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Breakfast

By Rongana Nath

Breakfast! The Non-Negotiable Meal

Breakfast! The Non-Negotiable Meal

Rongana Nath

You may have heard it before, but we are saying it again. No one should miss the first and most important meal of the entire day, also commonly known as breakfast. And here’s why!

Provides Energy

After fasting overnight, breakfast helps restore the blood glucose/sugar levels. Glucose plays a vital role in providing the body with the energy it needs to get through the day. If the glucose levels are not normal, the body is low on energy. It is important to start the day with protein and carbs. Carbs create glucose and energy while proteins help in feeling full until lunchtime.

Curbs Sugar Craving and Controls Appetite

What one eats at the beginning of the day controls blood sugar levels. The blood sugar increases slightly after breakfast which the body cells absorb in the next few hours, providing fuel to the body to function properly. Skipping breakfast activates the hunger hormones which can make a person overeat and also go for unhealthy and sugary foods as a quick bite.

Improves Concentration

When the body is powered up, the brain regains concentration and alertness. It also improves mood and decreases stress levels. No breakfast can make a person feel fuzzy as the brain is deprived of the right nutrients to get started in the morning.

 What to Eat?

 

What Not to Eat?

 

References-

https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/15-benefits-breakfast/

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/health-benefits-of-breakfast-why-is-it-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day-1419403

https://www.vitamix.com/us/en_us/4-benefits-of-breakfast

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-worst-foods-in-the-morning

https://food.ndtv.com/lists/10-best-indian-breakfast-recipes-696080

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning#section1

https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/g20430129/7-breakfast-foods-to-avoid/

 

Images-

Pixabay

Apple

By Rongana Nath

Benefits: An Apple a Day

Apples contain antioxidants and nutrients which keeps the body healthy in various ways. Learn about the reasons why eating an apple every day will keep you healthy.

By Rongana Nath

Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)

Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)

Rongana Nath

Winter is officially here (along with the festive season) and you shouldn’t be surprised at what the weighing scale might tell you. However, though imminent in some people, weight gain in the winters may have nothing to do with the season but might occur due to some habits.

Eating Habits

  • Winter is also festive time and with that come sweet delights such as cakes, cookies and traditional sweets like laddoos, gajar ka halwa (the list is endless). Unfortunately, they are all full of sugar. Eating excess sugar is known to promote weight gain. Doctors advise eating lots of groundnuts but not its sweetened products which are high on fat content (groundnut is 40% fat only).
  • Exposure to less sunlight during winters is also known to play a negative role.  It was found that exposure to the blue light emitted by the sun can reduce the fat cells beneath the skin. Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, a natural hormone that boosts a person’s mood. Lack of sunlight may affect the production of serotonin, making some people at risk of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a medical condition which affects a person’s mood and behaviour.  It is said when a person is sad or depressed, they crave more carbs that can increase the serotonin levels. If a person opts for unhealthy carbs like donuts and cookies, it makes them prone to weight gain.
  • The cold weather is also known to boost metabolism by burning more energy in an attempt to keep the body warmer. Increased metabolism means you feel hungrier and may overeat than actually needed.

Less Physical Activity

It’s common to skip morning exercising routine in winters and not doing physical activities has a lot to do with weight gain.

More Sleep

Most people love cuddling and feeling warm under a blanket when temperatures dip. Sleeping longer may not be a direct factor for weight gain but it definitely cuts down exercise time, which then contributes to the problem.

 

Fixing the Problem

To avoid weight gain, you first need to control food intake habits.

  • It is advised to eat protein which often gives a feeling of fullness, cutting the unnecessary food cravings. Add chicken, eggs, fish and beans to your diet.
  • Fibre-rich food like fruits and vegetables and whole grains stimulate leptin, a hormone that signals the brain when a person has eaten enough which then keeps overeating at bay.
  • Bad carbs such as white pasta, white bread, and sweets increase appetite which leads to overeating, so they should be avoided.
  • Simply running, walking, and cycling can help burn calories. It is best to exercise 6 days a week to avoid weight gain.

 

Stress

By Rongana Nath

Stress is Causing You Harm and it’s Not Worth it

Stress is Causing You Harm and it’s Not Worth it

Rongana Nath

A news report published in July 2018 talks about how 9 out of 10 Indians suffer from stress, with work being one of the key triggers. And surprisingly, nearly 75% of Indians do not want to seek medical help for their stress.

Stress is described as a physical response of the body that includes a feeling of strain and pressure.  When the body senses a threat or experiences any kind of demand, the nervous system releases what are known as stress hormones that alert the body for emergency action. This brings sudden changes in body functions. The blood pressure rises, senses turn sharper, breathing and heart rate increases, and the muscles get tighter. These hormones also prepare the person for what is called a ‘fight-or-flight’ response wherein under extreme stress, one either faces the situation in front of them or they flee.

Each person reacts differently to stress or stressful situations in life.

Work-related stress is not a new phenomenon. Tight schedules and deadlines, erratic work-sleep hours and the growing competitiveness are some of the common reasons for people to feel stress at their workplace.

Impact of Stress

Doctors say that a little stress is not a bad thing as it may help a person feel motivated, meet challenges, and focus even more. When someone is stressed, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are naturally released into the bloodstream but a long-term exposure can affect the physical and mental health of a person in many ways.

  • Adrenaline is known to increase the heart rate and blood pressure and high levels of cortisol for a long time can also elevate blood pressure and increase blood cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood).
  • Cortisol is known to increase appetite. To curb this increased appetite, people often indulge in foods that may not necessarily be healthy. With time, this could lead to being overweight and obese.
  • Too much stress can also affect the glucose level/ blood sugar level of the body as cortisol increases sugar levels in the bloodstream. This can upset people with existing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes even more.
  • Some people turn to smoking and drinking to cope with stress but these activities, in turn, harm the heart.
  • A headache can occur if sleep pattern is disturbed and meals are skipped due to stress.
  • Prolonged or chronic stress is also known to trigger depression if someone fails to cope well with it. Someone not coping well with stress may often find themselves to be in a bad mood and also become less productive.
  • One can have an upset stomach when the body goes through changes as a part of the stress response. One of them is the suppression of digestion which goes back to normal once the hyper-stimulated state of the body goes down. But this repeated stress-response hyper-stimulated state of the body can cause stomach problems.
  • Chest and muscle pain often accompanies stress.

 Impact on Mental Health

Someone who lets stress act against their mind and body may commonly experience-

  • Lack of motivation
  • Problems in sleeping
  • Loss of concentration

Don’t Ignore It

Stress is a normal part of life but it is better to identify it and work on it. To deal with work-related stress and also to reverse the health effects, doctors recommend that one should

  • Invest a small amount of time in a hobby or doing something of interest. This may help in de-stressing.
  • Indulge in physical activities that can lift the mood. Meditation and yoga can help calm the mind. It is advised to take short breaks in-between work and avoid working non-stop for long hours.
  • Talk to family and friends as sharing problems with close ones often makes one feel better.
  • Have a balanced diet comprising fruit and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids (eggs, walnuts, soybean), and high-quality protein (chicken breast, cottage cheese, milk, oats). Eating healthy is always good for the body. It is advised to consult a doctor or dietician for a personal diet plan and follow it.
  • Seek help from a doctor, therapist or a specialized counsellor if it is difficult to cope with work pressures.

Stress, especially work-related stress, is often inevitable but being aware of it and managing it makes a huge difference in how it impacts a person.

 

References

Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Help Guide org. (n.d.). https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm

WHO. (n.d.). http://www.who.int/occupational_health/topics/stressatwp/en/

Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress/faq-20058233

Images- Freepik

 

Carbs

By Rongana Nath

Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs

Carbohydrates are a vital part of healthy nutrition and energy. But you should know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. Discover it in this image.

Rongana Nath

 

Fruit

By Rongana Nath

Winter and Flu: The Connection

Winter and Flu: The Connection

Rongana Nath

Winter is setting in and you can already feel the sniffles and chill in the air. You have a cold and a stuffy nose and you’re hoping that it will pass. However, this could also be Flu – the commonly misunderstood disease. Often common cold and flu are assumed to be the same disease because they share similar symptoms such as a cough and a stuffy nose. But flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus, that also brings with it symptoms like a sudden onset of fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, body ache, cold sweat and exhaustion. There are four types of seasonal influenza viruses called Influenza A, B, C and D. Influenza A and B have subtypes of the virus as well. It generally spreads by droplets when a person who has flu sneezes, coughs and talks. Sometimes the virus can enter the body if a person touches their mouth, nose and eyes after touching anything, for example, an object which has the flu virus on the surface.

Does the Winter Bring Flu?

In many parts of the world, influenza is said to be more prevalent during winters. Since cases of flu increase when the temperature goes down, winter weather is named as the culprit. But, there are actually various factors associated with winter that triggers the influenza virus to spread more.

  • Firstly, the influenza virus is known to survive better and longer in the cold, dry weather rather than in warm, humid weather.
  • Lack of sunlight during winter can cause Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps in keeping the immune system strong which in turn fends off the virus.
  • The habit of staying indoors in the cold weather can make it easier to spread. A person who already has flu can pass it on to other people in the house.

Unlike cold, flu can cause severe illness and sometimes even can turn life-threatening. The National Centre for Disease Control reports that till the end of October 2018, India reported 10853 cases of seasonal influenza of which 817 patients died. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that influenza may occur throughout the year in tropical, warm and humid regions, like India. But it is more widespread during winters in temperate climates like in the US, where it is neither very hot nor very cold.

The virus is so contagious that an infected person can pass the flu even before the symptoms appear and also after a week after falling sick. Influenza can affect anyone but some people are more at risk of catching it faster. Children under 5 years, elderly, pregnant women, people with immunosuppressive conditions like HIV/AIDS and chronic medical conditions related to heart and liver are more susceptible.

Dealing With Flu

Since both cold and flu may look alike, it is important to visit a doctor. After a physical examination, the doctor may prescribe some antiviral medication. Generally, the symptoms of flu decrease with ample rest and fluid intake. In some people, the antiviral medicines can trigger side effects like vomiting and nausea. If a person has flu or is recovering, they should limit outside contact since the virus can spread to others.

If the symptoms of flu are mild, one can take over-the-counter medications, enough rest for the immune system to fight the infection and drink hot soups, fresh fruit juices and water to prevent dehydration.

According to doctors, yearly vaccination is the best prevention from the disease. With a doctor’s consultation, everyone over 6 months of age can get a flu shot to decrease their chances. Children under 6 months of age should not take this shot. The flu shots cause symptoms like a headache, muscle aches, fever, and an upset stomach. In India, there is no national policy for influenza immunization but soon the country will roll out a quadrivalent vaccine, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization.

The quadrivalent vaccine will contain four influenza virus strains will provide greater protection. Vaccination can not only decrease the occurrence of influenza but also bring down mortality rates.

 

References

http://www.searo.who.int/india/topics/influenza/en/

http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)

http://www.sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/the-reason-for-the-season-why-flu-strikes-in-winter/

https://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-31/issue-10/features/infectious-diseases-preparing-for-winter.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351725

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/in-a-first-who-recommends-quadrivalent-influenza-vaccine/article24180435.ece

 

 

Winters

By Rongana Nath

Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!

Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!

Rongana Nath

With the temperature going down, it’s always tempting to sleep for a few extra hours under the warmth of a blanket. No one will dispute that missing out on exercising comes more easily in the winters.  However, like the rest of year, winter calls for some kind of moderate activity. And there are several reasons why skipping it is not a good idea.

Provides More Energy

Exercising actually gives a person more energy, that helps keep away the morning winter blues. People who exercise regularly in the winters are known to have increased energy levels as compared to those who don’t do it. This is because physical activities increase the levels of endorphins, a group of hormones which are naturally produced to cope with pain and stress. It is released in the brain during many situations, one of which includes exercising. Endorphins induce exhilaration and relieve pain in the body.

Improves Mood

Physical activities boost the mood due to the increase in levels of hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. These hormones are known to boost positive feeling in the body. It also improves sleep quality making one feel fresh.

Boosts the Immune System

  • Physical activities can make white blood cells more active in detecting illnesses and neutralizing harmful bacteria and viruses. The primary function of white blood cells is to protect the body by fighting disease.
  • Too much stress can sometimes increase the chances of illness. Exercising can help decrease the production of stress hormones in the body.
  • Exercising can also get rid of bacteria in the lungs and airways, decreasing the risk of suffering from winter-related diseases like cold and flu.
  • Our body temperature rises during exercising. This increases the body’s ability to fight an infection as the temperature rise prevents bacteria from growing.

Prevents Winter Weight Gain

Winters are also when one tends to binge eat and sleep for extra hours. But these habits often mean a few extra kilos. Exercising is one of the easiest ways to shed the extra weight and stay fit.

 

 

Checklist Before Exercising!

Warm Up

It is advised to start with less strenuous exercises to make the body feel flexible, enhance blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the cells to prepare the body for a workout session.

Wear Sunscreen and Stay Hydrated

Like summer, one can get sunburned in winter too. The sun may feel warm but can harm you. That’s why one should always apply sunscreen. Similarly, it’s advisable to keep the body hydrated even though one may not feel thirsty as often. Sweating and the dryness in the winter wind can easily make a person dehydrated.

Dress in Layers

Exercising generates ample heat in the body which means one may not have to put on too many warm clothes. Dressing in layers will make it easier to remove some cover while exercising.

Wear Your Mask

The air quality is severe almost all the time so it’s best to wear a mask while exercising. But if the air quality feels bad, it is best to avoid exercising outdoors and workout session indoors.

 

 

Reference
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/safe-winter-exercise/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626

https://fusioncardiotoronto.com/fitbitsblogsintoronto/2017/10/27/why-its-important-to-warm-up-before-you-exercise

Image source- Pixabay

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Photo Credits: Freepik, Stocksnap, Unsplash, Graphicburger, Pixabay
AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is Changing Healthcare
Breakfast
Breakfast! The Non-Negotiable Meal
Apple
Benefits: An Apple a Day
Winter Weight Gain (And How to Avoid It)
Stress
Stress is Causing You Harm and it’s Not Worth it
Carbs
Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
Fruit
Winter and Flu: The Connection
Winters
Hibernating This Winter? But Don’t Ditch Exercising!