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A Layman’s Guide to Migraine

A Layman’s Guide to Migraine

A migraine is more than a headache.

Experiencing throbbing, pounding headache? Zigzags of bright lights across your field of vision? Disturbed sleep and nagging sensitivity to light?

Well, you could be suffering from migraine headaches.

A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache that causes intense, throbbing pain usually in one area of your head.

It is a neurological condition that can cause debilitating, throbbing pain and can leave you dysfunctional.

It can also be called a genetically influenced complex disorder, in which complex brain events occur over hours to days in a recurrent matter.

Migraines typically begin during teens years to early twenties, but they can begin anytime between early childhood and late-adulthood.

Migraine headaches without aura are mostly common, but migraines with aura can be severe and difficult to bear.

Around 1 billion people worldwide are affected by migraine. In India alone around 21.3 crore (213 million) people were affected by it, and 60% of them were women, according to a study in 2019.

According to American research journal Lancet Global Health, prevalence of migraine was higher in women aged 35–59 years than in men of the same age group. Prevalence was found to have increased with age and peaked at around age 40–44 years, followed by a gradual decrease in both men and women.

Stages and Symptoms of Migraine Headache

A migraine headache typically involves four stages and its symptoms vary in each stage.

  1. Prodrome
  2. Aura
  3. Headache
  4. Postdrome

Prodrome Migraine

May last a few hours or even days. You may or may not experience any symptoms. It’s also known as pre-headache or premonitory phase.

Symptoms include:

– Sensitivity to light, sound or smell
– Fatigue
– Craving for food or lack of appetite
– Mood swings
– Severe thirst
– Bloating
– Constipation or diarrhea

Aura Migraine

The aura phase can last upto 60 minutes or may end in just five minutes. Most people don’t experience aura symptoms , and some people experience both the aura and the headache at the same time.

Symptoms include:

– Seeing flashes of light or things that aren’t there
– Not able to see clearly or can’t at all
– Tingling or numbness on one side of your body
– Difficulty speaking
– Feeling of heaviness in arms and legs
– Ringing in the ears
– Noticing changes in smell, taste or touch
Tunnel vision
– Loss of consciousness, but that’s rare

Headache

Headache begins as a dull ache and grows into a throbbing pain or sensation of an icepick in your head. It normally gets worse during your physical activity.

Headache pain may move from one side of your head to your other or may feel like it’s affecting your whole head.

Most people (about 80%) may experience nausea along with headache and about half of them may throw-up. You may also feel like fainting.

Most migraine headaches typically last for 4 hours, but severe ones may go on for 3 days or more.

These headaches can occur twice a month, and some may get these every few days, while others get them once or twice a year.

Postdrome

It’s usually called a migraine hangover, and about 80% of people who have had migraines experience it. This phase usually lasts a few hours but can linger for more than a day.

In this phase, your headache is gone but you may experience fatigue, drowsiness, decreased energy levels, problems concentrating, irritability, nausea and sensitivity to light.

You may also have brief episodes of head pain while moving your head.

Symptoms include:

– Feeling exhausted, drained-out or feeling irritable
– Feeling euphoria or feeling usually happy
– Muscle pain or weakness
– Food cravings or lack of appetite
– Unable to understand things

Causes

The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known clearly, but there seems to be a correlation between changes occurring in your brain and your genes.

Research found variations in many genes, which have been found to be associated with the development of migraines with aura or without aura. These associated genes have been found to be active in the muscles that surround blood vessels within the brain, disrupting blood flow, which might cause migraines.

Migraines can occur in you, because your parents might have passed on migraine triggers like fatigue, bright lights or weather changes to you.

For many years, researchers believed that migraines occurred because of changes in blood flow in the brain. But now they believe that this can only contribute to the pain, not what starts it.

Migraines can occur when the blood flow in your brain is altered and some nerves in your brain begin sending abnormal pain signals throughout your head. These signals trigger the release of various brain chemicals in your brain, leading to inflammation, especially of your blood vessels and the membrane that covers your brain and spinal cord.

This inflammation causes many signs and symptoms of your migraine, including the throbbing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light. But it is not yet clear what leads to the abnormal nerve signaling.

Migraines have no clear pattern of inheritance, although more than half of affected people have at least one family member who also has suffered the condition.

Combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors can result in migraines. Non-genetic factors can contribute to the development of a migraine, such as alcohol or lack of sleep.

What Triggers Your Migraine

Migraines could be triggered by many factors, such as:

– Alcohol
– Smoking
– Traveling
– Caffeine
– Missing meals
– Weather changes
– Sunlight, flashlights etc.
– Lack of sleep
– Overexertion
– Loud noises
– Abrupt changes in schedule
– Dehydration
– Hunger
– Dieting or not drinking enough water
– Certain types of foods
– Sensitivity to certain chemicals and preservatives in foods
– Strong smells (smoke, perfumes or other strong odours)
– Too much painkillers for headache (can cause a rebound headache)
– Some medications that cause blood vessels to swell
– Teeth grinding at night
– Menstruation or hormonal changes in women

And there are other factors that can trigger migraines in you, such as:

– Sex (migraines affect women 3 times more than men)

– Age (migraine headaches start between ages 10 and 40, but most women find their migraines manageable or even see them vanish after 50)

– Family history (a person with one parent with migraine has a 50% chance of developing it. If both parents have it, the chances are around 75%)

– Medical conditions (conditions such as epilepsy, bipolar disorder, depression etc. may trigger migraines in you.)

Diagnosis

There are no specific tests to diagnose migraine headaches, but your Doctor can identify a pattern of your recurring headaches with the associated symptoms to diagnose properly.

Migraines are not usually the results of any underlying medical conditions, so they wouldn’t show up on tests, including your brain MRI.

Though migraines have a strong genetic link, there are no genetic tests that can determine a clear diagnosis.

The diagnosis of your migraine is based on your migraine history, physical examination and validation of your diagnostic criteria. The necessary information can be collated from these clinical questions, such as:

– Your demographics: age, gender, race and profession
– When did your headache start?
– Where does it hurt? Location
– What is the intensity of your pain?
– How is the pain? Which are the qualitative characteristics of the pain?
– How long does the pain last?
– At which moment of the day does your pain appear?
– How has it evolved since it started?
– What is the frequency of appearance?
– What are the triggering conditions?
– Are you having simultaneous symptoms?
– Is it related to sleep?
– How does it get better or worse?
– Which medications you’re on to get better? What is the frequency of your medication?

In a word, a proper clinical diagnosis, based on the above data, is the best option to diagnose your migraine headaches.

Treatment for Your Migraine

There is no cure for your migraine headaches, but with proper clinical diagnosis and treatment protocols, they can be managed.

Doctors diagnose your migraine through your symptoms, severity and how often they occur.

Based on the review of your medical history and physical examination, your Doctor may suggest tests to rule out other possible medical conditions. Then, he will prescribe medications to reduce the severity and frequency of your migraine symptoms.

Bottomline

Migraines are more than just your normal headaches, as it is a genetic brain disease that requires proper medical help to manage.

Migraines usually respond well to specific treatments, but do not self-medicate or resort to over-the-counter medications. Always consult your Doctor, and be safe.

It is always your well-informed choices that can help you towards preventive healthcare and overall wellbeing.

 

If you have a question related to this blog post, write to us here and we will update this post with a response. 

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, WebMd, National Library of Medicine, Johns Hopkins, Medline Plus, NHS, Goan Connection, Medical News Today and American Migraine Foundation.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to write to us at support@nugenomics.in or call us directly at +91 9176655912

You can also visit Here to know more about how we can help you and make your life better.

A Layman’s Guide to Vitamin B12

A Layman’s Guide to Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient that helps keep your body healthy by supporting red blood cell production and DNA.

It is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in foods such as meat, dairy products, eggs, fish and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B12 is needed for proper functioning of your nervous system, your DNA synthesis and the formation of your new cells. It also plays a role in maintaining your normal growth and development.

It is one of the eight important B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as:

  • Meat 
  • Milk 
  • Eggs
  • Fish 
  • And items that have been fortified with B12 (mostly suitable for vegetarians and vegans)

However, some people do not consume enough vitamin B12 through diet alone. Therefore, supplements are often recommended.

Required Intake of B12

Your required intake of vitamin B12 depends on your age, your eating habits, medical conditions and what medications you are on.

The recommended amounts of vitamin B12, measured in micrograms (mcg):

  • Babies upto 6 months: 0.4 mcg
  • Babies between 7and 12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • Children between 1 and 3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • Kids between 4 and 8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • Children between 9 and 13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • Teens between 14 and 18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
  • Adults 18 and above: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

You may develop vitamin B12 deficiency in scenarios, such as:

  • Inadequate nutrient intakes
  • Malabsorption (a difficulty in the digestion or absorption of nutrients from food)
  • Prevailing medical conditions
  • Medications that deplete B12 levels that include some heartburn medicines.
  • Atrophic gastritis (a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Conditions that affect your small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth or a parasite
  • Alcohol misuse or heavy drinking
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus

If you are a vegan or a vegetarian (since you don’t eat animal products), you must take supplements to ensure adequate intake of B12.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

You can become anemic, if you have B12 deficiency. This happens when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells on account of your vitamin B12 deficiency.

These red cells transport oxygen throughout your body. You need vitamins to make them, including B12.

Normally mild B12 deficiency may cause no symptoms at all; however, if left untreated, it can leads to symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Paresthesia (nerve damage with numbness, tingling sensation in the hands and legs)
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea or gas
  • Megaloblastic anemia – a blood disorder that happens when your bone marrow produces stem cells that make abnormally large red blood cells. 
  • Pernicious anemia – caused by an inability to absorb vitamin B12

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, there are a couple of treatment options readily available for you.

Vitamin B12 supplements are recommended for those who are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as old people, pregnant or nursing women, vegetarians and vegans.

It’s also recommended for those with intestinal problems and those who have had stomach surgery.

If you have pernicious anemia or have trouble absorbing vitamin B12, you may be requiring shots of B12 vitamins initially. You will also require high doses of B12 supplement by mouth or by nasal.

In case, you are a vegetarian, you can include in your diet vitamin B12-fortified grains, B12 supplements, B12 injections or even high-dose oral B12.

Vitamin B12 in supplements is synthetic (made by chemical synthesis), so vegans can take those supplements without worry. But do consult your doctor regarding use of synthetic nutrients as part of your dietary intake.

Nerve damage due to the B12 deficiency could be permanent, but here preventive healthcare can help you and lead you towards informed health decisions.

Preventive Healthcare and Nutrigenomics

Deficiency of vitamin B12 has been linked to your dietary, environmental and genetic factors.

People who have inherited conditions, which prevent their bodies from processing vitamin B12, may be prone to serious health issues, such as developmental delay (in children), psychosis, stroke and dementia.

Research data for the genetic basis of vitamin B12 is limited. But advancements in genomic techniques have increased the knowledge-base of the genetics of vitamin B12 status in humans.

In 2012, a team of international researchers discovered a new genetic disease relating to B12 deficiency. They identified a gene that is vital to the transport of vitamin into the cells of the body.

Advancements like this in gene research has helped doctors to better diagnose genes responsible for medical conditions and suggest newer and better treatment protocols.

And preventive healthcare, in the context of gene research, is not complete without nutrigenomics.

The goal of nutrigenomics is to prevent the onset and progression of chronic diseases through DNA-based dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes. This might come in handy for you and alter your life’s course towards better managing your B12 deficiency.

 

If you have a question related to this blog post, write to us here and we will update this post with a response. 

Sources: National Institute of Health, Healthline, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Medical News Today, Mayo Clinic, WebMd 1, 2 and McGill.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to write to us at support@nugenomics.in or call us directly at +91 9176655912

You can also visit Here to know more about how we can help you and make your life better.

 

 

How to Celebrate a Diabetes-Friendly Dussehra

How to Celebrate a Diabetes-Friendly Dussehra

Dussehra takes you back to your fondest childhood memories – a truly joyful time with loved ones filled with fireworks, delicacies, Ramleela, and the feeling of happiness. We celebrate good’s triumph over evil by burning the effigy of Meghnad, Kumbhkaran, and Ravana.

It’s easy to get carried away during such festivities and give in to the temptation of different delicacies. But if you have diabetes, you know this can quickly spike your sugar levels. So, does that mean you should completely deprive yourself or just skip the celebrations? Not at all. There are healthier options, so you can certainly celebrate a diabetes-friendly Dussehra:

How to Celebrate a Diabetes-Friendly Dussehra

Here are a few tips on how you can still celebrate Dussehra without having to worry about sugar spikes:

Choose Stevia Over Sugar and Other Sweeteners

Stevia is a natural sugar substitute that comes from the stevia plant. It’s much sweeter than sugar, so you only need a little bit to get the same sweetness. And best of all, stevia has no calories and won’t cause cavities.

There are many other benefits of stevia as well. Studies have shown that stevia can help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and even reduce blood pressure. Plus, stevia is safe for both adults and children.

So if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to sugar for your Dussehra delicacies, be sure to give stevia a try.

Choose Herbal Tea for Your Dussehra Drink

There are many benefits of drinking herbal tea. It is a great way to stay hydrated. It is also rich in antioxidants and can help boost your immune system. Herbal tea can help relax and de-stress.

When choosing an herbal tea for Dussehra, it is important to consider your personal preferences. If you are looking for a tea rich in antioxidants, choose a tea with herbs like green tea or white tea. If you are looking for a tea that will help you relax, choose a tea with herbs like chamomile or lavender. If you are looking for a tea that will help you de-stress, select a tea that contains herbs like peppermint or ginger.

Get Sugar-Free Chocolates and Treats

One of the most popular traditions during Dussehra is to give and receive sweets. While this is a great way to celebrate the festival, it can be difficult for those with diabetes or other sugar-related conditions.

Luckily, there are now many sugar-free chocolates and other treats available to help you enjoy the festival without worrying about your sugar intake. Opt for those instead of the usual sugar-filled chocolates.

Use Almond Flour Instead of Maida

There’s no denying that maida is a key ingredient in many Indian snacks and sweets. From samosas and pakoras to biscuits and cakes, maida is used in various recipes. While it does lend a specific texture and flavor to these dishes, maida is not the healthiest option out there.

Almond flour, on the other hand, is a much healthier alternative to maida. Made from ground almonds, this flour is rich in nutrients and has several health benefits, the most important of which is that it’s low on the glycemic index and has significantly lower carb and sugar content.

Conclusion

As you can see, with a few adjustments, people with diabetes can still celebrate Dussehra. Just make healthier choices, so you still stick to your diabetes management plan while not having to miss out on all the fun!

NuGenomics is among India’s best weight loss and diabetes management programs that make use of your health signals to determine the best plan for you. Find out more about our services today!

How to Fast the Healthy Way During Navratri

How to Fast the Healthy Way During Navratri

Navratri is a nine-day Hindu festival celebrated every year in September or October. The festival is celebrated in honour of the nine forms of the divine feminine principle or shakti.

One of the most important aspects of the Navratri festival is fasting and religious reflection. Fasting is considered a crucial part of the Navratri festival and is observed by many Hindus and has several benefits.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of fasts during Navratri and how to do them in a healthy and fulfilling manner.

The Different Types of Fasts During Navratri

Navratri is a nine-night Hindu festival celebrated in honor of the divine feminine. During this time, many Hindus choose to fast as a way of paying tribute to the goddess and cleansing the body and mind. Different types of fasts are done during Navratri, and choosing what you are comfortable with is essential.

Partial Fast or Falhaari

The most common type of fast during Navratri is the partial fast. It means that you will still eat food but avoid certain foods considered impure or unclean. Those who adhere to eating food can eat food like:

Kuttu ka aata (buckwheat flour),

Makhanas (foxnuts)

Sabudana or sago,

Singhare ka aata (water chestnut flour),

Potatoes,

Sweet potato,

Bottle gourd (lauki),

Arbi (taro),

Curd,

Milk

Dry fruits and

All types of fruits.

Common foods to avoid during a partial fast or falhaari are wheat, rice, semolina, maida, corn flour, legumes and pulses, meat, eggs, alcohol, and cigarettes. You may also avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as fried foods.

Complete Fast

If you’re looking for a challenging fast, you may want to consider a complete fast. You won’t consume any food or water for the festival’s duration. It’s essential to make sure you’re well-prepared before undertaking it. It’s also important to listen to your body and stop fasting if you feel unwell.

Fasting can take various forms, with durations ranging from many hours to two or more days. During Navratri, some people fast from the start of the festival till Kanya puja, and others do it for a few days, but it is always done in pairs.

Some people eat one simple meal daily, and others fast on only fruits, milk, and dry fruits in addition to water. Many people, along with fasting, do deep meditation as a part of their praying rituals.

Regardless of the fast you choose or how you choose to do it, the important thing to remember is that the goal is to cleanse your body and mind and connect with the divine. Fasting is not about deprivation but about finding a sense of peace and calm within yourself.

Tips for a Healthy Fast

Here are a few tips that will help you fast in a healthy way during Navratri.

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids: When fasting, it is vital to keep your body hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids, such as juices and coconut water. Avoid coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages, which can lead to dehydration.

2. Eat Healthily: fasting does not mean you have to starve yourself. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet. Avoid fried and processed foods, as they can be difficult to digest.
Fasting has many health benefits if done right. Eat dry fruits, prefer fruit chaat over fried potatoes, and indulge in sabudana ki khichdi and kheer instead of kuttu ke aate ki puri. Avoid tea or coffee and have milk, curd, and buttermilk instead. Also, avoid excess sugar and eat nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. For first-timers, take it slow and don’t fast for long periods.

3. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure: When fasting, your body is more susceptible to heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Avoid spending too much time in the sun. If stepping outside is unavoidable, carry an umbrella, a bottle of water and some dry fruits and fruits, wear loose, comfortable clothes, and apply sunscreen.

4. Get Enough Sleep: Your body needs more rest when fasting. Make sure to get plenty of sleep during Navratri.4. Get Enough Sleep: Your body needs more rest when fasting. Make sure to get plenty of sleep during Navratri.

Conclusion

Fasting can be a great way to detoxify the body and reset the digestive system. It’s also important to remember that fasting should be done healthily to reap its benefits. Remember these tips so you won’t have any problems fasting and have more time to enjoy the Navratri festivities.

That’s why NuGenomics is here to help you uniquely approach health and weight loss. We give DNA-based recommendations to help you optimise your lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about DNA testing for weight loss and how it can give you results.

Sweet Potatoes: Top 5 Health benefits

Sweet Potatoes: Top 5 Health benefits

Sweet potatoes are a Superfood. And, they are super healthy for you.

Sweet potatoes are large edible roots of the the morning glory family, and seventh most produced crop in the world.

Its tubers, leaves and shoots are good sources of nutrients for both humans and animals.

Sweet potatoes contain macronutrients such as starch, dietary fiber, protein as well as an extensive range of micronutrients that includes minerals, vitamins, provitamin A, flavonoids and coumarins.

They also contain more carbohydrates and proteins, compared to other root and tuber crops. They’re also considered a healthy functional ingredient for functional foods.

They are an excellent source of vitamin A, which helps keep eyesight sharp and skin clear. They also contain beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.

A single medium baked sweet potato can you a staggering 400% of the vitamin A for your body. Vitamin A can improve your eye and keep your skin healthy, besides improving your immunity against diseases.

They’re a great source of iron, suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition facts for 100 grams of raw sweet potatoes:

Source of nutrition facts chart: USDA

 

Now. let’s see top 5 benefits of consuming sweet potatoes.

1. Sweet Potatoes Can Help You Lose Weight

They contain high levels of dietary fiber, which help keep your blood sugar steady and promotes weight loss.

In fact, their consumption has been linked to lower body mass index (BMI) and reduced waist circumference.

Besides, fiber in them gives a feeling of fullness for a longer duration between meals, helping you satisfied on fewer calories.

2. May Fight Diabetes

Sweet potatoes contain high levels of vitamin C, which help protect you against oxidative stress, a condition linked to type 2 diabetes. Vitamin C also boosts your immunity and helps prevent colds and flu.

Also, they are very high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, which result in a less immediate impact on your blood glucose levels. This can help you control your blood sugar level.

Because of high levels of magnesium, they can help you reduce your insulin resistance.

3. Sweet Potatoes May Lower Blood Pressure

Sweet potatoes contain potassium and magnesium, two important nutrients that help you lower your blood pressure.

They can lower the risk of your heart disease because of their high content.

They can also help you reduce the effects of dietary sodium in your blood vessels.

4. May Prevent Cancer

Sweet potatoes contain a protein called a protease inhibitor, which seems to halt the growth of cancer cells, according to a study.

They also reduce oxidative damage to cells linked to increased risk of cancer.

The presence of antioxidants, such as carotenoids, in them are linked to lowering the risk of stomach, kidney and breast cancers.

5. Sweet Potatoes Can Improve Your Gut Health

Sweet potatoes are rich in gut-friendly fiber, apart from their anti-inflammatory properties, that help your gut health.

They also help you keep your bowel movements healthy and regular.

Antioxidants in purple sweet potatoes stimulate the growth of your healthy gut bacteria, which include two beneficial bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.

 

Sweet potatoes are a great source of important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

 

Sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )

If you have a question related to this blog post, write to us here and we will update this post with a response. 

If you have any more questions, please feel free to write to us at support@nugenomics.in or call us directly at +91 9176655912

You can also visit Here to know more about how we can help you and make your life better.