Improve Health and Fitness with Home Workouts during the COVID-19 Crisis

Improve Health and Fitness with Home Workouts

The novel coronavirus crisis has led governments to adopt stringent measures to contain the spread of the disease. This includes temporary shutdown of various businesses and putting their citizens under lockdown for social distancing – the only way to reduce contact between people and prevent spreading of this virus. Gyms are one of the businesses that have been forced to shut down during this pandemic, affecting many people’s fitness regimens.

“With gyms, beaches, and parks temporarily closed and people being encouraged to stay at home, it’s easy to let your exercise routine fall by the wayside. And working from home or lacking a daily routine can make it hard to keep up with any physical activity at all”, notes a Harvard Health article. However, fitness experts say that even if you don’t have a dedicated workout space or fancy machines, all this shouldn’t stop you from getting a good workout in your home.

Physical activity and exercise offer both immediate and long-term health benefits. With social distancing mandated during the COVID-19 outbreak, exercising at home would provide additional benefits:

  • It would lift the mood, which is very important when faced with the challenge of staying inside and finding activities to do to substitute for some of your usual ones.
  • Exercise lowers risk for heart disease by improving cholesterol profile and lowering blood pressure.
  • Staying active is important to sleep better and manage stress efficiently, both of which can be difficult when schedules are disrupted.

Here are some exercises you can do at homes without any equipment or machines:

  • Squats: Start by standing straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your arms at your side. Keep your chest and chin up, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you’re going to sit on a chair. Make sure that your knees don’t bow inward or outward. Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, bringing your arms out in front of you in a comfortable position. Pause for one second, then extend your legs and return to the starting position.
  • Push-ups: This is a basic exercise where you start with plank position, keep your body tight, shoulders pulled down and back. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body and when your chest grazes the floor, extend your elbows and return to the starting position. Keep your elbows close to your body during the movement.
  • Sit-ups: This is an effective exercise for the abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Keep your arms behind you head and slowly begin to roll up from your head, engaging your core throughout. Don’t strain your neck during the upward motion. When your chest comes close to your legs, begin the controlled phase back down to the starting position.
  • Bent over row: Hinge forward at your hips. Pull a weighted barbell toward your torso while keeping your elbows close to your body and your back straight. Perform sets of six to 12 repetitions, performing each set to muscle failure to improve muscular strength and endurance.
  • Burpees: This is an effective exercise for your whole body. Begin by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms on your side. Put your hands on the front and start to squat down and as soon as your hands reach the ground, pop your legs back to a push-up position. Do a push-up and then get back to the starting push-up position and jump your feet up to your palms by hinging at the waist. Your feet must be as close to your hands as possible, landing them outside your hands if necessary.
  • Wall Sit: Lean on a wall in the house and sit against it as if it’s a chair with your legs at 90 degrees. Stand still in the position and hold. Back straight, stay in that position for three minutes. Once you get used to it, increase your time. Do it three times in the set of three.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 may mean unprecedented changes to daily routines, but staying healthy through it all is still a priority. One of the best things about exercising at home is that you can do it in your living room while watching television or listening to your favorite music. However, check with your doctor before you start any new exercise regimen.

COVID-19: Tips to Protect Your Mental Health During This Pandemic

COVID-19: Tips to Protect Your Mental Health During This Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens across the nation, numerous spots of business – schools, offices, the New York stock exchange, theaters, wellness studios, clothing and beauty stores, have all been requested to temporarily shut down and millions of people are being asked to self-quarantine in order to safeguard themselves and prevent the disastrous spread of infection. However, during this period, it is important to pay as much attention to your mental health just as your physical health.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that originated in Wuhan City of China, causes severe respiratory disease. Coronavirus was declared a global emergency on January 31, 2020 and announced as a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of its high mortality rate. With more than 25,000 positive tests of Covid-19 and 210 deaths from the virus reported in the United States alone, this outbreak is serious and is quickly spreading to all parts of the world. Since no immunizations are available as of now to prevent coronavirus sickness, the ideal approach is to abstain from being exposed to this virus. For that, the U.S and many other countries have announced temporary lockdown to ensure social distancing. However, the uncertainty and the constant depressing news about the pandemic can be stressful for many, and take a toll on peoples’ mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Many organizations have come forward offering tips on how to tackle one’s mental health during this outbreak and WHO is one among them.

As we all face uncertainty and are confused about this pandemic, there are measures we can take to stay calm. The tips include:

  • Limit your exposure to news and social media because there is a lot of misinformation swirling around. Stay informed of COVID-19-related news and updates by sticking to trusted sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), John Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Cut back the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better, and perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news.
  • Keep things in perspective and take all the precautions by washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing.
  • Social distancing doesn’t mean that you should not stay connected with family and friends. You can maintain these connections without increasing your risk of getting the virus – you can talk on the phone, text or chat with people on social media platforms. Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normalcy and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.
  • Remind yourself that most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms, as the American Psychological Association (APA) points out. They say work is being done to help people who may be more vulnerable to the coronavirus, such as senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation which are great ways to alleviate stress and anxiety.
  • Engage in activities that distract you from current events.
  • Do practice self-care activities like eating healthy, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep and regular physical activity.
  • Engage in indoor physical activities as it can help ease anxiety and improve your mood by producing stress-relieving hormones called endorphins.
  • If you have negative thoughts and beliefs, write down positive statements right when you wake up or before going to bed. This can be very powerful in rewiring your negative mindset.
  • Communicate with your kids because it’s important to take care of your kids’ mental and emotional health as well as yours. Be honest and open with your children and give them enough space to process their feelings.
  • Be kind to yourself and others.
  • Sharing the actual facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make this outbreak and its impact less stressful. According to the CDC, when you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

However, if your mental health worsens and you feel it is impairing your ability to function, then seek professional help from an experienced mental health professional at the earliest. Don’t forget that with COVID-19, you are not alone in how you are feeling. Coping with the stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

March 24th Is World Tuberculosis Day – ‘It’s Time to End TB!’

March 24th Is World Tuberculosis Day
Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, killing an estimated 1.2 million people in 2018. Each year, March 24 is observed as World Tuberculosis Day to raise public awareness about the distressing health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The theme of World TB Day 2020 is “It’s TIME to End TB!”. The one-day annual event commemorates the discovery of mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacillus that causes TB) by Dr. Robert Koch in 1882.

In the year 1982, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) first launched World Tuberculosis Day. In 1996, the WHO joined the union and other organizations that fight against TB. In 1998, an initiative named Stop TB Partnership was incepted as a means of eradicating the infectious disease. Under the theme ‘It’s Time’, the spotlight this year is on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering, building on high-level commitments by Heads of State at the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with their domestic and international partners, including the National TB Controllers Association, Stop TB USA, and the global Stop TB Partnership are working together to eliminate this deadly disease.

Regarded as a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs, even though it can attack any part of the body such as the spine, kidney and brain, this disease spreads from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs, spits and sneezes. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist:

  • Latent TB infection (LTBI)
  • Active TB disease

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), a person with TB infection has TB bacteria in the body, but does not have the contagious form of TB disease. The body’s immune system is able to keep the infection in control. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick, have no symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. While people with active TB disease usually feel sick, have symptoms and can spread TB to others. So, if left untreated, the condition can become fatal causing severe complications.

The CDC says, people who are more likely to get sick from TB disease include:

  • Those with HIV infection
  • Those who have been recently infected with TB (probably in the last two years)
  • Those who inject illegal drugs
  • Babies, young children and elderly people
  • Those who were not treated correctly for TB in the past
  • Those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, certain types of cancer, and those who are underweight.

Since these people have conditions that make the body weak, it is difficult for them to fight TB germs.

People who are present with the risk factors should consider being tested for TB infection which involves having either a TB skin test or TB blood test. Additional tests such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum are needed to determine if the person has TB infection or active TB disease. If the TB test is positive, the person likely has TB infection and should get treated as soon as possible. Treatment for this condition involves medications (for at least 6-9 months) to eradicate infection and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. However, it’s imperative to take all of your medicines, as they’re prescribed, even if you feel better, or else you can get sick again.

Follow some tips to help prevent others from getting TB during your first few weeks of treatment, or until your doctor says you’re no longer contagious:

  • Take all of your medicines as prescribed, until your doctor takes you off them.
  • Keep up with all your doctor appointments.
  • Always cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After use, seal the tissue in a plastic bag, then throw it away.
  • Wear a face mask when around people, during the first few weeks of treatment.
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Don’t visit other people and don’t invite them to visit you.
  • Stay home from work, school, or other public places.
  • Use a fan or open windows to move around fresh air.
  • Don’t use public transportation.

Most importantly, keep your immune system functioning properly by adopting healthy eating habits, exercising regularly and getting sufficient sleep.

The WHO has also launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership, with the aim of accelerating the TB response and ensuring access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage.

This World TB Day, WHO calls on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, healthcare providers, and national/international partners to unite forces under the banner “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” to ensure no one is left behind.

It’s time for action! It’s time to End TB.

March 20 is World Oral Health Day – Unite for Mouth Health

March 20 is World Oral Health Day

The mouth is considered to be the gateway to one’s overall health and well-being. In other words, a healthy mouth is important for a healthy body. World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated every year on 20 March to raise awareness about this. Organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, WOHD is the largest global awareness campaign on oral health. The main aim of WOHD is to spread the message about good oral hygiene practices to adults and children alike and demonstrate the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being. Each year, WOHD focuses on a specific theme to reach out to the public, oral health professionals, and policy makers. This year, the official theme of the campaign is “Say Ahh: Unite for Mouth Health”. The campaign also calls for people to make online pledges or pledge signs to show their commitment to the cause.

Oral disease will affect almost all people at some point during their lifetime. Poor oral health can lead to various diseases. Gum disease can increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes, and more. Following good oral and dental hygiene can gum disease, bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, and help you maintain good health as you get older.

The FDI World Dental Federation notes that it is particularly worrying to see an increasing number of children with tooth decay, which can lead to the development of early childhood caries, negatively affect how a young mouth develops, and create lasting health issues for young children.

Here are some pledges to make on World Oral Health Day.

Make a Pledge for Good Oral Hygiene

  • Good oral health should begin from a newborn. Even if the newborn doesn’t have teeth, it’s very important to keep their mouth healthy from day one. Wipe their gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or wash cloth – especially after feedings and before bedtime. Avoid letting your baby sleep with a feeding bottle in their mouth. Once your baby’s first tooth appears, start to clean it twice a day,  just like you should your own.
  • Brush every morning and night
  • Teach your child to brush the right way by using a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Put an end to late-night snacking after brushing the teeth at night
  • Replace your worn-out toothbrush: the average life of a toothbrush is about 3 months.
  • Look after dentures. If you wear removable dentures, clean them daily using a specialist denture cleaner or soap and water.
  • Floss regularly
  • Protect your mouth when on the go. It’s not always possible to brush your teeth after every snack or meal, especially when you’re on the go. Chew sugar-free gum instead, or rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.
  • If you are pregnant, learn how to protect your mouth during morning sickness.

Make a Pledge to Avoid a Dry Mouth

  • Learn how a dry mouth could affect you
  • Drink small amounts of water regularly throughout the day or chew sugar-free gum or candies to stimulate salivary flow.

Make a Pledge for Regular Dental Check-Ups

  • Take your child to the dentist as soon as their first tooth appears.
  • Get regular dental check-ups.
  • If a tooth becomes loose or if your dentures no longer fit properly, go and see your dentist as soon as possible.
  • Keep your dentist informed if you are pregnant and if you are taking any medications, or about any other special advice from your medical doctor.

Make a Pledge for a Healthier Lifestyle

  • Limit sugar in your diet
  • Say no to tobacco
  • Cut down alcohol intake
  • Help your family make healthy choices

A good oral hygiene routine, regular dental check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can help protect your mouth and body. Take a pledge to maintain a strong and healthy mouth and inspire others to do the same.

COVID-19: What You Should Know about Face Masks

COVID-19: What You Should Know about Face Masks

COVID-19, the new coronavirus disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China was declared as a global emergency on January 31, 2020 and announced as a pandemic on March 11,2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO). With a total of 1629 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 41 deaths from the virus reported in the United States alone, this outbreak is quickly spreading to all parts of the world. But since no vaccines are currently available to prevent coronavirus disease, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Along with following the basic preventive measures like hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces, people now also tend to wear face mask thinking it will prevent the virus from entering the body. But that’s not true!

Experts warn that face masks won’t help most people avoid the virus – on the other hand, they may actually increase the risk of getting it. According to a blog in TIME, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University says that it seems kind of intuitively obvious that if you put something-whether it’s a scarf or a mask-in front of your nose and mouth, that will filter out some of these viruses that are floating around out there. However, it’s not effective against respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that surgical masks won’t stop the wearer from inhaling small airborne particles, which can cause infection nor do these masks form a tight seal around the face.

The CDC recommends wearing a surgical face mask only

  • For people who already show symptoms of coronavirus and must go outside (because, wearing a mask can help prevent spreading the virus by protecting others nearby when you cough or sneeze).
  • For caregivers of people infected with the virus
  • For people who enter a healthcare provider’s office

People out of fear of coronavirus buy face masks in bulk, which has led to a shortage of masks for medical personnel coping with the epidemic, who really do need them. There’s no need for healthy people to go around wearing face masks to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Moreover, according to CBSNEWS, experts caution that putting on a face mask without proper fitting and training could actually increase your risk. Because, people who aren’t trained in how to use a face mask tend to touch their faces a lot, which could increase their chances of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

The WHO emphasizes that if you’re going to use a mask, it’s important to know when and how to use it correctly.

When to Use a Mask

Follow CDC’s recommendations for wearing face mask and along with it follow these tips too:

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • For effective prevention, along with wearing masks, one has to practice frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Most importantly, if you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

How to Use a Mask – Wear it, Take off& Dispose

  • Before wearing a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer/rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it.
  • If you do touch the masks, then clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • And while removing the masks, make sure you don’t touch the mask from front, instead, remove it from behind and discard immediately in a closed bin.
  • Soon after,clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Experts say washing your hands frequently and thorough lyis the best way to prevent the spread of infectious illnesses like coronavirus because one of the most common ways infections spread is when people touch a contaminated surface and then touch their mouth or nose(cbsnews.com). Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid contact with sick people, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and disinfect objects and surfaces frequently.

General Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

General Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is a balanced diet that provides important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep the body and mind strong and healthy. Eating healthy protects against malnutrition and minimizes risks of various diseases and health complications. However, increased production and consumption of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns. People nowadays consume more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt/sodium, and do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Unhealthy eating patterns along with lack of physical activity health are the reasons for many serious diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles are a major global health risk and switching to a healthy diet is more important than ever.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), healthy dietary practices should start early in life, that is, with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and improves cognitive development and may also provide longer term health benefits such as reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer later in life.

Eating the right amount of calories to balance the energy you consume with the energy you use is the key to healthy and balanced diet. A balanced diet means eating foods from the five major groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy. A healthy diet also includes a wider range of options that includes legumes, seeds and nuts, fish and even plant oils. It is recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules) and women have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).

Here are the general guidelines for healthy eating:

  • The most important rule of healthy eating is not skipping any meal, especially breakfast. Skipping breakfast lowers your metabolic rate.
  • Eat more raw foods such as salads, fruits and vegetable juices. This will also make meal preparation more easy and simple.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day).
  • Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; instead, eat whole grains, high-fiber breads and cereals.
  • Try to use variety of foods in the menu because no single food has all the nutrients.
  • Avoid eating an unhealthy snack when hungry by keeping healthy snacks handy.
  • Consume low-fat milk and low-fat dairy products.
  • If you eat meat, avoid red meat and consume white meat.
  • Reduce intake of saturated fats and trans-fats as much as possible.
  • Use vegetable oils such as olive or canola oil instead of solid fats.
  • Reduce daily intake of salt or sodium to less than 1,500 mg. per day if you are older than 50, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
  • Restrict or eliminate sodas and other sugar-added drinks that are high in calories and contain few or no nutrients.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar from your diet.
  • Carry a homemade lunch to work and limit the consumption of junk foods.
  • Read and understand the nutrition facts on food labels.
  • Stop eating when you feel full.

A balanced diet is one that provides around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from proteins and 20-25% of total calories from fat. Medical News Today notes, “Dietary guidelines change over time, as scientists discover new information about nutrition. Current recommendations suggest that a person’s plate should contain primarily vegetables and fruits, some lean protein, some dairy, and soluble fiber.”

Importance of Clean Hands to Prevent Spread of Infections

Clean Hands to Prevent Spread of Infections

Handwashing is an effective way to prevent the spread of bacterial and viral pathogens alike, during a regular flu season or while in the event of the outbreak of dangerous airborne viruses. This infection prevention tip has gained more relevance with the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). As the threat from this respiratory illness grows, all global healthcare agencies are stressing the importance of handwashing.

COVID-19 spreads from person to person via droplets of infected fluid and can be passed on via touch, direct hand to hand contact or from contaminated surfaces. Prevention measures are critical to stop the spread of the virus because there is no vaccine to prevent it and no anti-virals to treat it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, before eating, and after touching garbage. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. However, hand sanitizers may not be as effective as using soap.

Washing hands decreases the number of microbes on hands and helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Karen Fleming from Johns Hopkins University explains in a Twitter post that soap is an amazing weapon to prevent Coronavirus infection, as this is an enveloped virus with an outer lipid membrane layer. This virus is surrounded by a fat layer and washing hands with soap and water can “dissolve” this greasy fatty layer and kill the virus.

The CDC’s five steps to wash your hands the right way are –

  1. Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When using a hand sanitizer, apply the gel product to the palm of one hand, rub your hands together, and rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

CDC’s “Life is Better with Clean Hands” campaign to celebrate Global Handwashing Day on October 15 also encourages adults to make handwashing part of their everyday life and encourages parents to wash their hands to set a good example for their kids.

Read our blog on World Hand Hygiene Day to learn more about how handwashing can illnesses.

Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Athletes

Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Athletes

Essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals contribute to our overall well-being. However, due to their high activity levels, athletes need more nutrients than less-active or sedentary people. To build an athletic body and keep their energy levels high to beat fatigue and ensure the best performance, athletes need to follow a balanced diet that includes specific vitamins and minerals. These essential nutrients are crucial for a variety of activities in the body such as turning food into energy and keeping bones healthy.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, while some research suggests high activity levels in athletes may increase their vitamin needs, there are no official guidelines for vitamin recommendations specific to athletes at this time. For instance, as athletes lose more electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium through sweating, they would need more of them. Similarly, they would experience wear and tear due to intense activity which may increase the need for antioxidants such as vitamin E that to protect the muscle cells from oxidative damage. A deficiency of these nutrients can likely will take a toll on an athlete’r performance.

Here are the top seven nutrients essential for athletes:

  1. Vitamin D: Athletic activity puts a lot of pressure on the bones and joints. Vitamin D is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones. While sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D, there are foods rich in Vitamin D like egg yolks, tuna, salmon, soy milk, cheese and so on. If your body isn’t getting enough of Vit D, discuss taking vitamin D supplements with your doctor.
  2. Omega 3: Omega-3 fatty acids allow the maximal amount of oxygen-rich blood to reach your working muscles (health.clevelandclinic.org). However, as these essential fats is not produced by our bodies, we must obtain them through diet. The best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish (mackerel, salmon, herring and so on), chia seeds, flaxseed, and also dietary supplements such as fish oil.
  3. Magnesium: This major mineral controls neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functioning. If you lack magnesium, it can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue, injury and eveb affect your mental well-being. To get the magnesium you need, eat bananas, figs, avocado and raspberries, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood and vegetables like peas, broccoli, brussels, sprouts, and green leafy vegetables.
  4. Vitamin E: Though Vitamin E has no role in improving overall athletic performance, it is an important antioxidant to prevent oxidative cellular damage. Vitamin E helps promote a healthy immune system, thereby reducing the risk of picking up viruses from public spaces. It increases your anaerobic threshold and eases muscle cramps. Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and vegetable oils, such as sunflower, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils.
  5. Vitamin C: This immune-boosting vitamin is essential for athletes training outdoors as it prevents airborne viruses and common colds. Food sources of Vit C include citrus fruits and strawberries, and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and capsicum among others.
  6. Potassium: An important electrolyte, potassium is an important mineral in your blood, urine, and bodily fluids. It contains an electric charge which helps your cells communicate with each other and gives you the ability to taste, see, smell, touch, and hear. Nearly 70% of the potassium in your body is found in bodily fluids like plasma, blood, and sweat, while the rest is stored in your bones. Sweating heavily during intense exercise can lead to loss of potassium. Low potassium levels can cause muscle cramping and cardiovascular issues along with reducing your energy and endurance. Consume potassium-rich foods such as bananas, citrus fruits, melons, leafy greens, broccoli, fish, meats, milk, sweet potatoes, legumes (lime, kidney beans) each day.
  7. Iron: One of the major functions of iron is to carry oxygen to the cells in your body, which makes it essential for athletic performance. However, exercise may cause some iron loss or decreased absorption. In fact, iron deficiency is a common problem for athletes and runners, especially in female athletes, endurance athletes and vegetarian athletes Not having enough iron in the body will cause fatigue and impact physical performance. The need for iron may be 30% greater in those who engage in regular intense exercise. Good food sources of iron include clams, turkey breast, fortified breakfast cereals, beef, beans, spinach, and oats.

Make sure that you include these best vitamins and minerals in your diet or as supplements. Along with them include vitamin A, B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, creatine, zinc, sodium and selenium too. A registered dietitian or nutritionist who is specialized in sports nutrition can provide you with an individualized nutrition plan that meets your vitamin and mineral needs.

Foods to Forego during Pregnancy

Foods to Forego during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is often looked upon as the most wonderful phase in a woman’s life. Following a balanced diet plays a key role as you get ready to welcome your baby into the world. While you need more calcium, vitamins, iron and protein for your baby to develop and grow properly, you should pay close attention to avoiding certain foods and beverages that are considered harmful during pregnancy. While certain foods can be consumed rarely, others should be avoided completely.

Here are the foods and beverages that pregnant women should avoid –

Alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol, especially during the first three months. According to CDC, there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant and all types of alcohol including wines and beer are equally harmful at this stage. Drinking even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. It may also result in miscarriage, stillbirth or lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. Avoiding alcohol can also help prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

Fish with high levels of mercury

Seafood is a great source of protein, iron and zinc and can support your baby’s development. However, you need to avoid fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish as these have high mercury content and will damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Also avoid uncooked fish and shellfish, including oysters, sushi, sashimi and refrigerated uncooked seafood labeled nova style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky (www.mayoclinic.com). Sea food low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids that are safe to eat include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, freshwater trout, canned light tuna and pacific mackerel.

Limit caffeine intake

Besides coffee, caffeine is found in tea, soda, and cocoa and even some over-the-counter medications for headache. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. Increased caffeine intake can restrict fetal growth and lead to low birth weight, and also poses risk of miscarriage. Too much caffeine also increases blood pressure and heart rate.

Unpasteurized food

Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk, cheese or fruit juice. Unpasteurized milk and cheese may contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella. Bacteria in such foods can occur naturally or be caused by contamination during collection or storage. Pasteurization process helps to kill such bacteri, without changing the nutritional value of the products.

Raw or undercooked meat

Uncooked or undercooked meat carries risk of bacterial or viral contamination and can cause food poisoning. Uncooked sea food can be contaminated with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, or salmonella. Also avoid raw eggs or foods that contain raw egg, due to the potential exposure to salmonella.

Avoid eating food that has a lot of sugar and salt. Avoid junk food and stick to healthy snacks between meals.

Read our blog on breast changes that can occur during pregnancy!

COVID-19 – WHO Recommends Basic Protective Measures

COVID-19

The new coronavirus disease that was first identified in Wuhan, China was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 31, 2020. This contagious respiratory illness has been named “COVID-19”.

While most of the infections are in China, where more than 77,000 people have the disease and over 2,600 have died, a February 25 BBC report noted that more than 1,200 cases have been confirmed in about 30 other countries, with more than 20 deaths. According to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. of which 36 are people who returned from the Diamond Princess.

COVID-19 causes mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pain in the muscles and tiredness. Severe cases lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. As there is no vaccine or specific treatment available for the 2019-nCoV, the only option is to prevent this viral infection.

The WHO has recommended basic protective measures against the new coronavirus. Follow these measures to take care of your health and protect others from getting sick –

Basic prevention tips

  • Clean your hands often with soap and running water; use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Maintain a distance of at least one meter with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue while coughing and sneezing.
  • if you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention early.
  • Strictly follow all the advice given by your healthcare provider.

Practice food safety

  • Cook meat and eggs thoroughly
  • Avoid eating dead or sick animals
  • Wash your hands between handling raw and cooked food

Stay healthy while traveling

  • Avoid travelling if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Eat only well cooked food
  • Avoid spitting in public

If you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, stay at home until you recover. Seek medical advice for flu-like symptoms (fever, cough and difficulty breathing) – call in advance.