Thursday, September 6, 2007

Health is Wealth, so take good care of yourself.


Deadly combo for techies: fast food, sedentary lives


Bangalore: Long and high-pressure work hours, inadequate sleep and habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption to kill fatigue. A daily dose of this schedule has exposed young IT employees of the city to cardiac diseases, diabetes and hypertension. All this earlier than expected.
Close to 55% of the city’s corporate citizens carry a moderate risk of cardiac problems and diabetes and these translate to productivity loss of around 2.5 hours every week.

These are the findings of the two year study (2005-07) on 4,000 IT professionals by People Health, a citybased consumer-oriented health services.
“This survey is part of an ongoing study to study the prevalence of conditions like diabetes and cardiac problems in younger IT professionals,’’ said Krishnamurthy, CEO, People Health.

The study was conducted in eight IT companies and included clinical investigation and a questionnaire of 47 questions based on lifestyle, working hours, kind of family support, hours of travel, etc.
Alcohol consumption and smoking were the prime reasons that led to hypertension, cardiac problems and diabetes. “While 66% of the people surveyed consumed alcohol, 19% were smokers,’’ states the report.

“While smoking is my way to take a short break from the rigorous schedule, I drink when I hang out and unwind with friends during weekends,’’ said Sachin Kumar (28), an IT employee who works in Electronic City. Given the trend of grabbing a lunch at one’s desk, sedentary lifestyle and eating junk food to satiate hunger during late working hours, obesity is a natural fall-out.

While around 22% were overweight with Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25-27, and 13% were obese, with BMI above 27.

“Eating out at restaurants on MG Road is preferred to munching on the mundane menu in the office canteen,’’ said V Barrett, another IT professional.

It’s obvious that taste takes precedence over health. With a range of menus to choose from, restaurants and fast food joints at every nook and corner, people tend to eat more there.
“A person with ideal body weight requires 30 kilocalories per kg per day, whereas the same person doing field work would require 40 kilocalories per kg per day. But who bothers about these facts when one has to choose between a paneer butter masala and rava idli?’’ says a chief dietitian from a premier Hospital. What companies should realize is that if the health of the employees is at high risk, its impact will certainly translate to the financial health of companies too. “Poor health not only leave employees dissatisfied, but also the company,’’

Surprisingly, 25% of those surveyed had low awareness about health matters which affect them directly.

Watch out!
Most skin diseases get aggravated during winter due to excessive drying of the skin। People suffering from or prone to psoriasis and atopic eczema need to take special care and immediately consult a dermatologist if there’s any aggravation.

Avoid harsh detergent soap Keep away from abrasive cleansers and exfoliating scrubs Stop using astringent for cleansing skin Avoid exposure to sunlight Don’t go in for a harsh facial

Use a mild, medicated soap with a neutral pH Pad your skin for drying after bath Apply moisturiser immediately after bath to enhance absorption Use lip balms, Vaseline and moisturiser at frequent intervals Consult a dermatologist in case of skin inflammation

Oil hair with coconut or olive oil before washing। Shampoo mildly and don’t wash off the oil entirely. This will leave the hair supple and manageable. Add a few drops of oil to hot water while bathing. This will ensure retention of some moisture in the body.

Bangalore recorded 9.60 C, the all-time low temperature for November on Nov. 15, 1967

BEAT THOSE winter woes

Chapped lips, itchy skin, flakes on hands and legs, and bad hair are reason enough to sulk। But don’t let winter blues get you down. All you need is a proper winter care plan in place. Reach for your thermals, but make sure they don’t irritate your skin.

For those with itchy skin, sweaters are best worn over a full-sleeved cotton shirt or top. Forget the fragrance, go for mild soaps, moisturisers and lip balms, say experts.
“The best way to combat dryness and itchiness of skin is by using emollients, cream and lotion as they moisturise the skin and help replenish the lipid layer of the skin to make it supple.’’
The age-old practice of a massage with coconut oil before taking a bath can do wonders for your skin, say experts. Winter and dandruff seem synonymous. Keep dandruff away by using medicated shampoo with conditioner twice a week and avoiding oil.
Pamper your feet and hands by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen twice or thrice a day. Thicker creams should replace greasy lotions.

‘पतली क़मर है तीर्ची नजर है, पतली क़मर है ’ हाँ बाबू पुराने din याद आ गये ||

‘Skinny’ gene may keep you lean

Gene That Keeps Mice In Shape Can Offer Way To Prevent Obesity

A gene that keeps mice and fruit flies lean might offer a way to prevent obesity and diabetes in people, US researchers said on Tuesday.

The gene, discovered more than 50 years ago in fruit flies, makes mice fat when tweaked one way and thin when manipulated another way, the researchers reported.

That suggests it would work this way in humans, because mice and people are both mammals, the team at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center reported.

“If you turn up its function, you get skinny, and if you turn down its function, you get fat,” Dr Jonathan Graff, who directed the research, said in a telephone interview. “This is a skinny gene. It’s an anti-thrifty gene.”

For years, researchers seeking to explain why people are prone to get fat have used the “thrifty gene” hypothesis. Early humans who survived famine after famine were those who could easily store a layer of fat for the lean times.

While obesity is likely to be caused by a variety of genes and their interactions with behaviour and the environment, this one is a good candidate for study, Graff and colleagues report in Cell Metabolism. The gene, called adp for adipose, was discovered by Winifred Doane, while she was studying infertility in fruit flies as a graduate student at Yale University.

Doane, now a professor emeritus of zoology at Arizona State University, stressed the flies by starving them and putting them in a desiccator to simulate extreme conditions. Those that lacked a working copy of the adp gene survived, despite starvation.

Jae Myoung Suh, a graduate student working on his PhD in Graff's lab, used Doane’s work as the basis of an experiment in mice. Finding that it works in the same way in mice and fruit flies is important because it means the gene is conserved, or has evolved from “lower” to “higher” animals.“It was always my dream that the drosophila (fruit fly) adipose gene would turn out to be a model for controlling obesity and type 2 diabetes. It looks like it is starting in that direction now,” Doane said in a telephone interview. Doane said the gene appears to be a regulatory gene, meaning it controls the activity of other genes.

Graff and other experts say one place to start looking for humans who have mutant versions of the gene would be Pima Indians from the southwestern US and Australian aborigines, both of whom have high rates of type-2 diabetes and obesity when they begin living Western lifestyles. (Input from AGENCIES)

Why babies should go to bed early

Lack of sleep plays havoc with the hormones

Lack of sleep may lead to fatter children, says study

Here is another reason to get children to bed early: More sleep may lower their risk of becoming obese. Researchers have found that every additional hour per night a thirdgrader spends sleeping reduces the child’s chances of being obese in sixth grade by 40 per cent. Third graders are usually around 8 or 9 years old; sixth graders are around 11 or 12. The less
sleep they got, the more likely the children were to be obese in sixth grade, no matter what the child’s weight was in third grade, said Dr Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan, who led the research.

If there was a magic number for the third-graders, it was nine hours, 45 minutes of sleep. Sleeping more than that lowered the risk significantly. The study gives parents one more reason to enforce bedtimes, restrict caffeine and yank the TV from the bedroom. Lack of sleep plays havoc with two hor
mones that are the “yin and yang of appetite regulation,'” said endocrinologist Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the new study. Another explanation: Tired kids are less likely to exercise and more likely to sit on the couch and eat cookies, Lumeng said.

Dr. Stephen Sheldon, director of sleep medicine at Chicago’s Children’s
Memorial Hospital, praised the study and called for more research. He said children’s sleep may be disturbed by breathing problems — some caused by overweight, such as sleep apnea, and some caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Researchers used data from an existing federal study and focused on 785 children with complete information on sleep, and height and weight in the third grade and sixth grade.

Mothers were asked: “How much sleep does your child get each day (including naps)?” On average, the third-graders got about 9 hours sleep, but some slept as little as seven hours and others as much as 12 hours.

Of the children who slept 10 to 12 hours a day, about 12 per cent were obese by sixth grade. Many more — 22 per cent — were obese in sixth grade of those who slept less than nine hours a day.

The researchers took into account other risk factors for obesity, such as the children’s body mass index in third grade, and still found the link between less sleep in third grade and obesity in sixth grade. They acknowledged that factors they did not account for, such as parents’ weight or behavior, may have contributed to the risk.

Jodi Mindell of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Sleep Centre noted there are plenty of other reasons for encouraging good sleep habits, such as success in school.

“I don’t want parents to think, ‘If I get her to sleep, she’s not going to be overweight,” Mindell said. “I think this is a small piece in the picture.”

Immature, sex-mad? Not us, say men

Young, single men are fed up with being typecast as immature, insensitive and sex-obsessed, with a survey finding that the majority believe in having a soul mate, aren’t scared of commitment, and say real men can cry.

A poll of 70,000 men, with an average age of 28, debunked many of the standard stereotypes to शो that the modern man is driven by a sense of values, loyalty and family।
The survey,by men’s lifestyle website AskMen।com, found that 77% of respondents look for girlfriends with “wife potential” while 75% believe they have a soul mate and 69% would never cheat on their partner!

“These survey results will be surprising to many women,most of whom have a completely different perspective of what the average man thinks and feels,” James Bassil, editor-in-chief of, said. “The idea that young guys only want to be single and jump from girlfriend to girlfriend is not true at all.”

The survey, conducted over a five-week period, found that six out of 10 men were fed up with inaccurate commercial descriptions of them। Bassil said the images of men on television and in advertisements had not changed or been challenged for decades whereas the image of women in the media was always changing। “In TV sitcoms and adverts, young men are portrayed as immature, who are always trying to get around their wives or girlfriends finding out about their bad behavior. This is just not the case,” he said.

The survey found that 56% of men believed that being a good father or husband made them “manly।” It also found that 75% admitted to crying over a woman.

Loosen up before hard workouts

Planning to hit the gym for some serious exercising? some simple exercises to get you in form for a hard regimen (The author is a physiatrist)

Exercise as part of one's lifestyle is something everyone yearns for. But more often than not one is caught up in a whirlwind of unrelenting activity with time for little else. At some point, the need to exercise is felt. This necessity arises as possible medical problems related to aging such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and obesity start to loom on the horizon.

At that point, one determinedly rushes headlong into an exercise routine in an attempt to prevent or cure the problem. Often, this enthusiasm leads to overdoing the routine,be it jogging,walking, or weight training.This invariably results in muscle, ligament or bone injury, leading to a premature termination of the programme.

There are some general rules you should follow before starting a programme. These rules are more relevant to the overworked middle-aged group though anyone would benefit from them.

Here are some:

Set a time: Always start when there are no pressing deadlines to meet. Set aside a time for the routine and stick to it.

Gear: Work at organising proper gear like running shoes for running, cross trainers for mixed activities etc. Proper footwear is especially important as it can prevent a host of foot, ankle, leg and back problems.

Get a check-up done: In case of already existent problems a checkup with a physician would be essential. If there is a history of arthritis in the joints, an orthopedic or physiatric opinion would be valuable as the do's and don'ts would be specified by the physician.

Get a blood test done: It is always a good idea to get a blood profile of hemoglobin, blood sugar, serum cholesterol, lipid and triglycerides prior to starting. Repeating it after six months into the programme will show improvements in these values. This is positive feedback to continue exercising.

Warm up: Stretching prior to the routine increases flexibility during exercise.However, this does not necessarily prevent injury or muscle soreness.
Stretching exercises for the low back, hamstrings, and thighs:

Lie on the ground on a mat. Keep knees straight and the feet apart. Ensure the back is straight. Pull up both the knees to the chest, with arms below the knees. Bring the knees as close to the chest as possible. Hold the knees in this position for 15 seconds. Then gently release the knees and bring them back to the ground to the initial position. This can be repeated 3-4 times. Gradually, increase the holding time to 30 seconds.This stretches the back muscles.

Stand with feet apart. Keep a small stool in front of you. Place the right leg on the stool and rest the heel on it,so that the toes point upward. Gently lean forwards taking care not to strain the back and place the right hand on the knee, pressing gently downwards. A stretch will be felt in the hamstrings. This position should be held for 15 seconds and then repeated with the other leg. The stretch can be slowly increased to 30 seconds, and done 2-3 times on each side.

Stand facing a wall. Keep arms outstretched at shoulder width with palms pressed against the wall. Keep the right leg in front and the left leg behind. Gently bend the right leg, keeping the left leg straight. A gentle stretch will be felt in the left calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.Repeat on the opposite side. The stretch can be increased to 60 seconds, and done twice on each side. Don't hold your breath at any point and breathe freely. Care should be taken not to progress the routine too quickly, to prevent injury.

Lightining in a Bottle :( *#~# ~!!! yaar मैं wine की बात कर रहा हुँ :) kool

Wine has so many health benefits you'd think doctors would be prescribing the stuff by now. Drink a few glasses a week — particularly Red, but white has benefits, too — and you'll lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.

Wine's magic ingredients come from the skin of the grape. Resveratrol protects the body's cells, keeping them young and strong. Saponins bind to bad cholesterol and usher it out of the body. And flavonoids interfere with the multiplication of cancer cells.

Problem is, buying wine can feel like an Olympic event — as if you're being judged. And don't get me started on the wine culture, which is steeped in pointless snobbery. As if not knowing the difference between chianti and chardonnay makes you a lesser man.

Understanding wine is easy. It comes down to a few basic principles, which I've laid out here. So read on, drink up, and live long.

3 Moves Every Guy Must Master

1. Serving:
Serve both red and white at room temperature. A chill can mask a wine's flaws and strengthen the astringent taste of the tannins. At room temperature, the wine's unique flavors — fruit, oak, whatever — are more obvious.

2. Decanting:
Let wine breathe for 2 to 3 hours. Aeration speeds up the oxidation process that takes years to occur in a sealed bottle. This smooths out the taste and brings out complex flavors and aromas.

3. Tasting:
First, give it a sniff, which primes your palate. Take a sip and let the wine hit every part of your mouth. You'll taste several flavors at once. The wine will evolve as you eat, as certain foods bring out different flavors.

How to Navigate a Wine Store

Treat it like a barbershop. Stay loyal to one store, and befriend a clerk who knows about the wines you like. Once he or she understands your tastes, your options will become endless. Here are a few other dos and don'ts.

Don't... Buy the label

There's a saying in the wine industry: "Put critters on the label, sell cases." Labels are designed by marketing companies who know how to trick you into buying juice that doesn't pack the thunder. Playful labels and cartoons are major warning signs. Be wary of red or yellow labels, which are designed to stand out.

Do... Double-check the ratings card

Often, wine shops post ratings for the wrong year. How much can the quality of wine vary from year to year? A ton. Most 2000 California cabernets are just average wines, for example, but the 2001 vintage is exceptional.

Don't... Choose from a display near the counter

Chances are, they're trying to unload wines that didn't sell as well as expected or are aging quickly. Either way, these won't be among the best bottles in the store.

Do... Pick up four new wines for every one of your old favorites

This is the key to expanding your palate — and be sure to keep good notes. (Men's Health)

Spend time with your friends

Invite your friends over and make up for the times you were too busy to share your joys. Here’s how you can get started...

Plan ahead
Well-planned parties run more smoothly and create less stress. This means sending your invitations out well in advance so you know how many guests you’ll have (invites should go out two to four weeks in advance), and having the basic structure of the party planned early so you’ll have time to get everything you need, clean your house, and refrain from scrambling to get everything done the day before.

Hire help
The simplest way to cut down on stress and free yourself is to hire help. You can go all out and hire a caterer, a bartender, and even rent the tables, chairs and dishes you’ll be using, for less than you might think. You can also hire people you already know (like the teenagers down the street) to serve food you order in, or ask some good friends to pitch in with some party responsibilities; many hands make light work

How to go about it
Send an invitation which is the easiest to receive. In the current internet days, an e-invite is perfect. You might want to use an online invitation service. You could invite your guests via email, even sending reminders as the event nears, a small map to your house, and offering other bits of help. If you’re doing a pot-luck, be sure to have a general idea of what type of dish everyone is bringing so you can fill in what has been missed out (provide a salad if nobody is bringing one, for example) and avoid having large desserts and no big main dish! Keep a handycam or camera for the party. You or your friends can click some memories together. You could plan a nice surprise when you get them developed, get to see parts of the party that you may have missed. You can also distribute them later to your friends.

Make it a potluck
Asking everyone to bring a dish is a great way to cut down on the expense and work of a party. You get a variety of food, your guests get to feel like they’re contributing to the fun that everyone’s having, and you don’t have to do it all by yourself ! The food is also a great conversation starter and icebreaker for your guests. You can even have people exchange their recipes on cards, allowing everyone to go home with some great dish ideas!

Its your party
Have fun! Now that you’ve simplified some of the more consuming aspects of party-throwing, relax (You have earned it!). Keep in mind that you threw a party to have fun with your friends, and everyone will have more fun if they see you enjoying yourself, too. That’s why they came here, dude!

Looking for health insurance? Get ready to choose

Health insurance is becoming the buzzword with both life and nonlife insurance companies. The good news for customers is that instead of having no option, save for the gold old Mediclaim, soon there will be a plethora of choices. Consumers will have options like buying specific disease management products, health savings plans and products leaning towards preventive care. Consider this: Recently, a slightly overweight friend, currently based in the US, was told that if he made three appearances a week at his neighbourhood gym, he would be eligible for a pretty hefty discount on his health insurance premium. The result? The friend actually drags himself to a gym thrice a week, has turned healthy and in turn earned a $200 discount on his health insurance premium for the year.

In India too, this trend has started. Albeit, in a small way. New India’s latest version of Mediclaim offers a discount of 2.5% on the premium if the policy holder has good health habits and is a regular at a gym or health club. ICICI Prudential’s Diabetes Care product was the first in terms of being loosely based on a disease management product wherein customers were offered discounts on meeting certain parameters laid down in a diabetes control index. However, the company has not seen much success in selling the product so far and has filed another version of the product with the insurance regulator with slightly toned down parameters. In most cases, disease management products are designed on the basis of large databases that can be offered treatment at more reasonable costs since it bundles the network of doctors, healthcare facilities and prescription drugs.

A nother big concept that is set to develop in the country is health savings accounts. This is fairly common in countries like the UK and US. Basically, it means that, like a savings account, a policy holder puts aside money in a recurring manner earning interest and deriving tax benefits.

The money in the account can be withdrawn only to pay for medical expenses. Life Insurance Corporation of India is currently in the process of filing a product where part of the premium on the product will go towards a traditional health insurance scheme while the balance will be invested into unit linked savings.

Other private sector life insurance companies like ICICI Prudential and Max New York Life are also looking at products on similar lines. However, the issue with such products still is working out how the tax benefits available on investments in health insurance will be extended to products that earn returns and interests.

Another general insurer has picked up some of this concept and adapted it to its latest health insurance offering. ICICI Lombard's Health Advantage scheme offers the customer a fixed amount back every year in lieu of any medical (doctors, chemists) bills, taking care of minor expenses made towards health in the year.

Over and above this, some portion of the premium goes towards a standard health insurance cover for hospitalisation expenses.

Insurers refuse cover for infertility treatment

Mumbai: Early this year, Tata Consultancy Services, which has more than 90,000 employees, approached New India Assurance Company with a proposal.

It wanted New India to devise an insurance package for its employees based out of India which would cover procedures like in-vitro fertilisation and artificial insemination. The proposal was prompted by an internal
survey’s finding that about 15 per cent of TCS employees, both men and women, had fertility problems.

Sources say TCS wanted New India Assurance to cover each of its employees for Rs 1 lakh. This was meant to be over and above the regular health insurance benefits the company offered. On its part, the insurer examined the proposal and declined to prepare the package TCS wanted.

New India argued these procedures
were expensive and did not require hospitalisation. More significantly, the argument went, infertility was not a disease as in such cases it could be a result of, among other things, stress.

TCS is not the only company in India to approach insurers for customised packages to cover infertility treatment. Sources in the insurance business say companies such as outsourcing firm Evalueserve, Computer Sciences Corporation and
GE have all approached insurers at some point in recent times to seek similar cover for their employees. And all of them have been turned away.

At some government-owned companies like ONGC, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, employees are allowed to claim their annual medical reimbursement benefits in lieu of bills presented for infertility treatments.

‘Difficult to give cover for infertility treatment’

Delhi-based Rahul Agarwal, head of Optima Risk Management Services, an insurance broking firm, argues for insurance companies that have refused to provide cover for infertility treatment.

He says, “The problem with such a cover is that it is difficult for an insurer to design a product without data to calculate the probability of occurrence, not to mention the expense attached to the treatment.’’

An in-vitro fertilisation procedure costs about Rs 1 lakh in India per cycle, while the more common treatment — artificial insemination — can cost Rs 10,000.

“The argument that such treatments are expensive and thus cannot be covered is an invalid one. Studies in the US, where 13 states have made it mandatory for insurance companies and employers to offer this cover, have shown that insurance covers do not increase the cost of the treatment. This is an issue employers are going to have to address given the rising number of cases,’’ says Dr Aniruddha Malpani, a Mumbai-based infertility treatment specialist.

Interestingly, adds Dr Malpani, about 20% of his patients are IT professionals.

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