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Spinal Stenosis – A potential midlife crisis

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Do you often search for a chair to sit while attending a social gathering? Do you often experience numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation in any one or all of these areas like your feet, legs, hands and arms; or face problems while walking or with balancing yourself? If yes, then you could be at a risk of having spinal stenosis.
The disease mostly affects people in middle and older age groups, where the space available for the nerves in our backbone becomes narrower than normal and causes a pinching effect on the nerves and spinal cord. Untreated severe spinal stenosis may progress and cause permanent numbness, weakness, balance problems, incontinence or urine/stool and may lead even to paralysis.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
Dr Arun Bhanot of Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram, said, “Our spine is made up of a series of connected bones and shock-absorbing discs. It protects our spinal cord, a key part of the central nervous system that connects the brain to the body. The cord rests in the canal formed by the vertebrae. In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal becomes narrow and the open spaces between the vertebrae may start to get smaller. The stiffness can squeeze the spinal cord or the nerves around it, leading to pain, tingling or numbness in legs, arms or torso.”
Spinal stenosis is a slowly progressive disease that does not cause much pain at rest or while sitting. However, when such patients stand and walk, the spinal cord gets compressed and the patient may feel pain, heaviness, tingling and numbness in the legs accompanied by weakness and a tendency to lose balance. But just after a few minutes of sitting, the symptoms improve and the patient can walk again for a few meters. There are various nonsurgical treatments and exercises to help keep the pain at bay.
What Causes Spinal Stenosis?
“Spinal stenosis is mainly caused by wear and tear of degenerative process that manifests in the form of arthritis, the condition caused by the breakdown of ligament, the cushiony material between bones and the development of bone tissue, and additionally thickening of different ligaments around the spinal cord and nerves. The degenerative procedure can lead to disc changes, thickening of the ligaments of the spine, and bone spurs. This can put weight on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Cracked herniated plates may allow a portion of the delicate internal material to escape and push on the spinal cord or nerves,” said Dr. Sumit Sinha of Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Besides this, the ligaments that hold the bones of spine together can turn out to be hardened and thickened after some time causing swell in the spinal canal. Likewise, any new development inside the spinal segment can encroach on the space accessible for spinal cord, hence leading to secondary spinal canal stenosis. Swelling of nearby tissue immediately after back medical procedure can put weight on the spinal cord or nerves.
Is There a Treatment?
Today, a minimally invasive surgical treatment is available for patients where the ailment can be treated using a small calibre high powered camera (endoscope) that creates a tiny 8 mm hole in the back and removes the pressure from the nerves very safely and effectively.
The benefit of the endoscopic technique is that the patient can avoid getting a big cut in the spine and his recovery is even faster. Some of these patients may require a microscopic decompression and use of metal screws and rods to stabilise their spine. However, in many such cases, the surgeon can avoid putting in any additional metal screws and rods in the spine by using the endoscopic technique, thus reducing the cost of treatment as well.
With advancement in other allied fields like medicine, cardiology and anesthesia, the patients even in their eighties and nineties can avail the benefits of surgery with a fairly good outcome.


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Health

5 Foods That Will Detoxify Your Lungs And Heal Them Naturally

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Are you a chain smoker? Do you live in a polluted area? Our lungs are a vital organ and the most ignored organ of our body. It is through them that we breathe.

Consequently our lungs are also sucking in harmful elements from the air around us. They are exposed to harmful pollutants and microbes that get deposited from the air we inhale. For people who smoke, their healthy lungs turn black with the deposition of tar in their lungs. Regular detoxification of lungs will help in smooth functioning and help in expulsion of toxins. Thus it is important that we choose healthy foods to cleanse our lungs, so as to reduce common lung diseases and respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cystic fibrosis.

Some foods which are great for good lung health are listed below:

 

1. Garlic: The anti-inflammatory properties along with a high level of allicin helps to fight infections and reduces inflammation. Garlic has also been considered by many as being an effective remedy in improving asthma and can help to reduce the risk of lung cancer.

2. Apples: An apple is healthy, loaded with nutrients, high energy, high fiber, low calorie food. Its flavonoids and the wide variety of vitamins, and antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, helps us to maintain a strong immune system and a healthy respiratory system. When we have healthy respiratory functions, we can fight off lung diseases and prevent them naturally.

3. Ginger: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties ginger will help to clear your lungs naturally. You can add ginger to various dishes as it is a widely used herb. Also you can add it in your morning tea.You can also use it to prepare ginger tea blended with some lemon in it. This is beneficial to remove toxins from the respiratory tract.

4. Green tea: Drink a cup of your favourite herbal green tea before going to bed to release toxins in the intestine that can lead to constipation or other stomach ailments. You should refrain from overloading your lungs with tedious work during this purification process.

5. Lentils: In order to optimize the oxygen transportation faculties of the lungs, healthy hemoglobin levels are absolutely critical. Hemoglobin is a protein molecule that is found in red blood cells and aids in transporting oxygen from the lungs to body tissue. As an added benefit, hemoglobin stimulates the internal processes that returns carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be expelled from the body. Black beans, cow peas, dried peas, lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and soybeans are some foods containing properties that raise hemoglobin levels. Additionally, supplement beans and lentils with vitamin-C rich foods to maximize iron absorption.

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Health

Fasting may help keep age-related diseases at bay: Study

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Fasting can boost the body’s metabolism and help protect against age-related diseases, a study has found. The circadian clock operates within the body and its organs as intrinsic time-keeping machinery to preserve homeostasis in response to the changing environment. While food is known to influence clocks in peripheral tissues, it was unclear, until now, how the lack of food influences clock function and ultimately affects the body.

“We discovered fasting influences the circadian clock and fasting-driven cellular responses, which together work to achieve fasting-specific temporal gene regulation,” said Paolo Sassone-Corsi, a professor at the University of California, Irvine in the US. “Skeletal muscle, for example, appears to be twice as responsive to fasting as the liver,” said Sassone-Corsi.

The research, published in the journal Cell Reports, was conducted using mice, which were subjected to 24-hour periods of fasting. While fasting, researchers noted the mice exhibited a reduction in oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and energy expenditure, all of which were completely abolished by refeeding, which parallels results observed in humans.

 

“The reorganisation of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression,” he said. “In other words, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses. Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against ageing-associated diseases,” said Sassone-Corsi.

The study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans.

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Health

High-fibre diet lowers risk of death, non-communicable diseases: Lancet

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Eating up to 30 grams of naturally-occurring dietary fibre — such as whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits — daily may prevent the risks of developing non-communicable diseases, finds a review of studies published in the journal The Lancet.

The results suggest a 15-30 per cent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality; and reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, Type-2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24 per cent.

Increasing fibre intake is associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intake or synthetic and extracted fibre.

 

“Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases,” said Professor Jim Mann, from the University of Otago, New Zealand.

“Fibre-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favourably influence lipid and glucose levels.

“The breakdown of fibre in the large bowel by the resident bacteria has additional wide-ranging effects including protection from colorectal cancer,” Mann said.

Protection against stroke, and breast cancer also increased. Consuming 25-29 grams each day was adequate but the data suggest that higher intakes of dietary fibre could provide even greater protection.

The researchers included 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adult participants.

The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against Type 2 diabetes and stroke only.

Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

However, high intakes might have ill-effects for people with low iron or mineral levels for whom high levels of whole grains can further reduce iron levels, the researchers noted.

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