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Eat plant-based diet, avoid dairy products to prevent asthma

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New Delhi, Suffering from asthma? Read this carefully. Following a plant-based diet can help prevent and manage asthma, while dairy products and high-fat foods raise the risk, a new study suggests.

Asthma is a common chronic condition in which the airways become narrow and inflamed–sometimes leading to difficulty with breathing, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

“Asthma can make people more vulnerable in the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and this research offers hope that dietary changes could be helpful,” said study researcher Hana Kahleova from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US.

For the findings, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, the research team examined the evidence related to diet and asthma and found that certain foods–including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fibre foods–can be beneficial, while others–such as dairy products and foods high in saturated fat–can be harmful.

The researchers highlight a study finding that when compared to a control group, asthma patients who consumed a plant-based diet for eight weeks experienced a greater reduction in use of asthma medication and less severe, less frequent symptoms.

In another study, asthma patients adopted a plant-based diet for a year and saw improvements in vital capacity–a measure of the volume of air patients can expel–and other measures.

The authors suggest that a plant-based diet is beneficial because it has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation, which can exacerbate asthma. Plant-based diets are also high in fibre, which has been positively associated with improvements in lung function.

The researchers also highlight the antioxidants and flavonoids found in plant foods, which may have a protective effect.

The review also found that dairy consumption can raise the risk for asthma and worsen symptoms.

According to the researchers, one 2015 study found that children who consumed the most dairy had higher odds of developing asthma, compared with the children consuming the least.

In another study, children with asthma were placed in either a control group, where they made no dietary changes or in an experimental group where they eliminated dairy and eggs for eight weeks, the researchers said.

After eliminating dairy, the experimental group experienced a 22 per cent improvement in peak expiratory flow rate–a measure of how fast the children were able to exhale–while children in the control group experienced a 0.6 per cent decrease.

High fat intake, consumption of saturated fat, and low fibre intake were also associated with airway inflammation and worsened lung function in asthma patients.

“This groundbreaking research shows that filling our plates with plant-based foods–and avoiding dairy products and other high-fat foods–can be a powerful tool for preventing and managing asthma,” Kahleova said.


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Explaining time-sensitiveness of assisted reproduction

These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life,” reiterates Chirumamilla.

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sex buddy during lockdown

New Delhi, Aug 9 : According to WHO, every 1 in 8 couples (or 12 per cent of married women) has gone through complexities getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. This calls for a timely intervention and awareness amongst the patients to when to consider medical intrusion and opt for an IVF procedure.

Recent statistics show that an on-time IVF has higher success rates than a delayed initiation. This revolutionary procedure is an effective treatment to treat infertility and helps in the conception of a child. Depending on the criticality, patients might opt for less invasive treatment options before going ahead with IVF, which includes reproductive medications, increased production of eggs, or intrauterine insemination. However, if a couple has repeatedly failed to conceive after all other treatments and desires to attempt for IVF, then they should be aware of the procedure and importance of time for opting the same, she says.

IANSlife spoke to Dr. Lakshmi Chirumamilla, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility Hyderabad who explains in detail:

Patients, planning to undergo assisted reproductive treatment (ART) like IVF, should first understand that the procedure is usually done using their own eggs and their partners’ sperm. It may also involve eggs, sperm or embryos from an anonymous donor in some cases considering other complexities. Therefore, when a couple undergoes the first sign of infertility, they should consult a fertility expert to understand their biological risk stage, as the process and success rate will depend on their ability to produce eggs or sperms. Patients experience a series of tests like an evaluation of ovarian reserve, semen analysis, uterine cavity exam etc., and post that only in-vitro fertilization is initiated.

In some cases, women with growing age deplete their ovarian reserve and men tend to have lesser sperm count. This often can lead to diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), which happens when women ovaries lose their reproductive potential, causing permanent infertility. Here, the most vulnerable age is after 37 years. In a situation like this, fertility treatment becomes complicated with intricate procedures like embryo transfer as a next step.

“This whole procedure strictly includes a time-sensitive diagnosis and here, a delayed decision of IVF and other ART treatments can often lead to complicacies on the treatment outcome and that can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control. As per WHO, depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life,” reiterates Chirumamilla.

Adding, “We have witnessed varied cases, where time played a crucial role in the IVF process. We had a couple who came to Nova IVF seeking fertility treatment, where the 28 year old woman had been trying to conceive with her husband for the past 3 years. Up on a detailed further examination, we figures out that the husband’s semen analysis was normal, while woman had a low ovarian reserve. Here, the woman was advised to opt for IVF over a year ago, but had refrained from going ahead with it. Therefore, when a year later they finally decided to go for an assisted reproduction, the chances of the couple conceiving got decreased drastically due to her prolonged low ovarian reserve. Nevertheless, we opted for the procedure and post the first cycle of IVF, we ended up retrieving only two eggs and performed a single embryo transfer, which unfortunately came out negative. In the second cycle, we somehow managed to retrieve three eggs from the woman that then resulted in 2 embryos. Basis that, after performing a single embryo transfer in the second cycle, the woman was finally able to conceive.”

Considering all the odds and still being optimistic at a chance of parenthood, the couple did go ahead with the treatment keeping in mind the age and time-sensitive nature of any IVF-related treatment. It is always important to remember that age is not an indicator to undergo IVF treatment, when IVF is needed it is better to do it sooner than later. Treatment will always be advised according to the cause. Currently, the couple is happily pregnant awaiting the arrival of their little one.

Similar to this, assisted reproductive technology has aided many couples around the world to conceive and given meaning to their lives. There are countless success stories to inspire couples looking to undertake the procedure and fulfil their long-time desire to have a child.

There is no wrong time to have a baby, but it is wiser to not delay the process just because of the stereotyping of the society or present pandemic scenario. It is advisable not to neglect the early signs of infertility and consult a specialist at the initial stage to evaluate criticality and ensure a successful conception. Considering the present scenario, patients should always be cautious about the safety measures taken at the IVF centre and how stringently they are adhering to the govt. directives. Whenever visiting the clinic it is imperative to maintain at least one-meter distance from other people. Just make sure you avoid unnecessary contact with other people over there. Carrying hand sanitizer and mask is compulsory with frequent hand washes whenever required.

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

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Every citizen must fight the Covid war: Experts

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COVID-19 pandemic

Bengaluru, Aug 9 : With the government easing more restrictions under Unlock3.0 to further revive the economy since August 1, the war against the Coronavirus pandemic has to be fought by each and every citizen across the country, according to health experts, including epidemiologists.

“As the war against the elusive virus is going to be long and hard, the government alone cannot fight it, and the onus is on each and every citizen to join the battle even after a vaccine is found to treat it,” Karnataka health task force chairman M.K Sudarshan told IANS here.

By enforcing the lockdown since March 25 and extending it up to May 31 with stringent measures, ostensibly, to contain the virus spread, the government managed to control the situation initially and ensured that the country’s woeful healthcare infrastructure was not overwhelmed by lakhs of positive cases.

“The government, its agencies and healthcare warriors have been doing their best over the last 4 months, risking their lives to contain the pandemic, as is evident from the case data during the lockdown and after it was gradually lifted to revive socio-economic activities and restore livelihood.

“The onus to carry on the fight is more on all citizens by wearing masks, sanitising their hands and maintaining social distancing,” asserted Sudarshan, former head of the community medicine department in the state-run KIMS (Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences) hospital in the city centre.

The Karnataka government had set up the 6-member committee in mid-April to analyse the Covid-19 data from the southern state and across the country to study the epidemiology of the virus cases, how different patients got infected, what measures for breaking the chain and suggest changes, if required.

Though testing of swab samples to find who got the virus was less and results took longer time due to shortage of diagnostic labs, the stringent lockdown forced most of the people across the country to stay home, wash hands frequently and maintain social distancing at any cost.

“When lockdown was lifted and unlock 1.0 began on June 1, like a genie coming out of a bottle, thousands of citizens stepped out of houses, violated the norms and exposed themselves to the infection. With people travelling again in cities and states in their vehicles, buses, cabs and autos, select trains and flights, the number of citizens who tested positive soared by the day, as they too contracted the virus for violating the norms such as failing to isolate, quarantine and get treated if they were asymptomatic or get admitted in any designated hospital if they were symptomatic,” noted epidemiologist Giridhar Babu.

For instance, till the lockdown was in force up to May 31, the southern state with 7 crore population had just 3,221 positive cases and Bengaluru only 358 cases out of 1.2 crore (120 lakh) people. By June 30, the numbers shot up to 15,242 for state and 4,555 for the city.

“Within a fortnight by July 14, the cases shot up to 44,077 and 20,969, to a whopping 71,069 and 34,943 by July 19 or 5 days during unlock 2.0 and to a massive 1,64,924 and it is now 69,572 as on August 6 in Unlock 3.0,” Babu recalled.

Babu is also a member of the task force and faculty of the New Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India.

With hundreds of people returning from most-infected neighouring states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in cars, buses, trains or flights, the number of Covid cases zoomed in the state, especially in this tech hub by the day as they carried the virus like super spreaders and became a source of local transmission.

“Though a 9-day lockdown was again re-imposed from July 14 to July 22 in this tech city, 4 Sundays in July and night curfew was maintained till July 31, there was no let-up in the cases as they continue to climb, while recoveries also have been going up steadily,” reiterated Babu.

Admitting that lockdowns, shutdowns and night curfew do not reduce the cases but only delay them, noted pediatric cardiologist Vijayalakshmi I. Balekundri told IANS that the only way to be safe from the dreadful pandemic was to do “SMS” (sanitization of hands, mask-wearing and social distancing) as corona virus was a communicable disease and fatal as it attacks the respiratory system (lungs) and affects all other vital organs of the body.

“The onus of winning the war against the pandemic is more on 130-crore+ citizens than anyone else across the country. God helps those who help themselves is an old adage, as each has to take care of himself or herself from being infected by the virus till a vaccine is found, because it is preventable but not curable,” Balekundri said.

The Bengaluru Medical College and Research Institute Emeritus Professor said though all five fingers are not same or equal, they become a force as a fist when together and converge themselves into a weapon.

“Similarly, the thumb is for mask, index finger for washing hands, middle finger for social distancing, ring finger for maintaining toilet hygiene and little finger to avoid travelling to the extent possible or unless warranted,” Balekundri added.

By Fakir Balaji

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‘There is something indicating India may be moving from Covid-19 exponential rise’

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Wuhan China

New Delhi, Aug 8 : Currently, India is experiencing the worst phase in its fight against Covid-19 with a total of 61,537 new coronavirus cases getting reported in the last 24 hours, taking the overall caseload to 20,88,611, while the death toll mounting to 42,518 with 933 fresh fatalities.

But there may be a silver lining, as V.K. Paul, Member of Niti Aayog, said that the last five-day daily cases data indicate that India may be moving away from exponential rise.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the India International Centre on the topic towards a holistic long term medi-care system — the casede of Covid-19 — Paul, citing the day wise daily new cases data, said, “If we look at the five-day moving average, we could see some kind of stabilization; I do not know whether it is true or random, that only time will tell. May be, there is something out there, which is indicating that we may have moved away from exponential rise and we may be stabilising. But that only time will tell.”

Paul said that the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic was in the most populous cities, in the western half of the nation, where the pandemic originated. It seems now that the pandemic in this part of the country is now reaching some king of peak. “As we have seen in the context of Delhi,” he added

Paul said, “We still have large swathes of our geography and large swathes of our population, which are naive to this virus….the virus loves people, the virus loves dense places, the virus loves irresponsible citizens who do not look after their respiratory secretions and do not maintain physical distance.”

Citing the data on cases per million, he added that India has 1466 cases per million, and the world average, into the 7th month of the pandemic, is around 2500 per million. Paul said the disease load is modest and warned people not to be complacent, if cases begin to decline. “The trailer is over I think, but we are still before interval,” he added.

He insisted that mortality rates in India continue to be low and in terms of response, home based isolation protocols have succeeded. “Deaths will be imprinted in pages of history, how many deaths happened in this pandemic in a given nation…. Need to keep a sharp eye number of deaths… In case fatality rate, India is currently at 2.06….some of states have below 1 per cent case fatality rate. The highest we have seen for a state is 6 per cent or little above 6 per cent…” said Paul.

He insisted that in India the mortality burden so far has been on the lower side. “We like to keep our case fatality rate below 1 per cent….and it is possible,” he added.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

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Corona Virus (COVID-19) Live Data

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.