Wednesday October 24, 2018

Group of US based doctors in India to promote veganism, better way of life

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New Delhi: A lot of Hollywood actors were already doing it but when, closer to home, Bollywood icon Aamir Khan recently announced his plans of turning vegan, many became curious. While some may express doubts, a doctors’ group from the US has initiated an India tour to propagate the benefits of a vegan life.

In a country which is all too familiar with vegetarianism, promoting this seems an easy task but is actually tricky. Because, apart from not eating any meat product, going vegan means avoiding meat-based products too, like milk and eggs. So there goes your paneer and curd!

Zeeshan Ali of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit health organisation in the US, a body of 12,000 physicians-both of Indian origin and from around the world but working in the US – that was established in 1985 and promotes veganism, says that a plant-based diet has been clinically proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases along with reducing your metabolic risks.

“A low-fat vegan diet, combined with a nutrition education programme, is clinically proven to boost weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve total cholesterol, restore insulin function, alleviate chronic pain, particularly headaches, migraines, and joint pain,” Ali told a news portal.

“It also boosts your mood and combats chronic fatigue. Plant-based dietary patterns are associated with a reduced risk for certain forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, he added.

But what about adequate nutrition? Meat, we know, is a good source of protein. Also when it comes to iron, all that we understand are brilliant sources – meat, eggs, poultry, fish, dairy products – which are missing from a vegan diet.

Ali however chalks out alternatives. “A plant-based vegan diet provides an abundance of micro-nutrients we often fall short on while ensuring adequate intake of the three macro nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We recommend 80 percent of calories come from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat and 10 percent from protein.”

“Choosing colourful, low-fat, plant-based foods often ensures this ratio, or a comparable one that will leave you feeling great. Especially good protein sources include whole-wheat pasta, ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils, and even leafy greens like spinach and broccoli,” he added.

Where milk consumption is considered essential for children’s development, Ali says that kids should also be encouraged to take up veganism and thereby a healthier lifestyle.

Talking of vegan diets in children, Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada- a Chicago based neonatologist said that it can affect nutrition if due precautions are not taken. Compared to lacto-vegetarian diets (where milk and dairy products are also consumed), vegan diets may put kids at additional risk of developing deficiency of iron, proteins, vitamin B12, zinc and calcium. Dr. Raizada recommends that the parents should consult a doctor or a dietitian before  starting children on vegan diets.

A diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes provides one with stable energy throughout the day and boosts the immune system.

(With inputs from IANS)

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A New Virus Typhus Rises In Los Angeles

Officials in Los Angeles say they are working toward housing for the county’s 53,000 homeless residents to relieve conditions that help give rise to typhus and other diseases.

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Retired coal miner James Marcum, who has black lung disease, takes a pulmonary function test at the Stone Mountain Health Center in St. Charles, Virginia, U.S., May 18, 2018. (VOA)

Typhus, a bacterial infection that is sometimes life threatening, is on the rise in Los Angeles and several other U.S. cities. Public health officials say homelessness is making the problem worse and that the disease, which is associated with poverty and poor sanitation, is making a comeback in the United States.

Los Angeles County has seen 64 cases of typhus this year, compared with 53 at the same point last year and double the typical number, with a six-case cluster among the homeless in L.A. this year. Two cities in the county that have separate counts are also seeing higher numbers: Long Beach with 13 cases, up from five last year, and Pasadena with 20, a more than three-fold increase from 2017.

At a clinic in the L.A. neighborhood called Skid Row, Dr. Lisa Abdishoo of Los Angeles Christian Health Centers is on the lookout for symptoms.

“It’s a nonspecific fever,” she said, “body aches, sometimes a headache, sometimes a rash.”

This kind of typhus is spread by fleas on rats, opossums, or even pets and is known as murine typhus, from the Latin word for “mouse.”

The risk is higher when people live on the streets in proximity to garbage, but the disease seems to be spreading through the Southern United States.

Not the typhus of WWI

“It’s never been considered a very common disease,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, “but we seem to see it more frequently. And it seems to be extending across from Southern California all along the Mexican border into southeastern Texas and then into the Gulf Coast in Florida.”

 

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A homeless man sits at his street-side tent along Interstate 110 along downtown Los Angeles’ skyline, May 10, 2018. Thousands of homeless people sleep on the streets of Los Angeles County.. VOA

 

Texas had 519 cases last year, said spokeswoman Lara Anton of the Texas Department of State Health Services. That’s more than three times the number in 2010, with clusters in Houston and Galveston. No figures for this year have been released.

This is a separate disease from typhoid fever and is not the epidemic form of typhus that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in war time. That type, called epidemic typhus, is carried by body lice and often spreads in conflict zones. It led to millions of deaths in World War I alone.

Flea-borne typhus, the kind seen in California and Texas, is serious but often clears up on its own and responds to an antibiotic, Abdishoo said.

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Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the Baylor College of Tropical Medicine, shows Associated Press journalists areas of Houston’s 5th Ward that may be at high risk for mosquitoes capable of transmitting the Zika virus in Houston.. VOA

“It seems to get better a little faster if you have the treatment,” she said. “But there are cases where people have had more severe complications — it’s rare, but getting meningitis, and even death,” she cautioned.

Migration, urbanization, climate change

The reason for increased typhus numbers is uncertain, but it may be linked to migration, urbanization and climate change, said Hotez, the disease specialist. In some parts of the world, typhus is still linked to war and instability, “in the conflict zones in the Middle East, in North Africa, Central Asia, East Africa, Venezuela, for instance with the political instability there,” he said.

Murine typhus is one of several diseases on the rise in the southern United States, Hotez said.

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People line up on Skid Row in Los Angeles to receive food, water, clothing and other basic necessities from Humanitarian Day Muslim volunteers.. VOA

“Others include dengue, now emerging in southern Texas and Florida, the Zika virus infection, Chikungunya. We have a huge problem with West Nile virus,” he added, and Chagas disease, a condition usually seen in Latin America.

A report in May from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that such “vector-borne” diseases, transmitted by ticks, fleas or mosquitoes, more than doubled in the United States between 2004 and 2016.

Hotez says they are on the rise in many industrial nations with crowded cities and pockets of poverty.

Also Read: A Full Guide To Public Health Disease Hepatitis

Skid Row physician Abdishoo says flea-borne typhus is still uncommon on the streets of Los Angeles, but “it has us all on high alert for this illness that we don’t necessarily think too much about. We want to be vigilant,” she added, “when you see a communicable disease on the rise.”

Officials in Los Angeles say they are working toward housing for the county’s 53,000 homeless residents to relieve conditions that help give rise to typhus and other diseases. Voters approved funding in 2016 and 2017 to finance the efforts. (VOA)