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Chronic Diseases Women Can Avoid By Working Out

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A young and confident woman of Indian ethnicity relaxing and drinking water through water bottle after fitness exercise in a hilly area.

Some experts hold that obesity in India is a bigger problem than malaria or tuberculosis. Take a few seconds for that to sink in. The past few decades have seen a rapid escalation in chronic diseases and women are noticeably the worst hit. A pan-India survey conducted by AIIMS revealed that two out of three urban women and one out of every eight rural women are overweight or obese.

Genetic traits aside, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet choices, and lack of exercise are cause for concern. Yes, looking good is important but feeling good and being physically fit is crucial to healthy living.

Exercise not only helps you lose the kilos but is also responsible for maintaining a healthy body weight. It improves your skin and keeps stress levels low. Being overweight makes women vulnerable to illnesses such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and chronic kidney disease. Experts recommend that you set aside 30 minutes a day for physical activity. Clocking in 150 minutes of exercise per week will help keep these weight-related diseases in check.

  • Heart disease and stroke: Lack of physical activity and exercise is a major cause of heart disease in women. Exercises that increase your heart rate strengthen your heart and help it to function at its best. You can get your heart rate up by jogging, running, and cycling. If you are extremely overweight or obese, consult a doctor before taking on such activity.
  • High blood pressure: Doing chores around the house or climbing the stairs on a daily basis can almost be as good as jogging and cycling and can help lower high blood pressure.
  • Diabetes: Women who are overweight are prone to develop diabetes sooner or later. Since exercise lowers blood sugar, it is an excellent approach to prevent the onset of diabetes.
  • Osteoarthritis: One of the reasons for Osteoarthritis (OA) is obesity, with symptoms including joint pain and stiffness. A weight-loss plan in consultation with your doctor may slow down or, in some cases, prevent OA. Strength training, stretching, and aerobic exercises are some of the training regimens you can take up.
  • Chronic kidney disease: Overweight and obese people stand a greater chance of developing kidney disease. Maintain an ideal body mass index (BMI) to keep this in check.

Change starts with you, so take charge of your life today, regardless of your age and fitness levels to protect yourself against the onslaught of these life-threatening afflictions. Choose a fitness plan that is ideal for you, tailored to your needs, and set goals you can achieve, gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts.

8 Warning Signs of Anemia

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Anemia is a medical condition in which the count of red blood cells or hemoglobin levels in the blood become less than normal. It is usually caused when excessive bleeding takes place, thus increasing the loss of red blood cells or when there is a decrease in the production of red blood cells due to a deficiency of iron or vitamins.

India is one of the top countries with people suffering from anemia: around 59 percent of India’s population is anemic.

There are many different types of anemia  with diverse symptoms. Yet, there are a few common signs that you can look out for. Women especially need to be wary of these symptoms:

1. Fatigue and loss of energy

A loss of healthy red blood cells often leads to the loss of energy and causes fatigue. If you feel tired and weak throughout the day due to inexplicable reasons, you could be showing early signs of being anemic. Get a blood test just to be sure.

2. Lack of concentration

Do you often find yourself unable to complete the tasks that you have started? A noticeable reduction in the ability to concentrate can be associated with anemia.

A test to determine the total red blood cell count in the body can tell if you have anemia.

3. Dizziness

Unexplained bouts of dizziness are a major sign of anemia. If you have been feeling lightheaded, especially when you stand suddenly after a prolonged period of sitting or sleeping, you might have an iron deficiency.

4. Pale skin

The loss of red blood cells from the body causes the skin to turn pale. If your complexion looks unusually pale, it could be a sign that the hemoglobin levels in your blood have diminished, thus causing your body to lose color.

5. Rapid heartbeat

Reduced hemoglobin levels often cause an oddly rapid rate of heartbeat. If you have noticed an increase in your heart rate even after very little exertion, it’s time for a trip to the nearest diagnostic center.

6. Shortness of breath

If you have noticed that a slight amount of exercise causes shortness of breath, it could mean that you are experiencing early signs of anemia.

7. Leg cramps

Unexplained muscle cramps in legs and thighs can be connected to hemoglobin loss from blood.

8. Insomnia

Anemia can cause sleep disruptions and lead to insomnia. If your sleep cycle is hindered, get an anemia test.

Although singularly these symptoms may be caused by a number of reasons other than anemia, if you experience more than two of them simultaneously, a visit to the doctor is definitely a good idea.

Breast Cancer Symptoms And Types

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Breast cancer is a condition where the breast tissue plays host to uncontrolled, malignant growth of cells. Cancer can originate in different parts of the breast. Cancers which originate in the milk glands, in the milk-carrying ducts, in the fatty area, or the tissues connecting the breast are the most common type of breast cancer.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

In a survey conducted by Public Health England, a Government health agency, it was found that less than 50% of the interviewed population could name a symptom of breast cancer other than a lump. While a lump can be a sign of breast cancer, there are other possible symptoms as well that one must be aware of.

  • A lump in the underarms or near the breast
  • Change in shape, contour or size of the breast
  • Discharge of clear or blood-stained fluid from the nipple
  • Changes to the appearance of the skin on the breast or near the nipple, which includes dimpling of skin or indentions on the breast.
  • The formation of redness on the skin near the breast or nipple.
  • The hardening of any area under the skin of the breast.
  • Inverted nipple or change in position of the nipple.

To identify these symptoms early on, it is important for women to check their breasts regularly. As per a survey conducted by Breast Cancer Care, a UK based charity, it was noted that at least one-third women do not check their breasts regularly for symptoms of cancer.

Types of Breast Cancer

The type of breast cancer is dependent on the cells in the breast that are affected.

The common types of breast cancer include:

  • Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ: It is non-invasive cancer, meaning that the cancer cells have been contained in the breast milk duct lining and do not spread.
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma: In contrast to non-invasive cancer, here, the abnormal cells invade the surrounding tissues after originating in the breast milk duct lining.
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer: Classified as stage 4 Breast Cancer. In this type, the cancer cells spread beyond the breasts to other parts of the body, which include lungs, liver, brain and/or bones.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer: An aggressive form of cancer that does not cause a distinct tumor formation. In this type, the abnormal cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast and block them.
  • Other, rare type of breast cancers include Paget disease of the nipple, Phyllodes a tumor and Angiosarcoma.

Breast cancer is a complex disease, and like other forms of cancer, early identification and treatment can go a long way in saving the patient from irreversible damage. Since the breast is not an important organ for survival, it can be removed by surgery to contain the growth of the abnormal cells and to stop them from affecting other organs.

Patients can lead a normal, cancer-free life if the cancer is detected early and proper treatment and medication are administered.

5 Ways to Control Hypertension

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High blood pressure is the reason for various health problems such as heart failure and stroke. The normal blood pressure for an average adult is below 120/80. The 120 denotes the pressure while your heart is contracting and 80 is the pressure while your heart is relaxing. When the number exceeds the range of 120/80 – 139/89,  you are at the risk of hypertension and related problems.

How To Control High Blood Pressure

As with many of our health concerns, hypertension can be averted to an extent or managed by making lifestyle changes.

  • Be active: You could either hit the gym or take some time to jog around your neighborhood in the morning. The goal is to get your blood flow going. Exercise increases your blood flow, so it becomes easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
  • Watch what you drop into your shopping cart: Food labels and the ingredients table are there for a reason. Eat more vegetables and adopt a high-fiber diet and cut back on processed food like canned goods or junk food.
  • Reset your sleep cycle: We often forget how important a balanced sleep cycle really is. Studies show that erratic sleep patterns increase blood pressure, so get a good night’s sleep every day.
  • Reduce alcohol intake: While you may drink to unwind, it apparently has the opposite effect on your heart! High or uncontrolled alcohol intake is linked to elevated blood pressure levels.
  • Try yoga & meditation: A discussion about de-stressing is never complete without mentioning yoga and meditation. Regular meditation or yoga can help your lifestyle in general, apart from taking care of your heart. Meditation also helps reset your sleep cycle, which, in turn, is good for your heart.

Can A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol Levels?

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Letting go of meat might seem like a hard task, but when faced with the dangers of high cholesterol, you might be looking to make changes in your lifestyle to tackle the problem. Does a vegetarian diet really translate to lower cholesterol levels?

What Research Shows

Many studies have been carried out across the globe on the effect of a vegetarian diet on cholesterol levels. Almost all of them show that a vegetarian diet does reduce cholesterol levels.

The studies also established that, apart from reducing cholesterol levels, a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

How Does A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol?

There are many reasons a vegetarian diet reduces cholesterol. Most of the research points to the nutritional value of vegetarian food. A vegetarian diet is low in saturated fat and rich in soluble fiber, plant steroids, and soy protein. This type of diet results in lower body weight, which in turn reduces the chance of any type of heart disease.

A Balanced Vegetarian Diet Is Key

When planning your vegetarian meals, it is important to ensure you are getting a balanced diet which provides you with all the required nutrients at the right amounts.

  • Protein: You need to ensure that you compensate for the protein that you will be missing out on when you cut out meat from your diet. Add foods like soy, tofu, pulses, and legumes as they are all rich in protein.
  • Iron: Vegetarians might find that they are at a higher risk for iron deficiency than others who have a meat-rich diet. You should add protein-rich foods like spinach, dried beans, and yeast into your diet. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about iron supplements.
  • Vitamin B12: This is a nutrient that is known to have a positive effect on heart disease and is, unfortunately, lacking in the vegetarian diet. You can correct this deficiency by adding dried seaweed or nori to your diet or by taking a daily supplement.
  • Zinc: You will find this mineral in grains, nuts, and legumes.
  • Vitamin D: If you’ve decided to go the extra mile and have adopted a vegan diet, then the lack of dairy products in your diet could cause a deficiency in vitamin D. In this case as well, it is best to discuss the same with your doctor and get a prescription for vitamin D.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

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Blood pressure is the pressure your blood exerts when it thrusts on the artery walls during circulation. Not many people, however, know that blood pressure keeps altering all the time. The way you sit, walk, exercise, and even eat may affect the blood pressure. Your mood and state of mind also alter your blood pressure

The Two Numbers In Your Blood Pressure Readings 

Blood pressure is measured in terms of the levels of mercury (mm of Hg). When your doctor examines your blood pressure level, there will be two numbers on the display: The first is the systolic pressure and the other is diastolic pressure.

  • The first reading or the systolic pressure is noted when the sound of the blood flow is first heard.
  • The second reading or the diastolic pressure is noted when the blood flow cannot be heard

Both these numbers determine your heart health and overall health.

The Four Categories Of Blood Pressure Readings  

Blood pressure readings can be categorized into four, starting from normal to hypertension state which is stage 2. Like we said, blood pressure alters from time to time depending on the body activity, stress levels, lifestyle and food habits. This is one reason your doctor takes an average of at least three to four readings to determine heart health accurately.

  1. A reading below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal blood pressure range. Readings that are above or below this ideal range indicates that your heart is working extra hard work to pump the required blood to the rest of your body.
  2. You have elevated blood pressure if the reading ranges 120–129/below 80 mm Hg. By making healthy lifestyle changes, you can bring down this reading.
  3. Stage 1 high blood pressure, commonly known as hypertension, is associated with a reading range of 130–139/80–89 mm Hg. Your doctor might suggest definitive lifestyle changes along with medication.
  4. Any reading above 140/90 is considered stage 2 high blood pressure. Your doctor will definitely suggest medication along with exercise and healthy lifestyle modifications.

The blood pressure range for children may be slightly lower. Also, adults aged 65 years and over can be considered healthy with a blood pressure range of 130/99 mm Hg. However, it is again advisable to get yourself checked regularly.

5 Surprising Causes of High Blood Pressure

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While high blood pressure is often attributed to excessive salt intake, uncontrolled alcohol consumption, or high stress levels, other less obvious triggers from our daily lives can cause hypertension. Here is a list of the not-so-obvious causes of high blood pressure:

  1. BPA

BPA or Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used in the production of plastics. BPA present in plastic cans and containers usually seeps into the food we eat and causes high blood pressure very quickly.  Prolonged exposure may play a role in heart diseases as well. Use BPA-free containers and avoid microwaving food in cans that have BPA content.

2. Noise

A noisy environment, especially at night, disrupts the sleep cycle. A poor night’s sleep is a known reason for increasing stress levels and thus causing hypertension. Try to sleep in a peaceful environment and avoid noisy areas as much as possible to keep your blood pressure in check.

3. Air Pollution

Dodging air pollution can be a challenge in our times, but know that breathing polluted air is a major reason for hypertension. Avoid walking or exercising on busy roads that see a lot of traffic and try to stay indoors on days that are highly polluted.

4. Coffee

Caffeine in coffee contains stimulants that increase blood pressure and can cause serious damage over time. Limit your intake of coffee to one cup per day and avoid aerated drinks that contain concentrated caffeine altogether.

5. Potatoes

Potatoes may be the ultimate comfort food but it can cause blood sugar levels to rise. Try to reduce your intake of potatoes to a maximum of four servings a week to avoid an increase in your blood pressure levels.