|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, September 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
AYURVEDA & YOU
Life styles: cause and cure of heart & other ailments
THE role of life styles in human health and well-being has been widely stressed by Hippocrates, the father of medicine (6th Century B.C). He stated, "Whoever wishes to study medicine well, should proceed thus: In the first place to consider the seasons of the year.... The waters .... The ground and the mode in which the inhabitants live and what are their pursuits, whether they are fond of eating and drinking to excess and given to sedentary living or they are fond of exercise and labour." While making this observation, Hippocrates had expressed a deep concern about the effects on health of living, eating and drinking habits, popularly called life styles.
Life styles — cause & cure of heart attack
The cause of most of the heart diseases is not known. Atherosclerotic narrowing of coronary arteries (coronary heart disease) and the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the heart is the major cause of maximum deaths and disability among the adults and the elderly all over the world. India too has, unfortunately, not lagged behind in contributing to this epidemic of heart attacks — the malady now affecting young males in their most productive years of life in the fourth and fifth decades. The causitive agent(s) of heart attacks and high blood pressure, the duo responsible for the maximum global mortality and morbidity among the adults and the elderly, are not known. But we do know that people’s faulty living habits have a major share in the genesis and aggravation of the process of atherosclerosis, the basic underlying reason for heart attacks, angina, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. These factors by now have been clearly understood by physicians and are equally well known to the public through the Press and electronic media.
Termed as the risk factors for heart attacks (coronary risk factors), these include (1) cigarette smoking; (2) high blood pressure; (3) high blood levels of cholestrol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) and trigcerides; (4) low blood levels of the friendly cholestrol, i.e. high density lipoprotein (HDL); (5) overweight; (6) uncontrolled diabetes; (7) sedentary living habits and lack of physical activity; (8) diet rich in foods of animal origin like milk and dairy products and red meat, and heavy alcohol consumption; (9) repeated stressful situation and facing frequent hostile environment challenges; (10) familial tendency for heart disease, i.e. a positive family history of a close blood relative having suffered heart attacks, hypertension or diabetes.
As one can understand that out of these 10 risk factors, the first nine are controllable and are related to the faulty life styles of an individual. Diets rich in total calories, refined sugar, animal fats, and excessive alcohol intake, combined with the lack of physical exercise result in overweight, high blood cholestrol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Smoking adds fuel to the fire and aggravates the process of atherosclerosic and spasm of the coronary arteries. Sudden cardiac deaths are more common among cigarette smokers. The occurrence of anger in different situations and repeated exposures to a hostile and stressful environment both at home and at work initiate and aggravate higher blood pressure (hypertension), high frequency and force of heart beating, thereby putting the heart under undue workload. When this happens very often, the heart suffers and succumbs.
Perhaps, it was this observation that made Charaka, the great Indian physician, give this statement, "Those who wish to protect their hearts, its roots (coronary arteries) and the contents therein must scrupulously avoid all that causes affiction of the mind." There have been several experimental and clinical studies in modern medicine to support the above observation, specially the work done by Bernard Lown, the American cardiologist, who has reported the association arrhythmias (pulse irregularities and erratic heart rhythm) and sudden cardiac death to mental stresses.
Thus, having the knowledge of certain risk factors, the sensible approach and certainly a more economical, too, will be to prevent heart attacks in the first instance (primary prevention) by correcting the faulty life styles and strictly observing the same after the first attack so as to avoid the occurrence of another attack (secondary prevention). One must understand that the current treatment for heart attacks with modern drugs, ballooning and bypass surgery is very expensive, unaffordable by most families (the disease is largely affecting the middle classes) and even the state. It is, therefore, through life style modifications, followed very seriously, that we can hope to contain and control this epidemic of heart disease.
Preventive and protective factors
1. Balanced diet: Adequate calories so as not to put on extra weight, rich in vegetable fibre and nuts, complex carbohydrates (roots, tubers, lentils, legumes) and low in dairy products, refined sugar, organ meats like liver, brain, etc. Alcohol consumption should be limited up to two small drinks (one drink = one ounce whisky) or two glasses of beer or wine.
2. Regular physical exercise: The beneficial cardio-protective effects of physical exercise come from its control on body weight, blood pressure and training of muscles to do more work with oxygen availability. Physical exercise improves blood sugar levels, decreases harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides and raises the protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Physical exercise through increased blood levels of endorphins and nitric oxide brings physical and mental relaxation and an over-all feeling of well-being. Examples of dynamic (isotonic) exercise are brisk walking for about 30 minutes daily, rope jumping, floor mopping, swimming and outdoor games like tennis, badminton and golf. Excuses like weather not too good to go out or not enough time available can be taken care of by having a stationary cycle or a simple treadmill at home which can be used for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
3. Mental relaxation: Each time there is an agitation or tension in mind, there is a rise in the pulse rate and blood pressure, and this puts the heart under undue strain. Mental stresses also result in increased blood levels of adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, fatty acids and blood sugar, all these being harmful for the heart. Mental relaxation attained through meditation, yoga and music is, therefore, another important food for the heart. Physical exercise itself brings a great deal of mental relaxation.
4. Avoiding smoking: There is enough data available to incriminate the smoking habit to a high incidence of heart attacks, angina, peripheral arterial blockages (leg clandication) and sudden cardiac death. Therefore, the good habit of not smoking will not only prevent several heart diseases but also protect the person from lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and the cancer of the voice box (larynx), urinary bladder and cervix.
Risk factors for heart attacks have often been talked about. Let us now focus more on the positive side for the heart’s well-being through maintaining a healthy life style.
AYURVEDA & YOU
WATER is among the five primordial elements considered to be vital for any type of life or vegetation on this planet. Great civilizations of the world grew and developed on the banks of big watercourses. May it be the grand Nile or the majestic Indus or other lakes and springs, water has been so important that ancient inhabitants choose it as their first preference to settle nearby. Therapeutic value of both food and water mattered to mankind right from the early days.
Qualities of pure water: Acharya Sushruta has written that water which is devoid of all smell and taste and is pure, cool, transparent and pleasant should be considered ambrosia for life. Saying that water is best among all food articles, he adds that pure water is life-giving and always helpful to human body. Besides maintaining the digestion and providing satisfaction, if taken in right quantity, it is easy to assimilate and acts as a vehicle to maintain the essential functions of the body. Water counters dryness, lubricates all the systems, and after nurturing the body also detoxifies it when it flows out as urine and sweat.
Ayurveda has clearly advised against using contaminated water for all purposes. It says that a man who drinks or bathes in contaminated water, incurs the risk of being affected with edema, jaundice, abdominal worms, skin infections, indigestion, colic, ascitis and many other dreadful diseases. Ancient author Pandit Bhavaprakash has advised that water which is pure and is kept overnight in a copper vessel should be the first drink of the day. Perhaps, he was also hinting that copper as a trace element is essential for the body.
Hot and cold water: Ancient texts have also dwelt upon the qualities of cold and warm water. Cold water has been recommended in summer and in conditions arising due to the vitiation of "pitta" such as the abuse of wine, loss of consciousness, hypertension, fatigue and burning sensation of the body. It should not be used in rheumatoid arthritis, catarrh, distension of the abdomen, cough and immediately after taking an oily food or a fatty drink. Warm water pacifies aggravated "vata" and "kapha". It is appetising and diuretic and beneficial in sinusitis, obesity, productive and dry cough, and chest congestion.
Water recipes: Ayurveda advises simple water recipes to be used in different body types and diseases. Two litres of water boiled with a teaspoonful of dry ginger powder should be given in divided doses in a day for all "vata" diseases, specially during the active phase of the rheumatoid arthritis. To balance vitiated "pitta", put two rose buds and half a teaspoonful of sandal powder in two litres of boiled water. Sip it after cooling or refrigerating. For "kapha" situations 10 leaves of tulsi, five gm of dry ginger powder and half teaspoonful of zeera powder should be boiled in two litres of water for five minutes and should be consumed slowly in a day.
Water and meals: The relation of water and food is very close. As a rule, a person should drink water whenever he feels the thirst. One needs less water with meals taken with liquid dishes like daal and vegetable with gravy. Dry meals may require a little more of water as an adjunct. But taking too much water with meals certainly disturbs digestion. Not only with meals, one should not take excessive amount of water at a single time. Though a healthy adult requires approximately three litres of water in 24 hours, one can adjust it according to one’s needs and seasonal specifications. According to ayurveda, if a hungry man takes water and a thirsty man opts for food, both are putting their body systems in jeopardy.
NEW DELHI: Around 1.1 million Indians are suffering from corneal blindness and the numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate as the gap between the collected donor corneas and the required number too continues to widen.
Every year 40,000 more patients are added to the list while the amount of collected corneas from donors is always found to be far less. In 2001 only 21,000 corneas were collected", says Tanuja Joshi, Director of a private eye institute.
"Among the major factors responsible for the unavailability of donor tissues are the prevalence of myths and misconceptions, lack of the government's support and general awareness, ill-equipped eye banks, shortage of trained specialists, poor communication and lack of a proper transport system", says the Director. PTI
Health care scheme
CHANDIGARH: The INSCOL Hospital group has come out with an innovative scheme to promote health care in the region. Named Health Plans, the scheme offers the following benefits:
*Preventive health care by way of regular and comprehensive check-ups.
*Risk coverage in the case of hospitalisation without any hassles of upfront payments or reimbursement of bills.
*Offers value proposition by way of telemedicine, helpline, web hosting of data, etc.
The scheme has it that when a person subscribes to a health plan, he or she agrees to frequent only those hospitals and clinics mentioned in the policy. In return, they do not have to pay their medical bills themselves. The bills are claimed directly by the hospitals from the insurance company. This is no small advantage when one considers the difficulty involved in getting reimbursement cleared from insurance agencies after first having paid the bill.
Health Plans are available at an affordable cost and offer an opportunity to the common man to have access to quality health care from leading hospitals in India, according to Mr Daljit Singh Gujral, Director, INSCOLHospital, Chandigarh. TNS
Lung cancer in women
STOCKHOLM: The increase in the number of women smokers that started in the 1960s is beginning to show in Swedish statistics, and in five years more women will die of lung cancer than men, Swedish scientists have said. "Sweden will probably be the first country in the world where this happens", said Kjell Larsson, Professor at the Karolinska Institute and chairman of the European Respiratory Society congress held in Stockholm.
Only in Iceland, where women have similar smoking habits, could women surpass men in the lung cancer death statistics faster, he added in a statement. Reuters
Aids in CIS
GENEVA: The HIV/AIDS epidemic has exploded in eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, posing the greatest health threat to youth in the region, the United Nations has said.
In a report, the UNChildren's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the killer disease was spreading "virtually unchecked" into the wider population through heterosexual contact with injecting drug users.
Russia and Ukraine account for nine-tenth of the estimated one million HIV/AIDS cases in the 27 transition countries, according to UNICEF's Social Monitor-2002. The figure, through 2001, compares to 700,000 a year earlier and 420,000 in 1998. Reuters
New drug for hepatitis B
The Food and Drug Administration has
approved a drug, adefoir dipivoxil, for patients suffering from
potentially dangerous hepatitis B. It will be sold as Hepsera. The
treatment, made by Gilead Sciences Inc, is just one of three therapies
for patients with hepatitis B — a virus that can lead to cirrhosis
and liver cancer. ANI