Archive for August, 2006

The Importance Of Nutrition

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

The importance of good nutrition is nothing new. Back in 400 B.C., Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Today, good nutrition is more important than ever. At least four of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.–heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes–are directly related to way we eat; diet is also implicated in scores of other conditions. But while the wrong diet can be deadly, eating right is among the cornerstones of health.

Of course, food alone isn’t the key to a longer and healthier life. Good nutrition should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also includes regular exercise, not smoking or drinking alcohol excessively, stress management and limiting exposure to environmental hazards. And no matter how well you eat, your genes play a big part in your risk for certain health problems. But don’t underestimate the influence of how and what you eat.

For example, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can begin in early childhood, but the process can be halted–even reversed–if you make healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle. The gradual bone thinning that results in osteoporosis may be slowed if you consume enough calcium, maintain adequate Vitamin D levels and participate in weight-bearing exercise. You may be genetically predisposed to diabetes, but keep your weight within a healthy range through diet and exercise and the disease may never strike you.

The keys to good nutrition are balance, variety and moderation. To stay healthy, your body needs the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein –the three main components of nutrition.

You also need vitamins, minerals and other substances from many different foods, and while some foods are better than others, no single food or food group has it all–so eating a variety of different foods is essential.

Moderation means eating neither too much nor too little of any food or nutrient. Too much food can result in excess weight and even too much of certain nutrients, while eating too little can lead to numerous nutrient deficiencies and low body mass.


Vitamin D & Dietary sources of Vitamin D

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

VitaminVitamin D: A steroid vitamin, which promotes absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Under normal conditions of sunlight exposure, no dietary supplementation is necessary because sunlight promotes adequate vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Deficiency can lead to osteomalcia in adults and bone deformity (rickets) in children. Vitamin D is used along with calcium as a supplement in the treatment of the “bone thinning” disorders, osteoporosis.

Dietary sources of Vitamin D
Fish liver oils, e.g.: cod liver oil
Fatty fish, (herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, pilchards, tuna)
Fortified margarine
Infant milk formulas
Eggs, liver

Vitamin C & Dietary sources of Vitamin C

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid, important in the synthesis of collagen, the framework protein for tissues of the body, such as those that help to make up the skin. Deficiency leads to scurvy, characterized by fragile capillaries, poor wound healing, and bone deformity in children.

Dietary sources of Vitamin C
Black currents, guavas
Green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower (raw)
Oranges and other citrus fruits
Brussels, sprouts, cabbage
Liver is the only animal food that contains it.

Vitamin A

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Vitamin A: Retinol. Carotene compounds responsible for transmitting light sensation in the retina of the eye. Deficiency leads to night blindness.
Dietary Sources of Retinol
Liver (richest natural source)
Egg yolk
Fish and Liver oils
(Retinol or carotene is added to margarine in Britain and other countries.)


Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Vitamins are organic substances in food, which are required in small amounts but cannot be synthesized in adequate quantities by the body and therefore have to be provided from the environment.

Contrary to popular belief, deficiencies of vitamins still occur in affluent countries, for example deficiencies of folate, vitamin B and Vitamin D and C.

These are particularly common in people on fad diets, veganand alcoholics.

Deficiency diseases are more prevalent in developing countries. For example, Vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of blindness in the developing countries.

Depression – Psychological causes

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Personality/ Attitudes:
Following types of personality traits predispose to depressive illness.

  • Very ambitious
  • Anxious
  • Obsessive/perfectionist
  • Setting very high standards for self

Persons having above traits/attitudes are more likely to experience depressive episodes in their lives as compared to people who don’t have such type of personality.

Coping strategies with life events: How we deal with stressful events like separation/divorce/death, etc. determines how predisposed we are to depression. People who are

  • Impulsive
  • Aggressive
  • Self centered

Are more likely to have depression.

Depression – Biological causes

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Chemicals / Neurotransmitters:
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers, which are critical in the transmission of nerve impulses in our brain and nerves. The level of certain neurotransmitters, NORADRENALINE & SEROTONIN are decreased in the brain. Most of the medications used for treating depression (Anti depressants) help in elevating the levels of these chemicals in the brain.

Genetic: For every possible physical and mental feature there is a gene in our cells. So is a gene for Depression. The parents of a depressed person are at a higher risk for depression. If a sibling has depressive illness then there is a 15% chance, that it will be there in another sibling .If the onset of depression is after the age of 40 yr. then chance of it being genetically transmitted is less.

Hormonal imbalance: Though the exact mechanisms are not understood but imbalance of female sex hormones can lead to depression. Depressions in the postmenopausal and post partum (after delivery) period are the examples.


Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

QUIT SMOKING Switch brands. Switch to a brand that is not as enjoyable as your regular brand.

Change to a brand that’s low in tar and nicotine a couple of weeks before your target date. This will help change your smoking behavior. However, DO NOT smoke more cigarettes, inhale them more often or more deeply, or place your fingertips over the holes in the filters. All of these will increase your nicotine intake, and the idea is to get your body used to functioning without nicotine. (If you smoke regular, go from regular to lights, then from lights to ultra lights.)

Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke.

Smoke only half of each cigarette.

Each day, postpone lighting your first cigarette 1 hour.

Decide you’ll smoke only during odd or even hours of the day.

Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you’ll smoke during the day. For each additional cigarette, give a dollar to your favorite charity.

Change your eating habits to help you cut down. For example, drink milk, which many people consider incompatible with smoking. End meals or snacks with something that won’t lead to a cigarette.

Reach for a glass of juice or some fruit instead of a cigarette for a “pick-me-up.” ( The healthier you feel , the stronger you are.)

Stop buying cigarettes by the carton. Wait until one pack is empty before you buy another.

Stop carrying cigarettes with you at home and at work. Make them difficult to get to.

Good Reasons for Quitting Smoking

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you will ever do:


  • You will live longer and live better.
  • Quitting will lower your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.
  • If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
  • The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.
  • You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.

Nicotine: A Powerful Addiction

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how hard it can be. It is hard because nicotine is a very addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.Quitting is hard. Usually people make 2 or 3 tries, or more, before finally being able to quit. Each time you try to quit, you can learn about what helps and what hurts.

Dangers of Smoking

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Almost everybody knows that smoking is bad for the health.  Images of blackened lungs line school hallways and hospital waiting rooms, but despite this people continue to take up smoking.  This may have to do with the pervasive romantic image of smoking — an image that has nothing in common with reality.

There are many ways to take tobacco.  You can chew it, inhale it through the nose, and smoke it in the form of cigars or cigarettes.  No matter how it’s taken it is dangerous, but because smoking is the most popular way to consume tobacco it has also received the greatest attention from the medical field and the media.

When a smoker inhales a puff of cigarette smoke the large surface area of the lungs allows nicotine to pass into the blood stream almost immediately.  It is this nicotine “hit” that smokers crave, but there is a lot more to smoke than just nicotine.  In fact, there are more than 4000 chemical substances that make up cigarette smoke and many of them are toxic.

Cigarette smoke is composed of 43 carcinogenic substances and more than 400 other toxins that can also be found in wood varnish, nail polish remover, and rat poison.  All of these substances accumulate in the body and can cause serious problems to the heart and lungs.

Cancer is the most common disease associated with smoking.  Smoking is the cause of 90% of lung cancer cases and is related to 30% of all cancer fatalities.  Other smoking-related cancers include cancers of the mouth, pancreas, urinary bladder, kidney, stomach, esophagus, and larynx.

Besides cancer, smoking is also related to several other diseases of the lungs.  Emphysema and bronchitis can be fatal and 75% of all deaths from these diseases are linked to smoking.

Smokers have shorter lives than non-smokers.  On average, smoking takes 15 years off your life span.  This can be explained by the high rate of exposure to toxic substances which are found in cigarette smoke.

Smokers also put others at risk.  The dangers of breathing in second-hand smoke are well known.  Smokers harm their loved ones by exposing them to the smoke they exhale.  All sorts of health problems are related to breathing in second-hand smoke.  Children are especially susceptible to the dangers of second-hand smoke because their internal organs are still developing.  Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more vulnerable to asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.

Smoking can also be dangerous for unborn children.  Mothers who smoke are more likely to suffer from miscarriages, bleeding and nausea, and babies of smoking mothers have reduced birth weights or may be premature.  These babies are more susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome and may also have lifelong health complications due to chest infections and asthma.

It is never too late to give up smoking, even those who have smoked for 20 years or more can realize tremendous health benefits from giving up the habit.

What happens during an episode of Asthma

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

asthmaAsthma occurs when the airflow moving in and out of the lungs are blocked by muscle squeezing, swelling, and excess mucus. In response to a trigger, an asthmatic’s airways become narrowed and inflamed, causing blocking of the airways that result in wheezing and/or coughing symptoms. Air becomes trapped in the air sacs, not allowing for the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This trapped air leads to a low oxygen level in the body, thus, triggering an asthma attack. During an asthma attack, the mucus-producing cells within the airway increase their output, causing excess mucus that blocks the airway. Parts of the airway become entirely blocked with the combination of airway narrowing, mucus plugging, and airway inflammation. These attacks vary in length. A single episode can be over in minutes, or continue for hours or even days. In between asthma episodes the patient may be totally symptom free. Other patients may have slight symptoms such as chest tightness or a hacking cough.

Should people with asthma exercise?

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

cough.gifAnswer to this question is positive only if they are feeling well exercising. Everyone who is physically able to do so can benefit from exercise. It is generally advisable to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. Persons with asthma may need to take special precautions in cold weather or during seasons when pollen is in the air. They may be able to prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms by using an inhaled bronchodilator before exercise.

Asthma Itself can cause Side Effects

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Lot of people focus on the side effects of treatment of asthma, so much that they forget that asthma if not treated properly can also cause side effects. Apart from the risk of dying from asthma, there is also a risk that lung function will deteriorate over the years and that you will become disabled by chronic asthma as you age. Children with poorly treated asthma do not grow properly and pregnant women with poorly controlled asthma have a higher risk of complications.

Diabetes treatment

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006


  • The mainstay of non-pharmacological diabetes treatment is diet and physical activity.
  • About 40% of diabetes sufferers require oral agents for satisfactory blood glucose control, and some 40% need insulin injections. This hormone was isolated by Frederic Banting and Charles Best in 1921 in Canada. It revolutionized the treatment of diabetes and prevention of its complications, transforming Type 1 diabetes from a fatal disease to one in which long-term survival became achievable.
  • People with Type 1 diabetes are usually totally dependent on insulin injections for survival. Such people require daily administration of insulin. The majority of people suffering from diabetes have the Type 2 form. Although they do not depend on insulin for survival, about one third of sufferers needs insulin for reducing their blood glucose levels.
  • Insulin is unavailable and unaffordable in many poor countries, despite being listed by WHO as an essential drug. Access to insulin by those who require it is a subject of special concern to international health agencies and national health authorities.

Dietary Tips for Diabetes patients

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Dietary Tips

  • Eat a wide variety of foods. Having a colorful plate is the best way to ensure that you are eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, and other forms of protein such as nuts, dairy products, and grains/cereals.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choose foods high in fiber such as whole grain breads, fruit, and cereal. They contain important vitamins and minerals. You need 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who eat a high fiber diet can improve their blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Similar results have been shown in some studies in people with type 1 diabetes.
  • Watch your portions. Eat only the amount of food in your meal plan. Excess calories results in excess amounts of stored energy from food which results in excess fat and excess weight. In people with type 2 diabetes excess body fat means less sensitivity to insulin. The dietitian will help you determine what portion sizes you can eat. This will be determined based on many things such as whether you need to lose weight, maintain weight, have high sugars or suffer from low sugars.
  • In women with gestational diabetes, eat multiple meals and snacks per day as recommended.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Eat meals and snacks at regular times every day. If you are taking a diabetes medicine, eat your meals and take your medicine at the same times each day.

Note: If you are taking some of the newer diabetes medicines, some of these tips may not apply to you; ask your health care provider the tips you should follow.

10 Myths for Diabetes

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Myth #1  You can catch diabetes from someone else.
No.  Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious.  It can’t be caught like a cold or flu.  There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.  Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Myth #2  People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.
If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.  They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes, than they are to people without diabetes. 

Myth #3  Eating too much sugar causes diabetes. 
No.  Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.  However, being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.

Myth #4  People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is the same as that for everyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit.  Diabetic and “dietetic” versions of sugar-containing foods offer no special benefit. They still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth #5  If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta. 
Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan.  What is important is the portion size.  Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks.  The key is portions.  For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods is about right.  Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Myth #6  People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses. 
No.  You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes.  However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any infection interferes with your blood glucose management, putting you at risk of high blood glucose levels and, for those with type 1 diabetes, an increased risk of ketoacidosis.

Myth #7  Insulin causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high blood pressure.
No, insulin does not cause atherosclerosis.  In the laboratory, there is evidence that insulin can initiate some of the early processes associated with atherosclerosis.  Therefore, some physicians were fearful that insulin might aggravate the development of high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.  But it doesn’t.

Myth #8  Insulin causes weight gain, and because obesity is bad for you, insulin should not be taken. 
Both the UKPDS (United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study) and the DCCT (Diabetes Control & Complications Trial) have shown that the benefit of glucose management with insulin far outweighs (no pun intended) the risk of weight gain. 

Myth #9  Fruit is a healthy food.  Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish. 
Fruit is a healthy food.  It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Because fruit contains carbohydrate, it needs to be included in your meal plan.  Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

Myth #10  You don’t need to change your diabetes regimen unless your A1C is greater than 8 percent.
The better your glucose control, the less likely you are to develop complications of diabetes.  An A1C in the sevens (7s), however, does not represent good control.  The ADA goal is less than 7 percent.  The closer your A1C is to the normal range (less than 6 percent), the lower your chances of complications.  However, you increase your risk of hypoglycemia, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.  Talk with your health care provider about the best goal for you.  

Source : American Diabetes Association

Major Types of Diabetes

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Type 1 diabetes
Results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes
Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women – about 135,000 cases in the United States each year.

Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 20.8 million with diabetes.

How do you get Diabetes?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

There are two main types of diabetes mellitus. These are known as type 1 and type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus used to be called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus, because it usually begins in childhood or adolescence.
  • In type 1 diabetes mellitus, the pancreas releases no insulin at all because the body has destroyed the cells that produce it (islet cells). The patient therefore relies on treatment with insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes. It used to be called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, or adult onset diabetes because it usually begins in adulthood.
  • In type 2 diabetes, patients can still produce insulin, but they do not produce enough and/or their bodies cannot use it properly.

Another form of diabetes, known as gestational diabetes, occurs in some women during pregnancy. It is a temporary condition caused by pregnancy and usually occurs in the later stages, once the baby has formed but is still growing.