Friday, June 23, 2017

Best foods for your brain

Research shows that the best foods for your brain are the same ones that protect your heart and blood vessels, including the following: 
Green, leafy vegetables. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline. 
Fatty fish. Fatty fish are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid—the protein that forms damaging clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, but choose varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon, cod, canned light tuna, and pollack. If you're not a fan of fish, ask your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement, or choose terrestrial omega-3 sources such as flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts. 
Berries. Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues, also help improve memory, research shows. In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years. 
Tea and coffee. The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee or tea might offer more than just a short-term concentration boost. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, participants with higher caffeine consumption scored better on tests of mental function. Caffeine might also help solidify new memories, according to other research. Investigators at Johns Hopkins University asked participants to study a series of images and then take either a placebo or a 200-milligram caffeine tablet. More members of the caffeine group were able to correctly identify the images on the following day. 
Walnuts. Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and one type of nut in particular might also improve memory. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps lower blood pressure and protects arteries. That's good for both the heart and brain. 
SOURCE--Harvard Medical School Newsletter tiled Health Beat, dated 22 June 2017.

Comment: And that is why I drink coffee :)
There is also an interesting anecdote related by Dr Deepak Chopra's (the new age guru) brother, Dr Sanjiv Chorpa, who is a liver specialist. He believes that having 4 cups of coffee daily prevents you from ever needing a liver transplant !

Friday, June 09, 2017

4 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones

Have you noticed how even one year olds know their way around a smartphone, while we’re struggling to stay updated on everything tech! If you’ve ever thought that kids seem to spend half of the day on their smartphones, you’re not wrong – the average child might spend more than seven hours a day on their phone, and for at least some of them, that’s more time than they spendsleeping.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with technology or gadgets; there are many useful things they can do. But it’s when things go beyond a healthy limit that problems arise. Technology is a huge part of life now, yet many parents still haven’t implemented basic rules to help their children stay safe online. There are all kinds of horrors on the internet, and naive kids are particularly vulnerable. Don’t worry, here’s help! Here are some simple tips to help kids stay safe on smartphones.

4 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones

Kids these days are glued to their phones which makes them vulnerable to many dangers. Check out these 4 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones.

1. Place Limits On When And Where The Phone Can Be Used

Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones
Kids don’t need to be texting at the dinner table, when they’re in the middle of homework, or late at night – yet many of them are still allowed to do so. One of the major problems with teens today is that their minds are always online – when they’re not using their smartphone, they’re thinking about using it, and there’s no clear separation between online and offline time.
In a similar vein, there are places phones should never be allowed – such as in their bedrooms. Establishing phone-free zones is critical for teaching children that there are times and places where phones should not be allowed, no matter how badly they want to pick them up and start texting, using apps, or otherwise connecting to the digital realm.
Until a child can resist the temptation to use their smartphone, they shouldn’t have unrestricted access to it.

2. Use Content Filters and Limit Phone-based Purchases

Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones
Most cell carriers offer these services for free (or at an extremely low monthly price) – and they should be installed on every child’s phone. In addition to basic content control, providers may also offer services like not allowing the phone to be used to access the internet past a certain time each day… though it’s often easier to just have your child give you the phone at a certain time each night.
On top of that, make sure your child gets your permission to download and install apps – when they have to ask about each one, they’re less likely to start downloading things just because it sounded fun, and more likely to exercise good judgment and discretion.

3. Install Ad-Blockers

Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones
Online ads are… interesting. However, as much as some companies would love for you to do nothing other than click on ads all day, the truth is that they’re distracting and tend to eat up a lot of data. How much? Well, according to a recent study by the New York Times, just putting an ad-blocker on made many sites load three or four times faster.
In general, kids can’t control the content of ads, so installing ad blockers can help them avoid seeing content that doesn’t matter to them. (And they’ll probably thank you for making the internet smoother for them, too.)

4. Instruct Them On Proper Behavior

Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe on Smartphones
In recent years, cyber bullying has become a major problem for teens. There are a lot of things you can do to help keep them safe, but the most important thing for your child to understand is that they can (and should) come talk to you any time there’s a problem.
Most kids are unwilling to talk about their problems because they fear losing access to their smartphone – as such, you should make it clear that you will not take their phone away if you know they’re getting bullied. Instead, explain that you just want to teach them how to resolve the problem and move on with their life. As long as a child trusts you enough to come talk to you when there’s a problem, you’ll be able to protect them from just about every issue that can occur online.
Kids are getting smartphones at a younger and younger age, so it’s important to start monitoring them early – and with these regulations in place, you can help ensure that your child is as safe as they can possibly be while using their smartphone.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why it may be a good thing that the Dengue vaccine is NOT available in India right now?



I am a Pediatrician, and a large percentage of my work involves preventive pediatrics and counseling. I am also a big fan of vaccines, so why am I saying that NOT having Dengue vaccines in India is a good thing? Read on….
I understand that Dengue is a very serious problem, and as a pediatrician I have personally diagnosed and treated many kids with Dengue in Chandigarh and surrounding areas.
The problem, in my opinion, is the way new vaccines are generally launched in India. Previously the drug controlling authority (DCGI) used to ask for small trials on 150 to 200 people and we used to test if the vaccine was leading to good antibody response after 3 months in these people. Once this was confirmed, the vaccine was allowed to be used without any further research in our kids.
On the other hand, most developed countries would ask any vaccine company to do large studies in their own country/ continent before allowing use of a newer vaccine.
For the first time, it appears that the Govt of India is asking the Vaccine Company (Sanofi Pasetur) to do large scale trials in our country for the Dengue vaccine before launching it. The scientific data thus generated will help us to recommend the vaccine far more effectively.
However, if the permission is given by the GOI to launch the vaccine with small amount of data (as before), then we will end up with limited data. This means we will have to rely on studies from foreign countries to decide how effective this vaccine will be in our situation. For a new vaccine like Dengue, I believe this is NOT the right way to go.
Sure, large studies will take at least 2-3 years, but the results will help us get a better idea on how and when to use the vaccine for kids & adults in the future. This is why I am recommending waiting and watching and getting high quality data from India for the Dengue vaccine, before launching it.
What do you feel as a parent or a doctor?