News on Health & Science

Red Apples, Berries Boost Fitness

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A new study has shown that a powerful antioxidant commonly found in the skin of red apples, red onions, berries and grapes could   increase endurance capacity without regular exercise training.

Researchers from University of South Carolina‘s Arnold School of Public Health have revealed that fatigue-fighting and health properties of quercetin would have significant implications not only for athletes but also for average adults who battle fatigue and stress daily.

“The natural, biological properties of quercetin that include powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as the ability to boost the immune system and increase mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in muscle and brain is great news for those who often think that they’re too tired to exercise,” said Dr Mark Davis, the study’s lead author and a professor of exercise science.

“While there’s no magic pill to make people get up and move, or to take the place of regular exercise, quercetin may be important in relieving the fatigue that keeps them sedentary and in providing some of the benefits of exercise,” he added.

During the study, the researchers recruited 12 participants, who were randomly assigned to one of two treatments.

Half were given 500 milligrams of quercetin twice a day in Tang for seven days. The other subjects drank Tang with placebos.

They also tested their additional VO2max (maximal oxygen capacity), one of the most important measures of fitness.

The findings revealed that participants who received quercetin had a 13.2 percent increase in endurance and a 3.9 percent increase in VO2max.

“These were statistically significant effects that indicate an important improvement in endurance capacity in a very short time,” Davis said.

“Quercetin supplementation was able to mimic some of the effects of exercise training,” he added.

The study appears in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

Source: The Times Of India

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Growing Old Gracefully

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Indians haven’t reached the stage of Methuselah (who, the Bible says, lived for 969 years), but our life expectancy has increased from 32 years in 1940 to 65 years in 2000. Seven per cent of the 1.1 billion Indian population is today over the age of 60. We now have better access to health care but can we look forward to fun, health, dignity, economic independence and a peaceful death?
Today children work far away from home, the joint family system is breaking down, and women (traditional care-givers) have joined the work force. The old have to fend for themselves.

They cannot afford to be ill as sickness is expensive. Preventive medicine and maintenance of health is, therefore, a priority

Good vision and hearing prevent accidents, but unfortunately they are the first senses that fail. After the age of 60, 30 per cent of the people are unable to hear a conversation. Leaning slightly forward and turning to the right side does help initially, but eventually hearing aids may be needed. Eyes too should be checked regularly and defects corrected promptly.

The skin loses its elasticity with age, becoming dry and wrinkled. Itching and scratching cause mechanical injury and secondary bacterial infection. Apply a small quantity of a mixture of 500ml of coconut oil, 500ml of sesame oil and 100ml of olive oil half an hour before bath. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil to the bath water. Use a moisturising soap. Apply body lotion or baby oil after bath.

Despite good care, regular brushing and flossing, the teeth may become discoloured, brittle, and may decay and recede. Visit the dentist at least once a year.

Sleep becomes less relaxing with early waking up and relative insomnia. Extrinsic factors like a snoring spouse or frequent essential trips to the toilet may compound the problem. Intrinsic factors like reduction in the restful delta rhythm, depression, pain, anxiety and stress can be tackled with exercise, meditation, yoga and prayer instead of getting addicted to sleeping pills.

With age the heart and blood vessels become less efficient even in the absence of obvious diseases. The heart tends to get enlarged and the pumping action decreases. The blood vessels become less pliable and elastic. This can result in the swelling of feet, high blood pressure and heart failure. Restricting salt consumption to 5gm (one teaspoon in 24 hours) and avoiding salty fried food, pickles and chutneys will help alleviate this problem.

The digestive tract also slows down. When this is compounded with a decrease in fibre content of the food and insufficient fluid intake, constipation becomes a problem. The oesophageal sphincter becomes inefficient, allowing acid to regurgitate from the stomach, causing burning and chest pain. Digestive problems are aggravated by smoking, drinking, untimely meals or lying down immediately after food.

Bones weaken with age, arthritis sets in, flexibility is lost and muscle strength reduces. These can lead to pain, falls and fractures. Supplements of calcium (1.2gms/day), walking for 40 minutes a day, and strengthening and flexibility exercises will help.

If you have a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure, regular health checkups are a must.

Men need an annual digital exam of the prostate and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test to rule out cancer of the prostrate.

Women need a pelvic examination and a PAP smear starting at 35-40 years, repeated every three years.

A breast self examination should be done every month. A screening mammogram at 40 years, and then every two years after that, is needed to detect breast cancer early enough.

Annual haemoglobin, blood sugar, lipid profile, urea, creatinine and thyroid function tests are also needed.

A baseline chest X-ray will help detect tuberculosis, emphysema and cancer.

A baseline ECG should be done around the age of 50 years and then repeated every 2-3 years.

An annual faecal occult blood test helps detect colorectal cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy at 50 and every 4 years thence is advisable.

Bone densitometry evaluates the risk of osteoporosis. It should be done every 1-2 years after menopause.

Immunisation does not stop in childhood. After the age of 65 years, pneumococcal vaccine will help prevent pneumonia, and “flu” vaccine influenza. Both are debilitating and can be fatal in the elderly.

To age healthily, control your weight, blood pressure and diabetes, eat four to six portions of fruit or vegetables daily, do not smoke, avoid salt, drink alcohol in moderation, walk daily, maintain muscle strength and flexibility with exercise and sleep for six or seven hours a night.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Positive thinking

Guilty Pleasures

Feeling Guilty about Being Happy

Happiness is an experience we all long for and deserve in our lives. We may wish for the happiness that comes with a much-needed vacation or an exciting new love affair, yet when the actual experience of happiness emerges, we may be too overcome with guilt to enjoy it. If guilt is interfering with your ability to feel joy, you may find relief in looking at the beliefs you hold about yourself and what it means for you to be happy.

Guilt about feeling happy can arise for different reasons. Deep down you may believe that you don’t deserve to be happy because you hurt someone in the past, had more than others growing up, or maybe you received a mean comment from someone you admired. Perhaps it once seemed that painful experiences always followed happy ones; now whenever you begin to feel happy, you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Happiness may even just feel uncomfortable because you’ve gotten so used to feeling down. The truth is that when you feel too guilty to let yourself enjoy positive emotions, you are denying a part of yourself that has a right to exist. By limiting your life experience to just the negative feelings, you are cutting yourself off from the fullness of life ¬¬– which includes all of the positive emotions as well. Fortunately, you can begin to shift the way you respond to happiness even in this moment.

From now on, when happiness begins to blossom in your heart, try to accept it, relish in it, ask it to stay. It’s okay to feel happy even if you believe you don’t deserve it. Feeling good is an expression of your wholeness and your connection with life. The next time happiness appears for you, try not to feel guilty about it. Instead, welcome your happiness in like a long-awaited friend.

Sources: Daily Om

Positive thinking

Transforming Anger To Light

Give Your Anger To The Earth …… & see.
As humans, we all have anger, sometimes more than others. A healthy way of purging our anger from our bodies is to give it to Mother Earth. We can imagine ourselves being grounded as the electrical energy passes from us into Mother Earth below. We can see that energy go straight to the earth’s core where it becomes part of the continuous growth process of our planet and is transformed from negative to positive, from dark to light. When we choose to give our anger to the earth, we trust our connection with the natural world we live in and the great universe that fuels it all. Mother Earth will lovingly transform your anger into light so no need to feel guilty about unloading to her.

We can make this offering of our energy from any location, whether many stories up or on a ship at sea. We know the earth is below us, supporting us and sustaining us. If we have the opportunity to physically connect to the earth by going outdoors and touching unpaved ground, we may find it easier to connect to nature’s energy flow. It may also be easier to receive the flow of positive, calming, healing energy that comes to fill our bodies when we have emptied ourselves of our anger. To begin, sit and breathe deeply, ask Mother Earth to accept your anger, and imagine it coming down your spine out of your tailbone, and into the earth’s deep core. To finish, be sure to honor and thank the earth for her loving service.

When we work with our anger this way, we acknowledge that like everything else it is merely energy that can be used positively or negatively. During our grounding meditation, we may be given direction to channel this energy for its best use. We may find that the earth can help us cleanse misplaced energy to use for its rightful purpose. When we do this with gratitude, we know that we are not misusing the earth for our own selfish purposes. Instead we are connecting ourselves with the energy of our homeland, and when we do this we nurture the earth as it nourishes us.

Source:Daily Om

Healthy Tips

Fruits, Vegetables May Be Your Best Defense Against Pancreatic Cancer

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Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most deadly types of cancer in the U.S., killing an estimated 300,000 Americans each year. Little is known about the primary cause of pancreatic cancer; even less is known about how to prevent it. A recent study suggests that increasing consumption of certain fruits and vegetables may the best way of reducing a person’s risk of pancreatic cancer, and that the more fruits and vegetables a person eats, the lower the risk of contracting the disease…….click & see

The study looked at the eating habits of more than 2,200 people over a 4-year period. Included in the study group were 532 people who had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Analysis of the eating habits showed that consuming at least five servings per day of “protective” vegetables was associated with a 55 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer, compared with eating two servings or less daily. High consumption of “protective” fruit and fruit juices, meanwhile, reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 28 percent. Onions; beans; garlic; carrots; yams; sweet potatoes; corn; dark, leafy vegetables; cruciferous vegetables; citrus fruits; and fruit juices were the items considered to provide the best protection against pancreatic cancer.

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake is typically recommended to help in the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The results of this study suggest that pancreatic cancer is the latest disease that can be added to that list. So, what are you waiting for? Go eat some fruits and veggies!

For more information, you may visit:

Chan JM, Wang F, Holly E. Vegetable and fruit intake and pancreatic cancer in a population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay area. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Sep. 2005;14:2093-2097.