|HEALTH & FITNESS|
Menopausal zone: yoga can help
Arthritis: physical activity prevents disability
Functional foods getting popular
A workplace disorder
Menopausal zone: yoga can help
The menopausal zone is certainly a time when medical supervision is required and an extra-psychological, hormonal and spiritual support is invaluable. Yoga can soothe, balance and rejuvenate the women in the menopausal zone. But yoga is best learnt in a medical clinic, and let it be the part of a gynaecological regimen; the hormonal replacement therapy, soya supplements, and counselling etc. Let there be no misunderstanding; do not take treatment for your medical problems from non-doctors. Yoga can supplement and complement a doctor’s effort.
An hour of yoga three times a week is enough to make a difference. The most obvious benefits of yoga are the increased strength and flexibility of your body, your calmer mind and more centered feelings. But yoga works on very subtle levels as well. Yoga balances the endocrine system, which controls your body’s production of hormones, and it calms the nervous system, reducing stress, which aggravates hot flashes.
By taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, we can regard menopause as the opportunity for rejuvenation and live more fully than ever before with renewed vitality, inner peace and power.
Do not be influenced by the name of asanas. Here are a few simple yoga poses to get you started:
Begin with your breath: Sit up straight and create as much space as you can for your lungs. Take a long, deep breath. Exhale completely. Take several breaths. Breathe rhythmically, focusing on your breath. Allow the rhythm of your deep breathing to relax your entire body.
Cat stretches: Come to your hands and knees. As you inhale, bend your elbows slightly and press your hands into the floor, bringing your chest forward and upward between your arms. Lift the crown of your head and your tailbone towards the ceiling and drop your belly towards the floor. As you exhale, arch your spine up, bringing your belly button towards your spine. Draw your forehead and your pubic bone towards each other. Repeat the movement several times, developing a smooth, flowing rhythm, combining your movement with your breath.
Lying bow pose: Lie on your tummy and bend your knees, bringing your feet toward your buttocks. As you exhale, reach back and grasp your ankles or feet. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, begin raising your feet towards the ceiling, lifting your legs and chest off of the floor. Breathe deeply. Release gently.
Cobbler sit-up: Sit straight with the soles of your feet together. Allow your thighs to relax gently out to the sides as you tip your belly button slightly towards your heels. Keep your back flat. Grasp your feet and lift your chest as you carefully flatten your back. Slowly, as you reach through the crown of your head, begin to lean forward, hinging from the hips. Find your edge and back away, inhale, then soften as you exhale forward. You may also do it as you lie on your back on the floor with the soles of your feet together and support your thighs with blankets under your knees.
Shoulder stand: Lie on your back with a folded blanket under your shoulders and your neck extending beyond the edge of the blanket. Allow your head to rest on the floor. Gently bring your legs towards your chest and your feet behind your head. Bring your hands to your back near your waist for support. Walk your shoulders towards each other to support your neck and slowly raise your legs overhead. Your body-weight should be on your shoulders, not on your neck or head. Try to keep your legs together, feet pointing straight up towards the ceiling. Breathe deeply. Stay up as long as you comfortably can.
Mind you, yoga is not a substitute for medical care.
The writer, a senior gynaecologist, has a few books to her credit.
Arthritis: physical activity prevents disability
Arthritis implies inflammation leading to pain and stiffness of the joint. The trend even today commonly seems not to undertake physical activity resulting in joint stiffness accompanied by the weakness of the muscles. Prolonged stiffness could lead to permanent disability.
The commonly encountered arthritis is osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc. Osteoarthritis is degenerative (wear and tear) which primarily afflicts elderly people. The commonly involved parts of the body are knees, hip, shoulders and lower back.
Treatment comprises medication which alleviates pain and inflammation.
Rest reduces pain and inflammation especially during acute stages and where multiple joints are involved and fatigue is a major problem.
Application of ice packs or heat pads, ultrasound, etc, also relieves pain. Heat relaxes muscle spasm around inflamed joints. Hence the benefits of warm bath or shower prior to exercises facilitates physical activity.
Exercises play an important and integral part in the treatment of arthritis. They help relieve pain and fatigue and preserve normal joint function. Avoiding physical activity due to pain and discomfort can lead to muscle weakness and excessive weight gain. The prime aim of physical therapy is to enable the individuals to be able to perform their daily activities without pain and discomfort.
An ideal exercise regimen aims to include three types: exercises to increase the range of motion, strengthening and aerobic exercises which in unison relieve symptoms of arthritis and protect joints from further damage.
Exercises to increase the range of motion
It has been observed that generally people with arthritis of hands, knees etc. keep joints in bent positions. This relieves discomfort/ pain temporarily but also carries the risk of loss of joint mobility. These exercises help maintain normal joint function. Initially, controlled movements are undertaken and joints are then stretched progressively further until a normal range of motion is achieved.
Strong muscles are the mainstay of stable joints and also protect them from further damage. Several types of strengthening exercises are known, but isometric exercises are the ones which strengthen the muscles without moving/ bending the painful joints. Exercises performed with a stretch band are very helpful, as they exert no pressure on the joints.
Water therapy (hydrotherapy) is a programme of exercises performed in a swimming pool. These exercises do not put pressure on the joints as water takes the weight off the painful area while providing resistance.
Aerobic exercises imply any activity that increases the heart rate and circulates more oxygen-rich blood to the entire body. These exercises also help reduce/ control weight and improve overall fitness. Initiating with 15 to 20 minutes of aerobic activity daily three times a week, one should gradually increase it to 40 minutes, which includes 5-10 minutes of warm-up and 5-10 minutes of cool-down. Walking is the easiest exercise to begin with, as it puts no load on the joints. Cycling is another good choice as it puts less stress on the foot, ankle and knee joints.
Arthritis, particularly rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, affects small joints of the hand. The following exercises are very effective in such cases:
Finger extension: Place a rubber band around all five fingertips, spread fingers 25 times and repeat it three times.
Ball squeeze: Place a rubber ball or tennis ball in the palm of the hand, squeeze 25 times and repeat it three times.
Putty exercises: Putty or clay comes in a variety of resistances, indicated by different colours and can be switched as the patient’s strength improves.
The patient can perform wrist flexion and extension by grasping the putty with the uninvolved hand and pulling on the putty with the involved hand.
It is indeed vital for people suffering from arthritis (may be due to any reason) to undertake proper physical activity during the initial stages otherwise permanent disability is inevitable and one will have to live with pain.
The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.
Functional foods getting popular
In recent years, interest in the role of diet in human health and diseases has grown significantly. The role played by low-at diet in lowering blood cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases (CHD) is well known to all of us. Consequently, the dietary intervention strategies based around the health-enhancing role of specific foods or the physiologically active food components to prevent the onset and progression of various diseases have led to rapid growth of certain foods in the market known as “functional foods”. These foods provide health benefits beyond the basic nutrition.
Though all fruits and vegetables naturally contain certain functional ingredients, market nowadays is also flooded with foods fortified or supplemented with health enhancing dietary components such as calcium, iron, vitamins, proteins and fibers. The fortified wheat flour, biscuits, juices, infant milk formulae and certain health drinks such as Bourn Vita and Complan are the modified functional foods.
The natural functional ingredients in the diet, which we consume, provide potential health benefits such as maintenance of healthy vision by carotenoids from carrots, prevention of prostate cancer by lycopene in tomatoes, detoxification of undesirable toxins produced in the body by dietary incorporation of onion and garlic that have the functional ingredients, thiols and sulfides, in abundance, etc.
Garlic needs special mention because of its numerous health benefits like cancer chemoprevention, antihypertensive, antibacterial and its cholesterol-lowering potential. However, the intact bulb of garlic does not contain much of the medicinally active functional ingredient that gets activated only when its clove is crushed or chewed. The clove of garlic thus should not be swallowed as such with water.
Tea contains potent functional ingredients that provide cardio-protective and cancer chemopreventive effects and should preferably be taken without adding milk. Adding milk to the tea drastically neutralises the beneficial effects of the bioactive components in the tea, though the finding is not without controversy. The same is true for milk chocolates. The milk chocolate does not boost the plasma total antioxidant capacity as much as the dark chocolate.
A good value of total antioxidant capacity (TAC) means protection against oxidative stress-related diseases like hardening of the arteries, several common types of cancers, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Recently, a database of TAC for fruits and vegetables had been developed. As paragus — safed musli — shows highest TAC value followed by artichoke, i.e. hathichuck, turnip tops and onions whereas in the case of fruits it is the berries, particularly the black berries, that top the TAC chart and then comes the olives, plums, pineapples and oranges.
Functional foods surely have the potential to mitigate diseases and promote health. One should, however, consume a wide variety of natural foods to derive the health benefits of varied types of functional ingredients rather than switching from a diverse healthy diet to a one with increased dependence on functional additives or modifications.
The writer is Assistant Professor, Dept of Physiology, Dr R. P. Government Medical College & Hospital, Kangra at Tanda (HP).
A workplace disorder
You’re irritable and restless — sometimes impulsive — at work. You fidget through meetings, lose track of appointments and jump at the sound of a mobile phone. Sometimes you wonder if you are becoming overwhelmed by the stress of your job. But then you look around and you notice that others are working just as hard, enduring the same amount of pressure — and looking just as ragged as you are. Is there something wrong with you? Or is there something wrong with the modern work culture?
Attention deficit trait (ADT) is a newly recognised workplace disorder caused by the pressure of modern office life. When the pressure gets too great, fear takes over as the driving force, and the result, it’s suggested, can be ADT, a perpetual state of low-level panic, guilt and fear, with difficulty in organising, setting priorities and managing time.
As many as one in three employees, especially managers, may have some symptoms of the disorder, but it’s claimed whole organisations can be engulfed by it, leading to widespread depression, anxiety and a host of other complications. “It’s a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live,” says psychiatrist Dr Edward Hallowell. “But it has become epidemic in today’s organisations”.
ADT joins a growing list of workplace health problems that now include stress, anxiety, burnout, bullying, workaholism, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress. — The Independent
LONDON: Morning sickness may leave a woman feeling terrible, but a new study has found that it could also be the body’s way of telling her that she’s eating the wrong things.
The study was carried out at the University of Liverpool, in which researchers analysed 56 studies on morning sickness from 21 countries and looked at typical diets to see if food could play a part in the problem. It suggests that morning sickness may have come about as a way of ensuring that the foetus is not exposed to potentially damaging foods, after it was found that women who consume lots of sugars, sweeteners, fried food, meat, milk, eggs and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, are more likely to suffer from it.— ANI
Smoking accounts for health inequalities
LONDON: Smoking is to be blamed for half of the difference in male death rates between men in the top and bottom social classes, say international researchers.
In England, Wales, the US, Canada and Poland, men of lower social class, income or education have a two-fold increased risk of dying earlier.
More than half of this involved differences in smoking-related death risk, they found.
Experts said the Lancet study showed the impact stopping smoking could have.
Professor Sir Richard Peto, co-author from the University of Oxford, said: “Widespread cessation of smoking could eventually halve the absolute differences between these social strata in the risk of premature death.” — ANI
Genetic link found to noise-induced hearing loss
LONDON: Belgian scientists have pinpointed three genes which could explain why some people exposed to loud noise suffer hearing loss.
The genes discovered by Professor Guy Van Camp and researchers at the University of Antwerp are involved in the recycling of potassium in the inner ear, which is essential for normal hearing.
Dr Ralph Holme, of Britain’s national charity for the deaf and hard of hearing RNID, which funded the research, described the finding as a very exciting breakthrough. — Reuters
Eye artery narrowing seen in migraine
NEW YORK: Adults who suffer from bouts of migraine without aura have slightly narrower retinal blood vessels, or arterioles, than adults without migraine, research shows. The finding supports the hypothesis that microvascular disease may be associated with certain types of migraine, investigators note in a report in the journal Headache.— Reuters