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Health scan

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 05, 2013 22:28 IST
Hindustan Times

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

Asparagus may prevent a hangover
Suffering with the dreaded hangover, and looking for a cure to get over it? Amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract could help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins, shows new research.

Asparagus is used in herbal medicine for its anti-cancer effects.

Chronic alcohol use causes oxidative stress on the liver as well as unpleasant symptoms such a headache and jellied limbs associated with a hangover. The study treatment with extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots lowered these cellular toxicities.

Smoking doesn't relieve stress
Contrary to the popular perception, smoking does not relieve stress, while quitting does. British researchers measured anxiety levels in almost 500 smokers - before and after they tried to give up and found the claims of benefits associated with nicotine are a myth.

Though one in five people said they smoked to help them deal with stress, the reverse is true: smoking probably causes anxiety. The confusion seems to have arisen because nicotine withdrawal is edginess. While smoking takes the edge off stress related to lack of nicotine, it does nothing to ease the pressures of everyday life.

Holiday excesses upset food clock
If the sinful excess of holiday eating sends your system into butter-slathered, brandy-soaked overload, you are not alone: People who are jet-lagged, people who work graveyard shifts and plain-old late-night snackers know just how you feel.

All these activities upset the body's food clock, a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food-entrainable oscillator, which keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel.

It may also help explain why night owls are more likely to be obese than morning larks, and the food clock is there to help our bodies make the most of our nutritional intake.

Yoga lowers chronic neck pain and improves quality of life
Yoga appears to be an effective treatment for neck pain and provides added benefits of improved psychological well being and quality of life, according to a recent German study.

A type of yoga, called Iyengar yoga, has been shown effective in other pain syndromes, including low back pain. This activity uses supportive props and the sequences of postures can be tailored to address an individual's medical problem.

It might enhance both the toning of muscles and releasing of muscle tension. Relaxation responses, therefore, could reduce stress related muscle tension and modify neurobiological pain perception.

The mainstay of conservative treatment for neck pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and the evidence of its effectiveness is contradictory while side effects, such as nausea and dizziness, are well known.

Slightly plump better than skinny, helps live longer
A bit of extra weight could actually help you live longer, according to new research which found that men and women who are slightly plump have longer lives than those who are slimmer.

In the research, those judged to be slightly overweight were 6% less likely to have died by the end of the study period than those of normal weight. However, those who were any bigger were around a third more likely to die during the months or years they were being studied than those of normal weight.

The analysis suggests that a bit of extra weight is actually good for health. It could be because those who start out slightly heavier will have more fat reserves to call on should they lose weight due to ill health as they get older.

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