Yoga for Health
Recognizing the role yoga plays in ensuring good health to all, this year’s theme chosen by the United Nations is Yoga for health. When we talk of harmony and well being it has to be in tandem with nature and the world around us. Yoga can contribute in a holistic way towards achieving this harmony between mind and body. If we have to achieve harmony with nature, then we need to collectively embrace a lifestyle that helps us move towards sustainable development. Everything in this world is interconnected. Man is a limb of this society which in turn is a part and parcel of nature. So any talk of health and well being should include lifestyle, sustainable development, care of the earth, conservation of resources and preservation of nature. We cannot view ourselves only as consumers but custodians of resources too.
Introducing the draft proposal for the observance of International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly, said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action … a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with your self, the world and the nature.”
The resolution adopted at the General Assembly notes “the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.” The World Health Organization, aware of the fact that physical inactivity is among the top ten leading cause of death worldwide has advised its member states to get actively involved in the health and well being of its citizens.
Yoga is the panacea for many ills – physical, mental and emotional. It ensures holistic development of a person’s body, mind and soul. In the words of one of its most famous practitioners, the late B. K. S. Iyengar, “Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.”
21st June is observed as International Yoga Day
Easy Recipes for you
Italian Sev Puri
- Eggless Mayonnaise
- Cheese spread
- Green, Red and Yellow Capsicum
- Packet of Sev Puris
- Mix eggless Mayonnaise and Cheese spread in 2:1 proportion respectively.
- Cut small pieces of Green, Red and Yellow Capsicum and Cabbage. Mix them in the above mixture.
- Add salt and pepper as per taste.
- Mix it properly.
- Put the final mixture on Sev puris with a spoon and serve.
Time required for preparing the dish: 10 minutes
News from the Veg World
Some Neanderthals were vegetarians who used natural forms of penicillin and aspirin as medicine
image: A Neanderthal model on display at the Natural History Museum The Natural History Museum, London
‘Apparently, Neanderthals possessed a good knowledge of medicinal plants … the use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin’ Despite their popular reputation as meat-eating simpletons, some Neanderthals ate a vegetarian diet and appear to have used natural forms of penicillin and aspirin to treat infections and pain.
Dental plaque was found on the fossilised teeth of Neanderthals who lived in what is now Asturias, Spain, and in Belgium up to 50,000 years ago. In a startling demonstration of just how astonishing science can be, a team of researchers from Spain, Australia and the UK were able to extract DNA from the plaque that allowed them to tell what the individuals had eaten.
Neanderthals were thought to be enthusiastic meat eaters and an analysis of the remains found in Belgium revealed DNA from woolly rhinoceroses and wild sheep, along with a few mushrooms. But the teeth of the Spanish group revealed they had eaten wild mushrooms, pine nuts and moss, but no evidence of meat, according to a paper in the journal Nature.
One of the researchers, Dr Antonio Rosas, of Spain’s National Natural Science Museum, said: “We were surprised not to find any remains of meat in the Asturias Neanderthals, given that they were thought to be predominantly meat eaters. However, we have found evidence they enjoyed a varied diet including a wide range of plants. “What’s more, some of these plants may well have been cooked before being eaten.” The enamel and dentine of one Neanderthal’s upper teeth were chipped, and it is thought he may have used his like a third hand when sharpening stone tools.
But there were also signs that he was in severe pain and had taken surprising advanced steps to alleviate it. Dr Rosas said: “We have evidence that this Neanderthal self-medicated. “We have discovered that the plaque preserved in his teeth contains sequences of the pathogen Enterocytozoon bieneusi, which causes gastrointestinal problems, including serious diarrhoea. “Additionally, thanks to a hole in his jaw we know he had a dental abscess. Both health issues must have caused him intense pain.” The plaque contained traces of the penicillium fungus, the natural antibiotic from which the drug penicillin is derived, and also poplar. That tree’s bark, roots and leaves all contain salicylic acid, which is used in aspirin and other painkillers.
Professor Alan Cooper, of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at Adelaide University, who helped carry out the genetic analysis, said the evidence showed Neanderthals were more sophisticated than previously thought. “Apparently, Neandertals possessed a good knowledge of medicinal plants and their various anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and seem to be self-medicating,” he said. “The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin. “Certainly our findings contrast markedly with the rather simplistic view of our ancient relatives in popular imagination.”
Researchers have previously found evidence that Neanderthals were aware some plants had medicinal properties, apparently taking camomile and yarrow to help their digestion. The remains were found in El Sidrón cave in Piloña, northern Spain. Discovered in 1994, the cave is one of the most active archaeological dig sites in the world. So far 2,500 skeletal remains from 13 Neanderthals, male and female, young and old, have been discovered there.
Another of the researchers involved in the current study, Professor Keith Dobney, of Liverpool University, said the techniques available to scientists were enabling them to “access direct evidence of what our ancestors were eating”. “This extraordinary window on the past is providing us with new ways to explore and understand our evolutionary history through the microorganisms that lived in us and with us.”
Kenya Vegetarian Club
PO Box 1390, Obote Road, Kisumu 40100, Kenya
Low-calorie diets are notoriously difficult to maintain in the long-term. But they may be unnecessary. Switching to a vegetarian diet can be twice as effective for weight-loss as counting calories, according to new research. For the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine followed 74 participants with type 2 diabetes for six months. Half the group were assigned a vegetarian diet (60 per cent of energy from carbohydrates, 15 per cent protein, and 25 per cent fat) consisting of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts, with one portion of low-fat yoghurt a day. The other half were assigned a conventional low-calorie, anti-diabetes diet comprising of 50 per cent of energy from carbohydrates, 20 per cent protein, less than 30 per cent fat.
After six months, the vegetarian group had lost an average of 6.2 kilograms compared with 3.2 kilograms in the conventional group. The researchers also used magnetic resonance imaging to analyse the effect of the two diets on adipose fat in participants’ thighs. While both diets reduced subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), only the vegetarian diet caused reductions in subfascial fat (on the surface of muscles) and saw a greater reduction in intramuscular fat (fat inside the muscles). Excess subfascial and intramuscular fat is associated with insulin resistance and lowered glucose metabolism.
“Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss,” said lead author, Dr Hana Kahleova. “However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism. This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”
Dr Joanna McMillan believes the vegetarian diet was more effective because it tends to include more fibre from plant foods. “This helps to fill you up but also means the gut bugs have to help with nutrient retrieval,” Dr McMillan explained. “Potentially our gut bugs help us to stay lean or get fat depending on our individual microbiomes and usual diet.” Our genes may come into play as well, as another new study, published in the journal Nature: Ecology and Evolution, found that the introduction of farming 10,000 years ago led to an increase in plant-based diets.
This dietary shift from the animal-based diet of hunter-gatherers resulted in genetic adaptations that helped vegetarians and their offspring to better metabolise plant-foods. The plant-based gene variants regulate cholesterol levels and may provide protection against many inflammatory diseases, the researchers from Cornell University said. “Although modern paleo advocates emphasise meat, in fact most hunter gatherer communities ate loads of plant food as well – so the balance of foods is clearly key,” McMillan said. “Although our genes can’t change quickly, epigenetics allows us to adapt more quickly and the microbiome can adapt within a day. This is probably how humans have thrived on many different diets all over the world.”
For many meat-eaters, the concept of becoming completely vegetarian is inconceivable, however there are health and environmental benefits to having more meat-free days. A new free app, designed by Charles Darwin’s great-grandson, Chris Darwin, challenges people to have one or more meat-free days each week, rewarding users, by “showing you how your meat-free days are improving your health and your world”. According to the app:
- One meat-free day per year saves a tennis court of forest.
- One meat-free day saves 98 toilet flushes of water (usually seven litres per toilet flush) – based around water support for meat production – from cattle growing, feeding, cleaning and processing.
Today is World Environment Day – a day when we turn our focus to cleaning up the planet.
The date (it’s always June 5 every year) isn’t just a day to read about the problems affecting the countryside, it is all about action and physically getting off your chair to do something to help preserve nature.
That could means organising a litter picking outing, hiking in your local park, planting trees or snapping some beautiful shots of the great outdoors and sharing them online.
Here is everything you need to know.
This year is all about connecting people to nature.
That means encouraging people to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the planet in a bid to show people the importance of protecting it for future generations.
The theme was chosen by this year’s host country – Canada – which will be the centre of World Environment Day activities.
Around the world people will be planting trees, cleaning up their neighbourhoods and taking action against wildlife crimes.
The day itself is all about raising awareness about nature and the importance of protecting it so anything that has people embracing the outdoors is a small step towards helping.
The World Environment Day website explains: ‘In recent decades, scientific advances as well as growing environmental problems such as global warming are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being.
‘For example, the world’s oceans, forests and soils act as vast stores for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harness nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s astounding biological diversity.
‘Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.
‘Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a Himalayan valley.’
What events are taking place and how can I get involved?
1) The World Environment Day website advises people to get down to their local parks and not just look at the views but get involved in them. That means not just looking at a lake but whipping off your clothes and jumping in (where safe to do so and with others). Share photographs on social media with the hashtag #worldenvironmentday too.
‘Connecting to nature can involve all the physical senses: why not take off your shoes and get your feet (and hands) dirty; don’t just look at the beautiful lake, jump in! Take a hike at night and rely on your ears and nose to experience nature,’ The website adds.
2) Plant a tree or check out insects
‘You can also connect with nature in the city, where major parks can be a green lung and a hub of biodiversity. Why not do your bit to green the urban environment, by greening your street or a derelict site, or planting a window box? You could put a spade in the soil or lift a paving slab and see what creatures live beneath,’ the website says.
2) Organisers are also encouraging people to organise litter pick ups, not only in their neighbourhoods but down at local beaches and in forests and woods.
3) Contribute to a science project with the app iNaturalist.
A vast chunk of space rock crashes into the Yucatan Peninsula, darkening the sky with debris and condemning three-quarters of Earth’s species to extinction. A convergence of continents disrupts the circulation of the oceans, rendering them stagnant and toxic to everything that lives there. Vast volcanic plateaus erupt, filling the air with poisonous gas. Glaciers subsume the land and lock up the oceans in acres of ice.
Five times in the past, the Earth has been struck by these kinds of cataclysmic events, ones so severe and swift (in geological terms) they obliterated most kinds of living things before they ever had a chance to adapt.
Now, scientists say, the Earth is on the brink of a sixth such “mass extinction event.” Only this time, the culprit isn’t a massive asteroid impact or volcanic explosions or the inexorable drifting of continents. It’s us.
“We are now moving into another one of these events that could easily, easily ruin the lives of everybody on the planet,” Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich said in a video created by the school.
In a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances, biologists found that the Earth is losing mammal species 20 to 100 times the rate of the past. Extinctions are happening so fast, they could rival the event that killed the dinosaurs in as little as 250 years. Given the timing, the unprecedented speed of the losses and decades of research on the effects of pollution, hunting and habitat loss, they assert that human activity is responsible.
“The smoking gun in these extinctions is very obvious, and it’s in our hands,” co-author Todd Palmer, a biologist at the University of Florida, wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post.
Since 1900 alone, 69 mammal species are believed to have gone extinct, along with about 400 other types of vertebrates. Evidence for species lost among nonvertebrate animals and other kinds of living things is much more difficult to come by, the researchers say, but there’s little reason to believe that the rest of life on Earth is faring any better. This rapid species loss is alarming enough, according to the study’s authors, but it could be just the beginning. “We can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction under way,” they write. “If the currently elevated extinction pace is allowed to continue, humans will soon (in as little as three human lifetimes) be deprived of many biodiversity benefits.”
The Science Advances study is not the first to propose that the die-offs caused by human activity are now on par with the fatal cataclysms of millennia past. In 1998, an American Museum of Natural History poll of 400 biology experts found that 70 percent believe the Earth is in the midst of one of its fastest mass extinctions, one that threatens the existence of humans as well as the millions of species we rely on. In his 2003 book “The Future of Life,” noted Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson calculated that Earth would lose half its higher life forms by 2100 if the current rate of human disruption continued. Scores of scientific studies have sought to bolster that claim, offering evidence of current die-offs and predicting future ones. And many more have contributed to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List, which keeps a bleak accounting of the extinction risk for tens of thousands of species.
It’s true that throughout history, extinctions have happened for comparatively mundane reasons. Even without asteroid impacts or human disruption, species are always dying out — the “unfit” in Darwin’s terminology — and being replaced. Scientists estimate that 99 percent of the species that ever existed no longer do. It’s a routine part of life on Earth.
What’s happening now, the researchers say, is not routine.
To prove how extraordinary the losses of the past 114 years have been, the authors of the new study used data from the IUCN Red List to calculate modern extinction rates and compared that number to the “background,” or routine, rate of extinctions. To counter claims that their research might be exaggerated or alarmist, the authors of the Science Advances study assumed a fairly high background rate: 2 extinctions per 10,000 vertebrate species each century, or 2 species per million each year (a metric known as E/MSY), based on the fossil record. Most commonly used estimates are much lower — typically between 0.1 and 1 MSY.
Under normal conditions, this assumed background rate means that Earth should have seen 9 vertebrate extinctions since 1900, the study says. (The researchers focused on vertebrates and mammals in particular because those species have been the subject of the most thorough conservation status assessments.)
But species these days are not living under normal conditions, the biologists say. Forests are vanishing. Animals are hunted for their tusks and teeth and fur. Toxins are leaching into streams and lakes and the ground beneath us. The global climate is changing, and habitats around the world are changing with it.
And, as in past mass extinctions, even the “fit” have been unable to adapt.
Based on the IUCN list of species that have been declared extinct, extinct in the wild, and possibly extinct (species that haven’t been seen in the wild for years but whose loss hasn’t been confirmed), 468 more vertebrates have died out since 1900 than should have. That translates to an extinction rate 53 times the rate of baseline levels at the “high” background extinction rate and more than 100 times the rate most other biologists use. Even using a highly conservative calculation that includes only the 199 vertebrate species definitively declared extinct, the rate of vertebrate species loss is 22 times higher than the 2 MSY baseline.
Though these extinctions are happening much faster than usual, they’re not yet comparable to the “Big Five” mass extinctions commonly recognized as the worst in Earth’s history. The losses of the past century account for only about 1 percent of the roughly 40,000 known vertebrate species — a statistic that pales in comparison to the level of destruction seen during previous mass extinction events. Even in the least of them, between 60 and 70 percent of species were killed off. During the end-Permian event about 250 million years ago, known as “the Great Dying,” that number was more than 90 percent.
But the loss of biodiversity we’re seeing now could trigger even more catastrophic species loss within a few years.
“Ecological communities are composed of many interacting parts, and there are potential ‘tipping points’ in these communities where if you lose too many species, or lose species that are particularly important, the ecosystem may rapidly degrade or change states,” Palmer wrote.
If die-offs continue at current rates, the current extinction event could reach “Big Five” magnitudes in 240 to 540 years, he said — an unprecedented speed for this kind of ecological change.
Past mass extinctions unfolded in geological time over the course of thousands of years. The calamitous “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian Period took about 6,000 centuries, as the super-continent called Pangaea coalesced, disrupting ocean currents and raising global temperatures, and lava oozed out of a vast volcanic region called the Siberian Traps, poisoning the air and seas with clouds of toxic gases. For a mass extinction to happen fast enough to be perceived in a human lifetime is unheard of.
“In terms of scale, we are now living through one of those brief, rare episodes in Earth history when the biological framework of life is dismantled,” paleobiologist Jan Zalasiewizc, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an analysis for the Guardian. He went on to note that none of the “familiar horsemen” of planetary change — “massive volcanic outbursts to choke the atmosphere and poison the seas, the mayhem caused by major asteroid impact and the wrenching effects of rapid climate change” — have factored into the current crisis (the effects of current climate change are still in their early stages, he wrote, and can’t yet be blamed for species loss). Instead, the deaths we see now are all due to pollution, predation and habitat change from one species: humans.
Still, scientists say, it’s possible to avert their gloomy predictions. They give us about a generation to make the changes needed to slow the rate of species loss.
“We have the potential of initiating a mass extinction episode which has been unparalleled for 65 million years,” co-author Gerardo Ceballos told CNN. “But I’m optimistic in the sense that humans react — in the past we have made quantum leaps when we worked together to solve our problems.”