HEALTH & FITNESS

The truth about cooking oils
by Dr H.S. Wasir
V
arious oils, ghee and butter have been used as a cooking medium for centuries to enhance the taste and give flavour to the food. In the recent few decades, there have been controversies involving scientists, medical personnel, nutritionists and the media over the choice of oils and fats as a cooking medium. 

Puberty brings its own problems
by Dr Meenal Kumar
A
t puberty, a girl will see the maximum growth in height and weight. Changes with puberty may occur gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time. Some adolescents may experience these signs of maturity sooner or later than others.

Your body clock is ticking
B
efore the quiet of the night gives way to the murmur of morning, while the bedroom is still murky and the alarm clock has yet to cleave a new day, a silent wake-up call ripples through your body. 

Gardening can be injurious to health
LONDON:
Gardeners are now being advised warm up exercises like athletes before attending to their duties. According to The Sun, a survey by the Mobilis Healthcare Group has revealed that casualty departments deal with 337,000 people with gardening injuries every year.

Homoeopathy & you
How monsoon aggravates asthma
by Dr Vikas Sharma
W
ith the monsoon hitting northern India this week, there is hope for a pleasant weather ahead. But a humid weather is the worst period for some of the asthmatics. A well-directed homoeopathic treatment before or even during the wet weather can reduce a great amount of suffering.

What is memory loss?
M
emory is either immediate (covering the past few seconds); intermediate (until the past few days); or long-term (extending back to childhood). The immense amount of information humans are able to process is staggering, and memory plays an indispensable part in that process. 

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The truth about cooking oils
by Dr H.S. Wasir

Various oils, ghee and butter have been used as a cooking medium for centuries to enhance the taste and give flavour to the food. In the recent few decades, there have been controversies involving scientists, medical personnel, nutritionists and the media over the choice of oils and fats as a cooking medium. The reason can be found possibly if we go back to over 50 years when it was convincingly shown by epidemiological, clinical and experimental data that arterioseclerostic plaques (narrowing of blood vessels) which resulted in heart attacks, stroke and heart failure were very rich in cholesterol and other fats.

Several studies showed that foods that contained more of saturated fatty acids (SAFA) were more atherogenic and thrombogenic (clogging of arteries) while foods, specially the cooking oils, that contained more of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) prevented atherogenesis (cholesterol deposits).

In general, the fats and oils that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature like meat fat, coconut oil, butter, ghee and hydrogenerated oils are rich in SAFA while the oils that remain liquid at room temperature and even at lower temperatures contain more PUFA and MUFA. Although PUFA and MUFA have anti-atherogenic (prevention of cholesterol deposits) properties, SAFA cannot be totally dispensed with as they have anti-cancer properties.

SAFA markedly increases the atherogenic low density lipoprotein (LDL) but slightly increases the anti-atherogenic high density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the friendly cholesterol. PUFA lowers LDL and increases HDL (specially the N-3 PUFA). MUFA significantly lowers LDL, raises the HDL level and lowers insulin resistance. Both PUFA and MUFA are antiatheregenic and antithrombotic, hence desirable in the choice of cooking media.

In the Mediterranean countries high intake of MUFA provided by widely used olive oil as a cooking medium and dressing for salads is inversely related to the low incidence of atheroselorotic disease, including coronary artery problems (heart attacks). The near equivalents of olive oil in India are mustard oil, corn oil, sunflower and safflower oils, peanut oil, almond oil and walnut oil. Nuts in general are a rich source of MUFA and PUFA, lower the harmful LDL and raise the friendly HDL. They are antiatherogenic (preventing the clogging of arteries).

What is true with the concept of balanced diet as a wholesome healthy diet should be the case with cooking oils. We should choose a cooking medium that contains a large proportion of oils with antiatherogenic fatty acids like MUFA and PUFA and smaller amounts of SAFA-rich oils.

The writer is Chief Cardiologist and Medical Adviser, Batra Hospital, New Delhi.

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Puberty brings its own problems
by Dr Meenal Kumar

At puberty, a girl will see the maximum growth in height and weight. Changes with puberty may occur gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time. Some adolescents may experience these signs of maturity sooner or later than others.

Each girl experiences puberty at her own time. Some delay or variation in growth should not cause anxiety.

As an adolescent person nears puberty, the pituitary gland in the brain increases the secretion of a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone then causes additional effects. In girls, FSH activates the ovaries to start producing estrogen.

Each girl is different and may undergo through these changes differently. Do not get worried if you find that another girl of your age has developed breast or pubic hair while you have none.

There may be not only an increase in height and weight but also the hips may get wider and the waists get smaller. There may be an increase in fat in the buttocks, legs and stomach.

The body size will increase, with the feet, arms, legs and hands sometimes growing faster than the rest of the body. This may cause an adolescent girl to experience a time of feeling clumsy. As the hormones of puberty increase, adolescents may experience more sweating with oily skin.

It is important to wash the face daily, otherwise acne may develop. Menstrual periods begin when the body releases an egg from the ovaries. With an unfertilised egg, the tissues inside the uterus are not needed and are shed through the vagina as menstrual fluid.

Studies have found that most of the adolescents are ill informed about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. Talk calmly and honestly about safe sex. Listen to your adolescent and answer his/her questions honestly.

Have annual PAP and pelvic tests done without hesitation. Consult your physician if you have bleeding between periods or missing periods, frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning sensation during urination, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain or pressure in pelvis that differs from menstrual cramps, itching, burning, swelling, redness, or soreness in the vaginal area or any other such problem.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based gynaecologist and author of "Better Health after Menopause".Top

Your body clock is ticking

Before the quiet of the night gives way to the murmur of morning, while the bedroom is still murky and the alarm clock has yet to cleave a new day, a silent wake-up call ripples through your body. As the signal spreads, you slowly begin to warm up. Your brain twitches with renewed electrical activity and your heart stirs from its night-time idling to an expectant thud. You are still asleep, but your body is gearing up for the start of the day.

The switch from sleep to waking is just one of the tightly choreographed changes that happen in our bodies in any 24-hour stretch. Thanks to a biological clock, almost every region of our body and mind knows when it must work hardest and when it can take a break. But as scientists unravel the mechanisms that make us run like clockwork, they are coming to some alarming conclusions. While optimists claim that understanding our body clocks will lead to better cures for disease, others believe it might undermine decades of medical testing.

Chronobiology, as the study of body clocks is known, has already produced some curiosities. If you want to give your firmest handshake, for example, do it in the few hours after 6pm. If you want to bet on when you might give birth naturally, go for between 4am and 6am. But it's not all light-hearted pub chat fodder. You are more likely to die during certain hours of the morning. If you have osteoarthritis, it will hit you worst in early evening. Your risk of an asthma attack is 300 times higher between 2am and 6am. Each disease, it seems, strikes hardest
at a time of its ownchoosing. — The Guardian
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Gardening can be injurious to health

LONDON: Gardeners are now being advised warm up exercises like athletes before attending to their duties. According to The Sun, a survey by the Mobilis Healthcare Group has revealed that casualty departments deal with 337,000 people with gardening injuries every year.

Most of the injuries involve pulled muscles and ligaments and back-related injuries that could have been prevented by a gentle warm-up session. Gardeners are also at risk from tennis elbow and housemaid’s knee from too much pruning and kneeling.
— ANI
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Homoeopathy & you
How monsoon aggravates asthma
by Dr Vikas Sharma

Living mould-free

Look for mould in closets, bathrooms, dirty clothes, garbage cans and children's soiled toys.
Try to improve air circulation in the closets and your bathroom. 
Clean your refrigerator often, throwing away the leftovers. 
Dry the damp areas in the kitchen.
Get fallen leaves, decaying plants and compost heaps near your house removed.

With the monsoon hitting northern India this week, there is hope for a pleasant weather ahead. But a humid weather is the worst period for some of the asthmatics. A well-directed homoeopathic treatment before or even during the wet weather can reduce a great amount of suffering.

Let us try and answer a basic question first. Why do some asthmatics suffer more or only in wet weather? It is because they have what is called "mould allergy". Moulds need a high humidity level to thrive on. So, in wet weather, especially during the monsoon, their growth and presence are the maximum. Most of the times asthma is an allergic reaction, which means that the body’s own defence system is attacking substances which it recognises as foreign one and tries to destroy them. It is during this interaction that a substance (which is responsible for all the symptoms of allergy) is produced. This substance is called histamine. So, when someone has asthma more or only in a wet weather, we know that it is the person’s own defence system which is reacting to molds.

It is not exactly molds but small particles produced by them and called spores that cause the main allergy. Inhaled mold spores, the spores from the mould, get lodged in the air pathways and usually cause reaction. The symptoms caused by them are similar to other allergic asthma — difficulty in breathing, wheezing accompanied by nasal congestion, sneezing, watery and itching eyes, rashes, coughing, sore throat and post-nasal drip.

There are thousands of types of molds, but fortunately only a few are responsible for this kind of allergy. Their seeds or reproductive particles are known as spores. Spores are the actual culprits that cause these allergies. One single growth of mold can generate millions of spores. Rotting logs and vegetation (pile of leaves, etc) are the prime habitat for molds as are damp walls and carpets. Moulds live and thrive at room temperature. Moulds are present inside homes too — bathrooms, house plants, refrigerators, foam pillows, washing machines and furniture.

Natrum sulphuricum and dulcamara are among the most effective homoeopathic medicines for treating the asthma that gets aggravated in a humid weather. Natrum sulphuricum solves two other purposes. First, it serves as a fortifying agent for the body and prevents the recurrent attacks of asthma. Second and the most important aspect is that it is a leading constitutional medicine for treating asthma in children. It is a deep acting medicine and can uproot the disease in totality.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based homoeopath.
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What is memory loss?

Memory is either immediate (covering the past few seconds); intermediate (until the past few days); or long-term (extending back to childhood). The immense amount of information humans are able to process is staggering, and memory plays an indispensable part in that process. We take our ability to remember things for granted until we start to lose it.

Everyone, from time to time, forgets names and appointments, either from being tired, too busy, or because facts just "slip" the mind. In its most dramatic form memory loss can come after a bump on the head, but more often it fades gradually over time. Knowing whether your memory loss is a normal part of life or is due to stress, anxiety, depression or illness is not always easy, and neither is measuring the extent of memory loss. However, the following questionnaire will give you some indication. Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:

  • Are you experiencing increased difficulty at learning new tasks?

  • Do you frequently forget material you have just read?

  • Are you forgetting people’s names or appointments?

  • Are you forgetting where you’ve placed your keys, etc?
     

  • Have you been told you are repeating yourself?

  • Are concentrating and focussing becoming more difficult?

  • Are everyday tasks such as programming the VCR or balancing your cheque book becoming more difficult?

Saying "yes" to up to three of these questions is normal, but if you say "yes" to four or more it is likely that you are experiencing memory problems.

The write-up is an extract from "Natural Therapies to Boost the Mood and the Mind" by Mim Beim, published by Unistar Books, Chandigarh.Top