Impact of Cigarettes on Health

Every time before a movie is screened, a short clip is screened intending to raise awareness about the ill effects of tobacco. The advertisement, that lasts for about 30 seconds or so, however, fails to portray how gruesome the effects are. Tobacco is the general name of a plant. The leaves of these plants are dried and fermented and then used in the products that are ultimately consumed by people. The primary and most important constituent of tobacco is nicotine, which is also the reason behind its popularity. The popular products that use tobacco are cigarette, bidi, cigar, hookah, tobacco powder (consumed by chewing), etc.

Products Packed With Cancer

According to WHO, nicotine is a highly addictive substance. It is known to cause serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems and almost 20 types of cancers. Some of the most regular cancers are head, neck, throat, esophagus, gums, tongue, etc. The tobacco products that people consume are literally death packed in a pretty package.

It is like a poison that causes slow dilapidation of the body. The worst part is that a person doesn’t need to consume it to be affected by its ill effects. Merely being in the vicinity of a person consuming such products, especially those that release smoke, can cause the ill effects aforementioned.

The rate of deaths and diseases on the WHO website is alarming and hint towards an entirely different type of epidemic. The only difference is that this epidemic can be controlled.

How To Control

The most effective way is no doubt to stop the sale of the products. But in most cases, this is not practical. The second most effective way is to deter people from buying tobacco products. Deterring can be done in various ways like increasing taxes, spreading awareness of its ill effects, banning advertisements of such products, punishing people for consuming tobacco in public places, etc.

Some of the measures that second-hand smokers can take are to strictly prohibit the use of tobacco in public places like public transport, airports, offices, theatres, malls, etc. There should be heavy fines or some other form of punishment for people violating the rules. Youngsters should avoid being in the company of peers consuming tobacco products.

Awareness is key. More and more people should actively participate in awareness programs. A simple clip in the theatre is not sufficient. People need to know the gruesome reality through data and examples of people who have suffered due to tobacco. The fight against tobacco needs to be fought in unison.

 

The Importance of Decompressing After a Long Workday.

Stress is one of the major health concerns that are plaguing all the generations, especially the working population. Stress has been connected to everything from seizures and high blood pressure to the common cold and depression. Therefore relaxing is important. It is required for a long and healthy life.

It is difficult to find relaxation while working therefore it is important that you unwind in a productive way after you are home. Relaxation can take place at home and during the weekends. Creating a space in your home to unwind after a tough day can be one of the ways of decompressing. Your home should be viewed as a retreat from all the stress of work, however, this is not always true. There are kids at home, chores to be done and various other responsibilities at home. Therefore you would have to have a designated place where you can unwind and relax. All of it depends upon the balance of home and work. The three most important things that one has to keep in mind while designating an unwinding space at home are versatility, comfort and style. The space should not only be a place to take a nap, if you like listening to music, place music players and speakers, if you like reading, put a shelf with books on it.

 Leaving work at the office is also one of the most important ways in which you can make sure to come back home and relax. Bringing work with you at home will only add to the stress and will have detrimental effects on your health. Physically leaving work at the office is what should be done. Turn off your computer, do not check your mails and stop work related communication until the next morning. However, leaving work mentally once one is headed home is more difficult. This involves forgetting about the impending deadlines and work.

Meditation can also help you to unwind after the busy schedule. There are numerous benefits of meditation. Psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman says that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress. The aim is to put you in a relaxed state of mind.

Avoiding procrastination can also help reduce stress. Getting the chores done in time will help you to relax more. By getting things done earlier in the day, one can relax for the rest of the evening without constantly thinking about it.

Spending time to observe your surroundings can also help you to relax. However, this needs a little practice. It yields astounding results. Turn off all your unnecessary stimuli and try harnessing your thoughts for a few moments. Try focusing on the various items in your surroundings, it can be the lamp, the indoor plants etc. As you’re looking at various elements, notice all of the details, ridges, textures and colors. Once you lose focus of one item, move to the next. This forces you to drown out other thoughts and rein in your mind. After doing this for a few minutes, you’ll find it easier to relax for a longer period of time. Deep-breathing, self-massage, taking a walk, exercising, going outdoors, taking a day off etc can also help you decompress after a long and tiring day at work.

The art of relaxation can be learnt if practiced efficiently. It will help you to be more productive and also keep you healthy and away from various lifestyle diseases. Right ways of decompressing after a long work day can actually save your life.

 

Habits to incorporate in our lives after COVID19 lockdown

COVID19 has brought the world to a standstill. Countries are in lockdown, travel has stopped. People are not on the roads. Indian went into lockdown on 25th March and the changes this brought about in how we live and operate were dramatic. People were standing far away from each other. Wearing masks and washing their hands often.

On April 14th, the lockdown was extended for another 19 days up to May 3rd. It was taken as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the virus. With strict measures in place, India may have avoided a huge health calamity. However, the end of lockdown doesn’t mean you can go back to your old lifestyle. Some habits have to be changed and some have to be incorporated to avoid further virus spread. Here are a few habits that can be incorporated into our lives for a healthy future. Until there is a cure for COVID-19, a vaccination, there are certain habits one has to ensure to take care of.

1. Personal hygiene

This one is for life. It is very important to continue washing your hands on a regular basis. It is also advisable not to stop the use of hand sanitizer for protecting yourself from the virus. Apart from these, make sure you take a bath after coming back from outside, before touching anything. Spitting outside, touching surfaces in public areas and blowing nose without cover, etc. should be completely avoided. You should also stop touching your face unnecessarily.   While vaccination and treatments are happening, good personal hygiene will help ward off any risk of infection, not just Coronavirus.

2. Masks 

Masks are the heroes of this period. Wearing a mask not only protects you from catching the disease but it also helps in stopping the spread, if you are a potential carrier. Mask also acts as a barrier between your hand and your face. Very simple cloth masks are essential. A mask is essential, think of it as your phone, wallet, or keys.

3. Learn to shop local

Lockdown might have taught us many things. The importance of food might be one of those lessons. Grow a small kitchen farm and start eating healthy if you have space. It is recommended to continue local shopping, at least for a while. Shopping local not only reduces your exposure to the virus but it also helps the local vendors to get back on their track financially.

4. Social distancing

The end of lockdown doesn’t mean that it is the end of social distancing too. Hugs and handshakes can wait. Let us stick on to namaste for a little more time because social distancing is crucial to avoid the spread of the infection.

5. Eat Healthy and calm your body and soul with exercise and meditation

Never go back to a lazy lifestyle after the lockdown ends. The world is healing and you have to continue your meditation to cope up with things happening around you. Similarly, adults are expected to have 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. Exercising and eating healthy foods not only help you in staying fit but it also helps in increasing your immunity

6. Quarantine yourself

Respiratory problems, cough, high fever, etc. are the usual symptoms of Covid19. Seek immediate medical assistance in case of these symptoms. It is also important to quarantine yourself to avoid the spread within the family too. Consult a doctor and follow their advice without fail.   Even in the future don’t write off a cough as an allergy; monitor your health and get tested.

Break the chain with your new habits. We have been united in this fight on Covid-19, but it is far from over. Staying ahead of the disease is the way to combat it.

The right diet: What should we be eating everyday?

A question that most people have on their mind is -Is there a perfect diet? Is there a quick list that one can follow of the foods one must eat? Well, there is no quick list. Diets are based on a variety of factors like current health, current weight, family history or susceptibility to various health conditions.

When one talks about food, it is better to approach it as a wholesome activity rather than meeting a ‘calorie count’ at the end of the day. The first and most important thing is to understand that diets are not synonymous with ‘fasting’ or worse starving. While there are many diets like Keto or Atkins or GM diet, intermittent fasting it is very important to do some research before you jump on the diet bandwagon.

But more than a diet plan, what you need to focus on is the basic ingredients of your plate. Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. While most people think that Indian food is oily and greasy, the fact is that it is entirely in your control how spicy or oily you want to make it. If you can bake a dish instead of fry it, then opt for baking. Varieties of papads can be dry roasted instead of deep-fried. Be very conscious of the choices you are making. Make room for some cheat meals as well, but the fact is, if you relish food, get inventive and engage in the process of making food, every day will be a special meal. But even for your cheat meals, don’t go overboard with chips and junk food.

Most people have rice, dal, vegetables, salads, Rotis and yogurt on their plates on a daily basis which is essentially indicative of what your meal should look like.

1. Pulses: Grams, pulses of any kind are very high in protein and contain vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, iron, and zinc. You could whip up some classic Indian recipes like Chole, Rajma, Masoor, peas, dals. Use oil and butter with discretion and you can have tasty food that’s also healthy.  Pulses possess antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic qualities meaning they help build immunity against cancer. Their low glycemic index makes it perfect for those with diabetes.

2. Whole Grains: Whole grains like jowar, rice, and wheat are very good for your health. They are good sources of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Brown rice, oats, millets are versatile and you can whip up a range of Indian dishes including pulaos, dosas, and bread, bajra rotis, jowar rotis. They offer you  Vitamins B1, B2 and B3, iron, dietary fiber and essential minerals.

3. Dry fruits and Nuts: Go nuts over nuts! Peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, dates. Nuts are loaded with healthy fats, minerals, and protein. Dates are rich in iron, calcium, and potassium. From anemia to constipation, nuts will help you overcome it all.  If not during lunch or dinner, make dates your evening snacks. Those hunger pangs are about to become healthy!

4. Greens: Even as kids green leafy vegetables were the dreaded substance on the plate. But greens like spinach, broccoli, methi, french beans, Bhindi, bitter gourd are among the top green vegetables that one must eat regularly. Loaded with Vitamins A, B, C, and K, Omega 3. Green leafy vegetables are essential to maintain your health.  Apart from muscle building, green vegetables keep your gut happy. The roughage helps regulate bowel movements and thus keep you healthy!

5. Vegetables: Apart from green leafy vegetables, there is a world of colorful vegetables that are waiting for you. Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, brinjals, pumpkin, onions, garlic. Rich in minerals, carbs, antioxidants, and of course fiber. An innumerable combination of vegetables is possible if you try!

6. Fruits and Berries: Fresh fruits and berries are very important to stay healthy. Nature’s sweet treats! Bananas, apples, mangoes, pineapples, strawberries, papayas, pomegranates, oranges to name a few. Apart from the sweet and delicious taste. Fruits are loaded with Vitamin C, vitamin C, manganese, iron, and potassium, antioxidants. Of course, as with anything else is subject to your health.

7. Probiotics: Chass, lassi, dahi, and of late many probiotic drinks in the market have become hugely popular. Probiotics like yogurt promote the growth of good bacteria that are absolutely essential to good health.

8. Meats: If you are a nonvegetarian or pescatarian, meats like chicken, pork, fish are rich in protein. Finding the right meat and cooking it the right way are critical to how it helps your body. But meat has to be cooked with a side helping of vegetables and pieces of bread like rotis. Avoid processed meats and control the portion of the meat you eat.

9. Eggs: If you eat eggs, eggs are an excellent source of protein. They also contain selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron, and copper. Boil them, make an omelet, or add them to a gravy.

Diets should not be decided by the latest trends but by what your body wants. Losing weight or gaining weight should not be a primary concern when going on a diet. You must think of a diet as an ongoing choice and not something that you do for 3 months or 10 days. Drastically losing weight or gaining it is also not advisable. But before going on a diet, consult your doctor and work on what feels good for you. List down food that you enjoy, see which elements you can include in your diet. A healthy diet is very important.

 

Success story at Vikram

The concept of Organ transplant is looked at with skepticism even today. People are still apprehensive about surgeries and think that it involves a lot of risks, which makes them decide against it. Organ transplantations can save lives in patients affected by terminal organ failures and improve their quality of life. It has gradually ameliorated in the last two decades and usually provides excellent results.

Such a transformational and brave story belongs to Mr. Vijay Kumar B.P who was suffering from Liver Cirrhosis. Mr. Vijay Kumar experienced various symptoms like severe pain in the legs, swelling of the palms, etc. Naturally, he thought it was a musculoskeletal complication and consulted an orthopedic. When his prescribed antibiotics failed to help him, he felt confused about how to treat his symptoms. Further, he started noticing complications like patchy skin, darker complexion, etc. After moving to Montreal, the symptoms showed up again and he was treated with antibiotics. The symptoms kept on recurring and after a thorough check-up, he was diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis. Mr. Vijay Kumar and his family decided to come back to India for treatment.

Seeing the deteriorating health and weight loss of the patient, the family decided to seek treatment from Vikram Hospital.  When they decided to opt for a liver transplant, the family was advised against it by their friends and relatives. The fear attached to the idea of an organ transplant still exists in most people, but Dr. Vikram C Belliappa, Consultant Surgical Gastroenterologist provided them with much-needed assurance and education on the matter. Mrs. Deepika Vijay Kumar, the patient’s wife, and donor say that it was with his assistance that they acquired the much-needed confidence to rely on the procedure. Our experts in the field put together an integrated effort to operate and treat Mr. Vijay Kumar. When the patient’s wife decided to be the donor, things went very smoothly and the initial skepticism of the patient and his family were put to rest. After the successful operation, both the donor and the patient recovered under the hospital’s trained and diligent care. Mr. Vijay Kumar and his family are doing great post-surgery. With new and improved stamina and absence of any further complications, Mr. Vijay has begun to lead a normal life like any other.

Mr. Vijay’s story is an example of how organ transplants can help in leading a normal life. The stigma attached to it does nothing to put assurance in people’s mind about the procedure. It is important that people learn from their experience and choose to opt for a transplant when they face dire complications that cannot be cured with any other medical procedure. Their success is something that does not come easily without hard work and dedication. The entire team who took care of Vijay Kumar deserves appreciation for the conscientious and strenuous efforts that they had put in to ensure his well being.

The double helix: The discovery of what makes us ‘US’

It is not too long since the discovery of what makes us ‘Us’ was finally put forth. This discovery is considered as one of the momentous discoveries of the 20th century in the field of biological science. In the year 1953, an American biologist James Watson and English Physicist Francis Crick submitted their paper on the “Molecular structure of nucleic acids” disclosing the double helix structure of DNA. This twisted-ladder structure of deoxyribonucleic acid(DNA) submitted by them is still recognized as a milestone in the history of Science. It paved the way to modern molecular biology, the area of science that studies genes and its roles. This study and the knowledge gained from the same to date, have helped in numerous developments in the field of medicine, especially in improved disease diagnosis and in the discovery of plenty of new drugs.

However, Watson and Crick weren’t the first ones to come up with these findings. DNA was discovered many years ago by a Swiss chemist named Friedrich Miescher by the late 1860s. But he nor his successors were able to present an actual shape for DNA. But all those studies and researches laid a scientific foundation to Watson and Crick’s study, who finally proclaimed the most groundbreaking discovery that DNA is a three-dimensional double-helix shaped molecule.

The road to this discovery was not at all easy. It was confusing and complicated. When Florence Bell and William Astbury acquired the first X-Ray diffraction pattern of DNA in the year 1938, they portrayed it as “a close succession of flat or flattish nucleotides standing out perpendicularly to the long axis of the molecule to form a relatively rigid structure”. The existence of RNA and the presence of genetic information in DNA was already founded by 1944. Although the scientists didn’t know the structural and chemical structure of DNA, they started calling it “gene” by the early 1950s, considering DNA to be the smallest unit of genetic information. After multiple failures, by the time Watson and Crick formulated an exact description of DNA’s molecular complex, they knew that this “gene” has been replicating itself since the first life on this earth which was some four billion years ago.

Now, this double-helix molecule is not just a microscopic organic structure. The discovery made by James Watson and Francis Crick with the help of the findings by their predecessors now represents ‘Us’ and what makes us ‘Us’. We share our DNA with a lot of living things, some feel natural and the others feel odd, we share about 98% of our DNA with chimps and almost 50% with bananas! The understanding of evolution, history, or even the mystery behind our unique behaviors would have remained unsolved without the discovery of DNA and its molecular structure. The knowledge gained from all these understandings now acts as the pillar of many current advances in ethics, science, and medicine like genetic fingerprinting, forensic, etc. That is how the double helix, the face of DNA, became the face of modern biological science as well.