IS YOUR BODY GLUTEN SENSITIVE? - The Daily Guardian
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Health & Wellness

IS YOUR BODY GLUTEN SENSITIVE?

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Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. There’s been a surge in gluten-sensitivity in people across many countries over the last two decades due to modern hybridised, genetically modified wheat. Along with the changing food habits where there’s gluten overload in our diet in the form of atta, sooji or processed food with maida / refined wheat flour and minimal inclusion of other variety of grains like ragi, jowar, bajra and other millers, the intake of gluten has increased. This gluten abuse or overload in the gut and the modified varieties of wheat has proven to cause the slow ongoing inflammation in gut lining, which, over a period of time leads to various gastric issues, autoimmune diseases, reduced absorption of nutrients and increasing incidence of allergies.

In western countries, gluten sensitivity is very common. In India it’s pretty much prevalent but due to various factors, one being lack of formal health records, its real extent is difficult to measure.

According to reports, one third of Americans actively try to avoid gluten. In India, approximately over 10% people have gluten intolerance. It’s more common in North and East India than its primarily rice-eating Southern parts.

SIGNS THAT YOU ARE GLUTEN SENSITIVE

1) Growth and development delay in children: If your child feels weak and frail, has difficulty gaining optimum weight or height as per his age or shows delayed puberty, it could be due to gluten sensitivity causing gut inflammation and subsequent malabsorption and poor growth milestones.

2) Persistent bowel: Symptoms like bloating, frequent diarrhea specially after meals, cramping or abdominal pain, gas/flatulence, indigestion and difficulty to digest milk, all these signify mild to severe inflammation in the gut lining often caused by food items, which are not compatible with your digestive system. The most common offending food in such cases is gluten.

3) Chronic physical and mental fatigue: If you feel tired or low on energy most of the time and mentally you feel forgetful or not so sharp and focused in your thoughts and you can’t figure out why, you need to watch out what you eat as any food related sensitivities/intolerances create persistent inflammation that affects your cellular energy and brain functions through gut-brain-axis.

4) Skin concerns: Concerns like atopic dermatitis, eczema, chronic skin allergies, urticaria and psoriasis also strongly co-exist in gluten intolerant individuals.

5) Frequent migraines / headaches: These are also common features of the inflammation provoking aches and pains in the body, most commonly headaches.

Gluten that we eat day in day out today is a genetically modified protein, very different from what our ancestors used to thrive on. Hence, is not perfectly compatible with our gut and immune health. When majority of our diet contains wheat, refined wheat flour, semolina, without adding any other variety of grains in our diet, our gut lining often succumbs to this on-going brunt of non- gut friendly food, leading to persistent inflammation and further cascade of symptoms.

WATCH YOUR DIET

Once you acknowledge your symptoms, the best way to diagnose and treat yourself is through elimination diet. Take a gluten free diet for at least six weeks to start appreciating changes in your body.

The writer is founder and director of Add Veda Life Care.

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Health & Wellness

THE SCIENCE BEHIND WET WIPES FOR INFANT SKIN

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Baby wipes are an essential part of life for families with babies. A baby’s sensitive skin requires only the best of products which is why choosing the right kind of baby wipes is significant. In the recent past, baby wipes have emerged as a major category in the FMCG sector. What was a nascent segment about 10 years ago is now a preferred one especially for millennial parents who are concerned about their baby’s sensitive skin. To avoid rashes, many prefer using baby wipes because of the associated benefits such as improved absorbent fabrics which help in cleaning and reducing bacteria on the baby skin and offer a reduced risk of infection and skin irritation.

According to a market research provider, the size of the baby wipes category increased from a little over Rs 100 crore in 2014 to around Rs 270 crore in 2018. While hygiene and convenience are vital consumer needs driving adoption, it is the increasing availability and access powered by more affordable price-points and e-commerce that is helping expand penetration of the wipes market.

The global baby wipes market size was valued at $4.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% from 2020 to 2027. Rising consumer expenditure on baby care products and growing per capita income of women workforce are the key factors fuelling the market growth around the globe.

In India, the wet wipes market is anticipated to witness robust growth until 2025 owing to the rising awareness around health and hygiene. Moreover, the pandemic has created a high demand for disinfectant products in India. The spike in cases of Covid-19 is acting as a major factor for the growth of the wet wipes market. Additionally, manufacturers are also coming up with a more enhanced product that is gaining traction in the Indian market. Furthermore, the demand for wet wipes is also high under personal care, especially for babies. As sanitisation is the most effective way of avoiding the transmission of coronavirus, the demand for wet wipes is expected to rise during the forecast period.

The Indian wet wipes market can be segmented based on application, technology, distribution channel, and region. Based on application, the market is segmented into personal care and hygiene.

When it comes to the science behind the use of wipes on a baby’s skin, there are a host of factors that have to be considered. There are millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes that together form the skin microbiome. In the very early stages of the baby’s skin development, the microbiomes are highly vulnerable to multiple influences. It is, therefore, important to preserve and promote the natural development of the baby’s skin microbiome to enhance health.

The skin around a baby’s nappy area is exposed to wetness constantly. This part of the skin also has more folds and creases than other areas, which means it can be somewhat challenging to clean it thoroughly. Skin irritation in the diapered area is one of the most common skin disorders found among babies, with the highest incidence at 9-12 months of age. Prolonged exposure to urine, faeces, constant friction, maceration, and humidity are the main reasons that cause skin irritation in the diapered area.

Also, proteolytic enzymes like – amylases, lipases in the faeces further causes irritation. The most important factor in an infant’s skin is to maintain a healthy skin barrier which is a mantle made up of intact and healthy skin epidermal layer and natural moisturising factors.

This is why baby wipes with ingredients like water that are safe and mild on the skin play an important role to ensure cleansing while minimising skin irritation and discomfort.

It is, however, challenging to formulate a wipe that has water as its main ingredient. These days, there is a range of chemicals found in baby wipes. Surfactants like Hydrogenated castor oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, preservatives like Benzoic Acid, skin conditioning agents like panthenol, emollients like Caprylyl Glycol, emulsifiers like Polysorbate, some fragrance allergens as well as humectants like Glycerine are commonly found in wipes in differentiating quantities. Besides, since water alone is not enough to effectively eliminate water‐insoluble residues, wipes must also contain some skin‐benefiting ingredients that cleanse as well as reduce frictional damage.

It is not just for cleaning urine and faeces that wipes are used. They are also commonly used to clean babies during times when the weather is hot, dusty, and sweaty leaving the baby extremely uncomfortable. Wiping also helps deal with sweat that has clogged the pores of the baby’s delicate skin and to keep the baby free of dust while moisturising and soothing the skin.

All in all, it is important to be extremely selective and well informed while choosing baby wipes. Picking products with as few ingredients as possible can result in less potential microbiome interference.

There are a host of wipes available in the Indian market. WaterWipes contains just two ingredients — 99.9% high purity water and 0.1% Fruit Extract. They are considered to be one of the purest baby wipes. Others are Himalaya Herbal baby wipes which contain 20 ingredients and are delicate on the baby’s skin. The key ingredients in these wipes are Indian lotus and aloe vera. Huggies Wipes are known for their durability and quality. Johnson’s Baby Wipes contain 14 ingredients and are soap and alcohol-free.

But among the variety available in the market, it is important for parents to be extremely selective and well informed while choosing baby wipes. Picking products with as few ingredients as possible can result in less potential microbiome interference.

The writer is a Dermatologist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai.

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Health & Wellness

DECODING THE IMPACT OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT INTAKE ON YOUR DIET

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Having a balanced diet is the key to provide essential nutrients to the human body. However, amid tight routines, the growing popularity of fast foods, and unhealthy eating habits, most of us miss out on a balanced diet and vital nutrients. This results in nutritional deficiencies and an array of health problems. The necessity to proactively invest time and energy in maintaining health has become a requisite with the changing lifestyle. A balance of making nutritious food choices and taking nutritional supplements plays a crucial role in improving diet quality and living a deficiency-free healthy life. Here’s how.

Dietary supplements: Making up for our diet inadequacies

While we live in a stressful age with our fast-paced lifestyle, most of us are likely to experience nutritional deficiencies. Despite consuming a well-balanced diet, we miss on some of the most essential nutrients such as Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Potassium, and Folic Acid among others. This is why we resort to supplements – to get the nutrition we are missing. And, rightly so as supplements not only make up for what our diets lack but also give us an extra health boost.

Nutritional supplements: A preventive defence to ward off diseases

Nutritional supplements may not replace complete meals but they play a vital role in supporting our nutrient intake because an average diet may not be able to fetch us all elements that drive a healthy body.

 Nutritional deficiency does not only affect adults but children as well. Deficiency disorders have become quite predominant. In fact, Vitamin D deficiency prevails in epidemic proportions with 70-100% prevalence in the general population all over the country. Further, it has also been found that having a well-supplemented diet can help gage against the on-going pandemic led by the deadly coronavirus. 

 Supplements contain active ingredients and extracts from superfoods which have strong effects. Precisely what our body needs to build a protective shield against diseases at any age. Nutritional supplements have also proven effective to support recovery from critical illnesses. Hence, consuming nutritional supplements is indispensable with the changing way of life.

How much of nutrient intake from supplements is enough?

Some of the most common dietary supplements include calcium, immunity boosters, fish oil, vitamins, and more. While combining them with your regular diet is recommended, this also has a finish line beyond which you may come across their harmful effects. So, it is important to know how much of their intake is right. Long story short, one should not consume nutritional supplements beyond their recommended dosage unless your healthcare expert advises it. 

The Bottom Line

The importance of getting nutrition right can’t be overstated. However, it can also not be neglected for a longer period as apart from combating deficiency disorders or diseases, nutritional supplements also help to improve one’s health. Alongside a normal diet, the impact of nutritional intake has several benefits such as it enables a healthier, more wholesome life, helps prevent early ageing, and supports in maintaining not just physical but mental well-being. In the end, it is about the nutritional choices that we make that affect our overall health and quality of life.

The writer is Founder & CEO, Nirvasa Healthcare.

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Health & Wellness

BUSTING COMMON MYTHS AROUND JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY

Let’s review some of the most common myths around joint replacement before you decide to undergo surgery.

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What is joint replacement surgery?

Joint replacement surgery is the surgical removal of abnormal or damaged joints and their associated lining. They are replaced with new parts called prostheses. The implants or prostheses inserted are made of special metal or plastic that is compatible with the body. It helps the person move again with little or no pain.

The joint replacement surgery can help:

• Minimise joint pain

• Helps restore and maintain the function of the joint

• Improves mobility and overall quality of life

What are some of the common myths associated with joint replacement surgery?

There are many myths when it comes to joint replacement surgeries. One should beaware of these while deciding to undergo joint replacement surgery.

Some common myths around the surgery are mentioned below:

Myth: Joint replacement surgeries are not successful, not permanent and they last only a few years.

Fact: It is not true. The success rates of the surgeries are high and around 85-90%. If maintained properly the implants can last a lifetime. Even if there is any major problem then the doctor can correct it using a second surgery which is known as revision surgery.

Myth: Chances of infection are high in knee replacement surgery.

Fact: The chances of infections are less than 5%. The metal used during surgery is compatible with the body and does not cause any further complications.

Myth: People with diabetes and high blood pressure cannot undergo knee replacement surgery.

Fact: Those with high blood sugar and blood pressure can get the surgery done by being prescribed medicine beforehand to lower the levels and avoid any complications.

Myth: Recovery time is exceptionally long.

Fact: With improvements in technology and patient care, a person can recover in just a few weeks if they follow doctor’s recommendations and take proper postoperative care. One can even resume their daily activities including driving after that.

Myth: Physiotherapy sessions are mandatory after knee replacement surgery.

Fact: Physiotherapy is not mandatory since patients are taught exercises after surgery to help them recover early.

Myth: Is age a limiting factor for knee replacement surgery?

Fact: Age is not a limiting factor, neither the joint replacements are only for those with arthritis. People with joint injuries, diseases, or excessive wear and tear may also undergo joint replacement surgery.

Myth: Joint replacement surgeries are highly invasive.

Fact: Most of the patients think that the entire knee is replaced in knee replacement surgery but it is not true. Nowadays, due to the advancement of technologies like minimally invasive surgery and computer-assisted robotic surgery, orthopadic surgeons make smaller incisions to perform replacements that are much less invasive.

Myth: It is difficult to bend your knees after undergoing knee replacement surgery.

Fact: Many patients often have a misconception that they cannot bend their knees and may experience pain and discomfort while sitting or bending their knees. The fact is that movement of the knee depends upon the type of prostheses used, post-operative rehabilitation, and the quality of the surgery performed.

Myth: In case the surgery fails, there is no chance of repair.

Fact: Chances of failure are rare, and in case a joint replacement surgery fails your orthopedic surgeon may perform revision surgery. Revision joint replacement surgery will help identify and correct the failure. However, the surgery will be only considered after evaluating the reasons for the first surgery and considering the patient’s overall health and well-being.

Undergoing a joint replacement surgery can help overcome the debilitating pain in the joints and improve your overall quality of life. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor in case of any misconceptions you have about the surgery.

The writer is Senior Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon at Apollo Spectra Delhi, Nehru Enclave.

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Health & Wellness

SKINCARE MISTAKES THAT HASTEN AGEING

Dr Rashmi Shetty

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While skin ageing is a natural process that occurs through a combination of physiological and environmental factors, several ill-informed skincare practices may contribute to premature ageing. Often, out of disregard or lack of awareness, we adopt skincare or lifestyle practices that hasten the breakdown of collagen or cause irritation of the skin which eventually leads to the appearance of signs of ageing such as fine lines, blemishes, or enlarged pores.

If you are experiencing signs of premature ageing, here are some common skincare and lifestyle mistakes that may be the cause:

Excessive scrubbing

Don’t get it wrong. Scrubbing and exfoliating is a good practice for the skin as it helps get rid of dead cells and dirt crowing the topmost layer of the skin. However, it can do more harm than good if done excessively. Exfoliating too harshly or scrubbing the face too aggressively can cause severe skin irritation. Excessive scrubbing over a period,will lead to prolonged inflammation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you are using a facial scrub, use it gently on your face rather than rubbing it hard. Also, scrubbing is sufficient 2-3 times a week.

Skipping moisturiser and sunscreen

When it comes to slowing down the ageing process, moisturisers and sunscreens are more important than most of us believe them to be. Lack of moisture or hydration is a leading cause of premature ageing. Often, many people who do not have dry skin tend to skip using a moisturiser every day believing they do not need it. This is where they make a mistake. Moisturiser is essential for the skin. You may use a water-based or light moisturiser if you have normal or oily skin. But use it nevertheless. Similarly, skipping sunscreen is a major factor in premature ageing since exposure to UV radiation accelerates the breakdown of collagen. Your daily skincare routine must include washing your face gently followed by a layer of moisturiser and sunscreen. Using hyaluronic acid-based products including creams, serums, and injectables such as Profhilo can also help prevent premature ageing and even address the signs of ageing.

Using products with fragrance and synthetic colours

Fragrances of scented products abound in the market. However, you must be wary of any added fragrances or synthetic colours in your skincare products. A series of potentially harmful ingredients are clubbed in the bracket called ‘fragrance’. Fragrances and synthetic colours are major causes of skin irritation and breakouts. They not only irritate sensitive skin but are harmful to all skin types. In fact, certain ingredients used in fragrances and synthetic colours are also potential carcinogens with effects stretching beyond skin irritation. Go scentless for safer skincare.

Not using products as per your skin type

While most people know that skin types are classified into normal, dry, oily, and sensitive, not many use skincare products as per their skin type. Not using products as per your skin type may cause irritation and breakouts. People who have sensitive or acne-prone skin need to adopt a highly cautious approach before picking up skincare products. A basic rule to follow is to immediately stop using a product that causes a burning sensation on the skin. Skin irritation because of using inappropriate skincare products are a major cause of the onset of premature ageing.

Consuming too much sugar

This might not be a direct skincare practice but excessive intake of sugar is associated with premature ageing. Sugar unleashes a process in the body that produces harmful free radicals called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs are responsible for breaking down the skin’s scaffolding proteins such as collagen resulting in signs of ageing. A low-on-sugar diet is not just good for the body but also for the skin.

The writer is a Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist, working in Mumbai.

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Health & Wellness

CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND ITS IMPACT ON THYROID IN LATER YEARS

Dr Manjunath Malige

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Childhood obesity is a growing health concern these days and its prevalence is increasing all over the world. According to experts, children who are overweight or obese are at more risk of developing health issues in the future as compared to children having normal weight.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY?

Genetics and lifestyle are the two main causes of childhood obesity. If one or both of the parents are overweight or obese, their kids are more likely to be obese. Lifestyle factors such as overeating, less physical activity, too much time spent in front of the television, mobiles or laptops and consumption of unhealthy foods such as fries, cakes, aerated drinks, or other oily and sugary foods can significantly lead to obesity.

OBESITY AND THYROID DYSFUNCTION

Obesity can lead to thyroid dysfunction. Some studies have suggested that childhood obesity can affect thyroid function and structure. Hence, as the child grows older, there is more amount of stress on the thyroid gland thus leading to decreased production of thyroid hormones like T4 and TSH. This in turn leads to difficulty in losing weight because the rate of metabolism is lowered. It has been observed that thyroid function can come back to normal if there is significant weight loss as it can lead to normalisation of the TSH production. Interleukins and inflammatory cytokines play an important role in thyroid autoimmunity. In obese or overweight children, there is enhanced secretion of cytokines and interleukins, thus leading to an under-functional thyroid.

HOW TO DIAGNOSE THYROID ISSUES?

Thyroid imbalances can be diagnosed by:

• Medical history and physical examination- The doctor takes a complete history of the patient and their family. A thorough physical examination is done to understand whether the patient is having any other health issues.

• Blood check-up- A complete blood check-up is done to evaluate the hormone levels and identify any other conditions.

Besides thyroid imbalances, childhood obesity is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, fatigue, joint problems, muscle cramps, breathing issues such as shortness of breath, asthma or sleep apnea, liver disorders, and psychological conditions such as anxiety or depression.

HOW TO PREVENT CHILDHOOD OBESITY?

• Avoid over-feeding the child.

• Portion control is important.

• Incorporate healthy snacks as between-the-meals options. This will prevent them from reaching out to a bowl of chips or fries.

• Keep a check on hydration levels. Fluids in any form- water, fresh juices, and fruit infused water are some of the options. Avoid tea, coffee, and aerated drinks.

• Get creative and incorporate healthy foods such as whole wheat bread, nuts, fruit salads, and other items in meals.

• A minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity is important as it benefits their physical as well as mental health.

• Limit screen time, and encourage them to start running, cycling, swimming, football etc.

Childhood obesity, if not kept under control, can lead to very serious health problems later in life. It is important to take proper medical guidance at early stages. In addition to this, efforts must be made to bring about lifestyle changes to prevent further weight gain.

The writer is Chief Endocrinologist, Aster RV Hospital.

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Health & Wellness

HOW ONLINE PERSONALISED LIFESTYLE COACHING IS IMPROVING OVERALL FITNESS

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The digitalisation of health and fitness services has caved in to the ecosystem with an extremely gradual yet visible shift. Most lifestyle coaching spaces now either have both physical and virtual funnels or have gone entirely virtual with respect to their mode of engagement. Indeed, gyms are always going to be crucial simply because of the vast range of machinery and equipment they have to offer, nevertheless, the approach towards all coaching and training related services is now taking a ‘digital’ turn – more so now because of the pandemic. Over the years, the focus of lifestyle service providers has evolved from extremely generic consumer services to personalised ones. This gradual shift in the quality of service can be attributed to the increasing consciousness and self-awareness among users.

Online health platforms are progressively taking the forefront in the industry because of their ‘personalised’ style of customer service. Given the benefits of this approach, users are developing a more sustainable attitude towards health and hence ascribing to the increasing demand for customised health and nutrition plans. Let us understand why online health platforms are vouching for personalised lifestyle coaching over generic fitness training.

HOLISTIC IN NATURE

While traditional dieticians and gym trainers mostly focus on just one aspect of health, i.e. training and diet, online coaching integrates all aspects of health to foster a sustainable transformation. The focus on nutrition, exercise, lifestyle modification, and behavioural aspect covers an individual’s health with a holistic approach.

ENCOURAGES FLEXIBILITY

The basic premise of online coaching is to start with whatever you have, in terms of time, equipment, and situation. These platforms inculcate the same fundamentals in their customised plans, thereby providing the flexibility to users where they can start and progress with whatever resources they have. This structure promotes home-workouts, cost-effective diets, and time-saving. For example, it is easier for a new mother to spare 30 minutes for a routine walk when her kid is sleeping instead of taking time to move-out for a gym workout.

MAINTAINS HIGHER ACCOUNTABILITY

Most people who start their fitness journey under a coach fail because of the huge baggage of bad habits or past failures that they have and hence the process needs a lot of handholding through the initial three to four weeks. An online coach can connect with the client almost daily and sometimes even multiple times in a day – the daily check-ins makes sure that the clients stay on track. In fact, in the event of a cheating activity, the coach has the access to bring the client back on track without any further delay as they both are constantly connected through phone or WhatsApp. In the traditional approach, a cheat meal can easily become a cheat day, a cheat week, or even a cheat month.

SETTING RIGHT EXPECTATION

Most people who start on their fitness journey either have unrealistic goals or give up too soon. An online coach (through the close contact model) can always set the right goals for their clients and always remind them about the journey being a ‘long-run’. This type of paradigm shift for clients requires a lot of communication and is possible only in a remote/online setup.

REAL-TIME QUERY RESOLUTION

It is often that individuals end up undergoing guilt phases due to a series of cheat meals. In situations where a client might end up eating extra because of a spontaneous dinner plan, he/she would require real-time help by a coach to go about his/her following meals and exercise. This kind of accessibility to quick guidance is another advantage of personalised coaching as the client can be guided closely through WhatsApp/phone etc.

PROVISION FORLIFE-LESSONS

Personalised coaching is all about building deep and meaningful connections. Since the frequency and intensity of client-coach conversations is at par with that of two close friends, it is likely for a coach to teach the client valuable lessons about goal setting, accountability, discipline, and habit formation. These values taught and incorporated during the process of health transformation turn out essential for success and sustainability.

The writer is Founder & CEO, MyHealthBuddy

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