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So far wellness-sutra has created 49 blog entries.

Let’s talk about Aids

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

It’s long been known that strong muscles are critical for living healthy. Strong muscles help keep balance and prevent you from injuring yourself. They help with voluntary movements like walking and involuntary movements like the blood-pumping action of the heart.

The human body has more than 650 different muscles that account for half the body weight. While all muscles play a role in the healthy functioning of the body, the skeletal muscles that we have control over are the ones that help with voluntary movement. Some of these muscles sheath our skeleton, abdomen, chest, biceps, hamstrings and calves.

A March study by professors Preethi Srikanthan and Arun Karlamangla from the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, US, illuminates just how important it is to strengthen and increase the mass of our muscles to enhance longevity. The study, published in the American Journal Of Medicine, is the culmination of Prof. Srikanthan’s previous research into the role that muscles play in metabolic disorders like diabetes.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Give Power To Your Muscels

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

It’s long been known that strong muscles are critical for living healthy. Strong muscles help keep balance and prevent you from injuring yourself. They help with voluntary movements like walking and involuntary movements like the blood-pumping action of the heart.

The human body has more than 650 different muscles that account for half the body weight. While all muscles play a role in the healthy functioning of the body, the skeletal muscles that we have control over are the ones that help with voluntary movement. Some of these muscles sheath our skeleton, abdomen, chest, biceps, hamstrings and calves.

A March study by professors Preethi Srikanthan and Arun Karlamangla from the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, US, illuminates just how important it is to strengthen and increase the mass of our muscles to enhance longevity. The study, published in the American Journal Of Medicine, is the culmination of Prof. Srikanthan’s previous research into the role that muscles play in metabolic disorders like diabetes.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Matters of the heart

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

An inherent part of ageing gracefully is staying physically well for as long as possible. I like to think that my old age will be similar to the sprightly 84-year-old man I know. Perhaps you know someone like him too, he�s the one who still works and travels extensively. He also finishes most evenings nursing a glass of cognac in one hand as he smokes a Cuban in the other while reading a book.

A happy thought, and one that Aashish Contractor, head of cardiac health and rehabilitation centre, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, promptly debunked by telling me that �if we Indians keep up with our current way of life, 1 in 3 of us is destined to die of heart disease�.

That�s an extraordinarily large number of the population suffering and dying of a heart attack or a stroke. What makes it worse is the fact that we suffer from heart attacks sooner than people in other countries. On an average an Indian suffers from a heart attack when he or she is 53 years old. Compare that with when an American suffers the same fate�at age 59. Western Europeans seem to have it even better, they get their first heart attack at age 63. That�s not a small difference when you think about it. These numbers are from the international INTERHEART study where data was collected from more than 12,000 cases across 52 countries, including India. The study was published in the medical journal The Lancet on 11 September 2004.

So it seems that 33% of us are destined to die of heart disease, and those of us who develop heart disease are likely to get a heart attack a full decade earlier than our European friends.

The INTERHEART study found something else too. The researchers examined nine health indicators and their effect on a person�s chance of getting a heart attack. They collected data on stuff like smoking, diet, physical activity, blood pressure and blood sugar. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Do you know who steals your sleep?

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die.
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”

Taken literally, even if it wasn’t meant to be, it makes
good sense. Getting a good night’s sleep is akin to eating healthy
food or drinking clean water. Yet many of us consider sleep a
dispensable human activity. We think we can get more out of our
day, whether it is at work or at play, if we sleep less.

New Delhi-based Hrudananda Mallick, a professor in the
department of physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
says urban Indians are just not getting enough sleep. Only about
60% of adults get adequate sleep, that is, 7-8 hours every night,
he says. Though there are people who are fine with less, most of
us need at least 7 hours.

Cutting corners on sleep affects health and well-being, how
well we think, work, learn and get along with others. It increases
our risk of chronic health problems like heart disease and
diabetes. And because it affects our judgement and alertness, lack
of sleep can be deadly too, especially if you drive long distances
regularly.

According to Ashim Desai, senior consultant at the Dr ABR
Desai ENT Clinic, Mumbai, there are several ways of improving
sleep habits. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day;
try to keep to the same sleep schedule on week nights and
weekends; work out more than a couple of hours before bedtime; and
do not watch TV, work on the computer or use any kind of
light-emitting devices for reading at least an hour before
bedtime. My favourite: Have a warm bath before bedtime. “A warm
bath dilates the blood vessels and relaxes the muscles, making it
easier for us to fall asleep,” explains Dr Desai.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, is a wellness consultant and a
clinical scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health
in Bethesda, US.

Too Good to be true

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

A 35-year-old man had been suffering from clinical depression for five years. He was brought to psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh’s clinic in Greater Kailash, Delhi, for treatment. Dr Chugh suggested repetitive transmagnetic stimulation (rTMS) but the family was apprehensive. Dr Chugh reassured them that there would be no side effects. “My brother experienced no side effects during the treatment except a mild tapping sensation on his head and he reported no side effects after either,” said the patient’s sister.

Repetitive transmagnetic stimulation is a form of therapy where the brain is non-invasively stimulated with a magnetic coil. The treatment uses our knowledge of various regions of the brain and how they play a role in mind and body functioning. Dr Chugh says that usually “a rTMS session lasts 30 minutes and does not require anaesthesia. The patient has an electromagnetic coil held against his or her forehead near an area of the brain involved in mood regulation. Then, short electromagnetic pulses are administered through the coil”. The magnetic pulses stimulate nerve cells in the targeted brain region. The magnetic field generated by the rTMS machine is about the same strength as that of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Dr Chugh finds the therapy effective and uses it to treat depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders and auditory hallucinations, migraine, addiction, paralysis after stroke and fibromyalgia.

In India, there are doctors who are using it to treat everything from clinical depression to attention deficit disorder (ADD) and stroke. But the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has only approved it for patients with depression, with an additional caveat that only those patients with depression who haven’t responded to medicines can be prescribed rTMS. Globally 35% of patients who seek treatment for depression don’t respond to medicines. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

India’s biggest killer

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Since the late 1990s, India has had the dubious distinction of being the coronary artery disease (CAD) capital of the world. CAD is more prevalent among Indians than any other ethnic group in the world, and occurs earlier here than anywhere else. It results in more deaths worldwide than any other disease, and the prevalence and severity of the disease has shown no signs of letting up.

The 101 on CAD is simple�it occurs when the vessels that supply blood to the heart get damaged; this restricts the flow of blood to the heart. This, in turn, can lead to chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath, while a complete blockage can result in a myocardial infarction (heart attack). But here�s the twist: The biggest factors for this CAD epidemic are not genetic or external sources or lack of medical intervention�it is the choices we make.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the CAD cases across the world are the result of lifestyle choices�these include lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits and regular use of tobacco. This is similar to the results from a study by INTERHEART, a Canadian-led global survey of the risk factors for heart attacks conducted in 52 countries (the results were first published in September 2004). The study examined 15,152 people who had suffered a heart attack and compared them with 14,820 people of the same age and sex who did not have a prior history of heart attacks or heart disease Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Go With Your Gut

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

The gut is considered the seat of good health in Ayurvedic medicine. The first step in Ayurvedic treatment for any disease is to correct the imbalances in the large intestine. G.G. Gangadharan, joint director, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Bangalore, goes one step further, “In Ayurveda, the large intestine is considered even more important than the brain.”

Western medicine is now confirming this with research evidence. Over the past two decades, research has found connections between an unhealthy gut and several diseases, many of which you wouldn’t imagine have anything to do with your stomach. Disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis are associated with an unhealthy gut, and surprisingly, so are diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and obesity. So much so that in a review of the literature on gut health and its impact on metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, authors S.A. Joyce and C.G. Gahan concluded that new therapies for metabolic diseases should be designed keeping gut health in mind. The review was published in the March issue of the journal Current Opinions in Gastroenterology.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

What is wellness?

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

The word wellness probably conjures up the image of a spa in your mind�s eye. The smell of massage oil and the sound of relaxing music wafting through the air as you sip calming ginger lemon tea. In other words, wellness invokes a sense of time spent away from life�s daily stresses to revitalize.

An effort at wellness can indeed be a good massage and herbal tea because nothing helps to relax your muscles and to rehydrate you better. But your quest for wellness doesn�t have to end there.

Wellness is an active process of moving towards a better physical, social, mental, emotional, even spiritual, state of being. Thinking about wellness is a far more positive experience than worrying about illness and disease. Yet if the World Wide Web is a measure, we seem to be more occupied with illness and disease than we are with wellness and well-being. A Google search on the words disease and illness yielded 684 million hits, while the hits on wellness and well-being were fewer by 135 million, at the time this column was written. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Is yoga the magic bullet?

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Poorly managed stress plays a key role in the development of lifestyle diseases, including major depression, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Lifestyle diseases are seeing a steep rising curve in both urban and rural India.

Do it right: Even simple postures are beneficial as long as they are practised correctly and regularly.
India�s largest clinic-based survey, Screening India�s Twin Epidemic (SITE) , launched by Sanofi-Aventis Group and led by Shashank Joshi, consultant endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, came out with its findings in Mumbai on 7 November. The study found that over 60% of the adult population surveyed across India either had diabetes (35%) or hypertension (46%) or both (21%). The survey covered 16,000 people in eight states and areas�Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi-National Capital Region, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. According to Prasanna Paranjape, a vedic physician at the Sanjeevan Ayurved centre in Pune, yoga can be used easily to manage stress and improve quality of life.

The question is, can yoga help prevent lifestyle diseases and reduce the symptoms of these diseases? Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

A life lived with dignity

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Sushama, my wife, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was 57,” says V. Jayaprakasan. This was 2008 and Jayaprakasan was dean of the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pookot, Kerala. “My wife’s sister had suffered from the same disease in 2005 and had died within a year post diagnosis,” he says. “I knew how aggressive this cancer was. We spent the first six months at a cancer hospital trying surgery, chemotherapy and radiation but when the doctors said that nothing more could be done for Sushama, and she had less than a year to live, we moved her to the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS), a palliative care centre. I had also retired by then.”

It was not like going to a hospital at all. The staff welcomed Sushama and spoke to her with affection and care. It was like being taken care of by family. “Her pain was well managed with round-the-clock clinical care,” recalls Dr Jayaprakasan. As her primary caregiver, he too was given clear instructions on how to change medicines and dosage according to the changes in her symptoms. “But I haven’t told you the most important part,” Dr Jayaprakasan says. “The director of the centre actually asked me how I was feeling. It was much needed and I felt like there was a support system available not only for my wife but also for me.” Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

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