World Kidney Day: 8 Common Causes of Kidney Failure You Should Know About

 

By now we know that cancer, heart disease and obesity are some of the heavy weights in the category of major diseases in the world that are also responsible for killing millions and millions of people every year. So much have been spoken about these diseases that somehow other ailments, of significant importance too, seem to have been pushed to the background. The truth is that there are other diseases, probably resulting from our sedentary lifestyles, that are on the rise, and alarming growing every year. For example, kidney disease. According to several Indian population-based studies, the number of Indians suffering from chronic kidney ailments has doubled in the past 15 years, and at present 17 in every hundred citizens suffer from some form of kidney disease.

In an attempt to spread awareness about kidney diseases, 9th March is observed as World Kidney Day. The theme of the global campaign this year is obesity and how it plays such a crucial role in increasing the risks of kidney ailments. Kidney is an essential organ in the body. Its primary role is to remove toxins and excess fluids from the body through urine, and also maintain a good balance of body salts and other chemicals. It is also involved in controlling the production of red blood cells and regulating blood pressure.World Kidney Day: 8 Common Causes of Kidney Failure You Should Know About

So how do we prevent kidney failure and other ailments? Here are some pointers –1. Obesity is a Lead Cause

Obesity is becoming a growing worldwide epidemic, and is expected to affect more people in the years to come. One’s lifestyle habits, particularly sedentary lifestyle, are adversely impacting health. According to researchers and authors of the study – Obesity and Kidney Disease: Hidden Consequences of the Epidemic, “Obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for new-onset chronic kidney disease, and also for nephrolithiasis and for kidney cancer.”

As stated on the official website of the campaign, “A growing body of evidence indicates that obesity is also a potent risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). People who are overweight or obese have 2 to 7 more chances of developing ESRD compared to those of normal weight. Obesity may lead to CKD both indirectly by increasing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and also by causing direct kidney damage by increasing the workload of the kidneys and other mechanisms.”

Also read: (Are You Obese? Your Child Could Inherit Obesity and Be At Health Risk)

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2. Cut Down on Red Meat

According to a study done by National University of Singapore, they found that participants who ate the largest amount of red meat had about 40 percent greater risk of developing kidney failure compared with people consuming the lowest amounts of meat. “Our findings suggest that individuals can still maintain their protein intake unless their kidney function has been severely compromised. However, to reduce the risk of end-stage renal disease, it is best to eat red meat in moderation,” said the lead author of the study Woon-Puay Koh.

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3. Good Sleep Time is Crucial

According to a study done Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shorter sleep duration can lead to a more rapid decline in kidney function. Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock that is based on regular sleep-wake cycles. The study found that kidney function may be compromised when this natural cycle is disrupted.

sleep

4. Hypertension Ups Risk

About 20 per cent of India’s youth suffer from hypertension which makes them 40 percent more vulnerable to kidney damage and cardiac arrest. There is little understanding in the country of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, which usually does not cause symptoms but gradually affects various body parts. “As many youngsters do not get to know that they are hypertensive they continue with their sedentary lifestyle,” said Gireesh Manwani, Senior Consultant (Internal Medicine), Saroj Super Speciality Hospital. “This slowly and steadily damages the kidneys and heart apart from giving rise to various other problems; it could even be fatal.”

blood pressure

5. Say No to Junk Food

According to a study by Anglia Ruskin University in Britain, a diet that relies mostly on junk food or processed food may cause long-term damage to the kidneys and trigger diabetes. “Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in Type 2 diabetes,” said Havovi Chichger, lead author of the study.

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6. Cut Down on Sugar

Dr. Anshul Jai Bharat, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, says, “Most processed food products contain too much sugar, so when it goes to your system it leads to hormonal imbalance and also your blood profile changes. High consumption of these empty calories can cause obesity and diabetes – diseases that directly impact the functioning of your kidneys. You can treat yourself to your favourite dessert or a fast food burger sometimes as long as it does not replace your daily balanced diet.”

sugar

7. Keep a Check on Phosphorous Intake

Health experts and doctors have issued a warning against excess phosphorous in the human body claiming that it may increase the risk of chronic kidney disease where the phosphate levels in the body shoot up to abnormally high levels. According to them, muscle cramps, numbness, tingling, bone or joint pain and rash are all the symptoms of hyperphosphatemia and people who experience them quite often should consult a doctor at the earliest. Foods that should be strictly avoided, or at least consumed in moderation include soft drinks, chocolates, tinned milk and processed meat,” suggests Neerja Jain who works in Nephrology department at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital.

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8. Pollution is to Blame As Well

According to a study by George Institute for Global Health, climate change may be accelerating the rate of chronic kidney disease caused by dehydration and heat stress. The research paper, published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), suggests that a condition called heat stress nephropathy may represent a disease of neglected populations but one that may emerge as a major cause of poor kidney health in the near future.

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Having Children May Help Increase the Life Span of Parents

 

Parenthood is no easy task. It takes immense effort as well as patience to raise kids, right from toddlers to teenagers and then watch them growing into adults. It is a roller coaster of a ride having to deal with tantrums, sleepless nights, anger issues, so on and so forth. But parenthood also brings along with it many fruitful rewards that can never be matched with anything else. The joy of having a family, sharing happiness, laughter and pain with children, watching them grow up into successful individuals, having them around during old age – it’s an overwhelming experience. And this emotional turmoil actually increases your social behaviour, keeping you active and healthy. Having Children May Help Increase the Life Span of Parents: StudyAccording to a recent study done in Sweden, men and women with at least one child had lower death risks than those without. And fathers are said to gain more in life expectancy than mothers.

The study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health stated, “At 60 years of age, the difference in life expectancy was two years for men and 1.5 years for women” compared to those with no kids. Researchers tracked the lifespan of more than 1.4 million people (men and women) born between 1911 and 1925 and living in Sweden. They also gathered data on whether the participants were married and had children.

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By age 80, men who fathered children had a remaining life expectancy of seven years and eight months, compared to seven years for childless men, said the team. For mothers, life expectancy at 80 was nine years and six months, while for childless women it was eight years and 11 months.

However, the researchers admitted that the study merely pointed out a correlation, and cannot conclude that having children is the cause of the life expectancy gains. The parents benefitted more probably from social and financial support from their children in old age, or a healthier lifestyle as compared to those without children.

The association between having children and longer life was found in married and unmarried people, but appeared to be strongest in single, older men, said the study. This could be because unmarried men relied more heavily on their offspring in the absence of a partner.

 

5 Easy Tips to Take Care of Your Skin After Playing Holi

 

Holi – the festival of colours is here! The time when you put all rules on hold and let the child within loose, playing with colours, dancing on paan banaras wala, and simply soaking up the sun as you gorge on gujias and gulp down the thandai. As you get ready to have all the fun, make sure that your skin is well protected, so that you do not suffer from any after effects like skin allergies or irritation after the game is over.

Traditionally, the festival was all about natural colours made from flowers and herbs. But these days there are many varieties of cheap and synthetic colours available in the market made from chemicals, and artificial dyes. They could also contain heavy metals, acids, mica, glass powder and dangerous alkalis. These chemicals can cause serious harm to the skin. It is a great idea to play with natural colours and herbs like tesu or genda flowers, rose petals, haldi and sandalwood that are actually good for your skin.

If you are going out and not sure about the colours others will use, make sure make sure that you oil your entire body with coconut oil. You can also use Olive oil or Vitamin E oil if you prefer. While oiling, make sure you do not forget places like behind the ear, between finger tips and near the finger nails where paint is bound to collect. You can oil your hair with mustard oil and tie it in a plait or pony. If you’ve been wanting to experiment with nail colour, here’s your chance to go wild. Paint your nails with the darkest shade possible to avoid the Holi colour from seeping inside the nail bed.

After you have had all the fun with colours and can hardly recognize yourself in the mirror, it is now time to get back to your normal self. If you are wondering how you will ever get rid of all those stubborn colours, worry not. Here are few tips to cleanse your skin and get back that glow safely.

1. Stand in running water for 5-10 minutes after playing Holi, and ensure that you do not scrub or scratch aggressively.

shower

2. Apply liquid soap gently on the body. Still struggling? You can try home remedies thereafter, such as applying a mix of lemon juice, curd and sandalwood. You can also apply a mix of turmeric and white flour, and wash off after 15-20 minutes with milk. The trick with white flour works wonders for the face.

3. Be extra careful while removing the Holi colours from your face. It is ideal to use olive oil to remove the colour. Dab some, leave it on for a few minutes and then wash off.

olive oil

4. A concoction of fresh lemon juice, curd and a pinch of sandalwood powder is great to remove those stubborn traces of colour from your body and get back the glow.

5. However, if there are still some traces of colour, then remember to give it a couple of days to fade away naturally rather than scrubbing away aggressively and harming your skin in the process. It is advisable not to use body scrubs, exfoliators or bath salts for at least 48 hours after playing Holi, and try not to go out in the sun for too long.

Here’s wishing you all a happy, safe, and colourful Holi!

 

Neem for Dandruff: A Natural Remedy to Get Rid of It

 

If you have a very dry scalp, more often than not, you may have found yourself in an embarrassing situation where the collar of your shirt is covered with white flaky substances! Dandruff is not restricted to the scalp alone, even the skin on the face and the body is prone to dandruff. It is but natural to assume that dandruff is caused due to dryness. In opposition to this notion, research suggests that dandruff is actually due to cells of the skin that have a very short life, they grow and die with great rapidity.

A fungus known as Malassezia is responsible for dandruff. Certain weather conditions do facilitate the growth of dandruff, most commonly the winter season. It has the tendency to being stubborn and coming back again and again despite proper treatment. Contrary to popular belief, one effective way to get rid of dandruff is to shampoo daily, this prevents the growth of the cells that have a shortlife. An after effect of untreated dandruff is hair loss. Thus, it is best to catch the issue on time and follow a due course of treatment.

Nothing can be more convenient than using neem for dandruff, available almost everywhere and can also be easily grown at home! The properties possessed by the neem leaves are used to treat multiple skin and hair issues. It contains blood purifying as well as anti microbial elements. It is effectively known to be an antifungal and antiviral, in addition to being anti inflammatory. Here’s how to use neem in order to get rid of dandruff and get beautiful, shiny hair.

1. Chew the leaves: According to beauty experts, the easiest way to get rid of dandruff is to chew the neem leaves every morning. However, you may need some convincing for that as neem leaves taste a bit bitter. Mix them with honey and have or make a decoction by boiling neem leaves and drink the strained water.

2. Neem oil: Neem can be used in the form of an oil. This oil can be easily created at home by adding few neem leaves to coconut oil and bringing it to a boil and finally adding a few drops of lemon to it. Rub this oil gently on your scalp, leave it on overnight and then wash off in the morning.

neem

3. Neem and curd: A combination of neem and curd is the ideal way to curb dandruff. Make a paste of neem leaves, add it to a bowl of curd and apply all over your scalp. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and then rinse. The anti-fungal properties of neem in combination with the soothing and cool effect of curd does wonders in fighting dandruff.

4. Neem hair mask: A homemade neem back is the easiest remedy for dandruff. All you have to do is take some neem leaves, grind them in the mixer and add a tablespoon of honey to it. Once it becomes a thick paste, put it all over the scalp like a hair mask and allow it to stay for 20 minutes. Wash it when it is suitably dry and watch the wonders it does to your scalp.
(Hair Growth: 7 Natural Tips to Make Your Hair Grow Faster)

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5. Neem as a hair conditioner: Take a few neem leaves and boil them, allow them to cool down. After shampooing your hair, rinse the hair with this mixture of neem and see the miracle. According to Ayurveda, the plethora of medicinal properties exhibited by neem are used for all hair ailments and show drastic effects upon regular use.

Now, there’s no reason to let dandruff dishearten you. Use these simple home remedies that work like magic.

 

Long-Term Use of Antibiotics Can Put You at the Risk of Cancer

Antibiotics have long been seen as a class of wonder drugs which could fight bacterial invasions and viruses and bring relief in about no time. These are essentially anti-bacterial. Over recent years there has been much debate over the rise in the consumption of antibiotics. Prolonged use has made human body resistant to its effects while others believe that bacteria, viruses and pathogens have become much stronger and therefore resistant to the present class of drugs. Developing a newer, more potent army of antibiotic would suggest an added pressure on human health. What is little know is the fact that prolonged use of potent antibiotics can meddle with the functioning of gut bacteria (the good bacteria that is essential for gut health and immunity) that feeds on yeast and unhealthy bacteria found in our body.

“These healthy bacteria form the basis of our immune system – or they did until we took antibiotics because antibiotics regularly kill our healthy bacteria. And that can set you up for numerous problems down the road – including some very serious problems,” states Kim Evans in her piece for HuffPost US. Evans’ article published in the year 2009 throws light on the relation between prolonged antibiotic use and development of cancer. She talks about a Roman oncologist, Dr. Tullio Simoncini, who describes cancer as an advanced fungal growth or candida overgrowth, “a kind of fungal growth that develops after using antibiotics,” Evans.

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Another research, closely tying antibiotics use and cancer together, is the latest that was published in the online journal, Gut. “The findings, if confirmed by other studies, suggest the potential need to limit the use of antibiotics and sources of inflammation that may drive tumour formation,” noted the study.

Antibiotics fundamentally alter the gut microbiome, by curbing the diversity and number of bacteria, and reducing resistance to ‘hostile’ bugs, they say. Previous research points to depletion of certain types of bacteria and an abundance of others in patients with bowel cancer. This might all have a crucial role the development of bowel cancer, added to which the bugs that require antibiotics may induce inflammation, which is a known risk for the development of bowel cancer.

It was found that prolonged antibiotic use by people in their early to mid-life can put them at a heightened risk of abnormal growths in the colon and rectum. These abnormal growths are called polyps or colorectal adenomas, which precede the development of most cases of bowel cancer.

colon cancer

For the research, the team drew health records of 121,700 US nurses ageing 30 to 55. Health records included detailed questionnaires answered by the participants and other details on demographics, dietary habits, lifestyle factors, medical history and disease development of the participants. For the purposes of the current study, analysis of the data was restricted to 16,642 women who were aged 60 and older in 2004 and were able to provide a history of antibiotic use between the ages of 20 and 59. The participants also had at least one bowel investigation (colonoscopy) between 2004 and 2010. 1195 adenomas were newly diagnosed in this group. Recent use of antibiotics within the past four years wasn’t associated with a heightened risk of an adenoma diagnosis, but long term use in the past was.

Those who had consumed antibiotics for two months or more were 36 percent more likely to be diagnosed with an adenoma when compared to the participants who didn’t take antibiotics for any extended period in their 20s and 30s.

The team also compared women who had never taken antibiotics between their 20s and 50s to the ones who had consumed the drugs for over 15 days between their 20s and 50s. 73 percent of the latter group was found to be more susceptible to be diagnosed with an adenoma.

 

Business to consumer will remain one of the fastest-growing segments

 

BNP Paribas Asset Management India Pvt. Ltd’s track record, post Anand Shah’s joining the fund house in 2011 has been good. But, the calendar year of 2016 exposed chinks in stock picking strategy. Shah, as the fund house’s chief investment officer (now he is also the deputy chief executive officer and oversees the fund management as well as sales), has always liked investing in shares of consumer-facing companies. But last year, demonetisation and the entry of Reliance Jio in the telecom space adversely impacted his portfolios. His holdings in the telecom sector proved very costly. Will he be able to recover from this fall? Mint spoke to Shah to find out his future strategy. Edited excerpts:

Earlier this year, you had said that demonetisation had impacted your fund house’s equity schemes’ portfolios. It has been around four months since demonetisation. What’s your further assessment?

Re-monetisation appears to be now happening. Money is coming in. The economy that was largely cash-led has suffered, but things there as well are slowly resuming back to normal. So, four-wheelers never really got impacted. But two-wheelers, which largely dealt in cash, were impacted. Multiplexes, which largely dealt with credit cards and online bookings didn’t suffer as much, but single screen theatres where people book tickets largely by cash, suffered. Formal economies didn’t get impacted. The informal economy got adversely impacted.

But things are getting back to normal now. Most of our equity schemes have recovered their losses more or less.

You have always liked businesses that face the consumer. After the demonetisation impact, no matter how temporary an impact it has appeared to have had on the various industries, have you changed your likings about the sort of sectors you invest in?Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

The B2C businesses has created wealth for investors for decades. They also have more entry barriers and so it is not easy to take away a retail consumer in a hurry. There are valid reasons to invest in B2C companies. Further, the other two segments (business to business or B2B and business to government or B2G) have made a comeback.

In the B2B space, the metals sector is back as the Chinese economy has normalized and there’s hope of an economic recovery in the US. We have exposure to this segment.

In the B2G segment, the government’s spending is up. There are businesses that will benefit from government spending.

A bulk of our portfolios will remain in B2C businesses because comfortable demographics will ensure that it will remain one of the fastest growing segments in the market. On top of it, before demonetisation, we were looking at these companies to do well on the back of a good monsoon last year as well as the pay commission. Both these factors are not going away in a hurry. So, to us, this (demonetisation) is temporary, the B2C segment will only bounce back with a vengeance.

Your schemes’ performance went down big time in the calendar year 2016. Was their exposure to telecom sector the only reason or were there other reasons?

Two things happened together. The good part of the portfolio, business to consumer (B2C) segment companies, which gave me 600-700 bps outperformance for the last 8 years was dealt a blow (demonetisation), which is a once in a century phenomenon. One basis point is one-hundreth of a percentage point. I believe we won’t see another demonetisation for next one century at least. So while the fall in share prices of our holdings in the telecom sector stocks could have been absorbed by the otherwise resilient B2C companies, even the latter got impacted by demonetisation.

When you were buying more shares of Bharti Airtel Ltd throughout 2015-16, did you not see Reliance Jio’s impending impact? There was a lot of buzz around—and expectation from—the telecom company. Something big was expected by most of us.

We were prepared for a 50% lower pricing in data. We were not prepared for free handouts. Nobody anticipated. We have seen in the past that competition exists where the likes of Telenor and Tata Telecom enter the markets offering 30-50% discounts in tariffs and plans. And slowly and gradually, new entrants capture market share. That’s how B2C companies work. They capture market share, but they don’t capture it overnight.

For example, despite some banks like Kotak Bank and Yes Bank offering (close to) 6% interest on savings bank rate, we don’t see people leaving their banks and queuing up outside these banks. The B2B segment is price sensitive; price doesn’t generally matter in the B2C segment.

But Reliance Jio’s strategy and entry was extremely disruptive. It destroyed the sector’s health.

What is your outlook on the telecom sector now and where do you go from here as far your schemes’ exposure to this sector is concerned?

We have already sold our holdings in Idea Cellular much earlier than when Jio came, as that’s where we suffered large underperformance. Bharti Airtel has not performed badly for us, actually.

The telecom sector now is in a complete flux where balance sheets have grown because companies now have to deliver a 4G network in 2017 and 2018, as opposed to 2020. They had to prepone their capital expenditure, be it spectrum purchase or electronic capex. Typically, there is a 10-year cycle for every technology cycle. So, if 3G came in 2010, 4G was expected in around 2020. So now telecom companies have expanded their balance sheets, but their revenues have shrunk due to stiff competition. This combination reduces Return on Capital Employed and Return on Equity, as an industry, to abysmally low levels.

Consolidation has just begun, which is good. We still have more firms than many developed nations. Abroad, there are 2-3 firms, so we will see another year of pain, before another round of consolidation happens.

Analysts have pushed back earnings visibility further. What do you think?

We do have earnings problem at Nifty level but that’s not true for quite a few companies. Despite pockets of volatility in the past 3-4 years, we haven’t had problems of earnings growth for the companies in our portfolios.

If you look at financial year (FY) 2015, the first half (up to September 2014) was profitable, we didn’t have growth issues. We had a de-growth on year-on-year earnings between September 2014 and March 2015. Most of the de-growth came from commodity producers. Earnings didn’t collapse for everybody in the second half of FY2015. And thus, if you look at entire FY15, half of the Nifty companies’ earnings grew at 15% average, and half of Nifty companies’ earnings fell by 15%. And the same story continued in first half of FY16 because year-on-year, the commodity prices were lower. While lower commodity prices were great for macro economy, it had some negative impact on the earnings of the commodity producers.

In the second half of FY16, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced asset quality review of banks’ lending portfolios. Since companies had to recognize their bad assets more stringently, their earnings, led by those of the corporate banks, fell. Those banks that had lent to metal companies suffered further as commodity prices had fallen. And in the second half of 2016, crude oil prices fell from 50$ a barrel to 30$ a barrel and steel prices further went down. So commodity producers and corporate banks dragged down Nifty earning growth in FY16. The country as a whole wasn’t messed up. Some pockets suffered. We had decent growth in earnings for our underlying companies in FY2015 and FY2016.

FY2017 was looking fine with good monsoons (after 2 years) and spending boost due to implementation of pay commission for government employees. But then, in the second half came demonetization, and that has put new doubts on earnings visibility on most of the companies.

Coming back to present times, and looking at expectations for FY2018, we believe that our economy is doing well. Growth is coming back. To a lesser extent than we would like, but I think the government and RBI are doing the right things. Lower interest rates, lower inflation, investments on infrastructure—everything is moving in the right direction. It’s the harder way of economy recovery; wherein we are spending money on roads, railways which doesn’t give us GDP growth rate immediately.

But, I believe these are the right things to do for sustainable economic growth as well sustainable earnings recovery. We believe more than half of the index companies are already benefiting from these activities and it’s not that all the segments of the market are doing badly. There are plenty of opportunities to do stock picking.

Last year apart, your overall long term performance has been good. Yet, BNP Paribas Asset Management India Ltd’s overall assets under management hasn’t grown as much, as opposed to the industry.

Till December 2015, BNP Paribas Asset Management India Ltd was one of the fastest growing asset management companies in the Indian mutual funds industry. Our distribution strength lies in global markets. So globally, we are one of the seven largest offshore funds in the world that invest in India. Our Indian arm is profitable making it one of the very few fund houses in our size bracket to be profitable.

We have to now stabilize our performance, which is happening already. We have strengthened our tie-ups with distributors and last but not the least, we are putting in place our fixed income pie. We are making investments wherever needed.

Chronic Kidney Patients’ Urine Can Predict Their Risk of Death

 

A new study suggests that marker in urine can reveal a lot about the health of patients with chronic kidney disease. A team of experts from the University of Utah has found that low ammonium excretion in the urine of such patients may put them at higher risk of disease progression and even.

The experts studied 1,044 individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the African American Study of Kidney Diseases and Hypertension. It was found that low urine ammonium excretion predicted kidney failure or death in such patients irrespective of serum bicarbonate concentration. Patients with the the lowest levels had a 46 per cent higher risk of dying or needing dialysis when compared to compared to the participants with the highest levels of daily ammonium excretion. Patients with intermediate levels had a 14 per cent higher risk.Chronic Kidney Patients' Urine Can Predict Their Risk of Death

“These results suggest that low urine ammonium excretion identifies individuals at high risk of CKD progression or death irrespective of the serum bicarbonate concentration,” said Kalani Raphael, University of Utah.

For patients suffering from liver ailments, it becomes important to monitor the body’s pH level and keep it in balance. Doctors commonly assess whether a patient’s body fluids contain too much acid, a condition called acidosis, by measuring bicarbonate levels in the blood.

liver

This can indicate whether the body is having trouble maintaining its acid-base balance, but it may reveal only part of the picture because the kidneys are important for eliminating acid in the urine. Kalani Raphael from University of Utah in the US and colleagues looked to see if urine levels of ammonium may be a better indicator of acid accumulation in the body.

“Overall, acid levels in the urine provide important information about kidney health above and beyond acid measurements obtained from the blood,” Raphael said. The study also suggests that CKD patients with low urine ammonium excretion might benefit from alkali before overt acidosis develops. The findings appear in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

 

5 Famous Varieties of Ramen You Must Try in Japan

5 Famous Varieties of Ramen You Must Try in Japan

The unrelenting rain pelted down onto the streets below. But a look outside my hotel window, the view boasting of cherry blossoms and Mt.Fuji, reminded me of why I needed to get moving and get out of the room. I was in Tokyo, one of the world’s greatest food cities, housing numerous Michelin starred restaurants. However, that wet, cold day, my destination was no fancy restaurant. In fact, it was a ramen shop in the backlanes of Shinkuju, Tokyo’s business district, infamous for waiting lines snaking around the block and famous for what could arguably be the best ramen in town. But let me start at the beginning.

Having grown up in India, the term ramen usually brings to mind a large bowl with a delicious clear broth, with noodles, meat and tons of vegetables. In a broad sense, that could describe ramen. However, when you look closely, like there are numerous versions of dosas in South India or of parathas in Punjab, there are many types of ramen. Here is a quick guide for you to know your way around the ramen world.

ramen restaurent

A typical Ramen joint in Japan

History of Ramen

Ramen is most associated with Japan but it is said that Japanese soldiers brought the dish back to Japan from China at the end of World War II. It was here that they made it their own and now it is a staple dinner in any street of Japan. Typically, people go for a drink after work where they will only munch on a yakitori stick or two. And when they are ravenous, head down to a ramen joint and devour a bowlful.

Types of Ramen

1. Shoyu (Soy sauce)

The broth in this one is clear and slightly brown, lightly flavoured with soy sauce. Typically, the broth is made with chicken but may also contain pork or other meats. Curly noodles are usually used in Shoyu Ramen. If the menu doesn’t specify what type of ramen it is, there is a good chance it is a Shoyu Ramen as this is the most common type. It is also fairly popular in India and this is the one you will find in restaurants like Fatty Bao. Go Go Ramen in Chennai, the only Ramen Bar in India does their own take on this.

soy ramen

2. Shio (Salt)

The soup in Shio Ramen is flavoured only with salt and thus is characteristically clear and yellowish in colour. As in the case with Shoyu Ramen, it is typically made with chicken but may also use other meats depending on the region. It also contains a lot of seaweed.

salt ramen

3. Tsukemen

This is the type of ramen that I set out to eat that rainy day in Tokyo, perhaps (and unfortunately) the most under-represented ramen across the world. The broth is thick and brown, unlike any other ramen. And the most fun part? The noodles come separately, so you have to ‘dip’ them with chopsticks in the broth and then slurp up. The thick soba noodles are served cold and the broth warm, allowing you to dip the noodles without making them mushy. If you ever get your hands on a bowl, trust me you will never forget this one.

ramen

4. Miso (Soybean paste)

You may be familiar with the taste of miso soup, which is often an accompaniment with tempura or other Japanese dishes. This ramen is flavoured with the same soybean paste called miso and is thick and brown in consistency. The flavour is complex, and not as clean as Shoyu or Shio, but it is heartier and perfect for cold winters. Having originated in Hokkaido, it is now popular across Japan and the world for its nutty sweet flavour. In India, you can get your Miso Ramen fix at Fuji in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

miso

5. Tonkotsu (Pork bone)

As the name suggests, this ramen soup is made of pork bones which are cooked down to a point where they dissolve into a creamy, white broth. It looks almost milky and takes upto 20 hours to cook. Surprisingly, the best one in India can be found in Rajasthan, in a Japanese chef-run restaurant in Neemrana located within Hotel Hirohama. The spicy version comes highly recommended.

pork ramen

So, there you have it. Order with confidence at a Japanese restaurant now, whether you’re going fine dining or as the Japanese do it, to a hole-in-the-wall ramen shop (where you have to order on a ticket machine and wait in line to eat on the bar-like table). As for me? I had my ramen fix in Tokyo last week and can vouch that there are few dishes that comfort the soul like a good bowl of ramen does.

 

Soothe sunburns with cold presses, plenty of water and loose clothing

Excessive exposure to sun can leave you with bad sunburns. But there is help around. Aloe Vera paste, consuming plenty of water to wearing loose clothing are some ways to deal with them.

Sunburn

Choose an aloe vera moisturiser or soy cream to deal with sunburns.

Even if you take precautions, excessive exposure to sun can leave your skin with a burn, a cool shower or use of an Aloe Vera-based moisturiser can give a soothing effect, say experts.Vivek Mehta, dermatologist at Pulastya and Cadle Skin Laser Clinic, and Rohit Batra, dermatologist at Dermaworld Skin and Hair Clinic, have some tips:

1) Soothe your skin with cool showers and cold presses if you feel the stinging sensation on the affected area. Apply a soothing moisturiser on your skin to help trap moisture on your skin to keep it soft and supple. This will avoid the dryness that might cause itching.

2) Choose an aloe vera moisturiser or soy cream which helps soothe the sun-burnt skin. You can also apply hydrocortisone cream which is easily available in the market. Avoid ‘caine’ products such as benzocaine as they can irritate the skin or may cause allergy.

3) Count on aspirin or ibuprofen as it helps reduce swelling, redness and discomfort caused by sunburn. However, do not buy these without consulting your dermatologist.

Have plenty of water to soothe the skin.

4) Consume plenty of water as a sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface. With water you are safeguarding your body against dehydration.

5) In case you notice blisters on your skin after sunburn, it means that you have second-degree sunburn. However, there’s no need to worry as it is a natural process and blisters protect the skin underneath from infection during the healing process. You should not pop or pick blisters.

6) Make sure that you wear loose clothing that covers your hands, feet and face, and especially the sunburnt area. Avoid fabrics like nylon, polyester and go for soft cotton and other breathable fabrics.

 

9 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Cellulite

 

Cellulite, the unsightly fat around your thighs and hips which has made you reject a major chunk of your wardrobe, is the result of an internal dermatological fat accumulation. This fat protrudes into the dermis, which is the layer just below the outermost layer of the skin – the epidermis. In case of cellulite, the connective tissue within this layer gets weakened, thus paving way for the fat to protrude through, thereby giving you cellulite. The cause for developing cellulite can range from excess body fat to the uneven distribution of fat, or it could be simply genetic.

Cellulite is more common a problem among women because men tend to have thicker skin, therefore for the fat to push through the dermis and make way to the outermost layer is rare.

Cellulite grows more prominent in women as they grow older because the collagen store keeps declining. However, there is not a cause to worry. A considerable chunk of women globally are suffering from the condition, and cellulite can be brought down to a great extent by simple changes in your diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet aiming against build-up of fat and regular exercise, as well as some massaging can reduce cellulite effectively.

Here are some ways by which you can bring down cellulite and an even looking skin.

1. Healthy Diet

A healthy and mindful diet can keep a check on cellulite. Shedding a few pounds can help your fat cells move away from the dermis, thereby lending you a more even-looking skin. Cut down on foods high in salt; sodium causes your fat cells to swell. Eat plenty of fibers, whole grain, proteins, low fat and non fat dairy, fruits and vegetables, as it helps remove waste and toxins from the intestinal tract.

Also Read: (Low Fat Food: What to Eat and What to Avoid for Weight Loss)

healthy 620

2.  Regular Exercise

Cellulite is basically fat that manages to bulge out through the epidermis, so cut down on extra pounds. Regular exercises like walking, jogging, swimming and yoga should help reduce the fat dimples. Experts suggest 40-minute exercise sessions (half cardio and half strength) three times a week for effective outcomes.

exercises

3. Seaweed

Seaweed is a natural exfoliating agent, which promotes smoother blood circulation (which in turn reduces fat accumulation). It also boosts metabolism. The book Healing Foods by DK Publishing House notes, “Its high iodine content helps support healthy thyroid function, which in turn helps regulate the metabolism of cells and assists weight management.” Seaweed also enhances the texture of the skin and rids the body of toxins. When the body is flushed of toxins, the cellulite is brought down considerably. The book also hails seaweed of umpteen detox benefits, ‘A source of detoxifying chlorophyll and mucilaginous (gumlike) fibre hat helps maintain bowel regularity and removes toxins and fats from the body.”

Grab a bowl, mix three to four tablespoons of ground seaweed with 50 ml of sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil or any essential oil. Massage the mixture on the affected area for 10 minutes before taking a shower. Massage the affected area daily for effective results.

seaweed wakame

4. Kick the Butt

Yes, smoking can contribute significantly to cellulite so kick those butts immediately. According to a report published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, intake of cigarette smoke can weaken the formation of collagen, making cellulite more prominent.

smoking

5. Dry Brushing

One of the most commonly used and the easiest ways to get rid of cellulite is dry brushing. It is said to improve your blood circulation and lymphatic draining, and eliminates toxic build up in your body which significantly promotes cellulite. The improved blood flow further revitalises the skin, and makes it look plump and radiant. Take a dry brush and gently brush the affected area and the rest of your body too. Make sure your skin and the brush both are dry. Brush for about five minutes, from left to right and then take a shower to wash away the dead skin cells and impurities. Do this daily for about a month to see immediate results and improved skin texture.

beauty

6. Cayenne Pepper

For its fat burning qualities, cayenne pepper could prove to be one of your best aides in getting rid of cellulite. Cayenne pepper has the ability to heat up your body, increase blood circulation, thereby boosting metabolism and curbing fat. Add to that, cayenne pepper also helps eliminate bad skin cells and substitute them with healthy cells and flush out toxins from the body. Take a glass of warm water, add about two teaspoons of cayenne pepper powder, a teaspoon of grated ginger and squeeze one whole lemon into it and mix well. Drink the concoction daily for effective results.

cayenne pepper

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Massaging the affected areas with apple cider vinegar can also work wonders to reduce cellulite around the thighs and hips. Apple cider vinegar is loaded with minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals not only help flush out the excess toxins but also regulate water retention around thighs and hips. Apple cider vinegar is also used traditionally for weight loss. Remember, lesser the fat, lesser the cellulite.

To effectively bring down cellulite, mix 50 ml of apple cider vinegar with about 100 ml of water. You can also add a bit of honey to the mixture if you are not allergic to it. Massage the affected area with the mixture and leave it on for 30 minutes. Rinse it off with water. Following the regime daily would provide desired results. You can also mix two to three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one teaspoon of honey, and consume the potion two times a day daily.

apple cider vinegar

Also Read: (10 Proven Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar For Skin, Hair and Weight Loss)

8. Juniper Oil

In the book by DK publishing house, Juniper has been recognised as a traditional “digestive aid, and an antiseptic for treating urinary infections and water retention.” Juniper oil reduces fluid retention and is said to have detoxifying properties, which reduces cellulite to a great extent. Just mix about 20 drops of juniper oil 50 ml of olive oil. Dab the mixture on the affected area and massage for about 15 minutes. Doing this thrice a week should help you get rid of cellulite.

essential oil

9. Take Plenty of Water

Your cellulite tends to look the ugliest when dehydrated. For a plump skin, drink plenty of water.

drinking water