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All-Round Awareness

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Dev Goswami & Shirley Mistry tell you a little bit about the symptoms of different diseases that can affect your body. Read on to find what they are and how to maintain good overall health

While you may know how to cure a niggling headache and are more than familiar with a bad stomach cramp, you may be dismissing the signs that your body is giving you as minor aches and pains — nothing that a pill can’t cure. However, though these go unnoticed, they could often be indicators of more serious ailments. We don’t mean to scare you, but even a recurring migraine could be a sign of a serious disease. So, read on as we tell you how to stay healthy from head to toe and protect yourself from common diseases (and learn their symptoms), that can affect your health.

All In The Mind
A balanced diet is the key to maintaining a healthy brain. Include foods such as meat, walnuts, crabs, broccoli, garbanzo beans and berries in your diet, as they improve blood flow to your brain, help keep symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease at bay, boost focus and sharpen your mind.
Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries ensure that your brain is stress-free and help you think clearly, while healing your brain. Also, keep yourself engaged with activities, both physical and mental (especially as you grow older), to ensure that your brain stays active. Also, make sure that you keep your stress levels under control; play sports and indulge in hobbies that relax you to avoid the unnecessary burden of a stressed mind.

Heart Of The Matter
Keeping your heart healthy isn’t that complicated. Apart from eating healthy meals, which include small amounts of good fats and good cholesterol, avoid smoking and drinking excessively. Exercise in moderation and ensure that you aren’t stressed, because stress has a direct impact on your heart. In fact, experts suggest engaging in activities such as knitting and weaving, as they help you relax. Also, make sure that you do things that make you happy, such as pursuing a hobby or engaging in a craft, since your emotional stability is deeply linked to how healthy your heart is. A diet that includes omega-3 acids (fish), nuts such as almonds, chocolate and wine (in moderation), will help keep your heart healthy.

Breathe In
Apart from the obvious advice to quit smoking — a habit that is literally eating up your lungs as we speak, make sure that you do all you can to avoid areas that are heavily polluted. While you can’t control the level of pollution outside your home, make sure that your lungs aren’t getting affected by indoor air pollution (read our article on Page 19 to learn how to reduce indoor pollution). Also, ensure that you exercise regularly and constantly push yourself to work harder, as this helps improve your lung power and strengthens your organs. To keep your lungs healthy, ensure that your diet includes a balance of carbohydrates, small amounts of fat and fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, which are proven to maintain lung health and can even help prevent lung cancer.

Belly Up
If good lung health isn’t reason enough to quit smoking, you should know that the nasty habit can harm your stomach as well. It weakens the muscles that control the lower part of your oesophagus. When this muscle is weakened, acids from your stomach travel up the oesophagus in the wrong direction and cause what is known as acid reflux. Reflux, in turn, causes peptic ulcers, heartburn and bowel inflammation. Apart from giving up smoking, make sure that you exercise regularly, because being overweight also increases pressure on your stomach and can cause heartburn and acidity. Eat small meals at regular intervals, avoid too much spice, salt or oil and drink lots of water, which will help aid digestion and keep the strain off your stomach.

Kidney Story
Your kidneys do your body a great service by filtering almost 200 litres of blood every day, absorbing nutrients from fluids, eliminating toxic waste and regulating your body’s fluid levels. Take good care of them by living a healthy, balanced life. The less junk food you consume, the lighter load there will be on your kidneys to separate the nutrients from the toxins. Eat foods that are cleansing, such as cabbage, grapes, red bell peppers and egg whites, as they aid your kidneys’ functions. Also, consume smaller quantities of sodium, minerals and salt, so that your kidneys don’t have to work too hard to filter them out.

So Bony
To keep your joints healthy, make sure that you maintain an ideal weight. Losing as little as 4kg will lower the stress on your joints and allow them to move smoothly. You should also exercise and ensure that you stretch before and after working out, to make sure that your joints don’t snap under sudden pressure. Also, wear good shoes, because shoes that are made badly or have a high heel, put a lot of pressure on your bones and joints. Apart from drinking milk, you must include foods such as cheese, broccoli, sardines and turnips for an extra boost of calcium, that will ensure strong bones.

A Full Body Check-Up
No, we aren’t actually going to give you a medical check-up. We’re telling you about some of the symptoms (on the left) and conditions (on the right) that you should watch out for, when it comes to the different parts of your body. If you think that you suffer from any of these symptoms, don’t delay visiting your doctor.


  • Headache — especially a chronic one.
  • Ringing in your ears.
  • Memory loss or confusion.
  • Loss of bodily functions.
  • Severe pain in one side of your head.
  • Changes in speech and vision.


  • Chest pain is a symptom that you should never ignore.
  • Chronic coughs.
  • Feeling of tightness.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Pain on just one side.


  • Difficulty in performing the joint’s natural movement.
  • Not being able to get up or perform exercises such as bicep curls.
  • Warm, red and/ or swollen skin around your joints.


  • Pain just below your stomach and just above your groin.
  • Too much, too little and/ or bloody urination.
  • Chronic constipation.
  • Heartburn after every meal.
  • Constant vomiting.
  • Sudden, unexplained weight-loss.
  • Frequent or infrequent bowel movements.
  • Diarrhoea, accompanied by abdominal pain and high fever.


  • Fractures while performing safe,

Everyday Tasks.

  • A family history of bone disease.
  • Pain that you think is emanating from your bones — this can be whether you’re moving and/ or at rest.
  • A new mass of tissue forming around the site of the pain from the point above.
  • Not being able to walk without limping or support.

The Bones
Osteoporosis is the most common bone-related problem. Paget’s disease makes your bones brittle; they can also suffer from cancers and infections.

The Joints
Arthritis is a common condition that can affect your joints. Others include bursitis, dislocations and injuries affecting your joint’s tendons.

The Kidneys
Kidney failure is a big threat. It can occur due to cancer, infections and cysts in your kidneys. You should also look out for sepsis and kidney stones.

The Stomach
You need to be wary of cancer, ulcers, gastroparesis, indigestion, Crohn’s disease and gastritis when it comes to your stomach.

The Lungs
Your lungs can be affected by cancer, asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, tuberculosis and edema.

The Heart
Strokes, heart attacks, atherosclerosis, abnormal blood pressure... there are several conditions with the same symptoms. So, don’t take any chest pain lightly.

The Brain
Your brain is a very important organ and it can be affected by tumours, migraines, blood clots and psychological conditions.

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