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)
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Although the world is recovering from coronavirus pandemic, we must not lower our guards and stay alert when it comes to hand hygiene to curb the spread of the deadly virus. But are we paying sufficient attention to our nail hygiene? Our nails are the index of well-being for our entire body. The manifestations of several critical diseases were first detected within the dirty nails.
The ignorance towards our nails becomes the breeding ground of harmful bacteria. These germs enter our body through our hands because in India we eat through our bare hands. Therefore, nail hygiene is crucial and without it hand hygiene is incomplete.
Practising good nail hygiene involves following a systematic process to ensure the longevity of our nail health. It includes ensuring that food particles, dirt and dust are not sticking to our nails and there is no build-up of nail bacteria. Thankfully, contrary to popular belief, it is not that difficult to maintain good nail hygiene. A little diligence, awareness and attention are sufficient to keep our nails healthy.
Avoiding Nail Hygiene Makes You Prone to Viral Infections
Due to constant negligence towards the cleanliness of the nails, many serious issues like bacterial and viral infections arise. Often these lead to serious health problems. Our hand hygiene is not perfect till the time we clean the undersides of our nails besides washing hands regularly. Most people don't mind sharing nail clippers with others. This is however an extremely unhygienic practice. When we don't share any of our personal hygiene products then why do we share our nail clippers? Nails harbour abundant germs, bacteria and viruses and sharing nail clippers is equivalent to exchanging those microorganisms.
Keep Fingernails Dry and Clean
It prevents bacterial and fungal infections from growing under our nails. It has been observed that prolonged exposure to water can break nails. It is always recommended to wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing dishes, cleaning or using harsh chemicals. In order to follow good nail hygiene, we have to be careful about our nail care products. Use a sharp stainless-steel nail clipper with a grime remover, that can remove the hidden germs and grime below the nails. Trim nails straight, then round the tips into a gentle curve. Always wash hands and under nails with soap and water after a nail clipping session.
Keep hands and nails moisturized to avoid the cuticles from overgrowing. Frequent use of nail paint remover, hand sanitisers and harsh soaps can result in the dryness of cuticles along with nails. Keep nails short, trim them regularly and wash hands for at least 20 seconds and then moisturize them, This will make the chance of diseases slimmer and can prevent any kind of viruses. KAI India nail clipper comes with unique features like 100 per cent stainless steel, nail filer, grime remover, nail tray and non-chromium coating making them safe and most effective for maintaining proper nail hygiene.
Here are some of the more ways through which we can keep our nail hygiene intact, thereby protecting it from the damage to nails:
Stay Away From Chewing Fingernails
It has the potential of damaging the nail bed as a minor cut can cause infection. Moreover, when we bite our nails, germs enter our mouths directly.
Be Gentle Towards Hangnails
Never pull off your hangnails. Rather, be gentle towards them and carefully clip them off. Stop using those products which are harsh on nails. Always go for acetone-free products.
Go for A Regular Nail Checkup
If you have a persistent nail problem, consult a doctor or dermatologist for an evaluation.
Do Not Share
Try not to share your nail clipper, as they contain germs. Wash the nail clipper with lukewarm water and wipe with a soft cloth. (Rajesh U. Pandya is the Managing Director of Kai India)
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Navratri is the festival where nine days of fasting can be observed by a devotee. Many pregnant ladies wish to fast for their religious or personal beliefs. Though it is said that women during pregnancy should be very careful when it comes to fasting because it is not only the mother who needs all the essential nutrients but also the need of the fetus for healthy growth and development.
However, fasting during pregnancy is not as hard as it allows the consumption of various healthy foods at appropriate intervals. But one thing should be remembered by all pregnant ladies that they should not go hungry for long intervals as a baby's nutrition depends on the mother. It is very important to take carbs during pregnancy while fasting. Carbohydrates play a vital role in our growth system. It is an important nutrient source that not only provides energy to muscles and the brain but using the right kind of carbs in the diet can effectively help to provide essential nutrients, build the desired body or accelerate fitness goals.
There are two types of carbs slow and fast carbs which depends on the Glycemic Index ( the rate at which carbs get digested as compared to glucose secretion).
Fast carbs have a high GI and release energy at a much higher pace and get used quickly which makes you feel hungry often and add to weight gain issues. Fast carbs include processed foods such as bread, sugars, starchy vegetables, fruit juices etc.
As compared to this, slow carbs have a low GI and release energy slowly into the body and help to maintain a "satisfied" feeling as your blood sugar levels are maintained.
There are many non-pregnant women who want to shed extra calories. Fasting will be the perfect time to start their fitness journey. To lose weight and stay healthy, the purpose should be to source the right kind of carbs, which release energy slowly and helps you in the long run. Hence, for that, focus on including slow carbs in your diet such as whole grains, seeds and nuts, beans and legumes, vegetables etc. It also tends to be high in fibre.
Should Carbs Be Taken During Fasting?
Although fasting is a very traditional and customary ritual and most people fast for spiritual purification, there is no denying that if you keep yourself nutritionally in check, it can be therapeutic for the body as it can act as a form of detox and keep you healthy as well. So, it is significant to choose the right food while you are on a fast diet to prevent yourself from being deficient in important nutrients as it can make you likely to develop health ailments like weakness, heart problems, skin issues, defective bone growth, etc.
Pregnant women with illnesses such as diabetes, anaemia, high blood pressure should avoid fasting as it could lead to various other complications.
Avoiding carbohydrates will be the last thing you need to do during fasting as it provides energy to the brain and muscles and make you energetic and more productive throughout the day. So, Make sure you are getting enough right kind of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins from different sources and be vigilant about selecting healthy foods rather than munch on processed foods.
There are various food options that include slow carbs and few tips to make your fasting healthier:
Because you are fasting, you tend to eat lesser food than usual, and are hungry at odd times, eating slow carbs foods can help you keep fuller for longer as they take longer to digest and break down. Combine high carbohydrates like potatoes and sabudana (widely used in fasting) with other fibrous vegetables like spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, capsicum, bottle guard, etc. Also, try to bake, roast or grill vegetables instead of deep-frying them. Kuttu is a brilliant combination of carbohydrates (70-75 per cent) and protein (20-25 per cent). It is also rich in proteins, B-complex vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. Use it to make chapatti instead of gorging on puris.
Samak rice is extremely easy to digest and provides energy, contains a high amount of fibre, B-complex vitamins and important minerals like iron and magnesium.
Try and adopt healthy snacking and don't binge on puris, sabudana vada, potato chips, and other delicacies as they are loaded with sugar, salt and fat content, Instead, opt for roasted makhana as they loaded with antioxidants or a mixture of nuts (almonds/raisins/walnut)/ baked chips, roasted peanuts, etc.)
Eat plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Eat small meals and do not starve yourself. This will help maintain blood glucose levels and prevent you from feeling low.
Keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water and fluids like coconut water, lemon water, and buttermilk without adding sugar. These beverages will keep you satisfied for a long time.
While you can gorge on the above-mentioned food items, also try out these healthy recipes this Navratri season:
Sweet potato chaat
1 bowl (250 gms)
Calories-304.5 Cal Carbs-62.09 gms
2-3 Sweet Potatoes (Boiled)
A handful of almonds, peanuts and walnuts
1 tsp Cumin powder and Black pepper
1 tsp chia seeds and roasted flax seeds
Rock salt for taste
1 lemon (for juice)
Boil sweet potatoes and peel them and cut them into small pieces
Now mix the nuts with sweet potatoes
Now add salt, cumin powder and black pepper to it and mix it properly, add lemon juice also
Sprinkle chia seeds and flax seeds
The chaat is now ready to eat
2 pieces (45 gms)
1 cup Kuttu ka Atta / Buckwheat Flour
1/2 cup Sour Curd
1 /4 tsp Ginger paste
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Fresh Coriander (Grated)
1 tsp Green Chilli (Chopped)
Clean and wash the buckwheat in enough water only once. Then drain the excess water using a strainer
Mix the buckwheat, sour curd and half a cup of water in a bowl. Cover it and soak it for at least 4 to 5 hours.
Now add green chilli, ginger paste and salt to the batter and mix very well
Pour the batter into a greased thali and spread evenly by rotating the thali clockwise. Also, Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander
Steam in a steamer for 10-12 min. Or till the Dhoklas are cooked
Cool slightly, cut into pieces and serve immediately with green chutney.
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Mental illnesses in various forms have been a major health burden globally in recent years. Unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits and rise in work-related stress are factors that are contributing to the rising incidence of anxiety and depression. Psychotic drugs in treating anxiety and depression are effective but offer only symptomatic relief. Long-term intake of drugs often leads to dependence without preventing further illness or providing a comprehensive solution to improving mental health.
People suffering from poor mental health can reap rich and long-term benefits by adopting the ancient Indian practice of Yoga in their daily lives. Yoga helps in maintaining good mental and physical health. It harmonises our body and mind and restores our emotional balance. There is growing evidence that Yoga can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and those who have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When adopted as a daily practice, yoga can help calm down the mind and prevent the development of mental illnesses.
Stress is the root cause of several lifestyle diseases. Yoga adopts a scientific approach of exercising and relaxing to ease the stress of modern day living. Yoga also contributes to improving memory, sleep and even quality of life in elderly persons with mild memory impairment.
Here are some poses that help improve mental health besides providing other health benefits:
Shashankasana or Child's Pose
This asana stimulates your nervous system thereby re-energizing your whole body. This asana is basically a resting pose somehow resembling a child in fetal position. It is performed by sitting down on the knees and then bending forward so that the chest touches the thighs, and the forehead touches the ground. Stretch the arms forward. If performed with precision regularly, the performer will notice a sense of mental, physical, and emotional comfort descending upon him/her. Like most yoga asanas, this one, too, should be performed on an empty stomach or at least six hours after a meal. However, people suffering from high blood pressure and back pain should avoid this asana.
This inverted pose is one of the best yoga asanas for improving blood circulation towards the head. It helps to calm anxiety, treat depression and insomnia besides regulating blood flow. This pose can be performed by lying down flat on your back. Keep the legs together. While inhaling raise the legs, buttocks and the trunk and support the hips on the palm. The trunk is held at 45 degrees angle to the ground. Breathe normally in this position. To return, lower the legs over the head and keep the hands down while exhaling. Bring the spine and the legs down.
This yoga pose is thought to be therapeutic for people suffering from high blood pressure, asthma, sinusitis, infertility and osteoporosis. It also helps to relieve mild depression and beat insomnia as it is highly beneficial as a relaxation tool. To perform this pose, stand straight. Raise your hands from the front to above your head as you inhale slowly. Bend backwards from the upper back and maintain the position with normal breathing.
This pose is typically performed at the end of yoga routines and helps boost mental health and relaxes the body. Lie flat on your back, keeping the body straight and hands at the sides with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and hold the position for at least five minutes. Even pregnant women can practice this asana as it will help them prevent prenatal depression, a prevalent mental disorder in women during pregnancy.
It should be noted that the above-mentioned yogic practices are to be learned in a gradual manner under the supervision of a yoga expert. Yoga enables a practitioner to expand their mental faculties and achieve a greater acceptance of self and others, which ultimately leads to calmer approach to the life.
Yoga encourages practitioners to experience an open heart. Many yogic philosophers consider the entire practice to be about metaphorically connecting to our hearts. Within the chakra system, the heart lies in the middle of the seven chakras. Asanas such as arda chakrasana (back bend), kapotasana (pigeon pose), and ustrasana (camel pose) encourage the expansion of the centre of the chest which is the location of the anahata chakra, the yogic heart centre. Visualizations and pranyams in yoga also encourage open heartedness.
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If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimetre of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs.
Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Refrain from Harsh Soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
Clip Your Nails Regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
Good Quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
Stop The Habit of Nail Chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Exfoliate Your Hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Don't Use Your Nails As Tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Be Aware of Nail or Cuticle Inflammation or Redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
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As Covid wreaked havoc throughout the world, working professionals and students moved to remote work and learning which resulted in increased dependence on various screens, leading to several eye problems. Proper nutrition for the eye is, thus, imperative, said health experts on Tuesday.
The most common eye problems reported by children and working people during the pandemic include eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, fuzzy vision, and nearsightedness. This is further exacerbated by low physical activity, irregular eating habits, frequent snacking, and poor food quality during the pandemic.
"Every day, we encounter twenty to thirty patients who come to us complaining of eye discomfort. However, correct nutrition can offer the necessary support for ocular function, protect the eye from damaging light, and prevent age-related degenerative illnesses," Dr Vineet Sehgal, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, said.
Further, Covid-19, which is majorly a respiratory disease and is known to affect lungs, also causes modest to severe eye problems.
Some patients may develop conjunctivitis, irritated eyes, light sensitivity, and eye discomfort, which may last longer than two weeks.
"People who have a severe Covid-19 infection are at a high risk of having ocular abnormalities like vascular occlusion," Sehgal said.
Long-term use of steroids also increases the risk of mucormycosis -- a severe consequence occurring in Covid patients, particularly those who are diabetic or immune-compromised. Infection of the nose and sinuses that spread to the orbit can cause vision loss or even death, if not treated promptly.
Long Covid also affects the eyes with people reporting the most frequent symptom -- conjunctivitis.
"Conjunctivitis can be treated with medicine, but, in certain cases, the retina and retinal vessels are damaged, resulting in long-term visual loss. This blockage of retinal veins not only causes substantial vision loss, but also takes a long time to heal," Sehgal said.
Including a diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables which give vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can improve eye health.
"Consuming minerals, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins C, E, and zinc, have been associated with a decreased risk of serious eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration," Nabanita Saha, Chief Clinical Dietician, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, said.
"The nutritional needs for eye health are complicated, but some nutrients, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts are very crucial. Physical exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, has been found to help prevent eye diseases," she added.
In addition, if any patient, recovering from Covid, experiences symptoms like stuffiness in the nose, swelling around the eyes or nose, blurry vision, double vision, or pain around eyes/nose, they should immediately see an eye doctor, experts suggested.