Saturday, June 27, 2009

Overweight children at higher risk of asthma

Shortness Of Breath, Wheezing More Common In Plump Eight-Year-Olds, Say Researchers

New York: Children who are overweight at age 6 to 7 years are at increased risk for having symptoms of asthma like shortness of breath and "twitchy" airways when they are 8 years old, results of a study conducted in the Netherlands show.
    However, children who are overweight at a younger age but reach a normal weight by age 6 to 7 do not appear to have an increased risk for asthma symptoms, according to the study. "These findings suggest that being overweight may affect a child's development of asthma symptoms," Dr Salome Scholtens from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven told Reuters Health.
    "However, if a previously overweight child develops a nor
mal weight, then the asthma symptoms are less likely to persist. We propose that development of a normal weight might positively affect asthma symptoms in overweight children," Scholtens added.
    Each year until the age of 8, Scholtens and colleagues had the parents of 3756 children report their children's weight and any episodes of wheezing or other breathing difficulties as well as the use of inhaled steroids. The researchers tested the children to see how sensitive their airways were to the various allergens they inhaled.
    When the children were 8 years old, 275 (7.3%) wheezed, 361 (9.6%) had difficulty breathing and 268 (7.1%) had a prescription for an inhaled steroid in the preceding year.

    According to the investigators, children who were persistently heavy from a very young age and between age 6 to 7 years were 68% more likely to have breathing difficulties and 66% more likely to have twitchy airways at age 8 than children who were leaner in childhood.
    As mentioned, children who were heavier at a very young
age, but who developed a normal weight at age 6 to 7 did not have an increased risk of breathing difficulties. These findings suggest that being overweight in early childhood does not have a lasting effect on breathing difficulties if the child develops a normal weight by 8 years old. The writers of a commentary published with the study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology call the findings "encouraging."
    According to the results of a five-year study by researchers at New York University's School of Medicine, the unusually high numbers of elementary school children suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments in the South Bronx area of New
York, can be attributed to motor vehicle exhaust fumes.
    The researchers say soot particles from the exhaust of diesel trucks is to blame for the alarming rise in asthma in children attending school which are close to busy truck traffic routes.
    It seems that on days when the traffic is particularly heavy the children's asthma symptoms, in particular wheezing, doubled because of the high concentrations of air pollution.
    For the study period the children carried air pollution monitors in their backpacks as they went to and from school everyday, and it was found that all of the children were exposed to tiny particles of dust that was smaller than 2.5 microns ranging from 20 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. REUTERS

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

50 Ways to keep your brain in shape

By: Heather Boerner | Source:
One of the best ways to stay sharp is to exercise that muscle between your ears, research indicates. And discussions with some of the top scientists studying the brain reveal that you can work your noggin in many different ways, every day.

Here are 50 of them:

1. Snack on almonds and blueberries instead of a candy bar. As they lower blood sugar, healthy snacks can improve cognition. In this case, the omega-3s in the almonds and the antioxidants in the blueberries can keep your brain functioning correctly.

2. Ballroom dance like the stars. Dancing is a brain-power activity. How so? Learning new moves activates brain motor centers that form new neural connections. Dancing also calms the brain's stress response.

3. Love the crunch of croutons on your salad? Try walnuts instead. Omega-3s in walnuts have been found to improve mood and calm inflammation that may lead to brain-cell death. They also replace lost melatonin, which is necessary for healthy brain functioning.
4. Take your dog—or yourself—for a walk. Walking for just 20 minutes a day can lower blood sugar. That helps stoke blood flow to the brain, so you think more clearly.

5. Add Chinese club moss to your daily vitamin regimen. Taking less than 100 micrograms of the herb daily may protect your brain's neurotransmitters and keep synapses firing correctly, tests suggest. But this herb is powerful, so check with your doctor for drug interactions.

6. Volunteer to answer questions at the library, arboretum, museum, or hospital. Playing tour guide forces you to learn new facts and think on your feet, helping to form new neural pathways in your brain. What's more, interacting with others can ease stress that depletes memory.

7. Grab a video-game joystick. New video games, such as the Wii and Ninetendo DS, offer brain teasers that make you learn the computer's interface as you master the brain games. That's a double boost to the formation of new neural connections and to response time and memory.

8. Leave your comfort zone. Getting good at sudoku? Time to move on. Brain teasers don't form new neural connections once you've mastered them. So try something that's opposite your natural skills: If you like numbers, learn to draw. If you love language, try logic puzzles.

9. Get support for stressors. You may love your ailing family member, but the chronic stress of facing the situation alone can shrink your brain's memory center. Interacting with others activates many parts of the brain—and learning new ways of coping forms new neural connections.

10. When you look around, really look. Stare straight ahead, and now—without moving your eyes—see if you can make out what's at the periphery. Do this regularly and you'll stimulate the neural and spatial centers of the brain, which can atrophy as you age.

11. When you look forward, also look around. Walking down the street, don't just keep your eyes forward. Scan to the left and to the right. These actions can activate rarely used parts of the brain. That in turn can spur brain cell growth and new neural connections.

12. Show, don't tell. When you woke up this morning, how bright was the light in your room? What did the air smell like when you opened the window? How many colors could you discern in your garden? Notice and report these details to others to prompt cell growth in the visual, verbal, and memory parts of the brain.

13. Listen for details when a friend tells a story. Heed changes in the person's tone and register small facts you might otherwise gloss over. Conjure a mental image of the story. By doing this, you activate multiple areas in the brain and encourage memory formation.

14. Drink two cups of gotu kola tea daily. This ayurvedic herb, used for centuries in India, regulates dopamine. That's the brain chemical that helps protect brain cells from harmful free radicals, boosts pleasurable feelings, and improves focus and memory.

15. Try some new tea. Tulsi tea, made of an Indian herb called holy basil, and ginseng tea both contain herbs that can help reduce overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can hamper memory. The herbs also help keep you alert.

16. Sit quietly, choose a word that calms you, and when your mind starts to wander, say the word silently. A form of meditation, this type of activity can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which zaps memory. Meditation also helps mitigate focus-stealing feelings like depression and anxiety.

17. Get with the times—keep calendars in every room. Checking calendars keeps you focused and oriented, while creating a mental picture of the day in your head.

18. Get some class. Live near a college? Research shows that taking courses—even just auditing them—can stave off dementia at an early age. Don't go in for formal learning? Check out book readings, seminars, and other educational events.
19. Wear a helmet. Riding your bike is great for your health—until you fall and get a concussion. Even one serious concussion could increase your risk of developing dementia. So protect your physical brain as meticulously as you would protect its functioning by doing brain teasers.

20. Sip red wine, judiciously. Up to two glasses for women and up to three for men weekly delivers the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which may prevent free radicals from damaging brain cells. But beware: Drinking more than that could leach thiamine, a brain-boosting nutrient.

21. Check your thyroid. It's a tiny little gland in your neck, but it could have a big effect on brain health: Thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) help nerve cells make connections. If you don't have enough of them you may be depressed, tired, and foggy-headed.

22. Choose lean pork loin crusted in peanuts and broccoli over fries and a burger. The pork and peanuts are high in thiamin, a nutrient that reduces inflammation that damages brain cells. The folate in broccoli is good for keeping synapses firing correctly.

23. Replace candy with a sweet pick-me-up of pears, apples, oranges, and cantaloupe. The combination prevents elevated blood sugar that could impede brain cells from firing correctly. It also provides fiber and antioxidants that help scrub plaque from brain arteries and mop up free radicals that inhibit clear thinking.

24. Top rolled oats with cinnamon for a brainy breakfast. The oats scrub plaques from your brain arteries, while a chemical in cinnamon is good for keeping your blood sugar in check—which can improve neurotransmission.

25. Turn up the tunes. TV may provide a lot of stimuli, but watching too much can dull brain transmission. Instead, spend an afternoon listening to your favorite music. Music can lower stress hormones that inhibit memory and increase feelings of well-being that improve focus.

26. Curry up. The active ingredient in Indian curry, turmeric, contains resveratrol, the same powerful antioxidant that makes red wine good for brain health. Eat curry once a week, or sprinkle it on salads, to protect brain cells from harmful free radicals.

27. Take a food break. Research shows that people who fast one day a week or month unlock a unique form of blood glucose that helps the brain more efficiently transmit information. Then break your fast with brain-healthy blueberries, walnuts, and maybe a glass of red wine.

28. Replace the olive oil in your favorite vinaigrette with walnut oil. Walnut oil, which is chock-full of brain-healthy omega-3s, cuts brain inflammation, a precursor to many cognitive problems. It also keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing to your brain by thinning the blood slightly.

29. Go wild with fish. While fish is generally good for you, the metals that accumulate in farmed fish like tilapia may contribute to cognitive impairments. So when you're shopping, check that the fish is from the wild, not domestically raised, and stick with heart- and brain-healthy fish like salmon and sardines.

30. Redecorate and redesign your environment. Plant new flowers in front of your house. Redecorate the kitchen. Rearrange your closets and drawers. Replace the candles in your living room with some that have a different scent. Making such changes can alter motor pathways in the brain and encourage new cell growth.

31. Choose a side. Talk sports, business, or politics. If you can do it without getting angry, which raises the memory-hindering hormone cortisol, engaging in a good debate can form new neural pathways and force you to think quickly and formulate your thoughts clearly.

32. Sleep. Shut-eye isn't a luxury. It's when your brain consolidates memories. Poor sleep, caused by medical conditions, worry, depression, or insomnia, can interfere with your rest. So treat yourself to relaxing scents like vanilla before bed. They raise the chemical dopamine and reduce cortisol, a stress hormone.

33. Check your neck. It may sound crazy, but a clot in your neck can stunt your memory by preventing enough blood and oxygen from getting to your brain. At your next checkup, ask your doctor to use the other side of his stethoscope to ensure that all's clear in your carotid artery—the main one in your neck.

34. Take a mental picture. Connect names with faces by creating mental images that trick your mind into remembering. For instance, remember Mr. Bender with the curly hair by imagining him bent over, with his curly hair facing you.

35. Read the news. Keeping up with the latest not only activates the memory part of the brain but also gives you something to talk about with friends and family. That kind of socializing can activate multiple parts of your brain and encourage cell growth.

36. Turn off the TV and pick up an instrument. Frequently tickling the ivories or blowing a horn—especially if you're trying to master it—is associated with lower dementia risks. What's more, it eliminates boredom, a brain state that can cause some thinking skills to atrophy.

37. Join a book club. Pick up a good book to cut down on brain-withering boredom. Frequent reading is associated with reduced risk of dementia. And meeting new people forces new neural connections. Besides, you might enjoy the book.

38. Play Yahtzee! Whether you choose Risk, Pictionary, Scrabble, or Boggle, board games are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. They activate strategic, spatial, and memory parts of the brain, and require you to socialize, which can help form new neural pathways.

39. Parlez-vous brain health? You don't have to be a linguist to benefit from learning a new language. Adopting a foreign tongue boosts the verbal, language, and memory parts of the brain.

40. Savor a sensory experience. Those with the best memories take advantage of all their senses. That's because memorization is a cohesive brain effort. So head to the garden or the kitchen and take in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and sensations.

41. Quick temper? Instead of yelling, take a few minutes to cool down. The stress of chronic anger can actually shrink the memory centers in the brain. Get to know the signs that you're seething and address the problem before it erupts.

42. Replace your salt shaker with a sodium-free alternative. We all know that hypertension can lead to heart problems, but new evidence suggests that decreasing the salt in your diet can also improve blood flow to the brain and decrease dementia.

43. Have a chat. Instead of popping in another movie rental, pick up the phone. Talking with someone else not only gets you out of your rut—lack of activity can decrease brain-cell formation—but the socializing can also reduce potentially memory-sapping depression.

44. Check your meds. It may not be you having the memory problems; instead, it could be your medications impeding your memory. Older antidepressants, anti-diuretics and antihistamines—all block a critical brain chemical from doing its job. Ask your doctor for an alternative.

45. Bear some weight. Adding a little strength training to your daily walks can help protect brain cells from damage done by free radicals—and encourage new brain-cell growth. So strap some weights on your ankles or wrists as you walk, or practice gentle yoga.

46. Let yourself sleep in. Research shows that when you're chronically sleep-deprived, your body doesn't have the time to build proteins and other brain- boosting components. So instead of waking yourself early, sleep until you wake naturally.

47. Take an afternoon catnap. Most of sleep's boost to concentration and memory happens in the first stage, so even a snooze as short at 30 minutes can benefit your brain.

48. Switch hands. It may be uncomfortable, but writing with your nondominant hand or operating a computer mouse with that hand can activate parts of the brain that aren't easily triggered otherwise. Anything that requires the brain to pay close attention to a formerly automatic behavior will stimulate brain-cell growth.

49. Shake your body. Gentle bouncing of your knees and shaking out of your limbs reduces the brain-sapping stress hormone cortisol, research shows. It also triggers relaxation and alertness that keeps your brain sharp. Do it for a few minutes in the morning and at night.

50. Tour your neighborhood. If your neighborhood is growing, check it out. The exploration will change your mental map of the neighborhood. Along with learning new and better routes to your favorite stores or restaurants, you'll forge new neural pathways in your brain.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to reduce heartburn

The first thing to check, if you suffer from heartburn, is your diet. Pay good attention to what you consume. Another factor that is responsible for heartburn is stress. Try and meditate for a few minutes daily. Spicy foods and sweet treats and even some tomato-based products can give you heartburn, so avoid eating them. Include ginger in your diet — it could be in any form. Ginger is known to be a good digestive and is a good cure for heartburn. Following a diet that is rich in green leafy vegetables is also a good idea. Avoid drinks that can trigger reflux, such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks like coffee and carbonated drinks like colas.
    Eat smaller and more frequent meals. A full stomach can put additional pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which will increase the chance of some of this food refluxing into the esophagus.
    Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep. Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents and can cause heartburn. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce the pressure.

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Meditate to rejuvenate

Being holistic has many benefits. Read on..

"Happiness in life comes not by manipulating what you want to achieve but by paying attention to something seemingly totally unconnected with it," said the great philosopher Swami Vivekananda. For thousands of years, the wise of many of the world's cultures have offered this as the key to happiness — meditation. It is said that meditation creates a state of metabolic restfulness far deeper than that of sleep. Scientific studies prove that meditation results in a better flow of blood to the brain, which helps relax the muscles and decreases the stress hormones.This rest leads to a quick rejuvenation of one's mind and body, leaving them healed from the effects of fatigue, stress and tension.
    So profound are the benefits of chanting that people from different walks of life have taken to chanting and meditation to get away from the stress of their
high demanding jobs and lifestyles. Everybody from Priya Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Kitu Gidwani, Sheetal Malhar, Riya Sen, Dia Mirza and Rhea Pillai are reaping the benefits of meditation and also propagating it. Television actress Munisha Khatwani says, "I chant the Maha Mrityunjaya Jaap to break free from all the karmic ties. It frees me from all negative karma and has also helped improve my health, finances and personal life to a great extent. The more I chant, the more I am at peace."
    But is mental peace and happiness the only goal of meditating? Spiritual guru, Nandini Sen, sheds light on the benefits of meditation. "I feel meditation helps one just in being more in the present moment, because only in this moment can one do something. The basic idea is to relax in that very moment. All anger, anxiety and negative thoughts are carried forward until you don't let go. Meditation
simply gives the mind a holiday," she says. The moment you include a goal to meditation, its purpose is lost. "A goal is always set for the future," says Nandini, "but meditation is about the present moment." Meditation deals with forgetting everything for that moment and concentrating on knowing one's inner self. This way, one tends to ignore the problem and concentrates on meditating, thus, dissolving the problem altogether.
    Can meditation and chanting be considered the means of escapism from the
materialistic lives people live? "Not unless one chants 24/7," says model turned actress Aditi Govritkar. Juggling between her house, kids and work, she at times finds it difficult to take time off for meditation. "I try and chant at least 10 minutes daily to decrease my stress levels. This helps me feel more calm and at peace." Event organiser, Sharmilla Khanna agrees. "Of course, one cannot escape from the real world with meditation. I do everything that I'm entitled and responsible to do. I don't escape from anything, not even my problems. Instead, meditation has helped me face my problems with a clear mind, heart and soul."

Break free from negative energies by regular meditation

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...say the Deols, as they share their diet and fitness regime with BT

On the six-pack phenomenon
Unfortunately today, having a six-pack has become everyone's idea of being fit. It's basic human nature to be liked and admired, everyone wants to look good! What one must remember is that a sixpack may look good, but it
doesn't necessarily mean that a person is healthy. I truly believe that a healthy soul is the way to a healthy body — it helps you in all other aspects of your life. I've been health-conscious even before I entered the Hindi film industry — I was a good athlete as a student and that helped me immensely. Keeping yourself healthy helps as you age. If you look after yourself from the start, you'll only have yourself to thank later.
On his workout regime
Back in my days we didn't have gyms to go to or trainers to train us. We did a few basic exercises and kept fit by indulging in sports like kabbadi, hockey and relays. Today, I make sure I'm active by going for regular walks and also do an hour of pranayam daily. Initially, I used to find it boring, but now I'm addicted to it. Pranayam opens your mind and gets rid of so many ailments — it's helped me a great deal and I recommend it to everyone.

On his diet
We eat mostly vegetarian fare at home, it's easier to digest. Nonvegetarian food is cooked only every other fortnight. I relish simple, home-cooked food.
On his happiness quotient
Getting together with friends, joking and laughing together is what makes me really happy. It helps me unwind and is a great way to spend evenings. We avoid boring and negative subjects or gossiping and backbiting. My mantra in life is to stay positive — it shows on your face. If you appreciate the good things in life, you'll be a happier person.

Sunny Deol
On the six pack phenomena
The six-pack phenomena has suddenly gained momentum. However, I feel most people train themselves to a point, develop their physique and then forget about it. They take their workout routine to an
extreme level and then totally give up. I find a lot of people using shortcut methods and taking supplements to achieve the body they desire. For me, what's more important is maintaining good overall health, and enjoying your workout routine. Keeping fit today has become a global fad, which is quite positive. I think yoga is the best form of exercise and meditation; however, it has become too commercial. If you enjoy a jog or walk or any kind of sport, you should do it. Good health makes you feel positive and helps you take on the world.
On his workout routine
I have recently developed a
back problem due to which I had to be operated a couple of times, so my routine has slowed down a bit. I usually workout for a couple of hours in the gym. I do cardio and weights — both freehand and cable. I try to enjoy my workout rather than drive myself to the point of torture. I also love to play games and was in the athletics and other game teams in school. I love playing football, squash, badminton, table tennis and even swimming. I can pick up any sport really fast.
On his diet
While working out, you anyway tend to burn a good number of calories and I also avoid junk food. I am mostly vegetarian. I'm not very rigid about my diet and do
indulge myself once in a while. I mostly prefer eating home-cooked food.
My idea of relaxation
For me, there is no better way to unwind than by playing sports. I also like to relax by spending time with my kids.

THE ORIGINAL HE-MAN: Dharmendra looking fit as ever

MUSCLE MAN: Sunny Deol during one of his training sessions in the gym

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


For those of you who want great pair of legs we have some easy yogasanas which will ensure that you too have those million dollar legs..


Utkatasan: Stand up and bend your knees slightly.


Take your hands behind your head and pulse down. This asana strengthens the ankles, thighs and shapes the lower muscles of the body.


Vrikshasana: Stand up and bring your left knee on to your right thigh.


Keep your eyes focussed on one point and slowly bring your hands up and balance yourself. This asana is beneficial in strengthening the ankles and knees. It also improves your concentration.


Veerbhadrasana: Keep your legs wide apart and your hands straight.


Point your right toe towards your right hand and bend towards the same side and look at your hand. Repeat it on the other side.



Moordasana: Open your legs as wide as you can and bend down and touch the ground. Come up slowly. A word of caution for those of you having a knee pain. Do get in touch with a doctor before doing these exercises.

Courtesy :

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not getting your daily dose of Vitamin D because you can’t stand the sun’s harsh rays?


 Neesha Bukht shows Kiran Mehta how to make up for it with the right foods

 Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient. That's probably because it's free: your body makes it when sunlight touches your skin. It's essential for bone health because without it, even popping calcium pills won't work — your body needs this vitamin to absorb calcium. Of late, with the increasing use of beauty products with a high sun-protection factor, Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise. In fact, even weak sunscreens (with as little as SPF-8), block your body's ability to generate vitamin D by 95 per cent.
    Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and even schizophrenia and certain cancers. If these life-long debilitating conditions aren't scary enough to make you step out, top up on Vitamin D rich foods instead.
Pre-teens and teens:
Forty-five per cent of your skeletal mass is added during puberty and adolescence. So Vitamin D is needed greatly at this stage. Rickets, a condition characterised by soft bones, typically affects children deficient in Vitamin D.
    Start your day with some fortified orange juice (142 IUs per 100 ml glass) or some fresh fruit milkshake (approximately 140 IUs). Paneer

contains (140 IUs per 30 to 40 gm) and yoghurt contains as much Vitamin D as milk — 98 IUs per 100 ml (non-fat fortified milk). Give up those fizzy colas, tea and coffee since caffeine tends to leach calcium from the bones.
In your 20s:
In your 'fast living decade', between hectic work schedules and dating, instead of 'convenient' foods such
as burgers and pizzas, opt for a tuna salad (85 gm tuna contains 200 IUs). Your 20s are the last chance to lay down new bones. Gulp down two large glasses of vitamin D fortified non-fat milk every day (one glass contains 100 IUs). The calcium-Vitamin D combination helps your body to absorb its benefits.
In your 30s :
Thirties might be the new 20s, but not so from your bones' viewpoint. Now you cannot drastically change your skeletal structure, but can definitely maintain it. Just concentrate on not allowing your bone density to drop. Apart from an active lifestyle, have tuna twice a week and mushrooms once a week (85 gm of mushrooms gives 100 per cent Vitamin D). Fortified cereal with whole milk is a good breakfast choice.
In your 40s:
At this stage, several lifestyle diseases rear their ugly heads. By now, you spend several hours indoors either working or caring for your family and probably don't get much sunshine. Make sure you eat dark green leafy vegetables thrice a
    week and foods such as salmon (100
gm contains 360 IUs), mackerel (100 gm ounces contains 345 IUs), sardines (50 gm contains 250 IUs), fortified dairy products and cereals.
50s and up:
The need for Vitamin D increases after 50 and it's difficult to meet them without unrealistic diets. Ask your doctor about supplements. Have a whole egg (20 IUs) thrice a week and fatty fish twice a week.


• Fruits and vegetables are internal sunscreens and can allow you to stay under the sun twice as long without burning. Fruits with this ability include super fruits such as strawberries, pomegranates and kiwis.

• Vitamin D is generated by your kidneys
and liver, so kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body's ability to form the vitamin.

• The healing rays of sunlight cannot penetrate glass, so you don't generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.

• Your body can't generate too much Vitamin D from sunlight exposure: it will selfregulate and only generate what it needs.

• If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic Vitamin D deficiency right now.

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Effects of High Blood Pressure