Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5 Issue 23, Tuesday, June 8, 2010




Understanding electrolytes

ELECTROLYTE imbalance. It sounds like a complicated word you don't hear everyday but the truth of the matter is that while you may not know it by name, chances are you (or people you know) have experienced it at one time or another.

Electrolytes are chemicals in the bloodstream that help to regulate several important bodily functions. Some examples of electrolytes are potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium.

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when the level of electrolytes in the body is either too high or too low and therefore, negatively affects the body. When you sweat, urinate or lose fluids in any way, electrolytes are depleted. Because of their importance to vital organs, the effects of electrolytic imbalances can range from mild to life threatening.

Potassium, for example, is vital to muscle functions and when there is a deficit, the body reacts by producing less insulin and thus, increasing the blood sugar level. A high potassium level is even more dangerous than a low one. A high level of potassium stems from kidney failure or use of drugs, which reduce the amount of potassium excreted. Too much potassium in the body can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.

Another electrolyte whose necessity is often overlooked is sodium. Because we are currently at the peak of summer, staying thoroughly hydrated is always encouraged but, as with everything else, a balance is mandatory. At the peak of the summer heat, the reason for a low sodium level can most possibly be attributed to people sweating excessively or because over hydration causes the sodium level in the blood to decrease. Having a low sodium level brings forth anything from drowsiness and confusion to nausea, vomiting and seizures.

We all know the dibs on calcium. We were encouraged to drink milk throughout our childhood and always made to have 'the white part' of our daily eggs. This was done in moderate amounts to maintain the smooth running of muscles contractions and nerve impulses. So, what happens when this delicate balance of calcium is interrupted? Anything from nausea and vomiting to slipping into a coma and death.

To identify an electrolyte imbalance in you, your friend or your child, it is best to pay close attention to any of the signs and symptoms associated with it.

For example, excess fatigue is a symptom you should be on the look out for. Excess fatigue goes beyond simply being tired but refers to not being able to get out of bed in the morning or do basic work. Muscle weakness can also be attributed to an electrolyte imbalance. Watch closely for twitching or muscle spasms. This may be accompanied by numbness or twitching in the hands, arms, feet or legs. Also watch for periods of sluggishness or weariness that may be an indication that your levels of calcium are too high. Monitoring a person's blood pressure can also reveal an imbalance of important nutrients. Because the heart requires these nutrients to properly pump blood, an imbalance can cause irregular heartbeats or blood pressure. A more visible symptom is a sign of bone disorder, thinning hair or rotting enamel. These occur because there aren't enough of the nutrients that are necessary in creating a healthy internal environment for the body. If not treated, electrolyte imbalance can lead to osteoporosis, dental problems and continued hair loss.

The steps to avoid these complications are simple: Incorporate proper hydration into your daily routine, maintain a balanced and healthy diet designed to build your body and most of all, learn about your body's needs and try your best to tend to them to prevent a bad situation. After all, as with all dangerous things, prevention is the best defence mechanism you can have.

By Mahareen Khalid

MY family has always been culturally inclined. I remember my mother playing the grand piano that now stands uselessly in the room, which used to be called the 'gan ghor' (music room) once upon a time.

I consider my brother to be the best guitarist in the whole world and I don't think there is any musical instrument that he can't play, from the mouth organ to the sitar, he's played them all.

Back in the days of Pakistan, when it was taboo elsewhere, we used to celebrate the birth anniversaries of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam through cultural programmes right at home. People still talk about those programmes.

My father always wanted me to learn singing and had the best of music teachers for me. In fact, all the renowned ustads of my time have taught me singing at some time or the other. Unfortunately, I never had the passion that's needed to be a singer nor do I have a sense of tune or scale.

My ear for music is quite deaf and hence when I sing, it's totally tuneless. The days when my music teacher was supposed to come I would be busy planning and conniving instead of practising music.

I would think up ways of getting rid of them after offering tea, snacks, and paan. It was the same story with all the teachers who came over to give me music lessons.

I hardly listen to music and even if I do, I don't remember the songs. Hence I don't know most of the younger singers of Bangladesh. I first learnt about Ornob from one of my students. Rashad, an ardent Ornob fan, wrote about his favourite singer in almost all his essays.

But I did go a bit overboard a few weeks back. My nephew Gibran informed he was coming with two friends, Sakib and Shumon. Sakib is a nephew too and had been to our place before. I met Sumon for the first time during lunch and exchanged a bit of pleasantries. Later my husband told me that Sumon was the lead singer of Aurthohin and had come to perform at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet. I didn't think much of the whole thing till I logged on to facebook from my cell phone before hitting the pillow. The statuses of many of my facebook friends, mostly my students or ex-students, were about the concert and about Sumon. He had captivated the audience with his beautiful renditions. I felt like a complete fool. Here we had a celebrity amongst us and I just failed to recognise him.

The next day I told my students about this. They couldn't believe that I could be so ignorant. They went gaga over Sumon and wanted his autograph. I promised them that I would get it for them.

Sumon, very graciously, signed twenty-three autographs for my enthusiastic students and wrote their names on each of them. Though I've never been a music buff, I must have been the best teacher in the world that day!

They fought all night. Swollen words, stinging looks, bruised tears. The thing about fights is that they are not arguments, neither are they glorified discussions. Fights take all, words, bodies, minds, wealth, pride, affection…love. Just like standing, sitting, breathing -- they take all, destroying it chewing loudly.

So there was no resolution, just tiredness, midnight muffled screams, dozing off to the depth of morbid sleep, waking with a stomped heavy heart and for a second forgetting why, where, who and when. And then the sense of still, wet insults dripping down the spine, the humid abuses suffocating throats, silently.

And then realisations and layers of fears of all kinds, the kinds that are not ever thought of voluntarily and the ones that are always there in subconscious. They all come smiling, holding hands. In a line they stand. They look gruesome, bleeding and wanting to kill. They say “you can't do it on your own, chances are slim, we are here. We will take over, you just lie there, sleep if you can, we will end it, whatever you couldn't yet.”

The fears start the next set of fights, one internal with self and a full fledged external one too. By now all grace is gone, there is nothing called compassion or thinking clearly. Then the mudslide arrives, nothing pretty, dark and sticky, many showers don't rinse the dirt, it's all over the eyes, ears, hair. Stained, mud-dark bodies finally resign for the night cuddling hate.

They fought all night and when they wake, they talk about throwing a party.

“How about this weekend?”
“Why not!”
“Who should we invite?”

They walk around their apartment with muddy feet planning for a party. The muddy footsteps on white floor create a mediocre form of abstract art, the walls turn grey. Their voices sound like sand storms. They call up people, their facial muscles form smiles, which carry through the signals of joviality in their voices to the other side.

Weekend comes and the apartment fills up with many. People admire the abstract art on the floors, they marvel the unique grey walls, the residue of the sand storm touch them as they gather in the veranda to smoke cigarettes and bond.

“What a great party you have thrown!”
“You two are so cute!”

“Oh is that photo from your last vacation, you guys are glowing!”

Their voices dance in different scales, people hug them, kisses on the cheeks, they even hold hands, but no hidden admiring stares though, or hope for more.

The last guest leaves and they step into the shower to wash the day off. They touch each others scars, try to scrub away the mud stains, they start uttering known healing words but water chokes all prayers and they stand bare, unblessed until the morning comes.


Kitchen spa

Let's be honest here. Very few of us have the money to book a daylong head-to-toe pampering at a lavish spa and what with your child currently neck-deep in exams and your full-time job breathing down your neck, you probably wistfully look at 'free time' as a luxury you don't ever remember having.

With those things in mind, here are a couple of 'kitchen spa' treatments that do not require an exuberant trip to the spa but utilises those things that are rotting away in your refrigerator and accommodates your lack of time. In short, it's a new spin on the time-withstanding Grandma's secrets.

Citrus facial refresher
2 cups water
1 vitamin C tablet
Peels from 2 lemons
4 (4 oz.) plastic spray bottles

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the vitamin C tablet and stir until dissolved. In a medium glass bowl, add the lemon peel. Pour the hot water over the lemon peel and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steep overnight on the counter.

Pour the mixture into four (4 oz.) plastic spray bottles so that you can slip it into your purse and use it whenever you want to feel refreshed and fantasise about a languorous summer day, complete with lashings of citrus.

Honey hair conditioner
Have an extra bottle of honey lying around? Utilise it to add beautiful shine to your hair.
Servings: 1
Prep time: 5 min
Difficulty: Easy
½ cup of any local or organic honey
4 tbsp light olive oil (depending on hair type, use lesser amount for oily hair)

In a small bowl, mix together the honey and olive oil until fully integrated. Pour mixture through a funnel into a plastic bottle with a squeeze top lid.

When ready to use, gently shake mixture and massage into your hair until evenly covered. Cover your head with a shower cap and allow the conditioner to stay on your hair for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Shampoo and rinse your hair thoroughly.

The brown sugar scrub
You open your favourite magazine for skin care tips and the words jump out to you: exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. And well, with the summer heat at a peak and the dust rotting away your skin, they couldn't be more right. Exfoliating removes the dead, old cells and allows the new skin to surface, giving you a glow immediately.

So, what happens when you reach over for your favourite exfoliator only to realise that you've run out? Or worse still, you're much too broke at the moment to simply hop over and get the latest spa brand?

Well, you can try your hand at making a homemade exfoliator that won't set you back in takas but will have the same invigorating effect as the spa alternative.

Servings: Yields a 14 oz. container
Prep time: 10 min
Difficulty: Easy
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, can substitute vegetable oil
1 tsp vitamin E (cut open Vitamin E liquid gel caps)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract, optional (or your favourite citrus essential oil)
1 tbsp honey, optional for dry skin

In a medium-mixing bowl, combine oil, vitamin E and vanilla. Add the brown sugar and mix well.
To use: In the shower, apply the mixture onto the skin and rinse. Because it is completely natural, this can be used daily with no side effects.
An even simpler exfoliator would be the Oatmeal exfoliator.
2 tsp oats
1 tsp baking soda
Warm water
Place oats and baking soda in a small bowl and add small amounts of water just until it comes together in a spreadable paste. About 1½ tsp should do it. Use your fingers to rub it on to your face in circular motions. Massage for 1-2 minutes and then rinse off with warm water and pat face dry.

News flash

Lenovo mobile holds a raffle draw

A grand raffle draw ceremony of Lenovo Mobile, jointly organised by Transcom Digital and Update International Limited, was held at Spectra Convention Centre on 29 May, 2010.

Last December, Update International Limited launched ET660 Consumer Promotion, where a customer could purchase the handset with 0 percent interest on a one-year installment with their credit cards. The campaign also included a raffle draw among the customers. There were twenty one prizes and winners; prizes were twenty Lenovo notebooks and one Hyundai i10 car. The event held on 29th performed the raffle draw and announced the lucky winners.

Smart deals coming soon!
Lenovo Mobile took this opportunity to share some of their current happenings. Lenovo has very recently started providing its laptop on an installment basis, and it is also launching two GSM mobile phones soon. With exciting features, dashing looks, and amazing sound quality, P50 and i300 will be priced about Tk. 5, 990 and Tk. 4, 990 respectively.

By M H Haider


Thai juice bar

Thai Juice Bar, a concern of Mother's Care, opened at Bailey Road recently. It serves more than fifty different kinds of juice, for which it imports a vast array of fruits from Thailand, and uses high-tech machinery and equipment to extract the juice.

Some of the fruits from Thailand that's worth mentioning include sweet green mango, yellow mango, green apple, gooseberry and sweet tamarind.

Thai Juice Bar maintains international quality standards of fruit juice retailers, and ensures quality and hygiene; it also does not put additives or extra sugar in any of its juices.
It is located at Natok Sharoni in New Bailey Road.

By M H Haider




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