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Ask the specialists Part II

Here’s part two of the best health advice, straight from the doctor’s clinic.

brunch Updated: Jun 23, 2012 19:10 IST
Hindustan Times

Here’s part two of the best health advice, straight from the doctor’s clinic:

Dr Shehla Agarwal: Improve hair and skin

You need to nourish and pamper your skin and hair from your teenage years.

* Use a face wash to clean your face. Squeeze a coin-sized amount on to your hands and when coming in from the outdoors.

* Drink eight-10 glasses of water a day to prevent your skin from becoming dry and wrinkled.

* A toner removes oil and dirt; an astringent is also recommended in summer. But it’s not necessary to use both.* Moisturise, especially dry areas such as the skin around the lips and your hands.

* Apply sunscreen before stepping out of the house. Don’t use bleach or a scrub more than once in three weeks. Prevent wrinkles

* Sun exposure or photo ageing is the most common cause of wrinkling; so always use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15-20.

* Eating right can solve most skin and hair problems. Proteins are the building blocks of skin and hair; fish, soya and leafy vegetables have omega-3 fatty acids and help delay ageing.

* Inactivity, overwork and fatigue decrease the ability of skin to heal itself. So take a break from your hectic schedule and give yourself some me time: include meditation and yoga in your life.

* Smoking and alcohol consumption decrease the skin’s resistance to infection; so avoid both.

* Use skincare products suited to your skin type. Start using anti-ageing creams after 40. Starting earlier can make your skin more susceptible to wrinkling later in life.

Hair care
A protein imbalance in the body, which gets aggravated by stress, crash dieting and thyroid disease, can make hair listless.
* To add volume to hair, blow dry damp hair on a medium heat setting, tilt your hair forward as you dry it.
* Use a home-made hair mask once a week: mash a ripe banana with a few drops of almond oil and massage into the roots. Leave for 15 minutes, rinse with soda water and then shampoo.
* Use only a shampoo for normal hair as it has just adequate conditioner, never use treatment shampoos for regular washes.

(Dr Agarwal is the consultant dermatologist, director, Mehak – The Derma & Surgery Clinic, Delhi) Yash Gulati: Build bone health

The bones in the human body are a dynamic network and constantly need to be fortified by deposits of basic proteins and minerals, especially calcium. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium from the gut and deposits it in the bones.

A decrease in protein leads to osteoporosis and similarly, a lack of vitamin D and a subsequent decrease in calcium deposits leads to osteomalacia. Both cause weakness of the bones, leading to bone pains, fractures and maybe even a collapse of the spine.

* Exercise every day. Brisk walking, jogging or climbing stairs are excellent. Outdoor sports are a good idea.

* Expose yourself to the sun. Ultraviolet rays are essential for the body to manufacture vitamin D. Forty-five minutes of exposure of uncovered skin to the sun every day is ideal, but 15 to 20 minutes every day is more practical.

* Avoid excessive alcohol intake. More than two drinks a day is known to cause bone loss, leading to weak bones.

* Avoid smoking. Smoking has been scientifically proven to be associated with a decrease in bone formation.

* Be active. A sedentary lifestyle is a sure way to lose bone density.

* Have a calcium-rich diet. Make sure it contains elements such as milk and other dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, soy products, almonds and fish with bones such as salmon and sardines.

* Take vitamin D supplements if you are not exposed to sufficient sunlight. This could be in the form of fortified food products, oily fish such as tuna, sardines, egg yolk and fish oil. Ask your doctor if you need vitamin D medication: either tablets or powder.

* Beware of certain drugs which can cause osteoporosis such as drugs for epilepsy, cancer or steroids. If you are on any of these, you should have your bone density checked regularly.

* Get your bone density checked after the age of 50, after menopause or even earlier if medically indicated. If your bones are found to have sub-normal bone density, specific drugs for osteoporosis along with vitamin D supplements may be required. The estrogen hormone may be required in select situations, but is not used universally because of the risk of thrombosis and cancer.

(Dr Gulati is a senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi)Dr PN Renjen: Avoid headaches

A headache is a common problem. There can be many causes, both physical as well as mental. Most people have headaches because of stress and tension in their lives. So make some changes in your lifestyle and in the foods that you eat. tip listed here may not work for everyone, and change won’t come overnight. But experimenting with these suggestions may help you avoid a headache, or manage one if it comes. Stick to a sleep schedule.

* Eat regular meals. Be careful with caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

* Lemon juice in tea or water can help a headache disappear.

* Include magnesium in your diet. Consume foods that are high in magnesium like broccoli, beans, soy milk, nuts and spinach.

* Keep track of your headaches.Writing down the details of your headaches – how long they last, how severe they are, what was happening before the pain started and how you sought relief – can help you and your doctor identify your headache ‘triggers’. For example, certain foods may bring them on, as can stress, menstrual cycles, bright light, perfumes and even changes in the weather.

* Change your eating habits. Limit foods rich in sodium (salt), saturated fats, cholesterol, trans fats, and added sugars.

* Apply a cold pack to the area that hurts.

* Avoid sleeping in a cold room. Maintain your bedroom temperature up to at least 20 degrees Celsius).

* Try acupressure if you have a headache.

(Dr Renjen is a senior consultant neurologist, department of Neurosciences, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals) Hrishikesh Pai: Prevent infertility

* Plan a child before the woman hits 35 and the man 40, since egg reserves in women and male sperm counts start going down by then.

* Perform brisk exercise for 30 minutes every day.

* Use contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancy because in one per cent of cases, abortion can lead to blockage of the tubes.

* In India, tuberculosis of the womb is also one reason for infertility. Timely diagnosis, effective treatment and not dropping the treatment midway can help.

* Control stress, as this can lead to hormonal disturbances that result in infertility. Hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland is sluggish, is a common hormonal disease that causes infertility.

* Control your weight. Obesity is one of the primary reasons for irregular release of eggs – which can cause infertility. If you have a body mass index (BMI, your body weight in kilogram /height in metre square) above 30, you are obese. An ideal BMI is between 20 and 25. If you are overweight, reduce your calorie intake to 1,000 calories per day.

* Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea can also lead to severe infections, causing infertility. Proper treatment is required to cure the problem.

(Dr Pai is an IVF specialist at Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital and Fortis Group of Hospitals)

From HT Brunch, June 24

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First Published: Jun 22, 2012 16:22 IST