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Sunday, November 29, 2009

New way to lose weight

New Alternate-Day diet 'can help you lose weight, live longer

Melbourne, Nov 25 (ANI): Forget tedious exercise routine and counting on calories, a simple Alternate-Day diet regime could offer significant health benefits and make you live longer.

The principle behind Alternate-Day diet a.k.a. Intermittent Fasting or The Longevity Diet is eat very little one day and eat whatever you like the next day. This appears to trigger a 'skinny' gene that encourages the body to burn fat.

This diet would not only help lose weight but also ease asthma symptoms and reduce blood sugar levels.

It will also help fend off heart disease and breast cancer, protect brain cells and improve survival.

Dr Mark Mattson, an American neuroscientist, had discovered rats still enjoyed all those health benefits even when their calories were cut only on alternate days.

"These are very hard diets to follow," the Courier Mail quoted Krista Varady, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, as saying.

"You are constantly hungry. The eat-every-other-day-diet seems to offer an easier and more effective option," Varady added.

During 16 patients, all weighing more than 14st ate 20 per cent of their normal intake one day and a regular, healthy diet the next.

The study showed that each lost between 10lb and 30lb; much more than expected. It takes about two weeks to adjust to the diet and, after that, people don't feel hungry on the fast days," said Varady.

However, some British experts are concerned about the approach.

"We advise anyone trying to lose weight should follow a healthy balanced diet," said a spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency.

"It may not be possible to achieve this with very low calorie diets," the spokesperson added. (ANI)

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Heart health in winter

On a cold windy night in December, Satish Gupta had gone to a late night party.

On his way back, his car began giving trouble and he had to push it for a while along with a colleague. Later, he felt some strain in the chest and thought that he had pulled a muscle. The nagging discomfort continued for the whole night. He applied a balm and used a hot water bottle to soothe the area.

But the next morning, since he still felt restless, he went to the hospital. After the primary examination, the doctor asked for an ECG, which revealed a full fledged heart attack.

He was admitted in the Cardiac Care Unit and had to undergo an angioplasty and stenting.

He recovered but has been left with a weak heart, necessitating long-term drug treatment and the implantation of a defibrillator.

His total hospital bill exceeded Rs 10 lakh and he is still incurring costs.

The winter months are known to increase the chances of a heart attack and related problems.

This is especially true for people who have one or more risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, obesity, high blood cholesterol levels etc.

It is therefore important to recognise this fact and be careful and use preventive strategies during this period.

Why winter predisposes one to heart ailments

- The changed daylight to dark hour ratio adversely affects the hormone balance. The cortisol levels in the blood are altered. This is one of the possible reasons for increase in heart attacks.

- The low temperature leads to tightening or constriction of blood vessels. This reduces blood supply to the heart, which can aggravate angina and block of arteries - leading to heart attack.

- The oxygen demand of the heart increases because the heart has to work harder to keep the body warm

- The early morning surge in blood pressure is an important reason for heart attacks being more common at that time. In winter, because of fewer daylight hours, people often have a tendency to finish outdoor work earlier in the day. The combination of cold temperature and hard work leads to a higher blood pressure.

- The shift of activities to morning hours also leads to a change in the circadian rhythm (body clock), leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. The combination reduces the threshold levels of events like heart attack and brain stroke.

The risk does not necessarily decrease if one migrates to relatively warmer places.

It has been seen that people predisposed to heart attacks who migrate to relatively warmer places during the colder months can get caught with cardiac problems there too. This is especially caused by attacks of infections like influenza, which prevail in places like Mumbai and Kolkata which are warmer than say Delhi in winters.

The inflammation and swelling caused by these diseases can spread to the arteries of the heart and lead to heart attacks.

The smoke and smog in these places during the winter are also unhealthy for the heart.

For people over 65 years in age, diabetics and cardiac patients, influenza vaccine should never be taken without medical supervision.

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A drop of vinegar controls sugar

The claim:
Vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels.
The facts:
For people with diabetes or those who are sensitive to the blood-sugar spikes that can follow big meals, there’s good news. Several studies have revealed a possible way to reduce the impact of a carb-laden dish: add a little vinegar. Doing so seems to help slow the absorption of sugar from a meal into the bloodstream, apparently because vinegar helps block digestive enzymes that convert carbohydrates into sugar.

One study by Italian researchers showed, for example, that when healthy subjects consumed about four teaspoons (20 millilitres) of white vinegar as a salad dressing with a meal that included white bread with a little less than two ounces (50 grams) of carbohydrates, there was a 30 per cent reduction in their glycemic response, or rise in blood sugar, compared with subjects who had salad with a dressing made from neutralised vinegar

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New discovery may help beat jet lag

London: Scientists from University of Manchester have discovered special cells in the body that appear to regulate a person's body clock.

This finding, they hope, would provide vital clues to help combat jet lag.

It was believed that these cells remain inactive during the day, however, the new study has found the contrary.

According to Professor Hugh Piggins, lead researcher and an expert in neuroscience at the university, the research will allow a new approach to help tune our daily clock.

Researchers believe that the brain regulates body clock by firing more cells during daylight and very few during the night.

"The traditional model said the clock and the brain communicated to the rest of the brain via the number of electrical impulses that the brain cells were producing," The BBC News quoted Piggins saying.

"These impulses would travel around the brain, telling it what time of day it is.

"What we've found is in fact that there are at least two types of cells in this part of the brain," he added.

These brain cells contain a key gene called per1 that allows them to sustain unusually high levels of "excitability".

The cells becoming so "excited" that they seem quiet or even dead; but then later they calm down, recover and become normally active again.

It is this activity, which tells the human body when to be awake.

"There's a lot of interest in the pharmaceutical industry, obviously, to try to develop chemical treatments to reset your daily clock to help counteract things like jetlag," said Piggins.

"Or, perhaps more importantly, different kind of sleep disorders for which dysfunctions in this clock are often involved," he added.

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The best exercise: Walking the dog

Forget gym. Walking the dog is the best way to stay fit, says a new study.

Researchers for British pet healthcare experts Bob Martin have carried out the study and found that walking the dog twice everyday can give one up to one eight hours of exercise a week.

“A couple of short walks a day soon adds up and this research shows that it amounts to more time than people spend in the gym,” a spokesman for Bob Martin was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

The study, based on a survey of 5,000 Britons, including 3,000 dog owners, revealed that 57 per cent see walking the dog as their main form of exercise. More than three quarters say they would rather take their pooch for a hike than go to the gym.

Some 86 per cent say they enjoy taking their pet out each day, with just 22 per cent saying they ever see it as a chore

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