Starting ART for HIV patients on the day of diagnosis can be better for their health

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV patients on the day of diagnosis leads to improved health outcomes, results of a clinical trial in South Africa show. The World Health Organisation recommends that people with HIV should start treatment soon after diagnosis. Despite those guidelines, most people with HIV in South Africa, which has world’s largest HIV treatment programme, start ART later than they should, said lead author of the study Sydney Rosen, research professor of global health at Boston University School of Public Health in the US. Once they get to a clinic, the treatment initiation process is long and complicated, Rosen said, with a first visit for an HIV test, a second visit to determine treatment eligibility, and several more visits for a physical exam, adherence education and counseling.

The researchers hypothesised that offering patients a chance to start treatment on the same day as their first clinic visit would improve the proportion of patients who made it through all the steps and were successfully established on ART. The study randomly assigned 377 adult patients at two public clinics in Johannesburg to two groups — one that was offered the chance to start treatment on the same day, using rapid lab tests and accelerated counseling and a physical exam, and the other assigned to standard treatment procedures, usually requiring three to five more clinic visits over a two- to four-week period.

The researchers found that the same-day initiation of antiretroviral therapy led to a higher proportion of people starting treatment and to better health outcomes. The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that 97 percent of patients in the rapid-initiation group (dubbed the RapIT intervention) had started ART within 90 days, compared to 72 percent receiving standard care. And by 10 months after enrollment, 64 percent of patients in the rapid group had good outcomes, in terms of viral suppression, compared to 51 percent in the standard arm. ‘The RapIT intervention showed clinically meaningful improvements in ART uptake and viral suppression, providing proof of principle that a single-visit treatment approach can have benefits,’ Rosen said.

Source: IANS

10 reasons why eating ragi is a great idea

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Even though India is the highest producer of finger millet (ragi or nachni), contributing to about 58% of its global production, very few Indians know about its health benefits and nutritional value. If you’re among those who are unaware about the benefits of including nachni in your diet, we give you 10 reasons why you should.

1# Rich in calcium: No other cereal comes close to ragi when it comes to calcium content. Calcium is a significant factor when it comes to bone development and prevention of osteoporosis. Replacing calcium pills with a ragi kanji or porridge and including it in the diet of growing children is a good way to reap its benefits. You may also like to know the 9 reasons you should eat calcium rich foods.

2# Helps in weight loss: The natural fat content in ragi is lower than all other cereals. Also, this fat is in its unsaturated form. Thus, substituting it for wheat and rice is a good choice for people trying to lose weight. It also contains an amino acid called tryptophan which reduces appetite.

3# High fibre content: As compared to white rice, ragi contains higher amounts of dietary fibre. Due to this, ragi aids digestion, prevents over-eating and makes you feel full for a longer span of time. The amino acids lecithin and methionine help in decreasing the cholesterol levels of your body by getting rid of the excess fat in the liver. On the other hand, threonine hinders the formation of fat in the liver and provides overall reduction of body cholesterol.

4# Regulates blood sugar levels: The high polyphenol and fibre content has another perk. Diabetic patients can trust ragi to create a restrained build in glucose level. Diets that regularly include ragi have been known to have lower glycemic response. This is mostly down to the inclusion of bran in ragi as the grain is too small to be polished and milled. Know about how whole grains can prevent type 2 diabetes.

5# Battles anemia: Ragi is an excellent source of natural iron. Patients of anaemia and low haemoglobin levels can begin to include ragi in their diets as a domestic remedy. Vitamin C is known to aid the absorption of iron. Once ragi is allowed to sprout, the vitamin C levels increase and lead to further absorption of iron into the bloodstream. Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of anemia.

6# Natural relaxant: The ample amount of amino acids and antioxidants in ragi help the body relax naturally. Common ailments like anxiety, insomnia, headaches and depression can be battled with ragi. The amino acid called Tryptophan is a major contributor to the relaxing effects of ragi.

7# Reduces the risk of stroke: In its early stages of growth, that is, when it is still green, ragi can help prevent high blood pressure. The cholesterol levels in blood can be regulated too, leading to less plaque formation and blockage of vessels. As a result the risk for hypertension and stroke goes down significantly. You make like to read about the 6 lifestyle tips to prevent stroke.

8# Gluten-free: People with celiac disease or followers of the gluten-free diet can incorporate ragi into their daily consumption as it is completely free of gluten. Not many cereals can boast of this property since gluten is a major nutrient in all cereals.

9# Excellent baby food: In Southern India, where ragi is widely consumed, babies as old as 28 days are fed ragi porridge at their christening. It is believed that ragi promotes better digestion. The high calcium and iron content is useful for the bone growth and overall development of the infant. Specially-processed ragi powders for infants are available widely to be used during weaning.

10# Boosts lactation: Lactating mothers are urged to include ragi, especially when it is green as it enhances milk handling and imbibes the milk with the essential amino acids, iron and calcium required for the nutrition of the mother as well as the child. The production of milk is also affected positively. Ragi is prescribed to the mothers that wish to increase the quantity of milk produced for their baby.

Junk food addiction can increase your blood sugar levels and make diabetes worse!

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Junk food has been the culprit for many lifestyle related diseases and long suffering ailments and not to mention diabetes tops the list among the conditions that junk food leads too. A new study just found that junk food diet can cause as much damage to the kidney as diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and the numbers of cases are rising worldwide at an alarming rate. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t react to it. This causes an accumulation of sugar in the blood, which can have severe long-term consequences for organs, including the kidneys, where it can lead to diabetic kidney disease.

Hence, finding a way to block glucose reabsorption in the kidneys could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels. In the study, researchers used animal models of diabetes and models of diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affect glucose transporters in the kidney.

They found that certain types of glucose transporters (GLUT and SGLT) as well as their regulatory proteins were present in a higher number in type 2 diabetic rats. But a high fat diet and junk food diet caused a similar increase in those receptors. Dr Havovi Chichger said that the Western diet contains more and more processed junk food and fat and there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of this type of food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

She added that in their study, type 1 and type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney, but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in type 2 diabetes. Chichger said a new treatment for diabetic patients constitutes blocking the glucose transporter in the kidney to reduce blood glucose levels. Understanding how diet can affect sugar handling in the kidneys and whether the inhibitors can reverse these changes could help to protect the kidneys from further damage.
The study appears in the journal Experimental Physiology.

Source: ANI

Stop eating junk food for your kidneys’ sake!

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Try to avoid burgers, pizzas and desserts at times as eating junk and fatty food regularly can cause as much damage to your kidneys as diabetes, a study has warned. In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or does not react to it which causes an accumulation of sugar (glucose) in the blood that can have severe long-term consequences for organs, such as kidneys and can lead to diabetic kidney disease. ‘The western diet has more and more processed junk food and fat and there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of this food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes,’ said lead study author Havovi Chichger from Anglia Ruskin University in Britain. ‘In our study, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in Type 2 diabetes,’ Chichger added in a paper published in the journal Experimental Physiology.

The team used animal models of diabetes and models of diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affect glucose transporters in the kidney. The rats were fed junk food consisting cheese, chocolate bars, biscuits and marshmallows for eight weeks, or a rodent ate high in fat (containing 60 percent) for five weeks. They then tested the effect of these diets on blood sugar levels and the different glucose transporters in the kidneys.

The effect of the diets on these transporters was compared with the changes also seen in rat models of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The results revealed that certain types of glucose transporters as well as their regulatory proteins were present in a higher number in Type 2 diabetic rats. But a high-fat diet and junk food diet caused a similar increase in those receptors. ‘Finding a way to block glucose re-absorption in the kidneys could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels,’ the authors stated.

Source: IANS

Lose belly fat with ber or jujube leaves

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Ber or jujube is a common fruit in India and has a number of health benefits. But did you know, it’s leaves can help you lose weight too? Here’s how.

How it works
According to a study published in the Journal of Natural Remedies[1], the extract of jujube or ber leaves are great to lose weight. Not only does it help suppress hunger, but it also decreases the level of serum glucose, lipid levels and helps reduce the amount of fat around your internal organs (especially your belly). The extract is especially great for those who dine out often or have diets that are high in fat. You may also like to read about how to lose belly fat in a week!

How to use it
You will need:
Take a handful of ber leaves
Soak in water overnight
Have this water every morning, preferably on an empty stomach.

How often should you have this mixture?
Drinking a glass of this mixture once a day for a month, shows great results.

6 ways to build muscles to lose weight, look young and stay fit

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

If you think that muscle building means bulking up think again. If you want to look good and be healthy then building muscle is the way to do it. The oh-so-fit trainer Deanne Pandey, who also trains many Bollywood stars tells us why you should step into the weight room. Here is an excerpt from her book Shut Up and Train!

Muscles rev up your body’s system:
When you increase your power and strength by building muscles, you will immediately experience a boost in our energy levels. Your digestion and elimination process will improve. You will be in a happy state of mind as your body will release happy hormones or ‘endorphins’ which will make you feel good. Your brain will get a rest from the constant thoughts of work and daily life as you focus on physical exercise. Your stress levels will automatically dip. You will sleep better and you will wake up refreshed.

Muscles keep you healthy:
Your cardiovascular circulation and lung capacity increase when you strength train. Researchers think that weight-bearing exercises may include biochemical changes that improve body’s ability to form one tissue. Studies have shown that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis. In people at high risk of diabetes, strength training can decrease blood sugar levels. It also reduces arthritis pain because strong muscles help support and protect joints. Building muscles also promotes weight loss, which reduces pressure on your joints.

Muscles burn fat:
Your body fat percentage will automatically reduce once you start weight training. You already know that lean muscle mass can give your metabolic rate a big jump. It’s like putting a big bonfire on your body. The more muscle you build, the more fire you stroke. You want to keep this fire burning brightly so that you can melt away your body fat even when the body is at rest. Your blood pressure lowers just as little as 4 kilos of weight loss.

Muscles give your body the best shape: Muscle is much denser than fat. This is the reason why when you build muscles, your body gets tight and firm and your clothes look good on you. Unless you pump your body with steroids, you will not develop unnaturally large muscles. This is true especially for women who are scared to pick up weights.

Muscles keep you young:
Building muscles can literally turn back your genetic clock. By making your body work harder through weight training, you force it to stay younger. Muscle and connective tissue are our body’s supporting structure. As we age they deteriorate unless given regular stimulus. Studies have proven that regular and progressive weight training activates our body to repair and regenerate.

Muscles make you confident:
When you build muscles and develop the discipline of weight training regularly, you will gain a giant boost in confidence and self-esteem. You will walk taller, you can wear clothes you want with ease, and you will be able to use your body more effectively in daily movements. Gone will be the person who is insecure and troubled by routine aches and pains. You will notice that you will do all other daily activities with ease.

Ways to increase protein in Indian food

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Indian diet is usually considered rich in carbs and low in protein. However, if you are a gym goer, you’ll know the important role protein plays in building and repairing your muscles. If you do not want to get protein from supplements such as whey, you can include it in your regular meals. Here are a few ways you can increase protein intake in your Indian diet.

How much protein do you need?
Firstly, you need to know how much of this nutrient you really need every day. According to nutritionist Annapurna Agrawal, you need 0.8-1g of protein per kg of your body weight. So if you are 50 kg, you need to consume between 40g to 50g of protein in a day.

Ways to eat more protein if you are a vegetarian
To get adequate protein from a vegetarian meal, you need to include some form of it in every meal. This is because vegetarian protein sources are not the best so you need to consume more of them to fulfil your requirement. Here’s what you can do.

Vegetarians should include dairy products such as cheese, milk and curd in their diet. Have a glass of milk in the morning and before bed and have buttermilk or curd after lunch. Cheese can be eaten post workout or in breakfast. She also advises eating soya bean and sprouts.

Other sources of protein include oats, chickpeas, quinoa, flaxseeds and legumes. Oatmeal makes for a great breakfast or snack option. You can have chickpeas as either chana chat or chhole gravy. Flaxseeds can be added to curd or even eaten plain. You can replace rice and make quinoa kheer.

When it comes to legumes, include beans, lentils, seeds, peas, etc. in your diet. Says nutritionist Neha Chandna that it is best to combine these with a cereal such as wheat or rice so that you get complete nutrition from them.

Ways to eat more protein if you are a non-vegetarian.
Non-vegetarians have a host of options when it comes to protein as animal meat and eggs are considered the best form of this nutrient. It is best to have eggs for breakfast in any form you like.
When it comes to meat, include chicken in your diet but make sure you cook it in a way that is healthy. Downing it in excess oil or butter is not the way to go about it. Tandoori or grilled chicken is a better option. Even chicken salad or gravy is healthy. Even tuna and prawns are good sources of protein.

Avoid red meat as it is not very good for health, white meat such as chicken and turkey are healthy.

Reasons to have curd with every meal

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Who doesn’t love curd? Be it with a yummy, steaming paratha or as chaas, curd is often quite a staple in most Indian households. But did you know this versatile dish has a number of health benefits too? Yes, here’s how curd helps you stay healthy.

Helps improve digestion.
The nutrients present in curd are easily absorbed by your digestive system. Not only that, it also helps in absorbing nutrients from other food items that you have eaten. It can also be used along with spicy food, as curd cools down and neutralises the heat that these foods create. A Taiwanese study even found that curd is helpful in curing H. Pylori infections which is known t cause peptic ulcers. You may also like to read about these home remedies for peptic ulcers.

Healthy for your heart.
In a day and age where more and more young people are falling prey to heart disease, consuming curd can go a long way in maintaining a healthy heart. It minimizes the risk of high blood pressure and helps reduce cholesterol levels by preventing the thickening of carotid arteries.

Great for those who are lactose intolerant.
Some people, who cannot consume milk because they are lactose intolerant, can safely consume curd. It converts the lactose present in milk to lactic acid, making it easier to digest. Also, you do not lose out on the nutritional boost that milk provides.

Helps boost immunity.
Curd has ‘good bacteria’ present in it which strengthens your immune system by fighting against several microorganisms that are present in the body. It is also useful in preventing vaginal yeast infections in women. These properties of curd do not diminish even when it is heated along with curry preparations to add flavour.

Good for your teeth and bones.
All dairy products are good for your bones, and curd is no different. Like milk, curd has a high amount of phosphorous and calcium. This makes it beneficial for your teeth and bones as it helps promote bone growth and makes your teeth stronger. Taking care of your bones is essential if you want to avoid painful diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis in the future.

8 Yoga asana to relieve Asthma

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Asthma is an extremely troublesome condition, leaving the person gasping for breath and in some cases it can have dangerous consequences as well. Most people who suffer from asthma are asked to use inhalers and may be prescribed bronchodilators. But just because you are an asthmatic doesn’t mean that you need to be on medication to survive. Yoga can help beat the symptoms and make your lungs stronger. Here are eight yoga asanas that can help you overcome the challenges of asthma.

Ujayee pranayam: This is a form of pranayam that is done while lying down and while standing. It improves lung function, expands your lungs, helps you hold breath for longer and gives your body essential oxygen. If you are trying this pranayam for the first time, make sure you do ujayee pranayam first in the lying position and once you have mastered it you can move on to the standing ujayee pranayam.

Steps to do this asana:
Lie down on the floor, with your legs outstretched and arms by your side. Now, relax your entire body and breathe out through your mouth. While breathing out, make sure your lungs are emptied and you purse your lips into a pout (like you would if you were to whistle). Once your lungs are emptied, inhale air through your nose. Make sure you fill in your lungs completely. Hold your breath and stretch out your legs (by pointing your toes towards the wall in front of you). Hold this position for as long as you can hold your breath, then breathe out as you relax your body.

Ekpada uttanasana: This asana is perfect for people with asthma because it helps the lungs to open up and oxygenates the entire respiratory system. This asana also makes your hips more flexible, improves digestion, tones the muscles around your abdomen and enhances the working of the glands related to libido. Ekpada uttan asana is also known to be very effective against menstrual disorders.

Steps to do this asana:
Lie down on the floor with your legs stretched out and your hands by your side. Make sure your entire body is relaxed at this stage. Now, stretch out and point the toes of your right leg and tighten the muscles of the entire leg. Next, inhale and raise the leg so that it is perpendicular to your body. Do not jerk up the leg since you may end up injuring your back. Hold this position for about six seconds while holding our breath. To go back to the starting position, slowly exhale and lower your leg simultaneously. Rest for six breaths and then do the same exercise with your left leg.

Tara asana: This asana is aimed at strengthening the muscles of the chest while strengthening your lungs. Due to the movement of your hands, while performing this asana, the muscles around the chest area become toned and your bronchioles and lungs strengthens. This asana also helps in the development of chest and relieves pain around the back and the shoulders.

Steps to perform this asana:
Stand up erect and keep your feet at a 45 degree angle to each other and your hands by your side. Now tighten the muscles of your hands, inhale and raise your hands so they are at an angle of 90 degrees to your body. Make sure your palms are facing the ceiling in this position. Hold your breath and keep your hands in this position for six seconds. Now, exhale and breathe normally. Turn your palms so that they are facing each other. Inhale, hold your breath and move your hands in the front so that they are at an angle of 90 degrees to your body. Hold this position for six seconds. In the last phase of this exercise, use the same breathing technique and move your hands above you. Finally bring your hands to the starting position and then relax.

Yoga mudra:
This asana helps expand the chest and exercise the lungs. Because of the bending action of this asana, blood from the lower portions of the body rush upwards and helps massage the lower part of the lungs, bronchioles and nourishes the nerves of that area. This helps strengthen your lungs and overall respiratory system.

Steps to do this pose:
Sit comfortably in sukhasana. Now, move your hands behind your back and try to hold the wrist of one hand with the other. Make a fist with the hand that is being held at the wrist. Next, exhale slowly and simultaneously start lowering your head towards the ground. You will notice that your hands will start moving upwards. Try to touch the ground with your forehead and hold the position for a few breaths. To return to the starting position, gently raise your back upright and loosen the muscles of your hands and gently release your grip. Allow yourself to relax for a few seconds before you redo the asana.

Ushtra asana:
Also known as the camel pose, this asana is exactly what the doctors recommend for asthma patients. This asana helps open up the chest and improves breathing. It activates the facial tissues, the nasal passage, the pharynx, and stimulates the nerves of the respiratory system. This asana also helps correct disorders of the neck, shoulders, spine, and helps the sensory organs function optimally.

Simha asana:
This asana is known for its ability to help relieve throat problems, voice disruptions and tonsillitis. Simha asana also helps improve one’s respiratory system as it activates the larynx, trachea and lungs. It also activates the thyroid gland, allowing it to functions better and making your entire body healthy.

Steps to do this asana:
Start this asana by sitting in vajrasana. Relax and breath normally while in this pose. Now, bend forward while extending your back, so that it is parallel to the floor. Now start exhaling through both your nostrils and partially through your mouth while extending your tongue outwards. Making sure you exhale completely once your tongue is completely extended.
Now spread your finger tips, open your mouth wide, while keeping your tongue extended and eyes wide open. Hold this asana for a few seconds and then relax and inhale. Rest between before you try to practice the asana again.

Sarvanga asana:
This asana is known for its ability to activate and relieve thyroid problems. But apart from that it is a great for asthmatics. Sarvangasana is known to help improve the circulatory system, improves supply of blood to facial tissues, relieves constipation, gastrointestinal problems and strengthens the entire body.

Matsya asana:
Also known as the fish pose, this asana helps to improve circulation to the chest, face, neck and glands present in those areas. It also helps relieve symptoms of back pain and tones the muscles of the chest, back, neck and lengthens the spine. It also helps correct disorders of the respiratory system.