the-south-asian.com AUGUST 2002
August 2002 Contents
at Every Alien Door'
- FOR STAYING YOUNG
Isidore Domnick Mendis
What do medical experts recommend for staying healthy and youthful forever? Five of India’s top doctors come out with surprisingly similar answers...
Geriatricians [specialists in the study of aging] are continually finding new ways to prevent and control much of the physical and mental deterioration we associate with getting older. They are also finding that lifestyles can make a tremendous difference in vitality and general quality of life.
For advice on how to change lifestyles we asked five outstanding specialists on what they feel are the secrets of staying young and healthy even after grey hair and wrinkles start appearing.
" People who want to remain healthy and active had better start taking care of themselves right now," says Dr. S.C. Manchanda, Head of the department of cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Heart disease is one of the major ailments that afflicts people today. In India over 40 million people suffer from cardiac disorders and the elderly are more vulnerable.
Dr. Manchanda advises that prevention should begin early. " Every person must start practicing yoga under guidance of a trained teacher. This will go a long way in averting heart disease." Besides yoga he suggests four do's and don'ts for a healthy heart.
" The single most important thing is not to smoke as the link between smoking and heart diseases has been established beyond doubt. People who drink must limit their alcohol consumption to three or four 30 millilitre drinks spread over a week."
The second advice is to learn to handle stress. " Organise your day so that tense situations are minimised. Lower your blood pressure with deep-breathing exercises and relaxing. Also allow time to be alone, and time for things you really enjoy."
The doctor's third suggestion is regular exercise. Preferably a three to four kilometre walk every morning five times a week. Or an hour of swimming. If one can manage to do both all the better.
And the fourth 'do' is to eat a balanced diet. " One must eat food which is high in fibre like vegetables, fruits and beans. Fatty foods like deep fried stuff, butter, ghee, red meat, excessive eggs and high salt foods should be limited," he says.
Besides, Dr. Manchanda recommends that every person over the age of 30 must get cholesterol and lipids checked every year and blood pressure taken every three or four months. This will help prevent many problems which come calling in old age.
Healthy bones and joints
The other common ailment afflicting the old is the dysfunction of bones and joints. According to Dr. Raju Vaishya, senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Delhi's Indraprastha Apollo hospital, a growing number of people are being affected by problems like arthiritis, osteoporosis and spondylosis.
" Degeneration of joints, called osteoarthiritis, is a problem which cannot be fully cured. But its spread can be prevented by changing lifestyles," says Dr. Vaishya.
For healthy bones and joints, Dr. Vaishya suggests a diet high in protein and calcium, a daily walk of three to four kilometres and regular yogic exercises.
Once a person reaches the age of 45 he or she should see an orthopaedist at least once a year for a bone density check up. " If you have started feeling achy and tired, go and tell your orthopaedist. These problems shouldn't be neglected or just attributed to growing old. In the initial stages they are frequently symptoms of a treatable condition," says Dr. Vaishya.
Similarly many of the eye problems can be effectively treated in the initial stages. Normally between 40 and 45 years eyesight starts deteriorating and presbyopia or long-sightedness sets in. Another common eye ailment which afflicts people between 50-60 years of age is cataract. Both are curable. But what is usually not curable is glaucoma. " Sight loss due to glaucoma cannot be rectified," says Dr. S. C. Gupta, honorary director at Delhi's leading Venu Eye Institute.
For a healthy vision Dr. Gupta recommends cleaning of eyes twice daily with clean water, visiting an eye specialist at least once a year in case of a normal vision or twice in case a person is suffering from diabetes.
Dr. Gupta recommends a balanced diet comprising proteins and carbohydrates, milk and milk products, pulses, soyabeans, green vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat products, rice, wheat and maize.
Regular care of teeth
A healthy diet also goes a long way in keeping the teeth sparkling and disease-free. A leading specialists like Dr. Neeraj Verma, senior consultant, dentistry at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital stresses that one should avoid sugar-rich foods as they contribute largely to numerous dental diseases.
Research points to the fact that mostly dental problems afflict the middle aged and the elderly. Which is why basic--- and regular---care of teeth is a must from childhood.
Teeth must be brushed preferably after every meal. If this is not done there are chances that bacterial plaque will set in which will effect gums and consequently the teeth. The tooth brush must have soft bristles and a small head for it to reach all parts of the teeth easily. " Any tooth paste is good as its role is limited to providing flavour and lubrication to facilitate brushing," Says Dr. Verma and adds, " It is also very important for people over 40 to visit a dentist once a year to keep teeth healthy."
Similar care is needed for a glowing skin. Aging and pollution take their toll and skin usually becomes dull and looses its lustre. Dr. B.S.N.Reddy, professor and head of department of dermatology at Maulana Azad Medical College says proper care of skin in the young age can prevent many problems later in life. Adds the eminent dermatologist, " One must wear adequate clothing to prevent exposure to ultra violet rays of the sun. There should also be proper ventilation and hygiene at home and the workplace to prevent skin diseases."
Dr. Reddy recommends that women should avoid heavy cosmetics as they can lead to dermatological problems and even skin cancer. And above all take a healthy diet and sleep for at least eight hours to ensure proper blood circulation which is so essential for a healthy skin.
Proper sleep and a healthy diet are also a must to avoid gastroentrological problems like constipation and loose motions which can trouble people in old age.
" Most gastroentrological problems occur due to bad eating habits and lack of exercises," says Dr. Rakesh Tandon, professor and head of department of gastreoenterology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
He says, " It is best to adopt a holistic approach which would include positive mental attitude, a good diet and plenty of physical activity for a healthy digestive system which is so important for a healthy body".
" Develop a hobby like gardening or chess or anything else which relaxes you. This would give a positive new direction to life. Avoid obesity and go for a regular walk. Eat sensibly. Never smoke and try and avoid alcohol. If you do that you will never have gastroentrological problems," says Dr. Tandon.
In fact, like Dr. Tandon, most other specialists recommend virtually the same things and practice them in their personal lives. If you do all that you've cracked the secret of staying healthy and youthful throughout your live.
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