HEALTH & FITNESS

Use onions, be healthy
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Onion, which has been in the news for some time because of the price factor, has been an important part of human diet, whether oriental or modern, throughout the world. Believed to be having a Central Asian origin, onion continues to adore average Indian kitchen shelves, giving tears to the consumers’ eyes in real terms. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants.

Prolonged standing bad for your skin
Dr Vikas Sharma

Standing for long hours is essential for many working men and women. But this can lead to health problems, forcing a person to leave his job. Continuously standing at one point for more than three hours everyday for over six months produces a high ambulatory venous pressure in the calf muscle pump which distends the vessel walls. The resultant pressure over the blood vessels supplying the skin of lower legs produces gaps in the endothelial cell junctions lining the walls of the vessels, thus allowing fibrinogen molecules to escape from blood vessels to form a fibrin sheath around the capillaries. 

Six tips for weight loss in New Year
Washington: Now experts from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center can help you stick to that New Year’s resolution of losing weight if you just follow these six tips:
1. Keep moving each day: All it takes to see a weight-loss benefit is 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity daily.

Health Notes
Get your ideal weight by writing what you eat
Washington: If you’re trying to shed those extra pounds and hitting the gym and dieting have failed to work, then try this. The first step to reaching your ideal weight may be as simple as writing it down.


 

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Use onions, be healthy
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Onion, which has been in the news for some time because of the price factor, has been an important part of human diet, whether oriental or modern, throughout the world. Believed to be having a Central Asian origin, onion continues to adore average Indian kitchen shelves, giving tears to the consumers’ eyes in real terms. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants.

Scientifically known as allium cepa and “plandu” in Sanskrit, onion has been amply discussed in ancient ayurvedic literature. Sweet and pungent in tandem, it has been described as heavy, sharp, unctuous and slightly hot in action. With a sweet post-digestive effect, onion aggravates “kapha” and “pitta” but lessens “vata” in the body. The juice of the onion bulb and its seeds are of medicinal importance.

Onion is a very good source of calcium and B group of vitamins, but its total food value varies according to its stages of maturity. Ripe onion contains a large amount of moisture along with a kitty of other minerals like phosphorus and iron, besides a sufficient amount of fiber and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein. Its typical odour is attributed to the presence of organic sulphur compounds, which come in contact with the atmosphere once it is cut open.

Charak, Sushruta and other leading lights of ayurveda have described onion to be carminative, digestive, liver stimulant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant diuretic, emmanagogue (that enhances the menstrual flow) and aphrodisiac in effect. Scientific studies have also found that onion is an anti-oxidant, anti-rheumatic, anti-tumour, lipid lowering and bronchodilatory agent. Many of its therapeutic effects match to those of garlic.

The use of onion has been found to be effective in conditions like anorexia, indigestion, flatulence, bronchitis, asthma, otalgia, osteoporosis and skin blemishes. Ancient references indicate that regular use of onion enhances glow on one’s face and keeps premature changes of age at bay. Researchers have found that under controlled studies onion inhibited platelet aggregation and increased the bleeding time. It was observed that an addition of onion to a fatty diet can protect against changes in serum cholesterol. It tends to keep fibrinolytic activity at normal levels in ischemic heart patients, thereby preventing further risk of arterial thrombosis. Reasonable consumption of the allium group of herbs like onion and garlic has been found to be protective against arthritic conditions and cancer of the stomach and the colon.

Onions are relied upon by millions of people as a home remedy in a number of conditions. Since it has properties to liquefy phlegm and prevent its recurrence, taking two to three teaspoonful of its juice mixed with a little of honey helps fight cold and cough and can also be used as a safe preventive in the winter season. In vomiting and diarrhoea also, 20 ml juice of onion mixed with a pinch of pounded black pepper controls the associated discomfort and helps early recovery.

In rural India, use of onion and jaggery together with food is a poor man’s recipe to gain strength after an exhaustive work. Around 50 gm of paste made by grinded onions and a teaspoon of sugar act as a good diuretic in summer, thus preventing urinary infections.

In combating teeth problems like caries and gum infections, onion also has a role to play. Data supported by researches say that consuming raw onion with meals helps cleanse the outer surface of the teeth and inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

During an unexpected episode of earache, mothers usually instil a few drops of warm onion juice in the ears of children till proper medical help arrives. A face pack consisting of onion juice and a little of turmeric, if applied regularly on the skin blemishes, gives very good results and improves the texture.

Onion is generally consumed as a vegetable or as an adjunct with other dishes or soups. As cooked or fried onions become heavy to digest, eating it raw as salad with food has more dietary advantages. The pungent mouth odour, which is perhaps the only negative feature of its consumption, can be countered by keeping a few leaves of fresh mint or a teaspoonful of fennel (saunf) in the mouth.

The therapeutic dose of onion juice is 10 to 30 ml whereas raw onion should not be consumed more than a 100 gm a day. Excessive consumption of onions can cause symptoms like acidity, belching, nausea and headache. Taking pomegranate juice works as an antidote in such situations.

The writer, a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic consultant, is a Guru at Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth. Email ayu@live.in


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Prolonged standing bad for your skin
Dr Vikas Sharma

Standing for long hours is essential for many working men and women. But this can lead to health problems, forcing a person to leave his job. Continuously standing at one point for more than three hours everyday for over six months produces a high ambulatory venous pressure in the calf muscle pump which distends the vessel walls. The resultant pressure over the blood vessels supplying the skin of lower legs produces gaps in the endothelial cell junctions lining the walls of the vessels, thus allowing fibrinogen molecules to escape from blood vessels to form a fibrin sheath around the capillaries. This decreases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the skin which are essential for its vitality.

The prolonged standing posture also results in venous stasis, which increases the concentration of various cellular metabolites, raises venous pressure, causes leakage of blood constituents into the surrounding tissues and leads to the activation of inflammatory cells and fibroblasts which are broadly responsible for the skin changes observed. These changes progress through the following stages:

n Pigmentation (reddish brown-black spots on the feet, ankles and lower legs) from haemosiderin deposition

n Areas of inflammatory change and eczema

n Fibrosis and atrophic changes in the skin (lipodermatosclerosis or atrophie blanche)

n Ulceration of the skin

Previously such cases were more seen among bus conductors, army jawans, traffic policemen, sales staff and labourers or security guards whose job required them to keep standing for longer periods. Thanks to the authorities, school and college teachers are now also in the list of occupation-related health disorders. Some time back the only ones found standing in a classroom of any school used to be one or two mischievous students as a measure of punishment for some sort of misbehaviour. But due to the latest instructions from the authorities, school teachers have to take classes in a standing mode.

A very large number of such persons develop skin problems like Schamberg’s disease (pigmentation: reddish brown-black spots on feet, ankles and lower legs from haemosiderin deposition).

Among the affected are housewives, too, who have to stand for long hours doing kitchen work.

Prolonged standing also makes a person susceptible to various other disorders like cellulitis of the leg (inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue).

So, you if you don’t want leg ulcers which may make you lose your job, you have to do certain modifications in your daily routine. Such modifications should also be brought about by the employers to prevent health hazards for their employees. Movement of the legs, especially lifting them for a few moments in-between, walking for a few steps and finally sitting even for 10 minutes after three hours of continuous standing are helpful.

If you have skin lesions, then it is important to prevent its further progression and complications by following the measures given here:

It is important that the underlying venous hypertension should be controlled by using support stockings or adequate firm bandages, and these must be worn regularly and indefinitely.

Slight elevation of legs by placing a pillow beneath the feet while sleeping every day is a must.

Since prevention is always better than cure, kindly sit down for a while.

The writer is Chief Consultant-Dermatologist and Dermato-Laser Surgeon, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula. Email drvikas.nscindia@gmail.com


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Six tips for weight loss in New Year

Washington: Now experts from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center can help you stick to that New Year’s resolution of losing weight if you just follow these six tips:

1. Keep moving each day: All it takes to see a weight-loss benefit is 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity daily.

“You don’t need to be athletic. Just brisk walking or dancing to your favourite music or using an aerobic exercise machine like a stationary bike or treadmill is all you need to do — just try to do it each day,” said Anne McTiernan.

“You can break it into 10-or 15-minute sessions throughout the day to get the weight-loss benefit,” she said.

2. Keep a food journal: “By spending a little extra time to write down everything you eat and drink, you’ll be able to see where extra calories sneak in,” said Caitlin Mason, an exercise and health researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division of the Hutchinson Center.

“There are lots of good online tools that can help estimate the calorie content of common foods and track your weight loss progress over time,” she said.

3. Set realistic goals: “For long-term success, aim for a slow, steady weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week. No one wants to lose weight only to gain it all back — and often more — a few months later,” said Mason.

4. Set specific goals: Set several smaller but more specific goals, such as eating five servings of vegetables per day, taking a 15-minute walk at lunch each day or drinking six glasses of water per day.

“Adding healthy behaviours to your routine is often easier than telling yourself ‘don’t do this’ or “don’t eat that,” Mason said.

5. Don’t let one slip-up derail your efforts: “Don’t throw your entire routine out of the window after one bad day. Instead, try to identify the specific barriers that got in your way and think through strategies to avoid such challenges in the future,” said Mason.

6. Practice yoga: Regular yoga practice and weight maintenance and weight loss are related, according to several studies. — ANI

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Health Notes
Get your ideal weight by writing what you eat

Washington: If you’re trying to shed those extra pounds and hitting the gym and dieting have failed to work, then try this. The first step to reaching your ideal weight may be as simple as writing it down.

Putting a pen to paper and keeping a daily journal of meals and snacks is one of the best strategies of successful dieters, said Dr. Christopher J. Mosunic, a specialist in weight management and diabetes at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“Keeping a food diary is like exercise, it will always help you lose if you do it consistently,” Newswise quoted Mosunic as saying. — ANI

Yoga “terrible” for your knees

London: Performing yoga on a regular basis may hurt your knees, an Indian orthopaedic surgeon has warned. Dr Ashok Rajgopal said that he has seen a higher incidence of joint and bone ailments among the followers of the practice and has performed knee replacement surgery on a number of leading yoga gurus.

His warning has challenged those who say yoga, which is now a multi-billion pound global industry, can ward off the effects of ageing and leave devotees feeling fitter as well as stronger.

Some of its most charismatic teachers, like India’s Baba Ramdev, who has built a worldwide empire through television appearances, believe that its breathing exercises can even cure diseases like HIV Aids and cancer. But Dr Rajgopal says the extreme stretching exercises at the heart of the discipline cause severe stress on joints, leading to arthritis. “Yoga is wonderful provided it is done in a controlled environment, and people are trained and built up to doing such postures, but putting the public at large through these extreme yoga postures can create problems for them,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying. — ANI

Vegetarian diet may be good for kidney

Washington: A new study has suggested that sticking to a vegetarian diet can help kidney disease patients avoid accumulating toxic levels of phosphorous in their bodies. Kidney disease patients must limit their phosphorous intake, as high levels of the mineral can lead to heart disease and death. While medical guidelines recommend low phosphorus diets for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), phosphorus content is not listed on food labels.

Sharon Moe (Indiana University School of Medicine and Roudebush Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center) and her colleagues studied the effects of vegetarian and meat-based diets on phosphorous levels in nine patients with CKD. — ANI

Heart muscle grows with physical activity

Washington: We all know that exercise comes with metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, but little is understood about how physical activity influences the heart itself. Now, a new study offers some of the first molecular-level insights. The studies in mice suggested that exercise turns on a genetic programme that leads the heart to grow as heart muscle cells divide.

It appears that shift in activity is driven in part by a single transcription factor (a gene that controls other genes). That gene, known as C/EBPb, was known to play important roles in other parts of the body, but this is the first evidence for its influence in the heart. “We’ve identified a pathway involved in beneficial cardiac hypertrophy — the good kind of heart growth,” said Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard Medical School. — ANI

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