Tuesday, September 29, 2009

‘Low-cal’ foods are everywhere, but if you pick the wrong ones you could end up fatter.


 Here are some which are worthwhile and those that aren't

WORTH BUYING Diet drinks 
A standard can of cola has around seven teaspoons of sugar and about 130 calories. By comparison, artificially sweetened versions are virtually calorie and sugar-free, so there's really no contest if you're watching your weight. But it's worth remembering that additive-free water is still the healthiest drink. 
Low-fat spreads 
Fats you spread on bread make up a significant proportion of the total fat in the average diet, so choosing a low-fat one is a very easy way to make a significant impact on how much fat you eat. 
Skimmed milk 
If you consume half a pint of milk daily you can cut your saturated fat intake by 6.5g daily (one-third of the daily maximum recommended for women) by swapping from full fat to skimmed. Choosing semiskimmed instead gives a 2.3g reduction. 
MAYBE WORTH IT Reduced fat crisps 
These have a third less fat than the standard ones, but with more than 20 per cent fat they are still a high-fat food. 
Healthy ready meals 
These can be a good bet if you want convenience and low calories. But you can find healthy meals in the standard ranges too. As a guide, look for those that have less than 20g fat and 5g saturated fat and fewer than 400 cals. Better, do yourself a quick chicken and veg stir fry which can be ready in virtually the same time as a microwave meal. 
Low-fat sausages 
If you love sausages these represent a much healthier choice. But they are still high in fat compared with lean meat. Have them no more than once a week.
LEAVE ON THE SHELF Diet yoghurts 
Diet yoghurt is likely to be loaded with artificial sweeteners, starch and gelatine. Natural yogurt with added ripe, sweet fruit is healthier, tastier and no higher in calories. 
Reduced-fat biscuits 
Although reduced-fat biscuits contain 25 per cent less fat, their sugar content is higher, and the overall calorie saving per biscuit is too marginal to bother about. A reduced fat digestive has only four calories fewer than a full fat one for example. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why does a woman’s heart skip a beat?

On World Heart Day, doctors advise Indian men to have a heart and look after their wives

 Empowerment at the price of a healthy heart? More Indian women than ever before are joining the workforce, their hearts are skipping more than just a beat and it's not always because of a man. It's part of the global picture, which has women accounting for 15-20% of heart disease. 

    Dr Ashok Seth, chairman of Delhi's Escorts Hospital, says, modern women face more stress than their mothers and grandmothers. "More of them are coping with high-pressure jobs, and also looking after their homes, giving them heart disease 10 years earlier." Seth warns women to "pay more attention to themselves" because heart disease is likely to be the number one killer within five years. 
    Doctors agree heart disease afflicts women at least a decade before they could expect it. Earlier, it would strike women over 60, but now, it's hitting them at 50, says Dr Praveen Chandra, director of Cardiac Cath Lab of Delhi's Max Hospital. 
    Stress is often compounded by neglect. Dr Kushagra Kataria, CEO and chief cardiothoracic surgeon of Gurgaon's Artemis Hospital says it is very noticeable "that when women come in with their sick husbands, they wait till they have get treated first and then tell me they too have the same symptoms." Perhaps the best advice for Indian men on World Heart Day should be 'Have a heart' and look after your women. 
    Do they face the same risks? Women initially have the advantage because the female hormone, estrogen, protects the heart. But menopausal women have declining estrogen lev
els and the risk equals that of men, say cardiologists. Women who pop the pill are more at risk because oral contraceptives are thought to increase the risk of blood clots, says Chandra. 
The changing mindset of the Indian woman means the rise of what Kataria calls "the Type A" personality (aggressive, ambitious, impatient), often seen in men. Type As are more prone to heart disease. 
Most scary is women exhibiting atypical symptoms of an attack. Seth says "women may not always show typical angina symptoms, but could just suffer from breathlessness." He adds this "is often dismissed as lack of fitness. Their treadmill exercise test too shows greater negative results." 
Women need to know that the pain preceding a heart attack could be just about anywhere – the upper arms, shoulder, back, jaws, tooth, 
groin, head, adds Kataria. This, because the heart itself has no nerves but the outer membrane does and "when the heart is deprived of oxygen during an attack, these nerves send out signals to nerves elsewhere and the pain manifests itself in any of these areas." 
    But the heart of the matter is that women respond worse to angioplasty and bypass, says Seth, probably due to their smaller arteries. Chandra adds that a woman generally has a more severe heart attack than a man, so it is more likely to be fatal. 

Have a check-up once you're over 30, or if you have a family history of heart disease 
Check your cholesterol and sugar levels and have a Treadmill Exercise Test 
Breathlessness and indigestion, which is unrelieved by medicine, could be symptoms

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Celebrate World Heart Day tomorrow with these tips


Celebrate World Heart Day tomorrow with these tips by Dr B K Goyal that will keep your heart beating

  The fact that our heart functions 24x7 can easily be taken for granted. A healthy heart, in one hour, produces enough energy to lift a one-ton weight off the ground. But recent studies show that 50 per cent of Indians are prone to heart disease, with men in their 30s at a greater risk. But the good news is that few key steps are all that you need to ensure its well-being. 
Stressful situations are accompanied by increased heart rate and blood pressure, which increase the demand for oxygen. This additional demand may lead to chest pain. Our nervous system releases hormones that raise blood pressure which can damage the lining of our arteries. So stay positive and find ways to manage stress. 
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is important to keep note of the total saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, fat and sodium in your everyday menu. And follow these tips: Eat fruits without peeling Have grilled, baked or roasted fish and chicken, not fried Steam vegetables before seasoning to reduce fat intake Limit oil to two to three teaspoons per day Eat 30 gm raw garlic daily. 
Extra weight raises cholesterol level, blood pressure and increases risk of coronary ar
tery disease. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defines being overweight as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 25. Those with BMI over 30 are considered obese. 
Famed for increasing the risk of lung cancer, smoking also increases risk of heart disease. It causes rise in blood pressure and leads to the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries. This accelerates the formation of blood clots which cause a heart attack. 
If you are diabetic, then you are three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease. Control of blood sugar levels will keep your heart safe. 
Exercise burns calories, helps control cholesterol and keeps diabetes away. It also lowers blood pressure and makes the arteries more flexible. Those who actively burn about 3,500 calories a week, either at work or through exercise, live longer than those who don't. 
Excessive alcohol can trigger high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heart beat and disease of the heart muscle. Calories from alcohol adds to body fat. 
If heart disease runs in your family, precaution is a must. Risk factors such as blood pressure, diabetes, obesity are passed from one generation to another. 

Keep a track of errant blood pressure and immediately consult your physician in case of heaviness in the chest, severe headache, short temper and uncommon bouts of anger. Blood pressure can vary with activity and age, but a healthy adult at rest generally has a systolic pressure reading between 120 and 130 and a diastolic pressure reading between 80 and 90 (or below). 
    (Dr B K Goyal is Director 
    Cardiology from Bombay Hospital 
    and Medical Research Centre) 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally, a vaccine to combat HIV?

Application Of Sanofi Pasteur & VaxGen Vaccine May Be Limited, Say Researchers

AN experimental combination of two vaccines from Paris-based Sanofi Pasteur and US-based VaxGen has made significant progress in finding a way to combat the illness, researchers said. 

    Results of a six-year long phase III clinical trial in Thailand has proved that the combination of Sanofi-Pasteur's ALVAC canary pox vaccine and the failed HIV vaccine AIDSVAX of VaxGen can lower the rate of HIV infection by 31.2%. But its application may be limited and a commercial vaccine may require more time, researchers said. 
    The HIV vaccine trial was executed 
by the Thai Ministry of Public Health and included a team of leading Thai and US researchers. The trial was sponsored by the US army and conducted by the Thai Ministry of Public Health. The trial involved 16,000 volunteers. 
    In a press statement, which was jointly issued by the vaccine makers, 
Michel DeWilde, senior vice president (research) of Sanofi Pasteur said: "This is the first concrete evidence that a vaccine against HIV is eventually feasible. There is still a lot to be done. These results are significant, but do not provide a definitive answer. On the other hand, they do provide a number of possibilities for exploration and the scientific base for new studies." 
    The WHO, UNAID and both the vaccine firms feel that results of the combination provide a lot of possibilities for research as well as a new scientific base for studies. "The HIV virus is similar to the cold virus in that the base is unstable and keeps changing. If scientists have managed to isolate a portion of this base which is stable and can work on that it can be very significant for future studies," said a scientist working with an Indian firm, who did not want to be named. 
    WHO and UNAID said that while no vaccine safety issues were observed in the trial, licenser at this point in time may not be possible solely on the basis of this study's results.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

10 Surprising Reasons to Eat Less Meat

It's not just about animal rights ... not by a long stretch.

You don't need to be a complete vegetarian for your diet to help protect the planet. Just eat less meat. Here's why:

1. Save the rain forest

World Wildlife Fund estimates that, every year, an area of the world's rain forests larger than the state of New York is destroyed to create grazing land. In Latin America, says the United Nations, some 70% of forests in the Amazon basin have been cut down to raise cows.

2. Refresh the air

If you've ever driven by a feed lot, you've probably had to hold your nose. No wonder. About 1.4 billion metric tons of solid manure are produced by U.S. farm animals each year - 130 times the quantity produced by people. This figure includes pigs and chickens as well as cattle, but cattle are the single largest source.

organic vegetables

3. Keep water clean

Two-thirds of the beef cattle raised in the U.S. are fattened up using hormones like steroids, testosterone and progesterone. When the cows pee, they can pollute surface and ground water with all these chemicals, affecting the ability of frogs and fish to reproduce, too.

4. Save water

It takes 600 gallons of water to produce one hamburger patty. Just one.

5. Feed more people

It takes about 2 pounds of grain to produce a quarter-pound of burger meat. Why not convert that grain (and the resources used to grow it) into food more people can eat?

6. Stop climate change

"Hamburgers are the Hummers of food" when it comes to climate change, say scientists. Switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car home a couple of days a week. Food is the third largest contributor to the average household's carbon footprint after driving and utilities. If people simply cut their meat intake from the average 90 kg/year to 53 kg/yr, meat-associated carbon emissions would drop by 44 percent.

7. Be nice

Many livestock and dairy cattle are raised in cruel and inhumane conditions where they must be injected with antibiotics so they'll fatten up and seem healthy. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that about 70% of all antibiotics made in the U.S. are used to fatten up livestock.

8. Avoid drugs

In addition to hormones and antibiotics, conventional meat producers routinely process their products using chemical additives and preservatives like phosphates and sodium nitrites. That makes them pinker, but not necessarily healthier. Sodium nitrites may react with amino acids to form carcinogenic nitrosamines; various studies have found a link between high processed-meat consumption and colon cancer, possibly attributable to preservatives like sodium nitrite.

9. Live longer

Speaking of health, eating a lot of meat can increase the likelihood of heart attacks and high blood pressure.

10. Save money

Meat is usually the most expensive item you put in your shopping cart. Buy less meat, and shift the savings to organic fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good health through homeopathy


I am a 56-year-old man who has developed erectile dysfunction since the past few months. Please guide. 

    Erectile dysfunction could be due to a number of reasons. At your age, there could be many causative factors — physical and psychological. Hormonal changes, diabetes, increased cholesterol levels, anxiety, depression and stress could be some of the causes. You may need to get investigated to rule out such conditions. Exercise regularly, try to relax mentally, and eat a balanced diet. You may take Lycopodium 30C, five pills once daily. 
My sister who has delivered two weeks back is showing signs of depression and even avoids her child. We wish to avoid psychiatric medications. Can homeopathy help? 

    Your sister seems to be suffering from puerperal depression, a condition that occurs in the first few weeks after childbirth. Interpersonal 
psychotherapy for your sister along with counselling for her husband and other family members will be needed so that they put conscious efforts to keep her comfortable. A detailed case history will be required to prescribe the appropriate homeopathic remedy. In the meanwhile, you may give her Kali Phos 6X, two tablets twice daily. 
I'm 23-years-old and have been diagnosed with varicose veins. Please advise me. 

    Varicose veins are caused due to weakness of their valves that leads to pooling of blood, which in turn causes the 
veins to elongate and become tortuous. Common in people who remain standing for long hours — a hereditary tendency to develop it, is also seen. Avoid standing for prolonged periods and if you need to do so at times, keep flexing your knees at regular intervals. Wear compression stockings whenever you go out. You may try Calc Fluor 6X, two tablets twice daily. 
Can homeopathy help treat mouth inflammation in my three-year-old son? 

    Homeopathy can certainly treat inflammation of the mouth, medically called stomatitis. Homeopathic remedies, being natural and miniscule in dose, can be safely administered even in children. Increase your child's intake of vitamin B containing foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You may give him Merc Sol 30C. Giving him curds everyday will help replenish the healthy bowel flora.

Dr Mukesh Batra

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fitness expert Leena Mogre shows you how to chisel your body, part by part

Ever since Barack Obama came into power, his first lady's toned arms have become the most sought-after accessory amongst high-fliers and the common woman alike. Michelle Obama, who is obviously proud of her big guns, is seen showing them off in sleeveless shifts. Recently an International news agency interviewed her trainer, Cornell McClellan, and revealed just how she manages to keep those 'bingo wings' at bay. If you want to mould your assets like her or an idol closer home, follow this guide. 

SQUATS: Stand with feet shoulderwidth apart. Bend your knees while looking straight ahead, back erect. You can hold a bar behind your neck on your shoulders to make sure your posture stays erect or hold your arms out in front of you. Carry weights depending on your fitness level. When bending, your knees shouldn't go further than your feet. To maintain this, jut your hip out at the back. Repeat a set of 15 squats three times. WALKING LUNGES: Take your right leg into a long stride and bend it at a right angle. Feel the stretch at the back of the left leg. Place the left leg in front of the right one and repeat. Cover the length of a long room by doing this. Repeat a set of five laps three times. BACK KICKS: On a functional training machine, put the strap around your ankle and start with 10 pounds of weight. Kick your leg back, all the way to your hips while squeezing your butt. Repeat a set of 15 kicks three times. 
Set the spinning machine on the highest resistance and spin while standing for short bursts of 15 to 30 counts. Repeat 3 times. SPRINTS: On an athletic track, intersperse sprinting for 15 to 30 metres with walking the same distance. Do this as part of your cardio work out. 
HIGH KNEE JOGGING: While spot jogging bring your knees up at right angles to your pelvis. Do this as fast as you can for 30 counts. Repeat thrice. 
It's not crunches that make the concave abs, it's the low fat per centage. So to tuck in the tummy you need to do power yoga for an hour on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning. Also follow a kickboxing or Pilates routine three times a week and a low fat diet. Martial arts also tighten the core muscles.CARDIO: The importance of sprints and interval training cannot be underestimated if you want a flat stomach. Within 15 minutes of your cardio routine, sprint for one minute and jog for two minutes and break back into a sprint. You can even cycle or jog uphill three times a week or swim. AB CRUNCHES: Lie on your back and fold up your knees. Place your palms behind your head and come up from your stomach. Point your chin at the ceiling. The strain should be on your stomach muscles, not your neck. Repeat a set of 30 crunches three times. 
For good arms, pay attention to your shoulder muscles which give your arms definition. FRONT RAISES: Hold dumbbells of minimum poundage in both your hands. Now raise them in front of you, with your fingers facing downwards, up to 90 degrees. Do it slowly, concentrating on your muscles. Repeat a set of 15 raises, three times. LATERAL CURLS: Hold dumbbells of minimum poundage (2.5) with arms at your side. Raise arms to shoulder level, using your elbows to lead the way. Make sure your wrists face downwards. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. 
BENT-OVER LATERAL RAISES: Bend forward from your hips, bringing your chest parallel to the floor. You can even do this while sitting on a chair. Now repeat the motions of the lateral curls. Do three sets of 15 repeti
tions.HAMMER CURLS: Hold the dumbbell vertical such that it looks like you are hammering your fist down. Flex your elbow and bring the weights to your shoulder and back down. Do not move your upper arms. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. 
BICEP CURLS: Hold weights in both arms or on the bar. Lock your elbows and pull up to your shoulders. Weightage depends upon fitness levels. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. TRICEPS: Use a table or a chair. Push yourself off the seat, keeping your palms on the edge. Pull yourself up and down, legs outstretched in front of you. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. Also, push down the bar of a pulley machine to chest level and push it all the way down, while sitting. Do three sets of 15 repetitions. PREACHER CURLS: Sit on a preacher bench, lean forward and do three repetitions of 15 curls. Increase the weight with your fitness levels. 
For the thighs, start with 15 suryanamaskars. Also, weave walking lunges (5 laps) and interval training into your routine. STIFF LEG DEAD LIFTS: Hold a bar with minimum weight. Bend down from your hip, keeping your back straight and arched till you reach your knees/ankles. The bar should be close to your legs. This also works the lower back. Do a set of 10 to 12 bends three times. HAMSTRING CURLS: Do the curls on the hamstring machine. Three sets of 15 repetitions. CALF RAISES: Do standing and seated calf raises on the calf machine. You need to use 20/30/40-kg weights. You can do standing and sitting calf raises, with three sets of 15 repetitions. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Unhealthy habits can spoil your memory


If you're having trouble remembering where you left your keys or recalling a word, mull over the number of times and how many years you've continued unhealthy behaviour. 

    Previous research has linked declining thinking and memory skills with unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, abstaining completely from alcohol, not getting enough physical activity, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables daily. In the current study, Dr Severine Sabia and colleagues found the more each of the 5,123 adult participants reported these behaviours the greater their "risk of cognitive deficit," said Sabia. 
    Over a 17-year period, adult men and women who accumulated the most versus the least number of unhealthy behaviours were nearly three times more likely to show poor thinking skills, and about two times more likely to have declining memory, Sabia and colleagues report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Sabia, of Hospital Paul Brousse in Villejuif, France, and fellow researchers surveyed health behaviours of civil service office 
workers in London, UK, when the workers were 44 (earlymidlife), 56 (mid-life), and 61 (late-midlife) years old. 
    After allowing for the impact of age, gender, and social and economic status, the investigators found current smokers more likely to show the lowest memory, verbal, and math-related thinking and reasoning skills at each survey. 
    The investigators noted similar findings among non-drinkers versus those who had between 1 and 14 alcoholic drinks a week, 
and those who ate fewer versus more than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Men and women who reported lower levels of physical activity during mid-life and late-mid-life also showed greater risk for cognitive deficit. Considering the unhealthy behaviours assessed in the current study are modifiable, Sabia's team calls for greater promotion of healthy lifestyles to protect against later-life cognitive deficits. REUTERS

WATCH THOSE SMOKES! Habitual smoking takes a toll on brain cells

Lose inches, have fun

Do you equate weight loss with boring, mundane gym routines? It's time for a change. Rachel Fernandes tells you some fun ways to not only cut the flab, but also learn a new skill

 Ladies and gentlemen, this one's for all you gym haters. If you are among those who dreads the sight of the treadmill and can't bear to get onto the exercise cycle and are still dying to lose those extra inches, don't worry. We give you a lowdown of some fun activities that you can indulge in. Now here's the catch. Not only will these activities help you in your weight loss quest, indulging in them will also help you learn a new skill. So are you ready to burn those calories and have fun too? 
    Read on. 
Bollywood Aerobics 
Step aside plain, simple aerobic routines, this is the day and age of Bollybics — that's what Bollywood Aerobics is popularly called. Have you realised, those super sexy jhatkas and matkas our Bollywood heroines do with so much ease can indeed make for a perfectly fun workout. "Adapted to the beats of popular filmi music, Bollybics is an aerobic workout that helps burn intense calories while dancing to your favourite 
songs," says Anchal Gupta, owner of a popular Sion based dance studio. The sequence consists of a warm up and aerobic routine — using signature movie dance steps — targetted at specific body parts and then, a cool down session. "The music is fast paced and non stop, and if done right, one can burn upto 700 calories per session," says trainer Rupesh Pednekar. 
    While ghazals are used for the warm-up and the cool down sessions, fast paced movie tracks are used for the aerobic routine. This dance cum exer
cise form uses signature movie dance steps. "It's a fun and exhilarating workout. And, when you do it in a group, you feel motivated to go on, even if you get tired," says Anchal. So put on some rocking movie songs and adapt a few regular dance steps to it and lo behold, it's Bollybics you're doing. 
Martial arts have always been very popular. But the newest rage in town in kickboxing. Whoever's into it swears by how amazing a workout it is. A part of the martial arts family, kick
boxing combines the style of boxing with kicking. A full contact sport often practiced as self-defence, it also makes for a perfect workout. And here's why. "Kickboxing is intensive cardio. Also, unlike a gym workout, it is a total body workout. Kickboxing involves both, cardio and contact which helps in increasing flexibility and toning up. Besides these, there are various stretching exercises and abdominal workouts that one is made to do," explains kickboxing trainer Amit Lalwani. Another form, Muay Thai, meanwhile, is the art of eight limbs which uses the whole body especially the hips and core. "A Muay Thai workout helps increase not only agility, speed, strength but also, cardiovascular endurance," says Amit. And while this exercise form is a great stress reliever, you can also pick up a few important self-defence techniques. 
This is a fun activity that consists of half an hour of an intensive workout and half an hour of a dance routine which includes steps from hip-hop and jazz. And the routine is simple. 
The first half of the session consists of warm ups including stretching which helps tone up the muscles and burn away the inches. The second half meanwhile is a cardio session which helps give the body a total workout. "Apart from the exercise that one gets, this is also a good way to learn a form of dance and develop a sense of style. The routines are never repeated making it a perfect option for people who detest going to the gym," says participant Purvi Shah. 
Power Yoga: 
While you may extol the 
benefits of practising yoga daily, if weight loss is your goal, it may not be enough. The solution? Step it up a notch with power yoga. Put simply, power yoga is yoga adapted to the beats of music. This form of yoga is fast paced and quite a strenuous exercise. How's it done? There are no fixed poses to be followed, the variations depend on the instructor. "In power yoga, the emphasis is on strength and elasticity of the body. A 45-minute power yoga workout done even just thrice a week will show wondrous effects on your body," says Laxmi Wagle who is learning this yoga form. 
What do you get when you combine elements of martial arts, games, music and dance? The Afro-Brazilian art form called Capoeira. And why is it a good workout? That's because as a form of exercise, Capoeira engages all the muscle group and offers significant toning and cardiovascular benefits. It also helps develop flexibility, balance, coordination an endurance. 
This is a form of exercise that emphasises on the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness. As a form of exercise, it works well for everyone. Pilates training focuses on core strength as it trains the body as an integrated whole. The workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints. If practiced regularly, Pilates helps improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, teaches you to move with ease and grace and also, improves one's posture. 

TIME FOR A STRETCH! Rupesh Pednekar (left) and Anchal Gupta (right) at a bollybics class

GETTING THEIR KICKS! Amit Lalwani (left) at a kickboxing class

Effects of High Blood Pressure