Sleep better and adequately to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

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A healthy lifestyle adopted early in life builds up cognitive reserve for later life

New Delhi, 26th March 2019: Adequate sleep clears the accumulation of amyloid beta proteins that are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD), finds a new study. The results of this study are published in the Journal of Neurophysiology. A better understanding of this connection may lead to potential diagnostics and therapeutics for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. Sleep helps the body eliminate excess amyloid beta before too much accumulates in the brain.

Older people who get less deep sleep have higher levels of the brain protein tau, a sign of cognitive decline and AD, according to another study. Up to two decades before the characteristic symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear, amyloid beta protein begins to collect into plaques in the brain. Tangles of tau appear later, followed by atrophy of key brain areas. Only then do people start showing unmistakable signs of cognitive decline.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “AD is a progressive condition and about 5% to 6% of people over the age of 65 are affected by it. It is a neurogenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia. India has the third largest number of people suffering from dementia making it a health crisis that must be addressed at the earliest. Memory impairment is the most frequent feature of AD and is usually its first manifestation. Deficits in other cognitive domains may appear with or after the development of memory impairment. Executive dysfunction and impaired visuospatial skills tend to be affected relatively early, while deficits in language function and behavioral symptoms often manifest later in the disease course.”

Early-onset AD is unusual and is familial in some but not all cases. The latter makes up less than 1% of cases (several hundred families around the world) and often follows an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Behavioral disturbances can profoundly affect patients with dementia as well as their families and caregivers. Cognitive rehabilitation can help patients in the early stages of dementia to maintain memory and higher cognitive function. It is imperative to diagnose the condition at the earliest and chart a proper care plan for such patients.”

Some tips from HCFI to lower Alzheimer’s risk

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Check your waistline.
  • Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin–packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.
  • Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, keep a watch on your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar numbers.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is harm reduction for people susceptible to Type 2 diabetes

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India is set to become the diabetes capital of the world

New Delhi, 2 March 2019: Taking vitamin C supplements can help diabetics by lowering elevated blood sugar levels throughout the day, a study has found. The research also found that vitamin C lowered blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes, suggesting benefits for heart health too. While physical activity, good nutrition and current diabetes medications are standard care and very important for managing type 2 diabetes, some people can find it tough to manage their blood glucose levels even with medication.

It is alarming to note that one in every four (25.3%) people under 25 with diabetes in India has adult-onset type-2 diabetes. This condition should ideally strike only older adults with a family history of diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diets and inactivity.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “In a person with Type 2 diabetes, the body does not utilize insulin properly and this condition is called as insulin resistance. The pancreas first makes extra insulin to make up for this. However, over time, it cannot make enough to keep the blood glucose at normal levels. While the exact trigger for this condition is not known, Type 2 diabetes could be a result of a combination of factors. Some may be genetically predisposed to the condition. People with a family history of obesity are also at an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes. Those who are obese have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin in controlling blood sugar levels. This can lead to Type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue a person has, the more resistant their cells become to insulin. Lifestyle factors also have a major role to play.”

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop slowly, over a period of time. Some of them include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing of infections and wounds, and skin darkening in certain areas.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “A healthy diet is, more expensive than an unhealthy one. The wide availability of cheap energy dense low-nutrient food is contributing to the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Foods which reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes such as vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and unsaturated fats need to be more affordable and more widely available.”

Some harm reduction measures

  • Exercise more Exercise has various benefits including preventing weight gain, controlling blood sugar levels, and other conditions. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day is very beneficial.
  • Eat healthy A diet rich in whole grain, fruits, and vegetables is very good for the body. Fibrous food will ensure that you feel fuller for a longer period and prevent any cravings. Avoid processed and refined food as much as possible.
  • Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking. Too much alcohol leads to weight gain and can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should limit drinks to two per day and women to one per day. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-smokers and therefore, it is a good idea to quit this habit.
  • Understand your risk factors Doing so can help you in taking preventive measures at the earliest and avoid complications.

Non-communicable diseases a major burden in rural and urban areas alike

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Alcohol and tobacco consumption and unhealthy lifestyles form the root cause

New Delhi, 29 January 2019: According to recent reports by the WHO, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continue to be the top killers in the South-East Asia Region, claiming 8.5 million lives each year. The categories include cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as diabetes and cancer. These are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people. These include 15 million people dying prematurely, aged between 30 and 69.

The WHO indicated tobacco use, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and harmful use of alcohol as the modifiable risk factors for these diseases. The NCDs disproportionately affect the poor, impoverish families, and place a growing burden on health care systems. Containing the NCDs has been listed by the WHO as its health goal for this year along with reducing mortality related to air pollution and climate change, global influenza pandemic etc.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “NCDs are not only a health problem but also a development challenge in a country like India. Apart from forcing people into poverty, they also have a large impact on undercutting productivity. While non-communicable diseases have traditionally been thought of as affecting only the urban population, research indicates that there has been an increase in their prevalence in the tribal areas as well. This is largely due to an early epidemiologic transition. There is a lack of access to affordable and quality public health systems in these areas, which further exacerbates the situation. The need of the hour, therefore, is to strengthen the public health system in these areas and integrate the tribal medical system with modern systems of medicine for providing best possible care.”

According to the National Health Systems Resource Centre, there is an overall deficit of 20% sub-centres, 30% PHCs and 22% CHCs in ten major states with tribal populations.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The need of the hour is an urgently integrated action on health care to make it universally accessible and affordable at the same time. This will not only help address the health needs but also have a positive effect on poverty and growth levels. A strategy that makes citizens more competitive and act as an asset to the country’s growth is what is required at this juncture.”

Some tips from HCFI

·       Develop healthy habits including eating, sleeping, and exercising right.

·       Do not overdo anything. From drinking to using the cell phone, everything must be in moderation.

·       Follow ancient wisdom. Do Yoga and Meditation for your mental and spiritual wellbeing and maintain equilibrium. Allow your body to heal itself.

·       Get periodic check-ups done. Early detection of most health problems can help in correcting lifestyles to slow the degeneration process and lead a longer and healthier life.

·       Both active and passive smoking are harmful for the body.

·       Manage your blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as blood sugar.

·       Maintain optimum body weight. Limit your salt intake.

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