kfit: Fighting the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension – Part 1

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This is the first post in a four-part series on the scourge of Diabetes and Hypertension. This one explains the diseases and the risks associated with it. The subsequent posts will deal with information on prevention, details on diet, exercise and stress management techniques. 

Sarabjit, is 35, and determined to make it to the top in the bank he works at. He works really hard, travels quite a bit and so doesn’t really have time to exercise and neither is he able to stick to a very healthy diet. He doesn’t exercise much given his busy lifestyle but he is anything but obese – in fact Sarabjit has a lean body frame.

It also happens that Sarabjit has type-2 diabetes and also has been diagnosed with high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

And he isn’t an exception in corporate India. There is a silent epidemic sweeping the population. A stressful work life, lack of attention to one’s diet, limited or non-existent exercise routines are all taking a toll. In fact a recent study called SITE (Screening India’s Twin Epidemic) highlighted a grim reality – three out of five Indians (1) have either diabetes or hypertension or both!

The link between Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

It is not really known why there is such a significant correlation between the two, but it is assumed that obesity, a bad diet and inactivity are leading to a rise in both cases.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer between most people are not aware that they have a problem – till its too late!

blood-pressure-control-tool_318-61843Demystifying the D/S:

To better appreciate how high blood pressure comes about, let me take a quick detour and explain what blood pressure is and what those two terms Diastolic and Systolic really mean.

Blood pressure is a measure of the force (in mmHg) of blood pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. In hypertension, the blood is pumped with a greater force making the heart work harder. Over time, a consistently higher blood pressure tires the heart muscles and can enlarge it. This raises the risk of diabetic complications which affect almost every organ of the body especially the heart, kidneys, eyes and the neuromuscular system.

 A blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm is considered normal in healthy people. What exactly is this? The above number (140) known as the systolic pressure is the pressure with which the blood is pushed through the heart to the body. The below number (90) or the diastolic pressure is the pressure when the heart relaxes and refills the blood.

diabetes-icon-7494 Understanding that sweet creepy disease:

 Diabetes has been known since the first century B.C.E., when a Greek physician, Aretus the Cappadocian, named it diabainein, meaning “a siphon,” referring to the excessive urination associated with the disease. The word diabetes was first recorded in 1425, and in 1675, the Greek mellitus, “like honey,” was added, to reflect the sweet smell and taste of the patient’s urine. An unrelated and rare disorder, diabetes insipidus, is usually caused by a hormone deficiency. (2)

Simply put Diabetes means uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Though there are different forms of diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Diabetes mellitus is the most common type. The main contributors to high blood sugars are insulin resistance and/or less production of insulin.

molecule_318-56621So what exactly is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to control the blood sugar levels. In insulin resistance, the body’s cells are unable to use the insulin efficiently. Due to which more and more insulin is required to metabolize the glucose that comes through our food. For a period, the pancreas is able to meet the increased insulin demands. This helps keep the blood sugar levels within normal range; about 70-100 mg/dl on fasting and lower than 140 mg/dl post meals.

Eventually the over burdened pancreas gives up resulting in little or no insulin production and the blood sugar levels begin to rise resulting in Diabetes.

5364-200Risk factors for hypertension and diabetes (this could be you!):

Age is not necessarily an insurance against hypertension or diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle can aggravate matters and things can quickly spiral out of control. The combination of hypertension and type-2 diabetes is more dangerous and significantly increase the risk of a stroke. It also increases the chances kidney failure and blindness (retinopathy)

Here is a quick list for you to check if you display any of the early indicators for these deadly diseases:

  • Abnormal belly fat or a waist circumference of more than 90 cms.
  • Rise in high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Sugar cravings, especially after meals
  • Extreme tiredness, especially after meals
  • Visual problems
  • Frozen shoulders
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Increase in thirst and appetite
  • Stress
  • High-fat, high-sodium diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Advanced age
  • Smoking
  • Too little potassium or vitamin D
  • Too much alcohol

 

12177-200Understand your blood pressure reading:

Getting a blood pressure reading takes just 30 seconds. If you have the kfit Health ATM installed in your office – head over there right now and get it done! Once you get your report, see which of these categories your reading falls into.

  • Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic.
  • Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic.
  • Hypertensive crisis; a medical emergency, is when systolic is above 180 or 110 above diastolic.

 

The consequences of delaying a diagnosis:

 Due to the surreptitious nature of the disease and its complications, it goes undetected in most people. There is absolutely no clear sign and symptoms till the disease emerge out in its full form where it’s too late to reverse them.

 There is an irrational fear of getting oneself checked, especially among younger individuals; which is becoming a major cause of delayed diagnosis. Lack of awareness about hypertension and its complications, myths surrounding the disease management makes the treatment and management difficult.

A timely intervention with regards to the treatment and apt lifestyle changes for both the conditions can actually reverse the condition.

In the next post I will talk in detail about Diagnosis, risk factors of delaying treatments, ways to prevent these diseases.

References:

  • Prevalence of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Diabetes and Hypertension in India – Results from the Screening India’s Twin Epidemic (SITE) Study, http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/dia.2011.024
  • Vocabulary, definition of diabetes. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/diabetes
  • Image credit: Freeimages.com, freeicons and the noun project.

 

 

kfit Health Nugget #4: Rejuvenate in your ‘downtime’

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In today’s corporate world, people always seem to be busy and on the ‘go’; rushing through meetings, attending phone calls, ‘always’ in motion, ‘always’ doing something. And then there is ‘DOWNTIME”. There are sudden free moments when there is a client call getting delayed by 15 mins, extended travel time due to traffic jams and so many opportunities for a breather in between calls or meetings. Instead of reaching for WhatsApp to read the forwarded jokes or news sites – these downtimes can be wonderful opportunities to take charge of our stressful lives and lighten our mind, body and soul.

Unwind the Mind

  • Doing ‘nothing’ sometimes is the need of the hour. Decompress the mind and let the mind wander free; free of any thoughts.
  • Do not reach for some general updates on the net through smart phone or tab immediately, plan or rehearse for the rest of the day. Plan for a health makeover. Log into you #kfit#health app and updates the food logs to keep a regular track, practice simple office exercises, listen to soothing relaxation sounds and meditations videos. An easy task which actually would yield some magic in the mundane routine!
  • Make two lists – one would have all the things you have achieved in your life or in the last week. The other would have things still to be done in the future. Jotting down always declutters the mind and solutions are easier. It helps in eliminating the negative thoughts that cause cerebral congestion. Sense of so much coming to you at once; so much to process that cannot be dealt takes a toll on general well being too. Work efficiency gets affected in the long run.
  • Pick up a real book /magazine /newspaper instead of e-reading. Indulge in the pleasure of flipping through pages, holding a real book. Just see that it not work or study reading though. It has its own therapeutic benefits.
  • Having been thinking of your own start-up since long, but inertia or lack of time is making it push under the carpet always. Use your downtimes to create a map for this journey.
  • Reach Out: Call up family or friends whom who have not connected with recently. Bonding personally gives immense pleasure and satisfaction rather than machine smiley’s and posts.
  • Train and strengthen your mental capacity by solving some good puzzles, sudokos from the #kkfit menu. It is like oiling our wiring in the nervous system.
  • Slow Down: A downtime can as simple as slowing down and taking notice of every chew, every move and stop multi tasking every single time.
  • One of the best ways would to take an incredibly brief nap which enlivens the mind and makes you raring to go for the rest of the day. Refreshing the mind is time well spent.

 

SPIRITUAL CALL 

  • Once you are in the downtime, it’s the ‘me time’ an excellent time to notice the now. Do simple breathing exercises; just calm down and relax. This will oxygenate your body and improve the blood circulation. They can be done without anyone visibly noticing you. Feel the difference in just a few deep and proper breaths itself.
  • ‘Power Of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle suggests simple observation techniques and being in the present moment always to lead a hassle free successful life. What better than to practice this art during the downtimes.
  • Another meditation technique is the ‘Vipaasana Way’. It suggests that one just observes each part of the body one by one peacefully. Starting from the each toe and then moving upwards to the head in a few minutes. Again this can be done when waiting for a client or a meeting to start.
  • Feeling Grateful: Think of a few people or things in your life that you are grateful for. Relive those happy memories guaranteeing a smile on the face.
  • A small visit to a nearby place of worship which is pending since an era will result in a calmer and happier self.

 

PHYSICAL PRODUCTIVE DOWTIME

  • Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) has become a very common phenomenon due to constantly using your fingers, wrists and forearms while working on the screen. This has harmful, injurious and sometimes permanent detrimental effects on these body parts. Utilize your downtimes to do stretching exercises while sitting on your desk. Similarly stretch the lower body parts like toes and feet.
  • Have an hour to spare!! Strap on your #kstep pedometer and take a walk down to the nearby park, art exhibition, fun place, a museum, a nearby book store. Enjoy to the fullest and draw renewed energy and health in return.
  • Posture correction while sitting or standing during your downtimes is equally essential to develop this habit. Slouching, back pain or general body discomforts are common ill effects of wrong posture.
  • An impromptu yoga session of simple asanas or short aerobic workout which can be done within a small space are excellent health steals when time limit is always an excuse. Watch these videos from the #kfit health menu.
  • Adding a small snack time, again a healthy habit to your downtime can work wonders on your waistline. Work this part out with your nutritionist or just remember the basic principle of small and frequent meals on a regular basis. Keep healthy dry snacks always ready in your bag.

 

Downtimes are to be enjoyed thoroughly in every possible way. Try keeping work related matters away during this period; especially checking mails. Successful people need to measure their time the way one measures ingredients for a cake. So ensure your downtimes are wonderful productive opportunities to reconnect and repair the situations in life that would make you feel good about yourself!

#kfit #SummerFit Series: Part-3 The Summer Healthy Food Guide

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We are constantly hunting for soothing foods and drinks to get some relief from the heat. Think before you pick up something cold like sodas, sugary syrups or even cold water; are they right choices for your dear health? This is where we can go wrong as anything extremely low in temperature can constrict our blood vessels affecting the heat loss process from our body.

Time to recall what our Granny’s always say: eat fresh, seasonal produce and of course no foods at extreme temperatures. Consuming foods that are not in season may come with a risk of chemicals and preservatives used to keep the veggies and fruits fresh.

Summer season calls for a change in the diet and lighter meals, with more fluids. Let’s list out some easy and practical do’s and don’ts for our summer diet and feel fresh and healthy through the season.

  • Water still remains the best option to quench thirst.

Increase water intake regardless of your activity levels. Water keeps you hydrated, cool, and keeps “things” moving in the right direction. Use #kFit# app and track your water intake regularly to avoid dehydration.

  • Balance your body’s fluids and electrolytes:

Nature has blessed us with amazing health drinks in its truest forms. What can be more soothing than the humble coconut water or freshly squeezed out sugarcane juice. They naturally take care of the mineral requirement in the body

  • Do not drink chilled liquids.

They may make you cool temporarily but may lead to a slight constriction of the blood vessels in the skin and decrease heat loss. Water can be made tasty by adding such fragrant substances like ‘khas‘, ‘sandal’, ‘camphor’ or ‘rose’. Try infused waters as a tastier option.

  • Always go for light diet which can be easily digested by our body without much effort.
  • Avoid spicy, hot and extremely salty food as they are hard to digest. The body retains salt in the organic form found in fruits and veggies; the inorganic salt, meanwhile, is digested and needs to be thrown out of the body.
  • Cut the intake of fried foods, like vadas, samosas, chips, bhajiasfarsans, etc. Fat has a thermal effect .
  • Avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages, and sugar loaded drinks. All these drinks contain preservatives, colors and sugars. They cause loss of fluids through urine. Many soft drinks contain diluted phosphoric acid, which damages the inner lining of the digestive tract and, therefore, affects its functions.
  • Reduce intake of heat generating vegetables and fruits, like, hot peppers, garlic, beetroot, spices.
  • Minimise the intake of dried fruits as they are difficult to digest.
  • Use sabza(desi chia seeds) in drinks – a super coolant for the body.
  • Go for sea food in place of red meat.

Though we have an array of foods around us, here’s the #kfit list of Summer Super Foods:

Curd/ Yogurt

A delicious and healthy alternative to ice-cream as they are packed with nutrients, vitamins and calcium which help to soothe ulcers, allergies and heat boils during the season. It increases friendly bacteria in the gut and improves digestion and boosts immunity. Have it your way in form of smoothies, buttermilk or refreshing lassi.

Coconut water

An inexpensive way to good health. It is laden with simple sugars, electrolytes and essential minerals. Drink it for its cancer fighting and anti-ageing properties as well. Remember to scoop out the tender coconut and eat it before you discard its shell. It contains vitamins, minerals and precious potassium.

Summer’s coolest, juiciest and healthiest foods – Melons

Eat the water in watermelons..its 92 % fruit , yet has a super satiety value. It can help protect skin from oxidative stress that contributes to the aging process, clear up acne and brighten a dull complexion Avoid buying cut fruits available in supermarkets or roadside vendors.

Sunscreen in a glass – Tomatoes

Tomatoes in any form; juices, salads, salsa  could give you extra protection as they lycopene—the carotenoid that makes tomatoes red and  which can help protect all of that exposed skin from UV rays during summer months.
Stay cool as a Cucumber

Along with 96% water content , the fiber in them can help keep constipation at bay. They contain vitamin C and silica which are known for tissue growth and skin cleansing properties. Consume cucumbers with the skin as their outer skin is rich in potassium, magnesium and fiber.
Layers of Cooling: Onions

Undoubtedly, it is the best food to prevent sunstrokes. The red onions, in particular, are very rich in quercetin, which is a natural anti-allergen. Add it to your curries, dips, raitas, salads  to help you  stay cool.
Corn:

Excellent snack to nibble on during your office breaks. A good source of pantothenic acid, which provides vitamin B to lower stress levels, corn in any form whether it is roasted or boiled is a healthy snack as it lowers cholesterol levels .The two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—in corn may act like natural sunglasses.

Relish the taste with a dash of salt and a touch of butter.

 

Yummylicious Mango:

Have them for their anti oxidants and vitamin A content. Raw mango is extremely beneficial to prevent sunstroke and weakness. Raw mango juice also known as aam panna can help balance electrolytes in the body. Unripe mangoes can be steamed, pealed and mixed with cumin seeds and salt to make an effective remedy for heat strokes and exhaustion in summers. Add jaggery to cut down the sourness of the mangoes.
Drinks to beat the heat:

 Bring on the masala chaas (spiced buttermilk), aam panna, cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices, mint lemonade, barley water, kokum sherbet, raagi malt or kanji, sattu ka paani.

Staying well hydrated will keep your memory sharp, mood stable and increase work efficiency. They all help as a liver cleanser, boosting the metabolism and improved digestion and immunity apart from rehydrating your system.
Do you feel you are suffering from heat stroke?

In spite of all precautions you take, it is possible that you might be impacted by the extreme heat. Here are some quick tips to get you back up:

  • Drink plenty of water and stay away from the sun.
  • Consume water containing electrolyte, juices and glucose to maintain electrolyte balance.
  • Plenty of fruits & vegetables, protein intake like legumes, beans, tofu, low fat milk & milk products is also important.
  • Peppermint oil mixed with water or rubbing onion juice on palms and soles are age old remedies for heatstroke.

 

And finally, we wrap up this section with a sample summer diet that can be you cal follow to stay cool all day long:

Breakfast: Eat fresh fruits with milk/yogurt and a light no-sugar cereal to keep light and active. They are natural sources of energy.

 Mid-morning: A revitalizing glass of buttermilk/ coconut water.

 Lunch: A bowl of salad with roti/rice and sabji/dals/eggs.

 Evening: A fresh fruit smoothie with chia seeds. They are filling, nourishing and very cooling.

Dinner:  A light dinner like stir fried veggies/ cold soups + steamed fish/ paneer/ tofu or a raita.

Stick to nature’s provisions of vast healthy foods and you can experience the bloom of our health and vitality this summer

Download free e-book  #kfit#SummerFit Guide and get a complete insight on Summer Health Hazards, Summer Workouts and Healthy Summer Foods . http://bit.ly/1WlgaBB