Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like Sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country.
Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of a different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing.
When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
Purple Mogri- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Sweet Potato- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Avarekalu- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Amla- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla - it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
Read More► 5 Superfoods to Boost Immunity in Kids
Menstrual health comprises the physical, social and mental aspects related to menstruation or periods. In India, women's health has been given secondary importance due to a male dominant society, illiteracy, low socio-economic conditions and ignorance.
The most common causes of menstrual problems are PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), and abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding. Menstruation or monthly periods have been associated with a lot of social and cultural taboos in India.
Many young girls and women do not have facilities to manage their menses hygienically, maintaining their privacy, dignity and gender equality at home, schools and workplaces.
So, what are normal periods? A normal menstrual period lasts from 2-7 days and comes at an interval of 21-35 days. It is difficult to quantify the actual menstrual flow. In general, use of three to four XL or regular size sanitary pads per day (since they need to be changed every six to eight hours) can be considered normal on an average, but it may vary depending on the individual.
Common Menstrual Problems
1. Menstrual hygiene
2. Menstrual flow
3. Menstrual cycle
4. Menstrual hormones
Menstrual Hygiene Related Problems: Use of unclean sanitary pads or clothes can give rise to genital tract infections, anaemia and urinary tract Infection. This can be prevented by social awareness and easy availability of affordable sanitary products. It is also important to have the right knowledge about menstrual hygiene to avoid such issues from taking place.
Menstrual Flow Related Problems: One can experience excess or scanty flow during periods. Usually heavy menstrual flow can be for 1-2 days but if it continues for more than 5-7 days, it can lead to low haemoglobin and anaemia. This definitely needs to be investigated and treated along with oral iron replacement therapy. The less flow or change in flow over years can be due to hormonal imbalance. This can occur mostly after completion of family in perimenopausal age.
Menstrual Cycle Related Problems: Irregular periods, skipping or not getting periods for more than six months (also known as secondary amenorrhoea) and bleeding in between periods (called inter menstrual bleeding) are a few problems under this type of problem. The most common cause for this is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), stress, anxiety and depression. Investigations in the form of pelvic sonography and hormonal investigations are necessary to make a diagnosis. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle changes are important.
Menstrual Hormone Related Problems: This usually gives rise to psychomotor issues. They can be symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) at any age group or peri/postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms after the age of 45. Bloating, breast tenderness, irritability and depression which occur premenstrually and disappear with onset of periods are classical symptoms of PMS. If they are affecting day to day family life, then it needs to be treated.
Every woman experiences menopausal symptoms in varying severity, starting usually 4-5 years before menopause. The night sweats, hot flushes, low moods, anxiety, irritability, joint and muscle pain, loss of interest in having sex, and weight gain are typical menopausal symptoms due to deficiency of oestorgen hormones.
No matter which type of menstrual problem you're facing, it is always advisable to visit a gynaecologist who will be able to identify all your queries after making the right diagnosis.
Nua, a new-age brand transforming the women's wellness space in India with holistic and personalised solutions that addresses real problems faced by women in managing their menstrual health and personal hygiene, provides an innovative range of products and services, including India's first customizable pack of sanitary pads and self-heating menstrual cramp patches, also available on a subscription basis. (Vaishali Joshi, #NuaExpert on Gynaecology, is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai)
Read More► Post Diwali, Delhi hospital sees 10% more respiratory problem patients
Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital has seen a growth of 8 to 10 per cent in patients suffering with respiratory problems due to pollution after Diwali, its Medical Director Dr Suresh Kumar said on Sunday.
Talking to IANS, Dr Suresh Kumar said that they everyday have 10-12 patients visiting the hospital with breathing problems.
"Air pollution has become a major issues post Diwali. Elderly people and chlidren are the main victim of the pollution," he said, adding that long-term exposure to chronically high PM 2.5 levels weakens the lungs' ability to function.
The air quality in Delhi improved marginally on Sunday from Saturday's "severe" to "very poor category". According to the forecast from the Air Quality Early Warning System, the AQI will continue to remain in the "very poor" category till at least Tuesday.
About the pollution caused respiratory and other problems, Dr Kumar said that they have capacity for 120 patients but due to the outbreak in pollution-related diseases post Diwali, they are getting around 140 patients every day in the hospital.
He said the emergency and OPD wards are getting average 140 patients in total, with all types of problems, but most of them are suffering with respiratory and dipping levels of oxygen. It also includes the rising number of asthma cases in children.
About the preventive measures, he said that only two things - use of masks and avoiding stepping outside - can protect people from such rising level of pollution.
He added that the high level of PM 2.5 particles at this time can lead to lung infections, irritation in eyes, and respiratory problems.
Read More► Is Pregnancy Related Low Back Pain Sciatica?
Heartfulness meditation, a simple heart-based meditation practice aimed at attaining a balanced state of mind, helps in reducing stress and improving the quality of sleep, revealed a study.
The mixed-method study was conducted by US researchers during the Covid-19 pandemic and was published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, said Heartfulness Institute, which has its global headquarters in Hyderabad.
Heartfulness meditation was associated with significant reduction in perceived stress and improvement in the quality of sleep of participants who completed the online-based meditation programme.
Kamlesh Patel, also known as Daaji, the guide of Heartfulness meditation, underlines the need to immediately address stress in one's life.
"The simple focus of life is to become better and better each day. To achieve this we need to be in a state of complete awareness about our self and raise our consciousness in tune with our true nature. Stress is the modern day ill created by our inability to focus on things that matter. Stress and its negative impact on our overall wellbeing has slowly but steadily taken control of every individual," he said.
"While we know Covid-19 as the pandemic, the build-up of stress and its ill impacts is the bigger pandemic and equally a bigger health crisis. Stress needs our urgent attention as well and in consistent practice of meditation we have the most effective vaccination to ward off stress and is the visa for living your life in joy," he added.
The study was conducted by Dr Kunal Desai, Dr Priti Parikh and Dr Alpa Desai of the Department of Internal Medicine, Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright University, Ohio, and Prof Dr Pratibha Gupta, Food Nutrition and Health Agricultural Research Development Programme, Central State University, Ohio.
Stress and lack of quality sleep are considered serious public health challenges despite modern lifestyles, comforts, and technological advances. The Covid-19 pandemic has genuinely brought attention to this pre-existing stress problem by making it significantly worse.
The study aimed to investigate whether using a virtual heart-based meditation program is associated with improved stress levels and quality of sleep. The researchers enrolled 63 participants to receive an eight-week virtually conducted Heartfulness meditation program. Of these, 36 (57 per cent) completed the entire eight weeks of the Heartfulness meditation programme.
The participants were recommended to attend a minimum of two out of a total of eight virtual trainer-guided group Heartfulness relaxation and meditation sessions each week. These sessions, conducted by one of the authors and a Heartfulness trainer (KD), included 5-7 min of relaxation followed by 20 min of meditation.
They were also provided instructions on using the phone application called 'HeartsApp' on their phones. They could connect as an anonymous seeker with a Heartfulness trainer through the application and meditate without any audiovisual interaction. They were also suggested self-practices to the best of their abilities.
"Our study showed that following Heartfulness meditation practice, PSS and PSQI improved significantly in the participants from different parts of the United States. About 31 per cent were healthcare professionals, and the entire programme was conducted virtually. Based on these observations, we propose that meditation programmes offered via virtual platforms can offer a convenient, helpful, and easily accessible tool to a large community at once to help improve the psychological wellbeing of individuals," said Dr Kunal Desai, who led the study.
"The results of qualitative analysis in our study bring a unique perspective to this aspect as we were able to show that the participants' subjective experiences strongly supported the results of the survey findings. Thus, these results enhance our understanding of how Heartfulness meditation practice helps reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep. Our qualitative analysis suggests these effects could be because a simple heart-based meditation brought a 'calming effect' in our participants, resulting in an 'inner peace'. Such an effect also resulted in inner changes in our participants, including positive thinking, accepting and empathic attitude, and an increase in awareness of one's own emotions and the needs of others."
This study adds to the existing literature supporting the benefits of Heartfulness practice, as reported by some previous studies showing the benefit of Heartfulness relaxation and meditation to reduce stress, burnout, loneliness, and improve the quality of sleep.
Read More► Six Ways to Keep Exercising in Winter
Many people believe that heart disease typically affects men. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of mortality not only among men, but also among women. But women are actually at greater risk if not detected early, and this exacerbates the issue.
Signs of poor heart health do not appear as visibly in women as it does in men. What this means is that if a man has a heart issue, there are specific symptoms like angina which can be spotted easily and the right course of action be recommended. The same issue in a woman may not result in a sign or symptom that can be easily spotted. So often, their symptoms go ignored or unrecognised and they do not receive timely intervention to correct the problem. The issue is so acute that today 1 in 3 deaths among women is due to coronary heart disease.
There is also a significant lack of self-awareness among women about risk factors and the prevention of CVDs. Women don't only attend to matters of the home, but they hold positions at leading companies, and continue to rise to the occasion and meet impossible demands on their time. Through all of this, they take care of the emotional needs of their family members and loved ones; and still culturally are predisposed to putting the needs of others before their own. The stress they experience, among other common risk factors, often goes unnoticed by those around them. And stress has a greater influence on CVD risk in women vs men. Along with stress, other factors like diet quantity and quality also have a greater influence on CVD risk in women vs men. Additionally, women are also impacted by female-specific risk factors for CVD like polycystic Ovarian syndrome PCOS, preeclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension and gestational diabetes.
In such a situation where symptoms of a heart problem do not manifest visibly, it is extremely important for women to be aware of their own risk factors and adopt proactive measures to take care of their heart health. For example, one risk factor, stress has been linked to a greater intake of energy and nutrient-dense foods, mainly sources of sugar and fat, and to poor diet quality. Women can take simple steps like reducing unhealthy fats and products with high content of sugar and salt to improve the quality of their diet. Choose ingredients that are good for the heart, like oatmeal, wholegrains, fiber rich vegetables, blended oils with the right balance of fatty acids, legumes, soy products, and the like. Regular and consistent exercise, adequate sleep, and other such lifestyle modifications can help maintain heart health in the long term.
Furthermore with signs of poor heart health not manifesting visibly in women, it is crucial that they get regular health check-ups done to assess their risk proactively. Self-awareness and early identification of cardiovascular risk factors can lead to better prevention of CVD in women.
This World Heart Day, let's choose self-care. Get a simple heart check-up done and encourage other women in yourselves too, to get the same done. Take proactive steps for heart health today.
(By Brajesh Kunwar)
Read More► Myth or Fact: Exercise Must Be Avoided After A Heart Attack
London- A team of researchers has discovered that the more severely a mother is infected with Covid-19, the more likely she is to experience preterm birth.
The researchers reported that the rate of preterm birth in nearly 1,000 pregnant women, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was a function of the severity of infection.
"The more severe the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the greater the risk of preterm birth," said researcher Roberto Romero from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in the US.
"There was a dose-dependent relationship between the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the risk of prematurity," Romero added.
For the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the team included data from 14 National Health Service (NHS) maternity hospitals in the UK to assess the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy.
The excess rate of premature birth, they report, is largely due to medically-induced preterm birth brought about by concerns for health of the mother, such as preeclampsia.
Preterm birth, the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide, is defined as one that occurs before 37 weeks of gestation.
Two-thirds of preterm births are due to the spontaneous onset of preterm labour. The remaining third is due to medical conditions that affect either the mother or the unborn baby that necessitate delivery.
The more severe the Covid-19 infection, the greater the risk of preeclampsia, a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The condition is responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and more than 5,00,000 infant deaths every year.
Read More► How White Blood Cells Aid in Predicting Covid-19 Severity