Is Yagna the answer to rising air pollution levels?

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine No Comments

Burning wood in excess can contribute to air pollution

It can also be detrimental to those with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments

New Delhi, 20th March 2018: A religious group in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh that goes by the name Shri Ayuchandi Mahayagya Samiti has begun a “mahayagya”, or Hindu ritual of burning wood from the mango tree. They believe this will help in reducing air pollution and plan to burn 50,000 kg of wood over nine days during Navratri.

The smoke from wood burning is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles (also called particle pollution, particulate matter, or PM).

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Poor air quality has been linked to various diseases and may trigger acute asthma, heart attack. Air pollution has become a major public health problem, which is still persisting, despite several efforts to curb pollution. It has been postulated that our ancient Vedic rituals like yagna and havans purify our environment. Only one stiudy so far has published in the Indian Journal of Air Pollution Control in 2007, that open air Yagna when performed at a large scale lowered gaseous pollutants like SO2 and NO2 to some extent. Their levels decreased on the day of the Yagna as well as days after it. In this study, mango wood was taken as the basic Samidha for the experiment as it has negligible CO emissions.” But no confirmation has been recorded in future studies.

But it is equally true that the particles in wood smoke can reduce visibility (haze) and create environmental and aesthetic damage in communities and scenic areas. Clearance for any such massive yagna should have a clearance from central pollution board and the people living in the vicinity of the yagnas.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President, CMAAO, said, “Particulate matter does not stay airborne forever. It not only settles as ‘dust’ in our homes, but also on rivers and streams causing pollution. It falls on crops and works its way into the soil in which they are grown. Just because wood comes from a plant does not make its particulates safe when it lands on organic and other farm soil and crops.”

Although there is a provision for environmental protection in our Constitution and steps have been taken by the government to address this issue, there is still a long way to go before the country can breathe clean air.

The need of the hour is dedicated and sustained efforts which involve the public as well.

Even the NGT in one of the judgment had said that the government should find alternatives for wood used in cremation grounds.

Fasting can accrue health benefits when done right

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India Comments Off

HCFI wishes all readers a happy Chaitra Navratri; everyone should follow some fasting tips

New Delhi, 19th March 2018: Studies indicate that intermittent fasting can help in improving a person’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin sensitivity. It has also been found that longer periods of fasting (2 to 4 days) aids in rebooting the immune system, clearing out old immune cells, and regenerating new ones.

Chaitra or Basant Navratri is observed at the start of the summer for preparing the body to tolerate summer. Fasting in an integral aspect of this festival in India, making Navratri a process of detoxifying the body, mind, and soul. Some fast for religious reasons, and others do it to cut back on unwanted calories and lose weight.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Fast does not mean ‘not eating’ but rather controlling desires and simultaneously cultivating positive mental attitudes. Desires can be of many types: eating tasty food, smelling good, listening to a particular music, watching beautiful things, etc. Similarly, fasting can also be of different types: food fast (food items), eye fast (watching things Rajsik in nature), ear fast (avoiding listening to stimulating music), action fast (not indulging in various activities), and speech fast (not speaking evil). Body detoxification involves special Navratri diet principles of eating less, once a day with no cereals. Rajgira flour used during this season is a good source of vitamins A, B6, K, and C, as also folate, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, iron (60% of RDA), copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Cooked amaranth is also 90% digestible.”

Chaitra Navratri culminates in Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama. Hence, the birth of consciousness is equivalent to being in touch with his birth. This festival should, therefore, be celebrated as a disciplined way of acquiring internal happiness and not as a forced means of fasting.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “India has become a hub of diabetes, heart diseases, and insulin resistance, all of which are linked with not observing fasts or eating high carb diet every day. Refined carbohydrates are the culprit. The significance of a ‘medical vrata’ needs to be underlined. The simpler version of ‘vrata’ can be: not eating carbohydrates at all once in a week and replacing them with fruits and vegetables.”

HCFI tips for fasting.

  • Plan your diet especially if you have medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Do not skip your medication schedule. Keep a healthy snack handy for those cravings.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water, coconut water, green tea, buttermilk, and lime juice. Avoid aerated drinks.
  • Avoid gorging on salty ‘vrat snacks’. Eat something that is boiled or roasted instead.
  • Use rock salt in your food instead of usual salt as it helps in better mineral absorption. It is also beneficial for those who have high or low blood pressure.
  • Eat lighter meals as these can aid digestion.
  • For dessert, you can try eating dates or fruit yogurt. Also, add honey instead of sugar.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

India home to a high proportion of young smokers

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

India home to a high proportion of young smokers

Do not condemn, criticize or complain; use nonviolent communication to help and support those trying to quit

New Delhi, 18th March 2018: Data from the Global Tobacco Atlas released recently indicates that despite lowering tobacco use in recent years, India is home to an estimated 625,000 child smokers in the age group of 10 to 14 years.  More than 932,600 Indian lives are lost to tobacco-related diseases every year. Further, the economic burden of smoking is very high in India and this includes both direct cost of healthcare and the indirect cost of lost productivity.

Use of tobacco is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and certain types of cancers.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA),said, “One of the major causes for continued tobacco consumption in India is the fact that it is a part of the country’s social culture. Kids start smoking even before they’re old enough to think about the risks; after starting they rapidly become addicted to smoking and then regret it later. Smoking aggravates bone loss and is a risk factor for hip fracture. It is responsible for more than 10% of heart blockage diseases all over the world and 33% of all cardiac deaths. Any form of tobacco like snuff, chewing, and dipping varieties which are not burnt can be termed as smokeless, another variant that is harmful to health. Smokeless forms also contain sugar and prolonged usage can adversely affect control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.”

It is a common practice in India to use SLT mixed with areca nut. Areca nut itself is classified as a class one carcinogenic and also causes other adverse health effects.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “Quite often, we may rebuke a patient for failing in his efforts to quit smoking and say, ‘If you do not quit, you may die’. A statement worded as this may inadvertently sound discouraging to the patient. While it is important that people know the dangers of smoking or using tobacco products, a positive communication approach may have a more fruitful impact than a critical approach.”

HCFI tips to quit this habit.

  • Try short-acting nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, or inhalers. These can help overcome intense cravings.
  • Identify the trigger situation, which makes you smoke. Have a plan in place to avoid these or get through them alternatively.
  • Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds instead of tobacco.
  • Get physically active. Short bursts of physical activity such as running up and down the stairs a few times can make a tobacco craving go away.

One approach to smoking cessation is the five-step algorithm called the “5 A’s” (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange)

All smokers should be advised to quit smoking.

Even brief advice to quit has been shown to increase quit rates.

Smokers be managed with a combination of behavioral support and pharmacologic therapy

Combination therapy is superior to either behavioral intervention or pharmacologic therapy alone.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »