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Stretching exercises more effective for combating hypertension

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New research suggests that stretching might be more effective than brisk walking at lowering high blood pressure for people with hypertension. Study analysts of this research randomly assigned 40 males and females to 30 minutes of either stretching exercises or brisk walking. The participants did their allocated exercise on 5 days of the week for a total of 8 weeks. They found that 30 minutes of stretching on 5 days of the week led to greater improvements in blood pressure than a 30-minute walk on 5 days of the week. Nevertheless, brisk walking was associated with more significant reductions in the participants’ waistlines. The study appears in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

However, the study researchers also stressed upon the fact that people should still do aerobic exercise as it has many health benefits. Dr. Phil Chilibeck emphasized on the fact that it is more important during the pandemic wherein sedentary lifestyle has become more dominant and this is where instead of sitting and watching TV, one could do stretching exercises as a  healthier activity.  Dr. Phil Chilibeck is Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and co-author of the new study.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, undiagnosed or uncontrolled hypertension can lead to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, eye damage, and vascular dementia. Doctors usually recommend aerobic exercise to reduce blood pressure. However, previous research has suggested that stretching could lower blood pressure by reducing the stiffness of arteries and improving blood flow.

The current study aimed to compare the effects of stretching and walking on blood pressure and is one of the first analyses to do so. The stretching program comprised 21 stretching exercises, and the participants performed each stretch twice, holding it for 30 seconds, with 15 seconds of rest between stretches. The researchers asked the participants in the walking program to monitor their pulse and increase their walking pace if it fell short of 50–65% of the maximal heart rate for their age. Results showed that compared with brisk walking, stretching was associated with larger reductions in blood pressure across five of the 12 measurements. The remaining seven measurements revealed no difference between walking and stretching.

The study authors also concluded that yoga and Pilates, which also involve a lot of stretching, also reduce blood pressure, which could also be since yoga incorporates breath control and meditation, which previous studies have shown positive improvements in blood pressure measurements on its own too.

UIN: 184HP94R

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Coronavirus

Everyone can benefit from a probiotic

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Probiotics are live microorganisms that can be consumed through foods such as curd/yoghurt and through supplemental forms. Studies show that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to overall health and disease and probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria. They are used in managing and treating a variety of disease states. They are live microorganisms that are known to help improve gut health and include benefits for weight loss, digestive health, immune function and more.

However, current research suggests that probiotic supplements may not benefit everyone and should not be prescribed as a one-size-fits-all supplement. However, when taken in moderation according to your clinician’s advice, probiotics have a plethora of benefits reported in literature. Recent researches point out that changes in the gut microbiota would lead to a systemic inflammation that in different ways would reach the CNS modulating inflammatory pathways and especially the microglia, which could influence responses to treatments. Probiotics have therefore shown antidepressant responses and anti-inflammatory effects.

Studies also show probiotics promote mental flexibility and alleviate stress in healthy older adults, along with causing changes in gut microbiota. The probiotics exert their beneficial effects through modulation of host immune responses, maintain gut homeostasis and produce interferon thereby suppressing the virus induced cytokine storm.

Studies have also shown probiotics could significantly decrease the serum levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 and increase the serum albumin levels, upper arm circumference, and triceps skinfold thickness in patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis. 

What’s more – Probiotics may potentially have a beneficial role in preventing COVID-19. A recent study quotes, “The efficacy of probiotics has been studied previously on several respiratory tract viral infections. Probiotics comprise living microbes that upon oral administration benefit human health by reshaping the composition of gut microbiota. The close kinship of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract suggests why the dysfunction of one may incite illness in others. The emerging studies suggest the capability of probiotics to regulate immune responses in the respiratory system.”

However, some studies showed that bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine related to probiotic use can lead to bloating, gas, and other adverse side effects. Additionally, some studies show that probiotic treatment following a course of antibiotics may delay the natural reconstitution of normal gut bacteria.

Therefore, it is recommended that you get a health checkup done starting from consulting your family physician who will advise if you need probiotic supplementation or not.

UIN: 220HP121R

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Coronavirus

Fully vaccinated individuals have lower travel risk but can be carriers

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While the debate for vaccinations continues across the globe, there is good news for those who have gotten vaccinated. Vaccination reduces risk of infection about 15-20 days after the dosing is complete. According to the new guidelines issued by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), US, it is okay to travel domestically if you are fully vaccinated. Which means, you have completed the two doses of the two-dose vaccines or one dose of the J&J vaccine. Or as the CDC puts it’s, “you’re considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after you receive the last required dose of the COVID-19 vaccine”.

While the US has issued statements that fully vaccinated domestic travelers don’t need to be tested before or after traveling unless their destination requires it, in India the rules for entering different states by air need to be checked well in time because a lot of states mandate a negative RT-PCR test for entry requirements. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has issued guidelines for International Travel and so has the Ministry of Civil Aviation for domestic travel on 30th March 2021. The DGCA has stated that surveillance across the airports in India will now be increased to ensure all COVID-19 protection protocols are taken into account.

On 13th April 2021, the Indian Railways has also confirmed that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and related hygiene issues, they have also stopped service of cooked food and replaced the same with Ready to Eat (RTE) meals in trains. In addition, they have ensured that the COVID-19 related protective items such as masks, sanitizers, gloves etc. and takeaway bedroll kits/items, are available for sale through Multi-Purpose Stalls at Stations.

However, as is recommended, even fully vaccinated travelers should still follow the recommendations for traveling safely, including wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, staying 6 feet away from others and avoiding crowds, washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer, self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms after traveling, and isolate and get tested if symptoms develop

It is still very important to stay cautious and avoid potential exposures to the coronavirus whenever possible during travel, mainly because vaccination drives are still ongoing, and it is not recommended to travel unguarded since a lot of COVID-19 patients remain asymptomatic and can continue to spread the virus to other unvaccinated people. Also, no vaccine is a 100% fail safe yet, so a very small fraction of fully vaccinated people may still be at risk because emerging variants of the virus add a measure of uncertainty.

UIN: 219HP120R

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Carbohydrates make you gain weight

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Weight gain is associated with many factors besides just a high fat or high carbohydrate diet. We have carried numerous stories on maintaining an ideal weight and what factors affect weight – weight gain and weight loss.  Just as fat has been blamed for promoting weight gain and heart disease, carbohydrates have been shunned by many people over fears that consuming this macronutrient will cause obesity, diabetes, and other adverse health effects. However, in reality, eating a moderate amount of nutritious (or good) carbohydrates that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like starchy root vegetables, grains, and legumes benefit health and not harm it.

However, what is also important to understand is that diabetes is one of the most prevalent health conditions in Indians. Dietary carbohydrates form the major source of energy in our diets. The carbohydrate quantity and quality play a vital function in the prevention and management of diabetes and higher carbohydrate diets are linked to higher prevalence and incidence of diabetes.

Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, legumes, pulses and green leafy vegetables are good carbohydrates. Conversely, highly polished rice or refined wheat, sugar, glucose, highly processed foods such as cookies and pastries, fruit juice and sweetened beverages and fried potatoes or French fries are obviously ‘bad’ carbohydrates. Ultimately, it is all a matter of balance and moderation in diet. For Indians who currently consume about 65-75% calories from carbohydrates, reducing this to 50-55% and adding enough protein (20-25%) especially from vegetable sources and the rest from fat (20-30%) by including monounsaturated fats (e.g., groundnut or mustard oil, nuts and seeds) along with a plenty of green leafy vegetables, would be the best diet prescription for the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.

Similarly, knowledge of ‘bad’ carbohydrates is also important—for e.g., carbohydrate-rich foods like cakes, cookies, sweetened beverages, and white bread should be restricted, as these foods can increase weight gain and disease risk when eaten in excess.

Therefore, it is safe to conclude that including healthy carbohydrate choices in your diet won’t make you gain weight. However, following unhealthy eating patterns and overindulging in carb-rich sugary foods will lead to weight gain.

UIN:222HP62F

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Coronavirus

Real-world data shows 90% efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

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Pfizer-BioNTech and ModernaCOVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines but are not available in India yet. These COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in randomized placebo-controlled Phase III trials.

A new study has shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-NIAID vaccines are effective at preventing infections in the real world. According to the CDC, the authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in real-world conditions. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all eligible persons.

 This study has been published March 29 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA. Study analysts have seen that the two-dose vaccine regimen was 90% effective at preventing infections 2 weeks after receiving the second dose.

This new study restores faith in the COVID-19 vaccines and has shown to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections in real-world settings. As per the study results, this data is similar to those from earlier phase 3 clinical trials published in the journal New England Journal of Medicine, which found an efficacy of more than 90% for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna-NIAID vaccines. This is encouraging news for everyone across the globe because real-world effectiveness is often conservative and therefore, lower due to a number of factors.

Dr. James H. Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said what we really care about is a vaccine’s effectiveness — its real-world potential. He further added that such studies are not only proving how effective the vaccines can be for the studies and research data, but also show the true power of vaccines for real-world COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, results published in the recent report from the CDC reassure that the vaccines are working as well as they are hoped to, in curbing the pandemic and in turn, stopping the spread of the virus.

Get vaccinated today!!

Read about the vaccination registration procedure here. For details about the type of vaccine and the dosing schedule, read here.

UIN: 210HP115R

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Coronavirus

Sputnik V submitted for DGCI approval for emergency use authorization

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On 13th April 2021, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.  After Covishield, developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, this will be the third vaccine against the novel coronavirus that has been granted emergency use authorization in India.

India is the 60th country to approve Sputnik V—the rollout for which is likely to begin by end of April or early May.Currently, the Sputnik V will be imported before the local production kicks in. It is hoped that this emergency approval of Sputnik V will strengthen the government efforts to scale up vaccination, as India is battling the second wave of the pandemic with close to 1.4 lac cases reported on 12th April 2021.

India is also the leading production hub for Sputnik V, since its parent manufacturer company has reached agreements with the leading pharmaceutical companies in India such as Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech aimed at production of more than 850 million doses per year, sufficient to vaccinate more than 425 million people around the world.

The vaccine Sputnik V ranks second among coronavirus vaccines globally in terms of the number of approvals issued by government regulators and has an efficacy of 91.6%. It has shown encouraging results in protection against severe cases of COVID-19 as demonstrated by the data published in one of the leading medical journals The Lancet.

Sputnik V uses two different vectors (adenovirus 26 and adenovirus 5) for the two shots in a course of vaccination, providing immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots.The safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades. There are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V and with a storage temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, the vaccine can be stored in conventional refrigerators without the need to invest in additional cold-chain infrastructure.

UIN: 221HP122R

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