Long Work Hours May Pose Heart Risk, Here Are 6 Foods Which Can Help Cut Down Stress

A recent study published in the European Heart Journal, comes as a wake-up call to all those who have been working extra hours at their workplace. As per the British study, spending long hours at work may increase the risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm — known as atrial fibrillation — as well as contribute to the development of stroke and heart failure, according to a study.

 

The study compared to people who worked a normal week of between 35-40 hours and those who worked 55 hours or more were approximately 40 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

 Long Work Hours May Pose Heart Risk, Here Are 6 Foods Which Can Help Cut Down Stress

 

Mika Kivimaki, Professor at the University College London, “A 40 per cent increased extra risk is an important hazard for people who already have a high overall risk of cardiovascular disease due to other risk factors such as older age, male sex, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, smoking and physical inactivity or living with an established cardiovascular disease”

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“This could be one of the mechanisms that explain the previously observed increased risk of stroke among those working long hours. Atrial fibrillation is known to contribute to the development of stroke, but also other adverse health outcomes such as heart failure and stroke-related dementia,” Kivimaki added.

 

Researchers analysed data from 85,494 men and women from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland who took part in one of eight studies in these countries. During the ten-year follow-up period, the researchers found 1,061 new cases of atrial fibrillation. This gave an incidence rate of 12.4 per 1,000 people in the study, but among the 4,484 people working 55 hours or more, the incidence was 17.6 per 1,000.

 

Long work hours has long been co-linked with stress and anxiety, this stress not only takes a toll on your overall behavior and social life but also poses a major threat to the heart health. Here are some foods which can help you cut down stress.

 

1. Oats: Mornings are the most stressful hours of the day. Start your day on a stress-free note. A bowl of oats and some fresh fruits finished off with a drop of honey, boosts positive energy as it is considered to be a serotonin enhancer, a chemical that makes you happy.

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Photo Credit: IStock

2. Lentils: Lentils are packed with all types of Vitamin B, nature’s own happy pill. It helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. Lentils also stabilize the blood sugar and fire-up your energy levels.

3. Banana: Bananas are rich in Vitamin C which is a great stress-fighting nutrient. It helps repair cell damage caused due to stress. Also, the potassium that it contains helps in maintaining healthy heart muscles.

banana peel

4. Orange Juice: According to the book, ‘The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’ by Dr. Vasant Lad, For anxiety accompanied by a fast heart rate, a cup of orange juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder can prove to be effective.

orange carrot detox drink

5. Brahmi: The wonder herb of Ayurveda, should be your next resort to beat stress, According to ‘The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’ by Dr. Vasant Lad, drinking a tea of herbs like Brahmi and Ashwagandha can help cut down on fear, anxiety and nervousness.

 

6. Coconut: The water, the flesh, the oil or the butter, all of the coconut is trending and for good reason. Coconuts contain medium chain fats that improve our metal health and infuse positive energy. The scent of the coconut is known

Yoga May Prevent Memory Loss in Elderly Women,These 9 Memory Boosting Foods May Help Too

Adding to the long tailing benefits of practicing yoga is the new study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, which suggests, that those who have been practicing Yoga for a long time may have an edge as far as cognitive development in old age is concerned.

 

According to the study, that long term yoga could change the structure of your brain and protect cognitive decline and memory loss in old age, especially amongst female yoga practitioners-Yoginis. The researchers found that the elderly “yoginis” have greater cortical thickness in the left prefrontal cortex, in brain areas associated with cerebral functions like attention and memory.

 

The structure and functionality of the brain alters as we grow old which often leads to cognitive decline, including impaired memory and attention. One such change in the brain is largely attributed the cerebral cortex becoming thinner, which scientists have shown is correlated with cognitive decline

 

Elisa Kozasa of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil, involved in the study, explained just as our muscles, the brain develops through training.

 

She said, “Like any contemplative practice, yoga has a cognitive component in which attention and concentration are important,”

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The researchers wanted to examine if elderly long-term yoga practitioners had any differences in terms of brain structure compared with healthy elderly people who had never practiced yoga.For the study,they recruited a small group of female yoga practitioners or yoginis who had practiced yoga at least twice a week for a minimum of eight years, although the group had an average of nearly 15 years of yoga practice.

 

The researchers then compared the yoginis with another group of healthy women who had never practiced yoga, contemplative or meditative practices, but hared same levels of physical activity, belonging to the same age group. (around 60)

 

The team scanned the participants’ brains using magnetic resonance imaging to see if there were any differences in brain structure. “We found greater thickness in the left prefrontal cortex in the yoginis, in brain regions associated with cognitive functions such as attention and memory,” Rui Afonso from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo added.

 

Dip in memory in old age is natural while physical activity and contemplative practices like yoga can help Memory superfoods such as antioxidant-rich, colorful fruits, green leafy vegetables and whole grains which protect your brain from harmful free radicals, can help immensely in memory retention. Here are some food which can work wonders for memory and cognitive development as a whole.

  • Vitamin C and B: Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, is associated with mental agility, whereas Vitamin B is known to guard against age-related brain shrinkage and cognitive impairment. Load up on blackcurrants, fish, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, peanuts, sesame seeds and eggs to rev up your brain power.
  • Nuts and Seeds: A handful of seeds and nuts may help improve your memory power significantly. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc that play a great role in sharpening your memory. Brain-shaped walnuts are a good source of omega-3 and other essential nutrients crucial for brain functioning and memory skills. Sunflower seeds are good sources of Vitamin E. Even peanuts are packed with vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. Almonds and hazelnuts also help boost memory.
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  •  Berries: Blueberries are the top source of substances called anthocyanins which are brain-boosting antioxidants. Eating blueberries daily can help combat against the onset of short term memory loss. Even strawberries, when consumed regularly can help delay age-related memory decline.
  • Green Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, collard greens, spinach – all green vegetables are full of iron, Vitamin E, K and B9 (folate), and phytonutrients like vitamin C which are extremely important for brain cell development. Vitamin K is known to be helpful in cognitive enhancement and increasing mental alertness.
  • Avocados: Enriched with Vitamin E, avocados are loaded with antioxidants which help in keeping the brain healthy and alert. Creamy avocados are also associated with lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s.
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  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which acts against brain cell degeneration and aids in the maintenance and production of new brain cells.
  •  Whole Grains: Whole grains are considered to be the powerhouse of energy and help you focus better. On consuming fiber-rich whole grains, energy is released in the body in the form of sugar which assists the brain in functioning properly, keeping us alert.
  • Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids as well as DHA and EPA are essential for healthy brain functioning as well as for healthy brain neurons. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna and other fish in your diet. Vegetarian? You can substitute with soybean oil and flaxseed oil.
    fish in butter sauce
  • Ashwagandha: a go-to choice in Ayurvedic medicine, is known for promoting memory since it helps prevent nerve cell damage. Dr Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath says, “Ashwagandha can be taken in the form of powder or tablet. It also improves the brain’s memory functions like attention and concentration, hence helping with the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

Eat healthy this week: 5 studies that help you fix what’s wrong with your diet

While obesity and other weight-related troubles are mostly genetic, what you eat can determine the risk of health disasters in people. Your diet can be the defining factor in what diseases and disorders you are at risk of, and, by extension, ensure immunity to fatal health risks.

From studies debunking the widespread usage of frozen foods and the necessity of including iron in your daily intake, to the now scientifically proven importance of coffee in day-today life, here are five facts about dietary norms.

  • Your diet can be the defining factor in what diseases and disorders you are at risk of.

1) A no-stress job: Turns out, you don’t always need a eating schedule and calorie charts to tell you what to eat when. Just a slight variation, and shift to a few healthier dietary habits can do the trick. From picking brown bread over a white one, or opting for fruits over a fried snack can go a long way.

Just a slight variation, and shift to a few healthier dietary habits can do the trick. (HT file photo )

2) Don’t take the cold shoulder: Wellness experts concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional richness when they are exposed to extreme temperature change and moisture levels. In fact, fruits and vegetables are more prone to losses as compared to frozen meats and grains, because they are mostly rich in water soluble vitamins and minerals, which easily get oxidized in the process of freezing.

Wellness experts concluded that frozen fruits and vegetables lose their nutritional richness (Shutterstock )

3) Strong as iron: An iron-rich diet will not only boost your general immunity (courtesy higher haemoglobin content), it also helps keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. A new study has found a link between low levels of iron and a higher risk of heart disease. After analysing genetic data, a team of researchers have found that iron-rich foods could have a protective effect against coronary artery disease (CAD), a type of cardiovascular disease (CVD) where clogged arteries reduce the amount of blood reaching the heart.

An iron-rich diet can keep heart diseases at bay. (iStock)

4) The healthy oil: Sure, fried food or extra oily foods are not the best regarded eatables. In fact, any weight loss diet will ask you to stay off oil. However, there are four oils that do you good than harm. A moderate amount of fat is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Adding a little fat to your food, either through cooking or drizzling over salads, can help to fill you up and feel more satisfied after a meal, as well as boost health by helping the body absorb several fat-soluble vitamins.

Avocado oil is one of the healthy oils that can be used in everyday diet. (Shutterstock )

5) Coffee to the rescue: Drinking coffee is good for you. In fact, it can lead to a longer life, according to a new study. In a study found that people who drank regular or decaffeinated coffee experienced health benefits, such as increased longevity. Previous research had shown that coffee can lower the risk of several diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, liver cirrhosis and Parkinson’s and can reduce chemicals in the blood that can trigger heart disease.

Weekend without stress: Here’s our list of top studies that help you fight the blues

Stress is an inevitable part of modern life. Yet it can harm your physical and mental health and increase rate of mortality. Read on to find out what the harmful effects of stress and what to do about it.

Cycling lowers stress levels. (Shutterstock)

1) Cycling to work lowers stress levels in first 45 minutes of work.

A study suggests cycling to office can help reduce stress and improve your work performance. Results indicate that cycling to work is a good way to have a good day. “Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” the lead researcher says.

 

Stress can increase chances of death from cardiovascular illnesses. (Shutterstock)

2) Mental stress ups risk of death in heart disease patients.

According to researchers, people with persistent mental distress, including depression and anxiety, were nearly four times as likely to have died of cardiovascular disease and nearly three times as likely to have died from any cause.

 

Being religious is beneficial to health. (Shutterstock)

3) Religiousness leads to less stress and enhanced longevity.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that adults between the age group of 40 to 65 years who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55%. “We have found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health,” said the lead researcher.

4) Your stress levels may up ADHD risk in your child.

Stressful situations over a long period during pregnancy increases stress hormone, which may raise the risk of babies’ developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or cardiovascular disease in adulthood.

 

Stress can be contagious for children. (Shutterstock)

5) Your children can ‘catch’ stress from friends and teachers in school.

New research suggests that if students and teachers of a school appear to be stressed, the chances of the same feeling percolating to a new colleague are quite high. “If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don’t have direct contact with these folks,” said Kenneth Frank, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

Do muscle building supplements really help you get a fit body?

Lifting heavy weights has many benefits, from improving brain function to boosting muscle strength. Those who lift weights might be familiar with Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). They are extremely popular within the fitness industry. However, a recent research suggests the popular muscle building supplements are ineffective when taken in isolation. The study, involving the universities of Exeter and Birmingham and published in Frontiers in Physiology, show that while BCAA supplements do stimulate the muscle building response in individuals after they lift weights, other muscle-building supplements are far more effective.

Other supplements that contain all necessary amino acids stimulate a greater muscle growth response, which suggests that taking BCAA supplements alone is not the best way to optimise muscle growth with weight training. The scientists also investigated how effective the supplements were at stimulating the machinery inside the muscle itself that leads to muscle growth. They found that while BCAA drinks stimulate the body’s muscle building systems, they lack some essential amino acids that are necessary to support a maximal muscle growth response.

Some supplements lack a special class of amino acids that are necessary for maximum muscle growth.

Professor Kevin Tipton, Chair in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of Stirling, said: “Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the special class of amino acids, known as BCAA, stimulate the muscle growth response. These supplements are considered to be an important part of the nutrition plan for many body builders, weightlifters and others seeking muscle growth. Our results show that the common practice of taking BCAA supplements in isolation will stimulate muscle protein synthesis – the metabolic mechanism that leads to muscle growth – but the total response will not be maximal because BCAA supplements do not provide other amino acids essential for the best response.”

He added, “A sufficient amount of the full complement of amino acids is necessary for maximum muscle building, following exercise. Athletes interested in enhancing muscle growth with training should not rely on these BCAA supplements alone.” The BCAA supplement enhanced the muscle growth response slightly compared to a placebo, however the muscle’s response was more than double when a whey protein supplement containing the equivalent amount of BCAA that included the other amino acids, was taken. A group of trained weightlifters took part in the study. They took the supplement in a dose equivalent to 20 grams of whey protein, after a resistance training session in the gym.

IIT-KGP to help eastern India students learn more about free online courses

Kolkata The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur will approach institutes of higher education in eastern India to familiarise students and teachers with free online courses offered by National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

NPTEL, a joint initiative of the IITs and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, offers 160 courses in various categories like agriculture, computer science, management studies, mathematics and basic science, engineering and humanities.

While over five5 lakh students had enrolled for NPTEL courses this year, only about 7% of them were from Eastern India.

“The biggest problem for NPTEL courses is that not only the students from eastern India, but also the colleges and universities in the region are not aware of it,” Anupam Basu, coordinator of NPTEL at IIT-KGP, said.

Students from eastern India will be familiarised with free online courses offered by the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

“We are sure if people get to know about the facility and that it is encouraged by AICTE and UGC, there will be many takers,” said Basu, also professor of computer science and engineering.

Too boost enrolments from the region, IIT-KGP is talking to various institutes of West Bengal, Odisha and northeastern states to offer credit transfers to the students, an IIT-KGP spokesperson said.

For West Bengal, IIG-KGP would approach the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (formerly West Bengal University of Technology), while talks are on with general degree colleges like Vidyasagar College and Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College of Kolkata.

Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Jadavpur University and and Presidency University would also be approached, the spokesperson said.

IIT-KGP has also approached most of the private engineering colleges in Bengal.

A workshop with over 100 teachers from various private engineering colleges was held at IIT-KGP recently. PTI SUS NN SBN

Having a purpose in life can help you sleep better : Research

Older adults who live with a purpose in life are more likely to have a good night sleep and less sleep apnoea as well as restless leg syndrome, a study has showed.

Individuals have more sleep disturbances and insomnia as they get older. But, the findings demonstrated that people who felt their lives had meaning were 63 per cent less likely to have sleep apnoea — shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep, several times per hour.

Further, they were 52 per cent less likely to have restless leg syndrome — uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. They also had moderately better sleep quality, a global measure of sleep disturbance.

“Helping people cultivate a purpose in life could be an effective drug-free strategy to improve sleep quality, particularly for a population that is facing more insomnia,” said Jason Ong, Associate Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Purpose in life is something that can be cultivated and enhanced through mindfulness therapies,” Ong added. For the study, published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice, the team included 823 participants — non-demented individuals 60 to 100 years old with an average age of 79.

The participants answered a 10-question survey on purpose in life and a 32-question survey on sleep. Poor sleep quality is related to having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and feeling sleepy during the day. Although the participants in the study were older, researchers said the findings were likely to be applicable to the broader public.

New biomarkers may help detect brain injury faster

Researchers have identified inflammatory biomarkers which can be used to develop a test that can help detect whether the brain has suffered injury in the first hour of accident.

The test can be used on the side of a sports pitch or by paramedics to detect traumatic brain injury — which leads to very early alterations in inflammatory proteins — at the scene of an accident, as well as improve clinical interventions, the researchers said.

“Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability among young adults and, according to the World Health Organization, by 2020 this will become the world’s leading cause of neurological disability across all age groups,” said Lisa Hill from the University of Birmingham in the Britian.

The study identified three inflammatory biomarkers — known as CST5, AXIN1 and TRAIL — of traumatic brain injury.

While CST5 identified patients with severe traumatic brain injury within the first hour of injury, AXIN1 and TRAIL were able to discriminate between brain injury and uninjured patient controls in an hour.

“Early and objective pre-hospital detection of traumatic brain injury would support clinical decision making and the correct triage of major trauma,” added Valentina Di Pietro from the University’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing.

Moreover, correct diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, which is one of hardest diagnosis to make in medicine, would allow clinicians to implement strategies to reduce secondary brain injury at an early stage, the researchers said.

Currently, no reliable biomarkers exist to help diagnose the severity of traumatic brain injury and identify patients who are at risk of developing secondary injuries that impair function, damage other brain structures and promote further cell death.

“In addition, this has potential implications for drug development, as novel compounds could be given immediately after injury and potentially commenced at the roadside, if there was sufficient confidence in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury,” Pietro said.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, blood samples were taken from 30 injured patients within the first hour of injury prior to the patient arriving at hospital.

Eating walnuts may help control appetite: Study

Individuals who regularly consume walnuts, salmon and canola oil — rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) — are likely to experience hormonal changes that can control appetite and make them feel less hungry, a study has shown.

The study found that consuming a diet high in PUFAs caused a significant decrease in fasting ghrelin — a hormone that increases hunger.

Further, a PUFA rich diet also caused significant increase in peptide YY (PYY) — a hormone that increases fullness or satiety.

“Appetite hormones play an important role in regulating how much we eat,” said lead researcher Jamie A. Cooper, from the University of Georgia.

“These findings tell us that eating foods rich in PUFAs, like those found in walnuts, may favourably change appetite hormones so that we can feel fuller for longer,” Cooper added.

For the study, detailed in the journal Nutrition, the team enrolled 26 healthy men and women (ages 18-35) who were placed on a seven-day diet high in PUFAs or a control diet consisting of a typical American eating pattern.

The PUFA-rich diet included whole foods such as walnuts, Alaska salmon, tuna, flaxseed oil, grape-seed oil, canola oil, and fish oil supplements. All meals were provided by the researchers.

The control diet was comprised of 7 per cent polyunsaturated fat, 15 per cent monounsaturated fat and 13 per cent saturated fat, compared to the PUFA-rich diet which was 21 per cent polyunsaturated fat, 9 per cent monounsaturated fat, and 5 per cent saturated fat.

The participants experienced increases in PYY while fasting and after consuming a meal. These types of hormone changes imply better appetite control, the researchers said.

Six ways e-learning can help enhance performance of employees

It is often said that the process of learning has no end, since knowledge is infinite. Yet many of us tend to become complacent about our knowledge and skills after acquiring a job. No wonder then that there is so much investment by successful corporate houses in training and development of their manpower to constantly assist and motivate their staff to continue the life-long process of learning.

This is where comprehensive e-learning methodologies come in. They help organisations ensure that their staff is on top of the skills they need, as per market trends. Corporates are now adopting technical and custom-made e-learning facilities that act as a learning reinforcement and alsonimprove learning effectiveness.

Here’s a more concise look at six specific ways in which e-learning adds value to employee training, upskilling and management.

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Cloud reaches everywhere

Uploading the learning module on cloud servers ensures that it can be shared digitally with every member of the organisation. Regular updates, comments and feedback can be gathered, stored and disseminated on the spot as well. Employees can carry out the learning process simultaneously with the job, thereby not hampering the workflow. Cloud-based learning platforms are also useful for employees who are on a leave yet want to remain abreast of the latest developments in the industry.

Customised e-learning

With e-learning, it is very easy to customise the modules according to the need of an individual. The learning process can be paced in a way that every member can compare her/his progress with the ideal time taken to understand a concept. Post classroom training, learners can still access online courses and specific job-aid videos to add more precision to their work.

For perfect sales pitch

E-learning modules are highly effective with sales personnel. Online courses on product training can act as good refreshers, and help describe the product better in a more cohesive and detailed manner to the buyers. Updated information regarding the competitor’s strategies in a certain domain can be quickly communicated to the sellers, who can then modify their pitch accordingly.

Quizzes and questions for a quick revision

A few e-learning providers have created their modules in a manner that allows personnel to recall the main pressure points regarding a particular product or process easily. At the click of a button, crisp questions and engaging quizzes comprehensively summarise the module. Such learning alleviates the sense of confidence of an employee regarding the task at hand, and acts as a strong support system.

Virtual study room for discussions

Discussion forums on e-learning platforms are great spots for keen learners to compare their knowledge base, share opinions and views, discuss problems, and have an overall healthy sense of competition. The presence of online leaderboards and top performers bring in the jostle of a competitive, academic atmosphere. Combined with the urgency of being the best at your job, this feature brings out the best in any employee.

SCORM model for systematic learning

The Sharable Content Object Reference Model or SCORM, an e-learning format on which most of the e-learning available in the market today is prepared, ensures that the learner experiences content in a standardised way. It allows content creators to build highly engaging experiences, all the while capturing rich data about every interaction.

An e-learning platform that can create engaging content comprising videos, animation, graphics etc., which motivates the employees to keep learning about their trade can work wonders for the development of a business. It also helps to act as an evaluatory mechanism for the eventual process of promotion or appraisals and facilitates identification of potential executives, managers and directors in the organisation. Corporate e-learning has indeed emerged as a powerful tool for organisations to identify the prospective leaders.