Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Do genes affect obesity and weight loss?

Don’t we accuse our genes and hold our genetic tendencies as an excuse for our obesity?

Many of us have often said, “It runs in the family; all my aunts and uncles have been over weight.” We all know the truth that our obesity is the cause of negligent food habits and unhealthy lifestyle. However, scientists have discovered that genes do play a significant role in making a person obese.

Scientifically speaking, genes affect the way our body processes energy from the food we consume. For example the obesity gene may be the same gene which thousands of years back might have helped people survive famines and similar food scarcity situations. The human body evolved to sustain on low energy food by storing energy in form of fat. Moreover, it would have been a period when humans engaged in numerous physical activity given the lack of technology and discoveries. In the present day, when there’s abundant food and no need for any physical activity, the same gene may be contributing to obesity by storing excess fat in the body.

However, genes alone cannot be held responsible for obesity, which is now even considered an epidemic in some parts of the world. There are many factors which bring about or contribute to obesity. Factors such as sleep deprivation, sedentary lifestyle, poor regulation of diet and improper distribution of nutrients and essential minerals in the diet directly affect the obesity condition.

Overall, these factors are a part of our environment and how we adapt to it determines whether a person may develop obesity or not. Such factors may percolate down from a single individual to not only his/her entire family but even the whole community. Over the generation, these bad habits become a strong part of the community culture and get stronger with years, only to result in mass obesity occurrences and other related health problems and diseases.

Thus, instead of giving our genes as an excuse for obesity, we must start thinking about how to get rid of this disease and reclaim our health and happiness. In other words, it is in fact our duty not only to ourselves but to our community at large to imbibe the good habits and develop healthier practices for the future generations to come.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Do you need a corporate wellness program for your organization?

Many of us don’t know much about corporate wellness, what it entails and how it can affect the productivity and efficiency of your organization. Whether a small organization or a large multinational corporation, every company is dependent on it employee workforce to achieve its goals and move closer to its corporate vision.

However in the process, we sometimes tend to ignore or overlook the personal goals and overall well-being of the employees. After all, it is hypocritical to expect performance and productivity from an employee who isn’t healthy in both, body and mind.

There are numerous factors which affect the health of an employee such as changing lifestyles, a stressful work environment and lack of proper nutrition and healthy habits. A company may not pay heed to warning signs from employees and may bring about further deterioration of the employee’s health, in turn losing a productive worker affecting the workflow in the organization and overall efficiency.

Apart from having effective healthcare benefits for employees, it even more important for a company to organize and implement preventive health practices. Doing so can help the company avoid huge spendings on high-cost health insurance claims as well as ensuring an efficient workplace.

Research is showing that it’s more cost-effective to invest in preventive health practices, such as screenings, immunizations, health risk appraisals, behavioral coaching, and health awareness/education, rather than spending resources exclusively on the small minority of employees/dependents who are responsible for high-cost health claims.

Some of the problems faced by employees are very basic in nature and the right approach at the right time can prevent health problems or breakdowns in the long run, thus reducing costs for the company. Health problems such as obesity and diabetes are often a result of psychological problems and the inability to cope with stress and work expectation in tandem with personal ambitions and goals.

By implementing a corporate wellness program, a company also gives its employees a sense of belonging and moral support by showing that it cares, thus motivating them to higher efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

Image Credit: Forbes

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Regular Dental Check-Ups Are A Must For Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is a topic that doesn’t interest us much and we tend to ignore and overlook dental care both at a personal level as well as at a macro level in terms of society. Even as parents, we often don’t pay heed to the oral hygiene of our children, until a tooth ache strikes. It’s not that you don’t care enough; it’s just that there is generally a lack of information and awareness about dental care.
We often see adolescents wearing teeth braces to correct the teeth alignment and avoid haphazard teeth growth. But did you know that if these children could have their dental checkups at an early age, easier preventive measures could have helped them avoid these problems in the adolescent stage leaving aside the general embarrassment and mockery they have to go through wearing braces.

You could say that you ensure that you and your family brush your teeth twice a day and you may feel that’s enough. However, you are not equipped with enough information or the expertise of dental expert to know where a problem may emerge.

Hence, dental check-ups must not only be regular but frequent. How frequent? That’s for the doctor to decide depending upon your overall dental health and the propensity to infections and risks.

What does a dental check-up involve?
We’ve all read stories about the fear of dental pain and about sitting in ‘the chair’. Unless you have a serious problem, there’s no reason why you should feel any pain in a simple dental check up.

The dentist examines your teeth, gums and mouth for any kind of discrepancy or infection. You are asked about any problems with your teeth or any pain that you may have experienced. The dentist will also provide you information about how some of your eating habits may affect your dental health, especially in terms of smoking and alcohol use. You’re provided with the proper way to brush your teeth or floss to ensure optimal dental health and avoid any germ build-up. You can take up any concerns with your dentist regarding your teeth; say a tooth ache, problems in chewing, food lodging between teeth, etc.

Overall, your teeth will only be as good as the care you give them. It is your onus to ensure yours and your family’s health and avail the services of a proper dental care clinic.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away, True Or False?

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, something we often say or hear whenever health and nutrition is under discussion. But ever wondered if it’s true and if so, how? Some people tend to take it quite literally and eating apples exclusively is definitely not a good idea.

Apples have numerous health benefits which do contribute to ‘keeping the doctor away’. They contain soluble fiber which helps in controlling blood pressure and glucose levels. The fiber also lowers bad cholesterol in the body and enhances healthy digestion. Nutrients in the apple enable strengthen bones and keep the brain healthy. Some of these nutrients are also known to lower cancer risk and reduce age related problems such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Also found in apples is Vitamin C which is proven to build immunity and enable overall health. Others vitamins such as Vitamin A and E are also found in apples which can reduce risk of heart diseases, asthma and diabetes.

Other benefits of eating apples include cleansing of the mouth and killing of bacteria enabling better oral hygiene. Moreover, apples are low in calories and thus are considered to be a healthy alternative to high calorie foods.

However, there are several other fruits which are as capable as apples to contribute to health and in fact have many other benefits which the apple may not provide. With that in mind, it is advisable to eat a variety of foods that not only include apples and other fruits but also foods that provide the requisite amount of minerals, carbohydrates and healthy fats required by the human body for optimal functioning.

It all comes down to choosing the right foods. When given a choice between a cheese pizza and an apple, the decision should be in the favor of the apple. However, an apple can’t provide you with the energy you require and while it may fill you up for a short while, you’d soon feel hungry again.

Thus, include apples in your diet as part of snacking between meals or as fruit salad on the side of a meal. Mix it with other fruits to reap the benefits of all the fruits rather than only apple and then you have a better chance of keeping the doctor away.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Obesity leads to many physical anomalies

In a country like India, where traditionally a bulging belly is considered to a sign of wealth, it is quite tough to put across the idea of obesity as a disease. But we can’t ignore the glaring problems which are now being associated with being overweight and are affecting our lives in a more perceptible manner.

On the surface of it, we might think that being overweight means you can climb lesser steps, walk shorter distances or have trouble finding the appropriate size of clothes. There’s much more to obesity than just routine problems and it’s time that we started looking into the heart of the matter.

Speaking of heart, obesity induces high blood pressure and puts a lot of strain on the heart as it has to pump more blood to the additional fat tissues in the body. Furthermore, people who are obese are ten times more prone to atherosclerosis and coronary artery diseases which results in hardened and narrowed arteries. This in turn can cause chest pain and even heart attack.

Obesity causes resistance to insulin which is responsible for regulation of blood sugar in the body, thus increasing the risk of diabetes. It is in fact the major cause of type 2 diabetes. The additional weight of the chest can cause restricted breathing and respiratory problems and also tends to cause sleep discomfort. Being overweight also increases the risk of various types of cancer in both men and women.

External physical issues such as osteoarthritis and joint problems are most easily attributable to obesity. The excess body weight causes extreme stress on the joints.

While all these above problems aren’t even the tip of the iceberg, there are also psychosocial problems related to obesity. Obese people are often subject to mockery, undue bias and discrimination. While not all, but some overweight people may also find it hard to fit in socially. These factors could lead to conditions of anxiety and depression and may become severely affect the mental health of a person.

However, even if a person is overweight and is suffering from such health and social problems, it’s never too late to work up a turnaround and effect weight loss. Here are a few steps you can begin with:

  • You can begin by eating the right food in the right quantity and choosing healthier options that are more nutritive and beneficial to the body.
  • Combining a balanced diet with a routine of physical activity can show drastic improvements in both physical health as well as the mental state.
  • Know what you eat: Check food labels and nutritive information to understand how it may affect your body.
  • Skipping meals and starving should be strictly avoided and replaced with regular timely meals.
  • Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking.
  • Share your fitness goal with close friends. It always helps to have moral support.
  • Hook up with people with similar goals to work collaboratively.

These steps will allow you to build a strong determined fitness regime and pave the way to holistic wellness and health. While the process will be a gradual and tedious one, you’ll realize it to be a rewarding one when you start feeling stronger and confident. More importantly, you’ll feel free of social anxiety and will be better equipped to face daily challenges. Are you ready to hop on the wellness bandwagon?