Home Blog Page 2

Weigh Your Options! How To Gear Up For Weight Loss

0

Carrying around extra weight can be a real downer for most of us. But to equate weight loss to simply cutting “calories in’” and boosting “calories out” is far too simplistic. There’s more to the weight equation than that!  

Weight can depend on your genes, family history, age, gender, ethnicity/race, family habits, culture, where you live, stress levels, medications you take, health problems, and, of course, your diet and activity levels. So what is it you can do to knock off weight? 

Standard BMI Numbers May Not Tell The Whole Story 

India has an estimated 135 million obese individuals. The simplest way to determine if you are overweight is to check your body mass index (BMI)* – an indicator that calculates your total body fat. 

  • Globally, a BMI of 25 or over is classified as overweight.
  • Anything over 30 puts you in the obese category. 

But there’s more to this: 

  • For some ethnic populations, the risk of problems like cardiovascular disease or diabetes starts at a lower BMI. Based on risk factors for Asians, Indians should consider BMIs of 25+ as being obese and 23–24.9 as overweight.  
  • It is also important to monitor your body fat percentage – sometimes, your muscular build might put you in the overweight zone even though you are fit. So, go beyond the weighing scale and check this too. 
  • Remember, you may also quickly progress from being overweight to obese or gain a few kilos that tip you over unnoticed.  

*BMI =  Weight in kilograms (kg)/ Height in meters (m) squared 

Are you overweight? Check your BMI and see where you stand as per the Asian target BMI levels

Why Being Overweight Could Wreck Your Health! 

In India, abdominal obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. Overall, it increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers (breast, ovarian, liver, prostate, kidney, colon, gallbladder), hypertension, and premature death. Find out more here.

Your Weight Is Over: 7 Tips To Cut The Extra Kilos 

Here are some must-do items for your weight-loss checklist. These tackle not just the calories in and out, but also factors like family habits and culture, stress and other triggers.

1. Eat right. There’s no getting around this one! Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Aim for variety in your plate. Consume plant-based foods like fresh fruit and veggies; carbs from whole grain sources; lean meat, fish, and beans/legumes for protein; healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.
  • Eat low-energy-dense foods. These can make you feel fuller because they have more volume but contain fewer calories. Think leafy vegetables with larger portion sizes but fewer calories than, say, a piece of candy which is very energy-dense.  
  • Cut calories consumed and exercise portion control. While this isn’t all there is to weight loss, it does matter. Work with a nutritionist to work out a calorie intake that allows for healthy weight loss.      

2. Amp up exercise. It isn’t enough to do sporadic bursts of exercise now and then. You’ll need to be consistent and get in a regular hour or so of workout every day to make a dent. Gun for 300 minutes or more a week.

3. Focus on “NEAT”. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is making waves and with good reason. Exercise alone accounts for a fraction of your time and calorie burn for the week. But you have several other activities where you could ramp up the calorie burn with small changes

  • Aim at a more active lifestyle in general and move about every half hour or so if you have a sedentary job or lifestyle.
  • Consider switching to a standing desk – it burns 72 calories more per hour for a 66 kg person.
  • Walk about while taking phone calls or attending meetings instead of sitting.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift/escalator. 

4. Aim at losing 0.5 to 1 kg a week, not more. This is a healthy and achievable goal. 

5. Get counseling. We don’t associate being overweight with needing emotional or mental counseling, but many of our triggers and causes for being overweight can be dealt with during therapy.

  • You can learn coping skills that might help manage stress. 
  • You could bring behavioral changes – instance poor family habits could be to blame – that help you tackle weight loss better.  
  • If there are cultural issues resulting in the weight gain, you might be able to address that. 

6. Find out why you’re overweight. If there’s a medical condition that’s causing the weight gain – like a sluggish thyroid or poor metabolism – you may need to fix that alongside. 

7. Discuss prescription medication or weight loss surgery only if obesity is life-threatening or extreme. Speak to your doctor about your options. They might suggest counseling to be sure this is the right choice for you. 

References

  1. Prevalence of obesity in India: A systematic review.
  2. Obesity
  3. Symptoms and causes of obesity
  4. Factors Affecting Weight & Health

5 Diet Hacks To Help You Lose Weight

0

Did you know weight loss is 75% food and 25% exercise? To fix your weight, you’ll need to first fix your relationship with food! 

Do it right and your sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels will improve too. You’ll also feel more energetic and have fewer health niggles, mood issues, and aches and pains. And like any good relationship, it gives you a glow – hello healthy skin and shiny hair! 

Get Off To A Good Start With These 5 Tips

  • Keep a food diary to take stock. Even those who think they are eating right often spot missteps when they track actual intake. 
  • Practice mindfulness, taking a second before that first sip or bit to think about calories, sugar, and fat content. Do you really “need” what you’re having? 
  • Keep an eye on snacks – this is where things often go south. One vada, dabeli, or samosa can ruin your efforts! 
  • Stock up the right ingredients and cook ahead so you don’t order in last minute.
  • Set goals for yourself. Draw up a food plan/menu for the week and make a list of:
    • Taboo foods: deep fried pakoras, sugary colas 
    • Indulgences you can have occasionally: homemade sweets, chaat
    • Foods you can have in moderate amounts: meats, dairy, and healthy fats
    • Foods you can eat in plenty: sabzis, fresh fruit 

I’m ready to shed some kilos. Tell me more!

Discover The Best Time To Work Out: Weight Loss And More!

0

You can’t avoid working out if you want to be fit and healthy, but is there a “right time” to do it? In a word, yes. Bad news night owls, the rumors about morning workouts being great are true. Here’s why! 

7 Reasons Morning Workouts Pack More Punch

By switching to a morning workout regimen, you kickstart your day, get that circulation going, and rev up your metabolism early on. But hang on! There’s more. 

  1. Your body burns more fat when you work out early in the morning. That’s because your cortisol and growth hormone levels, key to your metabolism, are higher in the morning. If you exercise on an empty stomach, you could burn as much as 20% more fat. 
  2. Build more muscle courtesy that testosterone high your body has early in the morning. It’ll make your workout go further!
  3. If food is your Achilles heel, about 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning could be a lifesaver! Those who do morning workouts consume less calories throughout the day. 
  4. For those worried about hypertension, how’s this for a boost? Morning workouts may reduce your blood pressure by as much as 10%. Your blood pressure may then stay down through the day and dip further (by about 25%)  in the night. An afternoon workout may not come with these perks. 
  5. Those who work out in the morning may be more active all day than those who work out at other times. 
  6. Bad habits come easy, the healthy ones not so much. Working out in the morning might make a healthy routine stick faster – health habit formation tends to be better in the morning. 
  7. Nothing kills motivation (to exercise or do anything else) like a mood slump, but the satisfaction of having a workout ticked off the list for the day early on can be a big plus.  

Reaching to set your alarm? Well done!

Not A Morning Person? Tips To Beat The Odds!

If you aren’t a morning person or tend to work late, getting up at the crack of dawn is impractical – and let’s face it, a lost cause! Here’s what you should do.

  • Find a time that works for you. It is better to work out at a time that fits into your routine comfortably than to try (and fail!) at an inconvenient morning fitness regimen. 
  • Just be sure never to skip your workout. Consistency is key.
  • If your evening workouts are meddling with your sleep, include a more mindful form of exercise like yoga which strengthens the body, improves heart health, and is also restful for the mind. 

I’m loving all this fitness info. Tell me more so I can amp up my workout routine!

Fight Anemia With A Knockout Plan!

0

Anemia causes a host of symptoms that we pooh-pooh off as just “working too hard” or having a “long day.” On the bright side, you finally have an explanation for those random or unexplained headaches, fatigue, or weakness and can take charge now!

What Is Anemia?

Your red blood cells (RBCs) contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin that helps transport oxygen from the lungs to tissues around the body. If there’s an issue with either the hemoglobin levels or the number or size of RBCs, you have anemia, where your body does not get enough oxygen-rich blood. Common signs of the condition include:

  • Weakness, fatigue, or tiredness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Yellowish or pale or yellowish skin
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Headache
  • Weird cravings for inedible substances like mud or clay

Certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to the condition.

Women, Take Heed!

Anemia is an especially big problem among women because of menstrual blood loss. Indian women, too, are vulnerable. According to one report, about 51% of all women of reproductive age in the country are anemic thanks to poor diet, lack of awareness, limited access to good healthcare, and putting the family’s needs ahead of one’s own nutritional needs.

It is important to nip the problem in the bud, especially if you are planning a baby or are pregnant, when there’s additional need for blood.  

Figure Out What’s Causing Your Anemia

There are over 400 kinds of anemia and these are roughly classified into 3 main groups. Anemia usually occurs when: 

  1. blood loss causes your RBC levels to drop,  
  2. your body isn’t producing enough RBCs, or  
  3. your body is destroying them.  

⚠ While a hemoglobin test can help spot anemia, it is vital you identify what kind of anemia you’re dealing with. Consult a doctor, who might run some additional diagnostic tests to confirm the cause of your anemia and recommend suitable treatment.

Skipping this step might worsen your condition and raise the risk of complications.

Types Of Anemia To Watch Out For

Of these, deficiency-linked anemia tends to be the most common but is easier to fix.

Tips To Beat Deficiency-Linked Anemia

The natural solution to a deficiency-related anemia is to improve your intake of those foods. Start with these steps:

  • Amp up your intake of iron-rich foods like lean chicken, lean meat, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, legumes, lentils, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. 
  • Consume foods rich in vitamin C like oranges and other citrus fruit, broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron, so it’s doubly important to get enough.
  • Eat more green leafy vegetables, nuts, kidney beans, green peas, peanuts, enriched wholegrain products, fruit, and fruit juices – they are foods rich in folate
  • Boost vitamin B-12 in your diet. Options include meat, eggs, yogurt, milk, cheese, shellfish, and B-12 fortified foods like cereals.
  • Quit smoking. It can hamper the absorption of nutrients from your diet. 
  • Cut alcohol intake since it contributes to vitamin deficiency anemia. If you can’t stop altogether, drink in moderation.

Of course, if there’s an underlying problem with how your body processes and absorbs these nutrients, that will need to be fixed first. For those with severe anemia, even from deficiency-linked causes, medical treatment may also be necessary alongside. 

Diabetes 101: Stay On Top Of Your Blood Sugar

0

Managing diabetes boils down to being well informed, tracking your numbers, and being a little careful. Keeping it in check? Easier than you’d think. With a little self-control, of course. 

What’s Your Body Dealing With? 

“Diabetes” refers broadly to a cluster of diseases that interfere with your body’s ability to use glucose or blood sugar – the fuel your cells use to power everything from the brain to muscles. When you are diabetic, you tend to have higher than normal sugar levels. If uncontrolled, this can mess with your system and lead to many complications.

To understand this better, look at this illustration of how your body handles sugar. 

This seamless process takes a hit when you have diabetes. The body of a type 1 diabetic produces little or no insulin. So the sugar, instead of entering cells, builds up in the blood. In prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: 

  • Cells become resistant to insulin’s effect.  
  • The pancreas can’t make enough insulin to beat this issue. 
  • As with type 1 diabetes, blood sugar doesn’t move to cells that need it for energy.  
  • Instead, the sugar builds up in the blood.  

And that isn’t great for your body: here’s why

Did You Know? Some Kinds Of Diabetes Are Reversible

People with prediabetes, where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not in the diabetic range yet, can make lifestyle changes to help bring their sugar levels back to normal. Gestational diabetes during pregnancy also tends to go away after the baby arrives.

When you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, however, you’re going to have to learn to live with it. But the right lifestyle can help you gain better control over sugar levels even if you can’t get rid of the problem altogether.

Could Your Other Health Problems Be Diabetes Linked?

Symptoms of diabetes vary according to how elevated your sugar levels are. Look out for these and know they could be linked to diabetes:

The Stress-Free Way To Keep Your Sugar In Check

Being prediabetic or diabetic doesn’t have to mean monitoring your sugar 24/7. But it will take some attention. Work these into your routine and you’ll be in better control of your sugar. 

1.Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. That’s about 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. A brisk walk, cycling, swimming, or even dancing can do the trick! Read tips on how to exercise safely when you are diabetic

2. Create a healthy meal plan. A good “diabetes diet” is: 

  • Nutrient rich 
  • Low fat: think healthy fats from fatty fish, avocados etc. 
  • Low calorie 
  • Rich in fresh vegetables and fruits
  • High in whole grains and free of refined carbs
  • Fiber rich  

See what foods to eat and what to avoid if you have diabetes

3. Periodically test for important health indicators to see if your diabetes is in check. Get regular physical exams, eye check-ups, and check for kidney, heart, and nerve function to insulate yourself from complications. 

4. Look after your mental and emotional health too! Get help from a counselor if you feel the condition is taking a mental or emotional toll on you. Diabetes can increase your risk of developing depression and can hamper your ability to manage the condition. Stress too, can wreak havoc with your body – so do yourself a favor and learn some coping skills

Remember These Diabetes Dos and Don’ts! 

  • Do get properly diagnosed by a medical professional first. 
  • Don’t self-medicate. 
  • Don’t try and cut dosage or switch medicines without consulting a doctor first. 
  • Do supplement treatment with the tips and lifestyle changes outlined above. 
  • Do make quitting smoking a priority. Here’s why.   
  • Do check with your doctor about alcohol intake
  • Do take your medication as per the prescribed schedule. Missing a dose or delaying it can cause sugar fluctuations which are bad for you.

I’m ready to beat diabetes. Tell me more!


The Lowdown On Hypertension: Beat The Pressure!

0

Seeing a high blood pressure (BP) number can be worrying but getting overly stressed about it is only going to make things worse. And yes, we realize that telling someone who’s worried to “relax” isn’t exactly helpful! That’s why we’re here to share insights and tips to help lower BP, so you can start to truly relax. 

Hypertension Or Just Elevated BP? The Two Numbers That Matter

The blood coursing through your body exerts some pressure on your blood vessels. But when this pressure is abnormally high, you have high BP or hypertension. And the numbers that dictate this are called systolic and diastolic pressure.

  • The systolic number records your BP when the heart contracts.
  • The diastolic number marks the pressure between beats as your heart relaxes.

Together, these numbers are an indicator of how healthy your BP is. While many everyday niggles may cause your BP to rise occasionally, a consistently high reading over 3 or 4 instances needs to be flagged.

Here’s how BP readings are usually categorized*: 

*Source: Diagnosis of blood pressure, Mayo Clinic

Work at getting your numbers in the green range and you have a clean chit! But remember, even if one of your BP readings is high and the other is low, it’s still a red flag. Find out why here.

Watch Out! Uncontrolled BP Equals These Complications

If your BP is elevated and left unchecked, it can put undue strain on your blood vessels and your heart. This raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. But high BP does not only affect your cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, it can do damage to your kidneys, brain, eyes and even impair sexual function.

Often, people don’t experience any symptoms at all until the BP is really high and life-threatening, so periodic checks are vital.  Find out more about complications from hypertension.

“Why Me?”: The Avoidable (and Unavoidable) Causes of Hypertension

Certain factors can bump up your risk of having elevated BP – the good news is many of these are controllable.   

Battling High BP: Tips To Bring Down The Pressure

If your numbers are higher than normal, you can take some simple steps to fix the issue.  

  • Lose weight if you are obese or overweight. On average, 1 kg lost equals a 1 mm Hg dip in your BP!
  • Get active – just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can reduce BP by 5 to 8 mm Hg.
  • Eat healthy. Try the DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan
  • Cut sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day or less. 
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.  
  • Reduce caffeine intake.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Manage stress better. Try relaxation techniques, meditation, or yoga. 

Find out more about home remedies and lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.    

Depending on the severity of the problem and your general health condition, your doctor may also prescribe some BP-lowering medication to take alongside.

I’m ready to beat hypertension. Tell me more!


Women And Heart Disease: What You Don’t Know Could Kill You!

0

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women. The problem is both social and diagnostic in nature – women are more likely to neglect  or misread some of the warning signs and may not be aware of appropriate measures. With every passing year, the risk of heart disease increases. And yet, women of all ages need to pay attention to their heart health.   

The risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and being overweight. Be aware of where you stand AND learn to to recognize the symptoms.  Remember, the symptoms of a heart attack in women are not the exact same ones seen in men. 

Known symptoms of a heart attack are pressure in the chest, pain in both arms, nausea, and lightheadedness. Along with severe pain in the chest, the neck, jaw, shoulders, the back, and the abdomen can also be affected. So watch out for these too.

Types Of Heart Disease To Watch Out For

The most common types of heart disease in women are coronary heart disease, coronary microvascular disease, and broken heart syndrome.

  • Coronary heart disease is a result of the buildup of plaque over time on the inner walls of the arteries, blocking the smooth flow of blood. This blockage can lead to a heart attack.
  • Coronary microvascular disease is harder to diagnose because blockages happen at the microvascular level, in the heart’s tiniest of blood vessels. While symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack occurring as a result of coronary heart disease, this form of heart disease is more deadly since it is at a micro level. Unfortunately, women are more likely to suffer from this than men.
  • Broken heart syndrome is a form of heart disease where extreme emotional distress can lead to severe (but usually short-term) failure of the heart. Women (especially older women) are more likely to suffer from this than men. Symptoms are similar to a heart attack and a person can feel discomfort in the chest and develop heart failure. Shortness of breath is another symptom. Heart function can return to normal post-treatment. Recurrence is a possibility.

Fight Heart Disease With The Right Lifestyle Changes

Eat the right foods: Salmon, tuna, olive oil, orange juice, nuts and some seeds like walnuts, almonds, and flaxseeds are all proven to be excellent heart-friendly dietary options.

Stop smoking: Smoking harms your heart and leads to other complications as well.

Exercise regularly: Working out three to five times a week for a good half hour or so has excellent cardiovascular benefits.

Stay lean: Maintain the right weight for your age and body composition. Watch out for that waistline!

De-stress: Meet friends, spend time with family, read a nice book, go outdoors. Take some “me-time” to do what you love.

Get a physical examination at least once a year, learn about your family’s history of heart disease, know your risk factors… and never ignore your body’s signals, however subtle!

Can Too Much Salt Damage Your Blood Vessels?

0

According to WHO recommendations, our salt intake shouldn’t cross 2000 mg (2 grams) of salt a day. That’s less than a teaspoon. Now compare that to the salt we actually consume, whether it’s through cooked meals or packaged and processed meals.  Add the sodium from biscuits, chips, pickles, and other condiments like ketchup and, you’ll agree, it’s not looking good!

Salt (like sugar) hides in everyday foods we take for granted like bread, buns, processed cheese, pasta, spaghetti, chips, and instant soups

How Our Body Reacts To Excess Salt

The sodium in salt plays an important role in many bodily functions. But go overboard and you risk some serious grief. When we eat salt, the sodium eventually ends up in our bloodstream and tries to draw more water into our blood vessels to balance the concentration levels.

Our blood vessels are really tiny and too much liquid can cause a lot of pressure. The pressure that is being raised is your blood pressure. Over several years, this constant surge of pressure will damage the walls of your blood vessels. Soon, plaque buildup will narrow the walls of your blood vessels, forcing your heart to work harder to pump the same amount of blood.

Too much salt not only raises blood pressure, it reduces the ability of your kidneys to clear away waste from your body. It also puts greater strain on your heart and your brain, leading to heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and kidney disease.

How To Reduce Your Salt Intake

Increase your fresh food intake 
Load up on low-sodium fruits like apples, pears, pineapples, watermelons are some low-sodium fruits. Okra, lettuce, cauliflower, and green cabbage are good veggie options that are low in sodium. You can use more herbs and spices to flavor your food so you don’t miss salt.

Use fewer sodium-overdose condiments
Be sure to read food labels. Ketchup, dips, salad dressings, and sauces are usually top of the charts on the sodium scale.

Skip processed foods 

Some common everyday processed foods you need to go easy on include packaged breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits, and soft drinks. Choose fresh meat over packaged meats.

Cut out fast food
This one is seemingly impossible for most people. The big, chunky, cheesy burgers, those hefty salami sandwiches, nuggets, and chicken wings you look forward to? Salt traps, all of them. Although these may be easily available and cheaper too, your body pays the price.

Our urban lifestyle has got us eating way too much salt, most of it without even knowing it. It’s time to cut back and be more mindful of what we are feeding our body. Make the change today!

Are You Sleep Deprived?

0

It might not seem like you are getting much done while you sleep, but your body is hard at work on the inside. With a good night’s sleep, stress levels  decrease and you remain more alert and attentive during the day. It even lowers your risk of depression and regulates your blood pressure naturally.

On the flip side, studies show that a lack of proper sleep can cause ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity as well as impair concentration during the daytime.

We ideally need seven to eight hours of sleep to feel well rested.

Sleep deprivation can be caused by many factors:

  • Physical problems like abdominal pain or heartburn
  • Breathing problems as in case of an asthma attack
  • Anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Neurological disorders like narcolepsy (a sleep pattern disorder)
  • Medication like antidepressants
  • Aging

How Can You Get A Good Night’s Sleep? 

Make restful sleep a priority: Getting a good night’s sleep and waking up refreshed and recharged is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Stick to a schedule as much as possible: Sleeping and waking up on schedule regulates your body clock and prevents insomnia.

Get ready for bed ahead of time:  Rituals like having a cup of herbal tea or warm milk well ahead of bedtime can signal to your body you are winding down. Finish your last meal a good hour or two before you hit the sack. If you have trouble sleeping at night and tend to take short naps during the day, stop for a while and see if that helps.

Exercise every day:  A workout during the day or early evening, light or rigorous, is a good way to improve on sleep.

Set up your bedroom: Getting a good night’s rest has a lot to do with the environment in which you sleep. Try not to have the television on before you fall asleep, to avoid any noise and excessive light. Draw the curtains and dim the lights in the house.

Find the right mattress and pillows: The ideal mattress is supportive and comfortable and need to be changed every now and then. One decade is good enough for a good quality mattress.

.widget_text a{ font-size: 15px; }