Life Style


Yoga and Exercise:

People of all ages can do yoga, and the asanas can even be adapted for people with disabilities or special needs. Yoga's purpose is to strengthen the body and make it more
flexible, as well as to calm the mind and awaken the spirit -- in effect, to provide a physical, mental and spiritual system of health. It does this through physical poses, or "asanas," breathing techniques and meditation practice. The poses enhance muscle strength, coordination, flexibility and agility, and can help a bad back feel better. According to the National Institutes of Health, when people actively seek to reduce the stress in their lives by quieting the mind, the body often works to heal itself. In this sense, yoga can be seen not only as a way to get into shape on several levels, but also as a tool for self-healing. There are lots of ways to work on your physical fitness. Few, however, bring as many benefits to the body, mind and spirit as yoga.

Asthma and Yoga

Yoga exercises helped asthma symptoms in a small group of patients exposed to toxic gas in the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, a group of Indian doctors reported at the World Congress of Asthma on 19th October, 1999. Dr. Ingrid Eckerman, from Nacka Hospital in Sweden, and doctors from Bhopal reported that the Sambhavna Trust, which was set up to treat victims, developed an individualized yoga program for 26 people who had been exposed to toxic gases. "Yoga seems to be an effective means to provide sustained relief to persons suffering from chronic breathlessness as a consequence of toxic gas exposure," the researchers concluded.

Breast Health and Exercise:

Women who exercise an hour a day or more may reduce their risk of breast cancer by 20 percent, according to one of the biggest studies ever done on the topic published on October 25 in Archives of Internal Medicine.  A 1997 study in Norway found that women who exercised at least four hours a week were about a third less likely to get breast cancer.

Stress and Exercise:

There is a solution for stress! Exercise every day! Four related studies, supervised by Monika Fleshner, assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held October 23 to 28 in Miami, Fla., have shown that regular, moderate exercise can reduce stress.

Hunger and Obesity

Despite a booming US economy, nearly 4 million American families continue to experience hunger on a regular basis, according to a federal report issued on October 14, 1999. "During this, the most prosperous economy in decades, it should shock most Americans to learn that hunger persists and it is in every state," said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, after the release of the 1998 Current population Survey conducted each year by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Ironically, obesity in the US is an epidemic that has surged in the past decade and now affects nearly one in five adults, killing some 300,000 a year, a collection of new studies (Journal of the American Medical Association) suggest.  A report by the Federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says that number of obese Americans sharply rose from 1 in 8 in 1991 to almost 1 in 5 in 1998. Georgia leads the US with a 102 percent increase. The traditional Southern lifestyle consists of mainly of fried chicken, potato salad, barbecue and lack of exercise. The laid-back Southern lifestyle is impacting waistlines below the Mason-Dixon Line!  Heymsfield of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York told science reporters at a conference of the American Medical Association said, "diet and exercise are ultimately the mainstay of treatment" for obesity, although it is possible that scientists may one day be able to switch off appetite.

Obesity and Exercise:

It is a fashion to blame it on genes! If you are obese, genes are responsible, not you. Even if you are a criminal your genes are responsible, not you!  That is the trend in thinking in America. But, the reality is different.  America's problems with extra weight are not so much in their genes as they are in their discipline, researchers say.  Only a little less eating or more activity is all it would take to turn around weight problems that kill many Americans early, the researchers say. Just the same, we don't do it.  "Modest changes in what we are eating, and what we are doing may go a long way," said Dr. William H. Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Fifty calories a day less food and more exercise works out to 10 pounds less weight over a year!

Even moderate excess weight is linked to a greater risk of dying early. The American Cancer Society report, published on October 7, 1999 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the risk began to rise with a body mass index, a weight ( kilograms)-to-height (square of meters) ratio that should be below 25.  "Small permanent changes are what we should strive for, rather than radical or punitive weight loss programs," said the cancer society study's lead author, Eugenia E. Calle. It could start with as little as a daily 15-minute walk out your front door and a 15-minute walk back, she said. It also could involve eating more fruits and vegetables, and less high-calorie processed foods, she said.

Obesity and Diet:

A high-fiber diet, already linked to preventing heart disease and cancer, may also fight obesity, according to a new 10-year study involving more than 2,900 adults who consumed 15 grams to 25 grams of fiber daily, released on October 21, 1999.  Federal guidelines recommended 20 to 25 grams of fiber per day.   A bowl of high-fiber cereal can contain 25 grams of fiber. Fiber slows the rate of nutrient absorption, reducing the rise of blood sugar levels and secretion of insulin,  thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples are a good source of dietary fiber and are identified as a major source of several antioxidant phytochemicals that may prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer, and may prevent damage to blood vessels that can lead to heart disease. No single fruit or vegetable has everything we need, but together they offer a wide range of health benefits. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is now seen as one of the most important ways that diet can promote good health.

Dr. Kaumudi J. Joshipura and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, report in The Journal of the American Medical  Association,that those who eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day are less likely to suffer from ischemic stroke,  than those who eat fewer than three servings a day.  Boston investigators studied the association between total daily fruit and vegetable intake and ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke, in 75,596 women between the ages of 34 to 59 enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study and followed for 14 years. The lowest risk of ischemic stroke overall was found in men and women who ate broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, as well as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

Heart Disease and Peas:

Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., and spokesperson for the American Heart Association says, "It's important to consume diets with adequate folate.  A new study shows that a diet rich in folate and B vitamins may reduce the risk of heart disease.  Past research has shown that people with high  concentrations of the amino acid homocysteine in their blood are at increased risk for stroke and heart disease. It is also known that a combination of folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 can decrease homocysteine levels. All enriched flour, rice and grain products are now mandated to include folate that can also be found naturally in asparagus and green peas.

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 10/30/1999

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