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Healthy Ageing

Ageing is the process of becoming older. It is a gradual, continuous process of natural change.

A person’s age can be categorised in the following different ways:

Chronologic age: Chronologic age is based solely on the passage of time. It is a person’s age in years. Chronologic age has limited significance in terms of health. Having said that, the likelihood of developing a health problem increases as people age.

Biological age : Biological age refers to changes in the body that commonly occur as people age. Because these changes affect some people sooner than others, some people are biologically old at 65, and others, a little later. However, most noticeable differences in apparent age among people of similar chronologic age are caused by lifestyle, habit, and effects of disease.

Psychological age: Psychologic age is based on how people act and feel.

To understand the process of ageing from a scientific stand point, we can classify it as follows:

Cellular ageing: Cells age based on the number of times they have replicated. A cell can replicate about 50 times before the genetic material is no longer able to be copied accurately. The more damage done to cells by free radicals and other factors, the more cells need to replicate.

Hormonal ageing: Hormonal ageing is more pronounced in women than in men.Hormones play a huge factor in ageing, especially during childhood growth and adolescent maturity. Hormone levels fluctuate through life. During puberty the body goes through a lot of changes including acne, increase in body hair, etc. As women get older, hormonal changes lead to menopause.

Accumulated damage related ageing: These would include external factors that affect our body. Exposure to toxins, excessive exposure to sun, intake ofprocessed and genetically modified foods, pollution, and smoke affects the body. Over time, these external factors can lead to tissue damage and hastens the ageing process.
We can turn this inevitable ageing process in to one that is healthy and smooth. Our simple goal should be to remain active and independent while avoiding mental and physical disorders as much as possible.

Some of the ways in which we can age gracefully

Eat a well-balanced diet: A nutritious diet with the right balance of all macro and micro nutrients helps to keep the body healthy and fight diseases. Protein intake in particular should be adequate especially for old people as proteins contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain bone health. Getting adequate nutrients from food becomes tougher as a person ages because the body becomes less efficient in absorbing nutrients. The body may fall short of several key nutrients and may need to be supplementedin addition to the diet after talking to a healthcare professional.

The table below shows some of the essential nutrients, their function in old age specifically and dietary sources.

Nutrient
Function in Old Age
Dietary Source
Vitamin B12 Healthy nerve function Milk products, fish,egg, poultry
Folic acid / folate Prevents Anaemia Fruits and vegetables
Calcium Deficiency leads to brittle bones and increases risk of fractures Milk and yoghurt
Vitamin D Aids in calcium absorption and prevents osteoporosis. Also helps in protecting againstcancer, type 1 diabetes,rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D supplements
Potassium Reduces high blood pressure and prevents kidney stones Fruits and vegetables
Magnesium Contributes to cardiovascular health and bone health Whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Fiber Healthy digestion and gut health Whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables

Exercise regularly: 30 minutes of moderate activity a day like walking to the supermarket, or walking the dog can increase longevity.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Avoid smoking, drugs and alcohol. Quitting smoking improves circulation and blood pressure, and drastically reduces the risk of developing cancer.

Minimise exposure to toxins in the environment: Apart from staying away from polluted places, it is wise to cut down the excess use of pesticides, insecticides, room fresheners, deodorisers, cleaning and personal care products. These products contain toxins that hasten the process of ageing.

Access to Health care: It is imperative to be in touch with a good health care practitioner who is abreast with the latest medical trends and who is also attached to a well-equipped health care facility.

Sleep: A good night’s sleep is the best tonic to keep all diseases at bay, lower stress levels and improve mental health.

Stay mentally active: Simple mental exercises like recalling phone numbers and remembering simple grocery lists improves memory by 50 percent. Intellectually challenging games like chess or sudoku also help the mind stay active and alert.

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Stages of Tooth Decay

Our smile is the most valuable asset on our face and clean white teeth the most desirable sight. Adults have 32 teeth – 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 molars, 8 pre-molars, 4 wisdom, and children have 24 teeth by the age of eight. The wisdom teeth are the last to grow, completing the set of 32.

Our teeth do not reveal much about their health till there is a tinge of pain or discomfort. Tooth decay affects all ages, more so with older people as their gums tend to recede and enamel wears away. Younger people also suffer tooth decay due to food habits and poor oral hygiene.

More often than not, the starting phase of tooth decay attracts no attention. We tend to think that it will just go away or subside on its own. Since it happens in an area that we don’t look out for, the mind chooses not to dwell on it. The reality is that the condition gradually and steadily grows and festers, till there is pain enough to visit the dentist.

These are the different stages of tooth decay.

Stage 1 – The pin-hole sized white spot (PIT)

Our teeth are made of strong material called enamel. The acid and sugar content in the food we eat, when not rinsed off the teeth after each meal, are hard enough to penetrate the enamel. This causes a pin-hole sized white spot (PIT) to appear on the enamel surface. At this stage there is no pain or discomfort.

Stage 2 – The brown stain (FISSURE)

The pin-hole sized white spot that goes unnoticed keeps working on the tooth, eroding and damaging the enamel further, causing a brown stain on the surface. Even at this stage, there is little or no pain or discomfort, providing the perfect setting for a successful tooth-decay mission. The brown stain is visible and if noticed in time, can be cured.

Stage 3 – Dental caries or cavities

Bacteria that have been working hard on the enamel gain entry through a fissure into the dentin, which is the tissue just beneath the enamel. As dentin is not as hard as enamel, it makes it easier for the decay to progress rapidly. There is some amount of noticeable sensitivity at the fissure stage. The strength of the enamel being compromised gives way to small holes on the under-surface of the teeth. These are called dental caries or cavities.

Stage 4 – Deep Cavities

The pulp that houses the nerves and blood vessels is attacked at this stage and begins to swell up. The swelling pressurizes the nerves, causing pain, sensitivity and discomfort.

Stage 5 – Pus formation

The tooth is infected at this stage. Inflammation causes pus formation and a collection of this pus is a tooth abscess. It becomes unbearably painful, affecting the jaws, face and neck. Visiting the dentist is inevitable, and depending on the scale of damage, the tooth is retained or removed.

Treatment that follows a tooth decay can be any of these

  • Fluoride treatment if the decay is in its early stage
  • Tooth extraction and replacement with crown
  • Removal of tissue and filling tooth with filling material
  • Root canal treatment if the pulp is affected

The following points help prevent tooth decay and maintain good oral health.

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste or mouth-rinse
  • Reducing sweets, snacks, juices and aerated drinks
  • Rinsing the mouth well after every meal or snack
  • Visiting the dentist regularly to remove plaque build-up and to check for early signs of tooth decay
  • Teaching children to brush, floss and rinse

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Nutritional Requirements To Manage Menopause

The what, when and why of menopause

The word menopause is derived from the Greek words ‘menos’ – for month and ‘pause’ – for stop. It is the time during which a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, thereby gradually stopping her monthly period, till there is absolutely no menstrual cycle for 12 months in a row.

The time leading to the onset of menopause, when signs start developing, is called peri-menopause and can last upto 10 years. The time after, is called post-menopause and the time in between, when symptoms are rampant is menopause transition.

This phase of a woman’s life happens anywhere between 40 and 55 years of age, depending on her health, lifestyle and hereditary factors.

How menopause affects a woman

  • It all begins with a change of schedule or duration in her monthly cycle and/or lighter or heavier bleeding patterns.
  • A majority experience hot flashes, which are feelings of heat (of varied intensity), predominantly over the upper part of the body.
  • Nights become traumatic for some, with chills, sweats and sleeplessness.
  • Emotional problems may include unprovoked irritation, frustration, mood swings and forgetfulness.
  • The transition affects the appearance of many women. Weight-gain, dry skin, and excessive hair-loss are some well-known factors.  There’s a spurt of facial hair in some women, while others lose breast volume.
  • Inexplicable tiredness and sleepiness can mark most part of the day.
  • Health-related issues like cardio-vascular disease, Osteoporosis and Urinary Incontinence tend to flare up.
  • Menopause brings on deficiencies in Estrogen, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-6 and Calcium, which explain the reason for the health-related issues.

Nutritional supplements that help tide over menopause

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids help combat hot flashes and night sweats. They are found in fatty fish and flax seeds.
  • Fiber promotes digestion and fills the stomach, prevents overeating and weight gain. Foods like whole grains, almonds, dried fruits, nuts, beans, potatoes and apples provide substantial fiber.
  • Calcium is vital for the protection of bones and is supplemented by dairy foods like milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt.
  • Vitamin D helps absorb Calcium. In the absence of Vitamin D, Calcium supplements are useless.  Fatty fish, soy, cheese and egg yolks are some super suppliers of Vitamin-D.
  • Vitamin B-6 controls the emotions caused by low serotonin levels. Chicken and oats and good sources. 
  • Fruits and vegetables are mandatory. Apples, oranges and bananas – juiced or eaten raw, and steamed or tossed veggies like carrots, beans, greens, broccoli and tomatoes are suitable for a great daily diet.
  • Water. Last but not the least, water is a universal remedy.  It cleanses, detoxifies and hydrates the body like no other.

Other good lifestyle suggestions

  • Exercise tops the list because of its immense benefits. A regular workout regime consisting of cardio like walking, swimming and cycling, and strength training like dumb bells are good choices as they strengthen the parts of the body that menopause affects.
  • Choose to take the stairs than use the elevator.
  • Dance – it enhances the mood and makes life look and feel good.
  • Spend time in the open – getting a waft of fresh air is incredibly helpful for the mind and body.
  • Go easy on certain foods – those high in salt and sugar, processed food, saturated fat and alcohol.

While there is general ambivalence on the subject, it is worth knowing that menopause is a natural phenomenon with no reason for worry or panic. It sure rearranges a couple of things for a woman, but understanding the aforementioned key points on the way things work, can help in the transition.

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Skin Care During Winter

With a total area of about 20 square feet, the skin is the largest organ in the body. Its primary function is the sense of touch, besides protecting and covering. Across the world, people differ according to the colour, texture and quality of their skin. Biological factors determine these variations, as also do geographical location, exposure to the sun and living conditions.

It is a well-known fact that summer comes down hard on the skin, and a whole beauty industry can survive manufacturing products for sun tan, sun burn, prickly heat, sweat and so on. But winter is no less. It can cause long term damage to skin in the absence of proper prevention and care.

Winter and skin don’t hit it off well. The dip in temperature not only dries the skin to flakiness, creating itching and blotches but also dries the lips, nose and heels. It is a noteworthy point that though the sun is not shining in all its strength during the winter, its effect remains through the ultraviolet rays it emits. Cold air that feels good on the skin actually dehydrates it, making the skin irritable and dry.

There are numerous ways to get a grip of the situation, but these are by far the best. The results are verified and lasting.

Water

We normally do not feel thirsty for water during the cold weather But keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water is the best way to retain great looking skin during winter (and otherwise too).  The loss of moisture from the surface of the skin gets replenished by the regular intake of water, while detoxifying the internal system.  That way, it’s a double-dynamite.

Who doesn’t enjoy a hot bath on a winter morning?  The trouble with a hot bath is that it dries the skin further, increasing the damage caused by the cold.  On the alternate, a warm bath with gentle moisturizing soap is a real rejuvenator.

Cool water can be used to wash the lips to provide relief from chaps and cracks, followed by a dab of Lanolin, VitaminE-rich chap-stick or petroleum jelly.

A humidifier keeps the air warm and moist enough to hydrate the skin. A dash of essential oil in the humidifier calms the senses as well.

Clothes

Come winter and we think wool.  Wool can irritate an already inflamed skin and cause itching.  Cotton clothes do well for the skin and the body.  After a shower, pat dry to help the skin retain and absorb moisture.  A vigorous towel rub strips the skin of its natural oils.   Socks protect the feet, especially the heels, from drying out and developing cracks.  Apply lanolin, petroleum jelly or crack-cream before wearing socks.

Immunity

Nothing beats a healthy body, fortified by nutritious food, lots of water, exercise and fitness, meditation and good sleep.  Immunity helps the body bounce back and heal fast.  Immunity boosters and supplements are available over the counter for those with a rapidly depleting immunity system.

Oils and Creams

Bath oils breathe luxury into a dreary bath-routine and slathering on moisturizing cream (preferably glycerin-based) towards the end of a shower locks precious moisture in the skin.  Just ensure that the water is warm for the bath oils to penetrate, and the body is damp while applying moisturizing cream.Lanolin is an excellent choice as a bath oil and moisturizer.

Exfoliation

Using a gentle exfoliator to remove dead cells makes the skin permeable and helps moisturizer do its work efficiently.  Vigorous exfoliation exposes the skin to the cold and further damage.  Oatmeal is a refreshing, natural and mild exfoliator.

Anti-Fungal / Anti-Bacterial Powder

Dry skin can spur infection in the inner-thigh region for people on the heavier side, causing rashes and redness.  It is necessary to wash the area regularly with warm water, pat dry and dust on anti-fungal / anti-bacterial powder.  Wearing pants separates the thighs and helps the area heal faster.

While there is nothing much that can be done about the weather, and since winter is mostly synonymous with holidays and happiness, the only choice left would be to protect the skin from damage.  There are promising beauty treatments for all kind of skin conditions, but a personal skin care schedule can work wonders.

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Road Trauma – Prevention & First-Aid

Road Trauma

Road Trauma is also called Road Accident. It is one of the chief causes for the rise in mortality rate around the world. There is perennial concern over the steep increase in accidents, forcing governments, organizations and institutions to create awareness on the subject. While that is the main focus and its viability is being brain-stormed across the world on a war-footing, let’s discuss the other aspects of road trauma, like causes, prevention, consequences, safety and first-aid.

Causes and Prevention

Insufficient driving knowledge is the use of an automobile with little or no knowledge of the vehicle, the road or the rules. The following are measures of self-discipline before venturing to drive.

  • Join a reputed driving school that emphasizes on traffic rules and regulations
  • Learn the vehicle and its functions in detail

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Prescription Medication is dangerous because they mess with the mind and alter judgment. The good news is, it is possible to have fun, and be safe. Here’s how.

  • Hire a cab
  • If partying with family, stay sober to drive them back home safely.
  • If partying with friends, choose one who could stay sober.

Racing is for the tracks and is better kept that way. Racing for the thrill of it, to look stylish or to reach on time has written many unfortunate stories. Avoid being the protagonist with these simple tips.

  • Sounds cliché, but leave a little before usual time – it’s better to expect some traffic and not have it, than be over-confident and get irritable.
  • Space out meetings, providing for sufficient driving time to reach venues.
  • Steer clear of commitments that require physical presence within unreasonably limited time-frames.
  • Enroll with a real track or identify a playground with no people, to practice racing. After all, what is life for?

Disobedience of safety rules is a regular sight. It is common to see people travel without seatbelts and helmets, attend mobile calls while driving, jump the traffic line, triple ride, drive in wrong direction on a one-way and jay-walk. Abiding by rules is a show of character – let’s maintain that. For the rest, these are simple and abideable.

  • Know your traffic lights – GREEN is to keep moving,  AMBER – to take a calculated decision – to slow down or move, depending on distance from the stop line and RED just means STOP.
  • Seatbelts and helmets are worn entirely for personal safety
  • If calls must be attended to, move to the side of the road.

Bad roads are an eyesore in any city, especially after the rains.  The rural belt bears the brunt of bad road structure.  But we can help each other.

  • If it’s a well known route, try to communicate the road condition to other drivers as well (the signal is a good place)
  • Drive slow enough to be able to negotiate around or over potholes, and protect the vehicle in the bargain.
  • Use traffic hotlines to inform authorities of bad road conditions.

Poor or excessive lighting affect road visibility to a great extent.  Roads with poor lighting and vehicles with poor or excessive lighting are not conducive to traffic.   What can we do?

  • Don’t use high-beam, unless required
  • Slow down considerably on a road with poor or no lighting
  • Stay in your lane, especially when an oncoming vehicle is on high-beam
  • Inform authorities about poor road lighting

Road Trauma and its aftermath

An accident site is mostly surrounded by helpless onlookers. The immediate response is the urge to instantly upload it on social media, without showing any compassion to help.  Till very recently, the fear of involvement resulting in police cases and lengthy legal proceedings contributed to death by accidents.  But what happens to all those who fatefully were at the wrong place at the wrong time?

  • Loss of life, limb and property
  • Inability to function normally thereafter
  • Loss of income to dependent family
  • Hospitalization and trauma
  • Inconvenience to flowing traffic

First-Aid

First-Aid takes centre-stage at an accident site. Attending to a victim is not something everyone can or will do.  For those who will, knowing the right thing to do would greatly complement the intention.

  • A first-aid kit is a must in every automobile
  • Contents of a basic first-aid kit are ANTISEPTIC SPRAY OR ANTISEPTIC CREAM, PLASTERS, GAUZE DRESSINGS, SAFETY PINS, DISPOSABLE GLOVES, SCISSORS, TWEEZERS, THERMOMETER, STICKY TAPE, SPLINT, HAND SANITIZER.   The more professional ones have CPR EQUIPMENT, BLANKETS and PAINKILLERS.
  • For cuts, bruises and scrapes, clean the area with water and pat dry.  Apply antiseptic cream or spray, bandage with gauze and secure with a tape.
  • Minor burns should be handled by pouring cold water and applying antiseptic cream.  People with major burns should be covered with a clean sheet and treated at the hospital.
  • Fractures require immobilization to prevent further harm.  Tying the area with a sling or splint keep the area motionless.
  • Nosebleed is one of the most common injuries in road traumas.  Make the person site upright and leaning forward.  Pinch the tip of the nose, and direct breathing through the mouth till the bleeding stops.
  • Sprains also should be immobilized and given an ice compress to avoid swelling.
  • If minute splinters enter the skin, use a clean tweezer to carefully remove it and clean the area with antiseptic spray.

First-aid should be made a mandatory subject at school, imparting different levels of first-aid throughout schooling years.

It is not possible to keep people off the roads. This hammers home the fact that roads have to be made safe. Personal discipline, integrity and concern for the lives of others drive safety values. Let’s learn them, apply them and pass them on.

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10 Hygiene Habits You Should Teach Your Kids

Technology has penetrated every part of our life and lifestyle. Yet, instructing children on hygiene has and will be a personal process, simply because children are spontaneous and lively by nature, and getting the point across to them would have to be on their terms.

 

 

Oral Hygiene

 

Brushing is more a routine than a requirement for kids. They find it boring and time-consuming.  A lot of them swallow the toothpaste and chew the toothbrush during brushing time. Well, that’s what’s being a child. But while they’re at it, devoting a little time and patience showing them how to brush their teeth, clean their tongue and rinse their mouth will benefit them in the future.  If required, explain oral hygiene to them in a way they understand and relate to.

 

Bath 

 

Making it compulsory for children to take a shower every day is a habit worth inculcating.  Generally, children love to spend time under the shower without actually having a bath.  It is necessary to give them a bath for the first few years, showing them how to work the lather over themselves, including the underarms and inner thighs, till they get it right.

 

 

Odour

 

Body odour is a problem children face when they do not have a proper shower.  Considering the amount of activity in their daily life, sweat is not only inevitable but also necessary.  Some children get used to the odour and do not know the difference, till they are taught on the use of soap for bath and body- talc for fragrance.

 

Hair 

 

Children’s hair is the receptable of dust and dirt due to their active and inquisitive lifestyle.  It also keeps them in constant need of attention where hygiene is concerned.  Head-lice and nits are a menace that comes back despite regular removal.  Making hair-wash a ritual twice a week is highly recommended.  Children should also be taught to use clean combs and hair-brushes, remembering to wash them during a hair-wash.

 

Hands 

 

In the last few years, hands-hygiene has been at the forefront, with scores of advertisements and awareness programs on the subject, especially for children.  The hands play a vital role in the lives of children as they seem to inadvertently use their hands for everything they need – including picking up things from the ground, placing their hands on the commode, playing in the sand etc. A stringent set of rules, with goodies for compliance, keep them interested in the hand-washing drill.

 

 

Nails

 

Accumulation of nail-dirt on the hands and feet is the main reason for the spread of disease in children. While it is possible that they frequently wash their hands, nail-dirt just stays put. By monitoring the growth of children’s nails and cutting them regularly we can be sure that their hands are spanking clean every time they are washed.

 

Wearing Clean Clothes and Shoes

 

From a child’s perspective, getting out is more important than getting dressed, and it falls to parents to instill a sense of cleanliness and neatness in them.  Training children in the habit of wearing clean, pressed clothes and polished shoes every time they step out, is worth the time and effort, especially in the long run.

 

Using a Tissue / Handkerchief

 

Children use their hands as a ready tool for all known activity.  It is common to see children wipe their hands on their clothes after sneezing, coughing or wiping their nose/mouth. Make them carry a handkerchief or a pack of tissues and they are sure to make you proud.

 

 

Toilet Habits

 

Children must be given potty-training at a very young age to accustom them to the habit of relieving themselves within the first two hours of waking up.  Children who are not trained in this manner are irritable, slow and less interested in the activities of the day.  Teaching them to clean up after using the toilet is a task most parents dislike.  Nevertheless, it is imperative.

 

Food Habits

 

Kids love to keep munching on snacks and anything other than home-cooked food is the object of their interest. Colour and texture appeal to their tastebuds. According to them, chocolate, chips and burgers qualify as meals, for which they display a phenomenal appetite. It is important to formulate a diet plan and schedule, depending on age, and follow it up through the resistance, while gradually weaning them off binge-eating.

 

Children who have been trained to be healthy and hygienic also exhibit confidence in demeanor, discipline in routine, propriety in attitude, respect for others and value for their belongings and the environment at large.