health

Osteoarthritis: The Deadly Disabler

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of disability among adults over 60 years of age. It is the loss of cartilage over joints which are required for lubrication and protection of joints. It affects worst the weight bearing joints like knee, hip etc. Generally, the degenerative impact of osteoarthritis starts from early 40’s but, in most cases it remains asymptotic till a big harm is done. Once cartilage is lost then only a few treatment options remain available like joint replacement surgeries, corticosteroid injections and food supplements. Although very common and extremely disabling, it is not carved in stone for every adult, in other words there are certain lifestyle changes that can prevent it or delay its disabling impacts over our bodies.

 Osteorthritis (OA) location on the skeleton anterior by Milorad Dimic MD

Osteorthritis (OA) location on the skeleton anterior by Milorad Dimic MD

Weight Control

Most of us, especially the city dwellers are accustomed to a very comfortable and sedentary lifestyle which is costing us in other ways in terms of our health. We are gaining more weight than it is good for our bodies. It has been proven that a force equivalent up to 6 times of our body weight is exerted on our knee joints and a force equivalent up to 3 times of our body weight is exerted upon our hip joints. That means even a small reduction in our body weight can relieve our joints from a big stress.

Proper Diet

Care should be taken in maintaining balance and presence of essential nutrients required by our bodies in daily diet. In countries like India, carbohydrate constitutes a large part of diet which should be carefully reduced by replacing a big part of it with proteins and vegetables. Food rich in Omega 3 Fatty acids, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin D should be included in regular diet. Certain bioflavanoids like quercetin, anthocyanidins are known for anti-inflammatory properties, some good and common sources of quertcin include onion, broccoli, green tea, apples, black currants. Apart from these, certain spices like turmeric and ginger are also known their anti-inflammatory works and their inclusion in diet can be helpful.

Proper Exercises

Proper physical exercises with a good combination of both cardio and strength exercises is very helpful in maintaining a fit body. Mild to moderate physical activity for a minimum of 3 days per week is extremely crucial for maintaining ones fitness level. Strength exercises like wall slides can be performed even in the convenience of homes. Care should be taken to prevent over-doing exercises as that can be stressful and harmful for joints. Exercises are good but, over doing them can be dangerous.

Treat and Prevent Joint Injuries

If one gets any accidental joint injury then one should immediately under go treatment for it as poor alignment of joints can worsen osteoarthritis. Also try to avoid postures and activities that put constant stress on joints to prevent any future injury.

These are a few lifestyle changes that can remarkably influence the onset and effects of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis even in its asymptotic phase should be taken seriously and proper lifestyle changes should be brought in before it gets too late.

Lemon: A Pack Of Wonders

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon. by André Karwath aka Aka

Lemon is being used for culinary and non-culinary purposes from centuries. Citric acid constitutes around 6% of lemon, giving a sour taste to it. Its appealing taste makes it a perfect contender for various beverages, lemonade is most popular of all lemon drinks. There is uncertainty over lemon’s exact place of origin, though it is speculated that lemon has its origin in Indian state of Assam or the areas of Myanmar and China near it. Genetic study on lemon reveals that it is the result of admixture between sour orange and citron. The word lemon comes from Persian word Limun, a cognate of Sanskrit word Nimb (Nimbu).

By 1stcentury AD, lemon reached Southern Europe during ancient Roman era but, was not cultivated on large scale. From there it reached Persia, Iraq and Egypt by 700 AD. Arabic treatise on farming, dating back to 10thCentury AD mentions lemon, this treatise is believed to be the earliest record of lemon in literature. Lemon was also used as ornamental plants in Islamic gardens. In Arab and surrounding Mediterranean regions, ornamental use of lemon plants were most popular in between 1000 AD to 1150 AD. Substantial cultivation of lemon in Europe began in 15thCentury in Genoa. Christopher Columbus introduced lemon to America and its wide spread cultivation in new world began with the Spanish colonization of America. Initially, lemon was grown in America chiefly as ornamental plant and for medicinal purposes.

Lemon Benefits

Lemon has a high content of Vitamin C which is known as a booster for immune system. Juice extracted out of half sliced lemon with water in morning can keep you full of energy and control your appetite all through the day because of pectin in it. Pectin is a soluble fibre, generally found in citrus fruits. Lemon aids in digestion and has the ability to assist in proper bowel movements. Lemon is good for detoxification and is helpful in keeping blemishes away from skin. Lemon applied over skin can give it a healthy glow. Owing to its anti-oxidants that help to control free radicals, lemon can be useful to delay ageing by keeping wrinkles away and giving skin a nice texture. Lemon is a good alkalising substance and helps to maintain pH level in our bodies. Lemon juice is diuretic and helps to get rid of excess water from the body. High levels of Potassium in lemon helps to check high blood pressure and is good for proper functioning of nerves. In short, we can say that lemon is packed with wonders, a gift of ancients to the modern world.


Vinegar: For A Healthier Life

Apple-Vinegar-Drinks in China (Baotou, Inner Mongolia) by Brücke-Osteuropa

Vinegar has a long a long and special role in mankind’s history, vinegar is in use since the times of Babylonians who used it as preservative. Babylonians marked the ability of vinegar to bring down the growth of bacteria in edible objects. Sumerian used it for cleaning articles and it was a revered beverage of Caesar’s army. Greeks used vinegar as disinfectant for wounds and believed in health boosting effects of a honey-vinegar preparation that was basically used by patients recovering from various illnesses. Samurai warriors also dosed themselves up with vinegar tonics to increase strength.


So, what is vinegar basically?

Vinegar is a dilute acetic acid solution prepared by double fermentation, first of all natural sugars are fermented into a liquid containing alcohol and then this liquid is fermented into vinegar. There are various sources of natural sugars that are used for preparing alcoholic liquid like barley, rice, apple, grapes etc. Beer, wine, hard cider etc. are fermented from barley, grapes, apples respectively. A vinegar is named after the alcoholic liquid that has been used for fermentation e.g. cider vinegar, red wine vinegar etc. Generally, the second fermentation could take a long time and can take place even without human efforts. The word vinegar comes from a French word meaning “sour wine” so, most likely vinegar was an accidental discovery from an old left out wine that could have fermented naturally without any human processing.

Why vinegar?

Vinegar is one of the healthiest and easily available ingredients for enhancing the flavours of our food. It contains very little calorie and can be used as an alternative for fat filled mayonnaise in salads. Vinegar can also be used as an alternative of flavour enhancers containing sodium, sodium increases the chances of high blood pressure, causes weight gain due to water retention and makes anyone more vulnerable to kidney and heart ailments. By replacing sodium in diet with vinegar, one can usher a new chapter to healthier life. Vinegar is like a blessing to patients of diabetes, it helps in proper digestion of food and helps to maintain a steady level of blood sugar. A vinegar and water solution can be used to wash fruits and vegetables to get rid of harmful pesticides clung to them. Vinegar is an easy, effective and convenient kitchen ingredient with many boons in store, something that makes it an inalienable part of every kitchen.


What’s in numbers?

Malus “Cripps Pink” aka “Pink Lady” by Sven Teschke
 All of us love to munch upon our favourite fruits but, we do find the stickers on them a bit annoying. Have you ever wondered that apart from destination of the produce, what other information those stickers can give? Well, those stickers provide crucial information on the mode of production adopted for fruits so that we can conveniently choose the fruits that we think are best suited to our requirements.
The codes on fruits are known as Price Look-up codes or PLU codes colloquially. These codes are in use since 1990 and as of now there are more than 1400 PLU codes assigned. International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) manages PLU codes across the globe to maintain international standard for PLU codes, this coalition of various fruits and vegetables association from across the globe is co-ordinated by Produce Marketing Association.

Meaning of various PLU-codes

*Presence of mere four numbers generally starting with 4 or 3 means the fruit has been produced using traditional method and involves usage of pesticides over them. These kind of fruits are safe as long as one washes them properly before gorging upon them.

*If there are five digits on stickers of fruits or vegetables and the number begins with 8 then it means the concerned fruits or vegetables have been genetically modified. Phew! This is where most of us get scared because there has not been much studies on effects that genetically modified fruits or vegetables can have on us. It is not that genetically modified fruits are going to be bad for our health but, the uncertainty over their effects make most of anxious to use them. Nevertheless, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of munching upon genetically modified fruits or vegetables then from the next time you can avoid fruits or vegetables with 5-digit numbers starting with 8.

*If there are five digits over stickers of fruits or vegetables and the number begins with 9 then it means that the concerned fruit or vegetable has been produced by using organic methods i.e. no chemicals in the form of pesticides, insecticides etc. have been used to produce them. Organic fruits and vegetables are considered to be healthiest and safest kind but, they are usually quite expensive compared to fruits or vegetables produced by using other methods.

The Choice
Now since we know what do the various numbers on stickers over fruits and vegetables mean, we can choose the type that we think is most suitable for our purpose and budget. Budget is important because prices of various fruits and vegetables largely depend upon the methods adopted to produce them. Organic Fruits may be healthier and safer but, they can be quite expensive for an average individual while on the other hand, we don’t know much about the effects that genetically modified fruits or vegetables can have on our bodies but, they are generally cheaper than fruits produced by using other methods. Fruits produced with traditional methods using pesticides fall in the mid-way i.e. they are cheaper than organic fruits and vegetables but, costlier than genetically modified produce and they are safe as long as we properly wash them before eating.