Friday, September 4, 2009

Food Allergies Can be Fatal - Be Careful

Have you ever experienced an immediate skin reaction like severe rashes or chronic asthmatic attack as soon as you have a piece of pineapple or any other food item? Well, what you're suffering from is simply Food Allergy.


This condition can be observed in anybody irrespective to their age or sex. Basically food allergy is caused when our immune system, who is responsible to keep our body free from any kind of infections, fails to produce enough amounts of antibodies to destroy the harmful toxins/bacteria. And thus end up giving us the allergy reaction.

Remember food allergy is different from food poisoning or food intolerance (lactose intolerance/milk intolerance).As all of the symptoms of food allergy occur within a few minutes to an hour of eating a smallest bite/piece of allergens. A food allergy can initially be experienced as an itching in the mouth and difficulty in swallowing and breathing. Incidentally, the gastrointestinal symptoms of food allergy are very much similar to the symptoms of different types of food intolerance. But food intolerance symptoms are very mild and not immediate (and are mainly due to insufficiency of a particular enzyme or chemical required for digestion like in lactose intolerance) and life threatening while in case of allergy, it can be fatal if not treated quickly. Remember food allergy is not common but can be serious if ignored.

Management of Food Allergy

Now its not possible for a person who is allergic to particular food items to take medications every time he consumes his meal therefore one can opt for some precautions. Some of the precautionary measures one can take care of are:

1.The first and the most important step is as soon as one observes or suspects any kind of food allergy or intolerance, immediately visit your family GP to make a correct diagnosis and start a treatment.

2.In case of allergic children parents should not try to Panic otherwise even the child might get scared and may revolt/repulse to the given treatment.

3.Talk to your child’s school teachers and to the parents of playmates about the child’s allergies and its precautions like letting them know about the foods your child is allergic to and its medications or the first aid that can be given at the sudden allergy reactions.

4.Always keep an identity card in your child’s pocket with his name, address, list of food allergies from which your child suffers, guardian’s contact details, family physician’s contact details, so that in case of emergency it can be used.

5.Try and go for complete avoidance of allergy causing foods. But it's important that if foods are excluded from the diet suitable alternatives should be introduced to avoid any nutrient deficiencies. For this one can contact a dietitian /nutritionist who can offer practical advice (diet) about how to achieve this.

6.Person suffering from severe allergies should always read the food labels carefully before buying any kind of ready to eat food stuff from the market.

7.When in restaurants, keep it simple and avoid anything that is unknown. Or ask for a detailed composition (about the ingredients being used) of the dish if trying a new recipe.

8.Arm yourself with enough knowledge so that the food allergic person can be constantly vigilant about what they eat, and what they need to avoid.

9.Infact one can also go for food intolerance tests as a precaution and get know about its intolerances beforehand.

10.If one is unsure whether one has an allergy or hypersensitivity, withdraw the food for two weeks, than reintroduce it to see if one has a reaction.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stay Healthy - This Rains

In the months of June, July we await for our favorite season – Rainy Season. This monsoon not only relieves us from scorching heat but also brings along a set of problems and diseases that can result into serious complications if not paid attention.

The rainy season is notorious for bringing with it a host of viral, fungal and food borne illnesses that can range from simple cold, cough, and fever to stomach pain, diarrhea, food poisoning and gastroenteritis.

Foodborne illness generally results from consuming food or drink contaminated with pathogenic/harmful bacteria, viruses or toxins. Foodborne illness can occur from any fresh or processed foods consumed in a range of settings such as homes, restaurants, large catering establishments, schools and institutions. It often produces symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea, or fever. The symptoms are often caused by various sources like the unhygienic food, unhygienic surfaces, location or the food handler itself. This usually makes it hard to tell that illness is caused by food or from any other sources. Symptoms can take between a few hours to a few days to develop and may last for a few days, depending on the type of pathogen.Many people have mild symptoms and recover within a few days. However, if symptoms persist for more than 3 days or are very severe one should seek medical advice to the earliest. In many cases the effects of foodborne illness are only mild but in rare cases, foodborne illness can result in long-term health problems and even death. Some people who are extremely vulnerable, no matter what type of pathogen are involved. These include:

Very young children, infants
Pregnant women
The elderly and
People with compromised immune systems.

Your Line of Defense

1. One of the most common sources of infection during rainy season is water. Do not consume tap water directly. One should always drink water after boiling, filtering or by using commercially available reverse osmosis purifiers.

2. Avoid eating uncooked food during this season. If one really wants to have salads then make your salads when you are ready to eat them. Fruits and vegetables cut up and left to stand, lose vitamins and catch up pathogens.

3.When buying eggs, open the carton and inspect each egg for cleanliness. Make sure the eggs have no cracks or thinness in the shells. Eating raw eggs are another risky food and should be avoided at all costs. Similarly select cheese that is fresh and has no unusual mold or discolored spots. Dairy products should be dated and pasteurized.

4. Use healthy hygiene. This means washing your hands and doing it frequently. A good rule of thumb is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. It's also important to keep the kitchen sink, drain, and counter tops clean and disinfected before any food preparation. Make sure your cutting boards and utensils are cleaned by warm, soapy water. Change dish towels every alternate day. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Rewash apples, pears, or oranges before eating even if you washed them prior to placing them in the fruit bowl. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable.

5. Don't cross-contaminate one food with another.Put cooked meat on a clean plate, rather back on one that held the raw meat. Store raw foods in covered or sealed containers below other ready-to-eat foods inside the refrigerator to prevent food parts and meat juice/veg curries spilling or dripping on to other food. Always cover foods before storage in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards to protect them from contamination. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food, and leftovers within 2 hours.

6. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.

7.Maintain hot cooked food at 140°F or higher.

8. Reheat cooked food to at least 165°F.

9. Never defrost food on the kitchen counter. Use the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave oven.

10.Never let food marinate at room temperature—refrigerate it.

11. Avoid eating outside during rains.Avoid roadside stall foods as it might be source of harmful bacteria (Source can be unhygienic food handler,dirty surfaces,uncleaned veggies or utensils).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Try some Summer Foods-This Season

Eat to Hydrate Yourself this Summer

You’ve probably heard those narrators on the National Geographic specials say things like "Water gives life" or "Without water there could be no life." They’re overly dramatic,but they are right.

Women need about 2.5 liters or 9 cups of fluid daily while men require about 12 cups--just to replace what's naturally lost to perspiration, exhalation, respiration and excretion.Remember we begin to get dehydrated and our performance drops off with just as much as a 2% water loss.But if you have a difficult time in meeting your fluid needs and gulping down these liters of water then EAT to hydrate yourself.

CUCUMBER – Cucumber‘s 96% of weight is water. It is one of the best ways to keep oneself hydrated. Cucumber juice is nourishing for the skin. Its liquid has the reputation of being rejuvenator and makes us feel and look young.

WATERMELONS –Watermelon can be a great thirst quencher in summer. Water content of this fruit is approx 92%. Therefore it can be good filler for the people looking out for weight loss. Blend chunks of watermelon with few ice cubes and slash some lime juice in it. Have with fresh mint leaves. It is also considered as a rich source in Vitamin B6.This Vitamin B6 is an important attribute to have in a healthy diet because it promotes chemicals in the brain that help people to cope with anxiety and panic.

TOMATOES - 91% of tomatoes is water.It is the most availed source of water which can easily be afforded by rich and poor.

CITRUS FRUITS LIKE ORANGES, SWEETLIME AND GRAPEFRUIT - The water content of these fruits is not less than 88%. They are an excellent source of vitamin C-just one orange supply 116.2% of the daily value for vitamin C. these colorful fruits help to increase the resistance power of the body. Always eat fresh fruit instead of drinking citrus fruit juices as juices are often sweetened with refined sugars while fresh fruits have natural sugars and fibre which is very essential for our body.

CELERY - Celery is not only rich in fluid but also electrolytes like potassium and sodium, the minerals most important for regulating fluid balance, stimulates urine production, thus helping to rid the body of excess fluid.

CURDS – this food product also qualifies as a rich source of water as its moisture content is not less than 88g in 100 grams of curds. One should try including curds in every meal. It can be in any form like buttermilk, salad dip, khadi, raita etc. Those who are lactose-intolerant can consume yogurt, as bacteria present in it breaks down the lactose before it enters your body.

There are various ways to include the above foods in our diet. They can be used in salads, soups and stews to help satisfy our body's thirst; for dessert, try sorbets, custards or fresh fruit. But make sure to include these foods in your daily diet to meet your fluid needs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Take control on Diabetes – This New Year 2009

You may find it difficult to keep up with your diet and exercise routine during some time , but as a diabetic, diet and exercise go hand in hand. One has to prepare a “to do list” and make sure one follows it.

People with diabetes need to have a diabetic diet with a good balance of nutrition and taste. Here are some estimates for over the course of a day:

 About 15% to 20% of calorie intake should come from protein. Prescribing high protein works here as metabolism of protein is slower as compared to glucose, therefore there will be less available glucose in the body.
 Roughly 15% to 20% of calorie intake should be from fat. Consume more of unsaturated fats than saturated ones.
 About 60% to 70% of the calorie intake should be from carbohydrates. Include more of complex carbohydrates than simple ones as they breakdown more slowly to release glucose. Avoid refined foods like maida, arrowroot, sago, fruit juices etc. Eat lots of green and orange vegetables like carrots and broccoli in your day.

Dietary tips:

Decrease Fat in the diet. Roast, bake, or broil instead of frying. Trim the fat off meat and the skin off poultry, and avoid adding fat in cooking. Beware of sauces and gravies. They often contain lots of fat. Try consuming broths instead of creamy soups. Eliminate or cut down on high-fat foods like cold cuts, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, butter, margarine, nuts, and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Drink skim or low-fat milk instead of whole milk.
Increase Fibre in your meals. Including 40gms of dietary fibre daily is beneficial. Switch to whole-grain breads, cereals and crackers. One can have whole cereals like buck wheat, barley, ragi and oats, leafy vegetables, beans and whole pulses. Choose multi –grain bread and brown rice instead of white bread and basamati rice.
Reduce Sugar. Don't eat table sugar. Avoid adding sugar to the beverages like tea, coffees, cereals etc. Avoid honey, syrup, jam, jelly, candy, sweet rolls, regular gelatin, cake with icing, and pie. Instead of fruit canned in syrup, choose fresh fruit.
Hydrate your body. Drink at least 10 – 12 glasses of water everyday. Start your morning with a glass of lukewarm water.
Alcohol should be restricted and if allowed, then should be taken only occasionally in moderation .Alcohol has high carbohydrate content for example beer contains about 60gms of carbohydrates per litre. Sweet wines and cider have high sugar content while whisky and gin although are free from carbohydrates, provide 70calories for every 30ml.
Cooking method employed on any food also affects the blood sugar levels. Foods cooked by dry and short time methods like roasting have lesser glycemic effect as compared to foods cooked by boiling and long cooking processes which reduce particle size. Preparations like roasted chanas, chapattis, sprouted dals and whole fruits are better than boiled rice, khichadi, washed dals and fruit juices.
Be A Horse, Not A Camel - Horses need food and water throughout the day, but camels can go a long time without either. One should eat more like a horse, eating meals at regular scheduled time. But many of us now eat like camels: We skip breakfast, sometimes lunch, and then hit it hard at dinner. Diabetics should eat regular scheduled meals throughout the day so they're not going without food for more than four to five hours. By doing so, they improve their blood sugar control.
Eat slowly. Sometimes one have to rush the food down because one is late for work or late for an appointment, but if one eats slowly one will enjoy the food more, will feel a little more satisfied, and the body can honestly tell, "Hey, I'm full, no need to finish that whole plate of food". If one eats too quickly the body doesn't have time to send the message that one is full and he/she end up eating more.
Remember to eat healthy before going to any parties. Your host or hostess may not know of your dietetic needs and you really don’t want to put the pressure on them. If needed ask if they mind if you can bring something. Or one can eat a bowl of oats/ vegetable raita and leave.
Try and maintain your ideal body weight. Overweight people are more prone to hyperglycemia. Basal metabolic rate decreases as the age increases therefore do not set very high goals for yourself. Try to have a balanced diet. Do not go on starvation or crash diets to lose weight as its effect may reverse.

Physical Activity

Follow these few simple opportunities to enhance both your physical and mental well being.
1. Take the stairs at the mall and not the escalator. The first benefit one can enjoy is avoid some of the crowds and then at the same time one also exercises their lower body muscles while climbing the staircase. Most people during this time of year favor escalators and elevators.
2. Have to deliver paperwork to someone in your office? Take the stairs. There one has more exercise in their day and improve ones attitude too.
3. Park your car little further away at your work. It is a very good way to add bit of exercise in your daily schedule.
4. Walk the mall a few times before you begin your ‘shopping’. Just another way of building up exercise and releasing the ever present holiday tension.
5. Get involved in daily activities like gardening (water plants), walk your pet like a dog, wash the car or bike on weekends.
6. Enjoy in a park or beach playing various sports like football, or cricket or volleyball /frisbee. These sports are not only good source of exercise but also a good stress buster.
7. Lastly schedule your meditation time. Meditation is a necessity during these stressful times. Remember you are important. It will help to keep you calm , composed and relaxed.

Simple and easy life style can keep you healthy and happy. Afterall “Health is wealth” proverb was not made in a day. Every disease has its cure, so live a balance and stress-free life. Have a safe and sane 2009 ahead.