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How Exercise prevents Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Leading a physically active lifestyle helps you live a longer and healthier life.
Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, claim that dementia sufferers benefit greatly from regular exercise, demonstrating improvements in cognitive functioning and their ability to perform daily activities.

Dementia is an umbrella term that covers a range of cognitive disorders characterized by memory loss and changes in personality. Since vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia (after Alzheimer’s disease), by reducing the risk of cerebro-vascular disease it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia.

Some studies say Alzheimer’s and other dementias may be caused by high blood pressure, since it can cause blood vessel damage through constriction.

Physical exercises help in maintaining good blood cholesterol levels, healthy body weight and normal blood pressure, all of which indirectly help in lowering the risk of developing dementia. An active lifestyle can almost halve the risk of dementia, compared to a sedentary lifestyle. The effect of physical activity is not limited to vascular effects. For instance, exercise can give rise to new neuron in the brain, as well as release a substance that protects the brain. Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and can help to improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia. It includes a wide range of physical activities from walking across the room to gardening to high-intensity workouts.

Exercise helps to improve cognition. Recent studies have shown that exercise may improve memory and slow down mental decline and even improves strength and balance, which helps to counteract the fear of falling.

A healthy lifestyle includes physical activity as part of a daily routine which will help to maintain well-being for as long as possible. Physical activity creates valuable opportunities to socialize with others and can help improve and maintain a person’s independence, which is beneficial both to people with dementia and their caregivers.

Every person is unique and will have different levels of ability and certain specific physical activities that they enjoy.

Even though dementia is common among the elderly, make exercise a regular part of your life, irrespective of your age and mental health.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Can Sleeping Help Children Lose Excess Fat?

Parents want their children to be physically active, mentally sharp and have healthy eating habits. But in today’s lifestyle, junk foods or fast foods have taken over much of the child’s diet, affecting their health adversely. Easy availability of unhealthy food is making it difficult for parents to manage their children’s diets. Too much junk food and too little physical activity are the frequently-cited culprits of obesity and other health related issues in children. But what about sleep? 

New research suggests that a moderate increase in sleep may prove effective in helping children eat less and lose weight. Researchers have found that extending sleeping hours reduced overall calorie intake and altered Leptin hormone levels associated with greater appetite control. Their results suggest that ensuring children get plenty of sleep on a regular basis may offer significant help in maintaining healthy weight and avoiding obesity.  

Leptin plays an important role in regulating metabolism and energy expenditure, signaling to the body that it has enough energy to function, thereby reducing appetite. Abnormal and high levels of leptin can lead to leptin resistance, with the body becoming less equipped to use the hormone effectively to regulate appetite and metabolism.

Studies have also shown that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased intake of hundreds of additional calories per day. Lack of sleep has also been shown to influence the types of foods we crave, leading to changes in brain chemistry that make unhealthful foods more tempting.
Obesity puts children at risk for many of the same health problems, like high blood pressure and cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as type 2 diabetes. Breathing problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, are common problems among children who are obese. Weight problems that begin during childhood and adolescence often continue till adulthood. Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. They are even more likely to suffer from heart problems, diabetes and many other metabolic syndromes later in their lives.

Hence sleep is a powerful therapeutic tool in controlling child obesity and other related diseases as it will help you keep a check on your child’s unhealthy cravings. Sufficient sleep will even ensure proper growth and higher immunity, leading to lower susceptibility to common ailments and diseases.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Weight loss can prevent and cure sleep apnea

Apnea literally means “cessation of breath.” If you have sleep apnea, your breath can become very shallow or you may even stop breathing while you are asleep. This state of not breathing can occur for 10 seconds in an hour, or in severe cases, the frequency of cessation of breath may further increase. The repeated episodes of apnea (lack of breathing) cause frequent night time awakening.
Individuals with this disorder often complain of morning headaches, constant fatigue, and moodiness, and can fall asleep almost anywhere. More seriously, they can fall asleep even while driving. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common in obese individuals. It is believed that the airway of obese individuals get obstructed by large tonsils, an enlarged tongue and increased fat in the neck. This presses airways when the pharyngeal (throat) muscles are relaxed during sleep. A person’s neck circumference is a good predictor of sleep apnea. Obese men with a neck circumference of 17 inches or greater, and women with a neck circumference of 16 inches or greater are more likely to have sleep apnea.

The worst part is that it is not only obesity that has an association with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea even results in poor sleep which increases food cravings. Lack of good quality sleep increases the chances of hormonal imbalance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its effects on appetite and disturbed levels of ghrelin hormone leads to an increased appetite which further leads to weight gain.

Individuals with sleep apnea often have elevated blood pressure, high fasting glucose, and high cholesterol. Lack of sleep triggers stress hormones which stimulate the cell’s glycogen to get converted into glucose. This suppresses the function of insulin due to which blood sugar levels shoot up leading to diabetes and heart problems, all of which can worsen with further sleep deprivation. So, it’s a vicious cycle. Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, which, itself, then causes derangements of hormones that control eating habits, leading to more weight gain, worsened blood pressure, glucose intolerance, worsened apnea and the cycle goes on and on.

So, healthy eating with exercise leads to weight loss and not only helps in preventing such a vicious cycle of health problems but also helps in the cure of sleep apnea.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Amazing health benefits of coconut water

Coconut water is the water like liquid that is found in unripe coconuts. In terms of health and goodness, coconut water is second only to water. It is extremely low in calories and full of nutrients. It is packed with calcium and minerals, and has more electrolytes than packaged sports drinks and more potassium than a banana.
The health benefits are:-
1. Helps in weight loss
It has absolutely no cholesterol, so does not increase body fat and also boosts your metabolism.

2. Lowers blood sugar level
Despite being naturally sweet, it is extremely low in sugar, so it lowers blood sugar levels and is very good for diabetics.

3. Lower blood pressure
It is low in sodium compared to energy drinks and high in chloride compared to sports drinks. Chloride reduces water retention in the body which lowers the kidney’s load and reduces blood pressure.

4. Regulates body temperature
Coconut water keeps you hydrated, which increases your body’s metabolism and even increases sweating. Sweating keeps your body cool and helps in regulating the body temperature.

5. Facilitates Digestion
Coconut water contains monolaurin, a monoglyceride which cleanses and soothes the digestive tract by actively killing intestinal worms that make digestion easier and reduce chances of digestive illnesses. Because of its high concentration of fibre, it aids in the prevention of indigestion and reduces the occurrence of acid reflux.

6. Controls Vomiting
Coconut water controls vomiting making it saviour for those suffering from ailments that cause vomiting such as typhoid, malaria or fevers.

7. Rich in Nutrient
Unlike any other beverage on the market, coconut water contains the five essential electrolytes that are present in the human body. These include: calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. Because of its unique composition, coconut water can be enjoyed by individuals with varying medical conditions.

8. Compatible with Human Blood
Since it is isotonic to human plasma, coconut water can be used in extreme emergencies to quickly rehydrate the human body if administered intravenously. It is not uncommon for coconut water to be used an an intravenous drip in poorer, third-world countries to save human lives.

9. Boosts Hydration
The ingredients in coconut water are way more effective at hydrating the human body than energy and sports drinks. Coconut water serves as an ideal energy drink with 294 mg of potassium and 5 mg of natural sugar per glass, unlike your favourite sports drink that only contains half of the potassium content and five times the amount of processed sugar. In addition, the sodium count is only 25 mg, which is relatively low compared to the 41 and 20 mg found in sports drinks and energy drinks respectively.

10. The Ultimate Hangover Remedy
Next time you overdo it and drink more than your belly can handle, consume coconut water to soothe your stomach. It will also replace those essential electrolytes that exit the body if you experience bouts of frequent urination and vomiting.

It’s very beneficial to consume coconut water during the summer, especially if you live somewhere where the temperature and humidity levels are high. It rehydrates your body and provides essential nutrients. Make coconut water an essential part of your regular diet to benefit from it.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Your neighbourhood might be making you fat

“Is your address making you fat?” This article will help you in understanding an unusual link between your neighbourhood and your child’s weight problems. Many researchers have been studying this unusual link and have come to a tentative conclusion that surroundings of a child’s house might be responsible for obesity.

Recent research from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) has found that Children living in areas close to fast food outlets are more likely to be overweight or obese. The residential localities of nearly a million children were taken into consideration and compared. Outlets serving unhealthy food such as chips, burger, pizzas, and sweets had more overweight children living around them.
Obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including:
• Cardiovascular problems.
• High blood pressure.
• Diabetes.
• Cancer.
• Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
• Osteoarthritis.
• Gout.
• Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short episodes during sleep) and asthma. ,
• Low self-esteem
• Depression
The relevance of studies like this emphasizes the severity of obesity epidemic spreading among children in industrialized countries and the need to take action.
“Public health policies to reduce obesity in children should incorporate strategies to prevent high concentrations of fast food and other unhealthy food outlets”
Public health policies should now acknowledge that steps must be taken to reduce childhood obesity by factoring in environment as well. It is one thing to promote healthy dietary choices and physical activity and exercise, but giving children convenient and unhealthy options that are conveniently accessible seems to be a counterintuitive measure in the struggle to tackle the problem as a whole.
Here are some ways suggested that parents can adopt to tackle the problem of childhood obesity and prevent children from above mentioned health risks:
• Ensure children get a good night’s sleep
• Reduce sedentary behaviour and screen time
• Encourage physical activity.
• Encourage positive family mealtimes
• Ensure portion sizes are controlled
• Increase acceptance of healthy foods – including fruits and vegetables.
• Reduce availability and accessibility of calorie dense foods in the home
• Reduce consumption of sweet drinks and increase the consumption of water

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

High salt intake in childhood might be linked to obesity

High salt intake has been blamed as one of the root causes for obesity in adults. And now research shows that it even applies to children. Research published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the more salt children consume; the more they slurped on sugar-sweetened drinks. And those who drank more than a serving a day were 26% more likely to be overweight or obese, suggesting that salt may be part of the chain of events contributing to the childhood-obesity epidemic.

Apart from this study, one of the research studies also showed that adults or children who ate more salt, felt thirstier and consumed more fluid. This has been quoted by Carley Grimes, the study’s lead author, a dietitian and doctoral student at Deakin University in Australia. The amount of salt in your blood rises and to control it, your body gets thirsty. But the problem with adolescents is that, when they feel thirsty, they try to reach out for soda and sugar based drinks instead of water, which ultimately leads to unhealthy weight gain.

Salt-rich diets could be the key to why some children battle with obesity, according to a research at the University of London. In a study of data on 1,600 children, they found that children eating a salty diet tend to drink more, including more sugary sodas and drinks.

The researchers calculated that for every gram of salt those children consumed, they also drank 17 g of sugary drinks. The kids who did not commonly drink sugar-sweetened beverages wound up eating more than half a gram of salt less than the group of kids who drank sugary drinks. “That’s significant,” says Grimes. “It’s a bag of chips a day”

It is very important to educate adolescents about salt intake. Here are some tips which can be inculcated in your lifestyle, to help reduce salt intake.
1. Try to consume home cooked food most of the time.
2. Stick to fruits, salads and vegetables.
3. Consume calcium rich foods like milk and other dairy products.

Other than obesity, a high salt diet can trigger other health problems like high blood pressure and cardiovascular ailments. Controlling salt intake might be difficult in India, since salt consumption is high across all regions and foods. Try to refrain from adding extra salt to home food, or when eating out.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Childhood Obesity Can Have a Lifelong Impact

Childhood obesity is a medical condition that is regularly overlooked and ignored by parents of sufferers. Since obesity does not have any immediate impact on the health of the child, it is not paid much heed. Childhood obesity can not only have an impact on the child’s health, even worse is it’s lifelong impact. It is estimated that one in five children is overweight between the age of 6 to 17. Many of these children face a high risk of developing obesity related problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Here we will give you more information about the causes of childhood obesity along with it’s lifelong impacts.
The many reasons of childhood obesity:-

1. Eating Habits

Eating high calorie food such as sugary snacks, foods high on saturated fat and unhealthy beverages on a regular basis may lead to uncontrolled weight gain for your child.

2. Lack of exercise and physical activity

Children who rarely exercise or play some sport are more prone to gain weight because they don’t burn as many calories as they consume.

3. Psychological factors and lack of productive activities

Some children tend to eat more just to avoid stress and boredom.

4. Family routines

If you tend to buy foods that are convenient to eat and tasty, such as cookies and chips, your child will have a higher risk of being obese. You have to inculcate good eating habits in your child and try to minimize their exposure to unhealthy foods.

Long term effects of childhood obesity

The long term effects of childhood obesity include pre-disposition to many life threatening lifestyle diseases as an adult. Some of the problems – Arteries becoming clogged may lead to strokes and heart attacks, the colon could get a tendency towards polyps that leads to colon cancer, the bones and joints can become over worked from carrying all the extra weight over the years, leading to joint dysfunctions.

Psychologically, an obese child tends to have low self esteem and depression. They also tend to be emotional about their weight, leading to further emotional overeating.

So one of the ways to reduce this problem is to improve diet and exercise habits of the child and to make it a permanent part of their lifestyle. Treating and preventing childhood obesity will protect your child’s health now, and in the future.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Are Indian Pickles Healthy?

Indian food is incomplete without pickles. The little pieces of lime and mango marinated with oil, salt and other spices are served at all meals. Pickles have always been a favourite for Indians and are even mentioned in our Vedic Texts! The sweet & sour taste of pickles makes them a favourite. Being so popular, pickles are used in India’s staple diet but the tangy lime pickles can be quite harmful to the body. Surprised? Read more to know why pickles are not healthy for us:
PICKLES HAVE LOW NUTRITIONAL VALUE
Pickles have low nutritional value because of the pickling process. During the process of pickling, fruits or vegetables are diced or chopped and then dried out. During the drying out process they are coated in salt and left out to dry in the sunlight. This is to ensure that no water content is left in the fruit or vegetables. But the negative point of this process is that drying in sunlight leads to further loss of nutrients.
INDIAN PICKLES HAVE HIGH SODIUM CONTENT
In Indian pickles, a high amount of salt is added for seasoning and preparation. Excessive use of salt in pickles increases the sodium content in our diet which leads to ill health effects like water retention, abdominal bloating, high blood pressure and an increase in the work load for our kidneys. A high salt diet also reduces the calcium absorption which leads to low bone density.
INDIAN PICKLES CONTAIN A LOT OF OIL
Oil is used in pickles to preserve them. Basically oil acts as a barrier to prevent the contact of moisture with pickles which prevents pickles from being invaded by fungus, mold and bacteria. The oils used in pickles have trans fats. Trans fats gets added to the oil during hydrogenation (passage of hydrogen gas to the oil). Trans fats increases the shelf life of the pickle. Trans fats even increases the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and reduce the HDL cholesterol(good cholesterol). They also increase the level of triglycerides.
So, it is always advisable to moderate your consumption of Indian pickles.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

DASH Diet – A Diet to Control High Blood Pressure

DASH - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension

The DASH diet is a dietary pattern promoted by the U.S.-based National Heart, Lung to prevent and control hypertension. The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods; includes meat, fish, poultry, nuts and beans; and is limited in sugar,sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats. In addition to its effect on blood pressure, it is designed to be a well-balanced approach.

Hypertension in India – Definition, Prevalence and Evaluation

High blood pressure (BP) is an important cardiovascular risk factor. Hypertension experts still debate on the level of BP considered abnormal. The currently accepted dividing line is systolic BP > or = 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic BP > or = 90 mm Hg based on

epidemiological and intervention studies. In India, hypertension has become a major health problem. Epidemiological studies show a steadily increasing trend in hypertension prevalence over the last 40 years, more in urban than in the rural areas. This is converse to findings reported from developed countries where there is a significant decrease in its prevalence. Objectives of clinical evaluation of hypertensive individual are: To establish that BP is elevated, to seek evidence for a causal or contributory factor which may influence management, to assess target organ involvement and to assess relevant factors which will influence the particular mode of treatment to be adopted. Proper measurement techniques are important for diagnosis of hypertension.  A basic, simple screening programme is the most appropriate policy for investigating the majority of hypertensive patients. Assessment of target organ involvement is important and can be obtained from history, physical examination or investigations. Studies of hypertension in general population have shown that secondary hypertension with high BP is present in 1.1% to 5.7% of subjects. Hypertension is a prevalent problem in our society.

Guidelines for DASH Diet:-

- Limit daily sodium intake by consuming between 1500 mg and 2300 mg per day.
– Limit your consumption of Trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
– Increase the number of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods.
Increase fiber intake by choosing whole grain products.
Limit the amount of sugar and sugar derivatives in your diet.
Reduce alcohol consumption.
– Follow a moderate exercise program for at least 30 minutes per day such as brisk walking, weight training, biking or aerobics.

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— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Why Salt is Bad for Health

Deep fried foods and other processed foods are considered the most unhealthy foods that contain minimum nutrition and maximum calories that are responsible for weight gain & lifestyle related health disorders. What is often forgotten yet an important culprit behind weight gain & health issues is excessive salt consumption.

The daily requirement of sodium is 2300 mg, as per the Indian guidelines of dietary intake, which is got from 5 grams of salt. The most important mineral got from salt is sodium that has many health benefits like enzyme operation and muscle contraction and fluid regulation in the system. This requirement is easily met by the regular meals in the home cooked food.

It’s not about the regular salt content in the home cooked food but the consumption of extra salt through foods like Pickles, chutneys, sauces and ketchups, papads, chips and salted biscuits, savoury items, cheese and salted butter, canned foods (vegetables, dals & meats), bakery products, ready made soup powders, dried salted fish, smoked meats, chinese food. These were some of the obvious products but there are still some not so obvious pre-packaged products that might be harming you. Here is how  : to improve the shelf life of a food product preservatives are used. Besides many chemicals that are used to preserve food the two most common artificial or natural preservatives used are salt or sugar. Both are equally harmful for health if taken in large quantities over a period of time. (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo