|HEALTH & FITNESS|
Lifestyle can affect your memory
Smoking can play havoc with skin
Lifestyle can affect your memory
Giving due importance to various mental faculties, ancient Vedic literature has described good intellect, a sharp sense of discrimination and unfaltering memory a basic necessity for a healthy and long life. When we talk about memory, it is described as a complex cognitive process involving stages of acquisition, consolidation and retrieval of information. To the contrary, forgetfulness can be understood in many ways as absentmindedness, transient loss of memory and persistently failing to recollect something very usual or important.
In our daily life we come across many old people having a razor-sharp memory whereas we also listen from young persons, whether they are students or entrepreneurs, complaining that they easily forget a thing. Nevertheless, for most people occasional lapses in memory are considered to be normal, but if these become more pronounced affecting one’s daily performance then it can be termed as a medical condition. In general, failing memory has to be distinguished from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease which are the progressively degenerative medical disorders affecting a person’s cognitive functions.
Though various theories have been propounded to ascertain what makes good memory, it has been an equally well-researched fact that factors like our general health, working environment and lifestyle contribute a lot to making or reducing our brain power. Sometimes, even what looks like a significant memory loss can result due to many reversible factors. But before getting panicky and starting any treatment, it is important to look into some of the possible causes of failing memory.
Many patients complain of cognitive lapses or memory loss like side-effects when they are using some prescription or over-the-counter sold drugs. Common medicines that affect brain functioning are sleeping pills, antihistamines, pain-killers and anti-depressant or mood altering medicines. Recent researches have put the role of the much-used statins under scanner as they have been found to be one of the reasons for reversible memory loss in certain patients. Unbridled and overuse of some restorative herbs is also a cause for giving euphoric feeling to a person resulting in poor concentration.
Head injury, wasting diseases and conditions involving serious systemic infections besides old age, can lead to selective, generalised or more serious memory loss in susceptible patients. Of the psychological factors, chronic stress, anxiety and depression are known to badly affect a person’s ability to remain attentive and organised. Similarly, overactive or under active thyroid can also make a person restless, confused or sluggish as the case may be. Vitamin deficiency and slower nutritional absorption rate damage the neurons resulting in faster degeneration of the brain. Persistent abuse of alcohol is also a perceptible cause affecting the brain functioning, making a person temperamental, careless and less focused.
When we talk about the factors that improve memory, it is seen that the same practices which help us to live a healthy life and maintain vitality also contribute to building good brain power. Antioxidants found in abundance in fresh produce and the diet meeting the requirements of a given age is good for healthy mind and body. Nutritional elements like vitamins, proteins and Omega 3 fatty acids are proven aids for keeping the grey matter rejuvenated. Avoiding the intake of unnecessary fat also helps reduce cholesterol levels, thus minimising the risk of cerebral vascular problems.
Regular exercise boosts good circulation of blood and also reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the two main factors leading to stroke. Depending upon one’s cardiovascular status, daily workouts or walks help maintain good functioning of the brain, as exercise is a highly recommended aid in managing stress and alleviating anxiety and depression. Adopting yoga, pranayam and meditation techniques improve concentration and tranquillity of the mind which is a pre-requisite for good memory. Proper and timely sleep also freshens the brain and the mind.
Shunning smoking or abuse of alcohol should be the mantra of persons who are prone to memory lapses. Smokers perform worse than non-smokers in cognitive and withholding skills. Similarly, heavy use of alcohol also impairs memory. Keeping oneself positively busy and focused whether it is the normal work, social interactions or recreational activities and engaging the brain with hobbies like reading, writing and learning stimulates and sharpens one’s recollecting abilities.
The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior Ayurvedic physician and Guru at the Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth. E mail- firstname.lastname@example.org)
Smoking can play havoc with skin
Most of us are pretty clued up on the dangers of smoking when it comes to our health, but did you know that the habit could also play havoc with your looks?
As we approach another No Tobacco Day in our calendar, we should know about the effects of what we inhale on organs other than lungs, especially the effects on the largest organ system that is our skin.
If not for other reasons, avoid smoking as it damages the appearance of your skin. Skin damaged by smoke has a greyish, wasted appearance.
Smoking not only aggravates a lot of skin diseases but is a major factor in the causation of a set of skin disorders besides causing premature skin ageing.
Smoking and psoriasis
Smokers have a two to three-fold higher risk of developing psoriasis, a chronic skin condition. Some researchers have found a dose-response association of smoking and psoriasis that means the risk of the disease increases if the person continues to smoke. Smoking also appears to be more strongly associated with psoriasis among women than among men. It may cause as many as one quarter of all psoriasis cases and may also contribute to as many as half of the cases of palmoplantar pustulosis, a skin disease involving the hands and feet, which is a form of psoriasis.
Many studies have pointed out that pustular psoriasis of the palms and soles is aggravated by smoking. Patients who quit smoking found their lesions clearing up faster. Research also suggests that severity of psoriasis may be linked
Smoking delays wound healing, including skin injuries and surgical wounds.
Recent research has shown that the skin-ageing effects of smoking may be due to increased production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen in the skin. Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin which maintains skin elasticity.
The researchers noted that smokers’ skin can get prematurely aged by 10 to 20 years and, although the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the skin are irreversible, further deterioration can be avoided by quitting smoking.
Smoking ages you
Along with sun damage and hard living, nicotine can add years to your appearance. The effects of smoking in terms of ageing are significant. When we inhale just one puff of cigarette smoke, more than a trillion free radicals are produced in our lungs, which then trigger an inflammatory response that circulates throughout the body. And if that wasn’t enough to persuade you to kick the habit, in 1985 the term ‘smoker’s face’ was added to the medical dictionary. The characteristics of a smoker’s face, which tends to make people look older than they are, was defined as the following:
l Lines or wrinkles on the face, particularly radiating at right angles from the upper and lower lips or corners of the eyes, deep lines on the cheeks or numerous shallow lines on the cheeks and lower jaw.
l A subtle gauntness of the features, with prominence of the underlying bony contours.
l A grey skin palour.
Smoking depletes the collagen in your skin
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 toxins, many of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and are taken by the blood into the skin’s structure. Smoking also causes the blood vessels in the top layers of the skin to constrict, so thickening and reducing the oxygen levels in the blood. This also reduces the levels of collagen in the skin.
In a nutshell, the skin is affected by tobacco smoke in the following ways:
l Firstly, tobacco smoke released into the environment has a drying effect on the skin’s surface.
l Secondly, because smoking restricts blood vessels, it reduces the amount of blood flowing to the skin, thus depleting the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients.
l Smoking reduces the body’s store of Vitamin A, which provides protection against some skin-damaging agents produced by smoking.
l The creasing of the mouth when drawing on a cigarette can cause wrinkling around the eyes and mouth.
l The more a person smokes, the greater the risk of premature wrinkling.
l Smokers in their ’40s often have as many facial wrinkles as non-smokers in their ’60s.
l Smokers may also develop hollow cheeks through repeated sucking on cigarettes. This is particularly evident in under-weight smokers and can cause smokers to look gaunt.
l Prolonged smoking causes discoloration of the fingers and fingernails on the hand used to hold cigarettes.
l Smoking also results in a yellowing of the teeth and is a cause for halitosis or bad breath.
The writer is a dermatologist & dermato-laser surgeon, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula. E-mail: email@example.com
People with positive outlook on life live longer
Now, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University have found that personality traits like being outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and enjoying laughter as well as staying engaged in activities may also be part of the longevity genes mix. The findings come from Einstein’s Longevity Genes Project, which includes over 500 Ashkenazi Jews over the age of 95 and 700 of their offspring. Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews were selected because they are genetically homogeneous, making it easier to spot genetic differences within the study population.
Previous studies have indicated that personality arises from underlying genetic mechanisms that may directly affect health. The present study of 243 of the centenarians (average age 97.6 years, 75 percent women) was aimed at detecting genetically-based personality characteristics by developing a brief measure (the Personality Outlook Profile Scale, or POPS) of personality in centenarians. — ANI
Over-the-counter pills ‘can halve heart disease risk’
Over six million people are prescribed powerful drugs like statins to reduce artery-clogging “bad” LDL cholesterol. This slashed their risk of stroke and heart attack, which is the leading cause of deaths from heart disease. But a natural mineral, which has already been linked to a host of health benefits, can also be a potent new treatment. — ANI
Immune cells ‘hunt’ parasites like animal predators seek prey
This single-celled pathogen is a common cause of infection in animals and humans. As much as a third of the world’s population has an inactive form of this infection present in the brain. However, in immuno-compromised individuals such as those with HIV/AIDS or undergoing organ transplantation, this infection can have grave consequences, including brain inflammation and even death. — ANI
Gene that stunts infants’ growth also makes them grow too big
The discovery holds special significance for principal investigator Dr. Eric Vilain, a professor of human genetics, paediatrics and urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Nearly 20 years ago, as a medical resident in his native France, Vilain cared for two boys, ages 3 and 6, who were dramatically short for their ages. — ANI