It’s all about loving your body, the way it is

Recently, a global beauty and make-up brand made headlines when it appointed a man as its face. This comes at a time when body inclusivity and positivity has taken the form of a revolution. For every unhealthy social media trend, there’s a counter trend of healthy support. For every magazine that photoshops its cover girls, there’s one that’s breaking formulae by featuring the ‘unconventional and not perfect’ body type. For every body shaming troll online, we have an army of body positive people up in arms against them. India too, has not been alien to this wave of fighting body image issues. Last year saw celebrities and commoners alike question the ‘perfect body’ norm, and the trend continues in 2017 as well. BT lists some moments that not only challenged archaic body stereotypes, but also bashed them…

Bani J looked like the ultimate femme fatale, muscles and all
‘I do me. You do you’ was what Bani J’s post, shutting down body shamers, boiled down to. On being put down for having an athletic, fantastically toned, muscular and fit body, Bani shared her thoughts on her fitness through the social media platform. She did not mince words. And she made sure she got her point across. “I’ve heard it all. And not once because I actually cared enough to ask, ‘hey, what do *you* think of *my* body?’… I can’t remember the last time the thought of ‘will this be attractive to so and so’ crossed my mind in relation to myself — let alone to me lifting weight. It doesn’t happen. I love me so much and that’s all that matters,” read a portion of her post. We bet her words inspired more women to join the gym than any lifestyle listicle ever did.

Tannishtha Chatterjee slammed the average Indian’s inherent racism
The actress ripped a show on TV in a protest against the trend of bodyshaming under the guise of humour. When she was ‘roasted’ for her skin tone, and asked questions like if she was fond of jamun (blackberries) because it reflected in her skin tone, she did not find it funny. And she made sure the channel apologised to her for trying to shame her for her skin tone. The point she made? “There is no humor value in a joke about some ones physical attributes especially one that stems from deep prejudices (sic).”

She is a fashionista, but she did not wake up like this. And that is what she explained, with brutal candour, in this essay that she penned in a bid to promote body positivity — “‘Itni lambi, itni kaali’, a relative casually let slip at a family gathering. ‘Shaadi kaun karega?’ It confirmed that my greatest insecurities were well-founded.” Exactly the way the world finds great pleasure in confirming all our insecurities. And then she said what needed to be said, in the simplest words — “pursue prettiness for yourself, not to meet culturally preset notions of “flawless”. Because flawlessness is a dangerous, high-budget myth, and it’s time we shattered it.” Little girls (and everybody else) dreaming of becoming her, here’s an excerpt from the essay you should take a print out of and stick above your bed — “The next time you see a 13-year-old girl gazing wistfully at a blemish-free, shiny-haired Bollywood actress on a magazine cover, bust the myth of flawlessness for her. Tell her how beautiful she is. Praise her smile or her laugh or her mind or her gait. Don’t let her grow up believing that she’s flawed…”

Reshma and Laxmi burnt the stigma surrounding acid attacks
Despite the government taking efforts to make over-the-counter acid sale stricter in India, acid attacks continue. Amidst it all, two survivors were making history and creating buzz worldwide. First, Reshma Qureshi took the fashion world’s breath away as she sashayed down the ramp as a showstopper for the fashion week in New York. And then, Laxmi, another survivor, signed a deal with a clothing line to be its face, and walked the ramp in London. Burn, attackers!

Say hello to Miss Moti, the fat superheroine
Miss Moti is short for Miss motivational. Nepali artiste Kripa Joshi conceptualised this South Asian female comic superhero as a ‘fat’ (yes, fat. Not plump, not curvy, not well-rounded but fat) brown, ordinary girl with extraordinary imagination. In a world where heroism is associated with sculpted bodies and blonde wavy manes, Miss Moti is a relief. She is the fruit of Kripa’s struggles with her own body issues. Miss Moti’s adventures are real, just the way the average South Asian woman’s are. The perfect combination of ‘fantastical’ and ‘everyday’, Miss Moti seems to say, “On some days, I can’t stop doubting myself. But on most days, I get by just fine with a little love from myself.” Sounds familiar?

Kareena Kapoor khan, Shveta Salve and Carol Gracias made pregnancy look sexy
The past year, we weren’t really hoping to see much of Kareena Kapoor Khan. After all, she was pregnant with baby Taimur, and the norm has always been to hide that bulge. But Kareena couldn’t care less. She paraded her baby bump all over the ramp, parties, mag covers and tabloids. Her confidence, her candour, her love for her own body exuded with these public appearances. This is exactly what Carol Gracias and Shveta Salve had also done during their pregnancies


How long will you live? Your blood test can give the answer

How long will you live? Your blood test can give the answer

Believe it or not, scientists at Boston University claim to have discovered a game-changing blood test that could help predict lifespans.

The study, published in the journal Aging Cell on Friday, used biomarker data collected from 5,000 blood samples and analysed it against the donors’ health developments over the subsequent eight years.

Together, they identified patterns which indicated both good and bad futures. Specifically, their chances of getting age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

In all, the researchers generated 26 different predictive biomarker signatures.

The breakthrough means patients will be able to identify realistic health risks early on – and, crucially, modify behaviour to change the outcome.

Lead authors Professors Dr Paola Sebastiani and Dr Thomas Perls said: ‘These signatures depict differences in how people age, and they show promise in predicting healthy ageing, changes in cognitive and physical function, survival and age-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

‘It sets the stage for a molecular-based definition of ageing that leverages information from multiple circulating biomarkers to generate signatures associated with different mortality and morbidity risk.’

They added: ‘Many prediction and risk scores already exist for predicting specific diseases like heart disease.

‘Here, though, we are taking another step by showing that particular patterns of groups of biomarkers can indicate how well a person is ageing and his or her risk for specific age-related syndromes and diseases.’

The researchers noted that more studies on larger groups of people are still needed to further confirm the results.


WARNING! Don’t ignore the snore

WARNING! Don’t ignore the snore

Snoring is seen more of a bedtime annoyance for people sleeping together, but little do they know that snoring could be a sign of an underlying health issue called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is one of the most under diagnosed sleep disorders and is more like a silent epidemic. Very few know about the condition and fewer seek treatment.

So how do you know if you are suffering from OSA? Dr Navdeep Kumar MD (Medicine), DNB (Neurology) at Indo Gulf Hospital & Diagnostics informs, “If you snore, feel excessively sleepy during daytime, if you wake up with morning headaches, if you have trouble in concentrating, if you have frequent awakenings and you are obese, you are most likely suffering from OSA.”

People suffering from OSA are said to be thrice more likely to die prematurely. Accidents and other injuries associated with poor quality sleep makes OSA even more critical. Recent data suggests that by 2020, out of a total of 23 lakh fatalities due to road accidents, an estimate of 2.3 lakh to 3.5 lakh will result from sleepiness or fatigue.

What happens in OSA?
Dr Kumar explains, “Sleep apnea occurs due to blockage of airway during sleep. During sleep if the muscles in your upper airway collapse with the muscles in the back of your throat, it interferes with the passage of air. This leads to fall in oxygen levels in the bloodstream, leading to decreased oxygen supply to the brain. Because of this, the person remains restless with frequent awakenings and does not have a refreshing sleep. Some hormonal changes also occur in OSA which lead to increased food intake, thereby resulting in weight gain.”


If your doctor suspects sleep apnea, he will check your nose, throat, height, weight, BMI, neck circumference. Adults with this disorder have enlarged uvula or soft palate; uvula is the tissue that hangs from the back of your mouth and soft palate is the soft skin in the back of your throat. They also have a large tongue due to increased fat deposition. Kids suffering from sleep apnea may have enlarged tonsils.

Sleep apnea is diagnosed by “overnight sleep study” also known as Polysomnography (PSG). It records brain activity, oxygen levels, heart rate, chest and abdominal movements etc.

The challenge ahead
If sleep apnea is left untreated, it would interfere with the regular day-to-day functioning of the person. Untreated OSA leads to rise in blood pressure, blood sugar levels, weight gain and depression. There is 2-3 times increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with untreated OSA.


During PSG, a titration study is done in which the pressure required to keep the airways patent is measured. Then the patient is required to sleep with a face mask connected to CPAP/ BIPAP machine, which delivers the air with pressure and maintains proper oxygen levels during sleep. This also helps in weight loss and in controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels, adds Dr Kumar.

In addition, the patient needs to lose weight by regular exercise and eat low calorie diet. Patient also needs to stop alcohol and cigarette smoking. It’s also advisable to sleep in lateral position.


FSSAI sets nutritional benchmarks to fortify food items for PDS, midday meals

FSSAI sets nutritional benchmarks to fortify food items for PDS, midday meals

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released benchmarks to fortify the nutritional quality of food items used in social sector programmes such as ICDS, PDS and midday meals, such as rice, wheat flour, milk, edible oil and salt.Food fortification helps combat malnutrition through staple food items. The government is trying to push such products through government schemes to counter problems like stunting, overweight and anaemia, which are the major causes of maternal and child deaths. The FSSAI standards detail specific measurements for fortification. For instance, any manufacturer that fortifies food would have ensure that the level of micronutrients does not fall below the minimum specified by the central food regulator.

The standards also make it mandatory for the manufacturers to follow certain fortification procedures.Fortified food items would also have to carry a logo approved by the FSSAI and mention the nutrient content on their pack.

According to the standards, fortified atta (flour) should contain added iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. Apart from this, it may also be fortified with zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B6.

A separate set of rules dictates how `maida’ should be fortified -with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. Likewise, fortified rice should contain added iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12. The level of fortification has been specified as well.

The FSSAI standards would ensure that essential nutrients are appropriately added to foods for preventing or reducing the risk of, or correcting, a demonstrated deficiency of one or more essential nutrients in the population or a specific po pulation group. The regulator has also asked the manufacturers and packers of fortified food to give an undertaking on quality assurance, and submit evidence on steps taken in regard to fortification.

All fortified food, whether voluntarily fortified or mandatorily , should be manufactured, packed, labelled, handled, distributed and sold, whether for profit or under a government-funded programme, only in compliance with the standards specified under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the regulations made there under.


How brain can be tricked to cure mental maladies

How brain can be tricked to cure mental maladies (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)

When neuroscientist V S Ramachandran came up with a cardboard box and mirror to trick the brain into `seeing’ a limb that didn’t exist in the late 1990s, he created quite a stir in the scientific community . Two decades on, he has initiated another trial on the same principle of illusion -only this time the brain itself plays the role of a mirror.

Taking forward the theory that some brain cells in people mirror a reaction they are just witness to but not part of, Ramachandran and his team are now studying if visual stimulation is enough for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The cells, called mirror neuronsor `empathy’ neurons, also help people `feel’ the pain of others.

In the city to deliver a lecture on `human uniqueness’ at an event organised by medical treatment centre Trimed on Sunday , Ramachandran said the ongoing trial is not focusing on the feeling of empathy as much as using the neurons for therapy . “Excessive handwashing may be the single most common observable symptom of OCD,” said Ramachandran the Tamil Nadu-born scientist now based in the US. The requent that IT sometimes results habit can be so frequent that IT sometimes results in raw and broken skin. “We are now studying if this habit can be fought by making the person watch someone else wash hands or a video of the same,” said Ramachandran, adding the trial was still at a nascent stage.

Mirror neurons were discovered in the early 1990s when a team of Italian researchers found individual neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that fired both when the monkeys grabbed an object and when they watched other primates grab the same object.

Dr Ramachandran said stimulating these mirror neurons could also help when people develop cramps or pain in their `phantom limbs’ -a condition when people develop a sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached. “Just watching someone massage their limb could ease the pain in their non-existent limb,” said Ramachandran. Although many of the functions of the mirror neurons are based on speculations, several research papers have suggested these cells could explain autism and even the evolution of language.

Around 70% of amputated patients experience some sort of pain in the body part that has been removed. This syndrome often triggers depression or even suicide. Although the limb has been removed, the brain continues to send signals to that body part to move. When these commands are not obeyed, it results in pain -patients desire to somehow make the limb move.

Such phantom syndrome can also be found in people who feel a part of their body is alien to them – such as one of Ramachandran’s patients, who wanted to cut off a healthy arm. “He wasn’t crazy . He was suffering from a condition called Xenomelia,” said Dr Ramachandran. The where sensory , muscular, visionary senses converge to make a 3D image. His patient’s brain had the hand part of that image missing. “And because the brain abhors discrepancy, it wanted the arm removed,” he explained.

Ramachandran said more research on mirror neurons could help unveil the mystery that still shrouds human.


Can’t breathe after Chinese food? It might be the MSG

<p>Can't breathe after Chinese food? It might be the MSG<br></p>Can’t breathe after Chinese food? It mightbe the MSG

A very satisfying feast of kung pao chicken, sweet-sour pork or just about any Chinese dish could, at times, be accompanied with a bout of headache, giddiness or rashes. It’s aptly called the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, but a doctor from Mahad, a four-hour drive from Mumbai, recently found out that the presence of ajinomoto salt -better known as mono sodium glutamate or MSG -in Chinese food could even lead to life-threatening swelling of tissues.

A 23-year-old who had eaten triple fried rice around 8pm one evening was rushed to Dr Himmat Bawaskar’s hospital around 6.30am the next day facing difficulty in breathing, swallowing or speaking. Dr Bawaskar discovered that the patient’s uvula -the pendulum-like projection hanging above the throat -was so swollen, it was touching the base of his tongue.”We couldn’t examine his throat because of this swelling,” said the doctor, who has published a report on the incident in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine.

Experts say the first thing a doctor is likely to ask a patient complaining of migraine is whether they had just eaten Chinese food.”MSG could be the cause of migraine in people who are sensitive to it,” said Dr Altaf Patel, director of medicine at Jaslok Hospital, adding that the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was a well-recognised phenomenon first described in the early seventies. “It is not common, but it isn’t unheard of,” he added.

Why is MSG a problem?
“Australian studies have shown that MSG produces an gioedema -swelling underneath the skin -16 hours after ingestion,” said Dr Bawaskar. Chinese food also contains preservatives such as meta-bisulfate soya sauce, and colouring agents such as sunset yellow or tartrazine that could stimulate allergic reactions.

Dr Bawaskar’s report reads, “A sensitive individual may suffer from headache, giddiness, sweating, abdominal pain, and urticaria (rashes) within a few hours of consumption of MSG. Angioedema (swelling of tissues) may be delayed up to eight to 16 hours after.. and it may persist for 24 hours.”

Dr Bawaskar said the swelling of the uvula can be life threatening unless patients and physicians are aware of unusual medical reaction to MSG. As for his 23-year-old patient, the doctor gave him an adrenaline injection, which helped the swelling subside.


You can teach yourself to hate pizza and chocolate

<p>You can teach yourself to hate pizza and chocolate<br></p>You can teach yourself to hate pizza and chocolate

Imagine that as soon as a piece of chocolate melts and flows down your throat, you start feeling nauseous, lightheaded, and run to throw up inside the toilet bowl.The goal is to make you ill every time you think about or encounter the problem food.

Will it work? It is the basis of the “false memory diet” pioneered by Elizabeth Loftus and her colleague Daniel Bernstein.The duo planted food aversions in peoples’ minds by playing a memory game with more steps in it.

People were asked to fill out a question naire about their favourite foods. A week later, they were told their answers had been entered into a computer which had done a complex analysis of their food preferences and could identify what their early childhood experiences with food must have been like. Participants were must have been like. Parti then told that when they were young they either “got sick after eating a hardboiled egg” or “felt ill after eating pickle.” Of course, this was a lie –there was no computer, and they had never got sick from eating pickle. Nonetheless, most participants indicated that they believed this feedback, and were able to picture their bad experience. When given another food questionnaire, they then reported liking pickles and eggs less and being less willing to eat them in the future. When the researchers offered eggs and pickle to the participants, they ate less of the two.

The same mind technique can also be used to make people eat healthy . For instance, you can get children to eat green veggies by planting false memories of positive food experiences. During the research, people who were given positive misinformation subsequently said they liked the healthy food more, rated a picture of it as more appetising, and were even willing to pay more for it.

Coming back to the weight loss plan, it is easier to give up foods that are high in meat or fat, and those that are slimy, for instance, hamburgers, butter and custard–all high-calorie choices.


Can Moderate Screen Time Increase Teenagers’ Well-Being?

Can Moderate Screen Time Increase Teenagers' Well-Being?

Spending hours in front of digital screen may be harmful for adolescents. However, moderate use may not harm but increase their well-being, researchers say.

“Digital screens are now an inextricable part of modern childhood. Our findings suggest that adolescents’ moderate screen use has no detectable link to well-being and levels of engagement above these points are modestly correlated with well-being,” said lead researcher Andrew Przybylski, psychological scientist at the University of Oxford.

The findings showed that as a result of a digital “sweet spot” between low and high technology use, moderate screen time can increase teenagers’ well-being. This sweet spot benefits teenagers’ well-being by providing opportunities to develop social connections and skills, the researchers said.

For the study, the researchers examined data measuring screen time and well-being collected from 120,115 teenagers, with an average of 15 year old. Nearly all of the participating adolescents reported spending time using at least one type of digital technology on a daily basis.

They also reported spending more time engaging in digital activities on weekend days than on weekdays and that they spent more time using smartphones in overall compared with watching TV.
Using statistical methods to determine the tipping point for each type of activity, the researchers found that on weekdays, teenagers’ well-being peaked at about 1 hour and 40 minutes of video-game play, about 1 hour 57 minutes of smartphone use, about 3 hours and 41 minutes of watching videos, and about 4 hours and 17 minutes of using computers.

However, above these tipping points, screen time turned potentially harmful and was associated with decreased well-being.

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.


Your Smartwatch Can Flag Your Sickness

Your Smartwatch Can Flag Your Sickness

Your smartwatch may not only measure your steps and physiological parameters but also detect when you are falling sick, a new study has revealed. Researchers from the Stanford University found that smartwatches and other personal biosensor devices can help detect when people have cold and even signal the onset of complex conditions like Lyme disease and diabetes.

“We want to tell when people are healthy and also catch illnesses at their earliest stages,” said Michael Snyder, Professor at the Stanford University, US.

The study collected a myriad of measurements from participants for up to two years to detect deviations from their normal baseline for measurements such as heart rate and skin temperature.

“Because the devices continuously follow these measures, they potentially provide rapid means to detect the onset of diseases that change your physiology,” the study noted.
It was found that many of these deviations coincided with times when people became ill. For example, heart rate and skin temperature tends to rise when people become ill, said Snyder. To detect these deviations, the researchers wrote a software programme for data from a smartwatch called ‘Change of Heart’.

The devices detected common colds and also detected the presence of Lyme disease in the researcher involved in the study.

“This research paves the way for the smart phone to serve as a health dashboard, monitoring health and sensing early signs of illness, likely even before the person wearing it does,” the study published in PLOS Biology added.


8 Incredible Benefits of Camphor: Pain Killer, Sleep Inducer and More

8 Incredible Benefits of Camphor: Pain Killer, Sleep Inducer and More

Camphor, scientifically known as Cinnamomum Camphor, is a combustible, translucent white solid which has a piquant smell and sour taste, though some people quite like its menthol-like, nose tingling fragrance.

Camphor is obtained from the bark of the tree Cinnamonun camphora. Only 50-years old trees produce a waxy substance which is used as camphor oil. The process of steam distillation is used to extract camphor oil from the stems of the tree. The camphor tree is said to be a native of Hiroshima, Japan. It is evergreen and now grows all over Asia, primarily in Indonesia. The Indonesian variety is named Dryobalanops camphora.

Camphor can be used in multiple ways. It is considered as an important ingredient in vapor rubs, balms and liniments as the oil is said to allay pain and reduce itching. It also helps in keeping cockroaches, moths and other insects at bay from our wardrobe. Camphor is used in religious ceremonies too. Besides, it is beneficial for the skin and hair.

Here are some skin, hair and health benefits of camphor:

1. Relieves Pain and Swelling

On the skin it acts as a counter irritant and is therefore used topically to relieve pain and swelling. It causes numbness of sensory nerve endings of skin, thereby reliving pain and inflammation, and preventing skin redness.

knee pain

2. Alleviates Skin Rashes

Another skin problem faced by many people is rashes that cause redness. Camphor can help in getting rid of rashes and redness when used as topical itch relieving gels.

How to use: Just dissolve the camphor oil in water and apply it on the affected area for a few days.

3. Treatment of Nail Fungus

Nail fungus or onychomycosis may require treatment by oral anti-fungal, but topical preparations like Vaporub containing camphor oil can be added for faster clearing of the fungus. However, it is effective against onychomycosis caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Candida parapsilosis, which are species of fungi.


4. Used to Treat Eczema

Camphor can be used to treat irritated symptoms of eczema in kids and adults. Camphor helps in relieving the pain and inflammation, which is a symptom of eczema. Camphor is also found in many lotions and ointment treatments of eczema.

5. Helps Induce Sleep
Fragrance of camphor oil has a calming effect on the mind and brings a good night’s sleep.

How to use: Few drops of the oil can be rubbed on the pillow to induce sleep.


6. Treats Cold and Cough

Camphor helps in treating cold and cough and relieves throat congestion. Camphor oil is an ingredient of many vaporub and decongestants.

How to use: Rub some on your chest and back and let it work its magic.


7. Promotes Hair Growth

Less hair on the scalp is a nightmare. This could result due to a number of factors, such as improper hair care routine and spending lots and lots of money on chemical loaded hair care products. So, here’s a solution to the problem – use camphor oil. Application of camphor oil on the hair makes it soft and boosts hair growth.

How to use: Mix camphor oil to your regular oil and apply it on the scalp. This will stimulate blood flow to the applied area and promote hair growth.

8. Home Remedy for Head Lice

Camphor oil mixed in bathing water is used for the treatment of Pediculosis capitis or head lice.

How to use: Mix powdered camphor tablet in coconut oil and apply it evenly on scalp and hair before going to bed. Wash your hair with shampoo and say goodbye to lice. This is because camphor powder suffocates the lice and hence kills them.

hair care