These 5 Life Skills Are Tied to Health Benefits


There’s a good reason for older adults to be conscientious and optimistic, a new study from England suggests.

Researchers found that men and women ages 52 and older who had higher scores on measures of five “life skills” — conscientiousness, control, determination (i.e., persistence), emotional stability and optimism — experience a broad range of health benefits and positive outcomes later in life, compared with older adults who had lower scores. This finding held true even after the researchers took into account people’s socioeconomic background, education and cognitive abilities.

These “life skills” include personal characteristics and capabilities thought to increase a person’s chance of success and well-being in life, according to the study, which was published online today (April 10) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [9 DIY Ways to Improve Your Mental Health]

The findings suggest that these attributes are relevant to many aspects of life, from economic prosperity and social relationships to health and biology, even at older ages, said the study’s lead author Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology and epidemiology at University College London.

Previous research has found that these five life skills are important to success in early life in areas such as educational achievement and work performance, but scientists didn’t know much about the roles these personality attributes may play in people’s health at older ages, Steptoe told Live Science.

In the study, the researchers evaluated data collected from about 8,100 people who were participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a long-term study of middle-age and older adults living in England that began in 2002. The average age of the participants at the study’s start was 67.

In 2010, the ELSA participants were given a questionnaire to evaluate the five life skills measured in this new study. For example, this questionnaire asked the participants to self-rate how determined they felt over the past month on a scale ranging from “not at all” to “very much.”

To gauge optimism, the participants were asked to rate how much they felt that “life is full of opportunities.” And to evaluate the participants’ sense of control over their lives, the researchers asked the participants to rate how much they felt in control over what happens to them at home. A personality test developed for people in middle age and older was used to assess conscientiousness and emotional stability.

In addition to measuring these five life skills, the researchers collected information from the participants in order to evaluate their physical and psychological health, economic resources, cognitive capacity and social well-being.

The findings showed that the participants who scored generally higher on the measures of these five skills also had better outcomes in various aspects of their health, Steptoe said. [Extending Life: 7 Ways to Live Past 100]

For example, only 3 percent of older adults who rated high in four or five of the life skills had symptoms of depression, compared with about 23 percent of those who had low life-skill scores (not scoring high on any life skills). Moreover, about 37 percent of older adults with low life-skill scores rated their health as fair or poor, compared with 6 percent of older adults with four or five life skills.

Higher scores on measures of life skills was also linked with more economic success, fewer chronic diseases, a faster walking speed and a lower prevalence of obesity, compared with older adults with low scores. Older adults with more life skills were also less lonely, had more close relationships and did more volunteer work, according to the findings.

The researchers aren’t sure why having more life skills later in life appears to be linked with such a wide variety of health and social benefits.

One possible explanation is that “these skills help people to negotiate the challenges of life more effectively,” Steptoe told Live Science. For example, developing these attributes can help people take advantage of opportunities and stick to goals despite facing obstacles, he suggested.

Older adults with more life skills may be less likely to become discouraged when things go wrong, and they might persist with the belief that things will eventually improve, Steptoe speculated.

The findings also revealed that no single skill was more important than any other; rather, it was the accumulation of all five attributes that influenced people’s health and well-being later in life. [9 Healthy Habits You Can Do in 1 Minute (Or Less)]

This finding suggests that each life skill taps into a different aspect of a person’s makeup and that the combination of all five skills is especially powerful, Steptoe said.

Although all five attributes involved in the study have a genetic component, a person who didn’t inherit a tendency to be persistent or optimistic can still develop these characteristics, Steptoe noted. He said that people can learn or work on these skills, or change their attitudes toward them, in specific situations, such as increasing a person’s sense of control while at work.

“Developing life skills in early adulthood and middle age may put people in a good position when they move into older ages,” Steptoe said.


Growing up with a pet may boost a baby’s bacterial health


“Having a pet dog…can help reduce the child’s chances of developing allergies and becoming obese in later years,” claims the Daily Mirror, in a somewhat misleading report.

Researchers did find a link between pet ownership and an increased diversity of “healthy bacteria” in infants, but didn’t look at long-term outcomes such as the development of allergies or obesity.

The researchers carried out a range of tests on faecal (poo) samples taken from infants to assess the levels and composition of the bacteria in their guts.

Gut bacteria is widely known to play an important role in future health. Infant gut bacteria is thought to be influenced by several factors including the method of birth delivery, drinking breast milk versus formula, and treatment of the mother with antibiotics. So the hypothesis that furry pets could boost infant immunity has increasingly been discussed.

Overall, the study found that the composition of gut bacteria was richer and more diverse in infants who had been exposed to pets both in the womb and after birth. But whether or not this observation actually has any effect on health outcomes wasn’t explored.

Proven methods you can use to reduce your child’s risk of allergies include breastfeeding and ensuring they are never exposed to tobacco smoke, including in the womb.

Where did the story come from?There is some evidence that growing up with a pet may reduce asthma risk

This Canadian study was carried out by researchers from several institutes including the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia. It was funded by a grant from the CIHR Canadian Microbiome Initiative.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Microbiome. It is available on an open-access basis and is free to read online.

Both the Mirror’s and the Mail Online’s headlines were misleading, wrongly giving the impression that researchers had looked at allergy and obesity rates in later life. This was not the case.

The body of reporting in both sources was much more balanced and had greater focus on the gut bacteria.

What kind of research was this?

This was an analysis of a subgroup of infants from a larger prospective cohort study: the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study (CHILD). It wanted to assess whether a baby’s exposure to pets while in the womb and after birth has any impact on their gut bacteria.

Giving antibiotics to a mother during labour can disrupt her baby’s gut bacteria, so antibiotic use was also analysed – as well as the method of delivery: caesarean (elective versus emergency) and vaginal delivery (with or without antibiotics).

Prospective cohort studies such as this are useful for understanding whether a link between an exposure (in this case, pets) and an outcome (a change in infant gut bacteria) exists. However, the challenge with this study design is that it isn’t able to fully rule out the involvement of other confounding environmental and lifestyle factors, such as diet.

Although a randomised controlled trial (RCT) is the best way to validate any findings, it certainly wouldn’t be practical (let alone ethical) to expose parents and their infants to pets against their will. The study also doesn’t explore whether levels of infant gut bacteria have any effect on long-term outcomes.

What did the research involve?

This study analysed a subsample of 753 infants from the CHILD study, which enrolled pregnant women between 2009 and 2011.

The mothers were given a questionnaire about pet ownership during their second or third trimester of pregnancy, and three months after birth.

Exposure to pets was categorised into:

  • no pet exposure in the prenatal and postnatal periods
  • only prenatal pet exposure
  • both prenatal and postnatal pet exposure

The category assessing “only postnatal pet exposure” was found to only include seven mothers, so it was excluded from subsequent analysis.

Gut bacteria in faecal samples was analysed for infants with complete data on prenatal and postnatal pet exposure (n=746).

Data on a range of potential confounding factors was also collected:

  • mode of delivery
  • use of antibiotics during delivery
  • maternal race
  • maternal asthma and allergy status during pregnancy
  • type of home
  • size of household
  • type of floor
  • presence of siblings
  • breastfeeding status
  • infant antibiotic exposure before three months

The data was analysed to test for any links between pet exposure and the composition of gut bacteria.

Statistical analysis was carried out to compare four different birth scenarios:

  • vaginal without antibiotics
  • vaginal with antibiotics
  • elected caesarean
  • emergency caesarean

 The analysis was adjusted to take into account the confounders.

What were the basic results?

Out of the 746 infants, 46.8% of households owned furry pets during and after pregnancy. The majority of pet owners had dogs, closely followed by cats.

Overall, the composition of gut bacteria was richer and more diverse in infants who had been exposed to pets during both the prenatal and postnatal period. In particular, there was an abundance of two bacteria, ruminococcus and oscillospira. Previous research has linked each of these strains to improved “gut health”.

The researchers add that previous studies have found an association between lower levels of these bacteria and a greater likelihood of childhood allergies and obesity. But this hypothesis was not investigated in this study.

The study also found that a baby’s exposure to pets while in the womb resulted in lower levels of streptococcal bacteria in their gut.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded: “Our findings highlighted the differential impact of pet exposure on infant gut microbiota following variant birth scenarios; however, in common, the abundance of ruminococcus and oscillospira were found to be increased independent of other factors.

“In addition, our finding of reduced streptococcal colonization with prenatal pet ownership may lower the risk for childhood metabolic and [allergic] disease. Further research is needed to link the pet-related microbiota changes with health outcomes of infants in the CHILD cohort, as well as in other populations.”


This subgroup analysis of babies from a large Canadian birth cohort assessed whether exposure to furry pets before and after birth has any impact on infant gut bacteria. Overall it found that exposure to pets while in the womb and after birth was linked with richer and more diverse gut bacteria.

The researchers say that several studies in the past, including their own, have found a link between richness of gut bacteria and both the development of allergies and the development of obesity. Therefore these findings may be taken to imply that pet exposure could protect against allergy and obesity in infants – as in media reports. However, later child health outcomes, including the development of allergy or obesity, were not investigated in this study.

This short term study only looked at the composition of gut bacteria in infants at three months of age. It would be useful to see how long-term exposure to pets affects gut bacteria in individuals and whether the same results are observed, and to see whether there is any link with other health outcomes.

The study also found that pre-natal exposure to pets resulted in lower levels of streptococcal bacteria. Many women carry group B streptococcus without symptoms, and this can sometimes cause infection in newborns, hence the relevance of this link. However, again this has not been investigated further.

There is also the possibility that any links between pet ownership and bacterial levels are being influenced by other environmental and health-related confounders. Bacterial levels may not necessarily be a direct result of the pets. Also, bear in mind that the results of this Canadian study may not necessarily apply to the UK or other countries.

These findings pave the way for future research around pet exposure and health outcomes in individuals, especially around allergies. However, this research is too early in stage to recommend that parents-to-be have a pet to protect their children against allergies, and certainly not against obesity (although walking your dog could be good exercise!).

Breastfeeding children and minimising their exposure to tobacco smoke will also reduce their allergy risks. And regular exercise and a healthy diet should prevent a child from becoming obese.

One Third Young Indians Suffer From Lifestyle Diseases Report


One in three or 33 per cent of Indians over 30 years of age are suffering from one or more lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, thyroid and cancer, a report has revealed.

GOQii — a California-based virtual fitness coaching platform — in its ‘GOQii India Fit’ 2017 report showed that nearly 9.4 per cent people are suffering from high cholesterol followed by 7.7 per cent suffering from diabetes and 6.76 per cent suffering from thyroid.

“Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of chronic diseases due to the disruptive lifestyle changes in the country. Lack of exercise, erratic eating habits, increase in stress levels and poor sleep patterns are just some of the key reasons behind the increase of this epidemic,” Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder of GOQii said in a statement on Thursday.

While men were found to be victims of diabetes, cholesterol and cardiac related problems, women were found to have issues related to low BP and thyroid.One-Third Young Indians Suffer From Lifestyle Diseases: Report

Further, an average Indian was found to sleep for 6.72 hours every day which is less than a healthy average of 7-9 hours daily.

Lack of proper sleep is a grave concern for 31.3 per cent population. This coupled with the lack of exercise and increase in stress is adding to the cause of falling health levels of Indians, the report said.

The report was based on a survey of over one lakh individuals across the country.

Human-virus hybrid created to kill off antibiotic-resistant MRSA superbug


Human cells have been mixed with bacteria and viruses to create a hybrid immune cell that can kill off deadly resistant bacteria, scientists have said.

Some viruses are designed to infect bacteria and target their prey in a different way to the human immune system.

The researchers were able to take the virus’s targeting mechanism and graft it onto a human immune antibody. They then did the same with bacteria, which attack other bacteria, and a human antibody.

In experiments in the lab the hybrids, dubbed “lysibodies”, attached themselves to Staphylococcus bacteria – which can become the resistant superbug MRSA. This then signalled the immune system to attack and destroy the bacteria.

Tests of the technique on mice infected with MRSA found their survival rate was significantly improved, the researchers said.

Human testing has now begun to establish whether the lysibodies are safe and how effective they are.

One of the researchers, Professor Vincent Fischetti, of The Rockefeller University in the US, said: “Bacteria-infecting viruses have molecules that recognize and tightly bind to these common components of the bacterial cell’s surface that the human immune system largely misses.

“We have co-opted these molecules, and we’ve put them to work helping the human immune system fight off microbial pathogens.”web-MRSA-rex.jpg

Some viruses have “molecular snippers”, called lysins, that target carbohydrates on the bacteria’s cell walls.

Human antibodies are designed to target proteins and have a bit of a blind spot for carbohydrates.

By creating a hybrid with a human immune cell, this should give the body a whole new way to identify disease cells.

And Professor Fischetti added: “Based on our results, it may be possible to use not just lysins, but any molecule with a high affinity toward a target on any pathogen – be it virus, parasite, or fungus – to create hybrid antibodies.

“This approach could make it possible to develop a new class of immune boosting therapies for infectious diseases.”

The human immune antibodies used in the hybrids do not attack the disease, but instead flag up targets for immune system killer cells.

Dr Assaf Raz, also of Rockefeller, who led the experiments, said: “Both antibodies and lysins have two discrete components.

“They both have a part that binds their respective target, but whereas the second component of lysins cuts the bacterial cell wall, in antibodies it coordinates an immune response.

“This made it possible for us to mix and match, combining the viral piece responsible for latching onto a carbohydrate with the part of the antibody that tells immune cells how to respond.”

It usually takes years for a new drug to get from tests of safety and effectiveness to the point where it could be used as a medicine.

Doubtless there will be concerns about potential for unintended consequences from mixing human with viral or bacterial material.

However the research has attracted interest from the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute in the US, a partnership established to expedite early-stage drug discovery.

It is already manufacturing lysibodies and has plans to begin testing their safety.

Healing Water: 7 Ayurvedic Herbal Waters You Must Have

In the age of modern medicines, where one would run to take a pill to cure even minor health ailments, it’s nice to stop and think if our grandmothers would have done the same thing. Perhaps not. But those days were different, people were naturally healthier and had a stronger immunity. Maybe they did something differently?

Ayurvedic herb infused water is a common ancient practice that has been used for years by naturopaths to heal ailing bodies. Due to the easy availability of herbs and spices, these healing waters can be conveniently made at home. The idea to prepare healing water by infusing ayurvedic herbs and spices is to extract important oils of the plant which have several healing properties.  Water is considered as a powerful therapeutic tool in Ayurveda and soaking certain herbs or spices can enhance its healing power. Here are seven varieties of healing waters with different health benefits as suggested by Shilpa Arora, Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner.

1. Fenugreek (Methi) Water

Slightly bitter and yellow-colored fenugreek or methi seed, which is a commonly used spice for culinary purposes in an Indian household, is a storehouse of medicinal properties and can cure many health problems. Loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, soaked methi in water overnight imparts it pale yellow hue. According to Shilpa, “Methi water is very helpful in the prevention of water retention in the body. It also prevents bloating.” The amino acid compounds present in methi seeds help in promoting insulin secretion in the pancreas. This helps in controlling blood sugar levels for diabetics.

fenugreek seeds

Methi seeds are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties


2. Herbal Wood Glass (Vijaysar) Water

Also known as Indian Kino or Malabar Kino, Vijaysar is the most popular for controlling diabetes. It is widely used in Ayurveda for to cure various ailments like obesity, diarrhea, and eczema. It has compounds like Epicatechin, Marsupsin and Pterosupin which help in reducing blood glucose in diabetics. It also regenerates beta-cells of pancreas to produce insulin naturally. Soak vijaysar in water overnight and drink the brownish medicated water early morning to get the best results.

3. Tulsi Water

Apart from being considered holy, Tulsi is revered for its medicinal properties. The leaves when soaked in water do wonders for the skin and heal many health problems. Tulsi has antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that help prevent fever and cold and also keep your skin and hair healthy. Tulsi water acts as great diuretic and also detoxifies for kidneys. It helps reduce uric acid levels in the blood further cleansing the kidneys.

tulsi 625

Tulsi helps reduce uric acid in the body


4. Pathimugam (Indian red wood) Water

Pathimugam or Indian red wood soaked in water is a popular thirst quencher  in Kerala. The bark of the tree is used to attain medicinal benefits. The healing water that turns light pink in color is used as a cure for kidney disorders, skin diseases, cholesterol, blood purification and diabetes. All you need to do is to boil the water with pathimugam for 2-3 minutes, strain the water and consume it with your meals or anytime of the day.

5. Cinnamon Water

Cinnamon or dalchini is commonly found in our Indian kitchen, but we rarely talk about its health benefits. True to its name, it tastes sweet and has a very prominent aroma. It is a popular spice made from the inner bark of the tree called cinnamomum. It is loaded with antioxidants and protects the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Its anti-inflammatory properties help protect the body from infections and tissue damage. Cinnamon water is responsible for reducing blood sugar levels by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract after a meal. The antimicrobial properties present in cinnamon may also prevent tooth decay and bad breath.

cinnamon 625
Cinnamon water is responsible for reducing blood sugar levels

6. Coriander Seed Water

Cilantro or dhania is widely used to add flavor to various dishes. Coriander seeds contain plant derived chemical compounds that are high in antioxidants and health promoting properties. According to Shilpa Arora, coriander seed water helps in curing water retention and acidity due to its cooling properties. Drinking coriander seed water also helps in curing mouth ulcers due to the presence of citronelol which acts as an antiseptic. Soak the seeds in warm water for 10 minutes, strain it and drink it up.

coriander seeds

Coriander seed water helps in reducing water retention


7. Triphala Water

Triphala is known for curing acute constipation due to its laxative properties. Commonly available in powdered form, triphala is mixed in water and consumed to regulate your bowel movements and cure constipation. Triphala is made with three fruits namely Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki. These three fruits are dried, powdered and mixed  together to make one powerful condiment called triphala. It acts as a detoxifier and makes your skin glow naturally. The presence of antioxidants helps in boosting immunity against cold, flu and other diseases. You can add triphala powder to warm water and consume it regularly.

triphala for home remedies

Triphala acts as a detoxifier and helps you get a glowy skin

These healing waters must be consumed according to the needs of your body. Therefore it is advisable for the patients with diabetes or other ailments to refer to your doctor before kick starting a new routine.


An Ayurvedic Treatment For Cancer in The Pipeline?

After creating ripples in the country and abroad for it’s home-based and natural cures, Ayurveda may soon be eying the territory which has had doctors and scientist abroad worked up since decades- Cancer. So says, the Union Minister of State AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik

The ancient medicinal practice of Ayurveda has taken the global circuit by storm with its cure to various skin and health ailments. And Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), is tirelessly working to revive the glory and reinstating people’s faith in the ancient practice, which according to them has the cure to the severest of ailments.
Recently, Naik hinted about the ongoing research in Auyrveda , which may bring about the cure to cancer in the recent future. This comes soon after his earlier statement on a yoga-based cure to diabetes and cancer.

shripad naik

Naik, in a public event in Panaji  disclosed , that the researchers are very close to device an ayurvedic treatment to the grievous disease, which is based on the similar lines of chemotherapy.

Naik said, that they have reached a stage where just like chemotherapy, they  can treat cancer but the treatment would be  without the side effects of chemotherapy.

Naik said, beaming in confidence that research is on along with American scientists to find a cure for cancer. On completion of the research, in the appropriate way, they will find and prepare the medicine for major diseases and a  cure for cancer will come.An Ayurvedic Treatment For Cancer in The Pipeline?

Earlier last year, the Minister had stated that Yoga-based cure for diseases such as diabetes and cancer developed by Bengaluru-based Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana was on the pipeline.

Praising the natural healing properties and treatment of Ayurveda,  Naik also said that the Ministry had set itself a target to establish an AYUSH center in every district to promote the ancient medicinal practice of India.

Exercise keeps the mind sharp in over-50s study finds

Doing moderate exercise several times a week is the best way to keep the mind sharp if you’re over 50, research suggests.

Thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis, a review of 39 studies found.

This remained true in those who already showed signs of cognitive decline.

Taking up exercise at any age was worthwhile for the mind and body, the Australian researchers said.

Exercises such as T’ai Chi were recommended for people over the age of 50 who couldn’t manage other more challenging forms of exercise, the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.

Brain boost

Physical activity has long been known to reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including type-2 diabetes and some cancers, and it is thought to play a role in warding off the brain’s natural decline as we enter middle age.

The theory is that through exercise the brain receives a greater supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients that boost its health as well as a growth hormone that helps the formation of new neurons and connections.

In this analysis of previous studies, researchers from the University of Canberra looked at the effects of at least four weeks of structured physical exercise on the brain function of adults.

]An outdoor tai chi class

In a variety of brain tests, they found evidence of aerobic exercise improving cognitive abilities, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while muscle training – for example, using weights – had a significant effect on memory and the brain’s ability to plan and organise, the so-called executive functions.

Joe Northey, study author and researcher from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at Canberra, said the findings were convincing enough to enable both types of exercise to be prescribed to improve brain health in the over-50s.

“Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done,” he said.

He said people should be able to hold a conversation while doing moderate exercise.

NHS guidelines recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and exercise the major muscles on two or more days a week.Couple running in a park

Heavy shopping bags

Dr Justin Varney, lead for adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said any physical activity was good for brain and body.

“Whilst every 10 minutes of exercise provides some benefit, doing 150 minutes a week cuts the chances of depression and dementia by a third, and boosts mental health at any age.

“Doing both aerobic and strengthening exercises leads to a greater variety of health benefits.”

He said cycling or walking to work could count as aerobic activity and carrying heavy shopping bags was one example of a good strength exercise.

Dr Dean Burnett, lecturer in neuroscience and psychiatry at Cardiff University, said the study gave a clearer picture of how exercise affected the brain – but there were still issues.

“It could lead to increased pressure for the 50-plus age group to exercise more in order to stay mentally healthy, which is good advice but also overlooks the fact that as we age it’s increasingly difficult to engage in physical activity, as our bodies are simply less capable of it,” he said.

“Physical exercise is one element of improved brain functioning, but not the whole story.”

As well as staying physically active, Dr David Reynolds, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was equally important to look after our brains by staying mentally active, eating a balanced diet, drinking only in moderation and not smoking.

Summer Skin Care: How to Choose Sunscreen Quick Tips That’ll Come Handy


It’s that time of the year again! Bring out those trendy flip-flops and cut-sleeve blouse, but forget not to take extra care of your health and beauty. Undeniably, summers in India can get supremely hot. Direct exposure to heat can damage your hair as well as your skin. A mix of sweat, dirt and humidity and wreak havoc on your complexion and cause tanning. One of the best ways to combat the harmful effects of UV rays is to wear a sunscreen. Choose the apt type to suit your skin type, here’s how.

1. Go for the one that combats both UVA as well as UVB rays.Summer Skin Care: How to Choose Sunscreen Quick Tips That'll Come Handy

2. For Indian skin, a sunscreen with SPF 26 or 30 usually does the job.

3. Most sunscreens with SPF 30 are able to block around 97% of the UVB rays.

4. You must opt for the water resistant variants and the ones that come in gel form. Most sunscreens are cream based and make your skin look cakey, oily and suffocated. Do a patch test of some of the available brands before buying one.

Applying Sunscreen

Always apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before stepping out in the sun and repeat every 2 hours in case you are exposed to the sun.


Summer Skin Care

Choose from a wide range of ingredients to make masks, scrubs and packs that’ll soothe your skin this summer. You can mix some masoor dal powder with milk, scrub it, leave and wash off. This works wonder for a tanned skin. Lemon is an excellent bleaching agent. Yogurt has remarkable cooling and healing properties. Papaya fights pigmentation.

Keep yourself hydrated and include plenty of fluids in your diet. Steer clear of foods that would heat your body from within. Maintain a healthy skin care regime – exfoliate and moisturise regularly. Use herbal masks and face packs to nourish your skin and keep it tight yet supple.


This May Be the Reason Why You Have Been Unable to Reduce Belly Fat

Does your expanded waistline refuse to shrink even an inch despite following the best recommended set of exercises? Is it getting worse with time with you piling on extra pounds unnecessarily? Perhaps your low metabolism, diet choices, exercise routine or other lifestyle habits have something to do with it. Or perhaps not. Calm down! Perhaps the only thing you need to do right now is to relax. There could be various reasons for your protruding belly, some of which are not often cited, for example stress. Yes, you heard us. While increased levels of stress can result in reduced appetite initially, long-term and chronic stress may eventually make you binge on fatty foods. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as stress induced weight gain.

Stress and anxiety are becoming synonymous to today’s time. Stress does not only affect one’s peace of mind but could also play a role in promoting weight gain, especially around your mid-riff. A certain hormone called cortisol can be labelled as the culprit here.


What Does Cortisol Do?

Cortisol is also called as the stress hormone

. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands. It is important for the maintenance of blood pressure as well as in boosting energy in the body. The hormone also stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for greater energy and regulates insulin release for maintaining blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions could lead to an increase in appetite.

Shilpa Arora, Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner, explains, “When you are tensed, the body releases cortisol as a result of which there is a rise in insulin level in the body. This results in a drop of blood sugar level and that’s why you rave high carbohydrate and sugary food.” The body releases chemicals in response to the food you eat, which might have a direct calming effect, and this is how you may end up gaining those few extra and unwanted pounds around your belly in an attempt to beat stress.

Shilpa adds, “High cortisol production can confuse the entire endocrine system and increase your appetite. Stress also leads to the over production of ghrelin – your hunger hormone.”

Why is This Belly Fat a Reason for Worry?

It has been found that stress and increased cortisol levels tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than around the hips or other parts of the body. Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta shares, “There is a strong co-relation between belly fat and cardiovascular diseases. We have heard of apple and pear-shaped bodies. Those who are apple shaped have a considerable body weight around the abdominal area and are at a higher risk of developing cardio-vascular diseases.”

Dr. Datta also explains the reason behind fat deposition around the belly. “Cortisol is known as the survival hormone. The concentration of the hormone is controlled by an enzyme found mostly in the abdominal region. Hence, there is a greater storage of fat in the tissues of abdomen when you are stressed. ”

belly fat

Here are a host of remedies you can try to beat stress-induced weight:

Shilpa suggests meditation and making a window for some recreational activities. ”In our stressful lives surrounded by compulsive eating disorders, one should include daily meditation and relaxation techniques like music, reading, dancing or engage in some sports.”

Dr. Rupali Datta lists some suggestions which can come in handy to cut down on the bulge due to stress –

1. Eight hours of good quality sleep is needed daily. People might argue that it is not essential, but sleep deprivation may aggravate stress and anxiety.

2. Learn to delegate your work. You cannot take care of everything alone. Therefore, fretting about it is only going to add to your stress. So stop, breathe, relax, and plan.

3. You have to monitor your eating habits and keep eating at regular intervals of time. As the sugar levels go down, the levels of cortisol go up. You must include high fibre foods, leafy vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Whole grains have a very positive impact in maintaining satiety. Also, remember to have enough proteins. Most of our Indian meals are high on carbohydrates, which may make you lose out on the adequate protein intake.

4. Make sure to load up on vitamin C. It is known to boost the adrenal gland, which regulates the secretion of cortisol.

5. It is essential to be hydrated at all times. Have nimbu paani, chaas, nariyal paani, or just plain water, but make sure you keep yourself hydrated to prevent overeating because your body can confuse thirst with hunger.

6. Try and take out at least 30 minutes to engage in anything that de-stresses you, such as dancing, listening to music or reading. Yoga or regular exercise also helps in releasing stress.

Regular Walking Can Help Keep the Brain Sharp in Elderly


Regular exercising has long been linked to good health. It is probably one of the most inexpensive ways to stay fit. Whether you are pressed on time, or simply can’t seem to muster courage to hit the gym, a short walk to the bus station or your nearby grocery store will always help you reap a bevy of health benefits. A recently conducted research suggests walking especially beneficial for the aged.

According to the study presented at the American Physiological Society, while walking pressure waves are sent through the arteries. This can significantly modify and increase the supply of blood to the brain, especially in the elderly. Our brain needs regular oxygen supply and essential nutrients via blood.  Another study published in the journal Open Science last year explained the evolution of human intelligence to be closely linked to the supply of blood to the brain.

“New data now strongly suggest that brain blood flow is very dynamic and depends directly on cyclic aortic pressures that interact with retrograde pressure pulses from foot impacts,” the researchers noted, reported by IANS.

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Experts at New Mexico Highlands University used an ultrasound technique to measure hemispheric cerebral blood flow to both sides of the brain. Twelve healthy young adults were exposed to non-invasive ultrasound while standing upright, at rest and during steady walking. The researchers found that though there is lighter foot impact associated with walking compared with running, walking still produces large pressure waves in the body that significantly increase blood flow to the brain.

While the effects of walking on CBF were less dramatic than those caused by running, they were greater than the effects seen during cycling which involves no foot impact at all.
In a separate study published last year in the journal Open Science, a team of researchers from Australia and South Africa showed that the evolution of human intelligence was not simply related to the size of the brain — but rather linked more closely to the supply of blood to the brain.