohol to destroy germs. They are an antiseptic, not an antibiotic, so resistance can't develop.
- Use paper towels instead of shared cloth towels.

Here are six ways to support the immune system:
- Avoid secondhand smoke: Keep as far away from secondhand smoke as possible It is responsible for many health problems, including millions of colds.
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: The more people use antibiotics, the more likely they are to get sick with longer, more stubborn infections caused by more resistant organisms in the future.
- Breastfeed: Breast milk is known to protect against respiratory tract infections, even years after breastfeeding is done. Kids who don't breastfeed average five times more ear infections.
- Drink water: Your body needs fluids for the immune system to function properly.
- Eat yogurt: The beneficial bacteria in some active yogurt cultures help prevent colds.
- Get enough sleep: Late bedtimes and poor sleep leave people vulnerable.