Category Archives: Health

Using tech for symptom check? Be careful.

I’m not a physician, and therefore, not qualified to write about a health-related topic. However, as a person who experienced small ups and downs to his health like anyone else, I know very well as to what causes discomfort to me.

The moment I feel some discomfort in my body the first thing I would do is Google for the symptoms. It took me an insanely long time to realize the fact that the deeper I delve, the search engine gives out results which point to something more ominous even for seemingly minor illnesses. It made me hyper-vigilant to my health. Some time ago, when I visited a physician, I had too many questions to ask him. After listening to my questions and responding to some of them, he asked curiously, “where did you find all these things?” I answered, ‘by googling’. The busy looking physician had a terse advice for me “don’t google”.

Ever since I stopped googling for symptoms for my apparently minor health-related issues, I managed to beat my worries, and the feel good factor which vanished from my mind has returned.

Monitoring your health and taking precautionary measures to safeguard it is a very good idea. After all, we don’t have anywhere else to live except in our bodies and we don’t have any spare bodies to enter into, after our existing bodies suffer irreversible damage. However, getting obsessed with health and being hyper-vigilant about it may be counterproductive.

In these days of technology explosion, where we are transiting from the people-centric Internet to the object-centric Internet of Things (IoT), I’m more concerned about the hyper vigilance the people may subject themselves to as far as their health is concerned. We have entered into an era of wearable devices, which give us real-time information about the vital signs of our health such as temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. These Wi-Fi enabled devices transmit the patient data to their health care providers, empowering them to constantly and continuously monitor the health of their clients so that they can take pre-emptive action, if something untoward is about to happen. The enormous amounts of data generated by the IoT-enabled wearable health monitoring devices, if captured and analyzed properly, can provide invaluable insights into the patient care and contribute to the enrichment of the healthcare sector. This is indeed a revolutionary technology which enables people, who suffer from major ailments, to feel more secure about their well-being and also enhance their life span.

However, the technology may also have an adverse impact on the seemingly healthy people, if it is deployed indiscriminately. If mere googling can trigger episodes of anxiety and transform people into hypochondriacs, imagine the kind of impact the IoT-enabled health monitoring devices will have on the people, especially if they have access to the data generated by the devices.

The 21st century is an age of stress and insecurity. Excessive career orientation and the blind pursuit of material things have contributed to rampant stress and insecurity. Even the apparently minor problems have the potential to trigger panic and dread among the people. Every technology has its own drawback and side effects. Technocrats and social scientists have already expressed their concerns over the safety, security and privacy of the people who use these IoT-enabled wearable devices.

Technology should be deployed only where it is required. However, the high disposable incomes and the widespread availability of wearable devices make people acquire them. These days, people want to flash their tech gadgets and brag about how tech savvy they are. The 24×7 real-time monitoring of their health, that too in this age of rampant stress and insecurity, will definitely have its undesirable effect on the health of the people. As usual, this is a topic which requires debate and discussion involving people, civil society, technocrats and the healthcare providers. The debate should result in the prescription of some cautions and safeguards so that these devices could be put to judicious use.

MNC junk food not only makes a hole in your pocket but also in your health.

As a commerce student, I heard a lot about the multinational food giants like McDonald’s, KFC and Domino’s. While I was doing my post-graduation in Commerce, I read a book titled Principles of Marketing, authored by two great Marketing thinkers – Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong. The authors explained all the marketing concepts with many real life examples in such a way that the book became one of my favorite books in no time. That was the first time in my life I came to know about these food giants, their food products, their modus operandi, and their marketing strategies.

MacMeal consists of burger, french fries and Coke.

MacMeal consists of a burger, french fries, and Coke.

As a person with a rustic background, I never even got an opportunity to spot a McDonald’s restaurant or a Domino’s Pizza chain. It was when I had been to Bangalore in search of a job, I found a McDonald’s restaurant for the first time in my life and out of curiosity, immediately entered the eatery without any second thoughts. The restaurant was plush and spotlessly clean. Even the kitchen looked quite sophisticated and the food is prepared in the most hygienic conditions. I bought a coupon for an Econo Meal by paying around Rs. 100. They placed three items in a plastic serving platter – a burger, a small paper bag full of french fries, and a tumbler full of chilled coke. The burger was tasty, the french fries were crispy and tasty and the Coke, of course, tasted good on my tongue. The next time I came across another multinational food giant was when I, along with my wife and little daughter, entered Domino’s Pizza chain in Secunderabad. Just like at McDonald’s, even here we saw a plush and spotlessly clean dining hall. It took a while for me to understand their menu and prices. The prices, being a person from a middle-class background, appeared very high to me. I ordered a pizza by paying around Rs 350. They served the food in cardboard boxes. They served us a small-sized pizza, some Garlic breadsticks, and a 600 ml chilled Coke bottle. My wife, who was initially very enthusiastic to taste the pizza, looked very much disappointed after taking a few bites and reluctantly finished her share of the pizza.

Domino's Pizza is not only expensive but also a pure junk.

Domino’s Pizza is not only expensive but also a pure junk.

The US-based food giants mostly cater to western food habits and serve junk food. The food they dish out is full of carbs and they are mostly fried. If we take the example of McDonald’s Econo Meal, the burger is made from super refined white flour, the French fries are made from potatoes and, of course, the coke is simply carbonated sugared water. There is hardly anything nutritious in it. Even in case of pizzas the crust is made from super refined white floor, and it also contains a bit of cheese and a disproportionately small quantity of vegetables. These food giants spend a lot on brand building and once they become popular and gain wide acceptance, they start skimming the market with their very high prices. The food they serve doesn’t cost much, but the diner ends up paying a lot for their brands. There are many studies which reveal that the carb-rich food sold by the multinational food giants is, to a great extent, contributing to the obesity among people, especially children.

MNC junk food not only makes a hole in your pocket but also in your health. Click To Tweet

We, the people of India, have a very healthy food tradition. We use grains like rice and wheat, and millets like Ragi, Bajra and Jowar, and pulses like red gram, green gram and black gram, and most importantly vegetables as our staple diet. They are not only nutritious and fat-free, but also help us in having a balanced diet. However, after the emergence of the MNC food giants, the food habits of the urban people are gradually changing and the carb and fat-rich food, coupled with the excessive pollution, is taking a heavy toll on the health of the urban Indians. Indian food traditions are based on ‘real’ food. Real food in the sense we collect various edible natural raw materials like grains, millets, pulses and vegetables and cook them without any artificial ingredients and eat them hot. However the food sold by the fast food chains is processed, is carb-rich and contains hardly any nutrients. There are many allegations that these companies don’t state exactly what kind of ingredients they use in preparing their proprietary food. Some food and nutrition experts reveal that these companies, to get the intended taste, to increase the shelf life, and to maximize their profits, add some ingredients which are harmful to the health of the consumers.

The idea of beauty is not time-tested and is highly subjective.

The concept of beauty is only subjective.

The idea of beauty is only subjective.

As the proverb goes, ‘ beauty is only skin-deep’. Oxford dictionary defines the proverb as ‘a pleasing appearance is not a guide to character’.  Even if you take the proverb in its literal sense, if two humans, a supposedly charming man and a supposedly ugly chap are skinned alive and made to stand side by side, they look the same. So beauty is indeed only skin deep.

The concept of beauty is very complex to understand and everyone has his or her own distinct idea of beauty. Because one’s idea of beauty depends on his tastes and preferences and the perspective from which he views his fellow humans. It also depends on the culture and traditions in which he has been brought up and even on his education and social status.  In our Indian culture beauty appears to have a certain benchmark – fair complexioned, tall and lean, and people, to reach the benchmark, use different products and services to improve their looks.

Posed by model picture of a woman appling Make-up to her face for her christmas party

There is evidence to state that the excessive use of cosmetics may be detrimental to one’s health.

According to the Personal Care Products Council,  the global personal care products industry has a revenue of about $250 billion per year and China and India are among the fastest-growing markets for personal care products. There is no doubt that maintaining hygiene and smelling good are not only essential to keep in good health but also project yourself as an educated and civilized individual. But at the same time over-dependence on cosmetics to artificially enhance one’s looks may be counterproductive in many aspects. Modern research shows that excessive usage of cosmetics has many adverse effects on health including skin allergies and cancer. So one needs to be very cautious and judicious in their usage. 

There are some people, especially women, who are excessively concerned about their weight, and they reduce their intake of nutritious food with the expectation of shedding weight. However, in their obsession to be light weight they deprive their bodies of the much-needed nutrition and easily fall prey to anemia and related ailments. Many people rightly opine that all the healthy people who lead healthy and dignified lives look charming and beautiful.

The idea of beauty is not time-tested and is highly subjective. Click To Tweet

God, when he creates any creature, creates it to look charming and attractive. The terms aesthetically challenged or ugly are highly subjective terms and only reflect the arrogance and superiority complex among their users. Real beauty lies in naturality and simplicity.  Any artificially jacked-up appearances are not only unsustainable but also can’t be termed as beautiful. Take the example of our Bollywood celebrities, who appear stunningly beautiful on screen but fail to impress off screen. In fact, many of them look pretty ordinary without makeup.

So our concept of beauty could best be only subjective. We humans are very much conscious of our looks, and we all worry a lot about the kind of impression we create on others with regard to our physical appearance. What we people should understand is, in order to look beautiful and charming, one needs to keep in good health and cultivate a dignified personality without worrying about his or her physical appearance.

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