|HEALTH & FITNESS|
total body fitness
Candy temptation is
just eye candy!
Eat your veggies to
ward off cancer
Tweak a gene to
beat the blues!
Bird flu: is there
Epidemic is the occurrence of a disease in a large population over a short period of time. Whenever an epidemic assumes a larger dimension involving several countries, it is labelled as a pandemic. In its gravest sense, a pandemic may threaten the very existence of mankind. Fortunately, it is not so. Mankind has survived large pandemics of plague, cholera and influenza in the past millennia. Pandemics are rare these days but the threat remains and this is not entirely a science fiction proposition.
The latest threat in the news is the ‘bird flu’ or the ‘avian influenza’ which has refused to die in spite of the widespread culling of birds which has been undertaken in several South Eastern countries. Unfortunately, the problem is somewhat protected and difficult to eradicate early because of its inherent nature and mode of spread. Avian influenza has not yet occurred in India, but we are in no way immune to the problem. It is wise of the Indians to be careful, and at least knowledge about the problem that look helpless and shocked in the event of a tragedy.
Bird flu like most other epidemics is air borne and spreads by inhalation through the respiratory tract. Primarily, the bird flue affects the poultry birds such as the chicks and the fowl. It can also infect other animals (such as the pigs) and the birds including the wild waterfowl, ducks, sea birds and shore birds. The involvement of the migratory birds is really worrisome and largely uncontrollable. Migratory birds are known to transgress international boundaries and therefore spread the disease from one to the other continent. The virus is secreted in the bird droppings in large numbers and infects the air, the dust and the soil. Infection subsequently spreads by inhalation of the air polluted by the infected dust. The virus can also be transmitted through manual contact with the infected equipment, clothing, vehicles and other mechanical items from one poultry farm to another and from one to the other place.
Influenza is a common problem of the upper respiratory tract characterised by fever, malaise, cough and respiratory catarrh. It is generally a self limiting disease requiring nothing more than a symptomatic treatment. But influenza outbreaks by new strains of viruses can prove to be dangerous and frequently fatal. Different strains have affected human beings in different epidemics. The current strain, recognised as H5N1 had originated in the Asian continent in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand and considered responsible for a few hundred human cases and several deaths. But it is not the absolute number of cases or deaths that matter. It is potential of spread as an epidemic which is the real cause of worry. Fortunately, the human to human transmission of this strain of virus is not yet known. This offers a degree of optimism and hopefulness against the occurance of this flu as a major epidemic in humans.
Both avain influenza now and the SARS in the recent past had common origin from animal viruses and started in Asia. SARS could be nipped in the bud while the threat from avian influenza seems to have lessened. But it has not altogether disappeared. Millions of birds have been slaughtered in Asia to prevent the spread of infection. This has raised the issue of eternal vigilance and caution. Early preventing steps including the availability of prophylactic vaccines must remain as priorities in the health sector administration.
Recently in Italy, ‘diva’ — a prima donna in vaccination has been advocated. DIVA control strategy is differentiating infected from vaccinated animals’, based on the use of an inactivated oil emulsion vaccine as an effective tool to eradicate avian influenza in animals. In summary, one can emphasise that the real prevention lies in the containment of disease among the animals before the humans are infected. This goal can be achieved only if adequate attention is directed to the health of animals and the hygienic measures adopted in the handling of animal food. The enemy needs to be fought long before it invades our territories.
The writer is Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh.
total body fitness
Cross-training implies achieving overall fitness, strength and flexibility by undertaking various types of workouts. In cross-training, the body uses different types of muscles with different exercises, which prepare the body for almost any activity.
During cross-training, two or more types of exercises are performed in one work or alternatively in successive workouts. For example, a person going out for a walk or jogging daily may also lift weights twice a week, perform stretching exercises and high-intensity aerobic activity like running and speed cycling once a week.
Individuals undergoing one type of training every day should shift to cross training to achieve the maximum benefits of exercise. Jogging enhances physical fitness, improving cardiovascular health, whereas weight training increases muscle mass but does not provide flexibility for which stretching/yoga exercises are required.
Performing the same exercise repeatedly such as running for 30 minutes at the same speed every day ends up utilising fewer calories each time. Our body thus becomes accustomed to it and one never achieves the fitness goal, whereas in cross-training, the body uses different types of muscle, improves overall fitness by enhancing strength, stamina and flexibility.
Cross-training also has an edge over routine training as it is varied in nature and also more pleasurable. The greatest benefit is the reduction in the risk of injuries. When focus is on a similar type of activity like running every day where only leg muscle/thigh muscle is being overused, thereby putting undue strain on knees, feet or ankle resulting in knee pain, shin pain and heel pain. This leads to the avoidance of activity such as running.
Cross-training ensures that if one body part is strained/ injured, the other form of exercises may continue. If an individual has a knee problem one can continue with stretching/ strengthening exercises of upper limbs.
In cross-training, the following type of exercises can be combined to get the maximum benefit.
Cross-training programme to boost aerobic fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance and flexibility may be as under:
Monday - Brisk walking (20-30 minutes); lower body weight training (20 minutes) and stretching/yoga (5-10 minutes).
Tuesday - Jogging at a steady pace (20-30 minutes); stretching/Yoga (5-10 minutes),
Wednesday - Brisk walking (20-30 minutes); stretching (5-10 minutes), upper body weight training (20 minutes).
Thursday - Bicycling (20-30 minutes) and stretching (5-10 minutes).
Friday - Walking (20-30 minutes); upper and lower body weight training. (20-30 minutes).
Saturday - Jogging at a varied pace (30-45 minutes) - stretching (5-10 minutes).
Sunday - Rest/yoga (20-30 minutes).
Exercise should be a pleasure. It should not be boring. Therefore, one should shift to cross -training.
WASHINGTON: This may help those of you who simply cannot resist the urge of popping that tempting looking candy, lying on the desk, into your mouth. It’s simple enough, keep it in an opaque jar instead of a transparent container, so that you are not lured into over stuffing yourself.
A Cornell University study has found that women eat more than twice as many Hershey Kisses when they are in clear containers on their desks than when they are in opaque containers on their desks, but fewer when they are six feet away.
Pam Staub, administrative assistant in the Department of Applied Economics and Management, reaches for a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses in her Warren Hall office, while Professor Brian Wansink looks on.
"Interestingly, however, we found that participants consistently underestimated their intake of the candies on their desks yet overestimated how much they ate when the candies were farther away," said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell. — ANI
WASHINGTON: A new research has revealed that veggies contain chemicals that appear to enhance DNA repair in cells, which could lead to protection against cancer development.
In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature), the researchers show that a compound called indole-3-carinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soyabeans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.
Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables, especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli-aren’t particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person’s risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study’s senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. — ANI
WASHINGTON: Researchers at Florida State University have used a gene transfer technique to block the expression of a gene associated with clinical depression, in a new study on mice that could lead to better treatment of human beings with this condition.
Carlos Bolanos, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience, was among a team of researchers that identified the role of a gene called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in the development of social aversion.
Mice treated with a transfer technique to block expression of the BDNF gene in a small area of the mid-brain did not develop the aversion despite repeated encounters with aggressive rodents. The study was published in the February 10 issue of the journal Science. — ANI
Usually when winter says goodbye, it announces the advent of a warm pleasant spring season. But, unfortunately, this weather is not so pleasant for all. For people who are weather sensitive this is the time they dread because the changing weather means their problems are going to be back.
Allergies, migraines, asthma, mood disorders, rheumatic disorders and skin problems are some of the problems that show a great tendency to be triggered by or aggravated by weather changes. Strangely, these conditions tend to occur more in such weather sensitive individuals. It is commonly seen that respiratory allergies aggravate either during the change from a hot to a cold weather or vice versa. March to April and September to October are the worst periods for sensitive people.
Some people are sensitive to the least change. So much so that they cannot endure the normal weather change in the day-time. They can have strong symptoms coming up due to a change in the temperature but these problems disappear within a few hours. Simple activities like moving out from a car into the open or even from a room into open air or vice versa can trigger or aggravate their symptoms. They can be all-right at one time, but have strong symptoms of cold and runny nose soon after.
Now two big questions: why does this happen and is there any solution to it?
The answer to the first part is that medical science is not clearly able to explain all the different reactions occurring due to weather variations. Changes in the atmospheric pressure around us, and in the levels of electromagnetism are two of the possible explanations that seem to fit in.
But one of the biggest factors is that we have started to live in a very secure and controlled environment which has rendered our body weak to handle variations in the atmosphere. In other words, by adding things like heaters, airconditioners and coolers we have made our body less trained to bear weather shocks.
An effective solution lies with the
homoeopathic system of medicine. There are different medicines to take
care of every change of weather.