Categories
Wellness

10 Tips To Improve The Digestive System

Modern lifestyles, improper dietary habits and eating junk food all place a huge strain on the digestive system. Problems with digestion can affect every other part of your body and bring down your quality of life. As the English author Samuel Johnson said, “He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.” Caring for your digestion is not difficult. Here are a few simple ways to do it.

Eat A High Fiber Diet

Eating lots of vegetables, fruits and grains that are rich in fiber will enable food to move smoothly through the digestive system and reduce the strain on it. This also helps to prevent Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Hemorrhoids.

Eat The Right Balance Of Fiber

Insoluble fiber or roughage cannot be digested by the system and so it adds bulk to the stools, making a bowel movement easier. Soluble fiber absorbs excess water and keeps the stools from becoming too liquid. A balance of both types of fiber is important.

Control Fat Intake

The more fat in your diet, the slower the digestive process which results in constipation and other problems. However, some amount of fat intake is required for good health and energy. Balancing fatty foods with high fiber foods helps to control the fat intake.

Ensure Probiotic Intake

Not all bacteria are bad. Probiotics are a type of healthy bacteria that helps to support the digestive process, strengthen the immune system and accelerates the natural breakdown of food by the body.

Eat Lean Meat

Proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and can be found in lentils, grains and vegetables. If you are a non-vegetarian, meat is a good source of protein. Avoid fatty cuts of meat that place an increased strain on the digestion and consume only lean cuts.

Drink Lots Of Water

Staying hydrated by drinking enough water has all kinds of health benefits, including on the digestive system. Water acts as a lubricant, enabling the smooth digestion of food and elimination of waste from the body.

Keep Regular Mealtimes

Eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner at as near as possible at the same time every day means that your body is provided nourishment at the right interval thereby preventing the digestion from being overloaded by sudden large food intakes and also by not allowing the stomach to remain empty for long periods, which results in acidity and other problems.

Get Enough Exercise

Exercise is usually looked on as a way to lose weight and not being overweight is good for overall health. More than this, exercise supports the digestive system and the movement of the body keeps pushing food through the digestive system, which enables good bowel movements and prevents constipation.

Reduce Stress

Mental stress and anxiety place a great strain on the digestive system and prevent it from functioning properly. It can cause all kinds of digestion-related medical conditions including the development of ulcers in the stomach. Make stress-reducing activities like Yoga a part of your daily schedule.

Avoid Bad Habits

Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and tea or coffee all interfere with the smooth functioning of the digestion. If the habits cannot be totally removed from your life, then very moderate consumption is the next best step.

Caring for your digestion has a positive impact on all aspects of your wellbeing. If you are suffering from a digestion-related medical condition or simply suffer from one or more of the common symptoms of digestive problems, contact Kauvery Hospital where the Gastroenterology Center of Excellence gives you access to the Best Gastroenterologist in Chennai, medical technology and treatment protocols to provide world-class treatment and care.

Categories
Public Health

Covid 19: Reality check for India

By Dr Sumeet Kad

Today, India steps up its battle against Covid-19 by implementing a 12 hours self-imposed curfew across the nation, Many states have already declared the extended lockdown till March 31 and this could continue for even a longer period of time as the new cases keep rising. India’s approach has ranged from screening people at airport arrivals, evacuating citizen from foreign affected areas, shutdown of mass gathering and public places, requesting people with mild symptoms for undergoing self-quarantine and widening the criteria for testing to avoid spreading of community transmission.

But are these steps enough? The more important question being why India didn’t take any proactive steps to boost its healthcare system? India’s dismal health infrastructure can come under severe stress if the cases continue to rise. Clearly, with a bed: population ratio of nearly 1:1000 and less than 100,000 ICU beds, India is hardly prepared to confront this pandemic which can lead to severe consequences. Italy, the US, and China have 3.2, 2.8 and 4.3 hospital beds per 1000 people respectively and they are struggling to handle the coronavirus cases.

With inadequate insurance penetration, India population is largely dependent on public sector hospitals which are severely inadequate. Nearly, 75% of private corporate hospitals are located in less than 40 districts and over 80% of hospitals have less than 30 beds. Infection control, patient management and isolation standards are under severe doubts. There is also a huge deficiency of skilled healthcare professionals adding to the existing woes (doctor-populations ratio of 1:10000 which is way below the WHO norm of 1:1000).

India’s healthcare system is devoid of integrated and inter operable data systems and platforms. This along with non-standardisation and inadequate mobility of health records and data is a vital hurdle in deploying targeted, continuous and connected care. Digital infrastructure needs to be strengthened and monitored regularly. Such technologies can be very effective in isolating and diagnosing positive cases, as shown by state of Kerala.

From pharma side, India is overly dependent on China for bulk drugs or APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients), around 70% of APIs need of India is catered by China. Now, with China being under indefinite lockdown, India will struggle to produce basic medicines for cancer, malaria, HIV and even antibiotics for its own usage. There is an imminent need to make India a manufacturing hub for APIs. India needs to invest in setting up R&D facilities and provide tax incentives to encourage API manufacturing within the borders.

For these steps to be implemented India needs to increase the budgetary spend on health from current 2% of GDP to 5% in next 5 years. This crisis does provides an opportunity to reflect on the failures and issues within India’s weak healthcare policies. A huge chunk of the government healthcare spending goes into urban-based infrastructure whereas the primary healthcare centers are being neglected since decades.

In this article, I have listed these challenges and measures that need to be taken by India to establish a robust healthcare ecosystem in the coming years. Time is right to evaluate and assess in these trying times and look into the future.

About the author

Dr Sumeet Kad is a Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence Leader, focusing on leveraging technology to create a model for affordable care.

Categories
Medical Education

Growth of digital learning in Healthcare

Digital transformation has changed the way we interact with the world. The field of medical education has also changed with that. Today digital platforms are being used in healthcare to prepare healthcare professionals to manage both infectious and non-infectious conditions. So what have been some of these changes and how does it affect the field of learning.

To find answers to these questions we spoke to Dr. Balasubramanyam V (Dr. Bala), Multimedia Educationist: Medical E-learning Pioneer, Professor, and Head of Anatomy, St Johns Medical College Bangalore.

Dr Bala has over 69 research papers, 7 chapter contributions in books, co-author of one text bookand over 200 conference presentations in the field of:
o Medical and health care E learning
o Anatomical sciences

Dr Bala has also created a histology video channel on YouTube …called VBS HistoMed and has been honored by many awards. Dr Bala was also the medical director for an e-learning startup.

Here are some excerpts from the discussion.

Healthcare India: What is the growth and development that you have seen in the digital learning space in the last decade?

Dr Bala: There have been many new areas of growth in the digital learning space, the three main among them are

a.      Use of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

b.     Massive Open Online (MOOC)

c.      Gamification of the learning experience

Healthcare India: How has that changed the way healthcare is taught in medical colleges?

Dr. Bala: These are some of the changes that I have observed on how Healthcare is taught in

a.      Learning Management Systems gives the confidence of supervised and well mentored learning. 

b.     Massive Open Online (MOOC) courses  provide value added exposure for updating knowledge – specially recent advances.

c.      Interactive digital ecosystems offer the advantage of experimental and participatory learning. This is ideally suited for case studies.  

Healthcare India: What are the practical advantages of using digital learning platforms in healthcare?

Dr. Bala: Availability of authentic pre-validated information at the desired level of granularity at the point of care

Healthcare India: What are the recommendations towards education policy that you would recommend that can be done to take things forward?

Dr Bala: In my opinion the following steps are important

a.      Curricular content for healthcare courses needs to be developed, validated and recommended as authentic course material by universities.

b.     University supervised technology-based evaluation need to be introduced at appropriate levels. This will make the practical and bedside skill evaluation more focussed and objectives clearly defined. There is the scope of digital evaluation for nearly 40 % of the curriculum

In conclusion there is a lot of potential for digital learning in healthcare. Right from increasing access to education and delivering the right details at a granular level anytime, anywhere.

Categories
Public Health

Combating ‘infodemic’ to tackle a pandemic

By Dr Sumeet Kad

As the global population is marred by the pandemic coronavirus outbreak, a flurry of websites, dashboards, online services and apps related to COVID1-19 are being encountered across the globe. These tools developed by tech giants, start-ups, govt bodies, and healthcare organizations provides relevant information about the symptoms, prevention methods, screening steps, tracking virus spread and offer advice to limit the risk to exposure. However, it is important for us to be aware of which are the most authentic ones to be visited.

Here are some of the latest ones which are out for all us to utilize:

Tech giant Microsoft has launched a new interactive dashboard to provide information on the spread of the virus. The map highlights the total number of cases so far (218, 400 as of today with 8500+ deaths in over 164 countries) which is further broken down into cases per country. The tool pulls live data from variety of sources such as WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and Wikipedia.

Quro is a Covid-19 risk assessment tool developed by Medius Health, an AI digital health company in Australia. This easy to use online conversational platform is in accordance with WHO guidelines, and aids in determining  your level of risk based on your symptoms, medical & travel history. It thereby provides accurate education to the public on the virus and collects data for healthcare providers for early intervention.

As increasing number of countries are shutting down schools and colleges, there are various online tools available which can be used by students and educators. Ekstep, an on-demand open learning platform, that facilitates creation and consumption of educational content. Plenty of educational content is available on the app which can be used by students in a self-paced manner. Online tutoring platform Vedantu is providing free live classes for all its courses including IIT preparation modules. Latest ed-tech unicorn, Byju’s, is offering free access to its learning app till the end of April.

Apart from this pandemic, populations have to address another menace in the form of false news, videos and content that are flooding social channels. To counter these, Facebook owned WhatsApp has launched a coronavirus-related information website in partnership with WHO, UNICEF and UNDP. This page has latest and accurate info for general population, governments and healthcare professionals enabling them to communicate efficiently in these tragic times.

Regional language content start-ups have started publishing accurate content in local languages related to coronavirus in order to tackle misinformation. Josh Talks has added advisories to all its videos on eight different languages and has also initiated a series of videos by doctors and healthcare professionals spreading more awareness about the disease. These videos are dubbed in local languages for people to easily understand. Local news platform Lokal, which delivers local news, information and classifieds to 900 million non-English speaking users in India, is amplifying awareness through sharing relevant and accurate info, emergency contact numbers, videos etc.

The novel coronavirus global pandemic is a medical emergency that requires a substantial individual effort as well to combat its spread and impact. We should make sure that only authentic information is gained and spread for the benefit of all.

About the author

Dr Sumeet Kad is a Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence Leader, focusing on leveraging technology to create a model for affordable care.

Categories
Healthcare Delivery

Introduction to Psychiatric Conditions

By Dr Kiran Manduva

Mental health is an often ignored aspect of overall health. It is a truism that there is no health without mental health. In fact, mental health is so crucial to one’s overall well being that a physically disabled or otherwise afflicted person can still be a happy and productive member of society if his mental health is taken care of. There are many examples of such people who ‘ve beaten tremendous odds in life to come up and make their mark on society. That is simply not possible without a robust psychological state of being. Thus, despite health being a holistic entity, if I had to choose, I will place psychological health a notch above physical health.

Instead of going into technical details and statistics, I will try to present a bird’s eye view of the problem at hand. At the risk of sounding simplistic, I will divide the psychological disorders into six groups, for the purposes of the present article. These are

  1. Major psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression etc.
  2.  Minor psychological conditions including anxiety, minor depressions, stress-related conditions,
  3. Personality disorders, marital discord.
  4. Substance abuse including tobacco chewing and smoking, alcohol addiction, cannabis abuse etc.
  5. Neuro-developmental disorders like Mental retardation, autism, ADHD, SLD
  6. Dementias especially Alzheimer’s disease.

The above is an informal classification presented here for the sole purpose of simplifying the subject matter for the laypeople so that a better understanding of the issue can be achieved. This is not meant to an exhaustive list and some of the rarer conditions are not covered in the classification. These categories are not watertight and many conditions span the different groups based on their severity and other variables. Often, a person can suffer from multiple conditions from different groups because psychological disorders are not discrete entities, as categorised below. Rather, psychological disturbance can manifest itself in multiple ways and quite often in more than one form, simultaneously, in the same person.

Below, I shall dwell upon each of these groups of disorders in brief- how they arise, how they impact the person and how they can be treated.

The disorders in the first category, the major psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression etc can loosely be termed ’psychoses’, in which, the person develops delusions and hallucinations, which cause him to lose touch with reality. These disorders usually have a heavy genetic component and also depend on the maternal health (especially fevers etc) when the patient was ‘in utero’. These can normally be treated only with medication with adequate psychological, social and occupational support for reintegration into the society. In many cases, the patient may need to be on the medications for a fairly long period of time.

The second category, the minor psychological conditions like anxiety, depression and stress related conditions arise mainly due to two reasons. One – as a genetic accompaniment to major psychiatric disorders that someone else is suffering from in the larger family. Two – due to various interpersonal issues, family disharmony and social conditions like school and work related stresses, poverty, unemployment etc. Many of these patients need a variable period of treatment with psychological medicines that ameliorate the neurotic symptoms. These conditions can also be treated with better coping skills, self empowerment, breathing exercises, Yoga etc. Once the person is better, the medicines can be slowly tapered off and allow the natural defences of the person to deal with the issue.

The third category is that of personality disorders and its consequences. These are people who have a particular pattern of seeing themselves or relating to others, and many times, these might result in interpersonal disharmony and suffering to either the patient himself or to the others. A frequent cause of marital discord is the existence of some traits of any personality disorder in one or both the partners. Many violent crimes, including domestic violence, child sexual abuse and other criminal violence can also be due to personality disorders in the perpetrator. This often needs a comprehensive approach including medication, counselling and the intervention of other agencies like child care services and law enforcement services including the police

The fourth category is that of substance abuse. There is a steep hike in the number of people addicted to various substances like nicotine (smoking tobacco), alcohol and cannabis. The youth of the society are more prone to it due to their innate impulsive and rebellious nature of their behaviour. This can result in significant damage to ones long term health and productivity, apart from causing family disharmony. This needs treatment with medication, counselling and in many cases a relatively long period of treatment in a rehab centre.

The fifth category is that of neurodevelopmental disorders that afflict children right from their very early age. This is due to the altered brain structure and includes conditions like mental retardation, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, specific learning disability. These children have a different trajectory of development of milestones, behavioural and academic problems. They need lot of intensive psychological intervention.

The sixth category is that of dementias, the most common being Alzheimers dementia. This is a disorder of the elderly brain degenerating and is more prevalent in the community as the proportion of the elderly increases in the society. It is a problem that is only going to increase in the country and needs lot of family support, medication and institutional old age care.

It is imperative that any person suffering from any kind of emotional or behavioral problem approach a mental health professional without delay or stopping oneself due to the stigma normally attached to psychological conditions. With proper treatment, many are able to lead a near-normal and productive social and occupational life. The public health strategies for different conditions need to be tailored to the particular subgroup of disorders and is an uphill task for the country to ensure the availability and effective delivery of health care services to all the needy.

About the author

Dr Kiran Manduva did his MBBS in 2001 and studied Psychiatry from NIMHANS in 2005. He is interested in deaddiction, psychotherapy for victims of sexual abuse and neuroscience. He is especially interested in novel public health approaches to make psychiatric care accessible to all.