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HOW TO STAY SAFE AMID POLLUTION IN COVID-19 TIMES

With air pollution rising alarmingly in the city, doctors fear that it would lead to a major spike in Covid-19 cases. It’s a lethal cocktail that threatens to take infections to new, dangerous levels.

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Air pollution does not always cause serious lung problems right away but can create complications in the long run. Dry throat, sore throat, cough, feeling of blocked nostrils (when you do not have a cold), hoarseness of voice, breathlessness while climbing stairs or after mild workouts among other symptoms might be caused by air pollution. “We do not pay much attention to these symptoms on a routine basis, but with time, such issues build up and compromise the airway mechanisms, damage cells in the lungs, and affect the blood vessels as well,” says Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher at StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt Ltd, Navi Mumbai. The national capital, among other states, was already bearing the brunt of stubble burning and Diwali celebrations added to it leading to increased pollution levels. Even young individuals are suffering from such conditions because of the current scenario. Air pollution should not be neglected as it can lead to serious health hazards. However, by taking simple and effective steps, people can stay safe and healthy.

Air pollution badly affects the lungs; similarly, Covid-19 causes inflammation in the lining of the windpipe and lungs. Both reduce the immunity and ultimately increase the vulnerability to the infection. When you have injured and inflamed lungs and a certain dose of the virus enters into the lungs, such people will be more prone to infection than a person with healthy lungs, asserts Dr (Col) Vijay Dutta, internal & respiratory medicine at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

“Post-Diwali we have got several patients who have recovered and are complaining about chest and breathing problems again. This is because their immune system is still running low. Having lung problems because of air pollution is aggravating the issues of Covid positive patients. Inflamed lungs will be more prone to infection than healthy lungs. We are recommending air purifiers and asking patients to keep indoor plants for better recovery and avoid going out these days, eat healthy and avoid morning walks as well,” adds Dr Dutta.

Air pollution is directly responsible for an increased number of people suffering from asthma. In the long term, air pollution can increase the non-communicable disease burden of India by making more people develop diseases of heart, lungs, and blood vessels, to mention a few. Elderly people, babies and young children are more at risk. Those living in urban slum clusters and crowded, poorly-ventilated houses are also vulnerable to air pollution, says Kamal Narayan – CEO of Integrated Health & Wellbeing (IHW) Council.

“Lower winter temperatures and the rise in pollution levels caused by the burning of crop stubble in North India could lead to the rise in Covid-19 cases. Typically Asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) infections are known to go up at this time of the year. People who have recovered from Covid-19 remain particularly susceptible as their lungs are still weak. Therefore, wearing masks and following social distancing norms is a must during this period and will not only help to avoid Covid but respiratory infections as well,” says Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, president of Council for Healthcare and Pharma.

“Environmental exposure plays a vital role in pregnancy. Approximately 6-8% risk has been associated with exposure to air pollution for pregnant women by increasing toxic chemicals in the blood and causing immune system stress, which can weaken the placenta covering the fetus and lead to preterm birth. Preterm babies born with low birth weight are susceptible to infections like pneumonia, asthma as lungs of such babies are weak and not fully developed. High pollution environment can also damage the brain and other organs of newborns,” says Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynaecologist and obstetrician and IVF expert at Nurture IVF Centre.

Parents must watch all symptoms which may indicate any respiratory problem in newborns, recurring cough, chest tightness, difficulty in breathing, clear watery discharge from the nose and sneezing should be informed to a doctor, suggests Dr Bajaj.

“A pregnant woman needs to be alert and take effective measures to protect herself from harmful air pollution by avoiding toxic air exposure, use of air purifier, avoid exposure to dust and use organic repellents, avoid travelling in congested areas as it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer and other chronic lungs diseases,” adds Dr Bajaj.

According to reports, approximately 40% of all respiratory tract infections, and almost 20% of coronary diseases and diabetes cases are caused by air pollution. Residing in areas with poor air condition exacerbates such medical conditions and makes respiratory illnesses deadlier. This has become a major concern for Covid-19 as well. Several diabetes-related factors such as poor glycemic control can affect the body’s immune system. “When a person suffers from viral infections such as Covid-19, diabetes patients are likely to find it more challenging to manage the condition. It can also lead to secondary bacterial infections in the lungs, etc,” emphasises Dr Manoj Chawla, director and consultant diabetologist at Lina Diabetes Care & Mumbai Diabetes Research Centre. Short-term exposure to air pollution can increase your immediate risk of having a stroke if you have existing risk factors, such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (AF) or diabetes. Studies have suggested that people who have a heart ailment and are living in areas where air pollution is worst are significantly more likely to have a stroke.

Dr Chawla advises, “Avoid outdoor exercises and walks in open spaces where there is a lot of smog and air pollution. Wearing face masks is necessary as it provides protection from air pollution as well as the virus. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water especially before consuming food or touching the face is recommended. Managing diabetes levels is an absolute must. Diabetics should regularly monitor their blood glucose levels and adhere to prescribed medications.”

The government needs to invest more in energy-efficient housing and power generation and manage industry and municipal waste effectively, opines Dr Sandhu. He adds, “The government must take steps to control the burning of agricultural waste and crop residue and prevent forest fires. It must encourage safe and affordable public transport systems and pedestrian- and cycle-friendly tracks. Strict rules and regulations must be enforced for pollution emitting sources and stricter action must be taken against those who break the law.”

Adding to it, Dr Mahajan says, “Government is making efforts to curb the spread of pollution; however, it is also our duty to protect our body and cell-based therapy, functional medicine, and a disciplined lifestyle are a step towards ensuring healthy lungs and overall health.” Every person should make an effort to modify their lifestyle by understanding what their body needs and adopt healthy habits as well as focus on enhancing the overall well-being.

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Health & Wellness

With her chia pudding bowl, Veronica Kumra brings a shot of a wholesome meal to your breakfast table

Easy to rustle up this simple bowl is a holistic meal, great for your gut.

Anshu Khanna

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Veronica Kumra, a certified holistic nutritionist and founder of Veronica K Fit redefines the concept of her much-acclaimed chia pudding bowl, serving it up hot to keep you warm this winter. Easy to make, priceless in its nutrient value and friendly to the gut, this delicious dessert is actually a completely healthy source of proteins and nutrients that Veronica recommends to be enjoyed as a warm and quick meal. Veronica K Fit—a bestseller on Veronica’s Instagram handle followed by over 2,00,000 health-conscious people, the chia pudding bowl, served hot adds a new dimension to its taste quotient.

Warm chia pudding bowl.Veronica Kumra.

Perceived as an overnight preparation where you stir all the ingredients together and refrigerate to enjoy it the following day, Veronica’s warm chia pudding bowl recipe cooks faster and ensures all its nutrient values remain locked in. This superfood bowl is an excellent source of protein, fibre, vital nutrients, and minerals (like calcium, magnesium, and omega-3s), digestive enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants. Research shows that the warm chia pudding bowl also acts as one of the most powerful weapons to fight against digestive issues (like IBD, IBS), chronic health problems (like high cholesterol, osteoporosis, high blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, diabetes, and risk of other heart problems). However, a warm chia pudding bowl works as a perfect Whole30 breakfast or a meal replacement for healthy and health-conscious individuals.

Besides it hits the sweet spot of every single diet you can think of starting from the sustainable ones to the fad ones (from dairy-free or lactose intolerant), gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, Paleo, Whole30 to Keto, low-carb, high-protein, the Mediterranean amongst others.

Prepare your warm bowls with non-dairy/plant-based milk alternatives (like a variety of nut milk or oat milk conveniently available with your local grocer) and sweetener of your choice. Top it up with berries to amplify its antioxidant properties.

An all-rounder, nourishing your holistic whole body (mind, body, soul, muscles, organs, and bones) and even keeps you feeling satiated for longer hours.

This bowl tops the list of the best high-protein vegan breakfasts.

It’s just like an apple a day keeps the doctor away. “I feel like I have started a spectacular movement for better health of our community considering its clinically proven health benefits just like a warm chia pudding bowl a day keeps the doctor away,” says Veronica. Now, let’s normalise calling chia pudding a full-blown meal instead of a tiny little dessert!

HOW TO MAKE VERONICA’S WARM CHIA PUDDING BOWL ON A STOVE?

Once you realise how easy and therapeutic it is to make these bowls, you will probably find yourself making them every day, not just for yourself, but your family members and friends as well. These bowls are contagious.

Here’s how to make your basic chia pudding in four simple steps:

Step 1: Cook 2 tbsp chia seeds in 3/4 cup plant-milk and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan on medium flame.

Step 2: Stir in vanilla extract &sweetener of your choice. Stir occasionally so that pudding doesn’t clump.

Step 3: Cook until creamy, sticky, and pudding-like. Add more water to achieve your desired consistency.

 Step 4: Pour the pudding into a bowl. Add your favourite toppings and enjoy!

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Health & Wellness

HOW TO MANAGE EXTREME POST COVID ANXIETY

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The devastation brought about by the pandemic has had a marked impact on the mental health of people globally. There has been a significant rise in extreme stress and anxiety given the economic uncertainty, unemployment, emotional strife, millions of deaths and unprecedented curbs on social interactions. While we may not be able to avoid anxiety and stress completely, we can surely keep a tab on our response to the triggers to mitigate their impact.

Anxiety is one of our most primal instincts to avoid threats. It helps us perform well, respond to threats and even protect us from harm. However, in chronic cases, it is essential to identify and work on coping with anxiety as it can cause one to be agitated, fearful and constantly on the edge. If left unaddressed, it soon begins to impact one’s daily activities, health, job performance and even relationships. People mistake anxiety as “normal” or as a byproduct of “stress” and often people are not even aware that they have an anxiety disorder.

We can either make things happen or allow them to happen to us. The barriers to moving forward are usually deep inside us. We give power to whatever we focus upon – limitations or possibilities. It is important to be cognizant of this fact and take charge of our lives instead of letting anxiety throw us off.

Here are some ways to cope with post Covid anxiety.

1. Accept & acknowledge – Don’t try to dismiss anxiety or uncertainty as unreal. Accept and acknowledge the signs to be able to get past the anxiousness. Rebuilding, post Covid, requires a lot of energy, support and focus. Don’t rush; take things at your own pace.

2. Break down tasks – Take things slow and break the anxiety-provoking tasks into smaller steps. Always start your day with activities that make you least anxious and gradually build up the confidence to add more to your plate; ease yourself into it.

3. Change the negatives to positives – Replace catastrophic thinking with exciting prospects. Flipping the switch is a great way to curb overthinking – replace every “What if this goes wrong?” with “What if this provides me with more opportunities?”

4. Focus on facts – Bring your attention to the facts and not the panic-laden thoughts. Remind yourself that there is a difference in possibility and probability. Take good care of yourself and take all precautions; do not assume the worst-case scenario for yourself. Focus on actions that can be taken and choose your response instead of reacting out of habitual negative choices.

5. Practice compassion – Notice how you are feeling from a space of compassion instead of being self-critical. Indulge in self-care activities, create & follow a routine and do not succumb to the pressure of feeling normal instantly. Focus on what makes you happy to encourage resilience.

6. Count your blessings – Take out time daily to focus on all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Not only does gratitude make you peaceful and happy but also raises the vibration as it is known to lower the cortisol levels in the body by 23%.

7. Seek support – Connect with friends and family and share how you feel instead of feeling isolated. Seek help from an expert in extreme cases so that you can manage your feelings in a better way instead of letting your health, work, relationships and life be gravely impacted by it all.

The majority of anxiety and stress stems from our interpretation of the external factors and the stories we make in our heads. Hence, we can learn and unlearn ways of coping with the same. Life goes through ebbs and flows and it is normal to feel anxious when things seem to be going downhill, however, it is important to remind oneself that an ‘up’ is round the corner. Take care of your mental and emotional health along with your physical health to experience a peaceful life. Psychotherapy, cognitive reframing skills, meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, journaling, good sleep, exercise and nutrition help in breaking the vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. Don’t let anxiety be relentless and seek help from an expert before it’s too late.

The author is a Psychotherapist, Life Alchemist, Coach & Healer, and Founder and Director of Gateway of Healing.

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Health & Wellness

FOCUS ON EMOTIONS: KEY TO IMPROVING HEART HEALTH

Chronic stress is like a silent pandemic, and it is taking away lives. Stress can also have an impact on other lifestyle habits, like eating choices, indulgence in vices like smoking and alcohol, disturbed sleeping habits, under-exercising—all of which are potential risks for your heart.

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If there is one thing we have learnt through our practice in the field of Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, then that is—not all weight we carry is physical in nature. Sometimes, emotional baggage can weigh us down more than physical baggage and can be the only weight you need to lose.

Over the years, we have seen an increase in the number of heart cases come to us, where the person was going through some heart complaint or the other like disrupted lipid profile, palpitations, deranged blood pressure, and even a history of heart strokes. Our practice calls for deep diving into each of these patients’ lifestyle history and assessing the four pillars of lifestyle such as nutrition, sleep, activity, and emotional health, while they are on their medications and taking advice from their doctors. Whenever we delve into their lives and go six months back or the time when they first diagnosed the issue, we find that each of them did have some kind of stress or emotional downfall in their lives. Almost 80% of these cases that come to us have their roots deep into bad emotional health and chronic stress, and these figures are not being exaggerated.

We often say or hear phrases like—“my heart broke” or “I almost had a heart attack”. This is real. Our heart can go through immense amounts of damage in case of adversities like heartbreak, whether it is due to the loss of a loved one or a break-up. It is called Broken Heart Syndrome, and it is a cardiac condition.

The mind and heart coexist and cannot be separated from each other, and this is precisely why the effects of heartbreak are more than the pain we experience in our heads. It has physical repercussions too. When we experience stress of any sort (eg: anger, heartbreak, loneliness, sadness, grief, resentment), our body responds by switching over to the ‘fight or flight’ mode, and it does so in an honest attempt to save you from that threat (stress). It involves a spike in cortisol level and thus a resulting increase in blood pressure, heartbeat, blood flow running to extremities, a rise in blood sugar, and so on. This is our body working beautifully for us. The activation of ‘flight or fight’ mode is necessary because if it doesn’t, you will not be able to run away or react to anything in life. The concern is when this stress persists and becomes chronic, and as a result, the body is always in a state of fight or flight. This means, the blood pressure, heartbeat, blood sugar, also stays chronically high. This can eventually tax your heart and other organs in the body. Chronic stress is like a silent pandemic, and it is taking away lives.

Stress can also have an impact on other lifestyle habits, like eating choices, indulgence in vices like smoking and alcohol, disturbed sleeping habits, under-exercising—all of which are potential risks for your heart.

Ways in which emotions can hamper your heart health:

• Increased inflammation

• Increased heart rate

• Irregular heart rhythms

• Increased blood pressure

• Loss of minerals from the body (Eg: magnesium deficiency that can affect cardiac muscles)

• Lack of sleep (which can, in turn, affect heart health)

All of this can also set the stage for a heart attack or stroke. Even in people with no prior heart disease, chronic stress can double the risk of dying from heart-related causes.

WHAT ACTIONS CAN YOU TAKE?

There is no one way to deal with stress. You need to find out what works for you. And no matter what tool or strategy you adopt, the key to overcoming emotional distress is to change the way you perceive it. Let me say this—the way to relate to a particular situation, is what determines how stressed you are. You can relate to a particular situation as devastating or a learning experience. It is all about your mindset and perspective, and no one can take this superpower away from you.

A few tips to get you there.

1. Learn to either accept and make peace with the situation or let go of it completely

2. Practice forgiveness because anything that will free you from the emotional burden. It is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself

3. Learn the art of breathing. It is one of the most effective ways to shift your body from a state of stress to a state of calm

4. Turn to nature in any way you can, whether it’s a walk by a lake or park, witnessing the sunset or sunrise, hearing the chirp of birds or gardening. Nature is healing and grounding

5. If you are someone who likes music, try music therapy to uplift your energy. Make playlists for different moods, and play them whenever you feel low

6. Spend less time on social media, because it can act as

7. fuel to what you are already going through. The false facade of social media can trigger and intensify feelings of loneliness, pain and hurt

8. Visualise a better, healthier, and happier you. Healing starts from the mind. We are what we imagine to be. So, visualising health and healing also has immense benefits. It helps train our subconscious mind to think positive thoughts and that goes a long way in manifesting that into our physical self

9. Most importantly, recognise your feelings, and feel them thoroughly. The more you try to bury it under the carpet, the more it will eat you up from within. And the sooner you acknowledge it, the easier it will be to process and overcome it. The more I see cases of heartaches, the more I see people trying to be good and suppress their real feelings because that’s what the spiritual and meditation books teach us. Too many of us want quick fixes and immediate results or else we give up and continue to be locked in a vicious cycle or never healing or dealing with our emotions. And the more we use coping mechanisms like socialising, shopping, alcohol, drugs, extreme spiritual parts—the harder the journey gets. Allow yourself to feel it, run it out of your system by feeling and riding the emotion completely. If you are hurt but are trying to show the world that you are okay then you will never feel better. Yes, spirituality, meditation, prayer, etc., help us find the inner strength to accept, let go, know us better, live more mindfully. That’s a journey and continuous process- but in the meantime, if you feel the need to truly feel your negative emotions—please feel it, express it and know that you are allowed to do so. Side-by-side, you can always start your journey to self-healing and get better

And, if you really need to seek professional guidance, take it. At the end of it all, make the change. Be the change. We cannot put the responsibility of taking care of our health on others. Some meditate and get spiritual and it works but it doesn’t for some. Find what suits you, but know there is always a better world out there, when we are ready to let go of all that burdens us, only then can we lift up and fly or move forward.

In the olden days, people were forced to deal with and face their emotions, because of the lack of distraction. Let’s take a little wisdom and learn from that too. You might be hurt, but overcoming and healing is your responsibility. Instead of being stuck there and victimising yourself, move to action.

The writer is Holistic Lifestyle Coach – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine & Founder at YouCare – All about You.

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Health & Wellness

CAN NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS FIGHT ANXIETY?

Kamayani Naresh

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Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. People suffering from extreme anxiety have experienced a constant feeling of fear, uneasiness, dread, and are almost always worried.

A common question asked by those who seek some relief from anxiety is, “Are there any natural remedies that can help my stress and anxiety?” Yes, there are many naturally found herbs, vitamins and minerals that can give assistance in anxiety, some of which have been utilised for eras and are now certainly earning recognition from doctors and researchers.

Most people think that anxiety is merely a piece of their character or produced by tension in their lives. However, biology also has a crucial function in how you manage your anxiety. Your neurotransmitters, hormones, inflammation levels and reaction to situations all determine how you control your anxiety levels during stressful situations. Unlike medications, which work on a single issue at a time and provide only symptom control, natural herbs, nutraceuticals and supplements for anxiety can help manage multiple systems working together to reach a natural destination at once without resulting in addiction or the body depending on them in the long term.

Nowadays, the general population is progressively embracing a healthy, more natural lifestyle. People are shifting their food habits to organic and natural ingredients. Similarly, when it comes to medication to help manage their stress and anxiety, most people opt for nutraceuticals, food supplements and herbs that are readily available. Here are some popular herbs to alleviate stress and anxiety:

Ginger, a source of naturally found nutraceuticals and healthy enzymes, is known to help stall the brains ageing process. Persistent inflammation and anxiety are factors that influence your brain health. Ginger has naturally found antioxidants and bioactive compounds that assist the fight against inflammation and improve the functioning of the brain as we age and deal with excessive stress.

Ginseng is a resourceful herb listed as an adaptogen. It signifies that Ashwagandha has a notable influence on controlling the body’s reaction to stress. Adaptogens, are agents that influence the hormones and bodily systems to improve how a person reacts to stress and anxiety. It is a commonly recommended herb suggested to women who need assistance to help manage their stress-related issues. It has also proven efficient and helpful in controlling other body ailments such as low thyroid and blood pressure.

Omega 3 rich foods are a source of healthy, natural vitamins and minerals that help the brain stay healthy and combat degenerative brain-specific symptoms. By diminishing the manifestations of anxiety and depression, omega 3 helps the brain function adequately and stay robust. In addition, these foods also help resist memory loss and other age-related brain issues.

Multiple studies have proven that the long-term use of chamomile extract assists in reducing the symptoms of moderate to severe levels of stress and anxiety. Chamomile is a flowering plant commonly used in tea. There are two varieties of Chamomile: Roman and German. Used as an extract, tablet, and as an ingredient in skincare, chamomile has proven to be effective as a stress and anxiety-relieving ingredient.

Co Q-10 is a naturally produced nutrient in our body. It aids energy production and fights off cell-damaging free radicals. Low Coenzyme Q10 levels can be one of the reasons patients suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or other neurological disorders. CoQ10 supplementation has helped patients with low coenzyme Q10 levels manage their symptoms and, in some cases, reverse the effects of their ailments.

All these can be naturally sourced or can be consumed through nutraceuticals and supplements available in the market. Many patients believe that anxiety is something that they have to live with permanently. In reality, anxiety is often a consequence of biological irregularities that can be managed and regulated by including the correct supplements and ingredients in their diets. When used with other techniques from meditation, yoga, therapy and integrative nutraceuticals and food supplements can help patients on their path towards an anxiety-free.

The writer is a health expert and founder of Zyropathy.

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Health & Wellness

EXPERT DECODES FACTORS AFFECTING FERTILITY HEALTH

Dr Prof Vinita Das

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The fertility health of a couple is important for conception. Fertility is the ability to conceive and bear children and to become pregnant through normal sexual activity. When a couple has been trying to conceive for more than a year with unprotected sex without any success, it is time to consult a fertility expert.

Besides biological factors, various other factors like social, environmental, occupation and lifestyle habits affect the fertility health of the couple.

The fertility rate of a population is defined as the average number of children born to a woman of childbearing age (15 years to 44 years). The birth rate is defined as the number of live births per 1000 of the population each year. In the last 30 years, India has seen a marked decline in the fertility rates of the country. According to recent numbers, the fertility rate in India has dropped from 4.82 in 1980 to 2.2 per woman in 2020. This helps in the population stabilisation of the country. On the other hand, subfertility and infertility are on the rise in India and it is a matter of concern for society.

FACTORS AFFECTING FERTILITY HEALTH

Physiological factors

Age- With advancing age, the number and quality of the eggs decrease in women. As they approach the mid to late 30s, the decrease becomes more profound. Experts also emphasise that male fertility also decreases with age.

Previous Pregnancy- Couples who have conceived once have a higher chance of getting pregnant again

Duration of Subfertility- Experts say that couples who have been trying to conceive for a shorter duration have a higher success rate for pregnancy than couples with a longer duration of subfertility.

Timing and Frequency of Sexual Intercourse- Menstrual cycle is of 28-days for most women. Women are most fertile between 12 to 16 days of the cycle. Ovulation occurs usually in the mid-cycle around 14th day in a 28 days cycle.

Lifestyle factors

Weight- Overweight and obese women might have irregular periods and face difficulty in getting pregnant. However, experts say that by reducing 5% to 10% of their weight, they can restore a regular menstrual cycle and increase the chance of getting pregnant. Obesity in males also decreases sperm numbers and quality.

Smoking- As per scientific evidence smoking is harmful both in males and females. It decreases sperm quality. According to data, smoking increases the chances of difficulty getting pregnant by 300% (three times).

Alcohol- There are conflicting reports on how alcohol consumption might affect fertility. Some reports suggest that drinking more than five units of alcohol may decrease fertility in women. Excessive Alcohol intake in males is harmful to sperm quality and increases the chances of male infertility.

Medical Conditions- There are some medical conditions like thyroid issues and vitamin D deficiency—these decrease fertility in both men and women.

The fertility rate is dependent on several factors like medical, social, environmental and lifestyle of couple. Lifestyle modification with exercise and healthy diet and a stress-free environment can go a long way in ensuring fertility. Prevention is always better than cure.

The writer is Consultant & Advisor, Birla Fertility & IVF.

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Health & Wellness

DIABETES AND TECHNOLOGY: ENABLING POSITIVE HEALTH OUTCOMES

Technology is enabling diabetes management in several ways, certain apps have simplified it. Compact medical equipment helps in continuous glucose management. There is also remote patient monitoring (RPM) especially with regard to home healthcare companies.

Dr Vishal Sehgal

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The incidence of diabetes has increased manifold in India and it is one of the most widespread lifestyle diseases even on a global level. Estimates suggest that at least 10% of India’s population will be affected by the condition by 2025. Diabetes requires continuous monitoring and management, the lack of which can cause complications including amputations, blindness, neuropathy, etc. This makes ongoing management, as well as patient education and supports extremely critical, more so during a time when Covid-19 has made things more difficult. However, it is also during these times that technology has emerged as an enabler in managing diabetes. The development of advanced technologies, including apps, glucometers, etc., is enabling people living with diabetes and specialists to manage the condition in a better manner. Technology has also come to the fore in helping with remote patient monitoring (RPM) especially with regard to home healthcare companies. Telemedicine and its benefits in managing diabetes have reached a stage of adoption that would have been unimaginable in an earlier scenario. In fact, a report by IQVIA highlights how the pandemic is an opportunity to transform diabetes care through digital innovation.

Continuous glucose management.

Link between diabetes and technology.

There are several ways in which technology is enabling diabetes management. For instance, compact medical equipment that helps in continuous glucose management has a small sensor that is changed in 10 to 14 days. This is inserted on the abdomen or upper arm and helps take readings in real-time. People with diabetes can thus avoid finger pricking and simply scan the sensor for results. Other advantages of CGM include identification of nightly fluctuations, data storage, reduction of HbA1C levels, and help keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range. Apart from these, there are apps that have simplified diabetes management and control. According to statistics, the usage of such apps is expected to increase at a CAGR of 21% by 2027.

Going forward, technology is set to play a larger role in the treatment and management of diabetes to keep track of vital parameters while limiting face-to-face contact. According to a report, the market for AI in diabetes management will reach $1264.7 million by 2024. It will be possible to enhance the lives of people living with diabetes through algorithms connecting glucose monitors and insulin pumps. This will help in automatically regulating blood glucose to healthy levels.

Digital and data-driven solutions are the future and have the potential to reduce mortality, morbidity, and complications; provide a better quality of life and safety to patients; as well as enable effective diagnosis and management of diabetes in people with the condition. For a better and far-reaching impact, investment in improving existing infrastructure and policies, interoperability, among other things are the need of the hour. The future will be all about innovations in digital health, smart data, telemedicine, and home care models. These will transform and facilitate triaging of those who visit hospitals, need supportive care at home, and even in the realm of mobile clinics for support care.

Last but not the least, regular checkups and monitoring and a healthy lifestyle are the cornerstones of diabetes management. As with anything else, knowledge is power in managing diabetes and increasing your lifespan. Arming yourself with the basics can help you live happily and in better health without letting diabetes affect you adversely.

The writer is President, Medical Services, Portea Medical.

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