Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Truth about Osteoporosis: The Silent Killer

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men.
One in three hip fracture patients re-fracture at one year and over 1 in 2 will suffer another fracture within 5 years. 20-24 percent of hip fracture patients die within a year. Less than half those who survive the hip fracture regain their previous level of function.

Over 80% of all fractures in people over 50 are caused by osteoporosis. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. A prior fracture is associated with an 86% increased risk of another fracture.

These are some of the statistics published by International Osteoporosis Foundation. Scary, aren't they?

What is Osteoporosis?

The literal meaning of Osteoporosis is ‘porous bones.’ This is a disease that reduces the density and quality of your bones making them porous, fragile and brittle. The deterioration of your bone tissue increases your risks of fracturing your bones, particularly of the wrists, hip, spine and shoulder.

Osteoporosis is often referred to as “the silent killer” as the bone deterioration occurs silently and progressively. There are no symptoms and you get no warning… and then the first fateful fracture occurs, most often from a minor fall.

There are many factors that increase the risks of bone loss and osteoporosis. Age, sex, family history or genetics, ethnicity and most important of all your diet, are various factors that contribute to your bone strength.

Age & Gender

Though it can happen at any age, the older you are, the greater is your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones are living tissue that is constantly changing. Till it reaches peak bone mass in mid-twenties, a person’s bones continue to grow, develop and strengthen. New bones cells regenerate to replace older cells that die naturally or due to injury. When bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone, osteoporosis develops.

Women are said to be at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Though, the female hormone estrogen is said to protect the bones and lower the risk of osteoporosis, when the ladies hit menopause, the risk factor climbs tenfold.  Their rate of bone loss increases dramatically. So it is vital that women take adequate precautions during this period to prevent osteoporosis.

Genetics and Ethnicity

Heredity is a very important risk factor for osteoporosis. If any family member has had an osteoporosis related fracture, then it is said that your chances of getting a fracture doubles, regardless of your bone density.

Black and Hispanic women are believed to have lowered risk levels for osteoporosis while Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop the disease.

Various Lifestyle Factors

Heavy smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and lack of exercise are some lifestyle factors that contribute to bone deterioration and osteoporosis.

Maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for good bone health. A high calcium diet is a must during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, to ensure the health of the mother as well as that of the infant. Inadequate nutrition in early childhood can result in weakened skeletal frames that are more prone to osteoporosis in later ages.

Photo Courtesy

Monday, 4 November 2013

Importance of Crawling in Infant Development

Crawling is the first skill that gives the baby a taste of independence. It plays an important role in the baby's development for many reasons. It refines a lot more than just motor skills.

Crawling influences visual spatial skills and socio-emotional development. When an infant crawls, he visually determines where he wants to go and physically moves in that direction. The baby can set goals, succeed or fail in reaching these goals and experience intense positive and negative emotions. Experiences of crawling and falling develop a fear of heights in babies. Goal achievements and failures impact emotional development in babies creating independence and confidence.

Crawling forms a major link between physical and neurological development. During crawling, both hemispheres of the brain are exchanging information at the speed of light. This develops and enhances essential life skills that are necessary for performing daily tasks such as walking, running, driving, and taking lecture notes during class, etc.

Efficient binocular vision is required for reading and writing skills. When crawling, infants set their sights on a goal and use their distance vision to look ahead at the goal and then back at their hands. This trains the eye muscles to adjust focus and improve binocular vision.

Crawling is an important milestone in developing motor coordination and balance. To crawl successfully, the baby has to master control over his movements as well as over his limbs. First the right arm, then the left leg, followed the left arm and the right leg, and so on. For such cross lateral integration, the left and right sides of the body must work in coordination. The repetitious movement of crawling helps stimulate and organize neurons in the brain. This allows the brain to control cognitive processes such as comprehension, concentration and memory.

Crawling is important for spinal development and its alignment. Growing evidence suggests that crawling increases the physical strength of the baby as it engages the whole body. Crawling uses both arms and legs against gravity to lift the trunk off of the floor, and to move about. This motion exercises and strengthens the muscles in the trunk, shoulders, arms, legs, and hands. The pressure of the torso on the extended arms in the crawling position helps develop the arches in the hands thus influencing fine motor skill development. This is also believed to help in forming the important curves of the spine, which are vital for future spinal functions.

Though it is obvious that crawling influences many aspects of the infant’s developmental process, there are many babies who completely skip this milestone. There is no definite proof that this has affected their future lives. The significance of crawling in infant development is still a debated matter among medical researchers. But, since crawling is believed to be such a critical developmental milestone in an infant’s life, it is safer to encourage the baby to crawl, at least for a brief period of time.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Freelance Writer: How to Start Making Money Online

How to start and what to do! A practical step-by-step guide for beginners based on my personal experience.

People, who love to write, are generally those who love to read. To be a good online writer, you have to be a good researcher. This potent combination of a good researcher, who loves to read, can make or break your writing career. Why am I saying this? This was the first hurdle I identified, when I took stock of my writer status. I wasted too much time researching, reading and getting sidetracked. I enjoyed what I did, lost track of time, tired myself out or used up my time slot for writing.

The first thing I did, when I decided to try my hand at online freelance writing, was to Google about freelance writing. Oh My God! It was like being buried under an avalanche of information.  Online freelance writers seem most busy writing about ‘article writing’ than anything else. Every article is loaded with extra links of temptation: tips, tricks, secrets, success and buckets of money. The result is often, too many open tabs of overwhelming data, which ends up in creating a brain fog.

At the end of the day or even the week, the wannabe writer is thoroughly confused about where to actually start. Well, if you are serious about wanting to be a successful online writer, then it’s time to stop the planning and the preparation. Start the action with just the basics in place. This is what worked for me.

1.       Understand that it takes time to start earning online. Even when you land a few writing gigs, expect lean periods, where you will have to fall back on your savings. You will need a part time job or the support of working spouse to pay your bills in the meantime.

2.       The basics: Have a working computer, with an internet connection and word processing software like MS word.

3.       Set up a PayPal account. It’s free and easy. A lot of your clients maybe paying through PayPal.

4.       Decide on your field of expertise. Do not diversify too much. You can probably research and write on any topic, but it is better to focus on a subject you are familiar with. I write about Food and Nutrition, Health and Fitness, Pregnancy and Parenting; they are related topics. To write about legal issues, finance or construction business, I will have to go out of my comfort zone, research much more, study and understand this new material, before I can write a quality article on that topic.

5.       Create a blog. It’s free and easy. Don’t think or plan too much. You can make plenty of changes and improvements in the blog, as you understand the playing field. Don’t try to be a perfectionist from the beginning.

6.       Now, it’s time to start writing. What I liked about using my blog to launch my writing career was that it took a lot of pressure off me.  I didn't have to worry about, whether it will get published or wait for someone’s approval. Once you start writing an article in your blog, you have actually become an online writer! Congratulations! Research and write on at least ten popular topics related to your blog subject.

7.       Prepare your resume. Create a professional freelance writer profile on LinkedIn.

8.       Decide on a pay rate. Asses your own worth based on your skill and quality. Your location and currency exchange rates make a real difference.  Since I am Indian writer, the dollar conversion rates made $15 for 500 words, a good starting point. Once I got enough projects to keep me afloat, I stopped accepting projects below $25. Now, my base rate is $50 for 500 words or rather $10 for 100 words.

9.       Search writer job sites for work opportunities related to your chosen topics. Prepare your job pitch correctly to market your skills. Apply to as many as you can and do it within a day or two of the job posting. By the law of averages, you will sooner or later land a job.

10.   Now that you have your first job, do your best to research, write well, proofread and edit it. Once they are published, see if they can be added to your portfolio. Continue applying for new projects on a regular basis to keep the work flow consistent.