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Health and wellness snippets

Health and wellness snippets

A recent study has found that those with low salt levels in their diet were actually at greater risk of cardiovascular death and congestive heart disease.

A little seasoning, anyone?
A recent Canadian study has found that a low-sodium diet may not be a great idea after all.

There is a very good reason why you're given a saline drip as soon as you're admitted to hospital. The body can't do without salt. And since it cannot make any sodium by itself, it relies on you to keep ingesting some amount in order to function normally.

On that basis, a new study that tested 29,000 people found that those with low salt levels in their diet were actually at greater risk of cardiovascular death and congestive heart disease. The findings were part of a seven-year study by Dr Martin O'Donnell and Dr Salim Yusuf at Canada's McMaster University.

They also confirmed older studies' findings that high levels of sodium intake are just as bad for you. These increased your risk of everything from strokes to heart attacks.

So what's the right amount of salt? How much is too much and when should you begin to cut back on the extra sprinkle on food? Dr O'Donnell and Dr Yusuf found the lowest rates of heart disease among people who ate between three to six grams of salt each day. That's slightly less than a full teaspoon of salt spread across all your day's meals. This wonder measure is nearly twice the previous daily recommendation of 2.3 grams.


Get out of trouble
Imagine your worst travel nightmare. Perhaps it is falling prey to a deadly virus or getting stuck in a civil war? These are not hypothetical risks. In 2011, travellers faced everything from radiation sickness following Japan's Fukushima crisis to violent revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa.

In response, a handful of companies has emerged that claims they can get you out of trouble anytime, anywhere. Among them are firms such as International SOS and US-based Global Rescue. They offer everything from emergency medical evacuation, to liaising with insurance providers, coordinating visas and travel documents and rescue from conflict zones or natural disasters.

While corporate programmes are the most cost-effective way to avail their services, there are other options if you're travelling solo. Try the individual coverage plans for short and long-term travel. Some even offer special coverage for students studying abroad. Travel safe.

Back in shape
Another January often means another year gone by with broken resolutions about your health. If you've vowed to lose weight in the new year, here are four tips that will help you succeed.

First, set a realistic goal. If you're 10 kilos overweight, chances are you won't knock it all off in one go. Aim to first rid yourself of five kilos. Then target the next five. Second, record everything. All smartphone platforms (Apple, Blackberry & Android) have apps that help you measure the calories you've eaten and how many you've burned. Some apps will even project when you're going to hit your target weight based on your progress through the programme.

Recording what you've eaten and what you've got rid off is the best way to stay focused and motivated. It's also the easiest way to determine whether you're still on track Third, there is no substitute for exercise. Even if you can manage just 10 minutes of walking a day, do it. You will gradually be able to increase your level of activity and time as you get fitter.

Finally, get your family to help. Tell your wife to hide those chocolates and join your kids whenever they play to stay active.

That Stressful 'First Day Back'
End-of-the-year vacations are a great way to unwind, until it's time to get back to work. The stress that comes with hitting the old routine can get bad enough to ruin any holiday. Here's how you can deal with it.

Start Small You're fresh from a break. Time to tackle that big project, right? Wrong. Warm up into it. The fastest way to burn out is by trying to take on too much too soon.

Talk Shop Ask your co-workers for updates on various deadlines. You've been away for a while. It's likely your team has moved ahead. Don't reinvent the wheel by working on projects that have already been taken care of.

Keep the Big Guy In The Loop Your boss manages numerous employees. For you that could mean out of sight, out of mind. Call ahead and let them know when you're returning. Else you may end up with an unfamiliar task right on your first morning back.

Don't lose your mind

It's the medical breakthrough that could bring relief to hundreds of thousands of patients in the years to come. Scientists at Sydney University's Brain and Mind Research Institute have developed a vaccine that they claim will slow down Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.

The vaccine targets a protein known as tau. In lab tests conducted on mice with Alzheimers it prevented the further formation of 'tangles' in the brain's neuro-fibres. The scientists claim theirs is the first study to succeed in slowing down Alzheimers by targeting the tau protein.

They say their next step will be to develop the vaccine so it may be tested on humans. Alzheimers has so far proven notoriously difficult to fight. While this drug doesn't claim a cure either, it shows tremendous promise in improving the lives of Alzheimer's patients who constantly battle a loss of their faculties.

Published on: Feb 13, 2012, 12:00 AM IST
Posted by: Navneeta N, Feb 13, 2012, 12:00 AM IST