Archive for May, 2021

Diet and Hypertension

Saturday, May 15th, 2021

Have you checked your blood pressure recently? One in five young adults in India suffer from high blood pressure. Hypertension is a silent killer that can lead to serious complications even before the symptoms appear. Regular health checkups, a healthy diet, and a strict exercise routine all help to control your blood pressure levels. Your diet has a strong influence on your blood pressure and starting early helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is due to the high force exerted by blood against the walls of the artery and is usually defined by a level greater than 130/80 mmHg. Uncontrolled high blood pressure for a while can harm the Kidney (Chronic Kidney Disease, Nephropathy), Heart (Cardiovascular disease risk), Eye (Retinopathy), Brain (Stoke), Nerves (Neuropathy) and can be dangerous during Pregnancy (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension). 

Hypertension can be caused due to faulty dietary habits, poor lifestyle, or secondary to a disease, for example, diabetes. Adding extra salt to food preparations daily will lead to water retention in the body, thus increasing the pressure of blood. But one needs to understand that it’s not only the visible salt but also the invisible salt intake that matters and should keep a check on those foods as well like:

  • Pickles and papad
  • Frozen & ready to eat foods 
  • Bakery products like bread, biscuits, khari
  • Sauces, salted seasonings
  • Packaged chips, farsan like samosa, wada, gathia, sev, boondi etc. 

Similarly, foods high in saturated fats lead to the build-up of fat in the arteries due to which blood exerts higher pressure to pass through it. Hence it is important to limit the intake of oily & fried foods in the diet.

Healthy diet tips to prevent Hypertension

Including foods low in salt and cholesterol according to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) such as: 

  • Whole grains (whole wheat, millets like ragi, jowar, bajra).
  • Fresh vegetables (like beetroot or green leafy vegetables) & fruits. 
  • Low-fat dairy products (toned, double toned, skimmed milk, low fat curd etc).
  • Reducing alcohol intake.
  • Including regular physical activity for 30-60min will help manage high blood pressure. (Moderate intensity aerobics: 5-7days/week, Resistance exercise: 2-3days /week, Flexibility exercise ≥ 2-3days/week). 
  • The European Society of Parenteral Enteral Nutrition Guidelines, recommends <5g of salt (<1Tsp/day) for people with high blood pressure. Also knowing the facts related to hypertension will help make a smart choice.

Myths and Facts of Hypertension

Here are some common myths and facts related to hypertension:

Myth 1: Using sea salt, black salt, pink salt other than table salt will help manage high BP.

Fact – Irrespective of the variety, chemically all salts are the same. They contain sodium which for hypertensives is the key to management.

Myth 2: Exercise increases BP.

Fact- Participation in regular exercise is a key modifiable determinant of HTN for the primary prevention, treatment, and control of high BP. On average, regular aerobic exercise lowers resting systolic BP 5-7 mmHg, while resistance exercise lowers resting systolic BP 2-3 mmHg among individuals with hypertension. (Recommended by ACSM).

Myth 3: Red wine is good for heart health.

Fact – Including red wine in moderation (<2 drinks for men, 1drink for women) can help, but it’s a choice to be given only to alcoholics. It is important to avoid excess alcohol in general as it affects blood pressure.

Myth 4: Complete elimination of salt in the diet.

Fact – Limitation and not elimination is important. It is important to check for sodium or salt in ready-to-eat packaged and processed food items.

Healthy lifestyle changes

Making a lifestyle change rather than using quick fixes will help control high blood pressure. Here are a few tips:

  1. Read food labels: It is important to be aware of the amount of sodium or salt present in the packaged food.
  2. Include fibre rich foods in the diet like whole grains, cereals, millets, fresh fruits & vegetables, pulses.
  3. Include foods like fish, egg, and poultry as they contain Vitamin B12 that helps reduce blood pressure.
  4. Have nuts like walnuts or almonds, ginger, beetroot, pomegranate, citrus fruits contain arginine (an amino acid) which are precursors for nitric oxide a potent vasodilator.
  5. Kalonji (Nigella Sativa), barley water, cranberry juice, coriander seeds act as natural diuretics by flushing out the excess water retained in the body.
  6. Reduce the amount of salt in the diet by using lemon juice, tamarind pulp, onion powder, garlic powder, and amchoor (dry mango powder) to flavour the food preparations.
  7. Include some form of physical activity daily (walking, running, swimming, dancing, aerobics etc.)

Bhakti Samant – Chief Dietician at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital shares deep insights about the role of a healthy diet in maintaining your blood pressure levels in the above article. Starting early by modifying your lifestyle helps control your blood pressure levels and avoids complications of hypertension. Concerned about your fluctuating blood pressure levels? Consult our doctors for further medical assistance. Please find below our website details for more information:

Strengthen your immunity, Stay healthy

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

Wondering why every person has different outcomes when infected with the same virus? While some people remain asymptomatic, some have mild symptoms, some are hospitalized while some fail to survive. What are the mechanisms driving this massive diversity? While this needs more research, medical suggest that apart from existing medical conditions an individual’s immune system has an essential role to play. The stronger your immune system, the less chance you’ll have of falling ill and if you do, the quicker you will recover. It is crucial to boost your immune system, as it protects your body from harmful substances, germs, and cell changes that could make a person sick.

Strengthen your immunity

Having a healthy immune system ready to fight off any germs and infections has become even more important now than ever before due to the pandemic. Your immune system gets older just like every cell and system in your body does, reducing your body’s ability to fight infection as you age and making the elderly more prone to illness. Several dietary and lifestyle changes can help strengthen your body’s natural defenses, however, this is a slow process and does not happen overnight. Adapting good and healthy habits can significantly benefit our immune function to work better. Some health tips include:

  • Manage stress
    High levels of stress weakens your immunity. Take steps to cope with stress better, take up meditation, yoga, exercise, enjoy a hobby, and other practices that can help keep your immune system functioning properly.
  • Sleep well
    Inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Getting adequate rest helps repair your body and strengthen your natural immunity. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
    Excessive tobacco consumption and drinking alcohol impairs immune health and increases vulnerability to lung infections.
  • Exercise regularly
    Regular exercise can boost your mood and improve sleep quality. Both of these factors are vital to improving immunity.
  • Stay hydrated
    Drinking water helps improve your body’s immunity as staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate the bacteria and toxins that cause infection.
  • Eat plant-based foods
    Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fibre and help fight harmful pathogens.
  • Eat more healthy fats
    Healthy fats like olive oil and omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory. Since chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system, these fats help fight diseases.
  • Limit added sugars
    Added sugars contribute significantly to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, all of which can suppress your immune system.
  • Maintain personal hygiene
    Washing hands and feet thoroughly can help you stay at bay from cold and infections.
  • Regular health checkups
    It is important to take out time to schedule regular health checkups. Health conditions like asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, health diseases, etc can affect the immune system.

Immunity boosting foods

Several superfoods have been used for ages in India to help boost your immunity. Here are some of the common kitchen ingredients that when used regularly, help strengthen your immune system:

  • Turmeric or Haldi – Most of its immunity-boosting properties come from curcumin,  a compound it contains that has strong anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Pepper – Piperine, the compound in the spice, is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that cleanses the body of harmful toxins.
  • Tulsi – Also called the holy basil, its antiviral and antibacterial properties are believed to relieve fevers, headaches, sore throats, and cough. Besides boosting immunity, tulsi is also said to improve digestion and help with respiratory ailments.
  • Amla – A rich source of Vitamin C, amla is known to boost immunity by increasing the body’s white blood cell count and help prevent viral infections like the flu.
  • Cinnamon – It is loaded with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is said to help reduce the risk of infections and diseases. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of cinnamon make it a strong immunity booster.
  • Honey – Organic raw honey contains numerous medicinal properties, is antibacterial and also boosts gut immunity. It can be used as a substitute for refined sugar and is known to increase your immunity and cleanse the digestive system.

Choose to eat healthier, adapt healthy living practices, stay fit as maintaining a strong immunity is a life-long process. Your immunity helps protect you from getting life-threatening infectious diseases.

Managing Asthma

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Is it the air conditioner, or air pollution, or any particular food that has flared up your asthma? Concerned about your asthma symptoms? India is home to 1.5 to 2 crore asthma patients, and at least one in every 10 asthma patient globally lives in India. Considered the most common chronic disease among children, asthma is prevalent in all countries. Research suggests that 90 percent of childhood asthma and 50 percent of adult asthma is caused due to a reaction to environmental allergens like dust, pollen, insects, and domesticated animals. Let us learn how to manage this respiratory condition better and live a healthy life.

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways. This is a long-term condition affecting the airways that involves inflammation and narrowing inside the lungs, which restricts air supply. Here are a few common symptoms:

  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing
  • Increased mucus production

An asthma attack occurs when the symptoms become severe. Attacks can begin suddenly and range from mild to being severe. In some cases, swelling in the airways can prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs, this can be life-threatening and needs emergency care.

Common Asthma triggers

Asthma can occur in many different ways and for many different reasons, but the triggers are often the same. They include airborne pollutants, pet dander, dust mites, pollen, foods with added flavour, mold, pests and cigarette smoke.

Asthma Management

With good asthma management, you can lead a normal, active life. Timely adherence to medication as prescribed by your doctor is essential to manage asthma well. The main aims of asthma treatment are to: 

  • Keep symptoms under control
  • Prevent flare-ups
  • Keep lungs as healthy as possible
  • Fewer days off work or school
  • Fewer hospital visits

Playing an active role in managing your asthma treatment will help you maintain better long-term asthma control, prevent asthma attacks and avoid long-term problems. Effective asthma treatment necessitates keeping track of your symptoms, performing tests to determine your lung function and meeting your doctor on a regular basis to change your treatment based on your symptoms.

Myths and Facts

Some common myths about asthma which people believe even today include:

Myth: Asthma medications are habit-forming and dangerous.
Fact: Asthma medications are safe and essential for asthma management. They keep the disease under control, allowing patients to lead a normal active life. The chronic nature of asthma requires a specific routine of long-term medication use.

Myth: People with asthma should not exercise.
Facts: People with asthma are encouraged to lead an active lifestyle including participation in fitness activities. Consult your doctor to know more about the recommended exercises for you.

Myth: Dietary supplements can help ease asthma symptoms.
Fact: There is no proof that specific nutrients help treat asthma. A variety of herbs and supplements have been studied, but none have been found to improve the lung function of asthma patients.

Myth: You can outgrow asthma
Fact: Asthma may improve with age, but it’s a lifelong condition. Asthma symptoms may change over time and become intermittent or disappear, however you do not outgrow asthma.

Tips to prevent asthma attacks

These are some of the steps to help control and prevent an asthma attack:

1. Stay away from allergens which may increase inflammation as much as possible.

2. Take all precautions to prevent cold or flu as these can cause breathing difficulties and make asthma symptoms worse.

3. Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

4. Avoid certain asthma triggers which include- cold air, air pollution, smoke, or fragrances.

Asthma care at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital

Asthma symptoms and severity are always changing and differ from person to person. Meet specialists at our Pulmonary Medicine Department for a detailed asthma management action plan that helps avoid asthma attacks and minimize the disruptions caused by asthma. Apart from reviewing your health regularly, our doctor also helps provide advice for emergency care and ensures that you are well informed about how to use the inhalers correctly. The Department is also equipped with a state-of-the-art Pulmonary Function Testing Lab for comprehensive lung function testing. For further information please visit the below website link: