Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Aging healthy is the new aging gracefully

The golden years are not what they used to be; they are getting even better, thanks to advances in medicine and nutrition. And because of this our world is experiencing an unprecedented increase in its senior population. But that does not mean age related health threats are going away. On the contrary it is more important than ever to keep our bodies in proper shape and for this first thing to do is to have a proper knowledge about the common conditions and symptoms to watch out for, so you can take steps to prevent or treat them.

Osteoporosis: Healthy bones are critical to senior health. As we age, our body begins to absorb old bone tissue faster than new bone tissue can be created, and thus bones tend to become thinner and weaker. This leads to a condition known as osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become fragile and can easily break during a fall. The condition in itself has no symptoms but can be detected by getting a bone density test, called a DEXA scan.

Vision Loss: Age-related vision problems are common in seniors, most notably macular degeneration and glaucoma. In macular degeneration, the part of eye (macula) that allows us to see fine detail begins to break down over time. Glaucoma is a condition that increases the fluid pressure inside the eye, which can gradually damage eye. There are no symptoms at first, but if left unchecked, glaucoma can result in blindness. Be sure to schedule regular eye check-ups with an ophthalmologist to look for any signs of vision trouble.

Cognitive Impairment: Normal aging does affect memory, but only up to a point. Mild cognitive impairment is the medical term for age-related memory loss. People with mild cognitive impairment are often forgetful and can become confused by tasks with multiple-step directions. A more advanced form of cognitive impairment is Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and irreversible disease of the brain. Alzheimer’s erodes the ability to remember and think clearly, eventually rendering some with the condition helpless to perform even basic tasks.

Constipation: Doctors define constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week, with hard, dry stools. Lack of fiber in diet, lack of physical activity, and dehydration are among the possible reasons for constipation.

Arthritis: Arthritis occurs when the fluid and cartilage in a joint wears out, causing bones to scrape against each other and create pain. The most common form of arthritis affecting senior health is osteoarthritis, which results from a lifetime of wear and tear of joints — especially in the fingers, hips, knees, wrists, and spine.

Heart Disease: As the heart ages, it may need to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Although some changes in the heart and circulation system are normal with aging, other changes can lead to heart disease and related problems. Classic signs of a heart attack include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and nausea or lightheadedness. Stroke symptoms include face drooping, speech difficulty, and arm weakness. If you experience any of these, call help.
The good news is that you can lower your heart disease risk with a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. It is also important to have regular visits with your doctor to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.

Diabetes: Although people can develop diabetes at any age, the risk increases as you get older. Uncontrolled diabetes can eventually lead to complications such as damage to eyes, nerves, and kidneys, as well as heart disease or stroke. Early signs of diabetes include feelings of extreme hunger or thirst, fatigue, and a frequent need to urinate, as well as blurry eyesight.

Flu / Pneumonia: As we age, our immune system can become weaker. Flu is a respiratory illness characterized by symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, and fatigue.  Flu can also lead to greater risk of complications for seniors — including pneumonia; symptoms of which include cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing. To help avoid getting flu or pneumonia, get annual flu and pneumococcal vaccines, wash your hands frequently, and avoid people who are sick.

If you experience any of the above mentioned conditions or symptoms, visit your doctor. Even if these signs do not apply to you, regular check-ups are still a good idea. An Associated Press survey found that more than 60 percent of Americans don’t want to live to 100 for fear of bad health and insufficient finances. You can live to be 103! Studies have shown that regular exercise and eating right improves one’s health and can even slow the effects of aging. Start now, age gracefully, and feel great!

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Can Diet Help?

 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis which affects around 7 million Indians. It causes chronic (long term) inflammation of the joints. Although RA is a chronic illness patients may experience long periods without symptoms. The joint inflammation of RA causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and redness in the joints. The inflammation can also occur in tissues around the joints. In some people chronic inflammation leads to the destruction of the cartilage, bone and ligaments, causing deformity of the joints.

The disease is three times more common in women as in men. It affects people of all races equally. It can begin at any age and even affects children, but it most often starts after 40 years of age and before 60 years of age. The cause of RA is unknown. It is believed that the tendency to develop RA may be genetically inherited. It is also suspected that certain infections or factors in the environment might trigger the activation of the immune system in susceptible individuals. Environmental factors like smoking, exposure to silica mineral, and chronic gum diseases all increase the risk of developing RA. As it is more common in women so it is intuitive that hormonal factors may also play a role.

RA symptoms come and go, depending on the degree of tissue inflammation. When body tissues are inflamed, the disease is active and when tissue inflammation subsides, the disease is inactive. During active disease the person may feel fatigue, loss of energy, lack of appetite, low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches, and stiffness. Muscle and joint stiffness are usually most notable in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Joints frequently become warm, red, swollen, painful, and tender. Symptoms in children include limping, irritability, crying, and poor appetite.

There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. To date, the goal of treatment in RA is to reduce joint inflammation and pain, maximize joint function, and prevent joint destruction and deformity. Optimal RA treatment involves a combination of medications, rest, joint-strengthening exercises, joint protection, and patient (and family) education. Although RA is an auto-immune disorder still its incidence or severity can be decreased by adhering to few dietary and lifestyle modifications.

There is no special RA diet. There are no specific foods or food groups that should be universally avoided by individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, there are some home remedies that may be helpful. Fish oils, such as in salmon, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial in some short-term studies in RA. The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric may be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Supplements such as calcium and vitamin D are used to prevent osteoporosis.

Antioxidants: A variety of health benefits have been attributed to consumption of fruits and vegetables containing vitamins C and E, lycopene, caroteinoids and flavonoids.

Red Meat: Decreased red meat consumption is positive for RA patients

How to prevent RA flare ups? Diets that are higher in fish, grains, and vegetables are shown to decrease the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and also improving the symptoms, while the diets including more processed meats increased the risk.

Proper regular exercise is important in maintaining joint mobility and in strengthening the muscles around the joints. Swimming is particularly helpful because it allows exercise with minimal stress on the joints. Heat and cold applications can also ease symptoms before and after exercise.

Though living with RA is a tough job but once you start eating right, exercising and focusing on the positive things in life, it is much easier to manage.